Monthly Archives: April 2014

Reclaiming Biblical Healing (Part 7)

The Scriptures tell us not to believe everything we see, read, or hear. We are not to accept information carte blanche just because we read it on the internet or hear it from the mouth of a teacher or preacher. We are told in 1 John 4:1 to “test the spirits to see whether they are from God.” In other words, you must take responsibility for making sure what you believe is true no matter where you read or heard it.

Thus far in these blogs I have made several fundamental statements that are essential if the church (made up of individuals like you and me) ever hope to reclaim the ministry of biblical healing. For the past six blogs we have been looking at what Scripture says and Jesus did. If the Bible says it—then it is truth. You must check the Scriptures—don’t take my word for it. You have to wrestle with it and come to a place where truth becomes faith. If it’s true, then we are called to obey and imitate it. For many, this will mean a change in your belief system. We have to purge the lies, the unbelief, and false teaching we have been indoctrinated with and come to grips with certain truths.

Here are the truths we must test and embrace if we hope to see God move again through the ministry of healing:

1.  Jesus is God (The things Jesus did and said demonstrate the will and desire of God the Father).

2.  God’s character and nature is to heal. (His name is Jehovah Rapha—“I Am that I Am Healing”—his                 name reveals who he is.) Therefore healing is the will of God.

3.  We must believe God wants to heal and “is” healing (present tense)—not simply that he can                         heal if he wants to or if it’s his will.

4.  Satan is the source of sickness (All sickness comes from the enemy. God is not the source of sickness                    nor does he send sickness to make us better or stronger believers).

5.  Jesus healed everyone who came to him (He did not heal everyone in Israel but none who came to                    him were rejected).

These five statements are essential in your belief system if you hope to see biblical healing become a part of your ministry. We act on and do what we believe and we refuse to act on what we don’t believe.

Does this raise questions? You bet it does! I have several but I refuse to allow my questions to limit the clear witness of Scripture and the distinct testimony of Jesus. What Jesus did—he still wants to do today through his body—that’s you and me.

Are you willing to believe by faith and see? Are you willing to allow him to use you as he releases his healing power through your faith in the truth he declared and demonstrated? You must decide….

Reclaiming Biblical Healing (Part 6)

If the words that have been wasted on debating what the will of God is and is not were collected and stored, the warehouse space needed would force all of us off this planet. This is especially true in the area of healing. Is it God will? If it’s God’s will? What is God’s will? The answer to those questions and a thousand more just like them is…Jesus! Jesus is perfect theology. If you want to see what God looks like or thinks like in high definition—3-D—just look at Jesus. Jesus is, was, and will forever be the invisible God made visible.

If you want to know what God is interested in—take a long hard look at Jesus. An honest and unprejudiced reading of the first chapters of the Gospel of Mark, believed by many scholars to be the earliest account of Jesus life and ministry, show that the message of the kingdom was demonstrated and proclaimed through his ministry of preaching, teaching, and healing. Jesus preached the present reality of the kingdom of God—accessible to all and literal present among the people he encountered. He taught his followers how to relate their lives to God and the kingdom. And—he healed, bringing physical, emotional, and mental health to those sick in body and mind due to physical affliction or demonization.

Twenty percent of the four Gospels (727 verses out of 3,779) record the healings of Jesus and the discussions and controversies they spawned. Healing must be very important to God the Father if the Holy Spirit dedicated one-fifth of his space about the life and ministry of the incarnate Son of God and recorded his healing ministry in those gospels. There are no wasted words in Scripture! The Holy Spirit was not chasing rabbit trails—he had a divine purpose. Healing was a central ministry of Jesus, and if Jesus did it, then perhaps we should pay far more attention to it, and…just maybe, be doing it ourselves as his body.

There are 41 distinct instances where physical, emotional, or mental healings were recorded in the four Gospels (72 accounts in all including duplications). These by no means represent every person Jesus healed because Scripture tells us Jesus sometimes healed “all” who came to him—meaning large crowds and even whole towns. Healing was a major part of his ministry.

What can we learn from this? Several things arise, and these truths are essential seeds that must take root and bear fruit in our belief system if we are to fulfill the promise of Jesus—that we would do what he did and even greater things (John 14:12).

