[This book was found on our library shelves and is as applicable today as it was in 1925. It provides a solid refutation of the false claims of the so-called "faith-healers." The book is copyrighted; however, the book is out of print and the copyright is over 50 years old. "We feel assured the truth as set forth in this volume is greatly needed, and we believe the Lord will graciously use this testimony for His Word, and the witness against this present-day healing delusion." - A.C. Gaebelein, 1925]
An examination of the claims of Faith-Healing and Divine Healing systems in the light of the Scriptures and History By ARNO CLEMENS GAEBELEIN Editor of "Our Hope"
The Believer and Sickness
All faith-healers make much of a promise given to Israel. "If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in His sight, and wilt give ear to the commandments, and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians, for I am the Lord that healeth thee" (Exod. 15.26). The use of this passage by New Testament believers, who are not under the law, but under grace, is incorrect. Grace makes no such conditions. Upon this misappropriated promise much of their teaching as to sickness in the believer's life is founded. In a nutshell it is this, "Obey the Lord, fulfill the conditions of the text and the Lord will keep His promise, none of the diseases of Egypt will come upon you. He will be the Lord thy Healer." The "Christian and Missionary Alliance," and all the other faith-healing systems, use this expression also. Obedience yielded, and there is no need for a child of God to be sick. Perfect health is the result of perfect obedience. But obedience to what? If we go back under the law then we also must obey that law. The terms used in Exod. 15:26 "commandments" and "statutes" mean all the laws which the Lord gave to His people Israel. The dietary laws are included, as well as the many ceremonial washings, the laws governing dress and also the Sabbath laws. In order to fulfill the condition a believer should keep Israel's Sabbath, the seventh day, and not the first day of the week, keep it down to the minute things commanded, as, for instance, not kindling a fire, or lighting a candle or a lamp. And [page 112] if one of these laws is broken the threatened curse must be taken. But even if a Christian believer would be so foolish as to attempt to keep literally the commandments and statutes given to Israel, he would find out that the promise does not hold good in the present dispensation.
The reasoning followed by Divine healers in connection with this passage is astonishing. They say "a believer may enjoy perfect health if he obeys the Lord. If a child falls sick it is the evidence that he has sinned and lives in sin." We quote from a volume which deals with "Divine healing."
"If we could now put the question directly to the Lord Himself, and He should say to us as He said to Moses, at the healed waters of Marah, 'I am the Lord thy Healer,' His answer would not be more conclusive than it is in His written Word. Indeed, He is as clearly revealed in His office as the healer of the body, as He is as the Saviour of the soul. Oh, how blessed! continued freedom from bodily maladies, second only to freedom from that most hateful thing, sin, for the cure of which it is promised as a help. One of the things in which the wisdom of God is seen in the law of health is this: . . . it simply binds Him not to put disease upon His children if they do hearken to His voice. In the law of health He has promised preservation in health, upon condition of hearkening diligently to His voice and obeying Him." Other "healers" are even more pronounced and put it down as one of the Gospel-truths, that if a believer trusts the Lord, he will be exempt from all sickness, and if he is ill and his prayer, or the anointing with oil does not result in his healing, there must be some sin in his life. Now if these statements are scriptural, it follows that God is forced by His fidelity to His promises to heal the sick in answer to faith, and hence a believer may be assured that His power will be used in response to prayer in every case alike, in any [page 114] sickness and at any time. It also follows that if a believer is obedient, and so long as he is acting in obedience, he is safe and secure against any sickness and disease, and if there is physical disorder in a believer it is prima facie evidence of sin committed and unconfessed.
But some of the men who contended for this, believed it, taught it to thousands, published books on it, were taken sick and died. The late A. B. Simpson was affected mentally and physically for at least two years. Some of his followers actually asserted that he must have departed from the pathway of full consecration, otherwise he would have been healed. When another leader of "faith-healing" was carried off in the midst of his "healing" activities, the late Dr. James H. Brookes made some pertinent and sane remarks, which we quote: "He was assured that 'God's power will be used directly in every case of sickness alike, in little or great attacks'; and it is obvious that age cannot thwart the divine purpose, nor defeat divine promises. If the prayer of faith may baffle disease when the sick are forty years old, it ought to do the same when they are seventy or eighty, or ninety, and so on indefinitely. According to the theory that faith may always count on the power of the Almighty to heal, and that 'it binds Him not to put diseases upon His children if they do hearken to His voice,' they ought to live on, unless their faith or their faithfulness utterly fails. It may be replied that this would be in direct conflict with the plain statement of the Scripture, 'It is appointed unto men once to die'; but it is appointed unto the young as well as unto the old to die, and the prayer of faith can no more set aside God's appointment concerning the former than in the case of the latter. When the time fixed by the eternal decree was reached, the brother fell asleep, as all faith healers do, notwithstanding their theory."
