By Heather Auman
There are many types and antitypes in the Bible. Many are deliberate Old Testament stories or characters that foreshadow principles revealed in latter days. Deliberate or not, there is a parallel to baptism seen in a well-known Old Testament story – the healing of Naaman.
On the surface, some parallels are clearly evident. Both involve washing in water; both persons are healed and made purely clean. Beyond that, a closer look at Naaman reveals an attitude seen over and over today in people’s reaction to the process of salvation today. Read 2 Kings 5: 1 – 14. You, like myself, may be surprised by Naaman’s reaction when he is presented with the solution to an impossible problem. He had an incurable disease, one that would only lead to a lifetime of misery and decay and inevitable death. A cure was freely offered – why the reluctance to take it?
However, we see the same reluctance today in reaction to the simple prospect of baptism. Some want fanfare instead, for a great man of God to come and wave his hands over them and say something grand. Others want an easier way. Do they really have to get wet? Is dipping in that cold water really necessary?
The fact is that baptism is indeed a simple, even foolish act in the eyes of the world (1 Cor. 1:18). But it is the only way to be cleansed. Naaman was blessed to have servants to talk sense into him. They tell him, “If the prophet had told you to do something great, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” (2 Kings 5:13). We too are presented with an impossible problem: the incurable disease of sin in this life, with the prospect of agony, torment, and eternal death in the next. We can’t heal ourselves, nor can we buy a healing like Naaman tried to do with gold and silver (2 Kings 5:5). We should be willing to do whatever we are asked, no matter what it is. If God asked us to do something grand, wouldn’t we do it? How much more when he says, “Wash, and be clean?”
And in truth, salvation is the greatest, grandest act of our lives. It is the power of God working in us the miracle of healing. “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor. 1:18). It contacts the priceless blood of Deity on earth. What’s more, we are told that angels and God Himself rejoices at our salvation (Luke 15:10). That should be fanfare enough for anyone!
Naaman wondered how the filthy river of Jordan would possible heal his leprosy. Couldn’t he have stayed at home and washed in the better, cleaner rivers there? But it wasn’t about the water; it was about Naaman humbling himself and obeying the instructions given. With us also, it's not about the water, or “removal of the filth of the flesh” (1 Peter 3:21). No matter if the river is as dirty as the Jordan or crystal clear. At the point of yielding and obeying, like Naaman eventually did, our souls are washed clean from the disease of sin and are left without a scar, pure and clean and white “like the flesh of a little child” (2 Kings 5:14).
Like Naaman’s servants, I ask this: if you had a terminal disease, and the doctor came up with a cure and prescribed it to you free of charge, wouldn’t you take it to save your own life? How much more would you do to save your eternal soul?
Grace and Good Works
By Paul R. Blake
Grace empowers love. We cannot allow our emotions to rule over our reason regarding the law of God. We cannot void law because we have strong, motivating feelings to do so. When God, motivated by His love, forgives our sins, over-ruling the His laws of justice, He is not permitting emotional love alone to void the law. Love is not reason enough to over-rule law, regardless of how strong the love may be. Only a power greater in strength and authority than law itself can over-rule law. Grace and mercy are the power and authority that enables and empowers God to forgive sins. We do not have the power and authority of His grace and mercy; we are simply the vessels through whom He occasionally dispenses His grace and mercy to others. Therefore, our love for others does not give us the power and authority to void or over-rule the law and justice of God, even though we may be motivated by powerful love for others. “Mercy triumphs over law” (James 2:13).
Attendance alone is not an accurate gauge of Christian faithfulness. How is their prayer life; how is their spiritual mindedness; are they eagerly and unselfishly doing good works? The decline in these things often indicates a falling away long before one quits attending. Erring Christians often demand that other brethren stop admonishing them and to just mind their own business. The brethren trying to restore them are instead minding their Father’s business. Why do so many professed Christians believe that minding our own business is how one manifests love for a brother? If my brother has fallen into sin and I mind my own business, both of us are lost. “Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:19-20). Rescuing a fallen brother is a good work that highlights the grace of God.
There is a difference between doing works to be seen of men and doing works to let our lights shine. Jesus spoke of both of them in the Sermon on the Mount. “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven” (Matt. 6:1). “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:16). Jesus was not contradicting Himself, but rather teaching humankind that doing good works in the presence of others for the well-being of others, moves them to glorify God. Doing good works in the presences of others for our own personal aggrandizement glorifies us and goes un-regarded and un-rewarded by God.
In the Gardens
By Stephen Auman
In a garden the first human strayed
By believing the enemy’s lie;
In a garden the Son of God prayed
And obeyed the commandment to die.
So by Adam was planted a weed
That was watered by tears like a flood,
And by Jesus was planted a seed
That was watered by sweat-drops like blood.
And the weed Adam planted by sinning
Was the death of himself and his line,
But the Seed is a brand-new beginning
And a tree of redemption divine.