First, Jesus believed that God “is healing”—present tense—right now! He demonstrated that reality every time he encountered a sick person. He believed he had been anointed with power and authority to bring the kingdom of God—the domain of the King—from heaven to earth. He did not believe “God could heal if he wanted to.” Jesus did not have to pray and see “if it was God’s will to heal.” He acted! He knew it was God’s will because healing is a part of God’s nature. Healing is who God is (God revealed himself to Moses and the Israelites as Jehovah Rapha—I Am that I Am Healer). Who God is reveals God’s will. He has not changed.

Secondly, Jesus believed sickness, affliction, paralysis, and infirmity were from the devil. They were not sent by God. This belief was evident in his words and actions. The religious system of his day taught all sickness was the result of sin in a person’s life, the life of his parents, or ancestors. It was God’s judgment. In other words, sickness comes from God. Healing could come only if one repented, confessed that sin to a priest, and offered the appropriate sacrifice.  The ministry of Jesus was in direct opposition to their traditions, interpretations, and religious systems—but not the Mosaic Law. Jesus fulfilled that law and perfectly obeyed it.

Jesus never made repentance a requirement for physical healing. He simply healed people. In his mind and by his actions, healing and forgiveness were synonymous. Remember, sozo (Greek for “save or salvation”) means forgiveness of sin, deliverance from torment, and physical healing. If sickness did not come from God, then it must have come through the devil. There is no sickness in heaven. There is no disease in the throne room of God. Jesus was demonstrating God’s will. Heaven was touching earth.

Peter proclaimed to Cornelius’ house that Jesus healed all who were oppressed by the devil (Acts 10:38). Jesus stated in John 10:10 that the thief takes life, but that he gives life. Sickness and disease take life, they do not give life. Jesus did not act or believe that sickness was the will of God. Instead he gave life each time he healed a person. If sickness is the will of God, then God the Father and God the Son were fighting one another and this is simply not possible. If it was not the will of God in Jesus’ day—it is not the will of God today!

Finally, Jesus did not heal every sick person who was alive in his day. But, he healed every person who came to him for healing. There are no exceptions! His healings were not dependent on faith either. He healed those who had great faith and others who had little or no faith. He healed organic diseases where structure or tissue was damaged. He healed functional disorders where organs or parts of the body were not operating properly.  He healed the demonized who were afflicted in mind, body, and soul. He healed them all, and rejected none who came to him.

Tell me—what has change? Has God changed or have we changed? Far too many people believe sickness is either God’s judgment or a tool God uses so that through suffering we might become better Christians. Who should we believe—the empty theologies of men or the inerrant, inspired, and infallible Word of God as demonstrated and proclaimed by Jesus?

Reclaiming Biblical Healing (Part 5)

jesus heals

There seems to be two different strands of belief about healing when it comes to the Old Testament. It may seem that way, but there is only one as revealed by Jesus. Jesus fulfills and thus interprets the meaning of the old covenant because he revealed God’s heart.

God is sovereign. As he progressively revealed himself he wanted his people to look to him for everything. He was the one who brought life (happiness, good crops, reward, and health) to those who obeyed and punishment (slavery, disaster, disease, and death) to those who didn’t. The people he was calling to walk in relationship with him as a nation were saturated in the paganism and mythology of their world. His desire was to show them he alone was in control.

There is little revelation of heaven or hell in the Old Testament, only Sheol. Sheol was a shadowy existence in the afterlife where both the righteous and the wicked were held until the resurrection. Due to this, people began to believe reward and punishment for the kind of life you lived was received in this life and not in the next.  This punishment was believed to be misfortune and pain, including sickness and disease. You reaped what you sowed in the here and now. People began to believe that health and wealth were the rewards of God and sickness, poverty, and misfortune were his divine punishments.

They saw God judge the Egyptians with plagues—the Philistines with tumors for taking the Ark—Miriam with leprosy for questioning God’s choice of Moses—Gehazi, the servant of Elisha, with leprosy for taking money under the table after the healing of Namaan. Levites who were lame or deformed were forbidden from serving as priests. Things like these caused the people to believe sin was the cause of sickness, disease, and death.

