By Brandon Adams
Roger Williams led the 17th century charge for religious liberty (“liberty of conscience”). He wrote to parliament and the Westminster Assembly urging for tolerance and he wrote two books interacting with New England Congregationalist John Cotton’s arguments for intolerance.
One of the arguments Williams appealed to was that Israel was a type of the Church. Therefore we cannot simply take penal sanctions from the Old Covenant and apply them to modern nations today. Of course the Presbyterians disagreed and argued that Israel was itself the church so the penal sanctions do apply today in the same way (because there was a separation between church and state in Israel, so the church is structured after Israel’s ecclesiastical hierarchy and the modern state after Israel’s civil laws).
Williams wrote The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution and the follow-up The Bloudy Tenent Yet More Bloudy in the form of a dialogue between Peace and Truth. I modernized the spelling.
Read the entire article here.
It is easy to bring an accusation against others, claiming that they have taught something or do teach something which is contrary to scripture. Misrepresenting someones position concerning what they believe and teach seems quite common in our society today. This is nothing new however, and will continue till Christ comes. Nevertheless, it is one thing to accuse someone of something, but is quite another thing to prove that accusation. In this article I want to show that the charge brought against what I have written is a false charge and lacks any proof backing it up.
Therefore, I am writing this response against the charge of ‘Replacement Theology’ brought against me by a blogger who blogs over at ‘The Return of Benjamin.’ The blogger uses the term ‘Supersessionism’ against me and then turns around and equates everything under that term to what I have written.
First, let us begin by stating that the Bible is the only infallible, inerrant, authoritative source of divine revelation. In other words, all questions concerning doctrine should be drawn out of scripture alone. Therefore, I stand upon the hermeneutical principle of ‘sola Scriptura’. I also stand upon the hermeneutical principle known as analogia fide or the analogy of faith. This hermeneutical principle simply stated means that scripture interprets scripture. Also when I stated that all questions concerning doctrine should be drawn out of scripture, I mean that we are to exegete the text. Exegesis means to draw out of the text of scripture what it states. The opposite of this is eisegesis or the reading into the text what is not there. Finally, no doctrine should be developed on any one single scripture, but our doctrines are to be developed while considering the entire scope of Divine revelation. (1)
Secondly, let us also begin by defining the term Supersessionism. Seeing that the word is not defined in many older theological dictionaries, shows that the term must be of recent origin. So I turned to Theopedia.com to define it.
“1.Supersessionism is the traditional Christian belief that Christianity is the fulfillment of Biblical Judaism and therefore Jews who deny that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah fall short of their calling as God’s Chosen people.
2.Supersessionism, in its more radical form, maintains that the Jews are no longer considered to be God’s Chosen people in any sense. This understanding is generally termed ‘replacement theology.’”
If the first definition is correct, then certainly the Bible itself teaches this view. Jesus himself taught this view, Mat 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. Also Paul stated that the things written in the Old Testament were for us, Rom 4:23-24 Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead… Rom 15:4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.1 Co 9:9-10 For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen? Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: 1Co 10:11 Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.
And Peter proclaims that the things that the Old Testament Israelites ministered, they ministered unto us 1Pe 1:12 Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.
These things were types and shadows, until Christ should come, of whom is the realty of what the entire Old Testament pointed. I shall later show that the modern day Rabbis use the same hermeneutical principle that I use.
One of the errors that the writer at ‘The Return of Benjamin’ made was to accuse me of the more radical form of the word, as defined above, even though I wrote against that radical definition. The radical form of Supersessionism is the term ‘Replacement Theology.’
Before I begin showing what the scriptures teach concerning ‘Who is Israel’, I will deal with a couple of ‘The Return of Benjamin’s’ statements:
Okay, this got my interest. I’ve debated subjects with those of a Covenant Theology persuasion before, but this is the first time that I’ve heard someone claim that Supersessionism (their preferred term) isn’t what they believe in. So what does the author believe?
