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REALIZING THAT THERE IS MUCH CONTROVERSY AMONG THE VARIOUS DIVISIONS OF RELIGIOUS BELIEFS ON THE SUBJECT OF DIVINE HEALING, AND REALIZING ALSO THAT THERE IS A BIBLE ANSWER THAT SHOULD SETTLE THE MINDS OF EVERY TRUE BELIEVER, I FEEL COMPELLED TO DEAL WITH THE SUBJECT, USING ALL THE FAMILIAR SCRIPTURES, AND SOME OTHERS THAT ARE SELDOM CONSIDERED, AND I PRAY THAT IN DOING SO, WE CAN ESTABLISH ONCE AND FOR ALL WHAT DIVINE HEALING IS, AND WHAT IT IS NOT. MOST OF THOSE WHO PREACH ON THIS SUBJECT, HAVE A FEW PET VERSES OF SCRIPTURE THEY ALWAYS USE, AND THEY NEVER BOTHER TO PRESENT THEM IN THE CONTEXT OF WHAT THE WRITER WAS ACTUALLY DEALING WITH, NOR DO THEY EVEN BOTHER TO PRESENT THE CONDITIONS THAT USUALLY ACCOMPANY SUCH PROVISIONS. FOR EXAMPLE, TAKE ISAIAH 53:5, WHERE IN A PROPHECY CONCERNING THE MESSIAH THAT ISRAEL LOOKED FOR, ONE OF HIS STATEMENTS WAS, “AND WITH HIS STRIPES WE ARE HEALED.” OVER 700 YEARS LATER WHEN THE APOSTLE PETER WAS DEALING WITH THE SUBJECT OF CHRISTIAN CONDUCT AND EXAMPLESHIP, HE USED ISAIAH’S TERMINOLOGY (1ST PET. 2:24) “BY WHOSE STRIPES YE WERE HEALED,” AND THAT HAS BECOME A KEY VERSE FOR ALL THOSE WHO PREACH DIVINE HEALING, BUT MY POINT IS, THEY LIFT IT OUT OF THE CONTEXT OF WHAT PETER WAS DEALING WITH. HOW MANY OF YOU HAVE EVER STUDIED THAT WHOLE CHAPTER WHEN YOU GO THERE TO READ THAT ONE VERSE? WOULD YOU SAY THAT PETER WAS PREACHING ON DIVINE HEALING? YOU WHO BELIEVE HE WAS, HAD BETTER GO BACK AND READ THAT WHOLE CHAPTER. FIND OUT WHAT PETER WAS REALLY ENDEAVORING TO GET ACROSS TO THOSE PREDESTINED SAINTS OF GOD.
THERE IS ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF GROSS MISUSE OF SCRIPTURE CONCERNING SOMETHING JAMES WROTE IN CHAPTER 4, VERSE 7, FO THE EPISTLE BEARING HIS NAME. A LOT OF YOU WILL KNOW WHAT I AM GOING TO SAY, BUT TELL ME, HOW MANY TIMES HAVE YOU HEARD SOMEONE SAY, THE BIBLE SAYS, RESIST THE DEVIL, AND HE WILL FLEE FROM YOU? YOU HEAR IT OFTEN, AND IT DOES SAY THAT, BUT DID YOU EVER WONDER WHY THEY DO NOT ALSO QUOTE THE FIRST PART OF THAT VERSE? THERE IS A CONDITION TO BE MET BEFORE THE FAMILIAR PART OF THAT VERSE BECOMES EFFECTIVE FOR YOU. LET US READ THE WHOLE VERSE, AND YOU WILL SEE WHAT I MEAN. JAMES IS DEALING WITH ATTITUDES AND MOTIVES, AND THE SPIRIT BEHIND THEM, AND GIVING GOOD INSTRUCTIONS TO BELIEVERS ON PROPER BEHAVIOR, AND IN VERSE 7, HE SAYS, “SUBMIT YOURSELVES THEREFORE TO GO. RESIST THE DEVIL, AND HE WILL FLEE FROM YOU.” DO YOU THINK IT WILL DO YOU ANY GOOD TRYING TO RESIST THE DEVIL, IF YOU HAVE NOT SUBMITTED YOURSELF TO THE LORD? HOW WILL YOU RESIST HIM? I HOPE YOU SEE THE POINT I AM TRYING TO MAKE. I AM NOT ENDEAVORING TO TAKE ANYTHING FROM ANYONE, BUT I DO DESIRE TO SHOW YOU FROM THE WORD OF GOD WHERE CERTAIN SCRIPTURES BELONG, AND WHY SOME OF YOU NEVER ATTAIN THE DESIRED RESULTS FROM CERTAIN SCRIPTURES YOU PUT SO MUCH EMPHASIS ON. I WILL NOT DO THIS JUST MERELY BY GIVING YOU MY OPINION. I DESIRE TO LAY OUT A SCRIPTURAL PICTURE BEFORE YOU, THAT WILL CAUSE CRITICS FROM BOTH EXTREMES TO HAVE TO TAKE ANOTHER LOOK AT THE BIBLE, AND READ THEIR SCRIPTURES IN THE COMPLETE CONTEXT OF WHAT THE WRITER WAS DEALING WITH. SOME PEOPLE SEARCH THROUGH THE BIBLE JUST LOOKING FOR VERSES HERE AND THERE THAT THEY CAN USE IN THEIR RELENTLESS EFFORTS OF TRYING TO ESTABLISH A CERTAIN DOCTRINE, BUT TRUE CHILDREN OF GOD SHOULD KNOW BETTER THAN TO DO THAT. GOD WANTS HIS CHILDREN TO STUDY HIS WORD, AND ALLOW THE HOLY GHOST TO GIVE THEM A REVELATION THAT WILL GO BEYOND JUST MERE HEAD KNOWLEDGE OF WHAT THE SCRIPTURES SAY. IT IS UPON THE ROCK OF REVELATION THAT JESUS CHRIST IS BUILDING HIS CHURCH. YOU MAY KNOW PEOPLE WHO CAN PRACTICALLY QUOTE THE WHOLE BIBLE WORD FOR WORD, BUT HAVE YOU EVER WONDERED JUST HOW MUCH OF IT THEY ACTUALLY UNDERSTAND? I HAVE. FOR THE VIRTUE IS NOT DEPENDENT UPON HOW MUCH SCRIPTURE WE CAN MEMORIZE, BUT RATHER IN WHAT WE ARE ABLE TO APPLY TO OUR LIVES IN THIS JOURNEY OF LIFE.
THE PROMISED MESSIAH
Let us open our Bibles to the 53rd chapter of Isaiah now, and read the first seven verses as a text for what we want to deal with. This is a prophecy given by Isaiah concerning Jesus the Christ and what would be accomplished at Calvary. “Who hath believed our report? And to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him. He is despised and rejected of men: a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faced from Him: He was despised, and we esteemed Him not. Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 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. He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He openeth not His mouth.” That one setting of scripture gives us a true picture of Jesus Christ. In these short seven verses are found ever so many phrases that give us a vision of the man called Jesus the Christ. Some of them are figurative of course, but that just enhances the picture even more. Like the second verse for instance, “For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant.” Yes, right in the midst of a religious society of Judaism. Have you ever noticed a little plant that would be standing in an altogether desolate looking place, and wondered how that little thing could just keep right on growing when everything around it seemed to be dead or dying? That is a picture of Jesus the perfect Son of God, growing up in the midst of an apostate, perverted, and rebellious religious society. Notice now, “And as a root out of dry ground.” It is pretty hard for roots to sprout life in dry ground, but here is a prophecy about Jesus, using that very terminology. He was the very life of God being manifested to a dying element of people that had carried this prophecy for more than 700 years. Through time, God had caused those Jewish people to draw from the benefits of it, yet as far as knowing anything about the fulfillment of it, they knew nothing. That is still true today. Many people are partaking of the benefits of a lot of provision they know absolutely nothing about. I can just hear those Scribes and Pharisees boasting of a great prophet by the name of Isaiah, but when that man’s prophecy was fulfilled, they were as void of life and reality as some of these old dried out, red clay banks you see along the highway at times, just an old dry crust. Right in the midst of that, a tender plant shoots forth displaying life and purpose. That gives the setting, and next comes something dealing with the person. “He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him.” There was absolutely nothing about the man’s looks that would draw attention from the natural society of that day. He had no title, nor degrees, and no plaques on His wall, nor anything else to proclaim to the world what a great person He was. There was absolutely nothing about His looks, nor His background, that would cause people to desire Him. Yet these Hollywood type television preachers who claim to be exemplifying Jesus, will do everything within their means to get their name plastered on billboards, in the newspapers, on television, and any other place they can think of, with a great spiel about how great they are. They are known the world over, not necessarily because they are great men of God, but primarily because their advertising proclaims them to be. On the other hand, the greatest man that ever walked on earth, in simplicity, and with integrity exemplified character and obedience to the Father that God wants us to see, and that the world at large cannot see. There is no character to be found in those Hollywood actors out there. The world may call them great, but has God called them great? No! They have their reward already. Brothers and Sisters: I am not saying these things just to belittle these men: I am saying them to help you see that genuine greatness does not come to anyone in that manner.
UNDERSTANDING AND WISDOM ON DISPLAY
I was just reading in the 2nd chapter of Luke how Jesus, when he was only twelve years old, was found in the temple sitting in the midst of the great scholars, listening to them, and also asking them questions, in so much that they were astonished at his understanding and answers. Then over in John 7:14-15, Jesus was in the temple teaching, and the Jews marveled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned? In other words, How can a man who has never even gone to our seminary know so much about the word of God? Brother He wasn’t standing up there recognizing Professor So and So, and Dr. So and So. From such and such university. He was speaking for His Father, and He was willing to let the chips fall where they would, so to speak. There was no compromising for the sake of sparing anyone’s feelings. When the great doctors of the law of Moses withstood Him, He did not hesitate to call them serpents, or children of the devil. He recognized the spirit in them, and knew that they could never be children of God. Satan’s children do not have the new birth experience. That is reserved for foreknown children of God that all too often have been servants (not children) of Satan.
