Healing is God’s Justice
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Healing is God’s Justice


Try to imagine the scene: Jesus is returning from the mount where He had been transfigured and His Glory revealed to James, John, and Peter. He had conversed with Moses and Elijah, perhaps in preparation for His final confrontation with the religious authorities in Jerusalem (Mat. 17:3; Mat. 20:18). The final lap was before Him as He set His mind on the cross and the awesome climax to the work entrusted to Him by His God and Father. He had been sent by the Father on the most significant mission in history, and just as He was sent into the World, before He was to leave His disciples, He was to send them into the world with the same exact task - to manifest the Father and His Kingdom to the world (Jhn. 17:6, 26) - His compassion, His goodness, and His power. (Mar. 9:1; 1 Cr. 4:20) This was so that the World might know the one true God, and Jesus whom He had sent, for in that knowledge is eternal life (Jhn. 17:3). And how was the Power of the Father to be manifested? Jesus had been sent from His Father to recover what had been stolen, to invade Enemy- occupied territory and establish a beachhead from which His army would make its assault on the Kingdom of Darkness (Col. 1:13). Before He left He was going to specifically commission His disciples to continue in the work he started, to retake Enemy-occupied territory, and from day one He commenced training them to do so. In the conduct of this supernatural war He manifested the Power of the Father innumerable times in the disciples’ presence (Jhn. 20:31; Jhn. 21:25) and He clearly expected them to learn from Him and to do the same (Lke. 9:1; Lke. 10:19; Mar. 16:17-18). He did so over and over again by destroying the works of the Enemy through mighty acts of deliverance of those held by the Enemy's forces (Lke. 4:18). In fact, Peter summarized the whole of the Lord’s earthly life as follows: You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him (Acts 10:38). He granted the disciples authority (Lke. 10:19) derived from the authority He had received from His Father over all of heaven and earth (Mat. 28:18), to subjugate the Enemy's forces and destroy the works of the Enemy (1 Jhn 3:8; Mar. 12:1-9), and He expected them to use that authority, and to be victorious in doing so (1 Cr. 15:57; Rom. 8:37). Failure! But as he reached the base of the mountain, he encountered a very troubling scene. There was a crowd in an uproar and He quickly surmised the situation. There were His disciples loudly employing His Name in the attempt to heal an obviously troubled boy. As you read the passage, you can imagine Jesus' eyes narrowing and His becoming filled with a mixture of rage and disgust. But what disgusted Him was not so much the attack of the Enemy on a defenseless child, but something else entirely: the very public and embarrassing failure of His disciples to heal! Let's look at the Scripture: When they [Jesus, Peter and John] came back [from the Mat. of Transfiguration] to the disciples, they saw a large crowd around [the disciples], and some scribes arguing with them. Immediately, when the entire crowd saw Him, they were amazed and began running up to greet Him. And He asked them, "What are you discussing with [my disciples]?" And one of the crowd answered Him, "Teacher, I brought You my son, possessed with a spirit which makes him mute; and whenever it seizes him, it slams him to the ground and he foams at the mouth, and grinds his teeth and stiffens out. I told Your disciples to cast it out, and they could not do it." And He [!] answered them and [!] said, "You faithless people! How long must I be with you until you believe? How long must I put up with you? Bring the boy to me." (Mat. 17:14-18) This incident is obviously important as it is recorded in all three Synoptic Gospels. In the versions of the same incident in Matthew and Luke, the disciples are called not only faithless but “twisted” or "perverse". In other words, He basically called His disciples "unbelieving perverts!" He expressly regretted that He had “to put up with them”. Can you imagine? Jesus was ticked! The Jesus of Love and Compassion came down publicly on His disciples like a ton of bricks! This was not Jesus, the gentle Lamb of God - this was Jesus, the Drill Sergeant, or better yet, the Commander-in-Chief of the Heavenly Host! And He was not happy! He didn't say "Nice try, better luck next time", presumably because this isn't JV basketball - this is the Battle of the Ages for the souls of men, and defeat is not an acceptable outcome. Indeed, the Father "always leads us to victory in Christ Jesus."  (1 Cr. 15:57) Apparently, His disciples were not sufficiently "in" Christ Jesus or victory would have been theirs. Why was that? [Note: Jesus was not castigating the demonized child with his comments, nor the child’s father or anyone else, other than His disciples. Jesus never told the sick to heal themselves although on occasion He did commend them for their faith and credit their faith with their healing. Nevertheless, He commanded, not requested, His disciples to heal the sick, and He expected them to do so, unlike the God TV frauds and others who belittle the sick for their lack of faith, when they should be belittling themselves, based on Jesus’ view of the matter]. We might safely surmise from his reaction and the context that Christ was acutely embarrassed for the Father and the effect of such failure on His reputation among men. And the disciples were also embarrassing