Those of us involved in Adventist health education often refer to The 8 Natural Remedies to summarize our health message. The Weimar Institute in California has made them world famous with their NEWSTART acronym. [Nutrition, Exercise, Water, Sunlight, Temperance, Air, Rest, Trust in divine power]
“Pure air, sunlight, abstemiousness, rest, exercise, proper diet, the use of water, trust in divine power—these are the true remedies.” Ministry of Healing 127
Each of these natural remedies have been studied and researched, and with advances in science we now have a very detailed understanding of them. Many lectures have been given, videos produced, and innumerable books written on different aspects of these principles. Especially in the area of diet and nutrition has there been much detailed advice and instruction given.
But there has been one exception – that last T in NEWSTART – trust in divine power. We all believe in it, but we have rather vague ideas of what it involves. We all believe in God’s miracle working power (although we may never have personally seen a miraculous healing). But this is all somehow separate from and disconnected from the factual benefits of the other 7 remedies. We can cite scientific proof as authority for our claims on the benefits of exercise and a plant-based diet. Atheists often believe in the first seven and promote and practice them. The Nazi SS battalions had an extensive exercise program to enhance the health of these elite examples of their master Aryan race and even Hitler was a vegetarian.
When we speak of trust in divine power as an important health principle what are we actually talking about? Over the years I have observed many different approaches to including trust in divine power into our health programs:
The righthand of the gospel
It is your righthand that reaches out in front of you and grasps the doorknob to open the door so you can walk through it. When our communities come to us for a series of health programs some may be benefited by our program or impressed by the cheerful personalities and loving characters of the members and be led to inquire deeper into our religious beliefs or accept invitations to other non-health programs we offer.
In the early 1990s when the Former Soviet Union was opening up, I traveled across Russia with a group called Health Expo. I visited over 30 cities. We would hold a week-long series of health programs in each city. Thousands would flock to the sports stadiums or theaters we would rent out each night and at the end of the week we would transition to another three weeks of a standard evangelistic series and there would be hundreds of baptisms following.
But how is trust in divine power as a healing remedy presented to the people? Often, I have seen a belief in God’s love and healing presented in a such a non-specific and general way so that it would not offend visitors of another faith or non-Christian religion. Each could relate to their god as they understood it, even mother-earth or new age spirituality could be compatible with such a health message. We can leave evolutionary aspects out of our scientific explanations and replace them with references to God’s design in creation. We can have a pastor give an opening or closing prayer or offer a blessing over a health-food demonstration meal. But is it possible for our health message be more than a marketing tool? Is its chief benefit as a form of “bait and switch” where people come with some hope for better health and physical healing and we end up giving them the whole Adventist message?
The science of healing
I once attended a 3-day seminar sponsored by Harvard on spirituality and healing. At a five-star hotel in Boston I listened to lectures on understanding spirituality and the science of medicine. They reviewed current scientific studies researching the benefits of various techniques of meditation and prayer and how putting the mind into a certain state of consciousness, a non-judgmental mindfulness, showed amazing healing results. It seemed that all religions could tap into this spiritual source of healing. There were presentations by Imams, Shamans, Rabbis, Christian Pastors, Spiritualists and Buddhists in addition to the many physician presenters.
Similar in its scientific universality to the older and more accepted psychological approaches such as: The Power of Positive Thinking or Laughter is the Best Medicine; this new more occult or eastern spirituality likewise seeks to find in the human mind the key to reaching out and connecting with a natural reality, a cosmic supernatural power beyond ourselves as a source of healing. It is similar to the promise the Serpent made to Eve that she would become as God. It falls far short of the specificity of Jesus’ call to come unto Him to obtain life and healing. He is the source, the tree of life, the living water. “In Him was life, and that life was the light of men.”
There is another approach, generally shunned by Adventists, but promoted by Pentecostals and other more charismatic Christians. They take literally the promises of scripture related to divine miraculous healing. They lead the listeners to reach out in greater faith and grasp hold of God and to expect an outpouring of the Holy Spirit in healing. There is usually little emphasis on health education or obedience to God’s laws of health associated with this approach.
As we discussed in our last article on Divine Healing, we saw that God has marked out another way for us accomplish this same work without our work being confused with the false satanic miracles that will become more frequent in the last days. The health center work as a place where patients can experience all of the health principles under the supervision of a qualified physician and staff has been pointed out to us as God’s plan. In addition to education and while being served a simple and tasty diet, walking in the fresh air, drinking lots of pure water and receiving hydrotherapy treatments and massage they can be led to understand and trust in Jesus as the source of all life and healing. In this divine atmosphere they can reach out in faith with confidence in His promises and trust to His slow gradual miracle of healing as they cooperate with Him in fuller surrender to all of His will.
The Secret Unsealed
The true understanding of the divine center of our health message is when the light dawns on us that it is the everlasting gospel of the final warning to be given to the world. It is the same truth Jesus shared with Nicodemus: “You must be born again.” It was the theme of His final discourse with His disciples before His crucifixion where He explained using the parable of the vine and the branches the close life-giving abiding relation we could have with Him and the Father. “Abide in Me and I in You.” The unity of the divine and the human that was the reality of the incarnation was the saving gift Christ came to give to us. He prayed, “As Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in us.” This indwelling was the Most Holy innermost secret of the ancient sanctuary, “Let them build me a tabernacle that I may dwell among them.” Paul explained, “Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost that dwelleth within you?” This is the secret mystery at the center of the gospel, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
What it means to be in Christ and to have Christ in us is the most important knowledge that we can obtain in this life. “This is life eternal, to know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” But to have this knowledge and to understand it in all its glorious details and to correctly place it at the center of all our doctrines will not heal us or save us. It must go beyond an intellectual head knowledge and become a living reality. We must experience the transforming presence of Christ dwelling within us.
The Holy Spirit will come and fill only those who make room for Him by a full surrender and submission to the divine word communicated to them. It is the role of our health centers to exemplify this full cooperation with God’s revealed will in every detail of their work. Everything that can be done to help the sick and weak and enslaved in their efforts to regain their lost health will be encompassed in this principle of absolute surrender to the divine will.
It is through a faith and trust in the precious promises of God’s Word that one becomes a partaker of the divine presence. As we lead the sick to reach out and believe that Jesus will come and dwell in them, they can begin to experience the joy of the divine life starting to grow in them. As their spiritual roots grow into the rich depth of God’s love, they can begin to comprehend the dimensions of the wisdom found in God’s revealed will. As they grow in their cooperation with God they will experience the invigorating reality of His creating power. This new life, this holy presence, is the purpose and the reason for our health message. He is the life. And disease must flee in the presence of His divine life.
This is why Jesus spent more time healing the sick than He did preaching. This is why he has given us the health center work. This becomes the classroom where cooperation and trust in divine power give birth to the new life. This is the last final work to be done in this world. It is a glorious privilege that Jesus has given us this mission and the detailed instruction on how to proceed.
“I am come that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”