By his stripes we are healed… but how?

Monday Musings for February 22, 2021

Good morning, Musers,

I’m a faithless man... according to one Bible expositor, anyway. A questioner asked me about one of her friends who taught that when people ask God to be healed — if they apply enough of the right kind of faith — they are guaranteed healing. She bases this on a more fundamental belief that God is “on the hook” for everything he said in his word — and he has promised to heal. I agree with her that God promised to heal us, but I do not agree that he is on the hook in the way she thinks he is.

So, why am I a faithless man? If the criteria she gives for true faith are true, my faith is either nonexistent or lame. You see, I have prayed for healings countless times in the half-century I’ve been a Christian — and I believe I have been in earnest! Yet, I have not been healed of certain illnesses… nor have many in my family or among my close friends. But the tale of my faithlessness gets worse: many of the people I’ve prayed for have died. Talk about failure!

So, either what she thinks the Scripture teaches about healing is wrong, or I’m blind when it comes to understanding and applying certain passages. If that’s the case, perhaps I should look into customizing cars for a living instead of doing Christian apologetics.

But here’s the thing: if you don’t travel in Charismatic circles (faith-healing circles in particular), you probably “plan” for failure as I do. Now, God does indeed heal people, and he promises to heal people in the Bible. But in life, he usually doesn’t. So, what’s going on? Is the whole world just a hopeless mess when it comes to cashing-in on God’s promises? Is Bible study worth it?

Reading the Bible is better than not reading the Bible… although reading it takes courage. We all have ideas about how God should run things. But when we open the Bible, we stand toe-to-toe with God and slug it out! We fight to understand what he is saying… and it costs us a bit of ourselves when we replace embedded beliefs with truths that have gotten clearer over time.

But is that a real thing? Are people fighting with God when they read the Scripture?

Yes. If people are not fighting on some level, then they are not engaging with him. You see, none of us has a perfect understanding of God. So, the Word and the Spirit won’t let us rest! This is why I have faith in God’s processes and faith in the people who hang in with him. Part of God’s drawing people to himself (John 6:44) is his drawing them to Scripture. The Bible has “spiritual gravitas” so to speak. But this is because it “threatens” us by revealing the truth.

Today’s biggest challenge to Scripture is the quality of its readers. The art of reading critically has vanished with the internet. People who have certain ideas about how God should run his shop — whether or not they have a biblical warrant — can find compatriots within a few milliseconds! Furthermore, people simply fawn over “proof-texting.” So, are we doomed?

No! The Bible is the most important book ever written! But some things are more basic than the Bible; there are things that allow the Bible to work — and if we don’t violate these basics rules, we won’t miss what the Bible is teaching. These rules act as guardrails, and guardrails promote sound hermeneutics by keeping students of the Bible from falling over the edge.

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