Reading 3 – Sunday, December 9, 2018
“… THAT THOU MAYEST PROSPER AND BE IN HEALTH”
By M. Lowe, Canada
“But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal…. to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; …” 1 Corinthians 12:7, 9.
When God created man in His own image and after His likeness, man was perfect in health mentally, physically, and spiritually. “And God saw every thing that He had made, and, behold, it was very good.” Gene- sis 1:31. But sin–disobedience to God, which is transgression of His law (1 John 3:4)–brought terrible consequences to the human race: Alienation and separation from the Creator, sickness, disease, pain, and death. Man’s physi- cal existence was placed in permanent jeopardy, threatened by the natural environment and deadly pathogens (dis- ease-causing organisms). As a direct consequence of Adam and Eve’s transgression, our loving, righteous Creator was compelled to pronounce the death sentence upon mankind: “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground: for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” Genesis 3:19. In His great love for His erring children, the Lord provided redemption for them and also the “herb of the field” for their medicinal needs–to prevent illness and disease and to restore health when they became ill.
Part of human existence
Sin and Satan made sickness and disease–and eventual death–part of the human experience. Sickness, injury, and disease are direct or indirect consequences of the curse of sin. Through direct genetic transmission from parent to child, unhealthful lifestyle practices and habits, violation of the natural laws of health and the moral law, environmental dangers (pathogens, pollution, poisonous and carcinogenic chemical substances, natural disasters, accidents, etc.), sickness and disease afflict people. Thousands of such diseases and sicknesses afflict the children of men. No one is exempt.
Through Adam’s disobedience, all were made sinners, and all are subject to death. “For as by one man’s disobedience, many were made sinners,…” “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” Romans 5:19, 12. While it is appointed unto every human being to die once–to experience the first death–God wants us to enjoy the benefits and blessings of a healthy life while we spend our brief time here on earth. He desires His children to “prosper and be in good health,” even as our souls prosper. 3 John 1:2.
Christ’s method of gospel work
The Lord did not abandon mankind to suffer the scourge of dis- ease and sickness without hope or help. When He lived among men, He spent much of His ministry healing the sick and those suffering from all kinds of diseases and torments. He healed multitudes who were blind, dumb, deaf, paralyzed, leprous, mentally unstable, and demon-possessed, along with others who suffered from many other kinds of infirmities and diseases.
“And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. And His fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto Him all sick people that were taken with div- ers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick, and those that had the palsy; and He healed them.” “And when He had called unto Him His twelve disciples, He gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.” Matthew 4:23, 24; 10:1.
Jesus’ method of gospel work combined healing (medical missionary work) with the preaching of the gospel. This must be our method of work– combining the gifts of healing (medical missionary work) with the preaching of the everlasting gospel. We must show that it is not God who causes sickness, pain, and suffering, but that it is man, through his own ignorance and sin, who has brought sickness and disease upon himself.
Our loving, merciful Creator has provided healing for both body and soul; and He has entrusted His church with the ministry of reconciliation and the ministry of healing. The gifts of healing are among the gifts the Holy Ghost has entrusted to His church. “To one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;” “But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will.” 1 Corinthians 12:8, 9, 11.
Gifts of healing and medical evangelism
The gifts of healing are very precious gifts of the Holy Spirit, and they are an indispensable part of the gospel ministry. How so? Our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit of God, and as such the Lord commands us to keep His temple pure and healthy. No man can serve God acceptably while will- fully or carelessly violating the laws of health and defiling his or her body with unhealthful practices and sinful habits.
“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” “ Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” 1 Corinthians 6:19; 3:16, 17.
“True religion and the laws of health go hand in hand. It is impossible to work for the salvation of men and women without presenting to them the need of breaking away from sinful gratfications, which destroy the health, debase the soul, and prevent divine truth from impressing the mind. Men and women must be taught to take a careful review of every habit and every practice, and at once put away those things that cause an unhealthy condition of the body, and thus cast a dark shadow over the mind.” –Counsels on Health, p. 445.
The purpose of the gospel is the complete restoration of the moral image of God in man. “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it.” 1 Thessalonians 5:23, 24.
Methods of healing
The apostle Paul wrote the plural form–gifts of healing–not the singular–gift of healing. Why? The human being is an extremely complex and marvelous creation of God, consisting of many different types of cells, tissues, organs, and systems working harmoniously together to sustain human life. Numerous physiological imbalances (diseases) can affect different cells, tissues, organs, and systems. Therefore, healing remedies must specifically tar- get the area(s) or systems of the body affected by the illness. When a person becomes ill, it may require one or a combination of several kinds of healing therapies, such as nutritional therapy, physiotherapy, hydrotherapy, herbal medicine, etc., to restore health. No one therapy is the cure for every type of illness, injury, or disease. Different people in the church of God have been given knowledge concerning certain parts of the body and ability to treat and cure various ailments. Every one of the gifts of healing is important.
