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The subject that we’re going to be dealing with tonight is indicated here on this cover of the book that we’ll be going through: “Healing and Health.” I want to emphasize that we’re not merely going to be dealing tonight with healing but with something that is really is of more permanent importance, and that is health. Many, many Christians believe in being healed and get healed. But quite a number of them don’t stay healed. I have observed over the years that if a well-known healing evangelist will come to a big city and preach on healing, multitudes of people will go forward for healing and will testify to receiving healing. Doubtless, their testimony is correct. But if the same evangelist goes back to the same city six months later, you’ll find the majority of the same people will come forward to get healed again. In other words, lots of people receive healing but many who receive healing do not know how to retain health. The Bible teaches both.
Let’s begin with the question of healing and then move on to health. In dealing with the theme of God’s power to heal and how to receive healing from God, there is one central issue which has to be settled and that issue is the will of God. Is it the revealed will of God to heal? I myself lay in military hospitals in North Africa during the Second World War for one year; twelve months. All through those twelve months I was seeking to resolve this issue of the will of God. Until I became convinced that it was God’s will to heal me and to keep me healthy, I did not get out of the hospital. It took me one year to resolve this issue, resolve it from Scripture, resolve it in personal experience. You will find that in most cases where healing is not received or where it is not retained, the basic problem is a lack of assurance concerning the will of God. Is it the will of God to heal, to heal all who come, only to heal some? Or, is sickness sometimes the will of God?
This is a place where we have to be very logical. And, before I became a preacher I was a logician. Not a magician, but a logician. Somebody came up to me once when I made that statement and said, “I never knew you’d been a magician.” I said I never was, I was a logician. I dealt in logic, not in magic. I found that logic, properly applied, is a very useful thing. Suppose for a moment that you tell me, “Brother Prince, I believe my sickness is God’s will for me. It’s a blessing that God has put upon me.” Well, then, please be logical. Don’t try to get rid of God’s blessing. Cultivate it. That’s the logical thing to do. If God has placed sickness upon you to do you good, then you’re very wrong to seek to get rid of that sickness by any means. You’re wrong to go to the doctor and involve that innocent doctor in fighting against God’s will for your life.
See, be logical. The trouble is, most people cease to be logical when they get inside a church building. They’re perfectly clear and logical till they get inside a church and then their logic just vanishes. If it really is God’s will for you to be sick then it’s sinful for you to try to be healed. Be clear about that.
I believe the will of God is revealed in His Word. I believe that the Word of God, the Scripture, is the great basic source for the revelation of the will of God. I want to suggest to you three different ways in which God’s will concerning healing is revealed in His Word. First of all, it is revealed by the nature of God. Secondly, it is revealed by Christ’s ministry. And thirdly, it is sealed by Christ’s atonement.
Let’s look at each of these three ways in which the will of God concerning healing is revealed from the Scripture. Let’s consider, for a moment, the nature of God. In Exodus 15:23 and following we read this incident in the time when Israel were coming forth out of Egypt and passing through the wilderness. It says:
“And when they had come to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter: therefore the name of it was called Marah [which means in Hebrew “bitter”]. And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink? And he cried unto the LORD; and the LORD shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them, and said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee.”
Let’s look for a moment at that last statement, “I am the LORD that healeth thee.” In Hebrew it’s three words and I’ll say them in the Hebrew language as a matter of interest. ?Aniy adonai raphahka? ?Aniy?: I. Adonai: the Lord. ?Raphahka?: thy doctor. The Hebrew word raphah means a doctor. There is a very learned medical journal in modern Hebrew published regularly called ?Ha rapha hay e ree?: the Hebrew doctor. It’s a medical journal about ordinary scientific medicine. When God said to Israel in the days of Moses “I am the LORD [I am Jehovah], your doctor.” That’s exactly what it means. He revealed Himself as the doctor, the physician, the healer of His people.
That word raphah is also the present tense of the participle of the verb “to heal.” It can be translated “I am the LORD who am healing thee.” And, in a certain sense, the Lord is continually healing us.
This revelation was given not because Israel sought it, but because God desired them to receive it. The revelation arose out of a situation of their need but it was the revelation of the eternal nature and will of God for His people. “I am the LORD your doctor.”
