True faith is bold, but it also submits to the sovereignty of God. In his latest message on the Kingdom of God, Pastor Kong Hee gives the church a balanced perspective of faith.
Senior pastor of City Harvest Church, Kong Hee, began his sermon on the weekend of September 4 and 5, reiterating key points from his previous sermon. He reminded the church that Jesus cared for those of lower social-economic status and met their needs. Further, He performed miracles, not because of His divinity, but because He chose to depend fully on the power of the Holy Spirit.
“God’s power can flow through us to the same degree,” he encouraged the church. If Christians take Jesus as their role model and depend on the Holy Spirit as He did, they would be able to live in purity, in love and in faith. “We will become the people of greater works,” the pastor declared.
ALREADY BUT NOT YET
The frustrating thing for Christians, however, is living in the age of “already, but not yet”. Jesus teaches that the Kingdom of God has already come, yet He is also clear that it has not yet come in its fullness.
When it comes to faith, “You cannot please God without faith. But it doesn’t mean that just because you have faith, you will always get everything you want,” Pastor Kong explained.
He gave the example of the US highway 101 that runs through the Pacific coastline, which is one of the busiest freeways in the world. When Pastor Kong was residing in Los Angeles, he had to travel on 101 Freeway to reach the city from his home. In an ideal situation, when there was no traffic on the freeway in the pre-dawn hours, it would only take him 15 minutes to get from his doorstep to the city. Yet that was not the norm: it normally took him up to an hour to reach the city during daytime hours.
“If I expect to get to the city in 15 minutes every day, I would be very disappointed and frustrated,” he related. “I couldn’t confuse the ideal with the normal.”
Similarly, Christians cannot confuse the ideal with the normal when it comes to faith. The ideal situation is to have perfect health and endless blessings, with God answering their prayers instantly every time. However, this ideal has not yet come; the Bible teaches that Christians are still living in a fallen world today.
“Our desires are never that pure, our love never that deep and our faith never that strong,” the pastor pointed out. That is why Jesus taught His disciples to pray for God’s Kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven. The fact that Christians have to pray this every day means that while God’s Kingdom is within their reach, it exceeds their grasp.
“Already I am seated in the heavenly places with Christ, far above every principality and power and the devil is under my feet,” Pastor Kong illustrated,“yet Satan has not yet considered defeat nor is he completely destroyed.”
Pastor Kong went on to give examples of Bible heroes who lived in faith, yet continue to suffer in their lifetime. Stephen, whom the Bible says was a man full of God’s grace, became the first Christian to be stoned to death for his faith (Acts 7:59). Elisha, a great man who raised the dead and performed supernatural miracles, died of a terminal disease.
Philip was transported from one place to the next in one moment, but Paul the apostle was shipwrecked for 14 days. Pastor Kong noted that Paul was the apostle who taught about faith confession, “Are you going to say, ‘since Paul wasn’t delivered from a shipwreck in spite of his faith, I don’t want to confess anything by faith anymore?'”
WHY DECIDE TO LIVE BY FAITH?
Pastor Kong asserted that Christians ought to live by faith “because Jesus teaches us to do that and because we obey Jesus.” In Mark 11:22-23, Jesus taught His disciples to speak to every mountain standing in their way and believe that God will do a miracle, and the mountain will be moved. That is faith.
“Jesus teaches faith confession, but He also teaches us to always surrender to God’s will,” he pointed out. “There’s power in the Bible—I will confess every promise. But at the same time, I give God the freedom to be God.”
The pastor emphasised that true faith is bold and unafraid to believe in God’s promises, yet it is also submissive to God’s sovereignty. “You can’t have one without the other,” he stressed.
In Hebrews 11, the chapter on faith, the writer underscored the need to live by faith. “Half the people in that chapter never received their miracles,” said Pastor Kong. V35 noted those who were tortured, imprisoned, stoned and lost everything— they too had faith, yet none of them received their miracles. That was why the Bible says the world is not worthy of them.
“So, the question is: can you be a hero of faith?” the pastor challenged. This means to not only believe that God will bless, but to have bold faith and also submit to God’s sovereignty.
Pastor Kong urged the church not to lose their faith confession, even when they cannot see results. “Because the moment faith is gone, your relationship with Jesus Christ dries up; everything in your Christian walk shuts down,” he cautioned.
THE IMPORTANCE OF CHURCH WITHOUT WALLS
One day when Christians get to heaven, there will be no sorrow and pain, no sickness and death. “In this lifetime, we have all these. But because Jesus Christ has broken in, we can have a little taste of heaven today,” Pastor Kong taught.
The Church Without Wall project is, therefore, crucial—it is a way that the members of CHC can express the love of God and bring the Kingdom of God to the underprivileged.
The church watched a video testimony of Rick Teng, who has been volunteering with JAMs Service, CHC’s ministry for the special needs, since 2002. He shared moving stories of serving the JAMs members and expressed that it was a privilege to serve in the CWW ministry, making a difference in the lives of many.
Since Pastor Kong re-introduced CWW to the church a month back, many members have already answered the call to serve the underprivileged. Among them were Lee Tat Haur and his wife Naomi. In a video testimony, Tat Haur explained that he started to understand the needs of the elderly when he became a caregiver to his mother after his father passed on. He realised how lonely the elderly become, especially after the demise of their spouse.
“When we heard about Pastor Kong’s sharing in August, we really wanted to do something to serve the elderly community in whatever capacity we could,” he shared.
Tat Haur and Naomi, who is Japanese, lead a Japanese cell group. They mobilised their members to serve in the Dialect Service, befriending and cleaning the home of an elderly woman. Naomi even started learning some simple Hokkien through YouTube, so that she could communicate with the woman. “We thank God that He has given us this opportunity to touch people’s lives in this way,” she said.
With that, Pastor Kong introduced two new initiatives under CWW. Pastor Veronica Tang told the congregation the “Nurturing Circle”, a ministry to reach out to unwed mothers, some of whom are pregnant. “We hope that through this ministry, we’ll be able to support these unwed mothers—many of them will be still struggling, feeling vulnerable, hurt and lost,” she said.
Pastor Veronica’s goal is to reach 30 unwed mothers. She is looking for the help of 50 female volunteers to serve twice a month for the next four months, offering emotional support and practical help to unwed mothers. She is also looking for five families to open their homes to house five unwed mothers and their babies temporarily.
The next project is the “Blessing Project” which aims to bring birthday surprises to 70 underprivileged children, and persons with special needs. Catherine Lee, the pastoral supervisor overseeing this project called for 20 adult volunteers to transport birthday cakes, and 40 youth volunteers to facilitate birthday surprises for the beneficiaries.
If you wish to be part of Church Without Walls in CHC’s outreach to the needy, please contact your cell group leader or sign up via www.chc.org.sg/cww.