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Are you a Christian who believes the Bible?  Are you sick or injured?  Are you wounded or broken on the inside? Are you suffering? Do you have sins to confess? Have you obeyed Scripture?

James writes to the Christian church and conveys the command of God,

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise.  Is anyone among you sick? 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 will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.  Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. (James 5:13-16)

This is God’s command through the inspired word of Scripture.  God’s word promises healing and forgiveness for the sick and suffering.  He promises to respond and to answer the faithful prayer of a righteous person.

At Church of the Redeemer, we invite the community to come and obey God and to demonstrate faith in him.  We believe that Scripture is God’s inspired, authoritative word to his children.  Our faith is in him and his faithfulness to fulfill his word.  Our faith is in the gospel story of Jesus Christ who died on the cross for our sins and rose from the dead for our eternal life.  We believe with the apostle Peter that the following quote of Isaiah was fulfilled in Jesus Christ for us,

Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.  But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:4-5; 1 Peter 2:24)

Paul writes that we are saved by grace through faith as a gift from God.  Jesus demonstrated that salvation includes healing – spirit, soul and body.  This is just one of the many examples from the gospels showing Jesus’ desire, willingness and power to heal,

And he came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. And those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured.  And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came out from him and healed them all. (Luke 6:17-19)

In his kingdom, there is no sickness or disease.  In the book of Revelation, we get a glimpse of heaven.  In God’s kingdom, there is no pain, no crying, no mourning, no death and no sin.  The leaves of the tree of life are for the healing of God’s people.  In Exodus, God call himself, “The Lord your healer.” (Exodus 15:26)  The witness of Scripture shows that God reaches out his hand to heal and to perform signs and wonders in the Name of Jesus. (Acts 4:30)

Jesus teaches, in fact commands, us to pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, one earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10)  Are you doing this daily?  There is health and freedom in the kingdom of heaven.  To pray for healing now is to pray for God’s kingdom and his will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.  This prayer is not a form to be followed ritualistically but to be desperately prayed with a lively faith that pictures heaven and cries out for that reality to come to earth—to our very lives!  Are you praying as Jesus commanded? Are you praying for the kingdom to come and his will to be done as it is in heaven in your life? Do you see with the eyes of faith what that means?  This is how Jesus commands us to pray.

Jesus told the following parable to teach people to pray and not give up,

And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.  He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man.  And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’  For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man,  yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.'”  And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says.  And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day an night? Will he delay long over them?  I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:1-8)

The author of the gospel, Luke, points out to his audience that Jesus told his parable for the specific reason that his disciples “ought always to pray and not lose heart.”  My friends, we as Christians have too often stopped praying and have lost heart.  We have settled for a feel good, affirmational church experience that placates our complacency or helps us to feel “okay.” We have settled for a dysfunctional life in a fallen world and alleviated our desperation by telling ourselves “we are just broken people; what else can we do.”  The woman in Jesus’ parable had no hope but the judge’s verdict, and she kept going; she kept asking.  Jesus says that God will give a favorable answer to his children that come to him day and night for justice.  Justice in God’s eyes is the proper recompense for the payment of Christ’s blood!   Did Jesus die for the forgiveness of your sins?  Did Jesus die for your healing – body, soul and spirit? Did Jesus die for the destruction of evil—sin, demonic angels and death?  Yes! Yes! Yes!

Jesus asked the question, “Will he find faith on earth?” When Jesus comes, is he going to find people who believe in the present reality of his victory over his enemies of sin, death and Satan? The recompense of his blood and death that wrought victory is his kingdom coming into your life to the glory of God.  He won your salvation.  Your salvation is the kingdom of heaven – as it is in heaven that it would be in your life on earth.  There is an implication in the above parable that those people of God who have faith in God’s justice will cry out to him day and night until that justice – that victory, is manifest in their lives.  Let’s stop denying the power of God to transform our lives and world and start desperately requesting its manifestation.

