Thursday, July 17, 2014

Healing of sickness in the Atonement

Preamble: This is the sermon (notes) for my sermon at a Divine Healing Service, for 19 Jul 2014 (It flows like an article, and so, you should have no problem reading it through) [the underscorings are only to assist in my sermon delivery; the gray-shaded portion NOT shared in the sermon].

What is the Atonement?
Is Healing of sickness in the Atonement?
If so, what does it mean or how does it flow out to us?

What is the Atonement?
Very briefly, the atonement in our faith refers to being made “at-one-ment” with God or being “at one”, in harmony, with God.  Jesus is the means and only means to our atonement or reconciliation to God; and so, we say Jesus is the atonement or is our atonement. 

It is through the saving works God did through Jesus Christ that reconciles us to Himself.  The saving works of Christ Jesus included His suffering and crucifixion, and His resurrection; the central portion being His (Jesus’) sacrificing Himself, to suffer and die crucified; and the one undeniable virtue or benefit from Jesus’ sacrifice is that He provided for us, spiritual healing or the forgiveness of our sins and the attendant cleansing. 

The question is other than spiritual healing, is the healing of sickness or physical healing in the Atonement?

Is Healing of sickness in the atonement?
The direct and short answer to the question is always a yes.  What is the core supporting scripture for saying so?

It is this:  Isaiah 53:4-5.

Isaiah 53:4-5 (KJV) - 4 Surely he hath borne our griefs {H2483 – choliy, meaning sicknesses}, and carried our sorrows {H4341 - mak'ob, meaning physical and mental/emotional pain and sorrows}: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded {defiled or wounded} for our transgressions, he was bruised {crushed} for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed {H7495 - rapha', meaning healed}.

In this prophecy, God revealed through Isaiah that the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, He would come doing a number of things, and included in that, was that He would be bearing, carrying, be wounded and be punished/chastised for sicknesses, sorrows, transgressions, and iniquities of men, to bring about reconciliation with God and healing for men. 

The sickness healing can be seen from the relevant Hebrew words used in the prophecy above.  The Hebrew word, H2483 – choliy, used for “griefs”, means sicknesses.  The “sorrows” was translated from the Hebrew word, H4341 - mak'ob, meaning physical and mental/emotional pain and sorrows; this is sickness of the emotional kind, like depression, etc.  Jesus suffered and was crucified (atoning works) to make available to us, healing from sicknesses.  We say, healing of sickness is provided for, in the atonement.

[The gray-shaded portion below, you can skip over it, if you want – they are secondary to the main issue]
The “he” or “suffering servant” in Isaiah 53 was referring to the Messiah Jesus Christ, although Jews still steep in Judaism, may believe that the “suffering servant” here was the nation of Israel, NOT the Messiah.  It is only when we take the “suffering servant” as the Messiah that we can see that Isaiah 53 was talking about the suffering around and at the crucifixion, and so, Isaiah 53:4-5 was about the atonement.  For example, we read this of Isaiah 53:8 (KJV) – “He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. 

The strongest ground that we believe Isaiah 53 was a prophecy about the Messiah; in fact, about the suffering and death of Jesus, is that it was so regarded by His disciples apostles like Matthew and Peter.  We can see it from passages like Matthew 8:16-17 and 1 Pet 2:24.

NOT necessary to argue from Matthew 8:16-17
It is very clear that Isaiah 53:4-5 revealed to us that sicknesses healing is in the atonement works; there is no need to bring in Matthew 8:16-17 to argue that sicknesses were covered in Isaiah 53:4, as is done by some preachers, for as discussed above concerning the relevant Hebrew words, it is already clear that sickness healing was provided for, in the atonement.

Matthew 8:16b,17 (KJV) - 16 When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick: 17 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.”

Matthew 8:16-17 merely added strength in the sense that it made clear sicknesses and infirmities were covered in Isaiah 53:4, which we have seen, are already apparent from the relevant Hebrew words used. 

There is still one more reason that one can be wanting to bring Matthew into the picture:  it is to show that the apostle disciples such as Matthew (also Peter), their understanding was that Isaiah 53 was about the Messiah, Jesus, Christ, and NOT what the Jews still steep in Judaism believed, the nation of Israel (Isaiah 41:8 – Israel; Isaiah 52:13 – my servant).

