Is Physical Healing in the Atonement?
Divine healing proponents look to Isaiah 53:4,5 as proof that healing is to be included in the atonement. Indeed, almost all of the faith teachers appeal to this passage. The NIV rendering of the passage in question is as follows: “Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.”
Can a full-blown theology of healing be developed from this passage? Are those who argue for such an interpretation correct? Just how are we to understand the healing elements of Is. 53? Let’s consider this last question. Gordon Fee puts it this way:
“The Isaiah passage itself is ambiguous; it is clearly a metaphor for salvation, but in the prophetic tradition such salvation also included the healing of the people’s wounds incurred in their judgment. Thus in the NT this passage is understood both as a metaphor for salvation (1 Pet. 2:24) and as a promise of physical healing (Matt. 8:17).
As R.T. France reminds us, in “many OT texts healing and forgiveness are so closely related that it is hard to tell whether the language of healing is meant to be understood of physical illness or metaphorically for restored spiritual health (e.g., Pss. 41:4; 103:3; Is 53:4-6)”.
It is worth examining the two New Testament passages in a bit more detail. The first is Matthew 8:16-17: “When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: ‘He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases’.”
The case for healing in the atonement perhaps can best be made from this passage. Yet a number of issues need to be explored. It should first be noted that the word translated “infirmities” in v. 17 is the same word Paul uses in 2 Cor. 12:9: “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” If, as the faith teachers suggest, the healing of all sickness and illness is included in the atonement, then we must ask with James Dunn, “How could Paul glory in something that Christ took away when He died?”
Donald Hagner remarks that consideration of context is important here: “Given the entire sweep of the Gospel, the healing pericopes become relatively insignificant. As the Isa 53 quotation suggests to the reader who knows the story to its end, the healings are but one aspect of a much more important work to be performed by Jesus”.
Indeed, “Isa 53:4 guarantees no one healing in the present age. What is guaranteed is that Christ’s atoning death will in the eschaton provide healing for all without exception. The healings through the ministry of Jesus and those experienced in our day are the first-fruits, the down payment, of the final experience of deliverance”.
Even if healing is in the atonement, other facets of the fall could then also be claimed, such as sorrow, death, pain, etc. Most commentators take this line. As Dunn notes: “Death as a consequence of the fall is emphasized in the Bible much more than sickness; if the atonement removed all the results of the fall, why do Christians still die?”
We seem to be a bit selective in what we want included in the atonement, as Dunn points out: “There were other consequences of the fall besides sickness – man must earn his living by the sweat of his brow, woman must struggle and suffer pain in childbirth, just to mention a couple. And yet I have never heard anyone claim atonement for these things, and as far as I can tell they are still very much with us.”
D.A. Carson agrees, stating that this passage “cannot be used to justify healing on demand. This text and others clearly teach that there is healing in the Atonement; but similarly there is the promise of a resurrection body in the Atonement, even if believers do not inherit it until the Parousia. From the perspective of the NT writers, the Cross is the basis for all benefits that accrue to believers; but this does not mean that all such benefits can be secured at the present time on demand, any more than we have the right and power to demand our resurrection bodies.”
Craig Blomberg concurs: “There is physical healing in the atonement for this age, but it is up to God in Christ to choose when and how to dispense it. Perfect healing, like the believer’s resurrection body, ultimately awaits Christ’s return.” Or as B.B. Warfield put it back in 1918, “If sinfulness is not to be removed in this life [in the sense of sinless perfection], neither is sickness.”
Gordon Fee, a New Testament scholar associated with the Assemblies of God, points out that Matthew’s use of Is. 53:4 does not even refer to the cross: “rather he clearly sees the text as being fulfilled in Jesus’ earthly ministry”. He continues: “Matthew clearly saw Isaiah 53:4 as referring to physical healing, but as part of the Messiah’s earthly ministry, not as part of the atonement.”
Michael Brown’s brief treatment of this passage concludes by noting that it should be tied in with Is. 33:17-24, which speaks of the messianic kingdom. Verse 24 reads: “No one living in Zion will say, ‘I am ill’; and the sins of those who dwell there will be forgiven”. Here spiritual and physical blessing are tied together: “By bearing sin and iniquity the servant bore sickness and pain; by taking his people’s guilt he thereby incurred their punishment; and it is at the cost of his wounds that total healing has come. There is no artificial dichotomy here! The whole man has been wholly healed. The straying and sickly nation has been completely restored and made well.”
Commenting on Is. 33:24, John Oswalt says this: “As in ch. 53, forgiveness of sin and healing from disease are related. This is not to say that all disease can be related to specific sins committed by the ill person. But neither can we say no relation exists between the two. Disease is in the world because of sin.”
Millard Erickson says this: “The prophet is referring to actual physical and mental illnesses and distresses, but not necessarily to a vicarious bearing of them. . . . What we are suggesting here, then, is that both Matthew and Isaiah are referring to actual physical sicknesses and mental distresses rather than sins. They do not have in view, however, a vicarious bearing of these maladies. It seems likelier that they are referring to a sympathetic bearing of the troubles of this life.”
Thus it was the incarnation and life of Jesus in general, rather than the atonement in particular, that is in view here, although in a “general sense, of course, the atonement cancels all the effects of the fall. But some of the benefits will not be realized until the end of time (Rom. 8:19-25).”
John Stott offers this three-fold critique of the idea that healing is found in the atonement. One, the Hebrew verb rendered “to bear” (nasa) is used in a variety of ways in the OT, often with the idea of carrying. But the verb “in itself does not mean to ‘bear the punishment of’”. Two, while one can intelligibly speak of ‘bearing the penalty of sin’, the same cannot be said for bearing the penalty of sickness. Three, Matthew uses Is. 53:4 to apply to Christ’s healing ministry, not his atoning death.
Craig Keener ties together some of the various threads of thought with this remark: “The context in Isaiah 53 suggests that the servant’s death would heal the nation from its sin. . . . But the broader context of Isaiah … shows God’s eschatological concern for his people’s complete wellness (29:18; 32:3-4; 35:5-6), suggesting secondary nuances of physical healing in 53:4-5 as well. . . . The servant’s suffering would restore to Israel eschatologically the benefits lost through sin (cf. Deut 27-28). Thus Matthew cites Isaiah 53:4 to demonstrate that Jesus’ mission of healing fulfills the character of the mission of the servant, who at the ultimate cost of his own life would reveal God’s concern for a broken humanity. Matthew himself also recognizes that genuine physical healings can illustrate principles about spiritual healing (9:5-7, 12; 13:15).”
