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  • Pastor Jim French

Healing In The Bible - Healing 101


Most Christians believe that God has the ability to heal but are not sure that he wants to - in particular, they are not sure that he wants to heal them.


When we look at Jesus' ministry in Scripture we see a clear picture of a compassionate God who healed everywhere that he went. Healing was a core part of Jesus' ministry.


In Luke 5:12-13 a man "full of leprosy" approaches Jesus, sure that he can heal him, but not sure that he will.


Jesus reached out and touched him. "I do want to," he answered. "Be clean!" At once the disease left the man (Luke 5:13 GNB).


Most translations word Jesus response similarly, the point being that Jesus was more than willing to heal the man. But in the original Greek the inference is that Jesus is delighted to heal the man. It gives him great pleasure to heal him. The Bible in Basic English translates it like this:


And he put out his hand to him and said, It is my pleasure; be clean. And straight away his disease went from him (Luke 5:13 BBE).


I like the way the BBE translates this because it shows the delight that Jesus took (takes) in healing. Have you considered that Jesus delights in healing? That he would be delighted to heal you?


Of course this raises many, many questions all of which I hope to address in this series of teachings on healing. One of the first things that we have to do is to establish the truth of the Word of God. What I will be teaching in this series is Biblical. Someone who cannot accept that the Bible is God's Word, that it is God speaking to us, and that every word is true is going to have a difficult time receiving anything from God in particular, healing. God has revealed his will to us in the Words of Scripture. His promises are true and he is faithful to keep them. The Bible is our foundation of faith and if we are not sure of this we are like a ship in a storm without an anchor.


If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. (James 1:5-8 ESV)


At one time I was unsure of what parts of the Bible I could trust. I thought the Bible was a "special" book from God, but I never took the time to really, really, read and study it. In summary, I didn't know what the Bible said about much of anything except the basics. I knew that God was love and it was in the Bible, but I hadn't a clue what that meant and what it meant to me personally.


At the time I was first born-again I had some pretty "unusual" beliefs about what it meant to be a Christian. I had what I've heard described as a "smorgasbord" faith. I believed a little of this and a little of that, but it was all based on my experience and what I chose to believe. It was not based on the Word of God.


The turning point for me was when I actually started reading the Bible and I found that it was counter to much of what I believed. What really sealed the issue for me was reading what Jesus believed and said about the Word of God. He believed that Adam and Eve were real people along with David, Abraham, Jonah, and many others. He himself said that the Word was unalterable:


“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets,” he declared. “I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled” (Matt. 5:17, NKJV).


I was firmly convinced that Jesus was the Son of God. If he said the Bible was true - all of it - then it is. And I should believe the same. If Jesus was God and he believed in the Bible then I needed to change my way of thinking.


That is a truth that we need to have firmly established in our minds, especially in the area of healing.


Does God Still Heal?


Most Christians would agree that God does heal today but many would say that the choice to heal is up to God on a one-by-one basis. In other words, God may heal you if it is in his will, but they are not sure that it is his will. They might say that he has bigger or better plans for you and that sickness and suffering is part of it. We'll deal with this issue in upcoming lessons but to put it simply and succinctly, this is false. You will not find this principal anywhere in Scripture.


Jesus' ministry was a ministry of healing. He preached, taught, healed and delivered. people from demonic influence. Everywhere he went he healed.


Some say that Jesus' ministry of healing was relegated to the time of the disciples while others maintain that it ceased with the finalization of the Canon (the Bible). However, this cannot be supported Biblically. Jesus never said to discontinue his ministry. On the contrary, he commanded us to continue it:

And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.” (Mark 16:15-18 ESV)


Notice that Jesus is speaking of the future. He says these signs will accompany those who believe. You will find no verse in the Bible that says that we are to cease his ministry - ever. Jesus is still healing today and he desires that every one of his followers lay hands on the sick and prays for their recovery. Jesus was obviously telling us to continue his ministry. He tells us to continue in everything he has taught in the "great commission":


And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matt 28:18-20 ESV)

Every Christian knows that it is the Lord's command for us to share the Gospel with others. No where in the Bible does Jesus tell us to cease. Beloved, it is no different with healing. We continue to evangelize, but most of the church has stopped the ministry of healing the sick. Why have we continued one but stopped the other?


If God healed in Biblical times, why would he stop now? Isn't the need for healing today as great (or greater) than it was then? Has Jesus somehow lost his compassion for the suffering? No - of course not! He has the same compassion for you and me that he did for the leper in Luke 5, or the man by the Pool of Bethesda or the Syrophoenician woman's daughter, etc., etc. He hasn't changed.


Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)


Does God Really Want Me Well?


I think that every Christian would agree that God is good and that he is a good Father. We sing about his goodness, love, mercy, and grace, and the Bible clearly tells us that he is good. If God really is a good Father (since he is God he is by far the best Father) wouldn't he want the best for his children? What earthly father would not do anything in their power to heal their sick child? If you are a parent you know exactly what I mean. You would give up your own life to save the life of your child. You would do anything in your power to bring healing and wholeness to your child's life. If we, as flawed parents, would do that for our child, how much more would God, the perfect Father, do for his children?


There is no verse in the Bible that says that God desires sickness for his children. On the contrary, the Bible says that he desires to prosper us, including our health. In upcoming lessons we'll deal with some of the common objections to this including the Book of Job, Paul's "thorn in the flesh" and others.


