Healing and Our Call to Evangelism

ImageThis is a new day, today is a day for miracles, for healing, your past was left at the dawn of day and this is the day the Lord has made and we shall rejoice and be glad.  Today we are going to look at the three ways God heals us.  We are going to look at some characteristics that attach to each avenue of healing, we are going to look at the importance of evangelizing, what are some of the reasons to why we don’t evangelize, and how as Christians does God help use correct this issue.  So let’s start with healing.  How many of us have prayed for healing in some way?  I know I have, and I have prayed for others, indirectly, and directly; but how does the Lord heal us?  HE heals us physically (restored), internally (guilt, emotion, anger, anxiety-regenerated), and spiritually (forgiveness of sin, deliverance from Satan-reformed).

In the Bible we learn that after Jesus rose from the dead HE performed so many signs and wonders that there would not be enough room in all the world for the records of them (Jn 21:25) In the gospel of Matthew there are over five references to general physical healing, Mark there are over 12, Luke there are over 14, and in John there are over 4.  This was a large part of Jesus’ ministry.  There are three out of many key characteristics that came with healing that I would like to take a look at.  The first characteristic is FAITH.  In the Bible healing was either a result of faith or to foundationalize faith.  In Scripture it tells us that people were healed and they believed!  Jesus recognized that we are a people that unless our physical needs were met we would very rarely be able to focus on anything else.  Now there were instances of people trying to get to Jesus because they already believed that they would be healed if they could just get close enough; the woman with the blood disorder (now believed to be hemophilia) thought if I could only touch the hem of HIS garment I would be healed.  And what was Jesus’ response?  “Your faith has made you well,” right there we need to believe that God can physically restore us.  We do not always have to be the ones to reach out, often Christ would meet those in HIS travels and heal them and their faith would be solidified or restored for example the resurrection of Lazarus. So right there we see that healing was used as a tool to show God’s love to human beings, to restore humans to a closer version of the God-made image we were meant to be.   The second characteristic in healing, not just physical healing but this goes for internal and spiritual as well is compassion, Matthew 14:14 says that “when Jesus saw the multitude HE had compassion on them and healed their sick.”  When we are healed, or we pray for others’ healing or we are the direct tool that God uses to facilitate healing there must be compassion for the human condition.  “Love thy neighbor as thyself” is the second greatest commandment we are given; let compassion be that love!  The third characteristic I would like to look at is discernment.  It is an uncomfortable reality for those who pray for healing but are not healed and yet all of the other factors are in place for a great miracle; it just may not be God’s timing.  In Scriptures there is a man paralyzed on a mat and Jesus does not heal him right away but forgives him of his sins.  Did that mean that Jesus did not have compassion on this man?  Certainly not!  But at that moment HIS discernment was for something greater to show that not only could the man be forgiven of his sins but also healed which Jesus then did to astound those speaking against HIM.

