Praying Over The Sick, Anointing With Oil

Greg Strand – February 12, 2016 4 Comments

Have you ever been asked to pray over one who is sick, anointing him or her with oil?

Do you remind people of this truth from the Bible, and do you make it a part of your pastoral ministry?

This truth and practice is found in James 5:14-15: “Is anyone among you sick?  Let him call or the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.  And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up.  And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.”

Here are a few things on which I have focused and taught as we gather to pray for this sick person who has requested prayer. This could be considered a biblical theology and my pastoral practice of praying over the sick and anointing with oil.

  • When I have led such a time of prayer, I have used olive oil, which is used for anointing in the Scriptures (with various meanings). I have stated this is to note a setting apart to the Lord of this person in a unique and special way by the church, represented by the “elders of the church,” similar to the way anointing with oil had been used throughout the Scriptures. This oil is not intended to be for medicinal purposes. In some ways this “prayer of faith [for] the one who is sick” is an intensive form of intercessory prayer by the leaders of the church.
  • The fact that this is done “in the name of the Lord” reflects that this is done under his Lordship, sovereignty and providence. We also remember that he is our Father and we approach him as such, being assured that he desires good things for his children, according to his good, wise, sovereign and loving plan (Matt. 7:9-11). He is good and his ways are good (Ps. 119:68).
  • However, our gathering in prayer for healing is also a statement against sin, the effects of sin, and the results manifested in this fallen world (Rom. 8:18-25; 2 Cor. 4:16-18). Jesus wept at Lazarus’ grave because of the ravages of sin (Jn. 1l, esp. v. 35), which he came to overcome (1 Jn. 3:5, 8). As Barth wrote, “To clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world.”
  • We together pray “thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10). We recognize this is not only a prayer against this fallen world, redeemed-not-yet-glorified, it is also a statement against the enemy who comes to kill, steal and destroy (Jn. 10:10). But he has been defeated (Col. 2:15). It is also a prayer for God’s rule and reign to be extended through his grace and mercy, establishing peace with him and shalom, which affects our whole existence.
  • As we pray for God’s kingdom to come, we remember that in the coming of Jesus, who ushers in the kingdom, it is both now and not-yet, present and future (Mk. 1:14-15). God’s kingdom is evidenced by healing some now, and will be marked by healing for all in the kingdom-to-come.
  • We know God and his truth as revealed in the Bible. But often in these instances we doubt. In addition to praying in faith for God to touch and heal, I also confess my sin of doubt and skepticism (Mk. 9:24). Although we do not conclude as Pentecostals that the kingdom is all here, and neither do we claim that if one is not healed they did not have sufficient faith, we often doubt God and do not expect God to respond as our Father and our God, who is faithful (1 Cor. 1:9).
  • We pray “the prayer of faith” which means we trust God to be faithful, and we also trust God’s providence. We pray for healing, here and now, and we do so in and by faith. Because God is our Father, we pray expectantly but not presumptively (Matt. 7:7-11). And yet we also pray in and by faith trusting in our Father to do what is for our good and his glory, i.e. we pray in and by faith, for faith to receive what he lovingly allows. In other words, those who have been made righteous by faith, those are the ones who live by faith (Rom. 1:16-17).
  • As we pray for healing, we also ask God the Holy Spirit to hear and interpret our groans (Rom.8:26-39), since he is our earthly intercessor and he intercedes on our behalf to our heavenly intercessor, the Lord Jesus Christ (Heb. 7:25), who is our advocate before the Father (1 Jn. 2:1).
  • We thank God our Father that he loves, that he hears and we ask that he will heal now, knowing it will only be temporary since we will all die. (For example, Lazarus physically died and was raised from death to live again [Jn. 11]. And yet, he also physically died again and now awaits his resurrected and glorified body [2 Cor. 5:1-10].) And we thank him that for those who live by faith he will heal ultimately. We recognize an eschatological reality to this prayer, and while we ask that that end-time reality might be brought back in time to the present in this healing, we ultimately trust in faith that God will heal.
  • A prayer of faith does not mean God will necessarily give us what we want. Rather, we pray we will want what he gives, which graciously comes from our loving Father. We pray against the evils of sin, the kingdom of this world, and we pray for God’s kingdom to come. This is one of the most acute ways in pastoral ministry which manifests the tension of the now and the not-yet.

What is your understanding and practice of praying over the sick and anointing with oil?

EFCA Theology Podcast

Greg Strand – February 10, 2016 Leave a comment

We have a new resource to announce: EFCA Theology Podcast.

Brian Farone, Director of Biblical Theology and Credentialing, EFCA West, and I both had thoughts of beginning a podcast. In discussing this we determined it would be a better use of time and resources to do a single podcast, providing another important resource for the EFCA. Although Brian and I work together on the podcast, he provides the primary oversight and administration of it.