The religious system and leadership this thought pattern spawned came to teach that if you were sick there was sin in your life. Therefore, you were required to confess that sin to a priest and offer the appropriate sacrifice for you particular sin.  In reality, some sin was the result of unconfessed sin, but certainly not all of it.

This is the same argument of Job’s three friends—the same argument we still hear from many in the church today. But, if you read Job 1-2 it is clear Job’s calamities were the result of Satan’s attack on a righteous man not God’s anger at sinful one. Therefore we have a problem with the belief system of what had developed in Judaism.  Add to this, God’s healing of numerous women who were barren, the healing of children in the ministries of Elijah and Elisha, the healing of Namaan (a pagan foreigner), and King Hezekiah—all without mention of sin or an appearance before a priest with the appropriate sacrifice.

Add to this the revelation of God as Jehovah Rapha—I Am that I Am Healer—which means the essence, as well as character and attribute, of God is healing. In other words—healing is who God is, therefore healing is the will of God. David declares that God heals all his diseases in Psalm 103 and Isaiah speaks of the future scourging of the Messiah as healing for our physical diseases and sickness. When you take a step back and look it appears there are two different streams of thought in the Old Testament, but really there is only one.

The majority of the church has bought into the same strand as did Old Testament Judaism. The body is of little worth because it is riddled with sin. Why worry about it anyway, God will raise it up in the resurrection. Or…if you are sick there must be sin in your life because it is a sure sign of God’s judgment. Or…God uses sickness and suffering to purify us and refine our Christian walk. The vast majority of the church from 500 A. D. until now have set sail in the wrong stream that seems to flow out of the Old Testament. The church has chosen to interpret Jesus through the lens of the Old Testament rather than interpret the Old Testament through the lens of Jesus. And in doing so, God is seen by most Christians as angry, wrath-filled, and out to get them.

Jesus came to reveal who God is. The invisible God became visible through Jesus. He came preaching the gospel of the kingdom and demonstrating its power through physical and emotional healing. He rarely mentioned sin when he healed people. Instead, in ministering to the physical and emotional needs of people, he revealed God’s heart of concern, compassion, and love.

He attributed sickness and disease to the devil and in a furious flurry of healings attacked that dark kingdom and began to set the prisoners free. Nearly 1/5 of the verses (727 out of 3,779) found in the four gospels are devoted to Jesus’ healings and the discussions brought about by it. That’s twenty percent of the gospels. Healing must be very important to God if Jesus spent that much time doing it.

This healing ministry of Jesus so threatened the hierarchy of religious Judaism that they attributed his healings to the power of Satan and eventually voted to kill him before their kingdom was taken from them. They even wrote in the Talmud that “Jesus was hanged on a tree (crucified) on Passover Eve because he practiced sorcery (i.e. he healed sick people thereby bypassing the priest, repentance, and the proper sacrifice—which guaranteed the continuation of a their booming business at the temple).

Two strands of belief? Yes! But…one was man’s interpretation and the other was God’s revelation. Jesus came to interpret that revelation and give us God’s view.

Reclaiming Biblical Healing (Part 4)

 

Foundations are extremely important. The strength of the foundation determines the scope of the building project, whether it is a building, a ministry, a life, or a theological belief. As followers of Jesus, we must recognize that the foundation of the New Testament is laid in the Old Testament. The people of the O.T. looked forward through the Mosaic Law and its sacrificial system toward the coming of the Messiah. But we, as N.T. believers, must interpret that Law and sacrificial system through what Jesus (the Messiah) did. In other words, without Jesus Christ, much of the O.T. makes little sense to us.

The Old Testament is a progressive revelation of who God is and what God desires. Over time he revealed his character, his attributes, and his holiness—the essence of who he is. This culminates when the invisible God became flesh, giving us a fuller revelation of who he is in Jesus Christ. If you want to know who God is, how he acts, and what is important to him—look at Jesus. He is the invisible God made visible.

We often forget when we read the O.T. that God was calling a people to be singularly his out of a sea of paganism where idolatrous worship was filled with all types of sexual perversion and human sacrifice. Every nation, tribe, village and even individual families had their deities they worshipped. The world was filled with false deities—demons and wicked spirits who caused calamity and were believe to be the source of ill-fortune, sickness, disease, and death. This is the atmosphere out of which God calls a people to worship him alone—a holy people. We often fail to interpret O.T. passages through this lens and when we do, we end up with a religion filled with countless rules, rituals, and regulations rather than a relationship meant to be experienced through grace. In other words, we attempt to enjoy the benefits of grace through the labor of the law, which is impossible.

