The other half of the Gospel
The other half of the Gospel, in one word, is healing.
The Gospel most people think of is the message of sin, defined by disobedience to an unbending law, but yet somehow there’s a message offering forgiveness in the day of the coming judgment. This half is often confused with a “license to sin” or a “freedom from sin’s penalty.” (Rom 3:8)
The half of the Gospel I want to share today is the half that declares a man can be free from sin, rather than free to sin. In the words of John the apostle, it is God who will then “cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) In words of the apostle Paul, it is Jesus who died in order to “redeem us from all iniquity” (the first half), but then (the second half) to “purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” (Titus 2:14)
But let’s go back for a moment and properly define the word Gospel: The Gospel is defined as that message that the Almighty God gave to His son Jesus to share with the world. His message is known for clarifying the law (Matt 5:17-47) for re-establishing the standards of righteousness, and for calling men to,
Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. (Matt 5:48)
I doubt very many would have listened to this message if Jesus hadn’t accompanied it by the other half of the message. This other half was the portion that established His credibility in what He preached. This is the part that was taught by actions more than words, even though there remain enough words associated with this part that we know it was there. This other half was the proof that Jesus was indeed the Christ. As Jesus answered to the disciples of John the Baptist, when questioned whether or not He was the Christ,
Go, and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me. (Matt 11:4-6)
This is the proof He offered that He is the Christ, the son of God: His ability to heal and His ministry of healing.
Indeed, healing was a significant part of His ministry. Before Matthew even heard the message of the gospel for the first time, he described hearing of Jesus’ fame.
And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them. (Matt 4:24)
This is likely what interested Matthew in going to hear Jesus preach. Healing? Miraculous healing? I’d want to go and see that for myself as well, if for no other reason then to see if it was really true.
Then, after Matthew joined Jesus as one of His disciples (Matt 9:9), Matthew describes how this ministry of healing continued as the multitudes followed Him seeking healing.
But when Jesus knew it, he withdrew himself from thence: and great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all (Matt 12:15)
No, it wasn’t just “multitudes”, it was great multitudes.
And great multitudes came unto him, having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus’ feet; and he healed them: Insomuch that the multitude wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see: and they glorified the God of Israel. (Matt 15:30-31)
Even in the context of Jesus’ great teaching on divorce and remarriage, the passage begins by noting that Jesus heals.
And great multitudes followed him; and he healed them there. (Matt 19:2)
When Jesus returned to Jerusalem for His final passover, He threw the money changers out of the temple and challenged the priestly authorities (Matt 21:12). Once He had cleansed the temple, He then proceeded to heal the blind and the lame–this time in the temple itself.
And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them. (Matt 21:14)
This is what I mean by the other half of the Gospel, and it’s the half of the Gospel I would like to discuss today.
Does Jesus still heal today?
Yes, Jesus heals today.
However, His ministry of healing isn’t nearly as obvious to outsiders as it was during His time on earth. Although He can and quite likely still does heal men physically, this isn’t His primary ministry today. Worse, there are now many charlatan’s out there who claim to either have been physically healed or to offer the ability to physically and medically heal others. The easy way to tell the difference between the charlatan’s healing and the true healing of Christ is by inspection. When Jesus healed the lepers, He then sent them to the priests for inspection (Matt 8:4, Mark 1:44, Luke 17:14). If any preacher tells you that you’ve been healed, but then tells you never to seek to verify that healing at a doctor’s office, then he is a charlatan. That was never the type of healing Jesus offered. Flee from such charlatans.
But if Jesus isn’t offering medical or physical healing today, then what sort of healing is He offering?
Today, He continues to offer a healing from sin.
I would know. I have been healed.
I was once a sinner, forced by my own sin to sin and sin again. My hatred for my life, characterized by sin, lead me into a deep depression. I knew I was wrong. I knew that what I was doing was wrong. I also knew that I was the cause of all that was wrong in my life, and yet I had no ability to change or fix it. In despair, I prayed to Jesus for rescue. My life has never been the same since.
Yes, He still heals men today.
Unbelievers tend to focus on God’s law and his coming judgment. They are offended by this. How dare someone tell them what they should and should not do! The gall of such Christians!
But the reality of God’s law goes much deeper than the coming judgment in an age that seems to be far away. God’s law touches today as well.
You see, the nature of sin is that it enslaves the sinner. Jesus describes this, saying:
Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. (John 8:34)
Paul, in the book of Romans, uses the words “reign” (Rom 6:12) and “dominion” (Rom 6:9, 14, 7:1) to describe this power than sin has over a sinner. The word “reign” carries the concept of a king ruling over his subjects. The word “dominion”, on the other hand, carries the concept of a master ruling over his slave. Just as a cruel master might punish his slaves for disobedience, so the sinner is punished for not sinning.
Today we often use a different word to describe this, one you might be more familiar with. We call it addiction.
