boyradd

Forgiven…Loved…..Transformed!

Archive for the tag “healing”

Declaring War, Accepting Healing

In America, we have a very specific method for declaring war. While the lines have been blurred many times, there is still a written plan of declaring war in America.

Spiritual warfare is very different.

And, as Christians, I believe we do spiritual warfare wrong.

Too often, Christians in America go through their comfortable lives and, when something bad comes up, they claim spiritual warfare and start praying for God to remove the warfare from their lives.

Ephesians 6:12 – For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

I am fairly certain that I have lived this way for much of my life. But spiritual warfare is a daily event, not a single circumstance.

I’ve played the victim.

The Bible is clear, spiritual warfare is not singular event that becomes a speed bump in the road toward sanctification. Spiritual warfare is an every day mindset.

When life throws everything it can at you, it is very easy to stand up claim spiritual warfare and pray hard for about a week and then fall back into your life of Christian mediocrity.

So I believe we get spiritual warfare very wrong.

Those life events? Yea, they aren’t necessarily spiritual warfare. They are opportunities in this life to continue toward sanctification and grow in Christ.

They are an opportunity to heal.

But we have to accept it.

When we feel ourselves slipping into the victim mentality and half-heartedly claiming spiritual warfare, it is important to go to the book of John and go to chapter 5. Right there in the beginning is an account about Jesus at the Well of Bethesda, a place where healing would happen to a select few people.

John 5:1-9 – After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked. Now that day was the Sabbath.

You see, this pool was supernatural. Our modern day minds can’t wrap around this, but an angel would come down and stir the waters of this well. The first person to go into the well would be healed.

There was a man at this well who had been diseased for over 38 years. Each time he tried to get in the pool when the water was stirred, someone would beat him to it and obtain the healing before him.

When Jesus sees this man, he asks a strange question, “Do you want to be healed?”

In many of the cases of healing in the Bible that involve Jesus, we see that people seek Jesus out for healing.

This man was just sitting there in his illness and Jesus goes up to him and asks him if he wants to be healed.

Jesus realizes that this man had not been sick for a short amount of time. This disease had a hold of this man for a long period of his life. So much that it could have become his identity. What afflicts us, or comes against us, can easily become a part of our identity.

At first, Jesus’ initial comment to the man can look uncaring and cold. Jesus doesn’t ask for the man’s history. He doesn’t seem to care about why this man is in this position.

He simply asks him if he wants to be healed.

It is as if Jesus is saying to the man, “Do you really want to be healed or are you happy playing the victim?”

This is where we begin to see the reality of victimization.

The man doesn’t immediately answer Jesus by saying “yes.” As a matter of fact, in this account, the man never tells Jesus that he wants healing!

To anyone reading this, we would think that if we had Jesus standing in front of us asking if we want healing from a disease that has crippled us for 38 years that we would immediately break down and cry out “YES!”

And yet, this man doesn’t say “yes.”

This man answers as a victim.

“Sir, I have no one to put me in the pool when the waters are stirred, but while I am coming, another steps in before me.”

Jesus didn’t care about the man’s reasons. Jesus didn’t want the back story.

Jesus asked a yes or no question.

Very simple question.

Do you want to be healed, yes or no?

Being a victim rarely allows us to answer the easy questions easily.

It causes us to get caught up in our circumstances rather than the solutions. This man had the Creator of the universe standing in front of him and asking him if he wanted healing and yet all he could do is give Jesus an excuse!

If this man really wanted healing, he could have figured out a way to be healed. It might have involved bribing someone to throw him in the pool or making promises to someone to hold people back. Instead, this man was so caught up in his story that he couldn’t see the healing in front of him.

Lately, my wife and I have had a lot happen in our lives. And, while I say “lately,” it feels as if every step of the way since we were married that we have had something come up that knocks us off balance. The past couple months has involved several surgeries for my dad, all 3 of the vehicles in our family breaking down at the same time, loss of jobs, loss of insurance, loss of incomes from both her employment and mine. If you want, I can share the story of the past 3.5 years that kept us off balance.

Every time I have claimed “spiritual warfare” and blamed Satan.

Meanwhile, I wonder if God is simply standing before us saying, “Do you really want to be healed or do you like your story more than my power?”

That was painful to write.

It was painful to hear in my head over and over.

If we aren’t careful, we can hold a story within us that is not the story that God wants known. Our story can be filled with unhealed pain, distorted beliefs, and personal limitations. We can carry that story into every chapter of our lives and even write it into future chapters before they are even written.

This man at the pool had a chance to stop his story where it was and change it to the story that Jesus wanted to give him. The story Jesus wants to convey is becoming whole and healing.

Back in 2013 I started my ministry call. Over the years, I have asked people the same question Jesus asked this man at the pool.

Do you want healing?

Are you willing to give up the unemployment check if you can find a job. Are you willing to give up the disability check if you have a chance to be healed?

Many times I received silence at that question. They didn’t immediately tell me yes, and, in some cases, never gave me a yes or no at all, they just gave me their story again.

With healing comes a new way of thinking about life. With healing comes a new lifestyle. With healing comes a new perspective.

Many times people want to be healed, but they don’t want to change their lives to accept it.

That is a victim mentality.

Jesus does heal the man. Some texts say that Jesus made him whole.

God is more concerned with us becoming whole and being healed.

But the story doesn’t end with verse 9!

John 5:14 – Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.”

In verse 14 we are told that Jesus sees this man later in the temple and tells the man that he needs to sin no more so that nothing worse comes his way. Basically, Jesus is telling this man that if he isn’t careful, he can very easily slip back into his victim mentality and that would cause him to be sicker than before.

Ouch.

