Section 10A .. The Contemporary Church/
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Is Physical Healing Included in The Atonement ... Part I

Carol Brooks



God Can & Does Heal Today / No Longer Heals Today
Healing Is/Is Not Guaranteed Under the Atonement

Faith Healers Claim If You Aren't Healed - It's Your Fault
The New Testament demonstrates this is not true
Hypocrisy Unlimited

An Oft Overlooked Point

'Proof' Texts
Isaiah 53:5
1 Peter 2:24
Matthew 8:16-17
Hebrews 13:8

God Can & Does Heal Today / No Longer Heals Today

In our world today, a small minority rejects belief in the supernatural as a product of a more primitive and superstitious time. They consider that our belief system should be dictated only by what we can prove scientifically. Some go as far as to say that God does not have the ability to affect the natural world and the miracles spoken of in the Scriptures either had perfectly natural scientific explanations, or were myths told with the intent of providing some moral lesson.

On the other hand, I do not doubt that most believers, who take verses like Deuteronomy 32:39 and James 5:14-15very seriously, are firmly of the opinion that a sovereign God healed people in the Old Testament and heals them in the New. 

    'See now that I, I am He, And there is no god besides Me; It is I who put to death and give life. I have wounded and it is I who heal, And there is no one who can deliver from My hand. (Deuteronomy 32:39 NASB)

    Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. (James 5:14-15 NASB)

Although it was the elders that were specifically instructed to pray for the sick and anoint them with oil, this passage cannot be taken in an absolute sense for the simple reason that if sick people always recover when prayed for by the elders, then no believer would ever die. Any healing does is only a temporary solution. Even Lazarus, raised from the dead by Jesus, had to eventually die again.

However, there is a section of the church that although they may believe in the accounts of healing in the Bible, are more than a little skeptical of modern-day miraculous healings. These, usually more conservative churches believe that Jesus performed miracles as evidence he was the Messiah and to establish his claims to deity, and that only reason the apostles perform miracles and healings was to confirm that they were disciples of the Christ. However, the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit died out with the Apostles. See Cessationism

Healing Is/Is Not Guaranteed Under the Atonement
There are differences even among that believe God heals today. Some believe that  healing is an inextricable part of the atonement, other do not.

Proponents of the latter view do not necessarily believe that healings never take place, but consider that they are not guaranteed by Jesus' death on Calvary. God has not promised us physical health and is under no obligation to heal anyone. When, for reasons we don't understand, God does heal someone, it is entirely at His discretion.

Among those who believe that God can and does heal today, many Charismatics and Evangelicals believe that Christ's reconciling work guarantees believers physical healing, just as much as it guarantees them spiritual healing and eternal life. Thus all Christians ought to be completely free of all sickness and disease. (Good health is one half of the so-called "health and wealth" gospel. It is also claimed that Christians should be materially well off. See The Prosperity Gospel and Word-faith Movement)

 For example, Kenneth Hagin, 'father' of the Prosperity and Health doctrine, once said (The three texts he quoted have been examined a little further down under 'Proof-Texts)

    The best method by which you can be healed is to know for yourself from our text Scriptures (Isaiah 53:4,5, Matthew 8:17, and First Peter 2:24) that healing is in God's redemptive plan; it belongs to you; and by His stripes we are healed. We refuse to allow disease or sickness in our bodies, because we ARE healed... All believers should thoroughly understand that their healing was consummated in Christ. When they come to know that in their spirits - just as they know it in their heads - that will be the end of sickness and disease in their bodies."  [01]

Rod Parsley claims that healing is as important as salvation, (All Emphasis Added)

    Salvation and healing are two gifts wrapped up in the same package. For God, it is just as easy to forgive sin as it is to dissolve a cancerous growth. To Him, healing is just as important and necessary as Salvation." [02]

Now disgraced pastor Paul Yonggi Cho of South Korea emphatically tied physical healing and salvation together ...

