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"HEALING:THE REALITY OF MORTALITY" 

 STUDY NO. 4

 READING:    2 CORINTHIANS 4/1-5/2

 

INTRODUCTION:  

 

In this series I have sought to stress that a Biblical view of healing must include the whole person; i.e. spiritual, emotional, relational as well as the physical dimension.   Salvation (or, if you prefer, the "total healing of the whole person") is a process not an event.  It has past, present and future dimensions.  In this study we particularly focus upon a major factor related to physical healing - our mortality. That is, the inevitable ageing and ultimate cessation of all our vital bodily functions.  

 

One of the major "faults" or "blind spots" with some approaches to physical healing is the failure to come to terms with mortality and death. In other words, there has to be a point where we no longer pray for a person's healing but accept that now is their time to depart this life and enter the presence of their Lord.   If it is always God's will to heal every person every time, then we would all live forever! (Of course, eternal life is the promise to all who are disciples of Jesus).

 

But when is that time for the person to die? Some would say that the Bible sets the life span of 70 years; for some it is 80 years (Psalm 90/10). That position raises more questions that it answers. Does it mean that on the 70th (or 80th) birthday of a sick person, we stop praying for their healing and begin to prepare them for their death?   My concern is that too many well-intentioned people have naively by-passed this issue and have, therefore, set themselves up for great disappointment.  

 

INTERACTION:   In an attempt to come to grips with the reality of our mortality, consider the following:    

 

1."Any theology & practice of healing or wholeness that does not come to terms with the reality and inevitability of physical death is necessarily inadequate and defective."  

a)  Do you agree or disagree with the above statement? _________

b)   Re-phrase it in your own words.   ___________________________________________________________

 

2.  Let's look at 5 passages of Scripture that seem to acknowledge the mortal nature of our bodies. Consider the brief note attached to each passage and write down your own comments or observations that summarise your response to the verses.  

 

a)  Romans 8/18-23 - Paul clearly acknowledges that our bodies are subject to decay, disease and death while we live on this planet. Although we have the Holy Spirit within us, we still long for the day when we will have new bodies. Keep in mind that this is the same man who passionately believed in and practiced a healing ministry.

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b)  1 Cor. 15/50-57 - Paul here speaks of our "mortal bodies" or (as in the NLT) our "dying bodies" and the transformation that will take place so that we will never die. We will have "immortal bodies". When will that be? Does this mean that there is no place for divine healing?    

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c)  2 Cor. 4/14-18; 5/1-5     What does Paul say about our earthly bodies? How does he describe or illustrate the 'death event' for Christians? As you read these verses, how would you describe Paul's understanding of mortality for Christians?    

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d)  Phil. 3/20,21-Paul contrasts our "weak mortal bodies" with our "glorious bodies". When does the 'changeover' take place?   

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e)  Rev. 21/1-4 (especially v.4)    "…no more death or sorrow or crying or pain."  John is here describing the final victory of the Kingdom of God in all its fullness. It is remarkably similar to the Kingdom of God before the invasion of sin into our world (Genesis 1 and 2)!!    

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3.  Even though both Peter and Paul were involved in healing ministries, they still recognised the reality and inevitability of death.   Read the verses below and identify the way each looked at death.Write down in your own words their description of the death event as it applies to Christians.  

 

a)   Paul-  2 Timothy 4/6-8.  

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b)  Peter-  2 Peter 1/13-15.    

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4.  Consider the following statements and select the one that most represents your conviction about healing at this point in time.  

 

a)  "Because we are mortal there is no point in praying for people to be physically healed."  

b)  "Death is Satan's weapon and we should do everything we can to resist it;  including praying for physical healing."  

c)  "Because the death of His saints is precious in the eyes of the Lord (Ps.116/15), we ought not to pray for healing but welcome death as a friend."  

d)  "Despite our mortality, the example of Jesus and the early church compels us to pray for the sick that they may be healed, forgiven (if needed) and restored."  

e)  Other  ____________________________________________________________________

 

5.  How do you respond to the following?  

 

"We ought to be free to pray for the sick when we........  

 

a. discern that a particular sickness is the result of Satan's activity (Luke 13/10-17)  

b. recognise that a particular sickness is a symptom of deeper spiritual problem (Jam.5/16)  

c. are genuinely moved by compassion and care"

 

FINALLY…  

 

If you are finishing this study convinced that there is no point in praying for healing or of developing a healing ministry, then something is terribly wrong!! We have missed something, somewhere, somehow.  

 

Conversely, if you still haven't made space in your theology of healing for the reality of mortality and the inevitability of physical death this side of the Second Coming, then something else is equally wrong.  

 

Somewhere between those two extremes is to be found a theology and practice of healing that believes that the Kingdom of God has come with Jesus' first coming but that its full and final manifestation is yet future.   Therefore, we can anticipate that there is a measure of healing and wholeness available now consistent with the measure of God's Kingdom that is here now. But the full expression of that healing - the conquest of death finally and fully in the life of every believer - awaits the return of Jesus.    

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