Does God Heal Today? Part 2- Atonement Healing

 

 

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Caduceus

As a Christian do I believe I have the right to be healed from any disease? Can I claim the right by praying in faith and faithfully believing I will be healed in order to receive what God intends for me to have in the first place? There are many strong voices telling us this is true, and we have viewed on television the proponents of faith healing as they appeared to have healed some of the illnesses of people coming to them.

Who among us has not suffered from an illness or had a loved one with a problem, and we earnestly desired to have that burden removed by healing? When weakened by an illness we will seek God’s hand, but when healing does not occur, we are susceptible to hearing voices other than His. We are told things like, “it is not God’s will  you are sick” or “you don’t have to put up with something which has already been secured for you by His stripes.” This dilemma regarding healing has caused many devout Christians to doubt their own salvation in addition to adding guilt to their grief.

Atonement healing, a doctrine which is believed and taught by many, states that Christians can be healed from all their diseases, and the healing was secured when Christ died on the cross. In other words Christ died for our sicknesses as well as our sins. The Scriptures often quoted for this doctrine include Isaiah 53:5, Matthew 8:16-17, and I Peter 2:24. The passages in Matthew’s gospel and Peter’s epistle refer to the Isaiah prophecy which states the coming Messiah would be “wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities, chastised for our peace and with his stripes we are healed.” The Matthew account records Jesus’ early ministry in Galilee, in which He healed all who were sick who were brought to Him in fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy. This was 3 years before the cross and therefore, cannot be used to substantiate any atoning work of Christ on the cross. When Peter wrote, “Christ bore our sins in His own body, that having died to sins, we might live to righteousness- for by whose stripes we are healed,” he is describing spiritual healing and not physical healing.

If physical healing, like sins were atoned at the cross, then one should be able to be healed on the same basis as forgiveness of sins. When one comes to Christ for salvation, repents, and is born again we believe he receives forgiveness and salvation at that moment. Our experiences with sickness, however are very different. We are frequently left unhealed when we have prayed earnestly for healing. Forgiveness is immediate, but even the advocates for atonement healing tell us healing, in some cases is gradual and progressive. The reason usually given for failures in healing is, “you simply didn’t have enough faith.” My objection to this reasoning is; how much faith does it take to be healed? I prayed once at an altar and believe I was saved, but I have prayed without ceasing and am still sick. Does it take more faith to receive something which is temporal as opposed to something which is eternal? This doctrine can lead to self-condemnation at the least, and disbelief in scriptures at worst.

While it is true Christ’s atoning death paid the full price for sin and its consequences, Christians have not and will not receive in this life all His death has secured for us. Men will continue to have to work; women will travail in childbirth; marital relationships will suffer; and both men and women will die. One day; however at the final trumpet of God Christians will all be changed and will receive everything which was paid in full at Calvary. Unfortunately for some, we will have to wait until the time for our physical healing to be complete. There will then be no more suffering or sorrow; there will be no more diseases or death, and all tears will be wiped away.

Our understanding of scriptures and our personal experiences lead us to conclude there is healing in the atonement, but the healing we received immediately at salvation  is spiritual in nature and not physical. We may have to wait on the physical healing we are presently praying for, but have not yet received. We must not be discouraged nor led to believe God does not love us, or He has left us without hope. His promises in Romans 8:28 assure us He will work everything out in His time, for our good and His glory. He is too wise to be mistaken and too good to be unkind. When we can’t trace His hand, we can trust His heart.

Dr. John

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Does God Heal Today? – An Overview

 

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Caduceus

This may seem like a strange question coming from a physician who for many years has dedicated his medical practice to the healing ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. The question, however is valid in light of certain applications of Biblical principles regarding healing which are made by many sincere Christians. All Christians today would resoundingly agree God does heal all manner of diseases, but does He heal today in the same way Jesus Christ and his disciples healed when He walked upon the earth? The larger question to consider is; did Christ die for our sicknesses as well as our sins? Was physical healing from diseases made available to Christians as a result of Christ’s atoning death on the cross? Should I expect to be healed from any illness on the same basis I am forgiven of sins whenever I earnestly pray?

