Category Archives: faith

Remembering Joey Martin Feek

[Editor: In 2016, readers of this blog were most touched by the series of articles we posted on the life-ending journey of Joey Martin Feek. It has been one year since her passing, but millions of people were blessed by her story of courage and faith. The following post, A Proverbs 31 Woman, was our most-read article last year.]

I have shared with my readers the faithful journey of Joey Martin Feek as she battled the aggressive cancer that finally ended her life. Her husband Rory made the announcement on his blog:

My wife’s greatest dream came true today. She is in Heaven.

The cancer is gone, the pain has ceased and all her tears are dry. Joey is in the arms of her beloved brother Justin and using her pretty voice to sing for her savior.

Joey said:

I pray that one morning I just don’t wake up. But I don’t fear anything because I’m so close to God and we’ve talked about it so many times. I know he’s close. And I know he loves me. I’m really at peace. I still believe there’s healing in prayer.

I’ve prayed and prayed and prayed I’d discover I was healed. But I realized I was healed in a different way. I was healed in my relationship with Christ, because it just drew me closer.

Joey was just a small town girl (Alexandria, Indiana) who loved horses and cowboys. Her dream was to go to Tennessee and get discovered on Music Row in Nashville. That’s where she met her future husband, Rory. He was performing at the iconic Bluebird cafe, and Joey fell in love. “I’m gonna marry that man,” she told friends. But when Rory started talking about his daughters, Joey thought her feelings were mistaken.

Two years past when Joey attended a Singer/Songwriter’s night at the same cafe, and Rory (by providence?) was scheduled to perform. Joey learned that he was not married, but a single dad raising two teenage girls. They started dating, and within four months became husband and wife. Rory said, “I couldn’t believe that a woman like her would want a man like me.”

Joey put her singing career on hold as she lived the life of a country gal on the couple’s farm south of Nashville. She raised chickens, planted a garden, cooked, cleaned and mended, was mother to Rory’s two girls — she was, indeed, a Proverbs 31 woman. Even in her last days, Joey was preparing the seedlings for the Spring planting. Sadly, she won’t be here to harvest their fruit.

Joey Martin Feek was an amazing woman. When Bathsheba was counseling her son, Solomon, she certainly had someone like Joey in mind.

Proverbs 31:10-31

10 An excellent wife, who can find?
For her worth is far above jewels.

11 The heart of her husband trusts in her,
And he will have no lack of gain.

12 She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.

13 She looks for wool and flax
And works with her hands in delight.

14 She is like merchant ships;
She brings her food from afar.

15 She rises also while it is still night
And gives food to her household
And portions to her maidens.

16 She considers a field and buys it;
From her earnings she plants a vineyard.

17 She girds herself with strength
And makes her arms strong.

18 She senses that her gain is good;
Her lamp does not go out at night.

19 She stretches out her hands to the distaff,
And her hands grasp the spindle.

20 She extends her hand to the poor,
And she stretches out her hands to the needy.

21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household,
For all her household are clothed with scarlet.

22 She makes coverings for herself;
Her clothing is fine linen and purple.

23 Her husband is known in the gates,
When he sits among the elders of the land.

24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
And supplies belts to the tradesmen.

25 Strength and dignity are her clothing,
And she smiles at the future.

26 She opens her mouth in wisdom,
And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

27 She looks well to the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.

28 Her children rise up and bless her;
Her husband also, and he praises her, saying:

29 “Many daughters have done nobly,
But you excel them all.”

30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain,
But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.

31 Give her the product of her hands,
And let her works praise her in the gates.

Today, Joey Martin Feek is inside the gates of heaven singing for her Savior. Blessed be His name.

Recommended:

Rory’s WordPress blog: This Life I Live

Joey+Rory Facebook

Copyright © 2017 Eternal Christ

Amazing Grace

What God made from the dust He has returned to dust. Millions of people — I pray you were one — followed the end-of-life journey of Joey Martin Feek. For any who are walking that difficult road I want to offer you my heartfelt prayer that our blessed Lord will be a comforting source of peace and strength to you and your family.

Though we continue to mourn the loss of a beautiful spirit I am compelled, once again, to challenge the heretical teaching of those who preach the false gospel that is Word of Faith. You see and hear them all day on Christian television and radio — Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Fred Price, Kenneth Hagin, Creflo Dollar and many others.

