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Sunday, October 15, 2017

Misunderstandings About Isaiah 53:5

Misunderstandings About the Stripes that Heal Us - Isaiah 53:5

The phrase “with His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5) is often used to claim that all Christians should experience earthly physical healing. 

The context of this verse is usually sin and redemption (Isaiah 531 Peter 2:24). But Matthew 8:16-17 does link it to demon-possession and physical sickness.(1)

And it's true: our redemption - body, soul, and spirit - is fully accomplished in the spiritual realm.

But our redemption is not fully realized here on earth (1 Corinthians 15:22-25; Hebrews 2:5-9).

By Christ's stripes, sin, Satan, trouble, death, and sickness were defeated when Christ said, "It is finished" (John 19:30).

Yet, sin, Satan, trouble, death, and sickness still exist here on earth (2 Corinthians 4:16-18). No matter how much faith we have, they exist (John 16:33).  

We are in the process of renewal in Christ and sometimes God's plan includes supernatural healing here on earth,(2) but perfect spiritual, emotional, and physical health will not be available until eternity when we're completely transformed (1 Corinthians 13:12; 1 John 3:2).(3) 

Our faith is built on that unseen reality (Hebrews 11:1). 
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(1) Matthew actually refers to Isaiah 53:4, which is in the context of Isaiah 53:5.
(2) There are many reasons for sickness and for healing. Sometimes sickness is related to sin or unbelief, but not always. Sometimes healing is credited to faith or repentance, but not always. If we create formulas for healing that blame the sick person, we are no different than Job's friends whom God rebuked. Just as we are saved, are being saved, and will be saved - we are healed, are being healed, and will be healed.  
(3) See also 1 Corinthians 15:20-28 which explains that Christ's mission won't be complete until His second coming and Hebrews 2:5-9 which explains that not all things are subject to Christ-followers here on earth.
 
Bible Study
Because this is such a misunderstood subject, we must study the full counsel of Scripture to learn all that God tells us about healing here on earth. I could not fully explain what Scripture teaches about healing in a single study, but I do want to offer Scriptural proof that perfect health is not promised here on earth.  

1. These passages talk about future realization of perfection - the future realization of what Christ has already accomplished in the spiritual realm.

1 Corinthians 15:20-28: But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For he “has put everything under his feet.” Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 28 When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.

Misunderstandings About the Stripes that Heal Us - Isaiah 53:5
Hebrews 2:5-9: It is not to angels that he has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking. 6 But there is a place where someone has testified: “What is mankind that you are mindful of them, a son of man that you care for him? 7 You made them a little lower than the angels; you crowned them with glory and honor 8 and put everything under their feet.” In putting everything under them, God left nothing that is not subject to them. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to them. 9 But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

2. Some specific examples of the way Scripture talks of Christ's accomplishments as both present and future:

John 16:33: "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

Colossians 2:15: And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. 

1 Corinthians 15:24: Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power.

3. These passages talk about the wasting away of our physical bodies here on earth.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18: Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

 2 Corinthians 5:1-10: For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 2 Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, 3 because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4 For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. 6 Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. 7 For we live by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

4. Also read about Paul's thorn in 2 Corinthians 12:1-10.
Many Bible scholars believe it was a physical problem, but even if it was a spiritual problem, it would refute the belief that what Christ accomplished in the spiritual realm is fully realized in our present lives, for Christ certainly defeated Satan and Scripture says it was a "messenger of Satan" sent to torment Paul, a faithful believer. 

copyright 2017, Gail Burton Purath, Bite Size Bible Study

Sunday, October 8, 2017

5 Criteria For Choosing Godly Heroes

5 Criteria For Choosing Godly Heroes

We live in a culture that frequently exalts people who lack character. Many sinful men and women become celebrities and heroes.  

But Christians should have different criteria when picking heroes because:  

1. We are in the world but not of it (John 17:14-16).
We should be different! 

2. We honor positions out of respect for God. 
God commands honor for our parents (Ephesians 6:2), the elderly (1 Timothy 5:1-2), and government officials (Romans 13:1-7).

3. But we only honor the character of those who honor God.  
"Carefully determine what pleases the Lord. Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them. It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret."(1)  

4. We're careful because we know that we become like the people we admire (1 Corinthians 15:33).

5. We strive to show kindness to all men, but we choose our heroes and friendships Biblically.(2) 
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(1) verses 10-12 of Ephesians 5:1-14  
(2) See “How, Who, and What to Judge According to Scripture.

Bible Study 

1. God rebukes Eli for honoring his wicked sons. This is an interesting passage because it deals with the parent-child relationship.  

