It is good to see all of you. I was very encouraged by what happened here in Charlotte this afternoon. First of all, we sang Psalm 25, which I was going to use in my sermon, but I decided not to at the last minute, so we sang it. You might want to go back and read it. We also had an impromptu sermonette by Dad, John Ritenbaugh, who talked about the book of Lamentations. One of the main things he was talking about there was that the book of Lamentations theme is the faithfulness of God. And then Martin Collins got up here to do the songs, and he used Psalm 80. That Psalm 80, which in our hymnal is No. 6, is a very much parallel psalm to the book of Lamentations. That leads into what I am going to speak about, which is also about God's faithfulness, but I am going to come at it from a different angle.
Jesus asks a question in Luke 18:8 that is aimed directly at you and me during this end-time generation. What He says there is, “When the Son of man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” Now all of us have come out of a society that demands solid proof and hard facts for everything. People do not take things on faith these days. You have to have some scientist, some reference, some proof to everything that you say. Not that that is so bad, but it does harden us to the point where it is very hard to take things that God says on faith. Many use the terms such as, “Just the facts, ma'am,” and “Seeing is believing,” as almost philosophies for life. “If it is not scientifically proven, then I am not going to believe it.”
Now you know, all human beings are tied into the five senses, and even we, without the spirit of God…our ability to take things on faith is severely limited. We even call things that we cannot take in by the five senses nonsense (it does not pass the test of proof—our five senses and reason—that our human mind demands). I have even heard or read of hardened evolutionists and rationalists who call Christianity itself myth and nonsense, because they cannot prove it with reason alone and through their five senses.
In this age of modern science and high-technology, this need for proof has even been heightened further than it has in past generations. Even religious and theological studies are conducted according to scientific methods. There is a Jesus Seminar that they keep once a year. It has almost become a religion for many liberal theologians, where there go through and vote on whether certain things of Jesus are authentic or not—like they really know. And what they do is they say that there is not enough proof in this text to say that He actually said it, and that they think that somebody else just stuck it in there (Luke, or Mark, or Matthew, or John, or whatever); so they throw it out because they say it is not an authentic saying of Jesus. How do they know?
They are “scientists” who demand proof that they can see, smell, hear, touch, feel, and reason. They say, “I know so much more. I have a better view of history. We have advanced so much scientifically and technologically that I am going to correct the Bible, and we are going to do this on everything from God's ability to create, to His instruction on childrearing.” He deigns to correct God's word in his pride, in his arrogance, just because he cannot touch it or see it. “And of course, you know that the Old Testament miracles were just the Oriental mind trying to explain a natural event that it did not understand,” and also “Jesus did not really cast out demons out of people with any supernatural power. He just eased their troubled psyches by driving away their fears. And all those tremendous healings that Jesus did—do not bother about that. They were a person's body healing itself once the mind convinced him that he was not really sick—Jesus said so.”
Now believe it or not, I actually read each one of those lines in a recent book written by a leading Scottish clergyman, whose name you would all recognize because he wrote a whole bunch of commentaries. Can you believe that? That was a theologian speaking. It really is no wonder that Jesus says, “When I return, will I find any faith anywhere, even in my disciples?” because we are bombarded by these things every day. It is no wonder it is called, “living in the Information Age.” All that information is proof that people require being convinced of something.
The information doubling every couple of years, or every year. I do not know what the current rate is, but there is so much information out there, so much reason, so much proof, that a recent study (I just heard this last week) said that most people said that it is way too much. It takes all their time, and they do nothing else but process information that is useless. So just how much faith do we have? Do we have enough faith to heal us? Do we have enough faith to let God govern His church? Do we have enough faith to flee to a place of safety? Do we have enough faith to die, whether by natural causes or otherwise, before Christ returns? Do we have enough faith to be saved? We really have to soberly ask ourselves these questions. Will He find faith in you, in this era of Laodiceanism?
We are going to be talking a lot about healing in this sermon, but I do not want it to be limited to that subject. Healing is only the illustration that exposes, and I use that word for a reason, and explains faith. Hopefully it exposes strong faith, but maybe it will expose weak faith. God's word is a two-edged sword. It cuts one way, and it can also cut back the other. Faith touches every part of our Christian lives.
We cannot serve God at all without some measure of faith being involved. Just to recognize that He is the Creator God—period—requires faith. Paul says in Hebrews 11:6, “We must first believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Even just that takes faith. We have to take Him at His word, but we have all this proof all around us that He is a wonderful Creator.