A man who is addicted to a substance, whether it be alcohol or any other drug, will find himself forced by his addiction to use that substance again, again, again, and again. This man’s addiction has effectively enslaved him. It rules over him. As a result, his addiction may also force him to lie, cheat, or steal to satisfy the needs of his flesh. Many men have testified to this truth from their own experiences.
Jesus, however, didn’t apply this description of involuntary servitude to drugs alone–He applied it to all sin.
Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. (from John 8:34)
The second half of the Gospel that I am discussing today is the freedom Jesus offers from sin, so that a man might no longer be forced to serve sin.
Jesus describes this freedom He offers as the freedom only the master of a household, or even the masters’ heir, can offer to a slave:
And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. (John 8:35-36)
If the master frees a slave, the master will not enslave him again. He will not seek to recapture him, or again force him back into service. The slave has been truly freed.
Paul describes this relationship, this freedom, by using the analogy of death.
For he that is dead is freed from sin. (Rom 6:7)
A dead man is no longer forced to sin. Dead men cannot be forced to do anything.
Paul goes on to encourage those who believe to reckon themselves as dead, dead to sin, so that sin will no longer rule over them.
Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Rom 6:11)
If you are dead, then you have no career to worry about losing. You have no promotion to receive. You have no reputation to maintain. Being canceled can’t hurt you. You have no pride to maintain. You don’t have any substance abuse withdrawal symptoms to worry about. Not even the Wuhan Coronavirus will have any power over you. There is nothing there to fear. If you are dead, then … well, you are dead.
If you reckon yourself as dead, but alive to serve Christ, then sin will have no more power over you either.
For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. (Rom 6:14)
As Paul writes,
For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Gal 2:19-20)
In other words, we’re not talking about suicide, nor are we talking about murder nor any other type of actual physical death. We’re talking about “reckoning” yourself to be dead. Better yet, there is a new life to be found after reckoning yourself as dead. This new life will take on meaning as you learn to serve Jesus on a day by day basis.
And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. (John 10:28)
True eternal life starts the day you trust the rest of your earthly life to Him.
He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.
(Missionary and martyr, John Elliot)
In need of a physician
Those who have never trusted Christ for this freedom from sin tend to only see Christianity as a set of rules: do this, don’t do that. Christianity, to them, becomes as a standard of living which God instructs men to follow, with the threatening consequence of Hell if they do not. Worse than that, it’s a standard no man can achieve. (Rom 3:23)
If this is your view of Christianity, if you cannot see your own need of a savior, then you are not likely to seek Him for healing. This is no different from any other illness. If you don’t think you are sick, or if you think your sickness isn’t that bad, then you’ll never seek a doctor.
But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. (Matt 9:12)
When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. (Mak 2:17)
And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. (Luke 5:31)
This is why Jesus began his sermons with lessons of morality. If you hear the law, then you will see your sin. Once you see your sin, then you’ll know to ask for help. Herein is the Gospel call,
Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. (Isaiah 1:18)
Once you realize that sin is controlling you, then it becomes a comfort to learn that the master physician is still healing. It’s more than a comfort, it becomes a life line.
Healing is not to be repented of
Those who have been healed by Christ will describe a different life from the one they knew before. They will be able to tell you of their change. Those around them aren’t likely to understand, but the person who has been so changed will also be unable to return to the life they lived before. Nor, strangely enough, will they even want to–since they have been healed. One taste of God’s healing, and you’ll never want your former life again.
For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. (2 Cor 7:10)
I also count myself among those who have been healed, and among those who have given their lives to Christ. I also reckon my own self to be dead: Dead to sin, but alive unto Christ.
Since making this choice, I have learned from Christ. I have tested His healing power in my own life. It is real. It is life changing. It is transformative. I am no longer the same man that I was. My family is no longer the same. Indeed, I have a family–something I was likely to lose were it not for His healing. Life is no longer the same.
It is better.
Since I have seen, heard, felt, and tasted His healing power, you will not be able to convince me that God either doesn’t exist, or that He is a liar. (John 3:33) I know better, because I’ve experienced it. Or, rather, I’ve experienced Him.
You are also not likely to convince me to lie to someone else. True, I’ve been known to make mistakes from time to time–but I’m not bound in lies anymore. I used to be. That’s right, I used to be trapped by my own lies and then forced to lie again and again by the web of deceit I would tell. I would then be crushed into depression and despair every time my web of lies was exposed. Since finding freedom, however, I am no longer bound by lies. Yes, freedom is possible, by the power of the cross: once you reckon yourself as already dead, together with Christ, then truth can break the bonds of deceit that forced you to lie before.
Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
Let me encourage you also to come to His cross for this healing today. A pastor may encourage you as any Christian from a Bible believing church, but these are only friends of the Gospel: they have no power to heal you. Jesus alone has the power to heal. You’ll need to come to Him for healing.
It starts with a simple prayer–a prayer where you explain your situation to Jesus, and then ask Him for help. Then listen to His next words–you’ll find them in any Bible. That prayer will then become the where and the when of when your new life will begin.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness