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Balancing Grace and Faith in Healing

Wednesday, 30 May 2012 Leave a comment

Jesus healing the sick

Sometimes I think people hear the message that God wants us well and they miss the fact that this is not something that occurs automatically. They look at those around them, even Christians, and see plenty of sickness. Then they open the Bible and find more sickness, even in the New Testament! I would venture that these people are probably missing several pieces of the puzzle, but one of them is likely our responsibility in the whole scheme of things.

We do not receive by grace alone. That is what it means to think that if God wants us well it will happen automatically. (It is also related to the inerrant belief in the “absolute sovereignty” of God.) It is true that the gifts and actions of God in our life are always available to us. But, as Ephesians 2:8 states so clearly, we receive by grace through faith. This faith is not just simply believing; it involves believing to the point where it causes you to act. This is the whole point of James 2:17. We are saved (and provided for) by faith alone, but a saving faith is never alone – it is accompanied by corresponding action.

To illustrate this, let’s look at a passage of scripture that is commonly used to teach that God does not necessarily want us well.

25Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labour, and fellowsoldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants. 26For he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick. 27For indeed he was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. 28I sent him therefore the more carefully, that, when ye see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful. 29Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation: 30Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me. (Philippians 2:25-30)

In this passage, Paul describes a fellow worker in the Gospel named Epaphroditus who at one point was sick almost to the point of death (verse 27). If we stop reading at this verse, our mind can speculate on all sorts of reasons for his sickness, especially if we do not understand the true nature of God and the completeness of our salvation purchased in redemption. But, if we would just keep reading and consider the whole context, the scripture comments on itself – it gives us the exact reason for the sickness of Epaphroditus.

In verse 30, we see that Epaphroditus was sick almost to the point of death because of the work of Christ and because he did not regard his life. He was absorbed in a very good thing – spreading the Gospel. But, in this out of balance state, he left himself open to sickness.

One of the commands in scripture is to take care of our body – I Corinthians 6:19. Our body is not our own; it is a gift from God. If we are careful to take care of the things we borrow from friends, how much more should we care for what God has given us.

This passage about Epaphroditus in Philippians is a perfect illustration of what can happen when we are out of balance in this area. If we are overworked, and are not regarding the needs of our body (getting sleep, eating well, etc.), sickness can result. Does this mean that God does not want us well? Of course not. It is because we are not receiving by a true, saving faith that is full of understanding, discernment, and moderation – actions that demonstrate our faith.

It appears Epaphroditus was not receiving by grace through faith in this area. Even if he may have had proper beliefs, his actions were not consistent with the principle outlined in I Corinthians 6:19. He was burning the candle at both ends. He seems to have worked himself to exhaustion and became sick as a result.

Does this mean that God did not want him well? No. In fact, verse 27 says that God had mercy on him despite his mistakes – God helped him to recover! He loves us in spite of our shortcomings.

– Be loved and blessed to be love and a blessing

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All of Salvation is for Today

Sunday, 27 May 2012 Leave a comment

Today we have the final installment of a 9 part series on the completeness of salvationWe will begin with a well known scripture.

For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. (II Corinthians 6:2)

The word “salvation” was translated from the Greek word soteria, the noun form of the verb sozo. This verse is most commonly used when encouraging a person to accept salvation. If the person is being moved in their heart, we encourage them to not delay – now is the day of salvation. But, I believe this verse has applicability to every Christian every day. So, let’s briefly review where we have been in the last eight installments of this series on the completeness of our salvation using the Greek word sozo.

16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (John 3:16-17)

In verse 17, we saw the word “saved” comes from the word sozo and the word “condemn” indicates we are looking at our standing in the eyes of God. The Lord has lovingly and graciously provided a way for us to come into right-standing with Him. This is the spiritual aspect of our salvation.

And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague. (Mark 5:34)

The phrase “made whole” was translated from the word sozo. In this case, a woman had been physically ill from a long-term ailment. This illustrates the physical part of our salvation – healing (see part 1 and part 2). Since Jesus also tells the woman to “go in peace,” we also see the soulical part of our salvation. Our salvation should bring us peace in our soul. This can also be seen in the following verse.

Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. (James 1:21)

Here we see explicit reference to salvation for our soul through receiving the Word of God with meekness.

So, now return to the verse we started with, I Corinthians 6:2 – “now is the day of salvation.” Now is the day of your salvation – spirit, soul, and body. While your spiritual salvation was fully accomplished the day you believed on Christ, almost every one of us has a small (or large) need in our soul or body each and every day. Now is the day of your salvation. God has provided for your need today through the finished work of Christ.

God has provided salvation for us today in all of its forms. If you need to be saved and come into right-standing with God, today is the day of salvation. If you need healing in your body, today is the day of salvation – the day of healing for your body. If you need peace or your emotions are in disarray, today is the day of salvation – the day of peace, order, and rest for your soul. Now is the accepted time. Simply receive from Him today.

