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Posts Tagged ‘Healing’

Acts Chapter 29 (Miracles and Healing Still Happen)

Saturday, 5 Jul 2014 Leave a comment

A new teaching has been uploaded to the Writings page called Acts Chapter 29 (Miracles and Healing Still Happen).

The book of Acts ends with Chapter 28. But, the book of Acts did not end; it just stopped. The story continues; the writer just stopped writing. We are today continuing to write the next chapter of Acts – Acts Chapter 29. Its contents should not be different than the previous twenty-eight chapters. Christ is living through those who believe in Him. He is touching the lives of others through people. Part of that interaction includes miracles, signs and wonders, and healing as the full gospel of the grace of Jesus Christ is preached and taught. This teaching will hopefully help lead you through miracles and healing in the Gospels, in the book of Acts, and beyond.

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Healing and Miracles Did Not End with the Apostles

Friday, 20 Jun 2014 Leave a comment

With the Healing in Every Book of the Bible series hitting its stride in the Gospels and Acts, this is a perfect time to explain why the pattern seen in the book of Acts is supposed to be continuing today.

Consider first the following scripture from the book of James.

14Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:
15And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.
(James 5:14-15)

Please stop and think carefully about the question posed by James. The simple fact that he asked this question – Is any sick among you? – means that there should not be any sick people in the church. Let that sink in. God wants you well. It is very simple. And, if you are not well, then a prayer of faith will heal (save – Greek sozo) you. Prayer leading to healing sounds like a miracle to me! Healing and miracles are for today. It is very simple.

As stated in the post on Healing in Acts, at the end of the book of Mark, Jesus told us that healing of the sick would be one of the signs that would follow those that believe (Mark 16:15-20).  This is exactly what we see occurring in the book of Acts, and it is what we should see occurring today.

But a problem sometimes occurs when we get to I Corinthians.

8Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
9For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
10But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
(I Corinthians 13:8-10)

Some have argued that this passage says that prophecy and speaking in tongues passed away when the last apostle died. This is because they interpret “that which is perfect” to be the Bible and the last apostle to die was John – the author of the last book to be written for the New Testament, the book of Revelation. It has been said that once the Bible was complete, prophecy and speaking in tongues ceased, and just for good measure so did all other kinds of miracles, healing, and the gifts of the Spirit.

If you think this is what the passage says, take a second look. It also says that when that which is perfect has come, knowledge will pass away. So when the Bible was completed, knowledge passed away with miracles and the like. Really?! Seems like I know at least a few things, so I really don’t think that knowledge has passed away. Isn’t it now obvious that there is a problem with this interpretation?

“That which is perfect” actually refers to Christ. When Christ returns, prophecy, speaking in tongues, and (human) knowledge will pass away because they will no longer be needed. These were all partial, imperfect provisions to help us until Christ returns. Verse 12 talks of seeing “face to face” and knowing even as also I am known. These are references to Christ – His face and knowing as He knows me. This interpretation makes much more sense.

So, rest easy. The gifts of the Spirit have not ceased. God is healing today through His presence in His children. He is the same yesterday (in the Gospels and the book of Acts), today, and forever. He is in you as a Christian, touching you this very moment, wanting to heal you or heal through you just as He did to and through those in the Gospels and the book of Acts.

To further see that God wants to work through ordinary Christians like you and me, consider Acts 8:5-8. Philip was a table waiter. He was not an apostle, but an everyday Christian. But, God healed others through him. The book of Acts shows us how things should work in the New Covenant. It has no ending, and we should see works like this one continuing into our day.

Finally, consider Acts 10:38.

How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. (Acts 10:38)

The word “for” at the end of the verse means “because” or “due to the fact that”. The following phrase therefore gives the reason or means by which Jesus was healing all that were oppressed of the devil. The reason was because God was with Him. But, God is with you too. Doesn’t Colossians 1:27 say that Christ (God) is in you? Therefore, you satisfy the prerequisite for God to heal other people through you – simply that He is with you.

