"COMPASSED WITH INFIRMITY"
In this writing, we shall carry on with the general theme of "The Fellowship of His Suffering" booklet, exploring the important but yet not fully revealed understanding in the purposes of human suffering. We shall study the phenomenon of pain and sickness, and in doing so, take a closer scriptural look at some of the mysterious spiritual aspects of divine healing.
Several forms of distorted biblical teachings which promise instant health and constant wealth, have in the past several decades, been flooding the Christian church with man made waves of polluted water. Many would insist that all sickness and human suffering comes from the devil; that it is always God's will to heal any time and anywhere. Often, persons who are ill are suspect of having some secret sin; or if they suffer for any length of time, are accused of having a lack of personal faith thereby rendering God helpless to heal.
The explanations for death and suffering are not quite so simple. Some who believe it is and who judge accordingly, proudly and errantly equate their own excellent condition of physical health with their spiritual heath (Psa.73), not realizing their seeming spiritual superiority is nothing more than deceptive pride. And how many times have we seen pride rear itself up before a fall? Prv.16:18.
The physical health of the unsaved has nothing to do with their spiritual health. Poor health is not a result of their not being saved and neither is good health a direct result of anyone professing salvation. Unbelievers have been divinely healed as well as believers. Health is not dependent upon spirituality nor is spirituality dependent upon good Health. You can have either one without the other or both, or you can have neither good health nor spirituality.
ORIGIN OF SICKNESS
Death & sickness in its myriad of forms, both mental & physical, purposefully entered man's domain as a part & parcel of the first Adamic disobedience - Gen.3:16, 17; Ro. 5:14. Sin was not technically brought forth into the world by God, but the sinner was. In and through one form of death or another, the sinner is prepared for his eventual salvation. The sovereign omnipotent Lord of all, could have easily withheld man from sinning (Gen.20:6), or He could have created him immortal and incorruptible, but He did not choose to do so. In His omniscient wisdom, He not only allowed this, but designated it to be. Therefore it is not only reasonable but also just, that the PRIME CAUSE of all sickness and suffering in the wages of sin - as well as the ULTIMATE RESPONSIBILITY of its cure, rests with God Himself.
"ALL THINGS ARE OF GOD" (2Cor.5:18) in both the old and the new creations. The things that took place did not take place either by happenstance or accident apart from the providence of God. In the beginning, God was THE CAUSE. The Master Architect of the universe, our ALMIGHTY ALPHA CREATOR, was the primary source of all that is in it. He alone was the cause of ALL CREATION All things originally came OUT OF HIM - Ro.11:36; Heb.2:10. All that was later fragmented and divided into parts no longer IN HIM, had its origin and source in Him. "All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made." Jn.1:2; Prv.26:10.
He is the cause, and the creation which exists is the effect. In the beginning He was the Light - Jn. chptr. one. When he chose to separate and withdraw a portion of His light and life, the darker realms of sin & death came into existence. The cause was part of the plan of God that He might ultimately perform His duty and purposes as the only Almighty and sovereign God...not only "by", "through", "over" and "for" all things, but also IN all things. The PLAN and OPERATION of it ALL, originated with Him. "In Him was created the universe...of things in heaven and on earth, things seen and things unseen.."[Wey. transl.]. In fact, "every single thing was created through and for, Him.."[Phil. transl.] "and He sustains and embraces them all" [Gspd. transl.]
A TIME TO HEAL
In every created thing there is a unique and divine depth of cause and effect, of intent and purpose to be realized. Basic principles of this can be found in many scriptures such as 1Kgs.12:15; 2Chr. 10:15; 11:4; Deut.28:25; Ezk.36:33 etc. Death and suffering are not the basic inventions of Satan. The fact is, many, many scriptures plainly say that THE LORD KILLS, smites, wounds, afflicts destroys, brings evil spirits, sickness, plagues, disease etc. upon even His chosen people. [For a greater understanding in this, see our booklet entitled "The Lord Killeth And Maketh Alive.'' Yet we still see ministries who purport to follow all the word of God, claiming that it is NEVER of the Lord nor in His will for anyone to be sick. But they are usually not so adamant about this concerning the end result of all spiritually sick humanity--which end is death.
Now, in this present realm of death, we are to recognize Satan as an enemy; as the personification of all power which God in His higher wisdom & purpose of love allows to continue for a season. Our comfort lies in the fact that all which seems evil to the reasoning of our natural minds, is in fact working for our eventual good as well as for the eventual good of all humanity.
God in His wisdom & mercy, had from the foundation of His creation, already made provision for evil in the form of atonement (Rev.13:8; Tit.1:2), and therefore is not to be unduly nor unjustly blamed for our present temporary predicament. Actually, if there was no devil then there would be no sin, but neither would there be need for God, much less a Saviour. Who are we as mere creatures to say that it should have been otherwise?
Herein, lies the sure foundation of God's mercy and grace. Our Lord's own immutable word has put the secondary responsibility of the curse on His dishonorable instrument"(Isa.54:16) "the serpent" (Gen.3:14) and hence he is now a working part of the curse which is being used in the interim period of the ages to fulfill every loving purpose in God's own creation - Lk.4:6; Jb.1:12; 41:34; 1Ptr.5:8 etc.
