TOPIC 1. “Becoming The People God Wants Us To Be.”
Most people when they hear the word “healing” immediately think of physical healing. However physical healing is just one part of the healing that God wants to bring to His people. God’s salvation in Christ has provision for wholeness in every dimension of life. Salvation (soteria in the Greek) has the sense of wholeness. Wholeness in body, mind and spirit. The verb deriving from soteria (salvation) is sozo and is translated as “save” or “heal”. God wants everyone to come to know Him and to experience His healing power and love. He wants them to be in the centre of His will for them as His saved people.
The people of God as God’s saved people are to be prepared for the Second Coming of Christ their King. It means submitting to Him now as King and becoming His “holy” or “set apart” people.
How do believers prepare for His Coming? Peter asked, 2 Pet 3:11-14. “What people ought you to be… ? ” The answer is by becoming the people God wants us to be. It appears from 3:12 that when we live as we should we can “hasten” the coming of that day. 2Pet 3:11-12, “Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12) waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn!” Of course God knows when that final day will be. It won’t catch Him unawares! But He encourages us by telling us that we can make a difference in the world as we live for Him.
We need to look at three concepts in connection with this.
1). The first is the concept of the Kingdom of God and what it means to live under God’s rule.
2). The second is how Jesus lived and ministered on earth as perfect man in submission to God.
3). The third is how we are to follow that pattern as we live for God today.
1). THE CONCEPT OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD
i). Everyone is meant to live according to Kingdom principles The kingdom of God means God’s rule over His people. They are meant to live in willing submission to Him. Humans today can have an inner motivation and power to live as they should. God promised a New Covenant in which He would work in the lives of His people to motivate them and empower them to do His will. Such promises were seen in the following verses. Jer 31:33, I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts…. Ezek 11:19-20, And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, 20 that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. Ezek 36:26-27 is similar but adds, 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.
Those promises were fulfilled in what Jesus did in His death and resurrection and in the gift of the Holy Spirit He poured out on the church. God’s resources have been made available to believers by the gift of His Spirit to them. Paul wrote in Rom 7:6 that believers now “serve not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit.” In Eph 1:13 he wrote of the inheritance believers have in Christ. “In him you also… were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” The Holy Spirit brings life and imparts kingdom resources to God’s people.
ii). Living contrary to kingdom principles causes damage a). The danger of effect of hate, resentment and unforgiveness.
God has commanded people to love one another. If however they refuse to do so and continue to live with wrong negative emotions such as hate and resentment and refuse to forgive others, this can cause physical and emotional stress which can lead to illness.
b). Psychosomatic illnesses. Many health professionals see a link between unhealthy thinking and physical illness. They say that unhealthy thinking in the mind (psyche) can affect the body (soma) adversely.
Believers, as those indwelt by the Holy Spirit, can have victory over damaging negative emotions through renewed minds.
iii). If we lived according to those kingdom principles, we would be more likely to maintain health. Healing is accelerated as negative factors are dealt with. For example, seeking to obey what God has commanded, such as loving one another and forgiving those who hurt us, opens us up to His healing power.
The prayer Jesus taught His followers , “Your kingdom come, Your will be done” should include, “Begin in ME!” Jesus commanded us to pray for His kingdom to come but it is necessary to pray that God work in us as well as in other people. That is, we need to allow Christ as the King to establish His kingdom in our lives. This should be seen in terms of Christian living (kingdom righteousness, kingdom love, kingdom wisdom and kingdom power) by the kingdom resources He places within us by the gift of His Holy Spirit.
2). JESUS AS THE PERFECT HUMAN LIVING UNDER THE RULE OF GOD
What does Phil 2:5-7 really mean? Jesus “emptied Himself?” Paul never suggests that Jesus emptied Himself of His divinity. He never ceased to be the Son of God or ceased to be divine. Rather He “emptied Himself” of many of His privileges that were His as the eternal Son of God.
Even though He was the Creator He limited Himself to a human body. He became tired, hungry and thirsty like other humans and he expressed Himself through human emotions.
• He didn’t continue to “grasp” or hang on to the privileges of being omnipotent (He said He could only do what He saw the Father doing. He said that of Himself He could do nothing.)
• He didn’t hang on to the privilege of being omnipresent because on earth He could only be in one place at one time.
• He didn’t hang on to the privilege of being omniscient in terms of knowing all things. As a human he asked questions to obtain answers. He grew in wisdom.
