“Why, God?” Helen Roseveare asked after being brutally beaten and raped by Congo rebels for five months while she served as a missionary doctor in 1964.
Can you thank me for trusting you with this experience even if I never tell you why? was the answer she received.
It was a strange answer.
But also, God gave her a striking revelation about surviving a dungeon of torture.
“It’s external! You’re sinned against. It’s not your sin. It can’t touch your spirit,” she explained on a 100 Huntley Street video. “It’s only your body. But it can’t get into my mind or soul.”
Helen has used her captivity to encourage others who feel powerless to defend themselves against unimaginable acts of evil.
Helen Roseveare became one of the first females to graduate as a medical doctor from Newnham College, Cambridge in 1945. She became a Christian because of the testimony of some of the girls in her school and almost immediately set off to the mission field in the “Heart of Darkness.”
She tended to patients, built hospitals and trained Africans in medical science indefatigably. While serving the population she was taken captive in the Congo during the tumultuous 1960s along with other foreigners. As was always the case, she turned into the leader, even in captivity.
“When the awful moments came in the rebellion you almost felt, no, this has gone too far. I can’t accept it. It seemed that the price was too high to pay,” she says. “And then God seemed to say, Change the question from ‘Is it worth it?’ to ‘Is He worthy?’”
During her captivity, she helped aid medically 80 Greek Cypriots, workers abducted by the rebels. Especially one lady was in pain, seven months pregnant, so Mama Luca — as she was known — was called upon to attend to her.
With rebel guards on either side of her, she stepped among the cowering Cypriots until she found the needy lady. She didn’t speak Greek, so she went through the languages she knew one by one to ask if she was hurt: English, French, Swahili, Lingala.
Finally, she found someone who could translate into Greek and eventually led not only the lady but the whole prison hall of captives in a sinner’s prayer. As the only area doctor, she had attended to the Cypriots for years but had made no headway in evangelizing them.
But suffering brought a new openness to the Gospel.
“When I eventually left the house, they’re all looking up and smiling and they want to shake my hands,” she remembers. “It was wonderful. God, you are marvelous.”
As was their custom, the rebels subjected Mama Luca to a mock trial. The people in the area were orchestrated to participate in the judgement of “colonial, imperial crimes” committed by foreigners. Under the threat to the rebels’ guns, the locals had to join their voice in a chorus of condemnation, calling for the death sentence.
Responding to the beating of the drums, 800 locals came to her trial. You didn’t dare ignore the calls of the rebels because only they had guns. At a certain signal, they all shouted, as was the custom in these roughshod trials: “She’s a liar! She’s a liar!”
Then they would shout “Mateco! Mateco!” which meant “Crucify her! Crucify her!”
“You knew you would die. You didn’t know how,” Mama Luca recalls. “There came the moment in the trial scene when they must have been given the sign. Suddenly these 800 men suddenly, instead of seeing me as the hated white foreigner, they saw me as their doctor and they rushed forward.
“They pushed the rebel soldiers out of the way and they took me in their arms. In that wonderful moment the black-white barrier had gone and they said, “She’s ours.” They used a word in Kibbutu, which really meant, “She’s blood of our blood and bone of our bone.” The rift between dark skin and pale skin was driven away and we were reunited as one.”
“God used so many things that He’s working out his own wonderful purposes,” she says. “Many, many came to the Lord through those days of suffering. The walls of division were broken down, and the kingdom was expanded.”
Helen had refused to read Foxe’s Book of Martyrs assigned by her missionary field director. “I said if God ever asks me to be burned at the stake, I’ll say yes, but I won’t be singing,” she remembers. “I just couldn’t take it all.”
But then she and her missionary cohorts were indeed taken out to be executed by firing squad. Contrary to what she had anticipated, she found herself singing.
“We were singing every song and chorus we could think of with the name of Jesus,” she says.
“We were singing in English, French, Swahili, anything, so the last word that these rebel soldiers would hear before they shot us was the name of Jesus.
“We weren’t singing to impress our captors. Something else was very real in that moment when you thought you were about to die, and that was the presence of Jesus. Jesus was there. He was so wonderfully there and it was a privilege. It was just this wonderful certain knowledge. I was going to go to be with Jesus, and really at that minute nothing else counted.”
Ultimately, Helen was spared. She was released by her captors and returned to England to recover for more than a year.
In 1965, she returned to the Congo to help with rebuilding the nation and to continue as a missionary, where she continued to see miracles.
One miracle has gone viral: the story of the rubber hot water bottle.
A baby was born prematurely in the middle of the night. The mother had died in delivery.
They needed a hot water bottle to sustain its life. Dr. Helen knew the grim reality: their last bottles were deteriorated; the chances of this baby’s survival were realistically nil.
But she told her group of orphan girls to pray.
“I told the children of this tiny baby and asked them to pray for the nurses that they would stay awake all night to keep that baby warm,” she remembers. “One little 10-year-old girl, Ruth, prayed in the usual blunt way of our African children, ‘Please, God, send us a hot water bottle. My God, it’ll be no good tomorrow! Send it this afternoon. If it comes tomorrow, the baby would be dead.’”
Dr. Helen didn’t know if she should encourage such futile hopes in the orphan. “I was sort of swallowing hard.”
Ruth continued unabashedly, “While You’re about it, God, would You send a dolly for the little two-year-old sister, so she should know that Jesus really loves her.”
No parcel had ever come to Dr. Helen in that region for four years.
“That afternoon the parcel came,” she said. “t was the first parcel from home. Despite the fact I live on the Equator, somebody packing that parcel had been prompted by God to put in a hot water bottle. And a child from my bible class at home had put in a dolly for the little girl.
“That parcel had been on the way five months to get to us!”
Dr. Richard Bartlett is a strong Christian who says God led him to find a winning treatment protocol to defeat Covid-19.
Last March, the Texas M.D. prayed for inspiration about treating the coronavirus, and during a brief nap between patients something remarkable happened. God supernaturally downloaded a treatment strategy that has proven to be highly effective with his Covid-19 patients.
His God-inspired treatment plan uses an inhaled steroid often used by asthma patients called Budesonide (dexamethasone), administered through a nebulizer, a device that delivers a medicated mist inhaled into the lungs. He also uses the antibiotic clarithromycin to combat secondary bacterial pneumonia. He also gives zinc to his patients, because it interferes with virus multiplication.
Dr. Anthony Fauci testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Coronavirus Response on September 22nd, and cited dexamethasone as one of the most promising therapeutics: “Dexamethasone, a commonly used steroid, has been shown in a randomized, placebo-controlled study involving more than 6,000 individuals to clearly and significantly reduce the 28-day mortality,” he stated before the committee.
International clinical trials published this month confirm that three widely available steroid drugs — including Budesonide (dexamethasone) can help seriously ill patients survive Covid-19.
Researchers at Oxford University and Queensland University discovered that Budesonide and two other steroids improved survival rates by more than one-third in severely ill patients.
Based on their evidence, the World Health Organization released new treatment guidance, strongly recommending steroids to treat severely and critically ill patients.
“Clearly, now steroids are the standard of care,” Dr. Howard C. Bauchner, the editor-in-chief of JAMA, told the New York Times.
The new studies used data from seven randomized clinical trials evaluating three steroids in more than 1,700 patients. The study concluded that each of the three drugs reduced the risk of death.
“Yesterday (September 9th) it came out from Oxford University and the University of Queensland, that inhaled budesonide against Covid could cause at least 50% of the people to not have to be hospitalized,” Dr. Bartlett noted.
Using his approach, he says the vast majority of his patients have been able to stay out of the hospital and recover, even if they have oxygen saturation in the 80s.
“The exciting thing is that 50% would not even have to be hospitalized, and not only are they not going to die, they won’t have to be on a ventilator or receive experimental antiviral medicines that we don’t know the long-term effect of, and they won’t have to be in the hospital for five days to receive it.”
Dr. Bartlett is quick to credit God for the inspiration behind the protocol. “This is wonderful news, but it is exactly the treatment the Lord gave me back in March.”
“Every good thing comes from God, even every good idea. He is the inspiration for the truth. I love the Scripture that says he will make a way when there is no way. Jeremiah 33:3 says to call on God and he will show you secret things you did not know. He did that with Coronavirus and little old me.”
Dr. Bartlett set up a network of doctors and providers around the United States who are using his treatment approach, which may be accessed through the website, www.Budesonideworks.com.
One of the nurse practitioners using his protocol has treated 172 patients as of September 20th, covering a 74-day period. All patients successfully recovered except for one, a 94-year-old who reached out for help on day 17 of their illness & was already struggling, the nurse practitioner reported to Dr. Bartlett.
“Everybody deserves to have undivided attention. We have probably treated a thousand that have funneled through me. We are getting calls from around the country, people thanking me I’ve never met, who saw the video and talked their doctors into treating them with my protocol and they recovered.”
Dr. Bartlett also believes in early treatment of Covid, which has gone against the conventional wisdom. Bur once again, another study with 24 authors from Yale, Emory and other universities confirmed the epidemiological basis for early treatment. “That is the opposite of what we’ve been told,” he noted.
“They say if you have mild to moderate symptoms, wait at home. Late care only has been the strategy. This paper with 24 authors says early treatment, and that supports what I’ve been saying.”
Dr. Bartlett has been a Christian since the first grade when his teacher, Mrs. Only — who also happened to be his Sunday School teacher — led him to Christ. “I have been blessed to have parents that are believers, parents that stayed married, love each other and love God. I was protected and provided for; my mother was a prayer warrior. I wish that for everybody.”
“Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. There is no hope without Jesus. God saves, God heals and I don’t. He is the healer. He is the one who cures.”
Dr. Bartlett believes he has found another tool to help fight Covid. “I have uncovered another breakthrough but I can’t talk about it right now. I am convinced that Covid has met its match. Covid is on its last breath,” he says.
He cannot label his treatment protocol a cure, or he would get in trouble with government authorities. “I won’t say they are getting cured because that would trigger people who don’t like good news. They are recovering and they are alive and back to work and back with their families. I call that success and good news.”
Dr. Bartlett and his wife have six adopted children, three from other countries. At age 40, his wife started feeling bad and thought she might have a brain tumor. “We had tried to get pregnant for 20 years,” he recounts.
But instead of a tumor, his wife discovered she was expecting a baby. “God makes a way where there is no way. He answers prayer over and over again.
“Every year she thought she was getting farther and farther away from her answered prayer, but now she knows that every day she was getting closer and closer to her prayers getting answered and her dreams coming true.”
