Atonement Healing

“… by His stripes we are healed” I Peter 2:24
Peter’s quote of Isaiah 53:5 is noted by some as proof that all Christians are to be healed of all illnesses. This is called Atonement Healing.

In context neither Isaiah or Peter is speaking of bodily illness. The context in which the statement appears clearly defines the term. The Greek word for “healed” used here is used in various ways in Scripture. In Luke 4:18 it refers to relieving of heartaches, in Hebrews 12:13 to correcting ones conduct, and in Matthew 13:15 it means to bring about ones salvation.

The Hebrew word for “healed” used by Isaiah (NAPHA) can be used for physical or spiritual healing. The context clearly reveals the reference is to spiritual healing. Of what does Isaiah say we are healed —- transgressions and iniquities. Peter makes it clear that it is “our sins” of which we are spiritually healed.

This is not to deny or diminish the reality that physical healing can come from the Lord. The Lord God is RAPHA, the God who heals. Jesus was called the Great Physician. However, He does not heal all.

Paul had an ailment (II Cor. 12: 7-10). Timothy had a stomach disorder (I Tim. 5:23). Paul instructed him to take a little wine for his stomach. Amoeba in the water caused stomach problems. The wine and water mixture noted in rabbinical writings was one part wine and twenty parts water. If healing were in the atonement why didn’t Paul instruct him to claim his healing instead and giving medical advice?

Trophimus and Epaphroditus were very sick (II Tim. 4:20 & Phi. 2: 26, 27). Nothing in Scripture indicates these conditions resulted from th persons being out of fellowship. Illness does not indicate a person is out of God’s will.
Paul spoke of an illness he had (Galatians 4: 13-15) in addition to his thorn in the flesh (II Cor. 12: 7-9).

If healing is in the atonement why didn’t James instruct the saints to claim it instead of anointing with oil and praying?

(On this web site under “Price Tags” read “Anointing With Oil” for more on James 5: 13-25 regarding anointing with oil.)

II Corinthians 4: 7 – 18 clearly teaches we will be susceptible to suffering and sickness. Ecclesiastes 12: 1- 7 colorfully and graphically describes the ailments and limitations of the body that naturally consequent from aging.

The idea that all Christians can be healed by rebuking sickness and/or claiming atonement healing is erroneous. It is contrary to the teaching of Scripture and the experience of some Bible characters.

There is healing in the atonement. There is also assurance of resurrection in the atonement. The cross is the basis for all blessings granted believers. This does not mean all benefits can be obtained on demand. If it did believers would have the authority to claim their resurrection at a certain time just before death. All blessings promised believers will be received. That of the resurrection will only be at the time of the rapture. Like the resurrection total healing will not be received until the end of the age. Matthew 8: 17 is best understood in light of this.

The “name it and claim it” school of theology has led many to despair and/or disillusionment. Advocates assert what you confess you profess. Talk sickness and you will get sick. Talk healing and health and you will get well. All persons should maintain a positive attitude. Believers have every reason to be optimistic. Our thoughts do not create reality however. Only God can do that.

As a pastor I have observed many person approach and experience death with great faith and confidence in God. They knew their greater reward awaited them, their ultimate healing.

The redemption of the body is something we are awaiting: “…we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body” (Romans 8: 23 [read verses 18-25]).

Many advocates of atonement healing urge believers to shun modern medicine and trust God instead. By His grace God has revealed many healing procedures and products. In many instances it pleases Him to use medicines and doctors as His agents of healing.

Those who do not believe in atonement healing, the health syndrome, are said to be ungodly, having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof. These are terms used in Scripture for the lost. Thus, they are saying those who do not accept their position are not Christians. Carried to its logical conclusion this means every person who becomes ill is lost. That is an egregious doctrinal error.

Believers who have relied on their faith in atonement healing and are not healed often lose faith all together. They feel God has not kept His promise. Persons having repented, believed, prayed, and declared Satan bound are disillusioned if God doesn’t heal them. They never consider they misunderstood His word.

Some engage in introspection that results in self-condemnation. Dismay and disillusion result in spiritual defeat.

Believers should do several things when ill. By all means pray. When we pray we ask God to do His part. Enlist others to pray if it is a serious illness. Seek proper medical treatment as soon as possible. When we do we are doing our part. Then relax in God’s grace and rely on His love. All that is expected by God has then been done. As a consequence God will act based on His love and wisdom. God heals based on these two factors.

The man with the withered hand who came to Christ is an example of healing in partnership (Mark 3). Jesus said to him, “Come here.” Jesus could have walked over to him and simply said, “Your arm is healed.” Instead He called for the man to act. Jesus further commanded, “Stretch out your hand.” In commanding the man He was calling on him to do his part: “You with the withered arm. You stretch out your hand.” Divine operation often waits on human cooperation.

Let those he chooses to heal rejoice and let those not healed suffer for the glory of God not being offended by His sovereign decision. He loves both. His sufficiency can be revealed through both. Paul’s thorn in the flesh was not removed. It was a grievous means by which God showed His grace to be sufficient even in adversity.

Jesus said sickness can be “for the glory of God” (John 11:4).
God still heals. Sometimes it is directly; supernaturally. Often it is through human means and modern medical treatment. It is sometimes immediately and at other times gradually, but He does heal. For some it is the ultimate healing we call death. Even that eventuates in the ultimate atonement healing spoken of in I Corinthians 15: 51-55.

Rejoice that even though He has not promised us perpetual health and life on this planet He has provided for us eternal life in His presence.