Him, throwing His Name around like that and nothing to show for it. The Enemy had essentially told the disciples in front of the crowd and in response to the invocation of Jesus' Name, to "take a hike!" In short, the Name above all names had been “dissed” by the Enemy – big time! How was the great Name of the Father to be manifested to the World, the recovery of what belonged to the Father to succeed, with this type of performance, with this level of faithlessness or unbelief? Logically, it is easy to see that the effect of such failure on the people of God by those representing Christ, speaking in the Name of Christ, is demoralizing and itself promotes more faithlessness. Indeed, we can probably assume that this was Christ’s thinking exactly. This is because in the most famous contest up to that time between the power of God and that of Satan (Baal), the issue facing Elijah in 1 Kings 18 was turning the hearts of the people of Israel in a time of apostasy back to God. That would only happen through a miraculous victory against the priests of Baal, through God answering prayer in a mighty way. Failure would lead to further apostasy in Israel on an even greater scale. Recall that Elijah and King Ahab had set up a contest between Elijah and the priests of Baal to decide, literally, who was God. Here’s how it went down: Elijah came near to all the people and said, "How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him." But the people did not answer him a word. Then Elijah said to the people, "I alone am left a prophet of the LORD, but Baal's prophets are 450 men. "Now let them give us two oxen; and let them choose one ox for themselves and cut it up, and place it on the wood, but put no fire under it; and I will prepare the other ox and lay it on the wood, and I will not put a fire under it. "Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the LORD, and the God who answers by fire, He is God." And all the people said, "That is a good idea."…(1 Ki. 18:21-25) So the people were happy with the contest, as it would clearly demonstrate who has the POWER, and therefore who is God, and who is worthy of worship. If we, as servants of the Lord, take up the challenge between the power of Satan in sickness and the power of the Lord, how is this different from what Elijah was doing? If not different, we should understand that the ramifications for the hearts of men will be the same. Elijah then enunciates all that is at stake in this contest, in his prayer to the Lord, and the Lord responds! At the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, Elijah the prophet came near and said, "O LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, today let it be known that You are God in Israel and that I am Your servant and I have done all these things at Your word. "Answer me, O LORD, answer me, that this people may know that You, O LORD, are God, and that You have turned their heart back again." Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, "The LORD, He is God; the LORD, He is God." (1 Ki. 18:37-39) Note the effect on the crowd – they immediately went into worshipful believing mode – “the Lord, HE IS GOD.” How many were saved that day out of the apostasy we can only imagine. Who among us has the courage to pray as Elijah did, since losing meant not only the end of his reputation as a spiritual man of God, but the end of His life, since if he had failed, he would have been slaughtered, and not the 450 Baal priests who were immediately put to the sword after this contest. But when we choose to pay for the sick, aren’t we setting up the same spiritual contest? Do we really understand what is going on in the supernatural realm and the reputations at issue? All we in the modern church have done is to re-cast our failure as an arbitrary exercise of God’s sovereignty, but on the basis of Matthew 17, is that really true? The effect on the pagans of a believer invoking the Lord’s Name and succeeding is that they cannot resist the proof before them, and many in this manner submit to the Lord. In fact, the church fathers make it clear that early church growth was due largely to the disciples’ power over disease and demons, which the people could not deny. The consequence of failing is for the pagans to have no further interest in the Lord – they have their own gods and they know those gods have power, and they are regularly terrified or oppressed by that power. If this so-called King of ours has less power (or no power) than their gods, they reason that they should not waste time fooling with Him as their hands are full appeasing their own gods on a daily basis. *** Great Expectations What are we to make of this? What really are the expectations of Jesus for those who are called by His Name? Can we continue in the manner of the church today and attribute all such failures to God and His sovereignty, and not to ourselves? The incident in Matthew 17 above makes it clear that Jesus saw the failure to heal was due to the disciples' failure to believe. There was nothing missing on His end. There was no question of His sovereignty being the problem, or of His deciding for whatever mysterious or arbitrary reason not to heal. His disciples knew that Jesus always healed when asked to do so - they had followed Him around for over three years. There is no recorded discussion or deliberation in the Gospels during the ministry of Jesus over whether to heal one and not the other, or the worthiness of a particular supplicant, or of any culling process. “There is no partiality with God.” (Rom. 