Thursday, January 31, 2019

Healing In the Atonement, part 13 of 16

VI. Emotional arguments

When scriptures fail to convince people of what they want to believe, they almost always resort to emotional arguments. Afterall, it's because of their emotions that they usually come to bogus doctrines in the first place.

"For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear." (2 Timothy 4:3)
People believe what they want to believe, and the use of emotional arguments gives them away.

A. Refuting healing in the atonement destroys faith.

It seems true that people who believe in healing in the atonement often show more faith in their healing than other people. Should this be a good enough reason to believe in healing in the atonement? Of course not! If we believed things on the basis that they make us feel good, then our religion would be nothing more than a placebo. While some people are content to be fat, dumb, and happy, such an attitude convinces others that Christians are irrational, self-deluded nutcases.

Christianity should not be a blind leap into the darkness, but rather, a step into the light, as Hank Hanegraaff often says. If a thing is not true, then we should not believe in it. The fact that an idea makes us happy has no bearing on whether or not it is true. Mormons use this same reasoning to defend their belief that people will continue to be married for eternity. Telling a sick person their healing is not guaranteed is no worse than telling a Mormon that their marriage is going to end at death, or telling a child who just lost a tooth that there's no tooth fairy, or telling people who are worried about their dead loved ones that there's no spaceship behind commet Hail Bopp. If ever there is a right time to tell a person the truth, it would be when they have placed their hope in a false promise and entrusted their welfare to a false doctrine.

The question I most often hear is, "What is to be the basis of our faith in healing if not the guarantee of healing in the atonement?" I find it puzzling why anybody would need a guarantee before placing their faith in something. The Bible doesn't promise rain, and yet we pray in faith for rain. The atonement certainly doesn't guarantee our freedom from persecution, and yet we can pray in faith that we will be spared. The atonement doesn't cover our automobiles, and yet we pray in faith for a safe journey. Of course this is the very reason you hear about people "pleading the blood of Jesus," over inanimate objects. They want the object to be covered under the atonement as well. Just because we don't know what God's will is in every situation, it doesn't mean we shouldn't pray in faith for the things we need and want. Tabitha got sick and even died, but God raised her from the dead in answer to Peter's prayer. We have every reason to pray in faith for our healing even though it's not guaranteed, because we have a merciful God who is often willing to heal. Some proponents of the Word of Faith teaching say that to pray, "if it be your will," indicates a lack of faith and that it mocks God. On the contrary, praying, "if it be your will," is an act of humility. It acknowledges that God is sovereign and that he knows what's best for us better than we do. It means that we are subjecting ourselves to his will rather than our own, just as Jesus did.

"This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if he hears us-whatever we ask-we know that we have what we asked of him." (1 John 5:14)
The Bible has example after example of God healing people, so there is every reason for us to pray in faith that God will heal us. Nevertheless, we must pray according to God's will, and his will is not to heal in every situation. Even in the case of healing, we have Biblical precedent for praying, "if it is your will."
"A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, 'Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.' Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. 'I am willing,' he said. 'Be clean!' Immediately he was cured of his leprosy." (Matthew 8:2-3)
We don't always know what God's will is in every situation, which is why, contrary to the word of faith teaching, the Bible tells us that we should always say, "If it be your will."
"Going a little farther he [Jesus] fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will." (Matthew 26:39)

"But as he left, he promised, 'I will come back if it is God's will.' Then he set sail from Ephesus." (Acts 18:21)

"But I will come to you very soon, if the Lord is willing." (1 Corinthians 4:19)

"Now listen, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.' Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, 'If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that.'" (James 4:13-15)
We don't boss God around, and it's really a good thing that we don't because some of the things we ask for are not in our best interest. Garth Brooks wrote a song where he adequately illustrated why, "some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers." The more we grow in wisdom, knowledge, and spiritual maturity, the more clear God's will becomes to us (Romans 12:2), but none of us will ever know God's perfect will in every situation. Thankfully, we don't have to because the Holy Spirit intercedes for us. Paul said,
"In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will." (Romans 8:26-27)
Ironically, though some say that refuting healing in the atonement destroys faith, often times, just the opposite is true. The teaching of healing in the atonement has destroyed the faith of many, and has prevented others from ever coming to faith. If healing were guaranteed in the atonement, we should expect the average Christian to be healthier than the average outsider, but that is not the case. From an outsider's point of view, Christianity is bogus because Christians believe things that aren't true. On average, believers are no healthier than unbelievers. They're about the same.

Most of us don't suffer from serious illnesses. At most, we suffer from colds, sore muscles, ulcers, and things like that. Since having a positive attitude can help these sicknesses, it's easy for a person to maintain belief in healing in the atonement amists these minor illnesses. But for quadraplegics, and those who suffer from other serious illnesses, having a positive attitude is not enough to bring about healing. When they are not healed, they undergo radical discofirmation. They are forced to believe either that healing was not guaranteed afterall, or that God doesn't exist. Unfortunately, many choose the latter. Some will argue that they probably didn't have enough faith to be healed. Such cannot be the case when we examine the fruit. A person's faith is evident in the actions he takes in support of that faith. If people throw away their medicine because they believe they are healed, we should not doubt their faith. But what are we to think when they subsequently die? Some condemn them as miserable sinners who refused to repent. It's easy for an outsider to say that somebody else is a miserable sinner without any faith, but for the person in the situation, it can fill them with dispair since they know better. Since we all sin, anybody can scratch up some sin that might've been the cause for their sickness, but if that's the route you take, then you can't say healing is guaranteed since we all sin. So the person has to be a habitual sinner needing to repent. This teaching leaves many in dispair, not realizing that "there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1). It destroys them emotionally, and it often destroys them spiritually.

Continue to Part 14.

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