The Day of Glad Tidings (2 Kings 7:1-11)
Once while walking down a busy street, a well-known denominational preacher stepped up to a man, a perfect stranger, and asked, “Sir, are you a Christian?” “You mind your own business!” was the reply. The preacher said, “This is my business.”
While that preacher would not have proclaimed the gospel in its purity to that man, he made an excellent point—sharing the gospel of Jesus is our business. Jesus gave the church that business before he ascended back to the Father after the Resurrection. “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt 28:18-20). “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem” (Lk 24:46-47). To the apostles, Jesus said, “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
Reaching men and women with the gospel of Jesus is what this congregation is to be all about. We do make that our business. We send House to House—Heart to Heart into every home in this community. We support mission efforts in Central America and in Scotland. Yet, not all the work of soul-winning is purely on a congregational level. Each of us has a unique responsibility to share the gospel with others—that is our business.
Tonight, in order to remind us of our business, we want to look at four lepers who remembered their business.
The Business of Survival, v 3
“Now there were four men who were lepers at the entrance to the gate. And they said to one another, ‘Why are we sitting here until we die?’”
To these lepers, death looked inevitable. Ben-Hadad, king of Syria, had laid siege to Samaria and a great famine resulted (2 Ki 6:24-25). The siege caused food prices to be greatly inflated (2 Ki 6:25). The famine became so severe that women took to eating their children to stay alive (2 Ki 6:28-29).
These lepers would have been in even a worse situation than most people in Samaria. Because of their illness, they had to be segregated from the people: Concerning leprosy, God had commanded Moses, “He shall remain unclean as long as he has the disease. He is unclean. He shall live alone. His dwelling shall be outside the camp” (Lev 13:46). So, if there is any rationing of food taking place, if people are pooling their resources together to survive, these lepers are going to be left out in the cold—they would have gotten nothing.
These lepers had nothing to do but wait to die. Regardless of what they do, regardless of what measures they take, death is going to result—period. That’s the way it is with every sinner in this world. “Whoever believed in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God” (Jn 3:18). “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him” (Jn 3:36).
Those we teach stand in that horrible situation of death; whether or not they are aware, they have “The Business of Survival.” If they do not obey the gospel, God’s wrath will remain upon them and they will die—That is why God has made the church’s business soul-winning: that we might reach people with the gospel and that they might see life instead of death. Those with whom we come into contact do not need to commit one more sin to go to hell; they are already well on their way.
Indecision is a state of death. If these lepers had not decided to try their hand with the Syrians, they would have died.
If sinners do not decide to try their hand with God, they will die. There have been many throughout history who have been indecisive. You remember what Felix told Paul as the apostle preached: “Go away for the present. When I get an opportunity I will summon you” (Acts 24:25). When Paul encountered some unbelieving Jews in Rome, he quoted from Isaiah and told them: “This people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed; lest they should see with their eyes and hear with the ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them” (Acts 28:27).
There is no time for indecision when it comes to salvation. The author of Hebrews asked the rhetorical question, “How shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?” (Heb 2:3). Again, the author said, “See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven” (Heb 12:25).
Colonel Rahl, commander of the British forces in Trenton, New Jersey, was playing cards when a courier brought an urgent message stating that George Washington was crossing the Delaware River. Rahl put the letter in his pocket and didn’t bother to read it until the game was finished. Then realizing the seriousness of the situation, he hurriedly tried to rally his men to meet the coming attack, but hi procrastination was his undoing. He and many of his men were killed and the rest of the regiment was captured.
If you procrastinate with your salvation, that procrastination may very well be your undoing. Do you need to stop procrastinating and come to Christ this very night? Do you need to be about “The Business of Survival?”
A Statement of Surrender, v 4
“If we say, ‘Let us enter the city,’ the famine is in the city, and we shall die there. And if we sit here, we die also. So now come, let us go over to the camp of the Syrians. If they spare our lives we shall live, and if they kill us we shall but die.”
The lepers decide to take action—they realize that inaction isn’t going to get them anywhere, and so they’re going to do something. They are going to surrender. There is great risk in surrender—they could very well be killed by the enemy. But, even if they are killed, they will have attempted to save their lives. There is great hope in surrender—if the enemy accepts their surrender, they will have saved their lives. Because these lepers surrendered, they lived.
