Continuing his previous sermon on the importance of the word of God, Pastor Kong provided some valuable benefits that the Bible can bring and encouraged the church to read it regularly.
City Harvest Church’s senior pastor, Kong Hee, began his sermon on 20 and 21 January with 1 Thessalonians 2. Paul was writing to the church in Thessalonica, a young church whose members were on fire for God.
Reading 1 Thessalonians 2:13, Pastor Kong noted that the Bible will work mightily for those who believe, whereas unbelief cancels out the power of God’s Word. When God brought the Israelites out of Egypt, He did many signs and wonders among them, yet they had little faith in Him and so, failed to enter the Promised Land.
“The word of God must be mixed with faith,” Pastor Kong explained. He told the congregation to exercise humility and open up their hearts so that the Bible can produce many powerful things in them. He went on to share eight of these things.
1. The Word of God produces faith
Romans 10:17 reads, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Pastor Kong illustrated this with his personal healing testimony. When he was young, he suffered from severe asthma and was hospitalised twice. He received Christ at the age of 11 and believed that God had the power to heal him. However, his parents were not Christians, and he could not go to church, so he learned to have faith in God by reading the Bible. It took him four years to finish reading all the books in the Bible and in that process, as his faith grew, he was completely healed from asthma without having to take any medicine.
“Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God,” Pastor Kong declared the familiar verse to the church, but cautioned that it takes time for the Word to produce faith. It requires one to take time to study, read, and understand what God is saying, along with interest and attention to the Word. After a period of time, the voice of God will become clear as He will speak directly through the written Word.
Renowned English Pentecostal preacher and healing evangelist Smith Wigglesworth was known as the “Apostle of Faith”. He was uneducated and worked as a factory worker, but he raised 14 people from the dead, including his own wife, Polly. After he got married at 23, Polly taught him to read from the Bible and he understood it so well that he became a giant of faith.
Many Christians have little faith as they devoted little time or attention to the Word. “If you are too busy to read and study the Bible, or if you rush through your daily devotion, then faith doesn’t have enough time to grow and develop in you,” Pastor Kong taught.
2. The Word of God creates new life
When God’s word is received by faith, a new kind of spiritual life is birthed forth. 1 Peter 1:23 reads, “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.” In this verse, Apostle Peter likened the Word of God to a life-giving seed with creative power. The same word that creates the entire universe has the power and energy to recreate one’s life.
Speaking to those who are experiencing deep troubles in life, Pastor Kong said that God is able to give them a new life through the Word. Since the Word is imperishable, the life it produces is imperishable. Since the Word is holy and eternal, the life it produces is holy and eternal.
Christians who have the seed of God’s word abiding within them will live victorious and overcoming lives. God can recalibrate their hearts and renew their minds when they memorise and obey the Word. Eventually, they will lose their desire to sin and they will overcome their bad habits (1 Jn 3:9).
Pastor Kong shared that when he was a youth, he used foul language constantly. However, after reading and meditating on the Bible, he stopped swearing. He also used to have an anger management issue and could not exercise self-control, until he decided to apply the Word to his moods. He read all the verses about not being angry. Eventually, he found the Holy Spirit creating self-control over his frustration and his moods, cultivating in him the spirit of forbearance. “This is why the Bible is called the Word of life as it created a new life in you,” he said.
3. The Word of God provides spiritual nourishment
The Bible provides food in every stage of spiritual growth. Young Christians require spiritual milk (1 Pet 2:2) in the same way milk is necessary for a newborn. It is natural for new believers to have an appetite for spiritual baby milk and want to learn more about God. However, the baby must grow up and progress from milk to bread (Mt 4:4).
“If you only know a few popular verses, you are still feeding on milk,” the pastor stated baldly. “But when you start learning about the whole Bible, you’re feeding on bread.” He encouraged young believers to read through the Bible book by book.
Solid meat is required to grow to full maturity (Heb 5:12-14). While “milk” is basic Bible teaching, “solid meat” is the mature understanding of the Word. To become a strong and mature Christian, one has to exercise his spiritual senses by studying the Bible and applying it to every circumstance he faces in life.
The Bible casts light on every situation, relationship and decision. Pastor Kong reminded churchgoers that it is essential to know what the Bible says and God’s intention for them in every circumstance.