“In the natural, every year your chances become smaller and smaller, but not with God. When I look at a 12-year-old boy I see God answers prayer. God is sensational. We had done everything people do to get pregnant, following the advisors. It was truly a miraculous answer to prayer.”
“Our God is the God of the living, not the dead. He is a living God and he answers prayer. God hears and God sees.”
Dr. Bartlett has gone on a number of medical mission trips with World Missions Alliance and has seen God move in remarkable ways on the trips. “I am convinced the mission God has me on right now is Covid,” he says.
Budesonide is the solution for many to “I can’t breathe.”:
A woman shares her testimony of the Lord’s healing and redemptive power in her life. Names, locations and sensitive details have been protected for security purposes.
My name is Loukya. I was born and brought up in a family that followed a traditional Asian religion. I am married and my husband, Naathim, farms.
Since I was born and brought up in a non-Christian family, I practiced all of the rituals according to our doctrines. Since my childhood, my parents taught me all the religious customs. I remember those days when my parents would offer prayers, especially to one goddess whom they believed was powerful.
Woman Stops Worshipping Her Goddess, Falls Sick
When I turned 25, I got married and started a new life with my husband. He never compelled me to worship the gods, so I did not perform any kinds of rituals in my house for one year.
While everything was going well in my family life, one day I became sick and began to suffer from a headache and other illness [weakness and nausea]. However, I did not take my bad health seriously.
As the days went by, my headache started to develop day by day, and I became more ill. By that time, my husband took me for several medical checkups, and I was diagnosed with a brain tumour.
My husband did not tell me this. Everyone in my family visited me at the hospital and encouraged me with their lovely words, [saying] that within a week I would be all right. The doctor said to my husband that I had to undergo a major operation immediately, which would cost us a huge amount. While my husband was sharing these issues with an elder brother, I found out about my brain tumour, and I became afraid.
Enveloped in Darkness
That particular evening, I started to think about my past behaviour and how I had not worshiped any gods for the last year. I thought to myself, That could be the reason I got ill, and now I am going to die. I had no hope for my life. I felt heavy darkness surrounding me, and death was following me. Those days were a bitter experience in my life.
“I thought to myself, That could be the reason I got ill, and now I am going to die. I had no hope for my life.”
About two weeks later, I was admitted to a private hospital and got general medication, which gave me a little relief for the time being. Then my parents took me with them to live in their house. My husband was also with me. With the help of local villagers, I went through naturopathic treatment in my mother’s village.
In those days, my husband happened to meet with a witch doctor who advised him to memorize some sacred words and chants by which I could be cured. One evening, the witch doctor visited me at my mother’s house, chanted some mantras and gave me some handmade medicine. Early in the morning, my husband would recite some mantras for my healing, but nothing seemed to help. Nothing could heal my disease; rather, my problem started to increase every day.
When all hope had vanished, a group of women [from Women’s Fellowship] came to visit our village. Their names were Hafiza, Paavai, Sabrang and Tamarai. They shared with me about the name of Jesus and gave me some literature to read.
Given Hope to Live
Tamarai told me about how Jesus died on the cross of Calvary for the redemption of mankind. Then I started to share my personal problems with her, saying, “For the last nine months, I have been suffering from a brain tumour. I have gone through several medications, but nothing could heal my disease. Rather, every day it is developing. I have lost hope of living on this earth.”
“They gave me hope to live in this world.”
That particular moment, Hafiza and the other sisters joined their hands and prayed for me and assured me I’d be in their daily prayers. They gave me hope to live in this world. To my amazement, the whole day I had no headache, and my faith began to grow.
Faith Blossoms Into Love for Jesus
From time to time, the sisters visited me and prayed for me, and they conducted weekly prayer meetings. As days passed by, the Lord healed me, and my husband and I opened our hearts to Jesus and began attending the church in our village.
When Loukya went for a checkup, the doctor couldn’t find any tumour on her brain. Today Naathim and Loukya are strong in their faith, and they’re faithfully involved in their church.
Hundreds of women missionaries are bringing hope to women like Loukya. These women missionaries have prepared themselves in Bible college, they understand the tragedies faced by women in Asia, and they know the One who can help. More women missionaries are ready to be sent out, and you can partner with them to impact the lives of women like Loukya.
RESEARCH SHOWS PRAYER IS GOOD FOR THE BODY AS WELL AS THE SOUL
A new Israeli study has found that praying regularly can reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by 50%. The study, which was funded by the National Institute of Health in Washington, D.C., found that women, who have a significantly larger chance of developing forms of dementia, could stave off the disease through prayer. The findings confirm earlier studies that indicated religion can play a positive role. “We found that people with higher levels of spiritual well-being had a significantly slower progression of Alzheimer’s disease,” Yakir Kaufman, the head of the neuropsychiatric department at Herzog hospital in Jerusalem said.
The Israeli organization Melabev has ten centres serving about 600 Alzheimer’s patients for whom prayer is part of the daily routine. “If prayer is done in a centre or a religious facility, it is communal and there is a social aspect,” Susan Sachs, the director of public relations and development at Melabev said. “It gives hope and perspective, and for many people it helps retain their dignity. They’re doing something that they did all their lives.” Melabev provides an alternative to institutionalizing Alzheimer’s patients by providing a full day of activities. Sachs estimates there are 100,000 people suffering from the disease in Israel.
The centres provide them with laminated cards with the most popular prayers printed in large type, although many of the patients rely on memory, which also helps strengthen their cognitive function. While prayer has some cognitive elements, it strengthens emotional functioning even more. As the patients’ cognitive function declines, his or her emotional function may be strengthened, according to Leah Abramowitz, the head of the Institute for the Study of Aging at Melabev. She said that, “It’s like a baby who can feel his mother’s emotions and will start crying if she is angry or tense. It’s like the person who is fully blind having more acute hearing.”
Prayer can also lower stress levels – one of the risk factors for Alzheimer’s. Other risk factors include high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. As people live longer, there is more chance that they will develop dementia. Israel’s life expectancy – 80 years for men and 84.2 for women – is the world’s fourth-highest, exceeded only by Japan, Hong Kong and Switzerland. Professor Rivka Inzelberg of Tel Aviv University, who led the research, told a conference that the study indicated that 50% more women than men suffer memory impairments. She said “rituals, like prayer, are especially comforting to Alzheimer’s patients. Prayer is something that went into their long term memory many years ago. It is a ritual that is very comforting for them.”
Source: The Media Line
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RESEARCHERS FIND THAT PRAYER IS BENEFICIAL EVEN ON A SCIENTIFIC LEVEL
An interesting study was recently done by German psychologists at Saarland University and the University of Mannheim, on the effects of prayer on those who pray. Some of the findings revealed that praying can help a person maintain self-control and resist temptation, as well as help alleviate depression and other benefits. In the study—published online in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology—the authors noted that “a brief period of personal prayer changes the self-control depletion effect…these results are consistent with and contribute to a growing body of work attesting to the beneficial effects of praying on self-control.”
The 79 participants—41-Christian; 14-atheist; 10-agnostic and 14 of other religions—were given tests designed to measure their level of self-control when faced with temptation. The researchers found that those participants who prayed before the start of the test showed they maintained high levels of self-control to the end.
In another study, the effect of a belief in God in relation to treatment for depression was researched. The results showed that those patients who had no, or only a slight belief in God were “twice as likely not to respond to treatment” than the patients who claimed to have a higher level of belief in God.
[We know it first and best from the Bible. Nice to have confirmations.]
Jesus said a lot about prayer and prayed constantly himself. Some examples:
‘Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who seeks finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. 9 Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? 10 Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:7-11)
If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. (John 15:7-8)
Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax-collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, “God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax-collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.” 13 But the tax-collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” 14 I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted. (Luke 18:10-14)
Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Yourname. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earthas it is in heaven. Give us this day ourdaily bread. Andforgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, Butdeliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
Some examples of Answered Prayer
A pastor asked me to give him examples of prayer being answered that I had seen, so that request developed into this summary. Prayers get answered in many ways, not always immediately, but sometimes it is immediate. We need to trust God.
For 80 years I have loved it when we pray at home, personally or together. One night I was saying goodnight to a grandson, about 10 years old, who had a migraine headache. The Christian doctor had prescribed tablets to deal with it. I put my head on his head and prayed for him, led to say, “Infirmity get out in Jesus’ name.” I felt something happen. His migraines stopped and he has not needed the medication since.
Christian Heritage College Class
A student we prayed for one morning in our class went to her doctor that afternoon for a final check before having a growth removed from her womb. That afternoon her doctor could find no trace of the growth after checking with three ultrasound machines, so he cancelled the scheduled operation.
“My class at college laid hands on me and prayed for me,” she explained to her doctor. “I believe God healed me, and that’s why you can’t find the growth anymore.”
“I don’t know if God healed you,” he responded. “But I do know that you don’t need an operation.”
We often pray specifically for one another in home groups and see many prayers answered.
We prayed for a young lady who found it difficult to keep a job because she worked slowly. She then got a job as a helper in an old people’s nursing home. The matron kept her employed, even though she was slow, because she chatted a lot with the old people while caring for them and cleaning their room. They appreciated the extra time she spent with them.
A woman in our group had pain in her lower back. A nurse in our group was led to put her had on the lady’s back and simply pray, “L4 be healed, in Jesus’ name.” The pain left her Lumba 4 vertebrae area.
Hilary Mackerras (now in Glory) played piano in our home group when we were led to move it to Trinity College chapel where I taught. It became an interdenominational renewal fellowship at that time with anointed worship blessing many. My Renewal Journal began there and continues still – www.renewaljournal.com
“Can I take some bread home?” asked a tattooed young man at our communion service in the slums of Nairobi in Kenya, East Africa. God’s Spirit had prompted me to buy a few loaves of bread, bottles of drink, and plastic glasses for the congregation. We shared real drink and bread together among 30 people in their corrugated iron shed where I was the guest preacher. We prayed, as usual, a blessing on the bread and juice.
“It’s your bread,” I answered. “You decide.” He quickly shoved a handful of bread into his pocket. Then most of the others did the same. Two weeks later, Frank, the young pastor, emailed me: “I’ve visited the slum homes of those people and they are still eating that bread. It’s still fresh.” Apparently God multiplied it.
Frank and his wife Linda then offered free bread and drink each Saturday for hungry, skinny slum people, usually catering for about 50 people. Sometimes many more turned up and they always had plenty. Apparently God kept multiplying it as needed.
A young pastor in Ghana in West Africa invited me to hold meetings there. So I arrived with three others from Brisbane during our college break in July, forgetting it was monsoon time in Ghana. We flew into a deluge of rain on a Monday. Our hosts planned night meetings in the market from Tuesday, with morning teaching in a local church.
