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The Gospel of Health
The Spirit of the LORD GOD is upon Me; because the LORD has anointed Me to preach good tidings[the gospel] to the meek; He has sent Me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison [the grave] to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; [in particular] to appoint to [or comfort] them that mourn in Zion, to give to them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called "Trees of Righteousness, the planting of the LORD", that He might be glorified.
And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people[good or bad].
Is this the "everlasting" gospel, and if so, when did it begin?
It is the everlasting gospel, and it has been with us from the beginning when Adam chose to join his wife in her disobedience, and then found that his choice had cut them both off from God. "For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression". 1 Timothy 2:13-14. If Adam had chosen to remain loyal the Son of God might have been able to do something for Eve because she was originally a part of him, and his righteousness might have covered her. But now that his righteousness was gone they both had to rely on the gifts of righteousness which Jesus gave them, for we are all saved individually.
Right there and then the Son of God was "anointed . . . to preach good tidings[the gospel] to the meek [those willing to accept help]" for He is "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world". Revelation 13:8. How can we reconcile that thought with the understanding that He died on a cross at Calvary 4,000 years later? To do that we need to keep clear in our minds that He is the Son of God first, and that He also became the Son of man later, combining the two as a divine/human being. Both aspects of Him do the same things on different levels – one spiritually and the other literally. The Son of man part of Him died on a cross in six hours to illustrate what has been happening to the Son of God part of Him for 6,000 years.
In like manner, a healing is a parable, or type, and many have lost sight of that. Like the Israelites who saw only the earthly ceremonies and missed their spiritual meanings, so many see healings as complete in themselves, and miss the deeper meaning. Yet one way to preach the gospel is to heal the ailments caused by our actions, and the Son of man showed some sceptics that.
2And, behold, they [the man’s friends] brought to Him a man sick of the palsy [paralysis], lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said to the sick of the palsy; "Son, be of good cheer; your sins be forgiven you".
3And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, "This man blasphemes". 4 And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, "Wherefore think you evil in your hearts? 5 For whether [which] is easier, to say, Your sins be forgiven you; or to say, Arise, and walk? 6 But that you may know that the Son of man [as the Son of God] has power on earth to forgive sins, (then says He to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house".
7And he arose, and departed to his house.
How did He do that? It is written in another place, "When the even was come, they brought to 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 Isaiah the prophet, saying, "Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses". Matthew 8:16-17. Thus we can see that He took their sicknesses into Himself and yet lived on, because He is God. Speaking of the Son of man as He was on the cross, the prophet wrote, "Surely He has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But[then he changed to speak about the Son of God] He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed". Isaiah 53:4-5.
Let me explain:
It all begins when we are born and take our first breath, thereby inhaling the breath of life from God. In this we follow our ancestor Adam. "And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul". Genesis 2:7. It ends when the essence of life goes back to the God who gave it. "Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit (the breath of life) shall return to God who gave it". Ecclesiastes 12:7.
In between is the opportunity.
When speaking to some unbelievers, the apostle Paul said,
26[God] has made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; 27 that they should seek the LORD, if haply they might feel after Him, and find Him, though He be not far from every one of us: 28 for in Him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, "For we are also His offspring [children]".
Another translation puts it this way:
Acts 17: (MSG)
26Starting from scratch, he made the entire human race and made the earth hospitable, with plenty of time and space for living 27 so we could seek after God, and not just grope around in the dark but actually find him. He doesn't play hide-and-seek with us. He's not remote; he's near. 28 We live and move in him, can't get away from him! One of your poets said it well: 'We're the God-created.'
However, because we are now born with the rebellious nature that Adam established when he chose to exercise his right to free choice independent of God, once we exist, we, like him, should die (physically and spiritually) "in the day[24 hour period] that you eat thereof". Genesis 2:17. Why don’t we? Why didn’t he?
What we do from birth is just exist in that rebellious nature which causes death, both physical and spiritual. (If you don’t believe me, just try and be good!) What does that mean to us? How can we escape it?
The remedy the Son of God suggests is like a "heart transplant" which gives us back the ability to choose the right. Where does He get the new heart? From Himself. What does He do with the old one? He takes it upon Himself. So it is an "exchange" and requires a living "donor" standing beside us at the time.
