Tuesday, July 13, 2021

The Theology of sickness and disease: What about Lazarus, does sickness glorify God?


how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. Acts 10:38 MEV

Dear Friend, I pray that in every way you may prosper and be in good health,  just as your soul is prospering. 3 John 2 Mounce Reverse Interlinear New Testament 

The children of God, those of us who've trusted in Christ alone for acceptance, approval, right standing, forgiveness, and complete salvation desire from within to glorify our Father in Heaven. We know we glorify God by fruitful living, that is by growing in Grace and the knowledge of Jesus and even when we exalt His great name in mighty praise. Is there another way we bring glory to our Father?

 According to the traditions of men, there is in fact another way we bring glory to our Father. What is this other way? By suffering sickness and disease in our bodies. According to religious tradition, bodies racked with pain, suffering from cancer, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, or any other sickness or plague or disease brings God much glory. 

 Where has traditional religion conjured up such a notion? By reading John's Gospel. In the eleventh chapter, we see Jesus' response to Lazarus' sickness. Jesus' words lifted entirely out of the full context of the full event in Lazarus' life has formed an entire doctrine, religious traditional-minded believers respond with whenever any Christian has been diagnosed with a sickness or disease. 

 I am not surmising a view that no one has actually said or believed. I am not employing conjecture or being hyperbolic. Not trying to name names but here are just a few quotes from the religious concerning sickness.

"Sickness is an opportunity for God to be glorified and for observers to believe in Jesus, God’s Son".

"...the Lord uses sickness to draw people to each other and to Himself".

"His glory engulfs your soul with energy to endure chronic pain".

"Some people are sick simply for the sake of God’s glory".

"Suffering and illness can be for the sole purpose of bringing God glory".

"Our culture has made an idol out of many things, and one of these things is good health...as a Christian and someone who loves Jesus, do not despise it[serious or terminal illness]. Why? Because serious illness provides a special opportunity to learn the truth about Jesus."

In interpreting obscure passages we must first look at the character of our Father and keep it in context. When we lift a text from the context all we have left is a con. Jesus' words in John are lifted from the full context by the traditional-minded.

When Jesus heard that, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” John 11:4 NKJV

You see brother? It is clear right there in black and white, or red-letter depending on your Bible. I am not disputing that Jesus stated this but I am seeking to keep this statement in the full context of John 11 and see what Jesus was really trying to show the disciples. 

 Firstly Jesus wasn't speaking that poor Lazarus was just suffering to give God glory. This passage lifted out of context seems to indicate that the sickness and death in and of itself were what brought God glory. That is simply not true.

 In the passage itself, we see clearly no one is rejoicing or in jubilation because Lazarus is sick. So the sickness itself wasn't bringing God any glory. In fact, as you read the full chapter, you can see Jesus' delay makes people question His love, His power, and goodness.

 What then was Jesus speaking of? Jesus was teaching the disciples Faith. Faith in God that knows there exists no situation that is impossible with God. In verse four, Jesus was simply speaking the language of Faith. He was speaking the end from the beginning. 

Declaring the end from the beginning... Isaiah 46:10a NJKV

Jesus was exercising the God kind of Faith. He was calling things that be not as though they were. He was teaching us unwavering hope and trust in a Good God.

even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.  Romans 4:17 KJV

Jesus was proving not just saying He is the resurrection and the life. Jesus knew that death and life are in the power of the tongue. He wouldn't even state Lazarus was dead but only asleep. Why? Was He denying the circumstances? Was He in denial of Lazarus' condition? 

 No, Jesus was just speaking about what He already trusted God His Father with. He was not teaching you to deny your reality but rather speak what your trusting God to do about your reality. How did this situation turn out? Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. Just as He said, this sickness isn't to death but for God's glory, yet Lazarus had already died. So we see Jesus speaking resurrection life and not agreement with the contradictory circumstances.

 So what truly brought God glory in this passage? Was it the sickness in and of itself? Was it Lazarus' death? No, it was Jesus' raising Lazarus from the dead. So it was resurrection and healing and wholeness that brought glory to God. When Jesus raised Lazarus the sickness was healed and his body fully made whole, otherwise, he would have died again from the same condition that put him in the grave in the first place.

 If sickness and disease are designed by God to bring glory to Himself then it stands to reason we shouldn't be praying for healing if we or a loved are sick or afflicted with a disease. We shouldn't seek medical aid. We shouldn't go to the hospital or take a loved one there either. We shouldn't desire prescription medication nor encourage others to take it. In fact, we should pray for sickness and disease to overtake us so we can be the instruments by which God gets the glory.

 If good health is an idol, if sickness is an opportunity to bring God glory, if we are not to despise sickness, then doctors and nurses and hospitals are professions and institutions of rebellion and resistance to God's will. This is the logical and reasonable end conclusion to this type of thinking. Of course, no sounded-minded, rational believer actually believes this. This is why we must renew our mind daily with the revealed will of God, that is Jesus Himself, God's will in manifestation, and reject the irrational and ridiculous religious traditions of man. 

 What actually brings God glory? Is it sickness, suffering, and death? No Scripture in the New Covenant declares our sickness brings God glory. If sickness brings God glory why don't we see Jesus sending plagues, pestilence, or pandemics to the multitudes? Why don't we see Jesus afflicting any children with illness to bring God greater glory? We only see Jesus bring healing to all those who came to Him. He raised the dead, never brought death. He provided for the multitude, not starve them. Why? Because it's His goodness, Love, and healing mercy that brings glory to God.

 What brings glory to God? The forgiveness of sins brings glory to God. Ministering healing and wholeness bring glory to God. The dead being raised brings glory to God. Having our petitions and prayer in His name answered glorifies God. God's Grace in including both Jew and Gentile in the plan of salvation brings glory to God. What is clearly absent is the notion that sickness and suffering bring God glory. God is glorified when we are healed, whole, our prayers answered and we are walking in the newness of life in Christ.

 In summation, reject the ridiculous religious concept that God gets glory from your suffering, from your sickness or disease, from your afflictions. God is a Good Daddy. He is the healer and one who makes us whole. Remember what really brings God glory.

And great multitudes came unto him, having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus' feet; and he healed them: Insomuch that the multitude wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see: and they glorified the God of Israel. Matthew 15:30-31 NKJV

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 

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