TV_Eucharist

Jesus gave his followers a command before he died concerning what we call the Lord’s Supper or Holy Communion.  The apostle Paul practiced this command and passed it on to the churches.  He writes,

The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?… For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”  In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”   For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.  Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord.  Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.  For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself.  That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.  (1 Corinthians 10:16; 11:23-30)

At Church of the Redeemer, we believe this Scripture.  We believe in the meal of the body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.  We take the words of Jesus and the words of Paul in the Bible seriously.  Faithfully receiving the body and blood of Christ is receiving the gracious life-giving substance of the Lord.  We are participating in the body and blood of the Lord through this consecrated meal.  The fact that the apostle Paul makes the inspired assertion that people in the Corinthian church were ill and even dead because they unworthily received this meal seems to imply that properly receiving this meal by grace through faith in Jesus would give health and life to the recipients.

Have you received the Lord ’s Supper in obedience to his command to do this “in remembrance of me?” It is right there in Scripture.  And the church has practiced this ministry of grace.  Ignatius (d. 117 A.D.), the third Bishop of Antioch and disciple of John the Apostle, writes to the churches of the Lord’s Supper calling it “the medicine of immortality, and the antidote which wards off death but yields continuous life in union with Jesus Christ.”

Thomas a’ Kempis, the 15th century author of The Imitation of Christ, writes, “Received as a spiritual nourishment, [Holy Communion] is the ‘health of soul and body, the cure of every spiritual malady.  By it, our vices are cured, our passions restrained, temptations are lessened, grace is given in fuller measure, and virtue once established is fostered; faith is confirmed, hope is strengthened, and love kindled and deepened.”

The 16th century Protestant reformer of the Church of England, John Jewel, writes, “In the Lord’s Supper there is truly given unto the believing the body and blood of the Lord, the flesh of the Son of God, which quickeneth our souls, the meat that cometh from above, the food of immortality, grace, truth, and life; and the Supper to be the communion of the body and blood of Christ, by the partaking whereof we be revived, we be strengthened, and be fed unto immortality, and whereby we are joined, united, and incorporate unto Christ, that we may abide in him, and he in us.”

These faithful men are echoing the faith in the Lord’s Supper that was the common posture handed down from Jesus to his followers and taken up by the apostle Paul and the early church.  It is still true today that this meal is the “food of immortality” that we are commanded to receive in remembrance of Christ.  We do not receive it as magic or ritual, but in faith, we receive it as the gracious gift of God given to his people for their supernatural benefit.

We believe it, and we receive it for our healing.  As a Christian, why would you not run to receive such a gift from God?

At Church of the Redeemer, we are taking the word of God seriously.  We are going to obey him in the laying on of hands, the prayers of faith, the practice of Holy Communion, the reading of the word and the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Scripture tells us that the “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” (Proverbs 16:24)  What can be more gracious than the gospel.  The sayings of Scripture, “are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh. (Proverbs 4:22)  Jesus only had to say the word for people to be healed.  His word brings healing.  We will read his word and proclaim his gospel that has the power for salvation for all who believe. (Romans 1:16)

We live in a culture that exists too often in sickness of body, soul and spirit.  We medicate; we suffer pain and anxiety; we abuse ourselves because of inner wounds; we settle for it.  We go to the doctor for physical pain while ignoring the pain of our souls and spirits.  Paul prayed for complete sanctification for people, “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23)

This sanctification is what Jesus prayed for too, “Sanctify them in truth.” (John 17:17)  To be sanctified is to be conformed to the image of Christ.  Christ’s image of us is one of health and life.  Being sanctified is being on earth as it is in heaven as much as is possible in a fallen world.  It is to be light in the darkness and peace in the chaos.  The fulfillment of sanctification is inner healing and physical healing.  We know it will happen one day; however, Jesus didn’t command us to remain broken, wounded and sick until that day.  He commanded us to pray “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

That is why we anoint and lay hands and pray for the sick.  That is why we feed on the Lord’s body and blood.  That is why we proclaim God’s word and preach the gospel.  That is why we cry out night and day for justice.  This is why we believe that when we pray for healing God heals in one way or another.  We believe he answers our prayers, because Jesus promised he would.

That is why Church of the Redeemer is having a monthly Service of Holy Communion for Healing – body, soul and spirit.  You go everywhere else for what you need.  Come to his Table.

Monthly Holy Communion Service for Healing, 1st Tuesday of each Month at 7 pm, Church of the Redeemer, Camden, NC

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