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Divine Healing (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
by John G. Lake
January 30, 1914
If there is something wrong with a man’s spirit, he goes directly to God, but the next day he has a pain in his back, and he goes down the road to the doctor’s. Where do you get your right to do such a thing?
There is a wretched looseness about consecration to God. Christians do not seem to know what consecration to God means. What would you think of Jesus Christ, if you saw Him going down the road and into a doctor’s office for some dope? Why, you would feel like apologizing for the Lord, wouldn’t you? Well, He has just as much reason to apologize for you. When you became a Christian with a consecrated body, soul, and spirit, your privilege of running to the doctor was cut off forevermore.
“Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). This young man who testified says he suffers because of an appetite for cigarettes, and he hopes that we will pray so that the next time he wants to smoke he won’t. I tell you, God says, “Quit your sins and then come to Me, and I will pardon.” He doesn’t say, “You come on with your sins, and I will pardon you.” He says, “You quit your meanness, you quit fooling with the doctor and the devil, you quit your secret habits and come to Me, and I will deliver you.” That is the only road to God; that is the way in God.
So a Christian’s consecration is not just a consecration of his spirit to God, not of his soul to God. It’s a consecration of body and soul and spirit—the entire man, everything there is of us—and it cuts us forever plumb off from looking for help from the flesh, the world, or the devil.
There are three enemies of man: the world, the flesh, and the devil. Our nature has three departments: spirit and soul and body. What would you think of the Christian who would go to the devil or to some deceitful spirit to find balm for his spirit? Why, you would think he was not a Christian at all, nor would he be. Suppose a man wants peace for his soul (mind), and he appeals to the spirit of the world or the flesh to get it. You would not think he was a Christian at all. Then how will you consider a man who wants healing for his body and goes to the world and man to get it?
I am going to preach to you for five minutes out of the fifth [chapter] of James. He is very explicit in this matter. He is not laying down rules for the people of the world. He is talking straight to the Christians. “Is any among you [Christians] afflicted? let him pray” (James 5:13), not “let him go to the devil or the doctor or some human source.”
“Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church” (verse 14) means this: if you have prayed and deliverance has not come, unquestionably it is a weakness of your faith. You need help. Then the next thing is, “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” (James 5:14).
When I was preaching in Washington, D.C., recently, an old sister said she had anointed her little girl the night before and she had put a whole bottle full of oil all over her. So you see, she was not looking to God to heal; she expected the anointing oil to heal. Satan is a subtle old devil, but the Lord gives us fight. He says not the anointing of oil, but “the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up” (verse 15). That is why I never use oil except when requested to do so, because people are looking to the anointing oil instead of to the Lord God. “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 shall save the sick,” not the anointing oil. The use of anointing oil is a matter of obedience. It is a symbol of the Spirit of God, and that is all it is. So we place upon the individual the anointing oil in order that we fulfill the symbol of the Spirit of God as the Healer, and that is all.
“The prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him” (verse 15). Thus, he goes on and makes the teaching broader.
One of the beautiful things about the gospel of Jesus Christ is that it is progressive in its revelation and application. First, we were asked to pray if we are afflicted. Second, we were asked to call for the elders. Then, the Lord goes down to the real business in a man’s heart. “Confess your faults one to another” (James 5:16). Get your old tattling, blatting tongue tied up, and confess to the other party that you have been tattling.
If all the Christians had that gag in their mouths, there would not be half as much shouting in the meetings as there is. Now listen, I don’t want to pound people on the head, but I want to teach you a lesson. Here is the broad principle of the gospel: “Confess your faults.”
When I went to Africa, I had the advantage of getting on absolutely new ground that no one had spoiled with a lot of loose teaching. In this country, our people have been slobbered over with teaching that doesn’t amount to anything, and they wobble this way and that way, “like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.” And God says, “Let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord” (James 1:6–7).
One day, as a young man, God brought me in to see my own need when I needed healing from heaven. There was nobody to pray for me, and I was not even a Christian in the best sense of being a Christian. I was a member of a Methodist church, but I had seen God heal one dear soul, who was very dear to me. As I sat alone one day, I said, “Lord, I am finished with the doctor and with the devil. I am finished with the world and the flesh, and from today I lean on the arm of God.” I committed myself to God; and God almighty, right there and then, though there was no sign of healing or anything else, accepted my consecration to Him. That disease that had stuck on my life and almost killed me for nearly nine years was gone. It was chronic constipation. I would take three ounces of castor oil at a single dose, three times a week.