I want you to notice that He says “I will continue to be your doctor provided that you meet certain conditions.” I do not want to go into the conditions in detail but I want to point out to you the first condition because this is the primary and basic condition all through Scripture for knowing the healing power of God. In verse 26 he began with these words:
“If thou will diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God...”
And then He goes on with the other conditions. Where the English says “diligently hearken” the Hebrew says “if listening you will listen.” It repeats the verb to listen. I was once asking God, “What do you mean by ‘listen listening’?” It was as though the Lord said to me, “You have two ears, the right and the left. To listen listening is to listen to Me with both ears, right ear and left.” But I’ve found many people that haven’t learned to do that. They listen to God with the right ear and to the devil with the left. God’s Word comes in by the right ear, the devil’s lie comes in by the left ear, they meet in the middle of the head and do you know what the result is? Confusion. The great secret for receiving healing is to listen listening—to listen with both ears, to listen with all your attention to what God says to you in His Word. And He says, “If you will listen listening, I am your doctor. Permanently.” Now, at the close of the Old Testament canon in Malachi 3:6, God is again speaking to the children of Israel and He says this:
“[I am Jehovah] I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.”
One of the best evidences that the Lord never changes is that the sons of Jacob have never been consumed. Because, if the unchanging God had not stood for them and protected them through all these centuries, they would have been consumed by their persecutors many, many centuries ago. But the Lord says, “The reason you children of Jacob are not consumed is because I am Jehovah your God and I do not change. I am your doctor, I do not change.”
And in the New Testament in James 1:17, James says:
“Every good and every perfect gift [but more literally: Every good act of giving and every perfect thing given] is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”
This is true of God. He never varies, He never changes, He never has moods, He never changes His mind. He is the great, eternal, unchanging “I am.” He says, “I am your doctor.” He always was, He is, He always will be. God’s nature never changes either in the Old Testament or in the New. Unvaryingly, unchangingly, eternally, He says, “I am Jehovah, the unchanging one, the eternal one, your doctor.”
Secondly, the will of God concerning healing is revealed in the ministry of Jesus Christ. I believe the clearest single summation of the ministry of Christ is given by the apostle Peter where he’s speaking in the household of Cornelius in Acts 10:38 where Peter says:
“God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil...”
Would you notice: the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all united in the ministry of healing. God the Father anointed Jesus the Son with the Holy Spirit. With what result? That the Son, as the personal representative of the Godhead, went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed of the devil. Healing is from God; sickness is from the devil. That’s very, very clear. Father, Son and Holy Spirit unite in bringing healing to suffering humanity, the sickness from which they were suffering having been caused by the devil. This is as clear as it can be. It’s night and day. The devil brings sickness; God brings healing. In the ministry of Jesus, the Father, Son and Spirit demonstrated the will of God in the person of Jesus going about doing good, healing all that were oppressed of the devil.
There is no record in the Scriptures that Jesus ever turned away a single person who came to Him for healing. There were those who did not come who did not get healed, but every one who came to Him was healed. He never said, “It is not the will of God.” He never said, “There’s a reason for your sickness which I cannot change.” He never said, “You’ve been sick too long” or “Your sickness is too serious or it’s incurable.” Every single person who came to Jesus in His earthly ministry for healing was healed. He Himself said in John 6:38:
“I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.”
And in John 14:9 He summed this up by saying:
“He that hath seen me hath seen the Father...”
When you see Jesus Christ, you see the Father in action. And in the healing ministry of Jesus you see God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit united in bringing healing to the human race.
The third great seal upon God’s healing will is in the atonement of Jesus Christ: the work which God did for the human race through Christ’s death on the cross. The great source for description of the atonement of Jesus is found in Isaiah 53. In the King James Version, verses 4 and 5 read like this:
“Surely he [and we know that this is Jesus] hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement [or punishment] of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”
Where the King James Version uses the English words griefs and sorrows, the literal Hebrew says “sicknesses” and “pains.” In the German version of Luther, the two normal German words for sickness and pain are used—as also in all the Scandinavian versions: Swedish, Norwegian, Danish. They all use the regular words for sickness and pain. And this is the correct meaning. We should read those words:
“Surely he [Jesus] has borne our sicknesses, and carried our pains ...”
