When Jesus died on the cross 2000 years ago, it purchased our total redemption, which includes redemption from physical frailties. Jesus’ death purchased every bit of redemption which will ever be needed (Heb. 7:26-28; 9:6-28; 10:10).
Redemption, although fully purchased, is not applied all at once. Justification—our right standing in God’s sight—is fully applied the moment we repent and trust. Sanctification—our growth in godly living—is applied all the rest of our earthly lives. Glorification—the completion of our redemption—is not applied till death. (Rom. 8:29-30). Total healing will come when we get our new bodies. This part of our redemption was purchased at the cross, but will not be given to us until we are glorified (Rom. 8:23).
God wants us to pray about anything that matters to us, including healing, but he also wants us to be “sheep ready to be slaughtered” (Rom 8:36-37). Paul asked, but did not get, his healing (2 Cor. 12:8-10)—and it certainly was not due to “lack of faith” (as the “Health and Wealth” heretics would say). Hebrews 11 shows that some people who are commended for their faith “receive back their dead” and others are “sawn in two”. God decides. (Even Lazarus died again—his healing was a temporary restoration to fallen human life and not the application of the rest of his redemption.)
Both the biblical narrative (Joseph in prison, Paul’s thorn in the flesh, etc.) and clear teachings of Scripture (2 Cor. 1; 1 Pet. 1:3-10, etc.) show that suffering and sickness are major features of God’s will for us in this phase of our journey.
There even is a basis for believing that miraculous healings are not God’s will for this phase of history. Jesus used miracles mainly to authenticate his identity as Messiah (he did not heal everyone who needed it). 2 Corinthians 12:12 also suggests that the Apostles’ ability to do miracles was as an authentication of their genuine Apostlehood. There are no more Apostles today—their key role was to authenticate Christ’s resurrection (Acts 1:21-22) and to write the Scriptures (John 16:12-15).
Do miracles and healings still take place? Absolutely—God does whatever he wishes. But “on-demand” healings and miracles, as Apostles were able to do as a means to authenticating their role, does not still exist. Are there some people, full of faith and perhaps with some gifting from God, who are able to pray and, more often than most people, see God respond to their prayers with healings? I have no doubt that there are. But that’s different than the “healings & miracles on-demand” ability of Apostles (if an Apostle said, “Stand up and walk!” and it didn’t happen, we would doubt that he was an Apostle and therefore we would doubt all that he said as a spokesman for God.)
Well, I’ve probably made some people mad and confused others! What do you think? Jot me a note at DanClement@tcc.org
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