The Lord Who Heals

Yahweh-Rophe: "The Lord Who Heals" Exodus 15:22-26. From rophe ("to heal");
implies spiritual, emotional as well as physical healing. (Jeremiah 30:17, 3:22; Isaiah 61:1)

God heals body, soul and spirit--all levels of man's being.

Healing and Health during the Exodus

When the people of Israel left Egypt under the leadership of Moses, they first crossed the Red Sea where they were "baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea" --(1 Corinthians 10). For the first time in their history, the twelve tribes of Israel were united into one nation, "...you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation."

After three days they came to springs of bitter water at Marah. (Traditionally about 40 miles south of the modern town of Suez--bitter springs are there to this day). The people complained to Moses. Moses cried out to the Lord, and Yahweh showed Moses a tree, which when cast into the springs, made the waters sweet. It was at the time that God said to His people, 

"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 will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the LORD who heals you." (Exodus 15:26)

This promise from God was to prove key to the wandering of the Jews in the wilderness for forty years and God's amazing care for them--and for His special hand of healing love upon them--down through their subsequent history.

Anyone who has read the five books of Moses will know that for 40 years God provided an amazing totally nourishing, all-purpose, fully-nutritious daily food called "manna" (Exodus 16).

After the forty years in the Sinai had ended Moses reminded them "Yahweh has led you forty years in the wilderness. Your clothes have not worn out on you, and your sandals have not worn out on your feet." (Deuteronomy 29:5)

A wonderful book by a medical doctor, "None of These Diseases," S. I. McMillen, written in 1984, is must reading. One reviewer says, "Dr. McMillen shares a unique perspective on healthy living and how the Bible gave insight into sources of infectious disease to generations of people starting with Moses until present day. The present edition has been updated by his physician grandson and includes new facts and findings in medical science confirming what the Bible said over 3000 years ago. It takes a fascinating look at how medical science is coming to many of the same conclusions about healthy living that God revealed to his people in biblical times." The book is available on Amazon, or as a PDF file.

Exodus is Old Covenant. Because of the work of Jesus Christ on the cross,
God now deals with us today in an entirely better way under the terms of the New Covenant.

The Exodus Papers

Jesus the Sin Bearer

The Credentials of Jesus

The New Covenant Defined

Jesus our Great High Priest

 

The Big Picture

Our planet presently is home to 8000 million persons (8 billion). If 12% know Jesus and have a relationship with Him, then about one billion of us are destined to live in heaven when we die. We enjoy one-on-one personal care from God now, because we have been born (again) and adopted into His family. See: Born (again) and Adopted. The vast majority around us are "dead in trespasses and sins" --though God wants none to perish.

"The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells." (2 Peter 3:9-10)

We are not the good, moral, worthy, deserving people we believe ourselves to be. Our Creator is holy. "For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? " (2 Corinthians 6:14). Knowing God is about a personal relationship with a living Person (actually three Persons).

In matters of health, healing and wholeness, Jesus is not called "The Great Physician" for nothing.

The Bible tells us we are tripartite beings: we have a body, a soul, and a spirit. Our real identity is in our spirit. The interaction of our spirits with our bodies, and with the outside world, generates the soul (mind emotions, will.) But even after we come to know Jesus -- our bodies have not yet been redeemed. But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you. (Romans 8:10) Grand, marvelous immortal bodies are already waiting for us to put on when we die.

"For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, [Greek: skenos, a tent] is destroyed, we have [present tense] a building [Greek: oikos, a permanent building] from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him."

These considerations are important when considering matters of health and healing in our present bodies living in an evil world. No one I know wants to turn back the clock to the Dark Ages which brought great misery here on earth -- before God sent us the great Enlightenment. The fact that our health care systems have flaws is no reason to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Healthy living: eating good food, exercise, periods of R&R make perfect sense. Obviously a fallen world currently under the control of Satan, a destroying angel, is full of hazards and perils. What is difficult for us is the reality that God does not always respond on command nor do what we tell Him. We are houseguests in the universe He created. Yes, "all thing work together for good, to those who love God and who are the called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)

Our best health insurance is found in trusting and obeying Jesus one day at a time, in every situation life throws at us.

Psalm 103

Bless the LORD, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name! 

2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits: 

3 Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, 

4 Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, 

5 Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle's. 

6 The LORD executes righteousness And justice for all who are oppressed. 

7 He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the children of Israel. 

8 The LORD is merciful and gracious, Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy. 

9 He will not always strive with us, Nor will He keep His anger forever. 

10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities. 

11 For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; 

12 As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. 

13 As a father pities his children, So the LORD pities those who fear Him. 

14 For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust. 

15 As for man, his days are like grass; As a flower of the field, so he flourishes. 

16 For the wind passes over it, and it is gone, And its place remembers it no more. 

17 But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting On those who fear Him, 

And His righteousness to children's children, 

18 To such as keep His covenant, And to those who remember His commandments to do them. 

19 The LORD has established His throne in heaven, And His kingdom rules over all. 

20 Bless the LORD, you His angels, Who excel in strength, who do His word, 

Heeding the voice of His word. 

21 Bless the LORD, all you His hosts, You ministers of His, who do His pleasure. 

22 Bless the LORD, all His works, In all places of His dominion. Bless the LORD, O my soul!

New Covenant Health, Healing and Wholeness

This subject is vast! We're limiting ourselves here to insights to be found in the Bible and in the life of the man Jesus. Even so, what we present here is the tip of the iceberg. Most people I know are optimists, resilient in the face of accidents, disease, and suffering. My First Premise is that human beings are not basically good, some say we are not worth worrying about. "Eat drink and be merry, tomorrow we die." But our Creator not only loves us, He IS Love. The biggest problem is that only a minority of people on the planet know God personally and can draw on His endless Life. Wholeness is related to holiness and God is holy. Becoming whole men and women, boys and girls is a requirement for graduation from this present mortal life into eternal life with God. Most of the healing we need is in spirit and soul.

