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October 17 Today’s Reading: Luke 4-5
“Naaman the Syrian”
“Many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian.” — The cleansing of Naaman was a famous story of the Old Testament Scriptures, with which the Jews of our Lord’s day were very familiar. But, when our Lord Jesus recalled it to their attention, “they were filled with wrath.” Those men understood perfectly well what the Lord Jesus was saying, and they greatly resented it. That which our Lord was teaching is just as violently opposed by modern religionists as it was by the Jews. But for those who are taught of the Holy Ghost this is a most delightful and comforting doctrine. — Salvation is accomplished by the sovereign prerogative of God. This little story plainly beautifully sets before us a picture of God’s method of grace.
The sovereignty of God’s grace was clearly displayed in the cleansing of Naaman. It is evident that Naaman was the object of sovereign grace, because he was the most unlikely candidate for mercy. Naaman was a heathen, a Gentile idolater. He was a sworn enemy of Israel, the people of God. Besides, Naaman lived a long way from the prophet’s home. Yet, the grace of God passed by many lepers in Israel. Going far afield; it found this Syrian soldier. Blessed be God, He still operates in this same sovereign manner! Those whom men consider the least likely candidates for mercy are the objects of God’s free-grace. Many others were passed by, more noble and excellent than he; but God chose Naaman.
But, mark this too. — The grace of God always operates in a definite manner. God has not only ordained who will be saved. He has ordained the method by which they will be saved as well. First, Naaman had to hear the good news that healing was possible. Whenever God intends to save a sinner, He will send someone to tell him the Gospel. It may be a little Hebrew maid, or it may be an old man. But always, “Faith cometh by hearing.” For another thing, it was imperative for Naaman to heed the message and obey the command. Even so, sinners must hear the Gospel and in humble faith wash in the blood of Christ.
After giving us this picture of God’s sovereignty and the use of Divinely ordained means to accomplish His purpose, in Luke 5 God the Holy Ghost gives us an example of the great usefulness of those who are used by God to accomplish His purpose of grace in His elect. Here are four men with a sick, impotent friend. They found out where the Lord Jesus was preaching. And knowing that “the power of the Lord was present to heal,” they picked him up on his bed and sought a way to bring their friend into the presence of Christ. When the Son of God “saw their faith, He said unto him, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee.” Those four men could not do a thing to change their crippled friend’s condition. But they knew that Christ could. So they brought him to the Savior, overcoming great obstacles. And because of their faith in Christ, this poor sinner was both healed and saved! I sure would like to be such a friend. Wouldn’t you?
Do you have such faith in Christ? Do I? Do we believe that the power of the Lord is present where the Gospel is preached to save lost men and women? If we do, there are some things we can do for them. I know we cannot change a sinner’s condition. But we can do some things for lost people. And what we can do we are responsible to do. We can pray for those who believe not.
“Brethren, see poor sinners ‘round you, slumbering on the brink of woe.
Death is coming. Hell is moving. Can you bear to let them go?”
We can tell others what we know of our blessed Christ and His great grace (John 9:11). We can tell friends, neighbors, relatives and acquaintances what we have seen, heard, felt, and experienced by the Gospel. We can use what God has given us for the support of the Gospel ministry (3 John 5-8). You may not be able to go to Africa to preach, but you can help send a preacher. You may not be able to preach, but you can help feed and clothe the man who does.
We can distribute tracts, recordings, bulletins, and books to those who might profit from them. That which costs us so little may be of infinite value to another. We can work to prepare a place for sinners to hear the Gospel. Someone has to mow the lawn, shovel the snow, sweep the floor, replace the lights, wash the windows, and paint the walls at the church house? Angels would be honored to do such work. Surely saved sinners should count such great service to Christ an honor!
We can bring sinners to hear the Gospel. If we want to, if we care, we will figure out a way to get people to hear the Gospel. We can exemplify the grace of God in our lives. We can adorn the doctrine of God, so that those who know us will want to hear the Gospel we believe.
O Spirit of God, fill us with grace; and make us useful to eternity bound sinners in our brief day for the glory of God!