“Can we hold the night rallies in the church?” I suggested. “Oh, no,” they said. “Only church people go there. Meetings in the market attract the crowds.”
“What about the rain?” I asked. “God sent you, so he’ll do something,” they responded, full of faith. We prayed together.
We drove for over an hour in the pouring rain from Accra, the capital, to the town of Suhum in the hills for our first meeting on Tuesday night. The heavy rain had flooded the power station there so the whole town was in darkness. We prayed earnestly, asking God to take over.
Within 15 minutes the rain stopped, the town lit up with power, and we began. Those excited Africans sang and danced for over two hours, attracting hundreds to the service. All that week we had clear skies and large crowds. Church teams prayed for hundreds of people. Many were saved. Many were healed. One man testified, “I came to this meeting blind, but while you were singing I found I could see.”
Heavy monsoon rains began again the day after our meetings ended, so heavy we saw it reported on international TV the next week.
A friend of mine worked with the United Nations in Nepal. He loved to help and support pastors and leaders there. We visited him many times and I spoke at pastors and leaders meetings in Kathmandu, in West Nepal and in East Nepal. Some of those pastors walked for two or three days across the high ranges just to attend.
Their churches are saturated in prayer. I prayed in their “Power House”, the upstairs prayer rooms of their church in Kathmandu. Those small upper rooms, open 24 hours a day, had many people going there to fast and pray, sometimes for many days.
We saw God’s Spirit move beautifully and powerfully in those meetings. Many were filled with the Spirit and healed. I heard a young man from one of their church bands praying eloquently in beautiful English – but he cannot speak English. They pray for one another with strong faith, expecting God to save, heal, deliver and anoint them. He does.
Our team visited Grace Bible College in New Delhi founded by Dr Paul Pilai. Paul had stayed in our home in Brisbane when he visited Australia. He was converted after a young Christian girl prayed for his healing while he was very ill in hospital and he recovered miraculously.
He told us how his students and teams started new churches in villages and towns. They often faced angry opposition. One fanatical group burned their meeting tent and attacked them, hitting them with clubs, trying to kill them. They broke Paul’s arm and burned the tent. Suddenly handsome Indian men surrounded Paul’s team and miraculously moved them away to a safe place nearby. The team could see their burning tent in the distance. Those angels told Paul that God would send him back there. A few years later they were invited back and started a church there in a home.
Grace Bible College, the largest in India with around 600 students, trains people to evangelize and plant churches, especially among unreached peoples. Their graduates often face persecution and some have been martyrs. What a humbling privilege it was to pray with the staff there and speak to the crowded hall full of such committed students.
I taught on revival at a seminary in Manilla in the sweltering heat of the Philippines. An assignment I gave my M.Th. students was to report on revival and miracles. One Baptist pastor, who was also a police inspector, reported that a church he visited sent groups of young people to sing and speak at hospitals and nursing homes.
One of those teams held monthly meetings in a mental hospital. The staff said that their patients may not understand much, but those patients did enjoy the singing. About 40 came to the first meeting. The team offered to pray for anyone who would like prayer. They prayed personally for 27 people. The next month when the team returned, all those 27 had been discharged and sent home.
I visited China with a student from college. His parents worked there. The woman pastor-evangelist of a house church invited us to her church in a high-rise unit. The young man who met us at the gate could speak English. He feared that the security guard might ask awkward questions, but as we walked in around 7 pm, the guard had his back to us, talking to someone else. When we left after midnight, the guard was gone, probably sleeping.
Around 30 people sat on the floor and sang softly in worship. We spoke and then found that no one would leave until we had prayed for them personally. That took a while! They were happy to slip away one-by-one, just as they had come. Most were new Christians who believed because a Christian prayed for their healing. They believed in prayer and miracles just as in the Book of The Acts. Their simple, strong faith and humility moved and challenged me deeply. One man we prayed for later that night also became the leader of another house church. They keep praying, and God keeps moving on them.
We visited Elcho Island in the north where revival broke out and spread through Aboriginal communities all across northern Australia. We drove the 50k on dirt tracks to the north end of the island where a small community of 30 people prayed together every morning and evening. They prayed for revival. We joined them.
They had seen revival begin after aborigines on Elcho Island prayed desperately for revival amid increasing crime, drink and drugs. The night their pastor, Djiniyini Gondarra, returned from a holiday they met of Bible Study and prayer in his home. God’s Spirit fell on them as they united for the closing prayer. That prayer and ministry went all night. People were filled with the Spirit, discovered many spiritual gifts, and saw healings and reconciliations. Everywhere their teams went they saw God moving on the people in local revivals.
South Pacific Islands
Many revival movements swept the South Pacific islands. I was blessed to see some.
God poured out his Spirit on children and youth in the Western Solomon Islands from Easter 2003. They loved to sing and pray daily in the church after school. God gave them visions, revelations, words of knowledge about hidden sins and bad relationships and many other spiritual gifts such as healings and speaking and singing what God revealed.
We saw God touch around 1,000 youths at a National Christian Youth Convention in 2006. One night at the convention they responded, running to the front of the open-air meeting. For half-an-hour their worship team sang “He is Lord” while we prayed for them. They fell like dominoes. Many testified to healings, visions and revelations. One young man returned to his village that night and found his mother ill, so laid hands on her and prayed for her. She was healed. His brother then asked for prayer and he too was healed. The young man had never done that before.
A whole group from the Kariki Islands, further west, saw revival in their islands on their return. God moved powerfully in every meeting they held and in personal prayers.
The church leaders in one village on Simbo Island told me how their prayer teams of about 20 people always pray for the sick. The medical clinic on that island has no entries for anyone from that village, except for babies born, since they started praying like that.
I visited Vanuatu often from 2002 and saw many prayers answered and many revival movements. Here are just a few examples.
God’s Spirit fell on the Law School of the University of the South Pacific just after Easter 2002. The Law School is in Port Vila, the capital of Vanuatu. Many law students were dramatically saved and transformed at their open-air rally. Those committed students went on missions to other South Pacific nations and to Australia with me. We saw large numbers saved, healed and filled with the Spirit.
At a church service in Port Vila, the capital, a nurse told how she had been on duty when parents brought in their young daughter who had been badly hit in a car accident, and showed no signs of life – the heart monitor registered zero. Leah was in the dispensary giving out medicines when she heard about the girl and she suddenly felt unusual boldness, so went to the girl and prayed for her, commanding her to live, in Jesus’ name. She prayed for almost an hour, and after an hour the monitor started beeping and the girl recovered.
A young man from Brisbane who joined me on many mission trips, prayed for a heathen chief’s son’s leg which was immediately healed. So I asked the lad if we could go to his village to pray for people. He checked with his dad and for the first time ever a mission team was invited to come to that ‘custom’ heathen village. Everyone that young man prayed for in that village reported that the pain left
Our revival team, on Pentecost Island, including the two of us from Australia, trekked for a week into mountain villages. We literally obeyed Luke 10 – most going with no extra shirt, no sandals, and no money. The trek began with a five-hour climb across the island from the western shore to a village on ridges by the sea on the eastern side. We prayed for people many times in each meeting. At one point I spat on the dirt floor, making mud to show what Jesus did once. The wife of the President of the Churches of Christ, then jumped up asking for prayer for her eyes, using the mud. Later she testified that the Lord told her to do that, and then she found she could read her small pocket Bible without glasses. So she read to us all. Meetings continued like that each night.
I heard the sound of angels singing about 3 am in a remote village. It sounded as though the village church was packed. The harmonies in high descant declared “For You are great and You do wondrous things. You are God alone” and then harmonies, without words until words again for worship “I will praise You O Lord my God with all my heart, and I will glorify Your name forevermore” with long, long harmonies on “forevermore”. Just worship. Pure, awesome and majestic. The team stayed two extra days there – everyone received prayer, and many people surrendered to the Lord both morning and night. Everyone repented, including us, as the Spirit moved on us all.
I was part of two teams from Kenmore Baptist Church (now Riverlife) in Fiji with Ric & Ann Benson, and Jesse and Cooky Padayache. Many were saved and healed. Jesse prayed with a sick man in the hospital, and then everyone in the ward asked for prayer. They were all discharged within a week.
I prayed for many people there then and also in other visits. At one revival meeting, everyone I prayed for said their pain had gone. Two partially blind boys told their parents that after prayer they could see clearly.
If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land (2 Chronicles 7:14).
Doctors’ X-rays confirm divine healing of Cookie Padayachee’s brain tumour through prayer.
October 1989 X-ray – 1.5cm bone density cancer tumour surrounded by inflamed tissue.
September 1991 (straight after prayer healing) – tumour and inflamed brain cells completely gone.
Her husband Jesse prayed for her. He has seen many others healed through prayer also.
“We have to check this out because it is impossible. I have never seen anything like this before,” the doctor stammered.
With amazement and disbelief the Radiologist proclaimed that this was indeed a miracle. “I am a man of science, I don’t believe in God but I have to admit that there is definitely Someone up there taking care for you.”
Nestor got introduced to the gospel even when there wasn’t a single Christian church in his village of 1,400 people. Twenty years later, two churches were planted in Houndjohoundji in 2018. “People were begging for a church to open.”
By Michael Ashcraft —
Nestor Kouassi today in America.
Nestor Kouassi had seen the voodoo priests and witches do unutterable things: make statues move, bury people alive who later come out of the jungle, send bird spirits to kill enemies.
So when he accepted Jesus in 1997 and started what became a high-stakes spiritual battle with them in his town of Houndjohoundji, Benin, it was a fearful thing.
“A lot of people didn’t like it that we were calling with fire and praying all night,” Nestor says. “They threatened us that they would kill us. They made false accusations. Anything to get us in trouble.”
Nestor got introduced to the gospel even when there wasn’t a single Christian church in his village of 1,400 people. His nation, Benin, holds the dubious distinction of being the worldwide birthplace of voodoo. Even the name of his village was a satanic incantation.
People feared the voodoo lords, and Christianity couldn’t crack the town.
“We would mock him,” Nestor remembers. “People would insult him.”
Then his best friend, Cyrille, accepted Jesus to get cured of a nasty, prolonged stomach pain. Cyrille was a “rough man” who would steal and fight for nothing, so when Nestor saw an authentic change in him after two weeks, he became convinced.
“He completely changed,” he says. “I said, ‘If this guy can change, there must be a God. I want to get to know that God.’”
But Cyrille didn’t remember the “sinner’s prayer.” So they just read the Bible together 4-5 hours a day. After one week, Nestor was born again.
