The title of the blog is a classic “tough question.” But unlike most tough questions it isn’t asked by spiritual skeptics; it’s only asked by Christians. And it’s a question that battle lines have been drawn over. On the one side you have the Pentecostals and the Charismatics who would say YES and on the other side you have Baptists, Presybterians, and many other mainstream Evangelicals who would say NO.
A few days ago I came across an answer a well-known author gave to that tough question. An answer I didn’t expect him to give, let alone dedicate an entire chapter of one of his books to. But before I get to that, let me take you back to 1996…
When I began going to Kensington Church I was a spiritual skeptic. I had been an atheist while going to Oakland University and by the time I graduated in ’95 and got my engineering job at GM, I softened my stance a bit to at least be open to attending church.
Every Sunday the pastors would preach from the Bible and almost every Sunday they’d also read a quote from an author of a Christian book. Every author was new to me at the time — I had never heard of C.S. Lewis or Josh McDowell or Bill Hybels before. And every time they read a quote from a book, I went to Barnes & Noble, bought it, and gobbled it up.
One of the authors they referenced at one of the first church services I ever attended was Max Lucado. He is a best-selling author (not just for Christian book standards… he’s made the New York Times Best-Seller list on more than one occasion), having written 75+ books that have sold 120 million copies. And he is a wordsmith of wordsmiths. I absolutely love how he writes.
And Max is as mainstream Evangelical as they come. He isn’t a Pentecostal or Charismatic. And that leads me to why I wrote this blog. In chapter 5 of his latest book — Before
Amen — Max offers his answer to the question I asked in the title of my blog. I was blessed when I read it. So I decided to type a word-for-word excerpt from it. Here goes…
God’s goal for you is wholeness. “Now may God himself, the God of peace, make you pure, belonging only to Him. May your whole self – spirit, soul, and body – be kept safe and without fault when our Lord Jesus Christ comes.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23 – NCV).
God envisions a complete restoration of the garden of Eden. Everything He saw in His garden was good. This assessment included Adam and Eve. They weren’t sick, crippled, depressed, or afflicted. They were spiritually and physically sound. No emphysema, palsy, or paranoia. Yet when they rebelled, everything fell out of harmony. The event is called the Fall for a reason. Adam and Eve had a falling out with God and a falling out with each other. Nature fell out of whack, and the human body fell out of balance. The Fall was exactly that: a fall from wholeness. Sin opened the door, and sickness walked in . . .
Sin and sickness are interlopers, consequences of the same rebellion. But they are cured by the same Redeemer. When Isaiah foretold of Jesus, he described Him as the One who would take both our sin and sickness:
He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities (Isaiah 53:5)
He has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases (Isaiah 53:4)
Jesus treated our sickness in the same way He treated our sin. He took it away. He bore it in Himself on the cross. When Matthew saw the large number of healings in Galilee, he remembered the prophecy of Isaiah: “[Jesus] fulfilled Isaiah’s well-known sermon: He took our illnesses, He carried our diseases” (Matthew 8:17 – MSG).
Did Jesus die for your sins? Yes. Did Jesus die for your sicknesses? Yes! It is inconsistent to say that Jesus saved your soul but not your body. When Jesus took our sins to the cross, He took our cancers, disfigurements, and depression as well.
Then why do we still get sick? For the same reason we still sin. This is a fallen world, and the kingdom [of God] is a coming kingdom. Sickness and sin still stalk our planet. But here is the difference: neither sin nor sickness will have dominion over God’s people. Sin cannot condemn us. Disease cannot destroy us. Guilt is defanged, and death has lost its sting. In fact, the very sin and sickness that Satan intends for evil, God redeems for good.
***Lord, Teach Us to Pray. That’s the title of an all-new series that starts this coming Sunday. While I preach a ton about prayer I’ve never done a series ON prayer. So we are going to press into prayer like never before. And people love new things so why not invite a friend to this “new thing”!!! November 16. 10:30am. More info at tevchurch.org***