Thanks to coronavirus, the medical industry has dominated our lives in recent years. In 2020, U.S. health spending amounted to $4.1 trillion. That is nearly 20 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product—1 in 5 dollars! People put enormous faith in doctors to cure their sickness and disease.
The trouble is, we have seen how politicized many of our most-celebrated health institutions have become. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health—these have been shown to be deeply influenced by money from pharmaceutical companies, and they are making decisions that profit themselves at the expense of public health. You see similar problems even with local doctors: Often they prescribe drugs or recommend procedures out of financial interest, not good health.
This should shake our faith in medical science, shouldn’t it? But it seems most people continue to place full trust in it.
Did you know that God deeply wishes for you to have vibrant physical health? He inspired the Apostle John to write, “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth” (3 John 2). Notice, this scripture shows there is a condition. God wants you to prosper in physical health as you have vibrant spiritual health (that is what He means by “thy soul”). He wants us to really look to Him so He can give us strong health physically and spiritually.
When it comes to health and healing, God very much wants to be in the picture in our lives. Regarding your own health, where do your faith and trust lie?
God ‘Shall Raise Him Up’
Sometimes God allows us to suffer health trials, but even then His desire is to heal us. Read this wonderful, God-inspired promise in James 5:14-15: “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 up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.”
God ultimately wants you to receive immortal life. He wants to “raise you up”—to resurrect you to eternal glory! And what we learn from the Bible is that physical life is a type of spiritual life, and physical healing is a type of the resurrection! This passage in James refers to physical healing—but it is ultimately talking about resurrection to glory.
“[I]f he have committed sins” refers to what we can call physical sin. Spiritual sin is breaking God’s spiritual law, such as the Ten Commandments. Physical sin is breaking physical laws established by our Creator—laws that regulate proper functioning of the body—such as neglecting good nutrition or taking self-destructive drugs. When we are sick or injured, it is because we, or someone else, has broken a physical law. God says He will forgive those sins and heal us.
God is speaking spiritually, but He always wants to heal us. God heals! This passage is addressing both physical health problems and spiritual problems. God wants all of us to have real, abundant life today and throughout eternity.
“And the prayer of faith shall save the sick” is a tremendous promise. Note that it has more conditions: You must pray, and you must have faith. But this is a promise from God, to you! Do you understand that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, Jesus Christ in print? Do you realize that it shows you God’s will for your life? The Bible is filled with promises from God, and many are specifically about health and healing. Have you read these promises for yourself? Have you proved them? Do you know and truly believe that God will never break a single promise?
This is wonderful to understand. But it takes a lot of faith to believe. That is why many people misunderstand or ignore James 5:14-15 and so many other scriptures that state God’s promises. Many say, Well, I know God can heal me, but I don’t know if it is His will. There is a way to know: The Bible expresses God’s will, and if you understand the Bible, you know it is His will to heal you!
Some people do suffer health trials; some even die. But if they have prayed in faith, God will keep His promise and heal them in the resurrection, not just to physical life but to immortal spiritual life! But here in James 5, God is talking mostly about being healed right now, today. He wants you to be in health! He wants to forgive you of your physical sins and save you from physical suffering. He wants you to have the ultimate good health!
How to Claim This Promise
How can you have the good health that you desire and that God desires for you? First, you must truly surrender to God. This is more than just accepting the fact of His existence. Then you have to pray fervently, and you have to believe and know that you are getting through to God in prayer. Prayer of this type “availeth much” (James 5:16). It energizes you spiritually and physically! It helps you get to know God. It helps you understand what faith is; it’s not something you try to work up but something God gives you. And as you make decisions and go about your day, you must surrender to God and allow Him to guide your life. As you do these things, you will be prospering spiritually.
Part of this is submitting to God’s will for your health, which means repenting of your physical sins, whether they be diet, drugs, tobacco or something else. But if you repent of your physical sins and meet God’s other conditions in James 5:14-15, God promises to forgive you of your physical sins.
A major problem we have today is how we wrap our lives up in material possessions. We devote so much of our thoughts and emotions to possessions and pleasures more than God (2 Timothy 3:4). This affects our health, because it wipes out our faith! And if you do not have faith in what God tells you in His Word, you are not fulfilling the condition He gives you for miraculous healing. Jesus Christ said, “[W]hen the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8). Real faith is very rare, especially in a materialistic world. But we need that faith so God can answer our prayers to be healed and to receive His blessings in many other ways.
Avoid idolizing possessions and committing other sins. Believe what God tells you through His Word, and He will fulfill His promises every time! It never fails! It will bring more joy and happiness into your life than you can even imagine!
What Is Faith?
Hebrews 11:1 defines faith: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” It is possible to have true faith. Peter, Stephen, Philip, Paul and other men of the Bible were common, humble men. Yet they came to have the very same faith that Jesus Christ had! God did great miracles through them, particularly miracles of healing. How was that possible? Because they surrendered to God, they studied His Word, they prayed fervently, they obeyed God, they trusted God—and He gave them the very faith that Jesus Christ had, and He kept His promise.
That is something we can all do, and that is something we can all have. We need intense Bible study and surrendered, submissive, heart-rending prayer to God!
Prove the Bible. Then believe it—every word of it. That’s what Hebrews 11:1 is about: When you read what God promises, be assured He will fulfill it, even if you can’t see when or how. Just believe what the Bible says. That is faith! Your evidence that God will answer your prayers, and that you will be healed, is this Word of God! You must believe that evidence—even over other evidence, like your experiences, your ideas, your impressions, your feelings, or what you can see, hear or touch with your physical senses.