The place of strength and the place of victory is the place of consecration to God. It is when a man shuts his teeth and says, “I go with God this way,” that victory is going to come.
My! This wobbling business makes one think of the old Irish woman who was on a ship in a storm. When the ship rolled one way, she would say, “O good Lord,” and when the ship would plunge to the other side, she would say, “Good devil.” When someone asked her why she did that, she said, “Why, how can I tell into whose arms I will fall?”
May the Lord wake us up in our souls and get us out of this wobbly state and get us where we all commit ourselves once and for all and forever to almighty God, and then live by it and die by it.
People say, like the dear soul last night who sent word to the meeting, “I am very sick, and if I don’t get deliverance, I will have to do something.” Why, sure you can do something—you can die. You ought to die instead of insulting and denying the Lord Jesus Christ and turning your back on Him. People say, “I can’t die.” Yes, you can, if you are not a coward, but you cannot sin. And it is just as much a sin to commit your body to the Lord Jesus Christ and then to turn to the doctor as it is to go and commit adultery or any other sin. It is a violation of your consecration to God.
Make a consecration to God and stand by that and live by that and be willing to die by that. Then you will grow up into God, where your faith is active enough to get answers to prayer.
There is no man who lives and has the ministry of healing that could pray for all the sick people. There are so many of them. Why, you come to an assembly like this, and every old saint who has a stomachache will come and ask you to pray for them, and there is no time for anything else. God wants us to grow up into Him where we get answers to prayer for ourselves. Then, if there is an extreme case and your faith is broken, confess your faults one to another and get the rest of the people to pray for you; and then in the extreme cases, send for the elders of the church—that is the mind of God.
In the twelfth chapter of 1 Corinthians, the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit are enumerated.
For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues.(1 Corinthians 12:8–10)
These are the gifts or enablements that are given by God to certain [ones] in the church. Now, here is a thought I want to leave with you. We go over into Ephesians, and we see a different order: not the gifts of enablements are mentioned, but the gifts in this case are individuals. It is men to whom God has given definite ministries.
And in the church of Jesus Christ not only should the gifts exist, but also the faith to use them. And they do exist if they are developed, and they are workable when the faith in your heart is made active to use them. But you can have the gifts right out of heaven, and if the faith in your heart is not active, you cannot operate them.
There is only one prayer that is answered. It is not prayer that is answered but the prayer of faith. It is the prayer of faith that shall save the sick. Believing prayer is not much noise. Believing prayer may not be any noise at all. Believing prayer is a committing, an intelligent committing of yourself to God; and your mind is stayed in God and your heart is stayed in God and you are walking in God. You are ready to die rather than go to anyone but God. That is the real believing prayer. That is the continuous prayer. That is prevailing prayer. Blessed be God!
So in Ephesians, the Word of God tells us that there are some apostles, some prophets, some teachers, some evangelists, and some pastors. (See Ephesians 4:11.) These are God’s gifts, these men—not gifts as they are mentioned in Corinthians, but men are mentioned in Ephesians—and the men with ministries are God’s gift to the church until such time as they shall all come, the entire body of Christ, into the unity of the faith, into the likeness of Jesus Christ, into the measure of the stature of the Son of God. “Till we all come” (Ephesians 4:12), not one or two. Blessed be His precious name!
These things will demonstrate to you how far we are behind the gospel ideal. We are so far behind. A few years ago, many commonly believed that when the baptism of the Holy Ghost was being poured out upon the world, that we were the particular little lot who were to be the bride of Christ and go with Him when He came. But pretty soon it began to dawn on those who looked into the Word that there was not even a tangible body of Christ yet. The body of Christ is the members called of God, united in one spirit and in one hope of their calling—blessed be God—with one Lord, one faith, and one baptism. That is the body. Then all the other developments, the bride, and all the rest of it are born out of the body. (See Ephesians 4:2–6.)
God is getting a body at this present time, and in the body of Christ, the orderly body of Christ, the unified body, He wants to bring it forth today. He has set His gifts: the word of wisdom, knowledge, faith, gifts of healing, etc. He has set likewise men: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers.
For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the statute of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:12–13)
Now healing is not a difficult matter. It does not take a bit more faith to be healed from your sickness than it does to be saved from your sins. The only difference is that in your own consciousness, you knew there was no place to get forgiveness except from God. You had sense enough to know you could not get it from the devil; you had to get it from the Lord.
But your body gets sick and your consciousness, because of your education, permits you to go to the doctor or the sorcerers or the devil, and the one is just as offensive to God as the other. The Christian body and soul and spirit are one [unit]. A real Christian has committed his whole being unto the living God; he has consecrated himself to Jesus Christ with all the fullness that Jesus consecrated Himself to the Father at the river Jordan. He was baptized. He consecrated Himself unto the uttermost, unto “all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15), unto everything that was right, unto the will of God forever. Blessed be His name.
Now there are examples in the Word of God that are very striking along this line. You listen to the Word of God: “Cursed be the man that trusteth in man” (Jeremiah 17:5). Talk about your running to the doctor. That is what the Lord thinks about it. “Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord.” And the Word of God in the fourteenth [chapter] of 2 Chronicles gives us a most remarkable example of Asa, the king of Israel, who trusted God when the great armies of their enemies came up against them. He went down on his knees before God, and he said,
Lord, it is nothing with thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power: help us, O Lord our God; for we rest on thee, and in thy name we go against this multitude O Lord, thou art our God; let no man prevail against thee. (2 Chronicles 14:11)
Their little handful of men conquered the whole mob.
But after a while, Asa got a disease in his feet, and the Word says his disease became exceeding great; and in his disease he trusted not the Lord, but the physicians; and Asa died. It is recorded against him as an offense against God that he failed to trust God for the disease in his feet, but instead trusted the physicians. (See 2 Chronicles 16:12–13.)
Somebody says, “Well, all right, I will commit myself to the Lord, and then of course, I will not have any more stomachache. I will just be kept, etc.” Maybe you will if your faith in God stands strong enough, and perhaps you won’t if it does not. But there is one thing that stands—that is, your consecration to God. If your faith fails, it does not make any difference; you stand consecrated to God just the same. If you do not get an answer to prayer, you are consecrated to God just the same; and if God almighty has got to let the devil thrash you half to death for a week or two months or longer, you take it until the [fault] that the Lord is after is out of your life and faith has conquered. Then you will learn obedience to God by the things you suffer. (See Hebrews 5:8.) That is the only way.
People go around cursing the devil all the time. [When] you go in the ways of the devil, you get crooked in your soul and proud in your heart, and that cuts you off from God, and you are left in the hands of the devil. The wisest thing to do with you is just like I did with one of my sons. I said, “Young man, you just take your own way until you bump your head against the wall.” When he was hurt almost to death, he was glad to come back to his old dad to be helped out.
We know the Word of God so well, so in our proud hearts we say, “We have been baptized in the Holy Ghost,” and all that kind of attitude. It is just as offensive to God as it can be, and God has just got to draw back His hand and let you go, like I did my son. And then you will come down with some old disease, and you will lay and fret and fume and cry until you get right with God and open your heart to God; then He will rebuke the devourer, and He will take the thing away. Bless God.
I used to be a member of a church where it was considered just as offensive to take medicine or go to the doctor as it was to go to the devil for health. The Christian who would run to a doctor was on a level with the adulterer or the thief. That is absolutely right. That is according to the Word of God. A whole consecration of your whole being—your body and soul and spirit—is what Jesus demands. It is what Jesus asks and, bless God, that is the only place that is worthwhile.
We go around talking and shouting about the almighty Christ and what He can do and what He is, etc. But the first time we get a stomachache, away we go to the doctor and get a dose, and the almighty Christ gets a slap in the face.
Beloved, you listen to me. If there are any people in all the world who ought to be taught of God, who ought to be walking with God, who ought to be consecrated to all the will of God, it is the Christian people, especially those who are baptized in the Holy Ghost. It ought to be absolutely unnecessary for any man at this day to even speak of these things in a public service. We ought to have been so committed from the first day to the Lord Jesus Christ that the committing of ourselves to any man for anything would be highly offensive to our spirits. And if we saw our brother or sister becoming weak and falling into the hands of man, our prayer and love and faith and sympathy ought to get under them as though they were falling into the habit of drinking whiskey again.