“Something happened in my life, and I knew that I knew that I knew that I had met the man Jesus,” Nestor recalls. “It felt like a liquid fire going through my soul, and all of my fears of witchcraft and voodoo disappeared and the river flowed from the inside.”
The nearest church was seven miles away. When they couldn’t attend service there, they devoured the Bible together. After two weeks, they were inspired to share their faith.
“We could not hide it anymore. We took to the streets and wanted to share with people our new discovery: Jesus of Nazareth, woo!” he recounts, relishing the memory.
“Our preaching was met with hostility like you’ve never seen before,” Nestor says. “What made them furious is that we would pray for people and they would get healed. People would say, ‘If you’re sick, go to the Jesus guys.’”
Another friend, Valentin, converted and the three friends read the word and ministered in the streets together. But nobody else dared cross the powers of the town and join their group, even though they viewed them favorably.
The prayers of Nestor and his friends began to disrupt the voodoo power, he says. So the witches attacked them.
“They didn’t want real Christianity. It disturbed them,” Nestor says. “They wouldn’t be able to operate anymore. If we’re calling upon Jesus, there is a power struggle. The witches cannot operate when we are calling upon Jesus.”
The witches had a technique they called a “spiritual gun” and the victim target of their incantations would writhe in pain. But the gun didn’t work on Nestor and his buddies, he said.
The priests had a special “founder drum” that when they beat it and pronounced their incantations, lightning would strike the targeted victim even when there was no thunderstorm. Again, it didn’t work.
For six or seven years, the arm-wrestling match continued. Nestor was going to high school in the biggest town in the area nearby, Grand-popo. He would face off with the voodoo priests on weekends and vacations.
The voodoo festivals began to misfire. Things didn’t work. The supernatural tricks fizzled. The town was abuzz with the goings-on.
“People began to question the witches’ power,” he says. “They said, ‘These Jesus guys must have something.’ They were scared. They listened to us, they admired us, but joining us was a real problem.”
Tensions were rising and the threats were increasing. When the chief witch threatened Nestor’s mother with her son’s death, Nestor went to confront him. He found all the witches together in their afternoon gathering in the public place.
“They told us they would reduce us to nothing. I told them nothing would happen,” Nestor remembers.
“In this battle, you will definitely see Jesus,” he responded to their threats.
That night, Nestor did indeed confront demon spirits, but ultimately they could do him no harm.
“I saw the power of witchcraft. I was in my room at midnight. I closed my eyes. All of a sudden, I heard hundreds of birds flapping in the room. They were talking in human voices. They said, ‘Take him.’ I could feel people’s hands. They tried to lift me off my bed. But I became so heavy, they couldn’t. They tried and tried and they left,” Nestor says.
It was worse than Alfred Hitchcock’s famous horror movie, The Birds.
“I opened my eyes, got up, and said, ‘Whoa, what is going on? What is this?” Then they came back with the chief priest who said, ‘Who is this little boy that you can’t get him?’ The same birds flapping, the voices, they couldn’t take me,” he says.
“In the morning I felt like I was sick for weeks. I couldn’t eat. I went at 11:30 to my mom’s. On the way over, I met this witch. When he saw me, he was afraid. I just laughed.”
The next day at midnight, there was a great commotion in the village. The chief voodoo priest lost consciousness in his house.
Thirteen hours later, he was pronounced dead in the nearest hospital.
“That’s how the hostility finished,” Nestor says. “They called us ‘witches of Jesus.’ They said don’t try anything against them.”
Since those times, Nestor and his wife immigrated to America with student visas. Cyrille lives in Grand-popo and farms. Valentin is an accountant in a big company.
Twenty years later, two churches were planted in Houndjohoundji in 2018. “People were begging for a church to open.”
May God receive the glory for all He has done!
Michael Ashcraft was a missionary for 15 years during which he founded the Liceo Bilingue La Puerta Christian school in Guatemala. It was long enough for him to see firsthand enough witchcraft to believe his friend, Nestor, when he recounted his conflict with the voodoo lords.
We are rejoicing tonight after the first meeting of our Gospel Campaign here in Kampala, Uganda has just come to an end.
The very fact that we are here is a sign and a wonder in itself. We experienced a miracle of provision a couple of days ago that has made this event possible and already we can see that this is going to be a historic event. Here are just a few things that have happened since we arrived:
• Many of you may be familiar with the remarkable story of what happened in Jinja, which is located just about an hours drive from where we are now. (If you’re not familiar with this story, you can read all about it in Chapter 30 of evangelist Bonnke’s autobiography – Living a Life of Fire). Today, for the first time in two decades, evangelist Bonnke set foot on Jinja soil again to pray for this city that has suffered so much since those events transpired some twenty-three years ago. Hundreds of pastors came out to meet him and the presence of God moved in a very special way. I wish I had more time to tell you the whole story, but suffice it to say that what Satan meant for evil, God has turned around for good. The peace of God has returned to Jinja and a new day has dawned!
• Last night we were received by the president of Uganda, his wife and his whole family at the state house, where we had dinner and wonderful fellowship. Afterward, evangelist Bonnke preached the Gospel and we prayed over the first family.
• Tonight evangelist Bonnke preached a powerful evangelistic message and thousands responded. Then we prayed for the sick and wonderful miracles of healing began to take place
• An old lady who was totally blind in both eyes received her sight tonight
• A father carried his daughter from the hospital with the intravenous catheter (from an i.v. drip) still attached to her arm. She was inflicted with both typhoid fever and malaria. Tonight she was totally healed and she walked, unaided, up onto the platform to testify.
• A man who had a severe back injury in a motorcycle accident was confined to a back brace. Tonight, after the power of God came on him, he ripped that brace off and began to dance and jump!
There is much more – too much to tell. We are so grateful to be here and so excited about what Jesus will do here in Kampala this week. Please bombard heaven for us this week. Pray that every chain will be broken and every captive set free.
Kampala, Uganda – Day 2
June 07, 2012
This morning was the beginning of the Fire Conference here in Kampala. Rev. Peter van den Berg and I ministered to the pastors and church workers who have come from far and wide to receive an impartation for their lives and ministries.
I believe that the Fire Conference, in many ways, may have an even more long-term impact than the crusade itself because it’s multiplication effect. Once the crusade is over, these ministers, filled with power from on high, will take up the baton and continue on to see Uganda impacted for eternity.
Tonight, after I preached the Gospel, there was an overwhelming response from those who wanted to repent of their sins and put their faith in Jesus Christ. Thousands were born again into the Kingdom of God. And the blood that brought salvation is the same blood that brought healing tonight;
– A lady who had four lumps in her breasts said that, during the prayer, she felt heat cascade over her and she felt like things were leaving her body. Afterward, she checked her breasts and found that all the lumps had completely disappeared along with all pain!
– A woman who had fallen into a pit and broken her arm went to the doctors, who put it in a cast, but it did not heal properly – it was twisted and misshapen. But during the prayer she said she could hear popping and cracking coming from her arm. Before her very eyes that twisted arm snapped into place and is now perfectly normal!
– Another woman who had a back injury also heard the bones snapping and popping as the spine righted itself and now she is completely well!
– As I was praying for the sick and rebuking sicknesses, demons began to manifest all over the place. Many were violently thrown to the ground as the demons were leaving their bodies. This mass deliverance that started tonight will continue tomorrow night. I will be breaking the familiar local curses in the name of Jesus and we will burn the articles of witchcraft that are brought; charms fetishes, amulets, idols etc.
Please pray for a mighty and complete deliverance tomorrow for the people of Kampala.
Kampala, Uganda – Day 3
June 08, 2012
This is a very special year for the nation of Uganda. They are celebrating 50 years of independence and everyone is using the word “Jubilee.” But the greatest jubilee of all is the Good news of the Gospel; proclaiming liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind and setting free those who are oppressed. I believe this Gospel campaign is a prophetic sign to this nation and what we are seeing this week is not only a sign but also a wonder.
After preaching the Gospel and breaking the curses tonight in the name of Jesus the power of God began to roll across that field.
A young man, totally blind in both eyes for five years received his sight tonight!
Another young man with AIDS was hit by the power of God on Wednesday. He said he felt electricity going through his body. He was so sure he had been healed that he came forward to give his testimony. But the ushers told him to go see his doctor and have a check-up. Tonight he brought the diagnosis straight from the hospital – I read it with my own eyes – HIV NEGATIVE!
A crippled girl walked for the first time tonight as well as a lame woman who was carried to the meeting!
These are but a small sampling of the many wonderful things that Jesus is doing. But the greatest miracle of all was the many thousands who surrendered their hearts to Christ tonight, making him Lord and Savior. This is the Jubilee that Uganda needs and this is the acceptable year of the Lord’s favor!
Kampala, Uganda – Day 4
June 09, 2012
What a glorious day we’ve had in the presence of the Lord. The Holy Spirit fell in power in both the Fire Conference this morning and then again in the mass meeting tonight. As Peter said on the day of Pentecost, “This is that which was spoken of by the prophet Joel.” Many demoniacs were delivered, deaf ears were opened, paralytics walked and tumors disappeared!
Multitudes responded to the Gospel and received Jesus as Savior and Lord. Our bodies are weary, but our spirits are soaring. We are looking for one more mighty harvest tomorrow night. I believe Jesus has saved the best for last. Please continue to pray for us.
Kampala, Uganda – Day 5
June 10, 2012
Uganda is a nation that has been in the news a lot lately. The Kony 2012 initiative put the international spotlight on this country that has been plagued by violence, bloodshed and mass murder. We have seen a lot of concern for the people of Uganda – even to the point of putting up posters and petitioning government officials. But perhaps the most significant thing that has happened this year is the Gospel crusade that has just come to a close here in Kampala. It is likely that more people were born again here this week then in any other single place on the face of the earth. We have seen cripples walk, the blind see, the deaf hear, the mute speak, tumors disappear, mass outpourings of the Holy Spirit, witchcraft abandoned, repentance and restitution, forgiveness granted, curses broken, demoniacs delivered and the blessing of God descend in a huge, public, national and prophetic expression of the Kingdom of God! This is what we came here for; this is God’s initiative – HARVEST 2012!
Although the Devil did everything he could to stop this crusade from happening; financial difficulties and logistical challenges, many dangers, toils and snares, the Lord has been faithful, you have prayed for us and helped us financially and now the work has been done. Local congregations are bursting at the seams with new converts and the Church has been elevated; not only in a spiritual way but also having received the public recognition of the President himself and the First Lady who personally attended the crusade.
I mentioned before that, this year, Uganda is celebrating 50 years of independence and it is being called a “Jubilee” year. It just so happens that, even though we weren’t aware of any of these things, the Lord directed us to be in Uganda this year, not once, but twice (it is the only nation we will be in more than once this year).
