More than seeking the power of the Holy Spirit, a believer needs to seek His love. In last weekend’s sermon, Pastor Kong Hee emphasised the importance of being filled with the Holy Spirit’s love.
Spending time in prison was a life-changing experience for Kong Hee, the senior pastor of City Harvest Church. As he began his sermon on the weekend of 12 and 13 March, he described how he heard God speaking to him in his cell on the last day of his incarceration. As he was worshipping. God told him how much He loved him and that gave Pastor Kong the assurance he needed to adjust to life beyond prison.
With this story, Pastor Kong taught that Christians cannot know the Spirit only through their intellect alone. “You can only know Him through prayers, worship, spiritual encounters and experiences of Him, learning day by day to be very aware and sensitive to His thoughts, His desires and His actions,” the pastor preached.
Although the Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Trinity, He is the first Person that people encounter. It is the Holy Spirit who enables them to feel God’s presence and power. “He wants you to experience His love,” Pastor Kong explained. “It is His love that will take you to a greater measure of His fullness.”
GOD IS LOVE
God is not an angry or judgmental God—He is full of love (1 Jn 4:16). Love is the essence and nature of God.
“Even before time began, God the Father loved His Son, and the Son loved His Father,” Pastor Kong elaborated. The Holy Spirit is the bond of love between the Father and Son and continues for eternity. Christians are not left out of this circle of love—the Holy Spirit brings them into spiritual communion with God to experience a love that continues for eternity.
The love of God is unlike anything one could have in this world. It is an overwhelming feeling of intense joy and excitement that would change a person’s life. “The more perfectly you experience this love, the bolder you become because you know perfect love casts out all fear,” Pastor Kong continued, citing 1 Jn 4:18.
Reading Ephesians 3:18-19, he taught, “The more you allow the Holy Spirit to take you into love, the more you’ll be filled to the measure of the fullness of God. This is why the Holy Spirit is so important to you.”
The Holy Spirit is the reason why Christians are able to experience the fire of love burning in their souls. “Your emotions are moved because the Spirit touches your heart in a deep and profound way,” the pastor explained.
Because the Spirit is a spirit of love, one must first fall in love with Him before one can know Him. The outpouring of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost often brings to mind power, miracles and deliverance. “This outpouring of the Holy Spirit is first and foremost the outpouring of divine love,” Pastor Kong asserted. It is through the love of God that power is released.
THE HOLY SPIRIT IS NOT JUST ABOUT POWER
Love, however, is hardly on anyone’s mind when they think of the Holy Spirit. To most Christians, the Holy Spirit is all about power, but the pastor urged the church to change their thinking. “Love must become our default mode of existence,” he continued as he urged the church to allow love to stay in their consciousness day and night (Jn 15:9).
This can only be done through the Spirit (Rom 5:5). The Spirit pours out His divine love onto the believers and keeps them saturated in it. The whole purpose of salvation is for mankind to live and walk in God’s love and have a love relationship with Him. The love of God would fulfil, satisfy and completely change them.
“Only when we are living in love, are we living with God,” said Pastor Kong. He reiterated that while being hungry for the power of God and seeing the spiritual gifts of the Spirit moving in the church is important, one would never progress into the fullness of the supernatural until he is saturated with God’s love.
“Only when we are fully soaked in God’s love from our words, actions and countenance can we grow and mature into the greater powers of the Spirit,” he continued. “The more loving you are, the more powerful in the Spirit you become. Because He is the Spirit of love”
Jesus, in the four Gospels, had this same loving compassion that released tremendous power to work miracles. Similarly, the early church gave themselves unselfishly to love one another and the resurrection power of Jesus was released. “Love is the catalyst for power,” the pastor declared.
The first time Jesus experienced a powerful spiritual encounter was when He heard the audible voice of God at the Jordan River. God said, “You are My beloved Son, in Whom I’m well pleased.” It was at this moment when the Holy Spirit came upon Jesus, empowered Him and launched Him into His ministry.
“God’s power is always grounded in love,” the pastor asserted. “If you seek the power of God without love, then you are totally missing it.”
This was exactly Paul’s concern for the Corinthians, they had the power of God but they did not focus on His love. There was much anger, bitterness, gossiping, striving and division within the church. Pastor Kong reiterated his point from the previous week’s sermon that if Christians did not want to grieve the Holy Spirit, there must be zero anger, zero gossip and zero resentment.
Without love, there is no unity, as seen in the Corinthian church. Paul warned them that should they continue in that lifestyle, they would lose the power and presence that they had been enjoying. His message to them was to “pursue love and desire spiritual gifts” (1 Cor 14:1). “Because through the gifts of the Spirit, the love of God comes down from heaven and people’s lives are transformed,” the senior pastor explained.
“Don’t have a love for power without the power of love,” Pastor Kong urged the church. “My prayer as your senior pastor is that we will not just be another centre of power, but we must be a centre of love—people who are filled with an overflowing of love of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”
DEVELOP A LOVING COMMUNION WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT
To develop a loving communion with the Holy Spirit, “you must learn to quieten down your hearts and spend time with the Spirit in solitude,” Pastor Kong taught. In Psalm 37:7, David wrote, “Be still in the LORD and wait patiently for Him” in reference to the Holy Spirit
For 10 days, 120 disciples waited patiently in the Upper Room and the Holy Spirit came on the Day of Pentecost. “What are you doing while you’re waiting?” the pastor asked. “You are enjoying His Presence, enjoying His love and allowing Him to pour His love into your heart.”
Through this waiting, God can heal a person’s heart and take away all the hurt and bitterness so that his life can be changed. The Spirit of God is often not in loud earthquakes or fire (1 Kings 19:12), but He comes to us in a gentle whisper and a still small voice.
“If our minds are busy all the time, we are going to miss the Spirit because He speaks in a gentle whisper,” Pastor Kong said. “If you want to have a deep loving communion with Him, you can only experience Him in the sound of sheer silence.” (1 Kings 19:12, NRSV)
How then can a believer express his love to God? Pastor Kong revealed that he uses the Beatitudes as a simple guide. To allow this love to flow out of the believer to touch others, Pastor Kong uses the fruit of the Holy Spirit as a guide. These form two beams: the vertical beam of the Beatitudes and the horizontal beam of the fruit of the Spirit.
Pastor Kong explained how the eight beatitudes can be used to express a believer’s love towards God: come before God humbly, be repentant before Him, seek His love and holiness and express the willingness to serve Him. The fruit of the Spirit teaches believers to forgive one another, be patient kind, and be encouraging towards one another.
As the believer consciously soaks in the love of God, he will find his heart enlarging to contain more of the fullness of God. With this increase of fullness, there will be an increase in His power in his life. When he prays, miracles happen.
“Not only will we find great fulfilment in our personal lives, but what happened in the four Gospels and in the book of Acts will happen again in our days,” the pastor said, before he led the church to seek the love of the Holy Spirit and speak words of love to their family members.