Part 5 of these excerpts from my “A Paper on Faith” continues from Part 4.
Some Verses that Speak of Healing Coming Through Faith in God:
(I’ll include a few of these passages in these excerpts.) This section builds on and supplements that which was said regarding healing and health in my book, “Holiness and Victory Over Sin.” See pages 55-67 in that book, and the other references mentioned in the first paragraph on page 55. This present section directly builds on and supplements #2 on pages 64, 65; the reader shouldn’t skip this #2.
Matthew 8:5-13, espec. 8:10, 13 (Luke 7:1-10). “(10) Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled, and said to those who were following, ‘Truly I say to you, I HAVE NOT FOUND SUCH GREAT FAITH WITH ANYONE IN ISRAEL.’ (13) And Jesus said to the centurion, ‘Go your way; LET IT BE DONE TO YOU AS YOU HAVE BELIEVED.’ And the servant was healed that very hour.” His faith glorified God the Father and His Son.
Matthew 9:27-31. “And as Jesus passed on from there, two blind men followed Him, crying out, and saying, ‘Have mercy on us, Son of David!’ [The title “Son of David” fits the Messiah, not that all who used the title for Jesus understood that He was the Messiah.] (28) And after He had come into the house, the blind men came up to Him, and Jesus said to them, ‘Do you believe that I am able to do this?’ They said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord.’ (29) Then He touched their eyes, saying, ‘BE IT DONE TO YOU ACCORDING TO YOUR FAITH.’ (30) And their eyes were opened. ....” Their faith glorified God the Father and His Son.
Matthew 15:21-28 (Mark 7:24-30). “And Jesus went away from there, and withdrew into the district of Tyre and Sidon. [Mark 7:24 adds that “when He entered a house, He wanted no one to know of it; yet He could not escape notice.” It was frequently difficult for Jesus to find time to spend with His disciples, not to mention time for prayer, or even time for rest.] (22) And behold, a Caananite woman [It is clear she was a Gentile (cf. Mark 7:26).] came out from that region, and began to cry out, saying, ‘Have mercy on me [We all need God’s mercy.], O Lord, Son of David [This woman clearly knew something about Jesus, but she did not necessarily know that He was the Messiah.]; my daughter is cruelly demon possessed.’ (23) But He did not answer her a word. And His disciples came to Him and kept asking Him, saying, ‘Send her away, for she is shouting out after us.’ (24) But He answered and said, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel [that is, Gentiles (like her) were excluded].’ (25) But she came and began to bow down before Him, saying, ‘Lord, help me!’ (26) And He answered and said, ‘It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.’ [The bread represents the blessings (like healing and deliverance from demon spirits) that He was sent to give to the children, the people of Israel, which excludes the Gentiles, who are pictured as dogs. Jesus insulted this woman, but I assume He knew what was in her heart and was giving her an opportunity to manifest her faith. She was desperate; she was persistent; she was humble; and I believe we can safely say that she knew more about what God the Father and the Lord Jesus were really like than most of the sons of Israel. She didn’t let anything dissuade her, and she glorified God by her faith. I assume that this woman went on to become a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ.] (27) But she said, ‘Yes, Lord; but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.’ (28) Then Jesus answered and said to her, ‘O WOMAN, YOUR FAITH IS GREAT; BE IT DONE FOR YOU AS YOU WISH.’ And her daughter was healed at once.”
