Saturday, 30 October 2010

Is it God's will to heal everyone?

Underlying a question like, "Is it God's will to heal everyone?" are the questions, "What is God's will; How can I know the will of God and; Why am I not seeing God's will done?" Let's take a look at these...

What is God's will?

Many Christians believe that if something is God's will it must take place because God is sovereign. Consequently, since God's will is always done and some are healed and some are not, it cannot always be God's will to heal.

Now, although God is sovereign and able to do whatever He chooses to do, we must not confuse God's unconditional will with God's conditional will. To help distinguish between these two aspects of God's will, I will call God's unconditional will, God's purpose, and God's conditional will, simply His will.

God's conditional will.

God's conditional will is that which God desires but has chosen to make the manifestation thereof dependent on His creation. For example, God desires that all mankind be saved (2 Peter 3:9) and for this reason gave us His Son (John 3:16). Are all saved? Sadly not! Only those who believe in Jesus are saved. Therefore, although it is God's will to save all, not all are saved.

God's conditional will is the basis of prayer. Jesus taught His disciples to pray "Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven" (Matt. 6:10). Why would Jesus teach His disciples to pray for God's will to be done on earth if God's will were always sovereignly done? God has placed certain conditions on His will to be realised on earth as it is in Heaven.

Jesus never prayed, "If it is your will, Father..." Jesus always prayed God's will to be established on earth as it is in Heaven. In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus knew the will of the Father but was asking whether it was possible for God's plan of redemption to be accomplished another way. Those who pray "If it is your will..." are not praying in faith. The prayer of faith knows God's will and prays until it is realised.

The realisation or fulfillment of God's conditional will is dependent on the response of His creation. God has chosen to put "Ifs" in place for His will to be done. For example:

"..if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him." 1 John 3:21,22

There are many conditions that influence the manifestation of God's will. The believer is to overcome the world, the flesh and the devil by faith and action for God's will to be established on earth as it is in heaven!

God's purpose.

The other aspect of God's will is His unconditional will that is not dependent on anything other than Himself. Nothing can hinder God's purposes from being fulfilled. For example, it was God's purpose to redeem mankind through His Son, Jesus. God's purpose has been fulfilled in Christ and will be fully realised when Jesus comes again. Just as God's promises to Abraham were fulfilled, so God's promises to us concerning Christ will be fulfilled. Jesus is coming back and nothing in all creation can stop that happening. When we are aligned with God's purposes, we can be very confident (see Heb. 6:13-20).

Once we distinguish between God's "purpose" and God's will, it will help us understand why God's will is not always done.

How can I know God's will?

Through the Spirit.

Paul prayed for the Colossians that they would be filled with the knowledge of God's will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding (Col. 1:9). These are given by the Holy Spirit through revelation (1 Cor.2:7-14). As we depend on the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth God will reveal Himself and His will to us (John 16:12,13; 1 John 2:20,27). The believer must learn to depend on the Holy Spirit for guidance, in prayer and in reading God's Word. The Holy Spirit always reveals God's will (Romans 8:26,27).

Through testimonies.

God's will is revealed through the testimonies of believers in the past. The Word of God is the testimony (Old and New Testimonies) of God's nature and will. His general will can be seen in His dealings with man in the past (see Psalm 145).

Through Jesus.

Bill Johnson states, "Jesus is perfect theology!" If we want to know God's will, then we must look at the full revelation of the Father's will as manifested through the life of Jesus. In the past, God revealed His will through the prophets and in various ways but in Christ, God reveals not only His will but His very being (John 14:9; Heb. 1:1-3)! It is as we fix our eyes on Jesus, that our faith is strengthened in the knowledge of God and His will (Heb. 12:2).

Not through circumstances!

Many Christians look at the natural to determine God's will. They look at their circumstances and situation and deduce God's will accordingly. Circumstances can reveal God's will but we should not look at the circumstances to ascertain God's will. That's where a lot of confusion happens. People who base their knowledge of God on the created rather than on the spiritual will be misled. Superstition is depending on the natural for truth. Faith is depending on God for the truth. We are to be led by God's Spirit and not the flesh or the created (see Rom. 8:12-16).
Why am I not seeing God's will done?

Now that we understand the two aspects of God's will we can better understand why God's will is not always done. Some of the reasons for unanswered prayer are:
  • Disobedience. 1 John 3:21,22
  • Wrong motive. James 4:3
  • Unbelief. Mt 17:2
  • Opposition of Satan. Eph. 6:12; James 4:7
  • Lack of perseverance. Luke 18:1
  • Not fasting. Mt 17:21
  • Faith in faith, in man or in formula rather than on God. Mt 6:7
  • Not praying in secret. Mt 6:6

Is it God's will to heal everyone?

Since Jesus healed everyone who came to Him to be healed and since God has revealed Himself as the Healer, we can safely say that it is God's will to heal everyone just as it is God's will to save everyone. The reason some were not healed in the NT is because of unbelief and lack of honour and not because Jesus was unwilling (see Mt 4:23; 8:3,16; 9:35; 10:8; 14:36; Mark 10:52 - Mark 6:5).

