Preached by Dr. Gene Scott on May 21, 1978
. . . for I am the LORD that healeth thee.
“WITHOUT FAITH it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6). I am sure that almost everybody has either heard or quoted that phrase at some time or other. And we tend to whip ourselves with the thought, “Well, I just have to make myself believe.” But what is being expressed is a state of existence. It places the emphasis on the action of faith itself. There is no way that you can be pleasing God, no matter what else you may offer Him, if you are not in the state of faith.
One mistake that many Christians make is to think of faith in some superhuman frame, equating faith with an overwhelming feeling that came over them the day they finally understood that their sins were covered and that they could be saved. That is a moment of truth that some grow into. For others, it just hits them like a wallop. But it is a mistake to set your thermostat to qualify faith with only that kind of expression.
A measure of faith is given to every man (Romans 12:3). You cannot, in the New Testament meaning of the word, have “non-faith;” you can only have “different directional faith.” Your faith is going to flow to different objects, but the Bible will only qualify as faith that which has God as the object: God and His relationship with His Word, His faithfulness to His Word, His faithfulness to Himself. But a measure of faith is given to every single person. Whether a little or a lot, “without faith it is impossible to please God.” It is the state of faithing that is being spoken of.
Now, let us approach the subject from a different direction. Have any of you parents known the feeling of having a child not trust you? If this has never happened to you, or never occurred to you, think about it for a moment. The same is true in friendship. The same is true in love. Trust is the essence of a relationship, the existence of a mode of attachment that has trustworthiness as its starting point. Without faith it is impossible to please God, because to not have faith is to believe that God is not trustworthy; it is to believe that you cannot really hang yourself on what He says. It is to believe that He is unpredictable, non-dependable and faithless, like so many in this world around us.
It is in that conceptual frame you have to read verses like “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent” (Numbers 23:19). This describes the nature of God. God is a Person. Wherever He is, it is the nature of a person to be absolutely there, as it is my nature as a person, wherever I am, to be absolutely there. It takes a while to manifest me, but I am here, all the time. God is that way; He is a Person who reveals Himself over time. His book is a “word revelation” of that Person; it is a drama where He encounters man on the stage of history.
Wherever God is, He is always the same. Why did He hate that band of rebels He led out of Egypt, whose carcasses He scattered in the wilderness? Because they were forever putting Him on trial. Like an assayer of metal, they would test Him to see if He was for real. Every time something occurred that made them question whether or not He was what He had revealed Himself thus far to be, they would get out the metallurgist’s instruments and put Him on trial. God said, “You proved me.” The word is tempted, but literally, God said, “You put Me through the tests” (Psalm 95:9, Hebrews 3:9).
“God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” It is that quality of God’s faithfulness that makes it impossible to please Him if you do not have it. That is why the Bible says, when you don’t have faith, “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). You encounter God in His actions, and there is a certain track record that begins to leap out of this book: God is faithful to His Word. In this context, He said to Jeremiah, “I will hasten my word to perform it” (Jeremiah 1:12). Literally from the Hebrew it means, “I will grab every force at My disposal, and I will bring that force as a pressure on My Word to cause it to come to pass.”
That is what makes it so nonsensical to humanize these spiritual concepts the way so many preachers have done. They talk about how to make faith work for you; how to apply the laws of faith so you can have “success” in this world. Have faith because of God! Faith is not something apart from God that, having grabbed hold of, we can use for ourselves. I believe God built laws into the universe. Faith will work. You can have faith in many different things: you can have faith in faith, faith in another man’s faith, faith in certain principles, faith in yourself; but God responds to faith in Him, and that is the only kind He qualifies as faith.
With that background, I am preaching on healing today, because I am sick, and I’m mad at the devil about it. Now, you may say, “Do you think all sickness is of the devil?” No, I don’t. In fact, 1st Corinthians 11 shows God letting it happen to some saints to knock some sense into them so they would discern the Lord’s Table properly. I believe that anything that is contrary to faith, the devil rides like a surfboard, and when the shield of faith drops, that opens the door to the attack of the enemy. I believe there are people who become sick whose faith is high. But the sequence in this particular case was that I dropped my faith shield for a moment, and now I am climbing back. The only time I will not preach when I am sick is when I cannot blink my eyes or raise my head, because I believe that we should do what I have been preaching: hang out bodies on God’s Word. If I am ever dying in a hospital, and you saints come to see your Pastor, if I can talk, I am going to lead the prayer. No matter what happens to me or you, God’s Word is true. It is time we put faith in its proper frame of reference: God, and not us. It is a Person we deal with who is faithful. Everybody who is sick, tune in. You who are well, keep notes, because you will need this message one day.