I can’t help but feel that there is an extraordinary spiritual significance that is far deeper than we even realize. HARVEST 2012 continues next month as we return to Uganda, this time to the city of Gulu (which happens to be very close to where Joseph Kony was born and is now home to thousands of refugees, displaced during the hostilities between the government and Kony’s army, the LRA). God has a plan for this nation and we (you and us) have a strategic part to play. Thank you for interceding and also for standing with us financially.
An evaluation of the extent to which healing is part of the atonement as drawn from Isaiah 53:4-5, Matthew 8:17 and 1 Peter 2:24.
Edited from an essay by Brian Mulheran
Throughout the centuries, records of miraculous healings have challenged skeptics and inspired despairing sufferers with hope of the same deliverance. The birth of the healing movement ignited a worldwide interest in the supernatural. People claimed to be healed en masse. Multitudes were swept by the fervour into the “new found” church age of the miraculous. Churches multiplied across the world. The visible signs of God “in our midst” sparked hope for the disconsolate and passionate debate for the critics.
This tidal flood of healing and miracles encouraged preachers to inspire the sick and infirmed to seek God for their healing. Messages directed the hearts of the needy toward verses of scripture that instilled faith. Many claimed to receive healing, while others seemingly waited in vain. As the doctrine has developed and debates raged, many of those who were still seeking healing either, suffered without medication, or were accused of not having faith, or were accused of having some form of sin.
Although the doctrine has ensured positive results, the frequent devastation and disillusionment suffered by many that are not healed implores a re-evaluation. Questions such as: “Why are some healed and others not?”, “Is it God’s will to heal all?”, “Is God a respecter of persons?”, “Are the claimed miracles valid?”, “Is the miraculous for today?”, have provoked a plethora of scholarly investigation and argument. This paper while not able to discuss all issues relating to Divine Healing will endeavour to evaluate the foundations of the doctrine in light of those who are not healed. An examination of the doctrine, the history and the three primary texts used by advocates will seek to evaluate the extent to which healing is in the atonement. Other key eschatological elements will be investigated with the endeavour of formulating a correct understanding of the extent of Divine Healing. This will been seen to be essential for the church to perform its duty in its ultimate responsibility to love and care for the people.
A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF THE DOCTRINE OF “HEALING IN THE ATONEMENT”
The Doctrine Defined
The heart of the controversy concerning the doctrine resides in who can be healed and when can it be expected. Extreme advocates suggest that because healing is in the atonement it is as readily available to all as forgiveness is to all and it is to be received by faith. Less extreme advocates believe healing is available at present, but not all will be healed until the consummation of the age. The doctrine in essence can be understood by examining the fundamental aspects of what exponents emphasise are central to the doctrine, these include the nature of sickness, the nature of God and the nature of the atonement.
The nature of sickness
How proponents connect healing to the atonement is essential to understand how they view sickness. A. B. Simpson declares that both the body and the soul were equally affected by the Fall. He states that sin affects the soul while sickness affects the body. Vincent Cheung agrees that all sickness may be traced to its original source with the entrance of sin. By further stressing that not all sickness is a result of specific sin, Cheung cites Jesus’ acknowledgement that no specific sin was the cause for the blind man of John 9, and hence the link is made to the Fall, not to the individual. This inference adds weight to the Representative Head argument that sickness is not isolated from, but resultant from, the first transgression and therefore can be dealt with at a representative level – one for all.
Sickness is further linked to Satan as the one who caused the Fall, and also the one who’s works Jesus came to destroy. In the OT sickness is also stated as a result of the curse whereas healing is a result of the blessing. Blessings in the OT were conditional because of the Old Covenant whereas all the promises of God according to advocates are unconditional in Jesus through His sacrificial death. G.P. Duffield stresses that Jesus in redeeming us from the curse of the law, in fact bore the curse our sicknesses on the cross. This strong link of sickness to sin and the curse has led proponents to deduce that the atoning work of Christ must have included healing as well as forgiveness.
The nature of God
Proponents of the doctrine declare a plethora of scripture concerning God’s nature to heal. They promote the God who puts “none of these diseases” (Ex 15:26, Deut 7:15) upon the people and the God “who forgives all iniquity and heals all diseases” (Ps 103:3). Hugh Jester in describing the “Seven Redemptive Names of our Lord” refers to the “often forgotten” Jehovah-Rapha, “the Lord who heals” (Ex 15:26).  Proponents also declare that God’s nature is seen in Jesus who healed “all” (Acts 10:38). Because God is a God who never changes, advocates of the doctrine believe that healing is inevitably received from God because He is always true to His character and nature.
The nature of the atonement
Although, advocates for the doctrine would agree that the essential object that mankind was redeemed from was sin, they promote that because sickness resulted from sin and that it is God’s nature to heal, that redemption from both was provided for in the atonement. Based on the three primary texts Isa. 53.4; Mt. 8.17; 1 Pet. 2.24 proponents are insistent that the interpretation of the relevant words in each text implies that physical healing is integral to the atoning work of Christ and therefore as readily available to all through faith as forgiveness of sins.
Exegesis of the main Bible passages used in support of this doctrine
Three main passages Isaiah 53:4-6, Matthew 8:17 and 1 Peter 2:24 lead to the doctrine of healing in the atonement. An exegesis of these passages explores the extent to which healing is part of the atonement.
4 Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 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. 6 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.
16 When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick, 17 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying:
“He Himself took our infirmities
And bore our sicknesses.” [Isaiah 53:4]
1 Peter 2:21-24
21 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: 22 “Who committed no sin,
Nor was deceit found in His mouth”; [Isaiah 53:9] 23 who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.
The identity and work of the Isaian Servant are integral to the interpretation of both God’s expiatory sacrifice for mankind and its extent.
The Identity of the Servant of Yahweh
According to C. Hassell Bullock the quest to identify the Isaian Servant of the Lord has fallen into five different hypotheses: “(1) an anonymous individual of Isaiah’s time; (2) the prophet himself; (3) the collective theory; (4) the mythological; (5) the Messianic.” Others such as Raymond B. Dillard and Tremper Longman III acknowledge in particular the work to categorise the Servant into either the individual or collective theories. They cite attempts of others to nominate the Servant as an individual, for example, Messiah, or Messiah as Jesus, or an historical individual such as Cyrus, Ezekiel, Jehoiachin, Moses, Uzziah, Zerubbabel, a leper or the prophet himself. With respect to the collective theories, they cite others who have included both the Nation of Israel and the faithful remnant. Although they acknowledge these works, they concluded that it is not possible to limit the identity to categories, but suggest that it requires a combination of both – as one theory never satisfies each representation of the Servant. William Sanford LaSor, David Allan Hubbard and Frederic William Bush also acknowledge the vastness of opinion that other scholars offer in trying to identify the Servant. However, they agree with Dillard and Longman not to limit the Servant to an individual nor a nation, but to identify a number of Servants. Although it is acknowledged that the identity of the Servant can be variously applied it will be deduced that the Servant’s identity has an ultimate fulfillment in a person, the Messiah.
It appears that through the views reflected in the works of Dillard and Longman, and LaSor et al. and others, one may deduce that God was looking for a Servant to perform His work in complete obedience (Isa 42:23, Ezek 22:30). Israel who is identified as the Servant in 41:8, 44:1,21 and 49:3 falls short of obedience and is deemed “blind” and “deaf” in 42:19. The identity of the Servant seems to progress from the whole nation of Israel to the faithful remnant and then to the individual who would ultimately suffer for the benefit of the whole. In identifying this individual, George Smeaton stresses that the NT authors in quoting Matthew 12:18 put beyond doubt that Jesus Christ is none other than the embodied Isaian 53 Servant and Messiah.
Matthew 12:15-18 And great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them all. 16 Yet He warned them not to make Him known, 17 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: 18 “Behold! My Servant whom I have chosen, My Beloved in whom My soul is well pleased! I will put My Spirit upon Him, And He will declare justice to the Gentiles. [Isaiah 42:1]
J. Barton Payne also forcefully implies that the NT aptly portrays Jesus as both Messiah and the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53. His strong words equate those who refuse to see Jesus as the fulfillment of Isaiah 53 with Jesus’ words to the two on the road to Emmaus, fools who are slow to believe the prophets concerning Him (Luke 24:24,25). It is also well documented that many Rabbinic scholars suggest that the Servant is Messiah.
An interesting Jewish concept concerning the Messiah that arose from their ranks was that of the dual Messiah. Since the Lord had anointed two kings to rule over Israel, namely Saul and David, they believed that there would also be two Messiahs. The first “Messiah ben Joseph,” like king Saul, the warrior, who suffered and died in battle and the second, “Messiah ben David,” like king David, the conqueror, who would resurrect the smitten Messiah and triumph over his enemies. The first Messiah is said to recruit disciples and make course to Jerusalem while gaining temporary triumph over his enemies. He is claimed to then humbly surrender to suffering and being slain by them. The second Messiah then ushers in the covenanted eternal Kingdom of peace and prosperity after raising the first Messiah from the dead and fully triumphing over the enemy. According to Levi Khamor, the Zohar infers that the two Messiahs are indeed one and the same.
This tradition may be worthy of further investigation with respect to the topic at hand by asking several questions. (Assuming that Jesus is the Messiah.) Is it possible that the two Messiahs speak of the First and Second Advent? If so, could the suffering Messiah of Isaiah 53, although triumphing through suffering, actually only provide partial/temporary triumph for His vicarious recipients until death (or the Second Advent)? Then at the death/resurrection of the vicarious recipients, could the second Messiah imply the actualisation of the complete and realised work of the Servant/Messiah for His recipients, resulting in total victory for the recipients in His everlasting and all conquering Kingdom? This reasoning adds weight to the ‘already’ and ‘not yet’ theory associated with ‘healing in the atonement’.
The Work of the Servant of Yahweh
The work of the Servant is both broad in scope and unfathomable in depth. To perform a comprehensive evaluation of the complete work of the Servant in this paper is not possible. However, this section will seek to specifically focus on evaluating the extent of the healing and atoning work of the Servant.
Charles L. Holman describes the mission of the Servant in three aspects: The Servant of Yahweh receives the anointing of the Spirit to accomplish His tasks; The Servant’s scope is worldwide being a light to the Gentiles and a Covenant to His people; and The Servant vicariously suffers for His people. Payne classifies the Servant’s work into the categories of Prophet – the proclamation and demonstration of the testament, Priest – the sacrificer and sacrifice of the testament to make atonement for and put an end to sin, and King – the executer of the testament, bearing the government and instigation of His Kingdom and rule. Bullock suggests that the work of the Servant is ultimately that of redemption and in particularly His saving acts. In each account the Servant is said to be personified in the person of Jesus Christ and realised through His acts.
