Healing is Part of the Atonement of Jesus Christ
Primary Purpose: To establish and prove through the Word of God that physical healing is part of the atonement paid for by the Lord Jesus Christ, and that it is always God’s will to heal every person and in every case.
Secondary Purpose: To address the prevalent errant teaching that physical healing is only an option—at the arbitrary whim of God—and/or that God inflicts His children with sickness or refuses to heal a person in order to teach them a lesson or to receive some greater glory by this person being sick.
The following verses of Scripture support the assertion that through the suffering and shed blood of Jesus Christ, physical healing was part and parcel of the atonement for sin and its effects on mankind.
1. The Lord Jesus Christ said in John 3:14, And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up.
Here, the Lord is referring to Numbers 21:6-9 when God had sent fiery serpents among the children of Israel, and much people of Israel died. When the people of Israel repented, the Lord commanded Moses, Make a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole; and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looks upon it, shall live. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.
This type and shadow of Christ not only refers to Christ being made sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21) but that as the sick of Israel received healing by looking upon the brazen serpent, others shall receive healing by looking to Christ.
2. The Lord Jesus Christ said in Matthew 5:17, Think not that I am come to destroy the law and the prophets. I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.
Not only did the Lord Jesus Christ fulfill all the prophecies concerning the Messiah, but He also fulfilled the righteousness of the law. Deuteronomy 7:12 says, Wherefore it shall come to pass, if you hearken to these judgments, and keep and do them, that the Lord your God shall keep unto you the covenant and the mercy which he swore unto your fathers. Verse 15 says: And the Lord will take away from you all sickness, and will put none of the evil diseases of Egypt, which you know, upon you, but will lay them upon all them that hate you. Deuteronomy 28 lists the blessing and the curses of the law. Health is listed as a blessing in verses 4 and 11 (blessed is the fruit of your body). Sickness is listed as a curse for not obeying the law (verses 18, 21, 22, 27, 28, 35, 59, 60, 61).
Romans 8:1-4 describes how Jesus Christ fulfilled the righteousness of the law, and how it applies to those who are in Christ. There is therefore no condemnation (or curse) to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh. That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
Hebrews 9:15 says: And for this cause he (Jesus) is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.
3. The Bible says in Galatians 3:13-14: Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us; for as it is written, Cursed is every one that hangs upon a tree. That the blessings of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
Many will try to reject that this verse of Scripture applies to the curses of Deuteronomy 28 because it refers to the blessings of Abraham—and not the covenant God made with Moses and Israel. If you read Deuteronomy 7:12 again, it says that if Israel abided by the law, God shall keep unto you the covenant and mercy which he swore unto your fathers (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob). God’s covenants are never abolished, but rather they are made better as in the case of the New Covenant in Christ. Hebrews 8:6 says: But now he (Jesus) has obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.
The context in Galatians 3, Paul is correcting the Galatians who were being persuaded into returning to legalism and a works-related mentality. Paul re-affirms that we are justified by faith, as Abraham was, and this counts for righteousness. Despite the specific context of works versus faith, the overall context of the law being under the curse applies to everything that is under the law—and not only salvation. Regardless of the context, faith in Christ Jesus has made us righteous before God (Romans 3:22) and this righteousness entitles us (by promise) to the blessings and promises of God, whether He made them to Abraham or Moses. Paul did not include a disclaimer in Galatians 3:13, saying that this only applied to forgiveness of sins. When we apply the total context of what Scripture teaches us about the redemption and atonement of Christ, we understand that it not only applies to the forgiveness of sins, but in all the blessings and promises of God. Yet even if we do only include forgiveness of sins, we must understand that every disease and curse known to mankind was a result of sin. Jesus not only died for the sins of the world (1 John 2:2) but He became sin, as in the totality of sin born out of Adam’s transgression, so that we might be made the righteousness of God in him (2 Corinthians 5:21).
4. The Scriptures most commonly used to support the truth about healing being a part of the atonement of Christ are these:
Isaiah 53:4-5: Surely he has born our griefs, and carried our sorrows. Yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
1 Peter 2:24: Who his own self bear our sins in his own body on the tree, that we being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness. By whose stripes you were healed.