Jesus’ perfect life and perfect death as the “TRUE” human. In His perfect life He fulfilled all the requirement of the law of God for humans. A human had lived as God intended humans to live. A human had fulfilled the obligations of the law. In His perfect death as a human He bore the punishment for breaking of the law by the entire human race. He was and is the ONLY TRUE human who lived as God intended humans to live
Jesus’ Healings and Miracles.Are they a proof of His divinity or His perfect humanity? Jn 20:30-31. Note the order of the words. Messiah! Son of God! Whilst we rightly appeal to Jn 20:30-31 as a proof text for Jesus’ divinity we need to look more closely at what John is saying. Jn 20:30 “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
John here described Jesus as the Son of God. But he puts “Messiah” first. Is John meaning that the signs Jesus performed are a proof of His divinity or is he saying that the signs prove that Jesus was the Messiah, the Christ, the anointed one (and of course the eternal Son of God as well)?
The latter meaning would fit in with the prophecy in Is 61:1, 2 about the coming Messiah and Jesus’ use of that passage to describe His own ministry in Luk 4:18-21, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. … (21) And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
Jesus’ perfect availability, perfect faith, perfect obedience, as the true human. If John meant that Jesus’ ministry was performed as the true human operating under the anointing of the Holy Spirit of God then the following would be true.
• He ministered in total reliance upon His Heavenly Father. Thus He was perfectly available for the Father to give Him the words to say and for the Father to work His signs and miracles through Him at any time.
• It would mean that Jesus was operating always in perfect faith in His Father, and lived a life of perfect obedience to Him.
• It would mean that there existed between the Father and Jesus a perfect intimacy so that He could see what the Father was doing in every situation.
Peter’s explanation of Jesus’ ministry. Peter wrote of Jesus’ ministry in Acts 10:38, “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.”
Jesus as the eternal Son of God and Creator would not have needed God to anoint Him with power unless He limited Himself to minister as a human in reliance on God. Then He would need God’s empowering by His Spirit. The additional phrase “for God was with Him” seems to be Peter’s way of explaining the source of Jesus’ power in ministry. Jesus was God’s instrument in healing people. This verse fits in with so much of the New Testament teaching that Jesus was the instrument God used but the source or origin of His ministry was in God Himself as He ministered on earth.
Jesus’ explanation of His ministry.It came from the anointing of the Holy Spirit.
When Jesus returned from the temptations in the wilderness He began His ministry with an announcement in the synagogue in Nazareth. Luke records that Jesus read from the scroll from Is 61:1-2. He then announced Lk 4:20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” It was a claim that He was the Messiah. It was also a declaration that His ministry would come from an anointing with the Holy Spirit.
An encouragement for believers. We need to recognise that the Holy Spirit who anointed Jesus for His ministry is the SAME Holy Spirit who has anointed us. The verb “chrio” (anoint) is used of Jesus being anointed by the Holy Spirit in Lk 4:18; by God in Acts 4:27; and with the Holy Spirit in Acts 10:38. It is also used of Jesus being anointed with the oil of gladness in Heb 1:9. It is used of believers in 2 Cor 1:21 And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, 2Co 1:22 and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee..
The noun “chrisma” (anointing) is used of believers in 1 Jn 2:20, But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge and in 1 Jn 2:27, But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything–and is true and is no lie, just as it has taught you–abide in him.
These are the only references for these Greek words for “anoint” or “anointing” in the New Testament. They are significant. It shows us that every believer has been anointed by the Holy Spirit, and that there are no comparisons in the use of these words in the New Testament.
Often in today’s church we hear the phrase being used that one Christian was “more anointed” than another believer. However such an expression has no biblical basis at all and its use has led to pride and arrogance on the part of some people and caused hurt to others. All believers were anointed by the Holy Spirit when they were established in Christ 2 Cor 1:21. Perhaps we could say in biblical terms that one can’t become “more anointed.” However one could become more available to God by abiding more closely to Him so that the anointing we have received from God can more readily flow through us. The emphasis then is not on seeking “more anointing” but on humbly playing our part in seeking to abide more closely with Him.
Jesus’ explanation of His ministry of Words and Works.
The Words Jesus spoke. He said of His teaching in Jn.7:16,“My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me.” He meant that the origin of the teaching was not Himself but the Father. He was the instrument through whom the words of the Father came but they did not originate in Him.
He said a similar thing in Jn 17:7-8 of the teaching coming from the Father. Jn 17:7 “Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. 8 For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. ” Again the Father was the source of Jesus’ words, and Jesus was the instrument through whom the teaching came.
The Works He performed.(Again we see the same concept. The works originated with the Father and Jesus was the instrument through whom He worked. Jn 5:19, So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise? Because of the intimacy between Jesus and His heavenly Father, Jesus could “see” what the Father was doing in every situation and was available to be used by Him to accomplish His work.
