Does God always heal? If the faithful are anointed, are they assured of healing? What if death follows? Can you reconcile an anointing in faith and a subsequent death? HOW can you have faith in healing if you might die?
DEATH STALKS God's congregation. Some people die after being anointed. When death strikes, consternation often runs through the Church because some don't understand that death may follow even though people are anointed in full faith. God wants us to have absolute, unwavering, all-abiding faith in healing. He miraculously heals thousands of the faithful every year, so we can know He is Yahweh-Ropheka — The God That Heals! Even so, death can come! How can this be? Has it troubled you? God provides a reasonable, scriptural answer. Let's investigate.
Healing in the Church
Jesus Christ healed one person after another. He intervened, and the sick and afflicted were raised up in full, vibrant health and life. He restored them and made living really worthwhile. Jesus conferred this power on His Apostles and they continued — after His death — to heal in this same miraculous way. Throngs of people were raised up whole and sound because of the divine intervention of God. Those who asked in faith were healed! The ministry of God has the very same power today. Thousands of hale, hearty, robust people are living witnesses to this dramatic fact. God continues to work miraculously in His Church today just as He did centuries ago. You can have faith God will heal you!
But You May Die!
Nonetheless remember, "it is appointed unto men once to die" (Heb. 9:27). Jesus Christ died and was buried! John the Baptist had his head chopped off (Mark 6:27). He is dead! The Apostle James was killed (Acts 12:1-2). He too, is DEAD! God could have immediately healed each one of these men — but He didn't! He could have stuck the heads of John and James back on their bodies. But He didn't! John, the last of the original Apostles, eventually died — apparently of natural causes. He too is dead! Buried! His body is only dust today. First God tells us He will heal all our diseases and then He says everyone must die. Is God playing a game? Can we explain this? Certainly!
The fact is, God has always worked in this way. The life of one of God's greatest prophets thoroughly demonstrates this. Elisha was God-chosen and appointed to succeed to Elijah's office. He had a double portion of SPIRITUAL POWER. His life was crammed chockfull of an astounding series of miracles. He evidenced continually to the boundless, infinite POWER OF GOD! Those miracles undeniably attested that Yahweh is the Eternal God who heals! Elisha had the right to use God's power. And he did! He healed the death-laden waters of a spring (II Kings 2:19-22). Next he cursed a mob of sneering delinquents — forty-two of them were ripped and torn by bears. Time and again he forecast the political and military future of his own country and its enemies (II Kings 3:11-27; 6:8-23, 32-33; 7:1-8:15; 9:1-10:28; etc). Generously, miraculously, he gave a bankrupt widow enough oil to fill every available container she could borrow — so her sons would not be sold as slaves (II Kings 4:1-7). He fed, filled, and sated a hundred men with only a meager supply of food (II Kings 4:42-44). He made iron float (II Kings 6:1-7). He was instrumental in Naaman's being healed of dreadful leprosy (II Kings 5:1-9). More than this, he RESTORED TO LIFE a youth already dead!! Elisha knew, understood, experienced, used the HEALING POWER of God. He had unabashed, utterly complete, out-and-out faith in God the Healer. Yes, CERTAINLY, Elisha knew that God heals! His faith was so overwhelming that, finally, after his own death, a man hastily cast into his sepulcher was at once raised UP — RESURRECTED — when the dead man's body touched Elisha's decaying bones. Nonetheless, at the end of his life, Elisha one of God's most powerful and faithful prophets — fell sick. And, get this now, he died of that sickness and was buried (II Kings 13:14, 20). God intends that every natural man finally die! But this does not mean that the faithful finally run out of faith. Neither does it mean God runs out of healing power. Positively, it does not mean God forgets to heal. It does mean we must understand that patience is a factor in working out God's plan.
When we look back into the life of the father of the faithful, we find that Abraham had to wait 25 long, long, long years for the answer to God's promise concerning Isaac. Abraham was seventy-five years old when he was called to go into the land of promise (Gen. 12:1-4). He waited patiently — faithfully — for the son through whom his family would grow great — as numerous as the sand by the sea. But until that first son came there could be no beginning of the great nation which had been promised. That son, Isaac, wasn't born until Abraham was one hundred years old (Gen. 21:5). During those 25 years Abraham demonstrated his faith. His faith grew and grew. It was fortified through the years. His faith was built! And finally the fruit of that faith was the beginning of the whole nation of Israel. The patriarchs' lives are continual reminders that time is involved in the working of real faith. If we, look forward into Genesis 25:20-26 we find that Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah. He prayed to God asking that his barren wife deliver a son to him but it took 20 years to get the answer — 20 long, long years. You see, he was sixty years old before the twins. Esau and Jacob, were finally born.
