Spiritual believers in all past generations have experienced divine favor, healing included. The claims of so-called divine healers, however, assume and imply that to secure such healing it is needful to go to them. At least seven errors are nevertheless to be found in their teaching, and these should be taken up separately.
1. "Healers" alone control God's healing of the body. But any company of spiritual believers, if asked to do so, would testify of divine curing far beyond the claims of professional healers.
2. Healing was provided in the atonement. It is taught that Christ bore diseases as He bore sins on the cross and therefore healing may be claimed absolutely by faith and without fail. Such error will mislead for few are prepared to refute these fantastic claims. So great an issue should be fully sustained by Scripture, doubtless, but it is not. It rather should be recognized that the body is not yet redeemed. The believer awaits a redeemed body. Romans 8:23 clearly states this: "And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body." The physical man will be redeemed at the return of Christ, as the Scripture foretells: "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away" (Rev.
21:4). Extremists do not dare claim redeemed bodies for themselves, when they all increase in age and limitations.
If Christ bore all sickness the healing in answer to true faith should of course never fail, but it does. Isaiah 53:5 in this connection reads: "But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed." Reference here may well be to spiritual healing. The Old Testament, indeed, teaches both spiritual healing and physical healing (cf. Ps. 103:3). In Matthew 8:16-17 reference is made to Isaiah 53:4, for Christ healed because He bore all afflicted ones on His heart of compassion.
Divine healers base their authority to heal the sick on Matthew 10:8, which reads: "Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give," but there the command is given as well to raise the dead, heal leprosy, and cast out demons. The kingdom gospel was to be accompanied with wonders and miracles like these, but no such command for the supernatural ever came with the gospel of grace.
It remains to be noted that Paul's thorn in the flesh was not healed in spite of all his faith (2 Cor. 12:19), and that he with sadness left Trophimus sick at Miletum (2 Tim. 4:20). Epaphroditus, however, was healed as a direct mercy of God (Phil. 2:26-30; cf. Ps. 41:3; Gal. 4:13).
3. Sickness is from Satan and never in the will of God (cf. Deut. 32:39; Job 1-2; Hos. 6:1). By their taking this position the whole field of divine chastisement is rejected. But a man was blind from his birth that the glory of God might be seen in him, and Paul had a thorn in the flesh which was sent directly from God. It cannot be proved that Satan is the one cause of sickness or that disability may not be the will of God in some instances.
4. Anointing from the healer is as essential as faith. In all His healings, nonetheless, Christ anointed but once in so far as the record goes (Mark 6:13), and it is not mentioned again for curative purposes in the New Testament except in James 5:14. The Jewish rite of laying on of hands seemed to be observed at times. Peter cast a shadow and some were healed, but he never went into the shadow-casting business. Multitudes are healed today because it is directly in the will of God for His children apart from anointings, laying on of hands, or Peter's shadow.
5. Remedies are against the will of God. This assertion would change all medical missions and the work of Christian physicians and hospitals. Medicine, to be sure, is usually the supply of elements needed in the system for its recovery. Hence to use remedies for healing is no different in principle than to feed the body with food or to clothe it for warmth.
Healing for the believer is within the Father's care of His child as also all financial support, or for that matter every good and perfect gift.
Two Old Testament types are evidence of divine cure. Each secured physical healing and for a reason: (1) leprosy (Lev. 14:1-57) and (2) the serpent bite (Num. 21:5-9). The healing in both cases was absolute and becomes clearly a type of the remedy for sin, which healing is in the death of Christ and never fails in answer to faith.
6. Christ must heal because He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He may be the same Person, beyond all question, but not always have the same purpose. The Apostle, if his example means anything, prescribed wine for Timothy (1 Tim. 5:23).
7. Personal faith is required. This demand provides the divine healer's way out of difficulty when he fails to help. To put it back on the afflicted for lack of faith, however, is cruel and unscriptural. Many sufferers are driven insane by this treatment. In,the Bible faith is required likewise on the part of the one who heals. One instance is actually recorded where healing failed because of unbelief on the part of those who would cure (cf. Matt. 17:14-21).
In conclusion, it may be asserted that it pleases God to heal His children of physical diseases when it is in the way of His parental dealing with them. It was said by David: "This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles" (Ps. 34:6). The death of Christ provides no absolute cure for physical ills, though it does so provide for spiritual ills. As well might one claim financial prosperity from the death of Christ according to 2 Corinthians 8:9, as to claim present-day physical healing from the Scriptures on the basis of the death of Christ.
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