This teaching includes a free sermon outline to download for personal use, message preparation or Bible study discussion.
Our theme in these sessions will be the atonement. Now, atonement is a word that’s comparatively rare in contemporary English. And I question whether even many English people know what it actually means. So I want to begin by just writing up on the board the meaning of atonement. It’s a very illuminating word. You see what that says? At one-ment. And that’s the meaning of atonement. It’s God and the sinner being brought to a relationship in which they are at one. It’s a very, very vivid word.
I would say probably in English the normal word to describe that would be reconciliation, which is probably also the word that’s used in at least most European languages.
There’s a great difference between the word that’s translated atonement in the Old Testament and the word that’s translated atonement in the New. It’s very important to understand that. Probably a good many of you are familiar with the fact that the Jewish people still celebrate today, or they’ve celebrated for more than 3,000 years, the Day of Atonement. How many of you know what it’s called? Yom Kippur. You’re familiar with that word? Kippur. Yom is day, kippur is kippur. And the essential meaning of that is to cover. So, in the Old Testament, the Day of Atonement which was the most sacred day in the Jewish calendar was a day of covering. Its sacrifices did not deal with the sin issue, they simply covered sin for one more year. And the next year on the Day of Atonement they had to deal with the sin issue again.
The New Testament’s atonement is totally different. Let’s look at two passages in Hebrews. Hebrews 10:3–4, speaking of the sacrifices of the Old Testament, the writer says:
“But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year.”
So far from taking sin away, from dealing with it, it reminded the people of the sin issue. And then he continues:
“For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.”
The central issue is taking away sins.
Now, in Hebrews 9:26 the writer speaks about what was accomplished by the death of Jesus. And this is in direct contrast to the Old Testament sacrifices. Hebrews 9:26, and we’ll only read the second half of the verse, speaking of Jesus:
“...but now once at the end of the ages He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.”
So when Jesus came and offered Himself as a sacrifice on the cross, He put away sin. So there’s a total difference between the Old Testament sacrifices which merely reminded people of the fact that the sin issue had not been dealt with, and provided a covering that was valid only for one year; and the New Testament sacrifice of Jesus which put away sin.
When John the Baptist introduced Jesus in John 1:29, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God who,” how many of you know, “who takes away the sin of the world.” That’s completely different from the Old Testament. Jesus took away sin. For that reason, after His death for those who have accepted His sacrifice, there is no further sacrifice for sins.
Before I became a preacher, and that was a long while ago now, I was a professor of philosophy at Cambridge in England. And then I began to study the Bible merely as a philosopher. I thought it was my philosophic duty to study the Bible. I didn’t believe it but I thought I at least ought to know what I’m talking about. And in studying the Bible I met the Lord in a very dramatic, powerful and personal way. So that from that time until this time there are two things I’ve never doubted. First of all, that Jesus is alive. Second, that the Bible is true. I have never doubted that.
But, when I came to appreciate the Bible, I came to understand that it offers things that are not offered in any other work of human wisdom or literature anywhere. And it gives us two vitally important things: the diagnosis of the human problem and then the cure. You see, normally speaking, if a doctor can’t diagnose a condition he cannot provide a cure. The diagnosis of the human problem is given by the scripture in one very short word of three letters. How many of you know what it is? Sin, that’s right. Now, as I understand it, from my perspective, there is no book in the world, unless it derives from the Bible, that diagnoses the problem of sin. It is unique to the Bible. If we had nothing else from the Bible we should be eternally grateful for the diagnosis.
But thank God the Bible not merely provides us with the diagnosis, it also provides us with the remedy. And the remedy for sin is atonement. So we’re looking in these sessions at the basic problem of humanity—and let’s not be too general—the basic problem of every one of you and me, whether you recognize it or not. You can call it by a lot of different names. There’s a lot of different so-called sciences in the world today that offer us lots of very complicated fancy names. But the root problem still remains the same: sin. And a person really is not able to deal with his life’s problems until he’s faced the reality of the root problem which is sin.
