Many practical questions arise in the minds of inquirers respecting Divine Healing, both as respects the doctrine and the personal appropriation. Some of these we shall endeavor to answer.
I. In what sense can Christ be said to atone for sickness, when disease involves no such moral element as sin does?
If I owe a debt to a man, not only am I liable, my house is liable too, and it may be held until my debt is paid. So my body is my house, and it is liable for the debt of my soul to God, even if it had not sinned, as it has, alas! Disease is sin's mortgage against my house. But, if the debt is paid, the mortgage is discharged, and my house is free. So Christ has paid my debt of sin and released my body. Judgment has no claims upon it. On the Cross of Calvary He bore in His body all my physical liabilities for sin, and therefore He is said to have borne our sicknesses and carried our pains, and by His stripes we are healed.
2. If Christ has provided for the complete removal of our diseases, why should we ever die?
He has not provided that there shall be no disease, but that disease if it come shall be overcome. Nor has He provided that there shall be no death, but that should death come it shall be overcome by the glorious resurrection. But if there were no death there could be no resurrection, and physical immortality in our human and earthly state would be far less than the glorious and immortal life we shall have through our Second Adam, in our resurrection life.
3. Why then cannot the dead be raised now as in the days of Christ and His apostles?
There is nothing to render such an occurrence impossible, but there is at the same time no Scriptural authority to justify our claiming it. The command to exercise this ministry was given to the twelve apostles, not to the seventy. And the time for the resurrection of Christ's people is distinctly stated thus: "Afterwards, they that are Christ's at His Coming."
4. If we should always claim healing, however, would it not follow that we should never die?
Not necessarily. There is no need that we should die of disease. The system might just wear out and pass away as naturally as the apple ripens and falls in Autumn, or the wheat matures and dies in June. It has simply fulfilled its natural period.
"Thou shalt come to thy grave in a full age like as a shock of corn cometh in his season." This is very different from the apple falling in June, with a worm in it. This is disease. The promise of healing is not physical immortality, but health until our life-work is done. "With long life will I satisfy him." We may not all live to fourscore, but we may all be "satisfied." And if we knew that our life would close tomorrow, we should claim strength and sufficiency today.
5. Are we not taught in the Scriptures that submission to God's will is the highest act of faith and obedience?
Yes, and before claiming anything of God we must be in the attitude of profound submission and prostration; but, being in this attitude, we will be led to make very sure that what we submit to is indeed God's will, and we shall find that that will does not lay upon an obedient and surrendered child a needless burden of sickness and pain; but desires and demands for us, even more than we can desire it, the help and deliverance Christ has purchased by His blood for our bodies as well as our souls.
6. How may I know His will in any particular case?
We can only know His will from His Word and Spirit. And we must not expect a special revelation from His Spirit where His Word has clearly spoken. He has told us clearly in His Word that Jesus has purchased for us redemption for body as well as soul. He has said of one sufferer who represented many more, "Ought not this woman to be loosed from her bond?" He has shown us His Father's will by His whole earthly example and acts as well as words, and never in a single case did He decline to help those who trusted Him; and unless He has shown us something different for us so clearly that we cannot question it, we should not question it, but should go forward on these clear encouragements of His Word and take Him at that Word for all.
7. Is not sickness a Divine chastening, and really designed for our good, and ought it not so to be received by us?
If we honestly so regard it, why, of course, we should bow under it at the Father's feet, and leave ourselves wholly in His hands. But it is a little inconsistent to say this and then run for the nearest doctor and use every expedient and resource of human skill to get rid of this gracious chastening, and get out of the Divine hands. Persons, who act so, really believe in their heart that sickness is an evil, and that they are perfectly justified in using every legitimate means to remove it. Even if it is a Divine chastening, surely prayer is a much more reverent and childlike remedy than physic.
But, seriously, the whole subject of Divine chastening is greatly mystified by those who reason in this way.
God has told us that His chastenings are not random or capricious blows, struck without reference to any principle or moral government, and leaving us wholly in the dark as to their purpose and remedy. God chastens like a father, intelligently and tenderly, and He is willing to make us know His meaning, and how we may escape His rod. He has told us distinctly that sickness and suffering are sent when we will not heed His gentle voice, and that, even then, if we will listen, repent, acknowledge our error, learn our lesson and obey His will, the trial will be arrested or removed, and we restored to His love and favor. The thirty-third chapter of Job gives a picture of His dealings with His children through trial; and there is no dark, terrific mystery, but the simple, righteous principle, so clearly laid down in the New Testament, "If we would judge ourselves we should not be judged, but when we are judged we are chastened of the Lord that we should not be condemned with the world." Even if sickness be a Divine chastening its remedy is to have recourse to God, and, putting ourselves right with Him, claim His gracious deliverance.
