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Healing in the Atonement

I believe in miracles. I believe that God heals.

One day all true believers in Christ will be perfectly healed.

Is there “healing in the atonement” so that every believer has the “right” to claim it for himself? There are sincere people who claim Matthew 8:17, quoting Isaiah 53:4 and 1 Peter 2:24 teach healing for everyone today.

Those who teach the faith-cure theory of atonement claim that the atonement of Christ includes spiritual healing as well as the provision for bodily healing. Faith healer campaigns are built around these passages.

God is not obliged to heal all sickness. These passages are not teaching that Jesus fulfilled this prophecy in Isaiah on the cross but that Jesus fulfilled this prophecy in His life. Jesus bore man’s sicknesses and infirmities during His ministry on earth.

The apostle Paul applies the same truth to the forgiveness of our sins, which He bore on the cross (1 Peter 2:24).

This passage as Matthew employs it has nothing to bear on the doctrine of the atonement. Yes, Jesus is sympathetic with those who suffer (Matthew 9:35-38). He steps under the load of pain and suffering and enables us to carry it.

However, the atoning death of Jesus Christ does not include provision for bodily healing in this life. In fact, the apostle Paul says we groan within ourselves as we “wait eagerly” for “the redemption of our body” (Rom. 8:23). Something far greater is in store than mere physical healing. We will receive resurrected bodies when Christ returns, “and there will be no longer any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away” (Rev. 21:4).

The apostle Paul learned first hand from the Lord that He could provide him with sufficient sustaining grace in his physical suffering. If there is healing in the atonement, and it is there for all believers to claim as their right, and all you have to do is believe it and claim it, then why did Jesus tell Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you”? Paul was going through a hard, excruciating experience of suffering. He pled for healing on three occasions. Jesus answered his prayers, but not according to Paul’s desire. “He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). 

Paul found a greater secret in the atonement. “When I am weak, then I am strong” (10). Paul did not cure everyone, even his dear friends (2 Tim. 4:20).

It is in the context of the Suffering Servant passages in Isaiah 53:4 that the prophet wrote, “He was pierced for our transgression, He was crushed for our iniquities.”

Matthew is stressing in 8:17 that Jesus’ healing of our sickness is evidence of a far more important healing of our sins. Jesus told the paralyzed man, “Your sins are forgiven” (9:2). Then He told him to “get up and walk” (v. 5).

Sickness was used as an illustration of sin. It is a perfect picture of our “sin-sickness.” When Jesus healed the physically ill it was an outward demonstration of the more important power and authority over sin and His authority to forgive it. Jesus is not teaching that all Christians have the right to perfect health and healing of all diseases. Jesus used miracles to teach that He alone has the perfect cure for our “sin-sickness.”

We are all spiritually sick, and we are dying in our sins. Without the healing power of Jesus Christ to heal us we will all perish eternally (Rom. 6:23). Jesus is our only hope of eternal life (Acts 4:12). Our condition is desperate, and only the Great Physician can heal us.

Without faith in Jesus Christ no one can be saved.

Yes, one day all true believers will be perfectly healed. But does the forgiveness of sin by Jesus always lead to physical healing? The answer is obviously not in this life time. However, everyone who is saved by Jesus Christ will one day be delivered from all physical manifestations of sin, disease and aging. Our resurrection bodies will be free of sin's consequences. No, we do not have the right as believers to demand perfect physical healing in this age. Ultimately we all die, but our hope is in the day when Christ returns (1 Cor. 15:42-58). 

There is also a resurrection body and a new heaven and a new earth in the atonement. When will we get our new resurrected bodies? Obviously we cannot claim our resurrection bodies now even though they have been completely paid for in full. Our resurrection bodies come to us only when Christ returns.

Yes, I believe in miracles. I believe that God heals. I believe in praying for the sick. I do not, however, believe in faith-healers.

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

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(c) 2006  Message by Wil Pounds. Anyone is free to use this material and distribute it, but it may not be sold under any circumstances whatsoever without the author's written consent.

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