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Divine Healing

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Divine Healing

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Divine Healing

MP4 Video - 1080p (2.12 GB)
MP4 Video - 720p (1.28 GB)
MP3 Audio (53.32 MB)

The Bible shows that God is a healing God, who wants to heal His people. This message will consider biblical instruction and examples pertaining to divine healing.


[Mr. Frank Dunkle]: We have given some thought to health concerns lately. Haven't we? With COVID in the air and all these prayer requests, it's certainly something we have on our minds. And so, it seemed like an appropriate topic to speak on today. Now, I will caution, I spoke on this topic in the a.m. service a few weeks ago, so I'm sorry for those of you that might be hearing it a second time, but I discussed it with Mr. Myers and he thought it was a good topic. I want to talk about some of that and COVID is going through and, you know, I'll confess my family recently had their experience. And we were fortunate enough to be some of the ones with a mild case. I did have the odd experience of coming down with it a couple of days before the rest of the family and we were hoping they wouldn't get it. So, I was isolated, stuck in the guest bedroom for two or three days. And boy, that was an experience - one I'm not eager to repeat. I'm looking for water here. And my son came down with it. It was interesting because we've tested him four or five or six times. And all those other times it came back negative. And what's interesting is when you get that negative test, you go, “Phew, it's just a cold.” It's just a cold you'll get over that. And if you haven't had the experience with fear about COVID, most of us have had a head cold or something like that, a case of the sniffles. And you just think, yeah, that's something you get over. Have you ever stopped to think, well, how do you know? Why are you so confident that you'll get over it?

I'm guessing because you have before and that's the way it goes for us. The same thing happens if you have a minor cut. You get a cut you might bleed a little bit and you, you know, maybe you put a Band-Aid on it or just let it go the natural way. And if you can ignore it and not keep irritating it, a little while later, it'll be gone. If it's mild enough, you don't even have a scar. I say that, as I was thinking about this message always propped up on the bed, looking over my notes. I looked down on my ankle and I've got a scar that's been there for more than 50 years. An unfortunate incident of my ankle meeting a bicycle chain. And it was so long ago, I don't even remember the particulars but, you know, I've got that reminder. Still, it cleared up and I got better. You know, broken bones are like that, right? Matter of fact, we've had that experience in the human body we know you break a bone, you set it properly, six weeks. It's almost like clockwork. And six weeks, the bones, the cells will regrow, they'll knit together and will be like new. They'll maybe not exactly like new, but, you know, it's functional. It works, you know, normally.

These things happen, well not, I just think because we know God designed some processes that He made our bodies to do that are, I think, astounding, they do it without us giving a thought. And that applies to cuts, scrapes, and a lot of sicknesses. You know, we've probably heard more about antibodies in the last year and a half than we ever cared to know, but it is interesting that our bodies have this built into us, the means to recognize something that's foreign and that's damaging and to create a countermeasure. It does it without us giving thought to it. You don't have to go down in your bathroom and or sit in your bedroom and say, “Okay, now I'm gonna direct my body to produce antibodies.” It just happens, in the same way, like if you get that cut. I think this summer, I got to go canoeing in the wilderness and I've got a bad habit perhaps of wearing shorts when I do that. And often my legs come out looking like I've been in a battle zone - cuts, scrapes, scratches, and I never give it a thought as a kid, I always had cuts and scrapes on me. But, you know, a scab is a pretty amazing thing.

It's not the most appetizing thing to think about, but, you know, a little blood comes out and suddenly it forms, I call it God's Band-Aid, it's just automatic. It covers, but this never occurred to me besides taking it for granted until I was reading a book by a Michael Behe called "Darwin's Black Box." It's been around quite a few years, I'm guessing several of you have read it. It makes the case for intelligent design for the fact that the amazing complexity of creation makes it obvious that there was a creator, a designer who planned all this, and blood clotting is one of those things. You know, it's amazing how when the blood comes out, there is some type of chemical trigger that makes it start to clot and form that scab. But it also stops at just the right time. It's one of those processes that had to work right the first time. Now, of course, if it doesn't work at all, people can bleed to death. And there are some that have rare defects that that's a worry. But until I read Mr. Behe's book, it hadn't occurred to me that if it doesn't stop working, your blood would keep solidifying right up into the veins and all through your body. And we can't survive that. So, God created it just right.

And when I think of some things, it brings to mind a scripture I'll quote, without turning there, it's in Psalm 139:14. You can jot it down if you like. It's one you'll instantly recognize. King David, we believe was the author, and he said, “I will praise You for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Boy, are we fearfully and wonderfully made. Our bodies are amazingly complex and capable. So much so that getting over a seasonal cold or healing from a cut or even a broken bone can seem routine. As I said, you take the COVID test and it comes back negative and you go, “Whoa, I know I'm gonna recover from this in a couple of days,” but I think it's a miracle. I like to term it a miracle of creation. When we think if God creating the life in the first place was miraculous and certainly, it was, it was God's divine power that made us and gave us life, the fact that He built into us, these amazing qualities of being able to heal and recuperate is nothing short of miraculous. And the reason I bring that up today and wanna speak on it by way of introduction to our topic is without having realized it, I think we could say each and every one of us have experienced divine healing in the fact that God built into our bodies that ability to heal. And it's something given to us by Him.