This is hard for some people to understand, but faith has only to do with God’s Word!
As Herbert W. Armstrong wrote in The Plain Truth About Healing, “One man expressed it very well, ‘Faith is the assurance that the things which God said in His Word are true and that God will act according to what He has said in His Word. This assurance, this reliance on God’s Word, this confidence is faith!’” Yes, it is! That’s a biblical definition. That confidence or assurance that you have in relying on His Word—that is faith!
You can know what God’s will is by reading and understanding the Bible. And the Bible emphatically says that it is God’s will to heal you—period. God wants to heal you. God is looking for your faith, for whether you believe His Word and all His magnificent promises.
Here is another promise from God: “… If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that healeth thee” (Exodus 15:26).
God said that to Israel in ancient times, and He says it today. Any nation that will do what He says here, He will keep diseases, like coronavirus or anything else, away from them. What a powerful promise! Can you believe it?
“The Lord that healeth thee” is translated from the Hebrew name Yahweh-Rafah. God Our Healer is one of God’s names! God is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). It is up to you whether to believe that God is what He is named!
“… I will take sickness away from the midst of thee,” God explicitly promises in Exodus 23:25. Read Deuteronomy 7:15. Read Psalm 103:3, which says that God “forgiveth all thine iniquities” and “healeth all thy diseases.” Do you believe what David, a man after God’s own heart, wrote here, inspired by God to express His will? Christians believe that God forgives all our sins. But they don’t realize or they reject what immediately follows: that if we do what He says, He wants to and promises to heal all our diseases!
Yes, there is physical sin, and there is spiritual sin. God is our Healer! God is a healing God, and healing is the forgiveness of physical sin!
Modern medicines and drugs do not and cannot heal! Honest doctors will even tell you that. But God, and only God, can heal and promises to heal.
The Price of Sin
How can God forgive physical sin? In the same way that He can forgive spiritual sin: because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Christians know Christ died so we could be forgiven of our sins. They read about God promising that in the Old Testament and fulfilling it in the New Testament. But when they read Isaiah 53, they read right over “with his stripes we are healed” (verse 5). What “stripes”? Before He was crucified, Jesus was beaten savagely. It is by that beating and those “stripes” of flesh torn from Him that we are healed.
In the New Testament, 1 Peter 2:22-24 make the same statement: “Who did no sin … by whose stripes ye were healed.” 1 Corinthians 11:23-30 describe Christians keeping the memorial Christ commanded. They take wine, symbolizing Christ’s blood shed at His death, but before that they take bread, a symbol of His broken body, His torturous beating.
Christ Himself said the bread represented “my body, which is broken for you” (verse 24). Christ was broken for you, to heal you of your physical sin, just as He was killed to reconcile you to God for your spiritual sin. What an unparalleled sacrifice! How can we neglect so great a price that was paid for our sins? Does God love us? You cannot even describe that love! “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son” that we might be healed physically and saved spiritually (John 3:16). It all operates on the same principle. Christ paid the penalty for your physical sin in your stead before He paid the penalty for your spiritual sin.
In his letter to the church at Corinth, Paul said people were suffering ill health and even dying because they did not understand or apply the truth about healing (1 Corinthians 11:30).
Where will you place your faith? Truly put your faith in God, and you will never go wrong.
‘I Am the Resurrection’
John 11 contains an amazing account of Jesus going to a man who had already died. People were there who believed deeply that He was the Christ and who followed Him. They were sad He had not come in time to save the man from dying. Jesus wept. I want you to understand why.
When Christ learned of the man’s death, He told His disciples, “Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep” (John 11:11). Jesus knew Lazarus was dead, but He was going to raise him up as if he were merely sleeping! He then said He was glad Lazarus had died so He could use the opportunity to build their faith (verses 14-15).
When Christ and the disciples arrived, everyone was weeping. Christ told them that Lazarus would live again. They knew he would “awake” in the resurrection, but Jesus told them, I am going to raise him from the dead today! I am the resurrection (verses 24-25). They couldn’t believe it. But resurrecting someone from the dead is not difficult for God. In fact, He is going to raise all humanity who has ever lived from the dead! (You can read about the resurrections in Revelation 20; to learn more, request our free reprint article “The Three Resurrections.”)
Christ then went to the grave and said, Lazarus, come forth! And Lazarus rose from the dead right before their eyes! (John 11:43-44).
These people knew the teachings of the Bible but didn’t believe as they should have. We must have stronger faith than they had. We need real faith—faith that we live daily. Paul wrote, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). This is the faith of the Son of God. This is the faith God gives to you when He leads you into His one true Church, the spiritual Body of Christ. It is within that spiritual organism that you can call on the elders of the Church. It is there that you can “[c]onfess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed” (James 5:16). With true Christians led by God’s Spirit, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”
As a member in the Body of Christ, you can share your health problems with others in the Church and they can be praying for you. We certainly do that with our people; we pray for each other, and God honors those prayers and answers them. I know it works, and it has worked throughout my life! We experience many healings in our Church.
Mr. Armstrong’s booklet on healing is one of the greatest booklets he wrote. You can request it online (theTrumpet.com/go/heal) or call us and we will send you a free copy. If you read it alongside your Bible, then you will understand faith as you have never understood it before.