The other NT passage that cites Isaiah 53:4,5 is 1 Peter 2:24: “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed”. This passage is somewhat more straight forward, with the result that commentators show much more unanimity regarding its meaning. The context of this passage shows that the healing being described is clearly a moral/spiritual healing.
As Fee remarks, Peter “saw the healing in Isaiah 53 as being metaphorical and thus referring to the healing of our sin sickness”. Most commentators agree. Wayne Grudem says that “Peter here applies the words [of Is. 53:5] morally: by Christ’s wounds we have been ‘healed’ from sin.”
Connelly, commenting on this passage, says this: “Nowhere in Scripture are we given any indication that Christ took upon himself human sickness in the same way as he did human sin. The apostle Paul clearly says that God the Father ‘made [Jesus] who had no sin to be sin for us’ (2 Corinthians 5:21). The Bible never says that Christ was made sickness for us.”
Alan Stibbs offers this thought on the passage: “Peter’s thought here, however paradoxical, is deliberately that of benefit to be gained by sinners from our Lord’s suffering in their stead. Here, as Theodore said, is ‘a new and strange method of healing; the doctor suffered the cost, and the sick received the healing’.”
In sum, the relationship between healing and the atonement will continue to be disputed. The cessationists will take one side, the faith healers, another, and numerous mediating positions will continue to be pushed. This author recognizes that healing, like so many concepts, has both a literal and a metaphorical usage in scripture. It may be impossible to fully distinguish the two. Indeed, this may not even be desirable; often a term can be used in both senses simultaneously.
On the issue of Is. 53, the comments by Bailey (an advocate of divine healing) offer a safe course: “The Scriptures state that healing is in the atonement but they do not disclose how healing is in the atonement.” Or perhaps more to the point, as another scholar notes, the “question is not whether our bodies receive healing because of the atonement of Christ, but when.”
43 Replies to “Is Physical Healing in the Atonement?”
Perhaps I can start off the discussion here by saying it might be best to read the above article in light of an earlier article of mine where I offer some background material to what I say here:
Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch
So, why does Jesus say, “They shall lay hands on the sick and they recover.” Why then does James say, “Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church and let them pray over him, annointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith wil restore the one who is sick, and Lord raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him.”
Why the link with sin, in the James passage? What is the basis for the assurance that the Lord in both passages? How can we have assurance, if there is no basis in the atonement?
Lance A Box
Dear Bill, Our friends the Jehovah’s Witnesses strongly believe in divine healing of physical diseases. Of course they have some other beliefs that we do not share.
Regards, Franklin Wood
As is my humble and simple understanding of this, many things will come to pass at the same time, such as, the lion will lay down with the lamb and both shall eat grass, a child will be able to play with an asp (rather deadly and nasty snake), people will destroy weapons and go to horticulture, to name a few.
Now as non of these things have actually begun to take place, the time for healing of illness, disease, genetic malformations, permanent injuries (I should know I suffer from this sucker), death etc has not yet occurred.
Plus the battle that is to start and end near Israel hasn’t occurred yet, nor do I see Jesus sitting in the judgment seat yet.
So my take on things is, the prophecies dealing with the last days have not been fulfilled yet so all the healing is not yet ready to occur. Although I do believe that if God has a specific job for you to do, he can remove, temporarily, certain infirmities from a person, until the task required is completed, but death will come no matter how hard you pray, eventually. No death = no resurrection = no salvation, pretty simple to me I think.
Hi Bill, I don’t know why some people suffer so much but I found from my own experience, I feel so much closer to Christ when suffering. My own suffering has also taught me to be patient when waiting for God to answer my prayers and also to put my trust in His guidance. People that suffer understand others who are suffering and naturally care about them and want to help them. Through suffering we become more Christ like, 2 Corinthians 4:7-12.
To be completely honest I hadn’t thought about this subject Bill, but now I think about it, there have been Christians in my life who expect healing once saved. The problem then is, if and when they don’t get healing, they get very discouraged and all sorts of doubt and confusion enter their minds.
Thanks Bill very interesting.
I guess, like a lot of things, one of the dangers here is that by deciding to say that either God definitely does or does not heal all diseases and sicknesses now; we may be trying to put God in a box – and not allowing for grace. I have personally known several folks whose healing from life-threatening sicknesses can only be explained by a miracle of God. If you told the 35 year old father of three at our church who was recently totally healed (so much that there is no sign that he ever had the disease) from inoperable, “you only have three weeks to live” cancer, that healing is not accounted for in the atonement, then he’d laugh in your face.
On the other hand, I’m not saying that everyone who prays for healing will be healed either, or that we should all be chucking our medicine in the bin and expecting a miracle…
Perhaps (and I’m not an expert) it is a case of us living in a time of partial restoration, not full restoration, and that healing is part of that partial restoration – we can still pray for it, hope for it, and sometimes, God will answer with a miracle…it’s His grace that we are seeking, not a man-made doctrine that determines what God will do?
I would simply offer this observation: if we are supposed to use Jesus as our model for the Christian life, then are we supposed to ignore the fact that roughly 1/3 of his works involved physical healings? I think not …
Hi Bill and others.
Sorry to off-topic, but I am wondering after a church in Southern Canberra / Queanbeyan.
If anyone can point me in the direction of one [as this is a Christian forum I have long read and respect], it would be much appreciated. [I am 25yrs old]
Thanks Bill, just this week I heard a missionary preach to his Mozambican listeners “by his stripes we are healed”. I couldn’t help wondering how narrowly or broadly we should focus our claims on what Jesus actually died for. Was it purely for “a ticket to heaven” or does it include living in luxury without having to work for it and everything in between? You’ve answered by question beautifully. But I still wonder if the death of Jesus and the events such as his Stripes/wounds/flogging and humiliation can be considered as separate prices paid for separate benefits?
A much appreciated exposition, Bill.
I have a story: There was a gentleman who lived in Melbourne and held a weekly healing meeting in an inner-city church for many years. He was not a theologian but he loved Jesus passionately and he took literally and personally the statement in Mark 16: ‘…they shall lay hands on the sick…’. His name was Alan Cocks. Many hundreds of people came through his meetings and many healings took place. No publicity, no financial profit and no public reputation. He just stood where he believed he’d been put and got on with the job, giving all the glory to God. Like many other fringe dwellers, I regarded him as a friend and mentor. Through him I first learnt that Jesus is a healing saviour. As John Ch. 6 points out, He’s not a divine vending machine. However I believe that it’s unwise to refuse to lean in to the mystery of His healing love, physically as well as spiritually.