[page 115] The deductions from the quoted text are unscriptural, unreasonable and cruel. Thousands upon thousands of God's well-beloved children, who are suffering in their bodies, suffering in sweet submission to His will, are branded by this erroneous use of the text, as willful sinners who obstinately continue in sin, and therefore continue to be sick. Some of the mighty men of God, the chosen instruments of God the Holy Spirit, men before whom the present day "faith-healers" are mere pigmies, were afflicted, like the greatest of all instruments, the Apostle Paul, with a thorn in the flesh. They had infirmities and suffered from various diseases. They too cried to the Lord for deliverance and received the same answer Paul received. To charge them with outright disobedience, and unbelief as the source of their weak bodies, and their continued infirmities is unspeakably harsh and cruel. We think of the thousands of "shut-ins." They are living in the closest possible communion with the Lord, and by their gentleness, meekness, their whole-hearted and uncomplaining resignation to the will of God, manifest the all sufficiency of His grace to sustain and keep; they glorify Him a thousand times more than all the pretending faith-healers with their sensational methods. Milton in the sonnet he wrote on his blindness says "they also serve who only stand and wait." The ministry of praise and the prayer of intercession which is daily practiced by men and women who are paralyzed, blind and otherwise afflicted, who have suffered thus for many years, fills heaven with its fragrance. In visiting these sufferers and beholding their patience and their spirit of thanksgiving and praise, one feels the presence of the Lord, as perhaps nowhere else on this side of heaven. No wonder that their chambers of patient suffering have been the birth-places of many souls. Nor do we forget the blessed songs which have come out of the night of their suffering [page 116] and deprivations. Besides John Milton, who like the nightingale, sang the sweetest, when night came, and his physical vision left him, we mention George Matheson and Fanny Crosby, both blind. Words fail us in denouncing this vicious dogmatic assertion, that Christ died for our diseases, that Christ is the healer of the body, as He is the healer of the soul, that a Christian does not need to be ill and if he is sick it is because he lives in sin and does not obey the Lord.
The New Testament teaches that salvation, at the present time, is confined to the spiritual part of man. The believer's body has the promise of future redemption. The believer's body is a mortal, a death- doomed body, on account of sin; it is called "the body of our humiliation" (Philippians 3:21, literal rendering). As stated before, when we read in Romans 8:11 of "the quickening of our mortal bodies" it does not mean a present quickening, but the future quickening in resurrection. The Apostle speaks in the same chapter of the earnest expectation of the creature waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God and "that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now" (Romans 8:19-22). The Spirit of God adds: "And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body." The redemption of the body is future. That redemption means deliverance from its present conditions, the results of sin, from the present limitations, and it also means a glorified body, for corruption must put on incorruption (those who will be raised from the dead), and this mortal must put on immortality (those believers, who will be changed in a moment, when the Lord comes; 1 Thessalonians 4:17).
Practically speaking the body of the child of God does not differ now from the body of the unbeliever, though the Holy [page 117] Spirit dwells in the body of the believer. Believers contract violent diseases, suffer from blindness, deafness and other afflictions, just like the unbeliever does. There is no difference in the physical pain in the believers body and the pain an unbeliever suffers. If our Lord does not come soon every living child of God will sooner or later fall victim to a disease, or suffer from old age as the unbeliever suffers, and will die as the unbeliever dies. His body will be buried like the unbeliever's body is buried. The same corruption which seizes upon the body of the unbeliever also seizes upon the body of the Saint of God. Only a knave or a fool can dispute these facts.
