This is one of the most difficult posts I’ve ever written on Cerulean Sanctum. I have no doubt that there will be people who delist me from their blogroll or who will never visit this blog again simply because of this post.
But what I write here is something that has to be said. I hope you will read it to the end.
A couple weeks ago, Christianity Today online posted an article entitled “Can I Really Expect God to Protect Me?” (I would encourage everyone to read the entire article.) The author of the post goes on to relate the tragic story of her daughter who was born with a rare metabolic disorder and later died. This was indeed a heartrending event. However, I believe the author proceeds to deconstruct Psalm 91 and come up with a new theology that attempts to shoehorn her personal tragedy into the Scriptures and pull out something that does not exist.
Psalm 91 says:
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only look with your eyes and see the recompense of the wicked. Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place— the Most High, who is my refuge— no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the adder; the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot. “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name. When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.
—Psalms 91:1-16 ESV
The disturbing issue for me is that the author takes the promises of Psalm 91 and spiritualizes them in such a way that they no longer refer to earthly protection, but instead have been translated into a form of gauzy spiritual protection by bringing in Matt 10:28a (“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul….”) and using it as a means of tempering the starkly-framed promises of Psalm 91. The end result of her exposition of Psalm 91 is that God doesn’t truly mean He’ll protect our physical selves, only our spiritual selves. The pestilence may very well kill the body, but it cannot kill the soul—we should be satisfied with that.
But is that what Psalm 91 really says? Or has the article’s author tried to bend the Scriptures to account for her experience?
The more I stand back and look at the state of Christian belief in this new millennium, the more I see that our theologies, while good on the surface, are rife with our own unbelief. We insist that the Bible is God’s inerrant word (and this I wholeheartedly believe), the very truth that frames our salvation and belief, but why then do we spend so much time trying to construct theologies that negate the truths we supposedly endorse?
Nothing makes me grind my teeth more than attending a funeral of a person who died from an illness, especially a protracted one, only to hear a half dozen people offer the same platitude: “Well, he’s finally healed.” What I have to ask is if Jesus or one of the apostles would have been satisfied with that assessment? Can you imagine that coming out of the mouth of Paul? Or who here, no matter how much of the Bible is believed to be inerrant, has the nerve to go up to James and say, “In this case, you really messed up in your chapter 5, verses 14 and 15!”
Am I the only one that thinks that the sort of attitude displayed by those half dozen at the funeral is nothing more than a theology of unbelief? A theology that says, “Plan A didn’t work, so we now have to settle for Plan B, shoehorn it into our experience, and explain it to our kids.” Despite the fact that we say the Bible is true, I suspect that many Christians today—even seasoned apologists—simply don’t believe it is, so they dance around the things they don’t believe and try to come up with verses and high-sounding enlightened spirituality to explain away the stuff that doesn’t seem to work.
Since we’re on the topic of healing, here’s a well-known passage to illustrate:
Of David. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
—Psalms 103:1-5 ESV
Okay, so here’s the checklist of what God does here:
Redeems our lives—check
Crowns us with perpetual love and mercy—check
Satisfies us with good—check
Renews our strength—check
Heals all our…hey, wait a second!
Wait a second, indeed. We seem to have no problem believing all the things we just checked off above. I would dare say there’s not a person reading this now who doesn’t assent to the truth that God makes those checked items happen. But do we believe God heals all our diseases? He said the pestilence wouldn’t touch our tent in Psalm 91, didn’t He? He ended that passage by saying something about blessing the righteous with long life. Well?
A few months ago I blogged on the least-believed verse in the Bible, Mark 11:23:
Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. (ESV)
Suffice it to say, Jesus drops a nuke here. When that ICBM explodes in our lives, I think too many of us erect a theological shack over the resulting crater and say to others and ourselves, “Move along! Nothing to see here.” Still, the crater and its fallout persist. Our choosing to ignore their existence is not a measure of God’s truth, but the tortured theology we’ve created to explain away the fact that whatever the mountain was that we needed moved, it dauntingly stayed right were it was.
Call me immature in my walk, if you wish to. Trot out all the great theologians over the centuries to lambaste what I’m saying. All I know is that I can’t escape the fact that far too many of the Bible’s promises, especially the most outlandish ones that don’t always fit with our experiences, are glossed over by Western Christians, explained away by complex manipulations of the Scriptures to suit whatever our personal blind spot is.
Why can’t we just come out and tell the truth here? The problem is not the Bible; it’s us. It’s our lack of faith. It’s our doubt. We can’t help but doubt because we live in a world where divine healing or exorcisms or mountains being cast into the sea are ruled out scientifically. Though Peter can’t be considered the be all and end all of scientific knowledge, he knew that a man can’t walk on water. Yet for a brief moment he was able to—until he let his earthly knowledge overrule heavenly faith.
Sadly, our willingness to believe only our eyes, our microscopes, our newspapers, or what our grandma says has led us to question the veracity of the Bible. In the end, every last one of us has traded at least some part of the truth of God for a lie. We’ve constructed a portion of our personal theology on smoke because some verse or passage in the Bible, from our point of view, just can’t be saying what we think it’s saying.
So when we doubt and use our manufactured theology to prop up that doubt, we create a self-fulfilling prophecy that ensures that none of those promises of God that we have a hard time swallowing will ever come to pass. We can believe 98% of what the Bible says is the truth about the world we live in and the world we cannot see, but what about that other 2%? How easy it is to find a religious-sounding means of explaining it away!
I am by no means a saint. If I listed all the sin in my life that routinely holds me back, you’d never visit this blog again. I’m sure if you posted your sins, there’d be a collective “Ooh!” from a lot of people, too. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. My heart truly goes out to the author of the Christianity Today article. This post is not meant to burden people, but to ask if we are as bold in our faith as we think we are. It’s a gut check for us to examine ourselves and see how we fail in regard to truly believing the promises of God.
I confess my own theology is not 100% faith-based. I’ll come right out and say that there are Scriptures that I mentally assent to, but deep in my heart I don’t fully believe them. One that always trips me is from the most beloved Psalm in all the Bible:
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life….
I don’t always believe that goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life. Too often I think that surely calamity and injustice will follow me all the days of my life instead. However, what I can’t escape is that somewhere in my inner man, in that place where the Spirit of God dwells, I know that if I truly did not doubt what Psalm 23 said, my life would be radically transformed.
That kind of unflinching, unwavering faith is the call of God, not only for me, but also for you. To fully believe all the Bible at face value is what God asks of us all. He doesn’t want us constructing negations of His truth from other parts of His truth. He wants us to believe and not doubt.
Are the dead still raised? Or are we going to try to spiritualize the raising of the dead by saying that God doesn’t really raise anyone physically from the dead anymore, but just spiritually, while piling on a heap of other Scriptures that speak tangentially to the issue we would rather not confront at face value? What other tough sayings or issues in the Bible cause us to trot out our finely-honed theological excuses? Are we ready to abandon them at the foot of the cross and take on a faith that believes the mountain can be cast into the sea?
Say it with me now: “I believe, Jesus! Help my unbelief!”
54 thoughts on “Creating a Theology from Unbelief”
Just the opposite, Dan. Not to sound harsh, but just when I was about to unsubscribe from your blog, you’ve drawn me in. This is both inspirational and convicting and I appreciate your candor. God bless you.
Seeing is not believing. When we try to fit everything into an explainable package, we start down a dangerous road. Yes, God intends for us to find biblical answers to questions of both theology and practice. However, He has also made it clear that by faith we can move mountains. Since our very faith, though, is a gift of God and not of ourselves, I wonder if God will ever grant mountain-moving faith to a man. Has God chosen to work through mighty acts in His Church or through weak vessels of flesh? It does seem that even within the New Testament, miracles declined more and more as the apostles aged and churches were established. Was this because men like Paul and Timothy exhibited declining faith? Or was this simply God’s plan – to move men from believing through sight (signs, miracles) to believing purely through faith perpetuated by Scripture alone? Did the 2nd generation of Christians lack the faith of the apostles? History tells us that later generations endured even more persecution and that the Church grew exponentially, yet it doesn’t tell us of miracles.
As I mentioned in my first paragraph, your post has helped open my eyes to my own lack of faith. Is it not possible, though, that most of the examples you chose were personal to their respective authors (i.e., David is speaking to his own soul in Psalm 103)?
The distinct lack of recorded miracles after the canon was complete makes sense in that our faith is in Christ Who is shown to us only in the Bible. Everything we objectively know about God is contained in Scripture. Is it not possible that it was part of God’s plan to do wonderous works specifically to be recorded in the Bible so that future generations would have a basis for their faith? Again, the very definition of faith is “believing without seeing.” Old and New Testament believers looked to a God they couldn’t see, but had signs and messages from Him. Post-canon believers have the Scriptures. Paul made it clear that the Bible is all we need now. I’m not making a dogmatic theological statement here, just a curious inquiry. Thoughts?
It’s ironic that your excellent post is a prime example of why I’m against your “Blog-Out.” We are to be constantly growing and working out our faith. If you feel that Christians seem to be reading and learning more than doing, it is your responsibility to speak up. Is postponing the learning and iron-sharpening the best way to push others to good works, though? I’m not convinced of that. It just seems to tilt the unbalanced scales in the opposite direction.
Again, God bless you. Keep the great thoughts coming!
