Yesterday Gloria and I went into town for a quick shopping trip.
While there we saw a Christian friend we hadn’t seen for a few years. She and her family attend the local charismatic church who are big devotees of Bill Johnson’s teaching, and many years ago when we attended that church, the pastor and his family took three months leave to attend a leadership training course at the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship, where the “Toronto blessing” originated. It was soon after their return that Gloria and I left that local church.
Last year, only two or three months before I was diagnosed, the pastor of that local charismatic church died from cancer. Also, during some of my chemotherapy , a member of that church was having treatment as well. He was in a bad way, having to carry oxygen around with him and relying on a walking frame for mobility. According to our friend that man has accepted that it is God’s will that he is dying and doesn’t have long left.
Occasionally those situations, in particular what happened to the pastor, played on my mind. Surely he had trusted the Lord to heal him, and yet he died. Why should I think my situation would be any different?
Talking to that friend yesterday I got my answer. When I told her about the medical diagnosis given to me she cheerily said something about this life being temporary. I countered her seeming acceptance of “my” death sentence with “to live is Christ” – and not surprisingly she replied “to die is gain”.
I then told her I rejected that selfish option (as Paul did after considering his own choice), and referred her to Deuteronomy 30 where God set before His people the choice between life and death, blessings and curses and commanded “now choose life!”.
What could be clearer about God’s will than God Himself COMMANDING the choice of life?
I gave this post the title “disappointment can be encouraging”, because it’s disappointing to know that Christians have so little knowledge of God and His will for their lives (especially regarding healing and His provision of it), and therefore have a compromised foundation for their faith.
But in this particular case it was encouraging to have something confirmed. That despite being a pastor of a charismatic church, it should not be presumed that he was REALLY, single-mindedly believing God for healing. My assessment from yesterday’s conversation leads me to believe that unwavering faith wasn’t there.
The conversation also displayed a mindset common among too many Christians. She said she was pleased the Lord had given me a scripture to let me know His will in my situation (the “now choose life” reference from Deuteronomy). But Scripture isn’t a collection of randomly personal promises that God distributes to individuals according to His whim. The choice of blessings and life isn’t sitting there in the Bible waiting for God to make it a “rhema” (or personally “quickened”) word for lucky individuals. The promise is for ALL of His people. It is an expression of His will for everyone – because He desires ALL to be obedient to Him and the blessings and life are the outcome (reward) for obedience .
To Israel that obedience, under the old covenant, was to the Law. But now under the better, new covenant, obedience is expressed through faith in Jesus.
Jesus paid for our healing just as much as He paid for the forgiveness of our sin. If we believe our sins are forgiven, what’s preventing us from accepting ALL the benefits God has provided through the gift of His Son?