Mark 5:25-34 (Matthew 9:20-22; Luke 8:43-48). “And a woman who had had a hemorrhage [flow of blood] for twelve years, (26) and had endured much at the hands of many physicians, and had spent all that she had and was not helped at all, but rather had grown worse, (27) after hearing about Jesus [She had to hear about Jesus before she could have faith in Him.], came up in the crowd behind Him, and touched His cloak [outer garment]. (28) For she thought [was saying], ‘If I just touch His garments, I shall get well.’ [She was speaking and acting in faith. She had at least heard that Jesus was a mighty prophet of God who had been anointed by God to heal the sick (cf., e.g., Acts 10:38). On touching His garment, compare Mark 6:53-56; Acts 19:11, 12. I assume that a woman with faith like this eventually received Jesus as Savior and Lord as she learned more of Him.] (29) And immediately the flow of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction. (30) And immediately Jesus, perceiving in Himself that the power proceeding from Him had gone forth, turned around in the crowd and said, ‘Who touched My garments?’ (31) And His disciples said to Him, ‘You see the multitude pressing in on You, and You say, “Who touched Me?” ’ [But the woman touched Him IN FAITH. She received God’s healing power (grace) BY FAITH.] (32) And He looked around to see the woman who had done this. (33) But the woman fearing and trembling, aware of what happened to her, came and told Him all the truth. [She was overwhelmed by the miraculous healing she had just experienced, but it should also be pointed out that her physical condition rendered her ceremonially unclean, and she was not permitted to come in contact with others (cf. Lev. 15:25-27).] (34) And He said to her, ‘Daughter, YOUR FAITH HAS MADE YOU WELL; go in peace, and be healed of your affliction.’ ” Her faith glorified God the Father and His Son.
I’ll just include the discussions of Rom. 12:1-8; Eph. 2:8-10; and Acts 15:1-11 in these excerpts.
Romans 12:1-8. (This passage contains some very important teaching. Verses 1, 2 constitute a powerful call for Christians to walk in a state of holiness, and verses 3-8 constitute an important teaching on the proper functioning of the Body of Christ. [1 Corinthians chapter 12 is an important cross-reference for verses 3-8.] The word “faith” is used in verses 3 and 6. I believe Paul’s use of this word in these verses is very often misunderstood. For one primary thing, there is no idea here of God’s giving us faith.)
“I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable [or, well-pleasing] to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. [The apostle Paul exhorts the Christians at Rome (and all Christians) to once-for-all present themselves, including their bodies, to God as a sacrifice. This new-covenant form of sacrificial worship is obviously much more glorious than the literal animal sacrifices offered under the old covenant.] (2) And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind [[I would translate “renewal” with the BAGD Greek Lexicon rather than renewing. The apostle is not speaking of a gradual process of withdrawal from the sinful/unholy ways of the world, but of a once-for-all transformation to an abiding state of holiness by the renewal of the mind (of the way we think). He said, “do not be conformed to this world.” (It is also true that we should continue to grow throughout our lives as born-again Christians [including growing in wisdom and knowledge of God’s Word and growing more like the Lord Jesus Christ], but in the ideal case we will think right in our hearts and have the victory over sin and live in a state of holiness from the time we become Christians. See Romans chapter 6 and 8:1-17, for example. See my book, “Holiness and Victory Over Sin” on this super-important topic.)
It is necessary to see that the “mind” is not at all limited to the head. We do our most important thinking in our hearts. This thinking includes our ideas about God, and our priorities, attitudes, and motives. Thinking right isn’t all that complicated. If you just heard the apostle Paul for a few hours, you could know enough to live right. I am speaking of born-again Christians; we have been redeemed, born again, made new creations, and are indwelled by the Holy Spirit, who enables us to think right and live right. We cannot live right until we think right in our hearts. I’m not suggesting that once you have a renewed mind you will never have another wrong thought or desire, but I am saying that if we walk in line with the Word of God and by the Holy Spirit by faith, we will be able to prevent wrong thoughts and desires from becoming sin. Thanks be to God! For more information on this renewal of the mind by the Word of God and the Spirit of God, see Rom. 8:5-8 and Eph. 4:23 (with the translation “be renewed BY THE SPIRIT IN YOUR MIND, or, IN YOUR WAY OF THINKING”); these verses are discussed in my book, “Holiness and Victory Over Sin” (on Rom. 8:5-8, pages 118-120; on Eph. 4:23, pages 138, 139).]], that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable [or, well-pleasing] and perfect. [I would translate “approve” with the BAGD Greek Lexicon instead of “prove.” With a renewed mind (in the ideal case), we will “approve” the things that line up with God’s will, and we will do them, thereby maintaining a state of holiness.] (3) FOR [This word shows the connection between verses 1, 2 and verses 3-8. The apostle Paul’s teaching in verses 3-8 shows something of what he means by having a renewed mind.] through the grace given to me [[The apostle ministered by the grace of God. Because of this his work was done right; God got the glory; and Paul was able to stay humble. (We all must fulfill our assignments in the Body of Christ by the grace of God; the only alternative is to try to do them in the flesh, which is guaranteed to make a mess.) Since Paul was speaking with apostolic authority, he expected his readers to submit to the Word of God spoken through him.]] I say to every man among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think [Note the tie to the renewal of the mind (of the way we think) of Rom. 12:2. To the extent that we are thinking the ways of the world/flesh, we probably will think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think.]; but to think so as to have sound judgment, AS GOD HAS ALLOTTED [or, MEASURED] TO EACH A MEASURE [[For the time being I’ll skip the last two words of the sentence. We won’t begin to understand these verses, including Paul’s use of the word “faith” in verses 3 and 6, until we understand his use of the word “measure” here in verse 3 and the word “proportion” in verse 6.
