Simplicity in Christ
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
Ephesians 2:8-9 (NKJV)
Salvation by grace through faith is a simple concept that is not difficult to understand but is difficult to believe because it goes against the grain of human experience and human nature. Living in the secular world often requires that we step up to the mark—for example, in the work place we are offered various incentives such as pay for performance and bonuses to meet set objectives. With such a cultural background it is not surprising that earning and maintaining salvation through meeting objectives seems logical, and grace is seen as an unworkable if not an alien concept.
Human nature has not changed over the centuries and the experience of Naaman is an example of the human reaction to God’s grace given in the Old Testament (2 Kings 5) Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria and regarded as a great and mighty man, was unfortunately afflicted with leprosy. He was persuaded to seek healing by visiting a prophet in Israel. When Naaman arrived at the prophet’s house Elisha simply sent a messenger to tell him to wash in the river Jordan and he would be cleansed. Unfortunately, Naaman had some preconceived ideas of how he should be treated and about the manner of his healing. He therefore considered the reception he received and the instructions given were beneath his expectations and dignity, and he left in a rage.
Naaman’s servants revealed something more about his mind-set by saying “if the prophet had told you to do something great, would you not have done it?” Naaman’s natural proclivity was to want to earn the right to be healed as a reward for doing some great work, even though success was uncertain, rather than simply humbly accepting God’s certain offer of healing given in Elisha’s message.
In his case healing did not come from simply bathing in the river Jordan or any other river or by doing some great work, but through humbly accepting the offer of healing and submitting to the means provided by God by which that healing came. Ultimately Naaman came to his senses, put faith in God and his message, bathed in the Jordan and God healed him.
Today the gospel message is often masked by an accretion of human ideas and opinions but the core message is simple – to humbly accept God’s offer of spiritual healing and salvation by grace through the means he has provided—faith in and of Jesus Christ.
Father, we thank you that you have made it possible for all humanity to be spiritually healed through your son Jesus Christ.
Study by Eddie Marsh
Grace Communion, Sheffield
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