When the argument is solely on Matthew 8:16-17, the counter-argument by some, is that Matthew was affirming Jesus’ earthly ministry as being backed up by Isaiah’s prophecy that Jesus would take our infirmities and bear our sicknesses; in other words, the Matthew passage was NOT talking about atonement.  If one emphasises the Matthew passage, and subjugate Isaiah 53:4 under it, one could even say, the healing of sicknesses referred to, in Isaiah 53:4, was to be played out in the ministry of Jesus when He lived and moved on earth, NOT at His last sufferings and death by crucifixion.  Isaiah 53:4 should be interpreted within its own context, and Isaiah 53:4-5 is about the atonement works.

1 Pet 2:24 too is NOT necessary

What about 1 Pet 2:24; sometimes, it gets quoted in support?

Because the last bit of 1 Pet 2:24 referred to Isaiah 53:5, at times, it is also quoted to support the view that healing of sickness is in the atonement.  The relevant phrase in 1 Pet 2:24 is this: “by whose stripes [or wounds] ye were healed”.  In all fairness, the context of 1 Peter 2 has nothing on sicknesses or about sickness healing except reference to sins and sinning and that we have received grace and mercy, to bear suffering for good, with Jesus having shown us the example.

1 Pet 2:24 (KJV) - "Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed."

Really, we do NOT need to insist 1 Pet 2:24 pointed to sickness healing to support that sickness healing is in the atonement.  I believe the last bit of 1 Pet 2:24 of “by whose stripes ye were healed” was included to more completely quote Isaiah 53:5  (In my view, the healing virtue covered in this last bit of “by whose stripes ye were healed” did include spiritual healing, even as it was covering healing of sickness).

There is confusion as to what part Matthews 8:16-17 and 1 Pet 2:24 play in the whole issue of sicknesses healing in the atonement.  If you are including these 2 sets of passages; they are to serve these:

1.      Both Matthew 8:16-17 & 1 Pet 2:24 support there was the apostle disciples’, Matthew’s and Peter’s, agreement that Isaiah 53 was about the Messiah, Jesus Christ, and that Isaiah53:4-5 was about the atonement.

2.      Matthew 8:16-17 additionally supported that sicknesses were referred to, in Isaiah 53:4 (Matt 8:17 used “infirmities” and “sicknesses”) [The Hebrew word used in Isaiah 53:4, H2483 – choliy, already meant sicknesses].

As a side, how does one handle the “by whose stripes ye WERE healed” of 1 Pet 2:24, and the corresponding phrase of “and with his stripes we ARE healed” of Isaiah 53:5? 

Also, is the “last portion”, “the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed”, referring to Isaiah 53:4, referencing sicknesses healing, or the front part of Isaiah 53:5, referencing spiritual healing?

For the first question, this is how I believe it should be handled:  the “and with his stripes we ARE healed” was part of a prophecy; NOT only that, was projecting forward from a prophecy event, and so, it did NOT use past tense; it meant to say, at the time when the event, that Jesus suffered and crucified, would occur, “healing virtue is provided for”; and   healing to take place subsequent to that.  Whereas when the Apostle Peter made reference to the prophecy, the event of the prophecy had already happened; and so, he used the past tense to say that the healing virtue was provided for (at the past event).  The healing virtue or benefit or even “credit” was provided for, already, but it is being applied from time to time.  When a person (a believer) is now healed, we say “he IS healed”, but the healing benefit or credit WAS from the atonement.

For the second question, my understanding is this: We have to understand that originally there are no chapter and verse numbering for the scriptures, and they were written in Hebrew.  The Hebrew language, the ancient one, in written form, differed so significantly from our English language, in such thing as absence of vowels, and absolute articles, and so on, that often enough, although Bible scholars numbered the verses, some verses still ending up as composite sentence, often with various punctuation marks like “;” and “:”, multiple ones, even, in the composite sentence, like that of this Isaiah 53:4-5.  

You can see it (a composite) in this KJV of Isaiah 53:4-5 - 4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 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.

