USA: The Whatcom Story: how day and night prayer impacted a community.
Almost every significant move of God in history was preceded by fervent, united prayer. This inspired Christians in Whatcom county on the north-west coast of the United States to establish a ‘canopy of day and night prayer’ over their region. The results are astonishing.
“One night I was in church and I heard a prophecy that God would move by his Spirit over the native north-west tribes of the United States,” recalls Viola Riebe of the Hoh River Nation. “It would be like a tsunami, gaining in power, moving from the natives to other churches.” For Riebe this was a hopeful prophecy, as back in 1700 a giant earthquake in the area generated a tsunami that almost devastated her native tribe. She felt God wanted to turn the negative past into a positive future.
In 2008 a house of prayer was launched in Bellingham, the county’s seat, a community of 90,000 people. This Light of the World Prayer Center (LOWPC) included native American believers and Christians from other churches. Together they established a day and night prayer watch, similar to the Moravians in Herrnhut.
The Spirit of the Moravians
“What God has been doing in Whatcom county is linked to this town in Germany,” says Jason Hubbard, director of the LOWPC. “God led me to visit Herrnhut, home of Count Zinzendorf and the Moravians. I learned their amazing story of awakening into prayer and missions. The passion of these Moravian believers was ‘to win for the Lamb who was slain the due reward of his suffering’.* Inspired by their example, we wanted to be a modern-day expression of this powerful movement of united prayer and missions.”
* This quote has been attributed to missionaries Johann Leonhard Dober and David Nitschmann, two young Moravian Brethren from Herrnhut, Germany. When God called them in 1732 to minister to the African slaves on the islands of St. Thomas and St. Croix in the Danish West Indies, they were willing to sell themselves to a slave owner if that was the only way to reach the slaves. As their ship pulled away from the docks, it is said that they called out to their loved ones on shore, “May the Lamb that was slain receive the reward of His suffering!”
Whatcom county could certainly use a change in the spiritual atmosphere. “Over the last several decades we have seen tragic church splits among God’s people, an increase of witchcraft and sexual immorality, pastors who have fallen,” says Hubbard. “However, since day and night prayer has been established in a simple way, senior pastors are gathering monthly to build spiritual friendships and seek God for the county.”
“This is an unbelievable blessing,” says Grant Fishbook, pastor of Christ the King. “Trust has been built over time as the message sunk in that we’re not each other’s competition. Our competitor is the devil, but we are family and on the same team. We love each other and want to live that out. Now the pastors text and call each other for encouragement and drink coffee together, because there’s a genuine interest in what’s happening with each part of the family. They ask: How are you doing, how can I pray, how can I support you?”
“When we exalt Christ, it brings us together,” says Shawn Cunningham, pastor of Hilcrest Chapel. “We have seen a growth and increasing unity among churches in Whatcom county and that has come through the power of prayer. Prayer by nature unifies God’s people.”
Alvin Vandergriend, church prayer coordinator of the 3rd Christian Reformed Church, agrees. “A canopy of prayer is a covering of God’s providential blessing over a territory. Prayer is where we access God’s resource and heart, where he empowers us to fulfil his mission. For all the years I’ve been involved in ministry, I’ve never seen pastors come together like now in Whatcom county – in the numbers they are coming together, the prayer that happens there, and the encouragement they give each other. It is quite amazing.”
In Whatcom county 80 pastors out of a hundred are now praying consistently together. This includes the native, Hispanic and Korean churches, it’s a truly multi-cultural expression of the Body of Christ. Pastors have also been sharing their pulpits and holding joint community services with thousands of people coming together.
Phenominal church growth: 10,000 salvations, 80 church plants
The unity also led to an explosion of church plants – 80 church plants in a decade – with 10,000 first-time salvations of people who were baptized in water. This is a phenominal church growth in what has historically been one of the least churched areas in the United States.
The 15,000 member strong Hispanic community experiences a real revival. Ivan Montenegro, church planter with the Hispanic Church, reports: “Every day we see people come to Christ. We started 11 new churches and baptized at least 1,500 people, which is a 10% growth. If you ask me: ‘How come?’ all I can say is: it’s the fire of God through prayer. Every church in our area is growing.”
Churches also developed a county-wide men’s ministry. These men come from 40 different churches and see their lives transformed through the gospel and prayer. Raul Chaves, Men’s pastor at Band of Brothers, says: “Healing is taking place in these men and their families. They become the men God intended them to be. And it’s all about prayer. We pray before, during and after everything we do.”
Source: Jason Hubbard, LOWPC, edited by Joel News.
North America has hosted many great revivals over the last few centuries. Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield led the First Great Awakening in the colonial United States in the 1730s and 1740s. In the early 1800s, the Cane Ridge Revival in Kentucky kicked off the Second Great Awakening. People came from around the world to witness the Holy Spirit’s power at Azusa Street Revival of 1906. And in the 1990s, thousands flocked to the Toronto Blessing and the Brownsville Revival.
