Wednesday, October 7, 2009

What Led to This?

Kimberly Michelle
Back in 1984, my oldest daughter (Kimberly) was born with a deformed hip and ear. A twist in her hip socket caused her leg to hang off of her hip at a side angle instead of normal. If you can imagine, her ear was deformed as if it were made of clay and someone had grabbed it and twisted it around. This broke our hearts (mine & my wife, Tammy), of course. Everyone in our families and all spiritual authorities in our lives told us that God had some purpose in Kimberly's affliction. Most said it was to cause us to be closer to God or that we were called by God to suffer like this.

I thought, "God, if you are like that, I will hate You for it and never forgive You. Nevertheless, if it is the truth, I want to know it! Show me!" I thus figured the answer should be in the Bible. I started to study the subject of God's will for healing of physical bodies in Genesis, but soon decided to switch to the New Testament (NT). Why the switch to the NT? It had nothing to do being afraid of the teaching in the Old Testament (OT). Instead there were basically 3 simple reasons:
  1. The OT is big and I was in a hurry because my daughter & wife were suffering.
  2. We live under the NT.
  3. I knew Jesus did a lot of healing (I had learned that in Sunday School).
Studying the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John (MMLJ), I was surprised in what I discovered!

The Real Jesus
I discovered a Jesus that was quite different than the "Jesus" preached to me from our families and the spiritual authorities in our lives. Their "Jesus" was one that might give you cancer and call it a blessing; or cause an accident in your life so you could be put in the bed beside someone else and witness this "good Jesus" to them. I learned that the Jesus of the NT never acted that way at all.

My discovery was along these lines:
  • Only Jesus reveals Father God perfectly. No one else in the Bible does. Not Abraham, not Moses, not Joshua, not King David, not Elisha, not Job, nor any other OT saint. And not even anyone in the NT perfectly reveals Father either; not John, not Peter, not Paul, none of them. Yes, some of them had their "Jesus" moments, but none consistently showed the character of Father God.
  • Jesus Himself said "If you had really known Me, you would know who my Father is. From now on, you do know Him and have seen Him!" (John 14:7). And then Philip asks Jesus to show them the Father; Jesus responds: "Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don’t know who I am? Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father! So why are you asking Me to show him to you?" (John 14:9). Thus, as we see Jesus in the MMLJ, we are seeing Father directly.
So if only Jesus reveals Father perfectly, and if Jesus Himself affirms to see Him is to see Father, then it stands to reason, if I want to know what Father God is like, I primarily need to focus on the Jesus of MMLJ. There, by watching Him, I can see the Father in action. There, Jesus becomes the example of how a man must follow God.

And what does Jesus reveal Father God to be like in MMLJ?
  • God heals all the sick, all the time.
  • God never gives sickness to anyone for any reason.
  • God heals the sick based solely on His will, not based on the "goodness" of the sick.
  • God never refuses to heal the sick because they are "bad" or "sinful".
  • God heals children based on parents simply coming to Jesus and asking.
You might say, "Well, that's all true at the time Jesus walked the earth 2000 years ago. But what about now?"
Hebrews 13
8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
So, the attitude Jesus had toward sickness & disease in MMLJ (yesterday), is the exact same attitude He has toward sickness & disease now (today) and will be the exact same attitude He will have toward sickness & disease tomorrow (forever).

Jesus the Man
You might say, "OK, yes, that is true. But didn't Jesus heal people just to prove He was the Messiah?" No, He did not. Think of the times He healed someone and said, "Tell no one..." (e.g. Matthew 8:1-4). Or when He "sternly warned the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah" (Matthew 16:20). If Jesus just healed folks to prove He was the Messiah, He would never have said any of these things. Instead He would've advertised it.

Besides, it totally shocked me (and hopefully it will you too) what Jesus said right here:
John 14
"I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father."
He said it, I didn't. But if it is true, then that means any Christian can heal the sick. Now think with me. If I can do the "same works" (and even "greater works"), than Jesus Christ did Himself, this means that none of the healings He did were done because He was the Son of God, the Messiah! Why does it mean that? Because if He did just one healing because He was the Son of God (i.e. divine), then I would not be able to do it. And if I am not able to do it, then the above verse could not be true! This means every healing Jesus did, He did not because He was the Son of God, or trying to prove He was the Messiah, but rather He healed folks as merely a man who was anointed by God! He healed folks simply because He loved them and it is what God wanted Him to do. Though He was divine (e.g. God in the flesh; John 1:14), yet He laid all that aside and walked as a mere man (albeit perfect) anointed by God (Philippians 2:5-8) to demonstrate the defeat of sin & sickness. Understanding Jesus as a man anointed by God is the only way He can be our example to follow. For how can mere men (like us) do miracles of healing? The only way we can do them, is to know that we, too, are men anointed by God; just like our Great Example, Jesus.

Called to Suffer?
But you might ask, "OK, but even though Jesus Christ in MMLJ never caused suffering, doesn't God in the OT cause suffering? And aren't we, as Christians, called to suffer for Jesus Christ? Didn't God call the apostle Paul to suffer and even tell him beforehand that's what would happen?"