Beloved, (agapetos) let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation (hilasmos) for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother." (1 John 4:7-21)

Notes from Ray Stedman

Healing can happen at every Level

“...the apostle mentions "gifts of healing" given by the same Spirit. That word in the original Greek is in the plural form: "healings." Healing at every level of human need--physical, emotional, and spiritual is implied.

In the early church there were a number of instances where this gift was exercised on the physical level. Throughout church history there have been others who had this gift of physical healing. There are some today who call themselves "healers," but it should be noted that none of the apostles ever made this claim for themselves. However, there is abundant evidence in the New Testament that the Spirit of God worked through the apostles and other believers in bringing physical healing to the sick, just as He does today.

Some claims to healing today are based on spectacular but temporary improvement as a result of strong psychological conditioning, and the healing fades away within a few days. But God does heal today, sometimes quickly and permanently; this fact is too well attested and documented to challenge. We only note here that such healing does not necessarily indicate that the gift of healing is being exercised.

If someone asks, "Why is this gift so infrequently manifested today?" the answer is given in 1 Corinthians 12:11--"All these are inspired by one and the same Spirit who apportions to each one individually as he wills." The spiritual gift of physical healing is not seen often today because it is not the will of the Spirit for it to be given in these days as widely as it was in the early church.

The gift of healing is, however, frequently bestowed today on the emotional and spiritual level. Many Christians, laymen and professional ministers alike, are equipped by the Spirit to help those with damaged emotions and with bruised spirits, who have become sick or disordered in these areas. They make excellent counselors because they are able to exercise the patience and compassion necessary to help such wounded souls.

The Purpose of Miracles

Along this same line with the gift of healing is the gift of miracles. This is the ability to short-circuit the processes of nature by supernatural activity, as the Lord did when he turned water into wine or multiplied the loaves and fishes. Some may still have this gift today. I don't doubt that it can be given; but again, I have never met anyone who had the gift of miracles, though perhaps some have exercised this at times in the history of the church.

The gifts of physical healing, miracles and tongues are given for the initial building up of faith, as a bridge to move Christians from dependence upon things they can see to faith in a God who can work and accomplish much when nothing seems to be happening. The history of missions will substantiate this. So does the flow of the book of Acts: In the beginning of Acts, we see a number of miraculous events being worked by various apostles. But as the church grows and is established in the faith, the miraculous events of the book of Acts wane and taper off. The implications of this flow of events are clear: God wants us to walk by faith, not by sight. As faith grows, we have less need of visible demonstrations of God's power. He wants us to become mature enough that the "battery" of our faith no longer needs to be repeatedly "jump-started" by miracles.

The apostle goes on to mention the gift of prophecy. This is the greatest gift of all, as Paul makes clear by devoting an entire chapter--1 Corinthians 14--to this gift. We shall examine the gift of prophecy more fully when we return to Ephesians 4 and the ministry of the prophet. But here, in 1 Corinthians 14:3, the apostle says of this gift, "On the other hand, he who prophesies speaks to men for their up-building and encouragement and consolation." That is the effect of the gift of prophecy. When a man or woman has this gift it results in building, stimulating, and encouraging others. This is not a gift for preachers only. All the gifts are given without respect to a person's training. Many laymen and laywomen have the gift of prophecy and should be exercising it.

Then there is the gift of discernment of spirits. This is the ability to distinguish between the spirit of error and the spirit of truth before the difference is manifest to all by the results. It is the ability to see through a phony before his phoniness is clearly evident. When Ananias and Sapphira came to Peter, bringing what they claimed to be the full price of some land they had sold though they had actually kept back part of it for themselves, Peter exercised the gift of discernment when he said, "How is it that you have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? You have not lied to men but to God" (Acts 5:4,9). Those who have this gift can read a book and sense the subtlety of error in it, or hear a message and put their finger on what may be wrong about it. It is a valuable gift to be exercised within the church...

The final gift mentioned in Romans 12 is that of doing acts of mercy. Its distinctiveness is indicated by the meaning of the word "mercy." Mercy is undeserved aid, aid given to those who most people find repugnant and offensive--the sick and deformed, the unwashed and foul, those with unpleasant personalities and vile habits. It differs from the gift of helps by being directed to those who are either undeserving or who (like a child with AIDS or a mentally disordered individual) is an innocent victim, treated as an outcast by much of our society. --From All God's Children Have Gifts by Ray Stedman.

Every follower of Jesus Christ will be made whole and well in the end as Jesus reverses the old law of sin and death work in us. This is the very best possible news! 

“Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.” (Colossians 2:8-10)

Jesus Heals Many

And Jesus came down with them and stood on a level place with a crowd of His disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem,
and from the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear Him and be healed of their diseases." (Luke 6:17)

Some Examples of God Healing in the Bible

The Raising of the Son of the Widow at Nain

Soon afterwards Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went with him. As he approached the gate of the town, a man who had died was being carried out. He was his mother’s only son, and she was a widow; and with her was a large crowd from the town. When the Lord saw her, he had compassion for her and said to her, ‘Do not weep.’ Then he came forward and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, ‘Young man, I say to you, rise!’ The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Fear seized all of them; and they glorified God, saying, ‘A great prophet has risen among us!’ and ‘God has looked favorably on his people!’ This word about him spread throughout Judea and all the surrounding country. (Luke 7:11-17)

Jesus Heals Peter's Mother in Law

Now when Jesus had come into Peter’s house, He saw his wife’s mother lying sick with a fever.  When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: “He Himself took our infirmities
And bore our sicknesses." (Matthew 8:16, 17)

The Raising of Lazarus

Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, ‘Lord, he whom you love is ill.’ But when Jesus heard it, he said, ‘This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.’ Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.

Then after this he said to the disciples, ‘Let us go to Judea again.’ The disciples said to him, ‘Rabbi, the Jews were just now trying to stone you, and are you going there again?’ Jesus answered, ‘Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of this world. But those who walk at night stumble, because the light is not in them.’ After saying this, he told them, ‘Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him.’ The disciples said to him, ‘Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will be all right.’ Jesus, however, had been speaking about his death, but they thought that he was referring merely to sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead. For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.’ Thomas, who was called the Twin,said to his fellow-disciples, ‘Let us also go, that we may die with him.’