Paul also says in that same chapter, same verse, that “Without faith it is impossible to please Him.” By faith all the heroes and heroines of the Bible accomplished their work. At least three times in the scriptures it says, “The just shall live by faith.” One place has, “The just shall live by his faith,” meaning his own faith—what he has within him. If you want those references, they are Habakkuk 2:4, Romans 1:17, and Hebrews 10:38. Paul says in II Corinthians 5:7, “We walk by faith, not by sight.” Faith is so paramount, that I think we cannot learn enough about it. Those scriptures, that I just gave you, are a kind of a rehearsal of the most frequent scriptures that are quoted about faith.
I think at this point that it would be good to define the terms that we will be using for the rest of the sermon because we need to be all thinking on the same line. When we talk about something like faith, it becomes absolutely vital to do so, because to many people faith is a really vague concept. They do not have it pinned down to something that they can hold onto, that they can chew on, and that relates to themselves.
But then again I do not want us to get all bogged down in technical definitions of the Greek and the Hebrew, and even the English words. We do not need to know all the nuances of how they were used in ancient times and the little changes the nuances took on when they became part of a religious vocabulary. I do not think we need to go to that point, at least not for my purpose for today. I keep thinking of the modern business principle—the KISS principle—Keep It Simple, Stupid. If we keep it simple, maybe it will give us something to grab onto.
We all know that the word “faith” in the Bible is translated from the Greek word pistis. You probably have all heard this a hundred times. There are various forms of the word pistis. Men have written long chapters and book after book on what faith is. But I am going to keep it simple. I think we can grasp the essence of the word faith by using one very common word we use every day probably—trust. That is the essence of the word faith.
Faith in God and faith in His Son Jesus Christ is trusting them. So let me ask you those questions that I gave about five minutes ago. Do we trust God to heal us? Do we trust God to govern His church? Do we have the trust in God to flee to a place of safety? Do we trust God enough to die before He returns? Do we trust God to save us? It brings it a little closer, does it not, when you use the word trust? It does not have that religious sound to it. Do you trust God?
This one-word definition may be too simple for some, because you know, people can trust emotionally or even mystically, without any basis for it. This, in the main, is Protestantism. “Believe in the Lord and you will be saved.” The altar calls that come up in the Baptist church and Pentecostal churches are meant to sweep people up in the emotionalism of the moment so that they can say, “I've given my heart to the Lord.”
Others feel touched by the Divine in some way. “I've got the spirit.” They have a feeling or an urging within them, and then they accept Christ, or “so-called Christ,” and they say that they are “born again.” This may have happened to some of you before you came into God's church. But that is not the faith of God—the faith that God wants in us.
When I use the word trust in this sermon as a definition or a synonym for faith, I am going to assume something—that we understand these three factors: 1) That our faith is the gift of God and it is a fruit of God's spirit working in us, 2) That our faith is not blind, but is based and proved by the truth found in God's word, 3) That our faith is accompanied by obedience to God and His will for us. Those are three big things that probably whole sermons can be spoken on.
Christian faith, then—if we are going to sum it all up here—is trust based on our knowledge of God and of His purpose (both for us as individuals and collectively as both His church and mankind), upon His law, and upon His promises. If we wanted to, we could also use the words confidence, assurance, or reliance. Trust is the one I want to use because it is so simple to understand.
Once we define faith as trust, we then have to determine individually what we have our trust in. It is easy to say that we have faith in God, but do we? We may profess that we have trust in God, but do we really have to confess that sometimes we do not? I think we all have to. Do our actions tell a different tale than our tongue when it comes to trusting God? Do we talk the talk but not walk the walk?
Now I want us to evaluate this as objectively as we can, because our salvation or at the very least our reward hangs in the balance. This is not something that we can pass over lightly. We all come short of the glory of God. None of us has perfect faith. None of us lives like Christ lived, and He did have perfect faith. None of us trusts God so much that we can say, “Not my will, but Your will be done.”
We all hold back something to one degree or another. There may be a little part of our lives that we do not let God handle. It may be our health. It may be our livelihood. It may be our hobbies. It may be (like for me) Monday night football—something that I have got to overcome. But there is a little part of our life somewhere—maybe major parts of our lives—that we do not trust God in.
Even Mr. Armstrong admitted (I believe it was during a refresher program back…I do not know if this was '86, '85, or '84 or whenever) that he had hired a fulltime nurse and took the prescribed medicines, because he did not have the faith. My parents heard that themselves. I have heard that Aaron Dean has said that Mr. Armstrong did not want any of the doctrines changed up to the day that he died. That includes the healing booklet.
But even though he wrote that healing booklet, he still did not have the faith to follow his own advice perfectly. Like I said, we all fall short of the glory of God. I do not know why he did not have the faith. I do not know how he justified it. That is between him and God. But he was a man with weaknesses, just like us. Besides all that, his weakness do not absolve me, or any of us, of our weaknesses. We cannot say to God, “Well, Herbert Armstrong did it. He took those medicines. He had that nurse. So I can do it.”
