Only God Can Heal

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“‘If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!’  (Matthew 7:7-11)…

“For this reason have we who are evil a good Father, so that we may not always continue evil.  No evil person can make another person good.  If no evil person can make another good, how can an evil person make himself good?  Only our Father, who is good eternally, can make of an evil person a good person.

“‘Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed;
save me, and I shall be saved.’  (Jeremiah 17:14).”

— St. Augustine,
Sermons on Selected Lessons of the New Testament, 11.2,
as quoted in A Year with the Church Fathers, CPH 2011, page 313.

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Shepherds, Hear the Word of the Lord

Ezekiel 33:1-9:

When I bring the sword against a land, and the people of the land choose one of their men and make him their watchman, and he sees the sword coming against the land and blows the trumpet to warn the people, then if anyone hears the trumpet but does not take warning and the sword comes and takes his life, his blood will be on his own head.  Since he heard the sound of the trumpet but did not take warning, his blood will be on his own head.  If he had taken warning, he would have saved himself.  But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people and the sword comes and takes the life of one of them, that man will be taken away because of his sin, but I will hold the watchman accountable for his blood.

Pastors and all those who see the truth, but do not speak a word of warning, will be accountable for the blood of the lost.  Paul said in Acts 20:22-31:

I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of all men.  For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God.  Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers.  Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.  I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock.  Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.  So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.

Paul’s warning applies to all congregations, all churches, and all synods.  Be on your guard!  Open your eyes!  Wake up!  Any group of believers that acts like it is immune from false doctrine is not holding to the above words of Scripture.  To the Scriptures!  Alarm!

Hear the word of the Lord:

Woe to the shepherds of Israel who take care of only themselves!  Should not shepherds take care of the flock? You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock.  You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured.  You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost.  You have ruled them harshly and brutally.  So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals.  My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill.  They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them.  [Ezekiel 34:1-6].

When a pastor does not strengthen the weak or heal the sick or bind up the injured, it means that that shepherd does not administer the Gospel.  The sheep do not need a cowboy or a self-help shepherd who thinks it is his prerogative to live off the sheep and treat them like his chattel.  Because they did not hear the Gospel, and because they were driven instead of led, the flock has become spiritually scattered.  Instead of feeding at Calvary, they feed on every other high hill of false spirits and false doctrine.

The shepherds were lazy.  Not only did they not guide the flock with the true Law, they did not administer the healing balm of the Gospel.  They were too lazy to study the word of God, and too deceitful to even write their own sermons.

The unfaithful shepherds chased after false prophets, followed them to their conferences, sat at their feet, and lusted for their earthly success.  They said, “The wolves are successful:  We can learn from them, and ourselves become fat at the expense of the flock.”

Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD:  As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, because my flock lacks a shepherd and so has been plundered and has become food for all the wild animals, and because my shepherds did not search for my flock but cared for themselves rather than for my flock, therefore, O shepherds, hear the word of the LORD:  This is what the Sovereign LORD says:  I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock.  [Ezekiel 34:7-10].

Repent!

In John 10:11-21, Jesus said:

I am the good shepherd.  The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.  The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep.  So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away.  Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it.  The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.

If a shepherd is not willing to lay down his life for the sheep, or if he thinks the flock exists for his benefit; then he is not a good shepherd.  Instead, he is the hireling who runs away.  Or even worse, he is the wolf who, instead of living for the flock, lives off the flock.

Who said it would be easy to be a good shepherd?  How many heroes of faith lived to an old age and died in peace?  How many shepherds fought with wolves and came away unscathed?  (1 Corinthians 15:32).  Not very many.

They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword.  They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated—the world was not worthy of them.  They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.  [Hebrews 11:37-38].

“Remember the words I spoke to you:  ‘No servant is greater than his master.'”  (John 15:20).  “Father, forgive them …”  (Luke 23:34).  “Forgive us …”  (Luke 11:4).

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Notes:  Emphasis added to all quotes.

Scripture of the Day

Romans 3:22-24 (NIV)

This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.  There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 2:8-10 (NIV)

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.  For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Romans 6:1-4 (ESV)

What shall we say then?  Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?  By no means!  How can we who died to sin still live in it?  Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

Hebrews 10:26-31 (ESV)

For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.  Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses.  How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?  For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.”  And again, “The Lord will judge his people.”  It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Romans 8:12-14 (NIV)

Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it.  For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 (ESV)

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

1 John 1:8 (NIV)

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.

1 John 3:4-10 (ESV)

Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.  You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin.  No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.  Little children, let no one deceive you.  Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous.  Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning.  The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.  No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.  By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

Matthew 12:31 (NIV)

And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.

Scripture of the Day

Acts 17:11:

Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

1 Thessalonians 5:21:

Test everything.

1 John 4:1:

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

Acts 20:28-31:

Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers.  Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.  I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock.  Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.  So be on your guard!