And then logically we come to the conclusion: “with his wounds we are healed.” Those verses give us a perfect work for spirit and for body. He was wounded for our transgressions, spiritual. He was bruised for our iniquities or rebellions. The chastisement that bought us peace, spiritual, was upon Him. Transgressions, iniquities, peace are in the spiritual realm. In the physical realm He took our sicknesses, He bore our pains and with His wounds we are physically healed.
It’s a fascinating thing that in relation to the atonement the Scripture never uses the future of healing, it always uses the past. We “have been” healed.
This passage from Isaiah is quoted by two writers of the New Testament, both of them Jewish, both of them familiar with the Hebrew language, both of them inspired by the Holy Spirit and they both endorse this physical interpretation of the fourth and fifth verses of Isaiah 53. Look with me in Matthew 8:16–17. This is the introduction to the public ministry of Jesus.
“When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet...”
And this is Isaiah 53:4 that’s being quoted.
“Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.”
Notice Matthew, a Levite, an Orthodox Jew with a knowledge of Hebrew, inspired by the Holy Spirit quotes Isaiah 53:4 this way.
“Himself [Jesus] took our infirmities, and bore our sicknesses.”
The proof of that was that He healed all that were sick that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet.
And then in 1 Peter 2:24 we have a further quotation of the same verses from Isaiah. This one verse reads as follows concerning Jesus:
“Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes [or wounds] ye were healed.”
Again, Peter combines the spiritual—the deliverance from sin, the imputation of Christ’s righteousness—and the physical healing. The word that Peter there uses in 1 Peter 2:24 “ye were healed” is the standard Greek word for physical healing from which the Greek word for a doctor is directly formed. The whole testimony of Old Testament and New is this: That on the cross Jesus took our sicknesses, He bore our pains, and with the wounds inflicted on His physical body physical healing was obtained for us.
So, we have three witnesses in the Word of God concerning the will of God for healing.
The nature of God: I am the Lord [I am Jehovah] your doctor, the one who is healing you. I change not. There is no variable.
Christ’s ministry: God the Father anointed the Son with the Spirit. He went about healing all that were sick. He said, “I came not to do my own will but the will of him that sent me.” He said, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father. I’m the Father in action. If you want to know the will of God, look at what I do.” That is the will of God.
And then on the cross He sealed the will of God by His substitutionary death. He took upon Him the curse of a fallen, rebellious race. He took every evil consequence that was due by divine justice to the Adamic race and exhausted it in His own person on the cross. He took our sins, our rebellion, our sicknesses, our pains; our old man died in Him. He died our death, He was banished from God on our account that we might have access to God. In every respect, what Jesus did on the cross was a substitutionary act. He became our legal, divinely appointed substitute. All the evil that was due to us through our sin and rebellion came upon Him that all the good that was due to Him by divine, eternal nature might be made available to you and me through our faith in Him. He took our pain, He bore our sicknesses and with His wounds we were healed.
People ask me, “Is healing the will of God for the Christian?” My answer is, “That isn’t really the question. The question is not, ‘What is the will of God?’ or whether God will heal. The question is, ‘How can you appropriate the healing which God has already provided for you through the death of Christ?’” I want to say that again. The question is not, Will God heal? is it the will of God to heal? The question is, How can you appropriate the healing which God has already provided for you through the death of Christ? It is already finished. When Jesus died He said, “It is finished. There’s nothing more to do. All you have to do now is receive what I have already done.”
Now I want to go on and consider the agent of healing. Then the means of healing. We have seen the will of God; let us now turn to the agent, the one who actually administers healing to our physical bodies. The answer is the agent of healing is the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit. You see, if you go back to the story of creation, you’ll find out that it was the inbreathed Spirit of God that brought our physical bodies into being. The Creator leaned over a form of clay, breathed into those nostrils and into those lips of clay the divine Spirit of life from God and that body of clay changed into a living, physical organism: nerves, muscles, joints, glands, the blood system. All the marvels of the human body came into being through the operation of the Holy Spirit. There is nothing more logical than divine healing through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the one who brought the human body into being. The Holy Spirit is the one who sustains the human body in health and strength and ministers to it when it is infirm and weak and in pain.
