God’s Good News for the Sick, 1
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049 – Version 28.2.2005
English Title: God’s Good News for the Sick 1 –Sickness and Suffering
Bible quotations have been taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version, Grand Rapids, 1983.
Qur’an quotations have been taken from Marmaduke Pickthall, The Meaning of the Glorious Koran, New York, 1955.
PATH-OF-PEACE • P.O. BOX 567
IMPERIAL, PA 15126
I wish to thank Rev. Ernest Hahn for assisting me greatly in authoring this book. For many years he and his family lived in South India where he had constant opportunity to visit the sick in several hospitals and to be in contact with the handicapped.
I wish to acknowledge my debt to my friends, Salam Falaki, Path of Peace, Esslingen, Germany; Ms Marietta Smith of Penington House, Mussoorie, Uttaranchal State, India; Dr. Samuel Victor Bhajjan, Ex-Director, Henry Martyn Institute of Islamic Studies, Hyderabad, India; Ms Norine Love, the Fellowship of Faith for Muslims, Toronto, Ontario, Canada and to other friends who have helped us in the preparation and publication of this book.
I express my sincere gratitude to my dear sister, Safia I. Mirza, also for writing the Foreword for this book
I am also indebted to my dear wife, Milly, and son, Reuben, who sacrificed much of their valuable time and energy to help me in my endeavour.
Dr. I. O. Deshmukh, M.B.B.S; D.P.H.,
Payaam - e – Najaat,
455, Aurangabad Cantt.,
India - 431 002.
A Personal Response
Throughout Dr. Deshmukh’s life, God has wonderfully qualified him for this task: his Islamic heritage; his capacity to view at least two religious communities as both insider and outsider; his continuing respect, love and concern for the community he left; his medical skills and protracted medical practice; as a patient himself, his grappling with pain, death and despair; his ultimate full surrender to God and his healing through faith; his commitment to the living God alone through becoming a disciple of Jesus the Messiah and imitating Him in serving his community. God had blessed him abundantly and he knew it; he knew it experientially as well as intellectually. And he knew that he must help complement his patients’ (and community’s) partial knowledge of Jesus the Messiah with God’s fuller revelation of His Good News, and encourage fellow-Christians to do likewise.
I thank God for Dr. Deshmukh, for his ministry of healing and for his proclamation of the great Healer. And I thank him for inviting me to partner with him in authoring this book.
July 2001 Rev. Ernest Hahn,
Foreword ......................................................................... 6
Prologue: Sickness and Suffering:
Bane or Blessing,
My Personal Experience .......................................... 8
1. The Genesis and Diagnosis of Suffering ................ 17
A. Sin and Sickness ...................................................................... 17
B. Sickness and Satanic Influence ................................................. 20
C. Suffering and the Persecution of Christians ................................ 21
D. Our Attitude toward Sickness and Suffering ................................ 23
Appendices ..................................................................... 30
Appendix 1 - The Holy Bible ........................................................... 30
Glossary .......................................................................... 32
QUIZ ............................................................................ 41
I heard about Dr. I. O. Deshmukh long before I met him. The fact that he came to Jesus the Messiah from the same religious background as my own, created in me a desire to know him. Then a beautiful testimony In Quest of Truth was handed over to me. It was by Dr. Deshmukh. I could not stop reading it once I started, and when I finished it, all I did was praise God. Having read this heart touching struggle of a fellow brother, I felt I had to meet him. God answered my prayer in January, 1994, when Dr. Deshmukh came to minister in Hyderabad and there was oneness and gladness of spirit as we shared all that our glorious God was doing in our lives.
Later Dr. Deshmukh requested me to write the Foreword for his book God’s Good News for the Sick. The task was difficult because I did not know how I could ever put into a few words all that I felt as I read a copy of this moving book.
I believe we are living in those very times that the prophet Joel wrote about in Joel 2:28,29: “28 And afterwards, I (God) will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. 29 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.”
As we look around today, we see and hear that truly God is pouring out His Holy Spirit on young and old, not only to prophesy, dream dreams and see visions but also to heal the sick and minister to the suffering and needy ones all over the world.
I think it is a lot easier to talk and read of suffering than to actually live with it day after day for years as Dr. Deshmukh has done. I have read several books on suffering and healing. These were miraculous testimonies of people who were healed. Most of them I did not know personally but they have greatly encouraged my faith. God’s Good News for the Sick is an addition to the long, long list of the miracles of healing.
Dr. I. O. Deshmukh, a medical practitioner himself, has labored through many hours of prayers and a constant dependence on God’s Holy Spirit to proclaim the Gospel - God’s Good News indeed! - to this suffering and diseased world that there is One who can heal body, mind and soul. The treatment is free, the results are positive and the effects are everlasting.
The personal healing of Dr. I. O. Deshmukh from a killer disease like malignant lymphoma reassures us of the promise of God in Matthew 19:26 “With God all things are possible,” and also Genesis 18:14 “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” Reading this book, one cannot but agree: With or without medicine, then, now and always, God alone is the Great Physician and Divine Healer. He will always be what He told the Israelites: “I am the LORD who heals you.” Through Jesus the Messiah He has decisively demonstrated that He alone heals the mind and body for now and redeems the mind, body and soul for eternity.
The Qur’anic and Biblical quotations are so apt that they add much to the conviction of the reader. The language and the style of writing are simple yet appealing. Simplicity of language makes it easy to go through this book. It contains no teaching that would confuse the reader. Instead, as we read, we begin to notice how small Dr. Deshmukh, the author, is when compared to Jesus the Messiah, the author and finisher of Dr. Deshmukh’s faith.
Personally, I was ministered to as I read page after page. I found my own faith being lifted up and strengthened as I went through that part of the compassionate life of Jesus the Messiah that desires to heal, deliver and forgive. Painstakingly, Dr. Deshmukh has described and discussed the healings, and how they were accomplished by a word or a touch of the Saviour, Jesus.
I praise God Almighty who deserves all the glory for the writing and sharing of this testimony and book God’s Good News for the Sick. Even as I write the Foreword, I pray that its readers would receive their share of God’s blessings. Along with Dr. I. O. Deshmukh, I wish you all, dear readers, a very profitable reading time.
Bait - al - Nur, 48, Marredpally, Road No. 2,
Secunderabad, A. P., 500 026,
SICKNESS AND SUFFERING, BANE OR BLESSING?
My Personal Experience
In the same way that human beings are prone to sin, they are prone to sickness also. Sickness is a universal experience. The physical and mental stress of daily living gradually weakens our bodies so that we easily lose resistance and succumb to the forces of this world which cause disease and infirmity. Psychosomatic disorders as well as organic diseases continue to multiply and intensify suffering. At times, they cause suffering more agonizing than the suffering generated by physical illness.
On occasions, of course, sickness is of short duration and causes minimal suffering. The patient may recover with or without medicines. On other occasions sickness is protracted and painful, causing the patient unbearable suffering and rendering him desperate and helpless.
Where do sickness and suffering come from? Who, or what, is really responsible for these disasters that virtually affect all people everywhere, at least to some degree? If God allows them, why does He allow them?