    Accordingly, if we believe that Christ redeemed us from our sins, we should believe that He redeemed us from our sicknesses also. If we cannot believe in both kinds of redemption, we must not believe in any kind of redemption, for Jesus carried away both our sins and our sicknesses." [03]

Fred Price actually had the nerve to suggest that the Holy Spirit wouldn't want to inhabit a body that isn't functioning quite right

    "...how can you glorify God in your body, when it doesn't function right? How can you glorify God? How can He get glory when your body doesn't even work? ...What makes you think the Holy Ghost wants to live inside a body where He can't see out through the windows and He can't hear with the ears? What makes you think the Holy Spirit wants to live inside of a physical body where the limbs and the organs and the cells do not function right? ... And what makes you think He wants to live in a temple where He can't see out of the eyes, and He can't walk with the feet, and He can't move with the hand?" [04]

Health and prosperity proponents further teach that because the words "if it be Thy will" indicate that the person praying doubts God's 'promises', they have no place in a prayer for healing. Prayers for healing should close with words of thanks (positive confession) that the healing has taken place, regardless of the fact that the physical symptoms still exist. In other words, faith has to rest on the supposed promises of God, not on the physical evidence.

In which case one has to wonder why the Son of God Himself, who knew perfectly well what God's will was, fell on his face in the garden of Gethsemae and prayed...

    "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will." (Matthew 26:39 NASB)

What seems to be forgotten is that God has never surrendered His Sovereignty to us and can answer our prayer in one of three ways. He can say 'Yes', He can say 'No', or He can say 'Wait'.

If You Aren't Healed - It's Your Fault
Unfortunately, the fact remains that although some people are healed - most are not.

However, Word-faith teachers often lay the blame for the lack of healing squarely at the door of the sick person. As Kenneth Copeland once said,

    "Healing always comes. The problem has been in our receiving, not in God's giving" [05].

In many cases, they leave people who are already hurting with the impression that they were not healed because they did not have the necessary faith. If they had mustered up more faith, if they had believed as they should have, they would have been made well.

Hypocrisy Unlimited
What boggles the minds is the fact that so many of the "faith" healers have themselves fallen ill and turned to traditional medicine for help. In fact, Jamie W. Buckingham was only 59 when he died of liver cancer.

Betty Price, wife of Fred Price had inoperable lymphoma, one of the deadliest forms of cancer for which she received medical treatment. Joyce Meyer was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1989, for which she had surgery. Jan Crouch was operated on for colon cancer in May of 2003, after which her cancer went into remission. Apparently none of the performers on TBN could help her. Rod Parsley's son Austin was diagnosed with a high-functioning form of autism called Asperger's Syndrome at the age of two and a half. According to Joni, Rod Parsley's wife (Emphasis Added)

    Years of research and different therapies helped Austin make leaps and bounds but it happened step by step. He went from being completely non-verbal to talking and communicating, thanks to a team effort but due largely to his amazing speech therapist. God sent us many heroes over the years with teachers, tutors, therapists, doctors, family, friends, and prayer warriors. [06]

How much more hypocritical can you get?

And if you have been taken in by all the baloney about sufficient faith being the sole deciding factor in in whether or not someone is healed, I urge you to read your New Testament again. In at least two cases the person's recovery had absolutely nothing to do with whether they believed or not..

The Man Beside The Pool in Bethesda
Jesus and the apostles were never known to have turned away any person who came to them for healing but, on the other hand, neither did they heal all the sick people they came into contact with.

For example in John 5:1-9 states that when Jesus went up to Jerusalem for a feast of the Jews, He came to a pool called Bethesda where a "multitude" of blind, lame sick and feeble people lay waiting for the moving of the waters. However, as far as we know, Jesus only healed one person, a man who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years.

We are not told why Jesus picked this man to heal, nor why Jesus did not heal any of the other people gathered at the pool that day, but it is obvious that the man did not know who Jesus was.

    Note: There seems to be more to the story of the pool at Bethesda than meets the eye. The events strongly indicates that God is not the only one that can heal. See Footnote I

The Beggar at The Gate
Acts 3 tells the story of a man crippled from birth who was daily carried to the door of the temple where he used to beg alms from people. On this particular day, he saw Peter and John entering the temple and asked them for money. When Peter told him to look at them, he paid attention expecting to receive some money from them.

However Peter had something very different in mind. His words to the beggar were "Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk." Peter then took the man by the right hand, and raised him up: and immediately his feet and his ankle-bones received strength. He stood, and began to walk, then entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.

Nothing in this text even remotely suggests that this man had "faith in Christ" or that he was even expecting to be healed! The text clearly shows that the only thing he expected was a monetary handout from Peter and John.

