Thesis: Even though God does not heal every sick person, our prayers for the sick ought to be bold with the belief that God can and will heal.
1. < Begin with these ... >
a. Pick up any bulletin any week--read of people with illness needing prayer.
b. Sit in any Bible class/Small group--prayer requests made for the sick.
c. Listen to any public prayer--large part devoted to the sick.
2. We pray alot for sick people, but does anything ever happen? Do miracles of healing--and that's what we're asking for sometimes--still happen, or do we just read about them in the Bible? < Two extremes >
a. Some: Miracles of healing happen all the time (if not, due to sin & lack of faith).
b. Others: Miraculous healing rarely if ever happen (seemingly limits God's sovr'nty).
3. The truth lies between these two extremes. This AM we want to explore this issue, using James 5:13-18 as our text. < Read text >
I. WHAT CAUSES SICKNESS?
A. Violations of God's Natural Laws.
1. Many are sick because they disregard basic health principles.
a. Smoking, drinking, over-eating, drugs = health problems!
b. Well-balanced diet, exercise & rest crucial to good health.
2. Illust. About 30 years ago, Dr. S.I. McMillen wrote a fascinating little book entitled None of These Diseases. His thesis is that many of the peculiar dietary laws God gave Israel were intended to protect them from disease. One that readily sticks out is God's prohibition of "unclean" animals, such as pigs. Strict sexual laws are another example. Best prevention against AIDS & other STDs is a monogamous relationship. God was pretty strict about the Sabbath--rest is vital to good health. Strict sexual laws are another example.
3. We get sick when we violate God's natural laws.
B. Violations of God's Moral Laws.
1. The Bible leaves no doubt that sometimes God uses sickness to punish sin. (Happened all the time in the OT!)
2. Read 1 Cor. 11:29-32 (Some sick & others died because of sin).
C. Satan's Activity Allowed by God.
1. Job--OT example.
2. Paul--NT example ("thorn in flesh" = "messenger of Satan").
D. For God's Glory and Our Good.
1. "It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees" (Psalm 119:71).
2. Man born blind (John 9:1-3).
II. WHAT CURES SICKNESS?
A. Healing through Rest and Change.
1. Even Jesus needed to get away for rest & recuperation!
2. Vance Havner: "If you don't come apart for a while, you'll soon come apart."
B. Healing with Medicine.
1. Some suggest use of doctors/medicine indicate lack of faith.
a. Disregards Bible teaching and experience!
b. Medicine is a gift from God (Isa. 38:21; 1 Tim. 5:23).
2. Illust. A flood once struck a community. Volunteers risked their lives to rescue stranded victims. One stubborn old man was up to his knees in water when a rowboat came. "Hop in, we'll save you!" "No thanks, the Lord will provide." A short while later, a motor boat was sent to save him. By this time the swirling waters were over his waist, but again he declined: "No thanks, the Lord will provide." Soon the water was up to his chin, so a helicopter was sent. "Climb aboard, this is your last chance!" "Thanks anyway, but I don't need you, the Lord will provide." The man drowned and when he got to heaven he was mad as a hornet. He banged on the pearly gates and Peter opened up the door. The old man complained, "The last thing I remember I was praying and saying `The Lord will provide.' Why did you let me drown?" Peter looked at him, shook his head, and said: "We sent you two boats and a helicopter, what more did you want?
3. God is not limited, but often he chooses to use doctors and medicine to make people well.
C. Healing through Divine Intervention.
1. Sometimes God intervenes and heals miraculously.
2. This happens today (perhaps not as often as some would think!)
3. Why pray if we don't think God is willing to intervene on behalf of sick people?
III. WHAT BRINGS HEALING? < James 5:13-18 >
A. The Sick should Call.
1. Jesus asked man born blind: "Do you want to get well?" (John 5:6).
2. Initial step should be taken by sick person.
a. Someone has said: "It is not the business of the elders of the church to go scouting for the sick."
b. Serious illness preventing attendance at assembly.
B. The Elders should Pray.
1. Why elders? (mature, experienced in intercessory prayer).
2. Pray over sick person, anointing with oil in the name of the Lord.
3. What is this business about "anointing with oil?"
a. Praying is the main verb, anointing secondary.