It is just as offensive for the Christian to take medicine as for the drunkard to take whiskey. Don’t you see, beloved, the great wonderful advantage in the Christian’s life of becoming cut clear and free from all dependence on the arm of man? You are cut forever from the world, from the flesh, from the devil. Bless God.
I had a friend in Africa who was greatly distressed because he could not learn to swim. Finally, one day he got drunk and walked off the docks into the sea at Cape Town into about five hundred feet of water, and he could swim after that, all right.
Don’t you see, beloved, that you will never have faith in God in the world until you launch out into God, until you commit yourself to God and then either live or die? I belong to God; I am done with man, and I am done with leaning on his arm.
I know what these things are. In my home I had seven children. They were born without medicine. One dear brother testified the other night that the Lord had kept disease out of the home. It was not that way in mine. There wasn’t a devilish thing that came down the road that my family did not get, from pneumonia, smallpox, and typhoid fever to a shooting accident, and God let us be tested right up and down the line.
It is one thing to get down on your knees and say, “I commit my body, my soul, my spirit to God,” and it is another thing to stand by your baby until you hear it gasp, and it is another thing to close its eyes in death if necessary, but I am not going back on my Lord. That is the kind of training I got, and that is the clearness in faith my heart cries out for.
Maybe in another generation we will have a multitude of people who stand in God like giants, and we can have a manifestation of the sons of God and take the world for God and crown the Christ King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
Now, I do not preach to anybody else what I have not been through myself. I tell you, the Lord has let me go through the mill. One time I got inflammatory rheumatism, and for nine months I suffered. I guess I did. But I shut my teeth and I said, “You devil, you can’t put me in bed; I won’t go,” and I dragged myself home, and I would get in bed and feel like crying out in my agony. At the end of nine months, God had wrought one thing in my heart: that if I died, the devil would not get me to take medicine again. One day I felt in my spirit I needed help. There was nobody there that could pray for me. So I got on a train and went to Chicago to John Alexander Dowie. One day there was a company of people like this, and when I came along, it was so packed full I could not even look into the door. After a while, there were some other people who couldn’t get in. Finally an old man, an elder, came along and prayed for us out there; and as he did, I was healed from the crown of my head to the soles of my feet. Years after, he told me that was the only healing he ever had that he knew about.
I often wondered if the virtue came through the old brother or not, but God met my faith. Do you not see, to commit yourself to God means something? I tell you, it is probably going to mean some suffering someday, but that is the way of clearness, the way of truth. That is the way you can look every man in the face and say, “I am not leaning on the arm of flesh; I am going God’s way.”
We are such a weak, wobbly lot in these latter days. God is just trying to get some backbone in us. We come along and are baptized, and about a week after, we can find them doing all sorts of things. The Christians in the old days came down to be baptized, and as they did so, a Roman officer took their names and sent them up to Rome. Instantly their citizenship was canceled, their right of protection from Roman government was cut off, their goods were confiscated, and they were left as prey to the avarice of the people, but they got baptized just the same. Bless God.
I tell you, that is the kind of people that thirty million of them gave their lives to God in the first four centuries and were blotted out of the world in various ways. Thirty million of them! There was some Christian spirit, and there was some consecration to God in those days. It was poverty or death or sickness or prison or anything else, but it was God’s way of consecration. I tell you, God will meet that kind of thing. If they lived, all right, and if they died, all right. They belonged to God, and the world ever since, for 1400 years, looks back with pride to that list of people who gave themselves to the Lord God. They put the stamp of character on the Christian world. Bless God.
All the heroes, bless God, did not live back there either. You come down to the history of Scotland, to the Covenanters. They wrote a covenant and said, “We will have nae King but Jesus,” and you can see the old Scottish man shut his teeth and, opening a vein in his arm, sign the covenant with his own blood. And three hundred thousand of them gave their lives then to make that covenant good and died saying, “We will have nae King but Jesus.”
Now you listen to me. I will guarantee to you that if there are fifty sick people in this room, and you commit yourselves to God in that spirit and with that reality, bless God, you won’t need anybody to pray for you. You will just get well. Bless God. The devil cannot come around you when that kind of thing is in your soul.
One of my sons was dying with pneumonia once. I prayed for that fellow, and I prayed for him, and it was not a bit of good. But one day I was downtown, and I was praying about that boy, and the Lord said, “You go home and confess your sins to your wife.”