When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away,and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. Martha said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ Martha said to him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ She said to him, ‘Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.’

When she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary, and told her privately, ‘The Teacher is here and is calling for you.’ And when she heard it, she got up quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. The Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary get up quickly and go out. They followed her because they thought that she was going to the tomb to weep there. When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’ When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. He said, ‘Where have you laid him?’ They said to him, ‘Lord, come and see.’ Jesus began to weep. So the Jews said, ‘See how he loved him!’ But some of them said, ‘Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?’

Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, ‘Take away the stone.’ Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, ‘Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead for four days.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?’ So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upwards and said, ‘Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.’ When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, and let him go.’ (john 11:1-44)

The Healing of the Centurion’s Servant

Now when Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him,  saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, dreadfully tormented.” And Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.”  The centurion answered and said, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed.  “For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”  When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!  “And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. “But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”  Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.” And his servant was healed that same hour. (Luke 7:1-10)

The Healing of the Man with a Withered Hand

On another sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught, and there was a man there whose right hand was withered. The scribes and the Pharisees watched him to see whether he would cure on the sabbath, so that they might find an accusation against him. 8Even though he knew what they were thinking, he said to the man who had the withered hand, ‘Come and stand here.’ He got up and stood there. Then Jesus said to them, ‘I ask you, is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to destroy it?’ After looking around at all of them, he said to him, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He did so, and his hand was restored. But they were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus." (Luke 6:6-10)

The Healing of the Daughter of Jairus and the Woman with the Issue of Blood

Now when Jesus returned, the crowd welcomed him, for they were all waiting for him. Just then there came a man named Jairus, a leader of the synagogue. He fell at Jesus’ feet and begged him to come to his house, for he had an only daughter, about twelve years old, who was dying.

As he went, the crowds pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years; and though she had spent all she had on physicians, no one could cure her. She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his clothes, and immediately her hemorrhage stopped. Then Jesus asked, ‘Who touched me?’ When all denied it, Peter said, ‘Master, the crowds surround you and press in on you.’ But Jesus said, ‘Someone touched me; for I noticed that power had gone out from me.’ When the woman saw that she could not remain hidden, she came trembling; and falling down before him, she declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.’

While he was still speaking, someone came from the leader’s house to say, ‘Your daughter is dead; do not trouble the teacher any longer.’ When Jesus heard this, he replied, ‘Do not fear. Only believe, and she will be saved.’ When he came to the house, he did not allow anyone to enter with him, except Peter, John, and James, and the child’s father and mother. They were all weeping and wailing for her; but he said, ‘Do not weep; for she is not dead but sleeping.’ And they laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. But he took her by the hand and called out, ‘Child, get up!’ Her spirit returned, and she got up at once. Then he directed them to give her something to eat. Her parents were astounded; but he ordered them to tell no one what had happened. (Luke 8:40-58)

The Healing of a Paralytic

And just then some people were carrying a paralyzed man lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.’ Then some of the scribes said to themselves, ‘This man is blaspheming.’ But Jesus, perceiving their thoughts, said, ‘Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, “Your sins are forgiven”, or to say, “Stand up and walk”? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins’—he then said to the paralytic—‘Stand up, take your bed and go to your home.’ And he stood up and went to his home. When the crowds saw it, they were filled with awe, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to human beings. (Matthew 9:1-9)

The Demon Possessed Boy at Banias

When they came to the crowd, a man came to him, knelt before him, and said, ‘Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly; he often falls into the fire and often into the water. And I brought him to your disciples, but they could not cure him.’ Jesus answered, ‘You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him here to me.’ And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was cured instantly. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, ‘Why could we not cast it out?’ He said to them, ‘Because of your little faith. For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, “Move from here to there.” and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.’ (Matthew 17:14-21)

The Healing of the Widow’s Son by Elijah

Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah, saying, ‘Go now to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and live there; for I have commanded a widow there to feed you.’ So he set out and went to Zarephath. When he came to the gate of the town, a widow was there gathering sticks; he called to her and said, ‘Bring me a little water in a vessel, so that I may drink.’ As she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, ‘Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.’ But she said, ‘As the Lord your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of meal in a jar, and a little oil in a jug; I am now gathering a couple of sticks, so that I may go home and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die.’ Elijah said to her, ‘Do not be afraid; go and do as you have said; but first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterwards make something for yourself and your son. For thus says the Lord the God of Israel: The jar of meal will not be emptied and the jug of oil will not fail until the day that the Lord sends rain on the earth.’ She went and did as Elijah said, so that she as well as he and her household ate for many days. The jar of meal was not emptied, neither did the jug of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by Elijah.

After this the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, became ill; his illness was so severe that there was no breath left in him. She then said to Elijah, ‘What have you against me, O man of God? You have come to me to bring my sin to remembrance, and to cause the death of my son!’ But he said to her, ‘Give me your son.’ He took him from her bosom, carried him up into the upper chamber where he was lodging, and laid him on his own bed. He cried out to the Lord, ‘O Lord my God, have you brought calamity even upon the widow with whom I am staying, by killing her son?’ Then he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried out to the Lord, ‘O Lord my God, let this child’s life come into him again.’The Lord listened to the voice of Elijah; the life of the child came into him again, and he revived. Elijah took the child, brought him down from the upper chamber into the house, and gave him to his mother; then Elijah said, ‘See, your son is alive.’ So the woman said to Elijah, ‘Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth.’ (1 Kings 17:8-24)

The Demon Possessed Man in Gadera Healed

Now when Jesus saw great crowds around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side. A scribe then approached and said, ‘Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.’ Another of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, first let me go and bury my father.’ But Jesus said to him, ‘Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.’ And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. A gale arose on the lake, so great that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him up, saying, ‘Lord, save us! We are perishing!’ And he said to them, ‘Why are you afraid, you of little faith?’ Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a dead calm. They were amazed, saying, ‘What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?’

