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When Should Someone Ask to be Anointed? — 30 Comments

  1. It seems to me that this text from James 5:14-15 means that we need to pray for the sick and try to treat them with the means at our disposal. I think that Adventism did that in some sense and has invested in medical centers and hospitals properly realizing need to treatement and praing for patients. The oil would therefore in this case be seen as a drug that was then available. Today it can be some other medication or alternative medication, not necesary oil. The message is that the church is to engage in the treatment of humans.

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    • Paul is telling us how vital and the important role the holy spirit play in the healing process.He also is showing us how dependent we must be on the holy spirit by recognizing our need for spiritual healing.But is this just a physical healing?It's a healing of the soul that also allows us to become better in our faithfulness and trust in the healing power of the oil that Jesus Christ alone can give which is in his Holy spirit.

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  2. From the early age of 6 years old through 31 years old I struggled with depression and suicide attempts, my life was a mess, a big mess. After coming in and out of psychiatric hospitals, one day the pastor from my church called some elders and came to the hospital where I was and performed the anointing ceremony, and that was the last time I was a patient in a psychiatric hospital. I was not in my right mind to ask for anointing, neither was the demon possessed man from Gadarene, but Ellen White says in the book of "Desire of the Ages" (I don't remember the page) that Jesus was able to hear his unspoken prayer, and I believe in my heart that Jesus heard my unspoken prayer and through His Holy Spirit He made me sane, which was something that I didn't know what was. For the past 14 years I have been free from major depression. I believe that the Lord took me out of the grave, He never gave up on me, He was faithful to save me and to deliver me from a life of darkness, and today I am thankful for His faithfulness, great love and infinite mercy. The Creator of heaven and earth is my God, and one day I will see Him face to face for He gave me life despite of my desire and effort to lose it. Praise be to the Lord Almighty!

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    • Glory to God! Testimonies are like food to our soul they keep our hope alive. They trill my soul and cause me to rejoice in my risen saviour

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    • Thank you for sharing your testimony, Sylvia. Such stories has the effect of strengthing my faith and reminding me how much God cares for his children.

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  3. It would seem to me with the evidence given, we are to do our part in regaining our health through simple, natural means, and if the illness persists, call for the elders.

    Why elders and not a family member perhaps, or the doctor? Think about this, "the curse causeless shall not come"(Prov 26:2), meaning that we are usually sick for a reason or cause. When you study closely the human organism and it's workings, you realize we have measures built in to overcome illness and disease when given opportunity to do so. When we violate nature, whether willful or ignorant, sickness has a great opportunity to come. This is where elders would understand the need for James' advice in verse 16. Some may need to be led to understand the law of cause and effect. They might require instruction on how to keep the temple of their body pure to help avoid further illness and disease. God's plans are always perfect if followed.

    "Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently" wrote the Psalmist, and when we keep God's precepts, His blessings will follow.

    This requires being yoked with Jesus, and learning of Him. He is our refuge and strength.

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  4. Hi William, Thanks for this topic. Here's some info I just read on anointing.

    The afflicted person is to "call for the elders of the church ... [to] pray" and to "anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord." The idea is that "the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven" (James 5:14, 15).

    Why "anoint with oil"? The sacred oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. And James assumes that the "elders" will be mature people in the church body, consecrated to the One who died for us, whose "Christian experience" is so advanced that they can "minister" the Holy Spirit to the afflicted person. It's not a mere physical act; there is spiritual enrichment involved here through real "forgiveness" that is more than mere pardon. It's a loosing from sin.

    To anoint such a one with physical oil is meaningless unless "the elders" can minister a message of peace and oneness with Christ--"Be reconciled to God"! (2 Cor. 5:20).

    In such an "anointing" the person who is mentally and spiritually wearied is refreshed, and God's healing physical virtue can flow in (the Greek word translated "sick" in James 5:14 is kamno, which means to be "exhausted"). "Come to [Him], all you who labor and are heavy laden, and [He] will give you rest" (Matt. 11:28).
    Robert J. Wieland "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: August 16, 2003.

    Not all elders are a channel for God to work through, even if they think they are, and sometimes that may block God from working. I do believe like Robert Whitman that there is a reason for illness, disease and suffering. Sometimes we bring it upon ourselves and there are lessons to learn.

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    • Sister Jane, I believe you said that you are suffering from Lyme disease (my wife does also). I know that you didn't bring this disease upon yourself and I wonder if you had or you thought of being anointed by the elders of your church?

