I am sure that most of us have sung, “Wonderful Words of Life”. It happens to be one of my favorite hymns from our hymnbook. For me, one especially memorable lyric goes, “Christ the blessed One gives to all”. Though this is said concerning Christ’s blessing of truth to the hearts of believers, the affirmation certainly applies to any and every blessing that Jesus bestows. The Bible teaches that every good and perfect gift comes from God, including life itself (e.g. 1 Tim. 6:13; Heb. 13:5; Jas. 1:17). It also teaches specific blessings for faithful followers of Christ.
Consider the simple promise of Psalm 37:4,
“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart”.
How could this be stated any clearer? The psalmist instructs us to please the Master, and, in response, the Master will reward us. It is as simple as that! Could anyone possibly misunderstand this divine principle?
Job’s fair-weather friend, Zophar, stated some erroneous assumptions in his speech, but he also rightly advised, “Agree with God, and be at peace; thereby good will come to you” (Job 22:21). He told Job, the one who returns to the Almighty will “be built up”. “The Almighty will be your gold and your precious silver. For then you will delight yourself in the Almighty and lift up your face to God. You will make your prayer to him, and he will hear you” (Job 22:25 – 27a).
Of course, Job was not worthy of any rebuke from his friend. He was already righteous in God’s eyes, and undeserving of the hardships he endured. Nevertheless, it is also true that anyone who desires to be blessed by God must cleanse their hands and commit themselves to the Lord. He will establish every step forward and bless their way (cf. Job 22:28 – 30; Prov. 16:3, 9).
No disaster will befall the faithful because they serve a faithful God (cf. Psa. 55:22; 91:9, 10). If we commit our cause to him, he will always do marvelous things on our behalf (Job 5:8, 9). He even promises healing and deliverance from suffering (Psa. 103:1 – 3).
If we love him, Jesus causes “all things” to work together for our own good (Rom. 8:28). This happens because, down to our very nature, we have been transformed by the Lord into “good and faithful” servants (Lk. 6:43 – 45; 2 Cor. 5:17).
Though undeserving, he has decreed blessings for us, and he will “bring good things out of the good stored” within us (Matt. 12:35). Unlike the wicked, our hearts have “worth” to God (Prov. 10:20). He will use that commodity he has created within us in order to bless and establish us for good works.
If you find yourself doubting or, even explicitly denying the above statements, please know that you are not alone. You, like many others in Churches of Christ, have been victimized by a false doctrine which consigns Christians to a life of defeat. Like the legalism so prominently taught in our fellowship, there is also a tendency to reject God’s present work to heal, strengthen, and provide direct guidance in all matters of life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3).
The “word alone” doctrine is the common label given to this faith-denying heresy. It has many nuances but, basically, this aberrant idea affirms that God works today, but only through the teaching of the Bible and never by direct means. All physical and practical blessings ceased to be given in the first century. Spiritual benefits, though available to us now, only come to us by natural avenues – through teaching and believing Scripture.
This strange belief system is a popular over reaction to some false claims of miraculous healings by “faith healers”. However, the Bible does teach that we can gain much, supernaturally, through the avenue of prayer. It is not God’s will for us to be sickly, impoverished, and fruitless in this life. By Christ-like obedience and prayerfulness, we avoid being in any of these adverse conditions. God always makes a way for our victory!
Sure, it may be God’s will that we suffer loss or illness for a season, but we learn from Scripture that these temporary difficulties are allowed by God only to serve his purposes. He sometimes permits a “thorn in the flesh” to humble us (2 Cor. 12:7 – 10). In weakness, we are made strong (Phil. 4:11 – 13).
At other times, he prunes us to help us become more fruitful (John 15:2). He also punishes and disciplines servants who fall short in serving him (Heb. 12:5 – 11). The purpose of his rebuke is to assist us for sharing in his holiness and gain a reward.
Whatever struggles we may be facing in life; we must view it – not as a setback – but as God’s sovereign work to bless us in ways that only he can achieve. Overall, his plan for us is our betterment and strength. He is not pleased by our perpetual misery and a life of agonizing defeat.
We must not feel sorrowful, shameful, or despondent as we face what is perceived to be an obstacle or setback. God’s plan will be accomplished, and he will achieve perfect peace, endurance, and edification in our lives (cf. Rom. 5:10; Phil. 1:6; 4:6, 7).
There is no room for fear or relying upon one’s self. We trust in God’s word and we trust in God himself. He is not limited in the avenues he uses to profoundly bless and establish our hearts. It is impossible for a true Christian to live an unblessed life!
Many righteous believers, like Job, have suffered from sickness, pain, turmoil, and loss. Still, we know how the story ended up for Job. He was abundantly blessed after a period of testing – even more than he was before – because it is always in God’s plan to bring about the deliverance of those who love him (Rom. 8:28; Eph. 3:20).
You probably recall the powerful instances of healing and salvation which are found in the New Testament. When Jesus said, “Your faith has made you well”, he was stressing that deliverance was made possible, not because of the believer, but because of the One who is always faithful to rescue the believer (e.g. Mk. 5:34; 10:52; Lk. 17:19; 18:42). Sometimes, he healed before belief (Jn. 5:12, 13). No credit is due the recipient of the healing or blessing.
In other instances, God grants faith to be made well, healing us according to the desire of our hearts (Matt 15:28). Yet, he will not do this because we deserved the right to be made well. When God wills our healing or prosperity, it is accomplished by his command and desire. Since the believer’s desire matches the desire of the Father, who grants faith, it cannot be forfeited. We do not forgo physical recovery and blessings by lack of belief because he always supplies the means whereby we receive them, even faith itself (cf. Ezek. 11:19, 36:26; Jn. 6:29; Eph. 2:8 – 10). This is not fatalism, it is reality. God is sovereign!
God blesses us according to our gift of faith in Christ, or to create faith in Christ. As Jesus said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matt. 19:26). May we forever recognize that the “Fount of every blessing” is our awesome God who blesses us through his Son. We deserve nothing but he blesses us anyways! – MAH