Naaman and the Man of God
John G. Lake
(At the beginning of the service Dr. Lake called a young lady to the platform by the name of Celia Prentice. She had been healed of a short leg.)
Mr. Lake then spoke:
This girl is seventeen years old now. She was born paralyzed from the waist down. When nine years old, a surgeon made a lot of steel braces, by which she was able to brace herself and stand and walk with crutches. The left leg was two inches shorter from birth. She came for prayer and in ten days from the time she was first ministered to, the leg had grown to normal length. She wore a shoe with a two inch sole and a peculiar upper.
In this case there was a creative action. The leg two inches short becomes normal by the touch of God. How marvelously this illustrates the power of God in the souls of men. People say, “I was born with this weakness, or that weakness.” Or “I have this mental tendency, or that mental tendency,” just as if they should remain that way forever; as if there were no God; as if His business were not to restore their personality, body, soul, and spirit, and bring them into the likeness of Jesus Christ the Perfect man.
You see instant healings and gradual healings, just as you see instant conversion and those who have to be gradually enlightened. How many of you knew all about the fullness of Christ’s salvation when you were converted? How many have lived without making any progress since the Lord forgave you? If I were going to quarrel with the church at large, it would be because they perpetuate infancy. People are born of God, and then remain babes. That is not God’s ideal.
I have preached the Gospel about thirty-four years, and about nine of those years without knowing Christ as the Healer. Consequently, life has had some experiences and particularly along the line of Divine healing and the Baptism of the Holy Ghost, which have characterized my ministry. Hence, I speak from experience.
“Now Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master, and honorable, because by him the Lord had given deliverance unto Syria: he was also a mighty man of valour, but he was a leper.” 2 Kings 5.
Naaman was your General Pershing, your General Haig, your Foch or Hindenburg. He was a conqueror and had delivered Syria from the bondage of the nations about them. He was a mighty man of valour but he was a leper. This tells us a sad story. Then through the testimony of a brave little maid, his master learned about the fact of the power of God to heal in the land of Israel.”
I want to touch a phase of Divine healing that I feel is neglected. I feel that the Lord is misrepresented. I feel that many Divine healing teachers have not grown up into the stature in Christ where they take the position that the Lord ascribes to them in the Word of God. There is a continual effort to shift all the responsibility on the other party. And when they cannot do this successfully, they try to throw it back on God. Don’t you know that this is the attitude to which unbelief and lack of faith have brought the church?
In the early church the normal method was to call for the elders of the church. They would anoint with oil and the prayer of faith would save the sick. The person would be healed, and if had committed sin, it would be forgiven him. When the early Christians anointed, they prayed the prayer of faith. It was figurative that right there and then the benefits and powers of the Cross of Jesus Christ were made available to the soul, and by the actual touch of the oil, represent the living Spirit of God as thus present to perform the healing.
After awhile the church backslid, then traded away the gifts of god, sold the gift of the Holy Ghost, drifted into formality, came up through a thousand years of the Dark Ages, getting darker and darker, until when Martin Luther came, the Christian world had lost consciousness of the truth of salvation by faith. The church had substituted a human creation called “penance.”
That was the only conception of salvation left. Martin Luther’s whole message was, “The just shall live by faith.” It was a revelation of God. Salvation not by penances, but by faith in the living Son of God. One cannot imagine how it was possible for the church to have drifted away into such a condition. It shows how far the church has drifted from the pure ideal of the Lord Jesus Christ and apostolic times. We have a long road to come back. We are only infants. The greatest of spiritual men are but infants prattling around on the shores of the great sea of eternal light, life and power, compared to what the early church actually possessed and revealed.
Well, when they lost faith they had to substitute something else. The elders and the priests continued to pray for the sick, but they had no faith in their souls and the individual died. They prayed for another and he died. Imagine the condition of the church and the elders after once having been anointed with the glory and the power of God. Now the power had departed, but still the elder goes through the ceremony. He anoints with oil, and he prays but nothing happens. So the church came to the relief of such, and they took that beautiful ceremony of the anointing with oil and the prayer of faith, and they changed it into what is known as “the sacrament of extreme unction.” They took away the conception of healing and made it a ceremony of consolation for the dying.
Beloved, the Protestant Church was born in no greater faith than that. The Protestant Church under Martin Luther was born with a faith for the salvation of men’s souls, but there they put up the bars. Philip Melanchton is a lonely example of healing, more through Luther’s despair than his faith.
In the life of Wesley, advance was made. Wesley records two hundred and forty cases of healing in his writings, of every class of disease. He regarded these deliverances apparently as a triumph of human faith, emphasizing the thought that man’s extremity was God’s opportunity,
That is not the true basis of healing. It is not because a man is in need. It is because it is the Divine purpose of Jesus Christ to redeem mankind from all sin and the consequences of sin. Sickness being the consequence of sin, and death being the consequence of sin, are ascribed by the Lord to the devil. Death was not the servant of God, but an enemy, and Jesus Christ is going to destroy death. “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” Bless God, that is the Divine consummation. Then sinlessness, sicklessness and deathlessness shall be abolished in the world. “No man shall say, know the Lord, for they all shall know him from the least to the greatest.”
