Every good and perfect gift is from above and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. (Jam_1:17).
There is a place for natural and scientific healing. In the economy of nature in almost every form of life and organism there is a certain recuperative power. The abrasion of a branch heals itself and frequently is stronger in the place affected than before. The severed bones of a dislocation knit by a natural process, and it is said they seldom break again in the same place, which has been not only healed but reinforced by nature's recuperative power. The chief reliance of the intelligent physician is upon this innate force in the human frame which the doctors call vis medicatrix naturae.
This natural principle has been turned to account by the skill and experience of centuries in connection with the medical art. While there have been in every age quacks, pretenders, and charlatans, yet, upon the whole, the science of medicine and surgery has made much progress and accomplished undoubted results for the relief of suffering and the benefit of humanity, especially in the past century. While its skill is limited and its work marked by much human imperfection, yet he would be a very narrow-minded critic who should refuse to class it among the good gifts of God's creation and providence. It is not a perfect gift by any means, but there is much in it that is unquestionably good.
And there are multitudes of people who know no better way. They do not know the Lord either as a Saviour or Healer, and to deny them the only help they are able to avail themselves of would be short-sighted, cruel, and fanatical.
But God has a better way for His children. Divine Healing is the heritage and privilege of the family of God, while like Joseph's boughs that ran over the wall, its blessings reach beyond the people of God and often bring help and deliverance to those who are strangers to His love, yet it is primarily intended for Christians. "Is any among you sick, let him call for the elders of the church, and the prayer of faith shall heal the sick and the Lord shall raise him up." This is the "perfect gift" which recognizes no limitation of functional or organic disease as human remedies do, but claims the boundless promise of the infinite God for all our needs.
Divine Healing Supernatural.
And Divine Healing is wholly different in its principle and processes from natural healing. It is distinctly supernatural although not always miraculous. It means the direct touch of God, a divine addition to the innate forces of human nature. It is not the mere improvement of old organs, functions, and conditions, but it is the beginning of a new kind of life, even the resurrection life of the Lord Jesus Himself imparted to us through our union with His person. It is the beginning, the germ, the earnest of our own future resurrection.
Therefore, it is as impossible to combine it with natural healing as it would be to combine a journey to Albany by a stage coach and an express train, or the ascension of the latest skyscraper with one foot on the elevator and the other on the winding stair. The truth is medical methods are mechanical while Divine Healing is not by external applications but by an internal and subtle vital force which medicine cannot supply or imitate. If a combination is attempted, it will probably result in a conflict instead of a union of forces and do more harm than good. It is all right to ask God to bless the use of means, but this is wholly different from the direct operation of Divine Healing which needs no help from man and where the attempt to help may only hinder.
Divine Healing a Gift.
Divine Healing, being part of the redemptive work of the Lord Jesus Christ, comes to us on the principle of free grace and by simple faith without works. We cannot work it out any more than we can work out the salvation of our soul. We can only receive it by simple trust as the gift of God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Indeed, the double action of the mind in "looking this way and that way" as between the doctor and the Lord is very apt to weaken faith. We know that the faintest prop is often sufficient to tempt us to lean our weight upon it and lessen our supreme confidence in God alone. We all remember the story of the man who in his dream heard a voice calling to him, "Let go that twig;" and as he let go, he fell into the arms of mercy which were waiting to receive him. A very little twig is often sufficient to keep us swinging with part of our weight at least withheld from the entire committal which is essential to effectual faith.
In order, therefore, to receive divine life for our body, it is necessary that we should turn from all other hopes and reliances, realize our entire dependence upon the Lord, and commit our case definitely to Him, believing that He undertakes it and refusing to doubt or question even though there may be some testing and delay. It is the prayer of faith that heals the sick, and Christ has defined faith in this explicit way, "When ye pray, believe that ye receive the things ye ask for and ye shall have them."
Divine Healing an Imparted Life.
As Divine Healing is the direct imparted life of the Lord Jesus Christ to our body, it is essential that we shall know Him and know how to touch Him to appropriate His strength and live by His life. It is as true today as it ever was, that as many as touch Him are "made perfectly whole." But to touch Him is much more than to mingle in the jostling crowd and to run after other people who appear to us to have some gift of healing or power of faith that we do not possess. Therefore in this work we teach people first to come to the Lord for salvation and to become personally acquainted with Him, and then as they learn to live upon Him for other things, it will be perfectly natural for them to take Him also for their bodily needs and find experimentally true such precious words as these, "In Him we live and move and have our being." "The life, also, of Jesus is made manifest in our mortal flesh." "Because I live ye shall live also." "The Lord is for the body and the body is for the Lord." "He that eateth me even he shall live by me."
After we have known the Lord as our Healer it is a very serious thing to go back to the "beggarly elements of this world." Faith can go forward forever, but there is no divine provision for retreat without great peril and loss. The pathway of life is strewn with mournful examples of the children of God who have turned aside and fallen by the way. Medical treatment does not appear to have the same effect upon those who have learned the better way and given up the good for the perfect gift. Even drugs have a doubly deleterious influence upon a body that has been cleansed and purified by the life of the Lord Jesus. Let us be very careful about even looking back after we have taken advance ground. "If they had been mindful of that country from which they went out, they might have had opportunity to have returned, but now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly. Wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God." Let us not make our God ashamed of us.
As law abiding citizens, however, let us be very careful about ignoring or violating the laws of the State. While you may not think, and I do not think, that vaccination makes a material difference for one who is really trusting God, yet it would be a very arrogant and discourteous attitude to refuse to conform to the requirements of the public schools and the medical authorities with regard to this matter, as well as the whole system of sanitary legislation, which is a matter affecting the interests of the community quite as much as your own.
Finally, let us be very careful about assuming the responsibility for the healing of others, and thus making ourselves liable as criminals in many cases through the death of persons who were in no condition to trust the Lord for themselves. We have no right to assume the responsibility for others beyond their own faith in God. It is well to remember that far-reaching direction which the apostle has given us respecting our social attitudes, "He that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God and approved unto men."
+A.B. Simpson, Earnests of the Coming Age, New York: Christian Alliance Pub. Colossians, 1921, pp. 98-103.