Now, mere miles from the site of the original Cane Ridge Revival, seeds are being planted for the next great move of God—and maybe even a Third Great Awakening. Earlier this year, traveling evangelist Rick Curry visited Mt. Carmel Christian Church in Paris, Kentucky. The church was founded in 1818 by a man denounced by his former church for attending the original Cane Ridge revival. Curry was invited to preach at Mt. Carmel’s 200th-anniversary celebration, which happened to fall on Pentecost Sunday. During his message, revival broke out and hasn’t subsided since.
But this Kentucky city isn’t the only one experiencing revival. In fact, it’s just one example of an insatiable hunger for God’s presence breaking out in cities and towns across America.
At New Life Church in Corpus Christi, Texas, pastor Mike Fehlauer says an incredible move of God has taken place since he and his staff decided to “get out of God’s way and give the Holy Spirit room to work.” Since June, New Life has seen more than 300 baptisms, numerous salvations, and physical and emotional healings and deliverance.
Christ Fellowship Church in Dawsonville, Georgia, has experienced revival since February under lead pastor Todd Smith. This charismatic church of 350 people has witnessed more than 865 baptisms. Smith says people have travelled hundreds—even thousands—of miles just to “walk into the baptismal waters and feel the presence of the Lord.” As a result, many have been miraculously healed and delivered from addictions and emotional scars.
Even the U.S. military base at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, is feeling the Spirit’s fire. The Baptist Press reports that chaplains have seen “an incredible hunger for God,” with nearly 2,000 soldiers giving their lives to Christ since March. In Greeneville, Tennessee, a tent revival led by evangelist D.R. Harrison has lasted over five months and led to hundreds of salvations.
Pat Schatzline, an Assemblies of God minister and travelling evangelist who has studied revivals and written books on the need for spiritual renewal, says these revivals show the church is on the cusp of breakthrough.
“It is the embryonic stages of the Third Great Awakening,” Schatzline says. “… I believe that with all my heart.”
Baptisms in Georgia
The Dawsonville revival began when God gave Schatzline a vision of a mysterious pastor. Schatzline didn’t know who the man was, but he could see he was wracked with despair, sitting alone in a dark room. Hundreds of miles away, pastor Smith was doing just that, crying out to God and looking for a sign that he should continue to lead Christ Fellowship Church.
“If You don’t move, I’m done,” Smith said.
Smith got his sign when Schatzline reached out through a mutual friend. Schatzline gave Smith a message: God is coming to Christ Fellowship Church, and He is going to restore the promise He gave you eight years ago.
Then Smith received a prophetic vision of his own. He saw the church’s baptistry—the baptism pool was full, and a strip of fire appeared on top of the water. Shortly after, Smith says, God “sat down in our building and rocked our world.” Christ Fellowship hasn’t been the same since, attracting visitors from South Carolina, Minnesota and even California.
“The presence of God and the outpouring of the Holy Ghost have just erupted here,” Smith says.
Prior to the revival, Christ Fellowship conducted only a handful of baptisms each month. But since February, more than 40 people often experience water baptism in a single service, pushing the services well past midnight. One Sunday night, 114 people were baptized. Such high numbers of baptisms didn’t start immediately. But Smith says they quickly multiplied as the power of God manifested and people hungered for healing.
“The fame of his name and what He was doing in those waters began to spread,” Smith says. “When we would give the invitation, you would see 30 or 40 people run to the front to get baptized. The power of God was violent in the water. People would thrash around. Fire confronts what is going on in their lives. It’s unlike anything I’ve seen. And it has nothing to do with us as a church or any personalities involved. It’s simply God’s presence and His power.”
Some are calling the meetings a “baptism revival,” a term Don Allen, lead pastor of The Church at War Hill, says he’s never heard before. But after preaching several times at Christ Fellowship, Allen’s seen it for himself.
In the baptismal waters, numerous individuals have been healed of longtime physical ailments. Smith says the church is careful to record and follow up on them with health-care professionals so as not to minimize God’s glory.
One example is Amanda Boan, an 11-year-old who shunned foot surgery to remove an extra bone in her foot that caused her foot to twist to the side, leaving her with great pain and a limited ability to run. Boan was baptized during a Sunday-night service and continued to believe for her healing. At a service soon afterward, Boan went up to the altar and experienced instant healing: “It was like my foot was tight and then it was loosened.”
She could place her foot flat on the floor and run around the church without pain. Doctors confirmed she no longer needed surgery.