One of the specialities of the church is to argue out of existence what we don’t want to face up to or acknowledge. The gifts of the Spirit is a case in question, who the cessationists have written off despite the fact that are alive and well and very active.
In the case of healing, the middle ground is probably the right one. Healing can and does happen miraculously all the time through the prayer of faith. Faith in God’s word that is, not man’s ability to make it happen because””I have faith in my faith.”
When one resorts to faith in God’s word we are saying that we don’t have the answers God, we need you. Man by and large even Christian man doesn’t like to admit that they are less than sufficient.
Others may have noticed that we are emptying the church by degrees and I am not anti degree because I have four of them and there are some churches that are filling them with the activity of the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit.
Degrees can cause a person to say I am fully qualified so I don’t need God to do things for me.
God spoke to me last Sunday in the meeting and said that “you don’t know me unless you know me.” Too much of Christendom is all about knowing ABOUT God, not knowing him. Knowing about someone is not knowing someone.
We have a segment in our meetings called “The bit that only God can do.” Most weeks we see people healed of all manner of things both physical and emotional. Everyone is encouraged to be avilable to the Lord to be used by him to minister to those in need via the gifts of the Spirit. (We don’t have any paid clergy or people with official titles).
This year I have been healed twice during this time and I have prayed and prophesied over others who have experienced the same. The first time my healing came through an 18 y.o. teenager.
We may argue the theological nicities of various scriptures but what counts is where the rubber hits the road. If my understanding of scripture keeps me from knowing God, I will ditch it and ask God for his version as his version will enable me to know God, not know about him.
It goes without saying that we must know God in a personal manner, and not rely on only head knowledge or teaching. But of course we do not need to choose between one or the other. Both are vitally important and we need to do both at the same time. We are to know him experientially, but we are also to know and promote right doctrine, proper teaching, and the like.
Paul sums it up perfectly in 1 Timothy 4:16: Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.
Or as he says in 2 Timothy 3:10: But you, Timothy, certainly know what I teach, and how I live, and what my purpose in life is.
So we are not forced to choose between the two, but embrace both.
Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch
And someone just posted this elsewhere, which is quite appropriate here as well:
“Christianity is eminently a practical religion: sound doctrine is its root and foundation, but holy living should always be its fruit.” -J.C. Ryle
Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch
Just to clarify things here, it should be evident that I am not a cessationist. I certainly believe that God can and does heal today. But I also believe that we cannot assume an automatic right to healing on demand, especially based on the Is. 53 passage. As always, the issues can be complex and nuanced, and we need to “study to show ourselves approved” as Paul admonishes us. And the need to keep seeking to find the biblical balance between unbiblical extremes is always what we must strive for.
Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch
An interesting topic this – I often feel that that the solution for many of our physical and emotional woes is to seek The Healer and not the healing….it is through relationship with Him that we can either be healed – or receive the grace to “carry our cross”…or both!
The basis and result of salvation is relationship, bought with sacrifice with God and secondly with each other. The presence of disability and sickness can not only be a challenge to those who have these, but also to those around them, the challenge of how far they are prepared to identify with them and treat them as they would want to be treated if in the same situation. In the end though, sickness and disability are in degrees part of all of our lives, some are easy to hide or to get around, others are obvious, none of us is able to live without the prayers or practical help of another and aren’t meant to be either. So, I am guessing God uses the presence of these things as a tool to teach us the things we need to learn. Though I pray for healing, I do not wish to live forever, not on this earth. As unpleasant the thought of death is, the process I mean, it is the only way to be fully restored to Jesus in the fullness of the word in all its aspects, physical, locational, spiritual etc.
I don’t disagree with you Bill. I have been in some churches where their theology is so sloppy that you could serve it up as jelly.
My library of just over 1,000 books has many dealing with theology as I like to know what I am supposed to believe and I like to think that what I believe is the foundation of what I do, not what someone tells me I should do because that is the denomination’s tradition.
However, I do believe that until we put into practice what we read, we can only believe the bible is the word of God. When we put it into practice, we know it is the word of God. If we don’t get spiritual exercise, we become spiritually obese.
I am the prayer co-ordinator of our fellowship and what I teach about prayer only makes sense when what I teach happens according to what the Word says.
Without the “happening” it is just theory. Without the “happening”, we cannot honestly say “I know that God answers prayer.”
My fellowship is a praying fellowship because they have heard the theory and seen it happening. The “happening” has proved to be the biggest incentive to pray, not knowing the theory.
To put it crudely, If I know that by putting the key into a car’s ignition and turning it will make the car start is a bit of useless information unless I put the key in the ignition and start the car. Then I will get to where I want to go. Just knowing will not take me anywhere.
Faith in theory as that is what theology is until it is activated, is not going to solve anything or make anything happen.
Having said that, we are a Word orientated church as we have a programme that encourages everyone to read through the bible regularly and we have a segment in our meetings where people are invited to share what God has been saying to them through their reading of scripture.
I am reminded of the quote “If you have just the Word you dry up. If you have just the Spirit you blow up. If you have the Word and the Spirit you grow up.”
Margie Willers wrote a book called, Awaiting the Healer. It’s a great story about a woman with cerebral palsy. She had been prayed over numerous times and told many times that if she had more faith, she would be healed. Turns out Jesus had other ideas, and brought her to a place where she showed the love of Christ to thousands of disabled people, awakening the church to their needs and potential.
I don’t see how Isaiah 53.5 could be interpreted as ‘ambiguous’ unless due to preposition based on perhaps a lack of experience.
The text covers the wounds for transgressions, bruised for iniquities, chastisement for ‘shalom’ and with His stripes we are ‘Rapha’ or healed.
The word ‘rapha’ in the Hebrew almost always denotes physical healing, on other occasions the healing of land, or waters and sometimes it is used to describe a physician.
As your article states, Matthew in chapter 8 gives his commentary on the passage making it clear that Isaiah 53 is indeed referring to physical ‘sickness’.
To take the ‘middle ground’ or to sit on the fence would have us believe that it is possible for God in his sovereignty and according to his good pleasure, want us to remain sick with debilitating diseases such as cancer and the likes.
But this fence sitting position is contrary to the nature of God that is consistently demonstrated throughout scripture.
Jesus is the express image of God, and we see that Jesus healed all that came to Him and at no point do we ever see Jesus tell someone to keep their sickness because it was not God’s will for them to be healed.
