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Holiness, Healing, Sealing and Reeling
THE BACKGROUND IN STATE AND STATUS FOR THE CHRISTIAN
It is not difficult to see that God is Lord and that His word is as distinct to our eyes in the Bible as succinct in our DNA, and of this we have presented much in many places, including the last chapter.
What however of the practical dimensions of life under trouble in the experience of the believer, who knowing God, is privy to His counsel for life, and occupied with His kingdom ? (Proverbs 24:14).
Is there a mandate for divine dealing for every ailment ? Is a binge at a party to disappear like the sunlight at dusk ? Of course not, for it is clear in Hebrews 12 that the Lord is Father and disciplines. He MAY choose, certainly, at His entire divine discretion to so remove, but there is certainly and assuredly no mandate. On the other hand, as a Father, He may indeed teach the erring disciple the meaning of the fact that this world is not a playground, and that while there is room for joy and friendly mirth, there is none for intoxicated revelry: life is real and life is earnest, death is near and disaster yearns like a chasm with appetite.
It is because man chooses to ignore the extreme severity of the conditions of this life, when a terrorist can end the earthly coil of a billionaire in a few seconds, that so many are so surprised when challenge comes. LIFE IS challenge; but it is a choice challenge because there is present a resident president in the life of the believer, and this One is so committed that He has even gone to the extreme extent of dying to protect that life from destruction, enduing it with divinely and specifically imparted meaning and granting it gifts, even the rebellious, for His service.
What however of our present topic, sickness ?
If then as a Father, the Lord can discipline for foolishness - and HOW aptly you see in the case of King David who ALTHOUGH a man after God's own heart, and what a man was there! in the case of a lustful enterprise carried out without remorse over a short period, was rebuked and checked for attention for the rest of his life. That is, the rebuke was short, but the checking was long. He did not lose his kingdom; but he lost something of the profound depth of peace and innocence as a pardoned child of God, so that there was a series of unpleasant events in his family, some highly dramatic, which brought to him again and again the sheer folly in interfering in anyone else's family life with lust, adultery or evil.
David LOST his child from the marriage that resulted: and small wonder! Such however had been his experience of the mercy of the Lord that he lay down in prayer and besought the Lord over the night, in case He might show pity and spare the new born's life, but the Lord would not tolerate such conduct as if it were to inherit blessing from Him, and the child died. That is a special form of 'sickness' ending in death. Yes there is scope for discipline, for purging and for loss.
However as Paul declares, he considers ALL THINGS BUT LOSS compared with the riches of Christ (Philippians 3:9-10). There is eternal life and there is purging, purification, cleansing of heart, scouring of spirit, all as required; but who cares in this, that IF it be done by the LORD whose mercy is total, whose purity is holy, whose tenderheartedness if profound and whose judgments are righteous, who is committed absolutely and without qualification to His children whom He has chosen before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4), to those who being His children, have already obtained an inheritance (Ephesians 1:11): then it is done well. He can be TRUSTED! and you can trust in His mercy (cf. Psalm 52:8-9).
As the Psalmist declares:
"But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God: I trust in the mercy of God
for ever and ever. I will praise You for ever, because You hast done it:
and I will wait on Your name; for it is good before Your saints."
What has the Lord done ? He has done all things necessary for eternal life which is a grant (Romans 6:23, John 5:11-12, Romans 5:15), dependent on nothing but GOD! Those who want to share the salvation give another name by which man must be saved, their own! That too is contrary to Acts 4:11-12, for there is NO OTHER NAME under heaven by which man must be saved; for otherwise one could boast of his or her works of spirit, mind, power or perseverance, and this is forbidden, for God will not share His glory with another (Romans 3:23ff.).
The human qualities which can stand or boast in His presence are ZERO (Jeremiah 9:23-24, I Corinthians 1:30):
"But of him are you in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He who glories, let him glory in the Lord."
This is a far cry from glorying in the vanquishing power YOU show! It is God who works within both to will and to do, and those NOT planted by the heavenly Father, it is these who fail (Matthew 15:13, I John 3:9, 5:11-12).
