Christ Our Healer - Isaiah 53:4, Matthew 8:17; James 3:13-16
(I gave this message at First Alliance International Church in Fort Lauderdale Florida on Sunday April 7, 2019. You may view the PowerPoint slides that accompany this message at:
"The mission of The Christian and Missionary Alliance is to know Jesus Christ; exalt Him as Savior, Sanctifier, Healer, and Coming King; and complete His Great Commission." (General Council 2017)
The Alliance website explains, "Alliance founder Dr. A. B. Simpson defined the C&MA's spiritual DNA more than 100 years ago, referring to it as the Fourfold Gospel; it's the heart of what Alliance people believe about Jesus and forms the foundation of all that defines the Alliance movement." It continues,
"The Fourfold Gospel is the Christological summary on which the core values of the Christian and Missionary Alliance is based."
The Cross - Jesus Christ is our Savior. Jesus shed His blood on the cross as He bore the sins of the world. He made atonement for our sin having paid the penalty of our sin in His substitutionary death on the cross. Isaiah prophesied of Christ's substitutionary death for our sins hundreds of years before His death, writing, in chapter 53,
"All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned - everyone- to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all." (Isaiah 53:6 ESV)
"...by his knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities." (Isaiah 53:11b ESV)
"...because he poured out his soul to death, and was numbered with the transgressor; yet bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors." (Isaiah 53:12b ESV)
When we repent of our sin and by faith believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ our sins are forgiven and we justified, that is declared righteous in God's sight our sins no long being held against us because Jesus bore our sin and paid the penalty of our sin in His death on the cross.
As the Apostle John wrote, "Whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16)
The Apostle Peter proclaimed that Jesus is the only Savior, writing, "...there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12)
The Laver - Jesus Christ is our Sanctifier. The laver represents the power of the Holy Spirit to cleanse us from our sins and empower us to live a holy life. Sanctification means separation from sin and separation to God. Peter wrote,
"His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires." (2 Peter 1:3-4 NIV)
As our Sanctifier Jesus delivers us from the bondage and the power of sin as we allow His Holy Spirit to control our lives. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian church, "And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness, sanctification and redemption." (1 Corinthians 1:30 ESV)
The Pitcher - Jesus Christ is our Healer. The pitcher contains the oil used to anoint the sick. James writes,
"Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up." (James 5:14,15 ESV) We will look at this in detail later in the message.
And lastly, The Crown - Jesus Christ is our Coming King. Jesus is the King of Kings. He has no rivals. The Bible declares that Jesus Christ died, was buried and three days later rose from the dead. And just as the Scriptures give witness to the literal bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave, the Bible is equally emphatic in its declaration that one day Jesus Christ will physically return to this earth.
You remember as the disciples watched Jesus ascend into heaven the two angels that appeared to them said, "'Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.'" (Acts 1:11 ESV)
And the Apostle Paul wrote the Thessalonians,
"For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever." (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 NIV) That is the promise for every believer!
The Fourfold Gospel, the Christological summary; Jesus is our Savior, Sanctifier, Healer and Coming King.
Let me pause here and ask you a question. Is Jesus Christ your Savior? Have you received the forgiveness and the gift of eternal life He alone can offer you? It is ours when we repent of our sins and put our faith in His death and resurrection as God's only provision for our salvation. Knowing Jesus as your Savior is the starting point of knowing him as your Sanctifier, your Healer and your coming King.
Today we focus on Christ our Healer. The Statement of Faith of the Alliance states,
"Provision is made in the redemptive work of the Lord Jesus Christ for the healing of the mortal body. Prayer for the sick and anointing with oil are taught in the Scriptures and are privileges for the Church in this present age. (Matthew 8:16-17, James 5:13-16)" (C&MA Statement of Faith, Council 2015)
This morning I want to focus on two aspects of healing as found in the Scriptures and noted in this doctrinal statement. First of all, what is the Biblical truth that substantiates that Christ is our healer? Secondly, the ministry of healing in the local church as outlined by James in the fifth chapter of his letter.
