If I wanted to learn to fly an airplane, I would ask a pilot. If I wanted to build a house, I would speak to a contractor. If I wanted to understand plumbing, I would consult a plumber.
The same is true of healing. If one wants to learn about healing, he should not ask a doctor, a nurse, a paramedic or any other “medical expert.” They cannot heal anyone—and most will readily admit this! They will also admit that they do not know what the Bible says about it.
God is the One who heals. If you want to learn about healing, you must ask the One who knows about it.
God says in Hosea, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because you have rejected knowledge, I will also reject you” (4:6). All the essential knowledge of God is available to any who seek it. But to get the full picture, the scriptures must be put together carefully and completely. God states that He reveals His purpose and teaching to those mature enough to be instructed: “Whom shall He teach knowledge? And whom shall He make to understand doctrine? Them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little” (Isa. 28:9-10). Therefore, all the verses on healing are not in one place.
The Bible reveals God’s will—His understanding and teaching—on every spiritual matter. It has much to say about healing. We must examine many verses in order to strip away the mystery behind this subject. You can understand healing. God’s willingness to heal you can be known. Answers to the most commonly asked questions about healing are addressed in the Bible—and this booklet will reveal its plain answers!
Two New Testament Healings
Two vital New Testament scriptures set the stage for all that we will study.
Mark 5 records the case of a woman who had a chronic “issue of blood.” After many physicians had made her condition worse, she sought Christ for healing. Notice: “And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years, and had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse” (vs. 25-26). Christ healed her and concluded with this all-important statement: “Daughter, your faith has made you whole; go in peace…” (vs. 34).
Doctors did not, and could not, heal her. But Christ could, and did—and faith was the key.
Next, Matthew 9 shows how healing is always directly tied to faith: “And when Jesus departed there, two blind men followed Him, crying, and saying, You son of David, have mercy on us. And…the blind men came to Him: and Jesus said unto them, Believe you that I am able to do this? They said unto Him, Yes, Lord. Then touched He their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you” (vs. 27-29). These men believed that Christ could give them sight. His answer? “According to your faith be it unto you.”
Christ asked, “When the Son of man comes, shall He find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8). This verse speaks of conditions just before the time of His Return. Christ leaves this an open question. He understood that almost all would not have faith at the end of the age—just before the establishing of the kingdom of God. He knew that most would not be willing to believe direct statements from the Bible. He recognized that conditions on Earth would create an anti-faith atmosphere, making it very difficult for people to believe even plain scriptures. He knew that very few would be willing to take God's promises at face value!
But Christ promised 2,000 years ago that He would build His Church (Matt. 16:18). It would be composed of the few (Luke 12:32)—not the many—who would be willing to believe God, and “live by faith” (Hab. 2:4; Rom. 1:17) and “every word of God” (Matt. 4:4; Luke 4:4; Deut. 8:3).
Faith and healing are inseparable. You cannot be healed without true faith. This booklet will make this point absolutely clear.
Yet, what is faith? Without understanding what it is, one cannot have it. In the second chapter, we will thoroughly discuss what the Bible teaches about real faith—sufficient for healing, or for receiving any promise of God!
First, we will examine many Old Testament scriptures about healing. As we do, you must be willing to believe what the Bible says.
The Old Testament Teaching
Does healing first appear in the New Testament? Certainly Christ and the apostles did perform miracles and heal many who were sick. It is commonly supposed that these things first happened in the New Testament, for the sole purpose of proving that Christ was the Messiah.
This is simply not true. Healing did not first appear in the New Testament. The Old Testament records numerous miraculous healings. It is here that God first reveals Himself as the One who heals. Prepare to be surprised!
Almost immediately after God delivered Israel from bondage in Egypt, He had to perform a miracle just for them to have water to drink. It was at this point that He revealed Himself as the God who heals. Notice: “If you will diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord your God, and will do that which is right in His sight, and will give ear to His commandments, and keep all His statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon you, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that heals you” (Ex. 15:26).
In the Old Testament, God uses several names to designate who and what He is. In this verse, He introduces Himself as Yahweh-Rapha, meaning the “God who heals”—or the “healing God.”
Soon after this, God told Israel that they were not to serve any other gods. Here is His instruction and promise to them if they obeyed: “You shall not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do after their works: but you shall utterly overthrow them, and quite break down their images. And you shall serve the Lord your God, and He shall bless your bread, and your water; and I will take sickness away from the midst of you” (Ex. 23:24-25).
