HEALING...IS IT ALWAYS GOD’S WILL?

 

 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

 

Many Christians today are being taught that it is always the will of God to heal the believer.  There are many verses in the Bible that they misuse to fortify their erroneous position.  Oftentimes they will criticize another believer with an illness or some other form of physical ailment, claiming that the afflicted child of God is “lacking faith” or even worse, declare that the sickness is there because they have “sin in their life.”

 

It is unquestionable that we see healing as part of God’s wonderful grace in the Scriptures.  Jesus Himself healed hundreds, if not thousands of people.  There are countless testimonies throughout the history of the church where God has healed people, both believer and unbeliever alike.  The purpose of this study is not to deny the existence of healing in the Scriptures, or in the lives of Christians.  Rather, it shall be shown that oftentimes God uses sicknesses, disabilities, and other forms of suffering, to deepen a believer’s trust in Him, and to work in compassion for others in the process.  It will also be clearly shown that suffering is a part of God’s plan for the committed believer.  Jesus Christ suffered more than any human being ever did, particularly when He was crucified on the cross and forsaken by His Father in heaven, as He bore our sins in His body.  If Jesus Himself suffered, are we as servants greater than the Master?

 

This study will be laid out in two parts.  Part one will give clear examples of NT believers who were not miraculously healed by God, in spite of their faith.  Part two will show that sickness and disease, as painful as it is, can become a tremendous vehicle of suffering through which God can mold us into the image of His dear son Jesus.

 

 

PART ONE: DOES GOD ALWAYS HEAL BELIEVERS?

 

 

We shall now examine different Greek words which are used in regard to sickness in the church.  With a list of Scriptures, following the definition of these Greek words, it will proven that sickness is something God frequently does not heal.  He does, however, use sicknesses for His glory to perfect the suffering believer, and draw the church together for mutual concern for one another sufferings.  You will also see various reasons why sickness exists within the church if you research the contexts of each example given.  The italicized words are the Greek words you will be looking for which have been translated into English words such as sick, infirmities, weak, weakness, etc.  In some cases the translation is erroneous, based on the bias of the particular translator.  The context must demand which Greek definition best applies.  Please also note that other key Greek words and definitions will be hilited, italicized, and underlined if they pertain to sickness, disease, etc..  This is to prevent repetitious duplication of verses merely because other Greek words are used, and, will assist in making commentary notes in our summary statements regarding each passage.  The Scriptures will be listed first, the commentary will follow.

 

770  astheneo (as-then-eh'-o); from 772; to be feeble (in any sense):  KJV-- be diseased, impotent folk (man), (be) sick, (be, be made) weak.

 

SICK, SICKLY, SICKNESS

            A. Verbs.

            1. astheneo ^770^, lit., "to be weak, feeble" (a, negative, sthenos, "strength"), is translated "to be sick," e. g., in <Matt. 10:8>, "(the) sick"; <25:36; v. 39> in the best texts (some have B, No. 1); <Mark 6:56; Luke 4:40; 7:10> (RV omits the word); <9:2; John 4:46; 5:3>, RV (KJV, "impotent folk"); <v. 7; 6:2>, RV (KJV, "were diseased"); <11:1-3,6; Acts 9:37; 19:12; Phil. 2:26,27; 2 Tim. 4:20; Jas. 5:14>.  See DISEASED, B, No. 1, IMPOTENT, and, especially, WEAK.

(from Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words)

(Copyright (C) 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers)

 

Matt 25:34-40  Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a  stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited (1980  episkeptomai (ep-ee-skep'-tom-ahee); middle voice from 1909 and the base of 4649; to inspect, i.e. (by implication) to select; by extension, to go to see, relieve: KJV-- look out, visit.) me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.  Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?  When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?  Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?  And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.  (KJV)

 

John 5:2-9  Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches.  In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water.  For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease (3553  nosema (nos'-ay-ma); from 3552; an ailment; KJV-- disease.) he had.  And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity (769  astheneia (as-then'-I-ah); from 772; feebleness (of mind or body); by implication, malady; morally, frailty: KJV-- disease, infirmity, sickness, weakness.) thirty and eight years.  When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?  The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me.  Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.  And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath.  (KJV)

 

2 Tim 4:20  Erastus remained at Corinth, but Trophimus I left sick at Miletus. (NAS)

 

1 Cor 11:17-19  But in giving this instruction, I do not praise you, because you come together not for the better but for the worse.  For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that divisions exist among you; and in part, I believe it.  For there must also be factions among you, in order that those who are approved may have become evident among you.

