Is physical healing in the atonement? In what way are we healed by his stripes?

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Question / Comment -  Is physical healing in the atonement? In what way are we healed by his stripes?


why isn't it biblical to believe 'by His stripes we were healed of all diseases' - from your example of the American pastor who got his voice back. 



JPN Reply:

Hi Ruth,

By His stripes, believers are already healed spiritually... and eventually this will include all diseases. But not yet. 

To give the original context for other readers, here is the passage and story mentioned from my study

In this last week I heard two stories about two different pastors in two different parts of the world. I will just tell you about them briefly. The first pastor was an American pastor and he was well loved by his church and his congregation. One day he got a virus and the virus attacked his vocal chords and he couldn't speak. He thought to himself - I will get over this, I will get better and will go back to work. But the days went into weeks and the weeks went into months. And he could not speak. The congregation really loved him and they obviously wanted to keep him as a Pastor so he stayed on for a year even though he couldn't give any sermons or minister like before. He just could not speak. After a year he thought that he would have to resign, which he did as he didn't think it was fair to the church to stay on. And for the next three years, it seemed as if times were pretty tough. His wife had to go back to work. This virus that had attacked his vocal chords had rendered him mute, apart from just a slight little voice. After three years his church actually asked him to come back just to teach an adult Sunday school. He said that he couldn't really speak, that he only had a slight, slight whisper but they said 'we don't care, speak right into the microphone, we will turn the microphone right up and we will listen really, really intently... We just want you back!' And so he agreed. They recorded his message so as you listened you were hearing the actual events of that day. You could hear him speaking in just a little squeaky voice, very quietly. And he was actually talking about the fact when it comes to God and healing, people go to two extremes. Some people say that healing is in the atonement so that if we have faith then we should be healed because Jesus died for all our sicknesses and he said that that is not actually biblical (and I agree with that). He said that other people go to the other extreme and say that miracles and healing died out in the first century and he said that this was not biblical and this I totally agree with as well! He began speaking about the Sovereignty of God and as he did an amazing wonderful thing happened... as he was talking slowly but surely his voice started to come back to him! And he had to stop as he was in bewilderment as to what was happening. He knew that a miracle was actually taking place while he explained the Sovereignty of God. It was an amazing thing to hear and suddenly after a while the congregation started to realise as well that he was speaking normally and they all started to clap and he was miraculously healed. I believe he now has a ministry called New Voice Ministries. And it was just an amazing testimony of God sovereignly moving to heal this man. He was able to go back and pastor again. Just a fantastic wonderful story. A real tear jerker when you hear it happening believe me! 

There are some churches, and ministries, mostly Pentecostal churches and/or Word of Faith / Name it and Claim it / Health and Wealth ministries that believe that Jesus not only died for our sins, but for our diseases as well. So they will teach that just as we accept salvation by faith and receive forgiveness of sin through Jesus' death for us, so we can claim our healing by faith - because Jesus took all our diseases upon Himself on the cross. 

What are the most quoted verses on this?

So where do they get this from? Well it isn't specifically taught in the New Testament so there are two favorite verses from the Old Testament that are generally used. They are both from the famous and awesome chapter, Isaiah 53:

  1. Isa 53:4 Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.
  2. Isa 53:5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.

Now both of these verses are quoted in the New Testament so it is important to see how they are used. 

  1. Mat 8:14-17 When Jesus came into Peter's house, he saw Peter's mother- in-law lying in bed with a fever. (15) He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him. (16) When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. (17) This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: "He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases."
    Matthew quotes directly from Isa 53:4 and says that this fulfilled what Isaiah said. And what was it that fulfilled this verse? It was during Jesus' earthly ministry in healing multiple demon-possessed and sick people. It wasn'tHis work on the cross specifically but His earthly healing ministry.
  2.  The second passage in Isaiah stating 'by his wounds we are healed' in quoted once in the New Testament and that is by Peter:
    1Pe 2:22-25 He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth. (23) When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. (24) He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. (25) For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
    You will note how Peter uses this quote and what type of 'healing' it speaks of. It is not speaking of physical healing but spiritual healing - it is as a sheep that has gone astray and has now returned to its Shepherd. Peter is speaking of salvation. He is speaking of reconciliation with God through Jesus dying for our sins. The context is all about sins and our soul. It is returning to the overseer of our souls. It is not saying that Jesus took our flu, heart disease, and cancer upon Himself when He died and so we should claim the physical healing that is ours by faith.

Yeah but didn't Jesus become a curse for us? And didn't that include sicknesses?