First then, the Scriptural basis for the claim that Christ is our healer. Dr. Keith Bailey, formerly our Vice President of North American Ministries wrote,
"The claim for healing in the atonement rests on two principal passages of Scripture: Isaiah 53:4-5 and Matthew 8:17." (Dr. Keith Bailey, The Children's Bread, page 43) He states that atonement is "...the procuring cause of healing." To "procure" means to obtain something to acquire or secure it.
As we have noted in the Alliance Statement of Faith, "Provision is made in the redemptive work of the Lord Jesus Christ for the healing of the mortal body."
What is the relationship between divine healing and Jesus Christ's work of atonement on the cross? There is a reason I began this morning by reviewing the Fourfold Gospel. You see, God's provision for the healing of the believer is not unrelated to Christ's redemptive work of atonement on the cross for the forgiveness of our sin and His work of sanctification in our lives.
Both our salvation and God's provision for the physical healing of our bodies, come from the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ on the cross. As Dr. Bailey noted, the key text in this regard is found first in the Old Testament and the fulfillment of it, in Matthew's account of the healing ministry of Jesus while in Capernaum as recorded in Matthew chapter 8.
Let me read Matthew 8:17. in it's context beginning at verse 14.
"And when Jesus entered Peter's house, he saw his mother-in-law lying sick with a fever. He touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she rose and began to serve them. That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick." Verse 17, "This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah, 'He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.'" (emphasis mine) (ESV)
Matthew says that the healing ministry of Jesus Christ was in fulfillment of the words of the prophet Isaiah written centuries before, as recorded in Isaiah 53:4. We cannot and should not underestimate the significance of this text with regard to the ministry of Christ our Healer.
Let me read you Isaiah 53:4 (ESV) in its larger context beginning with verse one down to verse six. Remember that in this passage Isaiah is speaking prophetically of Israel's coming Messiah often referred to as the "Suffering Servant". Note how he suffered for you and I.
"Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief, and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised and we esteemed him not."
Then verse four, the verse that Matthew quotes in his Gospel,
"Surely he has borne our griefs," (Matthew - illnesses) "and carried our sorrows;"(Matthew - diseases) "yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned--everyone -- to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all."
This passage graphically describes the substitutionary nature of Jesus' sacrificial death on the cross. Substitutionary, He suffered and died a brutal death in our place as our substitute. Isaiah wrote,
"he was smitten by God and afflicted"
"he was crushed for our iniquities"
"upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace"
"the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all."
Do you see God's love for us in these verses? His grace? His unmerited favor? Jesus Christ, the Creator of this world, the sustainer of all life, the sovereign, powerful, omnipotent ruler of the universe, allowed Himself to be despised and rejected; to be "smitten by God and afflicted"; to be "wounded for our transgressions"; to be "crushed for our inequities" so that He could make atonement for our sin and heal our sicknesses.
Most versions of the Bible translate Isaiah 53:4, "he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows" as it might be in the version you are reading.
But note that Matthew in quoting this verse in his gospel wrote 'He took our illnesses and bore our diseases". Dr. A. B. Simpson comments on the word translated "griefs" as follows,
"The original word is found about one hundred times in the Old Testament, and every time but this it is translated 'sickness...This is the only instance where it is translated 'griefs'...'Griefs is not altogether a mistranslation, but the word really means 'disease.'"(A.B. Simpson, The Lord For the Body, page 78)
Greek scholar T. J. McCrossan concurs writing, "'Kholee' (sickness) is from 'chalah'--to be weak, sick or afflicted." He then cites an example, "In Deuteronomy 7:15we read, 'The Lord will take away from thee all sickness (kholee).'" (T. J. McCrossan, Bodily Healing and The Atonement,page 17)
Similarly, most versions of the Bible translate the next phrase of Isaiah 53:4, "and carried our sorrows." This word can also be translated "pains". Matthew used the word "diseases". The English Standard Version, "and bore our diseases", or New American Standard Bible, "carried away our diseases".
Notice also the significance of the two verbs "borne" and "carried" used in Isaiah 53:4. The verb "nasa" translated "borne" means"...to bear in the sense of 'suffering punishment for something.'"(T. J. McCrossan, Ibid ,page 18)
The Messiah, Isaiah wrote, "has borne our griefs" or as we have seen our sicknesses "(53:4) The verb "sabal" translated "carried" similarly "...means to 'bear something as a penalty or chastisement.'" (McCrossan, ibid. page 18)
The Messiah "carried our sorrows" or our "pains" or diseases.