Thank God that the Bible not merely diagnoses our sin but it also provides God’s perfect remedy for sin. The remedy is the cross, the atonement. When I speak about the cross I need to explain briefly I’m not talking about a piece of metal or wood that people hang around their necks or put up on the wall of a church. I’ve nothing against those but that’s not what I’m talking about. And it’s important to understand this right at the beginning. When I’m talking about the cross I’m talking about a sacrifice that Jesus made on our behalf on the cross. The cross is a sacrifice. I think the majority of Christians probably have never realized to the full that what took place on the cross was a sacrifice. I’d like to look at about three scriptures in Hebrews, all of which bring this out. You’ll notice that at the moment we’re looking rather frequently at Hebrews because Hebrews is really the book that deals with Jesus as our high priest and with the sacrifice that He made on our behalf. Hebrews 7:27, speaking about Jesus and comparing Him, contrasting Him with the priests of the Old Testament, he says:
“He does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer sacrifices, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once for all, when he offered up himself.”
The word offer is the word for what a priest does when he makes a sacrifice. So, on the cross Jesus offered up Himself. That is to say He was the priest and He was the sacrifice. As priest He offered the sacrifice but He was also the sacrifice, the victim. He offered Himself. There was only one priest that was good enough to make that offering and there was only one offering that would be acceptable to God. And Jesus was the priest and the offering.
And then in Hebrews 9:14. Again, this is in direct contrast with the Old Testament. We’ll read verse 13 as well.
“For if the blood of bulls and goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh: how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”
Notice in the middle of that verse it says Jesus offered Himself without spot to God through the eternal Spirit. Actually, in every major phase of redemption every person of the Godhead was directly involved. It’s worthwhile to consider that for a moment. At the conception of Jesus, at His incarnation, the Father incarnated the Son by the Spirit. When the ministry of Jesus began, Peter says in Acts 10:38:
“God anointed Jesus with the Spirit.”
When it came to the sacrifice, Jesus offered Himself to the Father through the Spirit. When it comes to the resurrection, God the Father resurrected the Son by the Spirit. And when it comes to Pentecost, the Son received from the Father the Spirit and poured out the Spirit on His disciples. It’s as if, if I could say this reverently, each person of the Godhead is jealous not to be left out in the redemption of humanity.
And so here we have the statement concerning the cross, Jesus offered Himself as priest and victim to the Father without spot, without blemish, He was totally pure. He was the only acceptable offering because He was the only one without sin. And it says through the eternal Spirit. For me with my philosophic background, that’s a very meaningful phrase. The first time I went to a meeting where I heard the gospel, at the end they made what they call the appeal. I’d never been in a place where anybody did that and it embarrassed me. They said if you want this thing, whatever it was they were talking about, I had no idea, put your hand up. Well, I thought how undignified to be asked to put my hand up in front of the church. I sat there weighing this thing in my mind and a miracle took place. I saw my own right arm go right up and I knew I had not raised it! Talk about emotionalism, I was frightened. Well, nothing further happened in that service but this strange jargon that they used, they said that there’s going to be revival in the Assemblies of God on Tuesday night. Well, I didn’t know what a revival was, never heard of the Assemblies of God but I thought I’m into this thing, let’s see what happens. So on Tuesday night I went to the next meeting and the man preached on Enoch was not because the Lord took him. And he gave a very vivid description of Enoch’s disappearance and how they sent for the tracking dogs and they followed the scent so far and then there was no more scent so they concluded he’d gone up. Well, from my logical background I could say that’s logic at least.
Then they came to the close and I knew what was going to happen. Every head bowed, every eye closed, if you want this, put your hand up. Well, I thought to myself the last time somebody else put my hand up for me but I couldn’t expect that to happen twice, I’ll do it myself. So I put my hand up. After the sermon was over the preacher came and looked at me and I looked at him. I think he thought he had a problem on his hands. So he asked me two questions which I’ve never forgotten. The first one was, “Do you believe that you’re a sinner?” Well, I had specialized in definitions so I quickly ran over in my mind all the obvious definitions of sinner. Every one of them fitted me exactly! So I had no problem, I said, “Yes, I believe I’m a sinner.” Then he said, “Do you believe that Christ died for your sins?” I remember clearly what I said, I said, “To tell you the truth, I can’t see how the death of Jesus Christ 19 centuries ago could have anything to do with the sins I’ve committed in my lifetime.” And I really couldn’t. It was a problem. Well, I think he was wise, he didn’t argue with me because I was used to arguing and I could have out-argued him anytime. I suppose those dear people prayed for me.