I have no doubt that there will be people who delist me from their blogroll or who will never visit this blog again simply because of this post.
Whenever a blogger makes this kind of dramatic statement the opposite usually occurs. Anyway – I’m not responding based on the dramatic intro, i.e. I’m not saying “wow you really preached it” or “man you are way off and I’m not reading anymore”.
What I will say is I think you are too hard on the Christianity Today author. She had to talk about how Ps 91 had applied in her life. She doesn’t give the only interpretation, but she does take from it what she thinks does apply to her. And I think her article makes some good points. Alternatively she could have said that it wasn’t how God had dealt with her and gone to other scriptures. But I think the way she compares OT with NT has some merit.
The ideas you put forward aren’t new to me – I’ve heard them many times before Dan. I also know that God is Sovreign. People do not die because of little old me not having enough “faith” – God has ordained the time. If I pray and some-one isn’t healed then God has not healed them. What I won’t do is get into mental gymnastics trying to have enough “faith”. I’ve been down that road.
God can do anything – and He can communicate His will, provide the faith, and move miraculously. That is the scriptural basis I see. And when Jesus referred to some-one having great faith he was referring to God having put it there – because he glorified the Father always, not man. Somehow in the latter part of the 20th century faith became like a work in many teaching circles. In fact it is like any other gift from God – he chooses who to give it to and he gives it as he sees fit. If he doesn’t give faith for something then he doesn’t. And sometimes he doesn’t. As the author points out – many Christians suffered as noted in the NT. I also note that Paul suffered physical illness himself. The point I’m making is that we do not have a formula by which we are physically superhuman. God decides and he gives the faith. That’s what I see in the gospels and the NT.
I think some of your comments do cut close to the bone. I see it as an issue of when God is actually doing what the scripture says. In one passage he protects Daniel in the lions den. Yet in Hebrews we read of believers being torn apart by wild beasts. Which is it? The answer I think is that it is whatever God was specifically doing.
I understand what you are saying but I think it doesn’t provide an adequate response to the issue of suffering and death for people. I’ve heard this stuff before and for me it is too much about man and doesn’t allow for the various ways God works.
Your points about disbelieving the plain truths of Scripture and rationalizing away the miraculous is well taken. I’m not a cessationist, but neither am I a charismatic, so I guess that while I do believe miracles and the miraculous gifts are still exercised today, the fact that I don’t practice them might be a demonstration of my poor faith.
Two things, however:
1. When we make miracles about what we’re doing to do them, we pervert God’s sovereignty into magic.
2. As I said months ago under your “faith that moves mountains” post, I think you’re misreading Scripture. I think you’re doing it here too.
The mountain Jesus was referring to was most likely the temple mount. That’s where they were when he said those words and the context of what he’d been saying bears that out.
My view is that Jesus was saying faith in Him negates the temple’s function, because Jesus Himself replaced the temple. He was the new sacrifice, the right way to God’s presence.
And of course a few decades later, the “mountain” did indeed lay in waste.
As for the Psalms, I think we err any time we interpret poetry literally. Not that it can never be. But that making any piece of biblical poetry into a universal, literal prescription is just bad exegesis (in my opinion).
Does God heal all diseases? Well, he can, but he doesn’t. If you’re going to read David literally, I wonder how you’d explain that he doesn’t say “God can heal” but “God does heal.” He says “heals all your diseases.” Were there no diseases in David’s day?
If all you mean is, we shouldn’t discount the idea of divine healing in times of sickness and injury, I’m with you. If you’re trying to, um, shoehorn your own theology into the Psalms in the attempt to counter the shoehorning of others, well . . . I’d just say we need better Bible study all around.
The wife of the Lead Pastor at my church was diagnosed with cancer last month, advanced enough to require “the works” as far as treatment. For us to rally ’round her and make healing from this cancer a matter her having enough faith in God to move Him to make good on certain biblical texts would be cruel, particularly since she is an extroardinarily faithful woman (which would make me wonder why my body is not riddled with ailments of all kinds, given my relative wimpyness in the area of faith).
But we do tend to read the bible in our own image when experience and scripture don’t seem to line up. I suppose if ever there were an example of a person who did not use personal experience as a guide for a theology of suffering, it was Job. How many of us have the proverbial “patience of Job” when it comes to suffering? Most of us want it to work so that we pray and get the healing that very hour. Sure, sometimes that happens. But when it doesn’t, who is there to help us have patience and continued faith that God knows what He’s doing? Friends and a spouse like Job’s ? Hope not!
D.A. Carson delivered some excellent messages on the topic last year at Denver Seminary. They can be listened to here: DA Carson on Suffering and Evil.
Physical healing is a tough subject, Dan, but as you know the Bible is plastered all over with it. In Exodus 15, God even ties up his personal Name with healing.
I remember reading a biography of Aimee Semple McPherson. In it there is a famous photo of a remarkable healing service that happened in San Diego (which occured, as I recall, was sometime around 1918-1922). The author asked Rolf McPherson (now deceased) if something like this could ever happen again. In so many words, his reponse was “probably notï¿½nowadays people have put all their faith in Science rather than God.” I don’t know if I entirely accept Rolf’s grim assessment. But I think he was on to something.
Anyhow, you’re tackling a tough subject, and you are liable to get a lot of push back on it. I know of what I speak.
Great post! No way I’m taking you off my blogroll now! I agree with you but I have reservations. My mentor is a pastor in Ca and he just had his first child, a little baby girl. They knew beforehand that she was going to have heart problems after she was born. Well, they prayed and we all prayed right along with them but God didn’t heal baby Grace. Why? Was God sitting up there saying to Himself, “Well, gee, I’d love to help ya but you just aren’t mustering enough faith down there to convince me that I should step in there. Sorry guys, my hands are tied.” Hardly. Instead I think God chose not to heal baby Grace because He has something else in His plan. Baby Grace is going under the knife this week to get a pace maker installed in her 2 month old chest.
I say all that knowing full well that God healed me and saved me from death/disability when I was 4 after the elders of my church came and prayed over me and annointed me with oil on my hospital bed. I can tell you the story if you want but I’m just telling you that so you know I firmly beleive that God is still in the business of supernaturally healing people.
I definitely think that, by and large, many Christians are suffering pain and illnesses unnecessarily. Still, I am convinced that there are some whom God intends to keep that way for some reason.
If you’re saying the only thing keeping us sick is lack of faith, I must disagree. If you’re saying we give up way too quickly, I heartily agree.
No question about it. God miraculously heals. However, like all truths, divine healing cannot be isolated and extracted from scripture and considered independently from the totality of God’s revealed purposes. That approach only leads to frustration, disappointment and the very doubt that charismatics fear. The errancy of the “faith movement” is focusing on faith itself rather than the person of Jesus, as though faith has a power of its own that can be purified and made perfect if only we try hard enough.
Perhaps they believe it’s meant in a spiritual way because of the simple “Jesus will be born and be king,” not having come to pass in a physical way. He was/is a spiritual king, and may never be a physical leader on a physical throne. Not that it would bother me, either way.
I can say that my husband was physically killed but spiritually healed. I saw that.
It used to be a smack in the face for someone to say, “those who aren’t healed just didn’t have enough faith,” when I myself had such a constant faith that my husband would be cured and live.
Yet, I can’t forget the trembling fear that was present both in my husband (I say this knowing that I myself would’ve had trouble with faith, if I were facing death as he was), and in the church as they annointed him and prayed over him.
I could not bolster their faith with my own, of course. But it is beyond me to blame their possible struggle with/lack of faith for the death of my husband.
At some point, you have to decide what repercussions are worse for you to risk- the belief that we don’t take the bible literally enough, or the belief that we’re doing wrong to try to make sense of it on the terms we can understand.
To disrespect and accuse people of weak faith being punished, may be a bigger wrong in God’s eyes than taking the bible on spiritual terms only, with limitations on its literacy.
We must tread carefully.
Correction on the above: when I said that “Jesus will be born and be king” was not literal, I meant only that he was not made a literal, physical leader of the country. I believe his physical birth actually happened, and don’t believe it was mere spiritual symbolism.
I have not *studied* the Mark 11 text, so I can’t comment on Jared’s suggestion of its reference to the Temple Mount.
Tozer writes about “the intrusive ubiquity of visible things” that impairs our “faith eyes.” I’ll cop to that.
One reason I believe that tomorrow the sun will rise in the East, in a manner of speaking, is because of the sun’s persistent rise in the East.
The intrusive ubiquity of no mountains being thrown into the sea, to my knowledge, does impair my faith eyes’ ability to see. Persistently no mountains get so thrown, so it FEELS as though my choices are to disbelieve the Scriptures or find some other way they can be true. The resort to a “spiritual” understanding safeguards the truth of the Scriptures and allows me/us to account for the failure, phsyically, of mountains to be thrown into the sea. I live in Missouri, spiritually. 🙂 I.e….Show Me.
Like all relational concepts, faith has no validity without an object. It is the object which gives faith meaning, not the other way round.
Tries to please us
When we are in doubt
Tries to teach us
What its all about
A few more thoughts.
My barely-five-year old son and I were reading through Jesus’ parable of the sheep gate in John. Before I went on to the next set of verses that explained that parable, I asked him to explain it to me. His explanation was dead-on perfect, as if he’d read the verses that followed before I sat down with him.