Therefore one must be prepared for discipline, direction and correction in the Christian life: for while it is emphatically NOT a matter of self-ministration to glory, it IS a matter of divine chastening with charity, and if one is not prepared to accept this, as the book of Hebrews presents it in Hebrews 2, 12, how on earth or in heaven does one expect to be regarded as what one does not even regard oneself, in such a case - a child of God!
THE HEALING SPECIFICALLY
Now one could imagine a world in which all wounds were instantaneously healed, and one can consider the path in heaven, where there IS NO PAIN! However, this is not that, for the beginning of the way, it is not its end, and the commencement of athletic training, it is not the laurel crown.
In this world, you can have in II Timothy 4, a Trophimus who was sick long enough to be registered by Paul as such, so that while the apostle often healed the sick miraculously, as did Peter, who also raised the dead, there is nothing automatic about it (II Timothy 4:20), and in Trophimus' case, he was even left sick in one city by the apostle. Similarly, Epaphroditus had a sickness so severe that death was positively threatened, and the news of his condition reached another city, where the church evidently felt real concern for him (Philippians 2:25ff.).
Yet, on the other hand, in the case of Dorcas, Peter raised her from the dead (Acts 9:36ff.), while Peter's healing ministry in particular was intense and intensive (Acts 5:16) within the body of the apostles. Even when shipwrecked, Paul proceeded to a spectacular healing which led to a vast change on the island of his trouble (Acts 28:8 - Malta). Indeed, as seen in Acts 14:8, Paul healed in Lystra in such a way that he had to make strong protests as the people sought to make gods of himself and Barnabus with him!
There is no lack either of divine power or interest, in the realm of healing those who believe; nor is there any divine commitment to heal those who believe. It is the matter of fatherly divine discretion. How tenderly the Lord hears the appeals of His children, as He did when David confessed his sins and was pardoned, and the appreciation of David at this is seen in Psalm 51, as the ground of it; and how truly He disciplines as needed.
Thus, Paul as seen in II Corinthians 12, was so used and had such a ministry with such power and had such vision of God that it was a danger that he would become big-headed and the Lord in accordance with this fact resolved NOT to remove a particular "thorn in the flesh", which would appear to be something physical, presumably related to the fact that the Galatians, if it had been possible, would have torn out their eyes for him, in their initial enthusiasm - a strange act indeed, even to feel, if the apostle had not been visually afflicted (cf. Galatians 4:15, 6:11). His reference to his writing to the Galatians a large letter with HIS OWN HAND, chimes with this, as if it were a steeple's music, for what is so surprising about a letter of this size if it be not that there is an infliction from an affliction, to produce it!
In the Old Testament, no less, there is healing as in the phenomenal case of the leprosy of Naaman (II Kings 5), and Elijah's and Elisha's ministries where amazing interventions occurred when the Lord was succouring or rewarding faithfulness (I Kings 17:17, II Kings 4); nor can we forget the healing of Hezekiah whose life was about to face earthly extinction, who wailed before the Lord, who was heard, who sent the prophet Isaiah and gave healing at which he rejoiced. In this case, there was as in that of Christ in the New Testament, with the man who had spittle put on his eyes, a means, and that where a similar action was performed on his dumbed tongue to bring speech, as in the other, sight. It was specific, conscious, direct healing (cf. Isaiah 37:6, Mark 7:31, 8:24).
There are episodes where it is specific that of all the many sick who came ALL, every single one, were healed (Acts 5:16, Matthew 12:15, Luke 6:18). There are series of events where healing is wrought with stupendous vigour and straightforward power as in Matthew 8:9, when it could almost seem like a breeze blowing, by which all are cooled.
However there is specific mention of faith (Matthew 9:22, Mark 5:34 10:52, Luke 7:50, 8:48, 17:19, 18:42, Acts 14:9), so that it is not an impersonal thing; nor yet is it a fait accompli for the believer. It is the prayer of faith which heals the sick (James 5:15), but this is accorded where it is deemed to belong. Having faith in Christ as Saviour is one thing, but in the healing for a specific person at a specific time is as we have already abundantly seen, is quite another.
