Within the Trinity of God is a harmonious relationship, teeming with life and love, taught Pastor Kong Hee in last weekend’s message. Out of this abundance comes an outpouring of love onto all believers to bring them closer to the love of God. An awareness of His love draws believers into a transformative spiritual union with God.
“What do you think is the goal of Christianity? What is the goal of your faith? What do you think is the ultimate purpose of your entire Christian life?” Kong Hee, the senior pastor of City Harvest Church, posed these questions to the congregation at the start of his sermon on the weekend of Oct 16 and 17.
When Pastor Kong was younger, his life’s goal was to witness revival—souls saved, and nations won for Christ. “But the longer I walk with the Lord, the more I realise that the most precious things in life are not what we can do, or what we can be,” Pastor Kong shared. “The pearl of great price is actually God Himself.”
While God will never force His way into our lives, He saves the lost to bring them into a personal relationship with Him. The ultimate goal of a Christian’s faith, therefore, is spiritual union. This is the reason why Jesus was so concerned about Martha: distracted and busy with life, she was too busy to notice that Jesus was there.
The Christian life is all about drawing closer and closer to God, yet not many Christians understand that. Some think that the goal of life is just conversion. Pastor Kong taught that conversion is simply the starting point of salvation. “It is a very small part of a much larger picture. It is not the whole story. It is not the whole purpose of why Jesus came and died for us on the cross,” he explained.
Salvation is conversion, justification, sanctification, glorification, but its goal is spiritual union. Marriage in this lifetime is a picture of a Christian’s ultimate union with God one day. The Bible says that one day, the New Jerusalem will come down from heaven, prepared as a bride dressed for her husband (Rev 21:2). That is when God and the church will fully become one. This goal is captured in the parable of the prodigal son: a father longing for his son, who was lost but returns to be reunited with him.
“More than just giving you the grace to escape hell or blessing you with things or rewards in this life, God wants you to experience His divine life,” Pastor Kong elaborated. Only with God’s life can a believer be truly free and discover who he truly is.
God’s life is characterised by love—the atmosphere of heaven. Believers have already begun to experience this on earth the moment they believe in Jesus Christ. “You receive Him by faith, then the Holy Spirit pours out divine life and love into you,” the pastor explained. “As you live and walk in the Spirit, you experience more of this love.”
Understanding the Trinity brings believers closer to the truth that God is a communion of loving and relational Persons. “God is not aloof or standoffish. He is longing, yearning for friendship, for fellowship with you and I,” Pastor Kong revealed. “God’s love towards us doesn’t just come from one Person in the Trinity. It is a love that circulates eternally among the three of Them.”
To illustrate the Trinity, the early church used the imagery of dance—the three of Them are in a dance. They used the word Perichoresis where “peri” means moving around and “choresis” means making room. God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit are actively moving around and making room for one another. Hence, God was never in any way lonely, or in need of anyone or anything. Yet, He chose to open up His circle of love to include Man in this dance, despite knowing that this decision would bring a lot of pain, suffering and heartache.
The book of Revelation refers to Jesus as the Lamb slain from the “foundation of the world”. Even before He created the world, He knew that He had to die on the cross to save humanity and bring them into the Triune life of God.
Coming into God’s Triune life is His greatest work for His people. To simplify this, Pastor Kong proffered two words: transforming union. “God is transforming us, preparing us for spiritual union and intimacy with Him.” The early church called this theosis—theo means God and osis means transformation. Theosis is God taking His people through the process of transformation that will result in them having spiritual union with Him.
Pastor Kong asserted that everything a Christian does in life today is part of theosis. The Holy Spirit uses every experience to bring him closer and closer into union with God—that is the basic theme of the Bible.
This is alluded to in the New Testament where Peter told Christians that they are partakers of the divine nature and spoke about being in Christ, united with Christ, hidden in Christ and coming into the fullness of God. To the Apostles, to have a transforming friendship and union with God is the whole purpose of life.
“God uses marriage to give us a glimpse of what this union is supposed to look like and feel like,” Pastor Kong continued. Through marriage, God teaches His people that love is not just a feeling but is self-giving, committed and always hopeful. Love is found in the person of God, who lives within His people.
Pastor Kong encouraged the church to become more aware of God, who is the Love living inside them. “You need to learn to take a few steps back and let this Christ who lives through you, love through you,” he said.
HOW TO BECOME MORE AWARE OF THE TRANSFORMING UNION
The first thing a Christian can do to become more aware of the transforming union of theosis is to focus on the fruit of the Spirit, which is the character profile of Jesus Christ.
The second way is to be mindful of the eight blessings found in the Beatitudes (Mt 5:3-12). Pastor Kong expounded on each verse. “Blessed are the poor in spirit” means to focus on spiritual things. “Blessed are those who mourn” means to grieve over one’s sin and ask the Holy Spirit to help one change.
“Blessed are the meek” means to model after Jesus in all humility and gentleness. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness” means living a godly life that brings God glory. “Blessed are the merciful” is to show kindness to the poor and needy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart” means to allow the Holy Spirit to renew one’s minds and hearts. “Blessed are the peacemakers” refers to those who walk in a constant atmosphere of forgiveness. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’s sake” means to be unafraid of suffering for the sake of the gospel.
“If you focus on these eight beatitudes in your heart, in your thoughts, the Holy Spirit will bring about a transforming union, or theosis,” the pastor concluded. “Then from the overflow of God’s love will come an ease in your living.”
Christians will find God working on their behalf. “This is how you experience the easy yoke and the light burden that we’ve been talking about,” Pastor Kong encouraged.
THE WORKS OF THE NEW CHARIS MISSION AND HARVEST KIDZ
To illustrate theosis, Pastor Kong invited Pastor Don Wong, director of The New Charis Missions to share about the organisation’s works. Built with a heart for ex-offenders, TCM is a halfway house that conducts a residential rehabilitation programme that helps individuals move forward from their past. The programme aims to integrate them back into society through discipleship, the provision of jobs and strengthening family bonds.
Other initiatives include reaching out to youths and the elderly, as well as engaging in prison ministry, which extends to countries such as Vietnam, Taiwan, the Philippines and Central America. Pastor Don made a clarion call for volunteer teachers to help with youths taking their ‘N’ and ‘O’ Levels as well as support for their latest e-commerce social enterprise, Charis Durians.
Next, Eileen Toh, the pastor overseeing CHC’s children’s ministry HarvestKidz shared about the recent Children’s Day celebration that was conducted via Zoom. This outreach garnered the participation of 2,631 kids hailing from nine countries, including Myanmar and India. A total of 641 people gave their hearts to Jesus. Through the accompanying Feed the Hungry programme, food was distributed to poor and needy children during the same event.
On the homefront, HarvestKidz brought cheer to children in low-income families in Singapore, by blessing them with laptops. Pastor Eileen reported that this was much needed during this period of home-based learning and one parent was moved to tears by their gesture.
In short, it is through this transforming union—theosis—that Christians can truly be the salt and light in the world, transforming darkness to light as they are transformed by God.