Faith And God’s Grace

MIF 15:4 (July-Aug 1983)

Faith And God’s Grace

Arthur F. Wilder

“Many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman, the Syrian” (Luke 4:27).

Naaman was a Gentile military commander who had a lot going for him. He had wealth, power, popularity, and he served his country admirably. But he was a leper. His story is found in 2 Kings 5.

On learning of her master’s disease, a young Jewish servant girl, nameless in the Biblical account, told him that a prophet in Israel named Elisha could heal him of his leprosy. Naaman went to Israel, taking much gold and silver, and wearing a flashy uniform with which he hoped to impress the prophet. Naaman thought Elisha would come out and perform an instant miracle, but he was wrong. Elisha would not even see him but sent a messenger out to tell Naaman to go and wash seven times in the Jordan River if he wished to be healed. The great military commander turned away in a rage, offended at the simplicity of the suggestion and thinking of the cleaner rivers that flowed past his home in Syria. Naaman’s servants, however, persuaded him to try the prophet’s remedy and, after dipping himself seven times in the Jordan, he emerged from the river completely cleansed of his leprosy.

This is a beautiful illustration of the truth of Ephesians 2:8 & 9. Salvation is by grace through faith — plus nothing. It was the free gift of God’s grace, plus the faith of the little maid and of Naaman’s servants, and finally of Naaman himself, that brought the blessing which all of Naaman’s wealth, power and position could not secure. Naaman was physically and spiritually cleansed only after his pride and stubbornness were overcome. He returned to Elisha and confessed that Israel’s God was the only true God, and he worshipped Him thereafter.

Elisha refused to accept the offer of a reward from Naaman, but simply told him to “Go in peace,” satisfied that God would lead Naaman to a greater knowledge of Himself and obedience to His will.