2:11) Jesus healed them ALL, all who came to Him, as did His disciples after He left (Acts 5:16)! The news about Him spread throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all who were ill, those suffering with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, paralytics; and He healed them. (Mat. 4:24) When evening came, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed; and He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were ill. (Mat. 8:16) But Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there. Many followed Him, and He healed them all. (Mat. 12:15) According to the Gospels, He turned no one away, ever. He never advised people to continue to suffer on the premise God was chastising them, or that their suffering would produce patience or spiritual growth - how does that help when one may shortly be dead? Certainly, God is big and wise enough that He can work “all things to the good” (Rom. 8:28), but the question here is what is His perfect will and destiny for us. The actions of Jesus in the Gospels indicate that that perfect will is health and a long life (“…with a long life I will satisfy him…” (Ps. 91:18)). Sure, we will have tribulation in this world (Jhn. 16:33), but Jesus recognized that sickness was always the work of the Enemy, for if we are to believe that sickness is the work of the Father, we cannot explain Jesus' unremitting opposition to it, nor Peter's summing up of Jesus' entire life on earth in Acts 10:38 as “healing ALL who were oppressed by the Devil” (Acts 10:38), and John’s as “destroying the work of the devil.” (1 Jhn. 3:8) For that matter, to press the point, if disease is from God, as many believe today, we who are sick should not even go to the doctor, for why should we then work against God's mighty purposes? Why hope to get well? This is probably the most debilitating mindset of all, as it forces us to accept sickness as our fate rather than battle it as the soldiers (2 Ti. 2:3) we are called to be, with all the mighty tools made available to us by the Lord Himself, most specifically, the authority we now have to use His Name. No, this is war against a deadly and determined Enemy, sickness is a mighty weapon of the Enemy in that war (e.g.,Lke. 13:16), and Jesus recognized it clearly as such. Accordingly, as He came to “free the captives” (Lke. 4:18), He healed the sick and oppressed immediately, always, everywhere, and apparently expected the same from His disciples. What a contrast this incident in Matthew 17 is to the theology of helplessness that grips today's church – a theology and attitude fueled by the apparently erroneous assumption that these failures are on God's side, not ours. The value of this approach, and why it is almost universally adopted in today's church, is that it enables us to continue in our own estimate of our spiritual selves; it leaves intact our spiritual self-esteem and reputation among men despite these obvious failures. We are the favored of God; we are not "unbelieving and perverse", we say quietly to ourselves. It is God who refuses to heal when asked; this leads to our next inmost thought whispered to us by Satan though never articulated outright – “perhaps God is the one who is really ‘perverse.’ How else to explain the predominant failure to heal through prayer? And that forces another deep question - what does this say about our real perception of God? The fact is that this theology of helplessness has as its lynchpin a view of God totally at odds with the picture given of Jesus in the Gospels, and the Scripture in general - a view of God as cold, uncaring, fickle, and unreliable, when in reality He is a mighty warrior on our behalf, moreover, a Father, who has withheld nothing from us (Rom. 8:31; 1 Cr. 2:12). Nevertheless, our heart hears Satan whisper to us, if we were God, we would certainly heal the person prayed for - what is His problem that He doesn't? Why isn't He willing? Jesus was the express manifestation of the Father (Col. 1:15). He was willing (Mat. 8:3) - always willing as the Scripture above indicates, for “there is no partiality with God” (Rom. 2:11). To the rescue of our fleshly egos and religiosity comes the wholly unscriptural belief in God being, well, equivocal, of God having since changed from how portrayed in the Scripture (“Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today, and forever.” (Heb. 13:8)), of God being not one to rely upon for deliverance from these troubles (“Call upon me in the day of trouble and I will rescue you and you will honor me.” (Ps. 50:15)). Man has always, since the Garden, preferred a lie to the Truth, and this is a lie which we cling to with white knuckles, for to release our grip leaves us no alternative but to conclude that we are far, far away from the disciple the Lord intends for us to be, and, understandably, we cannot live with that thought. One reason is that many of us love the Lord and we cannot bear the thought that we are more carnal than spiritual, and therefore not as intimate as we should be.  