Paul states this in Romans 8:11:
“If the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ [the Anointed] from the dead shall also quicken [that’s Old English for ‘give life to’] your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. What Paul is saying essentially is this: If you are a believer and you have received the Spirit of God and the Spirit of God dwells in you, remember that you have dwelling in your mortal, physical body the same divine power that raised from the tomb the dead body of the Lord Jesus Christ. After Jesus had lain in the tomb horribly mutilated, lacerated, every drop of blood drained from His body, gashing wounds in His side, His hands, His feet, His back lacerated by the Roman lash, the marks of the thorns on His brow. After that body had lain three days and three nights in the tomb, the Spirit of life from God moved in and raised it up. And Paul says the same Spirit that raised the dead body of Jesus from the tomb is the Spirit that’s dwelling in your mortal, physical body now. For what purpose? To minister divine life to that mortal body.”
Let me say this: Divine healing does not teach that you have an immortal body. It teaches that you have immortal life in a mortal body. You have resurrection life, but you still have a mortal body. But as long as the same Spirit that raised the dead body of Jesus from the tomb dwells in your physical body, there’s all the power that you’ll ever need to withstand all the inroads of sickness and disease to keep you healthy, strong and functioning effectively till the day that God withdraws His Spirit and you fall asleep in Christ. If that Spirit could raise the dead body of Jesus from the tomb, there is no sickness, there is no condition which that Spirit cannot deal with. The Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up the anointed [and you are anointed in Him] will do the same for you as the anointed in Him that He did for the Anointed—the Messiah, the Christ. He will give life to your mortal bodies.
This is further stated in the beautiful words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:10–11. Paul says this:
“Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we [who] live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.”
That is divine healing, that is divine health. It’s the resurrection life of Jesus Christ made manifest in our mortal flesh. Not merely indwelling our mortal flesh, but made manifest, visibly operating, its presence made visible by what it accomplishes. This is the message of divine healing and divine health. Paul says, we reckon ourselves to be dead indeed with Christ under sin, alive unto God, being dead to sin, being alive to God with the death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the same power that raised Jesus from the tomb works in our mortal bodies imparting to us divine resurrection life. We do not have the resurrection body, but we have resurrection life in a mortal body. The resurrection body is yet to come but in the meanwhile the Spirit of God gives us enough of divine resurrection life now to keep us well, healthy and strong as long as God desires to use us in this mortal frame.
The agent of healing, then, is the Holy Spirit.
Let’s look now at the means that the Holy Spirit uses. The greatest means of all, the basic means, the primary means, the one that is before all others, is the Word of God. This is so beautifully stated in Psalm 107, reading from verse 17 through verse 20. It says there:
And we always know they’re in the other church, don’t we? They’re never in our denomination!
“Fools because of their transgression, and because of their iniquities, are afflicted. Their soul abhorreth all manner of meat [they lose their appetite completely]; they draw near to the gates of death [they’re right at the door of death]. Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he saveth them out of their distresses.”
The King James Version says “he sent his word and healed them.” But the modern versions put it in the present tense which is better. “He sends His word, and heals them, and delivers them from their destructions.”
What does He send in answer to their cry for healing as they lie at death’s door? In desperation they call out to God and God hears and answers their cry. What does He send to minister healing to them? He sends His Word and heals them and delivers them.
If you look at those two verses 19 and 20 you’ll see three great ministries that come to us through the Word of God. Verse 19, He saves them out of their distresses. Verse 20, He sends His Word and heals them and delivers them from their destructions. To be saved, to be healed, to be delivered (or the noun salvation, healing and deliverance). How do they come to us? All through the Word of God. He sends His Word, saves, heals, delivers. The great instrument of ministering healing from the Holy Spirit is the Word of God. As the Spirit and the Word come together, the creative, restorative power of Almighty God is made available to you and me.
I must also give you the verses that got me out of hospital after that year in hospital. Proverbs 4:20–22. These are the words on which I walked out of hospital.
“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 unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh.”