God always works through people. If we do not follow in the miracle-working steps of those in the book of Acts, people in our generation will not be able to have God work miracles and healing in their lives when they are unable to receive on their own.

For additional teaching and a more complete treatment of God’s healing nature, read the teaching resource Acts Chapter 29 (Miracles and Healing Still Happen).

– Be loved and blessed to be love and a blessing

Are you sure you want to disbelieve in divine healing?

Saturday, 22 Sep 2012 Leave a comment

Paint with me the following picture in your mind. A man has a chronic condition or disease, or perhaps he has multiple chronic conditions and consumes dozens of different medications each day. He is a Christian but does not believe in healing. He may even believe that God has given him the problem or problems he suffers from. From day to day, life is different. Some days he feels better, some days he feels worse as his body fights to be well and his condition yo-yos. Virtually every doctor visit results in a shift of the medications he takes or the conditions he has. These shifts cause further daily changes in how he feels and his ability to function. Nothing is ever certain in the future. He is constantly wondering how he will feel tomorrow or what new change may come upon him in the days to come.

Is this really God’s will and desire for this man?

24Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
25And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:
27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.
(Matthew 7:24-27, from the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount)

If we hear the words of Jesus and act upon them, Jesus says that our life will (as a general pattern) be as a stable house built solidly on a rock. If we hear the words of Jesus and do not act upon them, our life will (as a general pattern) be as a house built upon sand that a storm can easily cause to shift or crumble. These statements result in an equivalence relation: having a stable life is equated to acting upon the words of Christ.

If we look at the three incidents immediately following the Sermon on the Mount in the book of Matthew (these are not chronological but occurred in near proximity of time to the Sermon), in each incident Jesus made it perfectly clear that He wanted to heal (Matthew 8:3, Matthew 8:7, and Mark 1:30-31 in the parallel account of Peter’s mother-in-law being healed). The author is making a clear point – God wants you well and He will take action to make it so if you will let Him.

Returning to the picture we painted, the man’s life is unstable, unpredictable, and ever-changing because of his sicknesses. His house is resting on constantly shifting sands. Why? He is not acting on the words of Jesus. What did Jesus say? Yes, I will come and heal you. When you believe Him and act on His provision for you, your life will become a house fixed on a rock – the Rock.

Do you really want to disbelieve in divine health and healing? Do you really want that portion of your life to be built on shifting sands? God loves you and has provided much better for you through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ. “By His stripes you were healed.” (I Peter 2:24) Move your house (your temple for the Holy Spirit, the body your spirit lives in) to the Rock and receive all that the Lord has provided for you.

 – Be loved and blessed to be love and a blessing

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Paul’s Thorn in the Flesh

Thursday, 7 Jun 2012 Leave a comment

One of the most prevalent teachings about the Apostle Paul’s thorn in the flesh is that the thorn was a sickness. Today, we will take a constructive approach to Paul’s thorn by letting scripture speak for itself. We will look at the verses describing the thorn (its nature, purpose, and origin) and the context of those verses. We will also look at other usages of this idiom in scripture. The goal will be to provide a simple, straightforward explanation of Paul’s thorn in the flesh from directly relevant scriptures without wandering into other scriptures that are not explicitly described by the Bible to relate to Paul’s thorn.

Overview

7And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.
8For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
9And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
10Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
(II Corinthians 12:7-10)

Virtually everything we need to know about Paul’s thorn is given in exactly one verse – II Corinthians 12:7. The source of the thorn, the nature of the thorn, the purpose of the thorn, and the effect of the thorn are all described here.

The Purpose of the Thorn

In verse 7, Paul explicitly says the thorn was given to him to prevent him from being overly exalted (admired, celebrated) because of the abundant and incredible revelations he had been given by God. Do you see how specific this is to Paul? I would venture that virtually no one alive today can put themselves in this category. So, if this is one possible criterion for receiving a thorn in the flesh, you (and I) likely don’t qualify. The whole thing appears to be a very special circumstance related specifically to the Apostle Paul.

