Monday, January 14, 2008
1 Safely ashore, we then learned that the island was called Malta.
2 The local people showed us extraordinary kindness, for they lit a fire and took us all in, since rain was falling and it was cold.
3 As Paul gathered a bundle of brushwood and put it on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat and fastened itself to his hand.
4 When the local people saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, “This man is probably a murderer, and though he has escaped the sea, Justice does not allow him to live!”
5 However, he shook the creature off into the fire and suffered no harm.
6 They expected that he would swell up or suddenly drop dead. But after they waited a long time and saw nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and said he was a god.
7 Now in the area around that place was an estate belonging to the leading man of the island, named Publius, who welcomed us and entertained us hospitably for three days.
8 It happened that Publius’ father was in bed suffering from fever and dysentery. Paul went to him, and praying and laying his hands on him, he healed him.
9 After this, the rest of those on the island who had diseases also came and were cured.
10 So they heaped many honors on us, and when we sailed, they gave us what we needed.
Dissonance is the rough harsh and unpleasant effect of two tones sounded simultaneously which do not blend or fuse, attributed to beats which are too rapid to be separately distinguished.”
Dissonance is discord, incongruity, a lack of harmony. Cognitive dissonance is when there is incongruity and you know it.
Today the issue of healing is causing cognitive dissonance. We know there is something wrong when we hear people like Benny hinn call people forward to be healed of back aches and ear aches and head aches, but there is something uncomfortably wrong when we know that healings for real illnesses are non existent.
Something doesn’t ring true.
And then we read here in the book of Acts that Paul was healed and exercised a healing ministry “the rest of those on the island who had diseases also came and were cured.”
1. Cognitive Dissonance About Healers
For six years author and speaker Joyce Landarf has endured an overwhelming and paralyzing kind of pain. It begins in her jaw and spreads across her face and head, its severity ultimately bringing on nausea and diarrhea. The medical diagnosis is TMJ, for temporomandibular joint dysfunction, and the affliction has caused her to curtail public appearances drastically. The ailment persists despite the efforts of many specialists using all known methods of treatment. In talking about her situation, Landorf describes the physical pain and the feelings of failure and alienation that came as she must cancel engagements and withdraw from social settings. She also wrestles with God over the reasons behind a physical problem that disrupts her ministry. And yet as Joyce Landorf reflects on all aspects of her suffering, she mentions one source of pain more troubling than any other: judgment from fellow Christians. A large and vocal branch of the church, it seems, holds that it is never "God's will" for a person to suffer. Following that dictum, these Christians presume all suffering to derive from one of two flaws in the afflicted person. Either the sufferer is being punished for some sin, or remains unhealed because of a lack of faith. "Confess your sin!" they tell Landorf, and also "You simply must exercise more faith." In truth, says Landorf, their haughty condemnation, coming at a time of such vulnerability, hurts worse than the physical pain itself.
Dissonance. Cognitive Dissonance. Something is wrong here.
Whatever one believes about the topic of healing dramatically influences his expectations when serious illness or injury affects a loved one or even oneself. Whatever theological position one takes on the subject, it is imperative that it be strongly substantiated by Scripture, lest he sincerely believe in promises that God never actually made. When this happens, tremendous discouragement, depression, and even disillusionment with Christianity can set in.
False teachings about healing have taken various forms but almost always contain a mixture of truth and error. Half-truths about divine healing fuel the injurious errors of our day. Let me alert you to some of these more frequent half truths so that you can be prepared to reject them.
1. Because God wills that Christians enjoy His blessings, sickness shows that you are out of His will.
2. Sin is the root cause of sickness; therefore you must resist sickness as you would sin.
3. Since Christ died for your sickness and your sin, you can be freed from both.
4. If you had enough faith, you would be healed.
5. What you confess is what you possess; so talk sickness and you will get sick; talk health and you will get well.
6. All adversity comes from Satan; so sickness, like Satan, should be rebuked.
7. If you only knew the secret fact of God’s healing power, you could be healed.
8. Since Christ and the apostles healed in their day, Christians can heal today.
9. Since sickness is from Satan, nothing good can come from sickness.
10. Since God wants you well, never pray, “Thy will be done” in regard to healing.
11. Since sin is the cause of sickness, if you are sick, then you have a pattern of sin in your life.
12. God has healed you, but the devil is not letting the symptoms leave.
Thousands of people could testify how painful these half-truths can be. Dr. C. Everett Koop recalls a particularly brutal episode.
We hired an investigative writer to look into some of the cults and into faith healers specifically. Our investigator traveled to a Southwestern city where a healing campaign had been advertised some weeks in advance….
Among those who applied for healing was an elderly Christian gentleman who lived out on the prairie. His vision was becoming dim, and he most likely was developing cataracts. The only lighting in the little cabin where he lived was a kerosene lamp. He was a devout Christian, read his Bible daily—or tried to—and had all the faith necessary for healing, if faith indeed does secure healing. His major complaint was that his sight had deteriorated to the point where he could no longer read his Bible.