When I read that last phrase I said, “That settles it! If I can have health in all my flesh there is no more room for sickness.” This is clear. I cannot have health and sickness in the same place at the same time. If God has given me that which will give me health in all my physical body, then there is no room for sickness. I looked to see again what it was that God had given this provision through and I saw “my words ... my sayings. are life to those that find them and health to all their flesh.”
I did that. I took God’s Word as my health, as my medicine. I listened to it, I read it, I meditated in it, I acted upon it, and it brought me divine healing and it kept me in divine health. God is true to His Word. He says, “If you will attend to His words, if you will incline your ear, if you will bow down and listen humbly to what He’s telling you, if you will focus your eyes upon His promises, if you’ll admit His Word into your heart; then out of your heart,” the next verse of Proverbs says [Proverbs 4:23]:
“Out of the heart are the issues of life.”
When you receive the Word of God through the ear gate, through the eye gate, with your mind, with focused attention, with humble obedience; it comes into your heart and out of your heart it ministers healing and health to every area of your physical body. This is God’s great provision for making you healthy and keeping you healthy, it’s His Word. It’s both beneath and behind every other provision.
Then there are certain ways in which the will of God can be received or appropriated according to the Word of God. There are certain specific faith acts that we may make that bring the healing virtue and power of God by the Holy Spirit according to the Word of God into our physical being. I have mentioned here these different ways. By the laying on of hands, by anointing with oil and through spiritual gifts.
Let’s look, for a moment, at what the Scripture says concerning each of these different ways of appropriating the healing which God has provided for us through Christ by His Spirit according to His Word. But, bear in mind always that this is basic, that it’s through Christ, it’s by the Spirit, it’s according to the Word. That is the great foundation on which these other means must be based. The three major means of healing we find primarily in the New Testament: the laying on of hands, the anointing of the sick with oil, and the exercise of spiritual gifts. Let’s look at these three in that order.
Turn, first of all, to Mark 16 and read some of the closing verses of that chapter. This is the great commission of Jesus. He said to His disciples in verse 15:
“Go ... into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. [verse 16:] He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be condemned. And these signs shall follow them that believe ...”
And He gives five supernatural signs that were to accompany and attest the preaching of the Word.
The five signs are these, and they’re all in the name of Jesus.
“In my name they shall cast out demons; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up snakes; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.”
The fifth sign is this means of ministering healing to a sick person—that is, laying hands upon him in the name of Jesus. And Jesus says if we do this according to the Word of God in faith, then God will confirm His Word and the sick person will become well. The early Christians believed this, acted upon it and proved God true. The last two verses of Mark’s gospel read like this:
“So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following.”
Notice, the basis is the Word. When we teach and preach and minister the Word, then God confirms the Word with the supernatural signs that accompany the preaching of the Word. But, the Word is basic and the sign for healing is that we lay hands on the sick in the name of Jesus and they recover.
The next means of ministering is stated in James 5:14–15. James says, and he’s speaking obviously to Christian believers:
“Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.”
It would seem to me that the laying on of hands is primarily in what we might call “an evangelistic type ministry.” You go out and preach to the unconverted and then you say, “If you will put your trust in Jesus Christ and you have sickness, we will lay our hands upon you in the name of Jesus and God will heal you.” Primarily, I believe this is the evangelistic thrust or outreach of the gospel.
But in James 5 it is obvious that we are dealing with those who are already converted believers. The Scripture says, “Is any sick among you [believers]?” What is he to do? Well, of course, we all know the “American Revised Version” says “let him call for the doctor,” doesn’t it? And that’s the version that most American Christians follow, believe me. Very few do what the Scripture says. The majority of American Christians set aside the instruction of God’s Word and go straight to human help. Now, I am not saying it is wrong to send for the doctor, but I am saying it is wrong not to send for the elders. That’s one major reason why many American Christians are sick, because they’ve disobeyed the Word of God. Direct disobedience comes when you as a believer become sick and do not do the thing which God says you should do. What does He say you should do? Call for the elders. What are the elders to do? They’re to pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. What will happen? The prayer of faith will save the sick. Notice the word save there means “physically heal.” The Lord will raise him up; and if sins have been committed and are confessed, they will be forgiven.
