THE LAST DAYS of the present administration of God's
grace to the nations are upon us. Paul foretold that they would be
perilous (2 Tim.3:1-9). Some will be withdrawing from the faith,
giving heed to deceiving spirits and the teaching of demons (1 Tim.4:1).
In testing any doctrine or practice in these days we should concentrate on
God's special revelation concerning it. There is no question that God can
heal, and did heal many when Christ and His kingdom apostles were on
earth. Indeed, Paul, the apostle of the nations, was one of the greatest
healers of them all.
THE CASE OF PAUL
But that was before Paul had received the truth for
this secret administration. Now our blessings are spiritual and
celestial, not physical or terrestrial (Eph.1:3). This is the basis of
our faith today. How did it work out in Paul's own experience? After this
we do not read of bodily healing, but of the opposite. Even before this,
Paul was given a splinter in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, lest he
should be lifted up. He entreated the Lord thrice, that it should
withdraw from him. But the Lord said, "Sufficient for you is My grace,
for My power in infirmity is being perfected." After that Paul gloried
in his infirmities, that the power of Christ should tabernacle over
him (2 Cor.12:7). This is the truth for today. The figure of a "thorn"
by itself might refer to a spiritual wound, but this is quite impossible
when it is in the flesh.
Paul, near the end of his career, rejoiced in the
unfeigned faith of Timothy, so we should take him as the best model of
the fruits of unfeigned faith for us now (2 Tim.1:5). Alas! He is not.
Moreover, he was warned that "the spirit is saying implicitly, that, in
subsequent eras, some will be withdrawing from the faith, giving heed to
deceiving spirits and the teaching of demons..." (1 Tim.4:1). This should
show us that the experience of Timothy was based on genuine faith, and
suggest that all that is contrary to this may be due to faith in
Why did Paul tell Timothy to use a sip of wine for his
stomach and his frequent infirmities (1 Tim.5:23)? He certainly had
genuine faith! But that is the very reason why he used the wine! God's
grace is sufficient for us, the members of the body of Christ. We have
not been promised physical blessings on earth, but spiritual
blessings among the celestials.
By all means let us believe that "the vow of faith will
be saving the faltering" (James 5:15, CV). But let us also believe that
this was written to the twelve tribes in the dispersion (James 1:1), by
one who was connected with the earthly kingdom, who was not sent to
us, of the nations, as Paul was. The present is a secret administration,
which was not fully revealed even to Paul until he was imprisoned.
Paul wrote to Timothy, "Endeavor to present yourself to
God qualified, correctly cutting the word of truth" (2 Tim.2:15).
Misapplied truth is the most seductive error, because it is found in the
Scriptures, and therefore appeals to those who are His. This is most
important in these last days, for, while we should believe all of God's
Word, we should also apply it as indicated. Most of it is concerned
with God's purpose in regard to the earth in the future. Ours is a
celestial calling with spiritual blessings. It is revealed to the
mature (1 Cor.13) in Paul's prison epistles and in Hebrews. All the rest
of God's Word should be read in this light.
Those who have been healed, or who have witnessed the
healing of others, or have even healed others, are inclined to imagine
that all evil is of the devil and all good is of God. But such marvels are
also accomplished by unbelievers, some of whom ascribe their power to
evil spirits, of which there can be no doubt. As the spirit of God warns
us explicitly that some will give heed to deceiving spirits and the
teaching of demons (1 Tim.4:1), we exhort all who have God's holy spirit
to test such spirit manifestations by these Scriptures which apply to the
The teaching of Paul, the example of Timothy, and the
presence of Luke, the beloved physician, all should show us that
miraculous physical, blessings are not the promised portion to us in the
administration of transcendent grace. We have the much higher privilege of
glorying in infirmities, that the power of Christ may be tabernacling over
us (2 Cor.12:7-10). True faith is not based on the evidence of our
senses, but upon the Word of God.