My revelatory understanding is that the “last portion”, “the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed”, was meant to elaborate on both the things said in verse 4 & 5.  There would be an event where the punishment to wrought back our peace with God would take place, and it would be that, the punishment would be upon Him, Jesus.  Because it was a singular event expected to take place, “WAS” was used as in “the chastisement of our peace WAS upon him”. Jesus WAS punished for our reconciliation with God.  This has to do with forgiveness of our sins and so, spiritual healing, and so, it connected back to the things said in v5 (the earlier portion of v5). 

Now, as to whether “and with his stripes we are healed” was connecting back to v4, about sicknesses healing, my answer is yes; but because Jesus was also with the stripes or wounds and was even inflicted more wounds (stripes were even believed to be indistinguishable), the healing from the wounds, with His blood flowing from them, I am inclined to consider the healing virtue from it, covered both healing for sicknesses as well as for our sinfulness.  The whole of Jesus’ injuries and suffering culminating in His death crucified counted to wrought us healing virtue, which when all fully consummated wrought us full and complete redemption of us, in all 3 components of Man - body, soul and spirit.

How does sickness healing in the atonement flow out to us?
We have, in the above, established that sickness healing is in the atonement (in Isaiah 53:4-5), but how does it flow out to us? 

Not having correct understanding on how it is to apply to us or flow out to us, can confuse us, even can cause some of us to accuse God of NOT being faithful or NOT honouring His own words.  Lack of understanding can cause some to be frustrated, even to leave the faith.

Before I give what I believe is the appropriate view, let me let us know one extreme of the extreme view that causes much damage!  What is this view?

It is this:  First, it says that sickness healing is in the atonement; this is NOT wrong, as we have seen; it is correct – sickness healing is in the atonement.  It is how it is expected to apply to us, that is the issue.  In this extreme of extreme view, it is said that it is applied in the same way as the extreme of extreme view of how forgiveness of sins (spiritual healing) is applied to us.

What is this extreme of extreme view of how spiritual healing is applied to us? 

It is this:  It says all our sins, including the FUTURE ones were forgiven us AT OUR MOMENT of entry into salvation.  This is the core theology of the hyper-grace or overly grace brethren, and is also the core theology of the OSAS believers (once saved, always saved believers). 

For those who believe in this, likewise, they consider all the sicknesses of us, including the FUTURE ones were healed of us AT OUR MOMENT of entry into salvation, and so, it follows from there, that whatever sicknesses that a believer is experiencing is NOT real, but lying or fabricated symptoms of sicknesses put in us, by Satan.  It follows from here that if you are NOT well, it is because you have NOT have faith in this extreme of extreme truth (or purported truth)!

It is my understanding and same of many mainline churches that this extreme of extreme view is INCORRECT.  

The spiritual healing in the atonement does NOT flow out the way it is said to flow out – that your future sins were forgiven you at the moment of your entry into salvation, so much so, there is no more forgiveness to be sought in your walk as a believer.  This is contrary to 1 John 1:9 and various other scriptures, including the Lord’s Prayer. 

The sickness healing (as separate from spiritual healing) also does NOT flow out to us, as suggested – that all sicknesses including FUTURE ones were already healed by God at our moment of entry into salvation. 

NOT only it is possible for you to fall sick, really sick (real, NOT apparent) subsequent to your entry into salvation, it is even NOT necessary that at entry into salvation, the person with sickness is healed of his sickness. 

Real life is with people entering into salvation, but are NOT healed of their sicknesses.  For example, a crippled man can enter into salvation, but still remains a cripple; or a person with diabetic sickness is still with the sickness after giving his life to Jesus.

For spiritual healing, one can argue one cannot see it, but for sicknesses, we can tell, if one is sick or NOT.  We are to operate in faith, but we should NOT be self-deluding.  There is a difference between the two.

You may say, “Bro Anthony, I thought you said sickness healing is in the Atonement.  When it is in the Atonement it is ever-flowing, is it NOT?”

Let me explain, and also give us the appropriate perspective of how sickness healing can flow out to us.

Yes, what is of the Atonement is ever-flowing. Spiritual healing or forgiveness of sins is of the Atonement, and it is ever-flowing.  Jesus’ atoning works also made available sickness healing; and this sickness healing is also ever-flowing. 

