Christians can only experience the fullness of eternal life at Jesus’ Second Coming, but in this lifetime, they must draw closer to God in preparation for that day. This past weekend at City Harvest Church, Pastor Kong Hee taught how important it is to be aware of eternal life.
“Conversion is like falling in love: you are falling in love with God,” preached Kong Hee, senior pastor of City Harvest Church as he opened his sermon on the weekend of Oct 23 and 24. “But this love must mature, it must deepen, you must grow until the two really become one.”
Continuing his message on theosis—spiritual union with God—Pastor Kong taught that Christianity is more than just justification by faith. The ultimate goal of a Christian is to be in spiritual union with God.
It is common knowledge among Christians that Jesus died on the Cross to make atonement for mankind. Pastor Kong explained “atonement” to be “at-one-ment” “The whole purpose of the salvation story, is to make us one with God,” he expounded.
THE BEGINNING OF ETERNAL LIFE
Salvation allows one to participate in God’s divine nature—living water begins to bubble up on the inside of a Christian the moment he receives salvation, and it will keep bubbling up, preparing him to meet Jesus in the age to come.
“This eternal life that you have received (at salvation) is not all there is to it,” the pastor continued. “You have a very small measure of it, but this small measure is enough to fill you with righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
The Holy Spirit will then move the believer to yearn for God’s presence and cry out to Him. He will also bring the believer into God’s family to enjoy a filial relationship with Him. That is the beginning of the spiritual union that will grow deeper as the believer grows more familiar with the heart of God.
“This eternal life on the inside grows in tandem with the divine love in you,” Pastor Kong elaborated. “The more eternal life springs up, the more God’s love is poured in. The more His love is there, the more His life grows within. That is why you and I must always be spiritually hungry and thirsty for more.”
Pastor Kong went on to teach that there is more to the baptism in the Holy Spirit than just speaking in tongues and moving in the gifts of the Spirit; these are only the start.
In 2 Corinthians 5, Paul wrote about the Second Coming of Christ. V4 reads, “For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.”
Unpacking this verse, Pastor Kong explained that Christians are not satisfied in this lifetime because they are limited by “this tent” which is the human flesh. On good days they pray, and miracles happen. Some days, they struggle and succumb to temptations.
At the Second Coming, they will finally be clothed with their “heavenly dwelling”. “Now, you are ready, and you can contain the fullness of God in all His glory, for all of eternity,” Pastor Kong declared.
“This life is eternal life in its fullness,” he added. “You will finally be ‘swallowed up’ by the ocean of divine life.”
The new spiritual body is the same body that the Holy Spirit prepared for Jesus at His resurrection. In it, theosis becomes a reality—there will be no more sickness, no more human weaknesses.
“Think about it,” said Pastor Kong. “No more chronic depression, no more personality disorder. No more waking up with suicidal tendencies. Think about no more struggling with anger, with the sin problem, no more succumbing to temptation. No more disability. No more sickness, no more disease.”
ETERNAL LIFE IN FULLNESS HAPPENS ONLY AT THE SECOND COMING
The early church fathers believed that mankind is made in the image of God, but they have to be transformed into His likeness. However, Christians can only reflect Christ fully in their future resurrected state (1 Jn 3:2).
That is the importance of Jesus’ resurrection. “Jesus’s salvation work was not completed at the Cross, but only at the resurrection,” he explained, reading 1 Corinthians 15:14 and Hebrews 9. “Because only if Jesus has risen will you one day experience your own resurrection.”
That is also the reason Paul wrote that he would do anything to “attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Phil 3:11). “Because that is the moment of theosis—your marriage to God. That is when your spiritual union is complete,” Pastor Kong preached. That is when Christians can finally experience eternal life in its fullness.
He urged the church not to be complacent with the little measure of eternal life they experience now, but to stay spiritually hungry for more.
Richard Baxter was a theologian who lived in the 17th century. Even though he was afflicted by chronic illnesses and pain all his life, he wrote more theological books than anyone else in history.
Pastor Kong revealed his secret. “When Baxter was 30, he almost died. On his deathbed, for half an hour every day, he meditated on heaven, and on his future life,” he said. Baxter meditated on receiving the fullness of God’s love in the age to come and visualised the joy of spiritual union with God. “The more he meditated on eternal life, and on the divine love of that union, the stronger he felt in his body,” the pastor added.
Baxter went on to live till he was 76—twice the lifespan of the average person at that time. He was never healed of his chronic pain, but he was always happy and full of faith.
Pastor Kong shared that he understands the struggles every Christian encounters. “Sometimes the struggle goes away and sometimes His grace is sufficient and it stays,” he said. “But from today, I want you to start being very aware of God’s goal for your life, which is theosis.”
He urged the church to be intentional in cultivating a deeper friendship with God and to meditate on life in union with Him.
The only definition of eternal life in the Bible is found in John 17:3, where Jesus explained that having eternal life is knowing God—the more one knows God, the more eternal life one will have. Yet, to know God is more than having textbook knowledge. John explained in 1 John 4:7 that “everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.”
In other words, a person who does not love does not know God. “Eternal life is knowing God, and knowing God is being loved by God. So, you must decide today, by the power of the Spirit to be as loving as you can in your words and deeds,” the pastor advised.
He noted that evangelism, missions and ministry in the marketplace are all things that God empowers His people to do, yet these must come from an overflow of divine life. If ministry makes a Christian cynical about people and life, something is wrong. “Everything you do must take you deeper into theosis, not draw you further away from God,” he said.
“Only with the overflow of Triune love will there be a supernatural ease,” he concluded. “It is no longer you striving to work harder for life and God. Let your work be empowered by this supernatural ease.”