IF any one who has read the foregoing pages has concluded that I do not believe in miraculous healing, he has altogether misunderstood the purpose of my writing. It is true that I have sought to eliminate from my reader’s thought what I believe are unwarranted theories and conclusions. But apart from this, it has been my intention to strengthen conviction to the effect that God can, does, and will heal, and also, that He will sometimes choose to keep from sickness so that healing will not be necessary. Some godly men, such as Dr. Gordon and Dr. Simpson, were persons whose lives illustrated both of these facts, for they were frequently healed and generally they were granted such good health as enabled them to accomplish almost unbelievably hard tasks through many years. And not a few others of God’s serving children, such as Dr Cullis, have had either the same or a somewhat similar experience.
Paul said to King Agrippa, “Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you that God should raise the dead?” (Acts 26:8). And I would say to my reader, If you believe that God can raise the dead, why should it be thought a thing incredible with you that He should heal and care for the body? The greater always includes the lesser. Manifestly, then, if God can raise a new and living body from an old and dead one, He can heal a body which is new and not old, living and not dead. We need to have confidence in the power of God in respect to our mortal frames, being assured that He is greater than we think. Let us lay it to heart that Christ is still a miracle-worker, with as much power as when He went about on earth healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease (Matt. 4:23). As long as we give Him the ultimate right of choice, and are as submissive and thankful to Him when He says, No, as when He says, Yes, we may freely urge our physical claims upon Him, and this with much expectation. There are many saints who are not well and many others who are not strong, simply because they have never asked God to be their physical sufficiency. This is a sad plight for a Christian to be in, and it would seem as if such a person must be a great disappointment to the heart of God.
I know a minister who is not large or strong, and who holds no particular theory about divine healing beyond that of looking to God for health and strength. He is almost constantly preaching or teaching, is frequently travelling, is daily bearing heavy administrative burdens, is often drawing heavily upon his sympathies as he gives help to those who are spiritually needy, and is fulfilling his tasks with clear mind and almost undiminished physical vigour. He is all this at the advanced age of nearly eighty years. Let us grant that this friend is an exception to divine rules and even divine grace. Nevertheless, we may regard him as an example of what God, when He pleases, can do for our mortal bodies, especially if we live in dependence upon Him. There is infinite meaning in that little word, “The Lord for the body” (I Cor. 6:13). It opens up to us a vista of divine power, love, compassion and care such as most of us have never dreamed of. We need to pray, therefore, that we may not miss privileges which possibly God has for us.
To me it is a blessed experience, if sickness has come, not to turn first to a physician, but rather to God; to put myself wholly at His disposal, either for sickness or health; to enquire what He would have me do in seeking for healing; to ask, if the circumstances suggest this, that He will heal miraculously to seek, lacking such healing, to know His mind in respect to healing of some other sort; and finally to accept the issue of His will, whatever it may be, not only submissively, but also in trust and with praise. This order of procedure, it seems to me, is a happy one for the saint to take, because it puts God first, gives Him opportunity to work and gives Him the right-of-way all through. In taking a course like this, sometimes God has healed me miraculously; and, if not, has either used in my behalf the physician and his medicine, or given me extra grace to welcome and endure the sickness. As touching this last, it is to be remembered that the Word not only says, “The Lord for the body,” but also, “The body for the Lord” (I Cor. 6:13); and, if I mistake not, this indicates that our bodies are to be put and kept at God’s disposal for whatever He may choose for them.
I have said in the preceding pages that compassion for the bodies of men was not the main motive which moved Christ, when He was on earth, to dispense healing to those who were in physical need. This, it seems to me, is a statement which may be established from the Word. But granting that the statement is true, it must not be concluded that compassion was not a motive in moving Christ to heal. It is said again and again, in respect to His various acts of healing, “He was moved with compassion on them” (Matt. 9:36; 14:14; 18:27; 29:34. Mark 1:41; 5:19. Luke 7:13; 10:33). Also, it must not be concluded that Christ had compassion upon the needy sons of men when He was on earth, but has no such compassion now that He is in heaven. Christ is the eternal Son of God, and He is in His divine attributes, “the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb. 13:8). If, therefore, He loved in the days of His flesh, He loves now; if He cared then, He cares now; if He healed then, He will undoubtedly heal now. It does not necessarily follow that He will do now all that He did then, or that He will do what He does now in the same way as He did then, for His purposes in some things are different at present from what they were in the past. Nevertheless, Christ is changeless in character, and we may be sure that He is infinitely interested in us and concerned about us. Even the stern and rugged James saw the above truth, and from his lips fell this most comforting word, “Ye have . . . seen the end of the Lord, that the Lord is very pitiful and of tender mercy” (Jas. 5:11). Christ has many things to think of in planning for a saint; He must have in mind what is best for the individual; what is the greatest profit in respect to his testimony; what is required in his relationship to many other saints; and what is to make most for God’s present and eternal glory; and He will hold resolutely, in answering prayer, to that course which will combine in bringing the largest and most enduring good to pass. At the same time, He will never deny Himself (2 Tim. 2:13); He will have compassion upon whom He will have compassion (Rom. 9:15); He will be touched with the feeling of our infirmities (Heb. 4:15); He will ever be the faithful Creator (I Pet. 4:19); He will desire our bodies to prosper as certainly and as much as our souls do (3 John ’2); He will encourage us to pray if we are afflicted (Jas. 5:13); and He will answer prayer, even in the lesser things of life, if He sees it is right to do so (I Thes. 5:17; Phil. 4:6; I Pet. 5:7). Let us, then, not say, God cannot heal and will not do so. Let us rather say, God can heal and He will do so if it is for His glory.
