Free from Poor Health, Free to Live in God’s Wholeness

PDFファイル 297.7 KB

English service on August 19, 2018

Messenger: Pastor Jim Allison 

James 5:13-16 

Free from Poor Health, Free to Live in God’s Wholeness


Good morning, everyone here at Open Door, as well as those of you joining us online.  We’re happy to be with you as we receive God’s word together again today.  I’d like us to continue in the “Free from . . . and Free to . . .” series of messages.  Our purpose is to discover the parts of our lives where God wants to deliver us so that we can then be free to go out and actively live as the free human beings, fully alive, that He longs for us to become.


James, the brother of Jesus (or half-brother, we might more accurately say, with God as Jesus’ father and Joseph as James’), writes to equip us to face life however it comes to us.  Good times and bad times come into every person’s path, but the way we respond to them makes a lot of difference, doesn’t it.  So James writes (v. 13), “Are any of you in trouble? Then you should pray. Are any of you happy? Then sing songs of praise.”


In other words, whether the situation is pleasant or painful, pray.  If you let it lead you to God, something good will come out of it.  It’s possible to react to events when things are going well by just having fun, not being thankful for them, not seeking ways to share them with others, then expecting that they should continue forever and feeling cheated when they do not keep going and going.  But a reaction that links more with health, wholeness, and wellbeing is to praise God for them, give Him thanks, and rejoice with Him and others in them.  One key reason we meet here week after week is to do these very things. 


It’s also possible to react to our times of trouble by becoming bitter, resentful, and negative all the time.  When something bad happens, some people’s first reaction is to go to that support system they have been a part of for a long time and use it to gain strength.  Others cut themselves off from people and from God.  There are individuals who have a tendency to pull others into their pain, in some cases perhaps as a way to make sure that at least they are not suffering alone.  (“If I am going to be miserable, then at least I’m going to make sure no one around me is happy, either.”)  The variety of responses to pain and suffering may be as great as the number of people who face them. 


How do you tend to respond?  Bad times come to everyone at some time to some degree.  But what kind of person do you become through the particular problems you have to face?  What kind of person do you allow your struggles to make you?  God tells us that through prayer, He can help us be people who are constantly growing as human beings, through our relationship with Him.  Both our good times and our bad times will in the end serve to strengthen us, with the Lord’s help.  That is the mark of a Christian, the victorious Christian life.  It’s not a problem-free life but one lived in the power of the resurrection.  Death of many kinds is a real part of our life, but sooner or later, life wins.  God wins.  And He chooses to help us live here and now every day in the hope and confidence which that knowledge brings.


So far the troubles James is writing about are very general.  But now he focuses in on physical health (v. 14a).  “Are any of you sick? Then send for the elders of the church to pray over you.”  The Greek word for “sick” here means “weak.”  From the context, you can see he is talking about sickness, but his message applies to people with not only illnesses but injuries or handicaps or advanced age or anything that prevents us from having full health, from living in wellness, wholeness, the shalom completeness that God intends for His people.  


One key thing about that health is that it is relational.  God normally chooses to give health in part through healthy human relationships.  The simple act of calling for someone to pray with you shows that you belong to a community.  There’s something about praying together in Christ’s name that links up with health and life.  God knew what He was talking about when He said way back in the Garden of Eden, “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18).  Human beings are created to live in community.  That is the way God has designed us.  He exists in community as the Trinity and teaches us to be like Him by living as members of His family.  So Jesus taught us, “Where two or three people meet together in my name, I am there with them” (Matthew 18:20). 


That is why He created the Church.  He does not intend for faith to be a private, personal matter so much as a life to be shared.  So Christians need to be actively involved in church life.  I believe God intends it and our family to be our most important social groups.  In fact, they are both families in important senses.  When Christians are not linked with fellow believers, it’s a sign that something serious is wrong.  Remember, God calls the Church “the body of Christ” (I Corinthians 12:27).  For a member to be cut off from the Church is like, say, an arm being cut off from the body.  It’s not surprising to see faith begin to die in situations like that.     