But we must not forget that the New Testament has much to say about the believer's body, though that body does not differ physically from the body of the unbeliever. The believer is to present his body as a living sacrifice unto God (Romans 12:l). He is to yield the members of his body as instruments of righteousness unto God, and make these members servants to righteousness unto holiness (Romans vi:13, 19). He is exhorted to remember that his body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, that he is bought with a price and "therefore to glorify God" in the body as well as in the spirit, which are God's (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). The body is to be kept under subjection, that is to be kept as a captive (1 Corinthians 9:27). The true ambition of a child of God is that "Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death" (Philippians 1:20). That body is to be treated in honor; asceticism which neglects the body under the plea of humility is sinful (Colossians 2:23). The true believer heeds all these exhortations and instructions.
It is very significant that connected with all these exhortations there is not one single promise that, if the believer is obedient to these exhortations, he will be exempt from bodily [page 118] ills, or if he is suffering from infirmities of the flesh, instantaneous relief will be given him. According to the theories of faith-heaters Romans 12:l should read . . . "Present your bodies a living sacrifice and I will give you perfect health, you will never be sick." Not alone this but a number of the outstanding believers in New Testament history, who yielded their bodies, who were not conformed to this world, who lived in separation, were sick, and one of them even sick unto death. We mean Paul, Epaphroditus, Trophimus and Timothy. The Holy Spirit has given us the record of these four so that we might know that true believers are not exempt from sickness and that the "Divine healing theories" are not true.
Why have the children of God sickness? Why do they suffer? Why do they often battle with bodily weakness and are troubled with infirmities? Our first answer has already been given. The children of God have bodies subject to all kinds of infirmities and sickness. Their bodily weaknesses and infirmities may be either inherited or acquired. Apart from this fact, only too apparent, sickness is sometimes permitted to come to believers for certain reasons.
God permits sickness to come upon His children for His own glory. We know that divine healers repudiate the thought that God uses sickness at all. With them the devil does it all, and as previously stated, nearly every disease is looked upon as the work of demons. But this is not the teaching of the Bible, as it may be learned from numerous passages in the Word of God. When He permits sickness He also gives the strength to bear it in submission. "The Lord will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing; Thou wilt make all his bed in sickness" (Psa. 41:3). It is then that the believer finds out that "His grace is sufficient" and that His strength is made perfect in weakness." With [page 119] every sickness, every infirmity and bodily affliction there is given an opportunity to glorify Him. To take it all from a loving Father's hand, to trust Him through it all, to sing praises even in a night of suffering, that is what His grace can do and which glorifies Him. To learn through bodily affliction the tender and kind priestly ministrations of Him, who is touched with the feeling of our infirmities, because He was tested in all things as we are, is still another blessing. If the children of God had no sickness, no pain, if they were exempt from all physical infirmities, as faithhealers claim they should be, they would be poorer and know but little of the comfort of the ever living High Priest.
Therefore our Lord permits frequently sickness and infirmities to come upon His children for their own good. Long ago one who was suffering from violent illness said, "The Lord puts us on our backs that He may teach us to look up." The lesson of utter dependence on the Lord needs to be learned again and again. How soon we forget it! Then He lays His kind, loving, chastening hand upon us to teach the lesson anew and draw us closer to Himself, weaning us from the things of this passing age. Willingly we kiss the rod knowing "that all things must work together for good to them that love God." Many thousands of Christians have testified that their most blessed communion with God was spent upon a bed of sickness, and of the deep and lasting blessings that have come in sickness through which they passed, either themselves or their dear ones. Thus many thousands testify as did the Psalmist, "It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I might learn Thy statutes" (Psalm 119:71). Sickness may also have been sent on account of certain sins as it was with the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 11:30, 32).
What then are the believer's resources in sickness? The [page 120] answer is known to every child of God. Prayer! The gracious calls to His beloved people to pray, to draw near to Him, to seek His face, to call upon His name, and the promises that He will hear and answer the believing cry of His depending child, are found in every portion of His Holy Word. "And call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver thee and thou shalt glorify Me" (Psalm 1:15). "In the day of my trouble I will call upon Thee, for Thou wilt answer me" (Psalm 86:7). "He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him, and honor him" (Psalm 91:15). "The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon Him" (Psalm 145:18). Still more precious are the words of promise spoken by the Son of God, our Lord. "Ask and it shall be given unto you" (Luke 11:9). "What things soever ye desire when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them" (Mark 11:24). "Whatsoever ye shall ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask anything in My name, I will do it" (John 14:13, 14). "Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in My name, He will give it you" (John 16:23). To these promises, uttered by His own lips we add but two from the Epistles: "Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God" (Philippians 4:6). "And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us; and if we know that He hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him" (1 John 5:14, 15). The child of God makes constant use of these promises. Someone asked us years ago, Do you believe in prayer? We would not be a true Christian if we did not believe in prayer. The new life is born in prayer.