In just one verse in Jn 14:10 Jesus summarised His ministry of words and works. Jn 14:10 “Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.”
Jesus continued the same pattern in His explanation of His ministry. His words came from His Father with His authority. The works Jesus did were in fact the works of the Father working through Him. No wonder Jesus said that to reject His teaching was to reject the Father who had sent Him. Jn 12:49 “For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment–what to say and what to speak.”
Jesus, The Pattern of Perfect Humanity.
Jesus showed us how humans should live. We see Him as being perfectly submitted to God and to God’s will for Him for every moment of His life. We see His perfect availability to His heavenly Father as the true human.
We need to take seriously what Jesus and others said about His ministry. We often assume that Jesus exercised His ministry as the Son of God and that’s why He could do signs and wonders and miracles with His divine power. But that would mean that Jesus was not living as a true human if He had resources open to Him that were not open to other humans. He had to live as a human and minister as a human that He might be able to die as a human for humans.
Jesus as man overcame temptation by relying on and acting on the word of God. Mat 4:4,7,10.
Jesus as man overcame the powers of darkness and triumphed over them in the cross. Col 2:15.
Jesus as man fulfilled the law of God by His perfect obedience as man.
Jesus as man died on the cross to bear the sins of the human race.
What was His secret? It was His intimate relationship with His Father for every moment of His life.
Abiding in the Father. Jn 14:6-11. In the passage from Jn 14:6-11 we read of this intimacy of relationship. Jn 14:10 “Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works
• When people saw Jesus they saw the Father.
• When people heard Jesus speak they heard the Father’s words.
• When people saw Jesus minister they saw the Father at work through Him.
Jesus explained that intimacy in Jn 14:11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. If they found that degree of intimacy difficult to grasp then they could look at Jesus’ works which were a manifestation of the Father at work through Him. or else believe on account of the works themselves.
Jn 17:21. Jesus spoke of this intimacy between His Father and Himself as being one with the Father and as being “in” each other. He wanted His followers to have that same oneness that He and the Father enjoyed. When they showed forth that oneness then the world could believe that God sent Jesus. Jn 17:21 “that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” Jn 17:22 “The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one” Jn 17:23 “I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”
Jesus seemed to be inferring that when believers did not share that intimacy with Himself or with God, or that oneness with each other, the world would find it difficult to believe that God had sent Him.
What need there is for believers to recognise, act on and enjoy their oneness in Christ. Not only will they be blessed but the Lord Jesus will be recognised in them and exalted as the One sent from God with His authority.
3). OUR OWN CHRISTIAN PERSONHOOD AS WE LIVE FOR GOD
Does it all depend on our “ability” or our “avail-ability?” What is our responsibility? My little summary is this. “Our responsibility is to be available to His ability in and through us.” When we rely on our own ability we close ourselves to God’s ability to work through us. If Jesus could do nothing of Himself and told His followers that they could do nothing apart from Him we need to take Him seriously indeed.
Christian living is not just our trying to do the best we can in a difficult world. It is really letting God work within us so that motivated and empowered by Him we are able to work out in our everyday living and ministry what He is working in us. Phil 2:12-13.
The need to abide in Him. John 15:5 Jesus said, “Without me you can do nothing”. (As we will see later in Core Teaching we can do lots of things as Christians but nothing of eternal value unless it originates in Him.) However as we learn to abide in Christ in a deepening personal and intimate relationship things can begin to happen in and through our lives. Jesus said in following verses, Jn 15:7 “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”
When believers learn to abide in Christ and to absorb and live by His word, their prayers will be answered. Why? Because through abiding in Christ and living in the word of God we can come to know God’s will more clearly and our prayers will be more in accord with the will of God. Such prayers receive answers.
The example of Paul. Gal.2:8. Paul understood the concept that Jesus taught. The source of all true ministry was God Himself. But He could use human instruments. He had used Jesus as a human. He had used Peter and Paul. Paul described his ministry and the ministry of Peter, as God working through them. Gal 2:8 (“for he who worked through Peter for his apostolic ministry to the circumcised worked also through me for mine to the Gentiles”). Peter and Paul exercised their ministries but in reality it was God at work through their availability to Him.
God’s grace is sufficient. 2 Cor 12:9-10. Paul here elucidates an important principle. From his own experience he had learnt that in time of difficulty, the grace of God was more than sufficient to enable one to cope. God had encouraged him with the words, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” From that point Paul saw the value of weakness because it opened one up to the power of God. He continued, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
The strong person in God is the one who recognises his or her weaknesses and relies on God for His strength. The believer who relies on his or her own wisdom and strength is heading for a real fall. As Paul wrote in 1 Co 10:12 “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.”
