THE PLAIN TRUTH ABOUT HEALING
by Herbert W. Armstrong
Is the day of miracles past? Does the living God heal
sickness and disease today upon believing prayer? Or was healing performed only
by Christ and the original apostles? Did God raise up medical science for our
day? What about modern faith healers and public healing services?
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
One: Healing in Our Time?
Two: Learning to Believe
Chapter Three: What the Old and New
Four: What Is Faith?
Five: Is Healing Always God's Will?
Six: Claiming God's Blessings
WHAT THE OLD AND NEW TESTAMENTS
Many believe, today, that Jesus healed and performed miracles
only to demonstrate He was the Christ, but we read of miraculous healings all
through the Old Testament.
The Israelites, on their trek out of Egyptian
slavery, came to Marah. The water was too bitter to drink. Of course the people
griped and blamed Moses. Moses cried out to God, who performed a miracle, making
the waters sweet. Then God said: "If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice
of the Eternal thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt
give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of
these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the
Eternal that healeth thee" (Exodus 15:26).
The God Who Heals
Those last five words are translated from the Hebrew name Yahweh-Rapha,
one of God's names, meaning the "healing God" or the "God who heals."
Exodus 23:25, God is quoted speaking to the children of Israel: "... I will take
sickness away from the midst of thee."
Again, in Deuteronomy 7:15: "And
the Eternal will take away from thee all sickness ..." In Deuteronomy 32:39, God
is quoted: "... I heal ..."
David prayed: "O Eternal my God, I cried
unto thee, and thou hast healed me" (Psalms 30:2). Psalm 41:4: "Lord, be
merciful unto me: heal my soul ..."
In Psalm 6:2, David prayed: "Have
mercy upon me, O Eternal; for I am weak: O Lord, heal me ..."
103:3: "Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases." Is it
God's will to heal? some ask. Or others say, "I know He could heal me, IF it's
His will." Is it His will to forgive? Then, He says, it is also His will to HEAL
-- all our diseases.
Psalm 107:17-20: "Fools because of their
transgression, and because of their iniquities, are afflicted. Their soul
abhorreth all manner of meat [food]; and they draw near unto the gates of death.
Then they cry unto the Eternal in their trouble, and he saveth them out of their
"He [sendeth] his word, and [healeth] them, and [delivereth]
them from their destructions." (The original Hebrew signifies the present
tense.) This is a case of one who has been very foolish, and brought the
sickness upon himself. But, on repentance, God forgives and has mercy and heals.
Specific Case History
God had said to ancient Israel,
"I am Yahweh-Rapha" -- that is, "I am the Eternal who heals you," or, "I am your
healing God," or, "I am your God-healer." He also said in the Ten Commandments:
"Thou shalt have no other gods before me."
Healing is the forgiveness of
physical sin. None but God can forgive sin. None but God heals! God is a jealous
God. He is not going to allow anyone else to heal. Medicines and drugs do not,
Notice, now, the case of King Asa of Judah. He turned to
the king of Syria for help and paid him money to become an ally. God had said He
would fight Judah's battles for them. This hiring of allies God calls harlotry,
in which the harlot pays instead of being paid.
But King Asa forsook God
-- like a wife forsaking her husband and hiring lovers -- and this, after having
previously relied on God for victories! God sent a prophet to remind Asa of what
he was doing. But Asa in hot anger had the prophet imprisoned.
was stricken with a serious disease. Notice in 11 Chronicles 16:12-13: "And Asa
in the thirty and ninth year of his reign was diseased in his feet, until his
disease was exceeding great: yet in his disease he sought not to the Eternal,
but to the physicians. And Asa slept with his fathers, and died in the one and
fortieth year of his reign."
God wants His people to rely on Him, to
TRUST Him. He wants to do things for us that we cannot do for ourselves. He
wants us to learn the lesson of faith!
Now notice another case history,
recorded in II Kings, first chapter. King Ahaziah, king of Israel at Samaria,
son of the evil Ahab, "fell down through a lattice in his upper chamber that was
in Samaria, and was sick: and he sent messengers, and said unto them, Go,
inquire of Baalzebub the god of Ekron whether I shall recover of this disease.
"But the angel of the Eternal said to Elijah the Tishbite, Arise, go up
to meet the messengers of the king of Samaria, and say unto them, Is it not
because there is not a God in Israel, that ye go to inquire of Baalzebub the god
of Ekron? Now therefore thus saith the Eternal, Thou shalt not come down from
that bed on which thou art gone up, but shalt surely die" (verses 2-4).
