The Three Tenses of Faith in Healing
This article was written long ago by FANNIE F. ROWE
[from the Christian and Missionary Alliance Newsletter, vol.31; no.24; March 13, 1909; New York.]
“I will make My covenant between thee and Me, and will multiply thee exceedingly”
“Behold My covenant is with thee!” Genesis 17:4.
“For a father of many nations have I made thee!” Genesis 17:5.
THIS is God’s threefold promise to Abraham, expressed in the future, present and past tenses. Each statement is stronger than the preceding, denoting a progression of truth, which finds consummation in the last. It is a progressive statement of truth which requires a progressive act of faith in receiving. It seems that God in His promise is leading Abraham up to a full exercise of faith in covenant relationship with Himself.
In the exercise of faith we find three steps, which may be designated as the future, present and past. Several authors have written of these three tenses of faith as expressed in this threefold promise to Abraham. Let us now consider these three tenses in connection with faith for the healing of the body, and see how clearly the Word of God carries out the thought.
The Future Tense.-“I will make My covenant between Me and thee.” What promises for healing do we find corresponding to the future tense?
“I will come and heal him” (Matt.8:7). This is the promise of Christ to the Centurion who besought Him in behalf of his servant.
“The prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up” (Jas.5:15).
Again we read: “If thou will diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and will do that which is right in His sight, and will give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee which I have brought upon the Egyptians” (Ex. 15:26). We note that God’s “I will” depends on man’s will to obey. Many are asking: “Is it God’s will to heal me?” Many are praying: “Lord heal me, if it be Thy will.” Here we have His will declared. He says, “I will.” His “I will” is binding. There can be no question about the healing if we believe God; for He has said, “I will!’
His will to heal is revealed all through Scripture, by-
1. The history of His Chosen People in the Old Testament, as they were healed in answer to prayer.
2 Christ’s work of atonement.
3. The ministry of Christ. The work of healing formed a large part of the ministry of our Lord. He said of Himself: “LO, I come
to do Thy will, O God” (Heb.10: 7). He healed all that were sick (Matt.8:16).
4. The commission to the Twelve (Matt. 10:1).
5. The commission to the Seventy (Luke 10:9).
6. The commission to all who believe (Mark 16:14-18)
7. The commission to the Church (James 5:.14, 15).
8. The ministry of the Apostles.
9. The history of the Apostolic Church.
10. The teaching of the Epistles.
The entire Bible history and teaching, from Genesis to Revelation, clearly reveal healing through the prayer of faith to be God’s will and way and endorsed by His Word. It is revealed as a part of His plan of salvation and provided for in Christ’s work of redemption. He says, “I will”: what more can we ask?
The first step of faith is to believe His “I will”-to beheve that God will heal; but this is only the first step. Faith is not yet complete. Many people stop right here and wonder why they do not get healed. They have asked God to heal, but in thought are holding healing in the future, looking for it tomorrow, next week, or whenever the Lord gets ready to do it. They say: “Oh yes, I believe God will heal me.” They are ever expecting but never realizing because they fail to exercise a present faith. We must pass from the future to the present of faith, if we could know God’s healing touch.
The Present Tense.- “My covenant is with thee”: have we any healing scriptures to correspond with the present tense?
“Who forgives all thine iniquities: Who heals all thy diseases” (Ps.103:3).
“For I am the Lord that heals thee” (Ex.15:26). In these words we have the finish of the promise previously quoted: “If thou will diligently hearken…and if thou will do that which is right… I will put none of the diseases upon you….for I am the Lord that heals you.” To the future tense of promise God adds the present. Not only does He say “I will,” but as surely does He say “I am.” We believe His “I will;” why not believe His “I am”? –accepting a present work of healing. The words, “I am the Lord that heals you” complete the promise, “I will.” If we would receive a present healing, we need to take the promise in its entirety, embracing both the future and the present tense.
As you wait upon Him for His healing touch, do you not hear Him saying to your heart: “I am the Lord that heals you“? Do you not believe that He heals you just now? This is the second step in faith and brings to the point of victory. A future faith alone will not bring healing. We may ask and ask and keep on asking and never receive the healing, because we fail to take as a present possession that which God assures us by promise is ours in Christ.
Taking by Faith– Someone asks, “What is meant by taking?”