However not only are we told that this man became a believer that day but since he was a familiar figure to temple goers, all the people who saw him walking and praising God" were astonished and congregated in Solomon's porch. This gave Peter the perfect opportunity to preach the Gospel, telling them that the man had been healed by Jesus, the Prince of life whom they had killed. He then urged them to repent so that their sins may be blotted out and there may come seasons of refreshing from the presence of the Lord. (Acts 3:9-26)

An Oft Overlooked Point
If healing is considered to be a present benefit of the atonement, then it logically follows that those that pray for healing but do not receive it cannot be assured of their salvation either.

If, as is often claimed, the person simply does not have enough faith to be healed or to receive their healing, then how can we assume that they have enough faith to receive salvation, which is a much larger issue by far.

An absence of physical restoration indicates an absence of spiritual restoration. In other words, if you aren't healed - you aren't saved.

"Proof" Texts

Isaiah 53:5
Much, if not most of the argument about whether or not healing is included in the atonement swirls around a single verse in Isaiah. The passage in question reads...

    But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5 NASB)

It is probably no exaggeration to say that this description of what Christ's mission on earth did is one of the most awe-inspiring and touching passages in the Scriptures. However, and I literally have no idea how many times I have said this - you simply cannot pull half or even one full verse out of a chapter, and use it to justify what you believe or teach.

No one should read, much less base their beliefs on, stand alone verses because no Biblical author strung together a number of lofty sounding phrases disconnected from one another - Every single verse is an integral part of a particular point the author was trying to make. An accurate understanding what the author was trying to say comes from the overall message of the chapter that gives meaning to individual verses.

But, since studying how exactly the verse fits into the chapter takes a little more time, study and effort, most Christians are content with allowing stand-alone verses to be wrested from their context and used to convey whatever meaning the speaker/author wishes them to convey.

Whether intentional or unintentional, this perversion of Scriptures is done in order to persuade people that whatsoever the false teacher says is based on Biblical truth. See Context Is Crucial.

Why Would Isaiah Change Horses Midstream?
Anyone who actually reads the chapter will quickly realize that in these short 12 verses, the prophet used the word transgressors 4 times, transgression 3 times, iniquity twice, and sin twice. This should clearly show that the focus of the chapter is spiritual, not physical.

Read the immediate context. The first part of verse five Isaiah says "But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities".

 In verses 6 to 8 the prophet clearly states that we have gone astray, and Jesus bore our iniquity or transgressions.

    (3) He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. (4) Surely our griefs He Himself bore (Hebrew nāsāh) , And our sorrows He carried (Hebrew sābal); Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. (5) But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. (6) All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him. (Isaiah 53:3-6 NASB)

Also to be noted is the fact that the two Hebrew words (nāsāh and sābal) used in verse 4 are clarified in verses 11 and 12, in which we are told that the "grief" and "sorrow" that Jesus bore was sin and iniquity.

    As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear (Hebrew sābal) their iniquities. Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, And He will divide the booty with the strong; Because He poured out Himself to death, And was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore (Hebrew nāsāh) the sin of many, And interceded for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:11-12 NASB)

All of which makes it is very unlikely that smack bang in the middle of his emphasis on the forgiveness of sins and spiritual healing, Isaiah suddenly threw in a few words about physical healing. When all the surrounding verses are about the spiritual, suggesting that the prophet suddenly changes horses in mid stream is a classic case of interpreting text according to preconceived ideas.

1 Peter 2:24
The Apostle Peter was obviously referring to Isaiah 53:5 when he said

    and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. (1 Peter 2:24 NASB)

Too many people read the word "heal" and assume that Peter is talking about physical healing.

There seems to be no end to the tragedy of verses being taken out of context to 'prove' a pre-determined idea. Peter didn't quote just one verse from Isaiah - he quoted two consecutive verses, the second of which is linked to the first by the word "for", and throws alight on exactly what should clarify what Peter (and Isaiah) meant.

    and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls. (1 Peter 2:24-25 NASB)

    (53) But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. (54) All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him. (Isaiah 53:5-6 NASB)

How could it get any more clear?

Matthew 8:16-17
is another widely used passage used to support the "healing in the atonement" teaching.