In Deuteronomy, God added, “And the Lord will take away from you”—heal—“all sickness, and will put none of the evil diseases of Egypt, which you know, upon you” (7:15). And then, “See now that I, even I, am He, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of My hand” (32:39).
God establishes Himself as our Healer in these plain verses.
King David understood this. In Psalm 6:2, he prayed, “Have mercy upon me, O Lord; for I am weak: O Lord, heal me; for my bones are vexed.” Psalm 41:4 is similar: “I said, Lord, be merciful unto me: heal my soul; for I have sinned against You.” After these kinds of prayers, David was able to say, “O Lord my God, I cried unto You, and You have healed me” (30:2).
David also prayed, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits” (Psa. 103:2). Most today do not understand that there are many wonderful benefits to serving God. He is often depicted as a God of “Thou shalt nots…” instead of as the God who desires to bless His people. David knew that God is always willing to forgive and to heal every kind of sickness and disease. Notice the very next verse: “Who forgives all your iniquities [sins]; Who heals all your diseases” (vs. 3).
Sometimes people become sick through foolishness—poor diet, lack of rest or wrong living and thinking. Others are injured in unnecessary accidents due to carelessness. God is still willing to forgive such people—and heal them. Consider this passage: “Fools because of their transgression, and because of their iniquities, are afflicted. Their soul abhors all manner of meat; and they draw near unto the gates of death. Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and He saves them out of their distresses. He sent His word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions” (Psa. 107:17-20).
Take notice that Psalm 103:3 said in the same verse that God forgives all iniquity (lawlessness) and heals all diseases. David had asked God for mercy in Psalm 41. Mercy is required when forgiveness is necessary. Healing involves the forgiveness of physical sins.
No doctor, drug or medication can forgive sin—only God can do this! Therefore, no doctor, drug or medication can heal. But God can! It is vital that we understand why healing and forgiveness of sin are often mentioned in the same context. God is the only One that can do either!
Now we must examine three separate Old Testament case histories that each involved a king. Critically important lessons come from these accounts.
David was not the only one that God healed. King Hezekiah of Judah had been told personally by the prophet Isaiah that he was going to die. Ask yourself: What would I do in such circumstances? II Kings 18:5 records that Hezekiah “trusted in the Lord God of Israel; so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him.”
Here is the account: “In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him, and said unto him, Thus says the Lord, Set your house in order; for you shall die, and not live. Then he turned his face to the wall, and prayed unto the Lord, saying, I beseech You, O Lord, remember now how I have walked before you in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in your sight. And Hezekiah wept sore. And it came to pass, afore Isaiah was gone out into the middle court, that the word of the Lord came to him, saying, Turn again, and tell Hezekiah the captain of My people, Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father, I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears: behold, I will heal you: on the third day you shall go up unto the house of the Lord. And I will add unto your days fifteen years…and he recovered” (II Kings 20:1-7).
In faith, Hezekiah tearfully sought God. He did not rush off to a hospital or seek doctors. He sought to overturn God’s will through prayer and faith.
The next account involves King Ahaziah of Israel, son of the wicked King Ahab. His example is far different than that of Hezekiah. Notice: “And Ahaziah fell down through a lattice in his upper chamber that was in Samaria, and was sick: and he sent messengers, and said unto them, Go, inquire of Baal-zebub the god of Ekron whether I shall recover of this disease. But the angel of the Lord said to Elijah the Tishbite, Arise, go up to meet the messengers of the king of Samaria, and say unto them, Is it not because there is not a God in Israel, that you go to inquire of Baal-zebub the god of Ekron? Now therefore thus says the Lord, You shall not come down from that bed on which you are gone up, but shall surely die. And Elijah departed. And when the messengers turned back unto him, he said unto them, Why are you now turned back?” (II Kings 1:2-5).
Baal-zebub was the patron deity medicine god, who was located in the city of Ekron. His name literally means “the lord of dunghills” or “the lord of flies.” Anciently, people understood that flies were filthy and transported many diseases. Of course, they are commonly seen on dung of all types. Baal-zebub’s intervention was sought by inquiring through his priestly representatives. Yet God says that He is the one who heals.
God was not pleased that Ahaziah sought a different god—one that could not heal. The result? Ahaziah died. Hezekiah’s account indicates that it may have been needlessly. Had Ahaziah sought the true God who heals, he might have been granted many more years to live.
The final account involves the fascinating story of King Asa of Judah. Asa was a righteous king who initially trusted in God. As a result, God blessed and protected Judah for over thirty-five years. II Chronicles 15:17 records that “the heart of Asa was perfect all his days.” His obedience to God was perfect, but his faith was not. This is the critical lesson here.
