In his latest sermon, Pastor Kong Hee explained the genesis of the Jews’ expectation of the Kingdom of God and how one should respond to it.
What does the Kingdom of God really mean and what does it look like on earth? How did the people of Israel understand it, and how did Jesus demonstrate it? These questions were addressed during Kong Hee’s sermon this past weekend (Sep 11-12).
“The Kingdom of God on earth really began with a man called Abraham, and it was later committed to his descendants, Israel,” the senior pastor of City Harvest Church began.
In Genesis 17:5, God made a covenant with Abraham that He would make him the “father of many nations and I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you.” Thus, the Jews expected God to one day rule in power on earth.
“Their hope was that one day, a heavenly king would restore Israel, just like David, their greatest king, did,” Pastor Kong expounded. “God’s glory would once again fill the whole temple and peace would come in all the world. There would be no more wickedness, no more evil, no more injustice.”
However, that day did not come—the glory of God was missing in the temple after they returned from their exile to Babylon. In 63 BC, the Roman army crushed the Jewish nation and the people of God came under oppression.
The Jews began to wonder where God was, until John the Baptist came unto the scene and proclaimed that the Kingdom of God is near. The Jews then became excited to receive the glory of God that they had been waiting for. When Jesus started His ministry, He preached that the Kingdom of God was in Him and all that He did.
Jesus’ mission was to preach the gospel of the Kingdom (Mt 4:23). He appointed His disciples for this mission and declared that every Christian needs to do the same.
THE EXPECTATION OF JESUS’ COMING
John the Baptist declared in Matthew 3:11 that Jesus would baptise Christians in the Holy Spirit and with fire. The fire that he referred to here is not the purifying fire, but the fire of judgement that will separate the wicked from the righteous (Mt 3:12).
Pastor Kong explained that John was expecting Jesus to come and rule over the earth and make right every wrong, ushering a new heaven and new earth—this was the belief of the Old Testament prophets and the Jews.
“Jesus explained that the coming of the Kingdom was not a single event—there is the First Coming and the Second Coming,” Pastor Kong continued. “The Kingdom has come in measure, a little bit in this present evil age, but the full manifestation of it has not yet (come).”
Wickedness, sickness and disease will continue until Jesus’ Second Coming. John, however, was confused seeing that the world was not yet transformed, and sent his disciples to question Jesus (Mt 11:2). Jesus replied Him quoting Isaiah 35, that the Scriptures were already being fulfilled and people’s lives—the blind could see, the lame could walk—were being transformed by God.
“Jesus knew that His mission was not what John and many others had expected,” noted Pastor Kong. “He pronounced a special blessing upon those who were able to accept the ‘already and not yet’.” This blessing in Mt 11:6—”Blessed are he who does not stumble on account of me” who are not stumbled on account of me—is for every Christian facing challenges in life and yet is able to accept that the Kingdom of God has already come but its manifestation is not yet full.
Jesus added in Mt 11:12, “And from the time John the Baptist began preaching until now, the Kingdom of Heaven has been forcefully advancing, and violent people are attacking it.”
THE POWER OF THE KINGDOM EXPECTS A RADICAL HUMAN RESPONSE
Pastor Kong declared to the church that the Kingdom of God is more powerful than the kingdom of this world. “Correspondingly, this Kingdom expects a radical human response,” he adds.
He explained that the “violent” in Mt 11:12 refers to people who are passionate for God and what He is doing. “They are pressing in, forcing themselves into this powerful Kingdom that’s coming into the world,” he elaborated.
The Kingdom of God is not for the passive and the sluggish. While Christians cannot earn their way into the Kingdom of God, they need to have bold and radical faith. The question is then, in what ways must a Christian be radical?
1. Be Radical To Live A Righteous Life
In the Sermon On The Mount, Jesus focused on four things a believer should practise: zero anger, zero immorality, forgiveness and honesty.
“You don’t need to work for it, but it must be a serious decision,” the pastor stated. “You must really want it.” When a Christian makes a radical decision, the Holy Spirit will give him the strength and power to overcome his weakness.