Nevertheless, the episode with Hezekiah is instructive, for there is a fatherly tenderness which cannot be ignored; just as there is a divine discretion which appoints and apportions as it will. God is very deep and trying to 'read His mind' in the sense of analysing out all that He has in mind, is futile. On the other hand, seeking Him with a case, a presentation that you have a need in order to serve Him and a task not yet finished, or a charter to complete is eminently audible to Him who sends.
Indeed, in the case of this author, it is precisely for this reason that one is even ABLE to be writing these words, for in the case of a recent and life-threatening melanoma, discovered at a questionable level, the thing was removed, the margin removed, the ear stitched brilliantly so that one would be hard put to know if anything had happened, the signals checked and negative was the reading. Obviously, one has to be very careful in view of such a deliverance, and it was not for fun; it enabled function, for which one rejoices, for it is good to serve the Lord and to provide for His people what He enables.
What however are some of the reasons why on occasion healing may be denied ?
First, then, it may be to temper pride or to preclude its entry, as we saw specifically presented by Paul in II Corinthians 12. Sickness may sadden, but it may also CONSTANTLY remind one of one's actual position, not as a young or old lord, or piece of aspirant autonomy, in some spree of spirit (and one does not have to be consciously aware of such a feeling for its fruit to appear!), but as a servant of the Lord.
Secondly, as in the case of Epaphroditus noted above, it can bring out concern and love, compassion and become an illustration of love in the case of the one who served but became sick, and in that of the one who was being served, but has grievous concern for the one made sick.
Thirdly, sickness as in the case of Job (cf. SMR pp. 92 - 96 in context, and the volume TRIALS, TESTS and TRIUMPHS in TEMPTATION), it can be the result of a test, to show the world that even health is not a pre-condition of the love of the Lord. Does not even the marriage illustrate this point, for it is for better or for worse, in health or in sickness that the love of the prospective partner is declared! Love is in fact stronger than death, and this for various reasons. Firstly, God is love and outmarshals His own penalty in love and mercy (cf. Hosea 13:!4, I Corinthians 15); secondly, its place in eternity in the divine Being is not able to be outwitted or ousted, so that no event is permitted to disrupt it; and thirdly, it is not a timid thing, for even death is not its master, and it endures in its very face.
Hence where love is exhibited, it is like salt; and there are times when this compassion and kinship of concern and joy in service out of love is authorised and continues.
Again, as in the case of the final years of the life of Corrie ten Boom, there can be a sickness related to age, so that she who had been so amazingly capable and strong, continues in love to bring joy to many visiting hearts, people who come to her bed; so that it is not in her strength she glories, and this is well seen, but in the Lord. It is like being the wife of a millionaire: do you love the money or the man ? If the money is lost, does the love change ? NOT if it IS love!
God may likewise send sickness to an entire nation or race, and those who escape are earmarked for a purpose; and as to that, does it not show one the need to differentiate oneself most closely from a culture which errs, for one is a pilgrim and a stranger in this world as Hebrews denotes (Hebrews 11:13).
The plagues of Egypt were of this kind, and the escape hatch in that case, where a teaching mission was in progress, was the placement of the blood of the sacrificial lamb on the door of the dwelling. That is an example of teaching by sickness (in this case, the extreme, death), just as the plagues were a preliminary affliction not without their pain and suffering, and this was part of a program for a domineering people and a dominant king whose power and self-will reached to the heavens. Since it was specialised in its application to the people of God, and since it was a profound example of national ingratitude after what Joseph had done for them during his rule, and since it was obstreperous, obstinate and obstructive, unyielding and obfuscatory, all kinds of deceptions and devices being used in resistance: thus the ultimate on the one hand, and the plaguing way to it on the other, became an ensemble for international teaching! Egypt taught the earth through its falling syndrome; and the lesson remains.
Indeed, it continues as such to this day. The later debasement of an Egypt which continued to be a snare to the people of the Lord, something which compared its former heights is notable, is permanent and as Egypt has been kept down so often by so many, so was it to be as it has come to be (cf. Ezekiel 29:15).