I believe the Bible is simpler than we make it out to be. Why did the people of Jesus’ day have such a hard time with His parables? Part of it was that they simply didn’t believe what He was saying could be possible. They had created a theology of unbelief. That’s how a five-year old in 2005 can outreason a pharisee of 30 AD. This is not to say that a set passage does not have secondary and tertiary meanings, but I believe the primary meaning is right there in our faces. However, we like to take the hard sayings of Jesus and either ignore them or candy-coat them.
I cited Jesus’ story of the Rich Man and Lazarus once to a Seventh Day Adventist (a sect that does not believe in Hell.) He came up with many theologically sinuous and slippery passages to support his contention that Jesus couldn’t possibly be talking about a real Hell in that story. It was just a story after all, right?
But I have to ask why he can’t take that story at face value. If we are to receive the Kingdom like children, if the Bible is the universal word of God to us across time, place, and culture, then why must we search out some other explanation to those hard sayings than what they say the very first time we read them?
The people I know who routinely have miracles following them everywhere they go are not PhDs in New Testament theology. When they come across the Mark 11 passage, they just believe it on its face. The fruit of their childlike faith is that miracles DO attend them. They may not have anything past a high school education (and sometimes not even that), but they trust God and the Bible at face value. God honors that kind of faith in them by making unearthly things happen around them all the time.
We don’t ever want to think the fault is in us. If the fruit of our prayers leads to a dead end, we blame the Bible, we blame circumstances, we find anything we can to blame for the bad outcome rather than asking if it was because of a lack of faith.
I am NOT a word of faith guy. Heaven forbid. But I am someone who isn’t satisfied with the crushing inevitability expressed by so many Christians I meet today. “Big obstacle in the way? Oh well, too bad for you! I guess you’ll have to do this, this, and this on your own in order to make your prayer happen.” That’s not faith. Yet how often do we operate that way, by sight alone and not by faith?
God’s not handcuffed by His own promises, but neither is He unwilling. We have not because we ask not. We don’t get the answer we want because we don’t believe. We substitute manmade outcomes for God-made outcomes and then beef when the outcome is lacking.
James says the man who doubts is double-minded and should not expect to get what he prays for. Do I see some hands out there? That sounds like me whenever my back is against the wall and everything I see tells me there will be no hope. Ask Elisha’s servant when he and the prophet were surrounded by the Assyrian army before the prophet opened his eyes to the real truth?
The old Leonard Ravenhill quote goes something like this: “One of these days someone’s going open the Bible, believe it, and then we are all going to be ashamed.” That haunts me every day because I know he’s right. That’s the kind of faith God is looking for. That’s the kind of faith I want to have.
You are 110% RIGHT ON!
I have blogged about this same thing ad naseum—about what will happen in the future when the health care system collapses, many medications are shown to be fatal, and so forth. Then what is the church going to do? Keep spiritualizing healing? And thank you for the James 5 passage. That is the main one I have used also, and it really puts the nail in the cessationists’ (and also semi-cessationsits’)coffins.
Dan, Yes, you make good points. And I think they’re valid for as long as God has for each of us in this world. And we do need to take God at his Word, by faith.
They were good for Stephen until his time came. They were good for Antipas (Rev 2) and Paul in the same way.
But to say God should remove all physical maladies, if we would just believe his promises to do so- strikes me as strange when Paul says, “I left Trophimus sick in Miletus” (2 Tim) and when he notes that Timothy needs to “use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.” (1 Tim 5). Paul’s thorn was no less than a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of satan to torment him. (2 Cor 12). God knew this great man of faith needed it, so in spite of Paul’s three prayers to the contrary, God made it clear that he would not remove it and that Paul would learn to live in a depth he would have otherwise never known. Glorying in all of his weaknesses- so that Christ’s power would be perfected in his weaknesses. No, I don’t believe that means that in all of those weaknesses Christ’s power comes and simply takes away Paul’s problem or thorn.
It is true that God’s promises begin now, having eschatological fulfillment- and will be fulfilled to a tee- complete and forever- after the last enemy, death has been destroyed.
I think that your post was harsh, I have suffered from Pancreatitis since I was born and I don’t believe I haven’t been healed from it because of my lack of faith or the lack of faith of those around me. I believe that God uses these experiences in life to help us and others around us grow. If someone is sick or dies it is not because God didn’t want it to happen. To say that would deny the true power of God.
Also to say that someone who has applied the scripture to their life in a positive meaningful way that gives them hope is spouting unbelief is truly uncompassionate of what God is doing in her life. Yes we do believe that the scripture is God’s word that fact is undeniable, as such I believe he uses his scripture to MEET EACH PERSON WHERE THEY ARE AT. He used psalms 91 to speak to this lady and give her hope to say that THAT is wrong is denying God the ability to speak in people’s lives. Each person gets something different from the scripture depending on their journey and how God is teaching them. If you can’t apply the scriptures to your own life then that is a tragedy because you are missing out on something truly fantastic. Yes God does protect our earthly existences but the fact remains that this is not our permanent home. We ultimately belong in heaven with God, it IS sad when someone dies, but that is because we cannot fully see the wonders of heaven. We live in this world to bring others to heaven with us and bickering amongst each other about theology is not going to do that.
This is a problem I have also wrestled with. God’s word seems to promise protection. But in real life, it seems intermittent at best. So I, too, have wondered if it is just my lack of faith.
But we must keep in mind that others have trod this ground before us. If we say that healing is ours and obtained through faith, then we’re throwing in with the Kenneth Copelands and Kenneth Hagins of the world. The wretched excesses of the “faith movement” should give us all pause.
I don’t know the right answer here, but it certainly isn’t the hyper faith that some preach.
The physical problems we have in this world have always been a topic of Biblical discussion, even in David’s day. Look at the Psalms where he laments the seeming dis-interest of God because of sickness, repression, and death. God has His own reasons, as He mentioned to Job, and the primary one is: How does this honor God and make His name great? A purely huuman response would be: “It’s not the problem that matters, it’s how we respond to the problem.” Jobs response was “Naked I came from my mothers womb, and naked shall I return; blessed be the name of the Lord.” And this pleased God. God will not allow anything to happen to us that we cannot endure. So perhaps we should pray for the endurance of Job.
No, you don’t have to have a Ph.D to understand the Bible’s message. I don’t have one. Most good Bible students I know don’t have one.
I believe in the perspicuity of Scripture, that even five year olds can hear the primary message of salvation communicated in God’s Word and exercise saving faith in response. (Of course I believe God can save even infants, so my basis for knowing God isn’t how well one understands the Bible anyway.)
But taking the simplest explanation doesn’t leave us off the hook of right study. A five year old can hear Jesus talk about mustard seed faith moving mountains and understand the gist, which is that faith in Jesus is the most power a person can wield.
We are not five year olds. It’s not “difficult” for intelligent adults to ask themselves as they study Scripture, “How would Jesus’ audience understand this statement?” and take into consideration the context of his message at that time and the location where he was giving it.
I belive the plainest reading of Scripture is typically the best one. I believe the Bible is clear on the things necessary for our faith.
I also believe it is a complex book and adult believers ought not to take to studying it like children might.
As I said before, if all you’re saying is that we ought to take Jesus at his word, that we ought not rationalize or otherwise explain the miraculous away, I’m with you. I belive Jesus did miraculous things then and I believe people do them today.
But I reject the notion that it is “okay” to read Scripture superficially, as if it requires no exegetical tools to plumb its depths, as if it is some ahistorical, decontextual book that obviously means the same thing to a 21st century first-time reader as it did to a 1st century hearer.
One approach that has done wonders for my understanding of the Gospels is precisely that — finding out more about 1st century Palestinian Jews and Judaism. What Jesus said came from that historical and cultural context and spoke to that historical and cultural context. I think the timing of Jesus’ ministry is important. We ignore it — we act like Jesus could have come last decade and done and said the same things — to our own detriment.
Dan, I love you because you always stir up the pot.
Just a quick thought on the topic of physical healing: I’ve never once prayed for the physical healing of a believer. A non-believer a few times, but never a believer. And not because I’m equivocating and qualifying every request with “if it’s in Your will.” I don’t pray for their healing because I feel like I’m taking your advice from this post: if we believe what the Bible says, then we must believe that being with God is much better than being here. And if God desires to take someone home, by whatever means, I’m not about to be selfish and try to keep them here. Praying for someone presupposes having their best interest in mind, and to do that in faith, believing what the bible says, to me means that I’d never pray for a lesser good like someone being healed and having to spend more time away from home. This place is nice, don’t get me wrong, God’s made me very happy here. But if I ever get really sick, please don’t pray for me to get well. You can pray for my family, pray for my friends, pray that God can be glorified in the illness, but I want to go home, and it seems to me that the ones who get there early are the lucky ones.
Let’s see. If we have enough faith, then God will heal us from every infirmity and protect us from every ill. If he doesn’t, then it means we don’t have enough faith. But even the best people we know, along with the saints and martyrs of the faith, have died, often horrible deaths. So that must mean they didn’t have enough faith, or God isn’t keeping His promises. So we’d better work hard on making our faith even better, because what faith we have just isn’t good enough the way it is. We need to really work at it.
And then Jesus — He must not have had enough faith either, because he died. But wait, Jesus doesn’t need to have faith because He’s God, and besides, His death was necessary.
