Encounters with God show Christians that the supernatural God is real. Last weekend, City Harvest Church’s senior pastor, Kong Hee taught three habits believers must have in order to encounter God.
Divine encounters are important to one’s spiritual walk. To illustrate this, Kong Hee, senior pastor of City Harvest Church started his sermon on Nov 20 and 21, with an encounter he heard from the late Dr Yonggi Cho, founder of Yoido Full Gospel Church.
The wife of Dr Cho’s associate pastor had passed away suddenly. Their children were very young and they had cried for many days. One day, the associate pastor decided to send them out to get some sweets to cheer them up. While he was alone in the house, he suffered a heart attack and passed on. However, on the day of his burial service, he suddenly sat up in the open casket, startling everyone present.
He told Dr Cho what happened after he had passed on. He was brought to heaven by three angels and there, he met Bible heroes and had many beautiful encounters. He met his late wife who told him that he had to go back to Earth to tell their children that she was in a better place.
While touring heaven, the associate pastor asked Jesus to show him his heavenly home. When he came to his home, he was surprised to see that it had no roof. Jesus gently and lovingly told the pastor, “Your obedience and good works continuously rise up to heaven and they are the material we use to complete your mansion. Go back to the earth and keep loving me and serving me. All your labour of love will rise up and they will be rewarded, and we will complete your roof.” Jesus comforted the pastor before telling him to hurry back to the casket before his friends buried him. That encounter in heaven spurred the associate pastor on in his walk with God and he later became in charge of the Prayer Mountain at Yoido.
Pastor Kong went on to share a personal encounter that he himself had with the Lord. Back in the 1980s, Pastor Kong who was fresh out of the university was in a dilemma as to whether to pursue his studies in the United Kingdom or to stay in Singapore to serve God.
One morning, he had an encounter with God on a public bus that was empty, except for him and the bus driver. God told him that he would raise up an army that would take the nations by storm. At that moment, the young would-be pastor made a decision to surrender his whole life to God. Shortly after that encounter, Pastor Kong was invited to lead a mission team to the Philippines. There, he experienced many divine encounters and saw people getting healed when he prayed for them in a big evangelistic meeting. Many came forward to give their hearts to God when he gave the altar call. Before this trip, he had never preached in service before.
When he returned from that trip, he was tasked to conduct a chapel service in Anglican High School. Even though it was the first chapel service he had preached in, and he only had 15 minutes to share, 60 students gave their hearts to Jesus that day. That was the start of a revival in AHS that sparked in other schools in the eastern part of Singapore.
“These experiences happened over a 12-month period,” Pastor Kong recalled. “It gave me a new vision and new revelation of God.” These encounters showed him how God was real, and how much He wanted to be a part of Pastor Kong’s life.
THEORIA–THE SECOND KEY TO SPIRITUAL UNION
The pastor gave a quick recap of the three keys to growing more intimate with God: Katharsis, which means purification, Theoria which means revelation, and Theosis which is union.
He shared that from Matthew 5:8, which reads “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God”, the early church fathers taught that theoria means to see God, or to have divine encounters.
“You need to realise that the kingdom of God is not a book of theories and concepts; it is about encountering the power of God,” Pastor Kong asserted. He gave the example of Peter walking on water, Abraham having a visitation from God and three angels, among others.
“Encounters soften our hearts, and open us up to experience a supernatural God,” he continued. “Without visions, revelations, encounters of God’s presence and power, your knowledge of God is incomplete. You only know of Him; you don’t really know Him.”
Theoria can only happen when the believer’s life has the right spiritual temperature. The Bible describes three things a Christian must do to be ready for encounters: walk in light (1 Jn 1:7), walk in love (Eph 5:2) and walk in power (Gal 5:16).
“To walk in’ means this must become your lifestyle,” the pastor explained. To walk in the light is to walk in righteousness—this means that Christians must desire to live a life of purity and glory (Ps 37:6).
While Christians are saved by grace, the evidence of this saving grace is seen through living a life of righteousness. The Bible teaches that for the repentant Christian, sin no longer reigns in them.
Next, Christians have to walk in love because love is the spirit of Jesus. Romans 5:5 reads, “God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”
The Sermon On The Mount, the Beatitude, and Fruits of the Spirit are all expressions of love. John Wesley, who was famous for teaching about holiness, taught that holiness is not just about abiding by the laws and rules. True holiness is about walking in perfect love for God and for people.
Pastor Kong shared that his prayer for the church is to experience the width, the length, the height and the depth of God’s love for them (Eph 3:17-19), so that they would become more loving every day.
Finally, to encounter God, Christians must walk in the power of God.
1 Corinthians 2:4 reads, “My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power.”
“The Holy Spirit is the source of all scriptures.” Pastor Kong taught. “But when He presents the Bible to you, it is never in words alone, but also in the demonstration and power of the Spirit.”
Pastor Kong went on to explain the importance of walking in all of these three things: light, love and power. If one were to live only in the love and the power of God but without righteousness, he will become a compromiser. Without righteousness, one cannot love God and cannot see Him.
If he lives only with the righteousness and the power of God but without love, he would be harsh to those around them. The Bible teaches that without love, a person is nothing. This is because faith only works through love.
If he lives only with the righteousness and the love of God but without the power, he will only experience a dry religion with no real transformation in his life. The power of God helps one to be aware of His presence and reality.
THE FRUITS OF CHURCH WITHOUT WALLS
Before closing the service, Pastor Kong invited on stage, Johann Sim and Ian Chong, the pastoral supervisors overseeing My Fellow Workers, a project under the Church Without Walls initiative. On Nov 4, My Fellow Workers celebrated Deepavali with the migrant workers in a dormitory. Over 50 volunteers from CHC turned up to serve on the public holiday.
Before the actual event, the team met with many mishaps starting with Johann testing positive for COVID-19. However, the rest of the team worked together and ploughed through to make the event a success.
Johann and Ian shared that the migrant workers had been going through many difficulties during the pandemic. They wanted to bring them cheer through this event, with goodie bags, fun programmes and even a photo booth where they can send a festive greeting back to their families. When there was an opportunity, the volunteers also prayed for the migrant workers after they shared about their family’s situation back in their countries.
There will be another Christmas Carnival that will be happening on 26 Dec which requires 40 more volunteers. Interested members can sign up via www.chc.org.sg/cww.
Churches in The Harvest Network are also jumping in on the CWW movement. Victor Wong, the pastoral supervisor working with the overseas churches, reported that they have helped 7,355 families with 21,258 poor and needy by distributing groceries to them.
Victor also announced a THN virtual missions conference with 124 workshops. Members from 54 churches in 13 nations will be participating in the conference.
The works of the kingdom is going strong through CHC, CWW, Emerge and missions in spite of the pandemic. At the end of the service, Pastor Kong encouraged the church saying that the Holy Spirit wants to have an encounter with them, to purify them , heal them, set them free and bring them into a deeper spiritual union with God.