Paul’s motive in life. To know God in a deeper way. Phil 3:10 “that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.”
Christianity is all about commitment and love. That’s what the 2 Great Commandments of Jesus are all about. Mk 12:30 “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ Mk 12:31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.
As believers we have come to “know” the Lord through our personal commitment to Him. But our understanding and experience of Him is meant to deepen. In coming to know Him more deeply we are coming to recognise and understand just who He is as the eternal Son of God, as the Creator and the Sustainer of the universe. Yet He wants us to see ourselves as His friends, (Jn 15:14) “You are my friends if you do what I command you”. AND (Jn 15:15) “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.”
We also come to “know” Him more deeply as we learn to recognise and appreciate more deeply what He has done for us as our Saviour from sin as the Messiah, and as we respond to His rule over us as our Lord.
In knowing Jesus we come to know the Father as well as Jesus said in Jn 14:7 “If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” Jn 14:8 Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jn 14:9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father….”
Paul at prayer for his friends. He prayed that they might know God more deeply. Eph 1:17 (NIV) “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.” The deeper knowledge of God that Paul wants for himself, he wants for his friends as well. He prays for them that God by His Spirit might bring that revelation of God to them.
Our goal in life must be a deeper relationship with Jesus. For that we need to have the right focus in life.
Our focus must not be on the gifts God gives to us but more on the Giver of the gifts, God himself.
Our focus must not be on healing as an end in itself but on God as the One who heals in His love and power.
To enable us to get our focus right in life we need an openness to God so that He can do in and through us what He longs to do. In a later topic, we look at how we can become more open to God especially as we pray the prayer of openness to God found in Psalm 139, verses 23, 24.
SUMMING UP Section 1. The good news is that everyone can become more whole. Our conversion experience is but the beginning of the work God wants to do in our lives. I was once asked to describe the Healing Ministry in just one sentence. I found myself saying and I still hold to what I said on that occasion, “The Healing Ministry is about getting people into the kingdom and getting the kingdom into the people.”
In other words people need to come into the kingdom of God through putting their faith in Jesus Christ. That is absolutely vital. Wee could say, What does it profit a person to gain all the healing in the world if they then lose their soul. Until they are born again they haven’t begun to live! Any healing ministry must be evangelistic if we are going to “love” the people who come to us for help. To love them is to seek their best interests and their best interests are met when we introduce them to Jesus as Saviour and Lord.
Then the Healing Ministry is about “getting the kingdom into the people”. By that I mean encouraging people through the word of God to become open to kingdom living as willing subjects of the King. That should work itself out in kingdom righteousness as we live by the principles of the kingdom in loving, forgiving etc.
It should mean seeking kingdom wisdom so that we are making the right decisions in life and not operating according to worldly wisdom which gets very poor press in James 3.
It should mean loving others with kingdom love in the way Paul expresses it in Rom 5:5, “for the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who is God’s gift to us.”
It should mean kingdom power as we rely on God Himself to manifest His love and power in transforming the lives of those to whom we minister and for whom we pray. (Including ourselves). But more of that in future topics.
Section 2. The truths here can be life-changing. It shows us how Jesus lived and ministered as a human on earth. It shows Him as a human living under the rule of God’s kingdom for every moment of His life. Instead of having a picture in our minds that Jesus was different from us as a human we see He was the REAL THING, the ONE TRUE HUMAN.
It helps us to appreciate what He did in humbling Himself to become a human and in relying on His Heavenly Father for every moment of his life. It helps us understand how humans should behave as we read of His perfect obedience to God. It helps us recognise what God can do in human lives which are fully open to Him. Jesus sets the pattern for every human to follow.
Section 3. How we can follow that perfect pattern of Jesus as we live for Him in today’s world. What indeed might God do in and through our lives if we sought to follow Jesus’ pattern of perfect submission and perfect availability to God.
In the Notes we read that the important thing to keep in mind as we live for the Lord and seek to serve Him, is that it doesn’t depend on our abilities but on His ability in and through us. (But more of that in future topics as well.)
Suffice it to say that God wants us to become the people He wants us to be. He can heal us and change us by His work within us so that we can work out even more in our everyday living what He is working is us. Phil 2:12-13.
Blog No.188. Jim Holbeck. Posted on Thursday 2nd June 2016
About Jim Holbeck
Once an Industrial Chemist working for the Queensland Government but later an Anglican minister in Brisbane, Armidale and Sydney. Last position for eighteen years before retirement in 2006 was as the Leader of the Healing Ministry at St Andrew's Cathedral Sydney.