The answer to all of these is "yes." But the question should more accurately be who does the God of the OT cause to suffer? And, what kind of suffering are we and Paul called to suffer for Jesus Christ? If we go to the books of the Law and read Deuteronomy 28 starting at verse 15 to the end of the chapter, ask yourself: "Am I reading the sufferings we as Christians are called to suffer by God?" The answer is a resounding "No!" in light of what Paul himself wrote:
Galatians 3
13 But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When he was hung on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing. For it is written in the Scriptures, "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree."
As Christians we are not called to the "curse-of-the-Law" sufferings! Does God redeem us from something and then require us to live in it? Or worse (as Calvinism teaches), does God redeem us from something and then cause us to suffer under the thing He redeemed us from?

It is true God Himself said He causes the suffering of Deuteronomy 28. But He never promised His obedient children of Israel He would do these things to them. Instead, the first 14 verses deal with the blessings of the children of Israel walking obediently with Him. There He promises He will do nothing but bless them in every single endeavor, which, I might point out, includes physical health and long life. The curses He enumerates in gross detail, I might also point out, includes "every sickness and every disease not written in this Book of the Law" (v61) and a shortened life.

But something wonderful happened between Deuteronomy 28 and now! Deuteronomy 28's blessings required Israel's obedience to the voice of God. Deuteronomy 28's curses required Israel's disobedience. Since Israel (or any man, for that matter) could not consistently be obedient to the voice of God, it appears they would all inevitably end up under the curse. But then the Messiah steps in! Jesus was perfectly obedient to Father in every way. He didn't do this to show off. He did it for mankind. His righteousness is given as a free gift to us by faith. We have right standing with God, not because we are obedient always (as the Law required in order to walk in the blessings) but simply because we have been given faith in Christ. Since we have Christ's obedience freely given to us, we can freely walk in Father's blessings! We are redeemed from the curse! Father God does not have to deal with us as men under the Law. He can now deal with us on the basis of His Son's obedience.

This is basic gospel. This is what is so good about the good news!

Biblical Christian Suffering
So, what suffering was Paul (and every other Christian) called to? Paul shows this to be persecution, not sickness. Paul enumerates this kind of persecution suffering in 2Corinthians 11-12 where he describes his thorn in the flesh. The thorn is shown to be persecution and hardship he faced because he was preaching the gospel of Christ. Consequently, if Paul stopped preaching the gospel, none of that stuff would've happened to him. But God's love compelled Paul to preach. This is going to cause persecution… and suffer for it he did. And if we, as Christians, preach the gospel, we, too, will suffer persecution. This is the Biblical Christian suffering... persecution; not sickness and disease.

Jesus, the Superior Revelation
Jesus, being the superior revelation of Father God, revealed Father's nature is to bring us life, even abundant life. He tells us it is the nature of the thief to steal, kill and destroy. Health is life, even abundant life. Sickness most certainly steals, kills and destroys. Who could deny the obvious contrast?
John 10
The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.
The apostle Peter attributes all the healing that Jesus did to Father God. He also equates all the sickness as folks being "oppressed of the devil":
Acts 10
38 And you know that God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. Then Jesus went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.
Thus everything that is revealed of Father in the OT is called, by the NT writers, "shadows, types & allegories" (Romans 5:14; Galatians 4:24; Colossians 2:17; Hebrews 8:5; 10:1). When Father wanted to reveal Himself plainly, it was through His Son, Jesus Christ. This revealing of Himself was so radical that all the educated theologians of His earthly days totally missed it. They had the same OT we do yet it took the radical appearance of Jesus Christ demonstrating Father’s love to shake them out of their cold, hard, and wrong theology. From the OT, all they had gleaned of Father, was not enough to allow them to see Father’s true nature as demonstrated in Jesus Christ.

Of course, Father God did not exclusively reveal Himself in Christ, but we see faint glimpses of Him also revealed in the OT. However, Christ is a superior revelation of who Father God really is. Far superior than all the OT:
Hebrews 1
1 Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets [i.e. the OT]. 2 And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe. 3 The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God...
We must see that we live under a better covenant based on better promises (Hebrews 7:22; 8:6) and that we have a superior revelation of Father God in Christ Jesus. We should give the greater weight to Father’s revelation of Christ over, what He Himself through the NT writers calls, “types, shadows & allegories.” The Law brings death; Christ brings life. It really is that simple. Good is really good and bad is really bad.
Romans 8
1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Real Jesus; Real Results 
Pastors Barry & Ann Burns
With all these things very fresh in my heart, me, my wife and our pastors (Ann & Barry Burns) laid our hands on our infant daughter, Kimberly, and in a few days, her hip and ear totally straightened out without the need of any medical treatment whatsoever. We were totally amazed at the progress we could see every single day! The pediatricians were also amazed and openly called it a miracle. Not only that, this miracle shut the mouths of all in my family and inspired awe toward Father God.

Kimberly became a competition clogging dancer for many years, and is now happily married to her husband (Grant), and is a professional hair dresser. She had her first child (my grandson!), Gunnar on December 5,  2010. Yes! :)

Needless to say, this changed the way I viewed God.


  1. Replies
    1. So glad to read this
      My husband discovered the following one day and some other commentators substantiate it. As you know, there was no punctuation in the Greek MSS, and it was added later by ..., so I ask you to consider a different punctuation in John 9.

      2 And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
      3 Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents. BUT THAT the works of God might be displayed in him, 4 we must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work.

      It was a eureka moment for me and in keeping with the point you are making in the beginning of this writing.

      I rejoice with you and thank you for taking the time to write and post this.

    2. Thanks, Jean for the input. Yes, Jesus more than abundantly demonstrated that the ONLY purpose for sickness of any kind is for it to be healed and therefore be turned into glory for Father God. There is NO OTHER purpose for sickness & disease.