 

1 Cor 11:28-33  But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.  For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself, if he does not judge the body rightly.  For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep.  But if we judged ourselves rightly, we should not be judged.  But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord in order that we may not be condemned along with the world.  So then, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another.  (NAS)

 

Phil 2:25-27  But I thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger and minister to my need; because he was longing for you all and was distressed because you had heard that he was sick.  For indeed he was sick to the point of death, but God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.  (NAS)

 

Acts 20:35-36  I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.  And when he had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed with them all.  (KJV)

 

2 Cor 11:20-30  For ye suffer, if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take of you, if a man exalt himself, if a man smite you on the face.  I speak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak. Howbeit whereinsoever any is bold, (I speak foolishly,) I am bold also.  Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I.  Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.  Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.  Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;  In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.  Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.  Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not?  If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities  (771  asthenema (as-then'-ay-mah); from 770; KJV-- infirmity).

 

2 Cor 12:7-10  And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.  For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.  And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.  Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities (769  astheneia (as-then'-I-ah); from 772; feebleness (of mind or body); by implication, malady; morally, frailty: KJV-- disease, infirmity, sickness, weakness.), that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities (769 astheneia), in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.  (KJV)

 

2 Cor 13:3-9  Since ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, which to you-ward is not weak, but is mighty in you.  For though he was crucified through weakness (769 astheneeia), yet he liveth by the power of God.  For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you.  Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves.  Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?  But I trust that ye shall know that we are not reprobates.  Now I pray to God that ye do no evil; not that we should appear approved, but that ye should do that which is honest, though we be as reprobates.  For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth.  For we are glad, when we are weak, and ye are strong: and this also we wish, even your perfection. (KJV)

 

SUMMARY NOTES ON 770 ASTHENEO:

 

1.  Matt.25:34-40

Jesus said that those who would inherit the kingdom were the one’s who had done certain things to help His brethren, even the least of them.  Please note the following points made in regard to how Jesus wanted the sick to be treated.

 

     He commanded the sick to be “visited,” not healed.  In regards to the NT church, the Greek word for “visit” (1980 episkeptomai) is used exclusively of visitation; a visitation which involves caring for the needs  (Read Acts 6:3 look ye out”; 7:23 “to visit”; 15:14 “did visit”; 15:36 “visit”; James 1:27 to visit”).  Episkeptomai does not mean healing in any sense, although one could certainly pray for the sick while visiting them.  Rather, the word infers, through other contexts, the employment of human care and compassion for the sick and afflicted, looking after their needs.  For example, in James 1:27 it reads:

 

            This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of {our} God and             Father, to visit  (1980 episkeptomai) orphans and widows in their        distress, {and} to keep oneself unstained by the world.   (NAS)

 

            Pure religion includes “to visit orphans”.  The Greek word for             orphans is “orphanos”.  The next section gives some definitons of the            word:

 

            FATHERLESS (ORPHAN)

 

            In the New Testament the word "fatherless" occurs but once, where    James declares, in the spirit of the Old Testament prophets, that true            religious ritual consists in visitation of the fatherless and widows and in moral purity (James 1:27). Here the word for "fatherless" is orphanos           ("bereft," "orphaned"), which is the Septuagint translation of the Old        Testament yathom. In the New Testament the Greek word is found           besides only in (Jn 14:18), where it means destitute of a teacher or             guide.  (from International Standard Bible Encylopaedia, Electronic 

            Database Copyright (C) 1996 by Biblesoft)

 

            3737  orphanos (or-fan-os');of uncertain affinity; bereaved ("orphan"),            i.e. parentless:  KJV-- comfortless, fatherless.