As Daniel Amstutz says, “There is something about life that is so daily.” I think we could modify this to say, “There is something about salvation that is so daily.”

– Be loved and blessed to be love and a blessing

Indeterminate Usages of sozo

Saturday, 26 May 2012 Leave a comment

Part 8 of a series on the completeness of salvation.

The most powerful passages of scripture that contain the word sozo are those in which the usage is indeterminate, meaning the component of your being the salvation pertains to is not made clear. Now that we understand the diverse usages of the word, these indeterminate passages can open up a world of love and provision for us from the Lord. All of these passages tend to describe the way in which we can receive salvation in all of its forms from God.

Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. (Luke 8:12)

In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus describes four different types of hearts into which the Word of God is sown. The first type of heart is represented by the wayside – hard-packed ground. This seed does not penetrate the ground (heart) and is stolen away by the birds (the devil). This prevents the person from believing (with their heart) and being saved. The word “saved” is the word sozo. This passage is not only describing spiritual salvation, although that is its first and primary meaning. It is also describing all of the other aspects of salvation. For a Christian who needs healing or provision in any other aspect of salvation, if their heart is hardened the Word will not penetrate their heart and they will not be healed (saved).

This is a great truth in learning to receive from God. We need to prepare and soften our hearts so that we will receive the engrafted Word with meekness and its power will be released in our life. This must happen at our initial salvation, but as we have seen, God wants to provide continuously for us in this life. We will continue to receive deeper and broader aspects of our salvation as our hearts progress into or remain in the more favorable grounds described in the parable.

Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:25)

Once we are saved, why would Jesus need to continue to make intercession for us? The reason is because God wants to provide for us in this life past the point of initial salvation. God does not just want us saved spiritually, He wants us saved (and He is able to save us) to the uttermost. He wants us provided for completely. And, this is clearly the heart of God. “He ever liveth” to make intercession for us. It is His primary focus. It is the heartbeat of His life. It is because He loves us.

8But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. 10For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. (Romans 5:8-10)

And, we now return full circle to the scripture that sent us down the path of discovering the aspects of salvation beyond just our spiritual salvation. Now that we have been reconciled (saved spiritually), there is much more to our salvation through the life of Christ living in our hearts. There is healing – salvation for our body in all respects. There is peace and comfort – salvation for our soul. Our entire being – spirit, soul, and body – have been provided for in salvation. And, it is all because “God commendeth His love toward us” in that “Christ died for us.”

We should also note in verse 10 that the “much more” of salvation comes through the life of Christ. This relates to His continued intercession for us (Romans 8:34, Hebrews 7:25) and also the mystery of Christ in us, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27). Paul prays for us in Ephesians 1:16-23 that we would know “the immeasurable and unlimited and surpassing greatness of His power in and for us” (Amplified version). This is His life saving us – by the power that raised Him from the dead working in and for us to produce healing, deliverance, and peace.

 – Be loved and blessed to be love and a blessing

Deliverance

Friday, 25 May 2012 Leave a comment

Part 7 of a series on the completeness of salvation.

Another aspect of salvation involves demonic deliverance. Since deliverance could be classified as either physical or soulical salvation, we will briefly treat it separately.

They also which saw it told them by what means he that was possessed of the devils was healed. (Luke 8:36)

While there are other examples of demonic deliverance in the New Testament, this is the only instance in which the word sozo appears. But, it illustrates yet another dimension to salvation. God’s love in salvation provides for freedom from demonic oppression in your soul and/or body.

– Be loved and blessed to be love and a blessing

Salvation for Your Soul

Thursday, 24 May 2012 Leave a comment

Part 6 of a series on the completeness of salvation.

Along with our physical body, our soul (the mind, will, emotions, etc.) is where we spend most of our time. When it is not set in order, it can provide as much or more pain than a physical ailment. Surely if God has provided salvation for our spirit and our body He will not have left out provision for our soul.

Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. (James 1:21)

Here it is, plain as day. The Word, when received with meekness, will save your soul. But, what exactly does salvation for your soul mean? From John 3:16 we know that salvation brings eternal life. But, John 17:3 says that eternal life is knowing God and Christ. Finally, Peter tells us that as we increase in knowledge of God, grace and peace are multiplied to us (II Peter 1:3). Therefore, salvation leads to peace, which is one aspect of salvation for your soul.

48And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven… 50And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace. (Luke 7:48, 50)

And he said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace. (Luke 8:48)

When the sinful woman ministered to Jesus in the house of Simon the Pharisee, Jesus clearly communicated to her that salvation should bring her peace. When the woman with the issue of blood was healed, Jesus told her to “be of good comfort” and “go in peace.” The concepts of peace and comfort relate to our soul. We should find comfort, peace, and rest when salvation comes to us.