Of course, sadly, we know that it doesn't always work. Some injuries are so traumatic, they end life. Although our bodies are designed to recognize and fight and overcome bacteria and invading viruses, there are some infections that become overwhelming. You know, when the normal miracle of our body's own immune systems just aren't enough, we can go beyond that. And the thing I wanna talk about today is that we can go beyond that and claim a benefit that God offers to His people to ask for healing. Divine healing is a benefit and a blessing that God makes available. And it's not something begrudging or forced, it's something He wants us to have. And we've been thinking about it now, more than ever. I'm confident as we get those prayer requests and we plead to God to intervene and hear those requests. I know I've anointed people and sent out cloths and many of our other elders have. You know, we think about divine healing and we probably have some questions and the Bible has answers. If you will turn towards Exodus 15:26, the first thing I wanna establish about this though is that this idea of appealing to God for divine healing - it's His idea. It's not something people initiated and went to God and said, “Oh, can You grant us some healing?” And He said, “Well, maybe I'll think about it.” You know, no, it came from God.

I want to read in Exodus 15:26. This is as God was bringing the children of Israel out of Egypt and on the way they were having difficulty finding water eventually so much that He brought it out of a rock for them. But at one point they found a pool of water, but it was bitter, it was inedible, perhaps even dangerous. And they appealed to God who directed Moses to cut down a branch of a tree. Some translations say a whole tree, threw it in, the waters were made safe and good. And God told them something. In Exodus 15:26 God said, “If you diligently heed the voice of the Lord, your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I'll put none of the diseases on you, which I brought on the Egyptians for I am the Lord who heals you.” Mr. Myers mentioned this in his message to us that he sent out last night. The Hebrew for this is Yahweh Ropheka. It refers to the eternal God who heals. That's a name or a title that God wants to be known for. He introduced Himself as a healing God. Now, I don't think it's a coincidence that in this passage He linked it to obedience to His laws. You know, not only does He bless rather than curse those who obey Him. But if you study through the laws that God gave to ancient Israel, we see that He gave them principles of healthful living that applied down through the ages. He gave them direction of proper diet, of good hygiene. And, you know, of the principle of quarantine to stop the spread of disease.

Interestingly, of course, human beings at that time had not learned about microorganisms, but God knew all about them. And He introduced this idea of healing. It's worth considering also that healing was a significant part of the ministry of Jesus Christ. If we turn to the book of Matthew, I wanna read a couple of passages there, starting in Matthew 4:23. Matthew 4 is a good summary. It says, “Jesus went about all Galilee teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom and healing all kinds of sickness, all kinds of disease among the people.” If you just do even a casual, superficial reading of the gospel accounts, you can't help but notice that Jesus healed people. Everywhere He went, people flocked to Him because they knew He did that and they wanted to get that benefit. You know, I don't have time to go through a detailed analysis of all those cases, but you pay close attention and you read them, one of the things you see, that's very clear is that the healing was often linked to Christ's compassion. It often says He had compassion on a person and then He healed. So, we say, Jesus didn't heal only to get attention. It brought attention to His ministry and that was valuable. But I don't think He healed only for that reason. I don't think He healed to get people to stop bugging Him. You know, He cared about people. He was a God of love, compassion.

He hated the people, let me say that in English, He hated to see people suffer. If we look in Mark, sorry, not Mark, Matthew 8, just a few pages ahead. I know that's what's missing, it's really quiet in here. It's supposed to be quiet during services. I should be used to that. Matthew 8 beginning at the start of the chapter. When He, that is Jesus had come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him, and behold a leper came and worshiped Him saying, “ ‘Lord, if You're willing, You can make me clean.’ Jesus put out His hand and touched him and He said, ‘I am willing, be cleansed.’ ” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. It's noteworthy, one thing that Christ was willing to touch a leper. That's something you did not do. It was a dread disease and people were properly afraid of it spreading. Lepers were commanded to keep separate, it was built into the law. And thus this man, depending on how long he'd had leprosy might have gone without human contact for months, years. And that's one thing I never had that much insight. I thought that might be a terrible thing. But as I said, I had two and a half days of being quarantined to the guest room in our house. I thought I can't imagine doing this for months and years, not being able to touch people or be around them.