Let us pray God's will on earth as it is in heaven and stop blaming God for the manifestation of man's will, the world's will and the devil's will. God loves us! Let us live according to God's will so we can know God and His will and pray His will on earth as it is in Heaven and glorify Him (see Rom. 12:1,2).
Father, Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven!


Thursday, 28 October 2010

Do you love me?

This morning as I spent time in God's presence and worshipped Him, acknowledging and confessing His greatness and love, I was arrested as I believe the Lord asked me,

"Do you love me?"

A little surprised by the question, I began to reflect on the question. As I did so, I was reminded of the same question posed by Jesus to Peter in John 21:15-17.

"Do you truly love me?" Jesus asks. Like Peter I was quick to answer, "Yes, of course I love you!" but I realised that Jesus was after something.

God wants my whole heart!

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart.." it says in Matthew 22:37 and the Lord reprimands those who worship Him without their hearts: "These people honour me with their lips but their hearts are far from me" Matthew 15:8.

To worship God is to love Him.

God wants my heart and not just my confession of truth. He wants my emotions! "..draw near to God with a sincere heart.." Hebrews 10:22

To worship God is to worship God in spirit and in truth, by His Spirit and with a sincere heart, full of love for Him (see John 4:22-24).

Could it be that believers have suppressed emotions for fear of lack of "self-control," thinking that it is spiritual not to express emotions?

When Paul describes the fruit of the Spirit in Gal. 5, he is talking about the evidence manifested by those who walk according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh or old nature. "Self-control" is listed as one of the manifestations. In the context, it is clear that Paul is talking about the believer's control over the old nature (the lust of the flesh and self-centredness) and not about controlling one's emotions! Believers confuse self-control with being composed and orderly. How tragic!

If God lavishes His love on us, why shouldn't we lavish our love on Him?
Are we not to imitate Him?

(See John 13:1; 1 John 3:1; Rom. 5:5; Eph. 3:14-19; 5:1)

"We love because he first loved us" (1 John 4:19). I believe the quality of our love for God is proportional to the love we receive from Him (See Eph. 5:1).

Our hearts are softened as we reflect on God's love for us and we trust in Him. Unbelief and hardness of heart go hand in hand just as faith and love go hand in hand (See Heb. 4:7).

How is your heart today? Is it hard and distant or soft and near?

Draw near to God with a sincere heart and tell Him how much you love Him and what He means to you! Allow God to touch your emotions and don't be afraid of what He does to your heart! Keep your focus on Him and avoid introspection but let Him in!


Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Can gifts of the Spirit be imparted?

It seems to me that many believers have the idea that God gives people certain gifts that they are at liberty to impart to others. Believers then flock to men and women with a dynamic ministry, hoping to receive some gift they did not have before. Certainly we can benefit from the manifestation of the Spirit's work through one another, but can gifts of the Spirit be imparted?

What does Scripture say?

  • Every believer receives the Holy Spirit through faith in Jesus. Eph. 1:13,14

  • Every believer receives every spiritual blessing in Christ because the fullness of Christ lives in him. Eph. 1:3; Col. 2:10; 1 Cor. 1:4-7

  • The believer lives in the Giver and the Giver lives in him. 1 John 4:15

  • Jesus, the Giver, by His Spirit, distributes gifts as HE determines. 1 Cor. 12:11; Eph. 4:7

  • The manifestation of different gifts through different believers is the revelation of the work of the Giver through us. Rom. 12:6

What about Timothy?

"..stir into flame the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands. For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love and of a sound mind." 2 Tim. 1:6,7 (KJV)

  • Timothy received the gift of the Holy Spirit when Paul laid his hands on him and not a particular spiritual gift (see Acts 8:18 & 19:6). The context shows us that Paul is referring to the stirring up of the spirit of love, power and of self-control - all manifestations of the Holy Spirit in Timothy. 2 Tim. 1:6,7; Gal. 5:22

What about Paul?

"For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established; that is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me." Rom. 1:11,12

  • Paul is saying that he longs to see the Church in Rome to encourage them with his faith. The manifestation of the Holy Spirit in Paul's life was to strengthen and build up the Body of Christ wherever he went. Eph. 3:2; Col. 2:2

  • Note that the word translated "impart" here means "to share". Paul shared his gifts with the Church to encourage the Body in their faith.

So, in answer to, "Can gifts of the Spirit be imparted?" I would say, NO. What we can do, however, is encourage one another in our faith to trust God to manifest His Spirit through us as we make ourselves available for "the master's use." Even now I am using my gifts to encourage you to believe that you have received fullness in Christ and that God will use you to be an encouragement to the Body of Christ as you use your gifts to serve others.

Don't run after what you think you are lacking - use what is in your hand and eagerly desire a greater manifestation of the Giver in you!