In conclusion of our 2015 study of the book of Mark, we now come to a passage of scripture which has been the topic of scholars for many years. Some translations of the Bible indicate that the last dozen verses of chapter 16 are not original to the writings of Mark. Some believe these verses were added as footnotes to clarify, compliment or conclude the intent of the writer.
With respect to the diverse opinions as to the arguments put forward on either side of this issue, I wholeheartedly believe in and hold to the verses we are about to read as the Word of Almighty God. Every scripture, properly interpreted by scripture in light of the one story being told by the Holy Spirit, is confirmed. Now, let’s conclude our 2015 study of Mark.
14 ¶ Later Jesus appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen.
15 And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.
16 "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.
17 "And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues;
18 "they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover."
19 ¶ So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.
20 And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen.
So often the above scriptures are quoted in support of the doctrine of divine healing. The doctrine of divine healing is well founded in the undisputed testimonies of both the Old and the New Testaments as the divine will of God.
The latter portion of verse 18 is the favored passage upon which authority and instruction is given to Believers in Christ to prayerfully lay hands on the sick in the Name of Jesus and fully expect the sick to recover from their sickness, disease or infirmity. This practice is in agreement with the teachings of Jesus demonstrated by Him and testified by the many witnesses thereafter.
From the Four Gospels to the book of Acts and all through the Epistles healing is a dominant part of the work of the Church and its ministers. God responds to our prayer for others and expects us to be moved with compassion and call upon Him for help. Divine healing is second in the scriptures only to the work of salvation. I say this not to discount justification, sanctification or the infilling of the Holy Spirit. However healing was sought after and performed more than any other work of Christ in the Gospels. The Old Testament is also filled with scriptures and accounts concerning divine healing.
The first time the word “healed” is mentioned in the Bible, (Hebrew: Rapha), was in respect to Abraham’s prayer for another man.
Genesis 20:17 So Abraham prayed to God; and God healed Abimelech, his wife, and his female servants. Then they bore children;
Moses also mentions healing while preparing the Children of Israel with instructions for life:
Exodus 15:26 "If you diligently heed the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the LORD who heals you." (Jehovah Rapha)
King David also appealed to the mercy of God when he was sick.
Psalms 6:2 Have mercy upon me, O LORD; for I am weak: O LORD, heal me; for my bones are vexed.
Psalms 30:2 O LORD my God, I cried unto thee, and thou hast healed me.
David believed healing was one of the many benefits of being a child of God.
1 Bless the LORD, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name!
2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits:
3 Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases,
4 Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
5 Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Everyone who reads the Bible and accepts it at face value would attest to the fact that God is a healing God. God’s intent to heal is clearly seen especially in the Messianic prophecy spoken through Isaiah.
Isaiah 53:5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.
This prophecy is repeated and confirmed as New Testament Church doctrine by the Apostle Peter.
1 Peter 2:24 Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness — by whose stripes you were healed.
Believers know that God can heal but the question is: how does a person obtain healing? What is the prescribed and most effective course which can be taken to receive healing from God?
The Word of God gives us several solid and well documented approaches to healing. The Bible is filled with people who were successful in pursuit of healing for themselves and for others. Although there is no formula we nonetheless can see some common threads which connect each instance of divine healing in the scriptures. These threads help us to establish a solid foundation on which to stand and participate in this God process.
A first element of healing is:
· The General Will of God which is clearly established in the scriptures and is in agreement with the whole counsel of God’s Word as a major part of the One Story told by the Bible.
· Healing is included in the Will of God and is a part of every Believer’s inheritance.
· Even though it is the General Will of God for His Children to walk in divine healing and health, each Believer has the potential to live and die sick because The General Will of God is Conditional.
· Some Believers live and die sick due to:
o Lack of knowledge
o Personal disregard
o Lifestyle choices
o Refusal to participate with other God given remedies
o Tiredness (Weariness)
o Desire or Decision (Decide to die)
o Sabotage (The power of the tongue)
o Subversion (The wrong influence)
o Attack (The devil)
· These reasons do not change the Will of God but they often affect the outcome.
If/when I found myself sick or diseased and in need of divine intervention for healing the first things I would/did do is:
1. Check myself
a. Do I believe healing is the will of God for my life?
b. Am I right with God?
c. Am I living and making responsible lifestyle choices?
d. Have I earnestly prayed in faith?
e. Have I asked others to agree with me in prayer?
f. How can I better educate myself to fight this sickness in faith and practice?
g. Am I doing everything I can reasonably do to participate with my God given spiritual and medical advisors to facilitate my healing.
After I check myself to insure I am not giving any room for this sickness or disease to exist, I then:
2. Challenge myself
a. Increase and discipline my prayer life
b. Increase and discipline my Word intake
c. Increase and discipline my faith filled confession
d. Increase and discipline myself to sow seeds of healing in the lives of others
Here are a few truths concerning the Child of God:
· You are the healed and not the sick
· Some sicknesses are physical, others mentally based while still others have an active demonic root such as spirits of infirmity.
· We fight our enemies from a position of victory
· Our ultimate victory is in Christ and throughout eternity
· There is a difference between the general and the specific will of God
The Specific Will of God is clearly seen in the scriptures as a part of God’s overriding plan to accomplish a specific purpose often known only to God. Instances of the specific will of God are seen throughout the Bible in the lives of faithful followers of God. More about this later …
Next week will begin our New Year with a fresh study of the scriptures concerning divine healing each Wednesday evening during the month of January. If you or someone you know is in need of healing these Wednesday evenings will make the difference. Each week we will hear the Word of God and apply it to our lives for ourselves and for others. Signs, wonders, miracles and healings are waiting for us in 2016. Happy New Year!!!