Given for the Saints at Medicalodge, Neosho, Mo, on 3/9/08.
"But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed" (Isa. 53:5).
We had an e-mail from a dear friend this week which set my hair on fire and made me want to run screaming into the night tearing out what hair hadn't already burned up. It was not so much what she said, as it was the answer to a question about healing she had received from her pastor. Her son has been in excruciating pain with his back for two years. He needs radical disc replacement surgery, but keeps getting turned down by his insurance company and the Worker's Comp people. Naturally, his mother, our friend, is desperate to help him, and had asked her pastor about divine healing. His answer was the religious claptrap that God has had me writing about for years now. Read what she had to say about the encounter and you'll see what I mean.
"Our minister says that for a miracle to happen or for God to answer prayers it is a multilevel process. First, the person in trouble must have asked and given forgiveness to everyone in his life. Secondly, the person must believe absolutely that God can do everything. Thirdly, the person must believe absolutely that God has already done it as soon as it was asked. So he says to ask once, then begin to give thanks to God for what he has done. I don't think my son has much faith so it will be a challenge for him." End Quote.
This man should have stayed in bed that day rather than lay this kind of malarky on a hurting woman. Perhaps he was trying to let her down easy, or cause her to think twice about asking God for a miraculous healing. She no doubt told him her son is not a religious man, which is the only good news I see in the situation. What this pastor did was guarantee that my friend will approach God with doubt and fear, rather than with confidence and assurance. Who out there in cyberspace reading this can know for sure that 1) you absolutely, without doubt, have forgiven every person you ever had anything against, and 2) you believe with no doubt whatsoever that God can and will heal the person you are praying for, and 3) that God has already answered the prayer in the affirmative, so you can now begin to thank Him for it.
Someone wrote, "Thank GOD, scripture does not speak of our 'formula' in heaven, but rather, our FATHER in Heaven!" Amen to that.
So why did the pastor's formulaic advice to my friend get me so riled up? His summary about how to get a healing is self effort, law, and works, and it cuts God out of the loop entirely. It puts man on the throne, not God. IF we could manage to comply with all the specifications, and IF we managed to get a healing that way, who gets the credit? Again, I say, it would be man, not God.
Additionally, it was cruel of this pastor to lay this man devised burden on our friend who is already distraught over her son's dire condition. He may as well have said, "Abandon hope all you who pray for a healing, for you are not qualified to even apply for a miracle, let alone get one."
Before I go one word farther, let me say that I am the LAST person to explain how to get a healing. After years of believing, hoping, studying scripture, naming and claiming, and hanging on to God's coattail, what I've come to is there's no formula for a miracle and no other criteria for healing except GOD'S WILL for the person. When He speaks it, He brings it to pass. When we blather on about it according to the trite recommendations of Televangelists and many church leaders, our words don't make it above the ceiling.
Lenny has had a really bad time right now with many days in a row of cold, wet weather, which sets off not only his arthritis, but makes his fibromyalgia so much worse. I have prayed about this countless times. Today when I was doing the grocery shopping at Walmart, alone, because he didn't feel like going, I found myself talking out loud to God. I said something like, "If you don't plan to ever heal Lenny, why don't you just come out and say so, and I'll try to move on."
Instead, He asked, "Are you frustrated because I haven't healed him, or because you do have the faith that I can, but that does you no good in his situation?" Leave it to our Abba to get right to the heart of the matter. My answer? "Both." I am frustrated because I KNOW God can heal him, and so far, He hasn't. It hurts me on so many levels. The only thing that keeps me sane is knowing God has a purpose for it all, and it will be for our good and His glory.
Every Sunday, at Medicalodge, I end with a fervent prayer for God to touch all our ailing bodies, forgetful minds, and sagging spirits. So far, He hasn't answered that prayer either, but unless He tells me to stop, I will NEVER stop asking Him for a miracle for everyone we know who is hurting, sick, discouraged, frustrated, and down trodden. That's the definition of the Good News, after all, to speak peace to the heathen (Zech. 9:10), and as Jesus put it:
"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor" (Luke 4:18-19).
