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Exempt from Hell yet Exposed to Sickness and Death

By SHAYNE PHILANDER
PUBLISHED 24 MarCH 2020

The comforting hope for the Christian is that they are forgiven of their sin. And as a result, they now can look forward to an eternal future with God where neither sickness nor death exist, but rather a perfect life. Unfortunately, there is still an immature thinking among many Christians when it comes to sickness. Meaning, they assume that their new status ‘in Christ’ exempts them from misfortune; that is, they hold to a “the devil is under my feet” theology.

Even though it is true that Christians are in a peculiar and secure position in Christ. As Paul says in Ephesians 2:6 says that, “(God) raised us up with him and seated us with him in heavenly places in Christ Jesus”. The reality is that Christians still live in a world not yet the new creation. That is to say that, no one is already made “perfect” (Phil 3:12). On the contrary, every believer is still part of the fallen creation of suffering and sickness.

The apostle Paul himself recognized one of his fellow-workers’ sickness as part of what happens to Christians as well. Without assuming exemption, and shouting at God, Paul writes to the Philippian church. “I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus…because you heard that he was ill” (Phil 3:25-26). To Timothy Paul says, “Use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments” (1 Tim 5:23). In other words, Paul is comfortable to see and speak of sickness as the Christian’s lot as well.

For example, the famous 18th century preacher, theologian, philosopher and revivalist Jonathan Edwards died of smallpox at the age of fifty-four. Nevertheless, he gladly accepted his sickness as part of God’s will. Yet still today, the difficulty of his death is why God took such a faithful servant? Given the fact that, he could have accomplished more if he remained alive until old age. Sadly, the newly appointed president of Princeton College died a death fitting to an imperfect and groaning creation (Rom 8:22). And not as one exempt from it. Therefore, despite his unprecedented works as a theological thinker and a primary catalyst of the First Great Awakening. Edwards’ death should be viewed as a forgiven sinner who was susceptible to sickness.

Thus, as far as the 21st century Christian’s current situation is concerned regarding hardships, sickness and viruses (Corona). No one is exempt. Of course, one must be committed to the necessary pre-cautions to prevent the possibility of sickness. Not to mention loving others by not infecting them. In fact, I would add, because of the corruption of this world one ought to take the necessary steps to stay healthy. Nonetheless, the church must come to terms with the fact that God still works and accomplishes his will through whatever means he chooses, albeit through sickness.

Fortunately, the good news of the gospel is that the Christian may not be exempt from threats such as the Corona virus. Yet, every single person “in Christ” are exempt from hell. This is the hope granted by God. His will over the believer’s life by His divine fulfilled promise in his Son is hell-free and heaven-bound. Jesus promises to all his disciples, starting with the twelve, “I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to myself, that where I am you may be also” (John 14:3). Therefore, as much as sickness and death is a reality for the believer. For them, hell remains distant and kept away under the secure hand of God the Father, Son and Spirit. And under this grace they live and rejoice.

The comforting hope for the Christian is that they are forgiven of their sin. And as a result, they now can look forward to an eternal future with God where neither sickness nor death exist, but rather a perfect life. Unfortunately, there is still an immature thinking among many Christians when it comes to sickness. Meaning, they assume that their new status ‘in Christ’ exempts them from misfortune; that is, they hold to a “the devil is under my feet” theology.

Even though it is true that Christians are in a peculiar and secure position in Christ. As Paul says in Ephesians 2:6 says that, “(God) raised us up with him and seated us with him in heavenly places in Christ Jesus”. The reality is that Christians still live in a world not yet the new creation. That is to say that, no one is already made “perfect” (Phil 3:12). On the contrary, every believer is still part of the fallen creation of suffering and sickness.

The apostle Paul himself recognized one of his fellow-workers’ sickness as part of what happens to Christians as well. Without assuming exemption, and shouting at God, Paul writes to the Philippian church. “I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus…because you heard that he was ill” (Phil 3:25-26). To Timothy Paul says, “Use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments” (1 Tim 5:23). In other words, Paul is comfortable to see and speak of sickness as the Christian’s lot as well.

For example, the famous 18th century preacher, theologian, philosopher and revivalist Jonathan Edwards died of smallpox at the age of fifty-four. Nevertheless, he gladly accepted his sickness as part of God’s will. Yet still today, the difficulty of his death is why God took such a faithful servant? Given the fact that, he could have accomplished more if he remained alive until old age. Sadly, the newly appointed president of Princeton College died a death fitting to an imperfect and groaning creation (Rom 8:22). And not as one exempt from it. Therefore, despite his unprecedented works as a theological thinker and a primary catalyst of the First Great Awakening. Edwards’ death should be viewed as a forgiven sinner who was susceptible to sickness.

Thus, as far as the 21st century Christian’s current situation is concerned regarding hardships, sickness and viruses (Corona). No one is exempt. Of course, one must be committed to the necessary pre-cautions to prevent the possibility of sickness. Not to mention loving others by not infecting them. In fact, I would add, because of the corruption of this world one ought to take the necessary steps to stay healthy. Nonetheless, the church must come to terms with the fact that God still works and accomplishes his will through whatever means he chooses, albeit through sickness.

Fortunately, the good news of the gospel is that the Christian may not be exempt from threats such as the Corona virus. Yet, every single person “in Christ” are exempt from hell. This is the hope granted by God. His will over the believer’s life by His divine fulfilled promise in his Son is hell-free and heaven-bound. Jesus promises to all his disciples, starting with the twelve, “I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to myself, that where I am you may be also” (John 14:3). Therefore, as much as sickness and death is a reality for the believer. For them, hell remains distant and kept away under the secure hand of God the Father, Son and Spirit. And under this grace they live and rejoice.

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