On the other hand, if sickness and suffering are disasters, are they only disasters? Is it possible that, though sickness and suffering are essentially disastrous and destructive, they may still yield blessing? If so, how?
As a medical practitioner who, by God’s grace, has been engaged in the healing process of many sick and suffering people for many years, I have been concerned with such questions about sickness and suffering. However, it was only after I myself endured the ordeal of severe sickness and suffering and could relate this personal experience to my personal faith that I was open to discover more satisfactory answers to these and similar questions and to understand how God graciously and powerfully could extract His blessing for us from out of our human disasters. And at what a cost to Him!
So let me relate my experience to you:
I was born and brought up in a Muslim family in a small village about two hundred kilometres south of Bombay, (now called Mumbai), India. At the age of twenty-three, I graduated from the University of Bombay with a degree in medicine and surgery. It was while studying at Grant Medical College, Bombay, that I had my first contact with Christian teachers and students. Prolonged and frequent contact and fellowship with these new friends had a profound and salutary impact on my mind and conduct. When I left medical college in March, 1958, to take up an appointment as a medical officer at the newly established Government Leprosy Control Centre at Savda, about four hundred and fifty kilometres north of Bombay, another Christian friend gave me a Bible. I promised my friend I would read it. This precious gift soon changed my life.
At that time I was not an ardent follower of Islam. Nevertheless, the commitment to read the Bible which I made to my Christian friend led me to undertake a careful research of both the Qur'an and the Bible. Thus a more than three year quest for truth brought me to the feet of Jesus the Messiah, as I accepted Him as my Lord and Redeemer, God’s gift of Himself in this world and for this world.
Then, in 1960, I married the friend who had placed the Bible in my hands and always encouraged me in my study of it. In Milly, a nurse and midwife, God had graciously provided me with a life partner and a professional co-worker. Together we decided to provide a modest health care programme for our community with whatever resources were available to us. After I resigned from my government position in 1963, we established a clinic in Dasgaon, a village close to my birthplace. Despite difficulties, we treated the rich and the poor alike for four years. Once a month we visited our daughter, Shirin, whom we had admitted into a boarding school in Poona, about one hundred kilometres from Dasgaon. While in Poona, we were also able to worship God with many fellow Christians in one of this city’s many churches. We were grateful for this opportunity, especially since we lacked it in Dasgaon. Later we settled in Aurangabad.
God met our needs and we grew in our faith. Though we had a lucrative medical practice, we owned no property and had no money in the bank. The Lord led us to give our surplus earnings to the poor and to live one day at a time. This gave us great joy. With it came added blessing from the Lord.
In December, 1979, events in our lives took a sudden turn. I began experiencing pain and swelling in the lymph glands under my chin, armpits and groins. I took antibiotics for a week with no positive result. A few preliminary laboratory investigations also proved inconclusive. I decided to consult oncologists at the Tata Cancer Hospital in Bombay. The tests there conclusively demonstrated that I had malignant lymphoma, a cancer of the lymph glands. The doctors began treatment immediately. They told me to put my medical practice on hold and advised us to relocate to a cooler climate during my convalescence.
Within a month the pain and swelling in my lymph glands subsided, but the drugs left me weak and unable to work. I quit my practice and moved my family. Little did I know that this was just the beginning of my trials!
At first, we moved to Bangalore in South India, thinking that the climate there would be more congenial. Since it was not, we moved after two months to Belgaum.
Faithfully and prayerfully I continued the treatment for a year and a half as the doctors had recommended. Then I suffered a relapse. The doctors prescribed stronger and costlier drugs. Soon our funds were exhausted so that we could no longer buy drugs. Thank God, as soon as our friends in Aurangabad and elsewhere heard of our plight, they responded overwhelmingly! Within two weeks we had enough money to purchase the medicines and to cover other personal expenses for the next six months.
One of the prescribed drugs, Adriablastin, gave me much trouble. Whenever my wife injected me with it, it caused inflammation of the veins and killed the surrounding tissue. Soon I had scar marks covering my hands, feet and the front of my elbows. My veins had thickened like nylon cord. I became completely bald and, in fact, lost all the hair on my entire body.
To make matters worse, an injection area became infected and I developed a three centimetre ulcer on my left foot. My condition deteriorated and I became bedridden.
I thought the ulcer would develop into gangrene. Immediately Milly arranged for me to return to the hospital in Bombay. In turn the doctor sent me back with an assurance that gangrene had not yet developed. They prescribed treatment to control the infection and advised me to return to the hospital when the ulcer had healed sufficiently for them to perform plastic surgery.
After three weeks I returned to the hospital for the operation. My projected three week stay turned into two months. Immediately upon admission the infection became worse due to a cross infection in the ward where I was located. This delayed the operation by three weeks.
Grafting a piece of skin from another part of my leg brought me additional misery. After forty-eight hours the wound was opened for inspection. I was shocked to see that almost the whole of my lower left leg had been sliced for the graft. Drops of a costly drug were flushed through the wound day and night for seven days with the hope that the graft would take. It was to no avail; the skin flap died. To make matters worse, the same ward infection again settled in the wound. This time the infection proved resistant to the antibiotics.
The wound was dressed four or five times daily. Each time, the dressing was soaked in a saline solution before loosening and removing it. I could hardly bear this procedure. My body panicked from the noise of the dressing trolley as it was dragged by my bedside. I lost my appetite and became anaemic. The infection continued to spread upward in the leg. It seemed best to amputate the leg below the knee as soon as possible in order to save the knee.
Many of our friends came to visit me in the hospital. Among them were the missionaries Paul and Virginia Morris who lived in Bombay. I always stayed with them when I came to Bombay for medical examination. They served me Holy Communion, brought me books and magazines and looked after my other needs. But my main source of comfort and strength was the Bible. I read through every verse on prayer, faith and healing. I noted that God wants us to be healthy (3 John 2) and that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). As I read and prayed, I tried to understand what I lacked for healing. I knew that hundreds of people were praying for me. What was missing?
Then, suddenly, I happened to look at the scars that I had developed on my elbows, hands and feet where the drugs had been injected into me¾though, to be sure, through fine needles. Then I recalled the ghastly wounds of our Lord Jesus the Messiah, whose bleeding hands and feet had been pierced with thick nails at the time of His crucifixion.