As I have shown above, the author at ‘The Return of Benjamin’ uses the radical definition of the term Supersessionism to read my article. He takes everything under that term and equates it with everything that I have had to say on this subject. He also uses the term Dispensationalism, over and against Supersessionism and equates everything under that heading with a single term. This is erroneous. He acts as if he can use either term, in the singular, and grasp every concept under that single term. This shows that he hasn’t understood either position. Just as the term Supersessionism has been modified and many branches have come off it, even so the term Dispensationalism has been modified and many branches have come off of it. If he would do his research, then he would find that the term Dispensationalism has undergone radical changes, so that today we have what is called the Progressive Dispensationalists. These ‘Progressives’ have moved toward covenant theology.
Secondly, he states that Supersessionism is (their preferred term). By stating “their preferred term,” he means that it is our or my preferred term. However, you would think that someone who is writing a book would have at least given a few names of scholars and theologians who prefer this term. I have within my own library over 20,000 books, essays, and articles from a Covenantal Reformed perspective and none of these books, essays, or articles contain that word. I also have within my own personal library over 20,000 mp3’s from Covenantal Reformed Seminaries, Churches, and Conferences around the world. I carry four mp3 players with me everyday and listen to these mp3’s all day long and none of these speakers use this term.
So whose preferred term is it anyway? I would say that it is the preferred term of the author at ‘The Return of Benjamin’ who understands neither Supersessionism, nor Dispensationalism.
Finally, the author at the blog ‘The Return of Benjamin’ stated: this is the first time that I’ve heard someone claim that Supersessionism (their preferred term) isn’t what they believe in. Yet I didn’t even use that word in my entire original post that he was writing against. I was writing against the radical form of the word Supersessionism. So his accusation falls short because he can’t prove his accusation, seeing that the term Supersessionism was never used in my article.
At first I found this interesting, since it bore some resemblance to my own Adoption Theology. Since part of my purpose in developing Adoption Theology was the hope of providing some middle ground between the extremes of Supersessionism and Dispensationalism, finding a similar theological thread in the Reform tradition would be exciting.
The author of the post at ‘The Return of Benjamin’ hopes to find some middle ground between Supersessionism and Dispensationalism and this is why I state that the author doesn’t know either position. Little unbeknownst to him Dispensationalism has created that middle ground already. Today’s dispensationalists have moved towards the Reformed covenantal approach to scripture. The progressive dispensationalists have left some of what classical dispensationalism taught.
Secondly, the author at ‘The Return of Benjamin’ states plainly that he has developed a new theological system known as Adoption Theology. He has searched, hoping to find a similar theological thread in the Reform tradition. I will correct this error by quoting from R. C. Sproul:
“Although tradition does not rule our interpretation, it does guide it. If upon reading a particular passage you have come up with an interpretation that has escaped the notice of every other Christian for two-thousand years, or has been championed by universally recognized heretics, chances are pretty good that you had better abandon your interpretation.”
In other words, if the author of ‘The Return of Benjamin’ has developed a new theology and can’t find anyone throughout church history who has touched on it, then maybe it is because that theological interpretation of scripture, doesn’t exist in scripture. This is one reason why Dispensationalism is erroneous. No one until Darby ever came to the conclusion, by reading scripture, that God had a separate plan for Israel and the Church. Of course, I can disprove Dispensationalism without ever appealing to this argument.
Finally, I want to touch on the subject of the fact that the author of ‘The Return of Benjamin’ is trying to develop a middle position between Supersessionism and Dispensationalism. (2)
It is possible that both Supersessionism (the first definition given) and Dispensationalism are both false. Yet it is impossible or against logic for them both to be true. So if Supersessionism is true (the first definition given), then Dispensationalism is false. If Dispensationalism is true, then Supersessionism is false. So if one is true and the other is false, then to develop a middle ground position would be an amalgamation of the two and it would also be false. Augustine and Pelagius debated concerning God’s grace and man’s ability. Augustine was right and Pelagius was wrong. However, a few years later Cassian tried to develop a middle position between the two. If Augustine was right, then both Pelagius and Cassian were wrong. Semi-Pelagianism is also erroneous. During the Reformation the Protestants held to Augustine’s position and the Roman Catholics held to Cassian’s position (some would argue that Rome held to Pelagius’ position) and so Arminius’ students sought middle ground. If Rome was wrong, then Arminianism is also wrong.