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  5. Comforting words from the Scriptures that keep me always hopeful that I will be guided through His Word to understand the Word of Gord

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  6. Sometimes we make a molehill out of a mole. Too much learning sometimes actually obstruct clear instruction. Jane, James did not qualify the elders you are supposed to call as long as they are elders that believe like you in the same God. There is no doubt that there are many reasons why there are diseases but no argument that all reasons lead to man state of SIN (original) when pain began in the created beings God created. (Eve's pain at labor, Adam's sweat of his brow - before the curse, mankind didn't have these). Follow what the scripture says and do it with all your faith in Christ's faith to effect the outcome. The Holy Spirit has 1000s of ways to manifest himself to carry out salvation in any life as well as healing - it can be oil as we always say, it can be drugs that God gave wisdom to man to make, it could be the air you breathe for all we know but it is comes from the Holy Spirit. Summation - the Holy Spirit is able to effect healing in anyone that come to him through the instructions given in his word. So please don't discourage someone who is making a decision to do as the word says. Each word we say may be to perpetuate oneness in Christ. Throughout the Bible, there were no negative vibes about a principle or instructions. Whatsoever is true, whatsoever is honest...think on these things.

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    • Olaed, the Word of God does qualify the elders doesn't it? There are specific qualifications that are given that must be met in order to be ordained as an elder of the church. If we read further into the testimonies sent through Ellen, these qualifications include understanding of how disease comes and it's cure. Intemperance is to be forsaken if we would have God's promised blessings. God carefully taught Israel, and in special cases gave strict instructions for those who would be called to a special purpose for serving the Lord. The book of Daniel gives us a good example of self-control while heeding God's precepts for our health. God is the author of His Word and we do well to follow this lamp for our feet and light for our path.

      God promises His people that IF they follow His instructions, they will not suffer the diseases of those who reject the Word of God and it's instructions. The messenger to the remnant states that for every ill, nature(thus the God of nature) has a cure. We are instructed to study cause to effect and learn from it if we are to rightly represent the Lord in our lives. We are to be His witnesses, like Daniel and his friends.

      Keep this in mind that Jesus often warned those healed; "go and sin no more."

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      • Robert,

        Thank you for your comments about elders and diseases. You mentioned, "IF they follow His instructions, they will not suffer the diseases. "

        Today there are strange, contagious diseases going around. In addition, there are infections like Lyme disease and assorted co-infections. A person who is totally healthy, and engaging in temperance and the guidelines for health, can still get very sick from these diseases and infections. Doctors, athletes and others are forced to stop working or training until they can get well. Some people are so sick, they can't exercise and put into practice the guidelines for health. Some people just don't get well. I understand these type of health issues since I suffer from Lyme disease and it's associated problems. Prior to these experiences, I used to think you could easily recover from any diseases or health problems.

        So I've had to look at my own life. Confessing and forsaking sin is something I have tried to keep up with. Reading Ministry of Healing recently, I realize there are five of the eight health guidelines that I have let slip. Exercise, fresh air, sunlight, rest, and trust in God. It's time to put them all back into practice and see what healing the Lord may have for me. I believe He can heal even this. If He chooses not to heal, there is still promised His presence, peace and then healing in the future life.

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        • When the Lord Jesus or His disciples healed the sick, they were not prescribed a regimen before they were healed. They were healed and forgiven of they sins. Performing a regimen does not qualify one for healing from God. Sylvia is an immediate example, Praise the Lord!!

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          • Kenny, there are different cases, and one size does not fit all.

            What about Namaan the Syrian leper? What about the blind man commanded to go wash the mud from his eye in the pool? What about Hezekiah and the lump of figs? What about the lepers told to go show themselves to the priest before they were healed.(they were healed while fulfilling Jesus command)

            When God appoints a statute which is violated through choice, don't you believe it is in our best interest to follow it if we expect healing? Notice Psalm 103:1-3, and see the order God wishes to work in us.

            Ellen was shown specifically how we are to work for the sick. Look further into that and realize why today instant healings are not common, and why we are told to teach true healing today. There is a need in our day that is not the same as Jesus' day, yet He did give demonstration of this principle and has given counsel to us today on this matter specifically. It works.

            How many examples like Sylvia do you know? I can tell you of many who turned to God's requirements and found healing through the very methods He has appointed and urges us to share with the sick. This does not eliminate the times when instant healing will be granted. I know of those as well, but they are rather rare.

