Healing 2

Great to hear your thoughts on healing.

I must say I was surprised by your first comment about faith. I had always thought faith was essential. I even spent considerable time in my early years searching the Bible for an out that would assure me I didn’t have to believe, and God would still heal me. That backfired slightly, because I ended up more convinced that faith was the normal way of operating, but I also increased in my faith for healing so that was worthwhile.

Thinking about your questions:

  1. Did Christ die for our sins AND so that we can have healing in this life? If it is so, then Christ’s death might be deemed ineffective because we still have sick christians.

    I think I would say that physical healing is to be seen as a by-product of reconciliation to God. In Mt 9:1-8 Jesus closely links healing & forgiveness, and the healing was evidence of the forgiveness. Before sin, there was no sickness, and every sickness (& other destructive force) can be traced back to someone’s sin somewhere. (I am not saying the link is always direct – some is a direct sowing & reaping, some is the result of another person’s wickedness affecting us, and some (for example some natural disasters) is more a general result of sin in the world breaking the God-ordained order & introducing decay etc. When the sin problem is dealt with, the door is open for healing as well.Then again, if Jesus shows us what God is like, & He went around doing good & healing all who were under the power of the devil (Acts 10:38) then it is likely that is what God wants to happen everywhere.

  2. What then is the role and practice of healing that we have now? It seems to be more hit and miss than the consistency that the Apostles had. If physical healing is a sign of power that our gospel is true (as it is used in Acts), Matthew 7:21-23 and testimonies from other religions almost serve to discount that.

    It is truly complex & hard to completely understand. Some of the principles I have learnt are:

    – Healing & miracles are used as confirmation of the message (also Gal 3:1-5)- Backslidden / ungodly Christians can also get miracles. I suspect this is because the proclamation of the message & salvation of others is sometimes a higher priority than the persons individual lifestyle (see Phil 1:15-18). Classically illustrated by the American healing evangelists who had amazing meetings even while they were severely sinning. This also suggests that some people have a gifting in this area, or have entered into a dynamic that is generally lost to the mainstream body of Christ.

    – False Christs will also perform miracles, so it is not a guaranteed seal of God’s approval. This also suggests a connection with a spiritual dynamic that can operate independent of Christ (but probably not independent of some (good/bad) spiritual authority figure.

  3. I read verses like John 14:11-12 and Acts 14:8-10 (the man had “faith to be healed” not “faith to believe”) and am perplexed (or even Luke 10:1-17). Ae we expected to be able to heal as Jesus did or as the Apostles did?I believe it is an undeniable teaching that we are supposed to demonstrate the power of the God in our lives & proclamation of the gospel. We are all supposed to desire spiritual gifts, one of which is healing.

    It also appears that while we should all pray for healing, some have greater authority in this area. The story of Dorcas in Acts 9 demonstrated a pattern of Christians calling for the apostle to get their healing. Whether the other Christians had already prayed for her is not mentioned, but the “special” believer had greater power. This is also interesting because it is not directly associated with an evangelistic event. And James instructs anyone that is sick to call for the Elders & get healed. This passage also links sickness with sin & healing with forgiveness, and encourages us ordinary people to pray & believe.

  4. What do we do with all these sick Christians?

    We must always get our beliefs from the Word first, and not from what we see around us. We live in a society that is characterised by unbelief, and we are struggling to throw off that cultural mindset in order to reach the fullness of what God has for us. The pervasive trust in riches is also a deceitful snare that blinds & hinders us. I suspect that this is why we hear about miracles in 3rd world nations & don’t see them here.And we have to realise that we will never fully attain Christlikeness until we see Him face to face.
    As well as that, there is an aspect of the sovereignty of God that can never be calculated & explained. Some people appear to meet all the criteria & not get healed, and some get healed almost by accident.

    But the important thing is whether you should be praying for the sick. On this I have no doubt. I do not doubt that you are called to (at the least) be an elder in the body, and therefore part of that group with special authority to heal the sick. I also know that you need to add unpredictable Holy Spirit fireworks to your solidly reasoned scripture. “He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” 2 Cor 3:6. There is a danger that we can reason ourselves out of faith & out of usefulness by wanting everything packaged nicely with logic & formula, but following Christ is a walk of faith out into the unknown & unreasonable. You and Sara have an ability to tap into the Spirit when you sing together – especially when Sara sings I can see the power to refresh & heal. You need to draw from that & find a way to connect that same dynamic to the Word. We like to minister from our strengths but in order to be anointed we need to have an element where we are out of our depth and totally dependent on God – and praying for the sick adds that. It keeps us humble and dependant because we cannot impress anyone without His help.

