God’s grace in a life

Wedding ceremony of Anja Joosten & Johan Claassen

Albu van Eeden

The theme of this wedding is grace. The crux of what is happening today is God’s grace. When God’s grace comes to us, we do not always realise it but if a person realises the grace of God which enables him/her to become part of God’s family, it should bring every unconverted person to his knees and to the point of conversion. Grace is often unrecognised.

Johan’s testimony: When God came to Johan, he was managing a restaurant and renting a room from an old lady. One night, out of the blue, he was struck by a conviction about his sins and his lost state. It was the beginning of everything. He did not bother to pack a suitcase but got into his car and drove to his parents. He knew he was lost for eternity and if he did not get saved by Christ, he did not know whether he would get another chance. This is grace. He knew his soul would be safe with his parents. As he left his room, the old lady opened the door to see what was going on, but he did not stop to say goodbye. His parents attended services at Pelindaba, a mission branch - thank God for such parents. When God speaks to some children, they cannot go to their parents for help. Parents, do you realise your responsibility? If God speaks to your child, does he/she have the confidence to run to you because he/she knows that you will get him/her to the right place. His parents told him that he should go to KwaSizabantu for help. It was in this state that he arrived at the mission. God saved him and worked in his life.

Many do not receive such grace from God. If we see the grace that is available for our souls to be saved, we will repent on the spot. The grace of God cannot be explained to sinners. A while ago I spoke to someone who hated this place. The person used every opportunity to criticise this place and especially the work of the Holy Spirit in 1966. When I heard the person mocking the work of the Holy Spirit, I turned ice cold. This was the sin against the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit descended at Maphumulo in 1966. We know that there is no forgiveness for the person who sins against the Holy Spirit. Now this person was sitting in front of me. God’s Holy Spirit whom he had mocked, convicted him to come to the mission. God did not use another person. The Holy Spirit revealed Himself to the person. God’s grace is wider than the seas and higher than the heavens. How can we neglect such grace?

During the Hebrides revival, a preacher asked a question which he said no one could answer. He said if the angels from heaven were there, they would not answer it. If God himself was there, He would also be unable to answer it. The question: How will we escape God’s wrath if we neglect such a great salvation?

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8: 28

The emphasis is not on all things work together for good for those who love God but on those who are called according to his purpose. Everything we do in life must be according to God’s purpose. This attitude led Johan to marry Anja. He had to make sure that the marriage was according to God’s purpose. Never make the mistake of cutting God out of your marriage to have some joy and fun. Every minute the two of you are together must be according to God’s purpose for your lives. That is the grace of God - to stay according to God’s purpose in marriage and everything we do.

But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”—10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. 1 Corinthians 2:9-10,12-13

God’s grace is in everything here today. We all must repent. The Pharisees must repent even though they have not done great evil. They are not tax collectors, but they must repent. They need to be saved from their sins. When Johan repented, God told him that He would restore the years that the locusts had eaten.

The first lesson of grace: Marriage must fit into the calling of God for our lives. Marriage has far-reaching implications. It can be rich in blessings like the marriage of Abraham and Sarah, or insignificant like the marriage of Priscilla and Aquilla who hosted Paul when he had nowhere to stay and he had to make tents for a living. Even though they had no glory, it was important to God that they were mentioned in the Bible because of the good they did for Paul. Marriage can make us an Annanias and Sapphira who betrayed God.

The second lesson of grace: In the process of marriage learn to wait upon God. (This applies to life in general) Many fail to be used by God because they cannot wait upon Him. They want what they want now.

A third lesson of grace: marriage should not be according to our understanding. It is grace if you marry according to God’s will and in His time.

Another characteristic of grace is that it teaches us to believe while we wait upon God. How many people have messed up their lives through marriage because they did not wait upon God?

Once he received God’s grace, Johan’s eyes were open to see life differently. He saw his sins. If God gives us grace in marriage, we will see marriage differently. The Christian marriage is as far removed from the worldly marriage as the east is from the west. You will be unable to see marriage in God’s way unless God has revealed your sins to you, and you have confessed and repented from them. When God’s grace strikes you to such an extent that you rush to your parents in the middle of the night, you will see life differently.

God’s will cannot be discerned by human senses, desires, motives (what can you get out of this), lusts. If you marry based on lust, it is a human perspective and not God’s. For our eyes to be opened and see things through God’s eyes, we must be purified. Why does God first speak about our sins before He speaks about other things? If you try to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit with something between you and God, you will recognise the wrong voice.

A ship was wrecked on the Irish coast where it sank. The captain was a very conscientious man and he kept a record of everything he saw and decisions he made. No fault was found with his actions. A diver was sent down to the wreck where he found the ship’s compass. It was brought to the surface. On inspection, a piece of metal, the tip of a pocketknife, was found in the compass. Because a compass works on magnetic fields, this small piece of metal confused the compass and misdirected the ship onto the rocks. The smallest sin that you allow in your life can misdirect you and when you take a critical decision like marriage, you are in danger of making the wrong decision. How did the metal enter the compass? The day before the shipwreck, someone was asked to clean the compass. With his pocketknife he opened and cleaned the compass, but a piece of the knife stayed behind.