Matthew 8:16-17: When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils; and he cast out spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick. That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bear our sicknesses.
All of these verses apply to the work of Jesus Christ on or just before He was crucified. Isaiah 53:4-5 looks ahead to the complete work of the atonement in Christ; Matthew 8:16-17 confirms the prophecy that the Lord Jesus would ultimately bear all our sicknesses on the cross; and 1 Peter 2:24 affirms what has already been done by the Lord Jesus. Many will argue that Isaiah 53:4-5 was fulfilled when Jesus healed all that were sick in Matthew 8:16-17; and therefore will conclude that this prophecy only meant that the Messiah would heal the sick—that healing had no bearing or importance after this prophecy was fulfilled. This certainly is not supported by what Scripture teaches in that the Lord continued His healing ministry after this event, and also empowered His disciples to heal the sick, not only while He was on earth, but after His resurrection—and still today. The prophecy as written in Isaiah 53 clearly refers to what the Lord would do at the time of His crucifixion. The 39 stripes He took on His back were for our physical healing. The rest of the prophecy includes other promises of the atonement (forgiveness of sins, peace, spiritual/mental healing, etc.). Just to note that today’s science has taken all the diseases known to mankind and placed them in 39 different classifications. 39 stripes for 39 classes of diseases.
Additionally, some will argue that 1 Peter 2:24 speaks only of forgiveness of sins, i.e. spiritual healing. I take issue with this because not only is the prophecy from Isaiah referring to physical healing (with his stripes we are healed), but I believe Peter is saying that in addition to forgiveness of sins (Who his own self bear our sins) we have physical healing as well. Peter also demonstrated this truth by walking in the supernatural power of God when he ministered healing to the lame man in front of the temple gate (Acts 3:6); raised Dorcas from the dead [Acts 9:40] and when by just his shadow, many sick were healed in the streets (Acts 5:15).
5. Galatians 1:4 says: Who (Jesus) gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father.
I don’t think anyone can argue that physical health and well-being is an issue with every person in the world. We pay the prescription drug, health insurance, and medical industries billions of dollars each year to keep our bodies (and also our minds) healthy. The Bible says that Christ gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world. [Galatians 1:4] So what does this mean? Obviously, since we are still physically present on earth, it doesn’t mean that we have been removed from it. This verse means that we have been delivered from the effects of living in a fallen world. The only exception to this rule is physical death. Sickness is a part of living in a fallen world, but Christ has given us the power to become overcomers in all things, including sickness and disease.
The Old Testament promised that God would protect His children from the effects of living in a fallen world. Written by Moses, Psalm 91 is one of the most recited passages of Scripture and contains this promise of divine protection:
He that dwells in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress; my God; in him will I trust. Surely he shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover you with his feathers, and under his wings shall you trust. His truth shall be your shield and buckler. You shall not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flies by day; nor for the pestilence that walks in darkness; nor for the destruction that wastes at noonday. A thousand shall fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you. Only with your eyes shall you see and behold the reward of the wicked. Because you have made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High your habitation. There shall no evil befall you, neither shall any plague come near your dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. They shall bear you up in their hands, lest you dash your foot against a stone. You shall tread upon the lion and the adder; the young lion and the dragon shall you trample under feet. Because he has set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him. I will set him on high, because he has known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him. I will be with him in trouble. I will deliver him, and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him, and show him my salvation.
There will be some who will argue the last phrase of Galatians 1:4: according to the will of God and our Father. They’ll say, “You see, we are delivered from this present evil world only to the degree that God wills it to be.” While I agree with what the Bible says, this person’s argument will almost always be associated with the assertion that most or some of the time, it is not God’s will to heal; therefore, healing is not guaranteed by the Word of God, but only if God feels like it. This statement directly attacks both the nature and the Word of God.