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          • Robert, I think what you say about following directions is very true but sometimes I don't think the healing that takes place is done the way and for the reason we think it is. For instance you mention the leper that Jesus told to go see the priest. According to Matt 8:3 his leprosy was immediately healed but when Jesus heals the healing is holistic and for that reason He wanted the man to be free of the religious and social stigma the disease had in those days. For that reason He told him to say nothing about how he was cleansed before being declared clean by the priest. To me such things speak volumes about the love Jesus had for people. His healing was in all directions, physically, spiritually, socially, mentally, etc.

            Sometimes we have trouble understanding why something is commanded because to us it doesn't make sense. The healing of Naaman the Syrian is one of those cases. It has been commented by scholars that certainly there were cleaner rivers in the world than the Jordan which seems to be more mud than water at times. Even the rivers in Syria were cleaner so why was he specifically told to dip in the Jordan. I think it had meaning in the day and age on a religious plane that we don't have today. Back then Gods were considered local and the one thing that Elisha didn't want was for him to think that one of the gods of Syria did the healing. Nor did Elisha see him personally before he was healed as though Elisha was the one that actually did the healing. Superstition is powerful and the one thing that both Jesus and His prophets wanted was for people to understand where the healing came from and why (see Acts 14:11-15; Matt 9:20-22; Acts 19:11-17).

            Why the clay on the eyes? Who knows, but I am sure there was a very good reason why Jesus healed the way He did and I don't think it probably has to do with the physical healing as such. Just as Jesus made sure that people got the right understanding about what was happening by saying, "Your faith has made you well" or "saved you" (Mk 10:52; Lk 7:50; Lk 8:48; Lk 17:19; Lk 18:42).

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          • Tyler, I guess I don't understand your remark; "...I don't think the healing that takes place is done the way and for the reason we think it is." The particular reason has never been my goal to understand, but the general purpose is clear. Jesus was always challenging people to have faith. This was the purpose of the many lessons given to Israel leaving Egypt and heading to the promised land. This is what Jesus will be looking for when He returns: Faith.

            We don't have the intimate understanding of the many cases and it isn't worth speculation, but faith is our part in God's plan for redeeming sinners, and thus the desire to lead us to exercise faith by any means possible.

            My reply to Kenny was to illustrate that Jesus often did require some sign of faith in those being healed. He could read the hearts and often demonstrated this, so He understood the true need of each soul and responded in a way to help strengthen their faith.

            Whatever the reason for the peculiar instructions for Namaan to bath 7 times in the Jordan, look at the results; Namaan became a son of God by faith. Not just a body healed of disease, but a soul restored! Who knows how many were led by Namaan to have faith in the God of Israel, which only the role-call in heaven will reveal at last. The results reveal the wisdom of our God. True, Elisha did not heal Namaan, he only relayed the instructions of God and Namaan the Syrian understood who it was who healed him. Had Elisha done as Namaan had at first expected, Namaan might have mistakenly given Elisha the credit.

            Today, God's means for healing have been identified and we are encouraged to know, practice and teach them for the Divine purpose of leading SOULS to the Kingdom of heaven, not just heal bodies. These methods of healing encourage the exercise of faith and the results will lead to greater trust in God and His Word. This way, many will be led to accept the 3 angel's messages who would otherwise have no interest in them. God's intention is always to save the lost soul.

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          • Robert you said, "Tyler, I guess I don't understand your remark." My point was that we are separated from the ministry of Jesus while on earth by more than 2000 years with even more separation culturally. They thought differently than we do in many ways and to me how Jesus did things was done within the context of that culture.

            Because of the separation sometimes the things that Jesus said and did seem strange to us. We certainly don't have any problems with the sermon on the bread of life but to the orthodox Jew in that culture such things were a big problem to them. Jesus presented something in spiritual terms but even the inner circle of Christ's disciples had problems with what He said (Jn 6:60; Jn 6:66-67). The only response Peter could give was, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Jn. 6:68-69 NKJV).

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          • I'm sure you have read this "quote" too Tyler,(paraphrasing...) that in all the history of mankind, two things have never changed: the need of the sinner and the Love of God.

            Sick is still sick, and healing always brings relief from suffering. I don't see the difference between Jesus' day and ours, except we move faster, have more distractions and have more information (on truth) than they could have dreamed of. (this leaves us with fewer excuses!)

            Even with the cultural differences, we can sympathize with those who longed for the gifts of grace which we still long for today. Today, one might "reach for the hem" of Jesus' garment in a different manner, but it's still a reach of faith. Promises received by faith; in any age, the same. No different to search for the cause and cure as searching for the pool of Siloam to wash away the mud and the blindness.