NEITHER SICKNESS NOR DEATH IS TO BE FEARED
We are examining the place of sickness in Christian life, and with this, making some reference to a broader perspective, where others are involved as well.
We are finding that God is deep, compassionate, all powerful and never hindered from doing His will, though He use much patience, but having poured out wonder, He acts with discretion in the specific area and arena indeed, of sickness. Nothing is too hard; some things are not wise: and He chooses.
At times, we find, healing sweeps as if a broom with dust, and it seems it is all over, this sickness; but at others, debasement and discouragement occur, when pride or impenitence, carelessness and so on, occur, so that one learns and learns to watch, for temptation comes easily, and without labels!
There is however an absolute certainty that if the Lord wants something done by someone or some group, neither lack of money, nor strength, nor health, nor power, nor occasion can stop it. In other words, sickness is under the power of God, and in the case of Christians, it is a dog on a leash.
But what! the emotion response may come before thought, what of those who lie for long in the bed as health declines ? If it is age, age comes: we do not last forever on this earth: it is enough that Christian life is eternal, and resurrection has been required to institute that eternity, and comes to us who believe, as it has come to Christ, according to plain (Psalm 16, 22, Isaiah 26:19). If it is affliction, then discipline or direction (sometimes a sickness occasions realisation that some part of one's life needs adjustment or addition grace), the teaching of patience or the exhibition of joy and longsuffering in the midst of limitation may be in view. There is no limit to the scope of the divine wisdom or the thrust of His multitudinous understanding in the world of events.
When this fear is removed, so is much sickness, for fear is itself a source of torment to body and mind, as well as spirit, when it is not salutary, causing prudence and caution, but obsessive, and a substitute for lively faith. Thus sickness can be used, it seems, to test faith and having made it strong and isolable, to exercise it. For the Christian, it is never impersonal; and there is the special case where the Christian has unwisely absorbed so much of the culture of this world that some of its philosophy and limitations, its ideas and its 'management techniques' having entered the heart, there is need to purge this. Sickness can give time to assess, to reflect, like dry dock in a personal setting!
Thus it is clear that God has all power, uses it discretely, never merely in a showy fashion (Christ repeatedly told those healed not to spread it abroad, though not always), and it is obvious that a minor part of life is not intended to become major, as if people would 'come to Christ' not as God but for the receipt of custom in the field of healing! (cf. Mark 3:8, 5:19). In the latter case, where the man was to tell what the Lord had done for him, it actually involved a great depth of healing, and was a substitute for actually coming with Christ on His journeys.
Some however seem tempted to intrude into the divine discretion, for His understanding is infinite (Psalm 145), and this can bring rebuke and disorder where a church is sufficiently unwise to be caught in a situation intended only for a time, or in a presumption untenable at any time.
GIFTS OF HEALING
While this topic has been dealt with in A Question of Gifts, where the subject of charismata is taken as such, there is an approach in this, our present context which is more individual and fitting for our concerns. Nevertheless, the reader is encouraged, if moving in the charismatic realm, to study the above small book, first.
Paul tells those in Corinth (I Corinthians 12:28, bold added) that
"God has appointed these in the church:
AFTER THAT miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues."
It is at once apparent that there is an order of significance, as I Corinthians 14:37 attests! and indeed, as I Cor. 14:1 shows clearly. It is most important that those who had known Christ and experienced His teaching ministry should, with whatever adjustment, be appointed and anointed; that after this, there is a second echelon in functional significance, those who have the power to present the word of God with illumination (cf. A Question of Gifts, Know the Lord, Know the Bible, Know His Will 26-27). From the latter, in preparation for healing emphasis, let us see its place by contrasting it with the second echelon in its own place.
I Corinthians 13 however is a crucial chapter on the whole point: ARE these gifts still in operation, and if so, in what way ? in what spirit, in what context and for what purpose ?
Some would declare that they are NOT still in operation, and try for example to equate the word 'then' in I Corinthians 13:10‑12 to the completion of the New Testament Canon! However, I Cor.13:12, following the completion of the Canon, has the Christian knowing as he/she is known! THIS one does not do in this pilgrimage: the 'mirror of faith' of II Corinthians 3:18 is assuredly not done away with yet! Spiritual remodelling of the saints has not ceased, nor has the need for it!