For most of Christendom, we find it hard to believe that our disease can be caused by sin. We try to preach grace only and try to sanitize the gospel message to be a happy go lucky, rub Jesus’ belly and all will be well story. We try to remove the guilt and condemnation from the gospel message.

But we can’t avoid the fact that Jesus warned this man that if he wasn’t careful he would lose what he gained.

This man played the victim all his life. For at least 38 years. He had no room for love or hope or faith. If we continue to live as a victim, we carry with us unbelief. That unbelief means that our situation cannot truly change until we get rid of the unbelief.

We lose hope and believe the lies that we are only what we see.

Jesus called us to live as victors, not victims. Living as a victim is a sin and needs to be repented of.

We can’t simply say “the devil made me do it” when we live a life of unbelief.

 

Kiss the Train

Ephesians 4:11-13 – And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ

Being in ministry is not always an easy thing. Each and every week I am approached by people who have lost their families, lost loved ones, are depressed, on drugs or alcohol, feel like they are failing or have just come to a point in their lives when they just realize there MUST be more. There is no human way possible for anyone in the ministry to be fully prepared for every situation that can come your way. All you can do is know your Bible, know the grace and peace of God, and be there to listen to those hurting and comfort those in need.

One of these tough situations happened to me this week. I was one of the first on the scene for a suicide. When I was growing up, I remember talking to some of my power technology classmates in high school and one of them joking about suicide. At the time, he mentioned he was going to go “kiss the train.” While he was just joking, this week’s suicide was no joke.

This was not just a random person. This was someone I had spent time with, poured into, and ministered to. I felt honored to call him friend. He had just recently made the choice to follow Christ and got baptized only a mere 10 days ago.

When I was on the scene, someone approached me and asked me how does suicide fit into salvation? Can the person go to heaven?

Judges 16:30 – Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” Then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it. Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived.

Still in shell shock myself, I probably gave the worst answer ever. It was probably so bad, because I don’t even remember what I said.

Later that afternoon, I headed out to the Chesapeake Bay armed with my Bible and Google to do a little research on suicide. I knew what I believed, but I had never been in the foxhole before when the questions were asked.

Ask me anything about needing Christ in your life or the importance of baptism or communion and I will give you a text book answer that also models my heart. Put me in front of people who want me to deny Christ and I won’t.

Ask me a question about suicide and salvation…and I fail.

So the question that I was given today, “If a Christian commits suicide, can he get into heaven?”

Before I give you the theology behind the answer, let me give you the short answer.

Yes.

Psalm 111:9 – He sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant forever. Holy and awesome is his name!

A Christian who commits suicide is forgiven.

But to understand why I believe this, I need you to understand the theology of salvation.

Put simply, salvation is being saved from God’s judgment. There is only one way to obtain salvation, and that is through putting your complete trust in Christ Jesus.   Look at John 14:6 or Acts 4:12.

Romans 5:1 tells us that it is by grace THROUGH FAITH that we are forgiven.   That grace comes through Jesus alone. Nothing we can do will ever get us a ticket to heaven. It is only because of God’s grace, death on the cross, and resurrection to life that we have the potential to be saved.

When Jesus forgives someone, He forgives ALL their sins and gives them eternal life. John 10:28 is very clear in that.

Salvation is not based on what you do. Keeping God’s laws do not save you anymore than owning a surfboard makes you a world-class surfer. No one is saved by keeping the Law of God. Check out Galatians 2:21 or Romans 3:24-28 if you have questions about that.

Now, let me emphasize though, that this does NOT mean you can continue to live in sin. Check out Romans 6:1-3 if you are wondering about that. Sorry, this is not a “get out of jail free” card. We are saved with the purpose of purity of heart (1 Thessalonians 4:7).

Our salvation is strictly from God. Other than acting out in faith and trusting and accepting what Jesus did on the cross, you did not do ANYTHING to deserve that saving grace. Since you did not gain your salvation by what you did, you cannot lose it by what you do.

In the Bible there is only ONE unforgivable sin. That sin is NOT suicide. That sin is explained in Matthew 12:22-32 and is basically denying the deity of Christ and His work on the cross. Denying that earns you a ticket to hell.

Now let’s look at repentance. Repentance is the necessary result of the saving work of God – NOT THE CAUSE OF SALVATION. If repentance brought salvation, then salvation would be works-based and not faith-based.

God grants repentance to the Christian! (2 Timothy 2:25)

Once God grants us repentance, then the Christian turns from their sin.

The Christian is able to repent because he is saved, he is not saved because he repented.

But Fred, what about 1 John 1:9? Don’t we have to confess our sins to be saved? Confession and repentance are natural results of repentance.

But what about sins you didn’t even know you committed?

You can’t tell me you remember EVERY sin you have ever done. Especially because many times, we humans act out of what we think are best intentions only to realize later that it led someone into sin.

If we are forced to confess and repent of every little sin we’ve ever committed we would be back under the bondage of the Law, not the freedom of Christ. Jesus even told us that His yoke was light (Matthew 11:27-30).

So, repentance is not the cause of salvation, but it is the result of salvation.

So, suicide, being, in essence, self-murder, is not something you can repent of. There were plenty of murderers in the Bible (Moses, David, Saul) but they each had opportunities to confess and repent. In suicide, the person does not have the option of repenting and confessing.

Jesus bore EVERY Christian’s sins – including suicide. If Jesus bore that person’s sins on the cross 2000 years ago and if suicide was not covered, then the Christian was never saved in the first place;   If the one sin of suicide is not covered, then the ENTIRE work of Christ on the cross is undone.

Jesus either saves completely or He doesn’t.

At the end of the day, I choose to believe my Bible in knowing that each of my sins are covered upon the cross of Christ: past, present, and future.

So is the Christian forgiven for suicide?

Yes.

But suicide is NOT an option. We do not have the right to take a life that belongs to God.

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