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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A THEOLOGY OF SUFFERING

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A THEOLOGY OF SUFFERING OR JESUS HEALS TODAY


The theology of suffering always coexists with a powerless and ineffective church which apologizes for its lack of power with mystery and intellectualism. And it produces a powerless and ineffective church. One writer commented on this mind set of suffering.


The will of God has been a deep shadow ... obscuring ... blessing with its decrees of sorrow .... The will of God is associated with sick rooms, poverty, loss. bereavement, funerals, the open grave. The will of God, to such has are schooled in this mind set], is always dressed in black. And this conception of His will gives us sickly Christians, weak faith, empty joy. puny, conquests .... When we say in prayer. Thy will be done, are we always impressed with its significance? Gods will is not ... vindictive ... His will is a blessed companion, which illumines our way, cheers our spirits, makes glad our lives and brings fruitfulness to all that we do (Pentecostal Theology, p. 7 7).


This thinking robs evangelism of its most effective and compelling witness. Healings are powerful, authenticating both the message and the messenger of the gospel.


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Matthew 816-17 When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick,17 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying He Himself took our infirmities And bore our sicknesses. NKJV


I. DIVINE COMMISSION


When Jesus commissioned the disciples; he told them to heal the sick in the houses into which they were received, saying to them The Kingdom of God has come near you (Lk 10).


The issue of faith is of great importance in healing. Jesus said, Your faith that has made you whole, 1) to the woman with the issue of blood, ) to the leper who returned and gave thanks and ) to blind Bartimaeus. People came to Jesus for healing and requested it. Even the man at the Pool of Bethesda was not healed until Jesus had asked him. Do you want to be made well? In fact, as far as we know, He healed only the one in that vast place filled with the infirm.


Paul, preaching at Lystra. perceived a lame man who had been listening to him had faith to be healed. Paul then commanded him in a loud voice to stand to his feet (which he had never done) and the man leaped to his feet and walked (Acts 148 10).


All things are possible to those who believe (Mk ); if we have faith in God anything is possible (Nu 11 4); and Jesus makes clear that faith is necessary even if it is only the size of a mustard seed (Lk 176). We must pointedly preach about mans condition before God and lay out Gods requirements of repentance and faith. We included Gods promises to the believer and how Jesus had paid the price for sin in His atoning sacrifice.


Healing was never presented as just prance in sick and prance out healed.


The issue today, as always, is one of believing God. God helped only one widow woman, and healed only one leper (Naaman) in the days of the prophets. The issue was not need. It was faith. Having a need has never been enough. God is not moved by need…if that were true all who needed money would be blessed and all who were sick would be healed.


Many prayers are not prayers of faith. Many will add, If it be thy will, to the end of their prayer. This is the standard Bible school prayer. This is actually a prayer of unbelief. Consider that to pray and receive you have to know the will of God… Jesus was asked once, “If you can do any thing have compassion on us and heal us…He responded, “If you had faith…etc.”


The if” nullifies faith in almost every realm. The Bible clearly teaches the will of God and His commission to heal the sick. Believers are to use this knowledge and move in authority against sickness and disease. Hosea’ says God’s people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge.


Jesus, called His twelve disciples together and, after giving them power and authority over diseases, sent them to preach and to heal the sick (Luke 1 ), saying to the them, The kingdom of God has come near to you (Luke 10). To the healed leper Jesus said, Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well (Luke 171).


Once you discover the believers authority in Christ, it changes how you pray.


II. THE SPIRITUAL NATURE OF DISEASE


In the Bible record of healing, we see clearly the intertwining of the spiritual, physical and demonic. Lukes gospel documents Jesus casting out an unclean spirit, rebuking a fever (physical disease), and speaking to and commanding demons which came out of people (41 41). Jesus is dealing with spiritual forces as personalities, not as germs. He deals with them as enemies, not as benefactors. Matthew calls these spiritual powers “tormentors”, not comforters (185). They are realities, not superstitions. They are direct demonic links to disease and are somehow able to exercise a tangible dominion over a persons body and life.


Medical researchers have confirmed in many different ways that chronic feelings of hopelessness or unforgiveness can affect the immune system. Holding, retaining, grasping and nurturing bitterness and resentment releases a hormone which suppresses the activity of the immune system and makes man susceptible to disease. Upwards of 85% of those visiting doctors do so because of guilt and shame. People working with chronic pain sufferers, especially lower back pain, point out that much of the pain is related to stress. Current research is bringing to light many such connections between health and spiritual factors.


I am convinced that it is the spiritual issues which are most important in healing.