However, a side effect of the "operation" is that we have to depend on Him for the "power" to fulfil our choices from then on. We have to agree to become "dependents" and be obedient to His direction for the rest of our lives. He asks us to undergo the "operation" because it is NOT actions of sin that kill us spiritually, but the "iniquity (or principle) of sin" within us with which we are born, passed on from Adam. As David wrote, "Behold, I was shaped in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me". Psalm 51:5. By this he did not mean to accuse his mother of immorality, but was just stating the situation as it occurs for all of us.
So it’s not that we have ACTED on our sinful nature, but that we POSSESS it, which is the problem.
It is not what we do, but what we ARE, which causes spiritual death.
What we DO causes physical sickness and death.
He has to show us the difference between these two situations.
If it were not for the intervention of our loving Father in heaven we would not exist for very long at all after birth. But He has granted permission for His Son to delay the result which normally would have been the consequences of that rebellious nature, and that gives us a reprieve. ("The wages of sin is death". Romans 6:23.)
However, we are spiritually "dead" in "trespasses and sins" till we become born again.
1And you has He quickened [made alive and moving], who were dead in trespasses and sins: 2 wherein in time past you walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience: 3 among whom also we all had our conversation [conduct] in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
4But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in sins, has quickened us together with Christ, (by grace you are saved;) 6 and has raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: 7 that in the ages to come [for eternity] He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
8For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves:
it is the gift of God.
This gift of grace by the Son brings about a change in us into what we now call the "Christian" state, but which in the Bible is simply called "the righteous man or woman" as opposed to the "sinner".
1And the LORD said to Noah, "Come you and all your house into the ark; for you [only] have I seen righteous before Me in this generation". [At that moment Noah was the only obedient one while all the rest of the world ignored God’s plea. Noah’s family followed him, not God.]
31Behold, the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth: much more the wicked and the sinner". [There is to be a RESULT on earth for both groups.]
We should note that there is no point in trying to "be good" before we have the exchange, because that is impossible, we cannot "cure" ourselves of a faulty heart. We have to recognise the problem and come to the Master Physician to get it fixed. And the only way to SEE the problem is to respond to the "enmity" against sin which He gives us at birth. Genesis 3:15 and John 3:3. The only way to OVERCOME it is to accept God’s offer of a "transplant" and ENTER His kingdom. Verse 5.
The innocent Lamb of God must suffer for the guilty in the only way God can make it right, and the purpose of the sacrificial system instituted in the Old Testament was to show us what has happened to us, what we have to do to the Son of God, and to prefigure what was to happen to the Son of man at Calvary.
(God intended these sacrifices to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but the reason that changed is not something we need to deal with here.)
When we see what it means to the Son of God to repair us by taking out of us the principle (the law) of sin and death (i.e. the "lusting" heart) which we are born with, and replacing it with the gift of a portion of His life, at first we might be horrified, but when He explains there is no other way to remedy our condition we must accept. Ever since Adam’s rebellion then, this removal and replacement has been the basis of the "everlasting" gospel. Revelation 14:6. (It’s like a kidney donation, except He has to take the old kidney and live with it. Fortunately for us, He can do it!)
God and His Son do not want us to die, either physically or spiritually. He would rather die in our place. And this is what He does. He, as the Son of God, begins "dying" for us from that moment on, because when we accept salvation He has to take our "law of sin and death" onto Himself in the place of His own life which He has given us – it cannot just be discarded for it is dangerous to life.
The "death" of the Son of God is not a definitive event. Unlike that of the Son of man who died after six hours on the cross, it is an ever-continuing process; and an accumulative one because He must take the "heart" of each one as we respond to His offer. Looking back to Calvary does not save us, nor did looking forward save the ancient/s: we are saved, and they were saved, by a present transaction during our lifetimes, entered into by faith in the ability of a present (not an absentee) Saviour.
So, it is written:
2 Corinthians 5:
20Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech [beg] you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be you reconciled to God. 21 For He has made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him [if we will accept it].
While we are making up our minds about the offer, what God does is allow His Son to TEMPORARILY cover each and every child as it is born, and He has repeated this grace ever since. This is no more and no less than what He has done since sin first came into existence in heaven.
Lucifer and his rebellious angels exist under the same condition. It is a state of universal grace in which all rebels are given an opportunity to accept the gift of salvation and be set free from their rebellious nature. This period is often called a "probationary time".