When he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes, two demoniacs coming out of the tombs met him. They were so fierce that no one could pass that way. Suddenly they shouted, ‘What have you to do with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?’30Now a large herd of swine was feeding at some distance from them. The demons begged him, ‘If you cast us out, send us into the herd of swine.’ And he said to them, ‘Go!’ So they came out and entered the swine; and suddenly, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and perished in the water. The swineherds ran off, and on going into the town, they told the whole story about what had happened to the demoniacs. Then the whole town came out to meet Jesus; and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their neighborhood." (Matthew 8:18-34)

The Ten Lepers at Samaria

Now it happened as He went to Jerusalem that He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off. And they lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”  So when He saw them, He said to them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed.  And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God,  and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan.  So Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? “Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?”  And He said to him, “Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.” (Luke 17:12-19)

Elisha Raises a Boy from the Dead

One day Elisha was passing through Shunem, where a wealthy woman lived, who urged him to have a meal. So whenever he passed that way, he would stop there for a meal. She said to her husband, ‘Look, I am sure that this man who regularly passes our way is a holy man of God. Let us make a small roof chamber with walls, and put there for him a bed, a table, a chair, and a lamp, so that he can stay there whenever he comes to us.’ One day when he came there, he went up to the chamber and lay down there. He said to his servant Gehazi, ‘Call the Shunammite woman.’ When he had called her, she stood before him. He said to him, ‘Say to her, Since you have taken all this trouble for us, what may be done for you? Would you have a word spoken on your behalf to the king or to the commander of the army?’ She answered, ‘I live among my own people.’ He said, ‘What then may be done for her?’ Gehazi answered, ‘Well, she has no son, and her husband is old.’ He said, ‘Call her.’ When he had called her, she stood at the door. He said, ‘At this season, in due time, you shall embrace a son.’ She replied, ‘No, my lord, O man of God; do not deceive your servant.’

The woman conceived and bore a son at that season, in due time, as Elisha had declared to her. When the child was older, he went out one day to his father among the reapers. He complained to his father, ‘Oh, my head, my head!’ The father said to his servant, ‘Carry him to his mother.’ He carried him and brought him to his mother; the child sat on her lap until noon, and he died. She went up and laid him on the bed of the man of God, closed the door on him, and left. Then she called to her husband, and said, ‘Send me one of the servants and one of the donkeys, so that I may quickly go to the man of God and come back again.’ He said, ‘Why go to him today? It is neither new moon nor sabbath.’ She said, ‘It will be all right.’ Then she saddled the donkey and said to her servant, ‘Urge the animal on; do not hold back for me unless I tell you.’ So she set out, and came to the man of God at Mount Carmel.

When the man of God saw her coming, he said to Gehazi his servant, ‘Look, there is the Shunammite woman; run at once to meet her, and say to her, Are you all right? Is your husband all right? Is the child all right?’ She answered, ‘It is all right.’ When she came to the man of God at the mountain, she caught hold of his feet. Gehazi approached to push her away. But the man of God said, ‘Let her alone, for she is in bitter distress; the Lord has hidden it from me and has not told me.’ Then she said, ‘Did I ask my lord for a son? Did I not say, Do not mislead me?’ He said to Gehazi, ‘Gird up your loins, and take my staff in your hand, and go. If you meet anyone, give no greeting, and if anyone greets you, do not answer; and lay my staff on the face of the child.’ Then the mother of the child said, ‘As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave without you.’ So he rose up and followed her. Gehazi went on ahead and laid the staff on the face of the child, but there was no sound or sign of life. He came back to meet him and told him, ‘The child has not awakened.’

When Elisha came into the house, he saw the child lying dead on his bed. So he went in and closed the door on the two of them, and prayed to the Lord. Then he got up on the bed and lay upon the child, putting his mouth upon his mouth, his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands; and while he lay bent over him, the flesh of the child became warm. He got down, walked once to and fro in the room, then got up again and bent over him; the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes. Elisha summoned Gehazi and said, ‘Call the Shunammite woman.’ So he called her. When she came to him, he said, ‘Take your son.’ She came and fell at his feet, bowing to the ground; then she took her son and left. (2 Kings 4:8-37)

Elisha Heals the King of Syria

Elisha went to Damascus while King Ben-Hadad of Aram (Syria) was ill. When it was told him, ‘The man of God has come here’, the king said to Hazael, ‘Take a present with you and go to meet the man of God. Inquire of the Lord through him, whether I shall recover from this illness.’ So Hazael went to meet him, taking a present with him, all kinds of goods of Damascus, forty camel loads. When he entered and stood before him, he said, ‘Your son King Ben-Hadad of Aram has sent me to you, saying, “Shall I recover from this illness?” ’ Elisha said to him, ‘Go, say to him, “You shall certainly recover”; but the Lord has shown me that he shall certainly die.’ He fixed his gaze and stared at him, until he was ashamed. Then the man of God wept. Hazael asked, ‘Why does my lord weep?’ He answered, ‘Because I know the evil that you will do to the people of Israel; you will set their fortresses on fire, you will kill their young men with the sword, dash in pieces their little ones, and rip up their pregnant women.’ Hazael said, ‘What is your servant, who is a mere dog, that he should do this great thing?’ Elisha answered, ‘The Lord has shown me that you are to be king over Aram.’ Then he left Elisha, and went to his master Ben-Hadad, who said to him, ‘What did Elisha say to you?’ And he answered, ‘He told me that you would certainly recover.’ But the next day he took the bed-cover and dipped it in water and spread it over the king’s face, until he died. And Hazael succeeded him." (2 Kings 8:7-15)

The Healing of a Paralyzed Man

After this there was a festival of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate there is a pool, called in Hebrew Beth-zatha, which has five porticoes. In these lay many invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, ‘Do you want to be made well?’ The sick man answered him, ‘Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; and while I am making my way, someone else steps down ahead of me.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Stand up, take your mat and walk.’ At once the man was made well, and he took up his mat and began to walk.