If I now knew as I am known, I should not know in part, but be an insufferable pretender! Knowing‑as‑one,‑is‑known is after the resurrection, when we shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is (I John 3:2). Faith must still work with its mirror, till the light shines in eternity. We LIVE by faith.
The gifts then are set in general terms to operate till then, till this pilgrimage is past (I Corinthians 13:8‑12).
Yet others confuse the issue by trying (vainly) to make it that some nuance of meaning attaches to 'prophesying' which prevents revelation apart from inscripturation ‑ the setting of the statement in scripture. Scripture, the process of inscripturation, they –rightly - say, is finished; and so, they say, therefore has prophesying ... itself one of the 'gifts' of I Corinthians.
This however will not do either. Not merely did prophets prophesy in the Old Testament period, whose books or words are not, or are not in full incorporated in the Canon (that is, in the actual scriptures), but there is the case of revelation to Peter ‑ (Matthew 16:18) who yet did not in his name ‘commit' it to the scripture (someone else wrote about it merely). Thus, the Father showed Peter the identity of Christ by REVELATION, as Christ stated; but this exposure of divine truth in that form did not become a part of scripture.
Described as an event, it is not recorded by the 'prophet' to whom the revelation was given. Indeed, many might have a 'revelation' (I Cor. 14: 26), and this is presented as a normal church phenomenon in the church at Corinth at the time of which Paul speaks; but there is no slightest indication that what they said became a part of scripture, and it would be a gross imposition both on the context and on the concept of not adding to scripture by unwarranted assumption, to claim that these events in their setting did proceed into scripture. Indeed, the spirits of the prophets were‘subject to the prophets' in ways wholly diverse from the Old Testament setting, where the word of God was so often so detested by so many that if judgment had occurred, it would never see the light of day! This is very far from scripture in standing.
Where ARE then these multiplied Corinthians words! Assuredly they are far removed from any approximation to the word of the Lord, the scripture, that irreprovable, unimpeachable, immutable, divinely warranted, executive emission from the lips of the Lord! Many however seem to want, if not by liberalism and its antics, seeking to divorce God from His word by human philosophy and its wet-hen hiatus from truth and rationality, then to do so by human emotion. Anything will do, so long as the Almighty for a little moment, is repressed in their lives, until the day come when the pit is wide enough for entrance.
GOD IS NOT MOCKED, however. What then of these Corinthian exhibits, these corrigible prophecies, these reprovable words of men, on which men are to sit in 'judgment' ? It should, incidentally, be especially noted that this is nothing of tongues, so-called, for it is a potentially edifying phenomenon in itself, this prophesying! Tongues have, in Corinthians, no one to sit in 'judgment', but depend only on the interpreter. It is a grand opportunity for the bogus! This is not to exclude what God includes; but it is to exclude the defamatory elevation of 'tongues' so often seen, as if it were some kind of glory, not an abasement before God, as we see shortly, when we consider its source, as cited by Paul, in Isaiah's predictions. That item, also with many others in this field, is found in the little volume, A Question of Gifts, which covers the matters far more extensively than is done here.
Corinthian-style prophesyings as the word of the Lord! Far from it, as far as the East from the West: infinitely removed are these from the infallible word of the Lord. Revelation may indeed come, in this subordinate manner, but to expect such revelations as these to be elevated to scriptural heights is like expected a baby, under parental discipline, to sign contracts.
Such an assumption, then, is merely an assumption, is anti‑contextual, contrary to evidence, and cannot be regulative. Numbers of prophets spoke or wrote, but their words are not scripture, and II Chronicles 9:29 mentions two of them, Ahijah and Iddo, the latter a writer of visions, prophecy concerning Jeroboam, each with a 'book'! Nor did true Old Testament prophets speak without revelation (Jeremiah 23:16,21‑22) ! It was substantive to the case.