The Nature of the Thorn

So, what exactly was the thorn? This is the biggest sticking point for many people. For some reason, the obvious answer given in this verse has been completely overlooked. The next part of verse 7 describes the thorn for us. We need not speculate or wander to other parts of scripture to find the answer. It is right here.

The thorn is described precisely: it is a messenger of Satan. The word messenger is the Greek word aggelos which is almost always translated “angel” and never anything but “angel” or “messenger.” If the messenger was an angel of Satan, then this was what most Christians call a demon.

Paul’s thorn in the flesh was simply a demon.

The Source of the Thorn

If you read very carefully, the scriptures do not say that the Lord sent Paul the thorn. It says Paul asked the Lord to take it away (verse 8), but it does not say that God had sent it in the first place. Remember, the thorn was a messenger of Satan – a demon. The source of the thorn was the devil, not God!

If something bad has happened to you, do not blame God. God loves you. It is the devil who comes to steal, kill, and destroy – but Jesus came that you might have life (John 10:10). Paul was seeking help from God concerning an attack from the devil. It is that simple.

The Effect of the Thorn

Verse 7 continues by describing the effect of the demon in Paul’s life: to buffet him. In most of its uses in scripture, the word buffet has an implication of a repeated strike, blow, or mistreatment. So, what was this buffeting that Paul endured? Unfortunately, these verses are not terrible explicit on this point. The best they offer is stated in verses 9 and 10: the effect of the buffeting was infirmities, reproaches, necessities, persecutions, and distresses for Christ’s sake. And, in this we find some clues.

“St. Paul in Prison” by Rembrandt

First, If we would be honest and look at Paul’s documented life in the New Testament, by far the most prevalent feature of Paul’s life was persecution and misfortune. There is scant evidence of sickness in his life. But, almost every turn of the page in Paul’s life leads to some type of upheaval.

Using the context of the scriptures describing Paul’s thorn, we can see Paul’s own description of this in just the previous chapter of II Corinthians. In II Corinthians 11:23-27, all of the sufferings listed by Paul himself relate to persecution or natural misfortunes or catastrophes. The only question might be the word “painfulness” in verse 27. But, this word mostly means “toil” or “travail”, not physical pain.

Returning to the verses describing Paul’s thorn, we do see mention of the word “infirmities” in verses 9 and 10. While this word does have the connotation of sickness in some usages, it is not required to. To understand Paul’s usage of the word “infirmities” here, again use the context of the thorn scriptures. After the list just examined in II Corinthians 11:23-27, in verse 30 Paul says he will glory in these “infirmities.” Remember that list contained no references to sickness. And, in chapter 12 verse 10, right after the reference to the thorn, Paul again lists things he relates to infirmity: necessity, distress, and persecution!

And this is the key. When Paul asks the Lord to remove the thorn, we see that Paul is asking the Lord to remove the demon and, by implication, the persecution (and the resulting distresses and such) stirred up by that demon. We have been redeemed from many things, but scripture is clear that persecution was not one of them. Paul appears to have been pushing so deep into the finished work of Christ that the Lord had to finally say, “I am sorry, but you cannot go that far.” Jesus was persecuted, and we have been warned that we will be as well. This is the lesson Paul learned, and we see perfect evidence of this because he states it himself in II Timothy 3:12 which was written well after II Corinthians. Paul had learned that persecution is something we must endure with the Lord’s help. We have not been redeemed from it. This is the lesson of Paul’s thorn for us.

Ans, this is why the Lord tells Paul that His grace is sufficient for him. We do not endure and overcome persecution through redemption – we endure and overcome persecution by grace and strength from Christ. When we are weak, He is strong in us.

Other Usages of the Idiom

As we look into the Old Testament, we find several verses that use an idiom very similar to “thorn in the flesh.” Since Paul was one of the most well-versed men of his day in the Old Testament scriptures, it is logical to conclude that he was using an idiom that was well-known. To further reinforce the proposed understanding of Paul’s thorn in the flesh, it should be compared with usages of the idiom in the Old Testament.