THE PROMISE, AND THE CONDITION
Alright now, as we go through the Bible looking at often used scriptures, that are used in an effort to establish a doctrine of divine healing, we come to Psalms 103, to start our journey. This prophecy and promise was written long before Isaiah ever came upon the scene in Israel. Starting with verse 2, we read these words, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: Who forgiveth all thing iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases.” Saints, I want you to notice, that in these scriptures, divine healing as a promise, is connected with the fact that there is iniquity or sin involved. Please do not ever separate it. That is the way God meant for it to be seen. We will go right back to Exodus 15:26, (another frequently used verse) and we will see the very same thing there. This was after the bitter waters had been made sweet by casting a tree into them at the instruction of the Lord. The people had been murmuring against Moses because of the bitter water, and the Lord took this occasion to prove them, and said, “If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in His sight, and wilt give ear to His commandments, and keep all His statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that healeth thee.” How many times I have heard men who pray for the sick, just simply quote the Last seven words of that verse; “I am the Lord that healeth thee.” That is an absolute truth, but it is connected to everything else in that entire verse. When you isolate it from its context, you are avoiding what God had in mind. Let us just take a minute to examine this entire picture. We all know how God opened up the Red, Sea for the children of Israel to walk across on dry ground, and how He caused the waters to come together again drowning the Egyptians that pursued them, and how all the people rejoiced when they saw what the Lord had done for them. But in only three days time, they seemed to have forgotten that the Lord was still their supplier. They journeyed three days from the crossing of the Red Sea, and their water supply was exhausted, and when they came to this old stagnated water hole, and found that the water was not fit to drink, what did they do? They began complaining to Moses and Aaron, and blaming them for the fact that they were found in those circumstances, but was it their fault? The answer is emphatically, No! God was testing them. Brothers and Sisters: Let me say right now, Do not ever get to the place where you think God is through testing you. For as long as we remain in this mortal flesh, every true child of God is going to be tried and tested. God is not seeking to mold us into stable, word believing children who know beyond any shadow of doubt that He is our protector, and supplier of every need. Not every want, every need. You can depend upon Him. Does that mean that we will always have everything we need? You will always have everything God sees that you need, including trials and tests. Anyone can have faith and confidence in God when everything is going well. But how many are able to do what Paul wrote in 2nd Thess. 5:18, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” It does not say, Give thanks for every thing that happens, but it does say, or mean, that no matter what the conditions around us may be, we ought to be ever mindful of the presence of God to deliver us in due time, and be thankful for that. So what we see here in Exodus is a series of conditions whereby the Lord tested those Israelites, and no matter how many times He delivered them, and provided for the, the very next time something went wrong, they began to murmur and complain, What kind of a leader are you Moses? Did you just bring us out here to die? Why didn’t you just let us die in Egypt? At least we would have had plenty to eat and drink while we were still alive. Moses was being tested too. He did not know three days ahead of time, that this old water hole would be like that. When the people began to murmur, Moses cried out unto the Lord, and the Lord showed him an old tree, and had him cast it into the water, and the water was made sweet. Doest that mean that there was some special virtue in that old tree? Of course not. The virtue was in being obedient to the word of the Lord. Though there was no purifying virtue in that old tree, this was absolutely the only way that stagnated water could have been made drinkable, because this is what God told Moses to do. God is our supplier, but He uses people and things to get the job done, and He expects us to be spiritual enough to recognize His part in it all.
COMPLAINTS INSTEAD OF THANKS
Another time when those journeying Israelites needed water, God told Moses to take his rod in his hand and smite a certain rock, and, water would come out of it, and that is exactly what happened. It just goes to show, that no matter what the situation may be like, there is always something that God will use to change the circumstances on behalf of His people. And many times, after a great trial, He will bless you abundantly, just like He did them, after they journeyed onward from the waters that were made sweet. The very next place they came to, had twelve wells of water and seventy palm trees, and they camped there, and enjoyed them. What happened when they left there, you say? God took them out into the wilderness, and let their food supply run out. Now you would think that by now they would have gained some confidence in the Lord to supply what they had need of, but had they? No, it was the same old story; all they could think to do, was blame Moses and Aaron. But in spite of their attitude God was on the scene, for He was working out a purpose, establishing a truth that would stand the same right on through the ages. Notice verse 4, of chapter 16, what was said, and done. “Then the Lord said unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, THAT I MAY PROVE THEM, whether they will walk in my law, or not.” God gave them those little wafers which they referred to as manna from heaven, and instructed them about how much of it they were to gather up for each person, and so forth, but you know, they could not even obey God in that. Some of them gathered extra and stored it up for later, and the next day it had already turned to a stinking mess of worms. Yet when they followed the Lord’s instruction, and gathered enough on the sixth day to keep over for the Sabbath, it stayed fresh. But in spite of the Lord’s instructions, some of them went out on the seventh day to gather for that day as if the Lord had not even spoken to them. Saints, some people just simply have a terrible time all because they will not follow the word of the Lord. God was giving them quail in the evening, and manna in the morning, and not one of them had any lack for sufficient food, but the very moment a little something went wrong they immediately began crying to Moses and Aaron as if God had forsaken them. God was moving them toward Mt. Sinai, where He was going to give them a law to govern themselves by, and He was testing them along the way, and it seemed as though they did not learn a thing. That is how some people are. They just live for the moment. When things are going good for them, they can jump, and shout, and praise the Lord above everything else, and the very moment a little trial hits their life they will start crying, “I thought God loved me. Why is He allowing me to suffer like this? If something doesn’t change soon: I may never set my foot inside a church house again. This is just too much for me to bear.” How many of you have heard people talk like that? I have. They do not have any more faith in God than a rattlesnake. They can only believe what they can see, touch, taste and so forth.
KEEPING GOD’S WORD BALANCED
Well, Moses finally gets this rebellious gang to the foot of Mt. Sinai, and God begins to give them the ten commandments, and they became fearful and said to Moses, You speak to us: but let not God speak with us, lest we die. So God continued speaking to them through Moses saying, “Ye shall not make with me gods of silver, neither shall ye make unto you gods of gold.” Then He gave them a long list of judgments and ordinances, and made promises to those who would walk therein, and He called Moses to come up upon the mountain where He would meet with him. Moses stayed up there forty days and nights, and the Lord gave him the two tables of stone with the Ten Commandments written thereon. But the people grew impatient waiting for him to return to them, so what did they do? They got hold of Aaron and said, Get up, and make us some gods, that will go before us, for this Moses that brought us out here has disappeared, and we don’t know what has happened to him. So before Moses could get back to them, they were already worshiping a golden calf. God told Moses he had better get himself back down there to them, for they had already corrupted themselves. They were like some of these Pentecostals that go around saying, If the Spirit does not move me: I move the Spirit. They just simply cannot wait upon the Lord to move in His time: they just feel compelled to get something going. God has a perfect way of molding character, attitude, determination and consistency into our lives, if we will just not get impatient, and run ahead of Him. Some people gauge their whole life by the material progress, and easy life that they are able to enjoy, and they never stop to realize that they are void of the leading of the Spirit of God until many times it is too late. There in the wilderness, after they had crossed the Red Sea, more of those Israelites died than probably were killed by the Egyptians in all the years of their slavery. Why? All because they were inconsistent in recognizing God’s goodness and mercy. In Exodus 32:6, we read, (This was after they made their golden calf to worship) “And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings: and the people sat down to eat and drink; and rose up to play.” Can you imagine a people that has witnessed the supernatural power of the living God as many times as they had, turning to worship a manmade idol? God’s anger was stirred up to the point where He told Moses, Let me destroy every one of them, and I will make of thee a great nation. But Moses intervened for them, reminding the Lord of the promise He had made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob concerning their seed, and the land He would give unto them. The Lord spared them from total destruction, but the sons of Levi were sent throughout the camp with their swords slaying those that had instigated such an abomination. They had plenty to eat, plenty to drink, and they were going to the church of their choice, so to speak, worshiping manmade gods instead of the true and living God that had delivered them from Egyptian bondage, so all they had in mind was eating, drinking and playing. But God had a higher purpose than that for them. By His own sovereign choice, He had determined to mold an element of people from among them, into examples that would exemplify His redemptive plan and purpose for all of mankind. It was through this nation of people, that all the types and shadows pointing to Calvary, and to the overall plan of God were set. Spiritual realities were established through God’s workings with them in the realm of the natural. Therefore He did not say to them in vain, “If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in His sight, (In whose sight? In God’s sight, not our own) and will give ear to His commandments, and keep ALL His statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that healeth thee.” He gave them a law to live by, and if they would have obeyed that law from their heart, they would not have had to suffer many of the things they suffered. But I want you to notice that there are two main points to be observed here. First, the promise is to those who live by the word of the Lord, and secondly, a lot of sicknesses are not to be considered in the same light as diseases. A bad cold is not a disease. But it could lead into such, if not treated properly. Tuberculosis, cancer, leukemia, and all those killer type things are what God had in mind when He said diseases. There are a lot of people in the world today that are sick in their mind, and it is not because of a disease. In other words, They are sick in the head. Do you know why? Simply because they do not know which way to go with their lives. Even many doctors are diagnosing emotional sickness as the underlying cause of many physical problems. Fear and worry many times puts the whole system in such a state of turmoil that the natural functions of the body cannot work properly. Therefore over a prolonged period of time, a thing like that can bring on a disease that can lead to death. That is why we can saw that fear is a disease of the mind, but it is usually self inflicted, because fear is not of the Lord. When a person is full of fear, you can read it on their countenance. Their whole expression takes on a weary look. They are not capable of facing their problems in life, because they misread everything they see and hear. Things that make other people happy only seem to worsen the situation with people who allow fear to rule their lives, because they never seem to get things connected up right. On the other hand, a truly happy person seems to always know how to balance out their thinking. When they get a bad cold, they know how to treat it. When something of a more serious nature strikes them, they do not go running off somewhere screaming in fear and disillusionment, they are able to take it to the Lord in prayer, and wait for His answer. What place does fear and doubt have in the life of a true child of God anyway? Can that change things for the better? Do not get the idea that I am promoting carelessness, for that is just the opposite of what I am trying to get you to see. But I am saying that a stabilized positive mind that recognizes the responsibilities of life, need not be fearful, and always fretting and worrying about something, for they can commit their circumstanced into the hands of an all sufficient God, and allow Him to work it out for them. So please do not isolate, “I am the Lord that healeth thee,” from the context to which it belongs. It definitely does not mean that the Lord will heal you under just any kind of circumstances. He can! But His word does not obligate Him to. I hope you see my point. You just simply cannot make a doctrine of something on the mere basis that God has worked a certain way on behalf of some needy soul in distress. Whatever God does for anyone, anywhere and at any time is for some specific purpose, which many times, only He knows. I have known Him to miraculously heal someone, that would later on in life, turn completely away from Him. Yet I have also seen precious God fearing, God loving, Bible believing saints lay and suffer for years, and then die. What yardstick can you measure a thing like that with? If you are truly spiritual you will not try to give a pat answer for everything God does. You will realize, that in His own sovereign way, He is working out a plan whereby He will perfect those that are His foreknown children, and He does not have to explain it to the tares. Furthermore, unless you are serving God in truth with your whole heart, you have no right to the promises made to those that do, for the promises are conditional upon obedience.