If you look at the overall counsel of the Word, you will also agree with me that on a general basis, grace, mercy and much blessing are also made available in the atoning works of Jesus; and they are also ever-flowing.

Benefits or virtues from the Atonement are ever-flowing. There are 2 possible angles to this “ever-flowing”, and I will try to explain it; first, looking at spiritual healing, and then physical healing: 

On spiritual healing - one, lots of people before us, they have availed themselves to the spiritual healing or forgiveness of sins at their salvation entry; we have, too, and we can expect the same spiritual healing to be still available for the future generations; in that sense, it is ever-flowing. 

But it must be clear that, it is ever-flowing as applicable to those who enter into salvation, NOT to those who are NOT (entering).  In other words, it is ever-flowing in that it is always happened at every entry into salvation, in the past, present or in the future.  

Two, ever-flowing is also in terms of “it is still there”.  What do I mean by that?  It is like there is an ever-flowing stream of water for washing (created by Jesus).  You were dirty, you went to wash yourself, and you came off, clean.  Then, you walked around in the dust or mud, and dirtied yourself.  The stream is still there; you can go to the same stream of water and have yourself cleansed again.

Spiritual healing flows to us like that - we got forgiveness of our sins at our entry into salvation (at every entry into salvation, there is spiritual healing); and when we subsequently sin, we can again be forgiven; in this metaphor, you get back to the stream.  In Scripture, the Apostle John used the metaphor of light, in which case, he said that you have to get back into the light, and you will be “cleansed” of your sins (1 John 1:5-7). 

The Apostle John also, in 1 John 1:9, told us that God is just and faithful, and so, onus is straight-forward - we need to turn back into the stream or the light.  What it requires is that you repent and confess.

Now, we consider the case of sickness healing in the Atonement; is it operative in the same manner? 

It is ever-flowing in that “it is still there”.  In the Atonement works, Jesus made available this sickness healing benefit or virtue; it was there when Jesus completed the works more than 2,000 years ago; and it is still there (available), this benefit or virtue. 

Just as the spiritual healing is for spiritual redemption of Man, sickness healing or bodily healing is for bodily redemption of Man (The Redemptive works of Jesus are of 3 folds, on the body, soul and spirit of Man; so, there is also the redemption of the soul of Man, which I am NOT covering here).

Now, the way the bodily healing, separate from spiritual healing, flows out, is a little different, from the spiritual healing; and has been elaborated on, by the Apostle Paul, in Scripture (1 Cor 15:35,42). 

What is the relevant understanding, we are to know?  It is that FULL redemption of the body (of Man) is NOT had in this life or in our mortal/physical life.  Scripture tells us that it is after this life that we will receive an incorruptible body; it is only after death, that we will get this incorruptible body (or when Jesus comes back again and you get raptured/resurrected).  Is the sickness healing virtue or benefit, still there or always there?  Yes, but the consummation of it, is NOT now, but after-life. 

If we cannot get FULL, can we get “partial, of the benefit or virtue”, meanwhile? Yes, you can get healing, but you and I cannot get the end-point healing, now. 

Also, we have to know that the “God-factor” features more strongly than the “man-factor”.  What do I mean by this?

In on-going spiritual healing, the pattern is more of the reverse order – you repent and confess; God is faithful and just to forgive you or heal you spiritually; the onus is more, on you – the man-factor.  For bodily healing, until the time of the end-point healing, with an incorruptible body, the “God-factor” features more strongly.  What do I mean by the “God-factor” here?

It is referring to the “God’s discretion factor”.  So, in the case of sickness healing, it is more of God can and does heal, than God must heal.  There is the God’s discretion featuring more strongly here, than in spiritual healing.

If I may contrast the spiritual healing and the bodily healing, the spiritual healing is of the nature of “one ‘big-bang’ (at salvation entry), and then, we go on ‘maintenance mode’” whereas the bodily healing takes more of a “’maintenance mode’, to be followed by a ‘big-bang’ (taking on of incorruptible body)”.   Is there any support of such “one big-bang and maintenance mode” analogy or metaphor? 