[page 121] Prayer is the breath of the new nature. No Christian need to be told that it is his great privilege to pray when sickness comes and go at once with it to the Lord. The spiritual instinct of a true believer leads him to cry at once unto the heavenly Father for help and deliverance, if prostrated by disease, or if members of his family are ill.
If we were writing on prayer, and traced the use of prayer, the answers to prayer, throughout the history of the Church, we would find how very prominent prayer in case of sickness is, and what a cloud of witnesses there are, that God hears and answers prayer in sickness. We confine ourselves to a very few illustrations. Dr. Martin Luther, that great man of God, [note: The Bible Believers Resource page does not agree with all of Martin Luthers views - see Exposes index], cannot be accused of fanaticism. Sects like the Anabaptists and other extremists he denounced unmercifully. He had great faith in prayer when sickness came. Once he found his bosom friend Melanchthon sick unto death in Weimar. Luther beheld him deprived of sight, hearing, and unconscious. Then he exclaimed "God forbid! How has the devil disfigured this instrument." Then he prayed a wonderful prayer in simple, child-like trust. He took Melanchthon by the hand and said: "Be of good cheer, Philip, thou wilt not die. Give no place to the spirit of grief, nor become the slayer of thyself, but trust in the Lord, who is able to kill and to make alive." He began to revive, and afterward said that "he would have been a dead man if be had not been recalled from death itself by the coming of Luther." When Myconius, the superintendent at Gotha was in the last stage of consumption, Dr. Luther wrote him "May God not let me hear so long as I live that you are dead, but cause you to survive me. I pray this earnestly, and will have it granted. Amen." Myconius began at once to regain strength.
The Swiss reformer Henry Bullinger, living at the same time, [page 122] testified to the efficacy of prayer in sickness. He wrote, "Through confidence in the name of Christ numbers greatly afflicted and shattered with disease are restored afresh to health." Richard Baxter, the author of so many excellent volumes, declared that many times he had known "the prayer of faith to save the sick, when all physicians had given them up as hopeless." George Fox, the founder of the Society of Friends, bears a similar testimony. Accounts of blessed answers to prayer in case of sicknesses are also recorded in the history of the Scottish Covenanters. Many pages could be filled with incidents upon incidents. The "Journal" of John Wesley, the illustrious founder of Methodism, relates many answers to prayer in case of sickness. Zinzendorf, the founder of the Herrnhuters, known now as the Moravians, had strong convictions as to healing in answer to prayer, and influenced Wesley in this matter. We quote an experience in Wesley's life as given in his journal. "At our love-feast, besides the pain in my back and head, and the fever which still continued upon me just as I began to pray, I was seized with such a cough that I could hardly speak. I called on Jesus aloud to increase my faith and to confirm the Word of His grace. While I was speaking my pain vanished away, the fever left me, bodily strength returned, and for many weeks I felt neither weakness nor pain." Another interesting experience is related on another page of his "Journal," "My old disorder returned as violent as ever. A thought came into my mind, 'Why do I not apply to God in the beginning rather than in the end of my illness?' I did so and found immediate relief, so that I needed no further medicine," The following incident shows the child-like faith of this good man. "My horse was exceedingly lame, and my head ached more than it had done for some months. I then thought, 'Cannot God heal either man or beast, by any means or [page 123] without any? Immediately my weariness and headache ceased, and my horse's lameness in the same instant, nor did he halt any more either that day or next. (What I here aver is the naked fact, and let every man account for it as he sees good)." Then he relates many others for whom he and others prayed in sickness, and the Lord answered the prayer of faith. John Wesley was frail; he had many infirmities; he had a good knowledge of medicine which he constantly used for himself and others.