Dan, forgive me if this seems like a crude parody of what you said, but it seems pretty much where it leads.
Do you seriously believe that God does not intend people to die a physical death? Is it possible that the woman who wrote the Christianity Today article had a good point?
Best regards — Popeye
The late pastor James Boice, when he spoke to his congregation after finding out that he had terminal cancer, addressed their prayers for him, saying, “My general impression is that the God who is able to do miracles—and He certainly can—is also able to keep you from getting the problem in the first place.”
Perhaps the thing we find hardest to believe is that God is sovereign over all His creation—and that includes us!
No arguments from me on the depth of Scripture. My argument here is that we sometimes go straining for gnats and miss the camels. Or we see the camel and just can’t believe there’s a camel in the barrel with all the gants!
My post serves to get people to consider the other side. Too often we settle. Jesus’s purpose was to serve, be an example, and then die for our sins. That last one was essential to His purpose, so I think you are taking this too far in an effort to try to counter my perspective on this. No one said anything about not dying a physical death. David died a physical death. But is it possible that prayer can extend the life of someone who otherwise would have died “before their time?” Jesus said we have not because we ask not. Obviously, that asking makes a difference. If we don’t ask (and believe) then how does that something that would not have been suddenly come to pass?
Paul noted that we all have a reason here. Like I said in the comment above, we have not because we ask not. Perhaps even for the terminally ill there is more to do, and perhaps death then would be a sad end when more could have been done. Obviously, Lazarus had more to do, so for Christ to raise him signalled that truth. I will pray for healing for everyone.
My argument here is that we sometimes go straining for gnats and miss the camels. Or we see the camel and just can’t believe there’s a camel in the barrel with all the gants!
Or we see a camel and really it’s a llama in there.
(And that ain’t just a joke.)
perhaps death then would be a sad end when more could have been done
Wow. Just . . . wow.
Do you not believe that it is appointed to men once to die?
Do you not believe the sting of death has been removed?
Do you not believe that to live is Christ and to die is gain?
I think some of your responses, Dan, are incomplete in that they don’t factor in God’s sovereignty. Indeed, they seem to ignore it altogether.
If God wills for a man to die, how dare any of us think either that control is ours or that we could subvert that will if we just try harder. And how great a millstone would we hang around a mourning person’s neck when we suggest their loved might not have died if they had prayed more, had more faith, etc etc?
There is a time to mourn.
There is never a time to assume the mind of God and belittle the faith of the mourning.
All I know is that Jesus said that we don’t have because we don’t ask. The Bible also says that we don’t get because we aren’t persistent and we don’t believe. It’s all in there—I’m not making this up.
I never said that no one will die. I just wonder if some die “before their time.” And that’s not saying that God is not sovereign. He is. But we can’t see all the possible outcomes, He can. He is still sovereign if there is a prayer that heals the dying and if that prayer is never said and someone does die as a result. The problem is that we can’t see all the threads. The question is whether we pray in faith believing that He will heal or whether we don’t. Ultimately, that’s what I’m questioning.
One last thing. Consider this passage:
In those days Hezekiah became sick and was at the point of death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him and said to him, “Thus says the LORD, ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die; you shall not recover.'” Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD, saying, “Now, O LORD, please remember how I have walked before you in faithfulness and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly. And before Isaiah had gone out of the middle court, the word of the LORD came to him: “Turn back, and say to Hezekiah the leader of my people, Thus says the LORD, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will heal you. On the third day you shall go up to the house of the LORD, and I will add fifteen years to your life. I will deliver you and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria, and I will defend this city for my own sake and for my servant David’s sake.”
—2 Kings 20:1-6 ESV
Was Isaiah a false prophet? Or did Hezekiah’s prayer change the outcome?
How do you all see this passage?
It is clear that from life that statements like, it is God’s will for you to be healed, are simply not correct. I think we get absolute ideas about God because we view the Bible incorrectly. I do not believe the Bible to be inerrant, but instead I believe that some of it is inspired of God. We have to use our own experience in finding God. I cannot go to a friend who is sick and say you do not have faith. That is rude and wrong. Jesus said all you need is a mustard seed of faith to move a mountain. I think we worry about how much faith we have too much. We need to focus on doing what Jesus did, and if God should choose to heal or work some miracle then we praise him, but also should he not decide to then we also praise him. Thanks for the tough post. I really enjoyed it.
Dan, I’d agree with the notion that Christians can die “before their time”. Somehow the mystery of God’s sovereignty and human responsibility in some ways, in my way of thinking theologically, just don’t intertwine. Though in a mysterious way, in another way they do. But that does not discount at all the fact that we can step out of bounds and in a sense out of God’s protection and blessing.
I too agree that we should pray in faith for healing. I came from a church that did this. But I notice that the pastor at the church we’ve been attending never prays for healing when praying for the sick. I am interested as to why, as he is a very thoughtful and gifted teacher. So I suppose I may get the nerve to ask him.
I believe you must read all the faith promises and treat them as they are- acting on them. However, at the same time, you must hold truth in tension with all of the rest of Scripture. As I said above on an earlier comment, there are other matters to be reckoned in the mix as well. The other stuff will keep us from unnecessarily, at times impugning a lack of faith on others who are not healed.
I remember Elisha died of an illness. He had plenty of faith at the time. Also it did not take much faith in the days of Jesus to be healed. People just believed he would do it, and he did. We’re to do the greater works, but does that mean everyone has the “gifts of healings” (1 Cor 12)? Or maybe those are gifts given to all as situations arise (situational gifts)? Oh well, just thoughts. I don’t know.
But we do need to act in faith on Scripture- yet seek to be in all of Scripture lest we be like Eliphaz in his assumptions about Job.
This “other side” that you seem to think people don’t hear is plastered throughout Western Christianity. I have heard it repetitively for years.
So a 5 year old can see what a passage is saying (the old anti-intellectual straw man). I’m sure a 5 year old understands this too:
“They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword.” Hebrews 11:37
Of course most people won’t read that to their 5 year old as it is disturbing for littlies.
But a 5 year old would get it. And there it is – right in a chapter which is totally about faith – “and all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith” v.39
I have heard plenty of what you’ve said before. I haven’t heard the Hebrews 11 picture so much though. If God himself in his word points to these examples, and other examples of suffering and martyrdom as examples of faith – why aren’t you? Surely these are examples of great faith – they are right there in God’s word. If more faith is what you desitre to see then surely these are terrific examples to put forward.
What I find absent from your discussion is a real understanding of God as the initiator. It is God who convicts, God who gives faith and God who inspires and prompts our prayers by the working of His spirit within us.
I don’t hear you saying that. What I hear from you is condemnatory. You may say it isn’t but the fact is that you have clearly sat in judgment on people at a funeral for saying the deceased is really healed. Actually it is not unscriptural to say so – we are totally healed in the next life. We will be perfected – there will be no physical infirmities, no scars, no psychological disorders, no anxieties, no mortality. By what authority or on what basis do you say that what those people said after that funeral is not the truth of God regarding that person?
I don’t like these things where I find I have to choose between my own communication with God and some-one else’s guilt trip and drive to see more of the spectacular.
If God is convicting you – if you are the one he is speaking to about not having enough faith – go to Him. But please reign in some of your assumptions. You are treading on areas of people’s lives where God’s comfort has been applied. He is a healer – he is also a comforter.
I’m sorry Dan – but in one breath you take people to terms for “unbelief” and being one-sided and in the next do the same thing yourself and completely disregard the testimonies of people right here in your comment section who are have had faith through bereavement, the suffering of others, and illness. To not even acknowledge that – to not even acknowledge the work of God in those situations – to dismiss by omission the faith of God through those people – that strikes me as callous.
If God is speaking to you then look to yourself. But let’s not assume that what may be your lack of faith is everyone else’s, or that we can ever be callous toward those whom God’s faith has endured in through illness, suffering and even death as they remained in Him and His love through all circumstances.
What then shall separate us from the love of Christ?
What are you offering me brother – a clanging gong or a love that endures all things? Speculative judgment on people who die or humility for the faith that bears all things and sees triumph over death through Him for eternity.
The author of the Christianity Today article basically came out and said that Psalm 91 isn’t true at face value. Doesn’t that upset you even a little? Why get mad at me for pointing out what she’s done?
No one said that a person would not die for the faith. I don’t understand your reference to the deaths of the prophets here. Suffering for the Faith and suffering because we do not have faith are two different things. Again, Jesus said he have not because we ask not and because we do not believe. That’s about as simple as it can be.
As far as the Holy Spirit goes, the Bible clearly teaches that people can resist and quench the Sprit. That’s part of my issue here. God may very well be willing to give us everything, but if we do not pray or do not believe He will give us those things, then we won’t get them.
Does death heal us? Yes. No disputing that. My question is whether every “terminal” illness must be terminal. There’s a sort of fatalism that I see within large sectors of the Church in the West, a sort of giving into what we believe to be the inevitible (and that’s not just in the area of healing.) We see a big obstacle and it becomes, “Oh well!” Where is the faith that led the Roman centurion to say, “Lord, you don’t even have to come with me. Just say the word and my servant will be healed”? We seem to place our faith in everything and everyone but the Lord. As far as the question I’m asking at the funeral, turn that around and ask the reverse question. Why should I assume that that person’s death is NOT premature, or that God could have healed that person if we simply believe He would and not doubt? Your view is the common one, yes, but why can;t we consider the other side of that question?