He went on to disciple the 12 and taught them to do the same thing. At no point do we ever see Jesus teach the disciple that not all will be healed. In fact when the disciples didn’t heal the boy (Matt 9:29), Jesus admonished them putting them in the category of faithless and perverse or twisted in thought. He went on to teach them about the importance of prayer and fasting when it comes to the issue of ‘healing’.
The other problem with sitting on the fence is it will cause people to be double minded and unstable when it comes to God’s willingness to heal.
James 5:15 tells us the ‘prayer of faith shall save the sick’. The prayer of instability is a prayer of wavering doubt based on wrong doctrine and the sick will remain sick if we remain wavering and perverse or twisted in thought regarding God’s willingness to heal.
Finally: the “question is not whether our bodies receive healing because of the atonement of Christ, but when.”
Peter answers this question.
1Pe 2:24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.
I thank God for healing in the atonement other wise I would still be mentally and physically sick.
Divine healing proponent here,
The healing of ones physical body is in the atonement and a believer can trust God to heal their physical bodies today.
The believer is told clearly to ‘trust’ in God and ‘have faith’, they are also told to seek out the ‘elders’ of the church for the prayer of faith and the scripture declares ‘the Lord will raise Him up’. The anointing oil is the symbol of the Holy Ghost which does the work and is the power of the Godhead and is with us, to cut His Ministry and yet tell us to exercise it is a contradiction of the Word and in this case there isnt any.
1 Cor 14 teaches the believer to ‘covet’ spiritual gifts of which three in 1 Cor 12:8-10 are ‘the gift of healing’, the ‘working of miracles’ and ‘the gifts of faith’. We are told to exercise these for the ‘profit’ of believers.
I have prayed and continue to pray for many people and see notable miracles and healings all the time. I am also one who has suffered personally and within my family and Ministry’s those who have taken ill, we have always trusted the Lord and in particular the fact that divine healing is in the atonement and we continue with glad testimonies until this day.
I have in recent days been completely healed of a crippling back injury in which surgery was my only option for a chance of success, i suffered this from feb 2010 to June 2011 and throughout that time continued the thank God while bedridden for much of that time, for healing in the atonement. I am today completely whole as a result of such without any surgery or otherwise natural thing.
I can continue to bring forth testimony after testimony of personal sickness and disease and thus satifying the ‘experience’ crowd.
I can also satisfy many testimonies of having prayed the prayer of faith for healing when people had been prayed for for years with no results, yet those of us mature enough know that it is not ‘experience’ that can be upheld above theology and thus i offer the following:
Isaiah 53 is indeed referring to physical healing today and much more as attested a number of times in the NT when directly referenced.
A simple contextual reading of this is clear let alone study of the Hebrew and Koine Greek words.
Matthew 8:16 quotes Isaiah 53:4 and uses the word ‘astheneia’ of which was discussed in the article, but also uses the Koine Greek word ‘nosos’ which is used over 12 times in the NT and never once implies anything in either its direct context or etymology as anything other than physical ‘sickness’.
This and the context end the argument as the NT self translates Isa 53:4 as ‘physical healing’.
As for the argument regarding the Koine Greek word ‘astheneia’ generally translated into the english word ‘infirmities, sickness and weakness’ in the KJV, it itself can imply either physical ‘sickness’ or ‘weakness’ of the flesh due to mans fall into sin, see here for a list of its uses where it clearly NEVER denotes contextually ‘sickness of the flesh’, rather ‘weakness’ of the flesh due to mans fall:
Rom 8:26, Heb 4:15, Rom 6:19, Heb 5:2, Heb 7:28, 1 Cor 2:3, 1 Cor 15:43, 2 Cor 13:4, Heb 11:34
Now see here where the same word NEVER implies ‘weakness of the flesh’ (in respect to the fall) but rather ‘sickness or disease’:
Matt 8:17, Luke 5:15, Luke 8:2, 1 Tim 5:23, Luke 13:11-12, John 5:5, Acts 28:9, John 11:4,
This word is also a derivative of the Koine Greek word ‘asthenes’ and again denotes either ‘weakness of flesh’ due to the fall of mankind into sin, OR ‘sickness’ of the flesh, see here for its interchangeable use within the scriptures:
To denote ‘weakness’ (infirmity of flesh due to the fall of man into sin):
Matt 26:41, Mark 14:38, 1 Cor 1:27, 1 Cor 4:10, 1 Cor 8:7, 1 Cor 8:10, Gal 4:9, 1 Thess 5:14, 1 Cor 1:25, Heb 7:18, 1 Cor 12:22, Rom 5:6, 1 Pet 3:7, Rom 5:6.
To denote ‘sickness’ see here:
Acts 4:9, Mat 25:39, Matt 25:43-44, Luk 10:9, Acts 5:15-16.
Thus, when it comes to where this word is used in the NT context gives the clarity of its use and must needs be consulted, im amazed at how people can get this and the Isa 53 passage wrong, and after many years of debate on this issue i often sense a personal agenda against divine healing due to the lack of being able to experience it personally.
Blessings Dorian Ballard
Bill, may I ask what your opinion is of high-profile international healing evangelists? I think you know who I mean.
My position has been given in my article and comments, so I do not need to say too much more here. I would again urge you to look at the article I link to in my first comment. That sets out the biblical/theological framework for my position.
And since I have spent nearly 200,000 words on this topic for my PhD, I am aware of the various pros and cons here.
As I said, I certainly do believe that God can and does heal today. But that is different from saying that I believe we can snap our fingers and demand of God instant healing whenever we seek it. That is not biblical Christianity, but magic. It makes us God, and it makes God our servant.
And if I may Daniel Hagen, I can briefly speak to the Hebrew root, rapa, and its cognates. The simple way to determine its usage is of course by means of standard Hebrew lexicons, and by biblical usage. Just like the Hebrew term shalom, it has a far wider meaning than just one English translation – in this case, mere physical healing alone. It is used five other times in Isaiah, for example, and in all those cases it is clearly a figurative, metaphorical usage for the broader meaning of spiritual wholeness and restoration – a healing from sin, in other words.
OT scholar, Messianic Jew, and divine healing proponent Michael L. Brown discusses the biblical understanding of the term. “A careful analysis of the biblical material indicates that in every instance rp’ is used with reference to restoring a wrong, sick, broken, or deficient condition to its original and proper state. Consequently, I believe that ‘restore, make whole,’ not ‘heal,’ should be recognized as the common semantic denominator of biblical Hebrew rp’. . . . More importantly, the recognition that rp’ fundamentally means ‘restore, make whole’ provides insight into ancient Israel’s understanding of the Lord as rope’, as well as into their concepts of ‘wholeness,’ since one and the same root was used for the ‘healing/making whole/restoring’ of body and spirit, land and water, city and nation. . . . There was great fluidity in this OT usage! In our twentieth century ideological lexicon, we would have to use several different verbs to represent the Hebrew usage or rp’, such as ‘heal, fix, mend, restore, repair, remit, make wholesome/fresh,’ etc.”
