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    93
    Healing for a Price

    Understanding Sickness
    by Steve Chan

    Preface

    This is one of the best teachings on sickness and healing that I have ever seen published giving the whole Biblical counsel on the subject.


    Part I -- The Cause: Who makes you sick?

    "Why are Christians sick?" There are several possibilities to answer this question.

    1. Sickness could be part of God's plan.

    In John 9, Jesus cured a man who was born blind. "'Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind?' Jesus answered, 'It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was in order that the works of God might be displayed in him.'" Jesus clearly teaches that sickness was not always caused by the sins of the afflicted person. Obviously, sickness sometimes has a purpose in the plan of God.

    2. Sickness could be punishment for sins.

    Most often, the four Gospels, do not tell us what causes the sickness that Jesus healed. However, sometimes sickness seems to be connected with sins. In Matthew 9:1-8, Jesus first told the paralytic, "Your sins are forgiven" and then "get up and walk." In John 5:1-17, He healed the man lying by the pool and later He warned him, "Behold, you have become well; do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse may be fall you." In these two incidents, Jesus healing's involved a healing from sin as well as from sickness.

    In the age of Mosaic Law, sickness was a chastenment for sins. In Number 12, Miriam got leprosy because of disobedience to the Lord. In Deuteronomy 28:20-22, God warned the Israelites that He would smite them with pestilence if they sinned in disobedience. In 2 King 5, Gehaze, the servant of Elite, got leprosy because of his greed.

    James 5:15 clearly indicates that sin can cause sickness even though we Christians are not under the Mosaic Law today.

    3. Sickness could be from Satan.

    Some diseases originated from Satan. In Luke 13, Jesus cured a woman who had a disease like arthritis, because she could not stand straight. Jesus said it was Satan who bound her physical body for 18 years.

    I was reading after a supposedly faith healer, who claimed all the sickness Jesus healed came from Satan. I do not believe what he claimed was true. If you study the healings that Jesus did, the Gospels clearly specific the people who were demon-possessed or oppressed by the Devil, and those who were just ill without any reference to demons.

    4. Sickness often brought by no self-restraint.

    Sometimes it is neither sins nor Satan who make you sick, but rather it is you who make yourself sick. Eating junk food, staying up late at night to watch the late-late-late show on TV, or drinking 180 gallons of beer in one day (approx. the same amount of water that Jesus turned into wine) can result in bad health. I am sure that God wants us to adjust our bad habits to live a natural way of life. Therefore, we ought to take responsibility for preserving our health through proper nutrition, exercise, and rest, avoiding whatever we knew to be harmful to ourselves.

    Part II -- The Effect: How did Christ heal?

    If you study the healings Jesus did in His earthly ministry, you will observe the following 5 categories:

    I. His attitude

      1. Jesus healed all who asked to be healed.
      2. He never singled out a certain class of sick people while sending others away, but He healed them all.

    II. His healing methods

      1. Jesus healed with a word, a command, or a touch.
      2. He never used anointing oil, though His disciples did on occasion (see Mark 6:13, James 5:15.)

    III. His healing results

      1. His healing were instantaneous, not gradual.
      2. He healed the sick totally, not partially (i.e. He didn't heal one eye of a blind man while left his other eye blind, or healed only the pain of his leg while left the man cripple.)

    IV. The sickness He healed

      1. Jesus healed organic diseases (organic disease is one in which the organ is organically destroyed, maimed, or crippled.)
      2. Jesus raised the dead at least three times.

    V. The ways of the sick appealed to Him

      1. Some appealed to Him in faith but others did not.
      2. Some came to personally while others were represented by friends.

    Part III: Healings Done by Jesus Christ

    The table below is a harmony of the four Gospels on the healings that Jesus had done. After reading each passage, ask yourselves questions like: What was the purpose of this miracle? Was faith required from the sick? Did Jesus cure only those who asked for healing? What message did He want to get across to His disciples, or to the Pharisees, or to the people surrounded Him?

    An important reminder: You should not get hook up in the "spectacular" aspect of healing, but you ought to give close attention to the One who performed the miracle.