More Historical Evidence
Shortly after Israel escaped from the land of sin God revealed Himself as the Healer (Ex. 15:26). He healed those people — of that, there is no doubt. There is no room to question this — His Word stands fast and secure and completely explains the situation. Nonetheless, these people who had God as their Healer, all died in the next forty years! Joshua and Caleb lived a little longer but they also finally died — and they had proved their faith in Him by being willing to go up against the giants in the promised land. We can review these historical events and readily agree that time was a necessary factor in the establishment of the faith of the patriarchs. We can also believe — even if not so easily — that it may be needful for our faith to be tried for a time so that we may be perfected. Yet, we are apt to have great difficulty in being faithful if the waiting runs off into the time of death. But be assured that the faith of God transcends even the mighty strength of death. The faith of God overcomes, conquers, nullifies death — the ghastly, haunting, enemy of all mankind. Faith gives life to those who are truly faithful.
God's Point of View
We must take our minds off the immediate, physical, what-we-want solution! We have to look at it from God's point of view. Notice Lazarus' illness and death (John 11:1-45). Grasp the significance of this startling chain of events. Lazarus was so sick that his sisters feared for his life. They knew who could heal him — they had complete faith that Christ would heal him (John 11:21-22). But Christ did not immediately respond to their plea. He allowed Lazarus to die! Lazarus wasn't forgotten. Rather, Christ made the astoundingly impressive point that it is the RESURRECTION which is of paramount importance. Lazarus was only raised to resume his transient physical life but this gave LIVING PROOF that — even as this particular healing subdued death temporarily — it is God's purpose and plan to triumph decisively over ALL DISEASE AND DEATH (John 11:76). We must clearly realize this!
All of the things that happen during this life are for the purpose of developing sons of God — spiritual children. Even death enters into the Plan of God in order that it too may have its part in the perfection of God's children. So far as He is concerned, it is the Kingdom — His family — which is important! No matter the time involved, no matter the tests that ensue, no matter how lengthy the trials may be, it is the production of living spiritual children that overshadows all other considerations. God is building His Kingdom — His family — and expects us to keep it as our primary goal. We need to look beyond mere physical life. Look beyond just the taking of a few more breaths. Look into the reality of SPIRITUAL, IMMORTAL LIFE. Physical man simply wasn't made to live forever. We need to get this fact firmly established in OUT minds. God told David that an average man's lifespan would be about seventy years (Ps. 90:10). God did not intend that mortal, physical man live forever. Such a concept is completely outside of God's Purpose. God does not want physical Sons — He wants SPIRITUAL Sons!!
A Proper Attitude
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had the kind of attitude that you and I ought to have. We should not be over careful about sustaining our physical lives. We should not be greatly concerned about simply living a little longer. Rather, we should meet life and its problems in the attitude of overcoming so that finally we will be spirit. We should simply make up our minds that we are not going to serve any other god or worship any other being or system knowing that if our God wants us to live a little longer He will see to it that we do. He will deliver us from all of our trials if only we trust Him completely (Dan. 3:16-18). These three young Jewish lads knew that physical death was not the end. They had hope in the resurrection which was promised by their God. We too can have faith that there will be a resurrection TO LIFE. We too can have the hope that we will be in that resurrection HEALED of all our infirmities, diseases, and afflictions.
