Sunday, September 23, 2012

Save the Sick

Save the Sick
Sept 24, 2012
James 5:15 "And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven."

The Bible offers some unique language that suggests a physical healing is guaranteed if the person praying has enough faith.  It reads, "and the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well."  It even goes so far as to say "WILL" and not "might."  If you just read that one verse, out of the contextual writing of James, then you might feel fooled if healing does not come as expected.  You might even become discouraged in your faith, thinking your faith wasn't strong enough.  I've seen many faithful men of the Lord suffer physical illness without healing, yet I can tell you it had nothing to do with a lack of faith.  It is important to understand what James was saying in his letter, and why he said the words he did.

He was writing to Jewish Believers, who had already given their lives over to the Lord; they believed in the resurrection of Jesus.  They were already saved, as far as salvation was concerned.  James said if a person is sick, the church should assemble the elders to pray for him; those who were proven in their dedication to the Lord should be the ones praying.  And he said that the faith-prayer will make the person well, the Lord would restore him, and any subsequent sins forgiven.  It is interesting that James equates being restored and forgiven in the same sentence as prayer for an illness.

In the paragraph before James discusses this faith-prayer for healing, he talks about perseverance during suffering.  He declares that suffering will happen in this life-time and we are to bear up under it.  Suffering would fall under the same category as illness, if it is part of the Lord's design that would bring Him glory.  So then, we must understand healing in this same context, that healing will come (similar to the end of perseverance in suffering) if and when it is part of the Lord's plan.  Until then, unfortunately, we must bear up under the illness as well.  So, why then does James declare that the person WILL be healed?  Remember he also talked about being restored and forgiven.  James was suggesting that illness could be brought on as a result of sin.  If the illness was sin related, then the faith-prayer would restore him in a right relationship with the Lord, his sins forgiven, and his illness eliminated.

I know of a powerful man in the Lord who suffered for years with a physical affliction the doctors could do nothing about.  It was only AFTER the man sought the Lord for clarity and the Lord revealed to him that the illness was a result of his pride.  Once this man confessed and repented of this sin, the Lord healed him.  Similarly, I know of a man who was afflicted because of a completely rebellious sin and once he confessed of this lifestyle, the Lord healed him within the hour.  The point is, the Lord does use illness as a way to get our attention.  It is not meant as a form of punishment but as a form of discipleship to bring the person into the right place with the Lord.  James said the person would be forgiven.  If you'd like to debate this point, first read James 5 verse 13 THROUGH 19.

The reverse of this situation is true as well, should a non-believer become afflicted by illness.  If a person comes to the Lord with enough faith that the Lord could heal him, then he also has enough faith to be forgiven and saved.  James was suggesting there might even be non-believers among us who could be brought to the Lord through faith in healing.  This presents a great case for hospital ministry, as it is an opportunity to discuss faith in the Lord in the desperation for physical healing.

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  John 9:1-3, John 11:4, James 5

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