Amy Ransom also received healing. For almost three decades, Ransom suffered debilitating migraine headaches that also affected her financially due to the out-of-pocket medication costs. During a Sunday-night service, Ransom knew after fasting and praying she had been healed.
“I have gone from having daily migraines for 28 years to none,” Ransom says.
And Donna Posey, a longtime Christ Fellowship member, says God healed her of bone loss in her mouth during the second revival service in February. The condition had lingered for years, and because she didn’t have enough bone to support her dentures, implant surgery was her only option. After fervent prayer for the affected area, Posey visited her dentist, who confirmed 30 percent bone gain in her mouth. Posey says her dentist “looked at my X-ray and asked me if I believed in miracles.”
But healings and deliverance aren’t all this move of God has produced. It has had a profound spiritual effect on other churches in the region.
“We’re watching people from all faiths come here and receive what the Holy Spirit has for them,” Allen says. “Not only are we seeing salvations and miracles, but we’re seeing reconciliation among the churches here, the body of Christ really working together. You are literally seeing the miracle of unity. Our church has seen renewed prayer exponentially. Our people are now interceding for Todd’s church and for others. It’s amazing.”
Renewal in Kentucky
After the Cane Ridge Revival sparked the Second Great Awakening, revival spread across the American frontier. Now Mt. Carmel Christian Church has become the site of a new revival.
After Curry preached at Mt. Carmel’s 200th anniversary celebration, he says, the altars were filled at the conclusion of the first service in May. The meetings became so popular they had to be moved to a bigger facility, nearby River of Life Ministries in Paris, and the house is packed three nights a week.
“As worship filled the old sanctuary, we heard a remarkable sound,” Curry says. “It sounded as if every person in the sanctuary started simultaneously stomping their feet on the old wooden floors. I felt quickened in my spirit that it was the sound of the Lord coming upon the land. The sound of jubilant breakthrough resonated from the hearts of the people in that service, and it was as though we all knew revival was being birthed.”
Ministers from throughout Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Oklahoma and New Jersey have reportedly visited the revival in Paris.
“We have seen hundreds, a thousand come to the altar,” Curry says. “People have been saved, delivered and many are returning to the Lord, surrendering their yielding hearts. We have seen many miracles and healings that are really stunning in this stage of the revival. We have seen pastors and leaders repenting, weeping and laughing in an outpouring of the refreshing.”
Repentance in Texas
Fehlauer says Jesus has always been the focus of New Life Church’s kingdom purpose. The multi-campus church grew from 650 to nearly 3,000 members since he took over as lead pastor in 2011.
But he admits something had been missing from the South Texas church’s services.
“I believe that Jesus has always been at the centre of what we’ve done, but I think our bandwidth was too narrow as far as the anointing and the presence of God is concerned,” Fehlauer says. “We weren’t giving Him time or enough room to do what He really wants to do here. God directed me to preach about the presence of the Lord and the hunger for Him. It’s His words, not mine, and I would say unequivocally that one of the biggest reasons we’re seeing this is that these people are hungry for more than the status quo. Since we started this, the presence of the Holy Spirit has been thick, and the expectancy for God to move has been very strong.”
At the first meeting, Fehlauer says more than 100 people responded to the altar call for repentance and salvation, and 10 people were baptized. The next week, another 100-plus people came forward. Soon after, many individuals expressed to church staff their desire to be baptized.
“Most of these people who come to our church are new Christians, and they don’t have any point of reference for any of this,” Fehlauer says. “But these people are spontaneously running to the altar because they’re desperate for everything God has for them. I’m talking about real Acts 2:38 repentance, when Peter said to repent and be baptized and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. People addicted to pornography and some to drugs have come to ask for forgiveness, and they have experienced deliverance and healing. We’ve had men come clean about adulterous affairs. It’s inspiring to see them repent of the hurt they’ve caused others.”
Fehlauer recalled the testimony of one woman from another church in Corpus Christi who visited New Life this summer. After one service, she approached a wife of one of the pastors. She told the pastor’s wife she had visited a couple of Brownsville Revival meetings in Pensacola, Florida, in 1995. The woman said she hadn’t experienced the Holy Spirit’s presence like that again—until now.
New Life’s executive pastor, Dan Goodson, 59, lived through the Jesus Movement in the 1970s. He also spent 12 years as the COO at Joyce Meyer Ministries and several years as the executive pastor at Destiny Church in St. Louis. But he says he’s never seen a hunger for Christ like the one New Life is experiencing.
“It’s really incredible how authentic this is. It’s not man-made,” Goodson says. “People are coming to the altar and just laying their burdens down. We’ve had people come to the altar, and they don’t know why they’re even coming because they’re unsaved. They’re wanting to get water-baptized because they are hungry for something they’ve never had. That’s how heavy the Holy Spirit has been in our services.”