But I may write other articles on this in the future.
Ross, my comments and article probably already answers your question. I would view some of them with caution, especially if they are claiming a believer never should be sick, and if he is, it is always due to sin or a lack of faith. This is simply biblically unsustainable.
Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch
Thanks Bill, for the information on ‘rapha’ I appreciate it.
This comment concerns me:
“As I said, I certainly do believe that God can and does heal today. But that is different from saying that I believe we can snap our fingers and demand of God instant healing whenever we seek it. That is not biblical Christianity, but magic. It makes us God, and it makes God our servant.”
Mat 10:7 And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Mat 10:8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.
Here we see it was not the disciples demanding from God, but rather Jesus demanding and commanding the disciples to heal the sick. He reminded them of their responsibility to give out what they had been freely given. (He also told the seventy to heal the sick, Luke 10). The disciples were not God, nor did they use magic, rather they gave out the power of God and demonstrated God’s goodness that leads to repentance. The apostle Paul understood the importance of this when stating:
1Co 2:4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:
In the same way every spirit filled believer has been given miracle working power (Acts 1:8), to be witnesses.We too have this same responsibility to heal the sick, cast out devils and preach the gospel through the power of the Holy Spirit that abides in us. This is not magic nor does it make us God, it’s just normal Christian activity.
We don’t need to demand something from God that He has already given us.
Thanks again Daniel
As is often the case, short comments do not really do justice to more complex and nuanced theological issues. That is why I said I wrote nearly 200,000 words on all this. Perhaps I need to post more articles to further expand on my thoughts here. But a short reply if I may: where we may differ is you seem to think it is always God’s will to heal people without question and without qualification. I do not read the biblical data that way. At the end of the day we pray in God’s name; that is, we seek what aligns with his will. And it is clear both from Scripture and church history that it has not always been God’s direct will to heal everyone every time. But as I say, I will need to post an article or two to begin to tease these matters out more fully. But thanks for your thoughts.
Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch
Daniel, I have just posted a two-part article which seeks to answer some of these issues in a bit more detail. Hopefully it will be of some use, at least to help you understand where I am coming from, and how I view these matters:
Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch
Sorry Bill, it rarely happens, but I must definitely disagree with you on this one. Jesus came that we may have life and more abundantly. All God is wanting is for us to be willing to show faith in the fact that it is His will to see the sick healed. Once that happens, we begin to see healings.
I personally have been the recipient of prayer which lead to instantaneous miraculous healing and have also prayed for others and have seen the healing come to pass on several occasions. God is just waiting for our willingness. He has given us His spirit for a reason, so let us exercise those gifts of faith, healing and miracles.
Mario Del Giudice
I am glad we mostly agree! And you are quite welcome to disagree here. I think my position here and in some other recent articles lays out my thoughts on all this sufficiently (see the 2-part article I link to just above here, eg.). The truth is, millions of faith-filled Christians have not received healing during the last 2,000 years. We simply wrongfully and unbiblically condemn them by saying it is all their fault, and they simply need more faith.
God is sovereign, and he will heal those he wishes to. He can be glorified by healing, but he can also be glorified by giving us grace to go through our sufferings and trials. Paul was quite clear about this in 2 Cor. 12. We are not in a position to tell God how he can best be glorified. We live between the ages, so nothing is perfect now before Christ returns. We all sin, we all die, we all suffer, and we all can experience sickness. All these things were dealt with at Calvary of course, but the complete and full end of it all will not be fully realised or consummated until he comes again. Romans 8:18-27 is but one clear passage on all this.
But we may have to agree to disagree here. Bless you buddy.
Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch
I had a look at the information you gave me regarding ‘rapha’. I agree that the word fundamentally can mean restore or make whole in a holistic sense, however there is no doubt that on the 63 occasions ‘rapha’ is used in the Old Testament, it’s predominant usage is to describe ‘physical healing’. God even names Himself ‘Jehovah Rapha’ in the context of the promise of not bringing the ‘diseases’ which were brought upon Egypt, Exodus 15:26.
Agreed that some of the passages in Isaiah are figurative and metaphorical in usage but are still linked with words such as ‘wounds’ and ‘smite’.
So in relation to our Isaiah 53 passage it is no coincidence that 1 Peter 2:24 uses the Koine Greek word ‘iaomi’ in translating the Hebrew word ‘rapha’. In ALL 28 occasions ‘iaomi’ usage is describing ‘physical healing’. Only 2 of those occasions were figurative or metaphorical but linked with the words ‘blind eyes’ and ‘broken heart’.
There is a good reason why the writer used this word’ as it primarily denotes ‘healing’, if it is (as the context generally implies) referring to being made whole of sins only for salvation,why then did the writer not use the Koine Greek word ‘sozo’ which can be used to denote physical healing and wholeness but primarily is used to denote ‘salvation’ and thus ‘restoration’ from sin? The reason is because the Isaiah 53 passage is holistic and it covers restoration from sin as well as physical healing.
So this coupled with Matthews commentary in chapter 8, ‘diseases’, can only leave us without ambiguity or doubt regarding your title and question ‘Is physical healing in the atonement’?
Matthew who was inspired of the Holy Ghost gives us both context and definite koine Greek wording clearly denoting physical healing. This is inarguable and very clear to see, which concerns me. What this shows us is that although we sit around looking at the definitions of wording these words used in Isaiah 53 meant much more to those who had them in the day, of which Matthew shows us. The etymology of these words is self interpreted by the Bible and it would seem that most of those you have quoted in your article have forgotten such. Lets have some respect for Matthew as he directly quotes the writing of the Prophet Isaiah in chapter 53 and has come to be through healing of the sick, the latter ‘redemption of sins’ specific for salvation was yet to come through Christ’s physical death.
No theologian can deny Matthews interpretation of the Hebrew words ‘makob’ and ‘Kholee’ that he interprets them as ‘infirmities’ and ‘sickness’
As Psalms 103-2&3 states, lets not ‘forget’ our atonement ‘benefits’, and lets not let the devil trick us out of our inheritance like some corrupt lawyer.