In the world, many different messages come from various sources, and it is easy to be influenced by the message of the world if one does not read his Bible regularly. These worldly thoughts will eventually lead him to make the wrong decision. It is therefore vital to read the Bible regularly to gain a better understanding of how God thinks and to allow for the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
4. The Word of God illuminates your mind
The Bible gives light, providing understanding to the simple (Ps 119:130). This light differs from education, Pastor Kong clarified. American president Theodore Roosevelt, famously said, “A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a university education.”
The pastor brought up the example of Chinese evangelist John Sung (1901-1944). He was a brilliant scholar, winning the top prize in Chemistry in America and attaining his PhD. But as he excelled at his studies, he had a nervous breakdown. In the 1920s, those with mental issues were considered insane and he was locked up in a mental asylum for six months. In that short period of time, Sung managed to read the Bible 40 times. He regained soundness of mind through the process and went on to become the greatest evangelist in the history of China.
The Bible illuminates the mind, giving its readers knowledge, understanding and wisdom. “Knowledge is information, understanding is comprehension, and wisdom is application, the skill necessary to live a life in accordance with God’s will,” the pastor explained. If one neglects the Word of God, it will be difficult for him to understand the ways of God and to learn how He thinks.
“Knowing how God thinks is the most important thing in your life as it will determine if your life is happy or blessed,” the pastor preached, encouraging the church to read the Bible daily and to seek God’s wisdom to live according to His ways.
5. The Word of God brings healing
Psalms 107:17-20 describes God sending His word to save His children from destruction heal them of their sicknesses and deliver them from demonic powers. The key to breakthrough on a daily and consistent basis is the Bible.
Pastor Kong shared that his wife, Sun, had a difficult pregnancy. Throughout the nine months of gestation, she experienced bleeding. But the couple chose to place their trust in God; they read a chapter of the Bible to baby Dayan in the womb every night, praying that their son would be born healthy and normal. By God’s grace, Dayan was born healthy and energetic.
6. The Word of God gives victory over sin
Young people in today’s society may question if it is possible to lead a life of purity, noted the pastor. Reading Psalm 119:9 and 11, he taught that the key to purity is to “hide the Word of God in their hearts”. That said, Jesus adopted the optimal way of using the Word to overcome every temptation (Mt 4).
7. The Word of God cleanses and makes holy
Reading Ephesians 5:25-27, Pastor Kong taught that Jesus cleanses the church with two powerful cleansing agents: the blood of Jesus which redeems and the Word of God which cleanses.
8. The Word of God serves as a spiritual mirror
Studies show that the average woman looks in the mirror eight times a day. On average, a person spends approximately eight minutes daily checking the mirror for flaws. James 1:23-25 likens listening to the Word to looking in the mirror, a spiritual mirror that reflects one’s true spiritual self, allowing one to make the necessary adjustments.
Pastor Kong concluded the service by reminding the people that there are more than 7,000 promises in the Bible—promises the believer would only be aware of if they know the Word. He emphasised the importance of reading the Bible as it is the most precious gift that God has given to Christians. In that vein, he also encouraged the church to enrol into CHC’s School of Theology in 2024 and 2025—various courses are available for church members to enrol in to study the Bible in depth.
5 DAYS OF PRAYER IN SEOUL
Earlier in the service, Pastor Kong told the church about the Prayer Week that took place from 7 to 13 Jan in Seoul, Korea. A team of over 400 CHC members who went to Seoul woke up at 3am to attend 4am prayer meetings held at Yoido Full Gospel Church each day. They interceded for those who were sick back home and many healing testimonies were heard.
Besides the morning prayer meetings, the team also visited the prayer mountain where Dr Yonggi Cho’s memorial hall sits. The delegation was treated to exquisite food and given special gifts by the senior pastor of Yoido Full Gospel Church, Dr Younghoon Lee. It was a blessed time for member to bond over prayer, as well as meals and recreation.
Xu Fuming and his wife Joanne, Sharon Tan and Nicodemus Lim, were four of those on the trip to Seoul who shared their experiences with the church. All of them spoke of how the members of Yoido Full Gospel Church inspired them by their prayerfulness, and they also shared the encounters they had with God while praying.