There is a little word in the Old Testament that is translated “for the sake of.” It is interesting to study why God acts. You find Him acting “For Zion’s sake” (Isaiah 62:1). On another occasion, He acts “for my servant David’s sake” (Isaiah 37:35). Another time, God says that He acts “for my name’s sake” (Isaiah 48:9). There is even a reference where God says that He is acting not for His own sake, but “For your sake” (Isaiah 43:14). Thank God, most of what He does now is for Jesus’ sake, and that is good ground.
I only find two outstanding cases in the Old Testament where God gives no reason for His action other than for His own sake, because of who it is that is acting. One is the forgiveness of sins. He says it through Isaiah: “I am he that blotteth out thy sins, thy transgressions, for mine sake.” Literally, “for the sake of Me” (Isaiah 43:25). There is no other reference point: not for “My name’s sake,” not for a covenant’s sake, not for any other sake. It is as though, in a moment, God dropped His guard and opened up the window into His inner heart, and He said, “This is why I forgive your sins; every other reason has been exhausted.” The people did not deserve it. No other reason was given but “for mine own sake.” Isaiah himself could not understand it. It could not be understood until, out of the Godhead, the Eternal Word became the Living Word to give Himself that day on Calvary. The basis for forgiveness of sins is rooted and grounded on that “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world,” who will live forever, who is the Alpha and Omega, who was and is and shall ever be (Revelation 1:8, 13:8). That is the basis for forgiving sins. What a security!
There is only one other action by God in the Old Testament that He puts in the same high company, and that is in Exodus 15, when God gives Himself a name. It happened in a least expected kind of circumstance. He had delivered His people out of Egypt, brought them across the Red Sea, marched them through a wilderness to prove them, and they flunked the test. They screamed and cried for water. God gave them water, and it was bitter. And in a symbol pointing to the tree that would one day be Calvary, Moses is shown a tree. He fells the tree in the water, and the water is sweetened.
Then, with loving care, God utters this statement: “If thou will diligently hearken unto all these statutes and ordinances I have given you, I will put none of these diseases upon you, which I have brought upon the Egyptians.” Again, it is as though He flings a window open. He didn’t have to add the next phrase, because the covenant was completed in that statement. But He gives a reason for the covenant. That was unnecessary; God can covenant. That’s it: “You do this; I’ll do that.” Simple transaction. But God burst forth the revelation: “for I am . . .” It is an existential statement; it is stating what we said in the introduction to this message: wherever God’s Person is, “I AM THAT I AM” (Exodus 3:14). God is saying, “This is the kind of person I am. Bring Me there, and with Me comes this: I am Jehovah-rapha; I am the LORD that healeth thee” (Exodus 15:26).
He describes a quality of His nature. It was not a quality that was learned by a man’s experience, like the time Abraham named God “the LORD will provide” (Genesis 22:9-14). Some of the names of God came about through the many experiences where a man saw God doing things often enough that, out of a burst of revelatory inspiration, he could say, “Thou art a God, thus and so.” So the man would build an altar and give God a name. But, in this case, God looks down to a disobedient people and says, “I am this kind of God. Give Me the chance, you disobedient ones: I still am this kind of God: I am the LORD that healeth thee.”
Some time ago, I had flown to Minneapolis to pray for an acquaintance who was facing surgery. He was a well-known scientist with two earned doctorates. So, like a scientist, he started naming reasons for God to heal him. I said to him, “God doesn’t need a reason to heal you. He already has the reason: He is! It is His nature to heal.” God’s problem in relating to man is the partition between us and Him, as the result of man’s sin, hindering our ability to know Him as He is. That is why when Jesus prayed, He said, “This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3). This is why I get frustrated when I see the church spending so much time talking about everything except Jesus and the God revealed through Him, whom to know is life eternal.
God’s nature is the basis for divine healing. There is no other basis; that is enough. Whatever is the nature of a person, it will come out. I have come to the irrevocable conclusion that there are two forces of God’s nature operating as God looks at this creation. One is to save them from their sins; the other is to heal them from the consequence of dwelling outside of a relationship with God, the Source of life. Life is capacity to relate to one’s environment. We have been cut off from the Source of life by our sins.