Baalzebub, the god of Ekron, was the patron deity of medicine -- the
medicine god of Ekron. The manner in which people inquired of this god was
through the medical doctors. Is it because some of us do not know and rely on
the true God that we rely instead on medical doctors? God has said, "I am the
God who heals you."
But now one other case history from the Old
Testament. It's the example of King Hezekiah. It is recorded in II Kings, the
20th chapter, the first seven verses.
"In those days was Hezekiah sick
unto death. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him, and said unto
him, Thus saith the Eternal, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and
"Then he turned his face to the wall, and prayed unto the
Eternal, saying, I beseech thee, O Eternal, remember now how I have walked
before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good
in thy sight. And Hezekiah wept sore."
He put his heart into his prayer.
He OBEYED God. He had a right attitude. He did not now turn to seek human help,
but trusted God alone. Continuing the passage in verse 5: "... Thus saith the
Eternal, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy
tears: behold, I will heal thee: on the third day thou shalt go up unto the
house of the Eternal. And I will add unto thy days fifteen years."
New Testament Teaching
Earlier we saw that
proclaiming the ANNOUNCEMENT of the Kingdom of God and healing went hand in hand
in Jesus' ministry. One passage in Matthew summarizes it:
went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel
of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease
among the people" (Matthew 4:23).
Jesus' ministry began in Galilee, not
in Jerusalem. Matthew's account shows that the so-called "Sermon on the Mount"
(actually a teaching to His disciples) followed (chapters 5 through 7).
Beginning in chapter 8: "When he was come down from the mountain, great
multitudes followed him. And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him,
saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean" (verses 1-2).
again comes the answer to the frequently expressed doubt, "Well, I know God
could heal me, if it's His will-but how can we know His will?" Here is the
answer: "And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou
clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed" (verse 3).
Gentiles Not Excluded
Continuing in verse 5: "And
when Jesus was entered into Capernaum [where He lived (Matthew 4:13), apparently
in His own house], there came unto him a centurion [Gentile captain over 100
Roman soldiers], beseeching him, and saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick
of the palsy, grievously tormented.
"And Jesus saith unto him, I will
come and heal him. The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that
thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall
be healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say
to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my
servant, Do this, and he doeth it.
"When Jesus heard it, he marvelled,
and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great
faith, no, not in Israel ....And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and
as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in
the self same hour" (Matthew 8:5-13).
How God Heals
Next we need to UNDERSTAND how God heals. And we need to see, further,
how both the gospel and healing tie together. Both operate on the same principle
-- one being spiritual, the other physical.
God is the CREATOR. But also
He is the Great Designer, Educator and Lawgiver. Whatever God does He does with
purpose and with order, according to the principles of His law. There can be no
law without a penalty for its transgression.
And God never compromises
with His laws or their penalties. Once a law is transgressed a penalty is
incurred. Once a penalty is incurred it must be paid. God never suspends the
The biblical definition of SIN is the transgression of LAW (I
John 3:4). In the spiritual sense, in connection with the gospel, the basic law
of the Kingdom of God is the spiritual law (Romans 7:14) set in inexorable,
relentless motion -- the law of LOVE, the "GIVE" way of life -- the principle of
the Ten Commandments. The penalty for transgression is DEATH (Romans 6:23) --
eternal death, the absence of eternal life.
All have sinned. And sin
sets up an impassable barrier between the sinner and God. The penalty -- death
-- must be paid! God will not compromise a thousandth of an inch on that!
Then how do we get FREE from that penalty? How may we avoid paying it?
By the fact that Christ paid it for us. Christ never committed sin. He never
brought that penalty on Himself. But, being the actual Maker of all mankind
(Ephesians 3:9; Colossians 1:13-16), His life was greater than the sum total of
ALL other human lives. And when He died on the cross, He took our penalty on
Himself. He paid the death penalty for all mankind -- conditioned on our
repentance and faith; He paid the penalty FOR US, in our stead.
be healed by the same principle.
God made man of the dust of the ground
(Genesis 2:7). We are composed of matter. He designed our bodies so that they
function according to definite physical laws.
In the human body are a
number of systems -- for example, the digestive system, the respiratory system,
the circulatory system, the reproductive system, etc. Each functions separately,
yet all work in perfect harmony with each other. They function according to
definite physical LAWS. Those laws, when transgressed, exact a PENALTY.