8. How can I be sure that it is not best for me to be sick to keep me humble and near to God?
"Well, brother, if the blood of Jesus and the grace of God, and the power of the Holy Spirit are not sufficient to keep you humble and holy, I do not see how sickness is going to, unless it be a greater Saviour than Christ, and I do not see how God is going to keep the saints and angels pure in a world where there shall be no pain forever."
9. But do not a great many people greatly glorify God in their sicknesses and trials, and is it not a great opportunity for service and testimony?
A true disciple will glorify God anywhere, but how do you know how much more these persons would glorify God, after having shown the spirit of patience and meekness in trial, by rising up in His strength and showing His power to heal, and then going out to witness and work for Him?
How many there are on the contrary, who wither and fail under the long and crushing weight of years of pain, and become depressed, morbid, and blighted by the furnace. If God wants us well He will not perfectly bless us in sickness. He will sustain us, but He will also prompt us to claim something higher and better.
10. But how do I know that if I were healed I would really use my strength for the glory of God, and not perhaps, like Hezekiah, fail to render according to the benefit received?
The same grace and power that heal the body are also promised to sanctify and keep the soul and may be claimed by the same faith. The first promise is Jehovah Tsidkenu, the second, Jehovah Rophi, but both are equally free, and both must be taken together if our blessing is to be complete.
11. Was not the answer of God to Paul, when he prayed for the removal of his thorn, a lesson to us to accept our trials and sicknesses as God's will and receive more grace to bear them?
Well, in the first place, Paul certainly prayed until he got an answer from heaven, and so we should claim deliverance at the very least until we get a refusal as clear and divine as he did. In the next place Paul's revelations required a special discipline to counteract the effect of his stupendous revelations, and when we get where he had been we may claim some right to his thorn.
In the third place, if the ordinary doctrine of our opponents be true, that sickness is not from Satan but from God, this could not have been disease, for it was a messenger of Satan.
In the fourth place, there is every reason to believe that it was not sickness, but some humiliating and annoying trial, something that buffeted him rather than incapacitated him for work, for all through it the power of Christ rested upon him. He does not seem to have been hindered a single day from his ministry, and adds that "all the signs of an apostle were wrought in him, in signs, and wonders and mighty deeds."
And, finally, we have elsewhere several distinct accounts of his healing from disease, showing that he had anything but a doubtful experience of the efficacy of prayer for his bodily need. In Acts 14: 20, we see him by faith rising up from a state of apparent death after having been stoned and dragged through the streets as dead, and immediately going forth to preach the gospel. In 2 Cor. 1: 8-11, we see him give up, humanly speaking, to die, through the pressure of a trouble under which he "despaired even of life," and yet delivered through faith in God who raiseth the dead.
And in 2 Cor. 4: 10, 11, we see him often exposed to death, and ready to sink, naturally, but finding his weakness a greater occasion for the life of Christ to be manifested in his mortal flesh. Such a man is rather an unfortunate argument to use against Divine Healing.
12. Why have not the great and good men of the past and present accepted this doctrine, if it is in the Word of God?
Well, why have they not accepted the doctrine of the Lord's personal coming, the doctrine of baptism, the doctrine of holiness in this life?
Simply because the faith once delivered to the saints was lost during the Middle Ages and partly recovered by Luther, and since then is slowly being restored to the Church of God. We shall never have much hold upon Divine truth until we take it at God's word, without waiting for the endorsement of human names. But it would not be hard to show a long array of noble names, including Ireneus, Tertullian, Origen and Justinian among the fathers, the Waldenses and Covenanters in later times, and even Luther, Peden, Cameron, Wesley and Whitfield since the Reformation, who bear witness to the marvelous healing power of God in this way.
13. Why was Epaphroditus "sick nigh unto death"?
I suppose as Paul states because of his extreme self-sacrificing efforts for him. And, perhaps, we might add, to give an opportunity and show the power and grace of God in His healing, for "God had mercy on him," and healed him; and I cannot see how his case is ought but an example of God's love and power in healing.
14. Why did Paul leave Trophimus at Miletum sick?
Well, we do not claim that Paul had any power to heal Trophimus, or that anybody has such power now. It was a matter between Trophimus and his God. Perhaps God had some lesson for him that he had not learned, and, therefore, could not at once be healed. Are there not such cases today, by hundreds? Had not God to leave Job on his back until he learned his heart-searching lesson? And then He healed him immediately.