 

     Now we return to our text in Matt.25:34-40 where Jesus said, I was sick and ye visited Me”.  We could justifiably translate this verse as, “When I was sick and ye went to see and relieve, and look after Me.”  This is consistent with “true religion” which is to look after those who are “bereaved, bereft, and comfortless” in their sickness and pain.

 

     If healing were always the will of God for the Christian believer, Jesus would have plainly stated in this passage, when I was sick, you healed me...”, but He did not say that!  So why, then, should we assume to expect healing in every case?  If it were as easy as just praying and seeing people miraculously healed every time, where then would there be the fulfillment of laying down our lives as living sacrifices? (Heb.12:1; 13:15-16; Phil.4:18)  Where would there be the giving of our time, efforts, resources, and compassion to care for those in need? Where would there be the visitation of those disabled and suffering in pain to look after their wounds?                                    

 

2.  John 5:2-9

Here we see Jesus heal “a certain man, even though the context clearly shows that there lay “a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered.”  This great multitude was at the pool seeking healing as well as the lame man that was healed.  One may argue that they were not healed because they did not have the faith to seek Jesus for healing, but the context certainly does not support such a ludicrous conclusion.

 

     Does this mean that Jesus didn’t have compassion for the multitudes who were sick there?  Certainly not!  What it does prove, however, is that Jesus only healed when it was the Father’s will, for Christ Jesus could do nothing of His own initiative, but only that which He saw the Father wanted done ( John 5:26-30; 8:27-29; 14:10-11).  Often the Father only wants to heal “certain” people;  regardless of one’s faith to seek and believe God for healing, it is the Lord’s prerogative to heal as he desires.

 

     We can learn an important lesson from this text, when interpreting it in light of other Scripture.  God allows certain people to suffer, and we must not view suffering as purely a negative thing.  More detail will be given to the topic of suffering in Part Two.  Anyone who has suffered pain, particularly chronic and severe pain, and has not cursed God for it, (although at times they may temporarily blame God for it in human anger and frustration), discovers that pain and suffering are part of God’s master plan to purify and complete them.  (Read Romans 8:17-18; 2 Cor.1:3-7; Phil.3:10; Col.1:24; 1 Pet.4:13; Acts 5:41; Job 1:19-20; 2:10,13)

 

3.  2 Tim.4:20

Paul left his companion and friend, Trophimus, sick when he left the city of Miletus.  This verse needs little explanation.  Even though we see that Paul had been used oftentimes by God to heal the sick, Trophimus was an exception.

 

     This example is clear evidence that healing is not always God’s will for His children.

 

4. 1 Cor.11:17-19

These verses give us insight into three different reasons that sickness, and even death from sickness, exist within the body of Christ:

 

     When divisions, factions, and the like are present in the body of Christ, physical sickness is a sign of God’s judgement on us.  After all, judgement first with the house of God:

  

     1 Pet 4:15-19  By no means let any of you suffer as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; but if {anyone suffers} as a Christian, let him not feel ashamed, but in that name let him glorify God.  For {it is} time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if {it begins} with us first, what {will be}the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?  And if it is with difficulty that the righteous is saved, what will become of the godless man and the sinner?  Therefore, let those also who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.  (NAS)

 

     The reason people are sick, many undeservedly so, is a sign that God is disciplining His children.  This is clearly stated in the context, and we should not be surprised that illness is one of the means by which God brings us into conformity with His will.  Just ask any child of God who has suffered a debilitating and chronic illness if the Lord has used their physical condition to cause them to be more reliant upon Him; I think you will be certain, in most cases, to get a definite “yes” response.

 

     God’s discipline is not merely to punish us, but so that when we gather together we will wait upon, love, and serve one another, rather than bite and devour one another.  In a free country like America, Christians are more selfish and judgmental, and less likely to be self-sacrificing servants.  Oh, that we would learn to serve those that are sick and hurting, rather than to shoot our own wounded with criticism about their lack of faith for healing!