Now that day was a sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who had been cured, ‘It is the sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your mat.’But he answered them, ‘The man who made me well said to me, “Take up your mat and walk.” ’ They asked him, ‘Who is the man who said to you, “Take it up and walk”?’ Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had disappeared in the crowd that was there. Later Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, ‘See, you have been made well! Do not sin any more, so that nothing worse happens to you.’ The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. Therefore the Jews started persecuting Jesus, because he was doing such things on the sabbath. But Jesus answered them, ‘My Father is still working, and I also am working.’ For this reason the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because he was not only breaking the sabbath, but was also calling God his own Father, thereby making himself equal to God. (John 5:1-18)

A Healing at the Temple Gate

One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, at three o’clock in the afternoon. And a man lame from birth was being carried in. People would lay him daily at the gate of the temple called the Beautiful Gate so that he could ask for alms from those entering the temple. When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked them for alms. Peter looked intently at him, as did John, and said, ‘Look at us.’ And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, ‘I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth,stand up and walk.’ And he took him by the right hand and raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. Jumping up, he stood and began to walk, and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. All the people saw him walking and praising God, and they recognized him as the one who used to sit and ask for alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. While he clung to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the portico called Solomon’s Portico, utterly astonished. (Acts 3:1-11)

Peter Healing at Joppa

"Now as Peter went here and there among all the believers, he came down also to the saints living in Lydda. There he found a man named Aeneas, who had been bedridden for eight years, for he was paralyzed. Peter said to him, ‘Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; get up and make your bed!’ And immediately he got up. And all the residents of Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord. Now in Joppa there was a disciple whose name was Tabitha, which in Greek is Dorcas. She was devoted to good works and acts of charity. At that time she became ill and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in a room upstairs. Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, who heard that Peter was there, sent two men to him with the request, ‘Please come to us without delay.’ So Peter got up and went with them; and when he arrived, they took him to the room upstairs. All the widows stood beside him, weeping and showing tunics and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was with them. Peter put all of them outside, and then he knelt down and prayed. He turned to the body and said, ‘Tabitha, get up.’ Then she opened her eyes, and seeing Peter, she sat up. He gave her his hand and helped her up. Then calling the saints and widows, he showed her to be alive. This became known throughout Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. Meanwhile he stayed in Joppa for some time with a certain Simon, a tanner. (Acts 9:32-43)

Two Blind Men Healed at Jericho

Now as they went out of Jericho, a great multitude followed Him. And behold, two blind men sitting by the road, when they heard that Jesus was passing by, cried out, saying, “Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!” Then the multitude warned them that they should be quiet; but they cried out all the more, saying, “Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!”  So Jesus stood still and called them, and said, “What do you want Me to do for you? They said to Him, “Lord, that our eyes may be opened.” So Jesus had compassion and touched their eyes. And immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed Him." (Matthew 20:30-33)

The Kinsman Redeemer and The Avenger of Blood

Elisha and the Four Lepers



Healing Messages by Ray Stedman

Sick Garments and Diseased Houses

Healing Heredity Hurts

Do You Want to Get Well?

Power to Heal (Acts)

Heal our Land (Jeremiah)

Ray Stedman teaches on healing in the early church:

"When the Apostle Paul wrote his last letter to his son in the faith, Timothy, he said, "In the last days there shall come perilous times..." (2 Timothy 3:1b KJV). Those last days began when our Lord first appeared upon the earth. We make a great mistake if we read that as though Paul was talking only about the future. He was talking about the present age, his own day. All the time that lies between the first and second comings of Jesus Christ are the last days. During that whole time there would come periods of crisis, times of danger, times of peril, when men would be "lovers of self, lovers of money... and lovers of pleasure, rather than lovers of God..." (2  Timothy 3:2 RSV). Whenever those conditions prevail they are, indeed, perilous times. Selfishness creates violence, the demand to have your own way, do your own thing, stand up for your own rights, this -- spread large across a nation -- creates pools of dissent and attrition against one another, and results in waves of violence with bloodshed breaking out everywhere.

We are clearly in one of those "times of peril" today. (1970) As you know there is an uneasy tension clear across the nation today. It has taken as its symbol the war in Vietnam, and now the Cambodian invasion. Yet these are not the real cause, nor the reason behind this tension. It is there for other reasons. But it helps make our day one of the "times of peril," the times of danger that the Scripture speaks of. And, as we study through the book of Acts, we are seeing the early church facing just such a time. Therefore there are tremendous lessons here for us who face a similar time of peril in our own day.

We shall pick up our study in Acts, the fifth chapter, beginning with Verse 12. The closing words of this fifth chapter present a series of events which center around the confrontation of the apostles with the Sanhedrin, the Jewish rulers. As we have frequently found in Acts, these are symbolic actions which occur in the realm of the physical in order to reveal to us the continuing possibilities to us in the realm of the spiritual. That is a helpful key to the way God teaches. He teaches by visible, physical events which illustrate invisible spiritual situations and forces. The visible is occurring because of the invisible event which is not seen. That is what we must understand if we are going to face life and understand it properly. You can never explain what happens in this world on the basis of an evaluation and assessment of visible things. The Bible, with one voice, says that this is the case. You must look behind the visible to the invisible. This is what God is forever doing. But he allows us to see the invisible by means of visible events.

Now, in this section, there are four great factors brought out that will always be present whenever the church is operating, in the midst of times of peril, as God intended it to operate. These four factors are clear in this account. If we are aware of what is going on in our own day we can see that these four are very essential to us and must be present in our own hour.

The first is found in Verses 12-16, where you have a clear demonstration of the power of God.

Now many signs and wonders were done among the people by the hands of the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon's Portico. None of the rest dared join them, but the people held them in high honor. And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women, so that they even carried out the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and pallets, that as Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on some of them. The people also gathered from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all healed. (Acts 5:12-16 RSV)

This sounds like the days of Jesus all over again, does it not? Here is a tremendous display of physical healing power at the hands of the apostles. The result was that multitudes were added to the church, increasing it far beyond the five thousand we had already noted before, so that there was a tremendous number of Christians in the city of Jerusalem. No one knows how many but it must have been well into the thousands, perhaps even ten thousand or more, in a city which at that time had a normal population of about forty to fifty thousand. Here is obvious evidence of the power of God at work.