As I remembered the suffering our Lord endured for my sake and, in fact, for the sake of all people (1 John 2:2), I felt ashamed! He gave away His life voluntarily, out of compassion for sinful mankind and in obedience to the will of the Heavenly Father. My suffering added up to nothing in comparison with the sufferings He endured as the Son of Man from the moment of His birth in the manger to their climax on the cross of Calvary. He lived as ”a man of sorrows”. He bore our infirmities, carried our diseases. He was insulted, lashed and tortured, taking upon Himself the punishment we deserved so that we could be forgiven. Though He, as God’s eternal Word, was one with the eternal God, sharing in His Father’s deity and sovereignty, yet He had humbled Himself to become an obedient servant, accepting even the ignominious death of a slave on the cross in willing and total obedience to the will of His Father (Philippians 2:6-8). He truly experienced the Psalmist’s cry: ”My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”(Psalm 22:1). In Jesus the Messiah what a demonstration of the limitless love of God for us! In Jesus the Messiah what an exposure of the sinfulness of our sin, God’s judgment upon it and the price He paid to forgive it! And at that moment also, I remembered our Lord’s very words that He taught His disciples to pray: Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:10)
Until that point I had not adequately grasped what surrendering self to God and His will really meant. It was at that point that the Lord impressed upon me the need to re-examine my faith and prayer-life, to compare them as I practised them with the Biblical understanding of what they should be and, yes, to check my intention in practising them. Then I began to realise that for me, too, as for the Lord Jesus Himself, trusting God means totally surrendering my life to God and His will. While I, as His little child, should express my wants to Him, I must not dictate to Him what He should do for me. I must recognise that He, my Lord, knows better than I, His child and servant, what is best for me, that I am in this world to discern and to do His will, that I am to pray that He would bend my self-centered will to conform with His gracious will, not that He would conform His will to mine. How easy to try to manipulate God, to try to get Him to do things my way! How hard, so often, for me to really want what He wants me to want! The moment I realised this, I felt as though my shoulders were relieved instantly of the heavy burden I had been carrying all these days.
I had spent all the days of Lent in the hospital. Throughout, Milly stood by my bedside like a solid rock, strong and confident in her faith, encouraging me and lifting up my spirit. Then on Friday morning, a week before Good Friday, two days before Palm Sunday in 1982, I surrendered myself to the will of God. This decision, inspired by God’s Spirit, was the turning point in my life.
Later that morning the assistant surgeon came to discuss the amputation. I told him to go ahead. We decided that on the following Monday the left leg should be amputated.
As Milly had gone to the chemist’s shop for some medicines, she was not present at the time of the decision. When I told her about the decision, she did not accept it. She believed that the Lord would preserve my leg and refused to give written consent to the operation, saying she would continue to fast and pray.
Milly fasted the entire next day. When some friends came to see me in the evening, I was having tea and asked them to join me. When they wanted Milly also to join us for tea, I told them that she was fasting and praying on my behalf.
Then one of them suggested that all lay their hands on me and pray (James 5:14-16). I was asked to lead the prayer. Then the others took turns praying. Their earnestness was evident from their words and their tears. I concluded with the words: ”Lord, let your will, not mine, prevail.” At that moment something strange happened! I experienced a feeling that is hard to explain. It was as if something like lightning or electricity went through my body, giving a sensation of warmth and joy. I felt as though the bandage around my leg had loosened and the entire layer of pus and scabs had come off.
I could not resist telling others what had happened. All were excited and joined me in praising God. An hour later, the house surgeon came to change the dressing as usual. After he untied the knot, he removed the bandage without difficulty. This time not a drop of saline was required to remove the inner dressing. Apart from a small area over a tendon, no trace of pus existed. The entire area was pink with granulation tissue, a new tissue ready to accept the superficial skin graft!
On Monday, the day scheduled for surgery, the chief surgeon came to my room. He could not believe the house surgeon’s report. He himself unrolled the bandage and looked at the wound. He smiled in amazement and said that the next day, they would perform surgery for the superficial skin graft on my leg.
Within a few days after the skin graft, I left the hospital. I was instructed to use a pair of crutches for two weeks, then only one crutch for another two weeks, then a cane as long as it was necessary. But the Lord wonderfully worked it so that after one week I gave up the crutches and walked with a cane. After three days I dispensed with the cane also.
I did continue to limp. However, one Sunday when I had gone for church worship, the pastor asked me to read the Scripture lesson for the day. As I walked to the reading stand, I suddenly stopped limping! The Lord had completed the healing process.
Once my body was riddled with cancer; today it is whole. Since February, 1982, I have taken no medication for this malady.
Once it was certain that I would lose my leg; today I stand solid on both feet.
Once I thought I would not be able to practise medicine again; today, with God’s help, I am healing the sick in Aurangabad.
Once my faith was weak and fragile; now it is strong and firm. And that is my greatest gain. I had tasted something of the joy in suffering, to which the Bible refers: Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)
Dare one speak about a foretaste of resurrection in this life? If, as the Bible most eloquently testifies, Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and His victory over death happened through His violent suffering and death on the cross for us and for our salvation, then should not the fruits of His salvation be manifest also in us and through us among others whom God equally loves? Thankfully, with my family and others I rededicated my life to God.
What a wonderful God we have¾He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the source of every mercy, and the one who so wonderfully comforts and strengthens us in our hardship and trials. And why does He do this? So that when others are troubled, needing our sympathy and encouragement, we can pass on to them this same help and comfort God has given us. (2 Corinthians 1:3,4, The Living Bible translation)
This personal experience of intense suffering due to a critical illness and its complications has profoundly affected my attitude toward the sick and my treatment of their ailments. I count it a blessing from God to have suffered physically so that I can fully identify with the suffering of others. Now I want to diagnose their sickness and treat them, not only their sickness. I want them to know that God cares for them, that ultimately He is the source of all healing, that medical staff, instrument and drugs are simply His gifts and that finally the proper stance of both patients and staff is to say: ”Thank you, dear God!”
We pray for our patients and offer them portions of the Holy Bible that speak of new hope, new purpose and God’s peace for their lives. If only, through their sickness, they might see God not only as their master and judge but also as their loving Heavenly Father! If only they might taste the sweetness of God’s love and forgiveness, and their hearts be liberated from the acids of anger, greed, envy, hatred and revenge, which so often impede even physical healing also!
If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ (the Messiah) from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you. (Romans 8:11)
But how can they hear without someone spreading the Good News! (Romans 10:14)
This book is my humble endeavour toward this end.
Dr. Ibrahimkhan Omerkhan Deshmukh
Payaam - e - Najaat,
455, Aurangabad Cantt.,
INDIA, 431 002
1. THE GENESIS AND DIAGNOSIS OF SUFFERING
The causes of sickness in people are as diverse as the people who suffer from them. Natural causes such as infections, injuries, accidents and other organic problems cause sickness. Jesus the Messiah attributed sickness to sin and satanic influence also.
A. Sin and Sickness
In a sense, sickness and even death are direct consequences of people’s sinful acts and sinful nature. All persons sin and therefore suffer sin’s legacy of sickness and death. Do you know anyone whose nature is free from sin, sickness and death?
Yet every person’s sin need not result in sickness; nor can one conclude that disciples of Jesus the Messiah suffer no sickness because their lives are free from sin. Thus Jesus clearly stated that the blindness of the man whom He healed at Jerusalem was not a direct consequence of sin, either of the man himself or of his parents (John 9:1-3). Likewise Lazarus, a friend of Jesus, died after a brief illness. His sickness, too, was not attributed to any sinful act (John 11:4). In both instances Jesus claimed that these individuals suffered not because of any personal sin but because through their suffering God was glorified.
And do you remember the suffering of Job (Ayyub)? Job’s friends assumed he was afflicted because of his personal sin. Their assumption turned out to be wrong.