The woman [a type of the natural mind apart from the Spirit] was merely deceived - 1Tim 2:14. Satan in the realm of the natural carnal mind is the enemy of humanity relegated to operate subserviently in this present evil realm of spiritual death. However, ye who are enlightened need not fear, for our God remains in total sovereign control of all things. Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?" Gen.18:25
A QUESTION OF HEALING
Most Bible students are aware that there are many specific promises in the Bible concerning healing or. deliverance, both natural and spiritual. God, "whose word is ordered in all things & sure" (2Sam.23:5), has seen to it that "there hath not failed one word of His good promise" (1Kgs.8:56) in the time frames that He has allotted for them. Yet, if we are truthful, we know that the Lord does not always appear to answer our prayer requests which we see are according to the promises of His word.
Why Is this so? Is our God of absolute truth in some way a liar? Ro.3:4; Tit.1:2; Heb.6:18. Or, maybe some of us lack in appropriating some worthy, perfected proportion of faith? Ro.12:3. These answers would still make void vast portions of God's holy word.
Could not the most basic and most profound answer be that man's understanding of the word and its promises on the whole, are yet purposely in part? 1Cor.13:12. Have we been taking some scripture out of context, trying to fit them into a narrow, incorrect, & faulty framework of doctrine which we have constructed out of our naturally narrow minds to try to conform with our natural will and desires?
In regards to divine healing, we believe the most basic and correct answer is to be found in the eon spanning revelation of God's faithful words & acts. Therein, in apparent disregard now to His supposed immediate promises, He is actually bringing about, according to the presently misunderstood working of His own will (Eph.1:11), an ultimate & most glorious fulfillment of all His promises.
What many fail to take into account, is that in the overall plan of things "to everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven....a time to kill and A TIME TO HEAL."Eccl.3:1. Though the fulfillment often seems to tarry, "wait for it; because it will surely come." Habk.2:3. The Lord will hasten it IN HIS TIME - Isa.60:22; Dan.12:6-12. "The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this." Isa.9:7; Isa.46:11; Nu.23:19.
Because God at times has not chosen to quickly deliver us out of our present evil trial of sickness, pain, affliction, distress or whatever seeming hurtful thing it seems to be, does not mean we cannot trust the validity of God's word or ways. It is wrong and almost childish to demand of God and expect immediate miraculous results. Rather, we should humbly realize that He is Lord over all things and that He is sovereignly working through our personal suffering, much as He is through humanity as a whole, the ultimate fulfillment of His loving will for us - Phil.2:13. All this is working for our good and not for evil. He does all this in order to ultimately bring us into that glorious image and nature even of the measure and stature of the fullness of Christ - Ro.8:26-30; Eph.4:13.
If God is truly in charge, then we should rest in that truth and wait patiently on Him to work His full will in our situation. In other words, we should be still and know that He is God - Psa.46:10; Phil.4:6,7. This is a godly, passive, submissive surrender unto Him...an act of faith and trust in itself. It is a positive passivity which can bring forth fruit of the spirit--faith being not the least of these. Is not the application of Christ's faith in enduring and overcoming adversity through our sore trials, perhaps the greatest work of faith that one can appropriate and experience? Aside from this, are there not other valid reasons why God would not choose to bring immediate healing to either physical or mental suffering? There truly are and we will touch on these as we continue this study.
Ask yourself this. If it is now such an important part of the IMMEDIATE will of God to heal our physical bodies as some preach, why did the Father wait thousands of years to send Christ by whose stripe they say we are now healed? Actually, if it were in the timing of the Lord's purpose and will now in this present time, or at any time in the past, to heal all physical pain and suffering, then it would surely come to pass. For what God's soul desireth, even "that he doeth." Jb.23:23; Dan.11:36.
What's more, if all the promises applied wholly, experientially, and specifically to the total healing of the body, soul, or spirit in any period of man's lifetime until now, there would be no need for physical death. But since this is evidently not so, there obviously is an intermediate dispensing of time and purposes according to the mystery of God's will (Eph.1:9,10)--for all things concerning our salvation done in the earth throughout the ages.
We cannot emphasize this too much. "To EVERYTHING [including negative things such as sickness, suffering and all forms of death and evil] there is A SEASON, A TIME TO EVERY PURPOSE under the heaven."Eccl.3:1; 8:6; Jn.11:6. This generally is why it was only "IN DUE TIME" that the Father sent His Son to die for all the ungodly - Ro.5:6. It will be only "in due time" once again. when the full benefits of this ransom for all shall be experience, fulfilled, consummated, confirmed, made evident and testified (1Tim.2:6) to all, by all and in all -1Cor.15:28.
Meanwhile, know that "the SUFFERINGS OF THIS PRESENT TIME are not worthy to be compared with THE GLORY THAT SHALL BE REVEALED IN US."Ro.8:18. 2Cor.4:17, 18. It is comforting and reassuring to see the truth of life in this perspective. Truly, the truth of God's promised words shall be fulfilled in their due season - Lk.1:20. Agree with His word and recognize the timely truth---that suffering and death are part of our present human existence. No one is excluded. Trust Him to see you through and you shall find peace.