For now, we include messages that have already been given in various EFCA conferences. Some of the recent posted podcasts are from our Theology Conference held a couple of weeks ago (you can also access recordings, notes and bibliographies of all the plenary lectures at our EFCA Theology Conference webpage.) In some ways, this will become a repository of many of the excellent messages we have heard in the EFCA over the past many years in our conferences.

We will also provide a reading of Evangelical Convictions . For example, episodes 101 and 108 are readings from the book.

Occasional interviews will also be included. For example, episode 113 is an interview with Peter Cha, Associate Professor of Pastoral Theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.

In the future we may also address other important matters that relate to doctrine, theology, culture, the church, and numerous other matters.

Here is how this new resource is explained on the website:

The EFCA Theology Podcast encourages pastors and church leaders to stay passionate about the gospel and faithful to the Scriptures. Episodes will help listeners understand, share and live out our most important beliefs.

Each week you can look forward to new episodes from a number of different categories, including:

  • Past and upcoming EFCA Theology Conferences
  • Past and upcoming EFCA One Conferences
  • Audiobook chapters of Evangelical Convictions
  • New content created specifically for the podcast

If you have a suggestion for a topic, please let me know in the comments section, or email Brian (brian.farone@efca.org).

I implore you to subscribe to the EFCA Theology Podcast In addition to access on the web (including mobile browsers), it is available now in the Podcast app on iPhone (search EFCA Theology Podcast), and on Android podcast apps like Pocket Casts, Stitcher and Podcast Republic (search EFCA Theology Podcast).

Make certain you avail yourself of these invaluable resources that will encourage you “to stay passionate about the gospel and faithful to the Scriptures.”

In our Theology Postconference, we focused on the theme of The Ministry of the Gospel and Gender Dysphoria. Mark Yarhouse was our speaker. His first two messages helped pastors and leaders to understand this issue from a biblical and scientific perspective, with the final message focusing on a pastoral response.

Here are the messages of this Postconference:

  • Framing the Issue, Greg Strand
  • Gender Dysphoria: Foundational Considerations (Key Terms and Biblical Perspectives)
  • Gender Dysphoria: Scientific – Biological, Psychological, and Sociocultural Considerations
  • Gender Dysphoria: Toward a Pastoral Response

We have posted recordings of all Yarhouse’s plenary lectures, along with his bibliography and notes on our Theology Conference webpage. These messages (minus the notes and bibliographies) will also be posted on our new Theology Podcast webpage over the course of the next few weeks.

Because this topic is a new one for many, I include below excerpts from my introduction.

Introduction

The culture has long moved beyond homosexuality and same-sex matters such that it is considered the norm. However, we in the church continue to think through and ponder the Scriptures, affirming its truth and authority, while we wrestle with and pray over pastoral responses. The cultural push now is the presentation and acceptance of gender dysphoria. While we in the church continue to think through the past cultural agenda, which is important, the cultural mandate of normalizing gender dysphoria presses on ahead. It is vital for us in the church to learn about gender dysphoria and to understand it through the lens of Scripture, the absolute and ultimate authority, so that we can engage in pastoral care to those affected, both directly and indirectly.

Topic

The title explains that what we do is rooted in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Biblical truth and the gospel of Jesus Christ are the foundation of what we believe, the absolute and ultimate truth, what we affirm as sola Scriptura. This is also foundational for how we live, for God’s truth we affirm is also the means by which we grow in holiness and are conformed into the likeness of the Son. It is the only means through which we will truly flourish. From this foundation, we will focus on ministry among those who identify as, struggle or suffer with or are affected by gender dysphoria. This also includes those who know or love someone who so identifies. Although our title addresses gender dysphoria, the phenomenon, our focus will be on the person who experiences gender dysphoria, which emphasizes the role of pastoral care and shepherding.

Speaker

There are not many Evangelicals who are providing insight into gender dysphoria, much less are those who are actively seeking to provide pastoral care to those who experience gender dysphoria and their families affected by it. Mark Yarhouse is one of those few individuals.

Yarhouse affirms the inerrancy and authority of the Bible. He acknowledges the Scriptures as the absolute and ultimate authority. Furthermore, he is theologically anchored. His concern is to affirm the truthfulness of Scripture and apply those truths in a fallen world in which we provide care to people who experience gender dysphoria. He senses a call to minister directly to those suffering from gender dysphoria and families and others affected by it. This is why he has been asked to address this topic, as there really is no other Evangelical who speaks in such an informed manner on the subject.