 

     Gal 5:13-15  For you were called to freedom, brethren; only {do} not {turn} your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.  For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the {statement}  "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."  But if you bite and devour one another, take care lest you be consumed by one another. (NAS)

 

5.  Phil.2:25-27  

Here Epaphroditus was “sick to the point of death”.  Usually an illness of this nature is chronic and progressive.  This verse again confirms that even men who are greatly used of God get ill...deathly ill.

 

     Though it is stated in Philippians 2 that God had “mercy” on Epaphroditus, we have no clear indication that he was permanently, nor miraculously healed.

 

     God’s mercy was that Epaphroditus did not die.  Whether he was restored to complete and pain-free health is not stated.  He may have been or he may have been delivered from being sick to the point of death, but not completely delivered from the illness.  Likewise we today have prayed for those who were dying, when death seemed iminent, that God spared their lives and added months or years to their lives and yet did not heal them of the illness.

 

6.  Acts 20:35-36

This is a key verse.  It is a statement by the apostle Paul to the elders of the church to follow his example while he lived amongst them.  What Paul is saying here is that he was an “example” of how the church should “support” the sick.  It is unfortunate that the KJV translators translated the Greek word for sickness as “weak” in this text, even though those who are ailing would certainly be weak.

 

     Strong’s Concordance defines the word “support” as follows:  482  antilambanomai (an-tee-lam-ban'-om-ahee); from 473 and the middle voice of 2983; to take hold of in turn, i.e. succor; also to participate: KJV-- help, partaker, support.

     

     We are to take hold of supporting, helping, and sympathizing with those who are sick.  Why didn’t Paul instruct the elders to follow his example of laying hands on the sick and praying for them to be healed?  The logical answer should be obvious to anyone who is willing to follow the commandment of Jesus that Paul quoted in connection with supporting the sick, that is, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.  It is much more difficult for someone to take the time, energy, and resources required to care for someone who is ill, than to merely lay hands on them and pray for their recovery at a Sunday morning church service.  Since antilambanomai indicates that participation in helping the sick should be done in turn, that is, each one taking his/her turn in helping, we can see the body of Christ working together to help one another.   

 

     Supporting Scripture: 1 Cor 12:22-27  On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; and those {members} of the body, which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our unseemly {members come to} have more abundant seemliness, whereas our seemly {members} have no need {of it.}  But God has {so} composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that {member} which lacked, that there should be no division in the body, but {that} the members should have the same care for one another.  And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if {one} member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.  Now you are Christ's body, and individually members of it.  (NAS)

 

     Supporting verse:  1Thes 5:14  Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.   (KJV) “weak772  asthenes (as-then-ace'); from 1 (as a negative particle) and the base of  4599; strengthless (in various applications, literal, figurative and moral): KJV-- more feeble, impotent, sick, without strength, weak (-er, -ness, thing). “support472  antechomai (an-tekh'-om-ahee); from 473 and the middle voice of  2192; to hold oneself opposite to, i.e. (by implication) adhere to; by extension to care for: KJV-- hold fast, hold to, support.

     

     Again, we see the command to care for and support the feeble, the sick, the impotent, and those who are weak, and without physical strength.  No in- stant healing command here, but a fulfillment of the royal law. (James 2:8)

 

7.  2 Cor.11:20-30

The reason this lengthy portion of Scripture is used is to bring to light the fact that when Paul speaks of being “weak” he is referring to the physical affliction and sickness he suffered.  Christians who espouse the doctrine that it is always the will of God to heal the believer must certainly struggle with this portion of Scripture.  Will they accuse Paul of lacking faith for his healing?  I doubt that any of them have ever suffered as Paul did, and I’m quite sure they  have never experienced the healing miracles that God did through Paul’s hands.  Many so-called Christians that speak of their so-called “faith” for healing are arrogant, prideful beings that have sought a Santa Claus God who will always remove their every pain so they won’t have to suffer, while all along they troop about like Job’s comforters, finding fault with other believers who are chronically ill, so they can criticize and judge them.  Lazy, selfish people they are, puffing themselves up with false faith that doesn’t work by serving and loving those who are ill and afflicted!