Christ reached out and touched him. But more than that, He said, “I am willing.” It was in Christ's desire to heal the man, no indication that it was grudging or just to get rid of an annoyance. And I think that's an important lesson for us. These qualities that we see in Jesus Christ and God, the Father, I believe, I believe They still feel that way. I think They want to grant healing. When we appeal to God and ask Him to make us well, He doesn't see us as a nuisance or somebody who wants to get out of the way. Think of Him as a loving parent, who wants to make His children feel well. Now, that could raise the question of then why doesn't He heal us all instantly? Put that in the back of your mind, I will come back to that a bit later. But let's see a little bit more about this. Here in Matthew 8, if you look down to verse four after the leper was healed, Jesus said, “Well, see that you tell no one,” - so He wasn't trying to get attention from the healing - “But go your way and show yourself to the priest, offer the gift that Moses commanded as a testimony to them.”

You know, some reasons Christ wanted the man to go do this seemed to be to give proper thanks to God and to be a witness to the priest. But I mention it because it does indicate to us and remind us that healing had a place in the ritual system. You know, there were aspects of that system that referred to God intervening and healing. And I don't wanna examine that today because we know that Christ's sacrifice replaced that system. We don't offer sacrifice and I don't have to bring two birds and dip one of them in blood and set it free if I'm healed from a skin disease, which I'm very glad for that. But with Christ's priesthood and the New Testament, it shouldn't surprise us though that there is a procedure, a method, a specific action that God tells us to take in regard to healing. I'd like to turn to James 5, you're probably thinking of that. James 5 beginning in verse 15, this is central to any discussion of asking God for healing because He raises the question, “Is anyone among you sick?” - This is James 5:14. - “If you're sick, let this person call for the elders of the church. Let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick and the Lord will raise him up. And if,” - if as a pretty big word there – “he's committed sins, there'll be forgiven.”

And this describes a specific procedure, not a pro-specific procedure. And it includes a particular role for the ministers of Jesus Christ. You know, I've heard some people raise the question since it is in the plural, do you have to have more than one elder to lay hands on. And that's not the way we've interpreted it. It's certainly not wrong to do that. Some translations say rather than call the elders invite from among the elders of the assembly that elders to lay on hands and anoint. We see examples in the Scripture of one person, you know, laying hands on someone and then being healed. The point is this is a procedure to follow. I might note also that I don't think it's limited to a sickness, an infection. It's also appropriate for injury. You know, we can see examples in Scripture of divine healing for injury. The one that comes to my mind, first of all, is in the garden of Gethsemane. As you know, the soldiers came to apprehend Christ and Peter whipped out that sword, swung it, chopped off the ear of the high priest servant. And Jesus put away the sword, those who live by the sword will die by the sword. And He, you know, I imagined He did it this way. He picked up that piece of ear and put it back on his head and healed him.

You know, healing for injury is just as valid. James 5 notes that anointing is done with prayer and laying on of hands. You know, most of us have probably had this experience. I would say, if you never have, you might be intimidated as much as I was. I still recall very clearly the verse, the very first time I was anointed, I was 15 years old and I developed a sports injury. I was on the track team in high school and I developed a bad case of shin splints, very painful. It's a type of tendonitis and at services, one Sabbath, someone said, “Well, why don't you ask the pastor to anoint you?” Well, yeah. You know, why not? That sounds like a great idea. So, after services, we did this and as we're going to a back room for privacy, I started getting a little apprehensive. And because I'd never been anointed before, but I had read the Old Testament. And if you did see how it's described when a prophet would anoint someone there it's a little different than we did here. So, I really thought that the pastor was gonna pull out a bottle of oil, I'm trying to like this, and pour it on my head, ruining my nice new suit. And thankfully it wasn't anything like that. I learned what most of you know now, most of us that are elders carry a little vial of oil and put a little dab on our fingertips and can put it on the forehead and then lay hands on and pray to God.

The oil is a symbol. It's a symbol of something much more important - of God's Holy Spirit. You know, if you want a scripture to support that, Acts 10:38 is my favorite where it describes Jesus Christ being anointed by the Holy Spirit. It's the power of God through His Spirit that does the healing. It's certainly not the oil and it's not the hands of the elder. It's God, God is who we look to for healing. Again, those in the Cincinnati congregations you probably saw Mr. Myers's message yesterday evening. And it was very appropriate and, well, who am I to say if it's appropriate, but as a good focus to us to remember that God is our source of healing. We get anointed and we pray to God to ask for that healing. Now, you might say, well, do you have to ask for an anointing every time you're sick? You know, I described how I might get a case of the sniffles. I could ask for healing every single time, or I asked for healing, I could ask for anointing. I'm not sure if James implies that it's absolutely commanded, but it's certainly available. You know, sometimes when I think I'm gonna get over something, you know, I've got a cold, but I'll pray to God, you know, I pray on a daily basis and I'll ask God, please cause the systems You built into my body to work as effectively as possible, help me to get better more quickly.