It does not work that way. Paul says, “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ” (II Corinthians 5:10). He also said in Romans 2:6 that “Christ will render to each one according to his deeds.” So again I ask the question, “Who or what do you trust?” It is on your shoulders what kind of faith you have, what kind of experience in faith that you bring before Jesus Christ the Judge.
Frederick Jacoby, a German philosopher from the 18th century, wrote, “In one thing, men of all ages are alike. They have believed obstinately in themselves.” So this section is entitled, “Do You Trust Yourself?” Self is the watch-word of humanity. Today, especially, society pushes products, movements, methodology aimed at the self. We have self-esteem. We have self-help. We have self-assertiveness. We all should be more self-confident. We have gasoline stations that are self-service. We have a magazine that is entitled “Self.”
Some of these are necessary in proper measure. It is good to have a little bit of self-confidence, because you do not want to be timid all the time. You should be able to see in yourself where you have your strengths and be confident of them. But if you have too much self-confidence, you have no trust in God.
When it comes down to decisions on life and death—eternal matters—do we not often really trust ourselves more than any other thing? When it comes to healing, trust in self manifests itself in different ways. Some trust their genes. They say things like: Every one of my ancestors for eight generations has lived to be over 100 years old. This little bug isn't going to kill me. Others trust their healthy bodies, and because they have been made fit and strong through their exercise and diet, they say, “I'm as strong as an ox. I exercise every day. I eat a perfectly balanced diet. My body will conquer this illness. I do not need to worry.” Others trust their knowledge to find a cure. “I know the exact cure for every illness that has come upon this earth. If I take this drug and a little bit of this herb, I will be better in no time. The day after tomorrow I will be up cutting the lawn.” That may be a trust in yourself and not in God.
Lawyers have a saying that “A person who defends himself in court has a fool for a client.” The point is that we are not objective enough to come up with the proper solution to our own problem. We are too close to see what we really need to do, because we have so many different ways of defeating ourselves. A guy name Lord Graybill, an English poet from the 16th century said, “No man was ever so much deceived by another, as by himself.” And good old Ben Franklin, the father of American aphorisms, said, “Who has deceived thee so often as thyself?” And he is right.
Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it.
Who has ever constrained his own heart to do what is right? Hopefully the people of God have, but the heart is naturally deceitful, and it tries every way it can to get us to do things that are convenient, expedient, so we do not have to feel any pain or make any hard decisions.
Another way of looking at this: should we let a terrorist run a bomb factory; do you let an alcoholic keep charge of the bar? Do you trust yourself to make the wise decisions in your life? When it comes to eternal life and death matters, we are not too wise, most of us. Then our little heart starts leading us in a direction that makes it easy for us to make the wrong decision.
Let us go to Proverbs 28:6. God really does not spare us when it comes to these things. He tells it like it is. He says the exact same thing that the lawyers say.
Proverbs 28:26 He who trusts in his own heart is a fool. . .
Remember what the lawyer said, “He who defends himself in court has a fool for a client.”
Proverbs 28:28 . . . But whoever walks wisely will be delivered.
If you trust yourself to cure your own illness, God says you are plain foolish. But if you do what is wise, you will be delivered—healed. That is what salvation is. That is what healing is. It is really just a deliverance from something that has you in its clutches—whether it be a cancer or whatever.
Let us go to Luke 18, and in verse 9. This does not directly have to do with healing, but I want you to see what Jesus said about these people. I want you to distill the principle out of this.
Luke 18:9-12 Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves. [He spoke this directly to those who trusted in themselves.] That they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God, I thank You that I am not like other men: extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.'
That is all that we need to go. This guy was full of himself. He trusted himself in his own righteousness, in his own decisions. Do you know what Jesus ends up saying? He said, “This guy was not justified.” It is just another way of saying that his sins were not forgiven. He was still on the bad side of the ledger as far as God was concerned, because he did not trust in God. He did not trust in the Savior. He trusted in himself, and God says that he is a fool (Proverbs 28:26). He did not go up to his house justified.
Healing is simply another form of forgiveness of sin. If you do not believe that, go and check out Mark 2. Very plain. Jesus said, “Which is easier to say, ‘Take up your bed and walk,’ or ‘Your sins are forgiven.’” The question is…they are both equally easy, or they are both equally hard, because when it comes down to it, it does the same thing. So apply this to healing. The one who trusted in himself did not become justified.
I came to this scripture because I wonder if, when we become ill, do we ever think, “Oh, this is just the latest bug that is going around. This illness could not be the result of any sin that I have committed”? Could it? “No, I am not like other people who get venereal disease because I fornicate,” or “I am not the kind of people that would get AIDS because I have this perversion,” or “I am not going to get AIDS because I do not take drugs,” or “I am not going to get lung cancer, because I do not smoke. I am not a sinner.” But maybe this is an illness that God has given you because you are a sinner.