Divine healing fully recognizes the sovereignty of God, and the state and spiritual attitude of the individual. The case of Trophimus, therefore, is fully in harmony with all its principles.
15. Why is it that many persons who were anointed for healing have not been healed; and some who seemed to have real faith have died?
We never can read the heart. God only knows if there was a real faith. Many excellent and eminent Christians are found without such a faith. Many, who once claimed healing with a victorious faith, at a later period are found to be without it and acknowledge it themselves.
There may be various causes for it. Sometimes it is a subtle, spiritual decline in vigorous, energetic fellowship with God. The soul reposing on its pillow of privileges has got at ease in Zion, and lost the edge of its first love. Sometimes a marvelous healing has led it so to rest in what God has done as to let go abiding communion for continued life and power. Sometimes a subtle pride, or lack of love crept in and weakened the spiritual vigor. Sometimes in those that are not healed there is an expectation and hope rather than an immediate and present tense faith. Real faith takes and acts now. Many drift slowly over, expecting to be some day healed, expecting rather than accepting. In many such cases it has afterwards been made very plain that there was no real taking of Christ for strength and healing.
Sometimes the Master is taking home His child and will He not, in such cases, lift the veil and show the trusting heart that its service is done? How often He does! Dorothea Trudel could not, would not, ask for life. She was going home. A dear young girl in Michigan who for some time claimed healing, awoke one day from sleep, her face covered with the reflection of heaven, and told her loved ones that the Master had led her to trust for life thus far, but now was taking her to Himself. It is well, and let no one dare to reproach such a heart with unfaithfulness.
16. Why did President Garfield die, in spite of the prayers of the whole nation, including many godly and believing persons?
There was no sort of compliance in this case with the Scriptural conditions of answered prayer. He was under the care of a number of earthly physicians, there was no submission of the case directly to God in the ordinance of anointing, and the prayer of faith, and, indeed, such a suggestion was, we believe, refused, and would be probably in any similar case. Nor was there any evidence of personal faith in God, on his own part, for healing.
In no sense did it come under the Scriptural requirements for Divine Healing, and, besides, it is very probable that God was dealing with this whole nation in a public manner through its head, and calling it to repentance without which, not even Noah, Daniel and Job could together have obtained deliverance.
17. Does not James say, "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?"
Yes, all true, and they are forgiven, but it is not a question of forgiveness merely, but of discipline, and James also says, in the same passage: "Behold the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth and hath long patience for it. Be ye also patient, stablish your heart for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. Ye have heard of the patience of Job and have seen the end of the Lord that He is very pitiful and of tender mercy." This is the spirit of the faith that claims and receives Divine Healing.
18. But does not James speak of the prayer of faith as if it was the faith of the elders that brought the healing?
Happily, the Holy Ghost has anticipated this objection by the first verses in this Epistle of James, where he says about this very question of prayer, "Let him ask in faith, nothing wavering, for let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord."
God is not going to make one man's faith a shelter for another's unbelief. He is not going to let us keep our doubts and get our healing. He cares for us too well to let us remain on any lower plane than that of implicit confidence in Him. True, He does give and bless the ministry of prayer for others, and enables us to believe for their help, but it is only when they also are right with God, and exercising faith for themselves. Then their faith and ours are in one accord and it is really a united prayer. But when we are leaning on another's faith and not looking directly to God ourselves, there is no unity and there can be no power.
19. Are there not, in the New Testament, distinct promises of special gifts, power of healing and miracles spoken of in connection with the enduement of the Spirit, and may we not expect these to be exercised by special individuals?
Yes, there are spiritual gifts, but they are never apart from the Giver. They are not powers possessed by the individual, but the power of the Holy Ghost personally, working through Him. "All these worketh that one and the self same Spirit, dividing to every one severally as He will." So that no man can claim that he is a healer or a power, or anything but a helpless instrument whom God may be pleased to use in a given case, and will use in so far as the conditions are in accordance with His will. But God will not allow him to do anything differently from what God Himself would do, if you came to Him directly. Now, if you come to God with a heart of unbelief and dependence upon man, you will get nothing. Nor will you if you thus come to His most chosen instruments.
Take, for example, the gift of power for winning souls. This is a real ministry and power. But it gives no power to us to save the sinner apart from his own direct repentance and faith. It is simply the power to lead him to God, and when he comes with a true heart, to claim for him acceptance and salvation, and really receive with and for him the blessing and seal of Heaven.