    When evening came, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed; and He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were ill. This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: "He Himself took (Gk. lambanõ) our infirmities and carried (Gk. bastazõ) away our diseases." (Matthew 8:16-17 NASB)

However while there is no question that Matthew is applying Isaiah's words "borne our griefs and carried our sorrows" to physical healing, what is often overlooked is that Matthew said people were being healed in order "to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet" - Isaiah's prophecy was being fulfilled right then and there - at least one year before He was crucified.

In fact, Matthew used this phrase seven other times in his Gospel... in every instance to illustrate that a particular prophecy was being fulfilled during Christ's time on earth. See Footnote II

In other words, Jesus bore the sicknesses and infirmities of people long before the atonement was supposed to have taken place.

Hebrews 13:8
"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever" is one other verse often quoted by the health-wealth proponents.

What they are implying is that, if Jesus healed during His time on earth He, being unchanging, has to continue the pattern and heal people today. But can we really apply these words to physical healing, or are we taking a verse out of context yet again. See Context Is Crucial.

In this case, we have to understand these words, not just in light of the immediate context or the chapter, but in the context of the entire book of Hebrews. We need to step back from the details and endeavor to grasp the overriding theme that runs through the entire book which, by the way, is an excellent thing to do with all the books of the Bible

Hebrews was written to Jewish converts who seemed to be in danger of apostatizing from Christianity and re-embracing Judaism, thus the author was stressing two points

1) The Superiority of Christ
Hebrews can be divided into sections, each of which details Jesus' superiority over various ancients, the temple sacrifices, and the Old Testament covenant itself. Note the points below have been condensed from an excellent article entitled Hebrews: Introduction, Argument, and Outline by Daniel B. Wallace. The entire article is well worth reading.

    1) Christ is Superior to the Prophets (1:1-4). The prophets were servants of spokes persons of the Lord. Christ is the Son of God.

    2) Christ is superior to the angels (1:5–2:18) inasmuch as He has inherited a more excellent name than the angels.

    3) Christ is superior to Moses (3:1–4:13). The faithful Moses was a servant of the Father. Christ was faithful as a Son over His house"

    4) Christ is superior to Aaron (4:14–7:28). The priesthood of Aaron is first mentioned (5:1-5), followed by scriptural proof (based especially on Psalm 110) for the priesthood of Christ (5:6-10) after the order of Melchizedek (5:6, 10) — proof which is necessary since Jesus Christ was not from the tribe of Levi."

    5) Fifth, Christ's ministry is superior to the old covenant ministry (8:1–10:18). [07]

2) The Unchangeability of Christ
The subject of Jesus being unchanging begins right in chapter 1.

    And, "You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands; they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment, like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will have no end.” (Hebrews 1:10-12)

And is reiterated many times in chapter 7:

    Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, he remains a priest perpetually. (Hebrews 7:3 NASB)

    For it is attested of him, "You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.”  (Hebrews 7:17 NASB]

    "... The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, 'You are a priest forever.” (Hebrews 7:21 NASB)

    so much the more also Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant. The former priests, on the one hand, existed in greater numbers because they were prevented by death from continuing, but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently. Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:22-25 NASB)

The statement "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever" is extremely important. It not only repeats one of the main themes of the book, but is a claim of deity. Jesus is God, because only God cannot and does not ever change.

The author was attempting to discourage these new believers from following every new trend and false teaching that came along. The benefits of Calvary are not only certain, but everlastingly secure. And, the very fact that the New Covenant is established upon an immovable foundation gave them (and us) every reason to feel secure knowing that an unshakable kingdom awaited them. Their eternal destiny was forever in the safest of hands.

Continue on to Part II -

Footnote I
The story told in John 5:2-4, that forms the background for Jesus' healing of the man who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years, is actually rather strange.

    Now there is in Jerusalem by the sheep gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew Bethesda, having five porticoes. In these lay a multitude of those who were sick, blind, lame, and withered, [waiting for the moving of the waters; for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool and stirred up the water; whoever then first, after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was made well from whatever disease with which he was afflicted.] (John 5:2-4 NASB)

Several ancient manuscripts omit the words "of the Lord" simply stating that an angel would trouble the waters. And, on consideration, it makes more sense that the angel, whoever or whatever he was, would not have come from the Lord. For two reasons...