The next portion I would like to look at is spiritual healing; the most important one in my opinion because everything else stems from this; spiritual healing, the reforming part of healing.  This was Christ’s primary mission that we might have a way to be reformed and restored under God.  This is also the type of healing we are to preach, because while bodily healing is important; spiritual healing is top priority.  In Matthew 10:28 Jesus said, do not fear those who kill the body but fear he that can kill the body and the soul.  I firmly believe and have seen evidence both personal and in others that sin is the most degenerative disease there is.  I read an account of a young man once who started as a young boy with lustful endeavors; an inappropriate magazine peak here, a lustful thought there- and as the years went by the sin began to degenerate him, little things began to turn into big things, what some would think inconsequential eventually turned into the criminal to the point where the now middle aged man was suffering from the effects of sexual sin that had destroyed everything in his life, like an addiction to heroin or another drug.  Addictions are considered diseases why not sin? Spiritual healing is the only way to treat that illness; and when Christ comes again that disease will be made extinct.  A theologian by the name of John Piper said this “Christ is walking among us. Not because we are so much fun to be with but because he loves to make house calls on patients who glory in his medical expertise. He is not partial to the healthy. But he has a special fondness for the homeliest, weakest, sickliest patients whose eyes sparkle when he enters the room.”  Jesus said it is not the healthy that need a doctor but the ill.  He was not talking about physical healing at that point but spiritual healing.  And like the physical healing section of this sermon I have three characteristics I want to address that come with spiritual healing.  The first is true repentance.  You have to be at your wits end and know that you cannot do it; you are not the great person all your friends think and that you need to face the darkest shadows of your heart and let God deal with it.  The second characteristic is readiness.  We need to be ready to change, to receive that spiritual healing.  A child will scream when you try to remove a band-aid to clean a wound but what they don’t understand is that it needs to be cleaned, purified, and exposed to the air to heal.  Psalm 23 says “HE restores my soul.”  Matthew 8 says “That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.” Christ is willing, ready, and able to do all this and more but we must be ready to change.  Repentance literally means to intend to change; the disease of sin cannot be treated without a change in lifestyle.  The third characteristic of spiritual healing is dependence.  Once we are saved, it is not a one time deal; we need daily treatments, hourly treatments, and minute treatments until Christ comes again or we go to Glory.  A pastor in Australia, once told me when I was quite disheartened about the condition of my own spiritual healing that we will never get rid of all the garbage inside of us until Christ comes but as long as it is a little less each day and a little more of the light; then we are on the right path.  In a Christian magazine I read once a saved drug user was asked about how he dealt with withdrawal symptoms, how he beat his addiction.  He chuckled and responded, I just simply replaced one addiction that leads to death with another that leads to life.  And from that dependence comes the internal healing and our third topic. In the KJV Bible there are over 400 places where the word peace is mentioned.  It is included in the Fruits of the Spirit and it is a by-product of internal healing.  It may be immediate, it may be over a long period of time, but you and I will feel that peace, that internal healing.  The famous WWII theologian, pastor, and underground freedom fighter Dietrich Bonheoffer wrote that he felt only peace as his execution approached because it was not the end but the beginning.  This life in the grand spectrum of eternity will be only a faded memory of suffering if we make the right choices in Christ.  In Psalm 147 it says “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”  What are the characteristics that go along with this internal healing?  First of all, spiritual healing must come first.  You cannot know the healing power of emotions permanently until you have been saved by Jesus Christ.  You may find things that can fill the void or your brain may overload to the point you feel numb and you think that is peace but it isn’t.  Internal healing is peace and only peace comes from the Lord!  The second characteristic of internal healing is acceptance.  We must accept that there are things that are out of our control; we must accept and give all things to God. “Trials, testing, and tribulation are part of life.  But all of it God uses for good to those who love God and are called according to His purposes” (Romans 8:28).  The sooner we stop fighting and give it all up to God we learn to feel that peace because we know that our problems and our past are in the hands of HIM who is greater than he who is in the world.  The third and final characteristic of internal healing and overall healing in general is the evidence.  We all have our Christian salvation stories; The Bible said faith without works (proof) is dead, meaning that if God has healed you then you are the living evidence in your thoughts, words, deeds, and interactions and you cannot help but shout it from the rooftops how grateful you are to God-I know I couldn’t; but it took me a long time to really see what God had done for me, and it took me a couple of really close calls to realize that even when I fail HE does not.  This brings me to my next part; evangelism.

It is sometimes called the Great Commission, go out and preach the Gospel to all the nations of the world, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  It is called the Good News and too often as Christians we hold the good news and knowledge of our healing, whether it is physical, internal, or spiritual to ourselves.  In the Bible it says,    “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.   Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”  (Mt. 5:14-16)  Now I am the guiltiest one of all; for years I was apathetic about my faith, too afraid I was going to offend someone in this PC world; but the thing is, truth is uncomfortable because it convicts us of something that we know we are missing.  One of the best articles I read on the importance of evangelism was written by a famous atheist.  Penn Jillett an avid atheist and magician wrote an article chastising religious people that don’t evangelize.  He said “How much do you have to hate somebody to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?”  “I’ve always said that I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize. I don’t respect that at all. If you believe that there’s a heaven and a hell, and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life, and you think that it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward.  “I mean, if I believed, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that a truck was coming at you, and you didn’t believe that truck was bearing down on you, there is a certain point where I tackle you. And this is more important than that.”  Now that being said I have more issues with atheism than hairs on my balding head but if a person who believes in literally nothing gets this frustrated then how much more should we be frustrated when we don’t tell that coworker, that friend, that person crying on the street because of the sheer hopelessness of their life?