God does not have to be talked into forgiveness. He said, “I am he that blotheth out thy sins for mine own sake.” God does not have to be talked into healing. “I am Jehovah-rapha: I am a healing kind of God.” That is why this book will always reveal God finding a way to let His grace flow and will always reveal God finding a way to be a healing God. You might say, “Well, if He wants to do that, why doesn’t He just get it done?” I don’t know. Perhaps it is because we are so dumb, so far removed. But that doesn’t change what He is, and as we come nigh to Him, we tap the wellspring of His nature.
Preaching on healing can take different verses of Scripture, but they all flow out of that concept: it is a revelation of His nature. “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Matthew 12:34). So many people take God’s promises and hold them over Him. That is not the right approach. God would not say it if He did not want to do it. Promises will never become powerful motives for faith until you start in the frame that God will never say a thing He doesn’t want to do. God will never be other than He is. This is God’s “word of mouth” to us. Therefore, healing will be in that word because out of His heart, the mouth speaketh.
Exodus 15 tells us why it is His nature; the rest of the book is but the abundance of the heart speaking through the mouth. That is why you have a promise like the one in Psalm 103: “Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name . . . who healeth all thy diseases.” I have seen people in sickness say that verse as though that verse by itself would do the healing. No, God will do the healing when the child realizes that it is the Father’s nature saying the Word. “I am he that blotteth out thy sins for . . .” whose sake? Say it with me: “for mine own sake.” Now, read Psalm 103 again: “Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name . . . Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases.” That is not a promise laying somewhere over there that, if you can find it, you will get healed. Rather, that promise is just a door for God to go through, because God wants to go through that door, because God is as He is: a healing God.
But He has covenanted; He has “tied His hands behind His back.” “Ye have not, because ye ask not” (James 4:2). We are to “ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord” (James 1:6-7). “If two of you shall agree on earth . . . it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 18:19). You find a promise and you agree, not on that promise; rather, you agree on God’s nature as revealed in that promise, and turn Him loose. You are coming to know Him. The Eternal Word became the Living Word: that is Jesus. If it is His nature to heal, He ought to heal for that reason alone.
You can study the Gospels, and if you read commentaries, you will find thousands of words wasted saying that Jesus performed miracles in order to prove He is the Son of God. You do not need any better proof that the Resurrection; that is the basis for our faith. He did confirm with signs and wonders; but, thank God, He healed the sick for no reason other than His nature.
In Mark 1, a leper cries out. Jesus has compassion on him; the word means “with feeling.” Jesus heals the leper with feeling. His attention gotten, Jesus was Himself; He healed this man. In Matthew 14, John the Baptist was beheaded. Jesus goes out to a wilderness place. A motley crowd follows Him, and He has compassion on them and He heals their sick. Six chapters later, He comes out of Jericho and two blind men cry out. The disciples would shut them up. Again, the Scripture says Jesus has compassion on them. He heals “with feeling,” and for no other reason.
I am weaving one thread today. In Jesus, you encounter God Incarnate. If God is not present here in His church, then why do we gather together? I know the theology of omnipresence. That is a statement of fact, held on to by a faith orientation that just refuses to believe other than what He says. “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5). Wherever I am at all times, God is there whether I feel Him and see Him or not. That is omnipresence. But the manifestation of His presence moves into the realm that is felt and seen. God’s Word says there is a degree of presence beyond omnipresence, or else it would be superfluous to say, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20). That is the only justifiable reason for out gathering together: the Lord is here!
We see what He is like in the Gospels. He did not have to be talked into healing; all you had to do was get His attention. You might say, “Well, doesn’t He already know the need before you say it?” Sure He does. He saw Nathanael under a tree before he ever got there (John 1:48). But those who benefited from His compassion besought Him in a specific way: they cried out, pressed in to touch Him, or tore off a roof. In an explicit manner, they got their attention on to the Lord, who, in turn, let His compassion flow to them.
Don’t ask me to explain it, just do it. Yell at Him! Say, “Here I am, Lord! Forget about Your angels for a moment. They don’t need You as badly as I do today. It’s me, and I’m sick!” Get right to the point. Pray sensible prayers. The reason babies talk the way they do is that grown-ups talk to them like babies. One reason God does not answer is that we insult Him with our pontificating. Jesus healed because He felt the need.
