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. Eternal Saviour or Eternal Doctor?

5. ETERNAL SAVIOUR OR ETERNAL DOCTOR?


http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2362/2126430254_ae74fb3169.jpgIsaiah 53:4-5 (ESV) 4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.

and

1 Peter 2:24 (ESV) “24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.”


For many weeks now we have been looking at verses that are quoted out of context. Too many Christians are guilty of what atheists and sceptics do when it comes to the reading of Scripture. They think that through a plain reading of the text, whatever springs to mind is the meaning of the text. So, when they see something like the word ‘healed’ in Isaiah 53:5 and 1 Peter 2:24 they immediately think of physical illness and other sicknesses and they quote the verses accordingly, because let’s face it – that is the first thing that comes to mind in our day.

Just think how nice it is to quote these verses to a sick person. Just a short while ago somebody posted these verses on our Logos FB group with relevance to Brenda Hulshof with Leukaemia and Bernadette Page who was in hospital for an operation.

 

Isaiah 53:4 Surely He has borne our griefs (sicknesses, weaknesses, and distresses) and carried our sorrows and pains [of punishment], yet we [ignorantly] considered Him stricken, smitten, and afflicted by God [as if with leprosy].
5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our guilt and iniquities; the chastisement [needful to obtain] peace and well-being for us was upon Him, and with the stripes [that wounded] Him we are healed and Made whole.

 

What does the posting of these verse say to Brenda and Bernadette and to any other believer who is sick? My issue, is not entirely how the verse is presented above, but how should they (the sick and the dying) read it as it is shared with them? What is the intention, what is the message?

Now, while the motives of people who share these verses with the sick are good, while they are dear brothers and sisters, while they really love God and His Word, while they are filled with the Spirit, while they desire to be positive, while they really desire to glorify God, while they desire to be helpful, while they desire to be truthful, while they genuinely desire to encourage believers and while they are sincere, they are sincerely wrong and what they do not realise is that they break more Christians, depress more Christians and frustrate more Christians than they can ever imagine with their theology which is not based on an accurate reading of the text.

In general I don’t blame these Christians as they have just been misled by pastors, who are too lazy to work hard at the text.

We will get back to the detail later, but I guess most of us know that there are only two options here. The one option is that these verses speak of being healed from physical illnesses and the other option is that we are healed from the wretched disease of sin.

So, as believers come with a pragmatic and plain reading of the text, the simple question we need to ask to a person who quotes this verse with reference to physical illnesses is this.

“So, let’s remain pragmatic and stay with a plain reading. Do you know or know of any Christians, past or present that have ever got sick? Do you know of or know any Christians that have died of any sickness. Maybe a better question is this. Do you get sick, and if you do, at what point does the death of Jesus kick in to heal you? And if a Christian dies of sickness, based on solid Biblical principles, how do you explain it?”

If they were to be honest, they all know of sick people, they know Christians who are sick or who have died of sickness and they themselves get sick and will probably die of sickness. So, by implication, something has gone wrong somewhere if Christians get sick or remain sick. Atheists like to insult Christ and Christianity with these verses. They claim like many Christians that this verse implies healing of physical sickness and then on the back thereof remind us that there are many sick Christians, therefore the Bible is a lie, Jesus is a hoax and God or Christianity means nothing. They love to tell you that Christians get sick just like they do. Sadly, if this verse does imply that Jesus died for physical sickness I must agree with them. Just think of the amount of our own people at Logos who have been sick just this year. Either we must conclude that they are not Christians or we must conclude that this verse does not mean what some force it to mean.

At this very moment I am ministering at a bed where the circumstances look very dire. And yet, the family are being sent our verse in question via sms, FB messages, Whatsapps and various other means. They are told that God will honour His promises and their son who is lying in a coma for weeks now, will rise up and leave the hospital and even according to some go into full time evangelism. While I share their desire, and it might happen,  I believe that it is totally dishonest to say ‘God said’, and the implications are, that if this does not materialise according to God’s supposed promised in this verse and all the prophecies by Christians, the family will do the normal thing, they will question God or even the existence of God, instead of rebuking these Christians for their lying and deceiving. (Sadly, the boy mentioned in this paragraph has died, in spite of dozyns of prophecies to the contrary. He never came out of the coma, and never became the great evangelist and musician that so many proclaimed he would become. And once again, by His stripes we were healed did not happen in the physical realm.)