So, precisely, in the ministry of healing, the part of the instrument is to lead the sufferer to know the will and word of God, to trust Him for himself, and then when he truly and trustingly comes, to claim with and for him the blessing promised, and the seal and earnest of the Holy Spirit.
A young lad fell overboard from a ship's deck, and one of the sailors stood quietly looking at his struggles, while the mother cried frantically, "Why don't you save my boy?" Still he stood until he sank and rose the second time. Then he sprang in and rescued him. "Why did you wait so long?" asked the anxious mother. "I waited till he was too weak to clutch me. Had he done so, we would both have sunk together." Keep your hands off all men if you would really trust God, and then even men can doubly help you.
20. Is there any need for the ministry of others at all?
Yes, God has appointed the ministry of prayer and given a special promise where two of us are agreed as touching anything we shall ask. He has also appointed the ordinance of anointing as the special seal and acknowledgment of His covenant of healing, and our claim; and these are divine means, and channels of blessing when received in the spirit of faith in Himself, and their willful neglect would show a spirit of disobedience and self-will, unbecoming the humble disciple.
21. What is the special significance of anointing, and how often should it be administered?
It is the Old Testament symbol of the Holy Ghost. It signifies His personal coming into the body of the person anointed to communicate the healing life and power of Jesus Christ. It sustains to the matter of healing a similar relation to that held by baptism and the Lord's Supper in connection with our professions of Christ as a Saviour, and our deeper communion with Him spiritually.
It should not be repeated needlessly or with an idea of any potency in itself. If there be any new physical need, or even a new spiritual state enabling us to take hold of Christ for healing in a more effectual manner than before, it may be repeated, but it ought not to be lightly done, or done in any way which could discount or reckon as null and void our former anointing.
22. Why has God made all the remedies we find in nature if He does not intend us to use them?
Perhaps He did not make them any more than He made beer or whiskey. God made the barley and man made the alcohol.
And yet there is in the human body and the natural world a certain vis medicatrix natura, as the doctors call it, that is a certain restorative power, which is part of His divine beneficence for a world which He foresaw would be cursed with sin and sorrow. And we do not deny that natural remedies may go a certain length and possess a limited value in relieving and healing the body. But-
1. They are limited and extremely uncertain.
2. They are not His way for His children.
3. They are not to be combined in the Scriptures with Divine Healing.
a. They work through natural, this through supernatural channels.
b. They do not act on the same principles. The one is local and specific treatment, the other is a direct vital touch upon the springs of life.
c. All Christ's redemption purchases must be free gifts, by grace without works, and so if Divine Healing be through Christ's blood, it must be a gift of grace alone. We cannot mix our works with it any more than our justification.
d. He must have all the glory, and if man touch it he will be sure to claim it.
e. Faith, by its very nature, is always weakened by a mixture of man's works. If it has a human twig to lean on, it will lean harder on it than on God's mightiest words. It must, therefore, have God only.
To combine the omnipotence of Jesus with a dose of mercury, is like trying to go upstairs by the elevator and the stairs at the same moment, or harnessing an ox with a locomotive.
23. But cannot we ask God to bless the means?
Yes; but that is not Divine Healing through the name of Jesus alone, as He has prescribed. That is Esau's blessing. There is a blessing even for Esau; but give me Jacob's.
24. But did not God prescribe figs for Hezekiah?
Yes, and if He had prescribed figs for us, we should use them. Hezekiah did just what he was told, and God healed him. We are told to pray, "Anointing with oil in the name of the Lord," and if we really believe God, we will exactly obey.
The figs did not and could not heal Hezekiah. His case was wholly incurable. They were simply a token that God had the case in hand, and were given at the command of the prophet, and not the physician, who seems to have had nothing whatever to do with this case.
25. Why did Christ use clay?
No doubt, for a similar reason, as a token that He was touching this man's disease. But the clay did not heal him. It was the water of Siloam, the type of the Sent One, which washed away both the clay and the blindness, too.
26. Was not Luke called the Beloved Physician?
Yes. He had been a physician, but be became an evangelist. Even if he practiced after his conversion, it was no reproach, nor sin; but if God had wanted to guard us against the fanaticism of Divine Healing, how easy it would have been for Him to record a single instance in which the early believers sent for Luke. He could not have much medical practice in such a wandering life as he led with Paul, and the only time we read of the two meeting at the side of a patient, was when Eutychus was killed, and then it is Paul, and not Luke, who seems to have been sent for, and who certainly was used of God to raise him from the dead. Luke himself, who writes the narrative, does not even use a medical term in describing it.