Look at that key phrase: “God has cut off natural Israel.” All of it, apparently. Not a single thought given to the Messianic Jews who still identify with national Israel, as Paul did (Rom. 11:1). And to fulfill the promise, God has replaced, superseded, or, as the author puts it “engrafted Gentiles into Israel.” Now, we have no problem with the concept of “engrafting,” but there is a difference between grafting new branches onto a tree and replacing every single branch in the tree! One will enrich the tree, giving it a longer life, while the other will certainly kill it!
The author at ‘The Return of Benjamin’ has missed the point. According to him he believes that natural Israel is going to be saved. If my opponent would use the hermeneutical principle known as analogia fide or the analogy of faith, then he would not fall into this error. Simply stated the analogy of faith means that scripture interprets scripture. If I can show several scriptures that plainly state that natural Jews, those who are non-elect will not be saved, then I have proven my point. Is there any scriptures that state this? Absolutely! Only those who have been converted are part of True Israel and those only have been and will be saved.
1Co 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
The natural man receives not the things of God, neither can he know them.
Rom 11:7 What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded.
Non-elect Israelites were blinded and have been cut off. Just as non-elect Gentiles will not inherit the kingdom.
The author of ‘The Return of Benjamin’ is more dispensational in his thinking over and against his new system of ‘Adoption Theology.’ He believes that genetic birth gives someone a right to God’s eternal kingdom. This is erroneous. The new birth is given only to those of whom God has chosen in Christ.
Joh 1:11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
Joh 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
Joh 1:13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
Notice that Christ came to his own and they all did not receive him. Nevertheless, those who did receive him, he gave power to become the sons of God. John tells us plainly that there were some Israelites who received Christ. But notice verse 13. They did not receive him or were not born again by the Holy Spirit based upon blood (natural DNA or genetics), nor because they willed it, nor because man willed it, but because God did.
My post never stated that God would replace every branch on the tree. This is why I stated that you argue as a dispensationalists. You only quote what you want to based upon your dispensational system. I know you claim to have developed some middle ground, but that claim is spurious to say the least. Had you not held to dispensational tendencies then you would have also quoted what I said here.
A quote from my article: So Hosea is told that natural, unbelieving Israel is cut off, nevertheless the faithful in Israel will still be part of Israel according to Paul in Romans 9.
Why did you miss this? It is because your dispensational views only allowed you to see what you thought was against your system. You stated and I quote:
Not a single thought given to the Messianic Jews who still identify with national Israel, as Paul did (Rom. 11:1).
So my article, that you were writing against, did not contain one single thought that was given to the Messianic Jews who still identify with national Israel. Humbug! Poppycock! Your dispensational views only blinded you to what you wanted to see.
Those messianic Jews that have come to faith would be willing to forsake their identification with today’s Israel if they were reading their Bibles. As I shall later show, the Judaism in existence today within the nation Israel, is nothing more than Babylonian occultism. Did any Messianic Jews stand around and identify themselves with the Israel of their day when it was leveled to the ground? No! All the Christians, both Jews and Gentiles fled when Rome seized the city of Jerusalem. They all remembered the prophecy given by Christ, wherein he told them: Mt 24: 15-16 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains…..Not a Christian one was killed in this event.
At no time does Paul say that the Gentiles become Israel, meaning the Jewish people, but rather that they are “citizens” of Israel the same way that he himself was a citizen of Rome. They are children of Abraham by adoption through Yeshua, yes, but Ishmael, Esau, and the children of Keturah were all children of Abraham–and yet none of them were Israel.
Again, my friend, you do not know the scriptures nor the power of God. If I can show one single verse that states that anyone who is circumcised in the heart is a Jew and show that those who have faith in Christ are Abraham’s seed, then your argument collapses. But remember, I stated that no doctrine should be developed upon any one single scripture. So I will use several.
A true Jew is not one who is circumcised in the flesh. This circumcision profits nothing. Remember Paul stated that fleshly circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God 1 Cor 7:19. (Which if one is circumcised in the heart, then they will strive to keep these commandments of God)
Rom 2:24 For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written.
Rom 2:25 For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision.
Rom 2:26 Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision?
Rom 2:28 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:
Rom 2:29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.
