By His Stripes

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

Have you ever heard this truism: The person with an experience is never at the mercy of the person with an argument? 

There are, sadly, many who deny the reality of God’s divine healing for today. They may say God healed in the past, but that age has passed, or they may simply deny all supernatural activity. I have the best reply to these skeptics or deniers—and you may have this same reply: God does heal today; I know this is true because He has healed me! 

Our truth statement about this says: “Divine healing is an integral part of the gospel. Deliverance from sickness is provided for in the atonement, and is the privilege of all believers.” Let me break this down into three parts. 

(1) “Divine healing is an integral part of the gospel.” After that word “integral” I’d like to insert the word “indisputable.” When God does the miraculous, it is an undeniable proof of His love and power. A great story to prove this point is when Jesus healed a paralytic after He forgave him of his sins (Luke 5:17-26). 

Notice how the people responded: Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. This glory to God has always been the reason God performs miracles (see Mark 6:7-13; Acts 2:43; Acts 3:9-12). 

(2) “Deliverance from sickness is provided for in the atonement.” I like to remember that the word atonement means “at-onement” and stands opposed to disease which I like to say as “dis-ease.” Sin is our ultimate dis-ease—the ultimate separator—so Jesus took care of both our spiritual dis-ease and our physical dis-ease when He died on the Cross for us, just as Isaiah prophesied. That’s why the New Testament also shows us salvation and healing frequently being linked together (Acts 10:38; 8:4-8). 

(3) “And is the privilege of all believers.” ALL believers, not just a select few and not just those who lived at the time of the first apostles. 

Divine healing has been—and always will be—an integral and indisputable part of the gospel precisely because it exalts God as THE Healer. 

Many people today still believe what the disciples of Jesus believed: Disease is a consequence of personal sin. In addressing this misunderstanding, Jesus said that disease was “so that the work of God might be displayed” in the life of the one about to be healed. He said something similar while at the graveside of Lazarus, before he raised that dead man back to life (John 9:1-38; 11:4-45). 

Sometimes God heals us now, but ALWAYS He heals us in our glorified bodies (2 Corinthians 12:9-10; 5:1-9; Revelation 21:4). Our patience and hope in our future, ultimate healing glorifies God in the present. 

By faith in Jesus we can claim that “by His stripes we have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24). The verb tense Peter uses means we have been healed, we are being healed now, and we will be ultimately healed in Christ’s eternal presence. Whether we are healed here or not, we can live knowing that His healing power always brings Him glory and always draws people to Him, so don’t hesitate to keep on asking Him for His healing touch on your body and soul. 

If you’ve missed any of the other messages in our series exploring our foundational beliefs, you can access the full list by clicking here. 

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God Is One, God Is Love

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on Apple or Spotify.

There is a common characteristic among every human civilization: they all have had a pantheon of gods. It seems that no one god could capture all of the attributes each civilization thought were important, so they created multiple gods to help fill in the gaps. 

Onto the world scene comes the account recorded for us in the Bible of a God who creates the universe. The Hebrew word for this God is elohiym which means “a divine one.” This name is used throughout the Creation story in Genesis 1. 

Then in Genesis 2:4, a new name appears, one that is used over 6500 times in the Bible. It is the unpronounceable name YHWH: often pronounced Yahweh or substituted with the word Jehovah. In most Bible translations this name is designated by all capital letters: LORD. Yahweh or Jehovah means “the existing One.” 

The first part of our second foundational truth states, “The one true God has revealed Himself as the eternally self-existent ‘I AM,’ the Creator of heaven and earth and the Redeemer of mankind.” This Creator is uncreated: He sustains the universe without needing to be replenished Himself. He is utterly complete in Himself; hence, His name means I AM (see Exodus 3:13-15). 

The second part of this foundational truth statement says, “He has further revealed Himself as embodying the principles of relationship and association as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” 

The I AM is One (see Deuteronomy 6:4), but He reveals Himself in three Persons—Father, Son, Spirit—that we call the Trinity (although this is not a word found in the Bible). 

Sometimes Christians have done a disservice to the I AM by making it appear He is divided. For instance, we might say, “The Father is the Creator, the Son is the Redeemer, and the Spirit is the Regenerator.” But remember that our One God is not a pantheon of gods; He is One. We see the fullness of the Trinity operating in every area. Here’s just a short sampling:  

  • The creation of the universe—Genesis 1:1; Colossians 1:15-16; Psalm 104:30 
  • The creation of man—Genesis 1:26-27 
  • A prophecy about Jesus’ advent—Isaiah 9:6 
  • The incarnation of Jesus—Luke 1:35 
  • The baptism of Jesus—Matthew 3:16-17
  • The resurrection of Jesus—Acts 2:32; John 10:18; Romans 1:4 
  • Our atonement—Hebrews 9:14 
  • A Christian’s baptism in the Holy Spirit—John 14:16 

(You can read all of these verses for yourself by clicking here.) 