27. But did not Paul himself prescribe medicine to Timothy in telling him to take wine for weak digestion?
Well, if this was fermented wine, we must abandon the argument for temperance. If, then, it was unfermented wine, it was simply a diet, and not a drug, and used just as we would suggest tea or rare beef to a friend. God's Word does prescribe to us all varieties of simple, wholesome food, but not medicine. From Genesis to Revelation you will find no single explicit direction to use human remedies. But you will find numerous directions to bring your sickness to God.
28. How should I act if I should break my arm?
Ask the Lord to keep it from breaking. Then do not calculate on breaking it, or you may according to your faith. If you should meet someone who has a broken arm, tell him not to try any experiments on God. If they can trust Him, without doubt He will heal anything. But if they cannot surely do so or have any question about it, let them go to the nearest and best surgeon.
For yourself, trust God in the present moment, and do not have any supposes, else you may have Job's experience, "I feared a fear and it came upon me."
29. How should we act in reference to the sickness of others?
First lead them to get right spiritually, and learn the lesson God may have. Then tell them of the great Physician, and pray for right conviction and appropriating faith, but do not commit your faith further than they are ready to go of themselves, unless you are specially led of God to do so. Above all, do not allow them to lean upon your faith for their healing. If they can really believe and act faith, then take hold for and with them with all your heart, and when two of you are really agreed in spirit and faith, it shall be done.
30. What should we do in the case of children?
We may act for them if our own, or if they are substantially laid upon us by the Lord, so that we are responsible for them. But we cannot believe for the children of others where God is looking to someone else to assume this responsibility, as, for example, an unbelieving parent. In the case of the children of others we should be most careful in assuming responsibility. In the case of the children of our Orphanage, we would not feel justified in taking this responsibility, in view of the law of the state requiring the care of an attendant physician.
In the case of our own children we may and should teach them to unite with us themselves in faith, and we will find it very easy to get their simple hearts to trust Jesus fully.
In all cases of sickness in others where there is danger involved and you have the responsibility, to meet the obligations of the law, it is a great matter, if possible, to have some regular physician who believes in Divine Healing within call, so as to be responsible if necessary.
31. If we are not immediately conscious of actual healing, after anointing, how should we act?
Keep your eyes off your symptoms and on Christ. He is your life. Your body must be reckoned as good as dead, and He depended upon for strength, moment by moment. Therefore look to Him, draw your strength from Him, and be not discouraged at any testing or seeming delay. In nature the root may be cut, and yet the tree only wither after many weeks; the serpent may be killed, and yet his tail will move till the sun goes down; the seed may be planted in September, and the winter snows and storms pass over it before the spring and summer bloom and harvest-"Behold the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it till he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient, stablish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh."
32. How can I consider and call myself healed when there is no sign of it in my body?
How can I go away from the telegraph office and be at rest about the telegram I have just sent, when I see no trace of it as it goes flashing along the wires.
If I can trust a telegraph operator, can I not trust my God? Faith must always first "call the things that are not as though they were," and "against hope believe in hope," and "consider now its own body now dead," or more literally, "without being weakened in faith, he considered his own body now as good as dead, yet looking unto the promise of God, he wavered not through unbelief, but waxed strong through faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured He was able to perform."
The healing is not in our own body at first-we consider it as good as dead, but in Christ's body, and as we look to it, its strength keeps coming into ours, and we "wax strong through faith."
33. But have we a right to call that real which is not real?
If God calls it so, we can echo His declaration. And faith always must first reckon and then receive. And when we go to the post office to collect our orders, we must send in our signed receipt before we get any money, so faith must ever send its receipt to heaven before it grasps its answer. And if we have not the faith to do this for Divine Healing, perhaps we have not the faith for anything.
34. How can I obtain and exercise true and effectual faith for Divine Healing?
Only by having Divine faith as well as Divine Healing. Only by counting your faith and yourself dead and insufficient, and receiving Christ for this wholly, throwing yourself upon Him for it absolutely, and claiming a faith as perfect as that which God requires and gives, faith that doubts not, that believes it has the thing which it has asked, and so has whatsoever it saith.
35. Is all sickness from the devil?
Sickness may arise from several causes. First, it is sometimes God's chastening, and while the devil is the instrument used, God is speaking and we must hear and repent, and learn His lesson. Secondly, it is sometimes Satan's tormenting attack when we are walking in obedience and service. He has power even to simulate all symptoms. He often attacks us after we have given a testimony against him, especially respecting healing, at other times when in God's special service. At such times we must resist him, and he will flee from us. We must not fear him. Especially we must lay him over on Christ, and He will conquer. But to know it is Satan is half the battle.