OUR HOPE OF GLORY
At this stage in His ongoing creation, God does not yet freely allow us to have all the things (Ro.8:32) that He has prepared for those who have been brought to love Him -1Cor.2:9. This is because man's heart is not yet sufficiently cleansed enough to handle the fullness of His glorious blessings without misusing them. No flesh can be allowed to glory in the fullness of His indwelling presence (Co1.1:29), which presence of glory is the hope (Col.1:2) that shall soon be manifested in the flrstfruit sons of His new creation man - Ro.8:19. Then shall we see & experience the full results of our present union with our Lord of glory.
They that are led by the Spirit of God are the mature sons of God -Ro.8:14. Christ has purchased for spiritual Israel, a beautiful land and kingdom which has become their inheritance. The title and deed to this promised land and all the blessings contained therein, are deposited so to speak, in a bank account in their name. But the majority of this deposit is being kept there until they become of full age...proven as mature adopted sons (Gal.4), whereby they shall, if they are faithful, be counted trustworthy and responsible to withdraw it all on their own. This our Father in His timely will has purposed.
In the meantime, we are receiving only interest and dividends, so to speak; cheques for small predetermined amounts, still written out and given to us by our Father as he sees fit. In other words, we are still in the age of the divine workings of "that holy Spirit of PROMISE which is the earnest [firstfruits portion of the guaranteed pledge] of our [full] inheritance UNTIL the redemption of the purchased possession" (Eph.1:13, 14), namely, "the redemption of OUR BODY." Ro.8:23. Until this actually happens, we are all yet subject in a degree to the weak and beggarly elements of this cursed earth.
WHY DOES GOD ALLOW SUFFERING?
Why does God allow suffering? It is always for our betterment and not for our detriment. Job was the epitome of this principle. Cannot pain and other forms of suffering turn us to God in a way that perfect health could never do? Psa.41:3. Can not suffering cause us to be more dependent upon God? Can it not build godly character in a child of God? Can not suffering bring out the very best in the sufferer or in those closely involved? Cannot suffering help purify us like fire purifying gold? 1Ptr.1:6, 7. Can it not make us more fully appreciate important things like a loving family, friends or good health. It's easy to take things for granted when they should be counted as blessings.
Can we not also become more sympathetic and compassionate through sufferings? If there were no sufferings, would we be willing to change so easily? Would we feel a genuine need for the Lord.? Would we want to leave this world to be with Him? Would we ever learn how to pray if we had no need?
Because we are yet weak in the mortal flesh, we as humans are naturally inclined to be much more concerned with the immediate, temporary realm of the physical body. Human nature is inclined to will a quick fix rather than a progressive and needed transformation. But God who sees the end from the beginning, and views our deliverance in ultimate terms of complete victory over evil, is also most concerned in the interim with the ultimate result of our spiritual wholeness. And even though our spirit and soul is in union at times, our flesh is yet not in union with the Lord within us. All of the old creation is yet "compassed with infirmity." But Praise be to God, through the passion and now the compassion of Christ, all of the new creation is being compassed with glory!
Beloved of the Lord, are you willing to receive and accept the timely will of God and the sovereignty of God in these matters, and that these might be the true reasons why He has withheld even your physical healing? Again, suffering in any or all of its forms, is merely one means by which he is perfecting His working of faith in His children - Psa.66:10-12. Suffering has the intrinsic power to curb man's sinful tendencies and to effectively discipline God's children. "The blueness [after effects] of a wound cleanseth away evil, so also stripes the inward [spiritual parts] of the belly [Heb."beten"..the womb (mind) or body (of Christ)]." Prv.20:34.
There are yet other valid reasons as to why we suffer infirmities and why we get sick. As believers, the wrath of God's judgment has been lifted from our spirits (Gal.3:13, 14), but is this experientially true of our natural minds and physical bodies? Obviously not! Why is there so much suffering and pain, both physical and psychological, that continues to cripple the human body and soul? Why is the WHOLE creation still groaning and travailing together as they have been since Adam? Ro.8:23.
Is it not also because any part of the "old man" which is still in death yet needs resurrection life to replace it? Is it not because our vile physical bodies yet remain mortal and our carnal minds are still subject to the mysterious and deceptive operations of "the law of sin anddeath?" Ro.8:2. "Though the outward man" [and all of us that act according to its will] continues to perish (2Cor.4:16), we have hope that the promise of the Lord (Phil.1:6) whom we allow to work His will and good pleasure in us (Phil.2:13), "shall [in the twinkling of an eye-(1Cor.15:52-54) CHANGE OUR VlLE BODY that it may Be fashioned like unto His glorious [resurrected] body." Phil.3:21.
Sickness and all other forms of death powers shall continue to have power over the flesh until we are clothed with that perfected, incorruptible , resurrected , heavenly body whereby our body's mortality is swallowed up in Christ's perfected life -1Cor.5:1-4. All sickness is a form of the first death judgment, which death is in all of humanity because of imputed sin.
"If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not [operating] in us." 1Jn.l:8; Ro.3:23. Just as sin reigns in this first death (Ro.5:21), so also do our mortal and corruptible bodies remain subject to this realm of death. Nevertheless, because all have been pronounced dead in Adam, even so shall all eventually be made alive in Christ -1Cor.15:22.
In the unregenerate man which the Bible refers to as "in the flesh if the Spirit of God does not dwell in him" (Ro.8:9), then the carnal mind is not subject to the law of God nor could it ever be (Ro.8:7) unless the Spirit of Christ Himself is manifestly dwelling therein. But, "if Christ be in you", the body still remains dead "because of sin'' but our spirit is given new life because of the life giving righteousness of Christ's own Spirit. Our spirit is made free according to the operation of "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus." Ro.8:2.