It's when I want or need a healing that I'm not able to do, you know, and I don't think my body will do properly then I'll certainly call for an elder to anoint. But I would encourage any of you, don't hesitate. Don't think, oh, it's not a big enough deal to be anointed for. When I was saying earlier that Christ wanted to heal people, I can assure you the ministry of the church wants to anoint you if you want that. You know, I've had people say, “Well, I know you're busy.” Oh, ministers are busy, but this is the job we have to do. Don't hesitate to ask for that. And sometimes people might wonder why does it have to be an elder laying hands on? God doesn't need that. Does He? And the answer is no He doesn't. But one thought I think an important thought of why we have an elder lay hands on and do the anointing is it does acknowledge that the structure and the authority that God builds into His church. As we can read in 1 Corinthians, you know, God sets in the church people according to His will. Some elders, some pastors and teachers, He gives different roles for His purposes. It doesn't make the elder better or more qualified when it comes to health matters. But our willingness to follow God's direction is a mark of faith and submission.

Now, there's another important question that arises. Can I ask for an anointing if I'm taking medicine? Can I ask for an anointing if I'm having a medical procedure? You know, have I already betrayed my faith in God? Or if I've been anointed, do I have to just stop there and I can't do anything else? These are questions we have. And to be honest, Scripture doesn't answer it specifically. It does give us a story though, that I think is instructive. It's in 2 Kings 20. If you'll turn there with me 2 Kings 20 beginning in the first verse. I've pondered over this. And I think I see some reason to it that I'm somewhat confident of. This is during the reign of King Hezekiah, who was one of those reforming kings who sought God and tried to lead the kingdom of Judah and worshiping Him properly. But in this case in 2 Kings 20:1, Hezekiah was sick and it says he was near death. And Isaiah, the prophet, the son of Amos, went to him and said, “Thus says the Lord, set your house in order, you're gonna die and not live.” That's not a message that he wanted to hear, that anyone wants to hear. And he turned his face toward the wall and prayed saying, “Lord, remember now, Lord, I pray how I've walked before you in truth with a loyal heart. I have done what is good in your sight.” Hezekiah wept bitterly, you know. God had told him your time's up, but he appealed to God yet. And something intriguing happened. Going on in verse four, it happened before Isaiah had gone out into the middle court, the word of the Eternal came to him.

So, this is to Isaiah. Isaiah gave the message, you know, before Isaiah and God said, “Turn around, go back. Return and tell Hezekiah the leader of My people thus says the Lord, the God of David, your father, ‘I have heard your prayer. I've seen your tears and surely I will heal you.’ ” It's a direct message from God. “I will heal you, on the third day you'll go up to the house of the Lord and I'll add to your days 15 years. I will deliver you in the city from the hand of the king of Assyria. And I will defend the city for My own sake, the sake of My servant, David.” Then something interesting happens. In verse seven, Isaiah said, “Take a lump of figs.” They took a lump of figs, laid it on the boil and he recovered. What? You know, understand that I will heal you. You know, and I can relate that if a minister anoints him lays hands on and there's healing. What's up with that lump of figs? You know, both came from Isaiah, which I believe implies that God's working through him. And scholars generally agree that this is representing what has often been called a poultice. A poultice was a mixture of some herbs and medicines. Maybe it was only figs, but maybe other things were mixed in, but used as what we would call a topical medicine. A topical medicine, rather than a pill or an injection, it's something you put on the surface. Calamine lotion is a topical medicine, Neosporin, Preparation H. I mean, there's a number of them. And there was this.

But you think, does God here tell Hezekiah, “I will heal you, now use this medicine.” It seems like maybe He did. I don't wanna speculate too far or make too big of a deal of it. But it does seem to give us at least an indication that asking God for healing and having faith and trust in God and using medicine don't have to be mutually exclusive. You know, if you have a headache and you ask God to remove it, but also take an aspirin, I don't think that's, belying your faith in God. You know, I've used medicine and asked God, please make this effective and please don't let it harm me. Now, please keep in mind as I say this, I'm just looking at this and saying, it seems that they're not in conflict as much as perhaps we've tended to think sometimes in the past. But I'm not, not at all saying we should look to drugs or to doctors or medicine before we look to God. God is first and foremost the God who heals us, He's Yahweh Ropheka. No drug is that, no doctor is that. I'm just saying that doctors have studied our bodies and learned how certain chemicals react and they can have an effect that can be useful, and that doesn't have to be opposed to trust in God.