To take by faith is–
First. –To receive as a present possession something promised of God which has already been provided by Him. The gifts of God have been given to men through Christ’s death on the cross. When Jesus died, He said concerning the work of atonement, “It is finished.” “Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses” (Matt. 8:17). Our healing has been worked out. It is an accomplished fact– it is purchased and paid for. “You are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body and spirit, which are God’s” (1Cor.6:20). It awaits our acceptance. The thing we are asking for, God is waiting for us to take. A friend lays a book upon the table before us, saying, “I have purchased this for you.” Our only thought is to take the book, thanking him for the gift. In this same way God is waiting for us to appropriate as ours the healing which has been purchased for us.
Second.–To believe that when we ask we do receive. “What things soever you desire when you pray, believe that you receive them and you shall have them;” or as the Revised Version reads: “All things whatsoever you pray and ask for believe that you have received them, and you shall have them” (Mark 11:24).
A father tells the child that when he has finished a certain piece of work he will give him something he has long desired. The work is finished, and he asks for his promised gift. He is told that it has been ordered from the publishers and is on the way. The fact that he does not yet see the gift does not hinder him from thinking of it as his. He is talking constantly of his new possession and what he will do with it. He is already enjoying it. When he asked, he believed that he received; he believed that it then became his. You could not convince him that this unseen thing is not his, for he has confidence in the word of his father. In like manner God has promised us healing. “If you will diligently hearken and do that which is right.” This does not mean that if we have always done right He will heal us; but if we will get right in the heart with Him He will heal. Getting right with God brings healing. Doing right keeps from disease.
So we come to Him. We ask for that which is already promised. It is not at once made manifest in the body. Symptoms remain. God sees fit to let our faith be tested. But we believe that when we asked we received; for we have confidence in the Word of our Father. In the midst of suffering, with disease still evident to the senses, we think and talk of our new possession. We are already counting the healing ours, acting as though we felt it, and rejoicing in the new privileges and opportunities it has brought to us. No one could convince us that this unseen blessing is not ours. As we maintain this position of faith the healing soon becomes manifest. Thus we count the healing ours on the evidence of the Word alone, regardless of feelings. This anticipates in a measure the next step of faith.
The Past Tense.
“A father of many nations have I made thee.” What Scripture for the body corresponds with the past tense?
“With His stripes we are healed” (Isa. 53:5).
“By Whose stripes you were healed” (1Pet.2:24).
“Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknessess” (Matt.8:17).
This is a threefold expression of healing in the atonement, indicating a work that is already finished. This is the past tense of faith and completes the measure of faith. It is the strongest position for healing that we can take. Many are healed on a present faith, believing that God does the work when asked, and receive a present manifestation.
Sooner or later, in the life of faith for the body, God will lead to this third step of faith, where we have to claim the healing and hold it as ours before we see it.
The eye still sees the disease.
The body feels the pain.
The senses say, “No, you’re not healed.”
Friends say, “No.”
The devil says, “No.”
But God says, “Yes, with His stripes you are healed.” The question that confronts us is this: “Do we believe God, or do we believe the senses?”
The Word of God is the stronger evidence.
It takes us into the unseen world.
It places us under spiritual laws.
It brings us in touch with God Himself.
We take our stand on the promise.
We reckon according to what the eye of faith sees, and not according to what the natural eye sees.
In the position which we hold we have passed from the natural to the spiritual.
We are dealing in the spiritual realm with spiritual realities. We hold a spiritual relationship with God for the physical life. We reckon on a spiritual basis. The eye of faith sees disease nailed to the cross– borne away– forever canceled. In reality it does not belong to us; has no power over us. In the spiritual realm this has already been accomplished. We have accepted this finished work as ours individually. This is the position that we hold– that “with His stripes we are healed.” This is to us the truth, a fact, a reality. In the light of Christ’s finished work on the Cross, the evidence of the Word is stronger to us than the evidence of our senses. It is the strongest evidence we can have.
The secret of victory lies in firmly, fearlessly and persistently claiming the work done, and holding the healing as already ours, in the face of all indications to the contrary, praising God that “with His stripes we are healed.” This is “calling the things that be not as though they were”(Rom.4:17). As we hold this attitude all the symptoms of disease disappear, and to the evidence of the Word is added the evidence of the senses. The healing is manifest in the body. We rejoice in what God has done.