There are some who believe it is not only a Christian’s privilege, but also his right to be healed from any disease. The scriptural basis for that belief is from Isaiah 53:5, where the prophet Isaiah foretells the Messiah would be “wounded for our transgressions; bruised for our iniquities; chastised for our peace, and with His stripes we are healed.” Another passage for the belief in atonement healing concerns praying in faith from Mark 11:24, in which Jesus told His disciples whatever they asked in faith believing, they would be given. It is believed by many that healing is available today to believers as it was in Jesus’ day based on Hebrews 13:8, which states, “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and forever.”

It is easier to think and write about the availability of God’s healing when the problem exists in another person; but quite another thing when I am the one who is sick and conventional methods of healing have not worked. As a surgeon who operated on hundreds of patients with hernias, I am well aware hernia recurrences unfortunately do occur, and some are very difficult if not impossible to repair. While dealing with my own problem of a twice-recurrent hernia, I was lying at home in pain on our couch one evening while listening to a well-known television healer. At one point in the program the evangelist said, “ I  perceive there is a professional individual watching this show, and he is in great pain suffering with a recurrent hernia. I am claiming in the name of Jesus, he is now healed!” I was absolutely convinced he was speaking to me, and I claimed that word of faith in healing as my own. When I stood to tell Cathy that God had healed me by faith, I discovered to my great disappointment the hernia was still present and healing had not occurred. What was wrong? Was the televangelist wrong in his word of faith, or was my faith so weak God chose not to heal me? Should I discount as bogus anyone who says God is still in the business of healing by faith? Was it wrong for me to presume upon God and to ask for such a miraculous healing?  I was filled with many questions, and no answers.

In my professional career as a surgeon for over 30 years, the patients I served did not come seeking miraculous healing. They wanted to be cured of their hernias, their gallstones, their cancers, and their internal infections through particular surgical procedures which I was trained to perform. Did I think I was the one who could or would heal them? I told many of my patients, “I am the one who puts in the sutures, but it is God who heals you.” However; how was I to advise someone in whom conventional methods of medical practice had failed to heal them? Should I have advised they pray for healing before consulting a physician? Is prayer always the answer for healing?  Again, more questions than answers.

In this series on healing, I purpose to answer some of these perplexing questions based on God’s Word, and my personal experience in the healing ministry over the past 45 years. First, I will address the question of atonement healing and the Christian’s response to illness. Then I will explore the dilemma of when a person should pray for healing and when he should consult a physician. Finally, I will attempt to answer the oft-asked question, “What should I do when I have tried everything I know, and I am still not healed?” When faced honestly these questions do not beg glib or quick answers but are personal, usually painful and potentially life-changing. We can be comforted in knowing that our heavenly Father is aware of our concerns and will direct our paths when we seek Him with all our hearts.

Dr. John

Diagnosing Smiling Mighty Jesus

The Smiling Jesus

The Smiling Jesus

Following completion of medical school at the University of Arkansas in Little Rock I wanted to continue my training in a large inner-city hospital, preferably located in the South. The teaching hospital associated with the medical school in Little Rock was relatively small in terms of the number of patients treated daily, and I wanted a larger facility with a wider variety of medical problems. Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia fit all of the criteria I had set, and I was thrilled when I received word from them  I had been accepted into their program along with two medical school classmates. With my new title “M.D.,” and a false sense of my own importance to the medical community and the world at large, I set out for Atlanta fully expecting a hero’s welcome at Grady. I quickly discovered I was one of 60 new interns and over 100 resident physicians training there in various medical specialties. Because we all had to wear white uniforms and looked alike, I blended into a large crowd of young doctors and immediately lost my unique status.  My humbling process was just beginning.