When our spirit is still controlled and influenced by the kingdom of Satan, our soul will not be at peace because of disturbances in our spirit and the presence of our sinful nature. When our body is still sick, diseased, or deformed, our soul may not be at peace because of pain, discomfort, or other issues. Salvation is meant to most completely affect your soul through not only the removal of the sin nature and freedom from condemnation (Romans 8:1, Hebrews 10:2) but also freedom from sickness and disease. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” (Isaiah 26:3) As we trust in the Lord and keep our mind (part of our soul) upon Him, the effect will be peace for our soul.

We should not lose sight of where we started: James 1:21. When we receive the Word, it will provide for our salvation even to the soul part of our being. As we properly understand the finished work of Christ, the unconditional love of God, and the presence of the Holy Spirit in our heart, we will change effortlessly. This will be the cause of laying aside such sins as described by James. Change does not happen from the outside inward, but from the inside outward.

For independent confirmation of the soul component of our salvation, we can once again use Isaiah 53:4-5 where it says that “the chastisement of our peace was upon him.” In the Amplified version it says “the chastisement [needful to obtain] peace and well-being for us was upon Him.” God foresaw what we would need. Sin would not only ruin our relationship with God and cut us off from His spiritual provision, it would affect our bodies and our souls. His remedy would therefore need to address all of these areas – and so it has. What great love the Father has for us (Ephesians 2:4)!

By now you have surely realized that we have used Isaiah 53:4-5 for independent confirmation of God’s provisions in salvation for each part our being: spirit, soul, and body. This is a wonderful, beautiful, concise, and complete commentary on our salvation. The only thing missing is a declaration of God’s love as the motivation. But, yet it is not missing…

9For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee. 10For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee. (Isaiah 54:9-10)

The new covenant is rooted in God’s kindness, peace, and mercy towards us.

– Be loved and blessed to be love and a blessing

Why not “Be of good courage?”

Tuesday, 22 May 2012 Leave a comment

There are approximately 20 instances in the Old Testament where the Lord tells someone directly or indirectly (meaning through another person) to “be of good courage”.

Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them.
(Joshua 1:6)

These instances span more than 1,000 years from Moses to Ezra, so it is not a localized, special admonition. But, in the New Testament there are none.  Why? If this was such an important reminder to Old Testament saints, why is it completely absent from the New Testament?

This puzzled me for a while, but an investigation into the word “courage” itself opened up the reason for me.

Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines courage as “bravery; intrepidity; that quality of mind which enables men to encounter danger and difficulties with firmness, or without fear or depression of spirits; valor; boldness; resolution.” Another dictionary says courage is “the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery.” Notice the emphasis on the absence of fear in both of these definitions.

The word “courage” comes from the French word “coeur” and the Latin word “cor” which both mean “heart” (Webster’s 1828 dictionary). In English the suffix –age can mean “that which is associated with or characterized by.” So, courage is that which is associated with the heart. We can see this in Psalm 31:24 – “Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart.” So, not only does courage have something to do with fear, it has to do with the heart. This is the clue to unraveling this mystery because the heart of an Old Testament saint was fundamentally different than the heart of a New Testament saint.

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. (I John 4:8)

God is love, and God’s love is a perfect love. So, its presence will cast out fear.

And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. (Romans 5:5)

Since God’s love has been shed in our hearts, and His perfect love casts out fear, fear has been cast out of our hearts, and we can naturally or effortlessly be of good courage. But, this will not occur automatically. We must understand our salvation and the finished work of Christ – we almost always receive from the Lord by grace (the shedding of love in our heart) through faith (knowing and accepting the grace we have been given) – Ephesians 2:8. God does not want us to be of good courage; He wants us to know who we are in Christ, to know His love for us, because this will cast out fear, and we will effortlessly be of good courage.

An Old Testament saint had to be of good courage as a work in their own strength; in a sense it came from the outside and was not natural or effortless.  A New Testament saint needs to rest in the love of God, and being of good courage will be a natural consequence. And, I think this is the key – the Sabbath rest (Hebrews 4). Therefore, we are not told to be of good courage. We are told to rest in Christ. Then, good courage will follow.

In fact, most of the references related to the concept of courage or fear in the New Testament (outside the Gospels) are actually reassurances of the peace of God.

Putting this all together, the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace) are the sources of courage. Courage is now a fruit of salvation and not a work. Renew your mind (Romans 12:1-2) to release the fruit of the spirit in you (Galatians 5:22-23) and you will also be of good courage.

The next time you read “be of good courage”, remember you are already courageous by nature in your spirit…

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. (II Timothy 1:7)

– Be loved and blessed to be love and a blessing