Why do you think the ordinance of oil is taught in James 5? God is not dumb. Without faith it is impossible to please Him, but He knows that when you are sick, it is harder to believe than it is when you are well. Also, we are to “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2). God loves His church more than anything else in this world right now, and when we are sick, He would not lay down the provisions for His church without providing for the weak ones. “Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil . . . And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up.” But someone might object, “Oh, well, wait a minute. Maybe that sick saint doesn’t deserve to be healed.” I would reply, “Shut your mouth, accuser of the brethren!” “If he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.”
It is God’s nature to heal. He came to abide in us. Paul, when he wrote to the Ephesian church, said that we have “the earnest of our inheritance” (Ephesians 1:14). The word he used in the Greek is arrabon, which means “part payment of that which shall be full, identical in nature to the full payment when it comes.” “In thy presence is fullness of joy” is the destiny of the saint (Psalm 16:11). But, between here and there, Jesus prayed we might have another Comforter, a Paraclete, meaning “one alongside,” who would come to abide with us always. That Person brings all that God is. One of Jesus’ disciples asked, “What will it be like?” Jesus replied with a mysterious statement. He said, “It will be I and My Father taking up Our abode in thee.” That Spirit is God’s Person coming to dwell in us (John 14:15-23).
As it is God’s nature to heal, declared in Exodus 15, revealed in His Word, revealed in Christ, provided for in the ordinance of oil, now He is going to dwell in the midst of His church. The “spiritual gifts” Paul talks about in 1st Corinthians 12-14 are really the “expressions of the Spirit,” the expression of God’s Spirit coming to dwell in us. But again, some people are trying to carve them off to God and put them in their pockets and march around and say, “I’ve got it. If you treat me right, particularly if you come tonight at 7:00, it will work. It won’t work at 3:00 in the afternoon, but if you come tonight when I’m in the right atmosphere, I’ll pull my gift out and it will work.” But the real gift is God’s Spirit who has come to abide, who has neither bellyache nor sleeping hours; He is the same all the time.
God’s book defines those expressions of the Spirit. One-third of them deal with God’s desire to heal His creation: the gifts of faith, healing and miracles. There isn’t anyone who receives healing because of a gift residing in another person. It is in Him, and He is in us; we all share God’s nature, which is to heal. One of these days this truth will hit home, and we will quit running around trying to find somebody who has it; we will wake up to the fact that we already have it because God brought it to us. God’s Spirit has come to abide, and it is God’s nature being expressed. Literally, it is God being Himself through us, and “we have this treasure in earthen vessels,” that the glory, all of it, may be credited to God (2nd Corinthians 4:7).
We regularly go the Table of the Lord. The Atonement is an open-heart revelation of God’s nature. That is why there is bread and wine. That is why Isaiah 53 has Him bear sickness as well as iniquities. That is why, on the night of Communion, the bread was broken in addition to the cup being taken. “With His stripes you were healed” (1st Peter 2:24). Because of the shed blood, you are forgiven. “I am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake,” and “I am the LORD that healeth thee.” “It is My blood; it was My beating. It is the weight of your sins on Me that lets you escape; it is the weight of your sickness on Me that lets you escape.”
It is God’s nature to heal. You have heard it a thousand times, but when it connects, it is like that little connection between nerve endings, where it leaps the gap. When God’s Word hits home often enough that He is faithful, until the gap is leaped and that measure of faith in you finally settles it, God can’t wait to heal you and me today. Do you know that? Now, we may mess it up, with some new questions and new doubts, but God still cannot wait to heal us today. He is like water pinched up in a hose; He wants out. That is what the name Jehovah literally means: like a force pressuring itself to be revealed.
“I am the LORD that healeth thee.” Are you sick today? God can’t wait to heal you, but most of us would like to do what they did for a friend when they tore the roof off and let him down in front of Jesus. Even though He can’t wait to heal you, you would still like to get a little closer to Him to make it easier.
If you are in need of healing today, stand to your feet. Just get up. Jesus already bore it. You don’t need any organ music or a special atmosphere. This is God’s church, and God’s people need a touch. Do you know that what I preached is true? It is His nature to heal. You don’t have to work at it; you just have to let Him do it.
Reprinted with permission from Pastor Melissa Scott
| Return Home | Current Wingspread | Wingspread Archives | Contact Us |