From the book, What People Ask About The Church, by Dale A. Robbins
Calling for the elders of the church refers to the request by one
who is ill, for the church ministers to come anoint them with oil, and pray for them.
"Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them
pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith
will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will
be forgiven" (James 5:14-15).
It should be noted that the sick person is the one who initiates the
invitation to the elders. This suggests that while the afflicted party certainly needs the
added strength of the elders prayer and faith, yet the afflicted must also have faith
at least enough to call for the church leaders to come and pray. The technology of
the telephone has made it much easier to "call" for the elders than it once was.
Usually the elders will also lay their hands on the sick during the
anointing and prayer. This was a very common act by Jesus and his Apostles when they
prayed for people (Luke 4:40, Acts 14:3), and He especially exhorted His followers to
emulate this procedure when administering healing. "...they will lay hands on the
sick, and they will recover" (Mark 16:18).
The oil referred to by James has no medicinal effect or mystical
powers, but is only used as a symbol of the Holy Spirit. Neither must we necessarily
assume that a conductive power flows out from the elders' hands into the sick body. There
are no definite, scientific reasons for any of these acts, except they are matters of
obedience to God's Word expressions of faith to which God promises to respond.
"...the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up."
The passage in James' epistle also makes another interesting
reference. Besides providing a strong assurance of healing, he says, "...And if he
has committed sins, he will be forgiven" (James 5:15). Throughout the Bible, this
unique relationship between "healing" and "forgiveness" is frequently
repeated. Such as with the Psalmist, who refers to healing as one of the believer's
benefits, as well as the forgiveness of sins. "Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget
not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases"
Healing has an interwoven relationship with forgiveness. The word
"salvation" so frequently used in the New Testament, comes from the Greek,
SOTERIA, which literally means "wholeness and healing, both in the physical and
spiritual." Furthermore, on one occasion, Jesus explained that this was one of the
great reasons why he cured the sick so they would know He also has power to save
them. "For which is easier, to say, Your sins are forgiven you, or to say, Arise and
walk? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins; then
He said to the paralytic, Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house" (Matt.
Healing is considered one of the many attributes which were
appropriated by the atonement of our suffering savior. Jesus not only purchased the
salvation of our soul, but His sufferings also procured our physical healing. "Surely
He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by
God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our
iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are
healed" (Isa. 53:4-5). Healing is a gift which was paid for by Christ's
substitutionary act, and is also listed as one of nine spiritual gifts given to the church
(1 Cor. 12:9).
Sometimes people question whether healing is really God's will.
However, a noted physician once said: "I've become convinced that no one seriously
doubts God's will to heal. If they really believed He wanted them sick, why would they try
to evade His will by coming to see me? And what do you suppose I could do for them if it
wasn't His will for them to get well?"
Perhaps God's will is best revealed by Jesus' earthly ministry, of
which the New Testament records eleven occasions where Jesus was approached for healing.
Not once did He turn anyone away or express that it was not His will. This is significant
since the Bible is designed to show God's will, and gave us our foundation for faith (Rom.
10:17). In one instance, a leper came to Jesus inquiring whether it was His will to heal
him. "Lord, if it is your will you can heal me, he said. In response, Jesus extended
his hand and said, it's my will; be healed! And the man's leprosy vanished" (Matt.
Finally, one of the most remarkable endorsements of healing is expressed through God's very name. Historically, the names of many people were derived from their trade, occupation or descriptive characteristics. For instance, those named "Smith" came from generations of blacksmiths. It was also a good way for a person to advertise his trade, "I'm Walter the Smith." Similarly, God identifies His own name by what He does. In the Old Testament, He says that His name is JEHOVAH RAHPA, or, "I am the LORD who heals you" (Ex. 15:26). This is a convincing testimony of God's will and nature regarding healing. How could He express His desire more clearly than to identify himself by the name, "I'm The Lord that heals you?" Not only does it convey His will It's His very name. "Healing" is who He is and what He does.
This article is copyrighted © by Dale A. Robbins, 1995, and is a publication of Victorious Publications, Grass Valley, CA 95949. Unless otherwise stated, all scripture references were taken from The New King James Bible, © Thomas Nelson Inc., 1982.You may download for personal use as long as you retain credit to the author. Obtain permission before reproducing copies for any reason, by filling out our simple permission form. For media reproduction rights, or to obtain published quantities of this title, .
If you liked this article, youll really love the whole book!