|Lesson 9 November 23-29|
The Mantle of Healing
Read For This Week's Study:Matt. 10: 1-8; 25:34-40; Luke 4:16-19; John 4:7-29; Rom. 12:15; James 5:14, 15..
Memory Text: "As you go, preach this message: 'The kingdom of heaven is near.' Heal the sick .... Freely you have received, freely give" (Matthew 10:7, 8, NIV).
Key Thought: Jesus' definition of gospel preaching included the work of healing. Gospel work means more than presenting theological truth. Jesus commissioned His disciples, and us, to share His love in a world that seriously needs physical and emotional healing.
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Sabbath Afternoon November 22
Preaching And Healing Are Inseparable Ministries. "Jesus as the Messiah was the bringer of 'health and salvation.' The Christian picture of Jesus as the good Physician, the Saviour of both the body and the soul, is well grounded upon the stories of the Gospels. That Jesus himself perceived the connection between his healing ministry and his redemptive mission is obvious from such a saying as: 'They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous but sinners' (Mark 2:17). Or again, he speaks the same word to the Sinner-Woman (Luke 7:50) and to the woman with an issue (Mark 5:34): 'Thy faith hath saved thee. "'--Alan Richardson, A Theological Wordbook of the Bible (New York, N.Y.: McMillan, 1962), p. 103.
Doors that are closed to him who merely preaches the gospel will often open to the dedicated medical missionary. The ministry of healing is one of God's chosen ways to reach hearts.
Sunday November 23
Authorized Ministry (Matt. 10:1-8).
The form and content of the mission the Christian church embraces must always be those that Jesus Christ has authorized. There are many kinds of godly works done in the world, but true Christians, from the time of the apostles until now, have sought to reflect the works that Christ instructed and patterned. Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father" (John 14:12, NIV).
What were the primary components of the ministry that Christ authorized His disciples to conduct? Why were these components primary? Matt. 10:7, 8.
Although we do not see people miraculously raised from the dead today, Christ still empowers us to minister both spiritually and through medicine.
How can Christians be involved today in the two ministries that He originally authorized?
"The Bible constantly implies that there is such a connection [between the physical and the spiritual]; the frequent metaphorical use of bodily diseases as a symbol of spiritual malaise (e.g., Isaiah 1:5) points to a deep and mysterious relation. The crude but widespread view that all sickness is a punishment for sin is rejected by Job and by Jesus himself (Luke 13:1-5; John 9:1-3); but this must not be taken as a denial of any relationship between sickness and sin."--Alan Richardson, A Theological Word Book of the Bible, p. 103.
This dual ministry was the way Jesus helped and healed the paralytic. He showed that He met both spiritual and physical health needs in one work.
What healing ministries named in 1 Corinthians 12:27-30 would it be appropriate to expect in the church today? Can modern "healers" be included in the list of God's ordained ministries, or did the apostle Paul write only for his time in this regard?
How can church members pursue a combination of spiritual and physical healing for themselves and for others?
Monday November 24
Ministry Of Healing Through Openness (John 4:7-29).
Modern medical science recognizes that physical healing is hastened when the patient is enjoying emotional and spiritual health.
Have you ever observed or experienced the positive impact of spiritual well-being on physical health? Explain.
In a presentation for the National Institutes of Health at Dartmouth Medical School in March 1995, Elisabeth McSherry, M.D., M.P.H., said: "For many years, up until the present, most patients have kept their religious faith, its content and practice, or their strongest ultimate values, quite private from their Internist, Orthopod or Psychiatrist to prevent the dissonance they expected would occur between their primary values and those constructed by medical scientists. Thus in a sense, because patients could not be affirmed in their most important personal resource, their values, motivation, purpose in life, religious coping skills, religiously-based health optimism, the patients at the hands of many health-care providers suffered a kind of 'deprivation abuse,' deprived of affirmation, appreciation and utilization of their strongest inner strength to fight for their health and healthier outcomes."
Review Jesus' interview with the woman at the well (John 4: 7-29). By teaching and example, what was Jesus saying about the dynamics of honesty and openness.
"Because the view which Jesus took contemplated the individual as an integer [a complete person], he was able to envisage more clearly than his predecessors the influence of body and mind upon each other. While he was always concerned to heal the sick in body, he invariably paid close attention to the mind and spirit of the sufferer. Insofar as they are recorded in any detail, his interviews with sick people seem to have had as one of their aims the uncovering of evidence pointing to a deficient relationship between the sufferer and his environment. His encounter with the Samaritan woman (John 4) transformed what might have been a casual conversation into a powerful therapeutic analysis which ... confronted her with the person of the living Christ as the answer to her deepest needs. This interview is a superb example of nondirective counseling."--The lnterpreters Dictionary of the Bible, vol. 2, p. 546.