When a person is sick or has contracted a disease, he is simply paying
the PENALTY of transgressed physical law in his body.
One may not
himself have broken a physical law. It could have been an accident. It could
have been from a contagious disease contracted without his knowledge. In the
case of Job (Job 2:6-7), Satan was the cause of Job's ailments for a special
purpose, by God's permission. Nevertheless, sickness and disease are the penalty
being paid for broken physical law.
God, the great Lawgiver, demands
that the penalty must be paid! God never compromises that principle! No HEALING
without the penalty having been PAID!
Jesus Paid the Penalty
So now let's continue in the eighth chapter of Matthew: "When the even
was come [sunset, ending that Sabbath day], they brought unto him many that were
possessed with devils [demons]: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and
healed all that were sick: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias
[Isaiah] the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our
sicknesses" (Matthew 8:16-17).
Jesus paid the penalty in our stead.
Like the forgiveness of spiritual sin, God has paid the penalty for us
by sending His Son Jesus to suffer the penalty in our stead. The penalty for
physical transgression is physical punishment -- sickness or disease, physical
impairment, pain and suffering or physical death.
Healing does not mean
that God suspends the penalty so that no penalty is paid. Instead, Jesus has
already paid it for us. Therefore God may legally remove the penalty from the
human sufferer. But it is nonetheless a MIRACLE!
The scripture above
quoted says Jesus Himself took our infirmities and bare our sicknesses -- but
NOT ON THE CROSS. They scourged Jesus, beat Him, breaking open the flesh of His
body, before taking Him to Golgotha to be nailed to the cross.
Matthew 27:24-26: "When Pilate saw that
he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and
washed his hands before the multitude ... Then released he Barabbas unto them:
and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified."
15:15: "And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto
them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified."
John 19:1: "Then Pilate therefore took Jesus and scourged him." This was
prior to turning Jesus over to be crucified, which is not recorded until verse
16 of the same chapter: "Then delivered he [Pilate] him [Jesus] therefore unto
them to be crucified."
I think it vitally important that we realize, at
this point, two things:
1) What a TREMENDOUS price God Himself, through
Christ, paid in order that He might perform for us this MIRACLE OF HEALING. This
shows God's will. He is so willing, indeed so anxious, to relieve us from the
pain, suffering or affliction that He gave His only begotten Son -- the One who
is our very Maker -- to be beaten, to suffer in our stead, so that, without
violating any principle of His LAW, we may be healed.
"The Eternal is
merciful and gracious ... For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is
his mercy toward them that fear him ... Like as a father pitieth his children,
so the Eternal pitieth them that fear him" (Psalm 103:8-13).
We need to
realize God's LOVE and compassion. Healing must not be taken for granted or
treated cheaply. THINK of Him who is the Maker of all mankind -- One so GREAT --
submitting Himself to be beaten as no man ever was so that He might perform this
MIRACLE for us!
2) HOW IMPORTANT it is to God NEVER to compromise His
law. We might reason that it would be easier for God, in each case of healing,
to simply prevent the penalty from taking effect. But that would VIOLATE HIS
LAW! That is what Satan is trying to do -- make God's laws inoperable; abolish
the penalty; deal with the EFFECT, ignoring the CAUSE.
operates primarily on that method -- trying, with medicines, to prevent God's
law from exacting its penalty.
That theory says, in effect, we can
transgress God's law and then prevent God's law from exacting its penalty. The
theory is: The sufferer has in his body one poison, so we add another poison in
the form of medicine. And one poison plus one more poison equals NO poison!
God has gone to great lengths a) to bestow upon us His love and mercy,
and b) to be consistent with His law. God's arithmetic is: One poison minus that
one poison equals NO poison.
Now notice just how severely Jesus was
In Isaiah 52 and 53 it was foretold. Speaking of Christ in
Isaiah 52: "As many were astound at thee; his visage was so marred more than any
man, and his form more than the sons of men: So shall he sprinkle [margin,
"startle"] many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that
which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard
shall they consider" (verses 14-15).
In the Revised Standard Version
this passage reads: "As many were astonished at him his appearance was so marred
beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the sons of men -- so shall
he startle many nations; kings shall shut their mouths because of him; for that
which has not been told them they shall see, and that which they have not heard
they shall understand." Notice the tenses. Many were (when He was beaten with
stripes) astonished -- His body beaten and marred more than any man. So shall
(at His coming in supreme POWER and GLORY) many nations be startled at Him.