    Miracle                       Matt.       Mark        Luke        John	
    Royal official son healed                                         4:46-54
    Demoniac healed on Sabbath                1:21-28     4:31-37
    Peter's mother-in-law cured   8:14-17     1:29-34     4:38-41
    Leper healed                  8:2-4       1:40-45     5:12-16
    Paralytic healed              9:1-8       2:1-12      5:17-26
    Lame men healed                                                   5:1-17
    Withered hand                 12:9-14     3:1-6       6:6-11
    Multitudes healed             12:15-21    3:7-12      6:17-19
    Centurion's servant healed    8:5-13                  7:1-10
    Widow's son raised                        7:11-17
    Gadarene demoniac healed      8:28-34     5:1-20      8:26-39
    Jairus' daughter raised       9:18-26     5:21-43     8:40-56
    Woman with hemorrhage healed  9:20-62     5:24-34     8:43-48
    Two blind men restored        9:27-31
    Dumb demon possessed healed   9:32-34
    The sick by the shore healed  14:14
    The sick of Gennesaret healed 14:34-36    6:53-56
    Syrophoenecian healed         15:21-28    7:24-30
    Afflicted healed              15:29-31
    A dumb and deaf healed        7:31-37
    Blind man healed              8:22-26
    Epileptic healed              17:14-21    9:14-29     9:37-43
    Man born blind healed                                             9:1-34
    Crippled woman healed Sabbath                         13:10-17
    Man with dropsy healed                                14:1-6
    Lazarus resurrected                                               11:1-44
    Ten lepers healed             17:11-19
    Blind Bartimaeus healed                   10:46-52    18:35-43
    Soldier's ear healed          26:47-56    14:43-52    22:47-53    18:2-12
    

    Part IV: How Did the Apostles Heal?

    Jesus set a pattern for the use of the gift of healing. The first group to whom He gave the gift of healing was the twelve disciples (Luke 9:1-2). Later, He extended this gift to "seventy others" whom He sent out two by two to preach the Good News and to heal those who were sick (Luke 10:1, 8-9). Besides the disciples and the "seventy others" who had the ability to heal, Paul (Acts 14:8-10), Barnabas (15:12), Philip(8:7), and Stephen (6:8) were also given the gift of healing. However, the apostles were not always able to heal. In II Timothy 4:20, Paul himself had the gift of healing but he left his friend Trophimus sick at Miletus. In I Timothy 5:23, Paul apparently could not heal Timothy's stomach problem, except advising Timothy to take some medicinal wine. These incidents clearly indicate that healing was not manipulated as the apostles willed, but it was done according the will of God.

    Part V: Healings done by the Apostles

                                                                 Luke
    Jesus commissioned his twelve disciples to heal the sick     9:1-2,6
    Jesus appointed seventy others whom He sent out two by two 
     to preach the Gospel and to heal the sick                   10:1,8-9
                                                                 Acts
    Peter healed a lame man at the Beautiful Gate                3, 4:22
    The sick were all healed                                     5:12-16
    Stephen                                                      6:8
    Philip                                                       8:4-8
    Ananias                                                      9:1-19
    Peter healed Aeneas the paralytic                            9:32-35
    Peter raised Tabitha                                         9:36-43
    Paul healed a man who born lame                              14:8-18
    Barnabas                                                     15:12
    Paul cast out a demon from a slave girl                      16:16-23
    God performed extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul    19:11-20
    Paul resurrected a boy                                       20:7-12
    Paul healed all the sick on the Island Malta                 28:1-10
    

    Part VI: How does God Heal Today?

    There are three possible answers to this question.

    1. Healing Comes from God through prayers of faith.

    Prayers of Faith

    James knew God will heal the sick though prayers offered in faith.

    "Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." James 5:14-16 KJV

    What is the direction that James given to the sick? "Let him call for the elders of the church, and let the elders pray over him." Why should the "elders" be called?

    When you hear the word "elders," some of you properly think they are the older folks in the church. When James refers to the elders of the church, he does not mean the older folks. But whom does he refer to then?

    The terms "elders" and "bishops" are used interchangeably in the New Testament [Ed. These later diverged into two separate offices in the Sub-Apostolic Church]. These people were to be blameless in their lives and obedient to the truth in their faith (I Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:6-9). Their duties involved spiritual oversight of the congregation and teaching the word of God. Therefore, James indicates the elders whose faith was sure and firm can offer prayer in faith for healing.

    One might ask, "Couldn't the sick have prayed for himself? Couldn't his friends have prayed?" Yes, but it is not so easy for everyone to exercise the faith that obtains healing. That's why James points out that people whose faith was firm and sure should be called.

    Anointing with Oil

    Anointing oil is a tradition that the Jews used olive oil to rub upon the sick. The oil is not a remedy or magic potion that must use for healing. It is clear from verse 15 that it is not the oil that heals the sick man, but rather "the Lord shall raise him up." Clearly, the anointing with oil was a religious ceremony and not as a remedy.