NOT DOCTRINE – JUST SOUND ADVICE
I am going to take you into the book of Leviticus, (no certain chapter, and you will not need to read it now) and look at the statutes and ordinances God gave those Israelites on what to eat, and what not to eat. It had a twofold purpose, but the primary objective was that God was setting a type to a people that He was sanctifying in the flesh. He was sanctifying them above all people of all nations, in order that He might set a type in the natural, of spiritual things to come. Therefore He gives them a list of clean animals that they can eat, and of unclean that they should not eat. Then we need to realize that there were certain health benefits to be derived from this selected diet. They were absolutely forbidden to eat swine flesh, and that is a part of some people’s daily diet in this Gentile society. On the other hand, some preachers have made a doctrine of abstaining from certain foods according to this list God gave the children of Israel, and they attach spiritual benefit to it, rather than just mere health benefits to the physical body. Statistics do show though, that among Jewish and Moslem women who abstain completely from eating swine flesh, there is less trace of cancer in the female organs than in any other race of people upon the face of the earth. Do you suppose that is just a coincidence? Or can we trace it back to the Bible? We must try to see God’s purpose. If after more than 3000 years this thing is still holding true, can we, and should we even want to separate the promise of Exodus 15:26, from the condition of Exodus 15:26? I say, No. Leave it like God meant for it to be. But Bro. Jackson, what about 1st Timothy 4:4, where the apostle Paul wrote Timothy that every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received for thanksgiving: for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer? Well, in the first place we need to realize that Paul was dealing with this thing from the spiritual side, for he also included forbidding to marry in the same verse that speaks of abstaining from meats. There is no condemnation to us in eating any kinds of meats, if we do so in a healthful way. But all to often we are given to excesses and extremes that do cause us physical problems. Eating meats has become an American fad, and I am afraid that there is a price to be paid for it in the flesh. Americans eat more meat than all the rest of the world put together, and instead of being the healthiest people on the face of the earth, we are fast becoming the unhealthiest. Why? Because we are consuming things in excess of what would be a practical, wise way. I just read an article recently about the soldiers wounded in Korea, and taken to the hospital. Even in those young men, doctors found a cholesterol buildup in the American men that was not present in the Korean men. That should tell us something. Those Koreans who may, or may not know anything at all about what the Bible says about the Israelites abstaining from eating certain unclean animals, still enjoy the natural health benefits, even though their abstaining may be from necessity rather than choice. I am not trying to establish any kind of health doctrine; I am only giving you examples that I believe can help you better understand what God was dealing with, as He had certain things written in the scriptures. I am fully convinced that any true scriptural doctrine that deals with the spiritual aspect of the Christian life can be preached to the universal church of the living God. But can you imagine preaching a health diet to poor souls in Haiti, or in India, or some place like that, where they just have to eat whatever they can get their hands on? Yet from the standpoint of sound advice, I believe there are some things that should be brought out of the scriptures, and applied to those who may be able to benefit from it. I just have to say this, God who gave these laws, and ordinances, and attached certain promises to them, is still the God of every single one of those promises. But do not be so foolish as to think you can run headlong on this road of life blindfolded to the extremes of the society round about you, and after drifting along in those extremes, still be a partaker of every promise in the Bible. If you think all these promises are ours, no matter how loose we live, you are way off course. Some of your trouble in life is due to the way you have lived your life, without being selective about what you do, say, eat and so forth, and some of it many times is due to just plain outright disobedience and stubbornness. That is why I say, No one message is going to deal with every aspect of the subject we are on, but I believe we can show you some things in the scriptures that can help you better understand the will and purpose of God in it all. We need to get some of the cobwebs out of peoples minds if we can, for there is something coming up the road shortly that will require Holy Ghost people to exercise some spiritual sense in order to avoid some terribly humiliating, and shaming experiences.
FAITH WROUGHT THROUGH TRIALS
I have always said, If the day ever comes, that I have to stand up in a courtroom to defend what I have lived, and taught from this pulpit, I want to be able to open up my Bible and say, “Your Honor: The witnesses in your courtroom have been required to swear by the Bible that they would tell the truth, and from that same Bible, I have read and understood what I have taught. Therefore if what is written in there is not good enough to pattern our lives after, we ought not use it to take an oath by either.” Saints: Let’s either live by it, or quit playing around with it, one of the two. Just gleaning pet doctrines from it is no spiritual benefit to you whatsoever, if you are going to ignore the rest of the book. There is positively no way that we can force God into a corner with our little doctrines; for He is sovereign. He does what He has determined to do, and He does it without checking with any of us to see if it is alright to do it, and He does it to suit His own purpose without having to do the same thing in every similar situation. The promises we find in the Bible lets us see how God desires to minister to our individual lives, but we do not obligate him unless we meet every condition that is connected to those promises. Too many times, we read Hebrews chapter 11, the faith chapter, realizing that everything that comes from the divine presence of God comes by faith, but failing to take into account the trials and tests that those men of faith had to overcome before that could be written about them. Our initial faith is an impartation from God Himself, for we have nothing of ourselves. But that faith which lays hold upon those promises is a faith that is built into us as we understand more and more of the word of God. When we read Isaiah 53:1-7, in which we find that wonderful verse, “By whose stripes we are healed,” surely we ought not fail to understand that God’s primary concern is to first get us out of our inherited dilemma. Sickness and disease are the result of sin and alienation from God; therefore His first concern is not to get your physical body healed. His primary concern is to get His foreknown children to the place where they walk in complete harmony with Him, and healing for the body of flesh is only one of the promised benefits that one may enjoy along the way. In other words, God is concerned about the healing of the body of Christ, but not the healing of the sicknesses and diseases of the nations. Brothers and Sisters: I hope you do not think I am preaching against divine healing; I am not. I just desire to see the body of Christ get it into its proper place. I remember years ago when God first brought us out of the Methodist Church into this wonderful light of His word. I just wanted to have the kind of faith that it seemed like most everyone was preaching at that time. I wanted to get so spiritual, and have so much faith, that I would never be sick again. Brother! I realize now, that if that ever happened, God would cease to be a healer! Is that the way you wish to interpret the word of God? If it is, you will have to ignore a lot of other scriptures. No, you may as well face it honestly: that is not what the Bible teaches. But I will say this, If God has told you that you will never be sick: you will never be sick. But most of us face certain trials and tests along the way, and it is important, how we deal with them. If we will not let the devil get in and take over our thinking, somewhere along the way, God will intervene and take care of the problem. It is a natural reaction for us to want deliverance as soon as a pain strikes us, but it is not right, and not pleasing in the sight of God when we become frustrated, and just allow our thinking to run completely wild. His word does not teach us that we should refuse medical help when it is available to us, but it certainly does teach us, that whether we accept medical help or not, we should still have faith in God, and believe that He will work out all things for our good.
AFFLICTION IS NOT SICKNESS AND DISEASE
There is an often quoted verse in the 34th Psalm that I want us to look at, while we are still in the Old Testament. It is verse 19, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.” Now this is a promise, and it is usually used in connection with sickness and disease, but if you will trace the word affliction, or afflictions, as it is used here, you will find that it has nothing at all to do with sickness and disease: it is strictly used in connection with persecutions, attacks of the devil in dozens of different ways. When the Lord looked upon the children of Israel in Egyptian bondage being treated as they were, what did He say to Moses, out there on the back side of the desert? “I have seen their afflictions.” He did not deliver them out of Egypt because of their sicknesses; He delivered them because of their afflictions. He saw their afflictions, and heard the cries, but their cries were a result of the way those Egyptians treated them. They hated them, and thought they could get rid of them by working them to death, but God had other plans. He delivered them out of the hands of those Egyptians. Is that the way God always delivers righteous souls that are being persecuted and ridiculed? No. He delivers some of them by taking them to glory, after their heads have been cut off. He will never let a truly righteous soul spend a lifetime in jail though, even though many of them spent quite a little time in jail. Isaiah 53, even uses that word afflicted, in connection with Jesus Christ, so are we going to say that Jesus was sick, or diseased? No. But He was hated, and persecuted, and ridiculed. That is how He was afflicted. You just simply cannot interpret the scriptures according to the English usage of certain words in our day, for the word affliction, is commonly applied to physically handicapped people in our day and age. In the New Testament we find the word infirmity used quite often, where we, in our day might use the word affliction; so we have to look at the scriptures in the light of the language used in the days when they were written, rather than the way we use many of the same words in our day. Therefore I say, Yes, God delivered those righteous saints out of their afflictions, (trials of persecution, ridicule, abuse, and so forth) but some of them were delivered by having their heads cut off. Oh, Bro. Jackson, I certainly do not want my head cut off. Neither do I, but God knows best, and if that is how my life is to glorify Him: then that is in His hands. Just think for a moment about how some of those early disciples of Jesus died. We would never have allowed the apostle Peter to be crucified, nor Stephen stoned to death, and to allow someone to be led to the old chopping block, and have their head cut off would be unthinkable to us, but God allowed it. His ways are not our ways. He is not like a vending machine, where you have many choices. He has one perfect way for us to walk in, and anything else is out of His perfect will. We program everything down to a human level of reasoning, and then we wonder why, when we get people saved, and their lived do not change. Then we try to get them healed, when all the time they are continuing on in sin. Sure, God could heal every last one of them, but healing is not His first concern for our lives. Some people will say, Well Jesus sure healed a lot of people when He walked on earth, and Hebrews 13:8 says that He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. That is absolutely the truth; He is the same, and His promises are the same, and always will be. But the effects of His promises are always going to be regulated according to the will and purpose of God, instead of according to the interpretation of Raymond Jackson, or the interpretations of any other preacher. God is running this thing His way, and there is not one thing that any of us can do to change it. That is why many people will absolutely end up in a ditch somewhere before the coming of the Lord. Why is that? Simply because they will want Him here ten years before His scriptural time to be here. There were several of us young fellows sitting under the ministry of Bro. William Branham, expecting that the Lord would have been here before now, but God is not bound by anything except His own word. Well, at least I never did have any part in setting a certain date for the return of the Lord, and that is more than a lot of them can say. But my point is, No matter how we may have interpreted certain scriptures 30 years ago, we are still here, and the Lord still has not come. There is no way to force the hand of God before its time, and that has caused a lot of denominational people to take an opposite extreme.