The Bible records two cases where Jesus linked sickness with sin. In the case of the paralytic his sin was first forgiven (Matthew 9:2). In the case of the lame man at the pool of Bethesda Jesus healed him even before he confessed his sin. (John 5:1-15)
Whenever Jesus attributed sickness to sin, He forgave the sinner and asked him to sin no more. Yet in no case did He identify any sin as the cause of the illness. Indeed, to attribute a specific sickness or suffering to a particular sin may even be contrary to the teaching of Jesus. Good is not invariably rewarded with prosperity and freedom from pain; nor is evil always punished with sorrow and sickness. On the contrary, as already noted, God makes His sun shine on good and bad people alike and sends rain both on the righteous and the unrighteous (Matthew 5:45). So to attribute a particular suffering to a particular sin and the intensity of the suffering in proportion to the greatness of the sin may be dangerous. In fact, as the Bible clearly states: All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) Great saints, too, have suffered violence, disease and premature death.
In Christian understanding, God does not initiate or cause sickness, suffering or anything else that is evil. At most, He may permit evil to work in us for a while, simultaneously overruling it and using it to build up our character, strengthen our faith, increase our knowledge about Him and bring us closer to Him; or at times even to chasten us as a good father chastens his child.
Still, Scriptures remind us of “... the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.” (Exodus 34:6,7)
This verse expresses the fundamental Biblical truth that by no means does God leave the guilty unpunished. His punishment for sin may be sickness and with it suffering and death.
Whenever a believer encounters sickness or suffering, he should reflect upon his life and recollect any possible unconfessed sin. When he is sure no consciously unconfessed sin remains in his life, he should pray for healing, recognising that God would grant only that which glorifies Him and benefits the suppliant. Then he can confidently leave the matter entirely to the will of God.
Let us reflect upon two statements from the Bible:
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
“... If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” (James 5:15,16)
These verses suggest that although all sickness may not be the direct consequence of personal sin, yet where sin is involved, it must be confessed before God forgives it. Confession involves repentance and repentance means a change of heart (cf. Psalm 32:3-5, 11 for David’s confession). Through our confession and repentance and God’s forgiveness, God our Heavenly Father restores fellowship between Himself and us. As Scriptures further tell us:
“He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13)
“If I had cherished sin in my heart the Lord would not have listened; But God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer. Praise be to God who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me.” (Psalm 66:18-20)
Unconfessed sin hinders our fellowship with one another (1 John 1:6,7). Although Scriptures advocate confession of sins to one another, this does not necessarily mean public confession of personal and intimate sins (James 5:16). The word ”confession” means ”to admit” or ”to agree to”. It will be better, therefore, to let the character and the implication of the sin determine how public the confession should be.
If the sin is against an individual, there may be no need to confess it in public or in the congregation. As a private sin it may be confessed privately. (cf. Matthew 5:23,24)
If the sin is committed against a group, it may be confessed before the group.
If the sin is against neither an individual nor a group but against God alone, then it may be confessed to God alone. Though, ultimately, all sin is against God (Psalm 51:1-4), here the distinction is made between sinning against God alone and sinning against others as well as God.
Confession of sin is a salutary, though not necessarily an easy task. It can serve as a powerful deterrent against further sin. Moreover, of course, it may provide cleansing and great relief, as though a great burden had fallen from the shoulders.
“Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity, I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’ and you forgave the guilt of my sin.” (Psalm 32:5)
On the other hand, unconfessed sin often brings depression of soul, which can lead to bodily illness. Body and soul are so intricately related that unburdening the troubled soul may lead to physical relief. Thus experiencing forgiveness and the peace of a clear conscience may facilitate the healing process of the whole human organism.
Jesus clearly recognised the presence of the powers of evil in this world and commanded authority over them. He Himself experienced personal conflict with Satan (Matthew 4:1-11) and cast out many demons. In the concluding verse of the prayer that He taught His disciples (The Lord’s Prayer), He alludes to the need for deliverance from Satan. (Matthew 6:13)
Today, as yesterday, multitudes of people suffer distress of heart and lack peace of mind. Anxiety and depression cripple them. Identifying with the suffering of others compounds the burdens which they already bear from their own sufferings. To what extent are human tensions and anxieties, sickness and suffering, to be attributed to Satan? Certainly, at least, to the extent that he remains active in destroying our peace with God, our worship of God and our service to Him, and in tempting us to bow down before the many idols in this world. And how active he remains today, if we would look not only at the actions of others but at our own actions and within our own hearts! Who knows how closely our sickness and suffering are linked with our surrender to Satan and his temptations in place of our surrender to God and obedience to God’s commandments!
People, not God, of course, are responsible for their own suffering. Suffering arises from human sinfulness, which affects all of us and to which all of us contribute. And, in turn, it may be related to our sickness. This is not to say, however, that Jesus’ disciples are immune to suffering and endure no sickness and suffering from sickness. Nor that, ultimately, all His disciples recover from their illnesses. Still it is incumbent upon His disciples to call upon Him in faith for recovery and to surrender themselves to the will of God, aware that God does what is best for the welfare of His children.
C. Suffering and the Persecution of Christians
Obviously sickness is not the sole cause of all human suffering. Nor is the individual always the cause of all his suffering. Here we note other dimensions of suffering in people’s lives and indications of the significance of this suffering, at least from a Biblical perspective.
The disciple of Jesus may suffer wrong for doing right: “For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. But how is it to our credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.” (1 Peter 2:19-21)
“But even if you suffer for what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear, do not be frightened.” (1 Peter 3:14)
He may suffer for righteousness’ sake and in accordance with God’s will: “It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.” (1 Peter 3:17)
“So then those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.” (1 Peter 4:19)
Every Christian must expect suffering for Jesus’ sake. To suffer for Him is to praise God for the privilege of bearing His wonderful name. To endure reproach and shame on His account is to glorify Him.
“If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the spirit of glory and of God rests on you. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.” (1 Peter 4:14,16)
Disciples of Jesus should accept the fiery trials that accompany discipleship. Through these trials they become partakers of Jesus’ suffering in this world so that they can share in His future glory. (1 Peter 4:12,13; John 15:18,19)
“Now if we are children, then we are heirs¾ heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his suffering in order that we may also share in his glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:17,18)
“If we endure, we will also reign with him.” (2 Timothy 2:12)
The present trials are only temporary and serve to strengthen our faith: “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith¾ of greater value than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire¾may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honour, when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (1 Peter 1:6,7)
Yet He promises His blessing in the present age also: “And the God of all peace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong,firm and steadfast.” (1 Peter 5:10)
By permitting suffering in our life, God disciplines us for our good so that we may share in His holiness and reap a rich harvest of righteousness and peace (Psalm 119:67; Hebrews 12:7,10,11). In the process, though outwardly we waste away, inwardly we are renewed daily and prepared for future glory (Romans 8:17; 2 Corinthians 4:16-18). Moreover, He also comforts us in all our troubles and, thus, enables us to comfort others in their troubles (2 Corinthians 1:3,4). But, above all, God permits sickness and infirmity so that His works may be made manifest in our lives. To God be the glory through Jesus the Messiah! (John 9:3; 11:4)
D. Our Attitude toward Sickness and Suffering
How then, in brief, should we respond to sickness and suffering? The possibilities are many and varied. Firstly, there is the possibility of rebellion against God, the protest of the individual against God, as if he contends with God as an equal to God. Then there are those who, understanding the fallacy of human pride which would rebel against God, meekly submit to God as if God ordained them to be sick and to suffer for no other reason than that He willed them to be sick and to suffer. Has not He determined from eternity our destiny? Are we not powerless to comprehend it and to change it? In any case, why should He care about us, more so since no one even on earth cares whether we are sick and suffer, whether we are dead or alive?