 

     Was Paul lacking faith for healing?  Can those who teach such nonsense say that they went through these kinds of trials?  “In stripes above measure...in deaths oft...five times received I forty stripes save one...Thrice I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned...In weariness and painfulness...in hunger and thirst...in cold and nakedness.”

 

     Does the description Paul gives sound like a man in perfect health?  What kind of bleeding and infection would he have experienced after being lashed on his back five times with 39 lashes each time?  What was it like to be stoned; did the rocks the Jews used leaves any cuts, bruises, bumps, or broken bones?

 

     Paul says, “In weariness and painfulness.  Why didn’t he just pray to be healed?  After all, the great apostle Paul certainly had the faith didn’t he?  Yes, he had true faith, not this phony stuff you hear hyper-faith preachers teaching in America today!

 

     Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit Paul wrote, “I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.”  At times God heals, but when He doesn’t, you too can glory in your infirmities, because they are working in you a far greater and eternal weight of glory!  (more on this topic later)

 

     Last of all, remember Jesus Christ, the only begotten son of God, of whom it is written:  Heb 4:15  For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; {769  astheneia (as-then'-I-ah);from 772; feebleness (of mind or body); by implication, malady; morally, frailty: KJV-- disease, infirmity, sickness,  weakness.} but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. (KJV) Jesus is touched with the feelings of our diseases, sickness, and infirmity, because He too was “tempted” in “all points”, not just a few.  Jesus knew what it was like to be sick, but like Job, He did not sin against God with His lips because of it.  For your information, Strong’s defines the word “tempted” as follows:  3985  peirazo (pi-rad'-zo);from 3984; to test (objectively), i.e. endeavor, scrutinize, entice, discipline: KJV-- assay, examine, go about, prove, tempt (-er), try.

 

     Therefore Jesus was objectively tested in all points; He was scrutinized, enticed, disciplined, assayed, examined, proven, tempted, and tried.  During Christ’s infirmities His faith and reliance upon the Father was continually tried, tested, and proven.

 

8.  2 Cor.12:7-10

This passage should be the most comforting portion of Scripture for those who are suffering long-term illnesses, or any type of ailment that it of a more severe nature.  Only eternity will reveal the true character of Christ formed in human vessels that endure the anguish of either physical, mental, or emotional illness for the sake of God the Father and His son Jesus.  Our closeness to God, our understanding of His grace and presence, our acknowledgement of our utter helplessness and sinfulness without Him, can only be revealed through the fiery trial we have to endure (1 Peter 4:12-13).  Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” was “a messenger of Satan sent to buffet” him, but Paul’s use of the Greek words relating to sickness can leave no doubt that physical infirmities were part of the lessons he learned.  I will now isolate the essential truths we can learn from Paul’s experiences:

 

     Obviously Paul’s “abundance of revelations” are seen throughout the NT.  God’s love for Paul demanded that He discipline him (Heb.12:4-13).  God provided a vehicle to keep Paul from being “exalted above measure.  Whatever the messenger of Satan did to “buffet” Paul is uncertain, but Paul referred to it as “this thing.”  The context demands that the “thing” was a “weakness” (769 astheneia; feebleness of mind or body).

 

     Paul sought God three times to be healed, and God’s final reply to him was, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”  God did not heal Paul.  It was not God’s will to heal Paul.  God would rather see Paul suffer in the flesh, than to see him become puffed up and exalted.  Seeing Paul perfected through infirmity was more important than healing Paul physically.

 

     Paul’s response?  Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, (feebleness of mind or body, malady, or frailty), that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”  Paul preferred physical sickness to healing!  Why?  Because he knew that it was not God’s will to heal him, and he knew the reasons why.

 

     How did Paul feel about his sickness?  Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities.  Pleasure?  Was it fun for Paul to be sick and in pain?  Of course not, but Paul understood that when he was weak and sick, it was then when he was truly strong.  How can this be?  Because when we have no strength left, sapped by the pain, then we are forced, of necessity, to depend on God’s strength and grace.  Amen.  To him that has an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit is saying to you.