UNUSUAL CIRCUMSTANCES OF HEALING
This side of the Reformation, denominational preachers of various movements have dogmatically proclaimed that divine healing was just for the first age, and only the apostles were authorized to pray for the sick. I believe it goes without saying, that such men have lost out with God, or they would know better than to say such a thing. They deny the very book they preach out of, simply because they do not know how to interpret it. That causes them to look to medical science for all healing of every sort, when actually God is the only source of healing there is. It is just a matter of getting our thinking in the right channel. I will have to admit to you, that I did not understand these things when I was still in the Methodist church. But since that time, God has opened my eyes, and allowed me to see clearly the beautiful truth, that Jesus Christ is truly the same yesterday, today, and forever. It is man that has changed. God deals with people according to their circumstances, and the opportunities they have had to hear and believe His word, and even then, you cannot force Him to abide by any certain pattern. Therefore the final analysis of it all, is that God and His word are forever the same, and religion itself is full of unbelief. They preach unbelief, and the only thing their preaching can produce is more of the same thing. That is according to God’s own law of sowing and reaping. You will always reap an increase of what ever seed you sow. You simply cannot sow tare seed, and then reap a crop of wheat from them, if you know what I mean. By the same token, you cannot preach unbelief, and have souls born into the kingdom of God as a result of your preaching. But Bro. Jackson, there were at least 50 people that came to the altar, in that meeting I attended last night. That has nothing at all to do with it; you simply cannot change the word of God. History reveals that God many times has showed Himself to be a merciful healer in certain sets of circumstances where those who witnessed it one time, might never have had the same opportunity again. I am reminded of just such a thing, that I read from an old book about John Wesley. He was not a preacher that preached on divine healing as many of the well known evangelists of our day are known to do. But there are two particular cases recorded, that I want to relate to you. The first is about a particular woman who was a devout follower of the teaching of John Wesley. The time was at hand for her to deliver a child. Night came on, and the labor pains started, and they sent for the doctor to come. The doctor came, and did all he could do, but there was no delivery, and her labor pains turned into extreme agony. They feared for the poor woman’s life, but there was little that anyone could do for her. Then someone fell upon the idea of calling for John Wesley to come and pray for her, because of their belief in the prayers of that man of God. A runner was sent to bring him, but when he arrived at the place where John Wesley was supposed to be staying, he was nowhere to be found. But, do you know what happened? Someone said, Here is the bride off of his horse; take that. How silly, some have said. But, Saints: Do not ever sell God short. Is there anything too hard for Him? That runner took that old bride back, and they laid it across the woman’s stomach, and in just a very short time, she delivered her baby. Do we question God? Absolutely not. I am sure the woman would not have wanted to go through the same ordeal year after year, just to prove that God is still a healer, or that God is still the same, but God allowed her, a precious believer, to suffer such an ordeal, so He could show her just how real He truly is. Where did they get the idea to do such a thing, some may wonder? They got it from the 19th chapter of Acts, where Paul was having such a great revival at Ephesus. Let us read verses 11 & 12. “And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them.” The medical profession of our day would think a thing like that was awful silly, but God used it then, and He has used it from time to time since the two references we mentioned. But tell me, Should we preach that, and make a doctrine out of it? No. It is not recorded in the Bible, to be used as a foundation for a doctrine. It just allows us to see how a sovereign God can do things for His own glory and honor without being forced to do it every time man expects it to be done. That is why I said, God is not a vending machine.
SOMETHING YOU CANNOT BUY – NOR SELL
Another case involving John Wesley goes something like this, While John would be preaching, the Holy Ghost would come upon people and they would just fall out under the power of the Spirit, and someone would haul them home in a wagon. They did not lay hands on them for this experience, it was altogether a sovereign act of God. But in one particular service, there was a man present, who made fun of those that passed out. He called them a bunch of fanatics, and thought that was all a lot of foolishness, but God did not think it was foolishness, for a little later that man was found lying on the floor, with severe cramps. The doctor was called, and he did all he could, but the man was still in agony, begging for someone to do something. When they had done everything they knew to do, and the man thought he was dying for sure, he said, See if you can get hold of the preacher by the name of John Wesley, and ask him to come and pray for me. John Wesley came in, and knelt down over that poor man, as he lay there screaming and wallowing on the floor, and prayed for him, and immediately his cramps were gone. He never criticized the things of God any more. But do you know what that reminds me of? These Church of Christ preachers on the radio, that are always challenging someone to come on their program and heal someone, if there is any such thing as divine healing. I do not know how God lets them get by with such ungodly criticism, but surely there is a reason why He does. They have even gone so far as to offer 10,000 dollars for scientific proof that someone has been healed by the power of God. They are blind, and cannot see where they are going. No one who has truly experienced divine healing, is looking for an opportunity to sell his or her experience to a bunch of unbelievers like that. Maybe I should just say it like this, To my knowledge, those who have accepted various challenges from them have never been able to prove anything, for God is not in that sort of thing. They will get their proof in due time, but it will never help their unbelieving souls, for that is not how the Father draws men to salvation.
WHO IS THE GOSPEL FOR?
As we look deeper into the salvational aspect of all these promises, we have to realize that they are promises made by a sovereign God, and the benefits of them are bestowed upon needy humanity to accomplish the purpose of this sovereign God. We have no right to lift any of them out of the Bible, with the idea of applying them to our little church programs. We cannot even do that with the salvation of a lost soul, so why should we be allowed to distribute the children’s bread in just any old carnal way? I know all of you have heard at one time or another, some preacher say, Come on sinner, give your heart to God; you can be saved any time, and any place you choose, so why not now. But that is not the truth. That lost sinner cannot be saved until the Spirit of God draws him, no matter what the preacher may say. Naturally when we look at the great commission, Jesus did not say, God into all the world and preach the gospel to every (What?) Predestined seed. I grant you, I have known some characters that interpret it that way, but God’s will is for us to preach the gospel to all who will listen to it, and He will save them, all that have an ear to hear the Spirit of God saying. This is for you. Today is the day of your salvation. We preach it as though the whole world is going to believe and be saved, but we know that only those who were foreknown of the Father are going to believe unto salvation. We also know that the promises of God are only to them, even though others have been known to receive the benefits of some of those promises. I want to read John 6:44, to you though, in order that you may have scripture for what I just said. “No man can come to me, (Jesus speaking) except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.” Our only authority, and our only responsibility to woo that predestined soul, and cause him to see the need for his own personal salvation. The early apostles never tried to manipulate the gospel message, and present it as though every person had a choice as to when and where they would be saved, and neither did they go around just looking for predestined seed to preach to. They preached as though they expected everyone that heard them to be saved, but they were never known to arm wrestle anyone to an altar of prayer. Neither did they ever put a name on the church roll. They left the bookkeeping to the only one who know which names belong on that church roll, and those names were written there before God ever created anything. That is where His great foreknowledge enters into the picture. He did not have to wait unto the end, to find out who would believe and be saved. He already knew. The gospel is preached to call the heirs of salvation home to their inheritance, but those who preach it do not know who the heirs are, so they preach the message to everyone who will listen. Praise God! I’m glad I don’t know which ones are predestined to believe. I prefer to have Him running the thing. One thing I do know though, Many times God has healed a lost man as a means of getting his attention, and usually when that happens, it gets the attention of a lot of others also, but that is strictly in His hands. Man has no control over it. It is just like the case where the Holy Ghost poured out upon the Gentiles in the house of Cornelius, before they were baptized in water. God is sovereign; He can do that. But the promise in Acts 2:38, has a condition to be met first. “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, AND YE SHALL RECEIVE THE GIFT OF THE HOLY GHOST.” Now, notice the next verse. “For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as (What?) The Lord our God shall CALL.” Take that verse along with John 6:44, and you will see that only those who are wooed by the Spirit of the Father will ever believe unto salvation. Bro. Jackson: Doesn’t it say, Whosoever will? Yes, but God knows who will. He even told Cain that if he would do right, he would be accepted also, but He already knew Cain would not do right. God did not force Cain to do what he did, but neither would He force him to do right either. He just allowed him to follow his inbred nature.
SOME MIRACLES CAUSE TROUBLE
Let me take you into the 5th chapter of Acts now, for another view of this thing of divine healing. Jesus is in Jerusalem on the Sabbath day, and finds His way to the pool of Bethesda where a lot of sick and crippled folks were lying around the pool waiting for an angel to come down and stir the waters, in the hope that they might be the one healed. One of those that lay there, was a man that had an infirmity for 38 years, and could not walk. Jesus looked at him and said, “Wilt thou be made whole?” (We have to realize that Jesus was led of the Father to do this, for by His own words, He never did anything that the Father did not lead him to do.) “The impotent man answered Him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me. (Only one person got healed each time the water was troubled.) Jesus said unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk. (He wasn’t lying on an army cot; it was just an old dirty blanket that he drug around with him.) And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the Sabbath.” This took place right in the middle of Judiastic church headquarters. The Scribes and Pharisees were all around them, and this root out of a dry ground, this tender young plant that has sprang up in the midst of this spiritual desolation, has stuck His neck out. So notice verse 10, how those hypocrites reacted. “The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, It is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed on the Sabbath day. He answered the, He that made me whole the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk.” That really stirred them up. They did not have any mercy or compassion; all they cared about was forcing everyone to keep the letter of the law. So what did this miracle of healing do? It caused an uproar. The Father led Jesus to do that, and it has caused nothing but trouble. The Jews are trying to kill Him for doing that on the Sabbath day. It seems that the only one happy about it, is the man that was healed. I hope you get my point here, for I see this healing as an act designed just to aggravate the critics, and give them something to talk about. In other words, this is what God is going to judge these by. It was designed by the Father for this very purpose. Jesus was not out on a healing campaign, or He would no doubt have healed some of those other folks that were lying around the same pool. No. He healed that one man, because He had a purpose in doing just that. Now I know some of you will say, It is the will of God to heal them all, and I agree that from our human standpoint that would be nice. But I also know that if He did, we would soon be like the children of Israel, that forgot what God had done from them down there in Egypt. The first thing you know, we would be running around looking for Him to do something new. Do not tell me, humans are not like that. People are very prone to forget just how good God is; but His main objective is to keep His children in the line of His will.