Thousands of God's children have had similar experiences in case of sickness, demonstrating the fact that God hears and answers prayer. All true ministers of the Gospel, and those who have the gift as pastor, pray with the sick and can tell of many answered prayers. The writer has been preaching and teaching the Word of God for forty-five years. During these years hundreds of requests to pray for the sick and afflicted have reached us. Hundreds of times we visited the sick and knelt at their bedsides in homes and in hospitals, and many times we have seen His gracious answers in the raising up of the sick. Often we were sick, or loved ones were taken down with serious illness, and the Lord answered the cry for deliverance. But recently we had a case in our immediate family, which seemed hopeless. One of the most famous surgeons declared the case was beyond his skill. Unceasing prayer was made and the Lord answered so mercifully that speedy recovery set in after the serious operation, so that the surgeon declared it next to a miracle.
We have given the one side and we must now look at the other side. Hundreds of Christians have cried to the Lord in sickness and there was a gracious answer, but a vastly greater number testify, that they also cried to the Lord when sickness invaded their home, that they prayed in faith, agonized in prayer, implored the Lord to send deliverance, [page 124] asked others to join in prayer for healing, and there was no recovery, the loved one was snatched from their side. All the conditions mentioned in the Word of God in connection with effectual prayer were met. There was simple faith. There was united prayer and perfect agreement. Humiliation, confession of sin and self-judgment were not overlooked, yet there was no response. Thousands of invalids, all earnest believers, are living today, suffering from various afflictions. The prayer of faith has gone up in their behalf, prayer in His name, and the only reply which came from the throne of God was the reply the afflicted Apostle received, "My Grace is sufficient for thee."
Both answered prayer in delivering from sickness, from the very jaws of death, and unanswered prayer, when sickness and afflictions remain unchanged and death comes, demonstrate what the creature of the dust is so prone to forget, the Sovereignty of God. God is sovereign in the control of the lives of His people. He controls their earthly lot and destiny, and we add His Sovereignty is the Sovereignty of infinite wisdom and infinite love. It was said of Him while on earth "He has done all things well." Blessed assurance! Whether He answers the prayer in sickness by raising up the sick, or does not answer the prayer for deliverance and restoration, it must all be well, it will all be well. It is true faith which submits to His good will. How that Shunammite woman puts us to shame! When her boy was dead and the prophet put the question to her "Is it well?" she readily answered "It is well" (2 Kings 4:26).
Faith is not blind confidence that demands to get whatever we want, for this in effect, as one has said, would dethrone God, and place the sceptre in our hands, making God merely an obedient and irresisting power to do our unwise bidding.
Dr. Brookes in quoting the prayer promises of our Lord [page 125] in John 14:13, 14 and other passages remarked: "These are the words of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and there is no limitation upon the power they place within the hands of the believer. The only condition is faith and asking in the name of the Son of God, but it will be observed that the condition necessarily implies that the prayer is according to the written Word and the righteous will of God. Without this there might be fanaticism, but there could be no faith; there might be intense longing, but there could be no conscious oneness with Christ, no asking as if He were expressing His own desire through human lips, no breathing of the petition put by His Holy Spirit into the heart, all of which is implied in His direction to ask in His name. It is of the last moment to keep this in mind in our supplications."
"For example, it would not be in keeping with the condition of these blessed promises to pray that we, or all Christians on earth might be rich in this world's possessions, because there is no assurance in the written Word, that it is the will of our Father that all His children should be wealthy in gold and silver, in houses and lands, or that it would be best for them to own vast estates. Precisely so, there is no assurance in the written Word that our Father wills all of His children to be exempt from sickness during this dispensation of suffering, or that it would be best for them to be thus exempt. On the other hand, it is explicitly said, 'It is appointed unto men once to die'; and hence no amount of prayer or faith can set aside this decree, which must remain in force during the period of our Lord's personal absence from the earth. It is a serious error to insist upon dragging into this age of cross-bearing what will be true only in the bright day of His return. Nor is there a single promise, nor one line, from the first verse in Genesis to the last of Revelation, that pledges God to grant His power in [page 126] response to prayer in every case of sickness, in little or great attacks."