Now, another question that might come up in relation to anointing for healing. What if you wanna be anointed, but yet an elder can't get to you? Well, Scripture says call for the elders, have them anoint with oil, lay hands on, and pray. But if that's not possible, we can see in Scripture a couple of other ways that healing can still come from God. And there is no specific instruction, but there's what we call the anointed cloth. The example is found in Acts 19. If you'll turn to Acts 19:11, it's a short passage that it seems pretty powerful. Acts 19:11 it says now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick and the diseases left them, and the evil spirits went out of them. Now, known as it does say done by the hands of Paul. So, while it doesn't describe it happening, what I believe happened is that Paul would learn of someone who is sick that needs anointed, but he couldn't go there, so he would anoint a cloth. Now, does it have to be an apron or a handkerchief? Well, I think it's the cloth. I brought a couple of examples. You know, here's some, this is bigger than most but, you know, I found this on my desk, I've got an envelope full of them from when I was a pastor. You prepare them and what we normally do is, you know, if someone asks me to send them an anointed cloth, I'll anoint the cloth with oil and pray for the healing exactly as I would if I were with that person. And the church has a letter specified that we can send this cloth with through the mail, or we can hand it to a person to deliver and instructs the person when you receive this, you know, go to a private place and hold it to your forehead and pray to God and ask Him for healing to acknowledge the anointing.

The cloth is like a remote control go-between in a sense, maybe that's - I'm not sure if that's the terminology God would use - but in essence, it does supply that. I anoint the cloth, the cloth touches the person and I've developed a habit. One thing I tend to do when I'm praying and anointing the cloth, knowing that the oil is still a symbol of the Holy Spirit, I'll sometimes remind God, “God, Your Spirit is with that person, probably in that person right now. If it be Your will, don't wait for the cloth to arrive, You know, You can heal them right away right now.” And I have heard cases of that happening. Matter of fact, there are stories in the church of someone just making the phone call and God granting the healing almost instantly. It's still that person acknowledging the structure and authority in the church and asking for God to take care of that.

And it's funny, I told you the story the first time I was anointed way back when I was 15, I have to confess it was it a couple of weeks ago or whenever when I got tested positive for COVID was the first time in my life I used an anointed cloth. I've anointed several and sent them out, but I had, you know, Mr. Lamoureux here in Cincinnati, who was the festival coordinator, he met us outside the car and handed me an envelope. And so, I got to be on that end of the experience. Well, I believe there was a combination of my body's recuperation, but I was not, not gonna not ask God for healing certainly.

Now there's another way that God can do healing if a minister can't anoint, and I'm gonna reference a story, that's pretty well known. It's in Matthew Chapter 8. So, rather than read it I'll just summarize, but this is the well-known story where a centurion sent messengers to Jesus Christ. So, he's an officer in the Roman army and he hears about this rabbi that's healing people. His servant is sick, so he sends some other servants asking Him, please come and heal my servant, he's sick. Jesus being the one who wants to heal people starts down the road towards the centurion's house. And when the centurion gets that message, oh, wait a minute. You know, so he's quickly sends messengers back out and says, "Oh Lord, I'm not worthy for You to come under my roof. I didn't mean for You to come here." And he basically says, “I know how this works, I'm a man under authority.” Meaning he was used to following orders. And he said, “I have soldiers under me and if I tell this one, go here, he goes, go there, he goes. If I tell my servant to do this or that, he does it.” So, he tells Jesus, “Just give the word and my servant will be made well.” And as you know Jesus said, “What faith.” He said, “I haven't seen such faith in Israel.” And so He gave the word and the servant was healed from that hour.

Now, this reminds us that again, having an elder of the church anoint someone is symbolic. As I said, the oil symbolizes God's Holy Spirit. And the laying on the hands seems to represent submission to God's authority in the church. So, while we do follow and we do what God says, we understand that God is not limited by that. The stories we've referenced show us that God can work the miracles when He chooses to and how He chooses to.

But it's worth noting then why does God give us this? What is required? What do you have to have for healing? And I think the Bible shows us that too. I'm gonna turn to 1 Peter and invite you to join me there in 1 Peter 2:24. But while you're turning there, I'll mention the well-known story of when Christ was introducing to His disciples, the new symbols of the Passover. So we know that the wine He said was symbolic of His blood. And when He took the bread, He broke it and he said, “This is My body, which is broken for you.” Now, we might ponder on that. But one of the things we see that it means we can learn from 1 Peter 2:24, where Peter said, “who Himself,” - speaking of Jesus – “bore our sins in His own body, on the tree that we have in guide the sins might live for righteousness.” And then he adds, “by whose stripes you are healed,” - by whose stripes you're healed.

Peter was quoting a messianic prophecy of Isaiah, Isaiah 53:5 is where it discusses that. And of course, Isaiah 53 is a well-known passage that we study around the Passover, you know, about the suffering servant and how He would suffer and die to pay for our sins. But it includes that by His stripes we're healed. Now, that's led some people to wonder, you know, if, you know, sickness is caused by some type of sin, that Christ had to die for it. I don't know that the Bible tells us clearly that so and so I don't want to speculate. Scripture doesn't say how it is that we're healed by His stripes. It says we are. And I take it at that, you know, and that's telling us without Jesus Christ, without the Word who was with God and who was God, who gave Himself for our sins as a sacrifice for mankind, we could say, without Him, we would not have healing. But Christ has been sacrificed. We can have forgiveness of sin and we certainly can ask God to heal our sicknesses and our injuries.