DOES SIN CAUSE SICKNESS?
The next scripture I want to look at, is not a popular one for the divine healing preachers, and those who like to preach that speaking in tongues is the evidence that we have the Holy Ghost, but it is in the Bible for a purpose, so let us look at it. In the first verse of John chapter 9, we read, “And as Jesus passed by, He saw a man which was blind from his birth.” Now saints, that is a tragedy. It is a terrible thing, when a little baby is born blind, but it is a worse tragedy when certain preachers teach it is the result of sin, either in the father of the child, or its mother, or both. But humans are like that; and that is why His disciples reacted as they did. Notice verse 2. “And His disciples asked Him, saying, Master, Who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither has this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.” That did not mean that none of them had ever done anything wrong; it just simply meant that his condition was not the result of sin in his family. Nevertheless you will find a lot of people even today, that look upon everything in that same way. That is why I mentioned speaking in tongues as the evidence of having the Holy Ghost. There are a lot of people in the world that would never believe a person had the Holy Ghost, if that person never did speak in tongues. Would you agree? Do any of you believe like that? If that were really true, then all deaf and dumb people would end up in hell, unless God healed them first. Do you see where that would put your doctrine? Such a person would have to get healed first, before they could be born again, and made children of God, for the baptism of the Holy Ghost, is the new birth, or born again experience. Therefore we must conclude, if we are going to believe the Bible, that a person can receive the Holy Ghost and still not speak in tongues, but a person absolutely cannot be born again without receiving the baptism of the Holy Ghost , for that is what the new birth is. Now my point is this, Do not tie the salvation of a soul to anything except believing unto repentance, and obedience to God’s word, and do not tie a physical handicap to personal sin. Naturally all such, are the result of the original sin in the garden of Eden, but we simply cannot apply personal sin to them every time, for there are some things as they are, strictly for God to glorify Himself through, as was the case here, for Jesus spit on the ground, and made clay to anoint the blind man’s eyes with, and then told him to go wash, in the pool of Siloam. When the man washed, he received his sight, but not everyone glorified God because of it. The Scribes and Pharisees reacted in their usual way, and before long, even the man’s parents were afraid to acknowledge that Jesus had healed their son’s eyes, lest they be put out of the synagogue. But you really have to read the last three verses of that chapter to see the overall purpose of God in this episode. In verse 39, we read this, “And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, THAT THEY WHICH SEE NOT MIGHT SEE, AND THAT THEY WHICH SEE MIGHT BE MADE BLIND.” What is our conclusion? Simply this, many times God used divine healing to draw a lost sinner to Christ, but there is never a time, when we should try to make a doctrine out of what He does. Actually when we analyze the works of Christ Jesus, we find that many times when He would perform one miracle of healing, maybe a hundred souls would believe, and at other times, He could perform a hundred miracles, and only one would believe, and accept Him as their Savior. In other words, a wrong doctrine on divine healing, has been the cause of many a poor soul just giving up, when they were taken with a disease of some kind. Nowhere in the Bible, can you find Jesus nor His disciples teaching such a thing that would cause anyone to say, If I cannot believe in Him as a supernatural healer, I guess I just cannot be saved. Yet we find men teaching things exactly like that, and many of them have a sizeable following. One such group located in Northern Indiana, actually have the same name as we do. They do not believe in going to the doctor, nor in taking medication, and a lot of them are dying because of it, and that gets them in the news. But the news media seldom ever bothers to pinpoint Faith Assembly of Indiana, they are reporting on; therefore a lot of people just naturally think it is this congregation here in Jeffersonville. But saints, listen to me, We have no such teaching as that in this assembly. There may be some here, that believe like that, but it is not because I taught any such doctrine to them. I believe that God is truly a divine healer, and furthermore He has healed me many times, but there are times when I feel the need for medical treatment, and I am scripturally positive, that it does not affect my salvation in any way, nor does it diminish anything from my personal faith and confidence in God. I just happen to believe that God expects us to use a little common sense as we travel this pathway of life. Being a child of God is not dependent on keeping a set of rigid rules; it is a life to be lived, actually to the point where the very Spirit within you, causes you to walk with God without even being conscious of having to keep certain strict rules layed down by carnal man. The devil is very cunning though. If he cannot keep you from serving God, he will try his level best to get you off on some extreme manmade doctrine, that will rob you off true fellowship with the heavenly Father. Some people work so hard trying to prove their faith, they never really enjoy any of the true benefits of a genuine faith in God. That is what is so sad about these poor souls who are taught that if they go to a doctor, it shows that they do not have faith in God. It causes many of them to try to live the life, without the Spirit of Christ to enable them. As I said: If the Lord has told you that you would never have to go to a doctor, then you can depend on that, but if you are just trying to follow some carnal teaching about divine health, you are sure to end up in a ditch somewhere, for God is not obligated in the matter.
WHY ARE SOME SO BUSY?
Those who somehow get the idea that a true Christian has to be out doing something for the church every day, or night of the week, also miss God, for He does not keep His true children so busy running here and there that they wear themselves out. Several years ago: just after we had started the church down here in New Albany, I had the idea, that in order to serve the Lord properly, we needed to run to everything that was taking place anywhere around. We had services here on Thursday night, went to the Branham Tabernacle on Wednesday night, another place on Tuesday night, and if there was something on Friday and Saturday nights somewhere we tried our best to go, and then had services to attend on Sunday. We were constantly on the go, just go, go, go, rush, rush, rush, until circumstances intervened. Finally I took a bad cold, and that thing just hung on for weeks and weeks. Every time I tried to preach, my through would just simply break down. I would use Listerine, gargle with whatever I thought might help, and take Aspirins, to try to keep myself going, but I was just simply worn out. Then one day, just as sure as I am standing right here, right now, the Lord said to me, Stop this running around! Stop this running around! Upon examination I came to one conclusion, I was just simply being driven by my own idea. There is more to serving God than just running here and there all the time. I have heard people say, (and I know you have too,) Oh, you cannot go to church too much. But I am here to tell you that you can. You can run yourself half to death. After learning this lesson the hard way, I have determined that Faith Assembly will never have so many programs going on, that it keeps people running to church for something every night. You can get yourself so busy, that you actually lose sight of the true goal of Christianity. One common phrase you hear so much from people who are busy, busy, busy, trying to serve God, is that we are saved to serve. But I say it like this, We are saved to live a life in the light of truth, and true holiness, and we need to wait upon the Lord to lead us into what ever service He has for us. That way, we will not just be serving some program, and the Lord will enable us to do what He calls up to do in service to Him, if we will not become overzealous in what we are doing. We find a case in the New Testament, where a certain brother overtaxed his body in service to the apostle Paul. In the 2nd chapter of Philippians, Paul says that Epaphroditus was sick, nigh unto death, because he had not regarded his own life in service to Christ. He says to them, God has had mercy on him, to spare his life; therefore I send him to you more carefully. In other words, Now that he is back on his feet, let us not lay such a heavy load upon him, that he cannot take care of himself, his own health, and so forth. Now the reason I wanted to put this little situation in our message, is because it demonstrates the fact that we can be sick unto death, without necessarily having some terrible disease. This fellow was at the point of death because he had driven himself to a state of exhaustion in his efforts to serve the needs of Paul and the other saints.
