By His Stripes We Are Healed?

Posted: 01/25/2015 in Life lessons
Tags: , , , , ,

Isaiah 53:5 (NKJV)

“But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.”

1 Peter 2:24 (NKJV)

“who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.”

As I have alluded to in previous posts, there are a handful of dogmas and doctrines I previously ascribed to which I no longer do. One such doctrine is the doctrine of Physical Healing in the Atonement. Not that I disbelieve God heals. He absolutely does. However, I disagree with the idea that physical healing of the human body is directly attached to the Atonement in the same manner as is spiritual healing and reconciliation with God. Faith healers and proponents of the “Word of Faith” movement often cite the above passages of Scripture to support their claims of “…by His stripes we are healed.”  In doing so, they combine sin with physical sickness of every sort and place them on equal ground with one another. My response to their claims, based on these particular (and other) passages of Scripture, is that it is an irresponsible misuse of the Word of God and often leads to the shipwreck of faith of both believers and would-be believers.

by his stripes

Courtesy of Google Images

The two passages quoted above have direct contextual reference to the Atonement of Jesus as being the cure for the spiritual sickness of sin. In other words, it provides for immediate and total spiritual healing of sin which is the great disease separating fallen man from Father God. Both the Isaiah  and 1 Peter passages speak directly to the problem of sin in their respective contexts. In context, these passages cite the Atonement as the answer for the spiritual issue of sin…not physical healing. At what point, Scripturally, did God intend His kingdom to be forever temporal and material? The Old Testament Law was a schoolmaster bringing us to Christ…it was a shadow of things to come. My point here is that God’s eternal purpose has always been spiritual.  To this end, Jesus resisted being elevated to the position of king of Israel while on earth…because His goal was spiritual not temporal. The Jews were seeking a physical king and kingdom to overthrow Roman dominion and establish a physical kingdom of God. When we relegate Scripture with spiritual connotations and reference to a physical realm or fulfillment, we do much the same thing.  To make these passages say something now that they never said originally is a gross and irresponsible misuse of God’s Word, falls short of “rightly dividing the word of truth,” and is an exhibit of faulty exegesis. God’s word to them is God’s word to us.

So, What’s the BIG Deal?

The trouble with connecting physical healing with the Atonement spoken of in Isaiah 53:5 and 1 Peter 2:24 is that it attaches faith to be healed with faith to be redeemed. In other words, many faith healers purport that faith to be saved and faith to be healed are the same and equally effected in the Atonement. You can’t have one without the other. Therefore, if one is saved, he cannot be sick…ever. The corresponding contrary belief, then, is, if someone is sick, they can’t really be saved.  If Jesus died for my spiritual sickness AND my physical sickness, if I am truly saved, I must be free from the power of both in THIS LIFE.

Another troubling reality is the documented sicknesses and untimely deaths due to sickness of many of the heroes of the “Faith Healing” and “Word of Faith” movement. It is expected to work for others but unfortunately does not work for them. Is it any wonder that much of the unbelieving world greets the Gospel with skepticism and mockery?  Equally unnerving is the lengths to which many said heroes will go to either cover up their maladies or explain them away “Scripturally.” Or, in the case of their followers not receiving healing, the reason often pointed out is that the faith of the sick is lacking. So, if their faith is lacking to be healed, what can be concluded about their faith to be redeemed?

As a veteran of many years of full time ministry, I, and many other ministerial colleagues, have prayed for the healing of fellow believers (and non-believers). Sometimes God heals and sometimes He doesn’t. Every honest minister of God out there would have to confess that there were times they prayed and “knew in their spirit” that God would heal only to be called upon to officiate funeral services in the ensuing days or weeks. So how do we effectively console the parents, wives, husbands, children and other family members whom faulty doctrine has led to believe that their loved ones are “healed by the stripes/blood of Jesus?” Especially, if we are the ones who have purported such doctrine? What’s more, what does it say about God, Jesus, or their very own faith when the healing doesn’t happen? Is God the author of confusion?  I propose to you that we do not serve a faulty God. We do, however, serve Him with sometimes faulty doctrine. For this cause, it is every believers’ responsibility to continue to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling.

Provided but not Guaranteed

I believe God is Sovereign. I believe God heals. I do not, however, believe that physical healing is connected as a guaranteed “right” in the Atonement or that physical sickness is on equal ground with sin. I believed physical healing is made possible and provided for in the Atonement but that it is not guaranteed. I believe that Father God’s primary concern is our spiritual well being.  What good, after all, would it be to gain the whole world…even our healing…and lose our own soul? I believe God made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; to become sin so that we might become the righteousness of God in Christ. I believe that that righteousness certainly and totally treats the issue of my sin and therefore, I am reconciled to God by His grace. I believe that there is no greater healing than this and, therefore, I AM HEALED…spiritually.

As to the question of physical healing? As I stated above, God is Sovereign, and He will show mercy to whom He will show mercy. For this cause, “if any among you is sick, let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.”  (James 5:14, 15)  Once again, I believe God heals but, even as stated in this passage, His primary goal is spiritual healing.  God would not provide for prayer for the sick if it was not His intention to heal.  God heals. But, He is Sovereign and will heal when it provides for a greater cause according to His Sovereign will. His redemption is total and guaranteed every time one confesses faith in the name of Jesus. Physical healing, however, is not a guaranteed result of the Atonement but is rather a benefit of His tremendous grace. There are just too many faithful saints of God who have succumbed to the ravages of physical sickness for this to be true. Thanks to the Atonement, though, they are now in a much better place.

…Peace and blessings…

~ joe


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