Healing and atonement … First, let’s consider the meaning of the word atonement. The word in the Old Testament means to cover, to placate, to disannul, appease, forgive. It is used once in the New Testament, and the meaning there is reconciliation. It means, then, to cover by an expiatory sacrifice, to make moral and legal reparation for a fault or injury. To the Christian it means God has found a way whereby He, Who is holy, and has said that He will in no wise clear the guilty, can be the just and the Justifier to them that believe on His Son (Rom. 3:25-26).

Today there is a teaching to the effect that when the Lord Jesus Christ suffered and died, He suffered and died for the sickness of the believer as well as the sin. I ask your indulgence as we look into the Word of God and ascertain whether or not this be true.

I believe in prayer. I believe the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

I believe God is just as able to raise the sick and the dead today as He did 2,000 years ago.

I believe He is working miracles today in our very midst.

I believe that every blessing we receive from God is in virtue of the atonement.

I believe Philippians 4:19, which says, “But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

I believe that God can – yes, I believe that God does – heal the sick today, but I DO NOT believe that Jesus Christ on the Cross atoned for sickness in my body and that I can claim healing in the same way I claim salvation. This teaching is due to a failure to rightly divide the Word of Truth. We are told in 2 Timothy 2:15, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth.”

I call your attention to five of the outstanding verses used by those who so teach.

In Matthew 8:16-17 we read, “And He cast out the spirits with His word, and healed all that were sick; That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.”

Now then, Matthew is speaking here of what Isaiah had said in Isaiah 53:4: “Surely He hath born our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.” I accept the correction in our Authorized Version that tells us rightly that the words ought to read: “Surely He hath borne our diseases and carried our pains.” That’s true; Jesus Christ bore our diseases and carried our pains as Isaiah says.

When we turn to Matthew 8:16, we find that they brought Him the sick and He healed them, so that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah. What have you left after it is fulfilled? Isaiah says also that He bore our diseases and carried our pains. The Lord Jesus Christ fulfilled the words of the prophet Isaiah when He was here on the earth. He carried the diseases and pains of the people. A blind man never came to Him but that Jesus carried his ailment in His own soul. He carried their pains when He was here upon the earth. But someone might ask, “When was it fulfilled?” It was fulfilled that day. Matthew 8:16-17 was fulfilled on the day in which Matthew speaks here. He was fulfilling Isaiah 53:4 all through His earthly life, without shedding a drop of blood.

Isaiah 53:5 was fulfilled on the Cross. It was on the Cross that He atoned for sin, but it was prior to the Cross that He fulfilled Isaiah 53:4.

As the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ comes to Israel to present the good news of the Kingdom. As the Messiah, He is presenting Himself to Israel and He is proving to them that He is the Messiah by raising the sick, healing the afflicted, and raising the dead, thus proving to them that He IS the One spoken of in the Old Testament: the One Who was to come. When Christ performed miracles on the earth, you have Him doing the work of the Messiah here on earth. In Isaiah 35:1-6 we read about the Kingdom blessings: “Say to them that are of a fearful heart, be strong, fear not; behold, your God will come with vengeance, then the eyes of the blind shall be opened and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped; then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing; for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert.”

When the Lord Jesus Christ offered Himself to Israel, they rejected Him and He went back to Glory with the Kingdom blessings. When He comes back, He will bring back to earth what is spoken of here.

Another Scripture used is Mark 16:14-20. Three commissions are found in the Synoptic Gospels (Mt. 28:19-20; Mk. 16:14-20; Lk. 21:46-47). Matthew’s commission has not been fulfilled, and Luke’s is to the New Testament Kingdom Church.

The commission the Lord Jesus Christ gave to His disciples was, “Afterward He appeared unto the Eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen Him after He was risen.”

He said unto them, “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. But he that believeth not shall be damned and these signs shall follow them that believe; in My name shall they cast out demons; they shall speak with new tongues, they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” He confirmed the Word with the signs. In other words, when Jesus Christ was here on earth, He healed the sick, drove out demons, raised the dead, etc. He was crucified and buried, and His disciples are left to carry on the work.

They tell the world they are disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. The world asks, “Where is your Christ?” “He is risen from the dead.” “How do we know that He has been raised?” God answered from Heaven by giving the disciples the very signs that Christ wrought when He was here on earth. He worked with them, confirming the Word with signs following. This was fulfilled by the Apostles and others to whom the commission was given, and has no connection whatever with the Church. It was fulfilled during the Apostolic age.

If physical healing is in the atonement, how is it that we never hear of a man being raised from the dead? The Apostles healed the sick and raised the dead. We never hear of prayer being offered for the dead today. Why not? If it is in the atonement and if we may have apostolic signs, then the dead should be raised, for this was done by the apostles.