A DEAD MAN IS RAISED TO LIFE
Let us go to the 11th chapter of St. John, where we will look at another divine act, designed by God for His own glory. It concerns a fried of Jesus by the name of Lazarus. The chapter opens, saying, “Now a certain man was SICK, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha.” Bethany was a little town, just over the Mt. of Olives from the city of Jerusalem. Therefore many times, when Jesus would go to Jerusalem to preach, He would go back to Bethany, and spend the night in the home of His friends Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. But at the time of this particular incident, Jesus was beyond Jordan River preaching, in the same vicinity where John was baptizing, when he baptized Jesus. That put Him a good little distance from Bethany, where His friends lived. Now verse 2 says, “It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. Therefore his sisters sent unto Him, (Jesus) saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. When Jesus heard that, he said, (Notice now) THIS SICKNESS IS NOT UNTO DEATH, BUT FOR THE GLORY OF GOD, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.” Brothers and Sisters: This sickness was not just something that brought instant death to Lazarus; it lingered on for quite some time, and even though we do not find it recorded one way or the other, do you think those two sisters did not use every medical means available, trying to control that thing? The Jewish people had their physicians, and Jesus never even suggested to any of them, that they should not use them. It has been Gentiles, that have taken various scriptures, and perverted them, to exclude physicians and medicine. I will not take the time to try and establish by the scriptures, that physicians and medicine are in the Bible, for most of you know already, that they are. So let us continue on, here in John 11, where God has ordained a situation where He will get glory to His great name, and also the Son Jesus will be glorified. I just have to believe that those two sisters did everything they possibly could, to keep the fever down, and comfort their brother, Lazarus. But saints, Jesus already knew what the outcome of this incident would be, so there was no way that it could have been changed. Even if there had been ten thousand Gentile preachers praying for Lazarus to be healed, he would have still died, for this was ordained of God to be like this. Verse 5, “Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. When He had heard therefore that he was sick, He abode two days still in the same place where He was.” Natural human reaction would have been to drop everything, and go. But Jesus did only what He was led to do of the Father. It would not have done a bit of good for them to have done as most people do, Oh preacher, if yo love him like you say you do, come immediately, and pray for him. No. Two days later, Jesus said to His disciples, “Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.” Naturally His disciples did not know that He was speaking of death; they only thought of a sick man that was resting in sleep, so they said, “Lord, if he sleeps, he shall do well.” They have no way of knowing that Jesus was referring to this temporary state of death as sleep. “Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.” His disciples thought He was walking into a death trap Himself, because that angry bunch of Jews was still looking for Him, but at the suggestion of Thomas, they all decided to go with Him, even if it was to their own death. Now you all are familiar with this story. You know Lazarus had already been dead four days when they arrived there. Many of the Jews from Jerusalem were there to comfort the two sisters and when Martha heard that Jesus was on the way, she ran out to meet Him, and said, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother would not have died. But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee. Normally, the chemical makeup of the human body is breaking down and stinking terribly four days after death, unless the body has been embalmed and prepared to prevent it, as we do in our day. But Jesus said to Martha, “Thy brother shall rise again. Martha said unto Him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” That is when Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection.” But to get on with the end result, we must skip some of this reading. Jesus asked, “Where have ye laid him?” It was a cave, sealed up with a stone that covered the entrance. So He said, “Take away the stone. Martha said, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.” He did not tell them to go in there, and carry him out, even though he was wrapped up in all the embalming paraphernalia, with spices and all that gooey ointment they used in their embalming process. When they removed the stone, Jesus just simply lifted up His eyes, and said, “Father I thank thee, that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by, I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. And when He had thus spoken, He cried with a loud voice, LAZARUS, COME FORTH!” Saints: I want you to think seriously about the circumstances here. The moment Jesus said, Lazarus, Come forth! It was done. There stood Lazarus, outside the tomb, but still wrapped from head to feet in these grave clothes. He did not walk out; he floated out by the power of God. There stood a living mummy, so to speak. Jesus said to them, “Loose him, and let him go.” Those Jews that had come to comfort Martha and Mary, saw everything that took place. Some of them believed on Him, while some others went and told the Scribes and Pharisees what had happened. Brother, that set religious headquarters in an uproar. You would have expected a miracle like that, to have converted the whole city; but no, it set the city in an uproar. They turned against Him even more, and furthermore, that same old spirit is still present in the world today. No matter what may happen, nor how much good comes of it, there is always an element of people that will find fault with what is done, or how it is done, or to whom it was done, and instead of giving glory to God for the good, they become violent and hostile. But brother, nothing can change the plan and purpose of God. Neither can anyone dictate to Him, what He can, or cannot do. Bro. Jackson: Will God heal a sinner? Of course He will, and that does not necessarily mean that the sinner will give his heart to the Lord either. Will He heal every sinner? That is a foolish question, seeing that what He does, always has a foreknown purpose attached to it. Of course there are natural means through which He heals, that are not even to be considered as a divine act, for it works according to His law of healing. God is the only healer there is, even though there are many things available that assist the process of natural healing. A divine act, is when God, by His sovereign power oversteps the existing conditions, and shows Himself to be the God fo the impossible. But that is not the normal process by which we are healed. God never meant for us to bypass all the natural laws he has placed in effect, and just live in a supernatural realm all the time, and the truth is, no one can, even though many do talk, and teach as though a person ought to.
JOB’S TRIAL OF FAITH
I am sometimes amazed at some of the Bible examples that certain ones use, trying to prove, or disprove something. One man wrote, in a little book I have somewhere, The reason Job was sick, was because of fear. Do you know where he got that idea? From Job 3:25, where Job, in a lengthy discourse about his condition said, “For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me.” If such a man as wrote that little book, would just take the time to read carefully the beginning verses of that account of Job, he would see that Job was not afraid of anything like that before the devil was turned loose upon him. The Bible says, “He feared (reverenced) God, and eschewed (hated) evil, and that he was perfect and upright in his ways.” That is what God told the devil about Job, when the devil was accusing Job before Him. What Job said about fear, was his confession after he had suffered all these things. He wasn’t fearful before those boils appeared on him, and before he lost his sons and daughters, and even through all of that, he still loved and reverenced God. The only fear he had, was a reverential fear, and the Bible itself says, that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. Men who have this reverential fear of God are just the opposite of the kind of men Peter wrote about, in the 2nd chapter of his 2nd epistle, and that Jude wrote about. They wrote about men who had no fear of god, and no thought for anything except pleasing their own flesh. But let me tell you something, saints, the same devil that tested Job, is still in the world today, and God is still allowing him to test the children of God. So do not ever get the idea that God has forsaken you, just because something happens that you do not understand. Satan said to the Lord, the only reason Job serves you, is because you have blessed him abundantly, and hedged him in. If you put forth your hand and touch all that he hath, he will curse you to your face. Now the Lord new better, but He allowed Satan to go to work on Job, to strip him of all that he had, only he was not to touch his life. You see, God allowed all of that for a purpose, and God still allows that sort of thing from time to time, but you simply cannot make a general application, and apply what you read here, to every situation you hear of. Some sickness is the result of sin, and other times, or maybe we should say, In other lives, it is simply a trial of their faith. You will notice that while Job sat there on the ash heap scratching those boils, here come the preachers saying, surely this is because of some sin. Why don’t you just confess? Job called them, miserable comforters, full of vain words, and that is about all you can say for such characters as that, for most of them know very little about the true plan and purpose of God, and how to look at situations from a scriptural standpoint. But in Job’s case, God had another preacher that did not follow the same pattern as all those others. Hallelujah! This one came along with some helpful advice, and old Job recognized that his advice was different. When he finished, Job’s whole attitude was changed, for he had heard the word of the Lord. Do you know what Job’s only problem really came down to? He was righteous in his own eyes, and he did not even realize it, until Elihu spoke to him. After that, he wanted to get everything set in order. Now who do you suppose wrote his testimony? I do not believe his critics did it. All they could do, was find fault and accuse him; so they would not have been anxious to write about that, once God had intervened and restored Job. Well anyway, my point is this, When he had been thoroughly tried and tested, he came forth as pure gold. That was even his own testimony. We can take that right over to the first chapter of James where he wrote to the twelve tribes which were scattered abroad, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience,” and so forth. But does that mean that every sickness is for the same purpose as Job’s? No. Absolutely not. Children of God have to learn to pray and seek God for some answers in these things. Then that brings up another point. How do we pray? Some will be like Job was at first, and pray, Lord, why has this happened to me? What have I ever done to deserve such treatment, and all such self-righteous phrases as that. But on the other side of the picture, we find those who truly humble themselves before God and man, and desire only to know the perfect will of God for their lives, knowing that the benefits wrought at Calvary, are for such as give God first place in their lives, and realizing that we do not merit anything from God because of our own goodness. No. Let us seek God with our whole heart, and trust Him to work in the situations of our lives, and work them for our good, and above all, do not make a doctrine out of everything you read in the scriptures where God moved by a supernatural means to change the circumstances that seemed to be stacked against someone.
DOES GOD CHANGE HIS MIND?
I realize how upset some people get, when I say that there is no doctrine of divine healing in the scriptures, but it is the truth, and true children of God know it is the truth when they take the time to study it out. There are many provisions and examples of divine healing, but there is no doctrine that obligates believers to fell guilty if they go to a doctor, or take a pill. But of course some will come right back, and say, Then why did Jesus say, “Oh ye of little faith?” I will tell you one thing first of all, That was not His way of saying, Damn the doctors, Damn the hospitals, and Damn the medicine, as some of you do. He was the tender plant (a man of perfect faith) standing there in the midst of an apostate nation of people that had lost all contact with the supernatural power of God. Why could He not say to them, “Oh ye of little faith?” To most of them, God was just a historical memory, like the great prophets that had prophesied to Israel in former day. The Gentile church world is in the same shape right today, that Israel was then, and they are so blind they do not even know it. That is why they teach for doctrines the commandments of men. But God is never without a true witness somewhere, no matter how rotten religion in general may get, so I say to you who love truth, Do not despair, God hears your heart’s cry. He heard Hezekiah, when he turned his face to the wall, and cried out to Him. When King Hezekiah was sick unto death, the prophet Isaiah came to him, and said, “Set thy house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live.” But as soon as God’s prophet walked out the door, King Hezekiah turned his face to the wall, and cried out to the Lord saying, “I beseech thee, O Lord, remember now how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight. And it came to pass, before Isaiah was gone out of the middle court, that the word of the Lord came to him saying, Turn again and tell Hezekiah the captain of my people, Thus saith the Lord, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold I will heal thee: on the third day thou shalt go up unto the house of the Lord. And I will add unto thy days fifteen years; and I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake.” Did God change His mind? Some may ask. God knew what was going to take place all along, but Hezekiah did not know it, for from the standpoint of natural circumstances, Hezekiah was the same as a dead man. He would have died, if God had not intervened, and dealt with him as He did. There is nothing about it, that would give any reason to say, God changed His mind. It is just like saying to any lost sinner out here, If you do not repent: you are going to hell. It would be the truth; but God already knows which ones are going to repent and be saved, and which ones never will. The fact that God already knows how every situation is going to turn out, does not eliminate the need for prayer, for that is part of the overall plan that God has for our lives. His foreknowledge and predestination takes into account all those times the true seed will pray and seek His face in the matters of their lives. I want you every one to be sure you catch what we are going to read next. In verse 8, we read, “And Hezekiah said unto Isaiah, What shall be the sign that the Lord will heal me, and that I shall go up into the house of the Lord the third day? And Isaiah said, This sign thou shalt have of the Lord, that the Lord will do the thing that He hath spoken: Shall the shadow go forward ten degrees, or go back ten degrees? (That would be the shadow on the sun dial.) And Hezekiah answered, It is a light thing for the shadow to go down ten degrees: (He knew it would do that anyway, eventually) nay, but let the shadow return backward ten degrees. And Isaiah the prophet cried unto the Lord: and He brought the shadow ten degrees backward, by which it had gone down in the dial of Ahaz.” There was te sign Hezekiah asked for, so on the way out, Isaiah said to someone, probably one of the servants, (Notice now) “Take a lump of figs, And they took and laid it on the boil, and he recovered.” In other words, They made a poultice out of a lump of figs, and applied it to the boil, and it drew the poison out. No doctor today would make a poultice of figs; they would give you a penicillin shot, which would accomplish the same thing. But my point is, Isaiah did not just simply pray for him, and the healing take place supernaturally; they treated it with a home remedy, and that was the will of the Lord. Are you hearing me, preachers? I said, God had them treat the sick man with a home remedy. Sure God could have healed him without that poultice. That is why we know that God had it recorded in the Bible for some purpose more than just to fill up space. Now you may say, That is just one little example. But I say to you, How many times does God have to do something before you will acknowledge that it is Him doing it, and if He will do something one time, it is certainly wrong for you to preach condemnation to someone for a similar situation?