Returning to James 5:14, when someone in health trouble receives prayer, who is to do the praying?  The text here reads “elders” (plural).  Different churches, even inside the Bible, it seems, have somewhat different leadership systems.  At Open Door we have “team leaders” and “deacons.”  Some churches send out members in teams to regularly visit members who are sick.  It doesn’t have to be the pastor that prays for it to be effective.  The church as a whole will be much stronger when not everything has to be funneled through that one person or relatively small number of staff members.  When the whole church is praying, there is far greater power, and our ministry will have more impact on our community and world.  


James continues, “Ask them to anoint you with oil in the name of the Lord” (v. 14b).  In the Bible oil symbolizes the Holy Spirit and various things He gives, among them God’s blessing, protection, health, stability, and prosperity.  Some Christians, especially those who take the Bible’s teachings literally as much as possible, use oil like this (in bottle) when praying for someone with health trouble.  If you want me to pray for you or someone using this, just request it, and I’ll be glad to do so.  I’ll do it based on the promise of the word of God in v. 15a, “The prayer offered by those who have faith will make you well. The Lord will heal you.”  


That’s what He says, so I’m not going to water it down or try to explain it away.  But let’s understand it the best we can as we accept God’s word by faith.  


Is it really OK to believe in divine healing?  Of course.  That’s the only kind there is.  It may be natural or supernatural, but all health is a gift of God.  Our Lord heals through natural means (for example good medicine and medical practices), through supernatural means (miracles, such as we see in Bible stories), and through death.  


Let’s look at each one of these three in a bit more detail.  First, about natural healing, living in the rhythms and habits that God’s word teaches clearly leads to health.  For instance, obeying His commandment (not advice, guideline, or suggestion) to rest one day out of seven has helped countless people avoid burnout, illness, and worse.  Breaking one of God’s Top 10 Laws (the 10 Commandments) and working on the Sabbath will sooner or later damage your health, whether it is physically, mentally, socially, or a combination of ways.  


Choosing lifestyles that go against God’s teachings and spirit can slow or prevent natural healing.  I am talking about sin, including worry, fear, and envy.  James’ good news is in v. 15b, “If you have sinned, you will be forgiven.”  Keeping a secret inside your heart can be like having poison inside your body.  


Lack of community, lack of prayer, or lifestyles that depart from the kind of life God teaches His people in the Bible to live—all these will damage our lives and prevent us from being the human beings fully alive that He wants us to be.  It’s possible that sickness comes as God’s punishment.  But I think more often poor health is a natural result of our own unwise choices. 


Our greatest hope lies in the grace of God.  The writer adds later, “So admit to one another that you have sinned. Pray for one another so that you might be healed” (v. 16a).  He doesn’t limit the praying to church leaders here.  We are all to pray for each other continually.  It’s hard to stay in conflict with people when we are praying heartfelt prayers for them.  Healing of relationships comes through prayer.  Prayer happens most naturally when we are honest with each other and confess our sins.  James seems to be talking about small groups here, and we all need a circle of good friends in Christ who can help us in our faith.  That is one reason we are discussing forming a small group meeting program at Open Door.      


Second, God heals supernaturally.  We can only accept this through faith, of course.  In order to believe it, we do not have to reject science.  But we do have to see that there are parts of life science cannot explain.  We know people who say, for example, “I was sick, I prayed, and now I’m well.”  I’ve met doctors who have said things like, “I honestly thought this patient would die.  But the cancer somehow went away.”  And in many of these cases there were people regularly praying for healing.  By faith we say that not only the laws of nature but in combination with them the hand of God is at work in the life of each person.  Not to accept the possibility of the Lord’s healing requires a faith in something else, whether it is faith in science, in the human spirit, in luck, or whatever.  We do not have the option of holding only beliefs which can be proven clearly, fully, and rationally.  Life just doesn’t work that way.  


Third, God heals through death.  You notice that I am putting death in a category different from nature.  This may sound strange.  People in the Pro-life Movement, for example, talk about protecting human life from conception to natural death.  That means opposing abortion at the beginning of life and euthanasia and suicide at the end of life.  But even people who use the words “natural death” often argue based on the teachings of the Bible.  And there we find that God creates human beings for the purpose of living forever with Him and each other in peace.  Death and the disease, decay, and all that lead to it, are ultimately the results of sin, of life not working the way God designed it.  In that important sense, death is not natural but a breaking of the natural.  The meaning of the cross and resurrection is that God overcomes the horrible, evil, ungodly reality of death and uses even it to give the gift of eternal life to all people who will believe and receive it.  


