Is Healing in the Atonement?
Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls (1Peter 2:24-25).
Today, we return to 1Peter and will continue for a while. When I studied this book in the mid-fifties, Dr. Savoy Adams told us at the beginning of the class that our final exam would be to write the book from memory. That was a good exercise, but I didn’t retain it long. I didn’t review it daily long enough for it to become permanent. I like Peter’s two short books. They are rich on living the Christian life and in doctrine.
IS PHYSICAL HEALING IN THE ATONEMENT? A reader asked why I didn’t deal with the issue of healing in the atonement as we travel this way. (That was ten years ago.) The reason I didn’t was because I was focusing on the verses that deal with Christian living. Also, these morning articles are thimble-size and the healing issue is more bucket-size. So, let’s look at it. Let me say up front: I do not believe physical healing in this life is in the Atonement, but I do believe that God often heals. I have been healed myself and have witnessed the healing of others. It’s a little long but it’s better not to break it in half.
Isaiah 53:5-6 are the usual main verses used to try to make the case for physical-healing being in the atonement. The idea is that healing is as valid as forgiveness of sins.
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:5-6)
The case focuses on the words of Isaiah: “we are healed.” Walvoord and Zuck point out that Peter’s reference to Isaiah deals with the past tense: “by His wounds you have been healed.” Other scholars agree that it is a completed action. That is, the legal payment for sin is a one-time accomplished fact. In Isaiah it was as though it had already happened. Peter says: “ye were healed.”
I HAVE MANY PENTECOSTAL FRIENDS and when I traveled in NC in defending the religious liberty of Christian schools, found myself in their churches and spending the night with Pentecostal pastors. Sometimes we sat up late at night discussing this. I did not argue with them. I simply wanted to know their position and why they believed it. I found them to be honest and honorable men. They pointed out that forgiveness of sin and physical healing were combined in Isaiah; that disease has resulted from Adam’s fall and the devil’s persecution of God’s creation. However, I saw that there were gaps in their system of belief; some of the pieces were missing.
J. Vernon McGee questions: “Of what are we healed? This passage from Isaiah clearly states that we are healed of our transgressions and iniquities. You say to me, "Are you sure about that?" I know this is what these verses are talking about because Peter says: "Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed" (1Peter 2:24). Healed of what? "Sins." Peter is making it very clear that he is talking about sin.”
“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:6). It was your iniquity and mine which was laid upon Him. Obviously, Isaiah is referring to the fact that Christ would grapple with the great fundamental problem of sin.
To contend that healing is in the Atonement is beside the point. So is a glorified body in the Atonement, but I don't have mine yet. Do you? Also, a new earth with the curse removed is in the Atonement of Christ, but it is obvious that we do not have these yet. In this day when sin and Satan still hold sway, there is no release from sickness as an imperative of the Atonement.”
Donald C. Stamps (deceased) who wrote the study notes for the Full Life Study Bible (Pentecostal-Charismatic) does not quibble over that comment by Peter. It is too clear to argue the point in 1Peter.2:24.
John MacArthur states in his MacArthur Bible Commentary “Through the wounds of Christ at the Cross, believers are healed spiritually from the deadly disease of sin. Physical healing comes at glorification only, when there is no more physical pain, illness, or death (Rev. 21:4)” (P.1911 in the MacArthur Study Bible).
Dr. John R. Rice (deceased) of the Sword of the Lord Publishers, wrote a pamphlet taking about the same position. He emphasized that “healing is in the atonement” in that when the complete plan of redemption is fully implemented, our glorified bodies will have no pain or sickness and therefore will embody the finished act of atonement made by Christ on the cross.
We must not skip over this:
Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed (1Peter 2:24). Christ bore our sins in his own body on the tree. But please read the following verses carefully:
When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses (Matthew 8:16-17).
IN THIS EVENT, CHRIST IS NOT ON THE CROSS BUT ON THE GROUND. He has not yet been nailed to the cross. But while walking around on the ground, He fulfilled part of Isaiah’s prophecy. In this brief incident, He separates healing from the Atonement. None of the Atonement took place on the ground. The Atonement took place on the cross with the shedding of blood. In the healing of these people, Jesus shed no blood. This does not take away from the fact that ultimately, we will be healed by having new glorified bodies.
BIBLE EXCEPTIONS TO HEALING IN THE ATONEMENT:
McGee goes further: " Why did Paul urge Timothy to take a little wine for his stomach? Why didn't he urge him to get his healing in the Atonement? Why didn't James urge the saints to claim the Atonement when he asked them to call in the elders to pray? (see James 5:13-15). Why didn't Paul claim healing in the Atonement when he mentioned the fact that there was given to him a thorn in the flesh?
"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, that the power of Christ may rest upon me" (2Corinthians 12:7-9.
“There are other examples recorded concerning this subject. Paul, in Philippians, had a regular hospital on his hands. Epaphroditus had been ill (see Philippians 2:25-27), and Paul did not use the Atonement to claim healing.
My friend, we need to face the fact that it is not always God's will to heal. However, sometimes it is God's will to heal. Apparently, Paul knew nothing of this modern…” (view of healing being in the Atonement.)
Paul was able to raise one from the dead, but he could not remedy his own thorn in the flesh nor heal his good friend Epaphroditus. Philippians 2:25-27) Then we move down to modern times. Several surveys have shown that many people in Pentecostal churches need and use medical care and only a few experience healing. I have seen wheel chairs in their services occupied by paraplegics.