Tuesday November 25
Ministry Of Healing Through Presence (Matt. 25:34-40).
Many "smiling" people are desperately lonely. Sin divides people, alienates families and friends, and leaves them to suffer alone. Illness in many cases can be traced to loneliness.
How can Christians relate to the tragedy of loneliness? Matt. 25: 34-40.
"The beginning and the end of all Christian leadership is to give your life for others. Thinking about martyrdom can be an escape unless we realize that real martyrdom means a witness that starts with the willingness to cry with those who cry, laugh with those who laugh, and to make one's own painful and joyful experiences available as sources of clarification and understanding."--Henri J. Nouwen, The Wounded Healer (New York, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1979), p. 72.
Jesus taught that when we are sick we need "visits" to be healed. Usually the "sheep and goats" illustration of Matthew 25 is interpreted in a way that emphasizes that Christians need to be involved in caring ministries. There is truth in that perspective. But Jesus personalized His teaching by saying, "As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me" (Matt. 25:40, RSV). Visiting others should be largely focused on the benefit we bring to them and not on the benefit we receive.
The presence of a friend or acquaintance can have a significant impact on the physical, mental, and spiritual health of the one who is visited. Recent research has shown that hospital patients recover from their illnesses significantly more rapidly when they have meaningful spiritual visits. An experimental study at an affiliate of Harvard Medical Center showed that 331 open-heart surgery patients who were randomly assigned to receive daily special chaplain care, had shorter postoperative lengths of stay by two days when compared with patients who did not have chaplaincy visits. Translated into economic factors, the cost difference was an average $4,200 per patient.
How can church members be a spiritual presence for those who are lonely?
"In almost every community there are large numbers who do not listen to the preaching of God's word or attend any religious services If they are reached by the gospel it must be carried to their homes. Often the relief of their physical needs is the only avenue by which they can be approached.--The Ministry of Healing, p. 144.
Wednesday November 26
Ministry Of Healing Through Listening (Rom. 12:15).
When people need help, we usually tell them what they need. But what we think they need may not be what they really need; we could be merely satisfying our own personal needs.
What does Romans 12:15 teach us about effectively entering into the experiences of others?
Just as we can listen intently to the story of one who is rejoicing, so we can listen intently when someone is weeping--or, suffering from physical, emotional, or spiritual pain. A significant inhibitor of the healing process is denial of the reality of our condition. When someone we trust prompts us to share our feelings and then listens to what we say, we gradually accept what we tell about ourselves as reality. Then physical, emotional, and spiritual healing follows.
"What the active listener really does is to make it easy for the patient to be herself, openly to talk about her real feelings and, in many instances, honestly to face her situation. To put it another way, the purpose of active listening is to enable a person to make use of you, the listener, to help her deal with her own needs and grow as a person. The idea then is not for you to solve her problem, or even to give advice. You act somewhat like a talking mirror, reflecting back to her what you hear, see, or sense. To this you may add the occasional brief comment. Through this exchange the patient very often will come to her own conclusions or find her own solutions."-J. Daryl Furlong, The Ministry of Listening (Chicago, Ill.: ACTA Pubns., 1987), p. 35.
In what ways does the Bible support the concept that suffering people need empathetic listeners? Matt. 26:36-46.
During His terrible night in Gethsemane, Jesus was in great need of the disciples' sympathy and prayers; He longed for companionship. If only the disciples had stayed awake to be with Him, to listen and give spiritual support, how helpful they could have been to Him! The record suggests that Jesus needed to talk; but no one was listening.
Read "Gethsemane" in The Desire of Ages, pp. 685-697. In the light of Jesus' words, "as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me" (Matt. 25:40, RSV), consider how to be a better listener when others are experiencing their "Gethsemanes."
Thursday November 27
Ministry of Healing Through Prayer And The Word (James 5:14,15).
"Some were sick through their sinful ways.... Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them . . . he sent forth his word, and healed them, and delivered them from destruction" (Psalms. 107:17-20, RSV).
What are the means, according to the Bible, by which we can seek healing? James 5:14, 15; John 14:13, 14.