Revelation can certainly occur without inscripturation, and even Saul prophesised without inscripturation (I Samuel 19:23): and we are far from having the records, their products, and much further yet from having them in the Bible, the word of God to mankind! Prophesying may or may not include new doctrine in the Old Testament sense, and there is no implication of it in certain situations, and in some, it is inscripturated; and of this we may be sure, that whatever God gave of doctrine to man for man, man has. Yet prophesying per se is not new doctrine, nor does it need to become scripture.
In the Corinthian case which gives a type, example and structure under apostolic jurisdictive warrant, in the New Covenant, it is to be tested, something contrary to biblical inspiration (I Corinthians 2:9-13), as well as Old (I Peter 1:10ff.), in each of which cases the word of God to man comes with full spiritual intensity, authority and certainty, as Paul makes so clear likewise, in this very field, in I Corinthians 14:37. What I write, the apostle declares, these things are the commandments of the Lord. If you want to be spiritual, a prophet, then acknowledge this!
That is what is written, here. It is the complete opposite in authority and infallibility therefore to scripture. Likewise, and accordingly, any attempt to exclude such Corinthian-style prophesying on the ground that it would be of scriptural import, because associated with revelation, is false. As so often, the biblical position is in neither extreme.
Neither is such revelation authoritative, nor is it scripture; and this being so, what is authorised to occur, in this highly subordinate style, is not at all doctrine as such, but akin to praise and exposition, to be tested and tasted by the Biblical import.
Should it add at all to doctrine, it is fraudulent, and to be rejected; should it contradict biblical doctrine, it is the same.
The distinguishing of these indubitable facts prevents, to be sure, the elevation of new things to biblical heights, and so would annoy the ultra-biblicists; while likewise, it prevents incorrect condemnation of such edifying expositions and exhortations, and this may annoy those who never did like the Mosaic acceptance of the validity of Medad and Eldad, even if they were unofficial. In one sense, one could almost say, Even if they were not part of the Party apparatus ... but this, being political in overtone, may only be used as a remote analogy. Here then is our tenth Island, to be added to the list of extreme positions which tend to blight the church, because of lack of biblical moderation, biblical accuracy and biblical scope. That is in Tender Times for Timely Truth, Ch. 2.
Since then the Scripture is complete (Revelation 22:18 forbids adding to 'these things' and no new gospel feature is permissible, as Paul notes as early as Galatians 1:10‑12, with fearful exhortations), clearly any current exercises of the gift of prophecy will not include new doctrine. Biblical doctrine from the deposition to mankind from the Almighty, this may be USED, but not as novelty provided from pseudo-prophets masquerading as divine founts of doctrine. It is finished, the word on which the church is built from the apostles and prophets (Ephesians 2:20ff., Revelation 22:18-19, Proverbs 30:6), focussed on Christ, given by those so authorised, recognised by the Church (cf. SMR Appendix C), unchanged over the centuries, testimony of truth from the day of the Son on earth.
To present it, however, to apply it, this is the work of New Testament gift of prophecy, under the Son, the Scripture and the governance of God. Tempting as it may be to exploit spiritual power and liberty, the Spirit of God does not attest guile, but goodness, and the work of God focussed in Jesus Christ, wrought through the apostles and their accompanying workers, this as seen in SMR, remains unchanged in foundation and function. Latter-day false prophets abound as precisely predicted; the task of biblical exposition, encouragement and exposition, not limited to Pastors, however, is attested in Corinthians.
Thus prophesying in the general church sense, outside the apostles and their close and known kin (Acts 1, Ephesians 2:20ff.), on whom the church was already built in the days of Paul, and where the unchangeable Gospel was already so in that same day (Galatians 1), is a gift concerning edification, instruction, understanding and proclamation of the word of God, with which each pastor should be equipped; for how can he contend with the wolves, except with the sword of the Spirit, knowing how to use it! (cf. Titus 3:10, 1:9).
With this gift goes of course teaching. You must UNDERSTAND, and this goes with PRESENTING to those in need of such help. Who is to instruct but those who are instructed and enabled to present!
It is in the SECOND ECHELON of functional need that prophesying occurs, and it is AFTER THIS, that the THIRD ECHELON COMES, teaching. There is the illumination to comprehend, and there is the edification to pass it on.