So it is with Christ—if we are to find life, we must surrender. Jesus called for full surrender from his followers. When some folks came to Jesus with excuses as to why they could not follow him immediately, Jesus called for full surrender (Matt 8:18-22). “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple” (Lk 14:26-27).
This is the great paradox of Christianity—in attempting to hold on to my life, I’ll lose it every time, but in giving up my life to Christ, I’ll gain life every time. Matthew Henry, the famous Bible commentator, lived his entire life in light of a little poem his father taught him: “I take God the Father to be my God; I take God the Son to be my Savior; I take the Holy Ghost to be my Sanctifier; I take the word of God to be my rule; I take the people of God to be my people; And I do hereby dedicate and yield my whole self to the Lord; and I do this deliberately, freely, and forever.
” Have you surrendered your life to the Lord?
Actually, the process of coming to Christ is a process of surrender.
Our faith in Christ is actually surrender.
If we’re to come to Christ, we must accept his claims: “I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins” (Jn 8:24). That faith is surrender, for that faith says I need a Savior because I cannot save myself.
Confessing that faith in Christ is also surrender.
If we’re to come to Christ, we absolutely must confess our faith in him: “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved” (Rom 10:9-10). That confession is surrender, for I stand before men and admit that I am a sinner, that I cannot save myself, and that my faith in Jesus will save.
Repentance is also surrender.
We must repent when we come to Christ. “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sin, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). The Greek grammar requires that we see both baptism and repentance as being for the forgiveness of sins. Repentance is an act of surrender, for repentance says, “I’ve sinned. I can’t do things the same old way. I need to submit to the Law of Christ instead of my own law.”
Baptism is surrender, too.
Baptism is essential to salvation: “Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet 3:21). Baptism is surrender, for I submit my body to another to allow him to lower me in water to meet the blood of Jesus that I cannot see with my eyes.
Do you need to come and surrender to Christ this very night?
The Business of Sharing, vv 9-11
When the lepers arrived at the Syrian camp, they discovered that the Lord had already defeated the enemy. The lepers went and found the cam deserted, for the Lord had caused the Syrians to hear the sound of a great army. This is jut another episode in a long history of god’s defeating his enemies supernaturally. The Lord caused the Red Sea to come upon the Egyptians as they were chasing the Israelites; the Egyptians drowned. The Lord caused the walls of Jericho to fall as his people obediently marched around the city.
The truth of the matter is that our enemy—Satan—has been defeated by God, too. “Since . . . the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil” (Heb 2:14). “Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared as to destroy the works of the devil” (1 Jn 3:8).
Satan is still active in this world. You know that he is, for you struggle against him daily. But, the whole story is that Satan has been defeated. When Christ comes again, the devil will be cast into the lake of fire to torment the children of God no more.
The lepers find life. They found food and clothing, and they began to hoard it. However, they realized the were not doing right in hoarding the bounty they have found. We then read, “They said to one another, ‘We are not doing right. This day is a day of good news. If we are silent and wait until the morning light, punishment will overtake us. Now therefore come; let us go and tell the king’s household.’ So they came and called to the gatekeepers of the city and told them, ‘We came to the camp of the Syrians, and behold, there was no one to be seen or heard there, nothing but the horses tied and the donkeys tied and the tens as they were.’ Then the gatekeepers called out, and it was told within the king’s household.” The lepers went to the city and reported the news to the city and the city is saved because of their actions.
Do the lepers not provide a powerful example for us? We have found life far more abundant than physical life could ever be: “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (Jn 10:10). We have blessings far more abundant than all the riches of this world: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with ever spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Eph 1:3).
Do we not, therefore, like these lepers, have an obligation to share the good fortune we have found? “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ” (Col 1:28). “What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Tim 2:2).
A man in a little church was trying to share his faith with others. The problem was that the man was mentally handicapped, and he usually did the wrong thing. Once while working as a barber, the young man lathered up a customer for a shave. The barber came at the man poised with a razor and asked, “Are you prepared to meet your God?” The customer fled—lather and all!
That young man had the right motives but the wrong message. We have the right message—the gospel of Jesus Christ. Do we have the right motives? Do you need to come this very night and surrender yourself to the Lord Jesus and begin to share the good news with others?
This sermon was originally preached by Dr. Justin Imel, Sr., at the Alum Creek church of Christ in Alum Creek, West Virginia.