This Sunday, Chris’ continued his discussion on how God still heals today. He elaborated on last week’s sermon regarding emotional healing, and moved into how God still heals physically as well. Looking at James 5:14-18, he explained God’s specific instructions for the physically ill, as well as God’s general application for physical health.
We are constantly bombarded with sickness in our culture today, both physically and spiritually. And we need God’s healing power to make us well. Throughout Scripture, we can see different types of sickness. 1 John 5:16 talks about “sin that leads to death,” or a sickness unto death. 1 Cor. 11:30-32 mentions that someone could become sick due to a lack of discipline. Other times, like in John 11:4, God may allow someone to be sick “for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” So, it’s quite obvious that sickness is a part of the fallen world we live in, and as such, we are constantly looking for ways to be healed.
There are different paths we could travel to be healed of sickness, and Chris mentioned five categories (taken from Pastor Chip Ingram) that spiritual people could fall into:
- Sensationalists: This would refer to the faith healers, the emotionally charged and flamboyant “sensationalists” who focus more on the healer, and not the Lord
- Confessionalists: This refers to people who practice the “name it, claim it” doctrine. These people believe that all healing is atonement, and that everyone should be healed.
- Anti-Supernaturalists: They come in a garden variety. These people believe that things that happened in the First Century were for then and only then, and does not happen in our day today.
- Rationalists: These are folks who say there is no such thing as sin, death, or sickness. These are basically the “Christian” Science believers.
- Biblical Realists: A Biblical Realist is someone who looks at Scripture and believes that God does heal, but He heals different people in different ways. And healing isn’t always necessarily instantaneous, immediate, and complete for it to still be from God.
Now that’s the background – but here’s the question: If you’re physically, seriously ill, what would God say to you?
God’s plan for healing is found in James 5:14-18. Here, we can see a few things:
- The word “sick” means “without strength.” It is referring to those who are physically unable to work, or are physically disabled in some way.
- The sick are to call on the elders of the church. Notice where the initiative lies: on the sick person. That is why we go to Mini Church, have community, meet weekly, and act as a real church.
- Elders are to anoint with oil, and they pray. In Chuck Swindoll’s book on the Holy Spirit, he makes a huge point of this phrase: “having been anointed with oil,” then they pray. And, according to A.T. Robertson, a Greek scholar, olive oil was some of the best medicine.
- God promises three things: to restore or save the person who is sick, that He’ll raise that person back up to health, and that if there are sins, they are forgiven.
- This healing is conditional. There are three conditions: the prayer must be in faith, it must be done in the name of the Lord, and that you must confess and repent of your sin.
We can see that in James, we must pray in faith, and that it depends on the will of the Lord. We don’t always know what God is doing. We also know that when God heals, the issues of sin are dealt with. We could talk about story after story where we prayed and did what James 5 says, and brain tumors were gone and cancer disappeared. And, we could talk about stories where we’ve prayed and followed the instructions of James 5, and six months later, the person was buried. Our responsibility, however, is to obey God. It’s not to put Him in a box, or tell Him what His will is, but it’s to honor and believe Him.
In conclusion, there are three ways God heals today.
- The intervention of God – Acts 3:1-9. This is what immediately comes to our mind when we thing about God healing. God comes in one fell swoop, and completely heals you of your sickness.
- The interaction of God – 1 Timothy 5:23. God used the Apostle Paul incredibly with healing power, but he wrote to Timothy to drink some wine to help deal with his frequent ailments. So, there is a natural process of healing that entails a good diet, good food choices, specific types of medication, etc. And while we might use these tools, God still deserves complete credit for healing us.
- The enabling of God – 2 Cor. 12:9-10. Even Paul had a “thorn” in his side, that he lived with possibly until the day he died. It’s not that Paul’s faith wasn’t strong enough, or that he didn’t know God well enough, but sometimes it is God’s will to enable us to continue to do His will despite our sickness.