It is "AFTER THIS" that healing and company come.
It is apparent then how Christ so often instructed those healed not to publish it; for not only was it perilous lest many come for wrong reasons and crowd like slow traffic, impeding all, but lest the concept of free medicine replaced the whole point of knowing God.
Now that healing is seen in its place, not disreputably lowered, but reputably kept from seeking headlines because pain is unpleasant and strength is popular, let us consider the gift.
As noted earlier, Elsie Salmon, a missionary lady in South Africa who with her husband, a Minister, was working for the Lord, came upon this gift in what may be the greatest profusion since the days of the apostles. Thousands are noted as healed, with testimonies from doctor, lawyer or President of the Methodist Conference, all with one accord. The case was thus in sickness, is thus in health, and the ministry was in Christ's name.
Three books itemise the matter, He Heals Today, Christ Still Healing, and New Key to Healing. In these, the report book is presented in much, and some consideration of the place of faith.
Of great interest, since this ministry specialised in the medically incurable and the amazing (such as change of limb shape, or addition of limb to babe born without), is the fact that there was not only no hoopla, but there was a quietly simple approach that it was done for and in Christ, who is the divinely sent Saviour for mankind. In this case, when the healer went to England, the result rate fell sharply to little more than half, whereas it had been all but total in South Africa.
The consideration that in England there was a social inoculation against the Gospel by a world-weariness towards that well-known Gospel, is raised. Pseudo-sophistication is the name of the game in much theological teaching, which has long become for many a wedding between vagrant and untenable philosophy and biblical teaching, making a new heresy quite often, as the mixture is varied. Such is the work of Karl Barth (see indexes), of Welhausen, of Altizer (q.v.). Their number is now legion as Christ predicted would become the case before His return (cf. Matthew 24:12,24 and see SMR Ch. 8).
Of great interest, since this ministry specialised in the medically incurable and the amazing (such as change of limb shape, or addition of limb to babe born without), is the fact that there was not only no hoopla, but there was a quietly simple approach that it was done for and in Christ, who is the Saviour for mankind. In this case, when the healer went to England, the result rate fell sharply to little more than half, whereas it had been all but total in South Africa.
The consideration that inoculation against the Gospel by a world-weariness towards that well-known Gospel is raised. Pseudo-sophistication is the name of the game in much theological teaching, which has long become for many a wedding between vagrant and untenable philosophy and biblical teaching, making a new heresy quite often, as the mixture is varied. Such is the work of Karl Barth (see indexes), of Welhausen, of Altizer (q.v.). Their number is now legion as Christ predicted would become the case before His return (cf. Matthew 24:12,24).
Thus there was after World War II, and at about that time, when grief was great, injury waxed and hope in man waned, a great outpouring of healings in a multitude of cases, and this in large number, with much declared with clinically available record. This is precisely as we saw in the scriptures themselves, when ON OCCASION and in certain situations, there was a feeling almost as if healing were like the wind, blowing and continuing for a time almost ceaseless. So it was; so it has been recently.
Apart from these movements of what is the GIFT OF HEALING, past all psychology or other fiddling effort at synthesis, there is the healing that comes in terms of James 4:16, where the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. That is, someone without the specialised gift, still knows the Lord, and can like Hezekiah in his day and way, so seek and so importune the Lord in such agreement with the grace and wisdom that is His, that healing is granted just as faith for it may be roused by the Lord Himself.
This author had just such a case in the last few years with an eye condition which threatened the power to write, but which was miraculously healed, as one's own medical doctor confirmed. These things do not happen often, in such a dramatic style; but sometimes is the Lord willing to help an ailment, reduce a difficulty, overturn a prognosis or induce a better result by means of a frankly miraculous kind: that is to say, past providential occurrences and help, moving where there is INSPECTABLE intervention above anything natural. This is only to be expected, though WHEN it is to be expected is our topic.
Thus the power is present and well-attested, but it is not a barren, or impersonal power. Nothing could be experimentally or scripturally further from the truth. When God created the cosmos, it was not impersonal but highly personal, like erecting a Sunday-School concert platform for a PURPOSE. It seems impersonal to many for one very good and understandable reason, though the thing is the result of rebellion.