While we're on that subject though, it certainly bears broaching another point because you know, breaking God's law certainly can lead to sickness, it can lead to injury. And in some cases it does but remember what I emphasized when I read the passage in James 5, I'm turning to John 9, by the way, I should let you know. I'm gonna read John 9:1-3. Because James says, you know, to call for the elders they'll anoint with oil and pray. And he says, if he sinned, his sins will be forgiven. He doesn't say the sin that caused the sickness because that's how it happens. It doesn't say that at all.

And in John 9 we see Christ addressing that. It says, now, as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned that this man…” Let me start. Let me read what it says, “Who sinned? This man or his parents that he was born blind?” You know, they assume that this guy has got this terrible disability that was caused by sin. Somebody sinned. Was it his own or his parents? Jesus answered, “Neither this man, nor his parents sinned.” It doesn't mean they never sinned in their whole life but related to his blindness. And He said, “But that the works of God should be revealed in him.” So, you know, the disciples made an assumption, this terrible misfortune had to have been caused by sin and Christ corrected them. They were wrong when they thought that. Many times when we see someone suffering or we hear of someone, we think, “Ah, maybe they haven't been praying and studying enough.” Now, I hope we don't consciously think that, but it could creep in. If we think that though, I think we're as wrong as the disciples were. The disciples were wrong when they thought that sin is always what causes sickness. Jesus said it wasn't that. Getting sick just happens. And probably more often than not it's not because of sin.

I'd like to go to Matthew 8:16 if you'll join me there. In Matthew 8:16 it says, when evening had come, this is during Christ's ministry, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. He cast out spirits with a word and healed all who were sick. Then it might be fulfilled what was spoken in Isaiah, the prophet, He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses. You know, when Jesus saw great multitudes it say that He departed, but this implies lots of people came to Him. And yeah, at the end of verse 16, it says, “He healed all who were sick.” All these crowds coming to Him and Jesus healed them all. Now, were all of these people righteous? Did they all deserve to be healed? Did they become converted because of it? I think the answers are no, no, mostly no. I say mostly, some might've converted, might've began following Christ and lived His lifestyle because of it. But we've seen in the modern era of the church experiencing a divine healing doesn't always lead to righteousness. It's in our nature to associate misfortune and sickness with evil and fortune and blessings with righteousness. But just practice and those scriptures shows that's not the case. You know, being sick is not an indication of a person's degree of conversion. It's just not. Very righteous converted people can get sick and they do. And not getting sick doesn't mean someone's especially righteous.

And I would say if a sickness lingers, we shouldn't associate that. I'm gonna turn there later. But the apostle Paul, author of much of the New Testament can, you know, wrote in 1 Corinthians and said, “I've got this thorn in the flesh and three times, I asked God to take it away, and He didn't.” Paul was allowed to suffer with whatever that was for the rest of his life it seems. And I would say also that not being healed, isn't necessarily an indication of a lack of faith. But I will say Scripture shows us that faith is something that's associated and even required for healing. If you turn a page or two to Matthew 9:27, we can see clearly an example. Matthew 9:27 it says when He'd come into the house, the blind men came to Him. So, Jesus goes into a house. Some blind men came to Him and, you know, they wanted to be healed actually in verse 27, what I didn't read and I intended to was these two blind men came saying, “Son of David, have mercy on us.” They came to the house. Jesus said, “Do you believe I'm able to do this?” The Greek therefore believe is based on the same word for faith, pistis. And they said, “Yes.” He touched their eyes, He said, “According to your faith, be it unto you.” And obviously, they had faith because they were healed and they spread it all around the country.

Earlier in this chapter, actually, if you wanna glance at verse 22, this is the case of before that, as He was in the midst of a crowd, a woman came up from behind Him who had had this issue of blood for many years. And in her mind, she's thinking, “If I can just touch His clothes, I'll be healed.” She touched Him and she was, but Jesus knew it. He turned it around, “Who touched me?” And when finally it's revealed, He's not upset with her, but He turned around in verse 22. When He saw her, He said, “Be of good cheer, daughter, your faith has made you well.” Her faith. Faith is an important requirement for being healed. Okay? Jesus Christ, sacrifice is essential, faith is essential. It's worth noting though, in some cases might not even be the faith of the person who was healed. Think to that story of the centurion, who said, “I'm a man under authority, I give orders,” and Christ was amazed at his faith, but it wasn't the centurion who was healed, it was a centurion's servant. And that servant might not have had a lick of faith for all we know. Similarly, there's a case where a leader of the synagogue named Jairus sends to Christ for healing because his daughter was very sick, and it turned out his daughter died, and Jesus raised her from the dead. Wasn't the girl's faith. She was dead. But her father had faith and obviously, Jesus Christ had faith.