    More & more I am also convinced that we are like the Laodicean church. We think we are rich & successful, but we are blind, poor & naked. We are the amateurs when it comes to the things of God, and we need to put aside our fear that it might not work, & set ourselves on a lifelong journey to discover a life truly lived in the Spirit.

    I hope this is helpful – let it light a fire that never dies!

Belief / unbelief

Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. It has often thrown him into fire or water to destroy him. But if you are able to do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” Then Jesus said to him, “If you are able? All things are possible for the one who believes.” Immediately the father of the boy cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”
Mark 9:21-24

Belief is a complex emotion, it is something we arrive at after considering the options and reasons both intellectually and emotionally. Yet belief is something that we sometimes have little control over; we can’t force ourselves to believe in something that we simply don’t believe in.

The father’s words revealed the fickleness of his belief. While his belief caused him to bring his son to Jesus and the disciples, his unbelief questioned Jesus’ ability to “do anything” for his son. Such is the fickleness of our own hearts: we have unbelief even in our belief. While we believe in a sovereign and omnipotent God, we don’t necessarily believe in his sovereignty and omnipotence in every situation in our lives.

In those situations, God says, “All things are possible for the one who believes” and in our hearts we ask “we already believe but how do we make our unbelief believe?” We’re back to square one – the solution to our impossible situation is another impossible situation. That is why the father’s cry is so relevant to us.

“I believe, help my unbelief!” we cry, because only God can. God makes the impossible possible. If we would recognize that our hearts don’t always steer the way we want them to, we can acknowledge that Christ is our only solution.

Obedience and faith

Me: “His (God’s) commands are only as hard to obey as His promises are hard to believe.” John Piper

Friend: Do you struggle to believe God’s promises?

Me: Wow, mighty personal question to ask on a public forum! Anyway, I’d say yes and I’m not the only one. I think we all have some trouble believing His promises – whether it’s for providence, healing, stepping out, parenting, etc. We have our reservations that need conquering.

Friend: So is it doubt that makes obedience to commands difficult? And when does reservation or doubt become deliberate disobedience? And what is the solution?

Me: I think, yes! Doubt hinders obedience, although that might not be the only thing that hinders obedience. If God commands that our obedience comes with His promises of life for our good (Deut 6:24, 30:19-20) then the refusal/doubt/hesitation to obey is a refusal to trust that His promises are true and better than what we can attain for ourselves. Then our faith is misplaced on something other than God, since obedience (the practical out working) is the result of faith (Hebrews 11:8; James 2:17). Faith and obedience go hand in hand.

Hmmm does it matter if our disobedience is wilful or no, knowing or unknowing? Is God not able to forgive both? Perhaps it is better to stress on the obedience to His call (John 14:6). Disobedience to this call, deliberate or not excludes anyone from forgiveness. It amazes me that the obedience to this call is faith in Christ. Obedience and faith interact in a sort of loop – obedience comes from faith in Christ, obedience is to have faith in Christ.

Christ is the solution! He births faith and obedience in us through Christ (Ezekiel 36:25-27, God says “You will obey… “). He initiates and continually pours out saving and sanctifying faith and obedience. We can act to savor Him more, to meditate on His promises every day, but all those come from Him (Phil 2:12-13).

I sure hope I haven’t said anything heretical! ;P

Friend: Well said my non-heretical friend! Particularly love the loop – “obedience comes from faith in Christ, obedience is to have faith in Christ.” So peaceful to know that God has everything in hand. That His grace covers our reservations until He convicts us, to then forgive us in His same amazing grace! The loop to maturity!

