Did God kill John Paul Jackson? You are going to hear it. It is going to be said. “God gave John Paul Jackson cancer…” Those who hate the prophetic will say it. Those who have a theology of suffering will say this happened because God loved John so much he took him through cancer. Apostasy Watch groups will point to the death of John Paul Jackson as a sign of divine judgment. Others will say God allowed cancer to take him for some obscure religious purpose. Did God kill John Paul Jackson? Did God give John Paul Jackson a terminal disease so he could glorify Him in some way? Remember that 1 Cor. 15:26 tells us that death is God’s enemy. Did God “bless” John Paul Jackson by unleashing disease and death upon him? If so are we wrong then to seek to doctors and modern medicine when we are likewise “blessed”?
In the New Covenant paradigm does God send sickness, disease or death on anyone? We often look at the untimely death of some particular individual and are tempted to think that they did something wrong. Many times Christians contract terminal diseases and you hear the testimony that “God allowed this disease so they could witness for Christ to their nurses and doctors…” It sounds logical. It makes sense from the standpoint of a religious mindset. Is there ANY basis for this kind of thinking from a New Covenant standpoint?
In the Old Testament there are instances of divine retribution against individuals and whole nations for different reasons. Between that time and this something significant happened that should adjust our thinking where such events are concerned: That event is the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. Read the opening words of the book of Hebrews:
[Heb 1:1-2 KJV] 1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, 2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by [his] Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
This tells us that God spoke one way with one particular message through the law and the prophets (Gal. 3:24,25) in Old Testament times but now is speaking through His Son. That means that the life and character of Jesus is an INTERPRETIVE LENS or FILTER through which we understand the character of God and His dealings with us. Did Jesus EVER lay hands on someone and say “I give you a deadly disease for the glory of God”? Did He ever tell a leper “no I will not cleanse you for there is a deeper and glorious thing My Father is working in your life through your suffering…”? If you filter your understanding of the purposes of God through the life and character of Jesus you cannot think for one moment that God would put ANYTHING on you that JESUS DIED to take off of you. Remember the words of James:
[Jas 1:17 KJV] 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
Is cancer good? Is an early death a perfect gift? Is God so ineffable in His character that He could define what terrorizes and brings us sorrow as a wonderful blessing to end our life in suffering and pain? Why then would Jesus expend one drop of His blood to heal us – to take off of us what God would otherwise be pleased to bless us with and use to bring us to heaven?
1 Peter 2:24 speaking of the suffering of Jesus declares: “by whose stripes you WERE healed..” That is a past tense declarative statement. Notice there is no caveat in the following verse suggesting, “unless God has some mystical purpose in allowing disease to take your life…” The same suffering that provides salvation is the same suffering that provides the promise of health and healing. Healing for the body is provided on the same basis as salvation for the soul. If God promises to heal but does not on occasion then even those asking Jesus into their heart are subject to this seeming whim and when they get to heaven may find that they may or may not have been born again even though they asked in faith. There are those that believe this way – that you won’t know you are saved till you stand before God. This is contrary to every fundamental truth of the gospel. Healing and the promise of health are provided by the same stroke upon Jesus that provided your salvation. Healing is in the atonement. There are very, very few that will contend for this truth because they cannot or will not answer for why some are healed and some are not. Yet the promise of God is true: Jesus saves, heals, and delivers and He does so on the basis of WHOSOEVER WILL let him COME!
Now what about sinners? Does God delight to rain calamity down on men and women who reject the gospel? In the book of Luke Jesus and his disciples were driven away from a Samaritan town and the disciples expected divine retribution upon this reprobate city. How did Jesus handle it?
[Luk 9:54-56 KJV] 54 And when his disciples James and John saw [this], they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? 55 But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. 56 For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save [them]. And they went to another village.
So even those who reject Jesus as these Samaritans did are afforded the merits of Christ. They rejected Him and out of mercy he refused even when goaded to do harm to them. He was merciful to them though they didn’t even believe in Him. The disciples challenged Jesus and said “let us do to them what Elijah did” in other words “let’s follow the Old Testament example and destroy them…” Jesus told them they did not know what spirit they were of. In other words they were thinking according to an OLD TESTAMENT PARADIGM. Being who He was Jesus at that moment was RECONFIGURING the mandates of the Kingdom from an Old Covenant paradigm of judgment and punishment to a NEW COVENANT PARADIGM of grace and mercy.