PREACH TO THE LOST SOUL
We are looking at both sides of this picture as we go through the Bible, so let me ask you this, When the great persecution hit the early church, after Stephen was stoned to death, and the disciples were scattered abroad, they went everywhere preaching what? Divine healing? No. They went everywhere preaching the gospel, or the word of the Lord, as it is expressed in various places. But what else does it say? God bare witness to the gospel they preached with signs and wonders, and divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to His will. They preached the gospel of salvation, and God backed them up with the supernatural. Isn’t that better than preaching the supernatural, and leaving the gospel out of the picture altogether, as some do? You lay the foundation right, and the Lord will not fail to build upon it. Those early apostles had a right revelation of God’s plan and purpose for lost mankind, so their first concern was to build the kingdom of God in the hearts of men and women, and God always worked with them, confirming their word (which was His word) with signs and wonders, and all sorts of miracles including divine healing. Then when Paul was shipwrecked on a little island, he prayed for the father of a tribal chief that was sick, and when the power of God came down and healed him, many others also, which had diseases, came to Paul, and were healed. But do you think Paul preached to a divine healing message to them? If those apostles had not received a better revelation than that, we would not even have the gospel today. We would not even know that Jesus Christ hung on an old rugged cross at Calvary, to pay our sin debt to God. Brother, that is the first thing that ought to be preached to a lost man. All the other fringe benefits will be added later. About half of the New Testament was written by the apostle Paul, so I believe we would all have to agree that he knew what God wanted him to preach and write, as he fulfilled his role in the ministry to the Gentiles. Would you not say so? Alright then, notice what he wrote to Timothy in 1st Tim. 5:23. “Drink no longer water, (that means water only) but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake, and thine often infirmities.” Some people have a stomach that just simply cannot tolerate the drinking water in various places they travel to. I am like that to a certain extent. I make a habit of taking very little water to drink, when we travel overseas, for that same reason. I try to stick mainly to Cokes, coffee, and tea. The water for coffee and tea is boiled, so that purified it. But that lets me know a little something about the trouble Timothy had as he traveled from place to place in the work of the Lord, and Paul knew about it, and his advice to Timothy has been the topic of many heated discussions through the years. However regardless of what men may say or think about Paul’s advice, the fact remains, that a true man of God did give that advice. Please notice though, that the word used there in that verse is infirmities, not afflictions. Infirmity pertains to a physical condition of sickness or disease, or something of that nature, and affliction, as we have already said, pertains to persecutions, trials, and things of that nature. But as for the wine for an upset stomach condition, a true man of God knows that does not give him a license to carry a brief case full of wine with him all the time. Furthermore no true man of God would even want to. But to take a little once in awhile to settle an upset stomach would never hurt anyone at all. But. Bro. Jackson, if we truly believe, that by His stripes we are healed, I do not believe we ought to take any medicine of any kind, for any reason. Dear Brother, Dear Sister: That is your privilege to believe like that if you want to, but do not try to use the Bible to establish it as a New Testament doctrine, for you cannot line it up with the scriptures all the way through, as you can any true doctrine of the Bible. Also with what the medical profession has been allowed by God to discover in this generation, I am sure that there are many things that would do the same thing for an upset stomach, as a little wine would do, so let your mind rest easy, if that bothered you. Furthermore if God has dealt with your life in such a way that you feel no need to ever see a doctor, or take a pill, I will respect your convictions and even rejoice with you because of it, for I am persuaded that there are those that do truly have such a testimony. But it is a personal thing. Do not try to persuade others to try such a life as an experiment. For that is exactly what it would be, if God had not dealt with them in the same way. I hope you understand what I mean by that.
HOW WE ASSUME CERTAIN THINGS
Much of what is taught out here in Pentecost, is a result of what God did sovereignly, around the turn of the century. God just simply bypassed the ministry, and filled hungry souls with the Holy Ghost, healed their diseases, and gave them gifts of the Spirit. All of which, was done to get the church of the living God pointed back toward an apostolic way of life. But regardless of what He manifested in a sovereign way, none of it could ever change His word. His word remains forever the same. But because God chose to deal with those souls like that, many preachers seemed to get the idea that God wanted it to be like that from them on. They began to present as a universal picture for the body of Christ, things that God meant to be personal to those that received such experiences. Therefore before long, out came the theory, If you do not have faith to be healed: how do you know you have faith to be saved? This created such a question in the mind of some, that they just simply turned away from the Pentecostal message completely. Brothers and Sisters: Do not ever be guilty of perverting the word of God like that. Even though the provision is there, you have no authority to tie the two together like that. God is the administrator of all of it, and many times the flesh still has to suffer for a while, even after the spirit has been set free. I have to keep confessing that I was partially swayed in that direction, when we first began going to the tabernacle to hear Bro. William Branham, for I just reasoned within my own mind, that if we were to believe what we were hearing, and follow it, we would have to stop going to the doctor, and quit taking medicine. No one actually told me that; I just assumed that they all believed like that. I learned later, that it was just an assumption on my part, even though some of them did believe like that. One thing I do know, Bro. William Branham did not teach that. He would go to the doctor when he needed to, and he would take an aspirin if he needed one, but before I really learned what the scriptures project as a true picture, I fought a lot of battles. I can take a lot of abuse myself, and I can stand quite a bit of pain, but I just simply cannot stand to see a little baby suffer, burning up with a fever, when a shot of penicillin, or an aspirin tablet can help it. We went through every bit of that back in the fifties, and at first I wondered, Am I heading down the right road or not? Where is all of this going to lead me? But over a period of time, I began to say, I know this is truth I am hearing, and I do not understand all about divine healing, but until I do, I am not going to let my babies burn up with a fever, and be guilty of experimenting with their lives. I still feel like that. Only now it is my grandchildren instead of my own, that I cannot stand to see suffer, when there is something that can be done to relieve their suffering.
PERSONAL TESTIMONIES OF DIVINE HEALING
Some of you have heard me tell about the sinus condition I carried for so long, but I want to put it in this message, because it demonstrates a certain point I have been trying to establish in this message. That condition would hit me at times, and when it did, it just about put me out of commission for awhile. One such time was when I was in a Task Force, heading for the Philippines on a ship. I took a bad cold, and immediately it went right to my sinuses. My head felt like it would just burst open any minute. They put me in the ship’s hospital for about three days, and filled me full of sulfa drugs, and I drank water until I felt like I could float a battleship. That killed the germ of it for the time, but ever so often after I cam back home it would hit me, and when it did, I would just have to head for a dark room, and lie across the bed. During the time when Bro. William Branham was having that great healing campaign at the Church of the Open Door, I was having these attacks, and I sat there just praying that the Lord would point me out to Bro. William Branham, so I could be healed. But I went through that whole meeting, and it never did happen like I was praying for it to. I would suffer with it during the day, and at night I would feel a little better, and go to the service, through that whole time. A few weeks later, I had another bout with them, and went to an old doctor there in New Middletown, close to home. He gave me some treatments, and the condition got a little better for a while. But during that time, I really got serious with the Lord about it. I said, Lord, how am I ever going to preach the gospel, if I am always going to be plagued with this condition? Lord, is there something that can be done? Then one night, when I had suffered through the day with it: I saw myself in a dream. It looked like I was on a hospital bed, being rolled into an operating room. As I was being taken into that room, out of the corner of my eye, I saw two figures in white coming toward me, and then they were standing over me, like two doctors, I thought. No words were spoken, but I could see hands moving back and forth, and instruments being passed. Then, all of a sudden, it felt like they were starting to operate on my sinuses. I could literally feel those instruments, as they were forced into those sinus cavities, and there was a little noise, and it was the noise that awakened me. But, do you know what I am going to tell you now? I have never had another sinus headache since then; and that was back in the 1950’s. May God be praised, for He healed me right then, and there. I have had bad colds since then, where my nasal passages would clog up until I could hardly breathe, but, Praise God! I have never had another sinus headache. The physicians and surgeons of or society would probably make fun of such a story as this, but saints, if there were ten thousand of them listening to me tonight, I would still say the same thing; God healed me. If you have ever had that kind of pounding in your head, brother, when you no longer have it, you do not need anyone to tell you that it is gone. Hallelujah! God had His way of doing things for His own glory. I did not do anything to merit His favor, and I knew that all along, but in my hour of desperate need I cried out to Him, and He answered my cry.
Another thing I wish to include in this message for the glory of God, concerns something He did for my wife, when she was expectant with one of the children. We did not realize it at the time, but here is what happened. It was the fall season, but it was still very hot. My father-in-law and I were in the field working, when my wife suddenly appeared, crying. She was in severe pain, and said, I have got to go to the doctor. (Here again, I want to say to every critic, I do not believe in experimenting with my family members, to see if I have faith for their healing. I firmly believe that when genuine faith is present for a specific thing, you know it, and you do not need to experiment.) When she said, I have got to go to the doctor, all I knew to do, was get her to a doctor as soon as I possibly could. Therefore, right in the middle of the day, we rushed her to the emergency room, and the doctor met us there. They took her right in, and I had to wait out in the hall. Then a little while later, the doctor came out, and said, Raymond: It is tubal pregnancy. Furthermore it is just a matter of time before it ruptures, and then it will require a quick operation, or she could bleed to death. Brothers and sisters: I knew nothing at all about the seriousness of a condition like hers, except what the doctor had just told me. He said, I have given her a shot to ease the pain, and I have already called the surgeon, and he should be here in a few minutes. We cannot take any chances; for once that ruptures, everything will have to be done within a few minutes of time. You will never know how that made me feel. There lay my wife, that I loved with all my heart, the mother of my other children, suffering such terrible pain she could hardly bear it, and now he has just told me that she could bleed to death. You would have to experience it, in order to know exactly how I felt, so I hope you never do. After a little while, he told me I could go in to see her, and when I walked in, and saw her lying there on that emergency room table, all of this was running through my mind. I did not know exactly what to expect next. The nurse had been instructed to check her blood pressure every few minutes, and if it suddenly dropped, that would be the signal that it was rupturing. The nurse stepped out of the room, as I approached the table where my wife lay, (They had already told my wife what was taking place, and what to expect.) And she looked up at me, and said, I believe everything is going to be all right; Let’s just pray. There I stood, expecting the worst. Thinking that just any moment they would come rushing in to take her to the operating room, and she says, I believe everything is going to be all right. Let’s just pray. I bent over that table, and said, Heavenly Father, don’t let a knife have to be used on this body. I ask you to undertake for this condition. You know what this is all about. Each time the nurse checked her, after that, the blood pressure was down a little. The blood pressure slowly dropped, and the pain was leaving her, and we waited for about one hour and fifteen minutes, and go the report that the blood pressure was normal. Then the nurse asked, How is the pain now? My wife said, It is gone. The nurse responded, I don’t see how that could be possible. A little later, she called the doctor in to check her, and he said, Well Mrs. Jackson, How do you feel? She replied, I’m feeling fine. How is the pain by now? I don’t feel any pain. He said, I just don’t understand this. Do you think you are felling well enough to go home? Yes, I feel fine. We asked him if it was possible, that the shot had taken all the pain away, but he said, the shot could only have taken the edge off of the pain; it could not have taken it away completely. Praise God! He is the one that took the pain away. We do not question as to why these things are allowed to happen. We only praise Him, because He is a very present help in time of trouble. Sometimes He allows His children to experience such things as that, just so He can show them how real He is. My wife carried the child, and she is with us today, so do not ever try to tell me, that God is not a healer. I say that to you Church of Christ preachers, because you do not believe that God is still a healer. But I also say to you Pentecostal preachers who do not believe in doctors and medicine, You do not have your revelation of God’s word straight either. He is a healer, and there is nothing too hard for Him, but He will not do exactly as man expects Him to do in every situation. He has His own way of doing things, and He does them in His own time, and for His glory, instead of for the glory of some Pentecostal preacher.
