Well, just wait a second; it IS about grace, yes, but it is about how grace is applied to some other form of doctrinal teaching that is being put forth as Gospel Truth! It is a teaching that is wrong, hurtful and destructive yet accepted pretty much as mainstream. So, here comes another of my prefaces; my goal is not to divide but to unite, in the Holy Spirit and to do so with peace and love. But, to do so, means I have to ask you to put aside some of your preconceived notions; some of your agreements with very charismatic and likeable “teachers” and ask you to consider the WHOLE counsel of God and not just the bits and pieces that are used to make up an argument. I’ve got you interested, haven’t I?
Well, I have to ask you this question also; what is more important to you, eternity or the here and now? I know it might not seem like a fair question, but please keep it in mind.
We live and have lived in an age where everything we get is fast; fast food, fast transportation, fast news, fast information and sadly that has translated to “fast teaching” of the Word of God also. Too many people just claim they don’t have the time to really study or even read the Word of God, so —-; what’s wrong with having it spoon fed by people that the masses seem to agree with and who use the Word of God, seemingly expertly to defend their ideas and positions?
The fact of the matter is as you so often read at this blog and others like it, it’s that the Word of God is meant to develop relationship, relationship with its Author and Creator, our Heavenly Father through the Son, Christ Jesus and empowered by the Holy Spirit. You can’t have relationship without time and effort on an individual basis. I can pray for you, try to encourage and uplift you, and try to teach you the true meaning of the Scriptures, but I CAN’T give you the relationship with the Living Word of God that our Heavenly Father desires with you.
To start you off and to back up what I mean and intend to follow through with, I want to give you this Scripture that has literally changed my way of life concerning what I read and hear concerning the Word of God:
Acts 17:10-12, “Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men.”
The Apostle Luke wrote in essence that the Bereans were more noble (KJV) than others in Thessalonica, not because they searched the Scriptures to “find fault” with Silas and Paul, but to make sure that what they were hearing was according to Scriptures! Because of that many believed, not just the plan of Salvation but our Father’s plan for mankind as well!
WHERE ARE MY BEREANS TODAY?
I can almost hear the Father cry this question today? Where are those who will check for themselves that what they read and hear is actually coming from what I wrote to my creation?! This Scripture in Acts 17 changed the way I looked at my responsibility concerning what I choose to walk in AND believe.
What I want to share with you, how to look at certain “religious fads” of today does not reflect on a person’s salvation or redemption; BUT it can reflect on how much hurt can be dealt from those that believe this with all their heart and are critical and condemning of those that don’t; and THAT dear brothers and sisters is NOT unconditional love, but selfishness from an abundance of ego!
We do not have the right to trample under another’s faith or lack of believing in something if we truly are more mature in the Word. In fact, just the opposite is so for we are NOT to engage in something that will cause a brother or sister to stumble, at least, knowingly!
I bring this up as it has been on my heart and mind the last few sleepless nights because I believe the Holy Spirit wants His people to at least study and make up their own minds with His guidance. People who believe what I am about to expound on are for the most part, well-meaning and desire no harm but only good to come from it. The problem is like with most things, the principle or “idea” has not been thought through to its ultimate conclusion. We can approach this just as the Apostle Paul did to the Athenians at the Temple when speaking about the “nameless god” he said, “Let us reason together.” Paul knew the Athenian people were very scholarly and intellectual and he chose to use that very trait to convince them.
I have had a lot of brothers and sisters ask me about my health condition. Please don’t shy away from that for this is not the subject of my article, for many truly are concerned. But some ask, because in the back of their minds, they are wondering where my FAITH is if I am having so many problems and at times it keeps me from accomplishing the tasks of the Lord. You see, for almost three decades now a teaching on healing has been pervasive in our churches and in much of our fellowship.
The statement that, “God WANTS you healthy,” seems benign and well-meaning in and of itself. Of course a loving Father would want us to be healthy! “But wait,” goes the reply, “you don’t get it, your health has been bought and paid for on the Cross of Christ.” Oh, now I get it, I don’t have to be sick, to suffer ill or misfortune, accidents that cause breaks, heart attacks, cancer, etc., etc., and how far do you want me to continue?
Isaiah 53:2-3, “For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, And as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; And when we see Him, There is no beauty that we should desire Him. He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.”
Isaiah 53:4-6, “Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”
Verse 5 is the most relied upon Scripture, among some others to show AND prove that we were already HEALED at the Cross! But I want to show you something and then consider the WHOLE counsel of the Word. In essence this is a true statement; no argument there, but are we discussing “apples or oranges?” You see, that is a problem that many stumble over when trying to “persuade” others to believe their ideas.
What is Isaiah saying that the Messiah will come to do? In the first two verses he shows us how He will grow and become the man that will be Messiah. Just an “average Joe” as it were, not particularly striking in a way that would make others stand up and take notice. He’s acquainted with grief and man doesn’t truly acknowledge Him in any way, THEN He takes the mission of Messiah to mankind as a whole. He’s borne our griefs and sorrows, (the emotions, those things that tear at the soul of man = spiritual), He was wounded for our transgressions, (battered and beaten for our sinfulness and disobedience = spiritual), the chastisement for OUR peace was upon Him, (the punishment or discipline for our peace, a fruit of the Spirit = spiritual), And by His stripes we are healed, (by His stripes we are healed = flesh??) What did Jesus come to heal? Our flesh? The carnal nature that through Adam was forever to be enmity towards God? Or along with the other Spiritual gifts, maybe He came to heal the rift that separated us from God, our Father, the ULTIMATE death? You don’t expound on all the spiritual gains and at the last one decide it is a gain of the flesh! That is like what I stated above, comparing, “apples to oranges!” It is not logical, it is not right translation, and it does not fit in the context of what Isaiah is saying the Messiah, our Redeemer came to accomplish!
