The Jews didn’t engage life in a compartmentalized fashion. For them, Yahweh’s nature couldn’t be parsed into this or that sub-attribute and broken out for independent analysis. For us, it’s the methodology we use for deepening our understanding of something. It’s the foundation of our science. Acknowledged or not, it’s the way Western Christians have been taught to engage life, the Scriptures, and God Himself. Our worldview affects how we approach the topic of healing. Healing is an outflow of a maintained relationship, not the result of adherence to principles.
For Jews, this approach to God and the things of God would have been inconceivable. It would be like breaking water into hydrogen and oxygen. We think we have gained deeper understanding into the nature of water. They would’ve thought the original thing had been lost, and with it, any hope of understanding.
The Jews viewed things in a more holistic and integrated way. The Bible reflects a Semitic worldview, not a Western one. It was God’s choice to reveal Himself within that culture, not ours. He made a statement in so doing. It’s a mistake to read our worldview and value systems into the Scripture and assume that we have properly understood it and can apply it appropriately.
For us having correct faith means our belief system is accurately aligned with what the Bible says: If I agree with the presentation of the Gospel in my mind, then I have faith, and therefore I’m saved. It’s private and personal. This paradigm would have been incomprehensible and impossible for a Jew.
How did they think of faith? Surprisingly, if you do an Old Testament word search in the KJV for “faith” you will find only two references. However, search for the word “believe” (Hebrew: ‘âman), and you’ll find multiple references. You’ll also discover that it’s synonymous with faithfulness and trust. The Hebrew word for truth (’emeth: eh’-meth) means firmness, faithfulness, truth, sureness, reliability, stability, or continuance. By using these terms (believe, faith, trust, and truth) interchangeably, or at least embedded in each other, the KJV translators got it right.
For Jews of that era, belief, truth, trust, faith, faithfulness, etc., were indistinguishable in God. Faith was not a freestanding philosophical entity. Yahweh’s truth, and therefore all truth, was an essential attribute of His character and the revelation of His reliability through covenant. God’s truth derived from His faith/faithfulness. His perfect integrity makes faith/belief possible. His faithfulness in covenant relationship is the foundation upholding all His manifestations. The Lord is my shepherd is not a principle of theology. It’s a statement of relationship.
By definition, trust and faithfulness are relational terms. They require an objective other. I must be relationally engaged with another entity or person to experience them. Since these define faith, faith is a relational term, not a philosophical one. Biblical faith does not exist, and cannot be experienced apart from relationship with a Person. Simply agreeing with what’s in the Bible, doesn’t give someone the faith the Bible talks about. This is a major reason why we don’t experience healings like we should. We treat praying for the sick as the correct exercise of biblical principles instead of an active engagement with a Person, as if healing is a thing to be obtained by resolute confession, rather than a Person to be engaged. Healing is an outflow of a maintained relationship, not the result of adherence to principles. Dr. Simpson was correct: we seek the Healer, not a healing.
This blog is an excerpt from our title: Healing: Hope or Hype? Why Legitimate Physical Healings are Rare in Local Churches, and What We Can do About it! It is available in all formats at www.stevecrosby.com.
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Yes it’s funny how different things work out when you see things from the perspective of relational verses principle…this post is very good and I want to go back and contemplate over it all day–thanks
Thanks, Kenneth. Thinking relationally in all things, has pretty much revolutionized the gospel for me, as well as my understanding of scripture.
Hi Steve – in my opinon, this is the most profound post you have made to date. In a few words, you have perfectly encapsulated not only what’s wrong with our approach to healing, but more importantly, our approach to Christianity. As you have so well stated, faith is not obtained through an intellectual assent to a set of historical facts, but rather faith results from the words spoken to you by someone you consider trustworthy. Without relationship, there is no faith! This is something that needs to be shouted from the rooftops until everyone gets it.
Hi Kerry, thanks for the encouragement and the post.
Yes, thinking relationally has also changed the way I think about many things. Great post!
thanks, Chad. Has pretty much changed everything for me too.
Amen to the article and responding comments! The first couple of sentences reveal why the religion of Christianity is so divided, confusing and devoid of substance. On one hand, it teaches followers to worship intellectual “knowledge,” while the charismatic cultures also measure the significance of “spiritual” experiences by the degree of emotional high obtained. Both serve as a decoy to those who would seek the Truth.
Hi, I just love this post! I was caught up in faith as a formulae back in the 80’s. Thank God He brought me out of that thinking. However, we do need to understand what faith in God looks like and how to exercise it and I think this post does just that! So thank you!
I believe God wants us to understand what real faith looks like and know when we are walking in it and not make excuse for our lack of faith. I’m all for trusting God and having faith in Him because we are encouraged to do this in the Bible, to believe God! Because without faith it is impossible to please Him! So we need to know about faith!
I love your example of the man walking on the tight rope across the Falls. A great analogy and yes it can be a scary thing to get on that tight rope and walk but only if you don’t know it’s God you are walking with!! When you know who you are walking with, God, then you will get on board and you shouldn’t get on board until you know that. That’s because when the winds come, the rains fall and things get tough, you will need God to hold onto so you don’t fall! Whatever you need you know He will provide because you know within yourself you can’t walk that rope or get the things you need to get to the other side but with Him you will! Just don’t look down or look sideways but keep your face firmly planted into His wonderful face and you will make it. This doesn’t mean you see the winds and the rain around you but you refuse to accept that they will knock you off this rope with God as you journey to the other side. That’s faith!
I loved what you wrote in this post so much that I’ve downloaded your book on Faith, Hope or Hype because I do believe you have the right balance on what faith in God looks like and can teach it with a correct Biblical emphasis without making excuses for a lack of faith in God. Teaching on faith in God should challenge us and you have achieved that for me. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard someone preach like this.
Unbelief in God about anything is an insult to His character but we do need to ensure we are teaching God’s people what real faith in God looks like, I believe you are doing just that! So thank you. You have encourage the Spirit of God within me and the child like faith I have in my Heavenly Father.
I do think people have got on the tight rope of faith and they have had no need to go to the other side and they’ve had no faith in the person they are walking with! I’m all for getting on the rope and proving God’s Faithfulness and I’ve done that many a time with Jesus in this 37 year walk with Him (I’m now 57!) but I know I was meant to be walking on that rope getting to the other side. He has never let me down and I’ve walked with Him through cancer too! Not cancer in me but cancer in my eldest son. God healed him and I know it was God despite the chemotherapy he decided to have. You can read about my journey of faith on this matter at http://www.virginiasgarden.com.au at the tab “Nathan’s Battle With Cancer.” I know without a doubt that without having faith in God and being taught what it looked like, very early on in my Christian walk I doubt that I could have walked with Jesus across that tight rope of cancer with my son and the story about Nathan’s life (he’s cancer free for 3 years now) would have been very different and no doubt my life would have been very different now!
To utter the words “God is faithful” implies we must have known that from our experience. It’s the relational thing that you are talking about which has enabled us to say that about God in the first place. Any thing else isn’t faith in God but faith in a man, faith in ourselves, faith in formulae and it will not bring Him glory or want you need. I want that faith that has weathered the storms and seen God faithful and I want to be able to glorify God afterwards about it all and know that His love for me has kept me and made me stand! When you have real faith in God about anything all these things will be evident in that experience, like they have been in my life.
God is faithful and He isn’t a man that He should lie. So lets take Jesus at His word when He says, when you pray, believe you have the answer. I do and I have.
Excellent comments, Virginia. Thanks for the post and the encouragement.