Now I am not saying that some illnesses come upon us for other reasons. They may not come as a direct result of sin. Jesus healed one person and they asked, “Who sinned? This man or whomever?” and Jesus said, “No one sinned in this occasion. It was to show the works of God. It was to glorify God.” But would there be sickness in this world if there were no sin? I doubt it.
So who sinned? Well, maybe not you. Maybe not even your parents. Maybe it was somebody else's sin. But are you humble enough to think that maybe it could have been because of your sin? Or do you justify yourself and trust in your own righteousness that it was not your sin? “I'm too good to get sick because of sin.” What does Jesus say? “This man did not go up justified.” Would He have maybe let that illness linger, because you trust in yourself, your self-righteousness? That is something to think about. So maybe we have seen now—when we see how far short we fall—that maybe we should not trust in ourselves.
Should we trust other men? That is the next section. Do we trust other men? If we should not trust ourselves, whom we know the best of all people, how could we trust other men? It seems like a no-brainer, but once again we wind up deceiving ourselves. We rationalize and justify doing it, sometimes even out of a kind of false humility and self-abasement. We say, “Well, I do not know anything about this tumor or this cancer I have gotten…” or whatever it happens to be—this condition—“…but my doctor does. He has all this education. He went eight years to medical school. He spent so many years as an intern, and now since that time he has been practicing for twenty years. I am sure that he has come across this problem a half dozen times in just the past year. He knows what he is doing.”
Well, in 1979 a medical doctor by the name of Robert S. Mendelsohn wrote a book. I have it here with me. It is called (you will like this title), Confessions of a Medical Heretic. In this book, he exposes how much doctors do not know. He exposes sicknesses that they actually cause. They even have a word (a Latin word) that they use among themselves so that you do not know what they are talking about. It is “iatrogenic.” It means “doctor caused diseases.” Staph infection is probably one of the most prominent of them. It runs rampant through hospitals, because doctors do not know everything. He also exposes the radical, invasive procedures that they turn to, especially here in this country.
We have the most radical medical profession in the world. We have multiple more times hysterectomies. Women are very frequent victims of this. “Oh, if she's having this problem, let's just rip her uterus out.” They do more heart surgeries, more lung surgeries, more surgeries of any kind than any other nation on this planet. I want to tell you, just in my words, the conclusion that this man, Dr. Robert Mendelsohn, came to… He said, “The reason why the doctors are like this is because we have made them into a god.” Do you ever hear of the word idolatry—when we trust in men, and not in God? He said, “They are idols of a false religion, the religion of medical science.” He does not pull any punches in this book. He calls them the devil’s priests.
Let me read you a section from his book. This guy is no wild-haired fanatic. He was an M.D. himself. He is dead now, but he left several good books that I would recommend to anybody. Confessions of a Medical Heretic, Malpractice. He also did a few others. They are very good, in the main. Listen to what he says on page 123, in the chapter called, “The Devils Priests.” He says,
I always laugh when someone from the American Medical Association, or some other doctor’s organization, claims that doctors have no special power over people. After I have finished laughing, I always ask, ‘How many people can tell you to take off your clothes, and you'll do it?’ Because doctors are really the priests of modern medicine, most people don't deny them their extra influence over our lives. After all, most doctors are honest, dedicated, intelligent, committed, healthy, educated, and capable. Aren't they? The doctor is the rock upon which modern medicine's church is built. Isn't he? Not by a long shot. Doctors are only human in the worst way. You can't assume your doctor is any of those nice things listed above, because doctors turn out to be dishonest, corrupt, unethical, sick, poorly educated, and downright stupid more often than the rest of us.
Then on page 127, he writes,
Perhaps the most telling characteristic of the profession that is supposed to deliver health care: doctors, as a group, appear to be sicker than the rest of society. Conservative counts puts the number of psychiatrically disturbed physicians in the U.S. at 17,000—or one in twenty. The number of alcoholics at more than 30,000. That's about one in ten. The number of narcotics addicts at 3500—or 1%. A 30 year study (that is a long time, good experience over these thirty years) comparing doctors with professionals with similar social, economic and intellectual status, found that by the end of the study (a whole thirty years later) nearly half the doctors were divorced or unhappily married. More than a third used drugs, such as amphetamines, barbiturates, or other narcotics, and a third had suffered emotional problems severe enough to require at least ten trips to a psychiatrist. The control group of non-doctors didn't fare nearly as badly. Doctors are from 30 to 100 times more likely than lay people to abuse narcotics, depending on the particular drug.