Let’s look at several other verses where Paul uses this same Greek noun for measure (“metron”). Ephesians 4:7 says: “But to each one of us grace was given according to the MEASURE [metron] of Christ’s gift.” In other words, every Christian is given assignments to fulfill in the Body of Christ and the grace to fulfill those assignments, and it is Christ Himself (the Head of the Body) who determines what these assignments are and distributes the appropriate grace to fulfill these assignments. The grace spoken of here goes beyond the all-important foundational grace given to each Christian which enables them to be born again, to live in holiness, to walk in love, etc. Ephesians 4:16 says: “from whom [Christ] the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies [I believe the literal translation given in the margin is to be preferred: “through every joint of the supply.” Apparently the “joint(s)” of the body represent those in the ministry. This viewpoint fits the context in that Paul speaks of the five-fold ministry in verses 11, 12. They are the joints of the supply, in that the body is supplied by God with much of what it needs through the ministry.], according to the proper working of each individual part [Here the literal translation given in the margin is strongly to be preferred, especially since we are studying Paul’s use of the word “measure”: “according to the working in [the] MEASURE [metron] of each individual part.” In other words, the Body of Christ cannot fully function and grow as it should without each Christian fulfilling their MEASURE by the grace measured to them.], causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.
In 2 Cor. 10:13 the apostle uses “metron” referring to the MEASURE of his assigned ministry: “But we will not boast beyond our MEASURE, but within the MEASURE [metron] of the sphere which God apportioned to us as a MEASURE [metron], to reach even as far as you.” Paul’s MEASURE included, for one thing, being the primary minister of God to bring the gospel to Corinth (see 2 Cor. 10:15). Let’s look at one last verse that uses metron in a way that will help us understand Paul’s use of this word in Rom. 12:3. John 3:34 says: “For He [the Lord Jesus] whom God [the Father] has sent speaks the words of God; for He [God the Father] gives the Spirit [to the Lord Jesus] WITHOUT MEASURE [metron].” Jesus was the only man (He was much more than just a man; He was the God-man) who was given the Spirit WITHOUT MEASURE. Each Christian is given the Spirit (including the gifts of the Spirit) BY MEASURE.
So then, the word MEASURE here in Rom. 12:3 speaks of the place assigned to each Christian in the Body of Christ. It includes their special assignments and the grace required to fulfill those assignments.]] OF FAITH. [[If we translate the Greek this way (“of faith”), it makes it almost impossible to understand what the apostle is saying here. A translation like “IN (THE) FAITH” is required. It is common for the New Testament to speak of THE FAITH, and sometimes it is necessary to supply the definite article (the) in the English translation when it is not included in the Greek. This is not surprising in that the use of the definite article in Greek is not fully equivalent to its use in English.
