Sept. 13, 2004
Westlake Village, CA
My thanks to Alan McSavage for sending me an essay on healing by Paul Tillich, the German theologian and writer (See link at end). Our dear friend Harry Fox, who has been a mentor to me for decades now, had the privilege of studying under this man who is undeniably one of the great Christian minds of the 20th Century. Harry has quoted his works many times in the home meetings we had during that time. Tillich began the essay by saying that when he made a trip to his German homeland after the war, he had found a nation of sick people, wounded in spirit, damaged in soul and body, unable to function as whole people must. He talked about the fact that Savior means healer, and so it is impossible to separate salvation and healing, which both come from Jesus Christ. Like Tillich, we notice that healing is in short supply today among the nations. AIDs and famine are rampant in third world countries, who because of ignorance and poverty cannot even avail themselves of the scientific discoveries available to them. And yet, the church has mostly narrowed its focus to sin, without realizing that sin is really a byproduct of the sicknesses of soul and body, passed down from generation to generation in the collective unconscious. Christians under grace who try to live by Law will inevitably become neurotic to survive the conflict such double minded behavior brings. Trying to live by Law is crazy making when you know Christ paid the price, and as Lenny says, it makes one a spiritual adulterer as well.
Tillich spoke of this, describing rampant mental illness brought on by unresolved guilt and doubt. What I notice among Christians is an underlying free floating anxiety, and bone weariness. I often wonder if that comes from trying to live by rules, when in fact, no human has ever been able to do so.
About the need for healing, Tillich wrote in 1955, "The gospels, certainly, are not responsible for this disappearance of power in the picture of Jesus. They abound in stories of healing; but we are responsible, ministers, laymen, theologians, who forgot that "Savior" means "healer," he who makes whole and sane what is broken and insane, in body and mind. The woman who encountered Him was made whole, the demoniac who met Him was liberated from his mental cleavage. Those who are disrupted, split, disintegrated, are healed by Him. And because this is so, because this power has appeared on earth, the Kingdom of God has come upon us; this is the answer Jesus gives to the Pharisees when they discuss His power of healing the mentally possessed; this is the answer He gives to the Baptist to overcome his doubts; this is the order He gives to His disciples when He sends them to the towns of Israel. "And as ye go, preach, saying, the kingdom of God is at hand. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons." That is what they shall do and for this He gives them authority and power; for in Him the kingdom of God has appeared, and its nature is salvation, healing of that which is ill, making whole what is broken.
"Are we still able to experience this power?" he asks. End Quote.
"Are we still able to experience this power?" is indeed the question of the hour. I've met a few Christians who say that God does not heal miraculously today, but most of us know that He can do as He ever did, speak as He ever spoke, precisely because He is the "I AM," not the "I USED TO BE." Many of us have, in fact, witnessed such power in action, either in our own bodies, or in the bodies and/or minds of others for whom we have prayed. We marvel; we praise God in the highest; we weep for joy, and the next thought may be, "Why did He act now in this person and not in that one?"
And yet, the churches who loudly quote "Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature," never quite make it past the first part of the verse Tillich quoted: "Go Preach." They do that with vigor and gusto, but that was not ALL Jesus commissioned His disciples. They were also to "Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons" (Mt. 10:7-8). I read the entire article to Lenny this week, and made the statement that in fairness to the churches, they can't do what Jesus commanded His disciples, because He has not given them the mandate nor the power to do it today. Why is that?
Is it because we have lost sight of Jesus' mission statement of going into the world and declaring that the kingdom is at hand? Have we replaced the kingdom with the church, which by definition, is limited to those who accept Christ now. Is the church everything God intends to do on earth? Has it then become a sort of watered down version of what Jesus spoke into being, and has thus caused us to lose sight of the bigger picture, the kingdom of God on earth?
Counseling helped me to get over the anger I felt for the organized church, when it failed me on so many levels in my life. The church has always been God's problem, not mine or yours, or any committee's. He alone can solve the problems there, and I see that God has her exactly where He wants her for now, perhaps to encourage us to seek Him rather than an organization. Paul affirmed that "Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish" (Eph. 5:25-27). We rejoice that "he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him" (Col. 1:22).
But what does it mean to preach that the kingdom is at hand? It must be more difficult than it sounds or else people would be preaching up a storm about it. I never heard a word about the kingdom in the church I grew up in. It was all about the church, and why you needed to be baptized into it so you could be saved after you die. There was not much spoken about how to live a victorious life TODAY, except the endless admonitions against sin, and instructions on how to be pleasing to God (or at least to the church powers that be). That's OK. They did the best they could with the light God had given them, but there was not enough light for me then, and the extant church certainly does not produce enough light today for the world to see its way back home to God.
The porch light has grown very dim in some places, and the city set on a hill is often dark, so bound up in legalism, rules, and dogma that it couldn't set anyone free, not even itself. If healing and setting the captives free are the hallmark of the kingdom, it isn't in evidence in very many places on planet earth.
The early church understood the need to stand against the powers of darkness and the necessity of delivering people from the bondage in which they lived. I used to wonder if this was because HMOs hadn't been invented; there were no ERs where folks could go get a shot against infection, a broken leg set, or receive other treatment that we take for granted. There was no aspirin, no X-lax, and no bottled water. Horrors! How did they make it through the day? Thus, it made sense to my logical mind that God needed to help them out with miracles.
But was that all there was to it? Remember that under the Law, sickness was a direct result of sin. If you have the stomach for it, read Deut. 28, and note how many times that disease was threatened as a punishment for sin.