I have also said in the preceding pages that Christ’s chief motive, when He was on earth and healing men, was the proclaiming of the fact that He was the promised Messiah, the Son of God. This statement, too, it seems to me, may be substantiated from the Word. In addition, I have stated that there was the lesser need of healing-miracles after the New Testament had been written than before, since Christ’s earthly acts and divine claims were therein set forth. This statement also, it seems to me, may be substantiated from the Word. Let us grant, then, that the two affirmations are true. But does it necessarily follow that there is no further necessity of proving by signs of healing that Jesus is indeed the Christ, the everlasting Son of the Father?
In answering this question, two great facts are to be kept in mind: first, in the greater part of the world and amongst the largest number of peoples the Bible has never been circulated and the missionary may make no appeal to it; and second, among Christianized peoples the apostasy of modernism has greatly undermined confidence in the authenticity of the Scriptures, so that the preacher’s appeal to it is largely non-effective. The first of these facts brings us face to face with the condition which prevailed in Christ’s day as a result of non-enlightenment; and the second forces us to confront a similar condition as a result of unbelief. It is, therefore, true that there are large parts of the world where healing-miracles, in proof of a living and all-powerful Christ, may well be looked for; and it may confidently be anticipated, as the present apostasy increases, that Christ will manifest His deity and lordship in increasing measure through miracle-signs, including healings. We are not to say, therefore, that the Word is sufficient. It is so to those who know and believe it; but it is not so to those who have never heard of it, or who, having heard, have disbelieved it. To these persons, a dramatic appeal may have to be made, and on the plane where such will most easily be understood, namely, the physical. The missionary abroad, therefore, may have it in mind, in a case of the sickness of others, that God may choose to make him a miracle-worker; and the worker at home may understand that He may choose to make some sick saint, as He made the apostles, a spectacle, or—as it reads literally— a “theatre unto the world, and to angels, and to men” (I Cor. 4:9). And what true child of God will not be willing to be used by Him in these ways, as in any and every other? It is our privilege then, in respect to ourselves, to present our bodies unto God, as a living sacrifice, for this is our reasonable service (Rom. 12:1). After an utter surrender of this kind, it will be for the all-wise Christ to determine how we may most glorify Him, whether by life or death, whether by health or sickness, whether by miracle or non-miracle. If, therefore, I understand God and His Word aright, I may confidently say that not infrequently for such an one, in case of sickness, God will set forth the fact, by a miracle-sign of healing, that there is a priest at His right hand of His own choosing (Heb. 5:5-10), and that in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the godhead bodily (Col. 1:15-19). Of such an One we need have no fear, since perfect love casteth out fear (I John 4:18); and upon such an One we may cast all our care, for He careth for us (I Pet. 5:7).
It is never to be forgotten that the death of Christ on Calvary’s cross opened wide the floodgates of God’s love to all of His dear children. God always loved; but our sin had fast closed to us the gates of His stored-up love in Christ. When, however, Christ had put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself (Heb. 9:16), then those gates were flung wide open and love was poured forth upon us in a very torrent (Rom. 8:32). Thenceforth, God’s love was more than a love of compassion; it was also a love of friendship, companionship and fellowship. Even in the Old Testament times, in view of the atonement, God gave such a love to His chosen and faithful children. God said of Abraham, His friend, “Shall I hide from Abraham that thing that I do?” (Gen. 18:17); and to Daniel He said, “O man greatly beloved; fear not; peace be unto thee” (Dan. 10:19). Again in New Testament times He poured out His tenderest love for His chosen ones. Christ took Peter and James and John into the mount and was there transfigured before them (Matt. 17:1, 2); the Spirit gave to John an open-eyed vision of the risen and glorified Christ (Rev. 1:12-17); and Christ vouchsafed to Paul to be caught up into Paradise and to hear there unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter ’(2 Cor. 12:4). These episodes betoken intimacies of the closest kind, wherein heart went out to heart and confidence to confidence.