It is always God’s will to heal; it always has been, and it always will. Many will cite Job as an example of God either putting or allowing sickness to come into Job’s life, thereby proving it is not always God’s will to heal—at least immediately. My only answer to this argument would be to offer the truth that while God allowed Satan to attack Job (Satan is allowed to attack anyone—even today), God ultimately healed and restored Job to an even greater degree than before. So, to say that God doesn’t always heal is absolutely false. I will go into much greater detail later in this teaching, but I can summarize it here. If Jesus Christ is the express (exact) image of his person (the Father) [Hebrews 1:3] and if you believe the words of Jesus when He said, If you have seen me, you have seen the Father; [John 14:11] and if you believe the Lord’s words when He said, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work [John 4:34] and The Son of man can do nothing of himself, but what he sees the Father do. For what things soever he does, these also the Son does likewise. [John 5:19] and that during His ministry, the Lord Jesus never refused to minister healing to any person who would receive it, and that the Bible says that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever [Hebrews 13:8], then we can rightly conclude that it is always God’s will to heal—every person, every time.
The following verses of Scripture only solidify these truths:
Beloved, I wish above all things that you may prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers. [3 John 2]
Bless the Lord O my soul, and forget not his benefits; who forgives all your iniquities; who heals all your diseases. [Psalm 103:2-3]
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 will save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he has committed any sins, they shall be forgiven him. [James 5:14-15]
And this is the confidence that we have (possess) in him, that, if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have (possess) the petitions that we desired of him. [1 John 5:14-15]
For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us. [2 Corinthians 1:20]
They that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing. [Psalm 34:10]
And behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if you will, you can make me clean. And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. [Matthew 8:2-3]
And Jesus said unto him, I will come and heal him. [Matthew 8:7]
I could go on and on and on and on with verse after verse after verse that proves that it is always God’s will to heal.
6. 2 Peter 1:2-3 says: Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. According as his divine power has given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that has called us to glory and virtue.
This is but just another verse that proves that healing is already a done deal through the atonement of Jesus Christ. According to this verse, God’s divine power has given us all things—not some or most—but all things that pertain to life and godliness, but they are given to us through the knowledge of him. In fact, this passage says that grace and peace are multiplied to you through the knowledge of God. This is revelation knowledge gained from intimate relationship with the Lord. As I pointed out before, no one can argue (truthfully, that is) that health is not an integral part of life. If health and well-being were not, we would not spend so much time, effort, and money on staying physically fit, and for medical and/or preventative care.
One argument that was made against this teaching was that when you seek to prove that healing is a part of the atonement and that every Christian has been given the power to resist and/or overcome sickness and disease, one automatically presumes that since they do not have the faith (it is not a “faith” problem, but a problem of unbelief) to receive their healing, perhaps they don’t have the faith to be saved. This is a clever argument—one that many apologists and heresy hunters utilize to tear down the truths of the word of God when they clash with their own theology. Clever because they insist that if you teach that healing is part of the atonement, and it is our responsibility to receive what God has given us, and if a person hasn’t yet received healing, than I am either criticizing or condemning them. This is far from the truth.
The truth is that one can only believe what they’ve been told, heard, or read. If a person has been preached the gospel of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, the forgiveness of sins and a ticket into heaven, this is what they will believe. When we are born again, the Holy Spirit imparts unto us the faith of God in order to become saved. Without it, we could not be saved because our human faith is not powerful enough to believe in salvation. By the same token, the same person who heard the gospel of salvation (forgiveness of sins and eternal life only) now reads in the Bible that Jesus healed the sick, and gave power to His disciples to heal the sick; and that people were healed by these disciples, and he reads in James 5 that if he prays the prayer of faith, he will be healed, and he believes these things to be true, he has received revelation knowledge of the truth. He is still using the same faith given to him at salvation, but this revelation is a result of him renewing his mind. Romans 10:13-17 makes it clear: For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him or whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? … So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.