A good question for us to ponder is: Why would this I AM God create humans? If He needs nothing to complete Himself or sustain Himself, why make us? 

The apostle John captures the essence of the Trinity in three words: God is love.

God created us out of an overflow of His love so that we too could enjoy the intimate, eternal pleasure of being at-onement with Him forever. God then wants our love to overflow to everyone around us, so that they will also be drawn into this at-oneness with the I AM. 

When Jesus was asked to state the greatest commandment, He first quoted from Deuteronomy 6: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD [Yahweh] our God, the LORD [Yahweh] is one.” Christ’s conclusion was for us to love this All-Loving God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. And then Jesus added an obvious overflow of that love: “And love your neighbor as yourself” (see Mark 12:29-31).

Love to God and from God should overflow from us to others to bring them into the One God who is love itself.  

The more we understand this love that the I AM has for us: (1) the better able we will be to love and worship Him, (2) the more we will love others out of this overflow of love, and (3) the more glory our awesome GOD will receive. Which is exactly what the apostle Paul prayed for us in Ephesians 3:14-19. 

This idea of an I AM God who reveals Himself as Father, Son, and Spirit has been described by the Latin phrase mysterium tremendum. It is indeed a mystery: not one that frightens and confuses, but one that energizes and enlivens. Pray Paul’s prayer for yourself, so that you can see more dimensions of this awesome love that God has for you! 

If you missed any parts of this series exploring our foundational belief statements, you can check out the full list by clicking here.

Thursdays With Oswald—The Love Behind The Warning

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

The Love Behind The Warning

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” —Jesus (Matthew 7:13-14) 

     Always distinguish between warning and threatening. God never threatens; the devil never warns. A warning is a great arresting statement of God’s, inspired by His love and patience. …

     It is the great patience of God that gives the warning, “The way of transgressors is hard.” Go behind that statement in your imagination and see the love of God. God is amazingly tender, but the way of transgressors cannot be made easy. God has made it difficult to go wrong, especially for His children. … 

     If Jesus came to be a teacher only, He had better have stayed away. What is the use of teaching a human being to be what no human being can be—to be continually self-effaced, to do more than his duty, to be completely disinterested, to be perfectly devoted to God? If all Jesus came to do was to teach men to be that, He is the greatest taunter that ever presented any ideal to the human race. But Jesus Christ came primarily and fundamentally to regenerate man. He came to put into any man the disposition that ruled His own life, and immediately that is given to a man, the teaching of Jesus begins to be possible. 

From Studies In The Sermon On The Mount

The opposite of love is not hate; it’s apathy. If God didn’t love us, He wouldn’t care what road we attempted to take. But He does love us, so He tells us the one and only way to get to Him: Jesus Christ is THE way. 

Chambers is exactly right when He says that Jesus was not just a great Teacher. If that’s all that Jesus came to do, we would be miserable people because we could never walk the narrow road that He taught. But Jesus came to enable and empower us to walk that road. He came to purchase our atonement (our “at-onement” with Him) so that we could live out all that He taught. 

Jesus is a Teacher, but He is also the Enabler that makes it possible for us to obey His teaching. For that, we should be eternally grateful! 

O Holy Night & O Holy Day

O Holy NightIn 1847 an unnamed parish priest sent an unusual request to Placide Cappeau, the commissioner of wines in a small French town: “You are well known for your poems. Would you consider writing a poem for our Christmas mass?” Cappeau was both intrigued and honored, and he soon penned an essay called Cantique de Noel.

Cappeau felt that his poem was more worthy of a song, than just merely a poem, so he turned to his friend Adolphe Adams. Adams was a classically trained musician, but he was also a Jew. Adams said to Cappeau, “You’re asking me to write a melody for a poem that celebrates a Man I do not view as the Son of God, and a poem that celebrates a day I do not celebrate?” But because his friend Cappeau had requested it, he gave it his best effort. Three weeks later, Cantique de Noel was first heard at the Christmas Eve midnight mass.

Cantique de Noel quickly became popular throughout France. But when it was discovered that the lyricist Cappeau had left the church to become a socialist and that the musical composer Adams was a Jew, the Catholic Church banned the song from being sung in any of its churches. Still, the song grew in popularity.

During the build-up to the American Civil War, an abolitionist named John Dwight was especially moved by a line in Cantique de Noel: “Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother, and in His name all oppression shall cease.” Dwight published his version of Cantique de Noel in his abolitionist magazine with the new title O Holy Night. The song quickly caught on in America.

