© June 5, 2018 | Schulter Etyang
A few years ago, deep into my gospel journey, I was invited to speak at a Church just outside our city. It was around Easter. As I pondered on what to share, I came across a story in 2 Kings 7 that became my favourite gospel story.
Cue, I had been a Christian for many years. I had been a Church mouse all my life. I had been on a constant diet of performance, DIY and spiritual gymnastics. The result was, I wanted to become a leadership guru of some sort. My dream was to join the ranks of the leadership gurus of our day. My mother, in support of my dream, bought me books and DVD’s on leadership by a renowned leadership guru. This was her investment into my dream.
Until the gospel smacked me right on my face. The gospel threw me off. It unravelled my world. It punched a hole in my world. And this is one of those stories that God used to whip my appetite to discover more of the unsearchable riches that the gospel had to offer.
It’s a true story. There was a great famine in Israel. It was so bad that they ate donkey’s heads and dove’s droppings. Even worse, they cannibalized each other. A mother in agreement with another mother boiled her son and ate him.
In the same city, were for leprous men, sitting at the entrance of the gate. The Mosaic law did not allow them to mix with non-leprous people. It was dehumanizing, to say the least. So, these four lepers decided to make a move. They reasoned, if they stayed where they were, they would eventually die. If they moved towards the Syrian army, the Syrians would either take them alive or kill them. Most likely, the latter was more probable.
One evening, they decided to go to the camp. But when they got there, it was a ghost town. Why? God had caused the Syrian army to hear the noise of chariots and the noise of horses – the noise of a great army. In a panic, the army fled and left the camp intact – tents, horses, donkeys, silver, gold, food, and clothing.
So, this is what the four lepers did. They went into one tent, ate, drank, took the silver, gold and clothing and hid it. However, they realized what they were doing was wrong. This is what they said, “this is the day of GOOD NEWS and we remain silent. Come let us go and tell the king’s household.” And that’s what they did, and the city was saved.
This story was my first ever presentation of the gospel and every time I read the story, I see more and more nuances of the gospel. It is a deep well.
What does this story mean to me?
Theologically speaking, leprosy represents sin. The sin that lives in all of us, Paul says. (Romans 7:17 NLT). We are all lepers. We are all sinners.
These lepers were outside the gate. The idea here is that they were cut off from contact, intimacy, community, and identity. This is what happened to all of humanity when Adam and Eve sinned against God. We were literally cast out of the garden. We became outcasts. We became outsiders.
But God devised a plan. What did God do? In the case of the lepers, he confounded their enemies. In our case, God became sin (leprosy) on the cross and defeated our enemies by his death on the cross. It was all God. We didn’t need to do anything. Grace is God fought for us by his death on the cross. The gospel is good news that God has defeated our enemies and now he invites us to receive what he won for us, and then go and tell it to people living in our cities.
God became sin (leprosy) on the cross and defeated our enemies by his death on the cross. It was all God.
Our part is to receive all that God has won for us. Just like the lepers, we come into much more. We eat, drink, and shop. Oh Schulter, you sound like one of those charismatic prosperity gospel preachers. Your assertion is correct, but wait, there is much more. The lepers received material wealth, how much more do New Covenant Saints receive? We get so MUCH MORE than material things. We get glorious things – eternal life, health and healing, peace, righteousness, holiness, wisdom, the Holy Spirit, new status, new identity, new language, and MUCH MORE.
Our part is to receive all that God has won for us.
I am not concerned at all when people come to God for material things. Sometimes you hear ministers harangue people for coming to God for things. But God knows the human heart. He uses what the human heart wants but gives it even more.
How did the lepers respond? They went and told the city. They became instant marketers. They didn’t need training on how to win souls or preach. Evangelism is going to tell others what God has won for humanity in the work of Jesus.
Evangelism is going to tell others what God has won for humanity in the work of Jesus.
And this is what Jenny and I intend to do with our Church plant. Oh, did we tell you we are planning to plant a Church? Oh yes, I just did. Jenny and I are like those lepers – sinners. We have been eating, drinking and enjoying the gospel of grace. We now want to tell our families, friends, and the city of Johannesburg this good news.
We desire to plant a Church where sinners (lepers) come and find what God has done for them in the work of Jesus. A place where sinners (lepers) eat, drink, and enjoy the riches of the gospel. A place where sinners (lepers) come and find much more than they ever dreamed or imagined. A place where sinners (lepers) will go and tell other sinners in our city about the gospel of grace. A place where we will see how Jesus became the ultimate leper and was ostracized and cast out so that lepers who were ostracized and cast out are welcomed back home. A place where sinners (lepers), after they have eaten, drunk and shopped, go and do good to the city. A place where only God’s glorious grace in Jesus and nothing else will be on display.
So here is our announcement – Some very obvious sinners – Jenny and I – are going to plant a Church this year. The name of the Church is – The Life Place. Our slogan is – Come. See. Jesus. Like lepers, we might succeed or die trying, thank you 50 Cent. But we will go. We are anxious but hopeful. We are fearful but bold. We are weak but strong. The absurdity of a graced life.
We have spoken to friends of ours about them joining us on this journey. We hope to start meeting with them to talk about Jesus, the gospel and our mission.
Pray and support us if you can as we embark on this gospel journey.
That’s what grace looks like