Have you ever thought when faced with some sickness or physical problem, “If only Jesus was here on earth and healing still; I’d just go to him and touch him and be made well!”
I certainly have.
But I had a realization recently: Jesus himself, the head, is not physically with us here on earth, but his body, the church is. His Spirit, who empowers miracles, is. The Spirit of Jesus is present in the body of Jesus, the church, giving gifts to people as he wills, including the gift of healing, for the common good and to maintain the Body united.
Hezekiah, King of Judah, was very ill and “at the point of death” (2 Kings 20:1), when the prophet Isaiah comes to him with a word from the Lord telling him to get his house in order, because he’s going to die. Hezekiah reacts the way most of us would; in despair he cries out to God and “weeps bitterly.” God’s response is very quick; Isaiah hasn’t even left the palace when God’s word comes to him telling him to go back and tell Hezekiah that he’s heard his prayer, will heal him, give him 15 more years of life, and deliver the city from the King of Assyria.
Recently I’ve been learning some things about following God’s will. Unfortunately, as sometimes happens, I’ve been learning about them through my own mistakes.
The crucial principle I’ve been learning is that there should never be a major decision that we make without consulting God’s guidance. There should never be any area of our life that is a “no-go” when it comes to God speaking to us.
Let me unpack that. In life, we have many decisions to make, some of them bigger than others.
See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. Hebrews 12:15-16
Charismatic “inner healing” teaching majors on this “bitter root” doctrine. Typically, it’s said that the “seed of bitterness” is sown when some hurt happens to you, and instead of forgiving, you allow resentment to take hold in your heart.
Hebrews 11 continues and develops the argument of chapter 10. In chapter 10, we are told not to give up, but to press forward in faith. Hebrews 11 describes what that faith looks like, how persevering faith that doesn’t give up and receives the reward has expressed itself in the lives of great men and women of God.
Hebrews 10 contains a pretty terrifying warning that has scared a lot of people, myself included:
Recently I’ve pretty much stopped using Facebook. One event was the tipping point, but the truth is, I’d been increasingly disenchanted with it for some time before that.
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” Matthew 7:13-14
Given its eternal consequences, understanding what salvation means is absolutely crucial.
Jesus said that those who will be saved are few. Why? Because true salvation means walking a difficult path that few are willing to take.
What are the narrow door and hard way, and the wide gate and easy way?
Many nominal or liberal Christians say that they believe in Jesus, but reject the Old Testament, saying it is not inspired by God. Or non-Christians say they like Jesus, but they can’t be a Christian because of the OT. In their view, the God of the Old Testament is intolerable. He judges people, throws down nations, sends his people to war, and makes laws that seem barbaric. He can’t be the same God as loving, peaceful, forgiving Jesus.
There’s a particular view of Jesus I’ve noticed which is prevalent among non-Christians, but is held by nominal or liberal Christians as well.
In this view, Jesus is a sort of all-loving, all-accepting, nice guy who came to earth to be everyone’s buddy. He doesn’t challenge anyone’s sin, except for the uptight religious guys whom nobody likes anyway. He won’t tell you anything except that God loves and accepts you, whoever you are.