Third Great Awakening
Schatzline, who has preached multiple services at Dawsonville, says what’s happening in Georgia, Texas and Kentucky is “a sovereign move of God.”
“Unfortunately, many churches have learned structure, systems and ambience,” Schatzline says. “They remove one-third of the Trinity—the Holy Spirit—and one-third from 100 is 66.6. That is the spirit of the Antichrist. What I think these pockets of revival are proving is that God is going to do things differently than many people think. It’s happening on the backroads and not the crossroads. It may sound like an odd term, but I feel like God is kissing the faithful—the ones who are pressed in, the ones who still believe. Those are people who have stuck to the core values of fasting, prayer and preaching the cross, and the results are now visibly manifesting in these churches.”
Allen agrees with Schatzline’s assessment of revival.
“I have personally begun to study the significant movements of the Great Awakenings,” Allen says. “When prayer increases and people repent to God and each other, that’s when the Spirit moves and great things happen.”
Curry says he has little doubt that a Third Great Awakening is on the horizon.
“I truly believe this is the seedbed of awakening,” Curry says. “I believe America’s greatest awakening lies ahead of us and not behind us. I believe that transforming revival will come to this nation soon.”
Shawn A. Akers is a content development editor for Charisma Media.
The day after some 70,000 people jammed the L.A. Coliseum to cry out for revival [Azusa Now, April 9, 2016] God sent the wind of the Holy Spirit many miles away to a humble town of 500 in West Virginia coal mining country.
“We’ve prayed for many years for this,” says Mitchell Bias, pastor of the Regional Church of God in Delbarton, West Virginia. His church had a live stream from the Azusa Now 2016 event on April 9th with their own prayer gathering, but little did he know what would happen, beginning the next day.
It seems Pastor Mitch had invited Matt Hartley, a 31-year-old evangelist from Tennessee, to preach at the church’s “spring revival.”
“I felt impressed of the Lord to connect with him,” he notes. “I knew he was a young evangelist.”
After Hartley checked his schedule, he proposed April 10-13 for their event. “He came and started that Sunday. We had tremendous services the morning and evening on the 10th,” says Pastor Mitch.
The next day Hartley spoke at a chapel service for the church’s Christian school in Williamson, the adjacent town, which Pastor Mitch describes as another “tremendous” gathering.
On the 12th, Hartley spoke at a prayer club meeting at Mingo Central High School at the invitation of the students. The club normally has 30-40 students show up, but everyone was shocked when 450 students arrived – more than half the high school.
“He (Hartley) preached the Gospel, preached against sin,” Pastor Mitch recounts. “I know it’s not popular, but he did. It wasn’t a lengthy sermon.”
At the end of the message, Hartley gave an altar call. “He gave an invitation and 150 students responded to receive Christ. There was a lot of emotion. They cried. He prayed for them. They were touched. It was a move of God,” Pastor Mitch says.
“The Lord did it. It was a sovereign move of the Lord.”
Called the Greatest Spiritual Awakening in their History
There’s a new sound coming forth from the hills of southern West Virginia – a sound many prophets have foretold but haven’t heard until now.
For the past three weeks, the large sports complex in the small coal-mining town of Williamson, West Virginia, has been filled to the rafters with people crying out for God.
It all started when Tennessee evangelist Matt Hartley visited a local church for what was supposed to be a three-day revival service but it just kept going.
“This is not man-made, charismatic, hyper-spiritual,” Hartley told CBN News. “This is the presence of God that is overwhelming us, that is being released upon hungry people that are tired of just stagnant Christianity and “safe” church.”
“They want Jesus more than anything else. That’s why they’re here,” he said.
Hartley also spoke at the local high school where revival seemed to break out among the students.
“Four-hundred to 450 students got saved at Mingo Central from Matt Hartley coming in and speaking at a voluntary prayer club,” Katie Endicott, with the Mingo Central High Prayer Club, told CBN News.
“It has just gone from school to school, from youth group to youth group,” she said. “Denominational barriers have just been cast down and we’ve just had a great spirit of unity.”
Many are calling it the greatest spiritual awakening in southern West Virginia history.
“We couldn’t have done this if we wanted to,” Endicott said. “We’ve had so many revival services, so many special services and nothing like this. This is true awakening.”
Endicott says prayer plus desperation has paved the way for this spiritual breakthrough, especially among the young people.
“Oh my gosh, it’s amazing!” 18-year-old Belfry High School student Andrew Fletcher exclaimed. “I’ve never seen something like this happen where the young people just get on fire.”
“It’s really cool to come to church and it’s really cool to worship God – nobody’s judging you or saying anything about it because they’re all with you,” he continued.
“We’re starting to have prayer circles at school and we’re reading and having Bible studies at school,” he said.
Others, like Erica Priest of Lenore, are seeing God answer very specific prayers.