Do you know or know of any Christians who have died due to illness? Now, if these verses in Isaiah and 1 Peter imply that Jesus died for our physical sickness. Then I have a simple Chinese/English question: “Wot Went Wong?” It is interesting that Paul never quoted Isaiah to sick people. Peter quoted this verse by the way, but he is clear regarding its meaning. And, also, Paul did not heal all sick people. I am horrified at some of the teaching where Pastor’s pretend that Paul believed that everybody should be healed. He even left his friend Epaphroditus behind who was sick near to death. We read about it in Philippians 2:25-28 (ESV) 25 I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need, 26 for he has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill. 27 Indeed he was ill, near to death. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. 28 I am the more eager to send him, therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. " So, Epaphroditus was ill, very ill as a believer. Paul simply sees his healing as God’s mercy, but we do not find this bravado that we find with some believers today in the words of Paul, and yet we know that God used Paul to heal the sick, but nothing of “hey believers we know Epaphraditus got sick, but praise God we know that by His stripes we are healed. Let’s get on with life, we don’t need doctors."

On a website with the following address http://www.logosapostolic.org/bible_study/RP112-2God'swill.htm the claim is made that Romans 12 has all to do with healing. Romans 12:1 (ESV) 1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” Again all context is ignored and based on a plain reading the claim is made that we cannot present our bodies to God when it is sick as it is unholy and unacceptable. If we follow this through to its logical conclusions, I must then conclude that the death of a saint is no longer precious in the sight of God. The same Pastor claims that Paul’s thorn in the flesh could not have been bad eye-sight or any sickness because: If this were true, and the apostle Paul was sick and couldn't get healed, then none of us can stand in faith for healing, because if God refused to heal Paul, and God does not change, how can we expect Him to heal us?” Without discussing the thorn in the flesh issue and its meaning, we know that Paul had bad eye sight which by the way is a sickness. But, let’s take this statement to its logical conclusions. So, by implication, God did not refuse to heal Paul and we can therefore expect Him to heal us. A few years ago, the great faith-healer Benny Hinn had to cancel his trip to New Zealand because he was ‘sick as a dog,’ to use his words.

These guys simply do not think before they pen their theology down. They start with a presupposition and then force Scripture to say what their presupposition says, and that is extremely dangerous.

Let’s just unpack the verse and then we will put it in context.

1. Isaiah 53.

“Stripes,” (Isaiah 53:5; 1 Peter 2:24) in the language of the King James Version of the Bible, and in some others, means “wounds,” as seen in more modern translations such as the New International Version. The Hebrew word is  chabbuwrah {khab-boo-raw'} or  chabburah {khab-boo-raw'} or chaburah {khab-oo-raw'} which means: “bruise, stripe, wound or blow.” These stripes were administered by whipping the bare backs of prisoners whose hands and feet were bound, rendering them helpless. The phrase “by His stripes we are healed” refers to the punishment Jesus Christ suffered—floggings and beatings with fists that were followed by His agonizing death on a cross—to take upon Himself all of the sins of all people who believe Jesus Christ is Lord and Saviour. “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).


The whips used were made of braided leather, with pottery shards and sharp stones affixed to the ends, which tore open the flesh of the prisoner with each cruel swing of the whip. When we picture this terrible, inhumane form of physical punishment we recoil in horror. Yet the physical pain and agony were not all Jesus suffered. He also had to undergo the mental anguish brought on by the wrath of His Father, who punished Him for the sinfulness of mankind—sin carried out in spite of God’s repeated warnings, sin that Jesus willingly took upon Himself. He paid the total price for all of our transgressions.

 

So, what were these stripes for that brought healing for us?

 

Let’s look at the whole of verse 5.

 

Isaiah 53:5 (ESV) 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.”

Chastisement’ in a sense is a summary of ‘wounded’ and ‘crushed’ as a positive result is attached only to chastisement.  And then ‘stripes’ in a sense is the summary of ‘wounded’, ‘crushed’ and ‘chastisement’. Together they form the stripes that Jesus suffered. And again a positive result is attached to ‘stripes’.

 

And then peace and healing go hand in hand as the outcome of the ‘chastisement’ and ‘stripes’.

 

“Healed”

The Hebrew word for ‘healed’ is  rapha' {raw-faw'} or  raphah {raw-faw'} which means to heal, make healthful or to repair.

 

Now, the simple question is this. Does ‘rapha’ always refer to physical healing as in being healed from a physical sickness? Let me quote you a well-known verse where exactly the same word if used. 2 Chronicles 7:14 (ESV) 14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

I can give you more verses. “Rapha’ is used 62 times throughout the Old Testament. Most of these refer to physical healing, but not always. The word “healed” as translated from both Hebrew and Greek, can mean either spiritual or physical healing. The immediate context will tell you how the word is used. This often happens in the Hebrew language. We don’t have time to study the whole context in a detailed manner, but I believe there are two verses that make it abundantly clear that the reference here is to spiritual healing. Isaiah 53:6 (ESV) 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all”. This is clearly not about physical sickness, but spiritual direction. The direction is clear, it is ‘astray’, it is ‘turned’, it is ‘own way’. None of this is with reference to physical sickness. The words ‘laid on him’ can easily be replaced with ‘wounded’, ‘crushed’, ‘chastisement’ and ‘stripes.’

