The False Doctrine of Healing in the Atonement
There are multitudes of so-called faith healers and others who teach that Christians are promised bodily healing in this life through Christ’s atonement.
This may seem to exalt the power of the Gospel, yet in reality it subverts those influenced by this concept from the actual goals and promises of Christ’s Gospel.
It also is a subtle attack on the validity of the Christian faith itself, since the entire foundation of Christianity would be shaken if any aspect of it was proven to be invalid. By regarding bodily healing as something promised through faith in the promises of God in Christ, it is only logical that Christianity would be false if anyone with faith in Christ was in poor bodily health.
Though Jesus healed on earth to demonstrate His true identity and to encourage others to believe in Him as the Christ, the Son of God, He also never promised that everyone who so believes in Him will be in good health.
His own Apostles, who wrote the Gospels as well as the rest of the New Testament, experienced sickness and saw sickness in their faithful Christian co-laborers (which they did not miraculously heal, nor claim healing for as if it were some guarantee for anyone with faith).
The Apostle wrote in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10: “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”
“Infirmities” as used in the above verses is translated as such from the same Greek word used in 1 Timothy 5:23.
Here Paul wrote to his faithful co-worker Timothy about treating his bodily illnesses (note: Paul never rebuked Timothy for sin nor unbelief in his epistles to him, something that doesn’t add up if the modern faith healers’ doctrine of promised healing in Christ’s atonement were actually true).
1 Timothy 5:23: “Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.”
Other such examples:
Philippians 2:25-27: “Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labor, and fellowsoldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants.26 For he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick. 27 For indeed he was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.”
Note that “he was sick.” According to some healing in the atonement people, he should have confessed he was never really sick at all. And according to all the promised healing in the atonement people, he should at least have immediately claimed healing that was supposedly guaranteed; and thus not remained sick for any significant length of time.
2 Timothy 4:20: “Erastus abode at Corinth: but Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick.”
It sounds like the Apostle Paul considered sickness a normal thing for a Christian, as if Christians, even the genuine, faithful ones who believe what the Bible actually teaches, are actually still subject to the pains, toil, and hardships of life.
And that is because they are!
In the resurrection, if they continue in a living, obedient faith in Christ until the end (Matthew 24:13) they will inherit the glory of God’s kingdom- with a redeemed body.
Then; not here and now!
Romans 8:22-25: “For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. 23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. 24 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? 25 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.”
Revelation 21:3-4: “And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. 4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”
What about 2 Peter 2:24? “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.”
Is the context here bodily healing or another type of healing?
Read the passage in context.
Peter is writing to Christians about proper Christian living, especially in the midst of persecution and other fiery trials. Reconciliation to God through Christ enables one to actually do the things he is saying to do.
Righteous living that glorifies God is actually the goal of Christ’s redemption and the outworking of a living faith in Him.
Romans 1:16-17: “ For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.”
Hebrews 13:20-21: “Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21 Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
Peter writes nothing in his epistles regarding how Christians should be free from bodily infirmities. His focus is on following Christ in faith unto righteous living, even and especially when this is not beneficial to one’s earthly interests. He even makes clear that this is something which could very well result in rejection and even more suffering.
Read 1 and 2 Peter and see what Peter’s focus and concern is. It is not about claiming promises nor affirming one’s inheritance in Christ or anything like that unto a perfectly healthy body. A cross-reference to 1 Peter 2:24 is found in Hebrews 12:13, where healing is talked about in terms of spiritual healing related to an obedient faith in Christ and the righteous living which is inseparable from that.
(In context) Hebrews 12:11-15: “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. 12 Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; 13 And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. 14 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: 15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled”
Every person on earth is subject to bodily injury, illness, and the physical decline associated with age. Christians are no exception. This is evident by the fact that all people die.
When was the last time you saw a 200 or a 2,000 year old Christian walking around? You haven’t.
And if bodily healing were promised in Christ’s atonement, then there would be people like that around today. There aren’t. Because bodily healing is not promised in Christ’s atonement.
Many have mistakenly believed this evil doctrine and had their faith overthrown when they were not healed.
And even if they were healed, they were still subverted by a wrong emphasis and a wrong goal of the Christian faith.
Fake faith healers have bilked the naive out of unspeakable amounts of money and misled multitudes, this doctrine being foundational to their scam.
Sick and injured people are tormented by these thieves. Their methods of getting mildly and moderately ill people, as well as disabled people, to briefly think they have been healed through hypnosis, other psychological techniques, and subtle tricks have been well documented.
Many others are hassled, given false hope, and brought further despair by the Bible twisting and naive prayers of their followers who lay their hands on them and pray to claim their healing.
And then they get blamed when they turn out to not actually be healed!
All of this stems from a lie implying Christians ought to have the benefits of a blessed resurrection- before the resurrection!
The Bible even talks about this deadly deceit.
2 Timothy 2:15-18: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 16 But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. 17 And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; 18 Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.”
Don’t let this doctrine overthrow your faith in the actual promises of Christ and in His entire Word. Don’t let it corrupt your understanding of Christianity in any way nor impede you from believing anything that the Bible actually teaches. And do not promote it nor uphold it lest you be found a liar and a preacher of a false gospel.
There is a resurrection day promised by God. All will be raised and sent to heaven or hell. The blessedness of the former will then swallow up the pain and sorrow of this life; and the suffering of the latter will then make the pain and sorrow of this life seem easy and enviable to go through, in comparison to the horror and everlasting torment of that place.
Get right with God through Jesus Christ and stay right. Repent of all sin and submit to His Word, let its principles rule your life, and know that God’s goal is to make you holy and keep you holy- in the midst of a crooked, defiled, fallen world where no one is relieved from pain, affliction, the effects of aging, and physical death.
Find His grace to overcome sin and work what is well-pleasing in His sight through Jesus Christ. Don’t doubt Him if you suffer for this and/or suffer in the midst of this. And be certain that God is still good and cares for you, even though He may not heal your body and/or may allow the pain and sickness of your body to get worse.
Pursue the things that will be valuable on Judgment Day, be responsible with your body, take care of it as much as reasonable in your power, and trust God with the rest.
May this clear up confusion, help you make straight paths for your feet, and free you to walk the narrow way in Christ that leads to life without unnecessary guilt, without stumbling due to the evil influence of the healing in the atonement deceivers, and without doubt stemming from misunderstanding of the promises of God and from false expectations.
2 Timothy 2:19–22: “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. 20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honor, and some to dishonor. 21 If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work. 22 Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”
Galatians 5:6: “For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.”
1 John 5:3-4: “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. 4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.”
Philippians 3:17-21: “Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. 18 (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.) 20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ: 21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.”
Revelation 21:7-8:”He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.8 But the fearful (cowardly in regards to truth and righteousness), and unbelieving (and the healing in the atonement people are unbelieving as they reject the testimony of God’s Word against their false doctrine), and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers (many fake faith healers use sorcery), and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”
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