A VERY PRESENT HELP
I am looking at a brother back there tonight, that was in the hospital in 1971, facing open heart surgery. But prayer was made on his behalf, and instead of having open heart surgery, he went to Israel with us a short time later, and walked all over the Holy land. He still has periodic checks, but twelve years have come and gone, and he has not had that surgery yet. Furthermore where he could not walk before, he walks now, and we just give praise to our living God for it. Hallelujah! He is the one that perfects praise from His people. Naturally we are not able to rejoice very much when we are in the middle of a hard trial, but when that storm cloud passes over, we cannot help but lift our hands and say, Thank you Lord, for watching over me; I am so thankful to know that you are a living God, and that you care for me. Brothers and Sisters: God does not want us to walk around with our head in a spin, always looking for a miracle; He just wants us to walk with Him in simplicity, and trust Him, without taking some fanatical extreme in doing so. There is no way we could give you the perfect answer in this message, to every question you will face in life; but I believe we can point you in the right direction, if you are willing to let the word of God speak to your heart. Once you are traveling in the right direction, with a right attitude, I believe God will show you what to do when you need to know what to do. Sometimes He does it by inspiration, and at other times, He works circumstances around you to accomplish it, but we need to rest assured that He truly does care for every last one of His children, and He does not intend to allow the devil to destroy you. Many times though, the children of God suffer more than they would need to, simply because they do not give God any room to work in the concerns and situations of their lives. He is present to help if we will just call upon Him. Do not allow fanatical extremes to rob you. Keep your revelation in the middle of the road.
LOOKING AT SCRIPTURAL EXAMPLES
I heard one preacher with my own ears, make a statement on a radio broadcast a few years ago, that was about as ridiculous as anything I ever heard. People were writing in, Would you please visit Bro. Or Sis. So and So, in Such and Such hospital, and pray for them? His reply was, I will have you know, that I do not have any Brothers and Sisters in the hospital. There are no children of God in a hospital. Extremes such as this have caused many people much pain and suffering, because they did not know which way to go. Furthermore, Pentecost has never tried to straighten up the mess either. None of them would ever take a scriptural stand, that would enable people to make up their mind one way or the other. But brother, with the help of God, I intend to hold up Bible truth for saints of God to look at, regardless of what some of them may think, or do. I am not looking for a place to preach; I have on already. So I do not have to be worrying about whether this preacher, or that preacher, will let me preach to his congregation or not. They may have their degrees in theology, and be able to use great words that I never even heard before, but I am fully persuaded that none of that can ever change the word of God the least little bit. This Bible was written in simplicity. It’s doctrine is the same for everyone, but personal convictions are given room to vary somewhat. That is why I never attempt to force my personal convictions off on anyone else. I know preacher that will condemn you to hell for drinking a cup of coffee, or for having a television set in your home, and dozens of other things. But I believe every true child of God ought to allow his or her heavenly Father to tell them what to do about these temporal things. I refuse to make a sin list for anyone. But there are some doctrinal things, and some moral standards, that every true child of God is required to stand up for. This is a different story altogether. When it comes to a question as to whether a Christian ought to take medicine or not, or whether they should go to a doctor or not, I leave that to the individual person. But for the sake of answering some of your questions, let us go to Genesis 37:25, and look at something there. This is the account of Joseph’s brothers selling him to a company of Ishmeelite traders, so notice what they are carrying down to Egypt, to trade. Joseph’s brothers envied him, and was jealous of him, so when his father Jacob sent him out to where they were tending their flocks of sheep, to inquire of their well being, they layed hands upon him, and cast him into a pit, and in verse 25, we read this, “And they sat down to eat bread: and they lifted up their eyes and looked, and behold, a company of Ishmeelites came down from Gilead with their camels bearing spicery and BALM and myrrh, going to carry it down to Egypt.” Most of you know this story, therefore I am only mentioning it, to call your attention to what those men were carrying down to Egypt, to trade. One of the things mentioned was balm, and it was a well known fact, that the balm of Gilead was an herb that had certain medicinal qualities, and evidently was very valuable, for that reason. Another mention of this balm, was when Joseph had tricked his brethren into bring Benjamin with them the next time they came down into Egypt to buy food. Jacob did not want him to go along, but that was a condition that Joseph had set forth, and when all their food was gone, and it was necessary for them to go back, or starve, Jacob finally consented saying, (Gen. 43:11) “If it must be so now, do this; take of the best fruits in the land in your vessels, and carry down the man a present, a little BALM, and a little honey, spices, and myrrh, nuts, and almonds; and so forth.” Of course none of them knew at that time, that he man they were dealing with down there in Egypt, was their brother Joseph, that they had sold to the caravan of traders. But my point is BALM was included in what they were taking the man as a present. To me, it proves that balm was a very valuable commodity, and it was an herb that was used for its medicinal benefit, and it was the Creator Himself that put it here for them to use. Even today, there are no doubt herbs growing out here, that would be far better for mankind to use, than a lot of what medical science produces, if man had not lost his knowledge of them. The animal kingdom still knows what to look for, when they are where they can get to it. When a cat gets sick, what does it look for? A little plant called catnip. Something about that plant, settles it stomach. It is the same with a dog, when it gets sick. There are certain blades of grass that it looks for, and it will fill its stomach full of them. Why? There is something in them, that the Creator put there for that purpose, and He gave them the instinct to know what to look for. They will not just go out and chew on any old weed that might be close by. They know what to look for. If man had not lost his way, he would be doing the same thing. There are many substitutes that we could use, if we just knew about them. Let me say this though, when it comes to the salvation of your soul, there is no substitute. You must be born again. But when we are talking about healing for our bodies, there are many avenues that we can travel. Whether your healing is by a sovereign or divine act on the part of God, or whether you go through a medical process to reach your desired healing, it is still God that does the healing though, for he is the only healer there is. Do not ever give the devil credit for healing. He manipulates a lot of things, and he can call of his demon helpers for a while, but he is not a healer. That attribute belongs sovereignly to the Creator. I will not hesitate to tell you though, that the devil has just about as many preachers out here in the world, as he does doctors, ands scientists. They are unreasonable, unstable, some wishy washy, and some dogmatic, preaching things that the scriptures could never bear out, and they will change their doctrine in a moment of time, if there is a material advantage in doing so. If men like that are ever brought into a court of the land to give an account of what they have preached, what bible are they going to get their answers from? As I said earlier, If a thing like that ever happens, I want to be able to open my Bible, or even the one they use to swear in witnesses, and say, Your Honor, I got it right there. It is the word of God, that I have been preaching. That is why Jesus said, When you are brought before the council, take no thought for what you will say, for the Holy Ghost will give you in that hour, what you shall say. I guarantee you this much, What He gives you to speak, will not be something that cannot be backed up with the scriptures, for God does not contradict Himself. A lot of people are getting themselves involved in debates on the scriptures, and saying things that the Holy Ghost did not give them to say. Such people as this, actually bring a reproach upon the Lord, and His true people.
We have looked at this balm of Gilead as it is applied to the physical body for its healing benefit, but now I want to look at a scripture where the Lord had His prophet use the same thing in a figurative way. But this figurative usage, associates balm with sickness, and physicians, and that is what clinches it, in the light that we have presented it. In Jeremiah, the 8th chapter, after some of the children of Israel were already in bondage, in Babylon, and God is looking upon their pitiful condition spiritually, he speaks of it as a sickness. Let us begin reading in verse 19, so we can catch the whole setting. “Behold the voice of the cry of the daughter of my people because of them that dwell in a far country: Is not the Lord in Zion? Is not her king in her? Why have they provoked me to anger with their graven images, and with strange vanities. The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved. For the hurt of the daughter of my people am I hurt; I am black; astonishment hath taken hold of me. (Notice now.) Is there no BALM in Gilead; is there no PHYSICIAN there? Why then is not the HEALTH of the daughter of my people recovered?” Application is made here, as though this were a true physical sickness, but you have to realize that it is figurative language, used like this because God is looking at His chosen people as a sick bunch of people. They are spiritually and mentally sick, because they have lost their way. Brother, let me tell you, This old world today, is full of people that have lost their way. They are sick, and they need a physician, (spiritually speaking) just like those Jews down there in Babylon did. They will not be healed though, because they would rather be Lutherans, Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Unitarians, and This and That, than to be Bible believing Christians. All we can say is, They had their chance to follow God in truth, and they made their choice; therefore they are left to follow their manmade creeds while God moves His true children on to higher ground.
Brothers and Sisters: We started this message with a promise that we would establish from the word of God, what divine healing is, and what it is not, so we are not finished yet. We will conclude it in our next issue.
God bless you every one, and may we all benefit from studying these scriptures together. We still have many more to look at before we finish