Rod Parsley, for example, said:

Don’t you pray ‘If it’s Thy will.’ Perfect faith cannot exist where the will of God is not known. Did you hear me? I said healing is not a promise, it’s an established fact. First Peter 2:24 records that sickness was defeated as a result of the stripes Jesus bore on His back. When the Roman cat-of-nine-tails whistled through the air and stripped His back until His flesh hanged round His legs like ribbons, every lash laid on Him purchased healing for our sick bodies. Because Jesus bore those stripes you don’t have to be sick anymore.[1]

Messiah Gate has recently published articles on 1 Peter 2:24 so we won’t revisit that except to say that the Word of Faith interpretation of Peter is wrong.

In a recent article I posted the following:

There was an incident where the faith healer told a disabled man to get out of his wheelchair and walk. Well, the man got up and fell … repeatedly. The pastor screamed at the man for his lack of faith. He commanded him over and over to get up and walk — only to fall again and again. The stunned assembly watched in gasping disbelief at the abuse inflicted upon this helpless person. The pastor (Andrew Womack) had the nerve to share this story on TCT, and with no remorse for it was the man’s fault that he was not healed.

Perry Stone recalled a service where he and others were performing a laying on of the hands:

There are some people who when you touch them you can feel the anointing. When you lay your hands upon them there is a surge of power (as when the woman reached out to touch Jesus). Others, it’s like laying your hands upon a rock — there’s nothing. [2]

Womack and Stone both explained that they had confidence in their ability to transfer the healing power of the Holy Spirit, but the afflicted person had to possess the power of faith to receive it. As hard as it was to watch the crippled man fall, a mystified Womack insisted that it was the lame man’s fault that he was not healed.

The assertion of faith healers is that you are not healed either because of a lack of faith, or unconfessed sin. This is what caused me to fall away in my early Christian walk because I listened to (and believed) these false teachers. I mean, let’s call them out — Joyce Meyer, Joel Osteen, Joseph Prince, Robert Schuller, Oral Roberts, Jesse Duplantis, Clarence McClendon and most of what you see on TBN, TCT and The Church Channel. Did I mention Daystar?

It’s a gospel call to health and prosperity. Just name it and claim it is the pulpit mantra. T.D. Jakes, citing the example of blind Bartimaeus, said:

It was not what was in Christ’s mouth that got him healed. The power was in Bartimaeus’ mouth. He would have whatever he said. And Jesus was saying ‘My hands are tied because I can’t do any more for you than what you say.’

If the power of life and death is in the tongue and you can have whatever you say and if you’ve been praying and praying and praying and you finally got God’s attention and now He’s looking at you and saying ‘What do you want?’ … What do you want? Name it, baby, name it … Declare it! Speak it! Confess it! Get your list out! [3]

To a degree, yes, we must have faith, but even that is a gift from God. When Jesus returned to Nazareth it is recorded that He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief (Matthew 13:58). How might we judge the crippled man whom Andrew Womack could not heal? That a man bound to a wheelchair made the effort to attend a faith healing service would seem to suggest that he at least possessed a mustard seed of faith. Why, then, wasn’t he healed?

Perry Stone suggests that without the anointing of God you cannot receive healing. So, if I’m anointed by God I will be healed? Maybe the Jewish scriptures can help us to understand. When Elisha was preparing to succeed Elijah he asked the prophet to bless him. We read from the Masoretic text as translated by the Jewish Publication Society (1917):

And it came to pass, when they were gone over (the river Jordan), that Elijah said unto Elisha: ‘Ask what I shall do for thee, before I am taken from thee.’ And Elisha said: ‘I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me.’2 Kings 2:9

Was this double-dose anointing enough to preserve Elisha’s life? Safeguard him from affliction? Well, no. Only a few chapters later Elisha is confined to his sick-bed:

Now Elisha was fallen sick of his sickness whereof he was to die; and Joash the king of Israel came down unto him, and wept over him (2 Kings 13:14).

There was no miracle healing for Elisha, but there was a miracle after he was buried.

And it came to pass, as they were burying a man, that, behold, they spied a (marauding) band; and they cast the man into the sepulchre of Elisha; and as soon as the man touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood up on his feet (2 Kings 13:21).

