Dear Associates, Students and Friends:
This month’s article, “Healing and New Testament Teaching,” concerns the topics of health, illness, medical procedures, and God’s participation in healing as found in the Bible, particularly the New Testament. The title and majority of the material comes from a 1981 article by Dr. Martin, but at appropriate places I intersperse complementary portions of a larger 1974 booklet about healing, also by Dr. Martin. The result is a very comprehensive article, densely packed with highly relevant information.
It is a practical article that relates to illness as it affects people today, and how they should respond and properly request God’s mercy for healing, keeping in mind always that God’s will may not grant that healing. Next month’s article, “Healing and Christian Atonement,” will be a 1992 transcript of Dr. Martin’s biblical study of how Christ’s Atonement will apply to your life, death, resurrection, and glorification.
The article about healing is of interest to me because of a personal acquaintance who experienced a sudden and spontaneous recovery from a virulent cancer. Perhaps you have known someone who had such a healing, or even had a similar experience yourself.
In the early 1970s a neighbor of mine, I’ll call him Brian, lived in an apartment below me in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Brian was a large man, loud, boisterous, and someone who often drank to excess. A friend who shared the apartment with me kept up contact and attended Brian’s wedding after my friend and I moved out and went our separate ways. About a year after Brian was married, he developed a cancer. He was about my age, in his late 20s and his life was shattered.
My friend occasionally visited Brian who told him about his struggle with the cancer. The tumor was visible, obvious, and fast-growing. Brian was physically depleted, weighed less than 100 pounds, was extremely weak, and although medicated, was in extreme pain. The doctors told Brian nothing more could be done for him. Brian anticipated his death.
Some time later my friend visited Brian again. Brian was completely healed, had gained weight, and told the story of his miraculous healing. Brian said that all he could do in life was have his wife half-carry him to the couch each morning. Brian was watching a religious television show when the preacher was praying for those in the TV audience and Brian (who had no religious beliefs) felt he had nothing to lose. He prayed with the television preacher. Brian prayed for God’s healing and he meant it. He soon felt a sensation around the area of the tumor. The next day he noticed the tumor was decreasing and within a short period of time it disappeared. The doctors were amazed.
My friend visited with Brian more times after this healing. He regained weight (he was a big-framed man), was tumor free, and he and his wife produced a healthy child. Later Brian went off to a 2-year Bible college, was ordained a Pentecostal minister, and returned to try to plant a church in Milwaukee. I was surprised to hear about his experience and his new life, and attended his church once to visit with him. He was very happy to see me, remembered me well, and did not try to sugarcoat his prior wild life to me or to anyone else. He was a changed man. God was merciful to him by that healing and Brian thought he was doing what God wanted by becoming a Pentecostal minister.
I mention this “proven” (to me and my friend) spontaneous healing of a major disease, through a dramatic and personal intervention by God because such events — however spectacular — are insignificant compared to God’s personal intervention in your life. God has allowed for you to realize, at this time in your life, the salvation you have been given through Jesus Christ’s incarnation, life, ministry, crucifixion, resurrection, and in His granting to you His Holy Spirit to become a member of His family, a child of God.
God did not intervene in your life because you were special, you are special because you are loved and chosen by God who, through Christ, intervened in your life, and so you can learn and know God’s truths of His Word. This is a far greater gift than a physical healing (although being human, of course, I would want that too should I become ill) which happens or does not happen according to the will of God. Consider the blessings and gifts you do have, while never hesitating to ask for God’s mercy in time of trouble. But … always accommodate yourself to His will.
The apostle Paul suffered much more than most men (2 Corinthians 11:23–28), and experienced death more than once (“in deaths often,” verse 23). Consider Paul’s situation each time he was resurrected to physical life. Do you realize the significance of this off-hand mention of deaths by Paul? Each time he was being beaten or stoned, each time his last moments of consciousness before he passed from life into death, he likely was thinking, through great pain, that finally he can die and attain to glory with Christ in the resurrection.
Then … imagine his disappointment when he awoke, in wracking pain, having to go through a long recovery, only to go through it all again and again. As important and as wonderful as healings can be (whether through a doctor’s care or through a miraculous event), it is important to keep in mind what the apostle Paul wrote and believed with every fiber of his being:
“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us [this includes you]. For the earnest expectation of the creature waits for the manifestation of the sons of God [this includes you]. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who has subjected the same in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God [this includes you].”
It is our privilege to present to you this valuable material by Dr. Martin that cuts through the mass of biblical misinformation filling the world’s books, studies, radio and television programs, and Internet webpages. Very little information about the Bible actually discusses the meaning of the text of the Bible. Those preachers and ministers who condescend to deal with the text all too often grovel to the commandments and doctrines of men (Colossians 2:22). In contrast, scholars who intensely study and interact with the text many times over-interpret the words of Scripture. Their convoluted analyses and explanations often have no connection to any understanding that the original audiences (were plain-speaking common people of their times) may have had. The mass of information about the Word of God in the world is so strikingly wrong and based on traditions of men that it is almost frightening at times, and is certainly frustrating.
You can easily check the truth and validity of the material presented by ASK through Internet resources, or through resources available at most public libraries. There is nothing mystical or esoteric about Dr. Martin’s writings. They are available and understandable to all. It is my high privilege to further clarify that material which is already of the highest quality.
You make it possible for us to provide this material to you and to the world. You make it possible for us to continue to produce excellent material from Dr. Martin’s archives, to be more productive in doing so, to make the ASK website more useful, and to put everything on the Internet for people everywhere. We are doing our part because you are doing your essential part through contributions, encouragements, and your prayers. We are extremely grateful. Thank you. May God bless you for the service you provide to others.
David W. Sielaff
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