But you see, here’s the answer. It was through the eternal Spirit that Jesus offered Himself. The word eternal means out of time. What happened on the cross was a fact of history but its significance transcended time. And in that sacrifice Jesus comprehended the sins of all people of all ages: past, present and future. You see, the human mind can hardly comprehend and take in all that was involved through that one sacrifice of Jesus. But your sin and my sin and the sins of people not yet born all came upon Him through the eternal Spirit. He comprehended the entire sin of the whole human race upon Himself.
It’s extremely important that we understand this and that we give it its proper place in our thinking as Christians. About three years ago I was with a Christian friend, a coworker, in Singapore. We were just having a casual conversation and he made this remark. He said the church has got so many items in its shop window that the cross is no longer noticed. And that really struck me immediately. Today you go into a Christian bookstore and you can get a book on anything. How to be a good wife, a good husband, how to cook, how to keep house, how to understand your own mentality. I mean, there is no limit. But none of those things work without the cross. The cross is the only source of grace and power to make all the other good advice work.
How true that is about marriage. There’s countless books on how to make a marriage work. I’ve written two myself. And thank God mine works. I’ll tell you, when you read a book about how to make something work, find out if the person makes it work before you read the book. Because a lot of psychiatrists and psychologists who have been divorced two or three times are telling us how to make a marriage work.
What I’m trying to say is it’s time that the church put the cross back in the center and not obscure it. God told the Israelites when they went into the Promised Land that when they built an altar they were not to put anything around it. They were not to put bushes or trees or decorations. It was to stand there stark, unobscured. And that’s a lesson for us. We are not to surround the cross with anything, we’re not to put anything on the cross or in front of the cross which would in any way obscure it. And the cross, in a way, is something very stark, as we’ll be seeing as we continue with these lessons. In a way, it’s a horrible scene. I don’t believe any human artist has ever adequately depicted what took place when Jesus died on the cross. I don’t believe that people would stand the sight. But it’s the center. It’s unique to the Christian religion. No other religious teaching, neither Islam nor Buddhism nor Hinduism, nor any of the countless cults, have anything that corresponds to the cross.
Furthermore, the cross anchors Christian faith to history. Mohammed wrote his revelation in a cave. It’s not tied to any particular situation or series of events. Philosophers speculate in the abstract. But the message of the cross relates to a specific incident in human history. And it either happened or it didn’t happen. There’s no third possibility. It’s either true or it’s false. If it’s true it’s the most important thing in human history.
When I became confronted with this and I realized that Jesus was alive in the 20th century, I said to myself the fact that a man died and rose from the dead and is still alive today is the most important single fact in human history. There is nothing else that can be compared with it.
What I’m saying is if we don’t give the cross its rightful place, our faith loses its meaning and its power. And what we end up with is just a nice set of generalities or Christian ethic which is impossible for us to keep. No one will ever keep the sermon on the mount without the power of the cross in his life.
I have been praying for some years that God would restore or would enable the church to restore the cross to its rightful place. I believe the fact that I am teaching these classes is part of the answer to that prayer. I didn’t choose this theme, it was requested of me.
Let’s look for a moment in 1 Corinthians 1:25. Paul has said we preach Christ crucified. Let me ask you if you’re a preacher or a teacher or a counselor, do you do that? Do you teach Christ crucified? If you don’t, your counseling will sound nice but it will accomplish nothing in the long run. Because, the only source of power is the cross.