The reason I take the time to look closely at Isaiah's use of these two verbs in verse 4, is because it is important at this point to note that the two verbs "borne' (nasa) and carried (sabal) in Isaiah 53:4 used of Jesus bearing our sicknesses, are the same two verbs used in Isaiah 53:11 and 12 of Jesus bearing and carrying our sin. (T. J. McCrossan)
As we read earlier, verse 11, "he shall bear their iniquities" and verse 12, "yet he bore the sins of many". Isaiah uses the same two verbs in verse 4 speaking of Christ bearing our sicknesses and pains, as he does in verse 11 and 12 of Christ bearing our sins. Let me summarize with these words from Dr. A.B. Simpson commenting on Isaiah 53:4,
"This is the great evangelical vision, the gospel in the Old Testament, the very mirror of the coming Redeemer. And here in the front of it, prefaced by a great AMEN--the only 'surely' in the chapter --is the promise of healing; the very strongest possible statement of complete redemption from pain and sickness by His life and death, and the very words which the Evangelist afterwards quotes, under inspired guidance of the Holy Ghost (Matt. 8:17) as the explanation of His universal works of healing....the two words here used denote respectively sicknessand pain, and...the words for "bear" "carry," denote not mere sympathy, but an actual substitution and the removal utterly of the thing borne. Therefore, in the same full sense as He has borne our sins, Jesus Christ has SURELY BORNE AWAY and CARRIED OFF our sicknesses; yes, and even our PAINS, so that abiding in Him, we may be fully delivered from both sickness and pain. Thus 'by his stripes we are healed. 'Blessed and glorious Gospel! Blessed and glorious Burden Bearer!" (The Gospel of Healing, pages 15-16)
Secondly, this morning, a look the ministry of healing in the local church as outlined by James in the fifth chapter of his letter.
James 5:13-16 ,
"Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working." (ESV)
From the moment Adam and Eve fell into sin sickness and death became a part of the human experience. Sin not only separated man spiritually from God but sin brought sickness, disease, pain and death to the human experience. But one cannot read either the Old or New Testament without taking notice that God heals the sick. Accounts of divine healing are found as early as the book of Genesis. We do not have time this morning to review some of those accounts.
But as we have noted in the Alliance Statement of Faith, "Prayer for the sick and anointing with oil are taught in the Scriptures and are privileges for the Church in this present age. (Matthew 8:16-17, James 5:13-16)"
The instructions found in James 5 have never been revoked or repealed. They are as valid to day as they were in the day James wrote them, giving us instructions in implementing a ministry of healing in the life of the local church.
This letter was written by James the Just, the brother of Jesus, and leader of the early Jerusalem church and one of the first martyrs of the church. It was most likely written and sent to Jewish Christian house churches scattered around the Mediterranean world. (ESV Study Bible)
First of all, note the prominence of prayer in James instructions. One cannot read this passage without taking note of the role of prayer in the ministry of healing. It is mentioned five times in the four verse we just read, seven times if your read through verse 18.
Notice the five references: verse 13 - James instructs those who are suffering to pray.
Verse 14 - Those who are sick are to "call for the elders of the church" to pray over them.
Verse 15 - It is "the prayer of faith" that will heal the sick.
Verse 16, The congregation is to pray. "Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed."
And again verse 16, It is the "prayer of a righteous person" that "has great power".
Prayer is a "spiritual exercise" as Dr. Keith Bailey has pointed out. (Bailey, ibid. page 133) And prayer is the atmosphere, the context, the setting in which the church is to experience healing.
Secondly notice the ministry of the elders of the church. The sick are instructed to call for the elders to pray for them and anoint them with oil. That constitutes an act of obedience on the part of the individual who is sick. The elders are the men who God has entrusted with the oversight and spiritual care of the church.