And here we clash with "Divine healing" once more. The men and women who go about the country holding "healing meetings" make statements which are more than unscriptural, they are presumptuous and audacious. Of course they believe in prayer and use prayer, but they make the bold declaration that when it comes to praying for the healing of the sick, one does not need to say "if it is Thy will." To use this phrase, a leading Divine healing hypnotist said, is unbelief. One must be persuaded that it is His will and if it is His will the use of the words "if it is Thy will" only suggest doubt. Their reasoning is something like this: God is not the author of evil, pain and disease, bodily infirmities are not according to His will; all sickness is the work of the devil; the Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil; on the cross He procured a double cure for a double curse, He died for our sins and for our diseases as well; therefore it is His will that those who believe on Him should be well, and if they are sick He will heal them, if they have faith, hence to pray "if it be Thy will" is unbelief. The whole argument as we have stated it, is positively wrong and has no scriptural basis whatever. The faith-healers of more than a generation ago did not use such extreme language. But there is a simple reason for this presumption. A hypnotist demands the complete yielding of the will of his subject. If this is not done he fails, and his power cannot work. That hypnotism underlies all these mass healing campaigns has been fully demonstrated. The passes which are made, the falling over of the treated subjects, the suggestions made, the temporary relief experienced, and the fact that after the campaign ends, and the personality of the healer is withdrawn, results are no longer present, is sufficient evidence for this charge.
[page 127] Every true believer who is spiritual shudders at the very thought of coming into the presence of a holy, righteous, sovereign God with the demand "Thou must!" Such a demand coming from the lips of the creature of the dust is not faith, but presumption. It dishonors God. It insults Him and His authority. It exalts the creature above God in placing the finite wisdom of man above the infinite loving wisdom of God, who alone knows what is best for His children. It is written, "He gave them their request, but sent leanness into their soul" (Psalm 106:15). What a disaster it would be if every request brought into the presence of God should be answered according to our own will! Besides bringing leanness of soul it would result in every other evil.
About forty-five years ago Dr. Joel Parker, one of the New York City preachers, known as a faithful servant of Christ, stated in public print that soon after he had entered the ministry a lady sent to him to pray for the recovery of her little son, who was dangerously ill. He kneeled beside the distressed mother and the cradle of the child, and asked God to arrest the disease, and spare the loved one, if consistent with His will. The lady caught him by the arm, and exclaimed "I did not send for you to pray in that manner. I do not wish you to say, if it is God's will. No matter what His will may be, it is my will that my child recover. I will not give him up; God must spare him to me." God did spare him, and that same mother lived to know that the same boy was swung by the neck from the gallows for murder.
The most essential element in believing prayer is to ask according to His will. It does not say "if we ask anything according to our will, He heareth us" but "if we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us." Without this prayer [page 128] is not real prayer, nor real faith, but dictation to God, which must be more obnoxious to Him than when a child comes to an earthly father and insists on having that which the father knows would only hurt his child. The highest prayer which lips of clay can pray is the prayer the Son of God prayed in dark Gethsemane-"Nevertheless not My will but Thy will be done." And thus the child of God prays still, and such a prayer is acceptable and well pleasing in His sight.
Let us not forget the perfect One, who cried from the verge of a frightful abyss yawning at His feet, "Now is My soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save Me from this hour, but for this cause came I unto this hour. Father glorify Thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again" (John 13:27, 28). The Father did not save the Son from the dreadful hour, but He glorified His name, and He exalted that Son of His love to His own right hand in the heavenlies. Even so, let the weary, worn child of God on the bed of sickness and suffering cry with all earnestness, and full confidence in the power and willingness of our Father to help, "Save me from further pain" but above the cry, let the nobler cry ascend, "Father glorify Thy name." Three things arc still left the tried and tired believer: the comforting word "My grace is sufficient for thee"; the cheering promise, "our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory"; and the sweet assurance, though "no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous; nevertheless, afterward (the long afterward of eternity) it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby."*
In conclusion a word about means. Should a believer who is suffering in his body employ a physician, should he use [page 128] means to counteract bodily ills? We have considered this question in the preceding chapter and found that the use of means and of a physician are perfectly scriptural and rational. The rejection of means is unscriptural and irrational. Extreme faith-healers brand physicians as instruments for evil, and the use of means as of the devil. Not all go so far. But in all healing campaigns the medical profession is belittled and ridiculed; means are put down as being Worthless in any disease; surgery is branded as useless; these faithhealers only have a "cure-all!" They either are ignorant of the achievements of medicine and surgery, or they are willfully maligning these means.