"You [the real you, your spirit now in union with His] hath He quickened who WERE DEAD in trespass and sin." Eph.2:1. So we see that at the initial point of our salvation experience, our spirit but not our body and its soulish elements, have been made "free from the law of sin and death.'' Ro. 8:2. The body remains subject to all forms of sickness and death. But the soul is now able to be progressively purified in obeying the truth through the Spirit - 1Ptr.1:22.
Only at the moment of our new bodily resurrection will the Spirit of the Father make alive our mortal bodies - Ro.8:11; 2Cor.4:14. "So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be...death. swallowed up in victory.'' 1Cor.15: 54. Concerning bodily resurrection at the last day, Jesus said, '"He that believeth in me, THOUGH HE WERE DEAD, yet shall he live." Jn.11:25.
GOVERNING SPIRITUAL LAWS
In all of Romans chapter Seven, Paul acknowledges that in the mortal infirmity of his flesh (Ro.6:19) there yet dwelt NO GOOD THING (vs.18), for it was yet carnal sold under sin (vs.14). He understood and acknowledged as should we, that in his present natural, lowered state of body and mind (vs.23), sin still dwells and he was still subject to it whenever he chose to be its servant - Ro.6:16. He referred to his natural body and soul as "the body OF THIS DEATH." Ro.7:24. In recognizing this fact, he saw as we also should, that our only "sufficiency is of God.'' 2Cor. 3:4.
Paul was teaching his Roman brethren these truths, using himself as a testimony and example of the working operations of both "the law of sin and death" and "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus." These are two basic divine spiritual laws governing the operations of both the natural & the spiritual worlds. The laws of God encompass His divine will, commands and precepts as expressed in the scriptures. These specifically are a body or system of rules having divine and sovereign origin. Only God Himself can alter or change these laws which presently prevail--and praise be to God, He is doing this in us!
As long as sin & death still experientially is allowed to operate in this world, there will be much pain, adversity, sickness, and all manner of infirmities such as is common to man. It shall continue to operate indefinitely in that part of the human being that has been subjected and appointed to die - Heb.10:27. This was not appointed of the devil, but of God. It is an integral part of His universal plan.
Death both spiritual and physical is one of the very evident evils of the present judgment and all evil is under the absolute control of Almighty God. He is totally sovereign over it - Isa.45:5. According to the precepts of His dispensational plan for his creation, He has chosen but not yet acted in finality and fulness of power to banish the total manifestation of evil from His universe. God always has used evil to accomplish His ultimate predetermined purposes - Eccl.3:1-11. Until all the purposes in His universal plan are fully accomplished, evil shall remain to a degree.
Almost two thousand years ago, God in His planned mercy, sent His dear Son to deliver a mighty bruising blow to crush the head [authority, power] of the serpent whose deadly wound shall never be healed. Even though Satan is at present seemingly prevailing in great wrath, continuing to bruise the earth [God's footstool-Isa.66:1] even that resting place of God's own heel, "he knoweth that he hath but a short time." Rev.12:12. He knows just as well as we who believe God's word, that Christ and His body of saints are destined in the fulness of times to destroy and abolish all vestige of his evil power - Dan.7; Rev. chptrs.19-22. Death is no exception! 1Cor.15:26.
It is extremely helpful to see the sovereignty of the Lord in all things, whether good or evil. A true and thorough knowledge of the Lord's counsel and purposes in his entire creation is helpful in enabling the present saints of God to rob the devil of any pleasure through anxiety or fear which he often tries to operate against them.
We must stand fast in the revelation of God's word, discovering who we are and what power we have available in Him and learning to trust Him in the working out of His divine purposes in our lives, no matter what. As we do this, He is teaching us to triumph over our afflictions no matter what form they may take. Therein, Satan's greatest efforts to harm us fall powerless at the foot of Calvary's cross. The story of Job is rich in this truth.
GOD'S PROGRAM IN THIS AGE
So we are seeing in our studies on suffering so far, how that God uses physical as well as emotional suffering to fulfill His redemptive purposes in mankind. He does this in order that we may one day share His effluent and effulgent glory - Ro.8:17, 18; 2Tim.2:11, 12.
One of the most prominent ways in which we can glorify God and express His nature is through triumphant suffering - Ro.5:3-5. Christ's suffering life here on earth glorified Himself and His Father, and in like manner, ours is designed to do likewise - Jn.17:1, 4, 5. As we have stressed before, it is sovereignty designed to work in us an effectual and eternal weight of glory - 2Cor.4:17.
The Lord can greatly display His power and glory in the life and testimony of those who joyously suffer, and hence he is greatly glorified - 1Ptr.1:6, 7. Joni Eareckson and Margaret Clarkson to name but a few nationally known saints, are prime examples of those triumphant Christians who have learned to endure their cross and hence glorify God in and through their physical suffering. The mystery of suffering is hidden in "the mystery of iniquity" (2Ths.2:7), which full revelation is hidden deep "in the mystery of godliness." 1Tim.3:16.
Only when we begin to "know" Christ in us, then do we begin to "know the truth" as well as that which is false and evil, and the truth can begin to set us free - Jn.8:32. Too many fail to realize that healing is not really a thing. Healing is a person just as our salvation is a person. In the past, the emphasis has been too much on the method rather than on the person. We need to mature enough to see beyond mere healing to the One who is even life itself.