And when sickness is gone, there will be no more drugs and operations. No more rattling of clods on coffin lids, for, “Death is swallowed up in victory.” That is why Jesus Christ died. There was never any other standard for the church of Jesus Christ than that of dominion over sickness. Let us keep the standard high, where Jesus placed it. I want you to keep that fact forever clear, that the purpose of Christ’s redemption is sinlessness, sicklessness and ultimately deathlessness. Bless God, that is His ideal for man. A man to be as perfect as Jesus Christ was perfect. Matthew 5:48. We may never get one half or one quarter of the way toward the ideal. But never try to degrade God’s purpose and bring it down to your level. But by the Grace of God put the standard up there where Jesus put it, and then get as near it as you can.
After the church lost faith in God, they began to lie about God. They came to a man’s bedside and said, “Your sickness is the Will of God.” Well, it is the work of the devil, and in the ultimate sense every death that ever took place was the work of the devil. Even at the crucifixion Jesus said, “This is your hours, and the power of darkness.” Christ died in substitutionary consequence of the law of sin, and not in consequence of the law of life. When Jesus Christy finally puts His mighty power into action, and brings the abolition of death into manifestation, sin, sickness, and death are done forever.
Old Job started an error about the Will of God. A cyclone came from the wilderness and took the lives of his sons. He then said, “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord.” Only in the permissive sense is such a statement true. The Scriptures distinctly show that it was Satan who went forth from the presence of the Lord and caused these things to happen. But the world has perpetuated that lie, and many a preacher uses it in the burial service, and tries to stamp it on the impressionable mind of man.
My surprise is not that there are so few healed, but that anybody, under the circumstances, is healed. For 1400 years men have erred about the Will of God, until the world is almost infidel as the result of it.
Moses came down to the Red Sea. The mountains were impassable on the right hand and on the left. Pharaoh’s armies were following him down the Pass. He had two million men, women, and children on his hands. The Red Sea was in front of him. When he got to the Red Sea he stopped and did just what you do, and everyone else tries to do when they get into a hard place—back up and begin to pray. So instead of walking into the water and stretching out his rod, he backed up and began to pray. And the Lord went after him. That is one occasion when the Lord rebuked a man for praying. So many try to crawl out by praying. And the Lord said to Moses:
“Wherefore criest thou unto me? Speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward: But lift up they rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, and divide it.” Exodus. 14:15, 16.
In other words, “Moses you divide it.” Our prayer is, “Now Lord, you come and heal this man.” Don’t you see the mistake? It was not the way that Peter healed. Peter met the lame man and said, “Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.” Acts 3:6. Bless God, Peter had something to give. It was God’s power.
God Almighty laid the responsibility on the individual who knows God, not on the other fellow.
A young man came to me with tuberculosis. He said, “Mr. Lake, I am a tubercular man. I have been passed up by the doctors. I have heard that people were healed here but I have no faith.” I answered, “Well dear boy, if you haven’t I have. I know God. I am a child of God.” The Christian is the one who ought to have faith. This was the attitude of the early church. “Go and heal them,” said Jesus. And they went and healed them. This young man is now one of our preachers.
Do not throw the responsibility entirely on the other person. If he has no faith, give him some.
Instruct him, give him the Word of God. Jesus ministered the faith of God in His teaching services so that people were able to receive healing. The Spirit of God ministered by Jesus was effective to produce faith in the souls of men and heal them too. Healing for the body, soul, and spirit.
Queen Wilhelmina of Holland entered the state of motherhood six times, but was never able to carry the child to maturity. All the science of Europe could not bring the child to birth. There was a dear lady in our congregation in South Africa who had formerly been a nurse of Queen Wilhelmina. Her son was marvelously healed when dying of African fever, when he had been unconscious for six weeks.
Being a friend of the queen, she wrote the story of her son’s healing, and after some correspondence we received a written request that we pray God that she might be a real mother. I brought her letter before the congregation one Sunday night, and the congregation went down to prayer. And before I arose from my knees, I turned around and said, “All right mother, you write and tell the queen, God has heard our prayer; she will bear a child.” Less than a year later the child was born, the present Princess Julianna of Holland. Kings and queens are only men and women. They need the redemption of Jesus and are a mighty poor article without it. “And it was so, when Elisha the man of God had heard that the king of Israel had rent his clothes, that he sent unto the king, saying . . . let him come now to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.”
Don’t you know that more and more I feel that we preachers have too apologetic an attitude. We sort of apologize to the world. We have so many niceties that we are afraid to state that we are men of God. We have all sorts of cunning little ways, and we call them niceties. There is not the realization of the dignity and responsibility that should be evident in the man of God. Actually we are sidestepping.
