I’ve just finished reading Bodily Healing and the Atonement by TJ McCrossan. This 80 year old classic (since reprinted) is a welcome antidote to any uncertainty you may have regarding God’s will for healing. The main takeaway of this book is that “Christ bore our sicknesses in the very same way that He bore our sins” (p.12).
Many sincere believers struggle to see healing because of false teaching. They’ve been told that it’s not God’s will to heal everyone, or that God wants them sick to teach them character, or that God used to heal people but He doesn’t anymore. Through an in-depth study of scripture, TJ McCrossan demolishes all of these misconceptions. He writes that sickness is ultimately the devil’s work. (We have sickness and death on account of sin (Rms 5:12), but it was Satan who led our first parents to disobey God. Thus Satan is the originator and propagator of sickness.) McCrossan notes that Jesus rebuked sickness in the same way that He rebuked evil spirits – harshly and with authority. Sickness is not something we should learn to live with, but something we need to learn how to eliminate through faith in Christ.
Jesus healed the sick (Mt 4:23), He commanded His disciples to heal the sick (Mt 10:8), and He said that we would heal the sick (Mk 16:18). So why are we unsure about His will for the sick? His will is that we heal them!
Probably my favorite part of the book was the section on God’s will versus our will. Many believers pray with the proviso if it be Thy will. As McCrossan explains, this is faithless, irresponsible praying. It is giving voice to doubt and abdicating our God-given mandate to heal the sick. The Bible is full of promises and instructions regarding healing. We have no excuse for imitating the father in Mark 9:22 who asked Jesus, “if you can do anything…” If you can?! Of course He can – He’s God! He can heal and He wants to heal. The real question is not “God, can you?” but “do you believe?”
Jesus died for all sinners but not all are saved. Why not? Because of unbelief in the goodness of God. Similarly, Jesus died that all might be healed, but not all are healed? According to TJ MCrossan, it’s the same reason:
“Every saint has a blood-bought right to be healed, but thousands do not know that they must exercise the very same appropriating faith in the bruised body of Christ for their healing as they formerly exercised in His shed blood for their salvation.” (p.64)
On the whole I am greatly inspired by Bodily Healing and the Atonement, but I sense there is a danger that some readers might trip up if they are not already acquainted with the gospel of God’s grace. For instance, the author lists a number of conditions for being healed. The first requirement is “keeping all of God’s commands and doing only what was right in His sight” (p.64). This comes from 1 Jn 3:22; God answered John’s prayers because John kept God’s commandments. But what the author neglects to mention is that the commandments John is referring to are not the commandments of the Old Testament. John is saying we must believe in Jesus Christ (see 1 Jn 3:23). If you don’t believe in Jesus, you’re going to have a hard time receiving the healing that He provided for you at the cross.
We are not healed on the basis of our law-keeping, but on account of God’s grace revealed to us through Christ. Yet God’s grace will be of no effect to you unless you respond positively in faith (Eph 2:8). The gospel of Christ reveals the power of God for salvation – forgiveness, healing, deliverance – for everyone who believes (Rms 1:16), and ultimately this is the message of Bodily Healing. If you are battling with long term illness or know someone who is, get them a copy of this book. Then go heal them.
Postscript: If you aren’t able to get a hold of Bodily Healing and the Atonement, but want to know more about God’s will for healing, read this helpful article by Andrew Wommack.