Proverbs 1814 The spirit of a man will sustain him in sickness, But who can bear a broken spirit? NKJV


Proverbs 17 A merry heart does good, like medicine, But a broken spirit dries the bones.


III. THE ROLE OF THE DEVIL


James says that “the life of the body is the spirit. So long as that life, or spirit, remains in the body, the body continues to live. But as soon as the spirit leaves the body, the body is dead; it decays and returns to the dust.


Many human sicknesses and diseases begin from a tiny germ, an evil satanic life, sent to live in and possess the host body and destroy it. As long as that life, the spirit of infirmity, exists in the body, the growth or disease lives and continues its destructive work.


But as soon as the evil spirit, the evil life, or spirit of infirmity, has been cast out of the body in Jesus name, that disease or growth is dead. It will decay and pass from the body. This is the process of healing.


It is my firm conviction that the devil is the author and perpetrator of all disease. Disease had its opportunity in the Fall of Man and exists as incipient (initial, embryonic) death. Prior to the Fall there was neither disease nor death. No injury, accident or illness was able to strike man until he fell and became vulnerable because of sin. With the Fall came the curse and accident, injury, sickness, weakness and infirmity, all foreshadowing death which came upon all. Physical death is a shadow of spiritual death. All sickness is energized by a spirit of death. Man is a being composed of spirit, soul, and body. He is not primarily a physical being with a spirit but rather a spiritual being inhabiting a physical body. This is not merely words. It is necessary to change our thinking on this issue. This will change the way you deal with the sick.


IV. MAN HAS DOMINION


God gave man dominion with a condition. Disobedience brought death. A clear connection exists between sin and sickness, which is incipient death.


Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die (Ge 15 17).


A. THE PROMISE OF HEALING


And the LORD will take away from you all sickness, and will afflict you with none of the terrible diseases of Egypt which you have known, but will lay them on all those who hate you (Deu 715).


A sound heart is life to the body, But envy is rottenness to the bones (Prov 140).


Surely He has borne our griefs And earned our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Mm, And by His stripes we are healed (Isa 54 5).


And He said to them,


Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover. So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen (Mark 1615 0).


Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven (James 5115).


B. GOD WANTS ME HEALED!


The necessary revelation is simply, God wants me well. One writer put it The devil wants you begging; Jesus wants you living. The devil wants you crawling; Jesus wants you walking. The devil wants you whining; Jesus wants you dining. The devil wants you down; Jesus wants you up. The enemy is the devil.


God is not punishing with sickness. At the root of all sickness is the devil. He gives energy and power to all disease and infirmity. The Bible is Gods self revelation. In its pages we learn how to relate to and approach God in obedience to his revealed will and not according to our feelings, moods or human reasoning. The lack of power in many churches is because many are unaware of who God is and how to approach Him. They have lost the revelation of The Lord Our Healer and the truth of Jesus dynamic healing ministry someone has counted twenty seven miracles attributed to Jesus in the Scripture as well as ten occasions of general healing in large numbers of people with a wide variety (every kind) of diseases. Jesus, never passive about sickness, treated it as the enemy. There are two primary hindrances to treating those who are sick.


First is ignorance concerning the will of God.


Lilian Yeomans said, I believe that one of the greatest hindrances to healing is the absence of a certain definite knowledge as to Gods will. There is lurking in most everyone a feeling that God may not be willing, that we have to persuade Him to heal us.


Secondly, we tend to be very passive about disease and infirmity. There is a reluctance to believe and aggressively pursue healing.


V. AGGRESSIVE CONFRONTATION


Jesus makes aggressive action a necessary ingredient for kingdom living, saying


...from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force (Mat 111).


Likewise in Luke, The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it (1616).


Aggressive, or violent, action in the company of faith pleases God and he anoints it.


See how ... God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him (Acts 108).


Importantly, Jesus heals because he God The Healer. He does not heal as some special event but because it is His nature.


A. JESUS BORE OUR SICKNESSES


The language and context of Isaiah’s great Messianic prophecy clearly point to Jesus actually carrying our sicknesses and diseases. In His death, and shed blood, is provision for physical healing as part of salvation.


Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed (Isa 54 5).


Matthew applies this prophecy directly to the healing ministry of Jesus. They brought to Him many who were demon possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying He Himself took our infirmities And bore our sicknesses (Mat 816 17). Peter also uses this scripture, only he applies it to believers. [Jesus] bore our sins in Ms own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness; by whose stripes you were healed (I Pet 4). The story of the leper ties the nature of God together with his willingness. Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, I am willing; be cleansed (Mark 141).





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