Religion, as I've said so often, majors in minors, i.e., man's works, as opposed to God's will. Christians ask, "What would Jesus do?" But they don't have a clue, nor could they manage to do what Jesus did, no matter how hard they tried. He healed the sick, raised the dead, walked on water, calmed the storms, fed 5,000 with only 5 loaves and 2 fish; fed 4,000 with only 7 loaves and a few small fish, turned water into wine, and caused a fig tree to wither instantly. Oh, and one of my favorite miracles is His telling Peter to catch the fish with a coin in its mouth so he could pay their taxes! Anyone who can do these things has my complete attention, but so far, I've never met anyone who could do all or any of those things on a consistent basis, and certainly not "on cue."
When I realized that I was walking through Walmart praying out loud, I understood that God used my friend's e-mail to trigger me, because He intends to show me something or remind me of something that I need to remember.
There are some twenty six accounts of Christ healing people in the gospels. He did not do the same thing twice. Each one is unique and individual, even as He is/was. The miracles fall into three categories: 1) In five instances, the person had faith that Jesus could heal them, and asked Him to do so. The five healings included a man with leprosy (Matt. 8:2-4); two blind men (Matt. 9:27-31); two other blind men (Matt. 20:29-34); and ten men with leprosy (Luke 17:11-19).
2) Eight times, a person who had faith, asked Christ on behalf of a friend or relative. These include the Roman centurion's servant (Matt. 8:5-13); the paralyzed man let down from the roof (Matt. 9:2-7); a mute, demon-possessed man (Matt. 12:22); the Canaanite woman's daughter (Matt. 15:21-28); a boy with a demon (Matt. 17:14-18); a deaf mute (Mk. 7:31-37); a blind man at Bethsaida (Mk. 8:22-26); an Official's son at Capernaum (Jn. 4:46-54).
3) In the majority of cases, 13 people who were healed had no faith at all, but were the beneficiary of Christ's compassion. These include Peter's mother-in-law (Matt. 8:14-15); two men from Gadara (one account says one man) (Matt. 8:28-34); a man with a shriveled hand (Matt. 12:10-13); a blind, mute, demon-possessed man (Matt. 12:22); a possessed man in the synagogue (Mk. 1:23-26); a crippled woman (Lk. 13:11-13); a man with dropsy (a form of edema) (Lk. 14:1-4); the high priest's servant (Lk. 22:50-51); the crippled man at the pool of Bethesda (Jn. 5:1-9) a man born blind (Jn. 9:1-7).
Because dead people cannot have faith or forgive anyone, I included the following who were raised from the dead: Jarius's daughter (Matt. 9:18-19); the widow's son in Nain (Lk. 7:11-15); and Lazarus (Jn. 11:1-44). This group, of course, are the most compelling proof that the pastor's formula is as untrue as it is unkind, though I would encourage you to look up the scriptures for yourself and come to your own conclusions about them.
Moreover, when Jesus healed people, they stayed healed. There is no record of someone coming back complaining of pain or other complications. Only in one case did He have any difficulty. The blind man at Bethsaida took two tries before his sight was restored, but in the end, he could see clearly.
A friend in California called last week to say her husband had passed the day before. He had so many physical ailments, and yet he hung in there beyond what I would have thought was humanly possible. He told her that God was going to heal him, and I called her today to share what Lenny has always said, which is that death is the ultimate healing. When our mortality is clothed upon by immortality, we will enjoy our glorified body and the mind of Christ in full function mode, something that often escapes us in our flesh and blood "tent."
There is no magic bullet, no secret code, no way humanity can do an "end run" around God's will in terms of healing. By His stripes we ARE healed, and I've come to see that in the same terms as the appearing of Christ. He appeared, He is appearing, and He will continue to appear. Whenever He does, ALL THAT HE IS APPEARS WITH HIM IN US.
Once when I was in a frenzy about someone's healing, and pulling on God's coat tails to get an answer, He asked, "Would you want everyone in Missouri standing at your doorstep to get healed by you?" Of course not.