On the night of his appearance before the healer, the old man was brought up in the atmosphere of a sideshow. The faith healer said, “Well, Pop, you can’t see anymore. You’ve gotten old, you can’t even see with your glasses. Your vision is failing.” Then he reached over and took off the old man’s spectacles, threw them on the platform, stamped on them, and broke them. He then handed the elderly gentleman a large-print Bible, which, under the lights necessary for television in those days, enabled the gentleman to read John 3:16 out loud, to the astonishment and applause of the audience. The elderly gentleman praised God, the healer praised God, the audience praised God, and the old man went back to his dimly lit cabin and could not find his Bible, because his glasses were destroyed. The man went back to the healer but was told the most discouraging thing a godly man like that could possibly hear: “You didn’t have enough faith, or the healing would have stuck.”
The Christian community must come to grips with the fact that it is extremely rare when a reported healing begins to match up with the biblical model. When God miraculously healed through the prophets, Christ, or the apostles, these qualities, among others, characterized the healing:
1. It was immediate.
2. It was public.
3. It took place on ordinary, unplanned occasions.
4. It included illnesses that were untreatable by the medical community.
5. It was complete and irreversible.
6. It was undeniable, even to detractors.
2. Cognitive Dissonance About Biblical Teaching About Healing
These were called miracles BECAUSE they were unusual. This wasn’t normal. Even among God’s prophets in the Old Testament and among the early church of the first few centuries it was unusual. Why was it unusual, and why were these miracles usual int eh ministry of Jesus and the apostles.
Christ’s healing ministry served various purposes; all of them primarily contributed to authenticate the person of Jesus as the true Messiah. The healing miracles were never performed merely for their physical benefit. Matt 8:17 – A fulfillment of the messianic prophecy in Isa 53:4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
Matt 9:6 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house.
(also Mark 2:10; Luke 5:24) – So people would know that Christ had the authority to forgive sins
Matt 11:2-19 (also Luke 7:18-23) – To authenticate the messianic ministry for the imprisoned John
Matt 12:15-21 – To fulfill the messianic prophecy in Isa 42:1-4
John 9:3 – That the works of God might be displayed in Christ
John 20:30-31 – That men might believe that Jesus is Christ
Acts 2:22 Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:
– God’s authentication of Christ
To Authenticate the Apostles revelation recorded in the New testament Hebrews 2:3 how will we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was first spoken by the Lord and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him. 4 At the same time, God also testified by signs and wonders, various miracles, and distributions [of gifts]from the Holy Spirit according to His will.
2 Cor 13:11 I have become a fool; you forced it on me. I ought to have been recommended by you, since I am in no way inferior to the “super-apostles,” even though I am nothing. 12 The signs of an apostle were performed among you in all endurance—not only signs but also wonders and miracles.
Healing Had Direction
Although Jesus’ miracles abounded, He did not perform them indiscriminately, nor did He always heal everyone who needed healing (see John 5:3-5); neither did He perform signs upon request (see Matt 12:38-40 Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. 39 But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: 40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.); nor would He use His powers to avoid the cross (see Matt 26:52-53).
Paul’s frequency of healing declined with the passing of time.
Gal 4:13-15 – Paul was ill you know that previously I preached the gospel to you in physical weakness, 14 and though my physical condition was a trial for you, you did not despise or reject me. On the contrary, you received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus [Himself]. 15 What happened to this blessedness of yours? For I testify to you that, if possible, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me.
Phil 2:25-30 – Epaphroditus was ill But I considered it necessary to send you Epaphroditus—my brother, co-worker, and fellow soldier, as well as your messenger and minister to my need— 26 since he has been longing for all of you and was distressed because you heard that he was sick. 27 Indeed, he was so sick that he nearly died. However, God had mercy on him, and not only on him but also on me, so that I would not have one grief on top of another.
1 Tim 5:23 – Timothy was ill ..”your frequent illnesses.”
2 Tim 4:20 – Trophimus was ill “Trophimus I left sick at Miletus.”
Neither John nor Peter mention historical instances of first-century healing in their epistles and Revelation.
Healing is noticeable in the OT (over 4,000 years), overwhelming in the Gospels (about three years), occasional in Acts (about thirty years), and negligible in the epistles (about forty years). The apostolic age ended, and miraculous healing by direct human intervention ceased.
Healing Is Demoted
Those who promote an unbiblical emphasis on divine healing tend to focus on 1 verse only. Its found in
Look at 1 Pet 2:24 carefully: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.
He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.
Can you see it? “By His wounds you were healed.”28 What does Peter mean? How does this apply to you and me in this life? If it applies physically, then why aren’t all Christians healed? Has God’s Word failed? Has God lost His healing touch? Are the Scriptures mistaken?