The point I'm making is, you know, when we pray for others, let's pray with faith and let's hope they have faith. If your faith is faltering when you ask for healing trust that others who do have faith are praying for you. Now, don't trust in that alone, let's build our faith in God, but we want to remember and we've seen from Christ's example. And I'll just reference back again in Matthew 8:2-3 where the leper said to Christ, “If You're willing, You can heal me." And Christ said, “I am willing.” And that's the other element that we can say has to be present for healing. It depends on Jesus Christ, there has to be faith and God has to want to heal us. He must choose to do so. That's the requirement that can be the hardest of all I think for us to understand, because we might think why in the world would God ever not want to heal someone? We see in the Bible of these cases where He does. And especially if it's not based on the person's righteousness. And I've been saying that it doesn't. This is the toughest part of this because we know there are cases where we cry out to God and He doesn't give us the answer we want. And we're in mourning now for some people like that, and we're crying out to God for healing. Why doesn't He heal sometimes? I think part of the answer we can consider can be found in Isaiah 55:8, a very poetic passage where God says, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are My ways your ways says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth so are My ways than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

Now, this doesn't give a specific reason why God might not grant a request for healing, but it indicates that there might well be good reasons. And I think in some cases, maybe reasons we wouldn't understand if He told us or we just wouldn't want to accept, you know. God can see far beyond the horizon that blocks our vision. He knows things we don't know. You know, I think, you know, He might have an underlying desire to give us good things, but not give us the good thing we want right then and there. But we know God's not fickle. He's not capricious. He really cares about us. Matter of fact, in John 16, I know I'm throwing a lot of scriptures at you, but I wanted to read this one, John 16:23, He gives the disciples a promise that I think does apply to us. John 16:23, referring to the relationship they have with God, the Father, He says, “In that day you'll ask Me nothing. Most assuredly I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name, He will give you. Until now you've asked nothing in My name, ask, and you will receive that your joy may be full.” He says, “You're gonna get the requests that you ask.” But Christ didn't say that Christ would always give them or that God would give them to us when we think we need them or when we want them. And, of course, I'm not telling you anything new, but I believe sometimes God's promise might be fulfilled in the resurrection. And matter of fact, I'm very confident of that. You or I might die of a tragic injury, of a chronic disease, or even of COVID-19, but we will live again.

Every man will rise from the grave and stand before the judgment seat of Christ. And I honestly believe when the dead rise they won't be sick. I don't think they'll be lame, not Lyme or blame, lame or blind or any of those things. If we believe this and we don't falter yet not receiving the promises, we'll be in good company. In Hebrews 11, the faith chapter, the chapter of heroes of faith, we're reminded of something. Hebrews 11:13 says after describing the patriarchs, these all died in faith, not having received the promises. God made them great and powerful promises, they lived all their life and didn't receive those promises. But they saw them afar off and they were assured of them embrace them, confess that they were strangers and pilgrims on earth. They who say such things, declare plainly they seek a homeland. And I think that's part of why. Again, God knows things we don't, but I do know that we grow spiritually through suffering at times. Sometimes it might be in our own best interest to not receive what we're we're asking for. I referenced 2 Corinthians 12, I'm gonna read that now. 2 Corinthians 12:8, actually it's in verse seven that Paul mentions a messenger of Satan, you know, a thorn in the flesh. And we don't know exactly what that was. Some people speculate it was some type of demonic, you know problem. More often we speculate it was a health issue. I think that's much more likely.

And he said, “Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.” Just as an aside I've sometimes had people say, “Well, I was anointed so I can't ask for God again.” You know, if someone asks me if they can be anointed again for the same thing, I say, “Well, Paul pleaded with God three times, so I don't hesitate to anoint again.” But even though Paul pleaded with God and Paul was righteous and had faith, but God answered him and said, “My grace is sufficient for you, My strength is made perfect in weakness.” That was the answer Paul had to accept. And Paul did. He said, “Therefore, gladly, I'll rather boast in my infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” So, there are times when God doesn't grant our request. I would say, you know, I don't believe He doesn't want to heal us, but He might choose not to at that time, and understanding that and accepting it is difficult. And believe me, I know.

Matter of fact, I'll share a story from my own experience that makes it a little easier for me to swallow this because I experienced it in my family. My mother, sometime in her very late 30s or early 40s developed a chronic disease. It was a liver disease called biliary cirrhosis. And I mentioned that one not caused by drinking. My mother enjoyed a drink now and then, but she was not any type of drunk. This is the same disease that took Walter Payton's life if you follow pro football, you know, they always talk about the Walter Payton Award. Anyways, she gradually grew weak and sick and she was anointed and she asked God to heal her, but He didn't.