“My husband just got saved this morning,” Priest said. “I’ve been praying for him for seven months and he’ll be baptized this Sunday.”
Hartley believes the sound of revival now being heard in these West Virginia mountains has the potential to spread around the world.
“I believe God has preserved this state for the end-time awakening that’s coming to America,” Hartley said.
“I believe that this is the beginning of where it happens and it’s going to spread as a wild-fire throughout the nations of this world, that Jesus is going to be exalted,” he predicted.
“And the more Jesus is exalted the more the river of God is going to flow — and we have not seen anything yet to what God is releasing,” he said.
Students who have walked the halls of Mingo Central the last couple years say the West Virginian high school has a different feel these days.
Prayer has mostly replaced profanity in the hallways. Bible studies are more frequent than fights in the cafeteria. And every morning, a group of students meets at the flagpole before the first bell to read Scripture and pray.
“The Lord has swept through this area,” said Aerianna McClanahan, a junior who is part of the Mingo Central prayer club. “People have been on fire for Him. The thirst we have here is unquenchable.”
Today, on the National Day of Prayer, many southern West Virginians plan to stoke the flames of their regional revival by standing with Franklin Graham during his Decision America Tour stop in Charleston. After all, prayer is at the core of what’s happening in their community just 90 miles southwest of the State Capitol.
“We know this [revival] was birthed in prayer so we know the only way for it to continue is to stay in prayer,” youth pastor Katie Endicott said. “We are not looking for this season to end here in southern West Virginia. We really believe that revival is going to spread all across the state. It’s going to spread all across the nation. We want to partner with all of our brothers and sisters, and we want to stand united and pray together.”
An ‘Appalachian Awakening’
Many credit a Tennessean evangelist, who has conducted several revival services during the last month in Mingo County, for triggering change. Within a month, hundreds of students have given their lives to Christ and thousands region-wide have been impacted. The Mingo Central prayer club sponsored a student-led worship event that drew almost 3,000 people and included baptisms in an inflatable pool on the school’s football field.
These events have been pivotal, Endicott said, but the native West Virginian knows the roots of this “Appalachian Awakening” go much deeper than that.
“This is an area that has really been consecrated in prayer and through prayer for generations and generations,” Endicott said. “This has been decades in the making. People have been praying for this their whole lives.”
People like her dad, a pastor, who would wake up at 4 a.m. to go to church and pray. Or her uncle, who actually quit his job so he could devote his entire day to prayer. She admits the family wasn’t too sure of that decision, but the fruit decades later speaks otherwise.
A Generation Rising Up
Lives are being touched, like that of junior Blake Hackney and senior Savannah Estep. Both Mingo Central students accepted Christ during this time of revival.
“It took all this for me to understand that I have a Lord and Savior,” Blake said. “I felt a huge boulder was off my shoulders.
“What motivates me is I think about God. I think about what He did. He died for us so us wretched sinners could have eternal life. He died for me so I’m going to live for Him.”
Blake, Aerianna and Savannah are among the hundreds that are now involved in the school’s prayer club, which is planning another football stadium gathering in mid-May. They’re diving into God’s Word and quickly dismissing the thought that this might be just a trend for the area.
“We’re praying that we’re a generation that just wakes up and uses what God has given us to break all the generational chains and curses,” Aerianna said.
These students have seen hardship as family members and friends have lost jobs in the coal mining business and elsewhere. Economic depression is real in this county, where more than 28 percent of people live in poverty. Drug use is rampant, and at least one report ranks southern West Virginia in the top five for fatal overdoses.
“Our area has been devastated by the economy and by drugs, and like I said, people have prayed and they have prayed and they have prayed, but it has been such a place that has been gripped by all this stuff,” Endicott said. “It was overwhelming, and people were really losing hope.
“This [revival] moment has really turned everything around. People are excited. People are passionate. People have joy. People have hope. You can’t go anywhere without hearing what God is doing.”
A Region-Wide Movement
The movement of God hasn’t been limited to Mingo County, though. In nearby Logan County, junior Skyler Miller felt the prompting of the Holy Spirit to just start preaching one day. A two-time leukemia survivor, Skyler always leaned on God, but he actually began a personal relationship with Jesus after his second diagnosis.
On March 24, 2016, three years to the day of his initial diagnosis, Skyler preached to a group of his friends during his lunch period. He gave an altar call at the end and many, including some curious passers-by, accepted Christ.
Watching God move in the region has been a blessing for Endicott.
“This is what we have believed. We did not give up hope. We always knew that the Lord was going to send true revival and true awakening to southern West Virginia. We’ve had many revival services. We’ve had great moves of God. But there has been nothing like this.”
After a few weeks of rest, the young evangelist at the center of the revival in West Virginia that brought 4,000 to Christ, says God is not done pouring out his Spirit in coal country and beyond.