The opening words of O Holy Night speak to our hearts today, as much as they did to those present at the First Advent—long lay the world in sin and error pining, till He appeared and the soul felt its worth. To pine for something means to long painfully for something just out of our reach. It’s what the psalmist in ancient Israel captured too when he wrote, My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God (Psalm 84:2). There is a longing in all of us to know the Lord!

That’s why Christ’s First Advent is such a blessed, joyous event! In the second stanza we sing—In all our trials born to be our Friend; He knows our need, to our weakness is no stranger. Indeed the writer of Hebrews tells us why Jesus was born as a human (Hebrews 2:14-18), and why we can approach Him confidently (4:15-16).

Christ’s Incarnation allows us to put our faith in Him. When we do, we experience the Atonement. I like to remember this word by saying it at-onement. In other words, the Heavenly Father now sees me at-onement with His Son—when He looks at me, He sees Jesus. That’s why God forgets our forgiven sins (Hebrews 8:12)!

Then the third stanza of O Holy Night begins to tell us how we live out the at-onement every day by loving one another, enjoying His peace, living free and helping others get free too, singing joyfully to God day after night after day after night!

The First Advent was a holy night because Christ’s Atonement it makes us holy. So now all our nights are O holy nights, and all our days are O holy days, and all our work is O holy work, and all our relationships are O holy relationships!

Christ’s First Advent changes EVERYTHING for those who put their faith in Him. Is that you? Are you living in Christ’s at-onement? If not, you can be today by simply asking Him to come into your life.

You can check out some of the other Christmas carols we have looked at here. And check out the video of this message too—

Salty Disciples

The hope of gloryWho are Christ’s disciples? Is it only the people who walked Earth at the same time and place as Jesus? Was it an exclusive club of the 12 men Jesus selected as His apostles? Can anyone be a disciple of Jesus Christ?

Great questions!

First of all we must know that discipleship is not something we DO; it’s who we ARE. We have to start thinking of discipleship like a job search, where we need to have the right education and experiences that will build up our spiritual resume, and then Jesus will “hire” us to be one of His disciples.

We do the being, and Jesus does the preparingAnd Jesus said to them, Come after Me and BE My disciples, and I will MAKE you to become fishers of men (Mark 1:17, AMP). We are to just BE with Jesus, and being with Him will prepare us to be made into something else.

We don’t negotiate with Jesus on how much time we can give Him. We don’t say, “As soon as I get through this busy time in my life I’ll follow you” or “After the kids are grown, then I’ll have more time for you” or “As soon as I get my business situation taken care of.” Jesus wants us to come to Him just as we are right now—Simply put, if you’re not willing to take what is dearest to you, whether plans or people, and kiss it good-bye, you can’t be My disciple. (Luke 14:33, MSG)

As a disciple of Jesus we don’t try to act a certain way, we simply AREYou ARE the salt of the earth… (Matthew 5:13). We can do this because of the Atonement (or as Oswald Chambers says, the “at-onement”). You are in Christ, and He is in you—when God sees you, He sees Jesus; when others see you, they see Jesus. 

Here’s the amazing thing: God wants to use you to show Jesus to others. God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ IN you, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27).

Make it your goal to simply be with Christ, and then be prepared for His God’s glory to be on display in you. You will then BE salt and light to a needy world!

Thursdays With Oswald—Christ’s Perfection In You

Oswald ChambersThis is a periodic series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Christ’s Perfection In You

     Paul does not say, nor does the Spirit of God say anywhere, that after we are born again of the Spirit of God, Jesus Christ is put before us as an Example and we make ourselves holy by drawing from Him. Never! Sanctification is Christ formed in us; not the Christ-life, but Christ Himself. In Jesus Christ is the perfection of everything, and the mystery of sanctification is that we may have in Jesus Christ, not the start of holiness, but the holiness of Jesus Christ. …  

     Those of you who are hungering and thirsting after holiness, think what it would mean to you to go out tonight knowing that you may step boldly into the heritage that is yours if you are born of the Spirit, and realize that the perfections of Jesus are yours by His sovereign gift in such a way that you can prove it experimentally!

From Our Brilliant Heritage (emphasis added)

Oswald Chambers says there are three Mysteries that are impossible for us to fully grasp with our natural minds: (1) The Triune God—Father, Son and Spirit all equally God; (2) The Incarnation of Jesus—fully Man and fully God; and (3) Christ in us.

Yes, it’s a mystery, but it’s true! Jesus doesn’t want to be your Example. He wants to be in you, and wants you to be in Him. His desire is that you are at-onement (that’s what the word atonement means) with Him, so that when people look at you they see Jesus.

You don’t have to earn this, or try to work it up in your life. If you have invited Jesus into your life, He truly is IN you—all of His perfection is IN you! Ask the Holy Spirit to make this real to you today.

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