That was quite an anointing Elisha received. He died — yet a dead man lived. As Christ died (and was resurrected) so shall we live also. The mystery of the Gospel, hidden in the Jewish scriptures, is yet again revealed. And by this interpretation we correctly understand what Peter was saying — that by the wounds of Christ we were healed of our sin condition. Sin is a fatal disease, but the healing is in the blood of Jesus.

The Word of Faith movement grew out of the Pentecostal movement in the late 20th century. Its founder was E. W. Kenyon, who studied the metaphysical New Thought teachings of Phineas Quimby. Mind science (where “name it and claim it” originated) was combined with Pentecostalism, resulting in a peculiar mix of orthodox Christianity and mysticism.

At the heart of the Word of Faith movement is the belief in the “force of faith.” It is believed words can be used to manipulate the faith-force, and thus actually create what they believe Scripture promises (health and wealth). [Ed: God is subject to these laws according to WOF.]

From here, its theology just strays further and further from Scripture: it claims that God created human beings in His literal, physical image as little gods. [4]

Creflo Dollar (sounding so much like the Serpent to Eve):

I’m gonna say to you right now that you are gods, little ‘g.’ You are gods because you came from God and you are gods. My whole attitude now should be I have equality with God. Now somebody says, ‘Well it’s hard to think that way.’ Well, keep saying it … Talk yourself into it. [5]

So, we can talk ourself into health and wealth — visualize it and possess it? Where is that taught in Scripture? It’s not. It is New Age mysticism and idolatry.

If Jesus had commanded a crippled man to rise from his wheelchair what do you think the result would have been? Or consider this — does a dead man have faith? I’m speaking of Lazarus. By whose faith was he raised, but by the power of Almighty God.

In her final days Joey Martin Feek said:

I’ve prayed and prayed and prayed I’d discover I was healed. But I realized I was healed in a different way. I was healed in my relationship with Christ, because it just drew me closer.

And what of the over two million people who said a prayer for her? Were they all lacking in faith? Even Paul who discovered that (in his affliction) the grace of God was sufficient enough.

Amazing grace, indeed.

Notes:

1. Christianity Still in Crisis?, Bob Hunter, Christian Research Journal, volume 30, number 3 (2007).

2. Manna-Fest, Perry Stone, published on Mar 4, 2016.

3. Source, see #1.

4. Is the Word of Faith Movement Biblical?, Got Questions.org.

5. Source, see #1.

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Copyright © 2016 Messiah Gate

A Proverbs 31 Woman

I have shared with my readers the faithful journey of Joey Martin Feek as she battled the aggressive cancer that finally ended her life. Her husband Rory made the announcement on his blog:

My wife’s greatest dream came true today. She is in Heaven.

The cancer is gone, the pain has ceased and all her tears are dry. Joey is in the arms of her beloved brother Justin and using her pretty voice to sing for her savior.

Joey said:

I pray that one morning I just don’t wake up. But I don’t fear anything because I’m so close to God and we’ve talked about it so many times. I know he’s close. And I know he loves me. I’m really at peace. I still believe there’s healing in prayer.

I’ve prayed and prayed and prayed I’d discover I was healed. But I realized I was healed in a different way. I was healed in my relationship with Christ, because it just drew me closer.

Joey was just a small town girl (Alexandria, Indiana) who loved horses and cowboys. Her dream was to go to Tennessee and get discovered on Music Row in Nashville. That’s where she met her future husband, Rory. He was performing at the iconic Bluebird cafe, and Joey fell in love. “I’m gonna marry that man,” she told friends. But when Rory started talking about his daughters, Joey thought her feelings were mistaken.

Two years past when Joey attended a Singer/Songwriter’s night at the same cafe, and Rory (by providence?) was scheduled to perform. Joey learned that he was not married, but a single dad raising two teenage girls. They started dating, and within four months became husband and wife. Rory said, “I couldn’t believe that a woman like her would want a man like me.”

Joey put her singing career on hold as she lived the life of a country gal on the couple’s farm south of Nashville. She raised chickens, planted a garden, cooked, cleaned and mended, was mother to Rory’s two girls — she was, indeed, a Proverbs 31 woman. Even in her last days, Joey was preparing the seedlings for the Spring planting. Sadly, she won’t be here to harvest their fruit.

Joey Martin Feek was an amazing woman. She was, in fact, the kind of woman I searched for my whole life … but never found. When Bathsheba was counseling her son, Solomon, on the nature of a worthy woman she certainly had someone like Joey in mind.