And I said, “I will.” I stopped and got one of the old elders to come down to my house. As we rode along, we talked together, and I said, “I have some things I want to fix up with my wife before you pray. There have been all kinds of prayer, but He won’t hear.” So I took my wife in the other room and told her the whole business, all there was; and we went into the other room and prayed for that son, and he was healed in a second.
I want to tell you that when Christians are not healed, as a rule, you get digging around and get the Holy Ghost to help you; and when they have vomited out all the stuff, they will get the healing.
You listen to me. Healing comes straight down from God. All man is, is a medium through which God can work. God is a Spirit; He needs embodiment. He chooses man as a body. The church is the body. “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16). There is something that gets into your spirit or into your body that is obstructing the free flow of the Spirit of God. Get that thing out; it is between you and God.
I tell you, when you line people up so they will trust God for their bodies as they do for their souls, there will not be one half the backsliding there is now. I was a member of a body of one hundred thousand people, and I never heard of such a thing as any of them backsliding. They stood for God, and they died for God. The character was in them, and they did not know half as much about God as we do by the revelation of the Spirit in these days.
I am twice as anxious this afternoon about this great body of people here, to know whether or not they are going to commit themselves clear in God, than I am about the sick. There may be dozens in this room who are so very sick that they need God. But, beloved, listen. Suppose one of them was not healed and the rest were made clear in their consecration to God; you would have a bigger demonstration.
As fast as you get them healed, the Christians without Christ’s consecration are down in their faith and becoming sick. After a while, a preacher gets to be a kind of doctor of saints in his little assembly. God does not want it. Get clear; get straight in your consecration to God. Put yourself body and soul and spirit forever in God’s hands. Do it today, bless God. Do it today.
How ashamed a Christian ought to be that he is trusting in the arm of flesh or in a medicine bottle somewhere around the house! You go home and gather up the abominable stuff and put it in the alley box [a garbage pail] and then apologize to the alley box.
You cannot tell me anything about medicine. There never was a bigger humbug practiced on mankind than the practice of medicine. The biggest men in the medical world have declared it over and over again, but the mob does not pay any attention to it.
Professor Douglas McLaggen, who had the chair of medical jurisprudence, stood up among one thousand students, when asked to lecture on the science of medicine, and he said, “I am an honest man, and ‘An honest man is the noblest work of God’; from the days of Hippocrates and Galen until now, we have been stumbling in the dark, from diagnosis to [illegible].” Sir Ashley Cooper, who was physician to Queen Victoria for twenty-five years, the greatest physician in Great Britain, said, “The science of medicine is founded upon conjecture and improved by murder.” Dr. Magendie of Paris, who has the greatest system of diagnosis in the world, said, “We take up the attention of the patient with our medicine, while nature cuts in and makes a cure.” But you cannot tell a third-rate American doctor that.
Yet, the Christian world turns its back on the Son of God and goes and puts itself in the hands of men. No man who ever lived, or ever will live, will ever reduce the subject of medicine to a science. No two doses of medicine will ever produce the same effect in your own person. You can take a dose of medicine today and another tomorrow, and you will have a different effect tomorrow than you had today.
That may be all right for the world. Why, the man who is not a Christian has got to have a physician of some kind, but the Christian can’t. God cut the privilege off long ago. Bless God. “Is any sick among you [Christians]? Let him call for the elders of the church” (James 5:14). That is all the privilege the Word of God gives him. That is the way in to God, on the line of divine healing. Bless God.
Bless God, I tell you, I am just looking for the day when there will be a great, blessed, true company of men and women in this world who will stand in this through the living God just as clear as crystal, who have cut clear off from the world, the flesh, and the devil. That is the characteristic of the church of Philadelphia all right.
God has let me see healings in every way that human eyes can see them. I have seen them come like the flash of lightning. I have seen the Spirit of God flash around the room, just like the lightning. God was there in lightning form, and the devils were cast out and the sick healed. I have seen God come as the tender bud when nobody knew He was there, and people were healed. I have seen people healed in the audiences when cancers would melt away and varicose veins were healed. Nobody prayed for them. They just put themselves in the hands of God. That is all.
There is no man who lives who can define the operations of faith in a man’s heart. But there is one thing we are sure of: that when we cut ourselves off from every other help, we never find the Lord Jesus Christ to fail. If there is any failure, it is our failure, not God’s. Bless God.
Finis, Thank God