Although in this context, the apostle Paul is referring to salvation, it applies after salvation, as everything by grace does, for the rest of our lives. We are to continue to walk by faith and not by sight [2 Corinthians 5:7] and as you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him. [Colossians 2:6] This is what 2 Peter 1:2 means—that grace and peace are multiplied (not just added, but multiplied) through the knowledge of God. Romans 12:3 says that we are transformed by the renewing of our minds. How do we renew our minds? Through the Word of God.
Our faith is the same, but the extent of it operating in our lives is what changes. This is what the Lord Jesus meant when He said, According to your faith, be it unto you. [Matthew 9:29] This may be somewhat difficult to understand, so let me make it simple and apply my own testimony to this.
I was born again by reading the Bible—in Matthew 18, the parable of the lost sheep. While I was reading this passage, the Lord revealed Himself to me and I gladly received Him. When I received the Lord Jesus, I was given the faith of God, along with other things (see Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23). The revelation I had received at that time was that the Lord loved me and did not want me to perish. In essence, all I believed was that I would have a relationship with God and go to heaven. At that time, I had been suffering for years with a herniated disk in my lower back and lactose intolerance (not being able to drink milk or eat ice cream). It wasn’t until six months later, when I heard a teaching that healing was available for all who would believe, did my back get healed. A man of God used a word of knowledge about my back injury and I actually felt a tingling in my lower back and I haven’t had any pain, weakness, or numbness since. Several months later, although I believed I had already been healed of lactose intolerance too, I had not yet received it by faith. I had not yet stepped out in faith and attempted to drink milk or eat ice cream. Not until I used action to show my faith as it is written in James 2:18: I will show you my faith by my works (or actions) did I truly realize the truth that I had been healed. Once I stepped out in faith and drank a glass of milk and chased it with some ice cream and did not have the effects (diarrhea and severe stomach pain) as before, I knew I was healed. Praise God!
There’s another case of a man who received Christ in a church. He knew he’d been forgiven of his sins, but he was struggling with holiness. The church he attended taught that he had been forgiven of his sins, but did not tell this man that God had given him power and authority over all devils and sin (Luke 10:19). You see, the devil was still deceiving this man to believe that Satan was using a superlative power over him, so much that he could not stop falling into sin. He was frustrated because when he read the Bible, it said that he could do all things through Christ that strengthens him (Philippians 4:13) and that he was made righteous before God by faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 3:22), and that those who received Christ, to them He have power to become sons of God (John 1:12), but the people at church kept telling him that he was just an “old sinner saved by grace” and that he would always be unrighteous and as “filthy rags.”
Just because he had been deceived by the devil into receiving only part of his salvation, does this mean that this man wasn’t saved at all? No, he was deceived—and deceived by the very people that were supposed to tell him the truth. Just because I didn’t know about healing, did that make my salvation null and void? No, I was just ignorant of the truth. Believing in healing or even being healed does not make you saved. Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ makes you saved. There are others who have heard the truth about healing and have chosen to reject it, or have been taught that healing doesn’t always happen, depending on whether God is in a bad mood or not. Just because these folks have rejected a part of the gift of Christ doesn’t mean they have rejected Him altogether. If it were so, we would be right back into salvation by works and it being about something we have done instead of what He has already done.
7. Here are two final verses of Scripture that support the truth that healing is part of the atonement of Christ:
And of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace. [John 1:16]
For in him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And you are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power. [Colossians 2:9-10]
New vs. Old Covenant
It never fails to occur where someone brings up things God did in the Old Testament that support their notions that God either places sicknesses on people, uses sickness for some greater purpose, or refuses to heal a person at the time. This is a reflection of their utter misunderstanding of the difference between the way God deals with man under the Old Covenant and now under the New Covenant. Let me just say this here… while God smote people with diseases (the Egyptians, Miriam [Numbers 12:10], etc.); allowed sickness (Job); or refused to heal someone immediately (Miriam, Job) it was always a curse and never a blessing. Never did God receive any glory from it. It was always done in judgment. In the cases of Job and Miriam, the Lord eventually healed them, proving that He is the Lord that heals us. And also while God is the same God always and forever, He always deals with us according to the covenant we are under [Psalm 89:34]. A clear understanding of the differences between the old and new covenants will set you on your way to becoming free indeed.