When we view death this way, we can begin to see how God works it into His good plans for each person.  When God calls us home, we leave this world.  But we go to a far, far better place.  It is His home in heaven, where we will be forever with Him and all who have trusted our lives into His hands.  


That is the larger meaning of God’s healing.  He gives it in every case to every person who comes to Him in faith, asking for His help.  That seems to be the sense in which James is thinking when he promises the Lord’s healing without qualifiers like “when,” “if,” or “until.”  That is how you can be sure—God will always heal you if you ask in faith.  


But let’s be honest.  If you or someone you love is sick in the hospital, you don’t want to know only about eternal life in heaven.  You want to know about right now, too.  So does the Bible promise that if you have faith and ask for healing, God will always give it to you fully and quickly?  Absolutely not.  


We must be very careful how we link the great, overarching truths of the Bible with the specific situations we are in at various times.  God’s will is not the same for every person and situation.  This is not a “name-it-claim-it” gospel.  God is not like a giant computer that we can control if we just push the right buttons the right way through prayer or fasting or whatever.  God heals, but it is He who does it.  It is not the oil or laying on of hands or using just the right words as if they were a Harry Potter magic spell.  It is not even the prayer itself but the love of God and the God of love. 


So as one of your pastors, I urge you not to fall into the traps that lie around the question of healing.  One trap is the idea that if you just have enough faith, God will and must heal you quickly and in the way you want.  That is the temptation to play God or try to control Him.  On the other hand is the trap of believing that you are not a good Christian if you pray for healing and do not receive it soon.  It may be that God is calling you to go through a season of suffering, knowing the beautiful fruit that often grows only through those times.  


Maybe you have that experience.  I did when I was a first year university student.  I tore a knee ligament and cartilage playing American football, and my knee was so swollen that the doctor said he could not examine it.  He scheduled me for surgery and said that if the damage was bad, he would do the operation.  I believed the Bible’s teaching that God can heal, so I prayed and prayed that He would do just that.  But when I woke up after the surgery, the pain in my knee told me it was not healed.  Still, I kept praying.  I asked that, so there could be no doubt that it was God’s work, not even the scars would be left on my knee.  Well, that was over 40 years ago, I still have the scars, and I still do the rehabilitation exercise that my doctor told me to do every day forever.  So was the problem my weak faith, or was God doing something different?  I can’t claim I had great faith, but now I think the Lord simply had other plans.   


In the Bible, too, we read that Paul prayed three times for his “thorn in the flesh” (“problem that caused pain in my body” in II Corinthians 12:7b) to go away, but it didn’t happen.  There are other examples, too, of times God could have healed people but for whatever other reasons chose not to do so.  So we have to conclude that it is not God’s will in every case to give full, immediate physical healing.  If you pray for it and do not receive it, please don’t give up on God or yourself.  Our Father still loves you.  He is still on your side.  He is still working powerfully for His glory and your good.  Ultimately, God’s will for you is health and life, not illness and death.  You can count on the God of love to take care of your health as you entrust it to His care.                    


James reminds us, “The prayer of a godly person is powerful. It makes things happen” (v. 16b).  So let’s go to the Lord in prayer now.  


Loving Father, we pray to you today as the giver and sustainer and restorer of life and health.  For the wholeness and wellbeing you have given us and helped us recover again and again, we give you the thanks and praise you deserve.  For the needs that we and those around us have for greater health, we seek together in the name of your Son the healing and fullness of life that we know you ultimately want your children to have.  Set us free from the oppression that poor health brings.  Set us free to live in your strength.  And whenever and however you choose in your wisdom to do this, help us to rest in you with our lives firmly in your kind, loving, powerful, healing hands.  In Christ’s name we pray.  Amen.    