The sick are to take the initiative in requesting this ministry of the elders on their behalf. As Dr. Bailey points out, "To call for the elders is a humble admission of need. What better heart attitude than this for receiving the blessing of the Lord!" (Bailey, Ibid. page 134)
Thirdly, note the significance of anointing with oil. It can be illustrated from the life of David when Samuel anointed him king of Israel. "Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him [David] in the midst of his brothers. And the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon David from that day forward." (1 Samuel 16:13 ESV)
Dr.Simpson explains the significance of anointing with oil. He writes that oil. "...is the Old Testament symbol of the Holy Ghost. It signifies His personal coming into the body of the person anointed to communicate the healing life and power of Jesus Christ." (The Lord for the Body, chapter 15, "Inquiries and Answers," question 21)
Fourthly, verse 15, notice it is the "prayer of faith" that "will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up." Our faith is only as effective as the object in which we place our faith. That's why we have attempted in the first part of this message to present the Biblical truth that substantiates that Christ died on the cross to atone for our sicknesses as well as our sins and therefore is our healer today!
When everyone in the church --- the elders, the sick being prayed for, and rest of the church pray for healing it is to be a prayer of faith in the promises and provision of God for the healing of the sick. Just, as it is a prayer of obedience to these instructions James has given to the church.
Fifthly, notice James' instructions regarding the confession of sin in the healing ministry of the church. James calls us, the entire church, to examine our hearts as we pray for healing. Verses 15 and16,
" And the prayer of faith will save the one win who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed."
Dr. Bailey comments, "The personal preparation for anointing, according to James, requires deep heart searching. The sufferer must not only relate his physical need to the spiritual but also search his heart for any sin that could stand as a barrier to God's healing touch. The sin should be confessed and put under the blood of Christ." (Bailey, ibid. page 134)
And notice this instruction for confession of sin involves the whole church not just the one seeking the anointing and prayer of the elders. Confession of sin is a means of preparing our hearts for prayer. Dr. Simpsons writes,
"It is quite vain for us to try to exercise faith for ourselves or othersin the face of willful transgression and in defiance of the chastening which God has meant we shall respect and yield to. But, when we receive His correction; and to turn to Him with humble and obedient hearts, He will graciously remove the hand of pain, and make the touch of healing the token of His forgiving love."(A.B. Simpson, The Gospel of Healing, chapter 2, "Practical Instructions", #3)
Number six, note this healing is a work of the Holy Spirit. God the Holy Spirit is the agent of healing. We have already noted this with regard to the anointing the sick with oil. But James also adds in verse 16, "The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working." Or as Herman Hoyt has translated it, "The effective prayer of a righteous man, which is energized (wrought) in him accomplishes much." (Bailey, ibid. page 137)
The Holy Spirit is at work in the prayer of the righteous person. The efficacy of the prayer depends on the energizing of the Holy Sprit in the righteous person praying. Dr. Bailey,
"It is true that righteous men pray effectively, but James is saying also that the kind of praying needed on this occasion finds its inspiration in God Himself. The Holy Spirit energizes the believer for such powerful praying. No doubt the prayer of faith is a prayer resulting from the special energizing of the Holy Spirit." (Bailey, ibid. page 137)
I hope that you have seen this morning that one cannot separate the healing available to us in the gospel, from our personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Just as Christ is our Savior by faith and the work of regeneration by the Holy Spirit; just as Christ is our Sanctifier by our surrender to and the filling of His Holy Spirit; so He is our Healer because He lives in us and His healing power is available to us through His Holy Spirit.
After that miraculous deliverance of God's people Israel from the pursuing army of Pharaoh at the Red Sea, Moses led his people into the wilderness where God miraculously intervened by changing the bitter water at Marah into sweet drinkable water. Moses then writes this in Exodus 15:25b-26,
"There the Lord made for them a statute and rule, and there he tested them, saying 'If you will diligently listen to the voice of the Lord your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, your healer.'"
Dr. Simpson, commenting on Exodus 15:26, writes,
"'I the Lord am healing thee.' This is the aspect of divine healing which the Apostle Paul so frequently emphasizes. It is not a mere fact or incident occurring occasionally in life, but it is a life of constant, habitual dependence upon Christ for the body; moment by moment abiding in Him for our physical, as well as spiritual need, and taking His resurrection life and strength for every breath and every step."
© James P McGarvey, All Rights Reserved