Friday, March 7, 2014
I find that in the Book of James, some of what is written by the half brother of Jesus, the first pastor of the Christian church in Jerusalem, gives me cause to study his words very carefully. Things like ... "faith without works is dead" ... as well as ... "how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only."
But that's not what I am going to look at today. In the last six or seven sentences that James writes to his Jewish brethren, those who were also believers in Jesus, I find this question posed in James 5:14 ...
"Is there any sick among you?" This simple question provokes a thought in my mind and soul. Does one even need to ask such a question? Of course there are sick people among every body of believers. So why ask that question?
Could it be that James is alluding to the fact that there shouldn't be any. And if there are, why are they sick? Is it not true that Jesus was beaten bloody by the scourging the Roman's gave Him before His crucifixion, as it says in 1st Peter 2:24 ... "Who in His own self bare our sins in His own body ... by whose stripes you were healed."
I am not of the belief that Christians can ever arrive at a point where they will never get sick again. Our bodies are made of weak sinful flesh and they are subject not only to the passions of the flesh, but also to the wear and tear that time and nature places on us. We just wear out and our bodies stop working.
Even so, the overall view of the Bible is that we can come to the Throne of God with our problems and concerns, and particularly for those … who are sick. So we expect God to be merciful because He promises to be merciful, and we expect God to be present in times of trouble because He promises to be present in times of trouble. We expect God to take our prayers seriously when we pray on behalf of the sick.
Here I go again ... trying to make sense of the promise I believe is hinted at concerning healing for believers in Jesus. I use the term, "hinted at" because I can't find where God has promised us healing every time, in every situation.
One of those situations where God may not heal (no matter how much faithful prayer goes up to God) is when the natural aging process has brought you to the end of your personal number of days and months (Job 14:5) that God has determined for you to have on earth. According to Hebrews 9:27, it is appointed for us to die. And only God knows how many days we have.
But ... if James is saying the answer for those who are sick is to pray for them, then we should do so with the expectation of God healing them. But truthfully, if you are 110 years old, my faith for your healing most likely won't be there.
Look closely at what James said ... "Let him who is sick call for the elders, (the senior, older believers) to pray the prayer of faith over the sick person in the name of the Lord, and (then) the Lord (Jesus) shall raise him up." (My edited version)
Notice James doesn't say ... maybe the Lord will raise him up. No! He uses the word "shall" when speaking about what the Lord will do.
So I go back to the question ... "Is there any sick among you?"
Is it possible James is saying ... "If there is sick among you, there shouldn't be any."
If you can't agree with that statement, try this one ... "There doesn't have to be any sick among you."
Why? Because prayer changes things. I know ... it's easy to say these things. Talk is cheap. It's another thing altogether when the cruel reality of sickness and disease attack a loved one's body or even your own.
But I'm speaking of not just living life, but life more abundantly in Jesus. In His utmost. In His highest for you. Jesus purchased not only your salvation but your healing as well. Why is it easier to believe for salvation than it is for healing?
I am not saying that everyone I pray for gets healed. That has nothing to do with the truth of the Word of God.
When Peter walked on the water ... did the wind and waves have anything to do with his ability to walk on water? It was totally his faith in Jesus. It's the same with healing.
Forty years ago, I heard a young preacher say he was asked the following question about the healing prayer line he had at the end of each service he conducted. And that was ... "What would you do if the person you were praying for dropped dead while you were praying for them?"
He answered it this way ... "I would step over him and say, next."