City Harvest Church staff, cell group and ministry leaders and students of its School of Theology had the privilege of hearing Dr Satish Kumar preach on the life-and-death matter of salvation, and the kinds of people God uses.
Dr Satish Kumar founded Calvary Temple in Hyderabad, India in 2005. In 12 years, the church grew from 25 members to 200,000 and embarked on a church building project in 2012. Within 52 days, they had constructed a church building with an auditorium that could sit 18,000. (See interview story)
Today, Calvary Temple has 225,000 members: every member’s birthday is celebrated with a cake—that’s 225,000 cakes a year!—plus, every Sunday, the church feeds 30,000. Apart from feeding his sheep literally, Pastor Satish builds them up spiritually through Bible-based teaching and prayer and fasting. The preacher has shared his testimony internationally through Daystar television and is also a member of Dr Yonggi Cho’s Church Growth International.
Pastor Satish shared at the School of Theology Chapel Session on the morning of Tuesday, March 5, 2019 and at City Harvest Church’s leaders meeting that evening.
The pastor opened the leaders’ session by declaring that there are four important things that a believer must consider if he or she wants to serve the kingdom of God effectively. They are the Great Salvation, the Great Foundation, the Great Expectation and the Great Commission.
Pastor Satish began his message saying that his forefathers worshipped creation because no one ever told them about the Creator. The same could be said for millions today who are yet to hear about God.
He shared his personal testimony of how, as a young lad of 12, he failed at school and was steeped in vices such as smoking, stealing and gambling. His mother would constantly lament that she had given birth to a “stupid, useless boy” and declared that nothing and no one in the world could change him.
One day, an evangelist rode into Pastor Satish’s hometown and preached that Jesus had the power to change lives. The young Satish wandered into the hut where the evangelist was staying but found the place empty. He had no idea what to do but something told him to get on his knees and talk to this Jesus. He said, “Jesus, I am stupid, spoilt and beyond hope. My mother says no one can change me [but] the evangelist says You can change me. Jesus, You have to change me by the time I get up from my knees.”
Still on his knees, he caught sight of a large book on the bed. He grabbed it, opened it and read the first words he saw: “I have chosen you before you were created in your mother’s womb.” Surprised, he wondered, how could Jesus choose a boy? His eyes fell on the next verse, “Do not say that you are just a boy.” The young boy thought to himself, “This is a talking book! And if this book is able to speak to me, what about the Author of this book?!” There and then, Satish Kumar received his calling to preach the Gospel.
He shared this personal testimony to bring home the point that there is great salvation in Jesus Christ. However, the preacher cautioned that a Christian can be actively involved in various ministries without having true salvation and a personal relationship with God. “It is possible to serve God—without God,” warned Pastor Satish. He cited the story of John Wesley, who began serving God in his teens, sharing the Gospel and becoming a pastor and a missionary. Wesley grew into a famous preacher who prayed and read the Bible daily and taught others to do the same. However, he never had a personal relationship with Jesus—the born-again experience. It was only when he was 36 that John Wesley encountered Jesus and received Him as his Lord and Savior.
Pastor Satish shared that the path to heaven is narrow, while the path to hell is a toll-free express highway. He implored, “Salvation is so great, don’t ever dare come to a conclusion that you are being saved without a Savior. Ever since He walked into my heart, my only desire is to see that every individual will also accept Jesus and enjoy His presence, His forgiveness, and the certainty of salvation upon this earth.”
He pointed out that Jesus spoke about hell 56 times in the Bible and only mentioned heaven 24 times. Then he posed the leaders this question: “How many of you believe that those who have not had the chance to hear the Gospel, that when they die, they will still go to heaven?” A few in the crowd raised their hands. He then asked: “How many of you believe that even if they’ve not gotten a chance to hear the Gospel, when they die, they will end up in hell?” A few others raised their hands.
“If the first scenario is true, then we should all keep quiet and not share the Gospel. That way, people won’t have a chance to hear the Gospel and when they die, they can go to heaven!” he said to a laughing audience.
“Then if the second scenario is true; then even those who have not heard the Gospel, they will go to hell. My friends, if hell is real and salvation is free, how can we keep quiet?” he challenged.
“Salvation is already paid on the cross by Christ Jesus. How many of you know this truth? How can you remain silent? How can you keep quiet?” he continued. “Take the Gospel seriously. A great salvation freely given for those who believe in Jesus Christ—how can we keep quiet?”
Pastor Satish shared that the Great Salvation results in the Great Foundation. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, those who believe are now made righteous and holy, and the Great Foundation for believers is the character of Christ. If theywant to serve God, to be effective instruments in God’s hands to win souls, the great foundation is their testimony, their character, what they practice, what they show through our action.
Christians are called to be separated from the darkness, to be the light to this world, said the preacher, asking“What is the best way to share the Gospel?”
“Street lights don’t make noise, but they always show the way,” offered Pastor Satish. “Your personal life and your character are the greatest way to win souls for Jesus Christ.”
He gave the example of Joseph who led a life of separation, away from the world standards. Joseph was tempted every day, yet He stood firm on His character.