Psa 103:2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:
Psa 103:3 Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases;
Thanks for your time on this Bill but respectfully i cannot agree with your article’s interpretation of the Isaiah 53 passage as its self interpreted within the Bible as including physical healing.
I will have a look at the next lot of articles thanks for the links.
As I told Mario, you are free to disagree. But while both sides here can toss out their favourite scripture passages – and there would be plenty on both sides – the bigger biblical and theological picture is needed to help us get a handle on all this. That is what I have tried to do in the other articles I wrote, as well as in my PhD thesis.
Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch
Wow Bill, you make some pretty wild assertions and to be quite honest mate, there are some pretty harsh judgments of good people there including myself.
In reading through some of your responses I and many others who love people in the Gospel to our own hurt, are somehow now guilty of performing ‘magic’ and attempting to ‘manipulate’ God and now, ‘condemning people’, when we are simply guilty of ‘having faith in the promises of His Word’. We are guilty of ‘magic’ and ‘condemning’ people for telling them to ‘have faith’ in the promises God told us to trust Him for?
I feel like I’m on trial for simply believing what God has said to me in the Scriptures. I am guilty indeed, but guilty of having faith as a good servant of Christ, nourished up on the words of faith and teaching a largely unbelieving body to ‘have a go’. God’s always pleased with faith Bill, always. He loves to see His kids striving to act like Jesus (1 Jhn 2:6, 1 Cor 11:1, Acts 1:8, Matt 28:18-20).
To accuse those who encourage others to continue in faith with the promises in God’s Word, is to also accuse Jesus Christ of ‘condemning’ His disciples for telling them to ‘have faith’, as Jesus did it many times, see Mark 9:19 for one instance.
I mean, is Jesus with us today or is He not? Is He that is with us the same yesterday (in the OT), today (NT) and forever or not? (Heb 13:8). I mean, He healed everyone who came to Him when He turned up and couldn’t seem to help Himself, but suddenly He’s not the same?
Regarding our subject of the Isaiah 53 passage, once again it is self interpreted by Matt 8:17 as inclusive of much more than forgiveness of sins and thus salvation, this cannot be overlooked by those applying good hermeneutics.
The Hebrew words and context also denote both physical healing AND forgiveness of sins, showing us they are holistic in meaning. I will also be happy to discuss the scriptures regarding the argument that asks why death and sufferings (sufferings OTHER than sickness and disease) may or may not be covered in the atonement, Paul’s sufferings, the thorn in the flesh, Lazarus, 2 Cor 12, Epaphroditus, Job, chronology of the Scriptures regarding full atonement benefits, and anything else that is often used to deny a believers right to simply having faith in God to heal their physical body while in it.
God gave His people promise of physical healing in the Old Covenant (Exo 23:22-25), and the Bible teaches that the New Covenant (of which Isaiah 53 speaks of the ratification of) is built upon ‘better promises’ (Heb 8:6), and, ‘much more’ (2 Cor 3:9) than the OT gave followers of Almighty God….how can we deny physical healing in the atonement? To do such is simply to deny that it is a better covenant in this regard. If healing from sickness and disease is not in the NT atonement, it is not a ‘better covenant’ it is less.
Of course there will be millions of believers throughout history and into the future who have had faith failures, I am one of them, I’ve had plenty, but I can’t change the fact that Jesus told me to ‘believe’ over and over again. On the contrast, there are also millions of believers who have and will continue to have faith victories, so what validity does that have in this discussion? If God gave a promise in His Word and all the rest of scripture aligns with it it’s sure, and one can put their faith in it, for He is not a man that He can lie. And no matter the amount of us that try and fail, the scripture remains the same, yea and amen.
Recently my wife started to bleed with our sixth child numerous months away from full term, it was a lot of blood. I went for a walk outside and began to search in my spirit for an answer from the Lord, I heard Him speak to me very gently, but the tone and mild frustration wasn’t the best, it wreaked of ‘you should know my will on this!’And this is what He said, ‘Dorian, just believe me!’ I did, and the bleeding stopped, today we have our new baby.
Bill, I do hope you give the other side a fair hearing on your blog but whether you allow this or not, a believer pursuing faith and encouraging others so, is not guilty of ‘magic, controlling God and condemning people’, they are guilty of obeying Scripture, loving people and teaching others so, I don’t feel it’s fair or right how you’ve labelled us mate.
Love Doz Ballard
A few replies if I may:
-Every single critic of mine I have allowed on here, including you. So I am not sure how much more “fair” I can be here. I have been giving your side a completely free run here, which is more than many others might do. So a bit of credit for that might be in order, instead of just anger and criticism.
-I of course was writing generically about the movement as a whole, especially focussing on its famous American representatives. Thus I of course did not have you in particular in mind at all. So it is rather unfortunate if you have taken personal offence when none was intended.
-As I said, these can be rather complex issues, and I mentioned my PhD has nearly 200,000 words on this. Therefore I really am quite aware of all the arguments and counterarguments here, and all the various proof texts either side will make use of. Obviously short articles are never going to fully cover all the necessary territory – even less so short comments.
-To be honest, it seems most of my critics have not even bothered to read my articles – at least read them carefully. I have said repeatedly now that I do believe that God heals today, and that healing is in a sense in the atonement; just as is the provision for sin, suffering and death. The issue is not are they in the atonement, but are they all fully realised in this fallen world before Christ returns? The other articles I linked to spell this out more fully. Did you even bother to read them? My point remains – God is sovereign and will heal whom he wills. We do not tell God what to do – he tells us what to do. And when spirit-filled AOG pastors and teachers such as Gordon Fee say exactly the same thing, then I can’t be accused of just pushing a particular theological line here.
-As I keep saying, I am happy to agree to disagree here. Christians have long debated and disagreed on these issues. Are you also happy to agree to disagree here? Will you in Christian grace allow me my freedom to hold a different view than you? I hope so. If not, I will remind you like I do everyone else that I will do what God has called me to do. Those who do not like it can always simply stay away from this site. But I will not start censoring what I feel God is leading me to write, because some other believers happen to disagree with it. You of all people Dorian should know just how bad it is to cave in to others and simply wish to please men. That I will not and cannot do.
So thanks again for writing. Keep up your great work.
Blessings to you, your work, and your family
Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch
Thanks for the great articles Bill, they are always a pleasure to read,
but i too have got to disagree with you on this one. We are told in the Word to ‘contend for the faith’, and there is far too much of the ‘agree to disagree’ or ‘well that’s just your interpretation of the Bible’ happening in the Body of Christ as it is. It is all of our jobs to be that iron sharpening iron to one another to definitively get to the bottom of what the Word says on issues like these. If we do then maybe more will be convicted to follow and strive for what they know is absolutely sound Biblical doctrine.
