Reach-SA had its first online zoom synod. We missed last year due to COVID-19 and because of Lock Down, the bishops and executive decided to have a virtual synod. I think it went well and the bishop did a great job. What impressed me the most was that the delegates, whether I agreed with what they said or not, said what they did believing their point was for the gospel. When the gospel is central then brothers and sisters might agree or disagree, but they do so in love because of the Lord Jesus’ shed Blood at Calvary. Saving souls must always be at the heart of the church and in the lives of Christians. In the context of Jewish faith, salvation of souls was at the heart of the young girl captured and made a servant to Naaman’s wife. Once she became aware of his leprosy, she told his wife that there is a prophet in Israel, named Elisha who informed him and in turn he turned to his king who encouraged him to go and see the prophet. When Elisha told Naaman to wash seven times in the Jordon River, he was furious. As we pick up the story again I want you to remember the servant girl and how God used her in the salvation of this enemy military general.
1) When servants have more wisdom than their superior. Remember Naaman’s position as the commander of the enemy army. He was the elite … a favored general of the king … and his servants, whether they were soldiers or servants as in his private employees, pleaded with him.
2Ki 5:13 Naaman’s servants went to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!”
It’s almost like them saying … “Washing in the river is so easy. Do it!” It is foolish to ignore advice, recommendations or suggestions from those less educated and of a lower position in life. Some of the best wisdom comes from average people. Never look down on those “less” than you. They might be you greatest helpers … like Naaman’s servants were.
2) Eventually sense prevails. God was at work.
2Ki 5:14 So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.
What starts out as an act of obedience turns into an act of faith. After he went through the washing he was healed to the extent that his skin was like that of a young boy. In other words it was more than a healing. This pagan idol worshipper needed to experience a miracle to believe there is one, true God and that God lives in Israel (or the God of Israel).
2Ki 5:15 Then Naaman and all his attendants went back to the man of God. He stood before him and said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel.”
This is a declaration of salvation. He believes in the only God. It has taken a long chain ofpeople and events to bring him to this point, but that is how God works. It started with the servant girl … and if she did nothing else for God, He used her as the primary instrument to bring Naaman to faith. What would be the long term effect of this? Only eternity will know. Once again we see how God can use anyone who is willing to be part of gospel ministry. Are you willing? Are you ready to be part of leading someone to Jesus and eternal life?
3) You can’t buy nor pay for salvation. Naaman was an infant convert and thought that payment was required for his healing which amounted to payment for salvation.
2Ki 5:15 “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel. Please accept now a gift from your servant.”
He was healed but he knows it was God at work in his heart and wants to gift the prophet. Many people are like this. They are helped spiritually by a pastor and think they need to reward him. There is nothing wrong with gifts, the problem is one must never think they contributed towards their salvation. By all means give your pastor gifts but never confuse these with you contributing towards your salvation.
Eph 2:8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.
4) Good theology serves God.
Those who prey on their congregants for money, gold and motorcars need to examine their theology.
2Ki 5:16 The prophet answered, “As surely as the LORD lives, whom I serve, I will not accept a thing.”
And even though Naaman urged him, he refused. Elisha refused to take any credit for Naaman’s healing or salvation. To him it was all of God. He was just an agent as was the young servant girl. We need to be very cautious here. Should we feel we need for credit because we prayed for someone’s healing or explained the gospel leading to a person’s salvation, our theology is lacking. If one takes credit that person will eventually feel they are indispensable to God … that God cannot do without them because they are particularly gifted. All we are, are servants of Jesus. Knowing this will prevent being puffed up and thinking we are so special.
5) With all the challenges of a new convert, he did believe in and trust Israel’s God. His mystic past would take time to leave behind.
2Ki 5:17 “If you will not,” said Naaman, “please let me, your servant, be given as much earth as a pair of mules can carry, for your servant will never again make burnt offerings and sacrifices to any other god but the LORD.”
The taking of “soil” … earth was mystic but he understood who God was … the LORD!
2Ki 5:18 But may the LORD forgive your servant for this one thing: When my master enters the temple of Rimmon to bow down and he is leaning on my arm and I bow there also—when I bow down in the temple of Rimmon, may the LORD forgive your servant for this.”
As the king’s “right hand man” in his employ, Naaman needed to accompany his sovereign into an idol’s temple, yet he asks God to forgive him for being in the devil’s home. We need to avoid going into such places too. Although not the end of the story, Naaman is healed and saved and Elisha bids him:
2Ki 5:19 “Go in peace”.
O God, thank You that salvation is by grace through faith. Grant us grace to know good theology to guide us through challenges in the future. Amen.