WHEN in any setting you steadfastly refuse to understand what it is, and insist on asserting your so precious self, then the impact is sure to be difficult, and if no one INTERVENES, and things are left to their NATURAL COURSE, you are not only in for trouble, depending on how inane your assertiveness and blindness may be, for example. In principle, however, you are like a china set in a traffic intersection. What occurs, if the china could feel, would seem particularly upsetting, and the rebel could easily become the cynic, through blind folly. It IS like that, if none intervene, when you are so out of place. You would expect it, and find it.
Psalm 1 makes all this very clear: the wicked are like the chaff, but the Lord KNOWS the way of the righteous.
Wicked ? Well yes, it is wicked to ignore your Creator, since you are carting off what He has made, and this is theft; and it is wicked to withhold trust in Him, since this belies His love and impugns His trustworthiness, and it is wicked to make your own choices in life, without Him, since this ignores the fact that you have been designed, and therefore your designation awaits you, not from yourself (though of course you are involved as is any employe), but from God. Not serving God is simple rebellion, and not wanting to, this is a sickness of the heart. When this is not healed, other disease is relatively inconsequential, as if a car lacked steering, while yes, the spark plugs could perhaps also be changed!
Thus there is a tissue of events and considerations, and there is beyond all this the One before whom it is displayed. There is the Christian and his or her spiritual condition, as with Paul, the plea and the need; there is the non-Christian and the nature of the rebellion, there is the testimony of the Christian to the non-Christian, for love is stronger than death as noted above, so that God will do much to bring home His love to those alienated, even using those who do love Him; and much may be in His hand to this end, including health and sickness. There is the outpouring of healing on occasion, in confirmation or application of what is more important, and there is likewise the withholding of the same, when what is more important makes it unfitting. There is the tenderness of impress and there is the paternal office of making one's children sensitive and acute, caring and considering, realising and gracious. In all this, health and its varying conditions can minister.
There are phases of history, there are conditions of races, there are simple rebukes and there are subtle tests, there are investments with power and there are removals of strength: but two things remain. God is Lord and uses His own discretion, and to some He is Father and is open to appeal. His open hand is to be seen in the setting, as with any parent, of the total relationship and stage of 'childhood' before Him; and His withholding is not at all necessarily either a rebuke or even a comment. Indeed in the case of Job it started with a compliment! (Job 1).
All this said, it remains true, and this needs to be emphasised both from scripture and parallel personal experience and observation, that healing is not some mystery, for all that, which is spooky or ghostly or esoteric. It is the work, for the Christian, of one's Father, and one's Prince, in whose name alone one applies; and as it is provided for, so it is no presumption to seek. What happens is a fatherly matter, and by no means isolated; and it has absolutely nothing to do with power as such. Power will be deployed, just as one places one's foot on the accelerator; but this is nothing very much to do, and it is a small thing in power terms for the Lord to heal. It is a matter of the decision where one wants to go, and ... HOW FAST! It is His business; but it is His invitation to pour out one's heart to Him at all times, so He is eminently approachable (cf. Hebrews 4, Psalm 62).
Sometimes in man, power is used for exaltation, not exultancy, and sometimes it is misunderstood, as with money for the very rich; and neither power nor money nor health nor any other consideration is encouraged to be seen as primary, or regulatory. It is ALWAYS a subsidiary, but NEVER an unimportant matter.
Not in the heady clashes with 'disease' as an amorphous oddity, nor in the dizzy dashes of spiritual supremacies as a lordly attribute, but in the brilliant harmony of inevitable truth we move, when we follow the teaching of the Lord, using all, losing nothing, presuming nothing and believing what is given. In so acting, there is the continual verification not only of conceptual harmony, but of necessary strengthening, and a codification of what is essential, so that neither is one frigid in pseudo-scientific impersonalism, nor spuriously furious in a welter of foraging hysteria, but kept by the power of God to the time of His return, or our going to Him, whichever for the Christian, comes sooner.