Monday, January 28, 2019

Healing In the Atonement, part 10 of 16

There are several Old Testament scriptures used to support the idea that healing is guaranteed for today. To be brief, I will just mention two of the more popular ones. By analogy, what I say will apply to the rest of them that I haven't listed here.

"Worship the LORD your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you, and none will miscarry or be barren in your land. I will give you a full life span." (Exodus 23: 25)

"Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits-who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases." (Psalm 103:2-3)
There are three problems with using these scriptures to indicate that healing is guaranteed, that it is always God's will to heal, and that Satan is always the author of sickness.

1. These scriptures do not guarantee perfect health for everybody. They are general principles. They merely indicate that God heals, which I agree with, but they don't guarantee healing. If these scriptures were meant to be taken in an absolute sense as if it were a guarantee, there would be no exceptions. Yet we find in the scriptures that Solomon noticed an exception.

"In this meaningless life of mine I have seen both of these: a righteous man perishing in his righteousness, and a wicked man living long in his wickedness." (Ecclesiastes 7:15)
In general, if we live wisely and obey God, we will enjoy better health and longer lives because the things God requires of us are in our best interest. Also, if we live holy lives, God is going to be more favourably disposed to grant our requests. In the scriptures, we find that, "If anyone turns a deaf ear to the law, even his prayers are detestable" (Proverbs 28:8).

2. These scriptures were written well before Jesus' atonement, so they cannot be used to support healing in the atonement. If these scriptures did guarantee healing, it would not be because of the atonement. We can especially see that Exodus 23:25 does not apply absolutely to Christians today because it says, "I will give you a full life span." Taken absolutely, we should assume that all good Christians should enjoy a full life span with no exceptions. That wasn't even true in the Old Testament because Solomon noticed that sometimes the righteous die young, and the wicked live long (Ecclesiastes 7:15), and we know that even while Israel was prosperous in war, they still lost young soldiers. Likewise, we find that martyrdom was a popular way to die in the early church. Jesus predicted that "you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me" (Matthew 24:9), and that Stephen, who was "full of faith and of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 6:5), was stoned to death (Acts 7:59). If a full life span was not absolutely guaranteed for all of God's people, then we should not assume that physical healing was guaranteed either since Exodus 23:25 lumps them together. Instead, it's a general principle, just as the Proverbs which give practical advice for making people's lives better.

3. As I showed above, God was frequently the author of sickness in the Old Testament and the New Testament, even on his own people. For the Old Testament examples, proponents of healing in the atonement will argue that "that was under the old covenant; we're under a new covenant now." This is a popular argument used to diffuse almost any kind of disagreeable doctrine supported by Old Testament scriptures, but the same people who use this argument will gladly quote from the Old Testament when there's a scripture to support their view. If healing in the atonement proponents really want to use this argument, then they can't use Exodus 23:25 and Psalm 103:2-3 to support the guarantee of perfect health today since they are also under the old covenant. They can't have it both ways.

Continue to Part 11.

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