So if a Gentile is regenerated by the Holy Spirit and keeps the righteousness of the law, then his circumcision in the heart is counted as circumcision, even though he isn’t circumcised in the flesh. He is also a True Jew. A true Jew has been brought into the kingdom by the Holy Spirit and the circumcision of the heart. This includes Israelites and Gentiles.
Gal 3:26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
Gal 3:27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
Gal 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
Gal 3:29 And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Paul told the Gentiles at Galatia that they were Abraham’s seed and they were heirs according to the promise. Natural lineage does not make someone an heir to the Abrahamic promises, but fulfilling the conditions of the covenant did.
Jesus is the True Israelite and the only heir to all the Abrahamic promises. Can I prove this? Yes I can.
Gal 3:16 Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.
The promises were not made to ‘seeds’ plural, but to one ‘seed’, singular. The promises were made to Jesus Christ, the greatest of all Abraham’s descendants and the only one worthy to inherit the promises because he fulfilled all the conditional aspects of the covenant.
Therefore anyone in Christ is a co-heir of those promises.
Rom 8:17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ
Gal 3:29 And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Secondly, I want to point out that your arguments are weak. You state: At no time does Paul say that the Gentiles become Israel, meaning the Jewish people, but rather that they are “citizens” of Israel the same way that he himself was a citizen of Rome.
I would like to state that your dispensationalism is showing again because this is a weak argument in the fact that, even though Paul was not a natural Roman by Genetics, nevertheless he was a Roman. I have a neighbor who married a woman from the Philippines. She had to obtain citizenship to come to this country. She got her green card and now she can be called an American. She didn’t have to be born here to be an American.
Thirdly, you state: They are children of Abraham by adoption through Yeshua, yes, but Ishmael, Esau, and the children of Keturah were all children of Abraham–and yet none of them were Israel.
You are correct. The promise wasn’t through any of those such as Esau, the children of Keturah or Ishmael. But the promise was through Isaac. Follow Romans 9 out where Paul is arguing that there is an Israel within Israel or a True spiritual Israel inside natural Israel and he brings his arguments to a conclusion by stating:
Rom 9:22 What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:
Rom 9:23 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,
Rom 9:24 Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?
Rom 9:25 As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved.
Rom 9:26 And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God.
Paul even quotes Hosea, the same passage of scripture on which my original article was based.
Finally, here are several scriptures showing that redeemed Gentiles are, not only citizens, but Israelites.
Eph 2:19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God
Eph 3:4 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)
Eph 3:5 Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;
Eph 3:6 That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:
Then Paul closes his letter to the Gentiles at Galatia by saying:
Gal 6:16 And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.
Paul can’t be referring to unbelieving Israel when he states that peace and mercy will be on as many as walk according to this rule and then calls them the Israel of God. Unbelieving Israel wouldn’t walking according to that rule during his life. This scripture ties back to Romans 9:
Rom 9:6 Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:
Rom 9:7 Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.
Rom 9:8 That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.
True Israel is contrasted with natural Israel. They are not all Israel (fleshly), which are of Israel (spiritual). Neither are they Abraham’s children just because they were of his natural seed.
You see in my article I stated that God cut off natural Israel and you accuse me of ‘Replacement Theology’. Yet Paul states that those which are the children of the flesh (natural Israel) ARE NOT THE CHILDREN OF GOD. I guess Paul held to Supersessionism also.
Stay tuned for my next article: Replacement Theology 3: Who is not Israel according to Christ and the Apostles?
(1) Of course, we interpret within the context of the paragraph, chapter, and book the scripture we are examining is found. But also the entire scope of special revelation has to be kept in mind while forming doctrines.
(2) I would contend that the author at “The Return of Benjamin’ doesn’t hold to some new system of theology that he has developed. But instead, holds to dispensationalism. It is prevalent within his own thinking.
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This past weekend the eschatological thriller Left Behind opened in theaters. It joins a flood of Christian movies this year including Exodus, Son of God, God’s Not Dead, Heaven Is for Real, and Noah. Okay, let’s not count Noah.
Yet Left Behind stands out among this surge of Christian films, not just because it stars Nicholas Cage, and not just because it’s based on the wildly successful Left Behind novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. Perhaps more than the other films, Left Behind captures believers’ imagination because it portrays a future, world-changing event: the secret rapture, that moment Jesus suddenly snatches up all Christians to himself years prior to his visible second coming.