Another verse and thought used to claim that Jesus took our sicknesses is based on Gal 3:13. Some teachers will say that Jesus became a curse for us and that includes the sicknesses that came in from the fall - when the curse came in. The problem with this is clear when you see the whole verse:

Gal 3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us--for it is written, "CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE"

You will see that it is the curse of the law that Jesus redeemed us from, not the curse of the fall. He freed us by having to obey the law for righteousness (which only leads to a curse for no one can obey it fully). It isn't saying that the initial curse of the fall has been removed already in Christ. It will... but not yet. So sorry...  pregnant Christian woman still have the pains of childbirth. A Christians garden still gets weeds! The fact is that we still live in a fallen world, in a fallen body, and sicknesses still exist and abound. Our bodies tire, breakdown and, well, eventually die. That happens to all.    

Why does it matter?

This topic matter because who gets the blame when the sick person claiming their healing 'by His stripes', is not healed... that's right - the sick person! Not the person incorrectly teaching this! The sick person is told that they don't have enough faith and if they did they would be made well. As an example, the church I used to go to had a couple of women who were blind. They were told in several churches that it was their lack of faith that prevented their healing. They would be prayed for but when they weren't healed it was always that they didn't have enough faith. And this eventually crushes the people that are already unwell, causing doubts about the love and care of their Heavenly Father.

Now I am NOT saying that God doesn't heal today or that the gift of healing isn't for today. I believe in both of these. I remember my brother speaking of a short term mission trip that he did to Asia where God turned up and blessed them by physically healing many needy people. As they prayed, God healed. It was as simple as that. Now my brother went on many of these trips and they often tried to replicate what happened that night by doing the same things... as if it would happen again if they did the same thing again! But no luck! God simply blessed them on this particular trip where His power and gift of healing was present. And when we are sick, God can and does speak to our heart saying trust me for your healing. But this is not the same as saying that physical healing is our right, by faith, because Jesus took our sicknesses to the cross. That is not true.

The New Testament Examples

When you read the New Testament we see examples of Jesus and the Apostles healing people. This is awesome and is the gift of healing at work. But we also read of several people being sick after the cross and there are NO examples, in any of these cases, where the people were told that they should just have faith or that Jesus died for their sicknesses. It just isn't there. For example:

  • The Apostle Paul - it was because of a 'bodily illness' that he ended up preaching to the Galatians. There is no hint that it was against the will of God that this happened or that if Paul had just had more faith he wouldn't have got sick at all! Gal 4:13 'but you know that it was because of a bodily illness that I preached the gospel to you the first time.'
  • Timothy - He suffered from frequent stomach problems. Again, when this is addressed by Paul, he doesn't say 'Timothy, just believe that Jesus took that sickness and in faith you will be well' No, Paul takes a very practical stance in the matter and simply says 'Stop drinking only water and use a little wine.' (1 Tim 5:23)
  • Trophimus  - 2Ti 4:20 'Erastus remained at Corinth, but Trophimus I left sick at Miletus.' Trophimus was very useful to Paul in his ministry (Act 20:4, Act 21:29). Yet he left him sick. He didn't heal him nor is there any indication that he shouldn't be sick because Jesus died for his sicknesses. That teaching is simply non-existent in the letters to the Churches. 
  • Epaphroditus - He nearly died even though he was very useful to Paul - Php 2:25-27 'But I thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger and minister to my need; (26) because he was longing for you all and was distressed because you had heard that he was sick. (27) For indeed he was sick to the point of death, but God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, so that I would not have sorrow upon sorrow.' Thankfully, God had mercy on him and he lived. But again, there is no thought that he should have just named and claimed his healing because of Jesus' death.

So, is Healing in the Atonement? 

It is in this sense - the atonement on the cross provided the way for salvation and the total healing for the body, soul and spirit. But each in its own order. 

  1. Past - We have been saved (justification - our spirit is reborn)
  2. Present - We are being saved (sanctification - our soul/mind/will/emotions are renewed into His likeness as we yield and submit to God)
  3. Future - We will be fully saved (glorification - we will be like Him at His coming receiving a new body like His resurrected body - never to be limited, unwell or tired ever again! : )

Now God is a loving, amazingly kind Savor. He still heals in this age and cares for His own. But His will and purposes are involved. And His thoughts are often not our thoughts - especially in what He allows! Physical healing isn't 'a right' that we can simply just claim without His word and will. I don't see that from scripture or experience. But again He is kind. And He still works wonders and miracles, in many varied ways. We see that in the example we started with. As the Pastor who had lost his voice for years spoke in very limited hushed tones to his congregation, God sovereignly blessed him and healed him. Amazing. And God didn't waste those years that he couldn't speak either. God's purposes for our lives are often in the trials, hard times, and yes, even in the sicknesses. I can attest to that. Some of my more popular studies on the JPN site came out of times when I was unwell for many years. But I wasn't out of the will of God during that time. Nor was He looking down in disappointment hoping that I could finally muster enough faith to believe and get well. He was using that time as I learned about true faith... even in the dark and hard times!  

I hope this helps and may God bless.  

PS See also: 

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