2. Be Radical To Love
“You must let the Holy Spirit pour the love of God into your heart until you’re so soaked that the love of God is overflowing out of you,” Pastor Kong preached. “The flip side of love is forgiveness. You must decide to walk in forgiveness 24/7.”
This means to bless one’s enemies and decide not to say anything negative, or gossip about others.
3. Be Radical To Cultivate The Fruit Of The Holy Spirit
The fruit of the Holy Spirit is the character profile of Jesus Christ. It is also the atmosphere of the Kingdom of God.
4. Be Radical To See The Power Of God
“The Holy Spirit is a Spirit of faith and you’ve got to believe!” Pastor Kong exhorted the church. “You must learn to boldly believe in the promises of God, to boldly confess and speak to your mountains. You must desire to have visions and dreams, and supernatural encounters with God.”
REACHING THE POOR AND NEEDY THROUGH CHURCH WITHOUT WALLS
The Church Without Walls movement is how CHC is called to bring the gospel of the Kingdom to the poor and needy. In previous weeks, various CWW initiatives, from Harvest Kidz and Dialect Service, to JAMs and an outreach to at-risk youth demonstrated the good works the church has been involved in since 1996.
This weekend, the church watched the video testimony of Judie Chang, whose life was dramatically changed by the power of God. Although she came from a loving family, Judie entered a rebellious stage in her teenage years. By 14, she was taking drugs and leading a promiscuous lifestyle. Her cousin Stanley Yew and his wife Jaques, today cell group leaders in CHC, reached out to her and continually praying for her. Sentenced to the Girls’ Home for rioting, Judie received Christ during a chapel session. She returned to her family, but a financial crisis forced her abandon her studies to help support her family—she fell back to her old lifestyle. When her father became critically ill, she became his sole caregiver. Judie was so exhausted and hopeless that she sought to end her life. Just then, she heard God speak to her—and she rededicated her life to Christ. Today, Judie works for a non-profit organisation, mentoring youths. In church, she also serves as a connect group leader in Stanley’s cell group.
Pastor Kong introduced two new initiatives under CWW. Dawn Lee, a staffer at CHC, spearheads CityHomes, a foster care initiative. She told the church that foster care, unlike adoption, is a temporary arrangement to meet the emergency care needs of a child.
In a video testimony, CHC member Holly Heng shared her experience of being a foster sibling. She was 16 when her mother, Laura took on the task of fostering a baby girl, Ruth, whose mother was unable to care for her. Whenever Laura was unwell, Holly would take on the duties of looking after the newborn. Besides having to give up her free time, Holly found herself judged by strangers in public, who mistook Ruth for her baby. But God encouraged Holly, and she learned to build her identity in God’s truth instead of the opinions of others. With the support of her pastoral zone supervisor, Johann Sim and his wife, Pastor Eileen Toh, as well as her cell group members, things became easier. Today, Ruth is 5 this year and Holly considers her her little sister. She looks forward to watching Ruth grow up.
CityHomes is looking for 10 foster families to help care for 10 children, and 20 volunteers to support the foster parents for the next four to six months.
The second initiative introduced last weekend was Street-Light, a ministry to sex workers in Singapore. Glordia Goh, a pastor serving in HarvestKidz, told the church that a few years ago, feeling the burden for this group of marginalised women, she took a sabbatical and flew to Indonesia to support NPOs helping sex workers . There, she saw many young girls in the trade, many of them trafficked by their family members. One was sold for the price of a mobile phone by her own parents.
In Singapore, sex workers are vulnerable to sexual abuse, health risks and physical assault. Some of them get pregnant and their children stay in the same place where their mothers conduct business, exposing them to risks such as sexual abuse.
Pastor Glordia is looking for 20 female volunteers to reach out to 15 sex workers over the next four months. The outreach involves befriending them and conducting workshops to equip them, in the hope that they can exit the sex trade and enter another industry. Pastor Glordia also appealed to CHC members to write in to CHC if they knew any sex worker who needed help.
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.