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Healing and Sickness in the Epistles Part II

Updated: Oct 6, 2022

As I write this last post on healing (at least for now), I want to say that I apparently do not have the gift of healing, and I have not been used by God in any great way to heal the sick. My God given passion I believe is more for holiness and revival than it is for healing. But the more I read the Bible from beginning to end the more I see I need the need to grow in my useability and anointing and faith and compassion for healing the sick. I also want to say that I’m sure there are passages I have overlooked in this journey from Genesis to Revelation.

I also want to say up front that I totally agree that a greater miracle than being healed of sickness or disease or injury is being delivered or “rescued from the domain of darkness and transferred… to the kingdom of His beloved Son” (Colossians 1:13). But I also see both from the scriptures and from what I know about how the gospel of Christ is advancing throughout the nations, that often God uses the miracle of healing to open the eyes of that person or persons around that healed person to the gospel message. I’ve also seen believers deeply touched by the love of God for them via having Him heal their bodies. With that in mind, let’s pick up our walk through the New Testament in I Thessalonians.

There is no real discussion in I Thess. re: healing or sickness. What I would appeal to from this letter is the command to “not quench the Spirit” in 5:19 as it regards our gatherings whether in homes or congregational gatherings. If our gatherings are so scheduled and planned that no spontaneous moving of the Holy Spirit can happen, then we miss out on some of the things He has planned and desires to do in our midst. Our Sunday morning services go a little longer than the average church service because we allow and encourage our people to pray, prophesy, give words of knowledge, pray for the sick, etc., in a spontaneous, hopefully Holy Spirit led, God glorifying way. Over the years, most who have been healed, or seen others healed would say it is worth sitting in their seats a little longer for such.

No comments re: II Thess.

I wonder if Dr. Luke was with Paul when he wrote Timothy and exhorted him, “No longer drink water exclusively, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.” I Tim. 5:23 I’m sure they both knew his condition well and had followed/observed it for quite some time. I’m sure they both prayed for him to be healed regularly. But in the absence of supernatural healing, there are physical/medicinal things we can and should do. Why did God at least by the writing of this first letter to Timothy not heal Timothy? Only God knows. There is undoubtedly some mystery to this arena of healing. Timothy after hanging around with Paul surely knew God as His healer and continued to look to Him for such. Though looking to Him and listening to Him could include His leading us to pursue some medicinal route as well.

Note that Dr. Luke was with Paul when he wrote II Timothy (see 4:11) thus my suggestion that he might have been with Paul when he wrote the first letter to Timothy. Tis interesting that in I Tim. we find Timothy struggling with ongoing stomach and other issues. In II Timothy we find Trophimus was “left sick at Miletus.” II Tim. 4:20 I’m sure they prayed and were continuing to pray for his healing. I also like that Paul is not hyper religious about these two situations. He doesn’t try to hide them or explain them away.

From my research over the years I’m convinced that some cities in history have had a greater climate of faith for healing and overall seeking of God for healing, and thus as a whole have experienced better health and more healing than some other cities. Spokane, WA had that reputation during the days of 1915-1920 due largely to the ministry of the healing rooms and John G. Lake’s ministry. Jesus couldn’t do many miracles in His hometown due to their unbelief (Matthew 13:58). Perhaps Miletus was a city of great unbelief and Trophimus’s health was affected by that? Only God knows for sure.

No comment on Titus.

No comment on Philemon

In Hebrews we do not find much about physical healing. But we do see Jesus’s secret of obtaining a powerful anointing of the Holy Spirit in Hebrews 1:9, “YOU HAVE LOVED RIGHTEOUSNESS AND HATED LAWLESSNESS; THEREFORE GOD, YOUR GOD, HAS ANOINTED YOU WITH THE OIL OF GLADNESS ABOVE YOUR COMPANIONS.” This quote comes from Psalm 45:7 and is attributed to Jesus by the author of Hebrews. And it is an example of how the pursuit of holiness is crucial to the increase of the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Some in the body of Christ have been confused by people who appear to be powerfully anointed for healing (or evangelism or teaching or….) but do not appear to be holy. All I can say is “…the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable" (Rom. 11:29). And sometimes God in His sovereignty and wisdom uses people with strong giftings (from Him) and seemingly lacking in character or holiness. But in one sense isn’t that true of all of us? Knowing what He knows about what lies deep in our hearts and souls, why does He use any of us? Not making light of sin, just saying…

I’m not a doctor nor a therapist. But I’ve been around them enough and read their stuff enough to know that our mind, body, soul and spirit are to a great degree intertwined and integrated and interlapped. They each affect the other. So for instance when a person goes to see a therapist, and that person often has health problems, and over time their therapist discovers this person has great regrets over things they have done (or not done) in life, and their conscience is weighed down. Most likely that therapist will try to help the person deal with their regrets in an honest and righteous way so that both their conscience and their health can improve. So when the writer of Hebrews says in Hebrews 9:14, “how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” or when he says in 10:22, “let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” I strongly believe when we learn to pursue this cleansing by the precious blood of Jesus as a way of life it will improve our overall health. Car engines don’t run well with gunk and neglect and abuse. They will for a while. But eventually the breakdown will begin to manifest. Nor do our bodies. One of the major reasons from this book why the New Covenant is so much better than the Old Covenant is the continual access we have to the purifying, sanctifying, healing blood of Jesus!