In fact, God does not want us to be sick and to suffer, because He loves us and cares for us. On the other hand, it is possible He allows us to be sick and to suffer, especially when our way of life begins to deviate from His perfect will and plan for each of us. In such cases He can even turn our sickness and suffering from catastrophe into blessing so that they become His gifts rather than His scourges. In any case, should not every person regularly examine himself, his heart and his life style, measuring them with the perfect measure of God’s perfect will? Where God’s discipline is appropriate, will he not thank God for it rather than rebel against God or simply submit to a fatalistic decree? To trust in God and surrender to God’s will, knowing that God disciplines us because He loves us: Therein lies the proper attitude of Jesus’ disciple in the face of sickness and suffering. And His assurance? The disciple knows that his Master, the Messiah, has already pioneered the way for him, and that He is God’s absolute assurance that God loves him and cares for him, whatever his condition may be.
Indeed, the endurance of suffering of all sorts is a blessing to ourselves and to all others who have experienced God’s love through His Holy Spirit. “… we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” (Romans 5:3-5)
The story of Job (Ayyub) in the Holy Bible teaches valuable lessons to all who suffer from any undeserved malady (James 5:10-12). We all remember how Job’s life went from the heights of prosperity to the depths of degradation. Throughout the acute suffering which he endured during his prolonged descent, he cried out to God in his distress, he persevered and he waited. In God’s time, God raised him from the depths of his spiritual gloom to new faith and insight. God restored his health, renewed his fortunes and granted him a greater knowledge of and intimacy with Himself. What wondrous endurance, faith and obedience to the will of God were operative in the life of Job!
How many of us will have had the same experience: our health and our circumstances restored, but only after a time of waiting and in a manner most appropriate and of maximum advantage to us! We are to trust the Lord and wait patiently for Him to provide His grace at a time that He deems expedient, both for us and for Him. True, we are so different and so are our situations. Yet, God understands each one of us and blesses each one of us in a different and personal way. In His mercy our sufferings are neither endless nor pointless.
In Job’s case God and Satan were both at work in the same set of circumstances. But they operated with different motives. Satan was trying to tempt Job to sin. But God wanted to test Job’s tolerance, perseverance and faith, and to prove his faithfulness to God.
God is untouched by evil and does not Himself tempt anyone. True, He may permit suffering, but only to a limited extent, as in the case of Job also. Temptation to sin comes from Satan, not from God.
“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him. When tempted, no one should say, ”God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” (James 1:12-15)
Even under such circumstances God provides a way of escape: “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)
It comes through prayer: “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)
It may also come through self-judgement in the light of the Word: “... if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)
Even if God does not heal, His grace is sufficient: “He said to me, ”My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9,10)
Once we accept suffering, have overcome it and strengthened our faith and character, we are in a better position to help others. For suffering sharpens faith, moral excellence, spiritual perception, patient endurance, kindliness and love that knows no bounds: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3,4)
Some of my non-Christians patients, mostly Muslims, who have endured suffering as intense as mine, were greatly comforted when they heard how God healed me. Others expressed doubt whether Jesus would ever answer their petitions for help and healing. I drew their attention to the Gospel narratives where it is recorded that Jesus healed not only Jews but also Gentiles and Samaritans who appealed to Him in faith. (cf. Mark 7:24-30; Luke 7:1-10; 17:11-19)
These Scripture events offer a powerful incentive for anyone, whose pain and suffering have become unbearable, to cry out to Jesus the Messiah for help in the hour of agony. There are those who can testify that He heard their cries and healed their bodily infirmities. Then He healed them in mind and spirit also. He saved them from their sins, redeemed them and reconciled them to the Heavenly Father. They tell how He turned their suffering into a blessing. They believed in the Lord and trusted in His mighty power and in His will to heal them. He amply rewarded their faith.
But how are all the sick and suffering people to know who Jesus is, that He is alive and present and what He can do for them? There are those who have read about Jesus in the Holy Bible, or have studied about Him in school. Some have been introduced to Him through cinema or video. Others have heard about Him through a Christian friend.
From the Qur’an, our Muslim friends can learn at least that Jesus is a great prophet of God. He is the son of Mary, the sinless prophet, the Messiah, the Word of God and the Spirit of God-a revelation for humankind and a mercy from God. The Qur’an relates that Jesus the Messiah heals the leper, opens the eyes of the blind and raises the dead. Can the Qur’an, then, lead them to the Messiah’s door of mercy?
And let me add that when I was in the hospital, two Muslim ladies, my relatives, prayed over me.
Ponder also the poem of the fifteenth century Persian poet, Jami, in which he invites us all to seek the Messiah’s healing for our hearts’ diseases and for our hypocritical characters:
Qaleb-e to rumi-o del zangi ast
Rav keh nah in shiveh-ye yekrangi ast
Ba tan-e rumi del-e zangi keh cheh
Rang-e yeki gir dorangi keh cheh
Rang-e dorangi be dorangan gozar
Zankeh dorangi hamah‘aib ast-o‘ar
Beh keh shafa ju zeh Masiha shavi
Bu keh az in‘aib mobarra shavi.
Your body is white and your heart is black,
Go away, for this is not the way of sincerity.
What relation has a white body to a black heart?
Choose one colour. Why two colours?
Leave the two colours to those who are of two colours,
For being of two colours is a shame and disgrace.
Better you seek healing from the Messiah,
That you be delivered from this sad state.
(cf. The Muslim World, April 1952, pp.108, 109)
True, the Qur’anic references to Jesus are relatively few and generally scattered throughout the Qur’an. They are, however, so highly unusual, even unique, within the Qur’an that they could easily arouse the curiosity of any Muslim for more information. How much more, then, their capacity to invite the prayers of suffering Muslims who remember Jesus the Messiah’s ministry of healing and recall that He remains alive, accessible and in no need, shall we say, of a fax, computer, or hearing aid! Who would not like to hear more about the Son of Mary, about His power to heal, His authority even to forgive sin, His mission to reconcile the world to God, to make peace between all of us and God, and peace among ourselves! Jesus, Immanuel, God with us and for us! The transition, from these Qur’anic references to Jesus, to the Holy Injil, the Book of Jesus and the basic source for all our knowledge of Jesus, is easy enough. The Injil itself is available to all and offers rewarding reading and opportunity for meditation and remembrance of God and His care for the sick and oppressed.