I’ll quote several verses that use the words THE FAITH in a way that will help us understand Rom. 12:3. 2 Corinthians 13:5 says: “Test yourselves to see if you are in THE FAITH; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you - unless indeed you fail the test?” Galatians 6:10 says: “So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of THE FAITH.” 1 Timothy 1:2 says: “to Timothy, my true child in (THE) FAITH....” Titus 3:15 says: “All who are with me greet you. Greet those who love us in (THE) FAITH.” The last two references are doubly relevant in that the word “the” was supplied (rightly I believe) before the word faith. (The NASB has “the” in italics, showing that the definite article was not included in the Greek.) And 1 Tim. 3:13 says: “For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a high [good] standing [or, rank, position] and great confidence [or, boldness] IN THE FAITH that is in Christ Jesus.” (The Greek of 1 Tim. 3:13 does not have the definite article before the word faith, but it is required in the English translation. The word faith is clearly made definite [specific] by the added words, “that is in Christ Jesus” in 1 Tim. 3:13.)
To further justify the translation IN THE FAITH here in Rom. 12:3, I should point out that in the Greek of 12:3 there is no word for “of.” (The Greek just has METRON followed by the word for FAITH in the genitive case.) I believe we should supply the word “IN” instead of “of.” (The translation “IN” fits the Greek well.) Every true Christian has been allotted (measured) a measure IN THE FAITH. That is, they have been given a place in the Body of Christ, with each Christian having assignments to fulfill (functions to perform) and the grace necessary to fulfill those assignments. (Instead of saying they have been given a place in the Body of Christ, you could say they have been given a place in the Christian faith/religion. True Christianity embraces all those who have faith in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.)
This understanding of the last part of Rom. 12:3 fits perfectly with the rest of the verse, and, more significantly, it is confirmed by Rom. 12:4-8. (Note that Rom. 12:4-8 is tied to Rom. 12:3 by the “For” at the beginning of Rom. 12:4.) How then should a Christian think of himself so as not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think? He should think of himself exactly in line with the MEASURE God has given him. Also, he has no right to boast of himself in regard to anything he has received from God (cf., e.g., 1 Cor. 1:26-31; 3:5-7; 4:7).
A major point here, which the apostle will amplify in 12:4-8, is that CHRISTIANS MUST BE VERY CAREFUL TO STAY WITHIN THEIR MEASURE. It causes serious strife and confusion in the Body of Christ when, for example, a prophet or a teacher at Rome starts thinking of himself as having equal authority with the apostle Paul (or, even greater authority). For one thing, ministers are not called to compete with one another. That is a manifestation of the flesh. It is very important that every apostle, every prophet, every teacher, every evangelist, every pastor, every elder, every deacon, every Christian, stay within their MEASURE (their measure assigned by God). Otherwise the church will be out of divine order. I believe this is a major problem in the church today. It is rather easy for born-again Christians to think and act in the flesh, instead of in the Holy Spirit. I should emphasize the point that when we try to minister outside of the MEASURE assigned to us by God, we won’t have the grace required to properly fulfill the ministry, and we are sure to make a mess to one degree or another.]] (4) FOR just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, (5) so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. [[In the human body there are many different members, with each member fulfilling their important, God-ordained functions. So it is in the Body of Christ. The MEASURE we have received from God determines what our assignments (functions) are.]] (6) And since we have gifts [“Gifts” is the plural of “charisma,” which is closely related to “charis” (the Greek word for grace). A gift is a manifestation of God’s grace.] that differ according to the grace given to us [THE DIFFERING GRACE/GIFTS GOES WITH THE DIFFERING MEASURES.], let each exercise them accordingly [[I don’t believe these five words which were added by the NASB in italics are fully adequate. Something like the following addition must be understood: Let us exercise them accordingly, BEING VERY CAREFUL TO STAY WITHIN OUR MEASURE. The dominant message of Rom. 12:3-8 is that we shouldn’t think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think (as we will do to the extent that we are conformed to this world/to the extent that we are walking according to the old man); but (with a renewed mind, as we think in agreement with the Word of God by the Holy Spirit, we are to think of ourselves in line with the MEASURE GOD HAS MEASURED TO US, and act accordingly.]]: if prophecy [[Prophesying often goes with the ministry of the prophet, and I believe Paul