As producer and writer Paul LaLonde put it, “It’s a Bible-based movie, it’s a biblical story, it’s a true story—it just hasn’t happened yet.” As a result, it can cause us to wonder, What will it be like when all the Christians suddenly disappear? How close are we to the rapture? Will I be taken or left behind?
But there’s another question we should ask, one that may surprise you: “Is the rapture taught in the Bible?” It may come as a shock to learn that many Bible-believing Christians today doubt the rapture, and that most Christians throughout history had never even heard of it.
Read the entire article here.
Fourth, there is the grotesque idea of the Dispensationalists. These is a class of men who pose as being exceptionally enlightened, and under the guise of “rightly dividing the Word of Truth” arbitrarily partition the Scriptures, affirming “this is not for us,” “that does not pertain to this present era of Grace,” “that relates to the Tribulation period,” “this will be fulfilled in the Millennium.” Because the opening verse of James reads, “To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greetings,” these robbers of God’s children declare this epistle is “entirely Jewish;” as well might they reason that the first epistle of Paul is designed only for Papists because it is addressed “To all that be in Rome” (Romans 1:1). The epistle of James belongs to all the “beloved brethren,” to all born-again souls (1:16, 18). It is surely striking that the very passage we are here considering (5:14-16) comes right between a reference to Job (a Gentile) who endured patiently his affliction and found the Lord to be “pitiful and of tender mercy” (v. 11) and to Elijah who is described as “a man subject to like passions as we are” yet mighty in prayer (v. 17)—as though the Spirit was anticipating and refuting this mad notion.
Now where such widely-different interpretations are given of a passage, it usually follows that the true one lies somewhere between two extremes, and such we believe is the case here. We are very loathe to regard our passage as being an obsolete one, that it refers to something which pertained only to the apostolic age and relates not at all to us. When referring to the Papish travesty of this “anointing with oil” Thomas Goodwin said, “The Reformed churches seeing that such a sacrament could not be and this must needs be a perversion of it, did justly reject it, only in rejecting it (as in some other things) they went too far, even denying it to have that use of restoring the sick as a seal of the promise, and an indefinite means to convey that blessing which God in mercy hath appointed it to be.” We are strongly inclined to agree with this eminent Puritan that the churches which grew out of the Reformation went too far when they set aside this passage as containing Divine directions to be followed by Gospel churches throughout this Christian era. Such a sweeping conclusion needs qualifying.
The knotty point to be settled is, how far and at which points is this qualification to be made? Personally we believe the general principle and promise of the passage holds good for all generations seasons of great spiritual declension and deadness only excepted. In normal times it is the privilege of the saint—when seriously ill, or suffering great pain, and not on every light occasion—to send for the “elders” (pastors, ministers) of the local Gospel church to which he belongs, for they who preach God’s Word to him should surely be the fittest to spread his case before Him: cf. Job 42:8. They are to pray over him, commending him to the mercy of God and seeking recovery for him if that be according to the Divine will: whether or not the “anointing with oil” should accompany the praying is a detail on which we are not prepared to dogmatize; but where the sick one desires it, his request should be complied with. The kind of oil is not specified, though most likely olive oil was used in the first century.
It should be pointed out that those promises of God which relate to temporal and eternal mercies are quite different from those pertaining to spiritual and eternal things, the former being general and indefinite and not unconditional and absolute as are many of the latter, and therefore as God reserves to Himself the freedom to make them good when, as, and to whom He pleases, we must ask in full submission to His sovereign pleasure. To illustrate: if I am starting out on a journey I ask God to preserve me from all harm and danger if that be His holy will (Romans 1:10), but I make no such proviso when I request Him to deliver me from those who assault my soul (2 Timothy 4:18). Thus “the prayer of faith” here is not a definite expectation that God will heal, but a peaceful assurance that He will do that which is most for His glory and the sick one good. That the promise of <590515>James 5:15 is an indefinite and not an absolute one is clear from this consideration: if it were not so, he could continually claim the promise and so never die— the “and IF he have committed sins” further confirms the indefiniteness of what is here in view.