I for one certainly don’t believe if a Christian is struggling in a sickness that it is ‘all their fault’ because they don’t have enough faith. Hence why the Bible tells those who are sickly to seek out the elders etc to help get the job done, as no doubt they themselves are struggling and maybe even overcome with whatever sickness/infirmity they’re struggling with, and due to their faith being down needing another to help out. I would much rather say that it is ‘all my fault too’ for not producing the faith for that person to see them instantly healed than to just put the blame on them. Yet the Bible does indeed show instances like the woman with the issue of blood among others not having anyone pray for her and yet by ‘her faith’ being made whole. So to encourage a Christian in the covenant reality that they ‘were’ healed even if they could never find someone else who has the faith to get it done being labelled ‘condemning’ doesn’t make alot of sense to me. It’s kind of like labelling Jesus ‘condemning’ for telling the father of the child with the dumb spirit in Mark 9:17-29 that ‘all things are possibe to them who believe’. The guy said that he believed, but it was pretty evident that he didnt have the faith to get his son healed. It might not have made him feel great but it was still the truth. Just like it would then have been ‘condemning’ of Jesus to tell his disciples that it was ‘their unbelief’ that was the reason they couldnt get the same boy healed in the first place (mat 17:20). Jesus then stepped in and did it.
The thing is there are hard facts we need to live with as Christians, one which you yourself are a great proponent of Bill, being that: ‘us’ silent, sooky, faithless Chirstians are the reason much evil prevails round about us. Come on! I love that, coz it fires me up to fight. Another hard fact we need to swallow which would let us hopefully be driven to fight too is that ‘us’ silent, sooky, faithless Christians too are just as much the reason many that are sick (including ourselves)today stay sick.
I watched my wife battle sickness for a year and a half, in which time she had hands laid on her regularly by the Church for healing, and yet was healed when she one day got up and said ‘enough’ out of her own faith, recongnizing what Jesus had done for her on the cross and that alone being enough for her to be whole. If you ask her, she will certainly not tell you she felt condemned by being encouraged to stir up her faith for what Jesus has already been done in her on the cross as part of the ministry given to her, along with prayer from elders etc, as this was the very clincher that got the job done in her case.
So gotta humbly disagree mate on the article as Matt 8:17 and many other scriptures are very clear on the atonement being healing for our bodies as well as forgiveness of sins
Keep up the great site Bill,
Love Glen Travica
It really is not my point to belabour all this, and to keep repeating myself. So just a few quick remarks if I may. I don’t know how many times now I have said that I believe healing is in the atonement. It is just that my understanding of how this works while we live between the ages differs from your understanding. So maybe one day your side will stop falsely accusing me of things!
As to agreeing to disagree, it is called Christian grace. On essentials like the deity of Christ and the Trinity, sure, we either agree, or one steps outside of historic Christianity. These are fundamental, primary doctrines which we must all embrace. But I certainly do not feel that this discussion of healing is a primary doctrine, but a secondary one, one in which Christians should show charity to one another as they differ. If you or your side thinks this is a fundamental matter which we must go to the wall over, and if others do not believe things as you do, then they are heretics who must be burned at the stake, then once again I will agree to disagree, even if you may not!
And of course there is not a single Christian on earth who does not interpret Scripture as he reads it. We all do. You are even allowing others to interpret Scripture for you by reading a particular English translation of the Greek and Hebrew manuscripts. And even those who know the original languages have to interpret as they go along. So yes, at the end of the day all of us are deciding how to understand the biblical text, and we all are making interpretations and judgments of how to best read and make sense of it. So to raise that objection is really not very helpful here I am afraid.
But thanks for sharing your thoughts.
Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch
Bill, im not angry, just a little disappointed. Why? Because although I know your intentions are pure, and that you addressed a much larger movement of which I do not categorize myself a part of, and that your intentions were never to harm me personally, I and many others suffer as a result of people reading them and then accusing us of ‘doing magic’, ‘manipulating God’, and ‘condemning people’, when we are simply and honourably loving them enough to stand and fight the good fight of faith with them, believing God’s promises to be healed in their physical bodies. So I would appreciate scriptural debate without those sort of comments that gets us persecuted, I think that’s fair.
Some of these people get quite zealous in just how they are going to fry us at the stake too. So I hope that gives you an understanding of why I might be disappointed, never the less I don’t have many friends for everything else I do that I can justify scripturally so onward and upwards, it’ll all get sorted out in heaven where we’ll be laughing at each other. If you must then by all means continue, who am I to say otherwise to you.
Am I happy to agree to disagree? Bill, you and I have disagreed on this subject since the year 2000 or something, and years before that, we both probably disagreed with others who had the same view, so ‘No’ I’m not happy to agree to disagree and move along (pun intended).
I’m also aware that it is your blog, and that there is a time where a subjects comments need to come to an end (at least for a while) in order to stop any dissension and quarrelling in the body and all move along together once more in love.
I write because maybe there is someone out there who will find faith in their darkness to believe the promises God has given them and see the victory rather than doubt from the outset if He will do it and hope. You’ve allowed those comments and I commend you for them amongst many other things.
Bill, I’ve always respected you, when I do get around to reading your blog I always consider carefully those things you say and ensure they are mingled with humility and a right heart from my perspective, I have nothing to lose and I am not afraid to tell the world ‘I got it wrong’ when I can see that I have. I have been on the trail of this subject wide and far since 1993 and have also given much time, discussion and debate to it, searching out the depth and breadth of the end of the arguments and mostly, reading what those opposed to my views say in order to pick up on where I or they may be wrong. I am sorely passionate about people being made whole in a spirit of scriptural conviction, experience even from a young boy and compassion. In saying such, I do not accuse you otherwise as I know you to be a man who prays for the sick, yet we disagree on the sovereignty/timing issue and that’s ok.
I love you mate, more than you may know and I see you as a hero and a champion in the Body of Christ that many need to come under to learn from, and I can say with all honesty I believe you a better man than myself. I pray you take not my future comments on this subject but as they are intended. Thats it for me on this thread i hope lol.