You see, the church is entirely out of joint, it’s out of order. It does not operate according to the Word of God. In my personal experience, less than 20 percent of Christians in the United States are physically well. At least 80 percent are sick in some way or other. One great basic reason is plain disobedience to the Word of God. Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church. I do not say that you will always receive healing, but I’ll tell you this, you’ve obeyed the Word of God. You’ve got a totally different relationship and a basis for your subsequent prayers from that moment onwards that you do the thing that God says you should do.
And would you notice, friends, this is just by the way, God expects you to be related to a group of believers in such a way that you know who the elders are and you can call upon them and be assured that they will come. If you’re not related in that way to a group of believers, you’re not rightly related to the body of Christ. And this again brings us to the basic reasons for sickness amongst Christians—it’s wrong relationships to the body of Jesus Christ in general.
I was in East Africa as a missionary with my wife years back and we stayed in a missionary rest home in Nairobi in Kenya and we met a lady there sent out by a fundamentalist missionary group from the United States. She wore one of these immense plaster of paris collars that went from her chin down to the top of her chest. It prevented her turning her head and kept her head up in this position the whole time. We asked her what was the matter and she said she’d been to the doctor and the doctor said she had a slipped disc in her neck. She was walking around like this and I said, “Did you call for the elders?” She said, “What do you mean by that?” I said, “Haven’t you read the fifth chapter of James? Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church.” She said, “I didn’t know that was for the church age.” Could you believe that? That’s exactly what she said. I said, “In what age could you call for the elders of the church if it wasn’t the church age?” I said, “Would you mind if we prayed for you?” Well, we were in this missionary rest home, very fundamentalist and she said, “You couldn’t do it here.” I said, “You’re quite right; we couldn’t.” We took her out to a place in Nairobi called the Arboretum, which is a sort of big tree garden. We laid hands on her because we didn’t have the oil, prayed over her in the name of Jesus and the next time we met her which was some weeks later, no collar! I said, “Did you go back to the doctor?” She said yes. I said, “What happened?” “He took the collar off and said there was nothing wrong.” I said, “What did he say after that?” She said, “It must have been arthritis after all.” Some people are very, very reluctant to acknowledge that God could do anything for them in any circumstances.
But you see, one of our great sources of problems is ignorance. “My people are destroyed for plain lack of knowledge.” Hosea 4:6. Isaiah 5:13:
“Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge: and their honourable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst.”
That’s the church of Jesus Christ, God’s people: Gone into captivity because they have no knowledge. Their honorable men, their doctors of divinity, their seminary professors, their theologians are famished; and their multitude dried up with thirst. The basic reason? Ignorance of the Word of God. He sent His Word and healed them. If you don’t know the Word, you’re not in a good position for receiving and retaining your healing.
The other great means that we find used in Scripture is spiritual gifts. If you turn to 1 Corinthians 12 we find a list of nine manifestations or gifts of the Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:9–10, taken out of the middle of this list:
“... to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healings by the same Spirit; to another the workings of miracles...”
By the same Spirit. The gifts of healings, the workings of miracles. And then in 1 Corinthians 12:28:
“And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, ... Miracles and gifts of healings are set by God in the church. No man has ever had any right or authority to take them out of the church. Through these means God also heals. The gift of miracles is an operation of the Spirit which produces immediate, visible, observable results. The gift of healing deals with sickness and its outworking sometimes is gradual and invisible but its result is just as sure in the long run.”
Today, God is restoring to the church both the gift of miracles and the gift of healing. For years I prayed that God would restore the gift of miracles because I saw how needed it was. And in the last year or so I have seen this gift of miracles come out into a very definite, dramatic manifestation which we shall be demonstrating later tonight when we minister to the sick. I have seen hundreds of miracles take place before my eyes in the last few months. I discovered that God knows what He’s doing when He has ordained miracles to take place. I have seen Christians revolutionized not just physically but in their whole personality and attitude by the experiencing of one simple, physical miracle. God put it there and no man has ever been authorized to take it out. It’s part of the provision of God for His people.