is thinking of the prophet here. He has already referred to the grace given to him in verse 3, the grace to be an apostle (a very special apostle). In 1 Cor. 12:28 Paul says: “And God has appointed [set] in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers....” Every ministry (every MEASURE) is important, but clearly some are more important than others. It is reasonable for Paul to mention the prophet first out of respect for the prophets at Rome, but it is also true that a prophet at Rome could be one of the most likely persons to think more highly of himself than he ought to think and reject Paul’s apostolic ministry. Compare 1 Cor. 14:37. Anyway, whatever MEASURE (including THE MEASURE of “prophecy”) a person has received, they must be very careful to stay within their measure, as the apostle goes on to say with the following words.]], according to the proportion of his faith [[As I said regarding the translation at the end of verse 3, so here; I don’t believe we could possibly get Paul’s intended meaning from this translation. (The KJV and NIV translations are not any more helpful.) In the first place, the Greek word translated “his” is the definite article, and if we translate it the most literal way, it communicates the intended meaning: THE FAITH. Next we need to see that the word PROPORTION here in verse 6 is equivalent in meaning to the word MEASURE in verse 3. Here’s part of the definition of PROPORTION from “Webster’s New World Dictionary”: “a part, share, or portion, especially in its relation to the whole.” Lastly, it is probably better to translate IN instead of “of,” as in verse 3, but the translation “of” will probably suffice here in verse 6. So, I would translate the last part of verse 6, ACCORDING TO THE PROPORTION IN THE FAITH. If “prophecy” is your part/share/portion/measure (or whatever else your measure is in the faith/in the Body of Christ), then you must faithfully perform your function(s) by grace, being very careful to stay within your part/share/portion/measure. If one with a gift of prophecy (even if he has a powerful and effective ministry as a prophet) decides he wants to function as an apostle, teacher, etc., we are headed for confusion and trouble. Of course it is possible for God to give to one person the MEASURE to be a prophet and a teacher, or a prophet and a pastor, etc.]]; (7) if service [I would translate “ministry” with the KJV instead of “service.” “Ministry” is the way the NASB most often translates this Greek noun.], in his serving [I would translate “in the ministering.” As at the end of verse 6, the word translated “his” is the definite article in Greek and is typically translated “the.” The meaning then (in full agreement with everything the apostle says in 12:3-8) is that whatever ministry constitutes your MEASURE, FAITHFULLY FULFILL YOUR MEASURE BY GOD’S GRACE, BEING VERY CAREFUL TO STAY WITHIN YOUR MEASURE.]; or he who teaches, in his teaching [[I would translate “or he who teaches, in the teaching,” or the equivalent. As above, the word translated “his” by the NASB is the definite article in the Greek. The MEASURE of being a teacher in the Body of Christ (along with the following MEASURE of being an exhorter) is probably listed here as a prime example of ministering. There are, of course, different types of teaching ministries, depending on the measure given by God. The one teaching must faithfully fulfill his ministry by grace and be careful to remain within the MEASURE assigned by God. It is true, of course, that as we are faithful, God can increase our measure.]]; (8) or he who exhorts, in his [the] exhortation; he who gives, with liberality [or, simplicity]; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.” It is interesting that the apostle includes the grace of giving. (You could think of this as a charismatic gift.) Some have special abilities to support the Body of Christ in financial ways. Whatever our MEASURE, it is necessary for us to do our part, and to do it right by the grace of God, being very careful to stay within our MEASURE. We must be careful “not to think more highly of [ourselves] than we ought to think” (Rom. 12:3). If, for example, those with wealth think they have a right to try to force Paul (or any other minister) to preach the gospel according to their will (instead of God’s), we’re headed for big trouble.
It’s good news to know that we - and especially ministers - are not called to compete with one another, but rather to respect and bless one another, in the Body of Christ. We need one another, according to God’s plan. If another Christian fails to fulfill their MEASURE, it is not to our advantage, but to our disadvantage. We are called to put God first and do His will. This includes limiting ourselves to stay within our MEASURE. I have found over the years that many ministers don’t understand the concept of limiting ourselves to our MEASURE. It is true, of course, that we must make sure that we do everything that God calls us to do. When we do things God’s way, it will always work for good!
We’ll discuss Eph. 2:1-10; Acts 15:1-11 in Part 6 of these excerpts.