In last weekend’s sermon, Pastor Kong Hee spoke to the church about the importance of having faith and the different levels of faith a believer has.
Faith means focus, preached Pastor Kong Hee, City Harvest Church’s senior pastor, as he opened his sermon on 15 and 16 April. Reading out a series of scriptures pertaining to faith, he reminded the church of the importance of having faith.
“It doesn’t matter what you see or how you feel. Don’t get distracted; keep your focus on God and His love for you. If you can do that, you’re walking and living in faith,” he said. He gave the example of Jesus raising Jairus’ daughter from the dead in Mark 5. Jairus was discouraged when he heard that his sick daughter had passed away, but Jesus told him, “Do not be afraid; only believe.” What Jesus was saying to Jairus was to not be distracted by what other people said, but to keep believing in Him.
The pastor went on to share the remarkable testimony of Suwantono Tanadi, who lives in Medan, Indonesia. When he was 17, he was diagnosed with a rare skin cancer that caused him to suffer extreme pain daily. One day, he read the verse 1 Pet 2:24 in the Bible: “By Whose stripes, we were healed.”
Every day for the next month, Suwantono focused on this verse. Even when he was in pain or when he saw himself deteriorating, he did not give up. One night, the pain was so great, he could not even find a comfortable position to sleep in. However, he kept believing and meditating on the verse, until in exhaustion, he fell asleep.
When he awoke, he found his bed covered in dead skin. When he got up and looked in the mirror, he discovered that the skin on his face and body was smooth as a baby’s—God had healed him in his sleep.
“If you want to overcome the difficulties in your life, you have to focus on Jesus—you mustn’t be distracted,” the pastor declared. However, no one becomes a giant of faith overnight. One may start off with little faith, but they need to grow into great faith, and finally, perfect faith.
LEVEL 1: LITTLE FAITH
In Matthew 8, the disciples were with Jesus on a boat when a storm broke. They were in a panic because Jesus was sleeping amid the storm. Jesus then asked his disciples, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” (V26).
“The disciples were distracted by the sight and sound and the people around,” Pastor Kong said. “They wanted to believe, but they were shaken by the circumstances that surrounded them. James says a man who doubts is a double-minded man.”
Reading Mark 9:23, Pastor Kong taught that if one could stay focused on God, everything would be possible for him. He then shared the testimony of a cell group leader, Jeremy Peh. Five years ago, his father collapsed from of a massive heart attack and the doctors told the family that he would not survive. They even suggested that they pull the plug and let him pass on. But Jeremy and his pastor, Lee Yi Lun, came together with his cell group to fast and pray for his father for seven days. On the seventh day, Jeremy’s father woke up, totally well, and he remains well today.
LEVEL 2: GREAT FAITH
As Christians grow in the Lord, they need to study the Bible and learn about the character of God and all the promises He has for them. As they start to experience His love, they must focus on it because faith works through love, explained Pastor Kong.
Jesus talked about having great faith—an unwavering, overcoming faith. In Matthew 8, the centurion’s servant was very sick. He came to Jesus, who offered to go to his house to heal his servant. The centurion replied that Jesus did not need to travel to his house to command healing—He could simply say the word and the centurion’s servant would be healed. Jesus commended the centurion for having “great faith”.
Matthew 15:26-28 records an incident where Jesus tested a Canaanite woman. When she came asking Him to heal her demon-possessed daughter, He told her that He was only sent to the Jews. However, the woman showed Jesus her great faith by saying in V27, “Yes Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table”. Jesus was amazed at her great faith and her daughter was healed.
“Great faith is very humble and very patient. Great faith is willing to wait—’Jesus, I’ll be patient and I’ll wait until You feel that the timing is right’,” Pastor Kong explained. Even when Jesus’ answer was not immediate, the Canaanite woman remained patient and spoke humbly.
LEVEL 3: PERFECT FAITH
Perfect faith is trusting obedience, said Pastor Kong. “When you can trust and obey God even if there is no blessing or healing, you have perfect faith,” he elaborated.
Jesus is the perfect example of this: His perfect faith gave Him the power and strength to obey God and to endure the cross.
Because the world is a fallen place, Christians continue to have many hardships to bear. “In fact, He says without hardships and sufferings, you will never develop perfect faith,” the pastor taught. He gave the example of modern-day heroes of faith, German evangelist Reinhard Bonnke, founder of Yoido Full Gospel Church, Dr Yonggi Cho and Mother Teresa. Pastor Bonnke and Dr Cho gave their lives to healing the sick and preaching the gospel but they both died from chronic illnesses. Mother Teresa dedicated herself to the poor and yet suffered the dark night of the soul for 50 years.
“In spite of all the pains and struggles, God used them mightily because they have perfect faith,” Pastor Kong taught.
In Hebrews 11, the author listed the heroes of faith who received their miracles and blessing, as well as “others [who] were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still, others had trials of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, [k]were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented—of whom the world was not worthy” (Heb 11:35-38).
Pastor Kong encouraged the members to grow stronger in their faith so that they would one day learn to obey God regardless of the outcome. The service ended with an altar call for healing and restoration.