However, another reason is that we are all Pharisees in our flesh, we have our pride after all, and so we choose to believe our worldly reasoning and our self-evaluation over the clear teaching of the Scripture. Perhaps we could put this incident in Matthew 17, despite its prominence in three Gospels, to the side, as an outlier to our theology. Perhaps Jesus was just having a bad day and took it out on the disciples. Unfortunately, we are not given that option by the Scripture. Jesus the Warrior (Ex. 15:3) manifests the same frustration with His disciples and their faithlessness in several other incidents: (Mat. 14:13-16) Now when Jesus heard about John, He withdrew from there in a boat to a secluded place by Himself; and when the people heard of this, they followed Him on foot from the cities. When He went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and felt compassion for them and healed their sick. When it was evening, the disciples came to Him and said, "This place is desolate and the hour is already late; so send the crowds away, that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves." But Jesus said to them, "They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat!" Notice the exclamation point again. Wow - what is going on here? Did Jesus expect them to produce bread out of thin air? We wonder whether He really could have expected such wondrous things from them, until we recall his later words: "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father." (Jhn. 14:12) In Matthew 16:5-11, He lights into them again over their lack of faith: And the disciples came to the other side of the sea, but they had forgotten to bring any bread. And Jesus said to them, "Watch out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees." They began to discuss this among themselves, saying, "He said that because we did not bring any bread."But Jesus, aware of this, said, "You men of little faith, why do you discuss among yourselves that you have no bread? "Do you not yet understand or remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets full you picked up? "Or the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many large baskets full you picked up? "How is it that you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread? ..."  We find it uncomfortable to actually study these passages because they run counter to our “Disney” view of Christ. Granted, Christ did not speak specifically here about the disciples’ ability to produce the bread, but He spoke of it in Mat. 14 above, and, at the least, He dispelled here any doubt about his willingness and ability to do so for them (and us) without fail when necessary. Finally, we all know the story about the stilling of the wind and the waves: And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?" And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, "Peace! Be still!" And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, "Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?" Again, we are left speechless – He is exasperated over their faithlessness, this time to still the wind and the waves? Is that what He expects us to do when necessary? Finally, in Luke 12, while the disciples were just standing there before Him and listening to Him teach, they were scolded again for the littleness of their faith in the middle of an exposition by Christ on the topic of anxiety. "But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You men of little faith! (Lke. 12:28) Again, the exclamation point for emphasis. This appears to be a wholly gratuitous admonition, prompted by nothing in particular. Obviously, Christ felt it important that the disciples have faith in order to push the offensive forward into Enemy-occupied territory! *** The Faith of God Important to the foregoing is an understanding of the authority Christ enjoys to rule over the creation as "the last Adam." (1 Cr. 15:45) The first Adam, and through him the rest of his lineage, was given authority to "rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth." (Gen. 1:28) That authority came under Satan’s authority when the first Adam joined the mutiny Satan was leading in Genesis 3 and became his subjects in the Kingdom of Darkness (Col. 1:13). Satan is now the “ruler of this world” (Jhn 14:29) and the whole world lies in his power” (1 Jhn 5:19). But in the last Adam, Christ, Satan has now been subjugated, as Christ is seated "far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and every name that is named, not only in this age but the age to come." And “all things are in subjection under His feet… (Eph. 1:20-22) Finally, we are "seated with Him" in the same position of authority over Satan, the earth, and “all things.” (Eph. 2:6) Christ confirmed this authority specifically in the area of demons and disease. Consider: And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases. and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. ..The seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!" (Lke. 9:1; Lke. 10:20-19) What He sent the disciples to do is what He had been sent to do for He says in the high priestly prayer of John 17: As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. (Jhn 17:18) And in John 20: “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you." (Jhn. 20:21) But why are we apparently unable to exercise that authority over Satan, disease, wind, and ...bread. Jesus gave the answer above. It is our "little faith" or our "faithlessness." "Truly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, 'Be taken up and cast into the sea,' it will happen. And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive." (Mat. 21:22) But what does Christ mean by "believing"? Don't all believers "believe"? Apparently the disciples didn't believe enough, or they would not have been regularly scolded for their unbelief and lack of faith. So then, what is this faith that we so desperately need to manifest, to bring to bear for the glory of God our Father, as Jesus did. Jesus Himself explains: Now in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. And