She lingered on and grew weaker and tireder and her life came to an end. But I believe that God allowed her to suffer this terminal illness actually in order to help her. It wasn't as clear when it was happening, but looking back, you know, especially as I became more mature, this happened more than 30 years ago. So, I'm not tearing up because it's been a part of my life for a long time. But I remember when she was young, she had some traits that I share and that I see in my son, traits that can be used for good, but can be difficult because she was stubborn. She was tough. She'd been through a difficult upbringing and she was a determined individual who most times when there was a trial she would grit her teeth and get through it. She didn't like to ask for help. She would rarely ask for or accept help. And that's why it was hard for her to ever rely on someone else, even God. And it was when she was finally confronted with a situation in which she could not win when she had to be humbled, that I think she finally turned to Him. And to be honest, that's when she became baptized, she'd been attending God's church for many years, but she had this idea in her head that she had to overcome her faults and our problems to be good enough to get baptized.

Sometimes that happens. People, you know, it's not an uncommon thought. I'm not good enough to be baptized yet. None of us are ever good enough. And when God led her to this point when He completely humbled her, she turned to Him and she saw that, she was baptized. And I believe she died a converted woman. And I fully expect to see her come up in the first resurrection if I get there. You know, it's a motivation for me. I don't want her to be there looking around saying, “Where's Frank?” You know. And this is a short version of her story and I don't wanna paint her as a saint. She had her problems like all of us do, but it's an example to me, where she's an example in the church where she didn't experience healing. And those of us that knew her and loved her were crying out to God. And, you know, I believe she will be healed. As I said in that resurrection, she's not gonna be weak and frail, she'll be strong.

Now I wanna counter that and remind us, sometimes God does answer our prayers. And sometimes right away for healing. Let me share one case where I saw it happen right in front of me. And I laugh when I tell this story, I've told it a number of times that I had not been ordained for very long. I was a newly minted elder in the church, and I got a phone call one afternoon from a man in the congregation and he said, you know, he worked as a painter and he said, “I'm on your end of town and I've injured my shoulder and I can't hardly move it, I can't do my job. Can I come by your house and you anoint me?” Well, sure. I'm here. And so, he came, you know, came in and we chatted a little bit. I anointed him, asked God to heal him. And when I was done, he went, “Well, that'll do,” and went out and got in his van and he drove away. And I was amazed. I still tend to think, maybe God did it like that to say, “Hey Frank, I work miracles. I do heal.” That stuck with me. You know, don't think that it won't happen. Sometimes it does. Sometimes it doesn't.

Now, I add to this, you know, with these things in mind, knowing God heals for His reasons. And sometimes He doesn't, why do we bother with prayer requests? Well, if you'll turn back to James 5, something I didn't read earlier tells us a very good reason why. James 5:16, after the instruction about going to the elders and being anointed in James 5:16, he says, “Confess your trespasses to one another and pray for one another that you may be healed.” The effect of fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Big reason we pray for one another is God tells us to do that. It's good for us. Now, I think the benefits, you know, of seeing God answer prayer and work in someone's life can be a benefit to those who are praying for that person, as well as the person, him or herself. And I'll bet many of you have experienced that when you're praying for someone and then you see that you get the news, hey, they've recovered, they're doing well, boy, that's encouraging. Now, James didn't write very specific instructions on exactly how to do this, how, you know, to pray for one another. I think the 1st-century disciples would have been amazed if they'd seen our email prayer requests, how quickly we can send a message very far to a lot of people. You know, that's a great thing.

I will say, you know, I encourage us though, just to be careful how we do this or how we see others doing it, because we all have different personalities and different feelings of privacy. Some people are quick to tell everybody something and ask for prayers, others are more private. One thing I say, it's not like “America's Got Talent” where the more people you can get to call in and vote for you, the more God will heal. But I think God is impressed and moved when He sees a number of His people praying together with a common goal. So, I don't want to, when I say, it's not like, you know, these game shows or whatever, I don't wanna belittle that. I think when we come together as a people and pray, that is moving to God. You know, my own tendency I'll mention, I tend to ask a few people that I know, I've never felt more confident of God answering prayer than when I've had one or two widows in the congregation praying for me. You know, I learned that from an older way who was more experienced than me he said, “Well, we've got secret weapons in the congregation. You know, the praying widows are a powerful thing and a pastor would do well to heed that.” And I said, “I'm gonna heed that.” Thinking of all this, though, we should remember in all of this, God is our Healer.

First and foremost, He built into our bodies amazing powers of self-repair and healing, but He also went out of His way to put it into His word examples and instructions to show us to appeal to Him directly for divine healing. And God chose to involve the ministry in this. It gives us something to do, but it's more than just that. It helps us to see how we're part of a body. And it reminds us of the symbolism, you know, of Christ's sacrifice and of our need for faith. And we can know that God does hear our prayers. God does answer our prayers. Sometimes the answer might be along the lines of hold on, not yet sometimes, but it's not always that. And, of course, even in a worst-case scenario, we know in the Kingdom of God all will be healed. And those coming up in the resurrection I believe will be well, but it doesn't always come to that. Divine miracles happen today. And with that in mind, I'll quote from Hebrews 4:16 where Paul admonish us, let's come boldly before the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy to find help in time of need.