But there are many people who are troubled by this account. They say, "What is wrong with the church now? Why don't we have signs and wonders and mighty events like these taking place?" Many people, feeling that such signs are the mark of power have tried to reproduce these signs and wonders, and the result has been certain of the healing movements of our day, with faith healers who travel about declaring that they are able to heal as the apostles did -- and that signs, wonders and miracles are taking place by their hands. You can hear a great deal of propaganda about that in these days.

But, if you investigate, you will find that it is not the same thing at all. The "miracles" that seemingly take place in these great healing meetings are usually of a psychological character which restores people temporarily. But if you check on them two weeks or a month later you will find them right back in the same afflictions they had before. Many are troubled by this passage and say the church is not living in power unless these physical miracles are present. But now we must notice some things about this account that are carefully given to us by Dr. Luke. First, he says, these were done by the hands of the apostles. These were not done by the believers in general. They were done by the hands of the apostles, who gathered themselves together in Solomon's Porch, and no one dared add themselves to them because these were obviously men anointed by God with unusual and striking powers. These powers were in answer to the prayer of the apostles. Remember, in Chapter 4, Peter and John had been brought before the Sanhedrin and when they came back to the others they prayed together and this was their prayer:

"And now, Lord, look upon their threats, and grant to thy servants to speak thy word with all boldness, while thou stretchest out thy hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of thy holy servant Jesus." (Acts 4:29-30 RSV)

That is what they asked God to do, and that is what he did. These signs and wonders were done for the apostles. They constitute, therefore, what the Apostle Paul later on, in Second Corinthians 12, calls "the signs of an apostle..." (2 Corinthians 12:12). He said to these Corinthians, "You are questioning my apostleship. You're asking if I really am an apostle because I'm not one of the twelve. Well, let me ask you this. Have you not seen the signs of an apostle that I have done among you?" These signs you see were specifically to accompany the ministry of the apostles to whom was assigned the task of laying the foundations of the church, of giving the Scriptures upon which the church must rest.

These signs had been predicted by the Lord Jesus himself as accompanying those men of faith who were believing in the resurrection power of the Lord. These are a fulfillment of the closing words of Mark's gospel, which has also been a troublesome passage for many. You will not find it in the text of the RSV because it is a questioned passage. Certain of the early manuscripts do not possess it and it is given as a footnote in the RSV. It begins with the appearance of the risen Lord to his disciples and he upbraids them, scolds them, for their unbelief. They would not believe that he was risen from the dead. Now get the picture. Here is the risen Lord appearing before them and scolding them because they would not believe that he was risen. So powerful was their unbelief that even when he stood before them they questioned it. Then, after telling them to go preach the gospel to every creature, he adds these words:

"And these signs will accompany those who believe in my name: [the colon belongs here, not after "believe"] they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick and they will recover," (Mark 16:17-18 RSV Margin).

To whom did the Lord say that? To the apostles! Then Mark says,

So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went forth [Who went forth? The apostles.] and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them [the apostles] and confirmed the message by the signs that attended it. (Mark 16:19 RSV Margin)

Now there are the signs of an apostle. They were never intended for the church at large. They were intended to confirm the ministry of these mighty apostles who laid the foundations of the church in the giving of the Scriptures. Not only were they to manifest the power of God in physical ways, but this physical manifestation was to be a symbol, a sign, of the spiritual power that God would release among the people. It is always a mistake to put emphasis upon a physical miracle. Physical miracles, although they attract attention, also confuse people so that ultimately they miss the point of what God is saying. That is why the Lord Jesus consistently said to the men and women that he healed in the days of his flesh, "Now don't tell anybody about it." He did not send them out to broadcast the story; he said, "Go home and say nothing to anyone." He did not want the confusing effect of physical miracles to thwart his spiritual ministry.

That is exactly what happened here in this passage in Acts 5. We read that when the apostles began to heal the sick and to cast out demons and relieve those who were distressed, that multitudes "carried out the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and pallets, that as Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on some of them." That is a manifestation of the superstition that immediately begins to develop when physical miracles occur. There is nothing here to suggest that the apostles encouraged this kind of thing at all. Nor does it say that the shadow of Peter falling on them did heal them. I do not think it did. This is a superstitious response of people who were caught up with the tremendous excitement of physical healing and they thus began to obscure the point of the spiritual lesson involved.

Jesus had said (John 14:12), "He that believes on me the works that I do shall he do also..." Those words again were spoken to the apostles. "He that believes on me the works that I do shall he do also..." and here they are, doing the same works that Jesus did, the same miracles of healing. "And," said Jesus, "greater works than these shall he do..." (John 14:12b RSV). Greater works than physical healing? What greater works? Why, spiritual healings. That is what God is after. God wants to heal the whole of man, the hurt in man's spirit most of all. That is where the problem really lies. Every person ever healed by the Lord Jesus, or by the disciples in the days of the early church, died. The physical healing was a temporary thing, with no exceptions: They all died. But when God heals the spirit, it is an eternal event. There is an inward change that is never lost, it goes on forever. When God heals a man from the inside out, he makes him a whole person. It does not really matter what happens to the physical -- at best it is only a temporary thing. The great thing that God is after is the healing of the hurt of humanity in its spiritual sickness, its evil, its darkness and its desperateness. That is always where he desires to start. The power here manifest physically is a symbol and a guarantee of the spiritual power available to the church at all times. I do not mean that God has stopped healing physically, he has not.