According to Smeaton, to be the Servant of Yahweh implies one who yields to the direction and rule prescribed to him in complete obedience. Smeaton identifies this in the person of Jesus Christ, who not only did all that the Father asked Him (John 15:31), but thought it not robbery to be equal with God, who took on the form of a servant and was obedient to suffer death (Philippians 2:6-8). Hence the work of the Servant as seen through Jesus Christ, according to Smeaton, should be seen as the ultimate fulfillment of the Servant’s responsibility and work. The Servant was in part to be approved by God (Isa 42:1, 53:12, Matt 3:17), rejected by man (Isa 53:3, Matt 21:42, Mark 8:31) , to abstain from violence and sin (Isa 53:9,11, 1 Peter 2:22), refrain from speaking guile (Isa 53:9, 1Peter 2:22), heal the brokenhearted, preach the gospel, heal the sick,(Isa 61;1-3, Luke 4:18), bear our sins and be smitten by God (Isa 53:4,5,8,10,11, 1 Cor 15:3).
As Holman suggests it was when Jesus was baptised and endued by the Holy Spirit that His work was evidenced with power – through His miracles of healing and deliverance (Matt 3:16, 4:23), through the authority of His message (Luke 4:18-32), and through His offering of Himself as the supreme atoning sacrifice (Heb 9:14). When John the Baptist asked Jesus if He was the Servant, the Messiah, Jesus referred him to His works to prove His identity, specifically the works of healing and His message (Matt 11:2-5). Taking up Smeaton’s point of obedience, Jesus’ work can be summed up in what He did in obedience to the Father (John 6:38). During His ministry, Jesus on at least three occasions refers to His work as being in obedience to the will of the Father: while preaching the gospel (John 4:34), healing the sick (John 5:1-30), and offering up His life as the atoning sacrifice (Matt 26:42, Heb 10:7-9). The ministry of Jesus as the Servant of Yahweh is clearly evidenced by His miracles, His message, and His sacrificial atoning death.
16 When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick, 17 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying:
“He Himself took our infirmities
And bore our sicknesses.” [Isaiah 53:4]
The subject of the authorship of Matthew’s Gospel has been one of rigorous debate for many years. Norman Perrin, Robert G. Gromacki and others have contested the issues of anonymity suggesting it protected the writer or proved the author’s genuineness. Other debate has raged around Papias’ suggestion that Matthew’s work was written in Hebrew and then translated by as many who had means into their respective languages. While others such as D.A. Carson, Douglas J. Moo and Leon Morris argue the support of the early church Fathers to trace the authorship of the Gospel back to Matthew. Further arguments such as those which debate Matthew knowledge of the customs systems, and the non-Jewish, non-apostle and multiplicity of authorship warrant further investigation, but are unable to be expounded in the present study. Suffice to say is that much debate has ensured that no decisive conclusion can be reached as to a definitive author. However, as Carson et al. state, neither the message nor the authority of the Gospel is altered by the standing of the author. What is brought into question is the perspective of evaluation which shall be discussed directly.
The Jewish Perspective
Clarifying the Matthean Community has particular relevance to the topic at hand in determining the meaning of “Matthew’s” interpretation of both the identity and work of the Isaian Servant. The discovery of a Jewish perspective is paramount in validating the author’s intent to shed light on the fulfillment of a Jewish prophecy that would ultimately have consequences for both Jews and Gentiles alike.
Carson et al. counteracts the proponents of the anti-Jewish perspective of Matthew’s account by mentioning various passages in the Gospel which are by nature parochially Jewish. Namely, Jesus being only sent to Israel and His restriction of the disciples to do likewise while they were with Him. Alan Cadwallader also gives credence to the Jewish perspective of the gospel listing such marks as: Sabbath and special days, food and dietary regulations, economics/taxes, Patriarchs, Laws, worship/temple, group identity, proselytising and appeal to populace. John Drane points out that Matthew meticulously used OT citations to map the life of Jesus as both the fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel and as an antitype of Israel’s experience. But in no way does he appear to compromise his conviction in his riposte of the Jewish religious leaders of the day and those who rejected Christ. Matthew seems to address key elements concerning the Jewish community and their proper perspective, however, he does balance his work to reach both Jews and Gentiles. Luz suggests that the Greater Church embraced Matthew’s Gospel as the chiefest, because of his inclusiveness of both peoples and establishing the worth of the Gentiles by including Gentile mission to his community’s mandate.
By Matthew having a strong Jewish perspective, although not an exclusive one, it can be suggested that the interpretation of historical Jewish tradition and prophecy kept their integrity. The strength that the author shows in balancing the communication of love and grace to the responsive Jews and the adverse rebuke toward self-righteous Scribes and Pharisees also attests to the integrity of his purpose in the Gospel.
The coming of the Kingdom
The Kingdom of God is principally where God rules and reigns as King. Drane suggests that the terms used by authors such as Matthew (basileia) and possibly Jesus Himself in Aramaic (malkutha) were not so much implying territory as they were implying stately activity. Humanity could then be said to have had a dearth of the Kingdom, as God’s rule is fundamentally, boundless in time, in space, in authority and in substance. History verifies the Kingdom’s absence which has often been described as not yet and futuristic, for example: one which is at hand (Matt 3:2, 4:16), not far from (Mark 12:34), waiting for (Mark 15:43), and to be inherited (Matt 25:34). Although Jesus stated that the Kingdom had also come (Matt 12:28).
Due to the enormity of the scope of the Kingdom, this section will narrow the context to examine principally the relationship of physical healing to the Kingdom and the coming Kingdom. In terms of the coming Kingdom, Drane suggests it may be expressed in a number of segments: The coming of Jesus, the coming of the Holy Spirit/Church, and the coming of the eschatological Kingdom. Firstly, in Judaism there was the concept that even though God was King, there was also the reference of God becoming King, which according to Ladd implied the manifestation of His kingship amongst humanity. Inevitably we see this as the coming of Jesus. D. Matthew Allen in quoting D.A. Carson and R.T France concurs with the first segment suggesting that the Kingdom had come in some preparatory way with Jesus and was clearly evidenced by His message and ministry. Secondly, Jesus spoke concerning the coming of the Holy Spirit that was to be imminent upon His return to heaven (John 16:7, Acts 1:8). This occurrence could also be suggested as the coming of the Kingdom, for the Kingdom is said to be righteousness, joy and peace in the Holy Spirit (Rom 14:17). Futuristic eschatology, which is mostly credited to the highly controversial pioneering theologian Albert Schweitzer correctly implied that Jesus had an expectation like the Jews that the Kingdom was imminent. However, contrary to Schweitzer’s false claim of Jesus’ despair in not seeing the fulfillment of His mission, he was correct in suggesting Jesus’ work would be a climax of history (to usher in the Kingdom). Thirdly, with respect to the eschatological Kingdom, Jesus also inferred to it being be fully realised and inherited at the consummation of the ages (Matt 25:34).
Whilst distinctly different, the first and second segments appear to be somewhat identical in scope. What Jesus did as king in the first segment, can be said to be seen and done by the church through the delegated power and authority of the Holy Spirit (John 14:12-18, Matt 28:18-20, Acts 1:8). According to John Wilkinson, Jesus Himself identifies His healing ministry as the fulfillment of Messianic prophecies and the coming of the Kingdom. Wilkinson cites a number of Isaian passages which Jesus was possibly refering to in response to John the Baptist question concerning His Messiahship, namely: Isaiah 29.18-19; 35.5-6 and 61.1.  Jesus’ response was that He primarily healed. According to Ladd, Jesus made it known after performing an exorcism that His authority to heal and cast out devils was a result of the coming of the Kingdom of God (Matt 12:22-30). Ladd suggests that the very essence of Kingdom theology, and the coming of the Kingdom, is found in Jesus’ inference of binding of Satan, and plundering of his goods (Matt 12:28,29). The binding of Satan by Jesus and giving power to the church to bind him imply the Kingdom has come (Matt 12:28,29, 16:18,19). The ultimate realisation of the Kingdom’s coming is the plundering of all his goods which is yet future at the end of the age (1 Cor 15:24-28, Eph 1:15-23, Heb 2:1-10).
Matthew’s use of the Old Testament
Matthew has been accused of contextualising Old Testament verses to his contemporary society especially those who bear credence to coetaneous events. This method of scriptural analysis is known as pesher. Lee Campbell heavily defends the Matthean work against it being branded pesherian especially in relation to the “fulfillment” verses such as Isaiah 53:4. Campbell argues that the author some fifteen times doesn’t merely refer to Christ fulfilling the precise prediction of OT passages, but to Him superabundantly fulfilling the anticipated redemptive purpose, which both significantly surpassed their immediate interpretation and was not hidden from the OT authors. Warren Carter in citing works by Lars Hartman, R. France and J.M. Foley agrees with Campbell’s implication of Matthew’s “fulfillment” citations. The Matthean passages, according to Hartman, were invoked by the author to: employ their authority; worded with the former author’s preferred words; or to point to the fulfillment of a greater purpose. Hence, it would appear that it was Matthew’s intent to neither manipulate the original intent of the passages nor minimise their extent, but rather to bring focus to the greater picture of the original intent in its fulfillment.
Foley, from a linguistics perspective, suggests that the oral culture within the Matthean community traditionally engaged the citations as portions which also echoed the larger tradition. Such an understanding of the Isaian 53 passage would presume that the Matthean Community had a firm tradition of the suffering Messiah and the work of the Messiah. Ladd would argue together with J. Jeremias that the tradition of a suffering Messiah was in fact pre-Christian, but only in the context of fighting one’s enemy, not to make atonement. However, Martin Hengel suggests that the idea of a vicarious sacrificial atonement by a man for the sins of others was debatably absent from the pre-Christian era. He suggests that even though there were isolated cases of such a notion, he infers that the suffering Messiah of Isaiah was not a popular perception of Old Covenant Judiasm. Carter’s suggestion that the earlier quotations from Isaiah, without specifically naming the prophet, adds weight to the argument that the Matthean community were familiar with the earlier traditions. However, as the citation in 8:17 is prefaced by the prophet’s name this may mean that the community did not hold a strong traditional view of the suffering of Messiah or His work. With Matthew’s intent to cite OT quotations with the purpose of seeing them fulfilled in their ultimate form, it could be seen that he was actually bringing clarification and understanding to his community concerning the Messiah’s healing work that wasn’t strongly traditional.
