Sun am 2 December 2018 – Johan Cronje
2 Cor. 13:5; Heb. 12:2; (Eph. 4:4-6); (Mark 5:25-34); (Matt. 20:1-16); (Mark 11:22 – Passion); (Heb. 4:3)
Hope is a positive assumption, a positive expectation of everything that is good and prosperous. Faith grows out of hope: hope is the soil for the faith and the beliefs of God to grow. Grace is unmerited favour. You can go forward in God even though you do not deserve it, you cannot earn anything. You do not have to do anything. You do not have to be correct. That is unmerited favour, but we do not see it that way. Many times we try in ourselves to get to a place where we can impress God with some works.
Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? — unless indeed you are disqualified (2 Cor. 13:5). The Mirror translation says, I implore you to examine faith for yourselves in order to test what it is that you really believe. Then the Message translation says, Test yourselves to make sure you are solid in the faith. There are different words for ‘examine’ in the Bible. This ‘examine’ does not say that you must go on a witch-hunt for hidden sin in your life and try to find out why your faith does not work. You have to examine yourself because of the faith that is in you. This faith is not your faith, it is God’s faith. In some translations it says, “You must have faith in God.” The right translation is: “You must have the faith of God” (Mark 11:22 – Passion). It is not your faith that you examine. It is not you that examines yourself for your faith. You examine whether you are working with that faith that is in you.
Jesus is the Author and Finisher of faith (Heb. 12:2). He is the alpha, He is the omega. The faith that really matters is the faith that God has put in you. Because of Christ that is in us, it is easy to understand that it is not my love, it is God’s love in me. So many times we would say, “I cannot do that.” It is not about you. God has put His faith in you. Use His faith. Use your faith to see the grace of God; where you do not deserve it, you do not earn it, it is God’s faith that is in you. When things do not work for us, when we feel our faith is not adequate, not complete, remember it is not your faith.
There are indeed many beliefs in the Christian community but ultimately there is only one faith in the Christian community (Eph. 4:4-6). And yet, in the Christian community you will find big divisions. If there is only one faith that God has put in His Church, why is there so much confusion? Ultimately it is not what I believe about God, but what God believes about me. Paul makes a wonderful discovery, saying the only faith that matters is what God believes. You must examine yourself for the faith. This word actually means ‘to examine closely’. The original Greek word is ‘peirazó’ from the word ‘peira’ – to pierce – and that means to test and determine the hidden value of something. This is not for the casual seeker. You will never ever determine the hidden gems of God if you are not reading the Bible. Make a study about the faith of God and you will be surprised how many times the Bible says it was the faith of Jesus. It is not your faith! You must discover that it is the faith of God that is within you. Otherwise it ends up in dead works, and then we play the game of snakes and ladders again, you land on a snake’s mouth and it takes you right down again. Then we pray to God to help us get to the finish – that is the game we play as Christians. You can start at the finish line! “My works are finished!” (Heb. 4:3). You do not have to play snakes and ladders anymore. You do not have to work to get more faith. It is very important to understand: you must have the faith of God. You cannot live on a Sunday morning’s message. You have to get into the word of God yourself concerning the faith of God! Paul wants you to discover what God believes about you! Do you know what God believes about you? Why do we sometimes believe we are useless? John Maxwell says that in those times, you should put 10 out of 10 upon your head. That is how God sees you and that is how you need to see others. Even if somebody does not know God, He was born in God’s image and likeness – that is His DNA. If you are born from above, then you have the faith of God! Why struggle with your own little beliefs and your own faith?
You all know that Abram was the name of a man who believed God, but then God came and changed his name. The 5th letter of the Hebrew alphabet we pronounce as ‘h’ – it is called ‘heh.’ This is the letter God put into Abrams name and it became Abraham. This letter, the number five in the Hebrew alphabet, is the equivalent of grace. So Abraham received grace from God. The 10th letter is called ‘yud’ (meaning hand or law) or ‘yod’ and is found in the name Sarai. God changed her name to Sarah by changing the ‘yod’ to a ‘heh’. So she also received grace and when both Abraham and Sarah received grace, one year later Isaac was born – the boy that God promised them. We all need to be blessed by God. The meaning of the Hebrew word ‘barak’ is to bless, but what are you doing with that with which God has blessed you? Eventually you need to have grace, where the ‘heh’ sound is added again and becomes the word ‘barakhah’ – to be a blessing. That means: God makes you a blessing! We all need to be a blessing for God. Take the grace that you have received, and take it to the nations! Grace has never been given to you as a property, it has been given to you so that you can go and give it away.
The story of the woman with the issue of blood and was not allowed to even appear in public because of this. She knew she did not deserve the healing, but believed that she would see Jesus’ grace, that He would see her faith, and then something would happen (Mark 5:25-34).
There are numerous definitions of grace. We will concentrate on the meaning of unmerited favour, where you know that you do not deserve anything, but you are going to receive good things from God. This is the key, yet we think that we have to get into a mode of holiness before God can give to us. God wants to supply all your needs according to His riches in glory, but He needs you to see that He is a God of grace, it is unearned favour; you receive the blessing you do not deserve. Consider the parable of the workers (Matt. 20:1-16). The first one said to himself that it was not fair that he received the same pay as the one who came to work last. To see the grace of God you need to know that it is something that you do not earn! The only way you can miss the benefits of grace is when you try to earn it.
Grace is unearned favour: God puts 10 out of 10 on your head. We are to do that with each other! God will put a 10 on your head and a 10 it will remain. He wants me to see you as 10 out of 10 even though you disappoint me, even if you disappoint your friend, even if you disappoint your church – you will stay 10 out of 10. You have to love everyone, even your enemy. But we want to decide based on your belief. God is not like that. Make that adjustment this morning.
If God’s faith is in you, it must become your faith – it is impartation. We need to understand that when God loves us, He puts His love in us so that we can give our love to somebody. You need to realise it is God’s property that we use.
May it become something in our life that we utter continuously, “I do not deserve it, but I see Him in His grace.” When you fail people and you even fail God, know one thing: see Him in His grace! Do not let anybody put 5 out of 10 on your head! In His Name there is grace. Your miracle is on the way, do not work for it!