Thanks be to God for the ministry of healing which disciples of Jesus the Messiah, heeding the Messiah’s command, have established through hospitals and clinics in so many parts of the world in past and present! Perhaps this ministry especially has signalled the concern of God for the whole person, for body and mind as well as soul. At the same time, it has signalled God’s readiness to care for not only Christians but people of all faiths and no faith. (Again, does not God’s rain and sunshine fall on the fields of the Hindu, Buddhist, Jain, Muslim and Sikh, as well as the Christian?) Do you know of any similar world enterprise, which has been established with the intention of helping others, especially the poor and oppressed?
Centuries before Jesus, God reprimanded the leaders of Israel through His prophet Ezekiel: “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.” (Ezekiel 34:4)
In fact, visiting the sick, consoling and caring for them is a task which Jesus enjoins upon all His disciples, the humblest among them as well as the greatest, and serves as one measure by which we will be judged on the Day of Judgement. He understands such service to be service not simply to the neighbour but to Himself. Yes, by such service to your neighbour you can serve Jesus, your great Servant and Healer and Lord (Matthew 25:36)! Do we all avail ourselves of this opportunity, responsibility and privilege of visiting the sick in hospitals or in their homes?
It is well known that the sick, especially those severely handicapped and suffering agony, are vulnerable people. They are prone to accept the help and counseling of others, both bad and good counseling and help. As servants of God we will serve them for God’s sake and for their own welfare, gently leading them, when they are open, to repent of their sins and to taste the goodness of God’s forgiveness and new life. Yes, we will also protect them from the manipulation of others¾and, yes, take care lest we ourselves manipulate or abuse in any way.
We will not waste these precious opportunities to serve Him, to serve Jesus who has served us.
There is no situation which God cannot control. And Jesus’ disciples will not lose hope. God has the power and the will to convert every adversity into something good for us. Jesus’ miracles of healing are testimony to our conviction that He can heal everyone who calls upon Him from every kind of sickness and disease. Above all, they testify that He wants to save every person who seeks Him through His redeeming love.
And what attitude of heart does God require from us? Simply that we trust Him and His power to heal, that we demonstrate our trust by obedience to Him, that we acknowledge that He offers His grace to all who are willing to receive it. Listen to the promises of the Lord to the needy and His challenge to test Him:
I will extol the Lord at all times;
his praise will always be on my lips.
My soul will boast in the Lord;
let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
Glorify the Lord with me;
let us exalt his name together.
I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame.
This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;
he saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps around those
who fear him, and he delivers them.
Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.
Fear the Lord, you his saints,
for those who fear him lack nothing.
The lions may grow weak and hungry,
but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
Appendix 1: The Holy Bible
The holy books or holy scriptures of the Christians are known as The Holy Bible. The English word “Bible” is derived from the Greek word “biblion”, meaning “book”. The Bible contains sixty-six separate books and is divided into two parts: the Old Testament and the New Testament. “Testament” means “covenant” or “agreement”, in the case of the Bible the solemn covenants made between God and people, especially the Old Covenant through Moses and the New Covenant through Jesus the Messiah. Christians consider the Scriptures to be God-inspired writings and, therefore, the written Word of God.
“How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103)
The Old Testament, the Bible of the Jews and the first part of the Bible for Christians, consists of thirty-nine books originally written in the Hebrew language, a few small portions in the Aramaic language. Under God’s inspiration many different authors wrote these books over a period of about a thousand years.
The first five books, the Scriptures of Moses, are called the Torah (tawrat). The Torah includes the account of God’s creation, God’s dealings with Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Jacob, Jacob’s sons and through his sons the initial history of the Children of Israel. It focuses on God’s deliverance of the Children of Israel through Moses from the Pharaoh in Egypt and God’s covenant with the Children of Israel at Mt. Sinai.
The Old Testament also contains historical books that tell of the lives of great persons such as Joshua, Samuel, David, Solomon and others. It also includes books of poetry, wisdom and praise, such as the Psalms of David and the Proverbs of Solomon. It concludes with a series of books authored under the inspiration of God’s Holy Spirit by various prophets, such as Isaiah, Daniel, Jonah and many others.
The New Testament contains twenty-seven books, all originally written in Greek and under God’s inspiration shortly after Jesus the Messiah ascended into heaven. The whole of the New Testament (or New Covenant) focuses on the Gospel (Good News, Injil) of Jesus, Jesus Himself being God’s Good News for the world.
The first four books of the New Testament are Gospel accounts about the life and ministry of Jesus: the accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. They explain how Jesus fulfills God’s promises through the Old Testament prophets to send His Messiah as Saviour and Redeemer for all people; in other words, how Jesus Himself is virtually God’s new covenant with humanity and how He seals this covenant with His blood. The remaining books inform us about the spread of God’s Good News, the growth of the Church in various parts of the world and the continual conflicts it encountered with the forces of evil. Like the Gospel accounts these books constantly remind us to be ready for the Second Coming of the Messiah and God’s final Judgement.
Muslim readers may recognize the Old Testament as the Tawrat of Musa, the Zabur of Dawud and the Saha’if al-Anbiya’ (the Books of the Prophets). Similarly, they may recognize the New Testament as the Injil of ‘Isa al-Masih. The word “Injil” is simply the Arabicized form of the Greek/English word “Evangel”, which means “Good News”. First and foremost, Jesus Himself is the Injil, God’s Good News, God’s eternal Word coming forth from Himself and sent from above into this world, as the New Testament so eloquently proclaims!
It should also be noted that the New Testament does not cancel or abrogate the Old Testament; rather, the New Testament fulfils the promises that God had made through His prophets in the Old Testament. Both Testaments are and continue to be God’s Word. Praise God, today the Holy Bible can be read by almost all the people in the world in their mother language!
We trust this book will encourage you to obtain your copy of the Holy Bible.
Anointing: See Messiah. The consecration of a prophet, priest and king, involving the application of or anointing with oil, as depicted in the Bible.
Aramaic: A Semitic language related to Hebrew and Arabic, the language of Jesus’ nation.
Beelzebub: A popular name for Satan, the chief of the evil spirits.
Bible: See Appendix 1.
Calvary: A hill outside the walls of Jerusalem on which Jesus the Messiah was crucified.
Centurion: A Roman military officer in charge of one hundred soldiers. See Romans.
Christ: See Messiah.
Covenant: A compact or agreement between two parties. The Bible speaks of covenants between God and Noah (Genesis 9:9-17), God and Abraham (Genesis 17) and God and the Children of Israel through Moses (Exodus 19:4-6). As indicated by the prophets (Deuteronomy 18:15-18 and Jeremiah 31:31-34), God made a final covenant with humanity through Jesus the Messiah and His sacrifice.
Exorcism: The casting out of evil spirits. Christian exorcism rejects magic and magic formulas, and operates only in the name of Jesus the Messiah.
Father, Heavenly Father: God is our Creator and we are His servants. God defined as ”Heavenly Father” expresses His love for us all, His desire to save us so that we become His children, and the obedience He expects from us. See Chapter 8.
Festival of the Passover: See Passover.
Gentiles: Non-Jewish peoples and nations.