Just this last month I had the wonderful experience of seeing a woman delivered, by prayer, from a brain tumor. The doctors had given her just a few months to live, and through prayer the tumor disappeared. The doctor confessed it, saying, "It's gone. I don't know where, nor why, nor how, but it's gone." But, up to now, I have never said a word publicly because I do not want superstition and undue emphasis to develop with everyone excited about physical healings. That is not what God is after. The deepest need of man is spiritual healing, not physical. But the power of God to heal spiritually is present and available to us. That is what this passage is saying. And when spiritual healing happens, multitudes will be added to the church. The second factor evident in this account follows immediately,

But the high priest rose up and all who were with him, that is, the party of the Sadducees, and filled with jealousy they arrested the apostles and put them in the common prison. But at night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out and said, "Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life." And when they heard this, they entered the temple at daybreak and taught. (Acts 5:17-21a RSV)

For some reason most of us know of the event which occurs a little later in the book of Acts, about Peter being released after being put in prison. But almost no one ever mentions this event, which came first, when all twelve of the apostles were put in prison and were suddenly released by the intervention of an angel and sent to preach in the temple again. Then follows one of the classic examples of double-take in all history.

Now the high priest came and those who were with him and called together the council and all the senate of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought. But when the officers came, they did not find them in the prison, and they returned and reported, "We found the prison securely locked and the sentries standing at the doors, but when we opened it we found no one inside." Now when the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these words, they were much perplexed about them, wondering what this would come to. And some one came and told them, "The men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people." When the captain with the officers went and brought them, but without violence, for they were afraid of being stoned by the people. (Acts 5:21b-26 RSV)

What is the lesson God is trying to teach us here?Why, that there is a liberty in the Spirit which nothing man can do will ever eliminate. "Where the Spirit of God is, there is liberty..." (2 Corinthians 3:17). There is power in God to set men free when they are put in prison. It is no problem to God to get a man out of jail. He does not even have to go through a bail bondsman, he simply sends an angel. It happens again in the book of Acts. He can even send an earthquake, as he did for Paul and Silas at Philippi. It is no problem to God to get his people out of prison.

But it is also clear, from events later on in Acts and in church history, that God does not always intend to get his people out of prison, physically. The point of the story is, as Paul beautifully put it another place, that "the word of God is not bound..." (2 Timothy 2:9). Man cannot stop the word of God. Man cannot stop the power of God. The resurrection power of a living God cannot be held by prison walls, gates, bars, and chains. Men have been taught that lesson again and again in history, and yet they never seem to learn. They strike back with the only procedure they know -- to put someone in prison, lock them up. But you cannot lock up ideas. You cannot hinder the preaching and the teaching of the word of God with prisons. There is a tremendous liberty always present whenever the word is spoken in power. It cannot be stopped simply by the arrest of Christians. The third factor is in the next section:

And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, saying, "We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and you intend to bring this man's blood upon us." But Peter and the apostles answered, "We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised Jesus whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given those who obey him."

When they heard this they were enraged and wanted to kill them. (Acts 5:27-33 RSV)

That last sounds familiar, does it not? All that Peter and the other apostles did was simply to tell these men the truth. They stood before them and very quietly said, "Look. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you killed." That is a clear statement of fact. "God has exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins." That is another statement of fact. "And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit." With that simple statement of clear, plain truth, these rulers became violently furious and enraged, and set about to kill them.

What does that show? It shows clearly the fallen character of man. Man is in the grip of forces beyond his knowledge and ken, evil forces which are implacably opposed to the will, purpose and love of God. Whenever truth is uttered, it enrages men like this. They oppose it with the only weapon they can think of -- physical violence. This explains the fact that wherever the gospel goes it not only invites men, attracts men, and redeems men, but it also enrages others. It is always a disturbing thing. But God wants us to look beyond this immediate opposition of men and understand that the opposition would never occur if it were not for the existence of certain malevolent beings behind men.

This is what Paul says in Ephesians 6. "We wrestle not against flesh and blood..." (Ephesians 6:12a KJV). It is not, finally, men who are the problem. We are opposed "by principalities and powers, by wicked spirits in high places" (Ephesians 6:12b), by tremendous beings of malevolence and evil who are seated in positions of power behind the scenes and are manipulating men, keeping them under control, and using them as puppets. That is where the opposition and hostility is coming from. If you do not view the opposition to the gospel from that point of view you will not ever understand life. You cannot explain what occurs in history unless you understand it from that point of view. There are evil forces at work.

That is why theological liberals shake their heads at humanity and say, "What's wrong?" They are baffled because they take into consideration only what they can see -- human beings -- and they say, "What is wrong with human beings? Why do they act this way? Talk to them individually and they're nice, courteous and gracious; but put them together in a mob and violence breaks out and darkness and death. What's the matter?" Well, says the Scripture, these men and women, these students and others, are being manipulated by powers they are not aware of. They have thoughts arising in their hearts which they think originate with themselves, but they are being put into their minds by invisible forces which are at work to oppose the will and purpose of God. That is why it is so useless to attempt physical resistance against these kind of forces. What good does it do to kill, and burn, and destroy those who are the puppets of evil forces? They will only raise up other men and use them in their place. What advantage is gained by wiping out at the polls groups of people who are opposed to something that God wants done? The evil forces will only raise up other men and women to do it all over again. What God wants to get across to his people is that they will never do any real good until they attack the spiritual forces. God has placed in our hands the spiritual equipment to do so. The next verses of the passage illustrate this.

But a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, held in honor by all the people, stood up and ordered the men to be put outside for a while. And he said to them, "Men of Israel, take care what you do with these men. For before these days Theudas arose, giving himself out to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him; but he was slain and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. After him Judas the Galilean arose in the days of the census and drew away some of the people after him; he also perished, and all who followed him were scattered. So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan of this undertaking is of men, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!"

So they took his advice... (Acts 5:34-40a RSV)

Now here are the apostles confronted with the same group that had just murdered their Lord, threatened by the same hostility that had accomplished the death of Jesus. Their lives are at stake. These rulers are enraged and they want to kill them. Then why didn't they? Surely the apostles could not have predicted how God would deliver them. They had no way of knowing that there was seated on that very council a man with a calmer frame of mind, who would listen to reason and would lay a quieting hand upon these tumultuous passions. But God knew. And God knew how to use that man, and when to have him speak. It was God who was behind the actions of Gamaliel.