There is a better place of Christian boldness than that, and before we can take the world for Jesus Christ, we will assume a different attitude toward sin, and darkness, and hell.
“So Naaman came with his horses and with his chariot, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha. And Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean. But Naaman was wroth, and went away and said . . . Are not the Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the rivers of Israel? May I not wash in them, and be clean?” 2 Kings 5:9-12.
It was not the waters of Jordan that would make him clean. It was obedience to Almighty God. People have not learned that lesson very well. A man came in not long ago, and as I prayed I said, “You come in every day for the next thirty days, and if you do you will be well.” So he came for a week and then got lazy and did not come again. In about two months he returned again, and I said, “When you get ready to obey God, I will pray for you again. I told you to come every day for thirty days.” He said, “I came for eight days.” Well, God let that fellow come for twenty-nine days. His healing was complete on the twenty-ninth day. But a lot of other things happened before that. He got under conviction for sin and found that there was a God in heaven, and there was something else in life beside getting a well body.
God needs some time to get things worked out in our souls.
The most unsatisfactory character of healings are our instant healings. In most cases you have a healed baby on your hands, and you have to run around with a nursing bottle for a year or two to get them straightened out and going on with God strong and clear.
Faith is not a spasmodic impulse. It is the attitude of the soul. It is the set of your spirit. There is a verse that I like very much:
“One ship goes east another west,
By the selfsame gale that blows.
Tis not the gale, but the set of the sail
That determines which way it goes.”
You set your soul toward God, knowing that the Blood of Jesus Christ hath made provision for your redemption from sin and sickness, and pursue it until you find it.
In our African work we have a native man by the name of Edward Lion. When he first came to us he was a raw Zulu heathen, and wore a goat skin apron eight inches square, as his sole raiment. He was converted, and about a year and a half afterward was baptized in the Holy Ghost. On Christmas Eve of 1912 in Basutoland, South Africa, we served the Lord ’s Supper to seventy-five lepers healed under that man’s ministry.
“And his servants came near . . . and said, My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldst thou not have done it? How much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash and be clean? Then went he down and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.”
I was conducting a Divine healing meeting in Wakerstrom, South Africa, when they brought in sixty-five sick people. We stood them in line and prayed for them one by one as they went by. Sixty out of the sixty-five were healed. Five were not healed. I wanted to interview these five, so we took them one at a time. I asked, “What is the difficulty? Is there any reason that you know of that you were not healed?” One man confessed to adultery, and when he repented to God we prayed again, and he was instantly healed. A woman confessed to being a persistent thief. We charged her and accepted her pledge to God that she would go and confess and make restitution as far as was possible. She was healed the moment that she made that confession and agreement with God.
“If our hearts condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.” You do not have to pump faith into a man when his sin is taken away and his disobedience is gone, bless God. Then the pathway is made clear. We took four hours to deal with those five people, but I had the gratification of writing in my diary: “We prayed for sixty-five people and every one was healed.”
We do not know much about the Gifts of the Spirit yet. During the life of my late wife, she had the Gift of Discernment in a greater degree than I did. As I prayed for people, if they were not healed, I passed them on into another room; and when the crowd was off my hands, I would call my wife in. She would lay her hands on an individual and say, “At such and such a time you committed a sin.” Probably to another she would say, “The Lord shows me that the particular difficulty is so and so.” And when they got the matter settled with God, we would pray again, and the Lord healed them.
Beloved, the mere fact of the presence of the Gifts of Healing and the Baptism of the Holy Ghost is not evidence of God’s full purposes. The ministry of the Holy Ghost is set forth in the nine gifts of the Holy Ghost. And we have been looking for a church that has it entirely. I am glad that we can see that since the coming of the blessed Baptism of the Holy Ghost all these things are becoming real to the Christian church. For the first fifteen years of my ministry I was considered as an insane man, a fanatic, because of the fact that God had revealed the ministry of healing and used me in that ministry.
Now a whole lot of you are like a dear woman who has been coming here. She came the other day and said, “Mr. Lake, I have been prayed for three times and I do not think that I am any better.” I answered, “I do not think that you will ever be any better until something happens in your life. You came with the thought of experimenting with God, and if you are not healed you could go and be operated on.
Now if your consecration to God does not mean any more to you than that, you are only playing with God. God wants you to cut clear.”
Consecration means something. Jesus Christ went down to the Jordan and gave His Body, Soul and Spirit forever to God. Jesus gave the one and perfect pattern for Christian consecration for all time. He gave His Body, Soul and Spirit to God once and forever and then lived it.
That is the reason that the day I invited Jesus Christ to come into my heart and become my physicians, I have trusted no other since. We represent the kingdom of heaven and the living God, and to reveal them to mankind is what we live for and stand for and are ready to die for. Bless God.