We don’t do it because Christians are better than people; we are still sinners, we will still sin until the end of days.  We evangelize because we are the living evidence of hope in this world.  When a young Christian chooses Godly living over the world that’s proof; when coworkers shun someone because they are different and we go out of our way to love them that’s proof.  And when we say I had this physical illness, mental disease, or crippling emotional void and it is gone because of the love of Christ Jesus that is proof!  But why don’t we see these mass conversions and revival meetings of old?  Where are the days of Pentecost, if we have been healed mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually should we not be going at all costs to the lost?  When I was living in China I heard of an underground house church that had the most interesting of locations to meet, it wasn’t in some hidden attic.  It was not in some backroom of a shop.  It was out on the streets.  They would sing, pray together, and then go to serve the poor and destitute and while serving them whisper the Gospel to these lost souls.  Why are we not seeing more situations like that?  I believe it is for a few reasons; the first reason is we are afraid of offending people.  We have become nervous of preaching in a nation founded upon Christian ideals when there are Christians disappearing in Iran.  What is the counter measure?  Don’t care, I would rather have someone dislike me for my faith than like me for the lie I was living and when you are not living as the same person in private, in public, at work, and at church you are living a lie.  The second reason is that as Christians we believe evangelizing is something mystical, set aside as a gift of the Holy Spirit; and yet it is simply inviting your friend, or as we say in Aus your mate to church; you tell them you believe they’ll like it; if they respond that it’s not really their thing, you reply that they have not tried all the churches and don’t know all the Christians, give it a shot!  I know I am making it simpler than it often is but that is how we should view it, simple, we are told that to inherit the Kingdom we must be like children, simple!  The final two reasons I believe that we are not evangelizing is that we expect mass and immediate results, and we often worry about not expressing ourselves properly.  Often times we go out on a limb to witness to someone only to be shot down, even though Christ told us that this would happen; “many are called but few are chosen”; HE said that very few could walk the straight and narrow path.  Often times when we witness we are sowing seeds for others to harvest but don’t worry for the harvest is ripe, we have crops to harvest whom other believers have planted; but they may take seasons;  lastly I believe we do not evangelize as a spiritual people because we are afraid we will not express our message clearly.  This is why we are told to live the proof; I am reminded of Moses; by his own admission he was not a very good speaker, modern historians and theologians theorize he may have had some sort of speech impediment; but the Lord God gave Moses his brother Aaron as a speaker and miracles to show as evidence.  See God is not limited by our circumstances; HE is only limited by our choices.  When will we as a people become so excited about the healing work of the Cross that we cannot sit idly while others announce to the world that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we have risen with HIM to new life.  And if you are worried about your past don’t be God’s purposes are not limited by your past HE is only concerned about your future.

I am going to finish off with a paraphrased quote by the famous evangelist and healer Smith Wigglesworth.  Smith was a minister who in the later half of the 19th century, early half of the 20th toured around the world, as far as New Zealand evangelizing and healing.  He was a crude speaker with a thick British accent, he was uneducated, a simple plumber, a man of meager denominational training; and yet he healed hundreds by direct contact, mass healings, and even anointed handkerchiefs.  He used it as a blessing to show the love of God demonstrated through the sacrifice of HIS Son Jesus Christ.  Smith said “The Lord has saved me to do ‘is work, I ‘annot sleep until I have lead at least one person to the Lord.”  Smith at times would often be found wandering the streets witnessing until he found that one; the Lord healed him mentally, emotionally, physically, and he wanted no, he had to pay it forward by spreading the Good News, let’s pray.

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