And then Paul says in verse 25 of 1 Corinthians 1:
“The foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”
The cross is the foolishness of God and the weakness of God. What could be more foolish than for God to permit His Son to be crucified by sinners? What could be weaker than the spectacle of a man hung up on a cross with his body lacerated and bleeding and dying in agony? But, Paul says, the weakness of God is stronger than men. The foolishness of God is wiser than men. The real source of strength and wisdom for the Christian is in the cross. And without the cross we can have a lot of good morality, a lot of good intentions, a lot of nice sermons; but we will have no results that are really significant.
Let’s look to Hebrews 10:14 as we come to the end of this session.
“For by one sacrifice He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.”
Notice again it’s a sacrifice. Only once was it ever done, it never had to be repeated. And, it has perfected forever as far as what God had to do and Jesus had to do, it is perfect, complete forever. Nothing can ever be taken from it, nothing can ever be added to it. It’s perfect forever.
But, the second part of the verse is in a different tense. In English we talk about the perfect tense and we talk about the continuing present tense. The second part is in the continuing present. Those who are being sanctified. What God has done is complete, perfect, final, never will it have to be changed or modified or added to. But our appropriation of it is progressive. It’s very important to see that. Especially as I’m going to be teaching you the perfection of the work. You can sit there and say I don’t have it. To tell you the truth, none of us has it. I’ve studied and taught on this theme for more than 40 years. I’m still being sanctified. But notice it’s for those who are being sanctified. It’s for those who are coming progressively closer to God, receiving more and more of God into their being, getting further and further separated from sin and the world. It’s for them that the revelation of the cross works.
Now I just want to explain as we close this session my program which God, I trust, will help me to carry out. In the continuing sessions I want to deal with three successive scenes. First of all, what the cross did for us. Second, what the cross must do in us, which is a very neglected theme today. And third, practically, how to appropriate what God has already done. Let me just say that once more. What the cross did for us, what the cross has to do in us, and finally, how to appropriate what God has done.
In our last session I explained that the death of Jesus on the cross was a sacrifice, that Jesus as the high priest offered Himself as the sacrifice to God through the Holy Spirit. And, that by that sacrifice He put away sin forever.
I also mentioned that I had come to the Lord from a background in which I was not really familiar with the teaching of the gospel or the truths of salvation. The Lord didn’t deal with me on an intellectual basis, He was like somebody who throws you into the deep end and says, “Swim.” I got thrown into the deep end. I got baptized in the Holy Spirit before I knew there was a baptism in the Holy Spirit. And before all the people who were against it had time to warn me against it, I got into it. I got into all this through studying the Bible. To my astonishment I discovered that the Bible is true, relevant and up to date, it still happens. In fact, I had to look in the Bible to find an explanation of the things that were happening in my life.
This happened while I was a soldier in the British Army in World War II, serving in Britain. Shortly afterwards my unit was sent overseas to the Middle East and I spent the next three years in the deserts of Egypt and Libya. I was with my unit through the Battle of El Alamein and after that I developed a condition on my skin, on my feet and my hands, which doctors called by various different names, each longer than the previous one. But none of them could heal. And because I was unable to wear boots any longer I had to be released from my unit. I was placed in military hospitals in Egypt. I spent the next year, one full year, in military hospitals in Egypt.
Well, I wouldn’t want to spend a year in hospital anywhere but a military hospital in Egypt would be very low down on my list if I had a choice.
There I lay week after week in a hospital bed. I knew that I was saved. I had received the Holy Spirit and I had come to believe that the Bible really is true. That’s as far as I’d come. I’d had no other teaching. In a way I’m rather grateful that God took over the job and taught me Himself, as He certainly did. So, I would lie there in the bed day after day saying to myself, “I know if I had faith God would heal me.” But then the next thing I always said was, “But I don’t have faith.” And when I said that, I understand what John Bunyan meant in Pilgrim’s Progress when he spoke about the slough of despond, the dark valley of despair. I was right in that valley, totally dark.