Matthew 15:26, Jesus said it is not right to take the children’s bread to cast it to the dogs. Do you know what He was talking about? Healing. Do you know what “the children’s bread” is? It’s healing. Healing is the bread of every child of God. Every child of God has a right to healing. The Syro- Phoenician woman he was talking to said, “Lord, I know I’m not a Jewess, I’m not in the covenant relationship. But, Lord, I don’t need a loaf, I don’t even need a slice; all I need is a crumb. That will drive the devil out of my daughter.” And do you know what Jesus said to her? “Oh woman, great is thy faith. Be it unto thee, even as thou will.”
Sometimes it’s like that today. God’s children go and leave the bread on the table, but some little humble soul comes along, licks up a crumb and gets totally healed. Just one crumb will do the job. Isn’t that faith? And some of you have got the bread on the table and you’re not eating it. Isn’t that a tragedy?
Now, in closing this I want to move on to the question of health. Being well. This is the will of God. Let’s see this stated clearly in Scripture. The first text that we’ll turn to is 3 John, the second verse. That does not stand for John’s gospel chapter 3, but it stands for the third epistle of John, the second verse. If you find it a little difficult to find that, start at Revelation, move back to Jude and the one before Jude is 3 John. It has no chapters, all you need is the verse. The second verse says this:
“Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.”
That’s the will of God. John was writing to a man named Gaius who was a model believer. He walked in the truth, he did faithfully all his Christian duties. John, inspired by the Holy Spirit, stated the will of God for that man. “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper financially and materially, be in health physically, as thy soul inwardly prospereth.”
The will of God for the believer is not to keep getting sick and getting healed. Do you know what the will of God for the believer is? To be in health. If you’re sick, get healed and stay well. And if you’re not sick, don’t get sick. Do you know what I’ve discovered? It sounds strange, but it’s true. It’s much easier to be in health than it is to keep getting healed.
I want to tell you this and this is a great secret. Health is a decision. That will astonish some of you but I’m going to show you out of the Scripture that to be in health is the result of a decision you have to make. I want you to turn with me to Deuteronomy 30 and look up some words of Moses. Deuteronomy 30, beginning at verse 11 and read through verse 19. These words were spoken by Moses just before the children of Israel entered the Promised Land. They were a reminder of God’s laws, God’s covenant and God’s commitment to them. I want to remind you that in Romans 10 where we’ll be looking a little later, Paul quotes these words of Moses and applies them to the basis of salvation in Christ. In other words, the apostle Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, takes these words of Moses in Deuteronomy 30 that I’m going to read to you and applies them to faith in Christ for salvation in Romans 10. So do not imagine that this is just something in the Old Testament which does not work for believers in the New Testament because Paul takes it out of Deuteronomy 30 and uses it in Romans 10.
Let’s look now in Deuteronomy 30, beginning at verse 11.
“For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? But the word is very nigh unto thee...”
Notice once again where it comes. The Word. The Word of God.
“The word [of God] is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.”
That’s the secret of all faith—it’s the word in your mouth, in your heart, and doing it. That’s what God said to Joshua in chapter 1, verse 8.
“This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then shalt thou make thy way prosperous, then shalt thou have good success.”
Prosperity, success, healing and health all stem from the right attitude to the Word of God. Speak the Word, think the Word, act the Word—you’ll prosper, you’ll be in health. The Word is nigh thee in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.
And then Moses goes on to say in this connection:
“See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil [this is a very clear choice]; in that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it. But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear...”
Notice, what happens when a person’s heart turns away? The first result, “he will not hear.” What’s the first step to healing? Hearing. You see, it all depends on hearing. When you cease to hear, you begin to lose the blessing. When you begin to hear, the blessings begin to come your way.
“But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them; I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish, and that ye shall not prolong your days upon the land, whither thou passest over Jordan to go to possess it. I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed [thy descendants] may live [after thee]: that thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days...”
Did you know that was in the Old Testament? “He is thy life, the length of thy days.” And do you know what it says in Colossians 3? Christ is our life. “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall we also appear with him in glory.” Old Testament and New agree exactly. God Himself is our life. If Christ is my life, how can sickness overcome that life in me? Christ is my life, God is my life.
God has set before us this day two things. Life, death; blessing, cursing. God says, “Now, you choose.” Did you realize that? The majority of believers do not realize that they must make the choice. And what astonishes me is that so many do not choose life and blessing. Can you conceive a people who knew God being confronted with this choice and failing to make it aright? And yet, history records that many Israelites did not make the right choice.
