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Monthly Reflection by
Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC

I have come to set the earth on fire" (Lk 12:49) - Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC

Prayer of the Month

 

Divine Call

The Word of God: the foundation of faith

By Fr George Panackal

“In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God and the Word was God; All things were made through him and without him nothing came to be.” (John 1:1-3) The human intellect has the capacity to absorb the knowledge of the world. But spiritual faith is beyond human intellect. True faith is a grace of God and is built on the power of his Word. His Word is true and unchanging and if our faith does not rest on the great principles and promises of the bible, it may never be able to withstand the tests that will certainly come. The Word of God is the only sure foundation of rational and spiritual faith. Failure to keep our faith comes as a result of a flawed and doubtful belief in the Divine Word.

A woman who had fully embraced this truth and accepted Christ as her healer was immediately strengthened in body and spirit at the Divine Retreat Centre. After attending the retreat her heart was overflowing with the grace of God. She was eager to tell the Good News with everyone and share about her faith and blessings. One such sharing took place with her Parish Priest who strongly objected to her views. He was against her beliefs and told her that the promises on which she was resting her hopes today were only meant for the apostles of the past. She quietly listened, questioned, swayed, yielded and finally abandoned her confidence. After a month, she came back to the retreat centre. She had sunk into such a state of depression that she scarcely admitted to even believing in the Bible. She argued whether all the promises held in the bible were meant only for the apostles of the past?

I invited her to spend time examining the teaching of the Word of God. She went through the promises of healing from Exodus to James. She weighed every question carefully. Eventually, the truth came to light and she admitted that the promises in the scriptures remain unaltered even if the entire world should deny it! In submitting and asking the Lord’s forgiveness for her weakness and unbelief, she renewed her faith and claimed the promises of healing, being sanctified in the baptism of the Holy Spirit. From that day, she had been restored and endowed with all spiritual blessings. The very same pastor, who caused her to stumble, owned up that it was indeed the hand of God at work here. But her restoration and transformation began the moment she fully accepted and rested in the living Word.

Surely God is not pleased when we stray away from his Word. Just one moment of doubt that caused Moses to strike the rock with his staff for water instead of “command the rock”, stripped him off his right to lead the Israelites into the chosen land. Then God declared: “Because you did not trust in me, to show my holiness before the eyes of the Israelites, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.” (Num.20:12). Moses, who had been so faithful, suffered severely for doubting in God’s Word and promise. Yet, God was glorified in a mighty way. Be assured of God’s will Therefore, I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it shall be done for you. (Mark 11:24) We are often too eager to admit Christ’s power to heal. The devil himself admits it! But do our hearts truly admit and believe? God answers a prayer of faith when it is made humbly and sincerely. Any doubt about what we pray for, will surely be an obstacle in the path towards complete healing. Faith is the assurance in things hoped for and the certainty of things unseen (Heb 11:1).

When we pray, we are not simply wishing death and disease away but asking for God to reveal his will, for ‘his plans are to save you and not harm you, plans to give you a future and to give you hope.’ (Jer 29:11) Has God given us any means by which we may know His will? Most assuredly, if in his redemption, Lord Jesus has purchased healing for us, it is God’s will for us to receive it too; for the entire redeeming work of Christ was simply executing the Father’s will. If Jesus has promised it to us, it is the Father’s will that we receive it. And how else can we know His will but by his Word? The Word of God stands as the benchmark. The Word has declared that it is God’s greatest desire to give every person based on what he or she believes. Healing is promised to all who are firm in faith. However, healing flows from the cross and to partake of any of its benefits, we must learn the same obedience that Christ had to the Father’s will- “Let yours and not my will be done.” The will of God is known when our own wishes and desires diminish.

Once, I had the opportunity to pray for a woman quite active in Christian missionary work. She returned a few weeks later saying that she felt no better. Asked if she had believed fully that she would receive healing, the lady replied that she believed in being healed if it was His good pleasure; if not, she was willing to have it otherwise. I told her that when your own Words confirm that it is His pleasure to grant healing, she must ask with full expectation of the blessing and wait for it. Indeed, should we be asking anything of God until we have reason to believe that it is His will? The Word is the intimation of His will. When he has promised it so totally, it is a matter of vexation and mockery to imply a sense of doubt about this ‘willingness’ to grant.