Gospel: “Good News”, from the Greek word “Euangelion” (English: Evangel). The Arabic word “Injil” is also derived from “Evangel”; thus, the Injil of ‘Isa al-Masih, i.e., the Good News of Jesus the Messiah. Jesus Himself is the Good News and proclaims the Good News, God’s Good News of healing and saving. There is only one Gospel (Injil), Jesus the Messiah, and four witness accounts of the Gospel under the names of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
Herodians: A political party formed in support of the dynasty of Herod in Palestine. They joined with the Pharisees and Sadducees in opposing Jesus.
Holy Communion (The Lord’s Supper, the Eucharist): This farewell supper of Jesus the Messiah with His disciples just before His arrest and crucifixion marks God’s New Covenant with His people through the Messiah. Ever since this event Christians have celebrated Holy Communion regularly in remembrance of God’s love for them and His sacrifice of the Messiah. See Mark 14:12-25.
Holy Spirit (Spirit of God; Spirit of Jesus; Spirit of Truth): The Holy Bible frequently refers to God’s Holy Spirit, His personal presence and power. The Holy Spirit guides God’s people and their leaders, and inspires His prophets. The Holy Spirit continuously empowers God’s Messiah, His Word and His works. He is also called the Paraclete, the advocate and helper. The Holy Spirit should not be identified with the angel Gabriel (Jibril).
Israel: Another name of Jacob (Ya’qub), the son of Isaac (Ishaq), the son of Abraham (Ibrahim); hence also “the Children of Israel”, the patriarchs of the tribes of Israel and the nation Israel. Jesus was a descendant of Jacob’s son, Judah, whence the name “Jews”.
Jerusalem (al-Quds): Israel’s holy city containing God’s holy temple (haikal).
Jesus (‘Isa): Jesus is called “Jesus” “because He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). For Jesus as Messiah, see Messiah.
John: A disciple and apostle of Jesus to whom the fourth Gospel account in the New Testament is attributed.
John the Baptist (Yahya ibn Zakariyya): John the Baptist is a prophet and more than prophet, according to Jesus. He prepares the way for Jesus the Messiah. John the Baptist should be distinguished from John, the disciple and apostle of Jesus.
Job (Ayyub): See the book of Job in the Bible. Job is remembered especially for his patience and unfailing trust in God, even under the most difficult circumstances.
Kingdom of God (Kingdom of Heaven): The eternal and kingly rule or sovereignty of God in contrast to the kingdoms of this world. The Kingdom of God comes when God’s will is done on earth. The Kingdom of God endures, while all the kingdoms of the world pass away. Jesus said: ”Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.”
Law of Moses (Torah, Tawrat): The first five books of the Holy Bible; it regulates the religious, moral and social life of the nation Israel.
Kufr: Arabic word having a meaning similar to “blasphemy”.
Lent: A period of forty days from Ash Wednesday to Easter Eve which Christians devote to prayer, fasting and penitence in remembrance of Jesus the Messiah’s forty day fast in the wilderness as His preparation for His ministry and His suffering and death on the cross for humanity’s salvation. Ash is a symbol of repentance.
LORD, Lord (lord): One must distinguish between the use of this title with reference to God and with reference to humans. It is a special title of honor and majesty with reference to God (Lord). When written in capital letters (LORD) it designates the original Hebrew name of the God of Israel, “Yahweh” or “Jehovah”. Because this name is so holy it is not used by Jews in everyday life. Christians have followed Jews in this practice. With reference to humans it (lord) can mean simply ”master” or ”sir”.
Messiah (Greek “Christos; English “Christ”; Arabic “Masih”): A Hebrew word meaning “the Anointed One”, whose coming into the world God continually promised through His prophets in the Holy Bible. These promises were fulfilled in Jesus when He came into this world to bring God’s Kingdom through His ministry of preaching, teaching and healing, and especially through His suffering, His death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead. As the Messiah, Jesus is also known as ”the Son of David”, ”the Son of Man”, the Prophet, the Priest and the King, whose Kingdom is an everlasting Kingdom. See Son of Man.
At the time of Jesus the Jews generally looked forward to a Messiah who would drive out the Roman rulers and restore power to themselves. With the nation, Israel, the Messiah would rule over Rome and all other nations rather than being ruled by them. The Messiah’s Kingdom would be very much a kingdom of this world.
The Messiah, however, clearly affirmed that God’s Kingdom was not a kingdom of this world. He had come to establish the Kingdom of God, not the Kingdom of Israel or any other human kingdom. He had come to liberate people from Satan and from Satan’s dominion in their hearts. God’s Kingdom, He demonstrated, was marked by God’s people serving, not being served. He Himself had come “not to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for people” (Mark 10:45). Hence, so many Jews and their leaders rejected Jesus as the Messiah.
Since the nature of Jesus’ Messiahship was so easily misunderstood and misinterpreted, He often told people to be silent about what He did and who He was. Even His disciples really understood only after His resurrection from the dead. Jesus’ Messiahship, so unique in its nature and so different from the nature of the governments of this world, took time to grasp, to penetrate beyond the mind into the heart, to imitate … See also Chapter 2C.
Likewise, though the evil spirits might recognize Jesus and understand who He was as Messiah, Jesus did not want their testimony.
From the Qur’an Muslims, too, understand Jesus to be the Messiah. It is hoped that this book will help them to better understand God’s many promises through His prophets to send the Messiah, His plan and purpose in making Jesus to be the Messiah, and what Jesus’ Messiahship really means. See Appendix 3.
New Testament: See Bible, Appendix 1.
Old Testament: See Bible, Appendix 1.
Palm Sunday: The Sunday before Easter Sunday when Jesus’ disciples welcomed Jesus with palm branches as He entered Jerusalem on a donkey.
Pharisees: An influential Jewish religious party strongly committed to observing the Law of Moses, even with added restrictions. They believed in angels and the resurrection of the dead. In general they opposed Jesus on matters concerning the Sabbath, cleanliness and tithing. While they awaited the coming of the Messiah, the Son of David and the restoration of King David’s kingdom, they rejected Jesus as the Messiah. Yet some of them supported Jesus and even accepted Him as the Messiah.
Priest, High Priest: Descendants of Aaron (Harun), a descendant of Levi, one of the sons of Jacob (Israel). They were responsible for Temple administration and for the sacrifices and other religious ceremonies. The High Priest served as the principal priest and president of the supreme council (Sanhedrin) of the Jews.
Rabbi: “My Master”, a title of respect for religious teachers. “Rabboni” is another form of the same word.
Redeemer: One who purchases the freedom of someone enslaved. Biblically, God redeems us who have been enslaved by sin and death, and who live under the power and dominion of Satan and all of the powers of evil in this world. He does this to reveal to us our personal plight and His great love for us. He does this for each one of us through Jesus the Messiah “who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature, purchased and won me from all sin, from death and from the power of the devil, not with gold or silver, but with His holy precious blood and innocent suffering and death - so that I may be His own and live under Him in His eternal Kingdom”. (Martin Luther)
Romans: For some years before and during the time of Jesus the Romans ruled over the Jews. The Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, presided over Jesus’ trial. The Romans normally crucified political conspirators. The Jewish leaders contended that since Jesus claimed to be the Messiah and, hence, a king, He was a threat to Roman rule and worthy of death.