And many Christians do not make the right choice. “See, I have set before thee this day, life and blessings, death and cursing.” As different as night and day and you have to make the choice.
Do you know one of the greatest sins of God’s people? It’s being passive, doing nothing. One of the most powerful prophetic utterances God ever gave me was a convention of the Full Gospel Businessmen in Denver. It went this way. “To sit still is to die.” You remember what the leper said outside the city of Samaria? “Why sit we here and die?” Friend, you can sit passive all your days in a church pew and die spiritually and physically. You’ve got to make a decision. You’ve got to put it into action. “Arise,” the Scripture says to the church, “shake thyself, loose thyself from the bands of the neck, sit down. Take a stand.” You’ve groveled in the dirt long enough. You’ve let the enemy oppress you and walk over you and insult you and mock you. Arise! Shake yourself! Get the demons off! Shake off the depression! Shake off the false traditions! Shake off the passivity and make a decision. I’m choosing life. I’m choosing blessing. If others want death and cursing, they may have it. But as for me and my house, Joshua said, “We’re going to serve the Lord.” That’s our decision. We want life, we want blessing, we want peace, we want prosperity, we want abundance. And He is our life. Cleave to Him, follow Him, choose Him.
Now the New Testament Paul quotes these words. I want you to see it. He quotes the words of Moses that I’ve just read to you and applies them to salvation in Jesus Christ. Romans 10:6–10.
“But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) But what saith it? [And now notice he’s quoting Moses:] The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
I want you to see there that Paul relates the mouth and the heart to each other three times. The first two times he puts the mouth first. The third time he puts the heart first. Look with me at verse 8. “The word is nigh thee, in thy mouth, in thy heart.” Verse 9: “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus is Lord and shall believe in thine heart.” Verse 10, the order is reversed. “For with the heart men believeth, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
Salvation, in the Scriptures, is the great inclusive word for every benefit derived from the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. There are at least 12 places in the New Testament where the word “to save” denotes specifically physical healing of a person’s body. It also indicates preservation, it also indicates provision, it also indicates deliverance from evil spirits. The word “save” is the great inclusive word for every benefit made available through the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. Paul says, “How do we enter into salvation?” With the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Every benefit that’s available to us through the death of Jesus Christ is received by confessing with the mouth, believing with the heart, saying with the mouth, believing in the heart and then believing in the heart and saying with the mouth.
Listen, you don’t have to feel it to say it. Do you believe the Word of God is true? All right. Then if God’s Word says, “With His stripes we are healed,” you say it. You don’t feel it, your body tells you different, but you’re not waiting for feeling. It begins not in the heart but in the mouth. The word is nigh thee where? In the mouth, in the heart. If you confess with the mouth, believe in the heart.
The third time it goes from the heart to the mouth. How do you get the Word into the heart? Do you know how? By confessing with the mouth. That’s the secret. You make a decision. You say it out loud. “God, you have set this for me: Life and blessing, death and cursing. It’s in your Word. I believe Your Word. Lord, today my choice is made. I choose life and blessing. I choose health. I choose prosperity. I choose peace of mind and inner well being, harmony with myself, harmony with my neighbors, harmony with God. This is my choice.”
How many of you want to make that choice? I want to ask you right now while the Spirit of God rests upon this meeting. You say, “Brother Prince, tonight as before God, I decide for health.” Would you stand to your feet if that’s your decision? Remember, this is a solemn decision. You have decided for health.
Now I’m going to pray for every one of you that has decided and stood to your feet. I’m going to pray that in the testing times that lie ahead you’ll remember you’ve made the decision. “Father, we thank You for the Word of God tonight which has made the issue so clear. Lord, it’s life or death, it’s blessing or cursing. I thank You tonight for every one here on the basis of Your Word simply preached has decided for life, has decided for health, has decided for prosperity. And Lord, I pray that this decision shall be made effective from this moment onwards, that Jesus Christ our great high priest at Your right hand shall acknowledge the confession which we have made with our mouth and shall see that it is established in our lives from this day forward for the glory of Your name. In Jesus’ name we pray.” And all the people said: “Amen” and “Praise the Lord.”
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