Yes, Jesus, in the Last Supper, in His “administration of the washing of the feet” of the disciples, said of the body being clean, and then, subsequently, the feet needing cleaning/washing, from contact with the dirt. 

For the disciples then, the metaphorical body-cleaning (body-cleaning used as a metaphor for spiritual healing) was done through the receiving in of the teaching of Jesus, but for us, it (spiritual healing) happens when we enter into salvation.  How do we get our “feet cleaned/washed” (metaphorical to spiritual healing subsequent to salvation entry)?  Through acting according to 1 John 1:9 – repent and confess our sins to God, and He is just and faithful to forgive us and cleanse us of all unrighteousness.

I recap:  For spiritual healing: one big-bang, and then we are in maintenance mode; we go back to God for forgiveness from time to time. For bodily healing: maintenance mode, and then finally a one big-bang, which is the incorruptible body, after-life.

There are people who say that full consummation of all the virtues or benefits of atonement is completed on our entry into salvation.  This is incorrect; there is the bringing to completion, referred to, in Scripture.   The overall counsel of the Word points to that; examples included: Phil 1:6 – “….that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”  Rom 12:2 – [we need to] “be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”  It is NOT instantly your mind is renewed; if it were, there was no need of Paul to exhort.

Still the question to ask: how readily will God heal us of our sickness as we live, that it is He can and does heal and NOT He MUST heal?  How readily?

Readily enough, that we should ask of Him to do so (heal us).  Why do I say that?  Because:

1.   It was in the atonement.  We cannot have the end-point healing of incorruptible body given us, now, but we can expect some healing along the way, in our so-called maintenance mode.

2.   James 5:14 has it that those who are sick, they are encouraged to go to the elders to pray for their healing.  It implies God’s readiness to heal us of our sicknesses.

3.   The attributes of God included love, and therefore, too, grace, mercy and compassion.  From the nature of God, we can expect healing, some healing. 

Can healing of sickness be coming apart from the atonement?  It can. Non-believers have also been healed by God.  Because they are NOT believers, NOT having entered into salvation, they are NOT receiving their healing from the atonement; they are healed, often from the love of God, the mercy, grace and compassion of God.

4.   God can even be healing to glorify Himself (John 9:3 – blind man; John 11:4 – Lazarus’ sickness and resurrection).

5.   God, through the Great Commission given (Mark 16:15-18), said as signs and wonders and miracles following the Word, there can be expected demons be cast out of people and sick be healed.

6.   God is willing to heal.

a.   Jesus, during earthly ministry demonstrated his willingness, and so, too, the Father God’s willingness to heal.  For example, the “are you willing leprous man” (Matt 8:2-3).

Another example, the demonised daughter of a Gentile woman healed (Matt 15:22-28).

Jesus actually spent a lot of His time, ministering and healing the sick; you can see it if you study the Bible.

b.   There is also the gift of healing in 1 Cor 12:9. God does gift some believers with an auction, authority and power to heal people of sicknesses.  Although it is NOT that these people could heal of their own, but they do have varying delegated sanctions from God, to work for Him, in this works or ministry. This does show that God has a willingness to heal.

c.    Healing is in one of His names – Jehovah Rapha – “God who heals thee” (Ex 15:26).  God would NOT have revealed Himself in that name, would He, if He does NOT wish to heal at all?!

7.   Some even got healed from the Holy Communion Sacrament; from taking of the elements with correct posture.

[Drawing to a close ….]

So, today be encouraged that sickness healing was provided for, in the atonement, and that God can and does heal.  Get yourself healed of sicknesses; there are means to that, and it included divinely by God, in addition to, through medical sciences.

You are holding fast to the teachings of God, and living in accordance to them (abiding in His Word), when you want to get well, including to be divinely healed by God, of your sicknesses, apart from spiritual healing or forgiveness of your sins.  It is the right thing to do. 

I tell people, “Do what you are supposed to do, and then let God be God (He knows, and knows best, what He is to do, or NOT do)”.  Whether one gets healed or NOT, of his sickness, and his salvation state (spiritual healing) are separate matters (it is NOT, for example, “you are NOT saved, if you are NOT healed [of your sickness]”).

So, rather, just go/come in faith for healing prayers (as suggested in James 5:14).

Anthony Chia, high.expressions

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