Oral Roberts had many people healed in his tent meetings. I don’t question that. I do question the doctrinal framework he used to explain the healings. Apparently, he came to question it himself since at some point he raised millions of dollars to build a big hospital. A lot of people were not being healed and he was honest enough to admit it. I’m not endorsing Oral Roberts. I’m just reporting what I see.
John Wimber was a teacher at the Fuller Seminary and began to have powerful manifestations for healing through his prayers and his hands. He was slow to come around to it. From his ministry came the Vineyard churches, maybe 200 or so. But John Wimber’s own book includes his own testimony that he had a defective heart that he could not get healed. He died from it. I’m not endorsing John Wimber.
I was in the home of a dear Christian brother in North Carolina, a pastor, who had cancer. He believed healing was in the Atonement and told me he had “claimed” his healing because it had been accomplished at Calvary. I listened. He said he was having some troubling cancer symptoms continuing but those symptoms were from the devil to hinder his faith. He was renouncing the symptoms and believing that the Atonement had provided for his healing as well as his salvation. Within a year he was dead from cancer. His wife lived several years after that. These were sweet, sincere Christians.
At the 700 Club (CBN) I was interviewed twice (1978-80) related to the battle we were having over religious liberty in NC. They practice a highly professional quality of journalism. There’s no doubt in my mind that God has healed hundreds of people and made it known through CBN cameras. That’s God’s business and I am not going to scoff at it. I fear God. I cannot endorse Pat Roberson for several reasons, but God requires that we exercise righteous judgment.
The official position of the CBN ministries is that healing is in the Atonement and anyone can be healed just as anyone can be saved. It’s easier to say that when hundreds of healed people are coming through your cameras. But, I don’t believe that is the explanation. I called CBN one day and talked with a man I had never met. I asked him directly if he believed healing is in the Atonement. He did not hesitate: “No, I don’t.” I wondered how many others there shared his belief.
Then, I noticed that Pat Robertson had surgery for prostate cancer. He wears reading glasses, so he can see how to read. Pat Robertson is growing old. His wife has had surgery for breast cancer. Even though he exercises and eats for health, old age is doing a number on him. Pat Robertson is a loving, compassionate man whose ministry has dug over 4,000 wells for the poor. Over a thousand cleft palates have been repaired and he has led in helping the down-trodden in so many ways.
But, he will not lick the last sickness. All the leaders of that generation who have preached that healing is in the Atonement will die one day. I may go first. One thing to keep your eye on: “The last sickness is never healed. NEVER!” If healing were in the Atonement, the last sickness could always be healed because the last sickness would be covered in the Atonement. Christians could forego death and live as long as Enoch.
Some people who believe that healing is in the Atonement try to help the doctrine along by suggesting that all Christians could be healed if only there was no sin in the life. It would seem then, that all Christians lose their purity of faith in God, get sick and die. This leaves Joni Erickson Tada in a bad fix. Is there a more faithful or sweeter Christian than Joni? All people die of something that’s wrong with the body. There is no other way to die. If healing is in the Atonement, it is highly out of place for Christians to die.
After the flu, I became paralyzed with Guillion Berre’ (French Polio). (1986). A second attack paralyzed my right eye and it turned in so that I saw double. I could not hold a tooth brush or comb. My neurologist diagnosed me and spoke of “scrubbing” my blood through a machine. My eye surgeon said it would take months for my eyes to heal, IF they were to heal. Second attacks sometimes turned inward and paralyzed the lungs and heart, killing the patient. I wore a heart monitor for a while.
Three months later, January 1, 1987, about 11:00 a.m., I was alone and scooting my feet along six inches at a time facing the north wind, crying out to the Lord in great desperation. Suddenly, two pine trees became one tree. In ten seconds my eyes were healed. The rest of my body healed very slowly and today, 30 years later, I am damaged from my hips down. Healing for my eyes was instant. The rest of the body was slow and part of it never healed. God in mercy healed my eyes so I could read and function and for the rest of my life I would know that He was there that morning.
On the Blue Ridge Parkway in a mountain chalet, I fasted and prayed with several preachers, my son, and a young man named Jack. He had a smashed foot and ankle from a motorcycle skid. It was a mess. The bones were too smashed for the surgeons to do much with them. As we gathered around Jack to pray, my hands were around his ankle. Suddenly I felt heat coming from his ankle. I said to myself : “This sure is a warm-blooded dude.” We stood up and Jack stared out the window. In slow words of amazement he said: “I think I’m healed.” He tested weight on his foot, then stepped, then bounced around. Jack was healed during that brief prayer session.
In the home of a retired couple, I visited a home to find the lady stumbling into the living room, weak and trembling. She had bleeding ulcers and had just vomited up a blended raw egg. Doctors would not operate on her. We prayed. As I knelt on the right end of the couch I sensed nothing. I left quietly. A month later I met them in the parking lot of the grocery store. Their story: “As we were praying, I felt something moving in my stomach. Then I was hungry. Then I wished that you would hurry and leave. I rushed into the kitchen and cooked herself a hamburger with big slices of tomato and onion and ate every bite and have been eating them every day since.”
There are other stories, but you get the picture. I am not a faith healer. I do not believe that any of these healings occurred because healing is in the Atonement. It is obvious that there is a living God who answers prayer. Here is the master verse on prayer:
And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him (1John 5:14-15). Ω
Read Through the Bible in a Year
FEBRUARY 26, 2018 – MONDAY
A.M. Numbers 16-17 P.M. Mark 6:36-56
(Bible Gateway will read this to you if you like. Look for the speaker icon.)
Good Verses to Memorize:
And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him (1John 5:14-15).
Song for Today:
Praise Him, Praise Him (3:13) (Fanny Crosby-The Hymn Club)
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