Abraham “staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory unto God; and being fully persuaded that what He had promised He was able also to perform” (Rom.6:20-21). He accepted the Word of God for the promised seed, in the face of nature’s evidence to the impossibility, and received the name of “Abraham,” which means, “father of a great multitude:” for “a father of many nations have I made thee.” Thus he confessed his faith to the world in taking the name of Abraham. He testified to something he did not yet possess according to the sight of nature.
The Word gives another beautiful illustration of the past tense of faith in the taking of Jericho. Israel had come up against Jericho, one of the strongholds of Canaan. God said to Joshua: “See, I have given into your hand Jericho.” According to the direction of the Lord they began a seven days’ march. Six days they compassed the walls of Jericho, bearing the ark of the covenant, the type of Christ, and blowing the trumpets, indicating triumph. The seventh day they compassed the city seven times. The seventh time they gave the victors’ shout of triumph, and the walls fell (Joshua 6).
Our Jericho may be some inherited or incurable disease that has baffled all human skill. It looms up before our vision great and high as the walls of Jericho. God says to us: “See, I have given into your hand Jericho” –“With His stripes you are healed.” We accept our healing by faith in this promise. We count the healing done on the ground of Christ’s finished work. Yet symptoms remain the same. To the eye of sense there is no change. The suffering is intense. We begin our march of faith. We march one day, two days in the name of Jesus, bearing the ark of the covenant, blowing the trumpets of praise for the victory we do not yet see. But there is no change–not one sign to encourage. Still on we go, praising the Lord for victory. Three days, four days we march; still no change. Yet so sure are we of God’s promise that Jericho is already ours that we press on. Five days, six days, and still the walls remain unbroken. Disease seems as impregnable as on the day when we began our march of faith. Symptoms are aggravated; pain increased. The pressure in the physical is getting very great. Still faith wavers not. Hath not God said: “See I have given into your hand Jericho” –“With His stripes you are healed“?
Our confidence is in His faithfulness Who says: “I will not leave you until I have done all that I have spoken to you of” (Gen.28:15). Pressed by our need; pressed by the Spirit with a sense of His supply, His readiness, His greatness, the certainty of fulfillment, we march the seventh day seven times –the number seven expressing completion, First: Of the trial of faith; Second: Of the action of faith; Third: Of the perfection of faith itself. It is the expression of the intensity of faith, which finally culminates in the victor’s shout of triumph. There is not one sign of improvement– the walls remain intact. We have been heartily praising the Lord through all the long days of suffering that He has healed us. Notwithstanding, we give the note of victory. We shout: “Victory! Victory! VICTORY!” The walls fall. Symptoms of disease disappear. The healing is manifest. The word which was evidence to our hearts is now fulfilled to our senses. The trial of faith has been long and hard, but the life is enriched with a riper, stronger faith, and we have come to know better our God as we have pressed closer to Him.
We were as certain of victory the day we began the march as the day we saw the walls fall. We began it with the assurance that Jericho was already ours, for God had spoken the word. The march was proving our faith; we stood the test and victory was manifested. God is saying to us concerning our inherited condition, the disease of long standing; the acute attack that threatens life; the pain that seems unbearable; the weakness that makes life miserable; the thing seems so impossible: “See I have given into your hand Jericho.” Will we believe it? Do we believe it? Have we believed it? We must believe it before we start; we must believe it as we march –“I have given into your hand Jericho.” With the hand we take–we hold. Faith is our spiritual hand. The healing is as really ours now as any material thing we have taken and held in the hand. God has done the work. It is a spiritual working. It does not depend for accomplishment on anything that we can see. It is wholly the work of God in answer to faith.
Reader! Do you believe that God has given into your hand Jericho? You may perhaps have received many instantaneous healing touches; but there is some one thing of which you have not been healed. You are wondering what is the matter, and if it be the will of God to heal you. God is just as willing now as He ever was; but He has for you a new lesson of faith and a new exercise of faith. He asks you to take what He has promised. He asks you to walk by faith a few hours, days, or even weeks, perhaps, in the dark, “calling the things which be not as though they were” (Rom.4:17); counting the work done on the evidence of His Word alone; praising Him for victory in the midst of pain and weakness.