    Being human, we feel the need of visible sign, appealing to our senses. The anointing with oil perhaps aids us to sustain our faith and enable us to grasp the spiritual meaning. Thus the anointing is symbolized as the action of the Spirit of God who gives the healing. We must not suppose that the healing is due to anointing with oil, but healing is from God and is of God. "The Lord shall raise him up" in answer to the prayer of faith.

    Confession of our Sins

    "And if he have committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed." (James 5:15,16 RSV) James points out sickness could be a consequence of sins. An essential condition that he gives us for recovery of our health is: We confess and forsake sins.

    CAUTION: We must not point our fingers to the sick person's nose and screamed at his ear, "You stupid fool, you're sick because you have sinned!" This is cruel and inhuman if we accuse directly that he is suffering from sickness because of his sins. Sickness is not always the result of the person's sins.

    2. Healing comes from God through the use of medical means.

    While the Bible teaches that God is a divine healer, there is also a great deal of evidence that Christian should believe in and go to doctors. Jesus confirmed the purpose of a doctor when he said, "It is not those who are healthy who need a physician but those who are ill." (Matthew 9:12) In other words, He said, "Sick people need a doctor."

    Paul told Timothy to take some wine for his stomach sickness (I Timothy 5:23). Don't forget that Luke was a physician. He accompanied Paul on many of his trips and probably gave him medical help.

    When we are ill, it is always necessary to consult a doctor. So, "what's up doc?"

    3. Healing comes from God through the gift of healing.

    The sick may go to someone whom they believe has the gift of healing.

    A Christian who manifests the gift of healing can do exactly what Jesus did. By the power of the Holy Spirit, he can make the sick well immediately and permanently: a blind [man] gains sight immediately, a broken arm is mended instantly, a cancer disappears.

    God allows sickness to happen according to His will. Don't forget God does not always choose to heal us. It is helpful to remember that it's God's will that each one of us will die someday. Every Christian's hope should be that his or her death would glorify God [including, sometimes, his illness].

    Part VII: Where is Faith Demanded in Divine Healing?

    There are three possible answers to this question:

    1. Faith must be from the healer

    It is a mistake to believe that faith must be required from the sick before he can be cured, or that God could not heal someone who does not have faith in Him. In Acts 16:16-18, Paul cast out a demon of divination from a slave-girl without demanding any faith from her. Note that in the New Testament the people who have the gift of healing were faithful to heal the sick. However, in one incident, the disciples could not cast a demon from a boy, but Jesus could (see Matthew 17:14-21). Why couldn't the disciples cast out the demon?

    The disciples came to Jesus privately and said, "Why could we not cast it out?" And He said to them, "Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there', and it shall move; and nothing shall be impossible to you." (Matthew 17:20-21)

    In these instances when the sick cannot exercise his or her faith, the healer should be faithful to heal "and nothing shall be impossible."

    2. Faith can be from a close relative or a friend of the sick.

    In what situations that the sick usually cannot exercise his or her faith? Demon possessions and near death are two possible situations. In the New Testament, faith was not demanded from the sick who was demon- possessed or near death but rather it was demanded from a close relative or a friend of the sick.

    In John 4:46-54, Jesus healed the royal official's son who was near death because of his father's faith. In Matthew 15:21-28, Jesus healed the Canaanite woman's daughter who was demon-possessed because of her mother's faith.

    When one is demon-possessed, his self-will is no longer under controll by himself but rather by the demon. When one's self-will is taken over by demon(s), faith cannot be exercised from that very person.

    Of course, there are instances where a demon-possessed person had no close relative or friend to request Jesus for exorcise. When Jesus encountered these people, He cast out the demon without demanding any faith from them (read Mark 1:21-28, Matthew 8:28-34). This aligns with the first answer given on the above -- that faith must be from the healer.

    3. It can be from the sick who can exercise his or her faith.

    In many instances from the New Testament, faith was demanded from the sick who was capable to exercise it. In Matthew 9:27-31, Jesus restored two blind men's sight because of their faith. In Luke 8:43-48, a woman with hemorrhage healed because of her faith.

    When there is no faith or there is unbelief among people, miracles seldom exist among them. In Matthew 13:53-58 or Mark 6:1-6, Jesus did not do many miracles and healings in his own home town because of the people's unbelief.

    Copyright © 1995-6 Steve Chan, Healing for a price. Reproduced with thanks

    This page was created on 12 April 1998
    Last updated on 12 April 1998

    Preface Copyright © 1987-2007 NCCG - All Rights Reserved