However, Satan and his followers decided early that they didn’t want the Son of God’s gift, and left heaven to do their own thing, claiming that they were being kicked out. But we are told that they LEFT! "And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation[of their own choice], He has reserved in everlasting chains [of independence] under darkness [of condemnation] to the judgment of the great day". Jude 1:6. But their choice didn’t become obvious to the people of the universe until the crucifixion. Not until the death of the Son of man was the character of Satan clearly revealed to the angels or to the people of the unfallen worlds.
All heaven and the unfallen worlds had been witnesses to the controversy from His birth. With intense interest they followed the closing scenes of the conflict. They saw the Saviour enter the garden of Gethsemane, His soul bowed down with the horror of a great darkness. They heard His bitter cry, "Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me". Matthew 26:39. As the Father's presence was withdrawn, they saw Him sorrowful with a bitterness of sorrow exceeding that of the last great struggle with death. The bloody sweat was forced from His pores, and fell in drops upon the ground. Luke 22:44. Three times the prayer for deliverance was wrung from His lips until Heaven could no longer endure the sight, and a messenger of comfort was sent to Him. Luke 22:43.
Up till that time, the arch apostate had so clothed himself with deception that even holy beings had not understood his principles. They had not clearly seen the nature of his rebellion. It was a being of wonderful power and glory that had set himself against God. Of Lucifer the LORD says, "You seal up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty". Ezekiel 28:12. Lucifer had been one of the covering cherubs standing in the light of God's presence, as pictured in the sanctuary building. Exodus 25:18-19. He was the highest of all created beings, and had been foremost in revealing God's purposes to the universe. Therefore, after he had rebelled, his power to deceive was the more deceptive, and the unveiling of his character was the more difficult, because of the exalted position he had held with the Father. Now, however, he and his angels cast that disguise away and openly triumphed in the agony they thought they were putting Christ through.
Satan did not know that it was the weight of the sin "transplants" that the Son of God bares that crushed the Son of man in Gethsemane and ultimately killed Him on the cross. Jesus had said, "Therefore does My Father love Me, because I lay down My life, that I might take it again. No man[no creature] takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of My Father". John 10:17-18.
The crucifixion of the Son of man was organised to show what the Son of God had been doing since the foundation of the earth, and its effect upon Him.
Once the people of the universe were convinced of the truth, that just left the people of the earth to persuade, and that’s the purpose of the everlasting gospel. However, those humans who are dead without having accepted salvation have already made up their minds, for the opportunity runs out at the point of separation from life. The dead are "set in their ways" and will not change. This is the terrible sinfulness of sin – the longer it is indulged, the harder it is to part from it. Once is has run its course and killed the unregenerate, there is nothing that can be done, not even by God any more.
From my library: FLB 60.4
The exceeding sinfulness of sin can be estimated only in the light of the cross. When men urge that God is too good to cast off the sinner, let them look to Calvary. It was because there was no other way in which man could be saved, because without this sacrifice it was impossible for the human race to escape from the defiling power of sin, and be restored to communion with holy beings – impossible for them again to become partakers of spiritual life – it was because of this that Christ took upon Himself the guilt of the disobedient, and suffered in the sinner's stead. The love and suffering and death of the Son of God all testify to the terrible enormity of sin, and declare that there is no escape from its power, no hope of the higher life, but through the submission of the soul to Christ.
Hear the despairing cry of a Creator as He faces the loss of some of His creatures. "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you that kills the prophets, and stones them which are sent to you, how often would I have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and you would not[let Me]!" Matthew 23:37.
Now read this from my library: 4SP 22.2
The Majesty of Heaven in tears! The Son of the infinite God troubled in spirit, bowed down with anguish! The scene filled all Heaven with wonder. That scene reveals to us the exceeding sinfulness of sin; it shows how hard a task it is, even for infinite power, to save the guilty from the consequences of transgressing the law of God. Jesus, looking down to the last generation, saw the world inclosed in a deception similar to that which caused the destruction of Jerusalem. The great sin of the Jews was their rejection of Christ; . . . Millions in bondage to sin, slaves of Satan, doomed to suffer the second death, would refuse to listen to the words of truth in their day of visitation. Terrible blindness! strange infatuation!
Hear the heart-anguish as He faces the penalty for those who do accept Him as their Saviour. "And being in an agony He prayed more earnestly: and His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground". Luke 22:44. (The word "agony" is found only once in the King James Version of the Bible, for this was a once-off situation.)
What is not recognised by many is that the temporary covering He gives us has a finite limit!
So now we have a situation!