The man who was brought to Jesus on his stretcher to be healed of his paralysis learned to his amazement the connection between sin and disease. Jesus first told him, "Son, take heart; you have forgiveness for your sins" (Matt. 9:2). When that brought consternation amongst those present, He asked, "Why are your thoughts evil? For which is the simpler, to say, You have forgiveness for your sins; or to say, Get up and go?" (Matt. 9:4-5, BBE). The man got up and went, which proved that the other part of Jesus' prophecy to him was true. His sins were forgiven. His paralysis was healed; he was free, body, soul, and Spirit!
Those crowded around were not offended because Jesus linked sin with healing, but rather because they thought He was standing in God's shoes, which indeed, He was. And He still is, my friends. He still is!
And yes, I do know that Jesus didn't walk across the border into Galilee, wave His arms around, and say "Be healed, all you sick and crazy folks." He never operated that way, but rather worked one on one, with individuals who came to Him for help.
Many people are coming to Him for help today, who do NOT get an answer, or at least it may seem that way, but the answer always come in God's time, not ours. I have a wonderful praise report to include here. Last May or so, my daughter wrote to me asking for prayer for a young man named Alberto, who has Leukemia, and for whom everything had been done that was medically possible. He needed a bone marrow transplant, and a donor had to be found quickly in order to save his life. She had such compassion for him and his mother Linda, that I felt led to put out a prayer request to my list of readers. Never have we had more response, even from people in other countries.
I spoke to my daughter last Sunday night, which was about 4 months after the time we prayed. On Sunday afternoon she had spoken to Linda, Alberto's mother, who told her that the chance of finding a match to his bone marrow was something like 1 in 5 million, huge odds. By God's grace, in June, they did find a donor, in France, who willingly gave his bone marrow to this young man. The doctors won't know for 5 years if the treatment cured the cancer, but I believe it to be a bone fide miracle that, against great odds, the donor was found. As Kristi expressed it, "I do not for one moment believe God would find a donor and then not let the process work to heal him." To that, will you join me in saying, "Amen!"
Jesus did not need such technology, for He spoke with the same authority by which the worlds were framed and the stars named and numbered. One significance of the cross to me, is that by His death and resurrection, He shared this power and made healing available to people everywhere across the planet, whether they know Him or not....Yet. Alberto and Linda do know Him, thankfully, which is another blessing in their lives, but there's a Hindu woman in New York City who needs a donor and because she's from India, there's a very small chance that a match can be found here. Yet, knowing Jesus as He was, and Christ as He is today, I believe that our prayers for her will result in God finding a donor even though she doesn't know the risen Lord as we do. One day she will.
Healing is part of going into all the world and preaching the gospel to every creature. The gospel is God's power unto salvation (Rom. 1:16), and this power is for the healing of the mind, the body, the soul, the spirit. Sometimes healing of our bodies seems to be in short supply. Lenny still can't see due to the macular degeneration, and his hip has pained him severely the whole time we've been here in California. We both know that in God's time, He will bring the healing.
He did that for me in Dec. 2000, when He said to me, "I am your flu shot." From that day to this, I have been free of the unrelenting sinus and bronchial infections which plagued my life from childhood onward. Even though I have lived in Missouri for the past 6 1/2 years, where such maladies are rampant, nevertheless, I have been well. I was healed, praise God. Lenny was healed about 10 years ago of a tear in his aortic artery. God's power is for now!
How I want that for everyone who hurts, who suffers the pains of sin and sorrow and corruption of the flesh. Once when I first went to Medicalodge, I was whining to God about why He wouldn't let me lay hands on them and heal them all. He said, "If you did, everyone in Newton County, in fact, the whole state of Missouri would be at your door wanting healing. You'd get nothing else done. Is that what you want?" He wasn't seeking an answer so much as asking a rhetorical question. I thought of Jesus having to flee from the crowds and seek refuge up in the mountains where He enjoyed a quiet time with His power supply.
Whole religious movements have been formed around the need for healing. It has become "a cottage industry" in some parts of the country, bringing people by the thousands, generating millions of dollars for the practitioners.
Jesus sent His disciples to tell the world that the kingdom is at hand. It is here, not because we can see it with our physical eyes, but because our Spirit bears witness that the King is on the throne and all is well in His kingdom. I have asked them many times at Medicalodge to name a place where God is not; they can't do it, because God is everywhere, all the time, as is the kingdom of heaven on earth.
There will come a day, sooner rather than later, when even the world will see it and rejoice. The evidence, His Glory, which all flesh will see together, is the same as it was when Isaiah prophesied about it: "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because I am marked out by him to give good news to the poor; he has sent me to make well those who are brokenhearted; to say that the prisoners will be let go, and the blind will see, and to make the wounded free from their chains, To give knowledge that the year of the Lord's good pleasure is come" (Lk. 4:18-19. BBE. See Is. 40:5). This is a wonderful description of the year of Jubilee.
Father, we ask you to open blind eyes, unstop deaf ears, heal broken bodies and hearts, and set free all those who still languish in prisons of despair, guilt and hopelessness, those wounded by warfare within and without. Mark us out to give good news to the poor, to share Your perfect peace, to declare the kingdom in word and deed that the world can understand and receive, on a personal level. In the name above all names we ask it, Amen. Jan Antonsson
Jan and Lenny Antonsson
390 W. Carlisle Rd., Westlake Village, CA 91361 (Snail Mail while in California)
Paul Tillich's Essay on Healing
"The Kingdom of God," Click Here!
The Glory Road
We always enjoy hearing from you!
This page was uploaded to the web on 9/16/04
by Jan Antonsson, Webmeister,
and last edited on 10/19/08