Now I’m telling you all this because I want you to understand that what I’m going to be teaching is not based on theory, it’s not the product of theology; it’s based on experience. It works. As I lay there in the darkness, a little book dropped into my hands—a dear lady sent it to me, let me add that—called Healing From Heaven by a lady called Lillian Yomans who had been a medical doctor, had become addicted to morphine, was in an incurable condition and through faith in the Lord and the Bible was wonderfully delivered, and devoted the rest of her life to preaching and teaching on healing. In this book there was just one sentence—actually it was a direct quotation from the Bible. It was from Romans 10:17, which says:
“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
And as I read that it was like a brilliant ray of light penetrated the darkness. I laid hold of two words, faith cometh. If you don’t have it you can get it. How does it come? By hearing. Hearing what? What God says in His word.
So having laid hold of that I decided I am going to hear what God says. And so I armed myself with a blue pencil and read through the whole Bible underlining in blue everything that related to four themes: healing, health, physical strength and long life. It took me several months to do it but I had nothing else to do but that. When I finished, got to the end of the Bible, you know what I had? A blue Bible! So, this convinced me that healing is provided for by God through the Bible through Jesus Christ.
But I still didn’t know how to lay hold of it. Well, I was transferred from one hospital to another at a place called Alballah on the Suez Canal. And there was a dear lady in Cairo, a very unusual lady, she was a brigadier in the Salvation Army. She was a brigadier because her husband who had died had been a brigadier. And in the Salvation Army the wife takes the husband’s rank. She was still more unusual—this was in the early l940s—because she was a tongue speaking Salvationist, and there weren’t many of them in that time. And she was a militant about what she believed, speaking in tongues and divine healing, as Salvationists are about salvation. Also, she’d been a missionary in India and had been incurably sick with malaria, had trusted the Bible and received complete healing from malaria, and never taken another mouthful of medicine ever since—which was something like 20 years.
Well, this dear lady, I had met her once in Cairo, she heard about this British soldier in hospital, and God bless her memory, she took a rather difficult journey to come and visit this one soldier there on the Suez Canal. Well, she got hold of a little four-seater British type car. She got a New Zealand soldier to drive the car. I say that because I was in New Zealand a few years ago and I was telling this story. Outside the meeting somebody came up to me very excited and wanted to get my attention. It was the very soldier that had driven that car! And she also had a coworker who was a young American lady from the state of Oklahoma. So these three, the soldier driving, the Salvation Army brigadier in the front seat with him and Minta the lady from Oklahoma in the back seat, arrived at the hospital. Her name was Mrs. Ross. She marched into the ward in her bonnet, robes and all this, overawed the nurse and got permission for me to go out and sit in the car and pray with them. I mean, I wasn’t really consulted whether I wanted to sit in the car and pray, it just happened. I found myself in the back seat of this very small car beside this lady from Oklahoma. We started to pray. Well, I mean, I was a praying person. After a little while the lady beside me began to speak in tongues. But she spoke very fluently and forcefully, and the power of God came down upon her that she was vibrating physically with the power. And then I found myself vibrating. And then everybody in the car was vibrating. And then the whole car was vibrating. Now, it was stationary and the engine was not running, but the car was vibrating as if it had been going about 50 miles an hour over a rough road. I knew somehow God was doing that for the benefit of me.
Then this lady came out with the interpretation in English. Now, I had been a student of Shakespeare and I was appreciative of Elizabethan English and the King James and all that. I don’t need to tell people from America that you put a British professor of philosophy beside a young lady from Oklahoma, you’ve got a sort of clash of cultures and languages. But what astonished me was this interpretation was in the most perfect Elizabethan English. I don’t remember all that was said but the certain passage I have never forgotten, it’s as fresh for me today as it was in l943. These are the words: “Consider the work of Calvary: a perfect work, perfect in every respect, perfect in every aspect.” Now you’ll agree that’s pretty elegant English. I immediately appreciated it. But because I had a background in Greek it meant a lot more to me because instantly my mind went to the last thing that Jesus said on the cross, which is translated in most versions “it is finished.” But in Greek it is one single word, tetelestai. And that is the perfect tense of a verb that means to do something perfectly. You could translate it is perfectly perfect. Or it is completely complete. And here was the Lord saying to me a perfect work, perfect in every respect, perfect in every aspect. I said tetelestai. That’s the Holy Spirit interpreting that word to me. I was overawed because I knew that God was doing it for my sake. I knew God had spoken but I got out of the car just as sick as I got in. Nothing happened physically.
