Archive for July, 2013


As I have been reflecting on divine healing and other biblical themes I was struck by a Imageparallel with the role of the Spirit in the OT versus the NT and the role of the Kingdom of God (or heaven) in the NT versus the age that is to come after the Second Coming of Christ. This may or may not strike a chord with you…but please interact with this if it does!

THE ROLE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

I have taught often about the role of the Spirit in the OT versus the NT. The Spirit was quite active in the OT and often filled people, provided them with creative abilities (Exodus 31:1-3, Bezalel crafted object for worship), gave them wisdom and knowledge (Genesis 41:37-38, Joseph interprets dreams), and even inspired prophetic words (Numbers 11:24-25, Moses and the elders). Elsewhere in the OT we see the Spirit inspiring Judges, prophets, kings and others with specific words and actions, for a specific time and purpose.

In the OT the work of the empowering Holy Spirit was reserved for just a few people, not everyone. The work of the Holy Spirit was reserved for specific moments in time, and then he withdrew. The prophet Joel prophesied of a time when the empowering word of the Holy Spirit would be shared with everyone (Joel 2) and the prophet Ezekiel prophesied of a time when the Holy Spirit would start a new work that was never before undertaken in the hearts of all of the faithful, a work of holiness and righteousness (Ezekiel 36:25-28). In the OT it was the law that kept people holy and righteous; in the NT Ezekiel tells us this will change.

Both of these prophetic promises came to pass. Today the Holy Spirit resides in all who confess faith in Jesus Christ no matter of their denomination. Paul tells us in Romans 8:9 that if someone does not have the Spirit they are not in Christ. The Spirit convicts us of sin and assists us with righteousness (i.e., the fruit of the Spirit). The Holy Spirit also subsequently empowers those who have confessed faith in Christ to be witnesses of that fact. Luke tells us in Acts 1:8 that the Spirit will empower us to be witnesses and this fact is demonstrated numerous times throughout the book of Acts.

THE PARALLEL WITH THE KINGDOM OF GOD

The Holy Spirit, once temporary and breaking in here and there in the OT, has become a permanent fixture in the lives of NT Christians. In the same way, the Kingdom of God, currently breaking in here and there in a temporary fashion (remember my movie trailer metaphor), manifesting its power and glory here and there, will become a permanent fixture in the lives of all of the faithful when Christ returns and ushers in this new era of existence.

SO WHAT?

One of the things that this parallel tells me is that just as God was faithful in sending his promised Holy Spirit, he will be faithful in bringing the Kingdom of God to us in due time. Another thing that this parallel tells me is that the Kingdom of God has not ‘arrived’ in the sense that the Tree of Life is presently here for harvesting whenever we desire. Some of the fruit may be presently accessible (i.e., fruit of the Spirit) but some other fruit is still not fully ripened (i.e. divine healing, removal of sin, removal of death). I believe signs and foreshadows of the Kingdom of God are breaking in all the time but we cannot over state what God is doing in some places (i.e. that they have somehow ‘got it’, whatever ‘it’ is) and we cannot degrade our local context if we do not see the same kind of evidence of the working of the Kingdom of God.

King David was once a young boy tending sheep. Sheep smell and they are not the brightest. Who would have ever thought that he would one day be anointed King and carry the empowerment of the Holy Spirit in a day where this was not something everyone in God’s elect had the opportunity to do. Yet, he was faithful where God placed him and with what God gave him.

So…eagerly await the full release of the Kingdom of God…on God’s timing. Pick the fruit that are presently available and anticipate the ripening of what is still to come.

THE WORD

Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law”

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Why do you want to be healed? For some the answer to this question might be quite easy. I Imagewant to live. I do not want to continue experiencing pain. I want more time. I need reprieve from my misery. These and many other answers motivate us to pray for healing…and these are honest motivators!

A second question will bring some clarity to this. Why did Jesus heal people? The answer might be a little less obvious and of course it is not easily settled into one sentence. However, a major theme surrounding the healings of Jesus was that they were to make his name and his ministry famous amongst the people and to draw attention to his Father.

DOES JESUS CARE?

Did Jesus care about relieving pain? Yes, I am sure that he had compassion for the sick…but he did remind us all “…in this life [we] will have trouble” (John 16:33). Did Jesus want to give people more time to live? I think he preferred that they have more time to repent rather than more days to live. Even Paul reminds us that to live is good but to die is to gain.

I do not want to condemn our past and present motives for healing prayers. Instead, I want to help us adjust our thinking about divine healing. I attended a conference earlier this year where Dr. Van Johnson (Dean of Master’s Pentecostal Seminary) suggested that the reason we do not see more of our prayers for healing answered is that we are praying with the wrong perspective in mind. Dr. Van suggested that if we are praying simply for our own well-being and to be saved from pain and suffering our heads and hearts are in the wrong place (my paraphrase of what he said). Miracles (such as divine healing) occur as a sign to unbelievers. In the aftermath people ought to be brought to Christ or brought deeper in Christ.

Notwithstanding what I have already stated about the frequency and occurrence or divine healing in Part I of this post, something in my heart resonated with what Dr. Van suggested here. I was convicted of my own perspectives and I was challenged to do something about it.

MY STORY

You see, while Dr. Van was speaking at this conference I was sitting in my chair with an appointment card in my wallet to see a surgeon…and I really did not want to go to that appointment. Early last fall I began to notice a lump on the left side of my back, up near my shoulder. The lump grew fairly quickly and caused a small about of concern for Mandy and I. My family doctor sent me for an ultrasound and confirmed that it was likely a benign mass (phew) but I should likely have it surgically removed.

I have never had surgery before. I am a little bit of a basket case when it comes to illness, especially when it affects my own body. I did not want surgery! I wanted to be relieved of the pain and suffering of this experience…not to mention the emotional turmoil of it all. So, I had the leadership and prayer team at EGCC pray for a month that this mass would shrink and disappear. Unfortunately it did not change.

The morning of my surgical consultation I prayed that this whole situation would receive closure that morning. I think I was ready to have the doctor cut it out that very day in his office if that is what it took! I prayed that whatever was required would just happen so that I could have closure. When I saw the surgeon he examined me and said that the mass would likely decrease without medical intervention and may actually be irritated and made worse by surgical removal. I was never more relieved. I received a measure of closure that very morning. My prayers were answered.

I still have to visit my friend the surgeon again at the end of August to ensure that things are still decreasing like he expected. My own estimation is that the lump has reduced in size and for that I am thankful. I am still praying that it would be completely gone some soon day…for now it is still there. I just checked.

CHANGED PERSPECTIVE

The reason I am blogging about this is because I am attempting to change my perspective. I am attempting to position myself so that healing in this area of my life will not simply save me the pain and suffering of surgery but also be a sign of God’s blessing and therefore make him famous amongst people. Blogging is my way of changing my perspective…and so I challenge you to consider how you can change the way you pray for healing also.