It was to such men that God revealed Himself as the great miracle-worker. It is not difficult to understand why God let Abraham live to a ripe old age (Gen. 25:7); or why He touched Daniel when he was sick and raised him up (Dan. 8:27; 10:18, 19); or why He gave Peter and John the gift of healing (Acts 3:1-8); or why He revived Paul when he was stoned and left for dead (Acts 14:19, 20), and also why He gave him the gift of healing (Acts 14:8-10; 20:9-12). We must admit that these were special miracles, and hence special experiences. Nevertheless, they were God’s tokens of trust and love to those who lived peculiarly near to Himself, and they establish the principle that He delights to manifest His power to those who are worthy of receiving and using it. We ought not to be surprised, therefore, if some of the miracle-power which flows from Calvary’s cross, reaches us and bears us onward to ocean depths and breadths of experience. I do not consider healing, with or without means, God’s highest expression of love and trust. I believe rather, that ordained or permitted suffering is this (Heb. 12:6; 2 Tim 2:12). At the same time, healing is an expression of love and trust, and one of a very tender kind. We may be confident, therefore, that close companionship and fellowship with God will ensure to us beautiful and blessed surprises of grace, wherein He will make great use of us, wherein Christ will not suffer us to be tempted above that we are able (2 Cor. 10:13), and wherein His deliverances will include, at such times and in such measure as His love will choose and grant, good health, and, when health has failed, miraculous healing.
I have been deeply impressed, from time to time, with the word of the Apostle Paul in I Corinthians 15:45. In the Authorised Version it reads: “The first Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.” In the Revised Version it reads, “The first man, Adam, became a living soul. The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.” Reading literally from the Greek we can phrase the words thus: “The first man, Adam, became a living soul; the last Adam a vitalizing spirit.” Now, whichever of these translations we may choose, the words are remarkable. First, they signify that the first Adam was a creature, and that the last Adam was a Creator. Second, they declare that the first Adam received life, and that the last Adam gave life. Third, they imply that the first Adam, being a creature, may never rise above the creature’s position, but that the last Adam, being the Creator, ever remains what He was in the act of primal creation. And lastly, they assert that the first Adam is a living one, while the last Adam was, is, and ever will be a life-giving or vitalizing One. This last thought brings us to the fact that Christ is a constant life-giver and hence connects the passage with our subject. It means that all men live, move, and have their being in God (Acts 17:28). And it signifies that this is particularly true of the Christian, for it is he who is indwelt by the Holy Spirit and who has his life in Christ (I Cor. 3:16; Col. 3:4), In the face of these facts, what cannot Christ do, within the limit of His will, for one who is unreservedly His own? He can appoint him, like Paul, to the extreme of suffering; and that one will accept the appointment without cavil and with joy and praise (2 Cor. 4:7-12). Or, He can appoint him to healing, to continued health and strength, and to vigorous work and length of days; and that one will accept his appointment with thanksgiving and use all that is given him to the glory of God (Eph. 2:1-13). What a glorious title of Christ it is for needy saints to keep in mind and depend upon—“The vitalizing Spirit.” This our Lord is and is ready to be, to the degree of our need and the measure of His ever blessed will concerning us.
There are two words which would bring to me the assurance that God, from time to time, will give healing to His children, even if there was not another word in the Bible concerning the matter. I refer to the Lord’s prayer and the words, “Our Father” (Matt. 6:9). I have a son who is a physician. His young daughter, not long since, was seriously sick. The doctor-father at the time had many professional cares upon him and was very busy. I noticed, however, that he did not give himself to his outside duties without reference to his child. On the contrary, he turned from these to her, and with brooding care brought all his skill to bear in seeking for her recovery until she was past all danger and was well. And do we imagine that an earthly physician who is a father will show such solicitude concerning his child and the heavenly Father remain indifferent concerning His? “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how ’much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him” (Matt. 7:11). And surely, when a saint is sick and health and strength are needed for the maintaining of his service and the obtaining of the glory of God, healing, and possibly miraculous healing, is a very good thing. About all, therefore, that a child of God needs to do in a time of sickness, is to lie quite still and breathe into God’s ear the words, “My Father!” After this, he may surely expect “good gifts,” and oftentimes may look for great and even miraculous ones.