Article of Faith: Christian Wishful-Thinking, By Femi Aribisala
Since we are sick, confessing that we are healed is not going to heal us.
I was invited to conduct a ten-day teaching programme at a church in Lagos. Out of the blue, at the beginning of the session, the Lord asked me to lead the congregation in singing a popular Christian song. This continued every day for the first five days of the programme.
Each day, the Lord gave me a song that pertained to the topic at hand. However, every song he gave me turned out to be based on a misunderstanding of the word of God. He would then require me to explain to my audience that the song-writer was not schooled in kingdom dynamics.
The very first song he asked me to sing was given a major boost by the gospel singer, Ron Kenoly. It is entitled: “Whose report will you believe?” It goes something like this: “Whose report will you believe? We shall believe the report of the Lord. His report says I am healed. His report says victory.”
You may well ask what could possibly be wrong with this song. Does the report of the Lord not say we are healed, according to the words of the songwriter? No, it does not! Isaiah says: “By his stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5). He does not say: “By his stripes we have been healed.” Isaiah’s report is actually that we are still terribly sick. He kicks off his ministry with this negative diagnosis: “The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faints. From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it, but wounds and bruises and putrefying sores.” (Isaiah 1:5-6).
Indeed, the report of the Lord does not only say we are sick, it also maintains we will not be healed. Isaiah says our wounds and sores have “not been closed or bound up or soothed with ointment.” (Isaiah 1:6). Jeremiah concurs: “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved! For the hurt of the daughter of my people I am hurt. I am mourning; astonishment has taken hold of me. Is there no balm in Gilead, is there no physician there? Why then is there no recovery for the health of the daughter of my people?” (Jeremiah 8:20-22).
In spite of Jesus’ healing ministry, the Jews remained unhealed. Those healed in the body were not healed in the soul. John says: “Although (Jesus) had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in him, that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke: “Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” (John 12:37-38). As it was in the days of Isaiah and Jesus, so it is today.
The report of the Lord says we are gravely sick and identifies Jesus as our healer. However, if we don’t admit we are sick, we cannot be healed. Indeed, if we don’t know we are sick, we would not even go to see the doctor. Accordingly, Jesus says: “For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind.” (John 9:39). If we don’t admit we are sick, the question of our healing becomes merely academic.
The prophecy that we will not be healed is fulfilled because we continue to fool ourselves that “by his stripes we have been healed.” Thus, God told Isaiah: “Tell my people this: ‘You will hear my words, but you will not understand. You will see what I do, but you will not perceive its meaning.’ Harden the hearts of these people. Close their ears, and shut their eyes. That way, they will not see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn to me for healing.” (Isaiah 6:9-10).
For this reason, Jesus would sometimes stand in front of a sick man and ask him: “What would you like me to do for you?” (Mark 10:51). If the man asked for healing, that would be acknowledgement that he agreed with the report that he was sick. Or Jesus might ask: “Would you like to be healed?” (John 5:6). The question is not as impertinent as it might seem. Most sick people don’t want to be healed. Most sinners don’t want to be sinless. The sickness or sin is a lifestyle.
If the man asked for healing, Jesus might then ask him: “Do you believe I am able to do this?” (Matthew 9:28). We are back full circle here to the question of Isaiah. “Do you believe the report of Isaiah? Do you believe you are sick? Do you believe I am Jesus the Messiah? Do you believe I can make you stop telling lies; make you stop fornicating; make you stop being covetous? Have you received the heart of a believer?”
Therefore, the mistake of the song-writer is in writing a wishful-thinking song, in direct contradiction of biblical prophecy. The prophecy says we are not healed but the song-writer says we are healed. Precisely because we sing songs claiming we are healed when we are actually chronically sick with sin, we are making sure we will not ask Jesus for healing. We are making sure we will remain sick. We are making sure the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says we will not be healed.
The Lord’s hospital
The church is a hospital. Imagine you walked into the General Hospital, only to find all the patients singing at the top of their lungs: “God’s report says we are healed.” After that, some took their last gasps and died. Others remained in hospital as sick as ever. Would you not have concluded you were in a psychiatric ward?
That is how we Christians fool ourselves today. Since we are sick, confessing that we are healed is not going to heal us. God says in Jeremiah: “You can’t heal a wound by saying it’s not there!” (Jeremiah 6:14). That is why Isaiah says of Israel: “These people are stubborn rebels who refuse to pay any attention to the LORD’s instructions. They tell the prophets, ‘Shut up! We don’t want any more of your reports.’ They say, ‘Don’t tell us the truth. Tell us nice things. Tell us lies.’” (Isaiah 30:9-10).
This word is applicable to Christians today who are inclined to abuse and insult anyone who dares to identify the transgressions of the church. Instead, in the modern-day church-service, a gathering of pick-pockets, liars, cheats, fornicators, adulterers; in short, people in varying degrees of sin, jump up and down singing: “His report says we are healed.” Who are we fooling? The truth is that we are yet to be healed of sin. With the result that we come to church sick and go back home sick. In cases, we remain in the same sin-sickness for thirty-eight years, going from bad to worse. (John 5:5).
Jesus says of our futile bible studies: “You search the Scriptures for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of me. But you are not willing to come to me that you may have life.” (John 5:39-40).