Many struggle with fear. Where faith empowers, fear enfeebles. The senior pastor of City Harvest Church taught the congregation how to overcome our fear.
The past weekend marked the end of an intense week for CHC’s senior pastor Kong Hee. On the Friday before the weekend, the prosecution in the CHC trial announced it had filed notice of appeal against the State Court’s sentences for the six. What followed was a flurry of media questions, and Kong announced on his Facebook page on Friday evening that he would be appealing against his conviction and sentence. Likewise, the lawyer of deputy senior pastor Tan Ye Peng also told the press that his client would be appealing.
That was the prelude to the weekend services of Nov 28 and 29. Kong took the pulpit with a powerful and fitting message about overcoming fear. He began the service by thanking the congregation for their support.
“This is the first weekend since the sentencing [on Nov 20] that I’m preaching a message, and I admit I’m a bit nervous,” he said. In fact, Kong said that the pressure was greater because “I want to make every day count – I want to believe God has given us a great future. To be able to stand behind this pulpit is such a great privilege for me. Thank you so much for your kindness, your acceptance. It means so much to me.”
FEAR AND FAITH ARE OPPOSING FORCES
Kong explained that faith and fear are opposing forces. Both follow similar principles, but have opposite sources. Faith comes by hearing and believing the Word of God; Fear comes by hearing and believing its contradictions. We see this even in Genesis. The serpent questioned Eve, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” and contradicted God’s Word (Gen 3:1-4). After believing this contradiction, Eve and Adam ate of the fruit, and felt shame and fear (Gen 3:9-10), hiding from God’s presence.
FAITH EMPOWERS; FEAR ENFEEBLES
Kong highlighted from 2 Timothy 1:7 that one, fear was not from God; two, fear is a spirit—a force that imposes itself on our attitudes, and three, fear is not naturally within us—we receive this unwanted “gift”). Instead of fear, God has given us power (the ability to get results), love and a sound, fear-free mind.
WORSHIP IN FAITH, NOT FEAR
Our understanding of this affects how we worship in a crucial way. Kong clarified that the story of Job is not just about suffering; it is also a story of how God delivered Job from a fear-centered religious lifestyle to a love-centered relationship with God. Job’s worship of the Lord was motivated by fear (Job 1:9-12 and 3:25): he made burnt sacrifices each morning not out of love for God, but rather, to avert God’s wrath in case his children might have unknowingly sinned.
His worry and dread acted like “reverse meditation”, attracting what he didn’t want instead of what he did want. Proverbs 29:25a says that “the fear of man brings a snare…” Instead of focusing on what we don’t want, Kong encouraged the congregation to pray with thanksgiving in faith because “whoever trusts in the Lord will be safe” (Prov 29:25b).
Kong shared that the greatest fear believers have is “What if I believe in vain?”
By questioning God’s Word and his promises to us, fear makes us doubt and drains our faith. Despite seeing firsthand God’s many signs and wonders, the Israelites believed the bad report of the 12 scouts send to spy out the land promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Num 13:31-32). Fear made the scouts feel like grasshoppers, and made their opponents seem like giants (Num 13:33). Hearing this report, the people “wept” and despaired (Num 14:1-4) and even felt that “the Lord hates us” (Deut 1:27). Despite the promises of God, the people saw the contradictions and became afraid. They lost their faith in the Word, and did not receive what the Word had promised them.
TO HOLD FIRM IN FAITH, “ONLY BELIEVE”
When we most need God’s provision or breakthrough in our situation, Kong explained, we must meditate on God’s Word and His promises while simultaneously keeping ourselves away from its contradictions.
He drew from the parallel stories of Jesus and Peter raising the dead. In Mark 5:21-42, Jesus was on his way to heal Jairus’ daughter when some people came from the house who claimed Jairus’ daughter had already died. Similarly, in Act 9:36-41, Peter was sent for to heal a lady name Tabitha, who had already passed away. Despite the inherent contradiction (how do you heal a dead person?), Jesus said, “Do not be afraid; only believe.” (Mark 5:36) When both reached the respective houses, they were confronted by crying and wailing. Amidst this of fear and confusion, Jesus “put them all out” (Mar 5:39) and proceeded to heal the little girl. Peter did the same, sending the weeping widows out of the room and praying before healing Tabitha (Acts 9:40). Instead of listening to the contradictions, Jesus and Peter only believed.
The key to overcoming fear, then, is in 1 John 4:16-18. The NKJV translation says that “we have known” (that is, to have experienced for ourselves) “and believed the love that God has for us.” This gives us “boldness in the day of judgment”, explained Kong. Furthermore, “there is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out all fear.” Fear attacks us by making us doubt that God loves us; to counter fear, we must be totally convinced of God’s love for us. As the Chris Tomlin worship song goes, He is indeed a “Good, Good Father” and those in the Body are loved by Him.
Kong ended the service with a time of ministry: church workers and cell group leaders prayed for members experiencing fear to overcome their fears.