Catez, I fully know about death and suffering. I lost both my parents four months apart. My mother died from an agressive form of brain tumor that kills most people within two years of onset. My father drank himself to death during her illness. In both cases I saw how much I was believing the inevitbale for both of them and not believing that God could do anything. I gave into the default, learned beahvior of most people in the West when faced with those kinds of issues. When they both died, I realized how much I had resigned myself to nothing miraculous happening.
But that’s not faith. I heard the “Well, she’s healed now” thing, but inside I realized that at no point did anyone think she would be healed. And we got the exact result we believed.
I am not being callous here. All I am asking is if we give up too easily and then try to rationalize our failure to believe that a man can walk on water, that God can pour out feast in the midst of famine, or that the terminally ill do not have die because of their illness.
Your position is at best partially true. I preached on this actually last weekend for reformation sunday. Here is the problem with your position. If it is faith that is the primary culprit for death by disease, then how can we comfort the mourning? Your position is often interpreted, “It is your fault mom died or your child died, you didn;t have enough faith.” This is the worst type of “Job’s counselor” imaginable. The foundation of the solution must start with: “God is working all things together for good”. God is in control. God is sovereign. God loves you and cares for you and will provide all you need. These are the first principles. Now, on top of these we may say, “”And yes we live in a backsliden time and the church corporately lacks power and the solution of healing, your mother (or child) needed. But the reality is ‘I do not know’ why this tragedy happened”. This is the message of Job. Job was not privy to the behind the scenes working of God’s purposes. All we know is God is good and it isn’t punishment for our sins. So your view is partially correct and I agree God’s ideal is not for a weak church. Amen to that. But as to why a particular person suffered or died. This answer is usually hidden in the mind of God and thank the Lord for that.
The author of the Christianity Today article basically came out and said that Psalm 91 isn’t true at face value. Doesn’t that upset you even a little? Why get mad at me for pointing out what she’s done?
Dan I have not been mad at you. And my comments regarding the Christianity Today author certainly don’t indicate being mad at you. I think you make assumptions. I read her article. She was asked to talk about how Ps. 91 applied to her life. She came up with how she thought it did. I already left a comment on that which you have ignored here. Please re-read it. I think you have been far too hard on her – and I don’t agree with your generalisation of what she said. She didn’t say it can’t be taken at face value under any circumstances – she was looking at situations where it hasn’t been the case, such as the disability and death of her own child. So no, what she wrote doesn’t upset me a little. I see some-one wanting to have faith in God despite the most difficult circumstances. She could have chosen a different biblical basis – sure. But you have siezed on it as some example of “unbelief”, which is the tone and theme of your post. I would say why are you upset and reactive about it?
I don’t understand your reference to the deaths of the prophets here.
Actually Hebrews doesn’t say they were all prophets, and while we expect some of them were it doesn’t follow that all were. Why am I mentioning it? Because you make no distinction in your post. You don’t say that some people suffer and die for the faith.
Again, Jesus said we have not because we ask not and because we do not believe
What is it that we don’t have Dan? And again, as has been reiterated by myself and other commenters – who gives the faith? When I read the gospels I see that belief was belief in Jesus. There’s the leper who doesn’t believe he will automatically be healed but says “Lord if you are willing I shall be healed. And Jesus says I am willing and heals him. The lepers faith was in Jesus. He didn’t know if he would be healed but he knew if Jesus willed it so he would be.
As far as the Holy Spirit goes, the Bible clearly teaches that people can resist and quench the Spirit.
But now you are proof texting. When Paul refers to quenching the Spirit he is referring to prophecies in the church. He also says test all things and hold fast to that which is good in that passage. As I said in an earlier comment God can give faith for healing. To hear Him, to know he is saying that (as opposed to having a formula and assuming he is saying that), and to ignore that would be resisting his Spirit. But to assume in hubris that he will always do it and that others are in unbelief because some-one is not healed – that is also resisting His Spirit. That is finding fault with His working.
Where is the faith that led the Roman centurion to say, “Lord, you don’t even have to come with me. Just say the word and my servant will be healed”?
I suggest you read the passage Dan. Matthew 8:5
“Now when Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, pleading with him, saying, ‘Lord my servant is lying at home paralysed, dreadfully tormented’.
So – the centurion pleads with Jesus, as many people do in their prayers. He tells Jesus of his servants condition. That’s all.
“And Jesus said to him, ‘I will come and heal him’.”
Jesus is the one who mentions healing, and says he will come and heal him. This is entirely up to Jesus – he decides.
Next verse the centurion, knowing Jesus has just said he will heal his servant, tells Jesus he understand he has authority and he doesn’t need to actually come to his house – he can just say the word. Then Jesus says he has great faith (and to emphasise again – who gave him the faith?). Faith in what? In Jesus authority.
Faith in the sovreignty of God – and in your one sided post you only put forward healing as the sovreign working of God. All things work together for good to those who are called according to his purpose. We have faith in His authority despite circumstances. Yes we bring our sick to Him. However you neglect to mention that when he lists the things we do to Him when we do them to the least of the brethren, he speaks of visiting the sick. Doesn’t actually mention healing. Which doesn’t preclude it – but you would really have to do some scripture twisting to make that verse about healing when it is about being there with some-one during their illness. You leave no room for Job Dan. Everything you have said so far indicates that Job would be a fatalist and some-one who didn’t have enough faith.
More to the point – I am not questioning that God can heal – I’m questioning you. I’m questioning whether you have the sensitivity of the Spirit of God on such matters – whether you know the difference between faith from God for healing and faith from God to endure. I’m not sure you would recognise Job in this day and age. Your post strongly suggests you would not.
We see a big obstacle and it becomes, “Oh well!”
I think you should speak for yourself. Generalisations sound impressive but unless God has made you privy to the working of all our hearts (you said “we”) I think discretion would better preserve you. Perhaps you could simply speak of your own shortcomings.
Why should I assume that that person’s death is NOT premature, or that God could have healed that person if we simply believe He would and not doubt?
Did God clearly say so? Dan at this point I would not want you at a funeral of one of my loved ones (or my own should it occur) – I would not want some-one there who is more interested in judging peoples responses in grief than being able to have faith that death has no sting – that we are raised in Him. As Paul said – “comfort each other with these words”. He specifically referred to some of the church who had died. You have not allowed for that in your post. Or even in your comments here. Yet what you are saying is speculative – and it is a guilt trip. Rather than coming with the consolation of the Spirit and victory in Him you come with specualtion that people die because we/they did not have enough faith. You have used specific examples from others lives.
Dan I’ve been reading your blog for a while and I see this happening. You make generalisations – based on comparisons which put others down and elevate your view. Then you backpedal in the comments.
Again, here in this post – you didn’t present it as “I’m some-one who has had relatives die and I know people die for the faith – I’m wondering if we can look at another aspect of what God does” – that’s not what you said. You take the most personal and difficult examples from other peoples lives and hold them up as unbelief. And you? You are wondering if people will delink you or not read again (do you see the grandiosity in that?) because you have “struggled” with writing this. i.e. you have the truth and are prepared for whatever from people who have unbelief. A put down of others to elevate your position. Why Dan?
I heard the “Well, she’s healed now” thing, but inside I realized that at no point did anyone think she would be healed.
How do you know? Were you present at every prayer time every person had? And again – the gospels do not stipulate that one must believe some-one will be healed. The belief was in Jesus and that he could heal. People brought the sick to him – some pleaded, some asked if he was willing, some simply reached out, and yes, some believed they would be healed. In every case the faith was in His authority and the faith was from God.
Continually in this post and in these comments you are inferring that somehow we should have more faith and these situations – the death of oved ones, children with disbailiteis – would not be as they are. Listen Dan, a lady in my church with cancer believed she would be healed. She believed. She would hear no other suggestion. People prayed for her every day for weeks and many believed she would be healed. She died. Some people had a crisis because they had 100% believed God would heal her. What happened? The truth is that they did what you are doing here – they thought that a principle could be applied – that if they said it and repeated it and kept praying it – it would be so. I love some of those people and I know that they wanted to see her healed because they loved her and her family. But convincing ourselves of something that God hasn’t actually said in a specific situation is not faith. Most importantly, God is not capricious. He does not take lives because you do not have enough faith. The faith God gives may be small but it is effective, and it is faith in Him.
I think you have been callous Dan. Here is my suggestion to you. Instead of riding roughshod over people’s grief processes, instead of dismissing the work of God in their lives as “giving into default learned behaviour” – let’s see you as the example. In the post you didn’t say “I’m going to pray for everyone to be healed” – you quite obviously propose that if there was more faith people would not be disabled, get sick, or die. You put it on the rest of us Christians that we have unbelief. You’ve even specifically told me right in your last comment that in so many words I’m just a Western Christian with a default learned behaviour. Do you not comprehend the grandiosity and hubris of that sort of position?
But let’s say you might have a point. Let’s say that perhaps God has actually given you something here. Here is what I’d expect. That you would ask for this faith. That you would in the next week attend any funerals in your area and raise the dead. That you will visit every sick Christian in your area, particularly those who have terminal illness – and they will be plainly and evidently healed. Not this thing where they are still sick after you have said they are healed and they must keep “believing for it”. Healing like in the gospels – where even Jesus opponents didn’t dispute that the healing had taken place. Where Jesus was not afraid of the healings being physically scrutinised – he sent people to the priests.
