Sunday, January 16, 2022

Passover Teaching - Spiritual and Physical Healing

We are coming close to Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread, and preparations are beginning.  Members may begin to prepare by making plans and by examining themselves spiritually (1 Corinthians 11:27-32, 2 Corinthians 13:5).  Scheduled sermon and sermonette speakers and those who conduct Passover services are making plans on what to say in their messages.

We are taught that by Christ's stripes we are healed.  "But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:5-6).

The stripes refer to the beating Christ took before He was crucified.  He suffered so we can be healed.

In the old days of Worldwide Church of God while Mr. Armstrong was alive, the Church emphasized that Christ's suffering paid the penalty for our physical sins - our violations of the laws of health - so we can be physically healed.  This was emphasized so much that I do not remember ever hearing or reading of the spiritual application of that, that we are also healed spiritually.  I do not remember the words "heal" or "healing" ever being applied to our spiritual condition - our character - but only to physical diseases and disabilities.

There is nothing wrong with placing emphasis on certain things to drive home lessons.  Physical healing has not been a doctrine of many traditional churches we came out of, so it needed emphasized teaching.

But spiritual healing is important, and today it should not be neglected.  To be silent on this may be an affirmation that Christ's suffering did not include paying the spiritual price of our sins so our character can be healed.

I have posted about this before for those who want to look up past posts to research this.

Does the Bible ever use the concept of "healing" or "sickness" to refer to spiritual matters, or only to physical diseases?

"Jesus answered and said to them, 'Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance" (Luke 5:31-32).  Here Christ directly compares physical sickness with the spiritual need for repentence.

In the Old Testament, God prophesied concerning Israel: "I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely, For My anger has turned away from him" (Hosea 14:4).  Here, God applies the concept of healing to a spiritual matter - backsliding.  The same Hebrew word for "heal" is used here as is used in Isaiah 53:5 that says that by Christ's stripes we are healed.

So in the Bible, healing does not just refer to physical healing.  It refers to spiritual healing also.  In the Church of God, we may call that character building, but it refers to the process of turning from sin and becoming like God and putting on the righteousness of Christ by the power of God's Holy Spirit. It includes getting rid of bad habits and building good habits and learning to live by every word of God as a way of life.

So the passage in Isaiah that refers to being healed by the stripes Jesus Christ suffered includes both physical and spiritual healing.

Does the Church of God acknowledge this?  Or do we deny the role of Christ and His suffering in making possible our spiritual healing?

The Church and its speakers can teach about the healing taught in Isaiah several ways.  A speaker or writer can simply say that Christ's suffering enables our healing without mentioning spiritual or physical healing.  Or, a speaker or writer can refer to "physical healing" and not include spiritual healing.  Or, he can refer to both physical and spiritual healing.  I believe that last way is the best and most accurate way to teach the meaning of Isaiah 53:5.

Among the Churches of God, this seems to vary.  I know of one group that seems to deny the role of Christ's suffering in enabling our spiritual healing by saying that we are healed physically by His stripes, but saying nothing about being spiritually healed.  Another group simply says we are healed without specifying if we are healed physically or spiritually or both.  Yet another group does say we are healed spiritually and physically.  I have not checked all the groups.

If the Church denies the importance of Christ's suffering to pay the penalty of our sins so we can be spiritually healed, what does Christ think about that?  He endured the suffering so we can be healed both spiritually and physically.  He was motivated by love to do this for us.  If we knowingly deny his role in suffering so we can be spiritually healed, because of fear of men or because of unwillingness to believe what God says, what does Christ think about that?  If we do not acknowledge the importance of the suffering He endured in making possible our spiritual healing, are we not denying Christ and showing a lack of appreciation for what He has done for us?

Christ was willing to suffer so we can be spiritually healed.  Are we unwilling to acknowledge and appreciate that?

"Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 10:32-33).  This is a broad principle.  It can include many things.  There is more than one way to deny Christ.

The Church of God and each of us individually are being tested on many matters.  This might be one of them.

And how hard of a test is this, anyway?  How hard would it be for the Churches of God to simply acknowledge that Christ's stripes make possible both our spiritual and physical healing?  Is this a big deal?  We still keep the doctrine of physical healing.  Is it heresy to say we are also healed spiritually by the stripes of Christ just because Mr. Armstrong didn't include that in Mystery of the Ages?