Do not try and clean your life yourself. You cannot cleanse it yourself. You will make a bigger mess of your life than what it is already. For your life and compass to be clean, every piece of dirt must be taken to the cross, exposed to Christ, brought into the light and confessed. Do not think you can hide it and make a point of not doing it again. ‘I know what was wrong and it was a mistake, I will keep it to myself.’ You are afraid to expose it to Christ. You will make a bigger mess. Why are we in such a mess in the church because people do not bring their sins into the light of Christ so that Christ can deal with their sins because He alone has shed His blood that can cleanse and forgive us. Do not try to take Christ’s place.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said that a person should not confess his sins to himself but bring it before God. Ask a child of God to pray with you so that God can forgive your sins.

Johan says that we should learn to marry in holiness, honour and purity. This is what blesses me about today’s marriage. They did not contact each other before. They trusted the Holy Spirit to show them whether they should marry, when they should marry and whom they should marry. If things in your life are not right, there is a danger that you may not recognise the right way. Blessed is the one who has someone to walk with him/her every step of the way.

God created Adam and Eve so surely God would know what marriage is supposed to be. If we want our marriages to be what God wants them to be, we should hear the voice of God in marriage. He should be the start of our marriage, as I believe happened in today’s marriage. Our creator knows how marriage should start and how it should work.

Some marriages are hell on earth. Each one climbs down the other one’s throat. Each criticises what the other one does. A husband and wife often have different strengths and when they are married, one covers the weakness of the other. Worldly Christians despise the other partner when he/she is weak where he/she is strong. One partner exposes the weaknesses of the other instead of covering them, sometimes in front of the children. Life in some marriages is hell on earth where there is no moment of peace, no moment when one partner brings another one closer to God. ‘Just look how pathetic you are, you can’t do it,’ are said. The one partner may have a better idea of how to work with children than the other partner. Instead of helping, they criticise.

God should know how marriages should end. Marriages should not end in divorce. In Ballito there are pole adverts advertising the services of a female lawyer who specialises in assisting people in divorce cases. What a terrible job! The Lord Jesus said that God hates divorce. If we follow God’s instructions in marriage, we will not need the help of idols. The Romans had Juno who was supposed to bring blessing, unity and love in marriage. When a couple married they sacrificed to Juno. The Greeks visited Venus the goddess of love, beauty, sex and lust. They needed that in their marriages. If we marry, we do not have to sacrifice to any idol. God knows the answer, but no one goes to Him which is why people are burdened with lust and create their own guidelines for marriage. There are even pastors who give spiritual reasons for people to do things as they wish. They do not ask the Lord but everyone around them. They decide what is acceptable and what is not. There are thousands of opinions on what a Christian is. If you ask people who Jesus is, you get hundreds of opinions but they do not ask God to show them through His Holy Spirit what to do.

When we marry, we must 100% sure that we are in God’s will. When the Lord Jesus’ mother and brothers wanted Him to go to the feast, Jesus said that they should go because it was always their time but it was not His time. Jesus had to wait for God’s time before He went to the feast. If we want to live lives that please God, we must live according to the will of God otherwise we will make errors. When Jesus went to the place of the Gadarenes and He healed the demon-possessed man, Jesus prohibited Him from going along with Him and sent him to tell others what Jesus had done for him. We must hear the Holy Spirit. We must hear God’s voice. Johan said: It is the biggest privilege to hear God’s voice. To hear God’s voice is heaven on earth for me.

It is the most blessed thing that can happen to someone. Have you heard God speaking to you? Does He speak regularly? It is critical. These are things Johan had to tick off his checklist before entering marriage and I know Anja did the same.

These two people were not looking for a partner. Both poured themselves into God’s calling for their lives until the Lord gave them permission to marry. Things had to be tested and retested. They had to check their lives and finally take the decision that God instructed them to marry. When you marry in this way, both feet are firmly on the ground, and you are in contact with reality. Then marriage is not floating on a golden cloud, it is an act of obedience. To have that perspective, God must give us His perspective.

A German sculptor, Johann Heinrich von Dannecker, carved a statue of Christ. He worked hard on it and it took years. When he was done, he called a small girl into his studio to test the statue. He asked the girl what she saw. She said that she saw a big man. This broke his heart and he knew he had missed the point. He worked on the statue for 6 more years. In that time, he had a revelation of Christ. When the statue was complete, he tested it again by calling a little girl to look at the statue. He asked her what she saw. She put her hands on her chest and the tears streamed down her cheeks. She said, ‘Suffer the little children to come unto me.’ It makes a difference when one has had a revelation of Christ

Johan and Anja, live from day to day with Christ revealing Himself to you. Your marriage will be an instrument in God’s hands. How poor a person will be if he/she does not marry in this way but there is time for repentance.



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