A. B. Simpson on the Healing Commission

(Alfred B. Simpson was a missionary, evangelist, hymn writer, and master expositor of the Word of God during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He founded Nyack College, and The Christian and Missionary Alliance. Healed personally from debilitating heart disease and the prognosis of an early death, he taught about healing from the basis of his own study of God’s Word, which he described as “the most careful and thorough scriptural study.” This short passage is part of his teaching from his book  The Gospel of Healing  — see footnote.)

Isaiah … delivered the great evangelical vision … the very mirror of the coming Redeemer. ‘Surely He hath born our griefs and carried our sorrows … and with His stripes we are healed.’ (Is. 53:4-5). It is the strongest possible statement of complete redemption from pain and sickness by Christ’s life and death. And these are the very words Matthew quotes afterward (Matt. 8:17), under the inspired guidance of the Holy Spirit, as the explanation of Jesus’ universal works of healing. …

Any person who will refer to … Hebrew authority will see that the two words [griefs and sorrows] denote respectively sickness and pain. And the words for ‘bear’ and ‘carry’ denote not mere sympathy, but actual substitution and the utter removal of the thing borne. Therefore, as Jesus Christ has born our sins, He has also born away and carried off our sicknesses, yes, and even our pains. …

Matthew, inspired by God, quotes Is. 53:4-5 as the reason why Jesus healed all who were sick: ‘He … healed all that were sick: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.’ (Matt. 8:16-17).

It was not that Jesus might give his enemies vindication of His Diety, but that He might fulfill the character presented of Him in ancient prophecy. Had He not done so, He would not have been true to his own character. If He did not still do so, He would not be ‘Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever’ (Heb. 13:8).

These healings were not occasional, but continual, not exceptional, but universal. Jesus never turned any away. … He is still the same. … God would not have us forget that His Son spent more than three years in deeds of power and love before He went up to Calvary to die. …

“But was this blessed power to die with Jesus at Calvary? Jesus does not so indicate. ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.’ (John 14:12). Jesus makes it emphatic – ‘verily, verily’ – as if He knew it was something mankind was sure to doubt. … It is no use to tell us that this meant … the church was to have greater spiritual power …. Jesus’ followers are to do the same works that He Himself did, and greater also. …

When Jesus was about to leave the world, He left on record both these commissions in the most unmistakable terms. ‘Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; in my name shall they cast out devils, they shall speak with new tongues … they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.’ (Mark16:15-18). Here is the commission of the twofold gospel given to them and the assurance of Christ’s presence and unchanging power. What right have we to preach one part of the gospel without the other? What right have we to hold back any of God’s grace from a perishing world? … Christ promised the signs, and they followed as long as Christians continued to believe and expect them. By such mighty ‘signs and wonders’ the church was established in Jerusalem, Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth. The unbelief of the world needs these signs today as much as in the apostolic times. … In First Corinthians 12:9, ‘the gifts of healing’ are spoken of as widely diffused and universally understood among the endowments of the church. But the apostolic age was soon to close; were the gifts to be continued, and if so, by whom? … by what commission was healing to be perpetuated to the end of time and placed within the reach of all God’s suffering saints?

The answer is in James 5:14-15, to which we turn again with deep interest: ‘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.’ …

Observe to whom this power is committed. Not to the apostles, who are now passing away; not to men and women of rare gifts or difficult to contact. It was given to the elders – the men most likely to be within reach of every sufferer, the men who are to continue till the end of the age. Notice the time at which this commission is given. It was not at the beginning, but at the close of the apostolic age. It was not for that generation, but for the one that was just rising, and all the succeeding ages. Indeed these New Testament letters were not widely circulated in their own time, but were mainly designed ‘for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.’

Again, observe the nature of the ordinance enjoined. It is ‘the prayer of faith’ and the ‘anointing … with oil in the name of the Lord.’ This was not a medical anointing, for it was not to be applied by a physician, but by an elder. It must, naturally, be the same anointing we read of in connection with the healing of disease by the apostles (for instance, Mark6:13). Any other interpretation would be strained and contrary to the obvious meaning ….

Divine healing ceases to be a mere privilege. It is the divine prescription for disease, and no obedient Christian can safely ignore it. Any other method of dealing with sickness is unauthorized. This is God’s plan. This makes faith simple and easy. …”

(The Gospel Of Healing by A. B. Simpson, © 1994 by Christian Publications, Inc., pp.12-19.  Christian Pubications, Inc. is an arm of the Christian and Missionary Alliance.)

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