Healing is inextricably tied to salvation. Isaiah made this correlation, "But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed" (Isa. 53:5). The cross brought salvation and healing for us all. Christ tied the two together when He healed the paralytic whose friends lowered him down through the roof. When He was rebuked by the scribes for blasphemy, He asked: "For which is easier, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Rise and walk?' But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins" He then said to the paralytic, "Rise, take up your bed and go home." And he rose and went home" (Matt. 2:5-7).
Before the cross, we were oppressed by our sins, separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world (Eph. 2:12). In that miserable condition, we were sick, blind and stumbling around in darkness. Matthew was quoting Isaiah (9:2), when he wrote, "The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned" (Matt. 4:16).
When the light came upon us, we were healed, first of our sins, and then of our diseases, sicknesses, neurotic behaviors, obsessions and addictions. That healing has been a progressive move of God upon His people. Thinking of the neurotic stuff which clings to us still, like barnacles on a ship, it came to me long ago that were God to heal us instantly of all that, it might kill us. Our Father is in the restoration business, not the killing business, and every last one of us is being restored, either this side or the other side of Jordan. One way or the other, the restitution of all things (Acts 3:21), God's grace, covers all our warts, zits, faults, foibles, and the cussed orneriness passed down from generation to generation.
Sickness was a punishment for sin under the Law: "And the LORD will take away from you all sickness; and none of the evil diseases of Egypt, which you knew, will he inflict upon you, but he will lay them upon all who hate you" (Deut. 7:15). This is why when they encountered the man born blind, the disciples asked Jesus: "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" Jesus answered, "It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be made manifest in him" (John 9:2-3).
Yet, in spite of the Great Physician's testimony concerning sickness, there are those today who still link it to sin. Perhaps this was in the pastor's heart when he gave those very discouraging words to our friend. Who knows? Either way, man's sickness is an opportunity to see God's glory. He also heals through doctors, modern medicine, and any other means He chooses to deliver us from what oppresses us.
Right after Lenny and I married, I was in my real estate office when the phone rang. It was a young woman at the church we attended. She didn't even identify herself, but began the conversation by asking, "How did you do it?"
"How did I do what?" I wondered out loud.
"Find a husband," she demanded.
She wasn't impressed with my answer: "I didn't do it. God did." This is the same answer the blind man gave the Pharisees who were grilling him on how he could be healed by a "sinner." He replied, "Whether he is a sinner, I do not know; one thing I know, that though I was blind, now I see" (Jn. 9:25).
That's the long and short of healing. When God speaks it, we are healed; if He doesn't, we're not.
Father, thank You for making us whole, for saving us, and delivering us. We are standing on holy ground, as vessels of Your great love poured out for the whole world. You alone get the praise and honor and glory for all that You do through us and in us. In Christ, we declare it, amen. Jan Antonsson
To Be Continued......
Jan and Lenny Antonsson
17178 Highway 59, Neosho, MO 64850 (Snail Mail Address)
Risky Business, Healing, Part II
The Royal Priesthood, Healing, Part III
Rest in the GIFT, Healing, Part IV
Restoring the Glory Land, Part V
Organizing the Church, Part VI
Victory Through Helplessness,Healing, Part VII
What Does Faith Have to do With It? Healing, Part VIII
The Death of Death, Healing, Part IX
The Death He Died, Healing, Part X
Freed From Sin, Healing Part XI
Money, the Kingdom, and Bifocal Vision, Healing, Part XII
Flesh, Spirit, & the New Man, Healing, Part XIII
The Church, the Gospel, and God's Will, Healing, Part XIV
The End of the Law, Healing, Part XV
The Divine Possibility, Healing, Part XVI
What Shall We do? Healing, Part XVII
The Tyranny of the Vegetable Eaters, Healing, Part XVIII
The Epistle to the Romans by Karl Barth
The Glory Road
This writing was uploaded to the web 03/03/08,
by Jan Antonsson, webmeister,
and last updated 11/18/08.