Then verse 12 which is the final verse in this section also makes it abundantly clear. Isaiah 53:12 (ESV) 12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.”

This clearly is a prophetic word about the death of Christ, and is enjoined with the preceding verses with the word ‘therefore’, but then comes the ultimate conclusion that the death of Christ was for the sins of many and to mediate on behalf of transgressors. If physical healing was in mind, it should be repeated, otherwise it makes the word ‘therefore’ redundant.

2. 1 Peter 2.

1 Peter 2:24-25 (ESV) 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”

I believe that Peter settles the argument. There is no way that physical healing can be read into the verse. Peter, is not making a new theological statement. He is loosely quoting Isaiah 53. That is abundantly clear. And for Peter it is clearly about sin and righteousness. He died so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. I did 25 sermons on that theme, which are posted on our website. Peter, gives us that ‘golden nugget’ that we are looking for. Christ died so that we can ‘return to the Shepherd and Overseer of our souls’. Peter, understood Isaiah and he clearly sees the problem as the direction of our lives, which is following after sin. Yet, it seems that some Christians understand Isaiah better than Peter did.

So, these verses are referring to sin and righteousness, not sickness and disease. Therefore, being “healed” in both these verses is speaking of being forgiven and saved, not being physically healed. It cannot be physical in one and spiritual in the other.

So, if you want to make a case for ‘Christians always being healthy’ ‘or that ‘all diseases have to be healed miraculously by God’ you cannot make the argument from these verses. It is one thing to believe that God wants us to be healthy but another thing to claim that Jesus died for it. Sure, there will come a day, when we are with Him in glory that there will be no sickness or dying, but until that day Christians will get sick. If we can go with 2 billion people claiming to be redeemed, then I present to you 2 billion people that have been spiritually healed, but if we go with ‘physical healing’ then I present to you 2 billion people experiencing the failure of Christ on the cross in that regard.


3. Faith healers also die of disease.

I can mention so many names, but let me mention a few that are significant.

E.W Kenyon who is certainly the Father of the Word of Faith Movement taught divine healing and that it was always God's will to heal. It was E.W. Kenyon in his book the ‘Hidden Man’ on pg.99 wrote, I know that I am healed because He said that I am healed and it makes no difference what the symptoms may be in my body.” An example would be if they are coughing and you say you have a cough they respond by “no I don’t, I haven’t had a cough in years.” For them that is a statement of faith, but I call it denial of reality at best, and lying at worst. Kenyon is widely regarded as the father of or originator of the modern "positive confession" theology which is prevalent in Word of Faith Pentecostalism. Kenyon died in a coma, brought on by a malignant tumour. He died from disease.

One of his disciples was Kenneth Hagin, who is commonly referred to as the founder of the Word of Faith movement. It may be formally so, but not informally, as he learnt from Kenyon.  No wonder he makes some of the same claims. Kenneth Hagin who writes in his book In the name of Jesus” on the topic of divine healing and health.I have so often said, I haven’t had a headache in so many years (45 to be exact) ... Just a few months ago, as I left the office building and started home, suddenly my head started hurting, someone might say, “well, you had a headache. No, I didn’t have one! I don’t have headaches. I haven’t had a headache since August 1934. 45 years have come and gone. And I haven’t had a headache…but if I had a headache, I wouldn’t tell anybody. And if somebody asked me how I was feeling, I would say, I’m fine, thank you.” (In the Name of Jesus, p.44) Notice he says he wouldn't tell you how he really feels because his words override the pain. Is this honest? Is it true? Is this the way someone is to represent the Lord. Did Jesus teach this nonsense? Of course not.

Kenneth Hagin states:It is not God's will for any to be sick (Healing the fathers Provision, p.9) I believe that it is the plan of our father that no believer should be sick that every believer should live his life to full time and actually wear out if Jesus tarries then fall asleep in Jesus. I state boldly that it is not the will of God my father that we should suffer with cancer and other dread disease and reap pain and anguish. No its God's will that we should be healed.”

While Hagin says he has had no headaches, he had 4 major cardiovascular failures. But this is one of those incidents he's not telling you of (Christianity in Crises, pp.237-238; a Different Gospel by D.L McConnell) Hagin suffered 4 separate episodes of heart-crisis in 1939, 1942, 1949, and 1973.