            Jesus: the same yesterday, today, and forever.

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          • Robert, to be honest with you I don't think what we are discussing has anything to do with the needs of mankind or the attitude of God through the ages. The point is that God meets us where we are and works within the framework of culture and understanding. How He communicates with us is somewhat different than how He communicated with the ancients. Would He communicate to you on the same level that He would with a five year old? The same goes with how He heals, the way He does it communicates something to us.

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          • Tyler, I think you are getting to the point here. Now we need to understand WHAT God is communicating to us. What we see throughout scripture is God working to draw us back to Him. This is accomplished through faith. Faith acts on promises and commands. Today, we have clear instructions regarding prayer and anointing for the sick. He looks for faith in His people to act on those promises and commands.

            Since Adam this has been God's desire and through Jesus He is seeking to reconciling the world to Himself.

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        • Jane, we have the promises of God, yet we also understand there are cases that will afflict no matter how well one follows God's instructions. This is a sinful world. But when you look at the top causes of death in the world, most of the top 10 are self-inflicted through intemperance. But even snake bites were harmless to the servants of God engaged in His service, and the flames were harmless to those who were only trust into them against their will because of their faithfulness to God. We cannot judge anyone else and can only search our own hearts to "see if there be any wicked way..." while praying for the Lord to "lead me in the way everlasting."

          We can trust in God no matter what befalls us after surrendering our will fully to His. Paul asked for relief from a certain affliction, and God's reply was "My grace is sufficient for you". What a lovely promise!

          No matter what, we can Trust in the Lord with all our heart.

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      • Robert you mention that there are guidelines and responsibilities mentioned for the position of elders. They are called bishops in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 also elders in the SDA church manual. I don't have the pages at hand. I have been ask to be an elder more than once and I decline because of some of the qualifications listed in 1Timothy 1:3 and 4 regarding being blameless, and having your house and children under control. Not that it is a major problem but if children or spouses choose to be individuals with rights to live as they choose, not as I choose, there could be problems. That doesn't seem to be a problem that concerns others, or is not applicable now. Some have skirted the issue by reasoning that there would be a shortage of elders if those guidelines were followed. The elders mentioned in James 5 were not as knowledgeable regarding health issues as we are today. I see James instructions as something to be applied to anyone that is sick. Regardless of their life style. If the cause of the illness is from a sinful life, James uses the word (IF) there will be forgiveness also.

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        • You are correct Paul. Though I would imagine that in James' day, there was more knowledge on some causes of disease that we might realize. Jesus often said "go and sin no more lest a worse things come upon you."

          Keep in mind the work of the Holy Spirit. He will always bring true conviction to the sinner. Today, even the godless acknowledge cause to effect from their wrong habits. People know some of the things they do will harm them. God has brought this to the attention of all sinners, whom He loves with an everlasting love. That's why we must include verse 16 in James' counsel. It matters to God.

          As I shared in my reply to Kenny above, Ellen was given specific light on how we are to work and pray for the sick at this time prior to Jesus' soon return.

          I agree with you, that for serving as an elder, there must be unity in the home. The influence is too important to not follow the Bible prescription on this vital matter. It matters as much today as it did then. God does not change. We should consider how God reduced the size of Gideon's army, rather than have more who were without faith. The smaller army of men with faith was the most effective in the victory. God doesn't need numbers, He wants men of faith.

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          • Robert, the procedures that Namaan and the blind man went through were part of the actual healing process. They were not procedures that were normal to healing leprosy and blindness. These were pertinent to the specific and particular conditions and circumstances as Tyler implies. Jesus touched one leper and he was healed. I don't think we would advocate applying mud poultice to blind people we meet today or advising lepers to bathe in any river today. Those two were miraculously healed by God. God commissioned his disciples to cleanse lepers, cast out devils, raise the dead, heal(miraculously) the sick, as Peter and John, Stephen, Paul and others did.

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          • Kenny, I don't think anyone is advocating or using such treatments as Jesus did, but are you aware of our instructions for healing today? Have you understood why the miraculous healing of the early Church are not happening as much today? (Yes, they do happen occasionally)

            We have clear instructions and this subject of "when to ask for anointing" makes these instructions important to know, understand and follow.

            I would recommend the book; "Ministry of Healing".

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  7. We are his vessels. therefore He will use us to play certain roles society n healing is 1 of those roles. however it is true as u stated that He doesny NEED us to perform such actions. the Holy Spirit can do it alone but like the man that was born blind. eryting n ery1 has their purpose.

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