So that what I expect Dan – that you’ll come back and show us the death certificates and photos of the same people after being raised from the dead through your prayers and proclamations. Medical certifiactes/reports of the illnesses people had and doctors reports or notes verifying they are completely healed – and that this occureed after you prayed. Their own testimonies. Not just one person, but every person Dan – lots of them just like Jesus did.
If it’s simple enough for a 5 year old, if it’s just a matter of asking, then go on and do it. But not with the caveat, “I’m going to pray for everyone to be healed” – I can see the back door you’ve built in to that. No – they should be raised from the dead and healed. With medical verification and eye witnesses, and not just eye witnesses who are “believing it will happen” but people who saw it really did.
In short – if you are coming with a message from God Himself then He will confirm it. It seems to me that you are the person to evidence it.
I’m not mad or upset. I’m being as robust as you have been. What I’ve seen happen many times is that some-one is feeling frustrated or discouraged in their own life or ministry – it is not going how they would like it. They sometimes project that onto others – and seek the spectacular. It is others who are in unbeleif. If we just had more faith….
I’m open to you showing it to be the case. Without backdoors and excuses. If it is as you say come back and blog it – your own experience of raising the dead and healing every sick person this week.
And if not, then perhaps some mercy and compassion on those who are ill or those who suffer bereavement. Because I can’t see that from you here. I’m sorry you lost your parents like that. I wonder if you have really accepted it and can say that you have faith in God and that He is sovreign in it.
Perhaps this topic gets to the issue of exactly who is doing the talking in the scriptural passages cited. Does belief in the inerrancy of the bible mean we have to believe that God is speaking every sentence or promising what every sentence says?
When David wrote a paslm that got into the bible, was God promising everything that David wrote?
As I said, Dan, you’d get a lot of “push back” on this one, the pervasive and general frame of mind being what it is nowadays. People accept the pronouncements of “Science” with far more ease than they accept the Word of God. “Science” gives us tangible things (or so we think). But God asks for trust and endurance, even when things are not tangible. That is hard, and it never gets easy.
Miracles are the gestures God makes when he speaks.
This monster has gone well past the point that I am qualified to address so much of this information, but I will give an opinion.
I believe that we have not because we ask not, Jesus said how many of you fathers would give your son a stone if he ask for bread he goes on to say in Matt 7:11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?
I believe God does heal, beleive he heals some people because of prayers. Others die, and that is not something I think we are in a position to debate. God has His reasons for the things that happen in our lives, I think that our crying out to God in some situations can change things but when it does not we need to remember that all things work to the good of those who love God!
For those jumping in the discussion late, I would encourage folks to read “Authority to Heal” by Ken Blue.
Catez, wow. Thanks for your thoughts, I have to say that even though I definitely side with Dan’s position…I’m seeing what you’re getting at.
My observation here is that it doesn’t seem that you have issues with the idea of healing…but you have more issues with the WAY Dan said it.
I have more to say about that, but we’ll leave it at that. I agree with Oengus Moonbones on the pushback. The whole idea of the inconsistency between our experience and the experience indicated in Scripture…its quite glaring sometimes, and I have a hard time reconciling the two. Lord help me with my unbelief.
Thanks for blogging about this Dan, may God continue to refine the message, anoint the message, and keep our hearts humble 🙂
Dan, thanks for the post. It is interesting that you felt so inclined to qualify your statements regarding healing. I have been looking at “Christian” weblogs for about a year, and just recently came to the conclusion that not many of them are written by people who expect to see the gifts of the spirit manifest in modern times.
As I scan the comments on this topic, I get an overall sense of fatalism among the commentors.
At the end of my perusal, the question came to me, “When the Son of Man returns, will He find faith on the earth.”
I don’t mean to criticize anyone in particular, only to state my impressions. For those who don’t think that God expects us to actively believe Him for healing and protection, I wonder if they expect the same from Him regarding wisdom, or direction, or financial help, or power to do a good job of parenting or neighboring. If it is presumption to lay hands on someone and believe God to meet their needs, when is it NOT presumption to entreat Him?
I believe that God does miracles of physical healing today because I’ve experienced it. Doctors said I couldn’t have children. My husband laid hands on me and prayed over me in faith and we now have 4 children—in spite of the fact that the physical condition that caused doctors to say I couldn’t have children continued to exist. Our daughter had a blocked tear duct as an infant. The doctor said it would absolutely require surgery. Our Bible study group laid hands on her and prayed. When she woke up the next morning her eye was completely healed. My sister-in-law was miraculously healed of diagnosed MS as a young woman. Many other illnesses and infirmities have been healed in our family.
But many also have not. The same group of people praying with the same measure of faith. Some big requests answered, some denied. Some smaller requests answered, some denied. That same sister-in-law is now going through chemo for cancer. The doctors are hopeful and are even calling her situation miraculous because she’s defied many odds. Her faith is amazing. And she gives God all the glory. But she also declares that even though He slay her, yet will she trust in Him.
I think what my family has learned through our walk with God is that it’s not about us. It’s about Him. And true faith is trusting Him to do what’s best for us, whether it be healing or suffering or even death. A “not my will but thine” prayer is in no way a cop-out. For one who can say it honestly, it is the ultimate expression of faith.
I wouldn’t trade the suffering and illness I’ve experienced for ANY amount of miracles. I wouldn’t even wish my sister back from death (she died in a car accident as a newlywed) because two people dear to me came to a saving relationship with Christ as a direct result of seeing the comfort and hope the Lord brought our family during the time of her death.
As much as I am truly grateful for the miraculous healings I’ve witnessed and experienced personally, I have grown far closer to the Lord and have learned far more about His nature in the times when my faith was great, but His answer was “no” or “not now.” For through that, I’ve learned that He is not a puppet who must do my bidding, but that He IS completely trustworthy.
I agree with your perspective here. Excellent comments!
This hits home with me, my mother is in the later stages of lung cancer.
My son had a dream a few weeks ago that we would visiting her at Christmas and she would be better. I started to think it meant she would be “healed” and up with God. But I don’t believe that anymore, I think the devil trying to mess with my faith. Beyond Christmas only God knows. She is getting treatment, and through this horrible time, much healing of our relationship has occured.
You just can’t make a blanket statement about God, you can’t just put Him in a box. He knows the beginning from the end and He knows what is best for all and for His plans.
Christianity is simple. I believe as long as you know the Bible and can learn to hear God’s voice—He speaks every day—that is all that is required. To not have a living breathing relationship with the Lord is to have a life missing in adventure. He is my life.
I put myself in a couple of horrific situations quite a few years ago, not out of defiance, but out of ignorance, and had to rely on God to protect my family. And although I was warned of all the consequences, my family is still intact and healthy. I can only give God the credit for that. I have a testimony, and someday I hope I can share it once I have closure in certain areas of my life.
I saw an interview on PBS with Charlie Rose and Ann Rice lately. Although I don’t agree with some of her theology, she said one thing that I think many need to hear (I hope I state this right)—that you don’t need to understand, just love God and love others.
I’m tired of hearing the term “fatalist.” Is God or is He not sovereign? He indeed does work everything out for good. Without a certain degree of the curiously taboo “fatalism,” how exactly does He do that? It seems that both Dan and his supporting commenters make faith something that man does. Has anyone thought of the fact that trying to manufacture faith in a vision in our head of what we think God should do is actually the opposite of faith? In fact, isn’t that sight? True faith in God is a blind following of His Will, whatever we discover it to be. The centurion, I believe, would have shown just as much faith if Christ had said “It is time for your servant to die.” Why? Because his faith was in Christ Himself, not in what he expected Christ to do. So it was with Job, Moses, Abraham. David, even, is poetically proclaiming the works of the Lord in praise in Ps 91, not with some stubborn expectation that God would continue to work exactly as He had in the past. Yes, in many cases throughout David’s life, God chose to “deliver him.” Any elementary study of David’s life will tell you that there were many times that was not the case, and I’m not referring to God’s punishment on David’s sin. If a man could manufacture on his own through prayer, study, or sheer will-power the kind of faith that David had, it would be more a showcase of that man than of God. How then is God glorified? Or, if God chose to always answer prayer the way we think He should, where does His infinite wisdom come into play? Does He mask it to play genie to His children? No, He always knows best and thereby does not always give us what we want, no matter the amount our faith. Also, if a man had the greatest faith of all and that meant that God always answered his prayers the way he asked, where is there any room to praise God? We praise God for His demonstrations of mercy, grace, and blessing. If He only gave good continually, would not man cease to praise Him? There are so many aspects of this discussion, so I will pause.
If being a fatalist means that I believe God will work everything out for good and according to His good pleasure through any means He deems right, then I am a fatalist. My faith, weak as it may be, is a trust in God Himself to do His will.
Somewhere between His birth and His death, the father of Jesus disappeared, most likely through death. So why was turning water to wine His first recorded miracle?
I tend to look at miracles as things that happen because God wants them to. If He does not, then they don’t. Far from being fruitless to pray for miracles, I instead see fervent prayer for healing, mountain moving, or whatever, as more a test of my intentions and underlying reasons, rather than those of God.