 

9.  2 Cor.13:3-9

This passage is an affirmation of what had been written just previous in the same letter in 2 Cor.12:7-10.  Remember, there were no chapter and verse breaks in Paul’s original letters.  And it appears that Paul was dealing with the same type of attitude we see in the church today.  Christians who claim to have some great faith for healing, but whose faith can only be shown to be the real thing when it has been tested.

 

     The Corinthians wanted proof that Christ was speaking in Paul, but they did not want to hear of Christ speaking in Paul through him being “weak” (770 astheneo; feeble in any sense).  Perhaps they were like the so-called “faith teachers” today who only want speakers at their churches and conferences who speak of being healed and well.  The idea of God using suffering to perfect His children is foreign to them.  But Paul was honest, and would rather tell them the truth by confessing his faults, rather than pervert the message of Jesus.

 

     Paul rebukes the Corinthians by saying that Jesus Himself  was crucified through weakness,” and yet He lives through the power of God (1 Cor.2:2).  Unlike many deceived believers who imagine they have faith by thinking and confessing they will always be healed, Paul honestly admits, “We also are weak (sick, diseased) in Him, but we shall live by the power of God.”

 

     The Corinthians’ superficial faith was similar to the unreasonable so-called “faith” being taught throughout Christian churches in America today.  These churches would rather believe and continually claim faith for healing than allow “weakness” to make them truly strong and dependent on God.  So Paul rebukes this type of attitude and teaching by saying, “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves.”  Later Paul continues his command by saying, “Ye should do that which is honest.” 

 

     And so I say to all those Christians who spout that healing is always God’s will...start being honest with yourself, with your brethren in Christ, and most importantly, with God.  It’s not wrong to be sick or weak; these are the very vehicles that God can use to make you strong in Him.  This does not mean you have to stop praying for healing, or stop laying hands on the sick as Jesus commanded.  But what it does mean is that you imbibe the whole counsel of God, and rightly divide the word of truth (2 Tim.2:15).

 

10.  It has become very apparent thus far in our study that god does not always heal Christians, nor is it always His will to do so.  Much more commentary could be given on this topic, but the author feels that it is the responsibility of every believer to study to show themselves approved to God.  However, the following list of Scriptures will support the Scriptural teaching that God does not always heal believers:

 

1 Tim 5:23  No longer drink water {exclusively,} but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.  (NAS)

 

1 Cor 9:22  To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.  (KJV)

 

1 Cor 12:22  Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:  (KJV)

 

Gal 4:13-14  But you know that it was because of a bodily illness that I preached the gospel to you the first time; and that which was a trial to you in my bodily condition you did not despise or loathe, but you received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus {Himself.}.  (NAS)

 

2 Cor 1:3-7  Blessed {be} the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; who comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.  For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.  But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer; and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are {sharers} of our comfort.  (NAS)

 

2 Cor 4:7-12  But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves; {we are} afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.

 

2 Cor 4:16-18  Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.  For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.  (NAS)

 

II Th 1:4-7  Therefore, we ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God for your perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure.  {This is} a plain indication of God's righteous judgment so that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God,  for which indeed you are suffering.  For after all it is {only} just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and {to give} relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire.  (NAS)

 

Heb 11:35-39  Women received {back} their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, in order that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment.  They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated ({men} of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.  And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised.  (NAS)

 

 

 

PART TWO: SUFFERING...IS IT PART OF GOD’S PLAN?

 

 

The following Scriptures will be a help in understanding why God chooses not to heal some believers, while others He heals.  Unless we see that suffering, as painful and agonizing as it can be, is part of God’s plan for us, we will live in delusion.

