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    Friday, June 5, 2009

    Biblical Healing (Pt. 1)

    Healing has been a much-debated topic in the history of Christianity. Questions such as: is it for today? Come up often in the discussions of healing.

    One such question, which was a debated topic, was whether or not healing was in the atonement of Christ. Was it part of his work on the cross as Matthew 8:17 seems to suggest, or is there a different meaning to all this?

    Matthew 8:17 says: “This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah ‘He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases.’” What this seems to be implying is that on the cross, at the time of the atonement, not only did Christ take up our sins but he also took up our sicknesses.

    A.B. Simpson in his book The Gospel of Healing says: “…the only “surely” in this chapter is the promise of healing; the very strongest possible statement of complete redemption from pain and sickness by His life and death and the very words which Evangelist afterward quotes, under inspired guidance of the Holy Ghost (Matt. 8:17) as the explanation of His universal works of healing”

    An early co-worker with Simpson, R. Kelso Carter says: “The clear meaning is, that Jesus did take upon Himself our diseases and our mental trouble, in precisely the same way that He “bore our sins in His own body on the tree” (The Atonement for Sin and Sickness pg. 32).

    Others during this time did not fully agree with these statements, saying that the cross did not, in the same manner take up our sickness as it did our sins. They argue that sin was defeated on the cross completely for those who believe, yet disease, and sickness still attack the believer.

    Those opposed to the sickness bearing just as the sin bearing couldn’t see how the atonement eliminated sickness as it did sin. Keith Bailey in his book Divine Healing: The Children’s Bread digs deep into this ideology. He uses the same quotes as I do above. I believe he writes out a perfect description of what’s going on (taking both views into account). He says: “The Scriptures state that healing is in the atonement but they do not disclose how healing is in the atonement…Physical healing is not necessarily available to God’s people because the body is included in the atonement”.

    He continues on the next page (pg. 57) “Ballard rightly concludes that while atonement is the proper procuring cause of physical healing as a redemptive benefit to believers, the availability of healing now is based on propositional statements in the Scriptures…No one would argue the fact that the translation of the believer is in the atonement, but that fact is not sufficient to claim that blessing anytime”. Bailey concludes his thoughts with this: “The promises and instructions as to how healing may be attained provide abundant proof that physical healing is available today for God’s people” (pg. 57).

    So, how is healing in the atonement? I believe that through the work of these men as well as reading through Matt. 8:17 healing of sicknesses is in fact similar to that of the redemption from sin that the atonement brings.

    When Christ died on the cross and took our sin, he also took our sickness, which can indeed be caused by personal sin (James 5:15).

    Sickness is also the result of the fall, because Genesis clearly shows that God desired us to live forever without sickness.

    Yet, when Adam and Eve sinned, the result was death; and sickness I believe came right along with it.

    Even after accepting the atonement, the believer can still sin.

    Similarly, the believer can still get sick. Healing is available to the believer as a part of the atonement, but it doesn’t always mean it will come any time as Bailey says.