While God had promised that He would always fight Judah’s battles, Asa lost faith and paid tribute money to the king of Assyria in exchange for his assistance as an ally. God consistently condemned His people to captivity for seeking physical alliances with surrounding nations, when He was perfectly willing and able to defend them—to fight for and in place of them. Almost as consistently, Israel rebelled and would not seek the true God first.
Here is Asa’s account: “And Asa in the thirty and ninth year of his reign was diseased in his feet, until his disease was exceeding great: yet in his disease he sought not to the Lord, but to the physicians.” Because Asa ignored God’s role as Healer, he “slept with his fathers, and died in the one and fortieth year of his reign” (II Chron. 16:12-13).
The rest of the account shows that the prophet Hanani had visited Asa to jolt him into recognizing that he had drifted from God. But Asa became angry and threw him in prison. It was only a short while later that Asa fell sick.
Many New Testament verses address healing, but we are not yet ready to examine and understand them. It is important that some additional background material first be brought into the picture.
Throughout Christ’s 3 1/2-year ministry, He preached—as an advance announcement—the gospel of the coming kingdom of God. Mark 1:14-15 records the first statement of Christ’s purpose and commission—His message: “Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent you, and believe the gospel.”
When speaking to a group of listeners in the desert, Christ explained His purpose—His responsibility: “And He said unto them, I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent” (Luke 4:43).
In the Old Testament, Jesus was prophesied to come as a messenger—He was sent with a message—of the gospel. Notice Malachi 3:1: “Behold, I will send My messenger [John the Baptist, prior to Christ’s first coming], and he shall prepare the way before Me: and the Lord, whom you seek, shall suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger [Jesus Christ] of the covenant, whom you delight in.”
Christ was the Messenger, not the message. His message—the gospel of the kingdom of God—is the very core of the entire Bible.
Now compare this verse with another: “The law and the prophets [only the Old Testament scriptures had been preached previously] were until John [the Baptist]: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presses into it” (Luke 16:16).
The preaching of Christ’s message was accompanied by miracles and healings. These always went hand in hand. Notice: “And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people” (Matt. 4:23).
The world is ignorant of the true gospel. The leaders of this world’s brand of Christianity have suppressed it and substituted a variety of false gospels in its place. The apostle Paul powerfully warned those who would twist or pervert the gospel, or replace it with a counterfeit. Here is what he told the Galatian Christians: “I marvel that you are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ” (1:6-7). It states the gospel “of” Christ, not “about” Christ. Remember, Christ’s gospel was about the kingdom of God.
Paul went on to warn, “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that you have received, let him be accursed” (1:8-9).
Strong words! Woe to any who would preach a false gospel! Yet for almost 1,900 years, the true gospel was not preached. It was not until the twentieth century that God restored the knowledge of what is the true gospel to the world as a whole.
Satan is the god of this world. He has been able to blind humanity for thousands of years to the truth of the coming kingdom of God. Paul also warned the Corinthian brethren not to be deceived. Speaking of Satan, he wrote, “In whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them” (II Cor. 4:4). Revelation 12:9 states that Satan “deceives the whole world.”
How has he done this? More specifically, how has he deceived the masses of traditional Christianity?
The New Testament Church was warned to reject those who brought “another gospel,” or “another Jesus,” or derived their authority from “another spirit.” Seven chapters later in II Corinthians, Paul explained how Satan (11:3) deceives so many: “For if he that comes preaches another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if you receive another spirit, which you have not received, or another gospel, which you have not accepted, you might well bear with him” (11:4). Generally speaking, this “other Jesus” that professing Christianity follows is one who does not heal and did not suffer horribly for our sins (as we shall understand later), prior to crucifixion.
Many to be Deceived
Now understand! The devil does not personally walk up and down the street or enter churches teaching a false gospel or false doctrines. He uses his ministers. Notice Paul’s additional warning to the Corinthians: “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works” (11:13-15).
Yes, Satan has ministers—and they appear as ministers of light and righteousness. They seem to be God’s ministers. It is not surprising that those who bring a false gospel would not understand the miracles and healings that always accompany the preaching of the true gospel.
In Matthew 24, Christ discusses the most important trends, conditions and events to appear just prior to His Return. His disciples wanted Him to explain what would happen: “And as He sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto Him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the world? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in My name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many” (vs. 3-5).