“There are many ways of practicing the healing art, but there is only one way that Heaven approves. God’s remedies are the simple agencies of nature that will not tax or debilitate the system through their powerful proper- ties.” –Counsels on Diet and Foods, p. 302; Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 443.
The compassion of Christ
“Medical missionary work brings to humanity the gospel of release from suffering. It is the pioneer work of the gospel. It is the gospel practiced, the compassion of Christ revealed. Of this work there is great need, and the world is open for it. God grant that the importance of medical missionary work shall be understood, and that new fields may be immediately entered.” –Medical Ministry, p. 239. The importance and value of the gifts of healing (medical missionary work) cannot be over- stated. The Spirit of prophecy declares that medical missionary work is God’s method of treating disease and the right arm of the third angel’s message.
–Testimonies for the Church, vol. 7, p. 59. It opens doors and prepares the way for the reception of present truth. It breaks down prejudice and gains access to the hearts of the people as nothing else can.
–Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, p. 211. Health reform is a part of the last great efforts to proclaim the gospel message.
For our own benefit, and for the benefit of our fellowmen, we are to be intelligent in regard to disease and its causes and understand the importance of obedience to the laws of life. “The light God has given on health reform is for our salvation and the salvation of the world. Men and women should be informed in regard to the human habitation, fitted up by our Creator as His dwelling place, and over which He desires us to be faithful stewards. ‘For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.’ 2 Corinthians 6:16.” –(Review and Herald, November 12, 1901) Welfare Ministry, pp. 130, 131.
The good Samaritan work and healing
During this Week of Prayer, I would like to appeal to the people of God worldwide to support the work of the General Conference Good Samaritan Department. As the leader of the General Conference Help Ministry, I have been given the privilege of working closely with the leader of the Good Samaritan Department, Elder Stefano La Corte. I appreciate the great and noble work that the Good Samaritan team of faithful co-workers does. The calls for financial and medical help for those who are suffering as a result of sickness, old age, poverty, natural disasters, or death of loved ones, are numerous and often urgent. Many of our brothers and sisters around the world endure poverty and lack of access to adequate medical care and treatment. Both the Good Samaritan Department and the Health Department need your prayers and financial support in this branch of the gospel work. The Help Ministry carries out the work of healing.
Consider the following counsel from the Scriptures and the Spirit of prophecy: “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” James 1:27.
“In placing among them the helpless and the poor, to be dependent upon their care, Christ tests His pro- fessed followers. By our love and service for His needy children we prove the genuineness of our love for Him. To neglect them is to declare ourselves false disciples, strangers to Christ and His love.” –The Ministry of Healing, p. 205.
“We are all woven together in the great web of humanity, and whatever we can do to benefit and uplift others will reflect in blessing upon ourselves…. “All may find something to do. ‘The poor always ye have with you’ (John 12:8), Jesus said, and none need feel that there is no place where they can labor for Him. Millions upon mil- lions of human souls ready to perish, bound in chains of ignorance and sin, have never so much as heard of Christ’s love for them. Were our condition and theirs to be reversed, what would we desire them to do for us? All this, so far as lies in our power, we are under the most solemn obligation to do for them. Christ’s rule of life, by which every one of us must stand or fall in the judgment, is, ‘Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.’ Matthew 7:12.” –Call to Stand Apart, p. 62.
Call for support and action
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we need to appreciate and sup- port the labors of those who have la- bored, and continue to labor, in medical missionary work at the various levels of God’s church around the world. As the professed people of God, we need to be more sacrificial and generous in our financial support of the church’s medical institutions, sanitariums, clinics, and medical missionary workers who are advancing the work of healing the bodies and souls of men, women, and children. As we near the end of an- other year of mercy, let us realize and appreciate anew the great privilege and responsibility we have as co-laborers with Christ in the great work of rescuing precious souls from the bondage of sin and disease.
Let the love of God penetrate our hearts, and let us share His love with our fellowmen in unselfish service to the spiritually and physically sick, the poor and needy. Remember, the world will be convinced that we are the remnant people of God not so much by what is preached from our pulpits as by what is lived by the church members. May the Lord in His mercy make us channels of healing and Heaven’s blessings!
“Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth”! 3 John 1:2.