The Boat You’re In

Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”
He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.
The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”
Matthew 8:23-27 (Also Mark 4:35-41 and Luke 8:22-25)

Jesus and the disciples sailed out into the Sea of Galilee in the evening after a full day of ministry (Mark 4:35). When the storm came upon them, it would have been dark and they would be half way to the other side – in the middle of the lake. His disciples were experienced fishermen of the lake, they could handle a boat well and they knew this lake like the back of their hand. Yet the waves rose over the boat and the boat “was nearly swamped” (Mark 4:37). They recognized that “they were in great danger” and drowning was very much a possibility (Luke 8:23). The Sea of Galilee isn’t a small lake, it is 21km by 13km with a maximum depth of 43m. In this storm, they had no control. Their fate rested in the hands of the wind and the waves.

There will be situations in life that we have no control over. In fact, there will be multiple instances of those situations and strangely, they play up at the worst of times. They seem to play up when the odds are against us; when we are on the losing end. For the poor disciples, it was in the dark of the night, in the middle of the lake, after a long day of ministry. They were stuck in a boat that was about to sink. Sounds familiar?

It is in those situations that God says “Quiet! Be still!” (Mark 4:39) to the storm. Afterall, He was there all along, in the same sinking boat, in the middle of the lake, at the same dark of night, being pounded by the same winds and waves. He didn’t just come in, or appear out of the blue. He isn’t unfamiliar with what you are going through.

Who is this who commands the winds and the waves? Who is this who calms the storm? Who is this who untangles failing relationships? Who is this who restores broken families? Who is this who cures terminal illness? Who is this who resuscitates dead situations? Who is this who makes the impossible possible?

That is the question that we must not fail to ask ourselves when the impossible barrier is breached by the supernatural. It will open our eyes to see our God in a new light. This question makes our 2D perception of God into 3D. This question will deepen our reality of our supernatural God. It will broaden our perspective of our omnipotent God.

So the next time we find ourselves in that boat, facing the impossible storm, we will no longer be “of little faith” or “afraid”.

Children

Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.
Matthew 19:13-15

People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.
Mark 10:13-16

There aren’t many times in the bible where Jesus’ anger is directly recorded, if is often implied through His actions or words (such as Matthew 21:12-13). In a few verses, we actually see Jesus’ emotions being recorded, such as in Mark 3:5 and Mark 10:13-16. Here many translations (NIV, NET, ESV, Strong’s) use the word “indignant” to express Jesus’ emotion, others use “greatly displeased” (NKJV) or “angry”. It is obvious that Jesus was really angry.

His disciples weren’t rebuking Jesus, they weren’t even rebuking the children themselves, they were rebuking the people who brought the children. But Jesus took the rebuke personally, it was unjust, insulting and offensive to Him. Matthew 18:4-5 tells us how Jesus views children “Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” The disciples weren’t just rebuking the parents, they were offending “the greatest in the kingdom of heaven”. They were offending Jesus, who sees everyone’s significance from the kingdom perspective – no matter the size or age.

Jesus used a simple illustration to show how His kingdom works. In His kingdom, it isn’t the richest, most intelligent, best groomed, most handworking that gets to enter. Membership is based on receiving the kingdom of God like a child. A child has little merit, he/she cannot do anything for Jesus. But a child understands that Jesus can do something for them. A child readily trusts and receives. We have to teach our children not to take lollies from strangers because if they are not taught, their natural inclination is to trust and receive. When it comes to the kingdom of God, we are told to be like children, have nothing to give but only to trust and receive.

This is what God does for everyone who receives His kingdom like a child – “he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.” What a picture of fatherhood and love! That is what He does for us who receive His kingdom with simple faith – “the kingdom of God belongs to such as these”. In many ways, adults have much to learn from children.

Sometimes I struggle to look beyond what I see with my eyes. I fail to see the significance of those who have nothing to give. I fail to see the kingdom with trusting and depending eyes. We need to unlearn what we have learnt through worldly cynicism. I must see those who are seemingly insignificant as the most important. I must come to Jesus with nothing and expect to receive the kingdom.


 Father, make me like you. Give me a heart that beats for the insignificant, poor, lowly and small. Give me a heart that treats their justice personally. Help me to see with your eyes, through your kingdom’s perspective. I come to you having nothing – nothing I can offer, nothing I can give. I place all my trust in you and ask that you would receive me. Grant me a simple faith, like that of a child, that willingly trust you, obeys you and depends on you.

Amen.