Many have come claiming Christ’s authority—and many have been deceived! Satan’s ministers have failed to announce the coming, world-ruling kingdom or government of God. They have most often replaced Christ’s message about the kingdom with a message about the Messenger. The Messenger is not the message. His announcement was the message—and still is.
But Christ foretold that, just prior to the end, His Church would preach the true gospel around the world. Notice: “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (vs. 14).
Mark’s account of this same prophecy adds, “And the gospel must first be published among all nations” (13:10). Three chapters later, Christ commissioned His followers—the apostles, and those true ministers who would faithfully teach His message—to faithfully carry the true gospel to the world: “And He said unto them, Go you into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (16:15).
Matthew 24:14 plainly states that the preaching of the kingdom of God would occur prior to “the end.” If this had been occurring for the preceding nearly 1,900 years, this statement would make no sense. (Only a relatively few people secretly heard the true gospel through this time.) How could it be prophesied to occur at the end if it was happening throughout history? But Christ foretold that a final period of witness and warning would happen prior to His Return. And, beginning in 1934, it did!
The Restored Church of God continues to preach this gospel today! (To learn more about this subject, read our booklet Which Is the True Gospel?)
However, neither Matthew nor Luke recorded that public healing would accompany the preaching of the gospel at the end of the age. This is because healing is now for the Church (Jms. 5:14-15), which Christ promised to build (Matt. 16:18). It was to be a commandment-keeping Church comprised of those seeking to please God in everything they do (I John 3:22).
Revelation 12 describes in summary the 2,000-year history of Christ’s true Church. The small, faithful few of God’s flock (Luke 12:32) have been persecuted, suffering extreme hardship and martyrdom at the hands of another church, described in the Revelation 17. This large church is described as politically powerful and controlling this world’s rulers, nations and kingdoms. It is also pictured as “drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs.” It has suppressed the true gospel of God’s government coming to earth, and has described itself as “the kingdom of God on earth,” present in “the hearts of men.”
This false church, described as a “great whore,” began in A.D. 33, under the leadership of Simon the sorcerer (Acts 8)—and by the second century was masquerading as God’s true Church. Jude 4 describes those who “crept in unawares…turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness [license].” II Kings 17:18-24 describes how, in 718 B.C., Samaria, in northern Israel, became the headquarters of the Babylonian mystery religion—from which the false church received her doctrines (Rev. 17:5).
But the kingdom of God is still being proclaimed—and it is going out in power around the world today. When that gospel is being preached, healings and other miracles will take place. Miracles do still occur in God’s Church. The true Church of God teaches and practices the truth about healing. The result? Miracles and healings occur—and are increasing!
Healing in the New Testament
Some will admit that the Old Testament shows that God heals. But at the same time, they seem unwilling to understand many basic New Testament scriptures that are just as plain. Instead, confusion reigns due to the lack of faith in God’s clear promises.
Some think that God still heals, but that He only does it through medical science—that God raised this up for us today. Others believe God healed in the past, but only through Christ and the apostles in the first century. Still others go further, believing that God can heal, but are not sure that He will—or that He will heal them.
Of course, we saw in Matthew 4:23 that Christ healed “all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.” After Christ’s Sermon on the Mount of chapters 5-7, chapter 8 records, “When He was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him. And, behold, there came a leper and worshiped Him, saying, Lord, if You will, You can make me clean. And Jesus put forth His hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be you clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed” (vs. 1-3).
Did you notice that, when asked by the leper if He would heal him, Christ said, “I will.” It was Christ’s will to heal him. It still is His will to heal.
Two verses later, Christ encountered a Roman centurion, demonstrating that God also heals Gentiles: “And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto Him a centurion, beseeching Him, And saying, Lord, my servant lies at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. And Jesus said unto him, I will come and heal him. The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goes; and to another, Come, and he comes; and to my servant, Do this, and he does it. When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom [the Jews of that day] shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go your way; and as you have believed, so be it done unto you. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour” (Matt. 8:5-13).
What is Healing?
Recall that David asked for mercy—forgiveness—when he sought God to heal him. Also recall that this is because healing involves forgiving sin.
We must understand. Paul wrote that “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). But what is sin? Many proclaim themselves “sinners,” while having no idea what this means. How did they sin?
I John 3:4 states, “sin is the transgression of the law.” This is critical knowledge that directly relates healing to the kingdom of God. How? God’s spiritual law of love (Rom. 7:14, 13:10; I John 5:3) will be enforced in His kingdom. It is best described as the “give” way of life and is summarized in the Ten Commandments.