Elwell, W. A. (1996). Oil. Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology. Baker Books. Bible Study Tools. Retrieved August 12, 2018 from



13 Are any of you in trouble? Then you should pray. Are any of you happy? Then sing songs of praise. 

14 Are any of you sick? Then send for the elders of the church to pray over you. Ask them to anoint you with oil in the name of the Lord. 

15 The prayer offered by those who have faith will make you well. The Lord will heal you. If you have sinned, you will be forgiven. 

16So admit to one another that you have sinned. Pray for one another so that you might be healed. The prayer of a godly person is powerful. It makes things happen.   










   ヤコブ、イエス様の兄弟(若しくは異父兄弟、もっと正確に言えば、イエス様の父親は神様であるように、ヤコブの父親はヨセフです。)は、私達がどのような人生に直面しても、それらに備えることについて書いています。 どんな人の道にも、良い時と悪い時がやって来ます。 しかし、それは私達の対応の仕方によって大きな違いをもたらすのではないでしょうか。ですから、ヤコブは、(13節)で、“ 困っている人がいるなら、祈るべきです。幸せであるなら、賛美をしなさい。”と書いているのです。



   物事がうまく運んでいる時には、その状況への対処として、ただ単に楽しんでいたり、それに感謝しないで、その良いことを他の人と分かち合おうともしなかったり、それが永遠に続くよう期待していながら、そのように進まないと騙されたと感じる、そんな反応が可能です。 しかし少しでも健康のことや健康であることに繋がることへの反応は、そのことの故に神様を褒め称え、感謝し、神様や他の人と共に喜ぶということになるのです。




 またある人々は、 他の人々と神様を自分から締め出してしまいます。また、他の人々を自分の苦痛に引き寄せる傾向の人もいます。これは多分、少なくとも苦しんでいるのは自分だけではないと確かめたいというような場合です。(もし自分が不幸になるのなら、少なくとも自分の周りに幸せな人がいないことを確かめたいというものです。)



   あなたはどのように対応しますか?   悪い時は全ての人に、いつの日か、ある程度やってきます。 しかし、特定の問題にあなたが直面し、そこを通る時、あなたはどのような人になりますか? 自分がなれるどのような人になら、自分の戦い(葛藤)をするのを許しますか? 

 神様は私達に、祈りを通して対処せよと言われます。神様は、私達が神様との関係を通して人間として継続的に成長する者となるよう、私達を助けることができます。良い時も悪い時も、そのどちらも、神様の助けによって、最終的には私達を強めることになるのです。それこそがクリスチャンを象徴することで、クリスチャンの勝利の人生なのです。問題が全くない人生ではありません、しかし復活の力によって生きるのです。死は様々な形で私達の実際の生活の部分にありますが、遅かれ早かれ、 命が勝利するのです。神様が勝利するのです。神様は、私達がこの地において毎日、希望とこの知識がもたらす自信を持って生きるように助けるという選択をされているのです。


  ヤコブがこれまでのところで書いている問題は、とても一般的なものです。しかし、ここでヤコブは肉体的な健康について焦点を当てています。(14節) ”病気の人がいれば、教会の長老に来るように言い、祈ってもらいなさい。“  ギリシャ語で ”病気“とは、ここでは、”弱い“という意味です。その脈絡において、ヤコブが語っているメッセージでは、ただ単に病気の人だけを意味するのではなく、怪我人またはハンディキャップを持っている人、あるいは高齢者、更には、完全に健康であること、健康・完全に生活すること、神様を信じる人々に神様が意図するシャローム(神様が共にいてくださる)の完全性にうちに生きること、これらから私達を妨げるすべてのことまで及びます。




 神様がエデンの園で “人が独りでいるのは良くない。”(創世記2章18節)と言われた時、神様はその意味を知っておられたのです。人はコミュニティの中で生きるように創造されているのです。このことこそ、神様が私達を設計された仕方なのです。








 ヤコブ書5章14節に戻ります。健康上の問題を抱えている誰かが祈ってもらう時、誰が祈ってくれているのでしょう? 聖書のこの部分では”長老(複数)“とあります。異なる教会には、多少異なった指導システムがあるように思えますし、聖書にもそうあります。