We would like to touch now on more specific questions concerning the spiritual mechanics of physical healing and the part it presently has in reference to the atonement of Christ. First of all, we know Satan has counterfeits for everything. But we know that the Lord Jesus Christ does also continue to manifest His divine works of healing today as well. We have personally seen it, experienced it and declared it according to the truth of His written word. He is the Lord God that heals us (Ex.15:26) and has never changed in the progressive workings of this facet of His interim will (Mal.3:6), for in Him "is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." Jas.1:17.
Jesus came to heal the sick (Matt.9:35; Lk.4:18; Ac.10:38 etc.) and His will, purpose and motives have not changed though His methods do vary. In these, He is "the same yesterday, today, and forever." Heb.13:8. Although, it is a fact that His program and methods of working do change...e.g.. Old and New Testament changes. In this present age of grace, the church, consisting of all "born again" believers, has been given the same commission (Mk.16:15-18 ; Jn.17:18) as were given the original disciples in healing the sick - Lk.10:1,8, 9; Matt.10:1-7.
Many have been given the gifts (1Cor.12:3-12), but all too many have abused their responsibilities in this power bringing reproach on the church. However, those few who have continued apart from iniquity in Christ's words and works, these are also His disciples (Jn.8:31; 14:12), and He is with these disciples "even unto the end of the world [age]" (Matt.28:20), teaching them to observe all things whatsoever he had commanded them.
The Lord purposely demonstrated His sovereign power in the early New Testament church in the form of miraculous signs and wonders, most of them in the form of physical healing - Ac.3:6; 4:30; 5:12; 6:8; 8:6; 14:3, 9, 10; 19:11, 12 etc. This was in order to confirm to Israel the gospel of Christ and to identify Him as the promised Messiah, the Son of God, their King. It was also designed to bring about a new hope and a new revelation of God's presence and power that could help to alleviate human suffering.
The Holy Spirit did heal men in the Old Testament times also, though not nearly so frequently. We now have scriptures to reveal God's nature and power through Christ, whereas in the early days of the church they did not have the same revelation. This could explain today why there is very little demonstration of healing and miracles in the countries which are now sufficiently exposed to His written word. Yet, in countries where the gospel is still in its infancy and the people have never heard the word, it is a fact attested to by many missionaries, that signs and miracles follow to a much greater extent. Even though comparatively unlearned peoples of Asia, Africa, South America and elsewhere have little or no faith to be healed, many are healed regardless.
In realizing these facts, it should not appear too strange that there are comparatively few people healed on this continent, which is really saturated--almost to death rather than life--with healing and faith teaching. How can one truthfully and correctly reconcile the word of faith teaching which is so prevalent in the land today? The results of it are still prevalent at the time of this writing. However, the time is very near when once again the Spirit of the Lord will be sovereignly poured out upon all flesh in great compassionate grace and in just judgment, at a time just prior to the coming of the Lord - Jl.2:28-32; Isa.32:15-20; Am.5:20.
THE TIMING OF GOD'S WILL
Another false premise implies that it is God's will to physically heal anyone for anything at any given time. True, IT IS IN GOD'S WILL TO HEAL just as it is a part of God's will to save ALL men's souls. However, the timing of these things must be seen and kept in their proper biblical perspectives.
A biblical revelation of this can be seen in the fact that just as it is God's perfect and ultimate will to save all men's souls (1Tim.2:4; 2Pter.3:9), so He shall, "BUT EVERY MAN IN HIS OWN ORDER." 1Cor.15:22, 23. Even so it is in God's ultimate and determined will to eventually heal all in body (whether it be by vivification or glorification) as well as soul and spirit.
Know ye not that "if we ask anything ACCORDING TO HIS WILL, He hearth us. And if we know that He hear us, WHATSOEVER we ask,.we know that WE HAVE [as a promise all] THE PETITIONS [of His will] that we desire of Him." 1Jn.5:14, 15. If this scripture and others like it (Jer.33:3; Jn.14:14; 15:7; 16:23; 1Jn.3:22) be promises that can apply to divine healing [and so they are], then it is up to God Himself to somehow keep His immutable word in fulfilling them. This He is bound to do on the word of His oath that cannot return void.
Because we have petitioned God in the name of Jesus for the salvation and/or physical healing of many, and yet often not seen the results prior to the death of those prayed for....this seems to many, to make God's promises void and of no effect. But is God a liar? God forbid - Rom.3:4. Many are forced to conclude this because of their limited view of His word which the traditions of men have made of non effect. Many wrongly conclude that the workings of God's will is only in the time span of man's earthly life.
How can the will of God be carried out if death fixes the eternal condition of all men? Does God limit His great sovereign work to the infinitely short life span of his fallen creation? In the limited vision of their carnal minds, men fail to see and believe the end of God's word and works and how that He is healing according to His own sovereign will over a period of eons, and NOT NECESSARILY IN THE TIME THAT WE WILL HEALING TO COME.
At times for some, it is in God's will to heal in the now - Lk.5:12, 13; 10:38; Matt.8:2; Psa.103:3. Yet, at other times it is in God's will to allow suffering in whatever form it may be - Ro.8:26, 27; 9:15; 2Cor.12:5-10; 2Cor.4:14-17; Lk.5:12; Jas.4:9; Phil.1:29; 1Ptr.3:17; 4:19; Heb.12:6 etc.
