Attacking Biblical teaching on healing, Chris Rosebrough fundamentally misrepresents scripture by claiming that Isaiah 53:5 doesn’t refer to physical healing but to the healing of the unregenerate soul alone.
Starting in 1 Peter 2, where Peter quotes from Isaiah 53, Rosebrough claims that the passage refers to suffering of the sinful soul, and not physical healing.
Of course, if Peter were referring to human suffering it would contextually be the physical and mental anguish of harsh treatment. Therefore the portion that refers to healing would be also referring to physical relief from suffering.
The passage is actually addressing Christians going through difficulties from civil authorities, including servants who were admonished to be submissive to their masters with all reverence, including those masters who are gentle or those who are harsh.
Contextually, Peter talks about grief brought on by wrongful suffering. This is not specifically the suffering of the lost soul, because he is addressing believers, including servants who are already saved.
They are, therefore, redeemed from their sin, which means they are already born again, that is, saved.
So he must be referring to either the suffering that comes from harsh treatment, which could be either physical or psychological, or both, or he means that we were physically and psychologically healed with the stripes of Jesus.
Jesus was our example, who suffered both physical and psychological harsh treatment, being wrongly accused, beaten, spat upon, crowned with thorns and nailed to a tree, dying our death for us at the cross.
But His stripes were another matter. His body, His flesh, was literally torn to pieces for us by the cruel and painful Roman scourge. It was said that onlookers could see His bones through the torn flesh. Every stripe was for the healing of those who came to Him in faith.
That’s the context.
1 Peter 2:24 Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.
So our sins were born in His body on the tree, and His stripes healed us. The Greek is to be made whole, to cure, literally or figuratively. So was the healing holistic or only of the soul? Well, wasn’t the cross for the saving of the sinner? What, then, was the scourging for?
Now if you took this scripture from 1 Peter 2 alone you could almost be excused for interpreting it to exclusively mean physical or psychological healing from harsh treatment or suffering, or even the ability to endure such harsh treatment at the hands of scurrilous masters.
Whilst this is a reasonably acceptable exegesis, we have to look at its context in the setting in which it is derived and compare it to the rest of scripture, or we may miss the significance of its meaning altogether.
We know Peter is quoting from what we know as Isaiah 53 (chapters and verses were not part of the canon until much later – chapters; 13th century, verses; 15th century). Isaiah prophesies holistic redemption.
Isaiah 53:5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.
The Hebrew here for healing is raphah, which refers to physical and psychological healing. One of the Names of God is Jehovah Raphah, which means ‘I AM Who Heals’.
Exodus 15:26 “If you diligently heed the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the Lord who heals you.”
So raphah here refers to healing as it is presented in Isaiah 53:5 in reference to Jesus’ stripes.
Evidently Jesus’ stripes were for the healing of the mind and body. Is there healing in the atonement then? Yes, and from the same chapter in Isaiah in the very same paragraph of the prophecy, as seen in this confirmation by Matthew.
Matthew 8:16-17 When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: “He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses.”
This again is a direct quote from Isaiah 53.
Isaiah 53:4 Surely He has borne our griefs, And carried our sorrows.
The AV translates ‘infirmities’ as ‘griefs’ and ‘sicknesses’ as ‘sorrows’, which, although it seems a contradiction, in fact, nicely brings into focus the truth that Jesus took our mental and emotional anguish as well as our physical ailments in His own suffering at the cross.
The Hebrew at Isaiah for ‘griefs’ is haley, which means ‘disease, grief or sickness’, and is more often the latter. ’Sorrows’ is the word mak’ob, which means ‘sorrow, pain or grief’, and can refer to mental or physical pain.
Matthew renders it, in Greek, asthenia, meaning ‘sickness, frailty, feebleness of health of the body or of the soul’, and nosos, meaning ‘malady, disease, infirmity or sickness’, and this in reference to Jesus having healed the sick and delivered the demon possessed.
So we can see from Isaiah 53 that Jesus does indeed bring healing and deliverance body, soul and spirit through the work of the cross, including through His beating, wounding and whipping. With His stripes we were healed.
Denying the Church healing
Rosebrough, a cessationist, would take this healing away from the Church, and from those who need healing or deliverance, because he claims that we have the Word therefore we no longer need the signs that follow the preaching of the Word.
This despite the truth that the Word talks in depth about healing, Old and New Testaments, and tells us that Jesus, Who is our Healer, is still the same yesterday, today and forever.
God never changes, and He is the Lord our Healer.
