Jul 27, 2014 6
“When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, darkly….” (I Cor. 13: 11, NKJV) Although I came to belief in Christianity as inextricably related to Holy-Spirit Christianity as an adult, I can still put myself in this scenario.
But it has become evident to me that portions of the church have corrupted Biblical doctrines, or exaggerated them, even violated them. Can I put it this way? – some preachers, today, have actually made that glass darker, not clearer, for believers.
I have to come to see that God’s power is mightier than the misinterpreted promises shared by some preachers. His miracles are more profound than those recounted by television preachers. His mysteries are more intense AS mysteries, than theologies that explain God as a spiritual butler on hand when we have desires.
I am talking about healing, and abundance, as in the “prosperity gospel” we hear preached.
“By His stripes we are healed.” Some people preach that Christ’s suffering and death, by this verse, means that healing is ours, and we only have to claim it. That physical ailments, when not healed, indicate that our faith must be weak. Yet I have noticed that the most prominent “claim it” preachers wear glasses. Is this their choice – a fashion statement?
My wife had diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, celiac disease, amputated toes, a heart transplant, a kidney transplant, dialysis, and other health problems. Yet her faith was secure, and she was a mighty witness. She was miraculously healed of a cancerous thyroid, yet underwent a heart transplant despite prayers to be spared. She believed she received emotional and spiritual healing, and accepted God’s sovereignty. By Jesus’ stripes, not an evangelist’s, she was healed.
I believe that verse means that when we are healed, it is BECAUSE of Jesus’s “stripes,” that He ordains healing, guides the hands of doctors and nurses… and deserves the glory when healing does come. Spiritual priorities.
Likewise the verse “I can do all things through Christ, which strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13). That’s King James; other translations say “… Christ who strengthens me.” Words are important. “Claim it” preachers will say that God clearly gives us the power that Jesus had… to move mountains , for instance. Yet we do not see mountains moving. “Yes, but ALL things…”
First, we can sense metaphors more than hyperbole in this verse. Spiritual roadblocks, or spiritual mountains, we all have them. But my new understanding of that verse hinges on the emphasis of certain words. Can we not think that we possibly are being taught – return to the King James translation – that whatever we do, we should determine to do in, and through, Christ (to stay in God’s will); and that fact will strengthen us?
Yes, to answer my own question. I can touch on the prosperity gospel, and I remember how one preacher actually printed a chart – how much you would donate to his ministry, and (by the “hundredfold return” of Mark 10:31) how much money you could expect to receive, probably by miraculous surprises, in return. That, and “have life, and that more abundantly,” was answered by my wife with the realization that God can bless us in uncountable ways. If we define Him by cash we are sorry examples of Christ-followers.
Yes, God is a miracle-working God. Yes, we need miracles in our lives, often. But I would suggest that, even in our brokenness and desperation, we chase after miracles, and healing, and prosperity – even just subsistence – when we should be more passionate about chasing after and pleasing God, doing His will, and being obedient.
By the way, concerning miracles: I have seen some that people classify by that term, for instance a withered leg being made whole at a service. But, personally, the greatest miracle I have witnessed is the experience of my sinful life being forgiven, my heart turned from rebellion. I know what a miracle that was.
We will understand it all better farther on, but in the meantime the Holy Spirit can lead us, better than evangelists, in the ways of God: that is why He was sent, and why He dwells in our hearts.
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An ancient American hymn, a frontier hymn whose writer and composer are lost to history, is “It Is Better Farther On,” also known by its incipit, “As We Travel Through the Desert,” first appearing in a hymnal in 1877. (Not to be confused with the standard, “Farther Along.”) It speaks of the proper priorities of life’s journey, meeting our challenges, and trusting the Savior’s leading, as well as our destiny. “Oh my brother, are you weary Of the roughness of the way? Does your strength begin to fail you, And your vigor to decay? Jesus, Jesus will go with you, He will lead you to the throne, He who dyed His garments for you, And the winepress trod alone.” Here it is sung by the Zahasky Family, the Alaska String Band.
Click: Farther On