Sabbath: Saturday, the seventh day of the week, set aside by God in the Law of Moses as the day of rest and worship. The Children of Israel reckoned the day to be from sunset to sunset and, hence, the Sabbath was from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset. A conflict between many of the Jews and Jesus focused on the legality of Jesus’ healing of people on the Sabbath. Shortly after the Messiah’s resurrection from the dead and God’s inauguration of the New Covenant through the Messiah, the disciples of Jesus began to worship on the first day of the week (Sunday) in celebration of His victory over sin and death on that day.
Sadducees: A small, aristocratic Jewish party that exerted considerable religious and political influence upon Jewish society. They accepted only the first five books (Torah) of the Bible. They denied the existence of angels and the resurrection of the dead. During the time of Jesus it seems that they controlled the supreme council of the Jews (Sanhedrin) and also the high priesthood.
Samaritans: They acknowledged Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to be their forefathers, Moses as God’s prophet, the Torah as God’s Scriptures, and awaited the coming of the Messiah. When they rejected the temple in Jerusalem, they established their own temple on Mt. Gerazim.
After Assyria conquered most of Israel several centuries before the time of Jesus, many Israelites married Assyrians. Their children were called Samaritans. At the time of Jesus bitter hostility existed between the Samaritans and the Jews (the so-called pure Israelites). This enmity forms the background to Jesus’ (a Jew) famous story of ”The Good Samaritan”.
Satan (Shaitan), the Devil (Iblis): Also called “the ruler of this world”, “the ruler of evil”, ”the father of lies”.
Scribes: See Teachers of the Law.
Shirk: An Arabic word meaning “association”, i.e., associating someone or something with God, having another deity together with Allah, idolatry.
Son of David: A popular Jewish title for the coming Messiah whom the prophets frequently recognized as a descendant of Israel’s great king, David, and David’s father Jesse. See Messiah.
Son of God: Probably no designation of Jesus needs more explanation than Jesus as the Son of God - especially for Muslim readers. So often Muslims are unaware of its Biblical meaning; so often Christians are unaware that it needs special explanation for Muslims. Therefore we note:
a. Jesus as the Son of God does not mean that God is father in the sense that He procreates, i.e., He has a son through a physical relationship with a woman.
b. It does not mean that Jesus is the Son of God in the same way that some Muslims acknowledge that all people are sons or children of God in the sense that God is the creator of all people.
c. Jesus is the Son of God in a unique sense. It means that He is the eternal Son of God in the same way that He is the eternal Word of God. As the Bible says that God’s eternal Word became a human being called Jesus the Messiah, so it says that God’s eternal Son became a human being called Jesus the Messiah.
d. Likewise, the Bible tells us that God’s eternal Word and Son became a human being, Jesus the Messiah, not that a human being became the Son of God or God! Likewise Jesus the Messiah is not the Son of God because He was born of the Virgin Mary. He was born of the Virgin Mary because He is the Son of God from eternity, before Mary ever was.
In brief, Jesus as Son of God means God revealing Himself to us in this world as a person in order that we can truly begin to understand Him, our relationship with Him and what He has done for us. God, who is everywhere, is above us, below us, beyond us, and uniquely with us in Jesus Emmanuel (”God with us”). He calls us to be His children and to accept Him as our Heavenly Father. See especially John 1:1-14.
Son of Man: Centuries before Jesus came into this world, God spoke through the prophet Daniel about the coming of the Son of Man who would reign forever. Jesus the Messiah saw Himself as the fulfillment of this prophecy also. Thus Jesus is the Son of God and the Son of Man, ruler and judge, who came to serve and to ransom mankind. See Chapter 6, Part 1.
Son of Mary: Jesus is called “the Son of Mary” in the Bible (Mark 6:3) and the Qur’an—undoubtedly with reference to Jesus’ virgin birth. See Son of God.
Son of the Most High: See Son of God.
Spirit of God: See Holy Spirit.
Synagogue: The community place of worship where the Jews met on the Sabbath day.
Tax collectors (Publicans): Some Jews collected taxes from their own people under the Romans and were supported with Roman power. They were often viewed as extortioners and traitors and, hence, were generally despised and hated by their own people.
Teachers of the Law: They studied, interpreted and taught the Law. Most of them were Pharisees.
Temple: The Children of Israel’s central place of worship, located in Jerusalem and originally constructed by King Solomon (Sulaiman). Sacrifices were offered in the Temple only. The Romans destroyed the Temple in 70 A.D., leaving only some walls, at which many Jews even today pray. The Dome of the Rock and the El Aqsa mosque are close to these wall remains.
Zion: Name of the Mountain on top of which the Temple of Jerusalem was built. Often, “Zion” is simply another word for Jerusalem.
Q U I Z
If you have studied this booklet carefully, you can easily answer the following questions. Whoever answers 90% of all questions in the three booklets of this series correctly, can obtain a certificate from our center as an encouragement for his/her future services for Christ.
1. How did Dr. Deshmukh come to know Jesus Christ? Why did he accept Jesus as his Lord and Redeemer?
2. What lesson did Dr. Deshmukh learn from his sickness and suffering? How did his surrender to the will of God hasten his healing?
3. What saving effect did prayer have in his healing?
4. How did the miraculous healing affect the life of Dr. Deshmukh and his attitude towards his patients?
5. Where do sickness and suffering come from? Does sin play any role in causing them?
6. What lesson do you learn from the sickness and afflictions of Job?
7. How does God deal with the sickness of a repentant sinner?
8. According to Biblical teachings, how does Satan affect the health of people? What is the remedy for "demon possession"?
9. What does the Bible say about the suffering of Christians? What are the effects of such suffering with respect to salvation?
10. How will Christians be rewarded in the hereafter for the suffering they endure for Jesus’ sake?
11. Why do we rejoice in suffering?
12. What should we do when we face temptations and trials in our lives?
13. What assurance do we have from God in such situations?
14. How does the verse 2 Chronicles 7:14 appeal to you?
15. The Lord said to Paul in his suffering, "My grace is sufficient for you." (2 Corinthians 12:9) What do you think about this statement?
16. How does personal suffering help and equip a person to help and encourage other sufferers?
17. Do you visit, console, care and pray for the sick? What effect does it have on the sick person?
18. What attitude of heart does God require from us?
19. What good news does the Bible give to the world?
20. Enumerate the titles of Jesus Christ that are common to the Bible and the Qur’an. Which of these Qur’anic titles prove the divinity of Jesus Christ?
21. What do you know about Jesus the Messiah?
22. Why is Jesus the Messiah called the Redeemer?
23. In what respect does the biblical concept of the SON OF GOD differ from that of the Qur’an?
24. How do you prove that the Holy Bible is the true Word of God for mankind and that it has not been cancelled or abrogated?
25. Why do Christians address God as "Heavenly Father"?
26. How does God’s Holy Spirit influence the life of prophets and believers?
Every participant in this quiz is allowed to use any book at his disposition and to ask any trustworthy person known to him when answering these questions. We wait for your written answers including your full address on the papers or in your e-mail. We pray for you to Jesus, the living Lord, that He will send, guide, strengthen, protect and be with you every day of your life!
Yours in His service,
Ibrahimkhan O. Deshmukh
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