Sin carries a terrible penalty. Romans 6:23 states that “the wages of sin is death”—eternal death. It could be said that the wages of physical sin is sickness and disease. Violation of spiritual law will result in eternal death. Violations of physical law can result in illness or even physical death.
But sin has other consequences. It cuts people off from God (Isa. 59:1-2), and this includes His blessings (Jer. 5:25). When God set His great spiritual law in motion, automatic penalties for disobedience were set in motion with it.
But how is one released from the penalty of sin—physical or spiritual?
While most traditional Christians never fully understand Christ’s sacrifice for our spiritual sins—and what it means—they do generally know “Christ died for us.” Take time to read Colossians 1:13-16 and Ephesians 3:9. His shed blood paid the penalty for broken spiritual laws. But what about the forgiveness of physical sin? How does this work? Most do not even know that there is such a thing as the forgiveness of physical sin—partly because almost no one understands and uses the term.
Let’s understand. Human beings are made from the dust of the ground (Gen. 2:7). No matter how long a person may live, eventually, he dies. There are no exceptions (Heb. 9:27).
But your body was made with numerous inter-connected systems that, when functioning properly together, result in good health. When physical laws are broken, systems break down and no longer work in harmony. Things go wrong—and sickness and disease is the result. This is the penalty for disobedience to one or more of these laws.
Let’s return to Matthew 8. After the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law, the account picks up in verse 16 with critical understanding of Christ’s prophesied role in our healing. First let’s read: “When the even was come, they brought unto Him many that were possessed with devils: and He cast out the spirits with His word, and healed all that were sick: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses” (vs. 16-17).
This is a plain New Testament verse about Christ’s fulfillment of a prophecy to bare “our”—including ours today—infirmities and sicknesses. That is what it said. This is God’s promise—and it was always part of His Plan that Christ physically suffer so that He could remove the penalty of broken physical laws hanging over us.
Jesus Christ willingly paid the penalty for every physical mistake human beings make that result in bad health. Every condition, pain, suffering, disease, illness, injury, physical infirmity—and even death itself—is covered within Christ’s promise.
Jesus literally takes your physical sins and bears them on your behalf. They are not placed in some kind of suspended condition. They are removed by Christ. Through God’s miracle, they are gone!
Isaiah’s Graphic Prophecy
Matthew referenced Isaiah. This prophet recorded two astonishing passages describing Christ’s terrible suffering prior to His crucifixion on the stake. Examining and considering their meaning reveals how Christ was able to bare our infirmities and sicknesses. This time, let’s read in the Revised Standard Version: “As many were astonished at Him—His appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and His form beyond that of the sons of men—so shall He startle [shock, astonish] many nations; kings shall shut their mouths because of Him; for that which has not been told them they shall see, and that which they have not heard they shall understand” (52:14-15).
Yes, Christ’s true suffering and condition will one day be shocking—startling!—to a great many. Notice that two groups are mentioned when referencing what Christ endured. Those who “were” astonished at what He suffered—and those that “shall” be startled by this knowledge, and by the supreme power and glory Christ will have when He returns as King of kings and Lord of lords. At that time, the entire world will recognize Christ as both King and Healer of every sickness known to man!
This extensive passage actually continues past the manmade chapter division. These verses complete the picture of Christ’s fulfillment of His role—and how the vast majority of mankind would misunderstand and “reject” the true Christ. Now continue: “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from Him; He was despised, and we esteemed Him not. Surely He has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed. 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” (53:3-6, KJV).
These are graphic words. What Christ suffered was not a light thing. The typical picture of Him hanging on the stake only shows a tiny amount of blood where the spear entered (John 19:34) and a little more coming from His crown of thorns (Matt. 27:29). This picture falls far short of how He really looked!
One additional New Testament passage summarizes the picture we have just seen. I Peter 2:22, 24 speaks of Christ, “Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth…who His own self bore our sins…by whose stripes you were healed.”
The apostle Peter spoke of Christ’s “stripes.” Does the New Testament record when and how this was done? Notice: “When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see you to it. Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children. Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified” (Matt. 27:24-26).
Two other gospel accounts confirm what happened: “And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged Him, to be crucified” (Mark 15:15). Also: “Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged Him…Then [afterwards] delivered he Him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led Him away” (John 19:1, 16).
These passages clearly reveal that Christ’s “scourging” happened before He was led away to be crucified. It was a separate event. It carries distinct and important meaning. Now you understand why it happened.