“If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come upon you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God:” Deut 28: 1-2.
I would like to suggest to you that for many believers the reason why they do not recieve the answers to their prayers is not due to lack of faith but to lack of obedience to Torah (Yahweh’s loving instructions to us on how to live in the realm of blessing).
In charismatic circles you will hear all the time…”I am the head and not the tail, above only and not beneath, I am blessed when I come in and when I go out, my storehouse is blessed….ect….” but how many EVER quote the condition to live in that realm?
It is following the Torah of Yahweh that brings us into this realm of blessing. Churchianity has bought into the teaching of man that we are in a “different dispensation now” and thus many continue to live lives of frustration, lack, confusion, basically living in the death realm. Many have died prematurely due to the simple fact of not following Yah’s dietary instructions. There is a reason why He has told us not to eat swine flesh, shrimp, crab…Yahweh never intended for His people to eat what He uses to be the ‘vaccum cleaners’ of earth and sea.
There is also the point of curses that come down from the 3rd & 4th generations. Many innocent people have bloodline curses that unless recognized and dealt with through prayer will continue to be plagued and tormented.
Lastly Yahweh is sovereign.
He alone reigns and His purposes will be fulfilled. There is a place deeper than faith…..and that is TRUST.
As Job testified…”Though Yahweh slay me, yet will I TRUST in Him.”
Lover of Torah,
Paul did not require the Gentiles to keep the Torah. I would say this pretty much eliminates the need for keeping it.
Jesus pronounced all foods clean:
Not only that, but the Japanese eat more traditionally “unclean” food than any race on the planet and yet they are also the longest-lived.
Anyone desiring to keep the Law, must keep all of it:
The inability for us to do just that is one of the main reasons Jesus came.
Sorry, but the New Testament does not support your position.
“Paul did not require the Gentiles to keep the Torah. I would say this pretty much eliminates the need for keeping it.”
Where in scripture….not regurgitated from the teachings of man….do you EVER see Paul stating that the Gentiles are not to keep Torah?
Please don’t slander Paul like this. Paul was a keeper of Torah and taught others to do so as well.
Read all of Acts chpt. 21…but I will start with verse 21…”They (Jews) have been informed that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs” . Paul then is advised to join with 4 men in their purification rites…so that “then everybody will know there is no truth in these reports about you, but that you yourself are living in obedience to the law.”
Verse 25 states” As for Gentile believers, we have written to them our decision that they should abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality.” They were directly quoting from Lev 17 & 18 about Yahweh’s dietary commandments and instructions on sexual relations.
First, one must understand that Torah (Yahweh’s instructions to us) & the keeping of Torah does not save a person. Torah is given to instruct us to Yah’s ways, on how to walk out our life of redemption, on how to walk in holiness, how to approach Him, how to live a life in the realm of blessing. Torah is not about earning salvation….even Jews can tell you that. Many christians have ignorantly thought that Jews believe that keeping the torah will save them…this is not true at all…Jews know that it is by faith that we enter into the covenants/promises of Yahweh. They just have been blinded to Messiah and this is due in large part to the fact that xtians have given them a ‘jesus’ that broke the commandments. It is truly the grace of Yahweh that any jew has ever recognized Yeshua.
As it is written, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law (Torah) or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill (‘establish’ in hebrew) them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and TEACHES others to do the same will be LEAST in the kingdom of heaven, but whosoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” Matt 5:17-19.
Dan you bring up Mark 7:18-19 but you are not reading it in context. Context is very important. Start back in verse 2 — the Pharisees “saw some of his disciples eating food with hands that were ‘unclean’, that is unwashed. (The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders. When they come from the marketplace they do not eat unless they wash. And they observe many other traditions, such as washing of cups, pitchers and kettles.). Mark 7:2-4 NIV.
Yeshua states in verse 8 “You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.” He then went on to explain that “Nothing outside a man can make ‘unclean’ by going into him. Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him ‘unclean’.” He was referring to the talmudic traditions of handwashing.
The explanation that was inserted in parenthesis (in saying this, Jesus declared all food ‘clean”)– First, Yeshua was stating the obvious…Yahweh declared what is food…in the Torah…and Yeshua was stating that what has been declared food already is then clean.(Pig, shrimp, crab, catfish…is not food according to Yahweh).
Secondly, fyi, the translators injected their thoughts about what this meant…but it was never originally in the text.
I eat kosher b/c #1 it is an act of obedience to what Yahweh has said to do.
#2 b/c it is healthy. 🙂
Your quote “Sorry, but the New Testament does not support your position”.
How can you say that Dan….when Yeshua said “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” John 14:15
Do you think Yeshua was a sabbath breaker? Do you think He ate swine flesh? Do you think He didn’t keep the feasts? Of course not…He fullfilled all of the commandments. WE are called to walk as Yeshua walked.
As it is written, “We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, “I know him”, but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.” 1john 2:3-6.
Yeshua is the same yesterday, today and forever. Yahweh has never changed…it is us that have changed.
Yeshua is the Living Torah–Word made flesh. Just as Jews have stumbled over the living Torah (yeshua) so too have christians stumbled over the written torah.
Both are guilty of not obeying– Deut 12:32 “See that you do all I command you; do not add to it or take away from it.”
Jews have added to Torah by putting up fences around it through the Talmud.
Christians have taken away from it by following the teaching of man..and doing away with Sabbath, feasts, kosher laws ect…
Rom 14:12 ” So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.”
I want to be of those listed in Rev12:17, 14:12, and 2:26-28,
those who are called the overcomers, the remnant, those who keep the commandments of Yahweh and have the testimony of Yeshua.
Do not be decieved my brother — the spirit of lawlessness (torahlessness) has been loosed and this is why the church is in the condition that it is in. I came out from eygpt and I have no desire to go back. This is where true freedom is found. Yahweh’s laws/instructions are not burdensome but a delight.
I do not write all of this to enter into debate with you but hopefully to bring light.
Shalom my friend
Lover of Torah,
You conveniently leave out Acts 15 when you refer to Acts 21. You also fail to take into consideration that some of the Jewish rites that Paul kept were done so that the Jews would have no quibble with him. This was done SOLELY so that he could win those Jews to Christ. He circumcised Timothy for this reason, even as he was saying that the Gentiles should not be burdened with the rite of circumcision. Physical circumcision did not matter—only circumcision of the heart. But Paul circumcised Timothy so that the Jews would not have anything to hold against Timothy as they tried to minister to the Jews. Paul clearly repudiates circumcision of the Gentiles otherwise!
As to food, Adam was given only vegetables to eat. Noah was further allowed to eat animal flesh. So there definitely is a precedent that God changes what is considered okay to eat. Saying that the Mark passage is a translator’s issue is overlooking the greater weight of Scripture. Trying to make this into an issue of God’s immutability is comparing apples and oranges. God changed His covenant with Man, but not His own person. Just as God made a covenant with Noah that changed the “rules,” He made a covenant with all NT believers that changed the “rules.”
In the case of what Jesus ate, He had to fulfill the requirements of His Jewish birthright. But the key point there is that He did this SO THAT WE DIDN”T HAVE TO. The New Covenant started with Jesus’ death and resurrection, not with His birth. Peter’s vision of the sheet filled with unclean animals not only points the Gospel going out to the Gentiles, but that the death and resurrection of Christ brought an expansion of what was considered right and good. If the unclean animals in that vision were still considered unclean by God in light of Christ’s sacrifice, then God would never have used a vision that internally contradicted itself. The fact was, Christ’s sacrifice changed things. The unclean was no longer considered unclean.
If you’ve ever touched the face of a dead loved one, did you perform the ceremonial cleansing ritual after that? Probably not. Do you know any Christian church that has the ritual cleansing materials available for those who might touch the dead? What church makes women practice ceremonial cleansing after their period is over? Or men after an emission of semen?
There are none. And that’s for a very good reason.
If you want to keep the Torah, then I can’t stop you. But you’re detracting from Christ’s finished work by trying to add something to what He accomplished.
“so that the Jews would have no quibble with him:”
Not sure whata quibble is, but am assuming you mean qwarrel. So what yer saying is that Paul was a hypocrite….a man-pleaser…and a scaredy kat. You are also suggesting that timothy allowed his peepee to get whacked to further paul’s hypocrisy. i think NOT
“Adam was given only vegetables to eat”
There is no record of *only vegetables* to eat…as for Noah….why then did he take both clean and unclean animals on the ark? Notice that he only took TWO of the unclean…had he eaten them, the species would have been wiped out.
“The New Covenant started with Jesus’ death and resurrection, not with His birth.”
Wasn’t the noachic covenant a little bit NEWER than adamic? Or are you referring to NEW ….as in refreshed, which is what the word NEW means refreshed, in both greek and hebrew. not new *fresh out the box*, —greek kainos.
The NEW covenant is NEW…refreshed…because it is consecrated with the blood of Messiah, rather than the blood of animals. But according to Paul…in 2 Corinthians 3 ..the only difference between the NEW covenant and the OLD covenant is the heart of the one reading it.
As for Peter: by the confession of his OWN mouth, up til the time of the vision of the sheet…He had *never eaten anything common or unclean*. Also, by the confession of his own mouth the teaching of the VISION was that he was to call no MAN unclean.