While there are many verses of Scripture that illustrate the difference between the old and new covenants, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself is the best illustration of this difference. He is the epitome of the New Testament. However, for Scripture’s sake, I think Isaiah 54:4-10 is all-inclusive of what you may read in other parts of the Bible. After reading, it changed my life: Fear not; for you shall not be ashamed. Neither be confounded; for you shall not be put to shame. For you shall forget the shame of your youth, and shall not remember the reproach of your widowhood any more. For your Maker is your husband; the Lord of hosts is his name; and your Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called. For the Lord has called you as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, when you were refused, says your God. For a small moment have I forsaken you; but with great mercies will I gather you. In a little wrath I hid my face from you for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on you, says the Lord your Redeemer. For this is as the waters of Noah unto me; for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with you, nor rebuke you. For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from you, neither shall my covenant of peace be removed, says the Lord that has mercy on you.
This one verse of Scripture proves that God isn’t even angry at us, neither will He rebuke us. Instead, He promises that His kindness shall not depart and His covenant of peace shall not be removed. This is God’s covenant—the New Covenant—with us in Christ Jesus. God has poured out all His wrath on the Lord Jesus so we would not have to suffer it. The suffering of Christ was enough to satisfy the judgment and wrath of God forever. For those of you who think God is going to judge the United States or any other country—outside of final judgment—have failed to understand that the Lord Jesus took upon Himself the wrath and judgment of God so we would not have to suffer it. How can you, knowing this, think that a loving God, Who loved you enough to send His only begotten Son to die for you, to take your place and punishment, would not be willing to heal you of any sickness? It’s beyond fathomable for me to think that if God were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for me, that He wouldn’t also be willing to heal me when I’m sick. Romans 8:32 says: He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him freely give us all things? Brothers and sisters, those “all things” include physical healing.
Rather than going into an extensive teaching on the old and new covenants, which would take pages, let me offer this one example of how the Lord Jesus differentiated between the way God dealt with us before Jesus and after. This one is proof positive and should open the door even further to receiving these truths. Open your Bible to Luke 9:51-56: And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem, and sent messengers before his face; and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him. And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem. And when his disciples, James and John saw this, they said, Lord, will you that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elijah did? But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, You know not what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.
Many of you may know of this account and many may not, so let me establish what John and James were talking about. Turn to 2 Kings 1 in your Bible. At the end of 1 Kings, Ahaziah, the son of Ahab, became king of Samaria and he did evil in the sight of the Lord, for lived the way of his father Ahab, who made Israel sin. Ahaziah also worshipped Ba’al, which was a pagan god. 2 Kings begins with Ahaziah falling sick as a result of a fall. The Samarian king sent messengers to inquire of Ba’al-ze’bub, the god of Ekron whether he would recover from this disease. Verses 3-4 say: But the angel of the Lord said to Elijah the Tishbite, Arise, go up to meet the messengers of the king of Samaria, and say unto them, Is it not because there is not a God in Israel, that you go to inquire of Ba’al-ze’bub the god of Ekron? Now therefore thus says the Lord, You shall not come down from that bed on which you are gone up, but shall surely die. And Elijah departed.
The messengers departed and returned to the king and told him what Elijah had said. Therefore, Ahaziah sent a company of fifty men to get Elijah. Verse 10 says: And Elijah answered and said to the captain of the fifty, If I be a man of God, then let fire come down from heaven, and consume you and your fifty. And there came down fire from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty. The rest of the account says that this consuming fire came down from heaven two more times, killing about 150 men.
The parallel we draw is compelling. John and James had gone to a village of the Samaritans and there they rejected Christ. Ahaziah the king of Samaria had rejected the God of Israel and sought after pagan gods. The God of the Old Testament sent down fire from heaven at the command of Elijah, killing 150 men for rejecting the God of Israel, while Jesus rebuked John and James and told them they were of another spirit for suggesting that they command fire from heaven to consume the Samaritans for rejecting Christ. His last words sum up the totality of the New Covenant in Christ: For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.