“You have holidays, you have weekends, and you sometimes have vacations. But the devil has no holidays. He works hard round the clock to destroy your character, to destroy your testimony, to destroy your relationship with God,” warned the pastor. “Make sure that you never sell your soul for whatever temptations that come your way.”
Pastor Satish encouraged the crowd to remember that while they are ordinary people, they are to remember that they serve an extraordinary God. He is expecting each one of His children to attempt great things for Him and to expect great things from Him.
Pastor Satish told the leaders to understand God’s greatness: that He is the King of all kings and the Lord of all lords.
The Great Commission is a command from God. While a request can be rejected, a command must be obeyed and taken seriously. Pastor Satish pointed out that the first two letters of the word “God” are “GO”. Likewise the words “Gospel” and “Good News”.
He proposed that “Good News” is to GO and preach the Gospel to NEWS: the North, the East, the West and the South.
With that, he exhorted the leaders to rekindle their passion to share the Gospel to all around them.
THE KIND OF PEOPLE GOD USES
Earlier at the morning session the same day, Pastor Satish preached a simple but strong message to the School of Theology students and staff of City Harvest Church on the four kinds of people God uses: common people, consecrated people, committed people, and courageous people.
Reading from 1 Samuel 16:10-12, in which prophet Samuel went to Jesse’s house to crown the next king of Israel, Pastor Satish showed how God used David, a young shepherd boy.
“Even the father of David did not consider that David was worthy to be anointed by God,” the pastor said. “He saw David as a common person: untalented, unskilful, and uneducated, but God sees him as a king.”
He reminded the audience how God looks at them is much more important than how people look at them. “He is a God who’s willing to use ordinary people to do extraordinary things,” said the pastor.
Pastor Satish went on to read 1 Samuel 17:17, where David’s father Jesse sent him to bring food to his brothers in the camp.
“This was a task even the servants could have done, but David didn’t think it was a small thing—he was obedient,” noted the preacher.
When it comes to serving the Kingdom of God, nothing should be too small for a servant of God to do. David was an obedient servant. Pastor Satish noted that if David did not do as his father had told him, he would have missed the opportunity of fighting Goliath.
“God doesn’t require your abilities, He requires your availability to do small things,” said Pastor Satish. “When God gives you a call, be obedient.”
God uses individuals who have a relationship with Him. The Bible says that David was a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14), that made him committed to God.
“Just like a car cannot operate without gas, a minister cannot serve without prayer and God’s powers,” the pastor said. “Prayer is the backbone of your ministry. Never try to do ministry without God’s power.”
1 Samuel 17:37-39 recounts how David chose to fight Goliath without armor and sword, but with the name of the Lord. Pastor Satish said that the life of a Christian is a spiritual battlefield, but the way they fight the battle must be different. “My weapon is different, my weapon is faith,” the pastor said. “If you rely on God, He’ll take you to the destination that is meant for you. Nobody can put you down if you’re obedient and you are relying on God.”
He recalled the early days in his ministry when he went to America to look for funding to grow his ministry. He went home disappointed because nobody wanted to support him. From that experience, he realized that he couldn’t depend on man, but he needed to depend on God.
“If you depend on a person, you’ll get what they can give,” he explained. “But if you depend on God, you’ll get what God can give.”
Pastor Satish named three types of barriers that committed people face: obstacles, opposition and opposition.
God is looking for people who are committed in spite of obstacles. Goliath was a giant (1 Sam 17:4), but David was not afraid.
“David’s eyes were not on the problem but on God,” Pastor Satish pointed out. “Don’t look at Jesus through your problems. When you do that, the problem will appear bigger than Jesus. Instead, look at the problem through Jesus.”
God is also looking for people who are committed in spite of opposition.
“Whenever you come close to God, the devil will bring obstacles and opposition into your life,” he cautioned. But he encouraged the leaders not to give up when they face opposition because God will honor those who are committed to the end.
Lastly, God is looking for people who are committed in spite of other opportunities.
“Sometimes you may get a better job or position if you choose to leave God. But once you leave God and try to serve gods outside, you’ll not be successful,” the pastor warned. “Don’t leave the ministry. Don’t leave God.”
“God wants you to be courageous because you have to face the risk. Who made David famous? Goliath. Who made Daniel famous? Lions.”
Serving God will bring a person into many risky situations but He wants to use those who are courageous. “Be willing to face enemies, don’t run away,” the pastor advised.
A servant of God must also be willing to face ridicule and insults. Pastor Satish shared his personal story of what he faced when he first became a preacher. “They mocked me and called me ‘international preacher’ [in a sarcastic way]. But God hears and God knows. He says, ‘Okay, you’re insulting my servant and calling him an international speaker, then I’ll make one out of him.’”
In closing, the pastor preached that God wants to use people who know how to sharpen their tools and are willing to work with Him. “Don’t just work hard with your hands, but work with God. Sit at His feet before coming to serve, you’ll get more results that way,” he said.
“That’s what we see in the life of Mary (Luke 10:41). Serve God not only with your hands but also with your heart.”