However, I had a word of direction from the Lord. I understood that God was showing me that if I could understand what Jesus did for me on the cross it contained all I would ever need for time and eternity: physical, spiritual, material, emotional. Perfect in every respect, perfect in every aspect. No matter what point of view you look at the cross, it’s perfect. Nothing has been omitted, everything is provided for.
That’s exciting. I hope I can communicate to you that in this theme we’re studying, if you can comprehend it and apprehend it by faith, everything you will ever need, not only in time but in eternity, whether it’s spiritual or physical or financial or material or emotional or relational, it has all been provided by one sacrifice. He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. I’d like you to say that with me. “By one sacrifice He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.” Notice that word perfected. See? Perfect.
So, I went back and I said if I could only understand what God did on the cross for me through Jesus. And I began to see that on the cross Jesus not merely bore my sins but He also took my sicknesses and bore my pains. And by His wounds I was healed. Now we’ll be looking at this out of the scripture a little later in this series. I mean, I’m a trained mind when it comes to analyzing the meaning of things. I said to myself there’s no getting away from it. It’s stated again and again and again in the Bible, Jesus on the cross bore our sicknesses, our pains, our infirmities. And by His wounds we were healed. I tried every way with my philosophic mind to get away from the implications of that. I tried to think of every possible way that I could interpret it without meaning physical healing. And I would say in those weeks the devil brought to my mind every objection that has ever been raised against divine healing. I don’t think he left out one. But every time when I went back to the word of God it said the same. I remembered my blue Bible. All through the Bible, starting in Genesis and ending in Revelation, healing, health, physical strength, long life.
Well, from my background in the Anglican church—and this is not a criticism of the Anglican church but it was my impression because I attended church compulsory eight times a week for ten years while I was at school. I didn’t like much of what went on. So I had formed the conclusion that if you are really going to be a Christian you had to be prepared to be miserable for the rest of your life. And my conclusion at the age of eighteen was I wasn’t prepared to be miserable for the rest of my life. Furthermore, if I was going to be miserable I’d be less miserable as a sinner as I would be as a Christian.
So, I had this mental block. Every time I read these promises and statements of healing I would say, but that’s too good to be true, it couldn’t really mean that. If it really means it, God wants me to be healthy, successful and live a long life. It couldn’t be, that’s not my picture of religion. Well, when I was arguing this way the Lord spoke to me inaudibly but very clearly and He said, “Tell me. Who is the teacher and who is the pupil?” I said, “Lord, you’re the teacher and I’m the pupil.” And He said, “Well, would you mind letting me teach you?” And I got the message.
After that the Holy Spirit directed me to the particular scripture that got me out of hospital. I want to say the Holy Spirit deals with all of us individually. It doesn’t follow that He’ll deal with you exactly the same way but I can illustrate what I’m saying from the way that the Holy Spirit dealt with me. The scripture, if you want to turn to it, is Proverbs 4:20–22. I will quote it in the Old King James.
And I realized God was talking to me as His child. This is not addressed to unbelievers, it’s addressed to God’s people.
“My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life to those who find them, and health to all their flesh.”
When I got to that phrase “all their flesh” I said that settles it. Not even a philosopher can make flesh mean anything but flesh. And if it says all my flesh it means my whole physical body. God through His words has provided that which will impart health to my whole physical body.
And then I looked at the marginal translation for health and it was medicine. So it’s either health or medicine. I said to myself, that’s wonderful. I’m sick, I need medicine. God has provided the medicine which will provide health for my whole body. I was what they call in the British Army a medical orderly. In other words, a hospital attendant. One of my jobs was giving out medicine when I wasn’t sick myself. I said that’s it, I’m going to take God’s word as medicine. When I did that, God spoke to me again inaudibly but clearly. He said, “When the doctor gives a person medicine, the directions for taking it are on the bottle. This, that’s Proverbs 4:20–22, is my medicine bottle and the directions are on it. You’d better study them.” I went back and I saw that there were four directions.