It is funny…how people take a VISION…and say it changed real things…but take real things, like the commandments, and turn them into *spiritual, not real things*.
“God changed His covenant with Man”.
This one is easy: Mal 3:6 “For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.”
If G-d changed..then WE would have been consumed long ago and there wouldn’t be a Jew left on the face of the earth.
“The unclean was no longer considered unclean”
There is not ONE Scripture reference that says that the Messiah’s death on the tree turned pig into food, the holy into the profane or the profane into the holy. NOT ONE.
The death of the Messiah was NOT a magic trick, tho it appears to have been in some people’s minds.
“If you’ve ever touched the face of a dead loved one, did you perform the ceremonial cleansing ritual after that?”
If there was a tabernacle or a Temple standing today in Jerusalem, just HOW does one approach it? This is a HUGE question, as we will be seeing a Temple there again. And you WILL NOT enter the Place called *Heaven on Earth* except in the way that the Most High has commanded. You will not just do it *yer way*. To enter into the presence of G-d on earth, you will follow the protocol HE has established, including the sprinkling of the ashes of the red heifer.
“If you want to keep the Torah, then I can’t stop you. But you’re detracting from Christ’s finished work by trying to add something to what He accomplished”
The command reads..Deu 4:2 “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you”
I am not ADDING to His Commands …I am trying to HONOR them. However..my friend, you have erased them altogether.
Yeshua said, “If you love me keep My Commandments.” Pretty simple…those who love Him, keep them…those who love themselves, don’t.
So I go back to the original question….why does the church not see alot of miracles, healings, ect…it is not b/c of a lack of faith, but a lack of obedience. The church can keep on keeping on with the same ole man made stuff of “we’re in a different dispensation now” and stay powerless. As I heard Dr. Phil say “How’s that workin for ya?” (and I don’t watch him, but I agree with that logic).
It is time for the body of Messiah to go back and cling to their roots, so that their days will be long, and that they will prosper in whatever they do.
Lover of Torah,
You are avoiding the issue raised in Acts 15. What is the meaning of the “unbearable yoke” in v10? By context, it can be nothing else except circumcision. Therefore, the Old Covenant has been changed.
The Old Covenant is also changed in that the Holy Spirit now resides inside believers.
The Old Covenant is changed in that no more sacrifices are needed.
The Old Covenant has been changed in that holiness is not by rituals, but by putting on Christ.
All those are changes.
As for Adam, if you contend that Adam was killing and eating animal flesh before the fall, you have to change a lot of theology to make that work. You’re also ignoring Gen. 9:3.
You also never refuted my refutation of your claim that those who eat “unclean” foods die earlier. Like I said, the Japanese eat more “unclean” food, by far, than any other group of people on the planet. They also have the greatest longevity. Again, your contention simply does not hold up, not even from simple facts. Please tell me how your assertion that those who eat unclean foods die earlier than those who do not can possibly be true when the unclean-food-eating Japanese outlive kosher-eating Jews. The facts are there. You’re clearly ignoring them to support your position. This doesn’t help the credibility of your position.
Regarding Peter’s vision, it makes no sense for God to use an illustration or vision that isn’t true in all points. If He hasn’t made all things Peter saw in his vision clean, then your contention must mean that God is not telling Peter (and us) the truth. He, in fact, DID make those things clean.
Adventists, who are annihilationists, try the same squirm tactic when trying to explain away Jesus’ parable of the rich man and Lazarus. Jesus gives us a clear depiction of punishment and the suffering of the damned, but Adventists say, “It’s only a parable.” The problem is that all the supporting facts around any of Jesus’ parables are true. He doesn’t use illustrations that can’t possibly happen. To use an illustration that is ultimately not possible would be misleading. Same goes for God’s pronouncement in Peter’s vision. God calls those things clean in the vision and that vision extends to the Gentiles AND the items that Peter saw in his vision, not to one and not the other. The fact that Peter was startled by what God was saying only further backs me up.
As to entering the restored Temple, Jesus bought my admission with His blood, not by the blood of red heifers. And by the way, WE are the Temple, the New Jerusalem. We are the very stones that comprise it, so your interpretation is not following spiritual realities.
If you fail in keeping one part of the Law, you fail in keeping all of it. Christ kept it for us. This is freedom. It is the freedom not to circumcise our sons on the eighth day, to not have to do ceremonial washings after sex or after menstruation. If you want to keep all that, then I can’t stop you. But I think you’re mistaken.
That’s the last I have to say on this.
And by the way, my church is experiencing a number of God-initiated miracles lately without practicing every last law in the Torah.
Excellent inspiring convicting article. thanks
Fair enough. I will answer your questions and this will also be the last time that I post on this.
the issue in Acts 15 is SALVATION: Acts15:1 “And certain men which came down from Judea taught the brethren, and said, ‘Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.”
These believing pharisees…who followed the Messiah…still had the pharisaic trappings that led them to equate OBEDIENCE to commands with SALVATION. This is the reason the Jerusalem Council was convened: to get the DOCTRINE OF SALVATION right.
The conclusion of the matter: SALVATION IS BY FAITH ALONE.
AFTER salvation comes OBEDIENCE.
You state: “The Old Covenant is changed in that no more sacrifices are needed.”
The Old Testament makes NO provision for willful, defiant sin. NONE. The only sacrifice that has EVER saved men is the LAMB OF GOD SACRIFICE, who first appears in Gen 3:21. “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.”
This sacrifice..is God’s Lamb.. not the lamb that an ordinary person brought to the temple or tabernacle for SINS OF IGNORANCE. There is no provision in the Book of Leviticus for WILLFUL DEFIANT SIN. The penalty for willful defiant sin IS DEATH.
The HOLINESS of the Messiah is due to the fact that He NEVER SINNED, ie He never broke ONE of His Father’s commands, b/c SIN IS THE TRANSGRESSION OF THE LAW.
1john 3:4″Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.
Therefore HOLINESS is still established the same way: To sin=unholy
To not sin=HOLY.
rom 7:12 Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.”
As far as food is concerned…your comments about Japenese eating habits…I would like for you to show me the evidence, data, statistics, that you have about your assertion that “the unclean food eating Japenese outlive kosher-eating Jews. The facts are there. You are clearly ignoring them to support your position.” Honestly, I never have given any thought to your argument about the culinary habits of the average Japanese person. Bottom line …whatever the evidence is…and proboly there is …. Yahweh says what is food, and not everything is food. Everyone has their own list of what is kosher to them…say if someone sets a bowl of bleach in front of you and said , Eat up! You would decline, saying, ‘That isn’t food’. Likewise the Most High has a list of things that ARE food….and a list of things that ARE NOT FOOD. I said many die prematurely b/c they don’t follow the dietary laws…that doesn’t mean all, and those that don’t are the recipients of G-d’s grace. The FIRST commandment..had to do with food law…and we couldn’t even keep that ONE. The tree of the knowlege of good and evil you shall not eat. G-d says don’t eat …so we do. Same with (pork, crab, etc.)
Dan, I am surprised at you to be honest. I expected more from you regarding scripture and not your opinions, of which you have posted very little scripture and mostly your opinions. You state “It makes no sense for God to use an illustration or vision that isn’t true in all points.” Who says so…you. Acts 10:28 “And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath showed me that I should not call any man common or unclean. ”
NOWHERE does Peter SUGGEST that this vision referred to what was FOOD and what was NOT food.
I would encourage you to go to Abba and ask Him what is the truth regarding this passage of scripture. Don’t go to calvin, tozier, spurgeon, but ask the Ruach Ha Kodesh (Holy Spirit) to give you understanding, this is very easy to see.
No one HAS TO OBEY HIM! Only those that love Him obey him anyways.
Jn 14:15 IF you love me, keep my commandments.
According to the Apostle John…if we go around saying, I love the Messiah! but we don’t keep His commandments…we are liars.
1Jn 2:4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
If Yeshua broke any commandments and taught His followers to do so, HE IS NOT THE MESSIAH. Deu 13:1-4.
Approximately 1/3 of the book of Acts is the apostles and disciples counterring the FALSE charges that they were changing the laws: people continue to this day to BELIEVE the FALSE CHARGES against them.
Acts 6:13 and set up FALSE WITNESSES, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law:
Acts 6:14 For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us.
They were FALSE WITNESSES then…Do you want to CONTINUE the false charges?
The church has lost it’s identity. It is time for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear ….to return to their Hebraic heritage. The enemy has stolen alot from the people of Yahweh. To be a hebrew means to ‘cross over’. I would encourage everyone to leave egypt (the church system with all of its man made traditions and pagan festivals…ie christmas , easter ect..) and return to the ancient paths. The ways of Yahweh. To wear the wedding ring of the Lord ( the *sign* of the sabbath in hebrew means wedding ring) is to honor the sabbath by resting on that day and making it a delight.
These are not my rules these are HIs. He makes them, we are called to obey them
That is all I wll say, and I have enjoyed this *midrash*( discussing the scriptures in hebrew) with you.
Shalom my friend
Interesting coming back to this after all this time. I don;t like the way I came across in parts – I’m sorry for saying you were callous. My views on the issue are the same, but I can see that the way I said them comes across a bit hard toward you. I recall intending to be robust – I’m sorry for overdoing it in places. Still disagree with your basic premise – but I do like you.