Every Christian as a unique individual has a personal calling of God upon his life, and God's present will for one vessel is not the same for another. The Lord, according to His will, not ours, puts hedges of protection around many [Jb.1:10; Psa.34:7 what are His "household of faith"], and as often as not, for His sovereign purposes, takes the hedge away - Jb.2:6.
THE PROMISES OF GOD ARE SURE AND AMEN BOTH TO SAVE AND TO HEAL, but THE TIMING of the FULFILLMENT of HIS PROMISES rests with Him who unconditionally "forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases." Psa.103:3. Many scriptures such as Ex.15:26; 23:25; Deut.7:15; Psa.34:17; Prv.4:22; Jer.30:17 are often applied today OUT OF TIME SEQUENCE. They are true but many have minor and major ongoing fulfillment's.
What about healing of our SPIRITS AND SOULS as far as we see the efficacy of Christ's sufferings now actively working in the atonement? As far as the effects of the redemption concerning the BODY, this is provided for, but is yet to be made fully manifest in our bodies only in resurrection. In reality, our bodies are not yet presently exempt from all that is included in the first death - Ro.8:18 -28. The church itself, is yet to complete and fulfill the suffering of Christ (Col.1:24; 2Cor.1:3-7) in the body through overcoming and enduring, and by manifesting His victorious life in the face of their adversity.
There would be nothing to overcome or endure if we were instantly healed and saved out of everything in death. This they can only do "by my Spirit , saith the Lord." Zec.4:6. Refined mind power techniques and tapping soulish powers of positive thinking may in their extremes, alleviate and divert some physical ailments. But, their humanistic orientation and lack of giving any glory to God does not benefit true growth in the inChristed spirit. It surely does not promote growth of the fruit of the spirit such as long-suffering, patience and faith.
NO ONE EXEMPT
Sickness, in an evidential or disguised form, still happens to all, regardless of their degree of faith. Aging of the body is actually a slow form of sickness and the body has already begun to die when it is born. Some can consider themselves very blessed indeed that they are able to maintain comparatively healthy bodies unto their death. This of course is just as true in spiritually unregenerate people as it is in the saved - Matt.5:45.
Was Christ Himself sick at any time? Isa.53:1-4; Lk.4:23; Heb.4:15 as well as other scripture, indicate this as a possibility. After all, many were, and still are the afflictions of the righteous, most seemingly without cause. God said Job was afflicted without personal cause (Jb.2:3), and his sore afflictions and sickness were definitely not according to his sin - Jb.2:10. Much could be said about Job which space does not permit. If one can see nothing else in the trials of Job other than the sovereignty of God's will being worked out in his life, then this is of great value to ones understanding of God and His ways.
Besides Job, some of the greatest, most faithful saints were also afflicted with sickness that was prominent enough to be recorded. In the Old Testament such was the case with Daniel (Dan.8:27), Moses (Ex.4:24-Amplif.), Hezekiah (Isa.38 & 2Kgs.13), Elisha (2Kgs.13:14) and Abijah - 1Kgs.14. In the early New Testament church which was full of faith and miracles, even some of Christ's faithful disciples were infirm and sick...Paul being the prime example - 2Cor.10:10, 12; 12:5-10; Gal.4:13, 14; Col.1:24. See Phil.2:25-30 where Epaphroditus was sick, not because of any lack of faith or because of sin, but "because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death." vs.30. Paul had to leave Trophimus sick (2Tim.4:20) and Timothy had often infirmities - 1Tim.5:23. Dorcas also was full of good works yet took sick and died - Ac.9:36, 37. Can we honestly say things are any different today?
Sickness as in the case of Lazerus can be "that the Son of God might be GLORIFIED THEREBY" (Jn.11:3) and is not to be always connected with personal sin. The case of the blind man clearly portrayed this truth in his infirmity - Lk.9:1-7. Yet men of God do continue to wrongly preach to us that sickness is because of personal sin, or if not, it then can only be through our lack of faith.
The foregoing is not to deny that sin can bring sickness upon us (Deut.28:61; Lev.26:15, 16) either emotional, physical or both. There are natural reasons that are far too many to list. Some diseases are caused by natural poisons and others by spiritual poisons that saturate our bodies - Ex.15:26. Heredity as well as living in an unclean environment can be a cause. Evil spirits can be involved but not always - Lk.13:11.
Study Matt.9:1-6 and Jn.5:1-16. Both men here were sick because of their transgression of God's laws. All sickness basically results from sin in the sense that it operates in our bodies which are ever subject to the vanities of the first death. But it is not always by any stretch of the imagination, the result of personal transgression or iniquity--although it can be in certain cases - 1Cor.11:30; 1Jn.5:16. If we face up to our transgressions, confessing and forsaking them, then we can be assured that personal sin is not the cause.
Jesus clearly stated sickness and misfortunes were not necessarily the results of people's sins - Lk.13:1-5. Study the reasons for the sickness which was upon the innocent child that Uriah's wife bore David - 2Sam.12. See also Asa's cause - 1Kgs.15:23.
