Every week, on Monday, we will have a blog for you with resources for diving deeper into the sermon.
This past weekend, Pastor Andrew spoke on James 5:13-16 and the idea of prayer and healing. The main idea was this: Prayer is the answer for physical and spiritual sickness. Whether it’s sickness of body or soul the answer is the same.
The theme of verses 13-14 is clear: talking to God is the right response for any situation. We tend to lean towards praying in times of suffering or when things are going well, but James tells us to direct our thoughts to God no matter the situation.
In verse 14, there are four essential words or phrases that we need to have a handle on: (1) among you, (2) sick, (3) elders, and (4) oil. (1) “Among you” refers to Christians within the church. When James refers to praying and anointing with oil, these things are for believers. (2) “Sick” is a hard word to interpret. It can mean physical sickness or spiritual sickness (sin), and in the passage, it probably means both. (3) “Elders” and pastors are the same thing in the New Testament; they are to shepherd the flock. Elders push people to anchor their hope in heaven. (4) The “oil” is a symbol of the healing power of the Holy Spirit. In Mark 6:13, the disciples anointed many people who were sick. The oil is a physical expression of a spiritual reality, used to increase the faith of the one anointed. The oil isn’t special; the symbol is.
Verses 15 and 16 are trying to get us to see that the physical life and the spiritual life are hyper-connected. Physical sickness and sin are connected in the same way that spiritual healing and physical health are connected. James switches up the language to show how connected they are. He says the sick person would be saved and the sinner would be healed. The reason he does this is probably because some people have a tendency to over-spiritualize and others to under-spiritualize these things.
At this point, there are two questions that need to be asked: 1) Does every believer who is prayed over get healed? and 2) Is confession of sin the gateway to healing?
- Yes, absolutely. Believers understand that there will be a time in God’s kingdom when sickness is no more, and they will be restored to full health forever. But because we know that God has the power to do this then, we can pray in faith for him to do it now. He may decide to answer with “not yet,” but then we rest in knowing that his answer will, without a doubt, be yes at some point.
- Yes, physically and spiritually. We confess to God for forgiveness and confess to each other for healing. Spiritual healing and freedom come from the community. These, again, will come in full in the kingdom, but God has placed the power of the Holy Spirit in you and in the believers around you now, so that you can walk in freedom today. If your physical sickness is a result of sin, then confession of that sin will lead to true physical healing.
There is one main application of this text: Pray to God for healing. Our eternal healing only comes through the prayer of faith, and physical healing only comes through the prayer of faith (whether through confession or miraculous healing). There is eternal spiritual and physical death for those who have not come to Christ in faith. But Christ has taken that death in our place if we place our faith in him. Jesus Christ, before his death, was in the Garden of Gethsemane, and he prayed in faith that God’s will would be done in his crucifixion. In the garden, the Righteous Man’s prayer secured both his death and our healing. When you pray to receive him in faith, you receive spiritual healing. Christians must also understand that when we pray in faith for things, God moves. Do we come to God in every situation?
-Alex Nolette (Equip Coordinator/Community Groups)