The word “atonement” means “satisfaction or reparation for a wrong or injury.” It means that someone is paying a penalty because of wrongdoing.
Nearly 2,000 years ago, around the year 33 A.D., Jesus the Messiah was beaten and crucified. We are told in many places in the bible that this was an act of “atonement.”
When Jesus suffered and died, He was “making atonement.” He was “paying a penalty for wrongdoing.” But He was not paying a penalty for His own wrongdoing. He did not have any “wrongdoing” of His own that needed to be paid for. He was paying the penalty for our wrongdoing. As an act of love, He took the consequences of the sin of mankind on Himself and paid the penalty so that we don’t have to.
The consequences of sin, according to Genesis 2:17 and Deuteronomy 28, include physical and spiritual death, sickness, and a lot of other bad things. Those are the things that man brought upon himself when Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, and allowed the influence of Satan and sin to come into our lives. The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). And sickness is just incremental death.
So now that we have some context, let us look at one of the places in the Bible where the “atonement” and its effects are described.
Isaiah 53:4-5 (NRSV)
Surely he has borne our infirmities
and carried our diseases;
yet we accounted him stricken,
struck down by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions,
crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the punishment that made us whole,
and by his bruises we are healed.
In this passage, the Holy Spirit has spoken a message to us through Isaiah the prophet that is very important to understand. The message includes these facts:
- Jesus bore our sins so that we don’t have to
- Jesus bore our health problems so that we don’t have to
When Jesus was beaten and crucified, He purchased our forgiveness and our healing. He took the punishment and curse that we had coming to us, and in return gave us the blessings that were coming to Him.
He did this voluntarily. He wasn’t forced to do it, and He did not do it in response to our prayers. He decided to do it before we even knew it was available. He did it because He wanted to. It was his idea. He chose to do it. In the Bible it is worded this way in Hebrews 12:2
Hebrews 12:2 – looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Jesus endured the cross because of “joy that was set before Him.” When He died on the cross, He took the penalty that we deserved. This gave Him joy. Think about this. It gave Jesus joy to know that we would be set free from the hold of sin and sickness. He was not doing it reluctantly. It was because of joy.
When we look at it in this light, it should give us great confidence that God’s will is to save, forgive, and heal. Number one, Jesus already paid for all of it. Number two, it gave Him great joy to do so.
If someone desires to receive forgiveness and salvation, then we know that God wants to forgive and save them because Jesus already paid for it. We never wonder whether or not it is God’s will to save someone that is coming to Him for salvation and forgiveness.
And since salvation and physical healing were paid for at the same time in same way by the same “person” then we should look at healing the same way we do salvation. We should never wonder about God’s will in healing because Jesus paid for it at the same time that He paid for our forgiveness.
If God is willing to save people that need to be saved, then He is also just as willing to heal people that need to be healed. God’s will is not one of the variables involved in determining if a person is saved or healed or both. His will is constant, not variable. He wants people saved, and He wants people healed.
There are many variables involved in a person getting saved, and there are many variables involved in a person getting healed. But we should never look at God’s will as if it is variable in these areas. It is constant. Salvation and healing are the will of God.
But doesn’t the healing in Isaiah refer to “spiritual healing?”
There are some people that argue that this passage is referring to either a spiritual healing, or to an “ultimate healing” that occurs when our physical life ends, and we receive a new body that we have for eternity.
I have three points to make in response to this line of thinking.
Number 1 – Salvation is not “spiritual healing.” Your spirit is not healed when you get saved. When you get saved, your spirit is reborn, made new, as a new creation. Your spirit was not sick and then made well. Your spirit was dead and it was made alive.
Number 2- If you study the Hebrew words that are used in the passage (Isaiah 53:4), and you look at how they are translated in other parts of the Bible, there can be no question as to whether or not it is referring to physical healing. It is very plain and obvious, and there is no reason to see it any other way unless you are just simply unwilling to believe.
Number 3 – If we allow the Bible to comment on itself…Matthew, one of the disciples of Jesus, quotes Isaiah’s message in the following passage.
When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying:
“He Himself took our infirmities
And bore our sicknesses.”
Matthew tells us that Jesus is healing many people, and setting people many from from demons. It is in this scene the author takes the occasion to quote the passage from Isaiah. Jesus is healing people, and Matthew says that the healing ministry was part of a fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy.
Because of the context, there should be no question that the quoted passage from Isaiah is referring to physical, bodily healing. Likewise, there should be no question as to whether or not healing is God’s will. Jesus paid the price for our healing, earning it for us in advance…two thousand years before we were born. If He didn’t want us to receive physical healing, then He would not have “made atonement” and purchased it for us.
But He did purchase it for us, and it is His will that we receive it. Our forgiveness and our healing were paid for at the same time. They should not be separated when we talk about the sacrifice of Jesus. Jesus suffered and died to bring us forgiveness of sins, and to bring physical healing to our bodies. It is God’s will that we receive forgiveness for our sins, and it is God’s will that receive healing for our diseases.
If forgiveness of sins is God’s will and desire, then so is physical healing. It is not Biblical to separate the two. Healing is God’s will.
Next in Series: God’s Will in Healing Part 4 – The Commission