In Joshua 23:13, the Israelites are pointedly warned by God that if they associate with the nations surrounding them that those nations would become “scourges in their sides and thorns in their eyes.” Here we see an idiom very close to Paul’s thorn in the flesh. And, what was the thorn? Was it a sickness? No, it was something that caused irritation and persecution, in this case a group of people – something that has a personality if you like.

In Judges 2:3, the Israelites are rebuked for not having obeyed the Lord concerning the inhabitants of the land. The consequence, the Lord says, is that those inhabitants would be as “thorns in their sides.” Again, the thorn is described as a group of people that caused irritation and persecution.

In Ezekiel 28:24, the city of Zidon is described as being a thorn to those around them. Again, the thorn is a group of people.

From this, letting scripture comment on itself, it is not logical to conclude that Paul’s thorn was anything else than what it is described as in II Corinthians 12:7 – something that caused irritation and persecution in Paul’s life, in this case instigated by a demon. This fits well enough with the Old Testament usages of the idiom to describe people – a being, something with a personality, not an object or concept.

Conclusion

A simple examination of the context of Paul’s thorn and usages of the words elsewhere in scripture shows that Paul’s thorn was a demon sent by the devil to repeatedly stir up persecution and misfortune in Paul’s life with the intent that he would not be overly admired and celebrated for the incredible revelation given to him by the Lord.

– Be loved and blessed to be love and a blessing

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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The Scapegoat

Wednesday, 28 Dec 2011 Leave a comment
5And he shall take of the congregation of the children of Israel two kids of the goats for a sin offering, and one ram for a burnt offering.

7And he shall take the two goats, and present them before the LORD at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
8And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the LORD, and the other lot for the scapegoat.
9And Aaron shall bring the goat upon which the LORD’S lot fell, and offer him for a sin offering.
10But the goat, on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat, shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make an atonement with him, and to let him go for a scapegoat into the wilderness.

20And when he hath made an end of reconciling the holy place, and the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar, he shall bring the live goat:
21And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness:
22And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness.
(Leviticus 16:5, 7-10, 20-22)

I first heard about the scapegoat being a type (foreshadowing) of Christ in a book called “Christ the Healer” by Fred Francis Bosworth (a book I highly recommend for anyone who needs or is interested in healing). I have never heard anyone else mention it. So, here is my teaching on this powerful Biblical truth.

In Leviticus 16, two goats are selected for a sin offering and lots are cast for the two goats. One goat is sacrificed, but upon the head of the other goat are symbolically laid the sins of all the people. This latter goat, called the scapegoat, is then let go in the wilderness and symbolically carries the sins of the people into a land not inhabited.

The scapegoat is a beautiful picture of the atonement of Christ. Christ is our scapegoat. At the crucifixion, the sins of the entire world were laid on Christ (I John 2:2; Isaiah 53:6, 11). By our acceptance of the sacrifice of Christ as payment for our sins, God now remembers them no more (Hebrews 10:17), so for all practical purposes they have been taken from us and carried into the wilderness to a land not inhabited. Psalm 103:12 also prophesies this beautifully by saying our sins have been removed from us as far as the east is from the west (verse 12). Also note that verse 3 of this psalm emphasizes that God view sin and sickness as being a whole package that He has dealt with for us.

If you need healing for any reason, or if you carry condemnation and guilt for events and decisions in your past, look on Christ as your scapegoat. He has paid for your healing by carrying your sickness for you (Isaiah 53:4-5, I Peter 2:24). In fact, He carried it away from you as far as the east is from the west, to a wilderness not inhabited. So, you need not carry it too – it has been carried for you. The same is true of any guilt or shame you feel for sins in your past. Because of the sacrifice of Christ, you should have no more conscience of sins (Hebrews 10:2).

Close your eyes and see in your imagination Christ as your scapegoat. Let it drop into your heart as a vivid reality. It is God’s gift to you because of His love for you. Yes, you. It will bring you physical and emotional healing, and this truth (like many others) will make your free (John 8:32).

– Be loved and blessed to be love and a blessing

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