What does this have to do with healing you might be wondering? Everything! To understand the heart of God we need a proper foundation to build a biblical theology of healing. There is little revelation of an afterlife in the O.T. Sheol (the Pit) was a shadowy place where the dead, both the righteous and the wicked, resided until the resurrection. Therefore, most people believed the reward or punishment for the kind of life one lived was received, not in the afterlife, but right now. God was seen as the giver of all good things, as well as the dispenser of misfortune and pain, which included sickness and pain. In other words, one reaped what one sowed…now! The Law was crystal clear about what they could expect if they obeyed, and what would happen if they disobeyed. People began to believe that health and wealth were rewards of God, while sickness, poverty, and misfortune were divine punishments. People came to believe that all sickness was the result of sin. As the O.T. developed, the rabbis taught that healing could only come after one’s sin was forgiven. The sinner must appear before the priest and repent. No repentance—no healing! This strand of belief still permeates the church today.

Yet God revealed himself to his people as Jehovah Rapha (literally—I Am That I Am Healer). God’s name reveals who he is—his essence—not just what he does. God is saying, “I am healing. Healing is who I am!” Remember, the O.T. is a progressive revelation of God’s identity and his will.

In the next blog, we will look at two seemingly different strands of thought on healing that appear to be diametrically opposed. In reality, they are not opposed when we look back at the O.T. through the lens of Jesus and find his interpretation. Jesus did not ignore the old covenant, he fulfilled it. Then he established a new one, but the foundation for the new one is foreshadowed through the former one.

Reclaiming Biblical Healing (Part 3)

Salvation, according to the gospel of the kingdom that Jesus preached, is far more than forgiveness of sins. It is also deliverance from torment and healing of the body. That is total salvation—the salvation Jesus came to restore to men and women who were totally lost in spirit, soul, and body. Over the past 1,700 years we have lost or misplaced two-thirds of what Jesus reclaimed as the last Adam.

Perhaps you are struggling with these statements. Perhaps your mind is filling with a thousand questions or that horrible little conjunction of unbelief—but…but…but! Please don’t shut me off. Read the rest of these blogs and if you are unwilling to accept these statements—that’s up to you. But please consider what the Bible has to say.

God is calling his body—his church—to be a “house of healing”—a place where those who are lost, or tormented, or sick can find the gift of salvation (forgiveness, deliverance, or healing) God sent his Son to die for. The fact that this belief must be argued and proved is evidence that the church has lost most of the treasure Christ won at the cross. Unbelief, ignorance, excuses, abuse, misuse, a desire to control, sin, faulty philosophies/theologies, and the enemy have robbed us of our rightful inheritance from God. As a result, the church is, for the most part, powerless, huddled in foxholes praying that Jesus would return and save us—when he has already done that—spirit, soul, and body, and authorized us to put on our butt kicking boots and kick down the gates of hell.

Some people believe God no longer heals, that healing was something that ended with the last apostle or the canonization of the Bible. Others believe God can heal—meaning he has the power to do so if he wants to (if he wants to?). My question is, “Where in the world did you get either of those ideas, because it certainly was not from the Bible.” Does anyone out there really believe God wants to heal—that he is healing? Believing he will because it is a part of the package Christ purchased on the cross is far different than believing he can if he wants to. Whatever you believe—it is God’s will to save by destroying the effects of sin on the spirit through the forgiveness of sin, on the soul by delivering it from torment, and on the body through healing its diseases. That’s the definition of the world Jesus chose to use. Plus he did so by showing us God’s heart in the matter and demonstrating God’s will through his words and actions.

Sadly our belief systems are based more on what we have been taught for generations or not seen or experienced, rather than on what the Bible declares and Jesus demonstrated. Will you allow your lack of or limited experiences determine the level of your faith? Faith is not “seeing is believing,” but rather “believing to see.” Without faith it is impossible to please God and God has not changed since the days he walked this planet in preparation for giving his life to bring us total salvation.