    Only the person who could get into the pool first would be healed, which means that when the waters were stirred, pandemonium probably broke out, with a free for all scramble to get in the waters. It is very probable, that the person who could push, or shove others out of the way would be the first in. This comes across as more than barbaric, since the ones who were the most sick or feeble stood no chance of ever being healed. God never ever healed in this fashion, but very specifically.. He would not send an angel there to heal the one who could elbow all others out of the way, leaving all the others bitterly disappointed..

    This stirring of the waters took place between the Old Testament and the New.. a period of 400 years of silence from God and the prophets. It was Jesus alone who broke this silence.

The man that Jesus healed had been infirm for 38 years and had been waiting by the pool for a long time. One has to wonder if Jesus healed him simply because he had been there the longest, which would have been just the opposite of how healings took place at the pool. Besides which Jesus healed the man, not by helping him onto the water, but by a word.

For these reasons one has to suspect that it was not one of God's angels "troubling" the waters, but either local superstition or something more sinister, considering that there are other angels besides God's angels.

Too many Christians, to their detriment, ignore the words of our Lord in Matthew 24:24

    For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect

In other words God is not the only one that can heal.

    It's not a question of counterfeit versus real; Satan's miracles are not counterfeits any more than foreign currency is a counterfeit of our own currency. Counterfeit "miracles" are those feats of legerdemain (sleight of hand) performed by professional magicians, and charlatans who create ruses to bilk people out of money.

    A miracle from the spirit realm is genuine, whether from God or Satan. Satan's healings are not illusory; they are real. That's what makes them dangerous. The reason people believe teachings when they are accompanied by signs and wonders is that they don't believe Satan or his demons can perform genuine miracles. Therefore they think that any teaching accompanied by signs and wonders must be from God. [08]

Footnote II
1. "She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins." Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: "Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a son, and they shall call His name Immanuel," which translated means, "God with us." (Matthew 1:21-23 NASB)

2. So Joseph got up and took the Child and His mother while it was still night, and left for Egypt. He remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: "Out Of Egypt I Called My Son." (Matthew 2:14-15 NASB)

3. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Then after being warned by God in a dream, he left for the regions of Galilee, and came and lived in a city called Nazareth. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophets: "He shall be called a Nazarene." (Matthew 2:22-23 NASB)

4. Now when Jesus heard that John had been taken into custody, He withdrew into Galilee; and leaving Nazareth, He came and settled in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali. This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: "The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, by the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the gentiles-- "the people who were sitting in darkness saw a great light, and those who were sitting in the land and shadow of death, upon them a light dawned." (Matthew 4:12-16 NASB)

5. But Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there. Many followed Him, and He healed them all, and warned them not to tell who He was. This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: "Behold, My Servant whom I have chosen; My Beloved in whom My Soul is well-pleased; I will put My Spirit upon Him, and He shall proclaim justice to the Gentiles. "He will not quarrel, nor cry out; nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets. (Matthew 12:15-19 NASB)

6. All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables, and He did not speak to them without a parable. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: "I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things hidden since the foundation of the world." (Matthew 13:34-35 NASB)

7. This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: "say to the daughter of Zion, 'behold your King is coming to you, gentle, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.'" (Matthew 21:4-5 NASB)

End Notes

[01] Kenneth E. Hagin, Seven Things You Should Know About Divine Healing, (Tulsa: RHEMA Bible Church, 1983) Pg 54.

[02] Rod Parsley, The Backside Of Calvary, Results Publishing, Columbus, OH, 1991, Pg. 55.

[03] Paul Yonggi Cho, Salvation, Health & Prosperity Our Threefold Blessings in Christ, (Altamonte Springs, Fl.: Creation House, 1897) Pg 132.

[04] Frederick K.C. Price. founder and pastor of Crenshaw Christian Center (CCC), California. Is God Glorified Through Sickness?" (Los Angeles: Crenshaw Christian Center, n.d.), audiotape #FP605

[05] Kenneth Copeland, The Great Exchange, Believer's Voice of Victory, February, 1996, Pg. 7

[06] Joni Parsley. And a lot about my kids. http://joni.rodparsley.com/AboutMyKids.aspx. Link is no longer viable.

[07] Daniel B. Wallace.. 19. Hebrews: Introduction, Argument, and Outline.

[08] Albert Dager. An Examination of Kingdom Theology. http://www.apologeticsindex.org/l02.html


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