Right from birth the Son of God starts a battle with us. Can He get us to accept His offer of a "transplant" before we cause our own physical death? The devil (and many of us) like to think that Satan takes a hand in the matter of death, but that is only indirectly, for death is "the wages[result] of [internal] sin". Satan knows this, and so one of his major lies is that we have an immortal soul, and therefore there is always another chance after death. That way he takes away the urgency of the message.
What he does right now is influence our choices to make physical death come quicker. Apart from war and murder, if he can get us to drink and then drive, the odds on an early death shorten dramatically. Or, if we are born to sick parents or other ancestors, we are likely to inherit their illness and die sooner than others. If we eat lots of fat then we will cut ourselves off before our "normal" time. And so on. So it’s a "race" for the Son of God – can He get us to accept justification before we die physically. If we don’t then He has lost us forever at death, for then the life goes back to God who gave it, and in the second resurrection it emerges unchanged. Death, the separation from life, seems to harden or "seal" the character – to "fossilise" it, as it were, as the bones of ancient/ creatures turned to stone after a time without changing their inherent characteristics.
Or, we could do what Satan and his angels have done – decide to reject Him totally and go our own way BEFORE our physical deaths, i.e. close our own probation by committing the "unpardonable sin". (We do that by simply refusing to listen to God’s voice any more, or, even worse, believing that His voice is that of the tempter and fleeing from Him.) Those who do that choose Satan’s way usually because of the power and prestige that they see comes with it, and they become just as hardened or sealed as those who have died.
This is why the people of the world are in the mess they are in.
While we possess indwelling sin and commit actions of sin we must all die, spiritually and physically – the difference is that some of us CHOOSE to "die" spiritually with the Son of God BEFORE our physical death. We show that experience by being baptised.
3Know you not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
5For if we have been planted [under the water] together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection: 6 knowing this, that our "old man" is crucified with Him, that the body [root] of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin".
But, even if we totally reject Him and His offer of a "transplant", the Son of God does not remove His protecting grace. He keeps that over us until we wear out in old age, or are killed by violence or sickness, for He has no hand in separation from life. (Satan and his angels are still alive because of this.) The Son of God will not "move away" and allow us to die, unless He is "pushed", and even then death follows as a natural consequence. That’s why, as the Son of man, Jesus healed many and even raised some from the dead, but they all died again later for they would not change their ways.
One real source of anguish to God is that most Christians (those who have had the transplant) still go on in ways that kill them physically! Even though most (but not all) of that is done in ignorance, sin must still have its wages! "And if a soul sin, and commit any of these things which are forbidden to be done by the commandments of the LORD; though he wist[know] it not, yet is he guilty, and shall bear his iniquity. And he shall bring a ram without blemish [not just a lamb] out of the flock, with your estimation [a fine], for a trespass offering, to the priest: and the priest shall make an atonement for him concerning his ignorance wherein he erred and wist it not, and it shall be forgiven him. It is a trespass offering: he has certainly trespassed against the LORD". Leviticus 5:17-19.
It adds to His hurt that we injure ourselves (and others) in this way, but it does not change the fact that we are restored spiritually. We will just need a resurrection from the grave into the new world.
Our God is a very courteous Person and He will not force even the appeal for salvation where it is lightly regarded, so He waits and waits, trying gently now and then. Of course, what He would like to see is many of those who are saved from inward sin also saved from outward actions which cause sickness and physical death. He says, "Beloved, I wish above all things that you may prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers". 3 John 1:2.
But most of us are too busy with our earthly lives to heed His voice.
Total redemption is the purpose of the everlasting gospel, and Jesus in His healings was showing this purpose in a very practical way. He wants a family of healthy, happy children. If we ask, He will tell us what to do to accomplish this.
But in the meantime, He says,
30Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways [behaviour], says the LORD GOD. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity [inborn sin] shall not be your ruin.
31Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby you have transgressed; and make [receive] you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will you die, O house of Israel? 32 For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dies [physically or spiritually], says the LORD GOD: wherefore turn yourselves [repent], and live you.
And we can say, "Thanks be to God, which gives us the victory through our LORD Jesus Christ." 1 Corinthians 15:57.
Of course, God has to careful how He handles the situation today, for everything He does must be seen to be right and proper (just), and with no favouritism.
How well He has done this is reflected in the following words;
160Your word is true from the beginning: and every one of Your righteous judgments endures for ever.
7And I heard another [angel] out of the altar say, "Even so, LORD God Almighty, true and righteous are Your judgments".
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