Number one: Attend to my words. Give undivided attention to what God is saying.
Number two: Incline thine ear. Bow down that stiff neck of yours and be teachable. You don’t know it all and some of the things you think you know you don’t know! And a lot of the traditions that you’ve inherited from your church background are not Biblical.
The third thing was: Let them not depart from thine eyes. Keep unwavering focus on the word of God.
And then: Keep them in the midst of thine heart.
And the next verse of Proverbs says this:
“Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life.”
In other words, whatever you have in your heart will determine the course of your life. You cannot have the wrong thing in your heart and live right. And you cannot have the right thing in your heart and live wrong, because what’s in your heart determines the course of your life. And God was saying, “If you’ll take my word through the ear gate, through the eye gate, admit it to your heart; it will do everything that I’ve claimed.”
So I made up my mind I would do that. I would take God’s word as my medicine. I went to the doctor and I thanked him for trying to help me. And to some extent he had helped some areas. I said, “From now on I’m going to trust God. I don’t want any more medication.” I narrowly escaped being sent to a psychiatric hospital and I was discharged on my own responsibility.
Now, the worst thing for my condition was heat. Egypt is hot. But the army sent me to a much hotter place which was the Sudan, Khartoum, where the temperature regularly goes up to 127 degrees every afternoon. So here I am in the Sudan struggling for healing, determined to take my medicine. You understand, because of my philosophic background this was a ridiculous thing for me to do. I had to decide whether I was going to be clever and stay sick or silly and get healed. I decided to be silly. And thank God I got healed.
What I did was this. I said to myself, how do people take regular medicine? The answer normally is three times daily after meals. I said that’s what I’m going to do. After each main meal I would go aside by myself, open up the Bible, bow my head in prayer and say, God, you have promised that these words of yours will be medicine to all my flesh. I’m taking them as my medicine now in the name of Jesus. And then I would read the Bible and I would do my best to read it with careful attention not to be distracted and to listen to what God was saying to me.
And I would have to say not merely did I receive physical healing but I got a whole lot more. By the time I was healed I was a totally different person. The Bible had got into my mind and renewed my mind, it had changed my priorities, my values, my attitudes. See, it’s wonderful to be healed by a miracle, I thank God I’ve seen many people miraculously healed. But in a certain sense, there’s a lot to be said for getting healed by taking the medicine because you get a lot more than physical healing. You get changed in your inner being.
I didn’t receive immediate healing. As a matter of fact, I would say it was three months before I could say I was fully healed. And that in the worst possible circumstances. One of the things that God made clear to me was when Israel was in Egypt the more the Egyptians afflicted them the more they prospered and grew. So I saw circumstances are not significant. God’s promises do not depend on circumstances. They depend on meeting the condition.
There’s a certain principle I’d like to close with because I’m leading up to, in due course, helping you to appropriate whatever it is you need out of the sacrifice of Jesus. James said in his epistle faith without works is dead. Works, appropriate actions. So, it’s not sufficient just to sit there and say I believe. You have to activate your faith. Smith Wigglesworth, who was a friend of the people who took me to my first service, though I never met him personally, they were the strange people I got involved with—thank God—Smith Wigglesworth used to say faith is an act. As a matter of fact, he didn’t say it that way because he was one of those English people who put H’s in where they shouldn’t be and leave them out where they should be. So he would say faith is a hact—and he wouldn’t even say it like that. One day he was teaching somewhere but the people weren’t really receiving it. He said, “Faith comes by hearing. They’ve got to hear everything twice.” So he said to the other minister on the platform, “You say it over there and I’ll say it over here and then they’ll get it.” Well, the other minister happened to be a teacher of elocution. So Smith Wigglesworth said, “Faith is a hact.” And this man would say, “Faith is an act.” But they got the message, faith is an act.
And you see, that’s what it was for me. I could have sat in bed and said I believe, but I had to do something to activate my faith. And God in His wisdom showed me, take the Bible three times daily as your medicine. Don’t just be passive but appropriate it by the appropriate action.