Now we come to the one passage in Hebrews that has the word “healing” in it, “Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.” 12:12,13 What is the context? Well the chapter opens with this exhortation, “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,…”. This verse then leads to an exhortation to focus on Jesus as One who has gone before us and shown us the way to holiness, and then a discussion on the role God’s disciplining of us plays in our pursuit of holiness. It clearly is not about physical healing. But as we have said before when our souls are healed by God, our bodies reap the benefit! And He is a wonderful Healer both of our souls and our bodies!

I’m fairly confident if we would all by the Holy Spirit’s power pay more heed to James strong words about the pursuit of godliness and holiness in the first five and a half chapters, we would in general become more healthy in body. He does address healing for our bodies in the last chapter with these words, “Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” 5:14-16 Wow! Lots packed into these few verses! Here are some thoughts:

- Many if not most sick folk in the church tend to head for the doctors rather than for the elders. There could be many reasons for that including the reality that in some congregations there are no appointed elders or those elders do no practice this prescription for healing the sick. In many quarters of the body there still is more faith in doctors than in God for healing due to bad teaching and practice by church leaders including doctrines of demons like “The charismatic gifts ceased after the first century, death of the apostles, printing of the scriptures, etc.”

- One of the joys of my recent trip to TN was the privilege of joining with the elders of my older brother’s church, who according to James 5:14-16 gathered to pray over Danny for healing. Believers need to ask for this more and elders need to make sure the members of their congregations know they are glad to pray for them.

- Please note it does not say they might call for the elders but rather they “must” call for the elders. It is very easy for we elders to get busy with other things and not give proper attention to this. Call us if you are sick!!!

- What if the said sick member has Covid or Aids or ….? Elders must stand on Psalm 91 and Mark 16 promises and pray for them! No conditions or exceptions in this passage.

- Worried about having enough faith? The more we do this the more we will grow in faith. Faith often grows from practice!

- Sickness is not always a result of sin. But when it is confession needs to take place. Sometimes it may be revealed while praying over the sick person.

- The latter part of this passage seems to encourage all of we believers to be confessing our sins and praying for one another to be cleansed from sin and healed from sickness.

- Our effectiveness in all of this will grow as our pursuit of righteousness grows.

Peter, though used much by God (as seen in the book of Acts) to heal the sick, doesn’t speak of it in his short letter. Some refer to I Peter 2:24 for physical healing, but I beg to differ. It reads, “and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.” The context of this passage has more to do with sin than sickness. And because of the corruption and defilement in our souls from all of our sin over many years we have a great need of our minds, souls and spirits being healed. As the Holy Spirit helps us see the effects of sin in our lives we must learn to cling to Jesus and be “…sprinkled by His blood” (I Peter 1:2) as a way of life. We were “…redeemed….with precious blood” (I Peter 1:18,19). The more the Holy Spirit opens our eyes to the depths of our sin and the corruption resulting from our sins, the more precious it will become to us.

No comments on II Peter

From John 15 we all should be aware of the high call to abide in Christ as a way of life. The same John now in his first epistle gives us a standard or plumb line to help us know how our abiding is going, “the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.” I John 2:6 One aspect of Jesus’s manner was He routinely healed the sick. I just don’t see how we can be biblically and intellectually honest and not admit that. We all start at different places in seeking to walk and minister like Him. For those of us who were believers for years before seeing all that the Bible teaches about healing and sickness, we have to be thankful for baby steps. The Holy Spirit know how to get us from A-Z. “Faithful is He who calls you and He also will bring it to pass.” I Thess. 5:24 Sometimes I hear people pray for people to be healed with this little tag line, “if it is Your will”. The apostle John has some helpful instruction along these lines, “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.” I John 5:14,15 Back to Jesus’s manner, or Peter and John’s when they healed the lame beggar at the gate of the temple (see Acts 3:1-8), He/they never seemed to wonder if it was God’s will, and certainly never prayed “if it be Your will”. They knew it was and they acted. My understanding of this passage is we must pursue the kind of walk with God wherein we know in any given situation what His will is. Please know this is a life long journey. But it is a journey He wants us all in. Hearing His voice, knowing His will and doing it with faith and obedience is an important part of the path to being used by God to heal the sick.

No comment on II John

III John 2 is a verse and principle that I seem to be drawn to more and more these days. “Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.” Soul health leads to bodily health. The more our soul prospers and gets healthy and clean, the more our body will follow suit.

No comment on Jude

No comment on Revelation for our purposes here.

May the Lord Jesus cause your soul and body to prosper; and may He use you to help many others experience the same!

P.S. Thanks for all your prayers for my brother Danny (in the middle, younger brother Billy on the left). (Thanks Ian for uploading the pic).

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