If it be God’s will may I one day find such a woman.

Proverbs 31:10-31

10 An excellent wife, who can find?
For her worth is far above jewels.

11 The heart of her husband trusts in her,
And he will have no lack of gain.

12 She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.

13 She looks for wool and flax
And works with her hands in delight.

14 She is like merchant ships;
She brings her food from afar.

15 She rises also while it is still night
And gives food to her household
And portions to her maidens.

16 She considers a field and buys it;
From her earnings she plants a vineyard.

17 She girds herself with strength
And makes her arms strong.

18 She senses that her gain is good;
Her lamp does not go out at night.

19 She stretches out her hands to the distaff,
And her hands grasp the spindle.

20 She extends her hand to the poor,
And she stretches out her hands to the needy.

21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household,
For all her household are clothed with scarlet.

22 She makes coverings for herself;
Her clothing is fine linen and purple.

23 Her husband is known in the gates,
When he sits among the elders of the land.

24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
And supplies belts to the tradesmen.

25 Strength and dignity are her clothing,
And she smiles at the future.

26 She opens her mouth in wisdom,
And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

27 She looks well to the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.

28 Her children rise up and bless her;
Her husband also, and he praises her, saying:

29 “Many daughters have done nobly,
But you excel them all.”

30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain,
But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.

31 Give her the product of her hands,
And let her works praise her in the gates.

Today, Joey Martin Feek is inside the gates of heaven singing for her Savior. Blessed be His name.

Recommended:

Rory’s WordPress blog: This Life I Live

Joey+Rory Facebook

Copyright © 2016 Messiah Gate

Healing — Rightly Dividing the Word

timothy

We can’t make the Bible say what we desire it to say. We can’t interpret it according to our feelings, or make it conform to worldly standards. And we most definitely cannot build a church based on the dogma and creed of any denomination or tradition of men. With that in mind we shall examine more closely two verses in the B’rit Chadasha (New Testament) that seem to be saying the same thing. But are they?

The preacher on TCT invites the viewer to touch their television screen as he reads this verse from 1 Peter 2:24 …

He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.

Have you ever reached out to touch the screen believing that you’ll be healed? I am reminded of the story in Numbers 21:8 when YHWH commands Moshe to fashion a bronze serpent, attach it to a pole, and when anyone is bitten by a snake if they look upon the bronze image they will live.

Of course, it is not the serpent on a pole that heals, but the power of God through faith. It came to pass the children of God, believing there was power in the healing pole, began to idolize the bronze serpent. Over the next 430 years — until the reign of Hezekiah — they burnt incense and bowed in worship to what Moshe had created. Their behavior was so blasphemous that the king took the pole and broke it in pieces (2 Kings 18:4).

If you believe that touching your television screen will heal you then may I suggest that you follow the example of King Hezekiah.

This is what happens when tradition — based on our feelings — becomes the foundation of church doctrine. If left unchecked we risk the danger of falling into heresy and condemnation. I mentioned last time that I was banned from a Christian blog because I disagreed with the author’s interpretation of 1 Peter 2:24. They hold to the feel-good proposition that the apostle was speaking of physical healing while I argued that he was referring to spiritual healing. Biblical scholars uniformly agree with the latter interpretation (spiritual) while the modern evangelical church espouses the former (physical).

A similar verse — one that is more specific to physical healing — can be found in Matthew 8:17 …

This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: “HE HIMSELF TOOK OUR INFIRMITIES AND CARRIED AWAY OUR DISEASES.”

Isn’t that what Peter said? Well, no. In context, Peter is speaking of our sin condition — that Jesus bore our sins so that we would die to sin. Throughout the Bible sin is classified as a disease for which there is only one cure … the blood of Jesus Christ.

Now, the apostles (Peter and Matthew) are both quoting Isaiah.

However …

Peter is citing Isaiah 53:5 …

But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed.

Bible commentators agree with the Rabbin that this is, in fact, a reference to spiritual healing.