Some are likely to object against what has been pointed out in the last paragraph and say, But faith must have a foundation to rest upon, and it has none other than the Word of God: if then there be here no definite promise to lay hold of and plead before God, the “prayer of faith” is impossible, for there is no assurance the sick one will be healed. That may sound very plausible and pious, yet it is wrong. There is a faith of reliance and submission as well as a faith of expectation. There is no higher, no stronger, no grander faith than one which has such confidence in the wisdom and goodness of God as leads me to present my case to Him and say “Do as seemeth Thee good.” It is always a help when we can plead a promise, but God is greater than all His promises and where some specific need or emergency be not covered by some express promise, faith may count upon the mercy and power of God Himself— this is what Abraham did: Hebrews 11:19!
Personally we greatly fear that there are very few “elders” now left on earth whom it would be any good to send for in an emergency: only those living close to God and blessed with strong faith would be of any use. This is a day of “small things,” nevertheless the Lord remains unchanged and ready to show Himself strong on behalf of those who walk uprightly. Though there be no spiritual elders available, yet God is accessible; seek unto Him, and if He grants you the “prayer of faith” then healing is certain either by natural means or by supernatural intervention. “The Lord is undoubtedly present with His people to assist them in all ages, and when necessary He heals their diseases as much as He did in ancient times; but He does not display those miraculous powers or dispense miracles by the hands of apostles, because that gift was only of temporary duration” (Calvin)
“Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed” (v. 16). Here the scope of our passage is widened: in verse 13 the afflicted or tried one is to pray for himself, in verse 14 the ministers are to pray for the one seriously sick, now fellow-Christians are to pray for each other. But first they are bidden to confess their faults one to another, which does not mean revealing the secrets of their hearts or acquainting their brethren with that which is suited only for the ear of God: but cases where they have tempted or injured one another or consented to the same evil act—tattling, for example. A mutual acknowledgement of those faults which cause coldness and estrangement, exciting one another to repentance for the same, promotes the spirit of prayer and fellowship, The “healing” here is also wider, referring primarily to that of the soul (Psalm 41:4) and breaches (Hebrews 12:13), being the term used in 1 Peter 2:24, yet also includes removal of physical chastisements.
Arthur W. Pink-Divine Healing-Is It Scriptural?
“For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit, and in much assurance” (1 Thessalonians 1:5).
That is very much more than having the mind informed or the emotions stirred, and something radically different from being deeply impressed by the preacher’s oratory, earnestness, etc. It is for the preaching of the Gospel to be accompanied by the supernatural operation of the Spirit, and the efficacious grace of God, so that souls are Divinely quickened, convicted, converted, delivered from the dominion of sin and Satan. When the Word is applied by the Spirit to a person, it acts like the entrance of a two-edged sword into his inner man, piercing, wounding, slaying his self complacency and self-righteousness—as in the case of Saul of Tarsus (Romans 7:9,10). This is the “demonstration of the Spirit” (1 Corinthians 2:4), whereby He gives proof of the Truth by the effects produced in the individual to which it is sayingly applied, so that he has “much assurance”—i.e. he knows it is God’s Word because of the radical and permanent change wrought in him.
Now the child of God is in daily need of this gracious working of the Holy Spirit: to make the Word work “effectually” (1 Thessalonians 2:13) within his soul and truly regulate his life, so that he can thankfully acknowledge,
“I will never forget Thy precepts: for with them Thou hast quickened me” (Psalm 119:93).
For that quickening it is his duty and privilege to pray (verses 25, 37, 40, 88, 107, 149, etc.). It is a fervent request that he may be “renewed day by day” in the inner man (2 Corinthians 4:16), that he may be “strengthened with might by His Spirit” (Ephesians 3:16), that he may be revived and animated to go in the path of God’s commandments (Psalm 119:35). It is an earnest petition that his heart may be awed by a continual sense of God’s majesty, and melted by a realization of His goodness, so that he may see light in God’s light, recognizing the evil in things forbidden and the blessedness of the things enjoined. “Quicken Thou me” is a prayer for vitalizing grace, that he may be taught to profit (Isaiah 48:17), for the increasing of his faith, the strengthening of his expectations, the firing of his zeal. It is equivalent to “draw me, we will run after Thee” (Song of Solomon 1:4).
Arthur W. Pink The Application of Scriptures-A Study of Dispensationalism