There are two scriptures which are probably quoted in Christian circles more often than any others in connection with physical healing and miracles. These are Isa.53:5 and 2Ptr.2:24, 25. These are nearly always interpreted wrongly , at least in regards to the truth of their correct time contexts. Rather than revealing a present truth of body healing, both these scriptures are actually describing the forgiveness and healing of spiritual sin and transgression (Isa.53:8) and consequently the healing of our spirits through the atonement of Christ.
Peter referred to Isaiah's words speaking of spiritual restoration---not body healing - 2Ptr.2:24, 25. It is spiritual disease that the holy Spirit is mainly concerned with in this age - Isa.1:5, 6; Mk.2:17; Jer.33:6-8; Matt.13:14, 15. The Spirit has been sent to heal our backsliding - Jer.3:22; 17:14; Hos.6:1.
Many have been side-tracked in an overbalanced emphasis on body healing and follow such ministries mainly for the loaves and fishes they are promised---especially if they first give of their money. One could give a million dollars but it would in no way insure a healing! It is not wrong to ask for healing or miracles. But, if we demand them, we are in danger of entreating God to do our own will--when in fact He might have a much greater blessing or revelation of Himself to give through continuation of our sufferings.
Jesus never DEMANDED of His Father nor called upon angels but fully accepted the Father's sovereign will in all things even unto death on the cross. "Those things..that Christ should suffer, He hath so fulfilled." Ac.3:18. The healing of the body is only a temporary work anyways. The greater and lasting work is the healing of the spirit and soul - Jn.14:12.
Healing used in the poetic language of the scripture means "forgiveness." See examples in Isa.57:18,19; 2Chr.7:14; 30:18b, 19. As we have pointed out, Christ's works of physical healing were used mainly as credential signs for SPIRITUAL HEALING (Lk.5:20-24) and for forgiveness. "With His stripes we are healed" in "the inward parts" (Prv.20:30), the spirit. We are forgiven. Our spirits are supernaturally regenerated and healed.
As believers, Christ has truly healed and delivered our spirits from the separating power and judgment of the first death - Ro.chptr.6. He is yet healing and delivering our bruised and broken souls (Psa.41:4; 147:3; Lk.4:18), and in future resurrection, our vile bodies shall be healed---in being made whole and incorruptible - 2Cor.1:10; Phil.3:21; Ro.7:24, 25.
Some might object to what we are saying, quoting Isa.53:4 as proof that healing for the body is just as much a part of the atonement fulness as it is for the spirit. But Matt.8:16, 17 states, "He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses" in the casting out of devils and healing of the sick during His earthly ministry that Isaiah's prophecy might be fulfilled. Isa.53:4 was fulfilled before the cross!
THE MERCY AND COMPASSION OF CHRIST
The Son of righteousness truly has been rising with healing in His wings - Mal.4:2. Today, all forms of healing both spiritual and physical is being brought to His church on His Spirit's great eagle wings of mercy and truth. And in His MERCY AND TRUTH our iniquity is being purged - Prv.6:16. Herein in the truth of His everlasting and transitory graceful mercy, is found the true basis for the healing of our spirit, soul and body.
It is God's desire to give helpless people of His unconditional grace and mercy. This He is doing according to His sovereign will. Jesus said, I will have MERCY and not sacrifice." Matt.9:13; 12:7; Hos.6:6. Our fleshly works and sacrifices are now useless to effect God's mercy and so is our self motivated faith. We will deal with faith last in this study because it too, often is over emphasized and has brought out of balance teaching on healing.
Divine healing through out the ages, especially in the form of miracles, is a part of the progressive revelation of God's sovereign purposes, which at times reveal through His acts, His gracious nature of mercy and compassion. God has at time, by His Word and His Spirit, revealed His presence, His will, His purposes and His ACTS. But He has seldom chosen to reveal the intimate working details of His ways - Psa.103:7.
"He hath showed His people THE POWER OF HIS WORK" (Psa. 111:6) in intermittent and infrequent signs and wonders, whereby "One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty ACTS." Psa.145:4. "According to the multitude of His mercies" (Psa.106:45), He saves, delivers, and heals us. He does this not merely for our sakes but "for His name's sake, that He might make His mighty power to be known." Psa.106:8; Isa.48:9-11; 63:9.
Besides being evidence of the validity and will of the power of God, MERCY AND COMPASSION (Psa.114:4) are among basic reasons for our spiritual and physical healing. The Lord mercifully saves us and heals us, not because we on our own choose to sacrificially love Him, but rather because He first loved us (1Jn.3:16; 4:10) and has unsolicited compassion upon us. This is "according to the MULTITUDE OF HIS MERCIES." Lam.3:32.
Christ our high priest has been ordained for men in all things pertaining to God" that He may offer Himself as a sacrifice for our sins. Because He Himself as the Son of God and the Son of Man, was also COMPASSED WITH INFIRMITY, He is also now able to have divine compassion on them that are spiritually ignorant and them that are physically infirm - Heb.5:1-4. MERCY and COMPASSION go hand in hand - Matt.20:30-34. "I will have COMPASSION on WHOM I WILL HAVE COMPASSION. So then it is not of him that willeth nor of him that runneth, but OF GOD THAT SHEWETH MERCY." Ro.9:15, 16. He responds only in accordance with His own divinely determined omnipotent will.