That is all I need to read. I do not need to belabor the point. The bottom line is that doctors are human beings with human problems. They are fallible, narrow-minded, biased, unhealthy, greedy, and as foolish as the rest of us. Just because they have got a whole page of alphabet soup after their name does not prove in the least that they can heal us. All it says is that they know a lot of medical science that can change within the next half hour. I just heard today that many doctors are now saying, “Let's pull Olestra off the shelves because it causes stomach cramps. Oh well, it might have been an okay fat substitute, but it might kill you.”
Let us go back to Jeremiah 9:3.
Jeremiah 9:3 And like their [the Israelites] bow they have bent their tongues for lies.
This is God speaking. He is giving a pretty thorough accounting of the way the people of Israel are.
Jeremiah 9:3-6 They are not valiant for the truth on the earth, For they proceed from evil to evil, And they do not know Me, says the LORD. Everyone take heed to his neighbor, and do not trust any brother; for every brother will utterly supplant, and every neighbor will walk with slanderers, everyone will deceive his neighbor, and will not speak the truth. They have taught their tongue to speak lies, and weary themselves to commit iniquity. Your habitation is in the midst of deceit; through deceit they refuse to know Me, says the LORD.
This is where we live, folks. We live in a country that is brim full of everybody trying to pull your money out of your pocket, give it to themselves, and deceiving you the whole way. It runs pretty high among the doctors. “Hey! All you have to do is get this procedure done, and you'll be fine for the rest of your life. Just slip a ten-thou in my pocket. I've got the cure for this. It's patented.” All this is, is a new wrinkle on an old thing.
We know that a society has reached a period of evil, just like the days of Noah, when you cannot trust your family, your friends, your business associates, your neighbors. Today people do not trust the government, the military, or big or small businesses. Many in the Church of God do not trust the ministry, their brethren, or anybody else for that matter. Do you think we have reached the time of Jeremiah 9:3-6? We mistrust these people and these institutions because they have proven themselves to be just men—unworthy of real trust, until they prove it over experience, over a time of testing.
Let us go back to Jeremiah 17. Listen to this.
Jeremiah 17:5-6 Thus says the LORD: Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the LORD. For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see when good comes, but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land which is not inhabited.
Is that what you want? Do you want to bring a curse upon yourself by trusting in men? The reason why it brings a curse is that it is plain idolatry, again—it is putting something else in the place of God. It is at least breaking the first three commandments. God says very plainly, in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28, that if we disobey His law, He is going to bring a curse. Would you not know that a lot of those curses are sickness and disease? They strike close to home. Our own flesh is being eaten away or slowly killed.
Turn to Psalm 146, just to nail a final nail into this.
Psalm 146:3-4 Do not put your trust in princes, nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help. [That word help can also be translated deliverance or salvation. Why? Because…] His [man's] spirit departs, he returns to his earth; in that very day his plans perish.
He is just a man. Everything—all his accomplishments, all his powers, are fit for mold. That is about it. What Solomon says pretty much in the book of Ecclesiastes: “Vanity of vanities. All is vanity.” But do not trust in men. He concludes, “Fear God and keep the commandments. That is the whole duty of man.” So I think we have seen it is no good to trust in man.
We do not trust in one man, but what about the collective efforts of all men, for all time—let us say the knowledge of sixty centuries of investigation, experimentation, improvement? We have come a long way baby, have we not? Are we not doubling our knowledge every year, too? Are we not so much more intelligent than those ancient people were? Even our fathers and our grandfathers are not as smart as we are. Americans proudly boast that we have the most advanced medical system in the world. We trumpeted, “Oh, we don't want to have a medical system like Canada. Why would we want to stoop to that level? We have got the best.”
Remember that this was during the time when the Clintons were trying to push nationalized health care on everybody. “We have the brightest doctors, the most sophisticated equipment, the absolute best research and development facilities on the planet, hands down. Our drugs are the safest, the most tested on the globe, are they not? You cannot go wrong in trusting America's medical system, can you?”
Let us go to Luke 8 just to get the flavor here of what God thinks.
Luke 8:43 Now a woman, having a flow of blood for twelve years, who had spent all her livelihood on physicians and could not be healed by any.
Well, that is about it. That is all you have to read. Jesus did it with a word. Actually, He did not even do it with a word. She came up and touched His garment and immediately her flow of blood stopped. A little bit different, is it not? Here, the medical system bleeds you dry. Jesus stops the flow. Just to make a play on words.
There would be thousands of such stories around these days, without health insurance, because people run to the doctor for every little thing. If they did not have health insurance, boy, there would be a lot of people who would spend all their time, money, and all their possessions to try to find a cure from a physician; and there is none, because they cannot heal you.