Albert Barnes:

We are healed – literally, it is healed to us; or healing has happened to us. The healing here referred to is spiritual healing, or healing from sin. Pardon of sin, and restoration to the favor of God, are not unfrequently represented as an act of healing. [1]

John Gill:

Sin is a disease belonging to all men, a natural, hereditary, nauseous, and incurable one, but by the blood of Christ; forgiving sin is a healing of this disease; and this is to be had, and in no other way, than through the stripes and wounds, the blood and sacrifice, of the Son of God. [2]

The LORD did not lay our infirmity upon the scourged Christ, but our iniquity (Isaiah 53:6).

Matthew, in quoting the prophet, is making reference to physical healing. Both Hebrew and Greek scholars agree on this point, and it has so been taught by the Rabbin:

Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted (Isaiah 53:4).

Griefs (חלי, chăliy) does not refer to sins, but means literally sickness and disease. So, faith healers would be better served to quote from Mattityahu (מתיו) rather than Kephas (פיטר). Why don’t they? Because Matthew is quite clear that this prophesy of Yesha’yahu (יְשַׁעְיָהוּ) was fulfilled by Yeshua HaMashiach.

We don’t know how many people Jesus healed — only that it was multitudes. But the early church recognized that the Christ in their midst was the present fulfillment of the law and prophets. Messiah conferred the power of healing upon His apostles who performed these acts of miracles — even raising the dead — until the last of the twelve (John) passed from life to death.

Dr. J. Vernon McGee:

He says here, He’s suffering now the sins of the world who His own self bore our sins in His own body on the tree (1 Peter 2:24). Now, He’s no example to us here. You and I can’t suffer for our own sins let alone the sins of the world, but now he’s talking about redemption. You say, “How do you know?” Well, let’s keep reading here, in His own body on the tree that we being dead to sins  — that was our condition — should live unto righteousness by whose stripes we are healed. Now, healed of what? And I notice faith healers never use this verse, and rightly so because whose stripes you’re healed it’s evident who he’s talking about. He says we were dead in sins. We were absolutely dead and we should live now unto righteousness by whose stripes we’re healed. Healed of what? Of sin, friends. He’s the great healer. I’ll agree with that, but the great healer heals of sin and no human position can handle that problem. [3]

In McGee’s day faith healers did not allude to this verse. It has since been wrongly divided by charismatic evangelicals.

Let me be clear — God still heals by divine will and authority. But when you touch your television screen (by faith), and are not healed, be alert to the Evil One who might steal your hope.

Take your eyes off the bronze serpent and focus on the Christ.

Credits:

1. Notes on the Old Testament, Albert Barnes, (London, Blackie & Son, 1884).

2. An Exposition of the Old Testament, John Gill, (6 vols., 1748-63).

3. Commentary on 1 Peter, Dr. J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible (Five-Year Study).

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Copyright © 2016 Messiah Gate

A Life Well Loved

joeymatinfeek

I have been sharing with my readers the heartbreaking story of our sister in Christ, Joey Martin Feek. Thousands of her brethren held a recent prayer vigil for a miracle of healing. Joey’s husband, Rory, said that she had a good day following, but later that night she was rushed to the hospital because her tumors were painfully inflamed.

Joey has been home receiving hospice care while spending time with her family and saying goodbye to friends. But this inspiring story of faith, hope and love doesn’t begin or end here.

In July 1994, Joey’s brother, Justin, headed out to the county fair. He looked back at Joey and hollered, “See you there!” Less than a mile down the country lane that ran in front of the Martin’s farm-house, Justin crashed his Jeep. A neighbor ran back to the house to tell the family. Joey and her mama rushed to the accident scene and held Justin’s hands as they awaited the ambulance.

He never regained consciousness, and Joey was grieved that she didn’t have a chance to say “goodbye”. Joey and Rory set up a website (for the purpose of healing and closure) where people could upload videos in memory of their passed loved ones. You can watch Joey’s mournful “goodbye” to her brother here.

I don’t know, but maybe it was the burden of grief that she carried all these years that brought this illness upon her. Joey says that she is not mad at God, just disappointed that she won’t have more time. In the midst of her difficult trial, Joey’s father has accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.

Joey can now leave this world knowing that her whole family will be with her in heaven. As her eyes fall heavy from the morphine drip she thinks about holding her brother Justin, and being able to say to her Dad this day, “See you there”.

Copyright © 2015 Messiah Gate

Does God Heal?

miracle

A woman gave testimony that she was to undergo surgery to remove a cancer from her body. When doctors performed a pre-op scan there was no evidence of disease. The previously detected growth was not visible. The tumor was gone. The woman’s doctor could not explain it as anything but a miracle.