 

Acts 5:40-41  And they took his advice; and after calling the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them to speak no more in the name of Jesus, and {then} released them.  So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for {His} name.  (NAS)

 

Acts 9:15-16  But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name's sake."  (NAS)

 

Rom 8:16-18  The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with {Him} in order that we may also be glorified with {Him.}  For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.  (NAS)

 

1 Cor 12:26-27  And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if {one} member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.  Now you are Christ's body, and individually members of it.  (NAS)

 

2 Cor 1:6-7  But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer; and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are {sharers} of our comfort.  (NAS)

 

2 Cor 7:9-10  I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to {the point of} repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to {the will of} God, in order that you might not suffer loss in anything through us.  For the sorrow that is according to {the will of} God produces a repentance without regret, {leading} to salvation; but the sorrow of the world produces death.  (NAS)

 

Phil 1:29-30  For to you it has been granted for Christ's sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear {to be} in me.  (NAS)

 

1Thes 2:18  For we wanted to come to you-- I, Paul, more than once-- and {yet} Satan thwarted us.

 

1Thes 3:1-5  Therefore when we could endure {it} no longer, we thought it best to be left behind at Athens alone; and we sent Timothy, our brother and God's fellow worker in the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you as to your faith, so that no man may be disturbed by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we have been destined for this.  For indeed when we were with you, we {kept} telling you in advance that we were going to suffer affliction; and so it came to pass, as you know.  For this reason, when I could endure {it} no longer, I also sent to find out about your faith, for fear that the tempter might have tempted you, and our labor should be in vain.  (NAS)

 

2 Tim 1:12  For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.  (NAS)

 

2 Tim 2:1-3  You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.  And the things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.  Suffer hardship with {me,} as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.  (NAS)

 

2 Tim 2:8-9  Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel,  for which I suffer hardship even to imprisonment as a criminal; but the word of God is not imprisoned.  (NAS)

 

1 Pet 2:20-21  For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience?  But if when you do what is right and suffer {for it} you patiently endure it, this {finds} favor with God.  For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps.  (NAS)

 

1 Pet 3:14  But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, {you are} blessed.  And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled.

 

1 Pet 3:17  For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong.  (NAS)

 

1 Pet 4:15-17  By no means let any of you suffer as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler but if {anyone suffers} as a Christian, let him not feel ashamed, but in that name let him glorify God.  For {it is} time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if {it begins} with us first, what {will be} the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? (NAS)

 

1 Pet 4:19  Therefore, and let those also who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.  (NAS)

 

Rev 2:10  ‘Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.’  (NAS)

 

II Th 1:3-5  We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is {only} fitting, because your faith is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another grows {ever} greater; therefore, we ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God for your perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure.  {This is} a plain indication of God's righteous judgment so that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which indeed you are suffering.  (NAS)

 

2 Tim 1:7-8  For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.  Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, or of me His prisoner; but join with {me} in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God.  (NAS)

 

James 5:9-11  Do not complain, brethren, against one another, that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door.  As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.  Behold, we count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord's dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and {is} merciful.  (NAS)

 

James 5:13  Is anyone among you suffering?  Let him pray.  Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praises.  (NAS)

 

1 Pet 5:8-10  Be of sober {spirit,} be on the alert.  Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  But resist him, firm in {your} faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.  And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen {and} establish you. (NAS)

 

1 Cor 13:4-8  Love is patient, love is kind, {and} is not jealous; love does not brag {and} is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong } suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never fails.  (NAS)

 

Phil 3:7-8  But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.  More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ.  (NAS)

 

1Thes 2:1-2  For you yourselves know, brethren, that our coming to you was not in vain, but after we had already suffered and been mistreated in Philippi, as you know, we had the boldness in our God to speak to you the gospel of God amid much opposition.  (NAS)

 

1 Pet 4:1  Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin.  (NAS)


 

 

CONCLUSION

 

 

Now that we have seen numerous examples of the life of suffering that a true believer must endure, it begins to give us insight as to why God does not always heal people of physical, mental and emotional illnesses.  As difficult as it may be to endure these types of hardships, we see in Scripture that God can, and will, use them for His purposes.

 

Rom 8:28  And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to {His} purpose.  (NAS)

 

 



 

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