Paul says, “Because you have not trusted Christ, you have not discerned the body of the Lord. Many are sick and have died.” You will find that in I Corinthians 11. I am not saying that they do not have solutions. Oh, they have solutions all right. I am just saying that if you trust in the medical system, what you have done is entered into a crap shoot. I want to hasten to add here that this applies to any method or any technique of healing that man devises.
I have just used the medical profession because they are glaring in their use of their power. But this goes from juice diets, to herbal remedies, to mineral treatment, to vitamin therapy, to acupuncture, to acupressure, to who knows what else people do to themselves to heal themselves. Where do you place your trust for healing? Those things may be beneficial in the right measure at the right time. I am not knocking them all, but where is the trust? Is the trust in God?
Now you may say your trust is in God, but where is your trust in God when it comes to action, in what you do? But there is more to it than it being a crap shoot. Let us go to II Kings, chapter 1. This is the story of Ahaziah. I just want you to see what God's reaction to his actions were. He may have said that he trusted in God, but look what he did.
II Kings 1:2-3 Now Ahaziah fell through the lattice of his upper room in Samaria, and was injured; so he sent messengers and said to them, “Go, inquire of Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron, whether I shall recover from this injury.” But the angel of the LORD said to Elijah the Tishbite, “Arise, go up to meet the messengers of the king of Samaria, and say to them, ‘Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going to inquire of Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron?’”
“Did you forget that there is a God out here that said He will heal you, and you are going to go to see this crackpot, this kook, over there in Ekron, who is called the lord of flies, Baal-Zebub?” They figured out that flies carry disease, and so they reasoned in man's “wonderful reasoning” process that because flies brought disease, they were agents of the god, and therefore they not only brought disease upon you, but they could take it away. Do you know what the Jews called this Baal-Zebub later on? They got so disgusted with it, they called him the "lord of dung," because that is where flies settled. This king of Israel had the audacity not to trust in God, and went to this crack pot over there in Ekron to find out whether he would live or die, because the people said this was the god of disease, and that he will be able to prophesy whether you are going to live or die from this disease or because of this disease.
II Kings 1:4 “Now therefore, thus says the LORD: ‘You shall not come down from the bed to which you have gone up, but you shall surely die.’”
He took the place of Baal-Zebub and said, “Look buddy, I'm going to tell you what's going to happen here. You're going to die because you didn't have faith in Me.”
II Kings 1:17 So Ahaziah died according to the word of the LORD, which Elijah had spoken.
Do you know how many people died because of Ahaziah's sin? One hundred and three. Read the story. Ahaziah kept sending messengers to Elijah, trying to get him to soften up his stance. Do you know what God did? He sent thunderbolts down and killed the messenger, the captain, and his fifty men—twice. That is 102 men right there; and then Ahaziah died anyway. Do you see how futile it is to trust in man or man's knowledge? God said, “I am the God in Israel. You come to Me when you want to be healed.”
Now, many of you may be offended by what I just said (if you get my drift). I am sorry if it does. I do not mean to offend. I do not say these things in judgment. I say these things so we can overcome, because that is the glory of the Lord that we are trying to come up to—the standard that He has set. If we are so Laodicean still that we will not trust in our Maker to heal us—we have a long way to go, baby.
What you do with this after you hear it is your responsibility, but I am charged by God to say it, so you have no excuse. I am not saying that I can do it myself. I am a witness against myself, too. We are all in this pot together. Are you going to be one of the pieces that is drawn out, because you have faith in God? I sure hope so.
Obviously our trust should be in God. That is all I have been saying through this whole sermon. If we all know this appears in the old noggin, I think we could all probably turn to a dozen scriptures where we know it says, “Trust in the Lord,” “I trust in God,” “He will not fail me.” The Psalms are chock-full of verses like this.
Let us go back to Jeremiah 17 again. This is what happens when we trust in God.
Jeremiah 17:7 Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, and whose hope is the LORD.
When we are sick, is not our trust and our hope together in God? We trust Him to heal us, and we hope in Him to give us deliverance. It is very hard to separate faith and hope, because hope is a part of faith. It says in Hebrews 11:1 that it is the assurance, the confidence, of things that we hope for. It is the proof that what we hope for is going actually to be given.
Jeremiah 17:8 For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; . . .
No, when we get that disease or whatever—when we are about to wilt—no fear. God is there. He will heal us.
Jeremiah 17:8 But its leaf will be green. [We will not wither. We will be green. We will be healthy. We will be fresh and vital.] And will not be anxious in the year of drought [When things are going bad, we will not worry. God said that He will supply our need. He will give us what we need.], nor will cease from yielding fruit.
That is an interesting one. That is all locked up together with overcoming, growing, and producing fruit. Trust in the Lord and hope in Him—then we will have these benefits. See, trusting in these other things bring curses; but trusting in God brings benefits, blessings, health, growth, and fruit.