EFCA

In the EFCA we are grounded in the gospel and tethered to the text of Scripture. We are also deeply committed to living out this truth of Scripture. And we do so in a fallen-yet-redeemed-though-not-yet-glorified world. There is sin, hurt, and brokenness. And yet in the midst of this, the gospel offers hope. We engage in pastoral care not only to share God’s truth with others, but because it is our only hope, our only true way of flourishing as God ordained.

As we engage in pastoral ministry of the gospel in the local church in the moral realms of human sexuality and gender dysphoria, we are an outpost of heaven. We reflect God’s eschatological people who offer the hope of the gospel in a context of love produced by the gospel which reflects the now of the kingdom. And we are often reminded through our pastoral care of our groaning, which reflects the not-yetness of the kingdom, as we await final redemption.

The Theology Conference is now behind us and the resources have been posted on our EFCA website. How can these resources be used most fruitfully?

I encourage you to listen to the lectures twice. First, listen to the messages individually, using the notes and also remembering to look through the bibliographies, and allow the teaching to instruct, exhort and challenge you. Jot down things you learn and questions that are raised. Following this, listen to the messages as an elder board and discuss them. The listening could be done either together as a whole group during an elder meeting, or the messages could be listened to individually and then discussed corporately.

That is what the pastor and elders are doing at the local EFC church where I am a member. The pastor will write up some questions for discussion that get to the heart of the implications and applications of the messages to this local church. Here is what I wrote to my pastor: “I would suggest that you draft some specific questions regarding implications of the teaching in each lecture along with the possible application in the local church. As you do this, it is important to bear in mind that each lecture is part of a whole.”

As you prepare to listen to these messages, please remember that you will learn some new things, and you may also be challenged with hearing some things with which you may disagree, either in principle, in emphasis or in practice. That does not mean you will not or cannot learn. As you listen, if there is something with which you are not sure because it differs from what you presently affirm or practice, I encourage you not to dismiss it immediately. Rather, ponder and think through what you have heard. Go back to Scripture, since that is the foundation for truth, and consider and reconsider the belief and practice. And even if you end up believing and practicing in the same manner, you have thought it through and you now reaffirm it with a freshness, with a greater awareness of the issues around the belief and practice, and with increased conviction and humility.

Here is what I wrote to one of the Spiritual Heritage Committee members about the Conference.

I am grateful to hear it was thought-provoking. I think it was for many. As I noted often throughout the conference, the key is not that one agree with the applications or implications, or even biblical exegesis. Rather, the key is how this will be understood, taught and lived. No one gets a pass on these issues because these are biblical issues, and they must be thought through biblically, theologically and pastorally for the local church. If one does not like a presentation or an application, that is acceptable, and to some degree expected. However, it is still required that one work through the biblical and theological issues and come up with some understanding and application. It is not sufficient merely to disagree with the message and then dismiss it.

We do not plan our Theology Conferences to inform pastors and leaders of all they already know and all they already affirm. Much of it is reminders of what they know, some of it is dusting off biblical and theological cobwebs, some of it is new categories of settled convictions, some of it is new. What I find when some settled convictions are challenged people often immediately dismiss the messenger and message. They may do this, but they ought not to do it so quickly and prematurely without using the thought-provoking lectures as a guide to think issues through again. One may end up with the same exegesis, implication and application. But now with a much broader base of understanding and a freshness to one’s view and practice.

May you take up my encouragement to use of these resources. Let me know how the Lord uses this among your leaders in your local church setting.

Our 2016 Theology Conference focused on the important theme, The Doctrine of the Church: The Embodiment of the Gospel.

This theme was captured as follows: The heart of the doctrine of the church is the gospel. It is the gospel that creates the church. It is the church that proclaims and propagates the gospel. It is the church that embodies the gospel.

The Conference was excellent. Lectures were great. Discussion was stimulating. Worship was rich. Fellowship was sweet. This was the testimony from both the speakers and attendees. I give thanks to and praise the Lord!

We have posted recordings of all the plenary lectures, along with bibliographies and notes on our Theology Conference webpage. These messages (minus the notes and bibliographies) will also be posted on our new Theology Podcast webpage over the course of the next few weeks.

As a reminder, here are the messages:

  • Welcome and Framing the Issue, Greg Strand
  • What is a Church? A Biblical and Historical Overview, Timothy George
  • The Church: A Visible Community – Boundary Markers of the Community, Michael Lawrence
  • The Church: A New Kinship Community, Joe Hellerman
  • The Church: A Community that Transforms, Peter Cha
  • The Church: A Missional Community, Greg Waybright
  • Shepherding God’s Church: The Privilege of Being a Pastor, Bill Kynes

For those who attended, plan to listen again. For those who were unable to attend, please take the time to listen to these important and helpful messages. I would also encourage you to listen to these messages as an elder or leadership team. I will say a further word about that in my next post. Until then, being listening!