Lesson 32. In Physical Needs (James 5:14-15) PART 2
by John Lowe
It is proper to call in the ministers of religion in times of sickness and ask for their counsels and prayers. It is appropriate to make use of the ordinary means of restoration to health. It was proper then, as it is now, to do this “in the name of the Lord,” that is, believing that it is according to his benevolent arrangements and making use of means he has appointed. And it was proper then, as it is now, having made use of those means, implore the divine blessing on them, and feel that their effectiveness depends solely on him. Thus used, there was a ground of hope and faith regarding the recovery of the sufferer; and no one can show that in thousands of instances in the apostles day, and since, the prayer of faith, accompanying the proper use of means, may not have raised those who were on the borders of the grave, and who but for these means would have died.
1 (1 Cor. 12:9) “to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit,” Now, why do so many men today claim to have the gift of healing upon them, as it was on the apostles in the early church? Yet, we must admit that no man alive today can raise the dead, as Paul did, and no man has raised the dead in recent centuries. I know that God can heal anyone of any disease, and I know He does heal because I have been a recipient of His healing several times in my life. Also, I have heard the testimony of many men and women who claim to have been miraculously healed by the Lord. But I do not believe any man today can truthfully say they have the gift of healing as Paul and Peter had. We are told in Acts 5.12-16 that the sick were laid in the streets “that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them.” Then it says, “and they were healed every one.” I believe in divine healing, and I pray for the sick every day, but I do not have the gift of healing, and I do not claim that I can pray the prayer of faith that will save the sick. I base my prayers for the sick on these precious verses: “Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him; and if he has committed sins, they shall be forgiven him” (James 5.15, 15; KJV). And when I pray for the sick, I end my prayer with the words of the Savior: “Thy will be done.” God does heal the sick in answer to prayer, but we must distinguish between the rules laid down in James 5 and the temporary gifts of healing given to the apostles, which are referred to here and in other places in the Scriptures. I don’t think we need that gift today since we can go directly to the Great Physician. We do not need to go to a man or woman down here and ask them to lay hands on us or pray for us. Take your case directly to Him. It reveals a lack of faith in Him to go to a so-called healer.
2 (1 Cor. 12:28) “And God has appointed (“hath set”) these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracle, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues.”
God has established these various orders or ranks or areas of service in the church. The apostle has presented the central idea of the chapter “that God had conferred various gifts on the church members (see 1 Co 12.18), which he illustrated by comparing the Church to the human body. Now he presents the specifics of his argument and expounds upon the ranking of the various gifts that existed in the Church. Here Paul gives some additions to the gifts included in verses 4–11. The emphasis is twofold. First, on the source, “God has appointed,” and secondly, on the priority. The list is arranged with the most important gifts first and the least important last. In this arrangement, “apostles” are first, and “tongues” are last.
3 (Gal. 3:5) “Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?—” On what basis did God perform miracles? The book of Acts records that miracles were conducted among the Galatians by divine power: “Therefore they stayed there a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord, who was bearing witness to the word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands” (Acts 14.3). It was clear that these supernatural works were not the result of “the works of the law,” but from the hearing that leads to faith. The Galatians did not know the law, and Paul’s message was justification by faith.
4 (Acts 15:2) “Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles and elders, about this question.” The two Apostles must have agreed that the teaching of the Judaisers involved a direct condemnation of all the work in which they saw the triumph of God’s grace. They had proclaimed salvation through faith in Christ. Their converts were now told that they had been teaching a soul-destroying falsehood.
The word dissension is used to express the greatest evil of all political societies--the spirit of party and faction. In Mark 15:7 and Luke 23:19, it is used of the “insurrection” in which Barabbas had been the ringleader. That element of evil was now beginning to show itself in the Christian Church.
Paul and Barnabas were naturally chosen to go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders as the representatives of the cause of which they had been the chief advocates. Titus was taken up as an example of Paul's labors (Galatians 1:3). The fulness with which the Council's history is given suggests that Luke himself may have been present at it.
The reference of the question to the "Apostles and elders" is in many ways important. (1) For it is against the dogmatic system of the Church of Rome. (2) As a recognition of the mother-Church of Jerusalem's authority by the daughter-Church of Antioch; and as a precedent for referring local disputes to a central authority's decision. (3) As showing the confidence which Paul and Barnabas felt that the decision would be in their favor.) (4) We note that St. Paul ascribes the journey to a "revelation" (Galatians 2:1). The thought came into his mind as an inspiration that this, and not prolonged wranglings at Antioch, was the problem's correct solution.