God Personal Revelation to the Nation of Israel


In Exodus 15 we read that the Israelites had been without water for 3 days and they were thirsty and grumbling about the lack of water. They came upon water at Marah, but the water was "bitter" and they could not drink it. (It is kind of ironic that God had delivered the Israelites through the water of the Red Sea 3 days earlier and now they grumbled because they feared the Lord would no provide them water). The Lord told Moses to throw a log into the water and the waters were "healed". And here the Lord makes his first personal revelation to the Jewish people:


And he said, “If you carefully listen to the voice of Yahweh your God and you do what is right in his eyes and give heed to his commands and you keep all his rules, then I will not bring about on you any of the diseases [Hebrew “disease”] that I brought about on Egypt, because I am Yehovah your healer. (Exodus 15:26 Lexham English Bible)


The Lord's first personal revelation to his soon to be covenant people Israel was as their healer. This is so significant! He could have said that he loved them. He could have said that he was their protector. He could have said that he was their provider - all of these are true, but instead he said that he was their healer. At that time he didn't heal any of the people (the people had already been healed through the Passover meal (see Psalm 105:37)) but he "healed" the water to make it drinkable.


You will also note that this verse says that God placed sickness upon the Egyptians (because they had rejected him in favor of false gods). Unfortunately most English translations convey this thought, but in the Hebrew this verse literally says:


"I will not allow any of the diseases to come upon you that I allowed to come upon Egypt...."

Did God cause or allow the diseases to come upon the Egyptians? This verse uses the Hebrew idiom of "Causation vs. Permission" where God is said to cause what he allowed. This idiom/concept is found in both the Old and New Testaments where the writers refer to God causing something which he only allowed. This was not only a Hebrew concept but it is found other ancient writings from other cultures. In ancient mid-eastern cultures whatever happened, good or bad was said to be caused by their deity.


So why did God allow the diseases on the Egyptians? Because the Egyptians had told him they neither wanted or needed him by embracing false gods. God complied with their request and that allowed the enemy to have free reign in Egypt.

In this way we see that God is not the cause (causation). He did not send the disease, rather he allowed it (permissive) by removing his hand of protection from the Egyptians as they desired. When God removes his hand of protection the destroyer does what he does best, "kill, steal and destroy" (John 10:10). Having God as the permissive element instead of the cause places this passage in alignment with what the Bible says about God's goodness and his nature as expressed through Jesus. He is the Healer, not the destroyer.

Without getting off on too much of a tangent a good example of this Hebrew idiom is found in 1 Chronicles 21:1 where the Bible says:


And the devil stood up against Israel, and moved David to number Israel.


But in 2 Samuel 2:24 we read:


And the Lord caused his anger to burn forth again in Israel, and Satan stirred up David against them, saying, Go, number Israel and Judah. (2 Sam 24:1)


So who caused David to sin? God or the devil? The Bible tells us clearly that God does not lead us to sin:


Don't blame God when you are tempted! God cannot be tempted by evil, and he doesn't use evil to tempt others. (Jas 1:13 CEV)


Plus, it makes no sense for God to cause David to sin and then punish him and all of Israel for it. We find the same apparent conflict in the Book of Job. In Job 2:7 we read that satan did the evil against Job, however in Job 42:11 the evil attributed to God. This is another example of the Hebrew cultural permissive idiom where God is credited for everything that happens when in reality he only only allowed it.


This is an important concept to understand when reading and interpreting the Bible. In the past I struggled with Exodus 15:26 for a very long time until I came across Troy Edward's writings. His books really cleared up a lot of Bible "difficulties" for me. (In reality there are no difficulties or contradictions in the Bible, just a lack of understanding on our part).


Reading the Bible for the First Time

I once heard of a group of people who were pretty much isolated from the world (I believe they were somewhere in Canada). Someone in their group had started reading the Bible and through the Bible received Christ. This person then began to share their faith with others and soon many in the community had received Jesus as their Savior. They had no outside contact with any other Christians, no formal training, just the Bible. And with the Word of God as their guide they started doing what the Bible said they could and were to do. Without any coaching, training or indoctrination they went out and they began healing the sick, raising the dead and casting our demons. They found that they could do exactly what the Bible said they could do. Why? Because no one had told them they couldn't. No one had told them that healing ceased with the disciples or with the formalization of the Bible. They read the Bible without any denominational preconceptions and they simply believed it and did what it said.


Unfortunately those of us who have spent many years in church have a tendency to approach the Bible with denominational biases. This was a huge issue for me personally, but once I started reading the Bible as if I had never read it before I could see that not everything I believed was Biblical. And this changed my life (and it still is!)


This is all part of renewing our minds with the Word of God (Romans 12:2). We must learn to think from Heaven and not from Earth. Paraphrasing Bill Johnson, "Renewing your mind makes the impossible seem logical". I encourage you to get into the Bible and read what it says especially about healing. Study it. Meditate on it. If there are things you don't understand, ask the Lord for wisdom and revelation. He will give it. It may take a while, but he will give you understanding. In the meantime, be patient accepting the unknown as truth and trust in him. Just because we do not understand something does not mean that it is not true. Jesus said, "[God's] Word is truth." (John 17:17) It's all his word. It's all true.


We'll talk a lot more about this in future lessons but be assured, God wants you well.


Shalom!

Jim




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