I have been sharing the story of Joey Martin Feek. Last year she gave birth to a precious little girl — born with DS. A follow-up examination revealed that Joey had cervical cancer. Her doctors performed a radical hysterectomy, but the cancer had spread to her colon. Additional surgery and a first round of grueling treatments have failed to halt the spread of the disease.

Tens of thousands of people have prayed for Joey. A prayer service was held in the barn at her farm in Tennessee.

I ask, is the instruction of James relevant today?

Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed  (James 5:14-16).

Contrary to popular teaching, James may be speaking of spiritual healing — for by the confession of your sins you may be healed — and not physical. That the one who is (spiritually) sick will be restored and raised up suggests a recovery of holiness and righteousness. This interpretation, however, is not sufficient. The word “sick” (ἀσθενεῖ, asthenei) literally means physical weakness or bodily illness. And James is not restricting this gift of healing to the apostles, but calls upon the presbyters to lay their hands upon the infirmed.

Some Bible expositors suggest that the gift of healing has ceased — that the miracles of the first century were for the purpose of spreading the Gospel — that Jesus healed only as a testimony of His divine authority.

How often do faith healers cite the prophet Isaiah as a witness of their power to heal? The television pastor exhorts the sick to touch the screen as he quotes from the Bible:

… by His stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:5).

Seminary trained pastors actually believe that this passage speaks of physical healing, but Peter clarifies its literal meaning:

… and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed (1 Peter 2:24).

From what were we healed? Peter is quite clear — from our sins we have been healed, and our soul restored to righteousness. So, then, we have read the witness of Isaiah, James and Peter, but our assurance of physical healing is still inconclusive.

In 53:5, Peter correctly interprets that the prophet is speaking of our spiritual condition, but in the preceding verse Isaiah addresses our physical condition:

Surely our griefs (חלי chăliy) He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried (Isaiah 53:4).

It is unfortunate that the Greek rendering is griefs when the ancient Hebraic understanding of Isaiah was that the prophet was speaking of bodily diseases, and so taught by the Rabbin. In fact, some Greek manuscripts use the word ἀσθενείας (astheneias) from which we derive the word anesthesia which is to suggest physical infirmities. Ninety-three times this word appears in scripture and it always refers to sickness — not sin.

Matthew, like Peter, interprets Isaiah:

This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: “He Himself took our infirmities and carried away our diseases.” (Matthew 8:17)

In context, Jesus had just healed Peter’s mother-in-law. (Sidetrack … this means that Peter had a wife. If the Pope is successor to Peter then why does the Roman church forbid marriage?) That evening many who were demon-possessed and sick were brought to Jesus to be healed.

Albert Barnes:

The Greek in Matthew is an exact translation of the Hebrew, and the same translation should have been made in both places. In Isaiah 53:1-12, Isaiah fully states the doctrine of the atonement, or that the Messiah was to suffer for sin. In the verse quoted here, however, he states the very truth which Matthew declares. The word translated “griefs” in Isaiah, and “infirmities” in Matthew, means properly, in the Hebrew and Greek, “diseases of the body.” In neither does it refer to the disease of the mind, or to sin. To bear those griefs is clearly to bear them away, or to remove them. This was done by his miraculous power in healing the sick. [1]

Does Matthew suggest that the miracle of healing was fulfilled in the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ? And how do we sort out the seeming confusion between spiritual and physical disease? When Jesus saw a paralytic man lying in a bed He said to the man, Take courage, son; your sins are forgiven (Matthew 9:2). Because only God can forgive sins, the scribes accused Jesus of blasphemy.

And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Why are you thinking evil in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins — then He said to the paralytic, Get up, pick up your bed and go home. (Matthew 9:4-6)

From ancient days the Rabbin have affirmed an interconnection between sin and disease — that our physical infirmities are a direct consequence of our spiritual transgressions. James exhorts the brethren to confess their sins that they might receive healing in their bodies. Are we lacking in faith? Is there unconfessed sin in our lives? It causes me to tremble in fear that I am sorely afflicted because the LORD has not forgiven me.

But do not fear my brothers. Timothy had stomach problems … Trophimus was left sick at Miletus … and Paul prayed three times for healing, but was not. How, then, do we understand that a tumor disappears in one while in another the disease is ravaging?