Taking into consideration the identity and work of the Servant of Isaiah and the content, context and purpose of Matthew one could interpret 8:17 as both confirming that Jesus is the suffering servant of Isaiah and also identifying a portion of His work as physical healing – which is both a partially present and wholly future in reality.
1 Peter 2:24
18 Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh. 19 For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. 20 For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. 21 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: 22 “Who committed no sin,
Nor was deceit found in His mouth”; [Isaiah 53:9] 23 who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed. 25 For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. (1 Peter 2:18-25)
Authorship and Purpose
George Eldon Ladd agrees with the strong tradition that the epistle was written by the Apostle Peter by the hand of Silvanus (Silas). Gromacki agrees also with the Petrine authorship and suggests that it has not been flaunted with any serious challenge. He cites some of the early Church Fathers and the historian Eusebius to support his evidence and adds weight by strongly evidencing references to Peter within the epistle in 1:1, 5:1,2,5. Although, Carson, Moo and Morris also agree with the authorship by the Apostle they do acknowledge some of the recent challenges to Peter’s authorship including, the “excellent Greek” argument which suggests that an unlearned Galilean could not have written the epistle. However, as Carson et al. suggest, the accusation against Peter being an unlearned man was in the context of rabbinical learning and as a result the inference that Peter was uneducated in other respects is unfounded. Other arguments such as the kinship with Pauline Theology and the lack of primary events of Jesus’ life are confidently contested, however, there is no strong evidence that supports a turning from the traditional belief of the Apostles authorship.
The major purposes of 1 Peter according to Carson et al. include four major headings: theological (God); sufferings of Christ and the believers following example; the atonement; and the ‘now’ and ‘not yet’ theory.  Gromacki outlines ten purposes of Peter’s epistle including: the enduring of trials in the light of God’s salvation, charges to holy and godly living, submission to authorities, masters and husbands, attitudes to suffering, and ministerial guidelines for elders. Ladd describes eleven purposes somewhat distinct from Gromacki, however, they agree on human suffering and the Christian living. Ladd also included purposes such as atonement, eschatology, temporal dualism, Christology and God. Perrin and Duling suggest seven purposes stating those inclusive of Gromacki and Ladd, and in addition include: baptism homily and salvation as fulfillment of prophecy. Hence three of the major purposes identified that warrant investigation in this study are suffering, the atonement and temporal dualism. These three appear to be intrinsically related and will be discussed accordingly.
Carson suggests strong evidence of the ‘now’ and ‘not yet’ in Peter’s writing, citing the present purification of the believers (1:22) in contrast to a salvation which is resultant at the end (1:5). This observation concerning this present age and the Age to Come is also picked up by Ladd. However, Ladd presents the concept in such a way that the theory can function with a dual role in this present age. Whilst acknowledging the theory from our present perspective, one could also suggest the prior application of the ‘already’ and ‘not yet’ in Jesus’ age. Once Jesus’ atoning sacrifice was complete and prophecy fulfilled, the then ‘not yet’ of the pre-messianic age commenced the ‘now’ of the age which was to come. This seems to imply that those who live in the present age are open (at least in part) to receive the ‘not yet’ of the pre-messianic age. Taking this concept further may suggest a greater benefit is available for those who live in this end age as ‘already’ receiving the ‘not yet’ of the pre-messianic age, yet Peter still infers there is both a ‘now’ and ‘not yet’ even of the messianic or end-time believers (1:10). Further investigation to discover the extent to which the benefits of the ‘now’ messianic age compared to the ‘now’ of the pre-messianic age could prove interesting in light of this study.
The pivotal point to usher in the ‘already’ and ‘not yet’ of the Kingdom was the death of Jesus, which inseparably linked the sufferings of Christ to the eschatological glory. Jesus, Himself saw both the ‘already’ sufferings and the ‘not yet’ of the glory, prior to the cross (Hebrews 12:2). Peter in addressing one of his primary purposes instructs his readers not to seek deliverance or freedom from tribulation but contrarily to embrace and imitate the sufferings of Christ. This appears to suggest that partaking and enduring of the ‘now’ is working toward the glory of the ‘not yet’. Hence the epitome of salvation seems to be the enduring of suffering resulting in glorification as seen in Jesus and exhorted by Peter. This may have considerable implications for not only enduring and suffering persecution, trials and testings but also sickness and infirmities.
Although, amazingly comprehensive in its scope, the epistle is distinctly quiet on matters concerning sickness and healing. It appears that the only mention of ‘healing’ is in 2:24 and in context, seems only to relate to the atoning work of Christ with respect to enduring suffering. However, the usage of the word will be examined more adequately in the subsequent section. Peter appears to suggest that the atoning work of Christ set the example to triumph through trial rather than receive deliverance and freedom from it (1:6,7, 4:12).
The Word Used for ‘Healed’ in 1 Peter 2:24
In the Dialogue of Justin, the Petrine usage of ‘healed’ is employed no less than six times. In each case where exposition is given, the reference appears to infer healed from sin. However, “healed/healing” are also referenced to believer’s operating in the gifts of the Spirit, in particularly healing, and also to Jesus’ healing ministry. A portion of the dialogue that followed the reference to Jesus’ healing ministry is worthy of note.
“Yet He [Jesus] wrought such works, and persuaded those who were [destined to] believe on Him; for even if anyone be labouring under defect of body, yet be an observer of the doctrines delivered by Him, He shall raise him up at His second advent perfectly sound, after He has made him immortal, and incorruptible, and free from grief.”
The author by employing the phrase: “for even if,” initially implies that Jesus healed believers with defects of body and that healing is still possible for them in the present time. However, the implication is not in line with the extremist view of the doctrine which states that healing is available to all and is to be presently realised. Yet the strong implication is that those who do not receive healing ‘now’ will none the less receive it ‘yet’ at the resurrection of the body.
Pentecostal scholars such as Duffield and Van Cleave are adamant that iaomai used by Peter cannot refer to spiritual healing. They base their claim by stating that the verb is always used in the NT for physical healing. Other scholars such as Wilkinson are confident Peter is referring to bearing of sin not sickness, due to the past tense referring back to the passion, not to physical healing, being available at present. A balance of the differing views can be see by Michael L. Brown, commenting on J.R. Michael’s understand of Peter’s usage of iaomai. He suggests that Michael’s and others like him oversimplify the salvation metaphor to the exclusion of the broader context. Brown contests that studies that focus on interpreting the prophetic references concerning healing of sickness purely on a figurative basis with respect to Israel’s “sin-sickness” fall well short of the total meaning. According to Brown, Israel’s condition was a complete and resultant condition of a spiritual disease which comprised of spiritual, emotional, physical, social, and national consequences and hence required a complete healing. In exploring Jesus’ healing capacity as Saviour (sōtēr) Brown notes four instances in His capacity to save (sōzō) within the space of two chapters in Luke’s gospel. He cites people being saved from sin (7:50), from demons (8:36), from sickness (8:48), and death (8:50). From here Brown portrays Jesus as the complete sōtēr who “forgives, delivers, heals, and resurrects, both temporally and eternally.”
Although Peter’s usage of iaomai in context appears to indicate spiritual healing as suggested by the likes of Justin and Wilkinson, Brown’s all inclusiveness theory may be more suitable. An overview of the terminology used for healing in the NT tends to indicate a great deal of fluidity between terms, hence the possibility for both terms to be used interchangeably or at least concurrently. Examining the Petrine counterpart in Matthew 8 reveals that within three verses the author equates both healing terms therapeuo and iaomai in the sense of physical healing with the Isaian quote. Hence in the broader interpretation of Peter’s usage of the term, physical healing is both plausible and appropriate.
A definition of “The Atonement”
A Narrow Definition
Mankind due to his sin was separated from God and destined to face righteous judgement. However, God compelled by His love sought a way to reconcile mankind back to Himself, through the offering of His Son as an atoning sacrifice.
La Sor et al. in acknowledging the difficulty of defining atonement suggests it means, “to cover” the sins of the penitent and make them “at one” with their Creator. Archibald Alexander Hodge suggests that Christ’s atoning work, through His sacrificial death, satisfied the requirements of the law and secured humanity’s reconciliation to God. Richard Mayhue stresses that from Leviticus 16:3-34 and Hebrews 10:9-14 the atoning sacrifice was for “sins” not for sickness. Payne argues that since the fall of man sacrificial atone for his sin has been God’s plan, stating that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins (Lev 17:11, Matt 26:28, Heb 9:22). Hence to make atonement kipper for “sins” for the people to God appears to be the most dominant form of atonement suggested in both the Old and New Testaments.
Throughout the NT the dominant theme relating to the atonement is the vicarious nature of Jesus’ sacrificial death that He suffered by the shedding of His own Blood for the sins of humanity. Jesus was said to be the Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world (John 1:29). His name was called Jesus because He would save His people from their sins (Matt 1:21). His Blood was to be shed for the remission of sins (Matt 26:28). The church was purchased through His Blood (Acts 20:28). His Blood was the propitiation for our sins which God has passed over (Rom 3:25). Only two NT passages, that of Matthew 8:17 and 1 Peter 2:24 appear to possibly link atonement to another aspect other than sin. Hence a narrow definition of the atonement could be stated as: The vicarious nature of the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ who bore the sins of His penitents and shed His Blood for their forgiveness and covering in order to make propitiation on their behalf to the Father.
A Broader Definition
Smeaton suggests that the atoning work of Christ was not limited to the Cross or extended to the period of His passion, but to Christ’s entire life. Before the culmination of the curse on the cross, Smeaton believed that Jesus had already been bearing the curse from conception. He cites in particular the primeval curse of labour which he states Jesus bore while he was a carpenter (Mark 6:3). Initially, Smeaton’s theory seems plausible due to the fact that scholars dispute where to draw the line of demarcation for the atonement – in the garden, at the examination, at the whipping pole or the death on the cross. However, in no instance, either before or after the curse being ultimately born by Jesus on the cross is the result of the curse of labour ever lifted from man. On the contrary he is instructed that he is worse than an infidel if he doesn’t work (1 Tim 5:8). Smeaton’s theory, if plausible, could have been seen as the most comprehensive definition of the atonement which provided remedy for every aspect of every curse that mankind has been effected by.