You simply cannot take scripture in one setting and miss its context in all settings. If Peter is referring to suffering of the soul and body through harsh treatment by masters, then he is clearly saying that there is provision for this in the stripes of Jesus. But, as we have seen, there is a bigger meaning to this phrase in context with Isaiah’s prophecy.
The phrase ‘with His stripes we were healed’ means exactly what it says. It is not subject to an alternative interpretation.
It is also true that the full context of Isaiah’s prophecy must include healing, deliverance and the holistic nature of salvation as the result of Christ’s vicarious sacrifice at the cross for all who will believe.
Remember that Isaiah 53 is pointing to the Great Exchange or Propitiation, which is called, by some, the Atonement, although strictly speaking it is more than an atonement because the atonement of the Old Testament covered sins of Israel through the blood of animal sacrifice, but the Propitiation removes them completely through the blood of Jesus once for all.
The catholic illusion of healing through death
Rosebrough doesn’t end his poor reading of scripture here though. He goes on with his misrepresentation of healing in a most extraordinary way.
I had to do a double take as I worked out what he was actually saying, because using this verse that speaks of the saving of the sick, Rosebrough flat out denies healing in the Bible even though he read out loud from James that we should call for the elders of the church to anoint us with oil for healing and that the prayer of faith would save us.
He missed the physical healing, considered it spiritual healing, and focused on the saving of the soul, calling death the great healer of the saint, which is a very catholic conclusion, remembering that he is a Lutheran pastor. But what does James say?
James 5:14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for 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 sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.
How could any minister miss this? It is not talking about healing of the soul but of the body, yet Rosebrough, even as he reads it out loud on his global radio program, misses exactly what it is saying. It says the person will be saved, but we have to read the context to reach the teaching.
It is talking about a sick person not a dead person, yet Rosebrough applies it to death not sickness, even though James asks ‘is anyone sick amongst you?’ James uses the exact same word Matthew used for sickness, asthenia, which means ‘to be weak, feeble, powerless or without strength, or sick’, but not dead.
Rosebrough, of course, forgets that, in koiné Greek, the word ‘save’ also means ‘to be healed’. It can be and is applied to physical healing as well as salvation.
The Greek word is sozo, which means, ‘to save, to deliver, to preserve, to heal, or to make whole’. It has more than one application, and doesn’t always refer to salvation from sin, but can mean to be healed of affliction, sickness or disease.
So, according to James, the prayer of faith will save, or heal, the sick person.
Rosebrough proves sickness over healing
To emphasise his error, during a fit of mocking hysteria, Rosebrough actually refers to Timothy’s stomach ailments as proof of sickness rather than any of the exploits of the saints of the New Testament, or the miracles of Jesus, or the gifts of the Spirit for any reference to healing in the New Testament.
For Rosebrough cessationist teaching is lord and must be sustained by all means, even at the cost of denying the very Word he purports to hold to.
Whereas Jesus points us to His ministry, which yet includes healing, deliverance, and salvation, Rosebrough does all he can to suppress any teaching that encourages saints to enter into the calling we are set apart unto, and closes a door to all who believe his trashing of scripture.
Jesus Himself told us that those who believe will do His works and speak His words, in His name. That is the essence of delegation to the Body of Christ of the ministry which He fulfilled in His time in Israel.
John 14:10-14 “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves. Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.”
See! This is spoken to believers. Not just to apostles, or prophets, or evangelists, or pastors. He says ‘he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also.’ What were the works that He spoke of but healing, deliverance and salvation.
These are the basics of the gospel. And He would send the Spirit, another just like Him, He said, who would indwell us and be with us, and come upon us to make us witnesses – evidence bearers – of the living Christ. What better evidence that He is alive than to do the same works through the Holy Spirit.
And so it was all through the Book of Acts, that disciples – believers first – operated through the Spirit and healing, deliverance and salvation, with sufferings, caused the Church to multiply.
Words of the unbelievers
But Rosebrough seeks to be numbered, it seems, amongst the unbelievers. Healing, deliverance and miracles have stopped for him, and those who preach and teach for the continued ministry of the Spirit of Christ must be silenced.
It was, again, hard to listen to Rosebrough’s dagger talk as he maligned another minister of God, now deceased having reached the splendid age of 84, who had a long and effective ministry that continues in his pupils to this day, but dings the sensibility of cessationists like Rosebrough because they cannot bring themselves to actually believe and act on the Word of Truth that was faithfully taught for over sixty five years.
Thus Rosebrough’s congregants remain in ill health and are encouraged to bear their suffering without the Word of God that tells them that the Elders’ prayer of faith can save them and they can be raised up.
For him the only time the anointing oil is needed is after the poor person has died.
Lord help us all!