Two foundational truths help get us off to a right start in understanding
Peter and divine healing. First, every human being, when conceived, possesses a congenital spiritual defect—a sin disability that needs to be healed. Second, Peter addresses our need for spiritual restoration in 1 Pet 2:24 with his discussion of
Christ’s provision of salvation’s healing.
With those two thoughts in mind, look closely at the parts of 1 Pet 2:24-25 For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.
Then, when reassembled, you will be able to understand the whole because the parts
have been identified. Our text explains five elements of salvation:
1. The fact of salvation (verse 24a): “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross”
2. The purposes of salvation (verse 24b):“ that we might die to sin and live to righteousness”
3. The means of salvation (verse 24c): “…for by H is wounds you were healed.”
4. The need for salvation (verse 25a): “For you were continually straying like sheep….”
5. The result of salvation (verse 25b): “…but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.”
First Pet 2:24 has everything to do with spiritual healing, which the Bible calls salvation. In fact, 1 Pet 2:18-25 means just the opposite of what most healing advocates teach. Peter argues that since Christ physically and spiritually suffered for our spiritual healing (vv. 21-24), then we should be willing to suffer physically in this life at the hands of men (vv. 18-21), because we have already received God’s healing promise for eternal salvation (vv. 24-25). Peter actually validates the divine purpose in human suffering rather than eliminating it. After all has been studied and written, I believe the Bible teaches that God can sovereignly choose to heal whomever and whenever, but it will not be a frequent occurrence nor will it be done through human healers because:
1. The gospel is good news about our sin problem, not our sicknesses (Rom 3:23; 6:23).
2. Christ’s atonement focuses primarily on our sins (iniquities), not our sicknesses (Lev 16:1-34; Isa 53:5-6, 11-12; 1 Pet 2:24).
3. Christ died for our sins, not our sicknesses (1 Cor 15:3).
4. Christ was made sin, not sickness (2 Cor 5:21).
5. Christ forgave our sins, not our sicknesses (1 John 2:12).
6. Christ gave Himself for our sins, not our sicknesses (Gal 1:4).
7. Our bodies are corruptible and, thus, subject to sickness (1 Cor 15:42-44).
8. We will all die physically (Heb 9:27).
9. The NT “healing promise” refers to salvation, not physical healing (1 Pet 2:24).
10. Our hope while on earth is heaven, not healing (Rom 8:24-25).
One day the world will be free of AIDS, cancer, heart conditions, diabetes and every other malignancy that has come into our world through man’s sin at the fall.
The biblical position is to accept sickness as one of those all things that God can use to work together for good for those who love God. Although at salvation we are given heaven as a free gift, and eternal life as a free gift, we have ti wait until we go to heaven to get there. We have to wait for heaven to be free from all disabilities and illnesses in this life. Romans 8:23.. we ourselves who have the Spirit as the • firstfruits—we also groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.
The New Testament records 37 miracles1 that Jesus performed during His earthly ministry. These include sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, life to the dead, health to the sick – and many other tremendous miracles supernaturally performed by Christ.
Which one was the greatest? If you analyze them they were wonderful but ALL were only temporary.
o The paralyzed, lame, mute, and blind that Jesus gave back eyes, fingers, toes, and skin eventually lost them all again when they got sick and died some years later.
o Peter’s mother-in-law was miraculously set free from a fever but years later died of other causes which may also involve a fever.
o The food miraculously created by Jesus was consumed by the five and four thousands, and used up – and hunger returned the next day.
o The eyes restored to blind Bartimaeus were used, worn out, and dimmed by the time he died.
o The hearing that the deaf received were subject to the natural downward slide of the human body and faded most likely by their death.
o Those dancing feet after Christ's touch that the lame possessed, soon turned to a shuffle and then stopped working altogether as they lay in bed awaiting death many years later.
o Lepers who found fresh new skin and limbs saw them again return to wrinkles, weakness, and finally immobility as circulation, respiration, and digestion all slowly were assaulted by the weight of many years.
o So yes, Jesus performed many miracles – but all of them but one were TEMPORARY.
So, which was the greatest of all Christ's miracles?
The answer is the one that never faded, never aged, never ended. It was the miracle unfaded by time, untouched by health, unaffected by circumstances. That miracle, the greatest miracle is the one that Jesus Christ is still doing in our midst today. It is the miracle that I have personally experienced. It is the miracle that most of us in this room have also experienced. It is the greatest of all Christ's miracles – the miracle of complete forgiveness.
1 Cor 1: 22 For the Jews ask for signs and the Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles.
1 Cor 2:1 When I came to you, brothers, announcing the testimony of God to you, I did not come with brilliance of speech or wisdom. 2 For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
Though the NT sign/authenticating “gifts of healings” have ceased, the possibility of God healing without human healers is certainly possible today. However, when He does heal, it will be characterized in a manner similar to His healings recorded in Scripture.