We have read a good deal of faith-healing literature, Christian Science, Spirit healing, Mind curism, faith healing and Divine healing, but we have never found mention made of Luke, the beloved physician, Divine healers seem to ignore this man of God entirely. They do not consider that the Spirit of God calls him by this endearing term, and there is not the remotest hint given that it was wrong for him to be a physician. And what about the words of our Lord, "They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick"? (Matthew 9:12). In these words the Lord speaks of the need of a physician in case of illness; he sanctions the employment of physicians, or at least, He carefully abstains from denouncing those who employ them. In the parable of the good Samaritan our Lord speaks of remedies used, without a word of disapproval. We have seen that the oil in James v:14 is not a sacramental matter, but the oil is used as a remedy. Once more we mention Timothy and the Spirit given prescription for the oft infirmities. Wine, not grape-juice, such as the Spirit of God commended to Timothy, is a stimulant, with toning effect upon the digestive organs [the Bible Believers Resource Page does not agree with this interpretation regarding wine vs. grape juice]. We also mention the case of the godly king Hezekiah in the Old Testament.
[page 130] The prophet Isaiah was divinely instructed to tell the king to use a remedy. "Let them take a lump of figs, and lay it for a plaister upon the boil, and he shall recover" (Isaiah 38:21). The Lord has the power to heal a boil without using a poultice of figs to bring the boil to a head and effect a cure. Would the Lord have healed Hezekiah if he had despised the appointed means?
Years ago the writer, in connection with his work on the East Side of New York, employed a Christian woman to visit the neglected population in the tenement house districts. One cold November day she was taken down with a high fever. She sent for a member of the "Christian and Missionary Alliance" and was anointed for healing. The disease proved to be pneumonia. We called in a physician to verify the diagnosis. He said it was pneumonia and as she did not want any medical treatment, he recommended a good nurse. The good woman maintained throughout her illness that the Lord was healing her; but the disease ran its normal course. When the third stage was reached we asked the physician to come again. He said that the lungs were clearing except a certain part, and that poultices were now needed to loosen the phlegm. She refused and declared the Lord was healing her and He did not need flax-seed poultices. But she did not recover and after lingering for months she died.
There is one text which these healers use frequently in their unjust denunciation of physicians and means. King, Asa was punished by the Lord because "in his disease he sought not the Lord, but to the physicians" (2 Chronicles 16:12). The use of this text gives a good illustration of how these men handle the Word of God. They say "If Asa had not sought the physicians, if he had trusted the Lord, he would not have died. If you go to a physician you do not [page 131] trust the Lord, but trust the physician." But the case is entirely different. He died because he did not seek the Lord, humble himself before Him, confess his sins and abandon his evil ways; he did not die because he sought the physicians.
As we have shown, God in His kindness, anticipating man's ruin and his physical needs, has deposited in nature His wonderful provisions to ameliorate sickness and to assist in its cure. To reject God's provision is sinful.
The believer in sickness will first turn to the Lord and seek His face. He will also judge himself, confess his sins and failure. He will put himself into His gracious hands and ask Him for His blessing in a speedy and full recovery, if it pleases Him. He will not reject medical counsel, but use the means which are available, praying all the time that the Lord may bless these means for his restoration to health. This is the Scriptural and the sane way the believer follows in sickness, and we may be assured has the fullest approval of the Lord Jesus Christ. To know that we are in His hands as His children, that without His will not even a hair can fall from our heads, that all He sends and permits must work for good, to rest in His gracious will, without fear or anxiety, is the blessed portion of His beloved children.
We cannot close this volume without directing the attention of the reader to that better day which is in store for suffering humanity. That day will not come through new discoveries of the origin of certain diseases, nor through new schools of medicines, or forms of treatment, but the better day comes with our Lord's return. His kingdom has not yet come, nor will it come till the Father sends Him back to earth the second time to claim His blood bought inheritance. The throne of all the earth belongs to Him, and when He takes that throne, as He must and as He will in God's own time, all [page 132] things will be put under His feet. If disease could not stand in His presence when here in the garb of a servant, how much more will disease and death flee away, when He appears as King of kings and Lord of lords. When He sits upon the throne of His glory, and the nations have been brought into His kingdom, when every knee bows at His name and every tongue confesses Him, then the curse of sin, disease and pain, will be gone, and even groaning creation will be delivered of its groans and share in the blessings of the kingdom. Then the converted nations of the earth will join in with converted Israel in His praise: "Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits. Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with loving kindness and tender mercies" (Psalm 103:1-4).
May that blessed day of glory come soon. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. Amen.
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