Peter, remembering, said to Him, "Rabbi, look! The fig tree which You cursed has withered away." So Jesus answered and said to them, "Have faith of God. "For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be removed and be cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. "Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. (Mar. 11:21-24) Some translations say "Have faith in God." Literally, however, “have the faith of God, or “have God’s faith” are at least if not more justifiable, and probably more instructive, as discussed below. This is the faith, the faith of God, by which we now live, even if we don’t know it. "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." (Gal. 2:20) But how can we humans be expected to manifest the “faith of God”? Fortunately, faith is not something we gin up ourselves; we know from Eph. 2:8 that faith is the gift of God: "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:" Moreover, "God hath dealt to every man THE measure of faith" (emphasis mine); it is not up to us. Each of us received the same dosage at spiritual birth. Peter confirms this: “…to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ." (2 Pe 1:1) Therefore, we have the same faith that Peter used when he raised Dorcas from the dead (Acts 9:36-42) and when he made people whole by touching them with just his shadow (Acts 5:15). If that is so, however, why is that faith so rarely in evidence? The Scripture answers that question – it is our carnality. That faith, the faith of God, is totally at odds with the natural man – our fleshliness. That which is of the Spirit of God in us and that which is of the flesh are contrasted for us by Paul in Romans 8. For all who are according to the flesh have their minds set on the things of the flesh, and those who are according to the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace. (Rom. 8:5-6) Our flesh is of the natural, and “…the natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit for they are foolishness to Him and he does not understand them. (1 Cr. 2: 22) Therefore, although the Spirit does not doubt the Word of God, our flesh is full of doubt and unbelief in respect of the things of God, and, according to Jesus (Mar. 11:21-24),  it is that doubt that is deadly to the “faith of God”. For whatever it means to speak of the “faith of God”, we know this: God does not doubt, when He speaks, that what He says will come to pass. Then God said "Let there be light" and there was light. (Gen. 1:3) God was not worried that light would not show up. He had no doubt - why? Because He knew He had the authority to create light. The faith that does not doubt, moves mountains and creates light, mountain-moving faith, is the faith of God. This type of faith, according to Rom. 4:17, enables God to "... call those things which be not as though they were", such as the Universe itself, as explained in Hebrews 11: Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. (Heb. 11:3) This faith “comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” (Rom. 10:17). So then, the measure of faith in us must come to the fore in triumph over our fleshliness, and this is facilitated by constantly soaking in the Word of God. In addition, and not surprisingly, the Scripture refers on several occasions to the necessity of subjugating our flesh, which certainly seems appropriate in light of its ability if unchecked to destroy mountain-moving faith with doubt. Consider: For if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. Rom. 8:13 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts. Rom. 13:14 Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. 2 Cr. 7:1 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. Gal. 5:16-17 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. Eph. 2:3 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions. (Col. 1:24 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. (1 Jhn. 2:16) The flesh can best be described as all that within us that has not been regenerated by our joinder to Christ (1 Cr. 6:17) – typically thought to be our soul and body, as our spirit, according to John 3, is what is born again by the Spirit. The upshot of the verses above is that we are to recognize the flesh as the enemy of our spirit and the Spirit, and that we should do all to minimalize its pernicious influence on our life so that we will walk consistently by the Spirit. The Spirit does not doubt that God will do what He says – the flesh doubts. Little faith, therefore, is the result of fleshly doubts providing too much resistance for the faith given to us to manifest as God intends. The battle is in the mind. When we entertain doubts it proves we are still carnal (1 Cr. 3:1-3), and being carnal means that which is of the Spirit, like faith, will struggle to manifest in our lives. Carnality will not produce “the works of God.” (Jhn. 6:28) Therefore, as Paul said, we should “discipline our body and make it our slave” (1 Cr. 9:27) so as to enable the triumph of the Spirit and the faith of God to come to the fore, that we might “do the works of God”. The Faith of Shadrach and Company As an example of what the faith of God looks like, in the Hebrews 11 Hall of Fame of the Faithful are, among others, those who were able “to quench the power of fire.” We know that as a clear reference to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, three Israelites who were part of the Babylonian captivity along with Daniel, who emerged unharmed from the palace furnace in Babylon after refusing to worship the King’s golden image.