Rory Feek wrote in his blog:

Sometimes there just aren’t enough surgeries — or doctors — or chemotherapies — or prayers. And you have to wipe the tears from your cheeks and say the words that you were hoping to never have to say …

“I’m sorry to have to tell you this …” That’s how the conversation began.

So we did what you do when the medicine isn’t working, and the doctors are at a loss … and when the ‘statistics” say you can do more chemo, but it will only buy you a little time …

We came home.

Not to die. But to live.

So, even though we know we’ve reached the end of what medicine can do — and while we prepare for what God has put in front of us … Joey and I will continue to pray for a miracle.

We ask for your prayers, too. For a miracle.

Brothers, I confess that it is hard to understand. Paul asked of the LORD only three times, and was not … I have prayed ten thousand times, and have not … but what I believe is this …

God still performs miracles.

Notes:

1. Barnes, Albert. Notes on the New Testament. London, Blackie & Son, 1884. Reprint: Baker Books, 1998.

Copyright © 2015 Messiah Gate

Offensive for Christ

Being-Salt-and-Light-PPT-image

What does it mean to be salt and light?

… for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord (Ephesians 5:6-13).

Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person  (Colossians 4:6).

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven (Matthew 5:13-16).

We understand that salt is used as a preservative, or flavoring. The lesson is that we are to preserve the Word of God in our hearts, and share it with an unbelieving world. To season our speech with salt is to make the Gospel message more palatable. Bible commentators suggest that we can present an offensive message without being offensive, but how is that possible? When salt is poured into an open wound it stings:

For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing … For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness … (1 Corinthians 1:18-25).

Certainly, we don’t want to be offensive nor alienate our worldly friends and family. So we live our lives almost embarrassed, or ashamed of the Gospel. And who wants to be outcast as strange and foolish? Who among us will stand up and be offensive for Christ?

Red Letter Christians are probably offended at the suggestion. Jesus, they will say, was all about love and forgiveness. Oh, so Jesus Christ never offended anyone?

When His disciples had been upbraided by the Pharisees for not washing their hands before eating, Jesus confronted the lawyers for elevating their religious traditions above the commandments of God. He said to the assembled crowd that what defiles a man is not unclean hands but an unclean heart.

Then the disciples came and said to Him, “Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this statement?” (Matthew 15:12)

If the Pharisees were offended how much more the merchants whose tables were overturned by an irate Christ. The Son of God offended the world system — religious and civil. Can we do no less?

Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword (Matthew 10:24).

This is not the Jesus worshipped by flower-power hippies who have hanging in their VW van a poster of Jesus smoking pot nor liberals who co-opt Christ to promote a social gospel that is lean on theology but heavy on environmentalism, abortion rights, gay marriage, drug decriminalization and feminist radicalism.

I have long-wondered why our nation is so morally bankrupt. If 80% of the populace identify themselves as Christian then how has the nation become so degraded? How do we elect leaders that swear an oath upon the Bible, but don’t believe what it says?

Liberalism.

Government and education long ago were compromised, and now the covenant body of Christ is being sub-divided by false teachers who, like Thomas Jefferson, excise all but the red letters of Holy Scripture.

Red Letter Christians (RLC) are essentially anti-Marcion. Whereas Marcion, branded a heretic, rejected the canon of Scripture (with the exception of the Gospel of Luke and Paul’s letters) the RLC adopts a theology that cedes authority only to the words of Christ.

For some time I have researched “Christian” websites that are anti-Pauline in doctrine. At the core of these ministries is an agenda that promotes freedom of choice and gay marriage. Their theology is based on Matthew 22:36-40 (love is the greatest commandment); and Matthew 25:31-46 (the parable of the sheep and goats as suggestive of a works-based salvation — feeding the hungry, clothing the naked and visiting the sick.) The faith-based teachings found in the Pauline epistles are only subordinate text. It is evident that Paul is rejected solely on the basis that his teachings are at odds with contemporary society. So we have the right to make the Bible conform to our inclinations?

John Gerstner (Professor of Church History at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and Knox Theological Seminary) classified the liberal gospel as a gospel of self-esteem. Doing good works makes us feel good, and it softens the ugly truth that there is no good dwelling in us. Like the observant Muslim who thinks he has to do good works to please God, but on the Day of Judgement Christ will say, Depart from me; I never knew you (Matthew 7:23).