Faith in Spite of Death
Remember David had an infant son who was very ill (II Sam. 12:15). David prayed to God with all fervency. For seven days he lay on the ground fasting and beseeching God to heal his child. David had an all-abiding faith that the child would live. His relationship with God was very intimate. He had personal, direct communication with the God who heals! He knew God as few men have known the Eternal. Nonetheless, David's son died! He fasted, he wept, he prayed, as long as there was breath in the child, as long as the child was alive. When the child died he did not lose faith. He didn't throw up his hands in despair, wail, moan or condemn God. But that's what his servants would have done — that's what most people would do. David knew his prayer was going to be answered. His vision of the future became more acute. He looked down through time to the resurrection and expected to see that dead child completely healed! He did not lose faith. He did not give up on God. He did not become distraught. But rather, once the problem had been disposed of to God's satisfaction, he simply left the whole matter in God's hands. All of the heroes in the Bible have died. The really great men about which the Bible speaks — those who walked and talked and ate with the Logos — are dead. They "knew the score," however. They knew what the ultimate reward is going to be. They knew where life came from and they knew who had control over it. They were intimately associated with the God who is The Healer. But they didn't become all wrapped up in mere physical existence — vaporous, temporal life — every last one of them — Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, and all of the other faithful who are listed in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews — looked forward to a better RESURRECTION.
They Kept the Real Goal in Mind!
The mere fact that they had to suffer physical discomfort for a while, the fact that they had to meet the vicissitudes of life with faith did not deter them. They were not concerned when they were cast off or cast out. They were not hampered when they found themselves ill or facing a sword of the tyrant. They simply relied on God. They were content with the way in which God dealt with them. They were assured that ultimately God would provide them with the perfect solution. They believed God even as they moved into the very jaws of death. Death and the grave did not dissuade them from their established faith. They died in faith! They were willing to die! They knew that mere physical death does not limit God. They knew that God planned for men to die. Reflect for a moment. Do you lose faith in God if He does not heal you immediately? Of course you don't. Well then, must He heal you in twenty minutes? twenty days? twenty weeks? twenty years? Of course not! The answer is always the same if you are faithful. If you know God and trust Him implicitly you'll wait on Him. You see, God made time. He is superior to it. God made physical life and He is superior to that, too. A thousand years is as a day to our God. And so if He chooses to wait until the resurrection — for your benefit — for your healing, why fret, nag, whine, weep, why lose faith? If we lose faith we deny God and are in the process of losing our salvation.
Physical Healing Only the Beginning
God is the God who heals but physical healing is only a first step in His Plan. It is spiritual healing which is really important. Christ died — remember that! And He is our example. We need not fear death when we have a Saviour that has shown us we can come out of death into immortal life. Christ rose from the dead completely healed. He was healed forever from the cuts, bruises, contusions and mutilations which had wrecked His physical body. We can be assured that we too will be healed when we arise in the resurrection. Christ has provided for this greater healing. It is far easier for God to provide us with the simple physical gifts which we want and need. It is easy for Him to give us food, clothing, air, water, physical life! It's easier to provide us with these things than with spiritual healing and life. Each of us recalls that Psalms 103:3-4 gives us the promise of physical healing. But let's look at that scripture a little closer. You see, He does promise to forgive all of our sins. He promises to heal all of our diseases. But in the very next verse He also promises to redeem our lives from destruction. He is referring to the resurrection, eternal life, complete spiritual healing and ENDOWMENT WITH SPIRITUAL LIFE! Abraham trusted the Eternal for everything. God provided him with all of the physical blessings which made him a happy, prosperous, and completely successful man. Abraham understood that he could trust Him with something which was dearer to him than his own personal life. He trusted God with the life and the death of his only son — that promised son, the seed from which was to spring the nation promised by the Eternal God. Because he trusted this God — had faith in Him — he was willing to kill Isaac. He was willing to turn Isaac into a lifeless lump of flesh because God gave him the directions. You see, we must do more than just believe there is a God — we must submit to His authority. We must admit that He has a Plan that is worthwhile. We must look to the end of the matter. If we hesitate, veer, stay inactive, then we prove that we don't really believe. Have faith that God will heal you no matter what. But understand further that faith to be healed of physical infirmities is only the very first step toward absolute faith. It requires much more faith to believe — really believe — THAT THE DEAD WILL COME TO LIFE, THAT THE DEAD WILL BE HEALED. Each one of us has to be willing to enter death in faith knowing that our healing is assured. And so when you hear about someone in the Church who has died don't be in despair or dismay. Don't wonder whether God is still powerful. Don't wonder about the faith of the individual who has died. Don't wonder — just have faith. For faith will provide the solution. Faith raises the very dead. Faith provides for healing — COMPLETE HEALING, ABSOLUTE HEALING, THE HEALING OF DEATH ITSELF. And a Christian may have to die to — prove his faith in that!