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Monday, May 20, 2013

Does Faith Heal Us?

Bible, faith, healling
Sue called our Bible study members to tell us her son had chickenpox and warn us that our children had been exposed in the nursery.* 

One lady’s response surprised Sue: 
"My children don’t get chicken pox because ‘By His stripes we are healed.’ Our words bring health or sickness." 

Was this woman correct?

It's true that Christ defeated disease, pain, sorrow, and Satan in the spiritual realm, but Christ's final victory will not be fully realized until His return (1 Corinthians 15:20-28; Hebrews 2:5-9). 

Sometimes God heals us physically here on earth, sometimes not. Sometimes we can identify reasons for sickness and lack of healing, sometimes not.

But whether we are sick or well, we can experience God's peace:

“In me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
*The Chicken Pox vaccine wasn’t licensed in the U.S. until 1995, and this situation took place in 1980.  

Bible Study:

When I became a new Christian, I thought perhaps God did heal everyone with faith. But as I studied the Bible and observed godly Christians, I realized there were too many questions and contradictions:
Questions without Biblical answers:
  • If sin or unbelief cause sickness, why are children born with birth defects? Are they being punished for their parents' sins and/or unbelief?  
  • Why are unbelievers healed when they have no faith? 
  • What about diseases or injuries that leave the person without the mental clarity to believe God for their healing?
Some claim that everyone should be healed because, during His earthly ministry, Jesus healed everyone except those who lacked faith.
It's true that Jesus healed everyone, many of them unbelievers (Luke 17:11-19; John 12:37), but sometimes unbelief kept Him from performing miracles (Matthew 13:58).  But Jesus is God, and we aren't. Nowhere in Scripture are we assured that all believers can be healed, nor are we assured we will always be able to feed thousands of people with a child's lunch, walk on water, or rise physically from the grave....See Romans 8:18-25 below.

John 14:12 says we will do greater things than Jesus, but this means in scope, not quality or power.  Think about it: Jesus saved us from our sins. No one can do anything greater than that.  Nor has anyone performed a greater miracle than Christ performed on earth (i.e. raising someone from the dead), but believers since the time of Christ have done more miracles and seen more conversions than during Christ's earthly ministry.

Consider these passages when studying healing:

  • Romans 8:18-25: I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
  • Hebrews 2:5-9:  God has not placed the angels as rulers over the new world to come—the world of which we speak. 6 Instead, as it is said somewhere in the Scriptures: “What are human beings, O God, that you should think of them; mere human beings, that you should care for them? 7 You made them for a little while lower than the angels; you crowned them with glory and honor, 8 and made them rulers over all things.” It says that God made them “rulers over all things”; this clearly includes everything. We do not, however, see human beings ruling over all things now. 9 But we do see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, so that through God's grace he should die for everyone. We see him now crowned with glory and honor because of the death he suffered.
  • In Philippians 2:19-23  Paul says there is "no one else like" Timothy because he "proved himself" in his work for the Gospel. Yet Paul speaks these words to Timothy (without condemnation or correction) in 1 Timothy 5:23: Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.
  • Galatians 4:13-14 is another passage where Paul mentions illness without any reference to sin or lack of faith. Paul was a teacher, an Apostle, a man who boldly addressed sin. But this passage actually praises the Galatians for treating him "as if he were Christ Jesus himself" despite his illness: "As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you, 14 and even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn. Instead, you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as if I were Christ Jesus himself." 
  • Philippians 2:25-30 is another passage where Paul mentions illness without anything but praise of the one who was ill. And he does not connect the illness or healing with faith, only with God's mercy. Paul was not a perfect human being, but his Words in Scripture are divinely inspired. I don't believe the Holy Spirit would side-step so important an issue in these passages if sickness was always related to our faith: "But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, co-worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. 26 For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. 27 Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. 28 Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety. 29 So then, welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor people like him, 30 because he almost died for the work of Christ. He risked his life to make up for the help you yourselves could not give me.
  •  Again in 2 Timothy 4:20, Paul says, "I left Trophimus sick in Miletus" with no mention of unbelief or sin.
  • In Luke 17:11-19  Christ heals 10 men, but 9 of them had no genuine faith, no genuine belief, not even gratitude for Christ: "Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance 13 and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” 14 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. 15 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.  17 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well. 
  •  2 Corinthians 12:6-9  explains that Paul suffered with some type of "thorn in his flesh" which most Bible scholars believe was an illness: Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, 7 or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
  • Some believe Paul's thorn was the illness described in Galatians 4:15. 

Please read my insights on this lesson HERE. I enjoy interacting with my readers and love hearing what you've learned from God's Word each week. I know this is a "hot topic" for many Christians, and I'm fine having you leave comments that disagree with what I've written. All I ask is that they be gracious as if you are speaking to a sister, not an enemy. Thanks! Gail

Check out videos on Joni and Friends for more insights into this subject. and this 1-Minute Bible Love Note is also about Joni: Wheelchair Miracle

copyright 2013, Gail Burton Purath, BiteSizeBibleStudy.com 
All Scripture NIV unless otherwise noted 

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