Humbly me, love Doz Ballard
Thanks again Dorian
As I say, I am happy for you to keep doing what you feel called to do. And I will keep doing what I feel called to do. I have changed on plenty of secondary doctrinal issues over the years, and am sure I will do so more in the future. I would be a fool to claim I have all the truth now and will never change my position on anything. But I am at where I am at, and I will stay on course. But of course I will also stay on my knees and keep seeking God’s face and keep seeking his truth, making any adjustments where necessary along the line. That is all I can do, and that is all any of us can do.
Bless you again buddy.
Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch
I am with you Bill. Healing is subject to Him and not us, I have seen so many tragic cases,including my own family, two come to mind just recently and it is not funny, and after the person dies they are trying to raise them from the dead. Well fair enough but how many experiences does it take for us to wake up. As I think Martin Loyd Jones said, something like, when reality and your theology clash it is time to reevaluate your theology. When someone is insisting of God and shoving scriptures in His face, they are on very dangerous ground and even playing at being god. Myself having been in the voice of healing for a time, it is very seriously flawed. God gives grace to the humble, not to the gullible and not to much I have seen shows much in the way of humility. Out of the thousands of claims of healing I have seen, in hundreds of meetings, in my opinion genuine verifiable miracles of healing’s are rare.
To see if it makes sense to try and judge or declare what God’s will is try this for size ‘ we don’t know if if it is God’s will to save every time, we must leave it to Him’. Does that seem theologically sound? Neither is it theologically sound to have the same phrase and swap the word ‘save’ for heal. We don’t know why some are not saved and neither do we have a full revelation as to why some are not healed. Let’s leave our hands open folks, no boxing God in with the above or statements about people’s sin or faith in a given situation. We are only called to be obedient, nowhere are we called to make judgements and bind God or people up. We are called to be lovingly and sensitively obedient, sensitive does not mean we change what we do because some are not healed, we don’t’ change what we do to get people saved or how we are influenced in this area, just because we can observe that some are not saved.
Just wanted to thank you for this. I have been having an ongoing discussion with a friend about this and I found this article very helpful and fair to both sides. I must admit that I’ve agreed with your position from the beginning, although I don’t have as much insight into Biblical languages so I wanted to be open to changing if it could be clearly explained from the Scriptures. I am not a cessationist, and I believe the question you posed best settles the “debate.” Not does the atonement provide healing, but when. That really helps put a point on the argument and make the water less murky. Also, I wanted to thank you for the great charity you’ve shown to those that disagree with you in the comments above. It is very encouraging to me as someone who has not always disagreed gracefully. God bless you and your ministry.
Many thanks Sean.
Great post. I have come to realize that it is important to understand and then walk in your identity in Christ. I never believed in healing through people for 37 years then one day Holy Spirit lead me on a 9 month journey (me kicking and screaming resisting the truth). I read the Bible as it was a bunch of mediators and imagery and great concepts to live by. I preached on having a relationship with Jesus every week but never really understood what that looked like. I had become like the Pharisees arguing about the Bible and missed the simple truth of Jesus. I was super prideful and loved to argue my beliefs in the Bible.
I have been set free and God is amazing in how much he loves me and the entire world. Do I still struggle, yes but I also recognize where that struggle is coming from and I do my best to take every thought captive that I know is not from God.
In the past 2 years I have seen over 600 people either healed instantly, or within a few day’s after praying for them. I am talking about big things like cancer healed instantly, legs growing out several inches right before my eyes, broken bones mended instantly, blind eyes opened and many other things. I think we can argue until we are blue in the face if the atonement includes healing or not. I recommend looking to Jesus as your measure. Is there anyone that Jesus prayed for that was not healed? No. And we are called to be like Jesus and do all that He has done and even greater things. If you don’t see the person healed instantly, keep praying into it that is what Jesus told us to do. Our job is to pray and believe in what God said is Truth. If you don’t pray and believe then that person or yourself will definitely keep suffering. You have nothing to lose. The only thing that has changed is how you pray and that you are not basing your faith on your experiences but on God’s Word. You don’t bear the weight of the world on your shoulders so don’t let what you don’t see get you down because the next day that person can be fully healed. And if they are not pray again.
When I didn’t believe healing could be done through people I saw zero people healed for 37 years. We as Christians have a choice we can choose to believe or not believe. If we say we believe then we need to act upon that belief and walk out that belief in faith which can be a bit intimidating if we don’t know who we are in Christ. If you want to learn to walk in the gifts of Holy Spirit start with learning and walking in your Identity in Christ and then all of the gifts will follow.
He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
I come to your article some 7 years after it was posted. It is not the first time I have reviewed your article and scanned the comments which come “from every which way”. And I believe the Bible and history shows God heals some, but not all….and if all on an occasion, not all consistently.
It is a concern that some who adamantly believe that the Bible teaches that all have a right to be healed in this present life because of the Atonement…..will react strongly if one sincerely and systematically tries to show that there are other perhaps more credible ways of interpreting the relevant passages and verses.
Biblical interpretation is critical. In support of healing-for-all-now-in-the-atonement many quote verses like Hebrews 13:8 and John 10:10 to further try to prove “universal healing”. And they use many other such verses. But they fall short on examining the context of the verses to locate the real meaning which is not what these devotees proclaim. They don’t seem to realize they are using verses to say what they want them to say, not what they mean in context.
If Hebrews 13:8 is interpreted in light of the preceding verse (verse 7) it cannot be used as a proof text that Jesus will always heal all today who seek him. Rather it is declaring that Christians can serve Christ devotedly even as their mentors and teachers have demonstrated. This is because Jesus remains the same and hence can and will strengthen them as they lean on him. This concept of the always-the-same Christ is never applied in the Bible in regard to guaranteed healing.
And John 10:10 is nestled in the context of Jesus being the “gate” through which believers come to be numbered among the converted (the “sheep”). And we see Jesus, the Good Shepherd, laying down his life for “the sheep”. To take this verse and apply the idea of having life “to the full” to healing is to completely miss the obvious contextual meaning of the new and eternal life that Jesus offers.
I’m all for all the healing that Jesus will give, And I stand with you, Bill, in your encouragements towards Biblical literacy and the utilization of sound principles of Biblical interpretation.
I believe that total healing of all sickness and disease will occur at the rapture, when we are made perfect in Him. As I said years ago, if all Christians were totally healed at salvation, and never became sick again, everyone would want to be a Christian, just so they too would never be sick again. That is not what Christ died for,
Having said that, I have never, and will never, say that God does not heal some people of certain infirmities; and yet even for those people, there is no guarantee that they will never get sick again. I don’t think anyone has ever lived a totally illness-free life. Even the widow’s son, who was raised to life during the funeral march, had to die again, as Lazarus did.