God is waiting for you to take this final step of faith. Some have hesitated, thinking it to be inconsistent to take and hold as ours that which we do not see and feel. But as we study the Word we find this position to be in perfect accord with its teachings. We take the same position for the physical life that we take for the spiritual, claiming our full redemption rights for soul and body through Christ’s finished work of atonement. He said of His work of redemption: “It is finished.” He gives us the right to use the same words, as we accept of this finished work. If God says concerning us, “with His stripes we are healed,” we need not hesitate to say the same. Shall we not follow on, and thus perfect the measure of our faith? For “by works is faith made perfect” (James 2:22). Acting faith under trial in the body is the work that makes faith perfect. Shall we not enter into the full exercise of faith in its future, present and past?
Someone asks: “Why don’t all have the faith?” The exercise of faith depends on the state of the individual and his relation to God and men. Man has a past, present and future. His past, present and future are related to the question of faith and healing.
The Past. You ask: “What has my past to do with my present healing?” Present conditions of body may be due to some past condition of heart or mind. We may have violated some law of God, natural or spiritual, which has brought on the present physical conditions.
Violation of Natural Law. –The heavy cold may be the result of unnecessary exposure of the body; of the taking of unwholesome food, which has been eaten to gratify the palate. The headache may be due to the same cause. Other conditions may be traced to the compression and displacement of vital organs by tight dressing. Still others, to the overtaxing of physical powers, either by study or excessive labor, even in the service of the Lord.
Violation of Spiritual Law.–Still larger numbers are suffering in the body from the violation of spiritual laws. A violent temper has seriously affected digestion and heart action. A habit of worry has worn on the nerves, or a yielding to grief has entirely wrecked the nervous system.
Physical conditions may be traced to some one or more of these destroying forces which hold sway in the life. We have disobeyed the law of God and the diseases of the Egyptians have come upon us.
The Present.–Present states of heart and mind are affecting the body and holding it in bondage to disease. What is our attitude toward God? Do we stand related to Him as child to parent, through the new birth? Is the will fully yielded to Him at every point? Are we walking in obedience, so far as we have light?
What is our attitude toward our fellow men? Is there unforgiveness in the heart because of some injustice? Have we restitution to make for some wrong done to another? If the heart is right with God and men, then we are in a place to exercise faith. We may claim healing with holy boldness. “Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God” (1John 3:21).
The Future.–The future is involved in healing. What do we want the healing for? What do we purpose to do with the health and strength that come from God alone? Sometimes it is true that “You ask and receive not, because you ask amiss, that you may consume it upon your lusts” [margin reads "pleasures"] (James 4:3). Those who come seeking health for selfish gratification are disappointed. God gives His healing touch for holy living and consecrated service. The Divine life is sacred, the purchase of the precious blood of Jesus, and is ours only as we use it for His glory.
“My covenant is with thee.”–God has covenanted with His people for health. Exodus 15:26, already quoted, is a statute and ordinance made for Israel, as He called them out of Egypt to be His own chosen people. The covenant has been confirmed to spiritual Israel, in Christ’s work of atonement. “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the Law” (Gal.3:13). The curse of the law included sickness (Deut.28:21-22, 27, 35, 58-61). Hence we are redeemed from sickness. “Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses” (Matt.8:17). “With His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).
Healing and health are ours through a covenant relationship to God in Christ Jesus. We enter our covenant with Him for the physical life, just as we do for the spiritual life. We enter by faith, as we meet the conditions of the covenant.
We commit the body to His care and keeping once for all. This committal of the body is just as definite and sacred as the committal of the soul. The covenant is made in Christ for both and sealed with His blood. Thus God has obligated Himself to heal our bodies through the blood of the everlasting covenant, as we accept the conditions. Our healing is not optional with God. He has bound Himself to heal, if we accept the promise in faith. The choice lies with us. Will we enter into covenant with Him for the body? As we realize the priceless value of the covenant, secured at the cost of the blood of Him who loved us and gave Himself for us, we feel that it can be no longer optional with us, but that we must enter in committing the body to the care of Him who hath redeemed it: first, because we desire to please Him; then, for His glory and His service.
My friend, do you know this precious relationship with God for the physical life, through Jesus, the Mediator of the new covenant?
-Fannie F. Rowe
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