In general the only broadening of the definition with respect to the atonement that seems plausible to many conservative scholars is that of including healing in the atonement. As noted in chapter 1, sickness and disease have been intrinsically related to the sin which resulted in the fall of mankind. Recent and older advocates for the doctrine including Jay N. Forrest and Simpson have suggested that not only do Matt 8:17 and 1 Peter 2:24 imply healing is part of the atonement, but they cite many OT passages and symbols as well. They convincingly suggest that the Passover (Exo 12, Ps 105:37), the bronze snake (Num 21-6), the plagues stopped by atoning sacrifice (Num 16:46, 2 Sam 24:10-25), God’s redemptive name Jehovah Rapha (Exo 15:26), sickness which is included in the curse has been redeemed (Deu 28, Gal 3:13), and sickness as a work of the devil has been destroyed (1 Jn 3;8, Lk 13:16, Acts 10:38) are all examples of association of healing and the Atonement. Even staunch opponents of the divine healing doctrine such as Mayhue, who believe that miracles ceased through men at the end of the apostolic age, believe that healing is in the atonement all-be-it to be realised at the redemption of the body. Hence the narrow definition of the atonement as stated above can be rightly broadened to include healing as part of the wholeness of redemption.
The Eschatological Setting
Conservative scholars agree that the ultimate fulfillment of the atonement will result in both the resurrection of the body and eternal sinless perfection for the soul. Simpson, however, stresses that the atonement will not only be fully realised at the end of the age, but that it has also brought a victorious life now both to the soul and the body. He states that this does not mean that the body is free from pain and sickness all the time, just as the soul is not free of temptation at all times, but Jesus gives us victory over them. Robert Dickson, on the other hand is adamantly opposed to the extreme views of both Holiness and Healing doctrines. He suggests that one cannot expect complete physical health for the body in this life nor sinless perfection for the soul until the day when our mortal body will be resurrected into immortality and our corruptible soul will put on incorruptibility. Whereas some of the proponents of the extremist view argue that just because some people aren’t saved now doesn’t mean that salvation is not both provided for in the atonement and fully available now. However all aspects of the atonement are given to us in a promissory note which is only fully realised at the consummation. Scripture indicates that salvation, although in promissory manner at the point of belief, is only actualised upon “receiving the end of your faith” (1 Peter 1:9) and is “nearer than when we believed” (Rom 13:11). Hence, caution is needed in the seeking of physical healing at present because of its partial and temporal nature. The danger of disillusionment is caused by false expectations. A proper understanding both of God’s will and His grace are needed to avoid false hopes.
The Apostle Paul sought God three times for the “thorn in the flesh” to be taken away. Paul pursued God for deliverance and then kept pursuing until he heard otherwise. God’s response to Paul was not to deliver him from the thorn, but to reveal to him a greater purpose of suffering that of building humility and trust. Dickson states that individuals like Paul who do not receive their expected answer, while waiting for the final hope, can confidently approach the great High Priest who is able to sympathise with humanity’s infirmities and pour out grace which is sufficient in times of need. Ladd sees this conquering over evil with God’s grace as part of His will till we come into His new immortal age. Hence a proper understanding of triumph through suffering while waiting for the eschatological hope emphasises the need for both an appropriate doctrine of suffering and a focus to trust God’s grace and His will.
Because healing at present is both partial and temporal the question needs to be asked, is it God’s will and time to heal? According to Matt 8:3, Mark 1:41, Luke 5:13 and Rev 21:4 the answer is an undeniable yes both now and in the future. Yet reality implies that for the future will of God to be achieved the temporal will must be abated. Being healed and not being healed both ultimately fulfill God’s will to heal. In Matthew 5 while Jesus is talking about the Kingdom He makes two statements concerning the body and sin (Matt 5:29,30). He appears to prioritise the profitability of losing one part of the body in preference to losing the whole body in hell. A hierarchy seems to be prevalent in Jesus’ thinking concerning what He wills. Ironically, the only way to enter into the ultimate of healing and the power of an endless life is through death like Christ. It must be concluded that God’s will may not be healing as in the case of Paul, (Gal 4:13) or Trophimus (2 Tim 4:20) because of a greater purpose. Wimber suggests with Ladd that although healing is secured through the atonement, it is to be sought by praying God’s will to be done and receiving whatever healing comes.
The extent to which healing is part of the atonement
It is evident that a definitive statement can conclude that the atoning work of Christ not only provided for the sin of the penitent but also healing for the body. The ultimate redemptive purpose of God will be actualised when He has changed the corruptible and the mortal to be both incoruptible and immortal, both in body and soul at the resurrection. In this regard the extent of healing is complete within the atonement. With respect to the present, the extent can only be said to be both partial and temporal in accordance with the greater will of God which is to be pursued by faith and that those who do not receive healing now will be sustained by His grace. According to Dickson, God’s ultimate solution for healing is death itself. C.S. Lewis aptly describes death as the great enemy and the great friend, our supreme hope and our greatest disgrace. In death is the consequence of sin and the entrance into eternal life. Ultimately the death that we are trying to avoid through healing will usher in our total healing.
While Divine Healing is available through the atoning work of Christ and will be ultimately received at death, God has also provided other means for healing. As noted earlier, Dowie, Simpson and Seymour would strongly opposed such a belief and considered it as belittling the atonement. However, Wesley who believed that healing was a part of God’s grace and experienced divine healing, also believed that God healed through surgery and medicine. George Jeffreys, pioneer of the Elim Pentecostal Church also advocated the use of means as well as prayer for healing from seeing scriptures backing of means in the case of Paul giving advice to Timothy to drink wine for his stomach’s sake (1 Tim. 5.23). The anointing oil as referred to in James 5 is also said to have medicinal purposes. Other means which God has provided include the body itself and more recent means such as counselling. Although divine healing is available to the church and should be sought by faith, God has also provided other means in aiding humanity with their needs and these should be appropriated where necessary.
The thrust of the study was to evaluate the extent to which healing is part of the atonement according to the primary texts used by advocates. It was concluded that the formation of the doctrine was strongly linked to the advocates of the Holiness movement. This gave reason for the doctrine in its extreme form, which appeared to come out of the same motivation that was behind the expectation of sinless perfection and hence gave notion that the body should also expect to be perfectly whole. The doctrine as a result was discovered to have implications that were as positively disastrous as they were blessings.
A brief exegesis of the main texts revealed that healing was altogether provided for in the atonement both in the future as an ultimate realisation, and in present as a partial and temporal taste of the hope to come. Subsequent exploration was sort to obtain key elements to maintain and accentuate the positives and at the same time stem the adverse affects that the extremities had on lives.
Two key elements that warrant further consideration are the doctrine of suffering and the will of God. A correct appropriation of these doctrines together with the doctrine of healing could well stem the tide of much guilt and condemnation. Additional investigation into these areas could strongly support the original intent of the church to love and care for the hurt and broken of our community.
Dialogue of Justin: Philosopher and Martyr, with Trypho, a Jew, Chapter LXIX, Ante-Nicene Fathers Volume 2. Internet on-line. Available from Christian Classics Ethereal Library < http://www.ccel.org/fathers2/ANF-01/anf01-48.htm>. [11 February 2003]
Longman Jr. R., “Pre-Pentecostalist History,” (12 August 2001). Internet on-line. Available from <http:/www.spirithome.com/histpent.html> [25 February 2003].
Shetler, T., “Holiness and Missions: The Impact of the Sanctification Message on World Missions,” 7,8. Internet on-line. Available from <http://www.gospelcom.net/bcom/Resources/FacultyForum/Papers/TomShetler_HolinessandMissions.PDF>
 Simpson, A.B., The Gospel of Healing. (Harrisburg: Christian Publications Inc., 1915), 7. See also Duffield G.P., and Ban Cleave, N.M., Foundations of Pentecostal Theology. (San Dimas: L.I.F.E Bible College, 1983), 366.
 Simpson, The Gospe…, 7. See Also Jester, H., By His Stripes: A Biblical Study on Divine Healing, (Missouri: Gospel Publishing House, 1977), 31.
 See Simpson, The Gospel…, 9-12; Cheung, “Lectures…, 5-7; J. Niehaus, “Old Testament Foundations: Signs and wonders in Prophetic Ministry and the Substitutionary Atonement of Isaiah 53.” Quoted in The Kingdom and the Power, ed. Greig, G.S., and Springer, K.N., (Ventura: Regal Books, 1993), 120.
 LaSor, W.S., Hubbard, D.A., and Bush, F.W., Old Testament Survey: The Message, Form and Background of the Old Testament, (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1992), 393.
 Franz Delitzsch, O.T. Allis and J.A. Alexander as cited by Bullock in An Introduction…, 154. Also Payne, J.B. The Theology of the Older Testament, (Grand Rapids: Academie Books, Zondervan Publishing House, 1962), 255.
 Smeaton, G., The Apostles’ Doctrine of the Atonement, (Winona Lake: Alpha Publications, 1979), 73.
 See Payne, The Theology…, 255-257. Especially footnote 30 on page 255 and the conclusion on 257.
 Although this speculation is not invited by the chapter at hand (Isaiah 53). It may not be speculative with respect to the actual healing ministry of Jesus. Jesus’ ministry on earth could be deemed as partial in the sense that He did not heal all those who were upon the earth at the time e.g. the cripple at the gate beautiful. And it could also be deemed as temporal in the sense that the raising of Lazarus from the dead offered him only relief until death ultimately took Lazarus into the eternal Kingdom to die no more.
 Perrin, N., Duling, D.C., The New Testament: An Introduction 2nd ed. R. Ferm gen. ed. (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc. 1974). 264. See also Gromacki, R.G., New Testament Survey, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1974). 68. And Carson, D.A., Moo, D.J., and Morris, L., An Introduction to the New Testament, (Leicester: Apollos, 1992). 66.
 It is unsure if Papias is referring to the work known as the Gospel of Matthew or some other works. It is also dubious whether Papias’ statement is being accurately translated. Gromacki suggests that it has be read as “Matthew composed oracles” and also “Matthew collected oracles”. Perrin himself is also in doubt as to the correct translation noting it as “Matthew put together” and also the alternative “Matthew wrote”. See Gromacki, New Testament Survey, 68. And also Perrin, The New Testament an Introduction, 263.
 ibid., 120. See also Ladd, G.E. A Theology of the New Testament, Rev. ed. (Grand Rapids:Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1994), 56. Ladd suggests that the majority of scholars believe in the Kingdom as both present and future. It would not be incorrect to break this interpretation into three segments as Ladd finally does (see 67.) to suggest the Kingdom: has come (in Christ), is present (through the Holy Spirit), and is future (at the consummation of the ages).
 It is acknowledged at this point that Peter specifically refers to the crucifixion to produce spiritual healing (inferring the atonement), where as the Matthean quote refers to the ministry of Jesus and may not (according to some scholars) be associated with the atonement.
 It is noted that the thorn in the flesh has been the subject of many debates. Whether physical, material or spiritual the thorn, here, only serves as an illustration of seeking God and answer to prayer.