Referring to Psalm 107, Ellen White wrote: "God is just as willing to restore the sick to health now as when the Holy Spirit spoke these words through the psalmist. And Christ is the same compassionate physician now that He was during His earthly ministry. . . . His disciples in this time are to pray for the sick as verily as the disciples of old prayed."--The Ministry of Healing, p. 226.
Are there other conditions for healing beyond asking through prayer? Psalms 66:18; 1 John 1:9.
Clearly, obtaining the object we desire is contingent on a meaningful spiritual relationship with Him. "There must be purity of heart, purity of motive, purity of desire, if our prayers are to be in His name. God is greater than His promises, and often gives more than either we desire or deserve but He does not always do so. So, then, if any specific petition is not granted, we may feel sure that God is calling us to examine our hearts."--unknown Christian, The Kneeling Christian (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1986), p. 96.
"Many persons bring disease upon themselves by their self-indulgence. They have not lived in accordance with natural law or the principles of strict purity. Others have disregarded the laws of health in their habits of eating and drinking, dressing, or working. Often some form of vice is the cause of feebleness of mind or body. Should these persons gain the blessing of health, many of them would continue to pursue the same course of heedless transgression of God's natural and spiritual laws, reasoning that if God heals them in answer to prayer, they are at liberty to continue their unhealthful practices and to indulge perverted appetite without restraint."--The Ministry of Healing, pp. 227, 228.
In what ways is this passage disturbing or affirming to your thoughts and beliefs?
Friday November 28
Further Study: Consider the elements involved in Jesus' ministry as a guide to the kind of ministry we are called to conduct (Luke 4: 16-19). How well do you think the Seventh-day Adventist Church has followed the teaching and healing example of Jesus?
Read "Teaching and Healing" in The Ministry of Healing, pp. 139-160. Note the statements that call for a "new" way of doing the work of the church.
"Christ's method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Saviour mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, 'Follow Me.'. .
"We should ever remember that the object of the medical missionary work is to point sin-sick men and women to the Man of Calvary, who taketh away the sin of the world. By beholding Him, they will be changed into His likeness. We are to encourage the sick and suffering to look to Jesus and live. Let the workers keep Christ, the Great Physician, constantly before those to whom disease of body and soul has brought discouragement. Point them to the One who can heal both physical and spiritual disease. Tell them of the One who is touched with the feeling of their infirmities. Encourage them to place themselves in the care of Him who gave His life to make it possible for them to have life eternal. Talk of His love; tell of His power to save.
"This is the high duty and precious privilege of the medical missionary, And personal ministry often prepares the way for this. God often reaches hearts through our efforts to relieve physical suffering. "--The Ministry of Healing, pp. 143, 144.
Summary: Physical, mental, and spiritual healing accompany the work of Christ's followers as they empathetically enter into the lives of those who suffer and as they minister through prayer and the Word of God.
J. H. Zachary
While some people come to Christ in one giant step, others are guided by many faithful witnesses. The journey of Jesus Hagad [Hay-SOOS Ha-GOD] of the Philippines started with one small voice.
"For 17 years I served God as a priest," Jesus said. "Then one day a voice told me, 'Jesus Christ is not in the Eucharist [consecrated communion elements].'" This revelation began a chain of questions in the priest's mind. If Christ was not in the Eucharist, what other treasured church rituals were not based on God's Word? As Jesus began to question his religious experience, he laid aside his prayer book and opened his heart to God in soul-searching prayer.
Feelings of guilt flooded over him as he realized that man-made rituals could not remove sin. He had no peace because he was not sure that God forgave and accepted him. But, like Jacob, he continued to wrestle with God in prayer. He was thrilled to see God respond to his pleas. As he accepted Christ's promise of forgiveness, God became real to him. He found peace.
Jesus left the priesthood and joined a Protestant church. The Lord blessed him with a wife and four children, but he kept searching for God's truth. In early 1996 he attended Adventist evangelistic meetings, where he learned that Sunday was not God's holy day. This revelation stunned him, but as he and his wife read the Bible texts upholding the Sabbath, they asked themselves how they could have kept Sunday for so many years when the Bible is so clear that the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord.
As Jesus learned more about the Adventist church, he remembered Adventist children with whom he had attended school as a boy. He wanted his own children to live as those children did. He and his family prayed together, asking for God's forgiveness and direction. They decided to follow God's leading to keep the Sabbath, and were baptized, along with their eldest daughter. Jesus testifies simply, "I did not find Jesus in religious ceremonies; I found Him in the Bible--and the Adventist Church."
Jesus Hagad (left); J. H. Zachary is the international evangelism coordinator for The Quiet Hour.
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