Pause for a moment and reflect on what Christ was willing to endure on behalf of those who need God’s marvelous healing power. Ask yourself when, if ever, have you heard even one of this world’s preachers explain, or be willing to describe, the terrible beating that Christ was willing to endure so that human beings could be restored back to perfect health from every conceivable physical malady one can imagine.
God describes Himself as a Father “who pities His children” (Psa. 103:8-13). All parents know how painful it is to see their children sick or suffering. And we are merely physical human beings. How much more compassionate would God, as our spiritual Father, feel toward His sick children, than would any human parent?
God is eager to apply Christ’s physical sacrifice of suffering on your behalf. He is neither reluctant nor grudging in His desire to see you “prosper and be in health” (III John 2)—and enjoying the “abundant” life (John 10:10). Though we must be willing to acknowledge that we have broken certain laws—and be willing to change—God is anxious to heal!
Satan hates the laws of God. Ephesians 2:2 states that his spirit “works in the children of disobedience.” He wants mankind to believe that it can disobey God’s laws—physical and spiritual—and suffer no penalties. Then, when certain natural penalties do occur, people reach for medical science to remove the effects—sickness and disease.
Christ Our Passover
I Corinthians 5:7 states that “Christ our passover is sacrificed for us.” Each year, on the night of the Passover, Christians are commanded to assemble for a very solemn memorial service, which looks back at Christ’s suffering and crucifixion. It is unlike any other occasion in the year.
Paul explained, “For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus the same night in which He was betrayed took bread: And when He had given thanks, He broke it, and said, Take, eat: this is My body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of Me. After the same manner also He took the cup, when He had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in My blood: this do you, as oft as you drink it, in remembrance of Me. For as often as you eat this bread, and [two separate symbols] drink this cup, you do show the Lord’s death till He come. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup [both] of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood [both] of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks damnation [judgment] to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep [have died]” (I Cor. 11:23-30).
Christians are instructed to pause—to stop activity—and reflect soberly on what Christ endured. Some in Corinth neglected to do this. They did not appreciate how Christ would have healed them. The result? “Many [were] weak and sickly…and many [died]”—needlessly.
God wants us to understand the forgiveness of sins. This is why Paul wrote of Christ’s “body, which is broken for you.”
Matthew 9, Mark 2 and Luke 5 all contain a parallel account of Christ healing “a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed” (Matt. 9:2). Luke explains it in the most detail, and it makes absolutely clear how healing directly involves the forgiveness of sin. Carefully read this long passage:
“And…as He was teaching, that there were Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by, which were come out of every town of Galilee, and Judea, and Jerusalem: and the power of the Lord was present to heal them. And, behold, men brought in a bed a man which was taken with a palsy: and they sought means to bring him in, and to lay him before Him. And when they could not find by what way they might bring him in because of the multitude, they went upon the housetop, and let him down through the tiling with his couch into the midst before Jesus. And when He saw their faith, He said unto him, Man, your sins are forgiven you.
“And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this which speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone? But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, He answering said unto them, What reason you in your hearts? Whether is easier, to say, Your sins be forgiven you; or to say, Rise up and walk? But that you may know that the Son of man has power upon earth to forgive sins, (He said unto the sick of the palsy,) I say unto you, Arise, and take up your couch, and go into your house.
“And immediately he rose up before them, and took up that whereon he lay, and departed to his own house, glorifying God. And they were all amazed, and they glorified God, and were filled with fear, saying, We have seen strange things today” (5:17-26).
Consider what this account is actually saying. Christ says that telling someone he is healed (“Rise up and walk”) and forgiving him (“Your sins be forgiven you”) are one and the same. Of course, the Scribes and Pharisees did not understand this, and considered it blasphemy. (Of course, as God, Christ had the power—the authority—to forgive sin.) Men today do not understand that doctors cannot heal because doctors cannot forgive sin.
But now you understand!
The “Prayer of Faith”
I mentioned previously that healing is now for those in the Church. Where does it say this? The apostle James describes those in the Church who are sick being “anointed” by the ministry. (Acts 19:12 states that this is sometimes done through use of an anointed cloth sent by mail.)
Let’s read it: “Is any sick among you? 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 shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him” (Jms. 5:14-15).
We will return to this verse later, but we should recognize here that it introduces the crucial element of faith to God’s equation for healing. The verse speaks of the “prayer of faith” bringing “forgiveness of sins” and saving relief to the “sick.”
What then is the Bible definition of faith? It is all-important to establish this understanding. All who wish to be healed must learn to understand and demonstrate real biblical faith.
In the next chapter, you will learn what true, believing faith is!