Healing in the Atonement
I believe in miracles. I believe that God heals.
One day all true believers in Christ will be perfectly
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
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
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
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.
Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006
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