Tony Campolo, activist leader of RLC, wrote:

The primary focus of we Red Letter Christians is on what Jesus had to say about the poor. We realize that the only description that He gave of Judgment Day (Matthew 25) was through a parable in which people were evaluated as to whether or not they fed those who were hungry, naked, sick and imprisoned. Because Evangelicals have been steeped in the theology of the Pauline Epistles before they scrutinize the teachings of Jesus in the red letters of the Bible, they have read Jesus through the eyes of Paul.

While he doesn’t deny that evangelicals are very generous towards the poor it does make you wonder what is his real agenda. Campolo insists that RLC is a non-partisan effort to wrestle Christianity from conservative evangelicals who, he says, have hijacked the faith in alliance with Republican politicos who are anti-gay and anti-feminist.

His Christian agenda sounds like the reading of the Democrat platform at the party’s presidential convention. The Gospel is somewhere hidden in a mishmash of environmental activism and wage inequality. When asked his party affiliation, Campolo will typically answer, “That is not the issue.”

So he rails about conservative Christians, but refuses to identify himself as a liberal Christian. Like Hillary Clinton, he is more comfortable with the term progressive as if that can hide a leopard’s spots. Curious how liberals define (or, in the case of marriage, redefine) certain absolutes. Abortion, for example, is not infanticide but free choice.

What liberals have to do is re-interpret Scripture that both Jews and Christians have understood for thousands of years. Progressives (oh, they are so enlightened) will say that God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah for their inhospitality; Leviticus 18:22 suggests that it is unclean for a man to lie in a woman’s bed, and not prohibitive of gay sex; and Paul’s indictment of homosexuality was only a judgement against prostitution.

In any case, they will say, it doesn’t matter what Paul wrote because he doesn’t speak with the authority of Christ.

There is a deception in the church that is blinding the eyes and clouding the minds of those who have not a discerning spirit. The disparagement of Paul within the church is troublesome. Is it Satanic? To diminish Paul’s credentials would be to undermine two-thirds of Christian canon.

We have to be able to answer this question: By what authority did Paul speak?

Peter wrote:

… and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction (2 Peter 3:15-16).

Of course, there are some within the church who doubt the authorship of 2 Peter so this passage would be inadmissible. Very well, then, may I present the testimony of Luke — acceptable even to Marcion:

Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and the Lord said to him in a vision, Ananias. And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” And the Lord said to him, Get up and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him, so that he might regain his sight. But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he did to Your saints at Jerusalem; and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.” But the Lord said to him, Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake (Acts 9:10-16).

Paul was anointed by the Lord Jesus Christ as Paul, himself, testified to the assembly at Galatia:

Paulus an Apostle, not by the children of men, neither by a son of man, but by Yeshua The Messiah and God his Father, he who raised him from among the dead …(Galatians 1:1). — Aramaic Bible

With what, then,  are we left? Jesus Christ is our Lord and Master …

… and …

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16).

There is light, though, within the RLC. An article, posted on their website, disagreed with Campolo’s interpretation of marriage. The silence of Scripture — that is, Jesus did not specifically condemn homosexuality — is not an affirmation of an act that is clearly condemned in both Jewish and Christian canon. The article honestly cited the Bible’s clarity on marriage, and that sexual intercourse between a man and a woman is the Biblical norm.

We’ve only peeled a few layers off this theological onion. Liberals within the church dispute essential Christian doctrine regarding the deity of Christ, resurrection, faith and salvation. They teach that confession and repentance are unnecessary in this age of grace. Feed the poor and you’ll be okay. Everything else is religion. Jesus, they will say, had no problem with sinners, but with religious people.

How should we respond? Meekness does not mean that we dim our light or lose our savor. In this ongoing spiritual battle we must courageously decide to be offensive for Christ — in the world and from the pew. Let your light be a blinding light, and your words like a two-edged sword.

Remember: Christian love is corrective — not permissive.

Reference:

The Liberal View of Justification, article by John Gerstner.

Red Letter Christianity: A New Name for Progressive Evangelicals, article by Tony Campolo.

When Red Is Blue: Why I am not a Red-Letter Christian, article by Stan Guthrie.

The Problem with Being a Red Letter Christian, article by Ian Paul.

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