Kenneth Hagin died Sept. 23.2003 After eating breakfast his head fell to his chest. Charisma News Service reported that “An exact cause of death was not immediately known” Hagin had been hospitalized in a cardiac intensive care unit since Sept. 14, when he collapsed at home. (Charisma News Service September 23, 2003 edition People & Lifestyle) We later found out that he was transported by an ambulance admitted to the cardiac intensive care unit and remained in the hospital until he died. This became an interesting point of contention because Hagin claimed he was healed of his heart problem supernaturally years before. He also held to the belief that one should actually wear out and die, and not die this way.

Kenneth E. Hagin's son-in-law Buddy Harrison, who is the Founder of Harrison House Books, and Head of the Faith Christian Fellowship (FCF) Word of Faith denomination, died Nov. 1998 of cancer. This is unfortunate that this should occur, however it is evidential that the son-in-law of Kenneth E. Hagin, submitted to cancer and died. He was in the “faith movement” before Copeland and many others, so what does this mean in light of what he promoted and has written? Did he practice what he preached? Definitely. But what he taught was simply not true.

Benny Hinn says unequivocally “There will be no sickness for the saint of God” (Rise and Be Healed! 1991, p.14). “If your body belongs to God, it does not and cannot belong to sickness” (ibid. p.62); “The day is coming, I tell you this, I know it like I know my name, the day is coming there will not be one sick saint in the body of Christ. Nobody will be, nobody's gonna be, no one will be raptured out of a hospital bed. You're all gonna be healed before the rapture. (Benny Hinn, “Praise the Lord,” 7/8/96) WOW! At least he is still alive, but as mentioned earlier, he himself, spoke one day of being as sick as a dog and having had to cancel his trip to New Zealand.

The charismatic author Jamie Buckingham wrote “I'm healed” In charisma Magazine and  several months later died of cancer. Jamie was under a medical doctor’s care. One day my wife ... suddenly spoke aloud [and] said, 'Your healing was purchased at the cross.' ... Here is what I discovered. You have what you speak. If you want to change something, you must believe it enough to speak it. ... If you say you're sick, you'll be (and remain) sick. It was not mine. It was the devil’s. I didn't have cancer. I had Jesus. …. It was a Friday afternoon. The tape was an Oral Roberts' sermon ... I came up off the sofa, shouting, 'I'm healed!' My wife leaped out of her chair and shouted, 'Hallelujah!' For the next 30 minutes all we did was walk around the house shouting thanks to God and proclaiming my healing” “The cancer was trying to have me, but the word of God said I was healed through what Jesus did at Calvary. (Jamie Buckingham, “My Summer of Miracles,” Charisma, April 1991). Ten months after the publication of his article claiming he was healed he died of cancer (Feb.17, 1992)

Paul Crouch – the owner of TBN, and a great proponent for faith healing through positive words. Crouch died at his home in Orange, California, on November 30, 2013, after a decade-long fight with degenerative heart disease, his grandson Brandon Crouch told The Associated Press. Trinity Broadcast Network had reported that Crouch became ill and was taken to a Dallas area hospital in October while visiting the network's facility in Colleyville, Texas. Later he returned to California for continued treatment of "heart and related health issues."

Let me stop here. IS OUR PROBLEM THAT WE SIMPLY DON’T HAVE ENOUGH FAITH, AND THAT SEEKING TO BE TRUTHFUL IS ACTUALLY A SIN?

Men, like Kenneth Copeland believe that it is all a matter of faith, and that faith keeps you healthy. But his whole theology of faith is blasphemous and degrades God to the level of humans. Copeland says: The very faith that God used when He created, and what we read there in the first 2 chapters of Genesis, is the faith that’s burning in your spirit. But now if you’ve made Jesus the Lord of your life, it’s the same faith. Well, He created all those planets, how come you can’t create something? You don’t know as much about it as He does. He has a greater working knowledge of that faith than you do. But we’re learning. Our time is coming. And in some ways it’s already here (Aug. 18, 1999 John Hagee's Church, on LeSea Broadcasting). Wow, wow, wow, and Christians follow these guys! So Christians, the only difference between us and God according to Copeland is that God has a better working knowledge. He is simply more experienced than what we are.

Church family, we can go on and on. I believe in an eternal Saviour and not an eternal doctor. By His stripes I am healed, and one day, yes only one day, sickness will have no power over us. Can God heal? Sure He can. Does He promise healing for all Christians? No. Do Christians get sick and die? Yes they do. Do supposed faith healers get sick and die? Yes they do.

This is the day I am looking forward to. Revelation 21:4 (ESV) 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

In the meantime I do not have faith in faith, or faith in the power of words, or the supposed prophecies of man. My faith is in the God, the creator of the universe. I trust Him unconditionally, and I know that His will shall be done in my life, and that the Holy Spirit intercedes for me before the Father and He prays according to the will of the Father. That is enough for me.