Well, we do fall short of the glory of God. It is just a fact of life. We do not trust God like we should. We hedge our bets. We ask for anointing, and then we go do this regimen, take those pills, and have this procedure done, or whatever. But what does God want us to do? To put it succinctly, He wants us to call on Him for healing, confess our sins, repent of our wrong doing, and wait patiently for Him to act.
Let us go to Psalm 25. I did put this scripture in there. I knew it was significant when we sang that song earlier. Here is God's instruction.
Psalm 25:16-21 Turn Yourself to me, and have mercy on me. [Actually this is what David is asking of God.], for I am desolate and afflicted. The troubles of my heart have enlarged; Oh, bring me out of my distresses! Look on my affliction and my pain, and forgive all my sins. Consider my enemies, for they are many; and they hate me with cruel hatred. Oh, keep my soul, and deliver me; let me not be ashamed, for I put my trust in You. Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for You.
Pretty good instruction for what we need to do from a man who was often in distresses. And though he wrote this about being chased probably all over the land of Israel by a king who did not understand who he was, apply it to healing. “Look on my affliction, God. Heal me. Consider my enemies. If I have sinned, help me; forgive me. I will in integrity and righteousness await patiently for You to act.” Oh, but this is so hard. Oh, it is really hard. In Luke 18, Jesus acknowledges that it is hard. He knows what is in man, because He was a man.
Luke 18:1 Then He spoke a parable to them, that man always ought to pray and not lose heart.
I looked this word up “lose heart.” Do you know what the best definition of this I found was? Do not cave in. Do not be a coward. Do what the persistent widow did. Keep asking God for your healing, for forgiveness, or whatever it happens to be, and wait for Him. Do not give in. Keep praying. Stay strong. Stand your ground.
Now why is it so hard to have faith? There are many answers to this question. There is probably an answer for each individual, because we all have our different weaknesses. Some lack patience. Some do not know how to trust. They have had a terrible time trusting in anyone all their life, because no one was ever trustworthy to them. Some are plain ignorant about what they need to do. Some are proud. “Oh, I won't let God do this to me. I have my pride.” Sort of fearful. They are afraid that they are going to die. Some are bound to the physical. If you cannot chug-a-lug it, or chew it, or feel it cutting your flesh, it cannot help you. We all have things like these to overcome. However, I think that the major problem for most of us is that our faith is just misplaced. We may think that we are trusting God to heal us, but our trust may be even in the promise.
Now I want you to get this. We trust in the promise that God will heal us, do we not? And that is good, but is our faith only in the promise? Is our faith only in the words or just in the concept of healing? See, I am getting at something here. Now you might say, “What is wrong with that?” What is wrong with having faith just in the promise? And I would have to truthfully answer, “Not a whole lot.” It is good to have faith in the promise, but it is far, far better if our faith, if our trust, is in the healer Himself. Do you get my drift? Do you see the fine distinction I am making here?
We have been hearing about this lately—our relationship with our God the Father and our Savior Jesus Christ is more important than anything. We may intellectually believe those words—God is our healer—but do we trust Him to heal us? Do you see the distinction? Do we have a close enough relationship with that Person—that great and awesome Being of stupendous power—to trust Him for the healing?
We have been hearing that we must come to know Him intimately, personally, thoroughly, not just the idea of Him. There must be a real communication between Him and us. This is really a very vital and important distinction that I am making, here, and I do not think it is something that we should shrug off.
“This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3) This is eternal LIFE we are talking about, not just healing. The stakes are higher. We must live intimately and personally and completely with God today, now!—every minute, every part of our lives, every detail, and especially when the times get tough, like when you are sick or when age is upon us.
Let us just go to a few examples quickly so we understand this. I want you to see how the people that Jesus healed approached this. That is what we are getting at here. In Matthew 8, Jesus had just given the Sermon on the Mount
Matthew 8:1-3 When He had come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him. And behold, a leper came and worshipped Him, saying, Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean. Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, I am willing: be cleansed. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.
Now what did the man trust in? He said, “You can make me clean.”
Matthew 8:5-10 Now when Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him, saying, Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, dreadfully tormented. And Jesus said to him, I will come and heal him. The centurion answered and said, Lord, [Listen to this man] I am not worthy that You should come under my roof, but only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, “Go,” and he goes; and to another, “Come,” and he comes; and to my servant, “Do this,” and he does it. When Jesus heard it, He marveled [This is the kind of thing that nearly knocked Jesus off His feet. He was amazed], and said to those who followed, Assuredly, I say to you, [you know, verily, verily] I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!
Matthew 8:13 Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.”