“Hear me, West Virginia. I know that God has moved in the last eight weeks where over 4000 people have come to Jesus, but there has been warfare ever since, and the devil is trying to abort what God has started,” Matt Hartley said.
He spoke at the Williamson, West Virginia Field House on August 8th, and will be speaking at the same venue the following two nights. Next week he will preach in Huntington, West Virginia, near the Ohio border.
“Hear me tonight. Man didn’t start this thing, and man cannot control it. It was started by a sovereign God and tonight there is a sound of heaven about to be released in this room,” he declared.
Hartley preached from 2 Samuel 5 when God instructed David in his fight against the Philistines with an unconventional warfare strategy: First, God said to “circle around behind them” and wait near the Mulberry trees. “And when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the Mulberry trees, then you shall act promptly, for then the Lord will have gone out before you to strike the army of the Philistines.”
When God’s people allowed the Lord to fight the battles, victory was always assured.
“There is a sound tonight that hell is getting nervous over. I prophesy that God shall arise and His enemies will be scattered,” Hartley declared.
“God is connecting heaven with earth, and there is a sound as God begins to walk through West Virginia. I hear God walking through West Virginia tonight, setting captives free.”
Many are praying the revival will sweep the United States, including Hartley. “I hear the sound of God walking through America. I hear the remnant wailing and weeping for His presence to come. There is a sound being released. God is preparing to take this awakening further than you could have imagined it would go,” he declared.
One participant, Bo Copley has been at almost every revival meeting, and last night was no exception. “The atmosphere was still really great. The presence of the Lord was all over the building. It was very similar to the other services,” he observed.
“There is a sense of urgency around what Matt says. He doesn’t water down the Word. There should be a sense of urgency because people are either going to spend eternity in heaven or hell.
“People said after four weeks the revival would die down, but then it went even further. God started it, and He is not finished. If He’s not through, it will not end.”
As of Fall 2018, every single nation on earth is represented at Arizona State University! Over 150 nations have someone on the ASU campus, while other nations are involved online – including North Korea and Antarctica! From this one place, Spirit-led believers have the potential to impact the entire family of nations, just as the apostles did on Pentecost!
In recent months, this huge university, the largest in the United States, has been in the grip of a bona fide spiritual awakening.
By our definition, formed over twenty years of monitoring transforming revival around the world, a true awakening means the work of God is comprehensive. This stands in contrast to a human campaign or initiative where results are typically confined to a single category or location within the community.
At ASU [Arizona State University], God’s sweep is as broad as it gets.
Not surprisingly, united prayer has proven to be a major factor behind these happy developments. After several tough years where campus ministries tended to go their own way, things took a pleasant turn in the fall of 2017. Instead of the usual two to three ministries coming together before God, prayer events at the local Campus Christian Center were rocking a three-fold increase in intercessory participants.
This past spring, fully a dozen ministries united behind a forty-day prayer focus where petitions were lifted day and night from a tent erected near the main campus square. The initiative was so fruitful, the ministries decided to continue the effort over the balance of the academic semester.
This fall, the tally of participating ministries and campus churches reached seventeen, as a fresh fifty-six-day campaign drew prodigals, atheists, Muslims, New Agers, and students suffering from depression. In addition to witnessing numerous conversions, healings, and deliverances, the intercessors also watched God begin to move among the University faculty and administration.
One of the more significant breakthroughs involved the school’s Interfaith Council of Religious Advisors. For years, the woman directing the council was motivated to establish ASU as a model of the global interfaith movement. Unfortunately, this highly syncretistic vision proved to be a major hindrance to the gospel. As time went by, her attitude toward Christians hardened, and ministries found their access to campus facilities severely limited.
Faced with this opposition, students and ministry leaders began to pray that God would either change this woman’s heart, or install someone more sympathetic.
It did not take God long to act. Within a period of weeks, this woman who had so vexed campus leaders disappeared from the Interfaith Council. None of the Christians on campus seemed to know where she had gone, or why. She was simply no longer there. Her replacement, a man even more hostile to the Christian cause, was similarly prayed out. Today, the council is headed by the son of a Baptist minister!
Even more dramatic has been the departure from the university of notorious atheist Lawrence Krauss. Virulently anti-Christian, the highly-paid professor routinely packed out Gammage Auditorium on campus by bringing in atheist luminaries such as Richard Dawkins and the late Stephen Hawking.
A theoretical physicist, Krauss founded the Origins Project in 2009 with the aim of placing the university at the forefront of the New Atheist Movement. By promoting hostile, anti-religious rhetoric and policies (“teaching Creationism to youth is child abuse”), Krauss bullied Christian students and faculty into silence.