My first service rotation at Grady (affectionately known locally as “the Gradies”) was on the pediatric service. Part of my responsibility was to work in the out-patient clinic. There were hundreds of sick children treated daily, and they were divided among 4 to 6 interns; so the patient load per physician was huge. With my relative inexperience in patient care I was very slow and meticulous in asking the right questions of the mothers concerning their child’s problems. Because of the patient mix at Grady Hospital in Atlanta, many of the mothers had deep southern accents and used terms which were not common medical terms. In my limited medical school experience I had heard most of the commonly used slang terms and was confident in my ability to understand what was said and to communicate appropriately.

On this particular morning, I was questioning a mother about her 4 year old’s past medical history and previous hospitalizations. She said proudly that her child had been admitted a year ago to “the Gradies” and had now fully recovered from that problem with no after-effects. I asked her what was the illness for which he was treated, and she said it was “smilin’ mityjesus.” Believing I had misunderstood the words she had spoken, I asked her to repeat the diagnosis, and she repeated exactly those words; “smilin’ mityjesus.” I told her that I needed to consult with one of the senior physicians and quickly excused myself from the exam room. I found a resident physician with several more years of experience, and asked him if he had ever heard of an illness called “smilin’ mityjesus”? “Of course I have, and so have you,” he said. “You were taught all about that illness in med school; how to diagnosis it, how to treat it and what complications to expect. I’m surprised you didn’t immediately recognize what she said,” he teasingly rebuked me. “Please tell me what in the world did her son have?”  He proudly informed me that the diagnosis that I couldn’t make that morning was “spinal meningitis!” My learning process took another giant step forward.

In thinking about this amusing episode from my past, I am more convinced that our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, is truly mighty. He is mighty to save and mighty in His love and patience toward us as we are growing more into His image daily. I can only imagine as He watches His children struggle in that growth process, and even as a young intern is trying to understand what his patients are saying to him,  our Jesus is also smiling as He watches and listens!

Dr. John

Dr. John Remembers

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The photograph was taken in 1963 when I was a senior in medical school. Dr. Berry Moore Sr. on the left was the operating surgeon and was being assisted by his two sons; Dr. Berry Moore Jr. on the right and me, the tall, skinny one in the middle. To the best of my knowledge the patient survived!

I am currently the last of the 3 generations of Dr. Moore’s who practiced medicine in El Dorado, Arkansas. My grandfather, Dr. John Aaron Moore began his practice in 1898 and was joined by his son Dr. Berry Lee Moore Sr. in 1934. Dr. J.A. departed this life in 1943 and Dr. Berry Sr. continued in a solo practice until joined by his son Dr. Berry Lee Moore Jr. in 1957. Their practice of Family Medicine continued until 1966 when Dr. Berry Sr. departed this life. I became a physician in 1964 and continued in training to become a general surgeon. Following 2 years of active duty in the US Air Force, my family and I returned to El Dorado in 1971 when I began private practice in general surgery. My first office was with my brother, but because I had a referral surgical practice I moved my practice to join the Surgical Clinic of South Arkansas in 1974 while my brother continued in a solo general medical practice. I practiced in El Dorado until 1999, when I stopped doing general surgery; transitioned to a wound care practice and moved to Fayetteville, Arkansas to practice wound care at Washington Regional Medical Center. My brother practiced medicine until 2001 when he chose to retire to give home care to his wife LaNell who was diagnosed with a progressive dementia. On the date of his retirement, there had been a Dr. Moore practicing in El Dorado for a period of 103 years.

The purpose of this blog is to chronical the medical ministry of the Moore family to the people of South Arkansas for that 100 year period. I am recalling stories that my dad (Pop) told me of his years in training and his practice life before my brother joined him, and the few years they practiced together. From the time I began practice in 1971, the stories I relate are first hand.

In all of these accounts I purpose to show the hand of God in my life and in my family’s life. I want to recount how my life and practice was changed in 1977, when both my wife Cathy and I were born again into the Kingdom of God. We became radically different, and I began witnessing for Christ through the profession of medicine and surgery into which God had called me. In this effort and through this media, may Jesus Christ be honored and praised!