What did he believe? He believed that Jesus had the authority to heal his servant. He said, “You say the word, it will be done. I am not worried about it.” He trusted Him, not any old promise. He trusted the man, the God—Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
Matthew 9:19-21 So Jesus arose and followed him, and so did His disciples. And suddenly, a woman who had a flow of blood for twelve years came from behind and touched the hem of His garment; for she said to herself, [Now listen to what she says.] “If only I may touch His garment, I shall be made well.”
Where was her faith? In Him. She trusted Him so much, that she knew that all she had to do was touch Him, and she would be healed.
Matthew 9:22 But Jesus turned around, and when He saw her He said, “Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well.”
She trusted Him.
Matthew 9:18 While He spoke these things to them, behold, a ruler came and worshipped Him, saying, My daughter has just died, but come and lay Your hand on her and she will live.
Where was his faith? In Jesus—in the Healer. “Just come and lay Your hand on her, and she will be fine.” He asked Jesus to resurrect the little girl. This was not any simple healing of someone who was maybe dying. This girl was already dead; and this man, her father, a ruler of the people, knew Jesus well enough that all He would have to do is just come and touch her, and she would rise from the dead. Do we have such faith?
Matthew 9:27-28 When Jesus departed from there, two blind men followed Him, crying out and saying, “Son of David, have mercy on us!” And when He had come into the house, the blind men came to Him, And Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” [Catch that question. “Do you believe that I am able to do this?”] They said to Him, “Yes, Lord.”
Matthew 9:30 And their eyes were opened.
Matthew 9:29 According to your faith, let it be to you.
As much as you trust Him, you will be healed. If you do not trust Him, you will not be healed. It is that simple. According to your faith, your trust in Him, that is how it will be.
Now they have an advantage that we do not have. They saw Him face to face. We cannot. Remember in the Faith chapter, Hebrews 11:27 says about Moses that “He trusted in Him who was invisible.” He trusted God enough to leave Egypt after Pharaoh had come after him. The strength and power of Egypt was on his tail, but he had enough faith to trust the invisible God—just like we have to trust the invisible God.
In John 20 (this is after Jesus was resurrected), He says something very interesting, very encouraging to us. This was the situation in which Thomas had been away when He (Jesus) had appeared to the disciples before, and they said, “We saw the Lord,” and he said, “Nah, you couldn't have. Unless I see Him with my own eyes and touch Him, and put my hand in His side and I can feel the marks in His hands, I'm not going to believe.”
John 20:27-29 Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving [Do not be untrusting], but believing [be trusting].” And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” [But listen to Jesus' reply.] Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
See, we get a special blessing if we have trust, have faith, in the invisible God. Do you trust anybody that you have never met? If Joe Blow comes off the street, would you put your wife and children under him? Would you allow him to care for them when you have never laid eyes on him before? Not on your life! It takes a proven track record—a set of circumstances that you have participated in with this person before you come to trust in him. Sometimes this takes years of time. It is the same with God. It is a continual process of coming to know Him better and better as we grow in grace and knowledge of Him. It increases our faith. How can we increase our faith? Simple. Keep it simple, stupid. Come to know Him to the point you trust Him with your very life and the lives of all your friends and relatives.
Let us go to John 17. We will close here. This is in Jesus' prayer. I want you to see what He says here—that He is praying for us. This is what He wants of us. This is what He asked God to help us in.
John 17:20 I do not pray for these alone [His disciples there with Him], but also for those who will believe in Me through their word.
Those who have to believe the invisible God, who have not seen and yet believed. This is what He asked God the Father for:
John 17:21 That they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You.
"I ask You, Father, to help them to know You, and to know Me so well, that we are like the same person.:
John 17:21 That they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.
The works that we do make a tremendous witness and impact upon the people of the world.
John 17:22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one.
We have the power!
John 17:23-24 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know [He repeats it] that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.
“I want them to be in my kingdom. I want them to see Me as the King of Kings and Lord of lords, and they have got to be one with us for that to happen.”
John 17:25-26 O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. [“At least they know that I am from You.”] And I have declared to them Your name. [“I have showed them, and I have extolled to them all Your attributes.”] And will declare it, [“I will keep on doing it.”] that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.
He is rooting for us. He is there. He has given us the power, the authority, to have perfect faith in Him and His Father. It is there. We need to latch onto it. Maybe what we need to do is put Him to the test. We have to prove to ourselves that He is trustworthy in our lives, and we do this by allowing Him to work in us. We cannot do that unless we are close to Him. Prayer, Bible study, fasting, meditation, and experiencing life with Him. You cannot grow in faith unless you give a little bit of faith, and show a little bit of faith—He needs that seed to grow.
We must be hungering and thirsting after righteousness; and we have to eat His flesh and drink His blood, He said, to have eternal life. We must make Him a part of us in everything that we do. That is how we come to trust in Him. He lives in us, and we have got to acknowledge that and live with Him in return. T
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