During the worst of Krauss’s campaign, God assured one late-night intercessor that the professor would be brought low, and that the backbone of the atheist movement on campus would be broken.
Given Krauss’s fame and tenure, this prospect was almost unimaginable.
And yet, on Oct. 21, 2018, Lawrence Krauss announced his resignation after being stripped of his role as an academic chair and as the Director of the Origins Project. This action came in the wake of an impending termination procedure urged by the dean of ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
According to ASU provost, Mark Searle, action was taken because the physicist “violated the school’s sexual harassment policy and code of ethics.” In a July 31 letter to Krauss, Searle told the professor his behavior was “unprofessional, reflects a failure of leadership, and is extremely disappointing.”
As for the Origins Project itself, the university newspaper notes that “sources point to a very different future for the project.” The initiative has already lost its name.
With Krauss out of the picture at ASU, Christian faculty in both the arts and sciences are again raising their flag.
A March 2019 conference on Science and Faith allowed students to engage faculty in six fields, an approach being lauded by the university president. As one professor’s official profile declares: “Through his work he intends to glorify God, from whom all good things come.”
Transforming winds have also been coursing through the university’s athletic department. Just last month, over 100 Christian student athletes attended an all-sport gathering in the men’s football facility that featured worship, prayer, and inspirational messages.
Many athletes were touched at this student-led event as the room was charged with the Spirit of God. One of them, star wide receiver N’Keal Harry — whom many analysts peg as a top-15 pick in the upcoming NFL draft — gave his heart to Christ and is devouring the Word. He is arguably the most popular personality on the ASU campus.
And Harry is but one of an estimated twenty to thirty football players who have turned their lives over to Jesus in recent months.The wrestling team has also been impacted through the open witness of Austyn Harris and All-American Josh Shields, and encouraging reports are coming in from athletes associated with hockey, lacrosse, gymnastics, track, swimming, and volleyball.
Dorm and Greek life are likewise feeling the impact of the Gospel. As one knowledgeable source told me, “Before this year, it was hard to find any Christians in the Honors dorms. Now, it seems like they are everywhere!”Better yet, they are uniting in prayer that God’s purposes will be realized in the lives of these elite students.
So much more could be said, but I’ll leave you with the observation one student athlete shared with me earlier this month: “The identity of ASU is being flipped.”
As of Fall 2018, every single nation on earth is represented at Arizona State University! Over 150 nations have someone on the ASU campus, while other nations are involved online – including North Korea and Antarctica! From this one place, Spirit-led believers have the potential to impact the entire family of nations, just as the apostles did on Pentecost!
Here is how you can be a part.
First, we need people who will partner with us to supply transformation video libraries to the dorms and athletic teams at ASU. There is great interest in these stories, and I believe they will inspire students to embrace even more of God.
Second, we believe God has called us to document this unfolding story on film so it can stir up faith on other campuses. We began this effort during a short visit to the ASU campus two weeks ago, but we want to return in late January to film a much larger set of interviews and events that are being arranged.
This story has already stirred audiences in several states. Just last week, I was able to share highlights with campus ministers from all the Ivy League schools plus Stanford University. This coming May, these leaders will join us on a revival exposure tour to see more of God’s handiwork in the Fiji Islands.
We need approximately $25,000 for these undertakings. If you can make a year-end gift to the ministry on Giving Tuesday (November 27), this will allow us to capture and transmit this glorious story to thousands.
Finally, please continue to pray for us as we complete other important research, training, and media projects. It is our heart’s desire to offer up some much-needed good news in this dark and uncivil hour.
Every morning, lean thine arms awhile Upon the windowsill of heaven, And gaze upon thy Lord. Then, with the vision in thy heart, Turn strong to meet thy day.
Poem by Thomas Blake
In the early days of his ministry, Dr. Theodore F. Adams vacationed in Wisconsin where he attended an outdoor vesper service led by an Episcopal rector who recited the verse above. Dr Adams never forgot those words. He committed them to memory.
From 1936-1968 Dr. Adams served as senior pastor of Richmond’s First Baptist Church. During that time he referred to this verse countless times as one of his favourites. He even had desktop placards made and sent to every member of the church.
Many readers are aware that the beautiful stained glass windows surrounding the FBC Sanctuary were part of a renovation project initiated by Dr. Adams in the late 1940s, but they may be unaware of the message he left in one of the windows by which we remember him today.
In the commission of the windows’ refurbishment, Dr. Adams’ goal was twofold. The larger windows that surround the balcony were to portray the significant events in the life of Jesus, while those below were to demonstrate how followers could live out Jesus’ lessons in modern times. Each upper window correlates to the one below it and is interpreted there for modern understanding. Each window is also accompanied by a scripture passage – except one.
