Does the Atonement Include Healing of the Body?

Larry Ray Hafley
Plano, Illinois

Most of the sects that believe miraculous divine healing is still performed today teach that the death of Christ provided both physical and spiritual healing.

"Since Calvary was the fulfillment of every type which depicted it, Christ has also included healing for our diseases in His atonement!

"The most complete Old Testament picture of Christ's atonement unquestionably is found in Isaiah 53. An examination of verses 4 and 5 will indeed be faith building: 'Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastismen of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.' A more exact translation of verse 4 is: 'Surely he hath lifted up and carried away our diseases and our pains.'

"The word 'borne'as used here is applicable to the scapegoat which bore away the Jewish people's sins. The same picture is found in John 1:29 which speaks of Christ as a Lamb which taketh (beareth) away the sins of the world. Hallelujah! He hath lifted up and carried away all our diseases and our pains.

"Matthew confirms this rendering in 8:16, 17: 'They brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.'

"The atonement of Christ is complete and adequate for the whole man and all his needs. The announcement by the Sufferer on the cross was, 'It is finished!' Thank God He was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities, chastised for our peace, and beaten with stripes for our healing! " (Bartlett Peterson, General Secretary, Assemblies of God, "The Lord Our Healer," The Pentecostal Evangel, Feb. 10, 1972.)

Significance Of This Doctrine

If this doctrine were true, one significant fact is abruptly brought to our attention. One could not fully or truly preach the cross of Christ if he denied that bodily healing was a part of it. Thus, all who reject this doctrine are perverters of the truth and subverters of souls. They are preaching another gospel, "which is not another," hence they must stand accused and accursed. This is therefore, a critical and crucial issue of difference.


Atonement - Reconciliation

The term "atonement" is proper and scriptural. Romans 5: 10, 11 defines this word as meaning reconciliation. "For if when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ by whom we have now received the atonement." By the death of Christ we have now received redemption and reconciliation, the atonement.

Isaiah 53 indeed deals with the atonement, but it also considers items other than and apart from the atonement. Isaiah 53 discusses facts not directly related to the reconciliation. With this in mind, note Matthew's quote. Bartlett quoted from verse 4. This part of the prophecy was fulfilled before the atonement. The statement "with his stripes we are healed" is in verse 5. It was not applied by Matthew to physical healing. To what then? Peter's application should be worth something! He teaches that the healing of Isa. 53:5 is spiritual and not physical (1 Pet. 2:24, 25).

Isaiah writes of details in the life of Christ, which do not form an integral part of the atonement brought about on the cross. Matthew quotes Isa. 53:4 and shows that Jesus's miracles of healing fulfilled prophecy. This fulfillment was before the atonement, before the death on the cross. Hence, it was not a part of the atonement. The "healing" of verse 5 was not quoted by Matthew. It was cited by Peter as proof of forgiveness of sins, spiritual healing.

Why Did Christ Die?

If bodily healing is part of the atonement, then Christ was slain for our sicknesses. Isa. 53: 10 says God made his soul "an offering for sin," but it should read, if bodily healing is involved and included, "He made his soul an offering for sin and sickness." Romans 4:25 say Jesus was "delivered for our offences." It should read, "He was delivered for our diseases!" Why did Christ die? The answer to that question will abolish and demolish any body-healing doctrine. Christ gave himself for our sins (I Cor. 15:3; Gal. 1:4) that he might 11 redeem us from all iniquity" (Titus 2:14), not for our sicknesses that he might deliver us from all diseases.

"Is Any Sick Among You?"

If anyone who considers himself forgiven by the atonement becomes ill, if the bodily healing fails, how can he be assured that he has been cured of every spiritual ill? If the atonement encompassed bodily affliction, no Christian could have a "terminal" disease. The very fact that Christians do have uncured and incurable ills is proof that the atonement made no provisions for such matters. Dorcas was "sick, and she died" (Acts 9:37). Did the reconciliation of Christ fail her? If it failed physically, can we know that it did not fail spiritually? Why did the atonement not heal Paul, Timothy, and Trophimus (2 Cor. 12:7; 1 Tim. 5:23; 2 Tim. 4:20)? All of these men suffered physically while they were faithful-where was the "medicare" of the atonement in these cases?

October 11, 1973