It is true these were men controlled by evil forces, but they were also subject to the sovereign overriding of the Holy Spirit. Though this account does not mention it directly, I am very confident that the church was praying for the twelve apostles. In answer to that prayer, God restrained those evil forces, using one of the enemy to do it. What does that do to you? Doesn't that turn you on a bit? You sit there so unimpressed by this! But I get excited about it. God uses the very forces opposed to the gospel to fight against themselves and restrain themselves.

Many of you know that the whole area here was very tense on Thursday of this week after violence broke out on the campus at Stanford. Most of us were wondering what would happen next, especially when it was published in the papers that the Academic Senate was to meet at Stanford and consider the demands made by radical students for the complete ousting of ROTC from the campus, plus several other impossible demands. Christians began to pray. Those who have learned how to operate with spiritual weapons did not sit and wring their hands; they gathered together and began to pray. They asked two specific things: That God would give the Academic Senate at Stanford University the courage to do the right thing: to yield to demands which were right and proper and to resist those that were improper, and when the demands were not met, that the radicals be restrained; that God would thwart their announced plans to burn down the campus.

Well, the Academic Senate met, and they did not yield to the impossible demands of the radicals. They did what they thought was right, and they had the courage to say, "No!" where they needed to say, "No." The radicals met together that night to carry out their threat to burn down the campus. But, by the report that was given to me, they immediately fell into confusion. They began to squabble among themselves. One would stand up to speak, and then another, and they would oppose each other, and they could get nowhere. Finally someone stood up and said, "What's the matter with us? Why can't we get together? Now's our time to act. We've got to act!" But even that exhortation fell in vain, and they were unable to act. The report that was brought to me the next day was that the campus was like a tomb on Thursday night (perhaps in many more ways than one). Now that is the restraint of God. When are we going to start believing the Scriptures? When are we going to act consistently with the spiritual weapons God has given us? When are we going to believe that God is moving today exactly as he moved in the days of the early church?

A man came up to me after I had spoken along these lines at a meeting of laymen in Colorado Springs. He had a strong British accent, and he said, "Sir, I want to ask you a question. Do you mean it when you say that the church today is no different than the church of the first century?" I said, "I mean it with all my heart. I am absolutely convinced there is no difference whatsoever between the church of our day, in its possibilities and potential, and the church of the first century as it affected the world of that day." Tears began to roll down his cheeks. He gripped my hand, and he said, "Bless you. My heart has been crying out for years to hear somebody say that today. You don't know what it means to hear you say that." The book of Acts is still being written today.

There is one other factor here and it closes the account.

So they took his advice, and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. And every day in the temple and at home they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ. (Acts 5:40-42 RSV)

I love that. They did not stop. They counted themselves fortunate to suffer dishonor for his name. It seems to take Christians so long to face up to the simple declaration of Scripture that, when they were called to be a Christian, they were called to suffer. As Paul said in his letter to the Philippians, "It is given to us not only to believe on him but also to suffer for his name's sake..." (Philippians 1:29). We are called to this. Suffering is an integral part of the Christian experience. It is not something that is unusual or reserved for just a few; it is for all. Peter said in the passage read to you this morning, "Do not be surprised at the fiery trial which comes upon you to prove you, as though something strange were happening to you..." (1 Peter 4:12). Don't think it strange. You go through problems, difficulties, heartaches, disappointments, ostracism and coolness from others, all for the sake of "the Name." Don't think that is strange. That is part of the "sufferings of Christ for his body's sake" (Colossians 1:24 KJV), which Paul speaks of. It is that to which we are called.

In a world that is run by illusions, governed by deceptions, and is a victim of lies and maliciously evil falsehoods, what else can we expect if we stand for the truth? People will think we are strange, at times. People will think we react in funny ways. There will be some degree of coolness, even among those who are, in many other ways, friendly toward us. They will think we are a little odd. But it is they who are odd; it is we who are normal. When a normal person lives in a world full of oddballs, they think he's odd. But that is the suffering to which he is called. Like these disciples, we ought to thank God for it and rejoice in it. Jesus said that, didn't he? "Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and say all manner of evil against you falsely for my name's sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad, ... for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you..." (Matthew 5:11-12 KJV).

The church, then, is not to wring its hands, and say, "Oh what a terrible thing! We're being opposed! These committees against us, and the powers that be, etc., they won't let us do what we want. What an awful thing!" No! Rejoice, like these early Christians did. Count it an honor that you have been called to suffer a little for his name's sake. Stand up and be counted. These are perilous times, are they not? Yet these same four factors are as present with us today as they were in that early day: Power, the power of God to change lives, to heal, to restore, to make people whole. It is manifest all around us, everywhere, on every side today. Liberty, the word of God is not bound. Nothing can stop it, nothing can hinder it, nothing can thwart it or change it. Our physical circumstances are quite irrelevant. It does not make any difference. Opposition is here, terrible, deadly opposition, designed to strike to the heart, to the jugular vein. As Joe Blinko used to put it, "The devil is no pimple-squeezer; he goes for the jugular vein." But also there is suffering; suffering but rejoicing in that suffering. To this we are called! --Ray Stedman, Confrontation, (Acts 5).

Jeremiah The Prophet Mourns for the People

18 I would comfort myself in sorrow;
My heart is faint in me.

19 Listen! The voice,
The cry of the daughter of my people
From a far country:
“Is not the LORD in Zion?
Is not her King in her?”

“Why have they provoked Me to anger
With their carved images—
With foreign idols?”

20 “The harvest is past,
The summer is ended,
And we are not saved!”

21 For the hurt of the daughter of my people I am hurt.
I am mourning;
Astonishment has taken hold of me.

22 Is there no balm in Gilead,
Is there no physician there?
Why then is there no recovery
For the health of the daughter of my people?

(Jeremiah 8:18-22)

The Balm in Gilead (Wikipedia)



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October 14, 2021 December 4, 2021. August 4, 2022.