Jesus healed the people's physical ailments because of COMPASSION - Matt.14:14; Mk.5:19; Lk.7:13. In Mk.9:21-29, He delivered the deaf and dumb because of His compassion even though there was some unbelief. Mal.3:11 states, "I will rebuke the devourer FOR YOUR SAKES." Is this not true compassion? People pitifully cried, "Have MERCY on us" and they were graciously healed - Matt.9:27; 15:22; 17:15; 20:31; Mk.10:47; Lk.17:12-14.
Notice that these healings were all before the atonement and the old law was still in effect. Was it their human faith that healed them? That is very questionable! Regardless, it certainty was the mercy and faithfulness of Christ doing His Father's will that healed them. Even after the atonement when Epaphroditus was healed, it was because "GOD HAD MERCY UPON HIM" (Phil.2:27) at that particular time. The Lord is VERY PITIFUL and of TENDER MERCY." Jas.5:11. Therefore, neglect not to "pray one for another, that ye MAY BE healed." Jas.5:16. That is why we are exhorted to pray without ceasing as we know not when God's will could be carried out at any particular time. It is not a matter of "if. It's a matter of "when."
FAITH'S PART IN BODY HEALING
What does faith play in all this, should be the logical question at this point? What about scriptures that do mention faith in conjunction with healing? Scripture suggests that the operation of faith is as absolutely necessary for our physical healing as it is for our initial salvation. However, the full truth is, our OWN faith is the actual means of neither.
We should not rely on OUR faith to produce a miracle. Ours cannot! [For a greater understanding of biblical faith, see our booklet entitled "The Mystery of The Faith"]. We need the miracle of God's mercy and compassion to produce the miraculous "faith of the OPERATION OF GOD" (Col.2:2) in us which is necessary.
Healing faith, whether it be for spiritual or physical salvation and renewal, IS A GIFT OF GOD'S OWN WORKING, not man's - Eph.2:8, 9. Only the divine sovereign working of "HIS FAITH" (Habk.2:4), "the faith OF Jesus Christ" (Gal.2:16, 20); Eph.3:12) which only is "the work of faith with power" (2This.1:11) operated "according to HIS WILL" 1Jn. 5:14, 15) can save us or truly heal us. It is only the Holy Spirit that brings the gift of faith, healing, miracles etc. (1Cor.12:9) and it is "AS HE WILL." 1Cor.12:11; Heb.2:4; Nu.12:23-15; Lk.22:42; 4:18-27; Matt.8:23.
In Abraham's day and even up to and including the days of Christ's ministry on earth, belief emanating from the yet unregenerate spirit of the natural man, along with obedient works of the law, was "counted for righteousness" (Ro.4:1-4) in salvation. And this same natural personal faith with works, was at that time acceptable to bring to light mercy for healing - Matt.9:2, 22, 29; 15:28; Mk.5:34; Lk.7:50. But that natural human faith and obedience which counted for healing and righteousness BEFORE the Holy Spirit was sent to permanently indwell us (Jn.14:17), now in N.T. times is replaced by a perfectly righteous faith, even "THE FAITH OF our Lord Jesus Christ." Jas.2:1; Col.2:2. It is now only HIS faith, which when it is unconditionally imparted to us, is the basis for His healing in either spirit soul or body.
This "same Spirit of Faith" (2Cor.4:13) which is imputed of God, is now freely give to us to operate only AS HE WILLS. "But BEFORE [this perfect] faith came, we were under the law, shut up unto THE FAITH WHICH SHOULD AFTERWARD BE REVEALED...But AFTER THAT FAITH IS COME, we are no long under a schoolmaster." Gal.3:23-25.
Now that we are no longer bound under the law of old, our own fallible unreliable human type faith is no longer acceptable. Neither is our own righteousness nor work nor anything else that is subject to the first death curse. Only that which comes through the faith of Christ which is the righteousness of God Himself, is acceptable - 2ptr.1:1; Phil.3:9.
Now, the righteousness of God without the law, without human works or human faith is manifested (Ro.3:21) by "the [new] law of Christ" Ro.6:2; Gal.6:2. For there has been made of necessity A CHANGE (Heb.7:12) concerning "the law of faith" (Ro.3:27) "by the which we Now draw nigh unto God." Heb.7:19. Before this came, we were shut up under the law until this new law, this new faith was revealed - Gal.3:23 -25.
To effectuate our spiritual and physical healing, this healing is now set in motion by the merciful action of "the faith of the Son of God", who now according to His own will, sovereignly works in us "both to will and to do of His good pleasure." Phil.2:13. "Likewise, the Spirit also helpeth OUR INFIRMITIES...because He ever maketh intercession for us ACCORDING TO THE WILL OF GOD." Ro.8:26, 27. He is for us, not against us, to bring us into perfect union and harmony with Christ the Lord.
Beloved, whatever circumstance, whether in sickness or in health, "In EVERYTHING give thanks: for THIS IS THE WILL OF GOD IN CHRIST JESUS concerning you." 1Ths.5:18.
"Return, O faithless sons, says the Lord,
and I WILL HEAL YOUR FAITHLESSNESS.
[And they answer]...
Behold, we come to you for
You are the Lord our God." Jer.3:22 [Amplif.]
Jesus said, "Father, IF THOU BE WILLING,
remove this cup from me: nevertheless
[if it is not your present intention to do so, then]
NOT MY WILL, but THINE BE DONE."
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