There are two windows in the church picturing Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, one in the Chapel and one in the Sanctuary. The Chapel window’s focus is on prayer, but the story in the Sanctuary’s window shows Jesus, having been strengthened by prayer, telling Peter, James, and John, “Behold, the hour is at hand—Rise, let us be going.” The light shining on Jesus comes from heaven and affirms Jesus’ declaration that, “Thy will, not mine, be done.”
The Garden of Gethsemane
Bathed in sunlight in the corollary window below kneels a lone figure, praying the very poem that begins, “Every morning, lean thine arms upon the windowsill of heaven.” These verses are not found in the Bible, but send the message that made such a marked impression on Dr. Adams’ life that he was determined it be memorialized in this window.
The Windowsill of Heaven
Could he have guessed that with each reading, those who remembered him would also see him reciting it before a congregation of First Baptist Church members, even today?
In writing about Dr. Adams, Dr. W. Randall Lolley, former pastor of FBC Greensboro, NC, says that Dr. Adams was a man, “who truly perceived the earth as the ‘windowsill of heaven.’ Every person he met, every event he enjoyed, every experience he knew worked ‘inside/out’ rather than ‘outside/in.’”
May we put into practice these words so dear to Dr. Adams.
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.
By Steve Strang founder of Charisma News and CEO of Charisma Media.
Genuine revival is the only way we can change the spiritual temperature of our society. Rioting. Racial unrest. Drug abuse ruining a generation. War in the Middle East. Christians under siege from rampant secularism. Does this sound familiar? I’m not describing 2017, although all these exist in today’s culture. I’m describing the 1960s, with Americans divided over the Vietnam War, Israel attacked by its Arab neighbours, a youth culture that celebrated drugs and free sex, and racial unrest, including riots after Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. Things were so bad, Time magazine’s April 8, 1966, cover story asked, “Is God Dead?” Yet amid this terrible time, the Lord stepped in. Fifty years ago, He launched two massive, under-the-radar revivals that I believe changed the course of the world.
In 1967, a group of Duquesne University nuns and college students received the baptism in the Holy Spirit, igniting the widespread Catholic Charismatic Renewal. The other revival, now known as the Jesus Movement, touched hundreds of thousands of hippie-type young people, whose fervour moved from radical rebellion to radical obedience to Christ. Many of today’s Christian leaders came to Christ during this period, and the movement also impacted me. During this same era, Israel won the West Bank and, in 1967, reunited Jerusalem in the Six-Day War. I once heard the late Derek Prince explain the parallels between God’s activity in Israel and the fresh outpouring of His Spirit on the church. These massive revivals produced a cultural shift. The country became more politically conservative, and the hippie movement disappeared.
Today, we need another genuine revival. Without it, culture will continue its downward spiral. Many Christians recognize this, but many don’t. One segment of the evangelical church, alarmed by the marginalization of Christians and increasing public immorality, focuses on electing politicians who seem to share our values. But politics won’t change things. A powerful evangelical leader recently visited my office to discuss how we must move our culture, where only a small percentage views the world through a biblical lens, toward a Christian worldview. He wanted my help in motivating apathetic Christians. Of course, I said we’d cooperate. But I also said change toward a Christian worldview won’t happen until our country experiences true revival. He looked at me with a blank stare.
My friend seems to think logic and arguments can change minds and attitudes. We must never withdraw from the marketplace of ideas, but we must also remember this: Nonbelievers develop a Christian worldview only through a powerful encounter with the risen Christ via the power of the Holy Spirit. Consider the Pentecostal movement. After the fervour of the early-20th-century charismatic outpouring, Latter Rain Revival died down, Pentecostalism moved into malaise. I remember the older generation praying constantly for revival.
Logic persuaded almost no one to embrace the gifts. But when people received the Holy Spirit in a powerful way during a prayer meeting, their theology changed. They saw the Bible with fresh eyes. God answered those prayers for revival in unexpected ways.
Beginning around 1960, the Holy Spirit poured out on more denominations like Episcopalians, Methodists and Catholics. Long-haired, sandal-wearing hippies began showing up in our services, often carrying huge Bibles and sitting cross-legged on the floor at the front of the church. At the same time, God was doing something in Israel and awakening among Spirit-filled Christians an enduring love for this nation. Jews for Jesus sprang up, and Messianic congregations developed. Some Pentecostals remained in their ruts, but most embraced all this as a move of God. Today, Pentecostalism continues to grow. Yet once again, a sense of malaise has arisen. But let’s remember: God is still God.
So I challenge my fellow believers to pray as never before. Publicly and in our prayer closets, let’s ask God to pour out a mighty revival that sweeps millions into His kingdom. It’s the only way culture will be changed – by changing the hearts of a huge segment of the population here and around the world. Our problems will not be solved until people’s hearts and lives change.
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.
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.”