In 1 Samuel 2, the priest Eli talks to his sons about their evil behavior but does nothing else. So the Lord speaks to him:

Verses 29-30: Why do you give your sons more honor than you give me—for you and they have become fat from the best offerings of my people Israel! 30 “Therefore, the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I promised that your branch of the tribe of Levi would always be my priests. But I will honor those who honor me, and I will despise those who think lightly of me.

Eli's sons were in ministry (both priests), so their wickedness was especially disturbing. Luke 14:26 warns against letting family relationships get in the way of our relationship with the Lord.

2 . Note the character of those described in this passage and how it resembles some popular celebrities.

5 Criteria For Choosing Godly Heroes
Isaiah 5:20-23: What sorrow for those who say that evil is good and good is evil, that dark is light and light is dark, that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter. 21 What sorrow for those who are wise in their own eyes and think themselves so clever. 22 What sorrow for those who are heroes at drinking wine and boast about all the alcohol they can hold. 23 They take bribes to let the wicked go free, and they punish the innocent. 

They live for evil purposes, calling evil things "good" and good things "evil." They admire themselves even though they are self-indulgent and dishonest. 
  
3. Read the following passage in Ephesians and examine your "heroes." Ask God if any need to be taken off your list.  

Ephesians 5:10-14: Carefully determine what pleases the Lord. 11 Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them. 12 It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret. 13 But their evil intentions will be exposed when the light shines on them, 14 for the light makes everything visible. This is why it is said, “Awake, O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”

 copyright 2017, Gail Burton Purath, Bite Size Bible Study

Sunday, October 1, 2017

When Man's Words Distort God's Word

Beward of Teachings that Distort God's Word - Colossians 2:8

I recently read an article written by one of the popular ministries that promises health, wealth and comfort. I am always surprised how these ministries distort Scripture, and I'm concerned for the sincere Christians who fall captive.

Referencing Romans 4:17 and Matthew 12:34-37, this ministry claimed we can control our environment by what we say.(1) 

Yet Romans 4:17 says God “calls into being things that were not.” It doesn’t say men can.(2) 

In Matthew 12, the Pharisees claimed Christ's power came from Satan. So Jesus explained that words flow from good or evil in people's hearts, condemning or acquitting them. The context is man's words about God, not man's ability to change earthly circumstances. 

Scripture never promises health, wealth, and comfort. Earthly life can be hard. Our physical bodies are wasting away, but Christians can focus on the wonderful eternity awaiting us (2 Corinthians 4:16-18; 2 Corinthians 5:1-5).

And we have the wonderful promise of God's presence with us in every situation, good or bad (Psalm 46:1).

Let's never listen to teachers who emphasize human words by distorting God's Word (Colossians 2:8).
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(1) Scripture tells us that peace and contentment come from having a positive, grateful outlook on life (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; Philippians 4:8-9), but Scripture never promises health, wealth, and comfort. 
(2) Christ-followers can do great things in Christ's power, according to Christ's plan. But we are not all-knowing so not everything we speak is part of God's plan. In addition, God does things for His children that they can't even imagine, let alone speak (Ephesians 3:20). Another passage often misused by health and wealth teachers is Proverbs 18:21. See a full explanation of that misuse here: The Power and Limit of Words.


Bible Study 

I'm sad and concerned that health and wealth teaching has become so popular and is deceiving so many people. The author and ministry leader who wrote the article I mentioned above said those who don't agree with his teaching have been brainwashed by the devil.
Beward of Teachings that Distort God's Word - Colossians 2:8

When someone makes such a claim, we should ponder just what he is saying. If everyone who does not believe Christ offers health and wealth is brainwashed by the devil, that includes millions of sincere believers, martyrs, missionaries, and pastors throughout church history. Furthermore, that means that God withholds blessings from anyone - no matter how faithful and loving - based solely on that person's words. This is a huge distortion of the Christian life and a distortion of God's character.

2 Corinthians 4 offers a true view of our lives and our God:


Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. 2 Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. 


7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. 

13 It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. 15 All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. 

16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

And continuing in 2 Corinthians 5:1-10:  
For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. 2 We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. 3 For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies. 4 While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life. 5 God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit. 6 So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. 7 For we live by believing and not by seeing. 8 Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord. 9 So whether we are here in this body or away from this body, our goal is to please him. 10 For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body.

Health and wealth teachers take passages like this, lift out the part about believing and speaking (4:13-14), and ignore the rest of the passage which explains the hardships and bodily suffering of faithful believers. In eternity, we will have health and "wealth." As 5:7 says, we live by believing, not seeing.

copyright 2017, Gail Burton Purath, Bite Size Bible Study