Then, in Isaiah 53 (RSV): "He was despised and rejected by men; a man of
sorrows, and acquainted with grief ... Surely he has borne our griefs and
carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and
"But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised
for our iniquities [transgressions of the law]; upon him was the chastisement
that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have
gone astray [How?]; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Eternal has
laid on him the iniquity of us all" (verses 3-6).
This is affirmed in
the New Testament: "Who did no sin ... by whose stripes ye were healed" (I Peter
At the Passover Service
There is a very
clear teaching in regard to Christ having paid the physical penalty, as well as
the spiritual penalty of death, in connection with Passover service instruction.
It is in the apostle Paul's instruction to the Corinthians: "For I have
received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus
the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given
thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is [represents] my body, which is
broken for you: this do in remembrance of me [a memorial].
same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the
new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of
me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's
death till he come [the annual memorial of His death, on the actual anniversary
of His crucifixion].
"Wherefore," the instruction continues, "whosoever
shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily [that is, in an
unworthy manner], shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a
man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.
For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to
himself, not discerning the Lord's body. For this cause many are weak and sickly
among you, and many sleep [that is, are dead]" (I Corinthians 11:23-30).
The Revised Standard Version translates that last sentence: "That is why
many of you are weak and ill, and some have died" -- not realizing Jesus Himself
paid the penalty for physical transgressions of the laws of the human body, by
allowing His body to be broken open by many stripes, and not relying on the
living Christ for their HEALING!
Is it His WILL to heal us? This
passage, especially as emphasized in the RSV, says we shall be judged if we
NEGLECT (see Hebrews 2:3) so great a price paid so that we might be kept whale!
Forgiveness of Physical Sin
Now back to Matthew's
account of Jesus' ministry. We had last covered the eighth chapter and 17th
verse. We come now to the ninth chapter.
Jesus came again to His own
city, where He then resided- -Capernaum. "And, behold, they brought to him a man
sick of the palsy, lying on a bed ...."
Notice Mark's account of the
same incident: "And again he entered into Capernaum, after some days; and it was
noised that he was in the house" (Mark 2:1).
I pause here for a slight
digression. Today many represent Jesus as a vagabond -- a hippie with long hair
and no place to live, having to sleep outdoors. In I Corinthians 11:14, it is
plainly stated it is a shame for a man to have long hair. Jesus was no hippie.
And the evidence is clear that Jesus had a home. In Matthew 4 we have
seen that Jesus, leaving Nazareth, came and dwelt in Capernaum. That assuredly
implies a "dwelling place." He dwelt in a house. In Matthew 9:1, Capernaum is
called "his own city," a term certainly implying His place of residence.
In Mark 2:1, quoted above, Jesus returned to Capernaum, His own city,
where He dwelt, and it was noised around that He was "in-the house," certainly
implying His own house. If He had entered the house of any other person, it
would have named the person into whose house He came.
Now to continue,
this time in Luke's account of this same incident, because Luke gives more
details: "And ... as he was teaching ... men brought in a bed a man which was
taken with a palsy: and they sought means to bring him in, and to lay him before
him [Jesus]. And when they could not find by what way they might bring him in
because of the multitude, they went upon the housetop, and let him down through
the tiling with his couch into the midst before Jesus. And when he saw their
faith, he said unto him, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee.
scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this which speaketh
blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?
"But when Jesus
perceived their thoughts, he answering said unto them, What reason ye in your
hearts? Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up
and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to
forgive sins, (he said unto the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and
take up thy couch, and go into thine house.
"And immediately he rose up
before them, and took up that whereon he lay, and departed to his own house,
glorifying God. And they were all amazed, and they glorified God, and were
filled with fear, saying, We have seen strange things to day" (Luke 5:17-26).
This incident, reported in all three books of Matthew, Mark and Luke,
confirms, in the words of Jesus Christ Himself, that physical healing is indeed
"the forgiveness of sin." Sin is defined (I John 3:4) as "the transgression of
LAW," as correctly translated. Physical sin is the transgression of physical law
operating in the human body. To pay this penalty in our stead, Jesus was
scourged, chastised, beaten with stripes.
On the other hand, spiritual
sin, which imposes the penalty of the second death -- eternal death -- is the
transgression of the spiritual law (Romans 7:13-14), the law summed up by the
Ten Commandments. Jesus paid the penalty for both. Doctors, medicines, and drugs
can no more forgive physical sins than spiritual sins. They cannot heal!