Sunday, April 19, 2009

A Viewpoint on Healing – Part 3

Not only did Jesus heal people on a physical and spiritual level when he walked the earth over 2,000 years ago, but in fact, the entire purpose of his earthly ministry, his atoning sacrifice in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross, and his eternal mission was, is, and will be to “preach the gospel to the poor . . . heal the brokenhearted, . . . preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.” (Luke 4:18, also see Isaiah 61:1) Is this not healing on each and every level – mental, emotional, spiritual, physical, and even temporal?

In the scriptures, when Jesus ministers to people, the teaching of his word is most often accompanied by a demonstration of the truthfulness of the word. “And Jesus went about . . . teaching and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.” (Matt 9: 35) It appears that Jesus didn’t want people to just sit and listen to doctrines, but wanted them to experience their truthfulness and effectiveness – up-close and personal!

“And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick, and those that had the palsy; and he healed him.” (Matt 4: 23-24)

The New Testament is full of beautiful stories of healing and restoration – the woman with the 12-year long battle with an “issue of blood” that merely touches the hem of his garment as Jesus walks through a crowd and is miraculously healed; the lunatic boy who throws himself into fires and foams at the mouth, who when Jesus “rubuke[s] the devil” with which he was afflicted, becomes “cured from that very hour;” and many, many others.

In the Book of Mormon, we find an account of the visitation of Jesus Christ to the American continent after his crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension to the Father. In the new world, Jesus follows the same pattern he set in the old world during his mortal ministry – he teaches his plain and precious gospel including the importance of faith on his name, repentance, baptism, and the reception of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands. He teaches them a higher law based on love, rather than mere compliance with outward performances. He teaches them how to pray. He prophesies of last days events in the Americas. He calls 12 disciples to teach, baptize, and confer the gift of the Holy Ghost, and organizes his church among them. And of course, he heals their sick –

“Behold, my bowels are filled with compassion towards you. Have you any that are sick among you? Bring them hither. Have ye any that are lame, or blind, or halt, or maimed, or leprous, or that are withered, or that are deaf, or that are afflicted in any manner? Bring them hither and I will heal them, for I have compassion upon you; my bowels are filled with mercy. . . . for I see that your faith is sufficient that I should heal you. And it came to pass that when he had thus spoken, all the multitude, with one accord, did go forth with their sick and their afflicted, and their lame, and with their blind, and with their dumb, and with all them that were afflicted in any manner; and he did heal them every one as they were brought forth unto him. And they did all, both they who had been healed and they who were whole, bow down at his feet, and did worship him and as many as could come for the multitude did kiss his feet, insomuch that they did bathe his feet with their tears.” (3 Nephi 17: 6-10)

His message is redemption. What is redemption, if not healing and reconciliation? And Jesus showed that redemption in action is the cleansing of a leper, the physical restoration of sight to the blind, the casting off of devils and other unseen and unclean entities, the restoration of the ability to use one’s legs or hand, and even the raising of the dead! By these miraculous healings, Jesus is providing those with faith on his name with just a taste of what will come to them if they continue in the faith – eternal life where every wrong thing is made right, and peace and rejoicing abound. What a compelling method of teaching!

Jesus was fully aware that his days on the earth were numbered, and not only that, but there was only so much that he could personally do in the flesh to bring his message of peace to the masses:

“But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.” (Matt 9: 36-38)

Jesus then commissions his twelve disciples. It is interesting to note what the twelve are called to do – Jesus commands them:

“And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.” (Matt 10: 7-8)

In fact, Jesus “gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.” (Matt 10: 1)

They are also warned that they will be “hated of all men for my name’s sake” (Matt 10: 22) because of their ministry of preaching, healing, and later on, baptizing.

Jesus truly is the Great Healer. And it is clear from the scriptures that the powerful healing that comes because of him and through him is available for his servants to tap into in order to help others to heal as well!

Was this commission to preach and heal given only to those ordained servants back in those days, or only to ordained servants whatever period of history they be in? Who has the authority to heal in the name of Jesus in our day, if anyone?
I have some ideas, but I don’t claim to know the exact answer to that question. But I do know what the scriptures have to say about miracles –

“Behold, are not the things that God hath wrought marvelous in our eyes? Yea, and who can comprehend the marvelous works of God? . . . And who shall say that Jesus Christ did not do many mighty miracles? And there were many mighty miracles wrought by the hands of the apostles. And if there were miracles wrought then, why has God ceased to be a God of miracles and yet be an unchangeable Being? And behold, I say unto you he changeth not; if so he would cease to be God and he ceaseth not to be God, and is a God of miracles. And the reason why he ceaseth to do miracles among the children of men is because that they dwindle in unbelief, and depart from the right way, and know not the God in whom they should trust. Behold, I say unto you that whoso believeth in Christ, doubting nothing, whatsoever he shall ask the Father in the name of Christ it shall be granted him and this promise is unto all, even unto the ends of the earth.” (Mormon 9: 16-21)

I don’t know about those who perform healings and miracles without confessing the name of Jesus – most of them probably have good intentions, and many of them may be legitimate. Those who are acting out of genuine compassion and charity can do much good. But perhaps we may safely surmise that anyone who believes in Christ, ordained or not, and asks without doubt to either heal or be healed will be given those abilities, since “whatsoever he shall ask the Father in the name of Christ [] shall be granted him.”

Jesus gives credence to this principle when he teaches Philip shortly before his crucifixion: “He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do” (John 14: 12).

I am reminded of the scripture in 2 Timothy about the sorry state of men in the last days, and can’t help but see how this applies to our self-sufficient, scientific, technological paradigm that doesn’t allow for much if any mention of God –

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud . . . Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away . . . Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (2 Tim 3: 1-7)

I must conclude that any method of healing that doesn’t acknowledge the power by which healing comes is probably not going to be as effective as it might otherwise be.

And for those of us who consider ourselves followers of Jesus Christ, who have hope to one day live and rejoice in his presence in an immortal, perfected state, what is holding us back from receiving more redemption into our lives right now, whether spiritual, emotional, mental, physical, or temporal? Can we not increase our faith on his name in this life, and begin to see more fruits of redemption? If nothing else, can we not ask him to “help [our] unbelief”?

I submit that we can. We can ask him to help us develop the faith we need in order to receive desired blessings in this life, including healing on any number of levels. He wants to bless us and cause us to rejoice now – just a taste of what’s to come!

And if we happen to desire to help others find healing through faith in Jesus Christ, what sin is there in that?

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