The very next morning, the lady returned and claimed the promise. She told the Lord that now she not only believed that He could, but that He would and did remove the problem. In less than half an hour, an external tumour of considerable size had wholly and visibly disappeared. Often there is a subtle confusion in the prayer, “thy will be done”. Such a petition really expresses the highest measure of divine love and blessing. No kinder thing can come to us than that will. And yet we often take it as an inevitable destiny. We have to say with Job, ‘Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.’ Be made right with God We have to make sure that we are put right with God. If our sickness has come to us on account of any sinful cause, we must repent sincerely and confess our sins, turning back to Him as soon as possible.

If sickness has been a discipline designed to separate us from some evil, let us at once present ourselves to God in honest self-examination and surrender, claiming from Him the grace to sanctify ourselves and keep us holy. A tainted heart becomes a ground for disease. A sanctified spirit is wholesome as it is holy. Make sure that we do not let Satan paralyse our faith by throwing us back on our unworthiness, telling us that we are not good enough to claim healing. We never deserve any of God’s mercies. The only plea is the name, the merits and the righteousness of Christ. But we can renounce all our sin and walk so as to please God. By self examination, we can put away all that God shows us to be wrong. The moment we do this, we are forgiven. ‘If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness’ (1John 1:9) Do not wait for forgiveness or joy, but let your will be wholly turned to God, and believe that you are accepted. Then, ‘draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having your hearts sprinkled to cleanse you from an evil conscience and your body washed with pure water’ (Hebrew 10:22).

When we receive God’s correction and turn to Him with a humble and obedient heart, he may then graciously remove the pain and make the touch of healing a token of his forgiving love. ‘The prayer of faith shall save the sick and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he has committed any sin, they shall be forgiven him. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another that you may be healed’ (James 5:15-16). Often, sickness is moral malaria contracted by infringing on Satan’s territory. We cannot be healed until we step away from the forbidden place and stand again on Holy grounds. Thus, this question of our personal state is a very important element in our healing.

The great purpose of God in all His dealings with us is our highest welfare and our spiritual soundness. To the suffering faithful, therefore, there is no better counsel than the old exhortation from lamentation: ‘The lord is good to those who wait on him… He does not willingly abase to afflict the human race… Let us search and try our ways and turn again to the Lord.’ (Lamentation 3:25, 33, 40). Commit and claim Having been fully persuaded by the Word of God, the will of God and our personal acceptance with God, let us commit our body to God and claim by simple faith His promise of healing in the name of Jesus. Do not merely ask for it, but humbly and firmly claim the healing as His covenant pledge, as our inheritance, as a purchased redemption right. Claim it as something already fully offered us in the gospel and the waiting, only as an acceptance to be made worthy of what is bestowed upon us. For there is a great deal of difference between asking and taking, between expecting and accepting. We must take Christ as our healer not as an experiment, not as a source of future benefit, but as a present reality. We must believe that He does now, according to His promise, touch our life with His almighty hand and bless us with His strength. Do not merely believe that He will do so, but claim and believe that He does touch us and thus begins the work of healing in our body. And then, go forth counting it done, acknowledging and praising Him for it. Before we take the step, we should weigh each question thoroughly and then regard it as forever settled. We should step out solemnly, definitely, irrevocably on new ground. God’s promise is our only backing. The deep conviction that it is forever is important here. This gives great strength and rest to the heart. It closes the door against a thousand doubts and temptations. From that moment, there is no room for doubt. God has become our physician. And he will not give His glory to another.

God has healed and all human attempts to interfere would imply a doubt in the reality of the healing. “He himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by His wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24). I know a cancer patient who was completely cured by claiming His Word and praying repeatedly for four months- “By His wounds I have been healed”. An act of faith that is complete and committal is most powerful. If your faith is tainted with doubt, make special preparations and prayer. Ask God to give you special faith for this act; all your graces must come from God and faith is among them. You have nothing of our own; and even your faith is but the grace of Christ himself. God imparts faith; we simply receive it. This makes the exercise of strong faith a very simple and blessed possibility. Jesus does not say, “Have great faith in yourself”. But He does say, “Have faith of God”.

Faith in God is all-sufficient. We can take Christ for our faith as we took Him for our justification, for our victory over temptations, for our sanctification. We may then rest in the assurance that our faith has not failed to meet the demands of the promise, for it has been Christ’s own faith. We simply trust in His name and present Him our perfect offering, our plea, our faith, our advocate, our righteousness. Our very faith is nothing but simply taking His free gift of grace. Come and claim His promise. And having done so, believe according to His Word that you have received it.

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