The writer of Hebrews reminded us of this in Hebrews 9:26-28, “He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.”
So then man will have to die in the flesh! But wait, isn’t death of the flesh just a “disease” a decaying of the flesh? If that IS the case then with enough faith and believing that we are HEALED in the flesh, we shouldn’t have to die in the flesh at all? This is what I mean by carrying a thought out to its ultimate conclusion. If it’s true in part, according to Scripture, it has to be true in all!
Oh but, brother Roland, I have you on this one, James 5:15-16, “And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”
Wow! Yes, you might have gotten me there, but — let’s also look at the examples of Jesus when He prayed the prayer of faith for someone sick; “But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, He answered and said to them, “Why are you reasoning in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise up and walk’? “But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins” –He said to the man who was paralyzed, “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” – Luke 5:22-24, Matthew 9:4-6, Mark 2:7-11.
What is James talking about here? His whole discourse has been about faith in association with works. Jesus made it clear to those questioning that the more important matter was the soul first, the person’s ETERNAL condition but that his physical situation wasn’t less important; and you cannot separate verse 16 from verse 15. James is dealing with interpersonal relationships, the importance of being true with one another. Another way the section in verse 16 can be stated, in context with the rest of Scripture is this, “and pray for one another, that you may be whole.” This is encompassing the very thing that Jesus was teaching when He prayed for the sick paralytic. Those around this man, were doing what so many do today, they were condemning his condition on sin and they had no inner knowledge of his heart and that is why Jesus chose to pray for the man as He did. He could have just said, “arise and walk.” But Jesus was addressing the heart attitudes of the onlookers who were blaming sin for the man’s condition. Ultimately, bad health IS a result of SIN; but it is the result of INHERANT sin and not (necessarily) immediate sin. Jesus though is showing us, we need to be concerned with one another’s eternal position and not so much our here and now, natural position.
The true sign of a loving, caring fellowship of believers is their care for the eternal well-being of one another, unconditionally (which means sin doesn’t bar us from loving one another) and second to that, our natural situation to the point that we might be of service to one another. It is NOT my having to point out your sin or the consequences for walking in that sin. That is just what it sounds like, condemnation and judging (sentencing) and it has no place in the hearts of true servants of the Kingdom of God.
Paul is one of the greatest writers of the Bible concerning faith and our walking in it. Yet Paul, with all of his adventures and places of wanderings was not immune from sickness and infirmities. More than once in closing his letters, he would tell those he was writing too, to pray for his health, or to have so and so bring my tunic on his next trip to me for the cold has affected me.
So it was Paul also, who wrote one of the best exhortations on why we are afflicted at times and some of us to the rest of our lives. 2 Corinthians 12:6-10, “For though I might desire to boast, I will not be a fool; for I will speak the truth. But I refrain, lest anyone should think of me above what he sees me to be or hears from me. And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Preaching, teaching, exhorting, and basically any type of speak involving the Word of God is a very, very serious calling. We are told more than once that we will be responsible for what comes out of our mouths. Now I am thankfully, very thankful that we have a Holy Spirit guiding us, leading us and guarding over us with the ability to anoint, or to cause to put aside those things we speak on His behalf. But we also need to realize that because we are at war with the flesh, when we attempt and practice walking in the Spirit, there WILL be consequences. But the Bible also tells us that it “rains and shines on the just and unjust” equally. Sickness, illness and accidents are a part of life. They can destroy us, or we can use them to make us stronger. Why would anyone out of love want to cast doubt on another’s faith or create division within the Body of Christ? There is only one, who is an enemy of our souls, who wishes that to be. Let’s be careful, and vigilant that we don’t fall into the “easy” way of living our life.
If you are one who has never been sick, never had an accident involving bodily harm, or mental anguish, or suffered a grief that has been hard to recover from, if you have never had to wear glasses or contacts, dentures or hearing aids, then count your blessings for you have been not only blessed but gifted. Don’t use, however those blessings to make others feel you are better or have all the answers to God’s mysteries.
I have taught on this subject before in greater length on my website years ago and truth be told, I could probably write a book about the pros and cons of the healing question. I have had to deal with the hurtful consequences as well when a sister couldn’t understand why God wouldn’t answer her prayer for an ill brother. In closing, I want to ask you to consider something; have you ever wondered why we don’t see miraculous healings to the extent we read about them in the Bible?
I for one believe that the gifts of the Spirit are alive and well today and not just something that happened to initiate the Church in the beginning after Christ arose. I believe that miraculous healings still take place. But you have to ask yourself why were the gifts and miracles performed to begin with. Why does it seem you hear about miracles in under-developed countries more so than in places where “religion” flourishes like the United States and the U.K. and other developed countries? Do you think maybe we have developed an apathetic view of the spiritual, or maybe the examples we speak of haven’t been lived in the sight of others?
The fact remains that God does not change, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines. For it is good that the heart be established by grace, not with foods which have not profited those who have been occupied with them.” – Hebrews 13:8-9.
As the Apostle Paul continually teaches, “His, God’s Grace is sufficient, for when I am weak THEN He is strong in my weakness!” Grace places a larger part in living our lives day by day than many realize, unless you are one of the fortunate few, who despite your weaknesses, our Heavenly Father has called you to perform services in word and/or deed for others!
Some of you, my brothers and sisters have emailed me and asked about my health situation. I will get back with each of you who have asked, just be patient. I am not ashamed or afraid to confront the pain, I just continue to covet and cherish your prayers, and especially where the pain is concerned.
God bless you all, in the Name of our Redeemer and Lord, Christ Jesus! – Pastor Roland Ledoux