  ヤコブは、” 主の御名によって油を塗るよう彼らに願いなさい。“(14節後段)と続けています。聖書では、油は様々なもののシンボルとなっていおり、その中で、神様の祝福、守り、健康上のギフト、安定、繁栄を表しています。聖書の教えをできる限り文字通り受け取るようにするクリスチャンは、誰かの健康問題のために祈る時には油を瓶ごと使います。





  神様の癒しを本当に信じて良いのでしょうか? 勿論そうです。そこには唯一つの意味しかありません。それは自然なこと、または超自然なことなのですが、すべての癒しは神様のギフトです。






 神様の教えに反するような生活スタイルを選ぶことは、霊的なことが緩やかになったり、また自然治癒が阻害されます。私は、心配、恐れ、また嫉妬等を含む罪のことについて話しているのです。 ヤコブの良いニュースは15節後段にあります。”罪を犯したなら、それは赦されます。“




  私達の大きな希望は神様の恵みにあるのです。ヤコブは後でこう付け加えています。”お互いに罪を犯していると認めなさい。あなた方が癒されるためにお互いに祈りあいなさい、 “ (16節前段)









  これは最も広い意味で言う神様の癒しです。神様はそれを(癒し)、神様に助けを求め、信仰を持って御許に来る全ての人に、全ての状況においてお与えになります。これが、ヤコブが、“いつ”、“もし”、“いつまで” などの資格のない主の癒しについて約束する時に考えていたことのように思えます。これは、神様は、皆さんが信仰を持って願うならいつでも癒して下さると、皆さんが確信できることです。





   私達は、偉大で包括的な聖書の真実と様々な時における私達の特定の状況を結びるける時には、 大変に注意深くあらねばなりません。神様の御意志は全ての人々の全てに状況において同じではありません。これは“御利益“の福音ではないのです。神様は、私達が、祈りや断食やその他のことをして、正しいボタンを正しいやり方で押すことで私達がコントロール出来るような、巨大なコンピュータではないのです。神様は癒されます。しかし、癒しを行う方は神様です。それは、油を使ったり、両手を置いたりまたはハリーポターの魔法の呪文のように正しい言葉を使うというようなことではありません。それは祈りそのものでさえなく、神様の愛であり、愛の神様なのです。




   多分皆さんも経験があると思います。私も大学の一年生の時に経験しました。アメリカンフットボールをしていて膝の靭帯と軟骨を断裂させたのです。私の膝はパンパンに腫れてしまい、医者も診断できないほどでした。医者は治療の予定を組みましたが、損傷がひどかったら外科手術をすることとなるとも言いました。私は聖書の教えである神様は癒すことが出来ると信じていましたので、神様がただそのようにして下さるように祈りに祈ったのです。でも、外科手術が終わって目覚めた時、膝の痛みが癒されていないことを教えてくれました。それでも、私は祈り続けました。私は求めたのです。結果は神様の御業であることに疑いがないように膝の傷跡さえ残らないように祈ったのです。これは40年以上も前のことで、今でも膝には傷跡があります。当時医師が、この先毎日、生涯に渡って行うように私に言ったリハビリのための運動を、私は今でも行っています。この問題は私の弱い信仰のせいだったのでしょうか? または、神様が何か違うことをされた結果なのでしょうか? 私は、その当時大きな信仰を持っていたとは言えませんが、今は単に主の他の御計画であったと思います。


 聖書の中でも同じようなことがあります。 パウロが”肉体の棘“(”自分の身体で痛みが引き起こす問題“コリント第2の手紙12章7節後段)のために三度、これを去らせて欲しいと祈ったのですが、そうはなりませんでした。他にも、神様がその時どきにおいて、人々を癒すことができたものの、なんらかの他の理由によってそうなさらないという例があるのです。




 ヤコブは私達に、”神を敬う人の祈りは力強く、事を実現させる。“(16節後段) ということを思い出させます。ですから、今祈りによって主の元へ行きましょう。






Elwell, W. A. (1996). Oil. Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology. Baker Books. Bible Study Tools. Retrieved August 12, 2018 from https://www.biblestudytools. com/dictionary/oil/