Almost the whole of the prophetic community in the body of Christ operates according to an Old Covenant paradigm of judgment. They delight in exposing sin and commanding others to “get right with God…or else!” They conduct themselves in the same manner that the disciples did when Jesus sharply rebuked them: “You know not what manner of spirit you are of! For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them…”
In my experience it is so grievous to sit at the table with well-known prophets and listen to their back channel communication. They delight in swapping stories of who died, who was destroyed, who got “judged” because they didn’t listen to or submit to their prophecies. They feel they as being in the Office of the Prophet have the right to speak death and destruction on those who are not aligned with what they think God is telling them. 1 Cor. 14:1-3 tells us that prophecy is for edification, comfort and exhortation. Now teachers will say that this is true of the rank and file in the body of Christ. The average Christian they maintain doesn’t have the authority to speak judgment or death but they reserve the “office of the prophet” the right to do so. So like “007” they contend a person called to the office of a prophet has all authority to speak judgment, punishment, chastening and even death. There are many prophets in the New Testament. You will not find one single prophet who conducted himself in this way in the New Testament record. Those who claim such authority have to go to the Old Testament and cite precedents that are rendered NULL by the statement of Jesus in Luke 9:54-56.
Let me ask you a question – what measure of the wrath of God was not poured out upon Jesus on the cross? Under what aspect of the shed blood of Christ did God store up the cancer that killed John Paul Jackson? Where does God make room in 1 Peter 2:24 to reserve the right to bless us with agonizing death for some ineffable purpose? Did not ALL the wrath of God pour out upon Jesus in His suffering? Of course it was. Then God doesn’t have ANY WRATH LEFT to pour out upon you when you are disobedient. That doesn’t mean there are no consequences but the question is from whence do they arise? GOD WILL NEVER PUT ON YOU WHAT JESUS DIED TO TAKE OFF OF YOU. Jesus died to take our sin, our poverty, our sickness. Can you honestly imagine that God will in the case of an offender or for some special holy purpose suspend the merits of salvation in order to chastise someone or set someone aside for such a dubious honor? Are you volunteering?
We hear many who say that “the days of Ananias and Sapphira” are returning to the church. However those who rage about revival in this way are not volunteering to be Ananias and Sapphira! Even those who absolutely don’t believe in miracles, or healing or the gifts of the Spirit nonetheless will say GOD SUPERNATURALLY judged someone who didn’t believe the way they should have. So it isn’t that they don’t believe in divine intervention they just don’t believe in positive divine intervention to save, heal and deliver. They have all the faith in the world to believe in death, destruction and disease by supernatural intervention of a judgmental God. The hypocrisy in this way of thinking is stunning.
What about the other end of the argument? There are those who will say God gave John Paul Jackson cancer because He loved him so much? Under what definition of “life and life more abundantly” does agonizing death fit? (John 10:10); I have heard people with horrible disability and great suffering declare with deep passion that it pleased God to maim and cripple them. What kind of a God are you serving? Again, back to Hebrews 1:1-2. Jesus is speaking to us through His son. Did Jesus EVER decline to heal? Did He ever say “I love you so much I’m going to allow leprosy to consume you for the greater glory of God…” Whatever pretext these people are drawing upon it cannot have any justification in the light of the life, suffering and actions of Jesus as recorded in the scripture. So they believe in something OTHER than Jesus to justify and lend meaning to their suffering. I understand why they think the way they do but where are our fidelities supposed to lie? With the suffering or with the Savior?
So why then did John Paul Jackson die before His time? There are always answers. We live in an ambient atmosphere of unbelief and skepticism. Maintaining faith and expectation of the blessing of God is a constant vigil for every serious Christian. Jesus talked about the issue of causality and happenstance when it comes to accident, disease and misfortune:
[Luk 13:1-5 KJV] 1 There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? 3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
The two groups of people Jesus speaks of suffered untimely deaths. Some at the hands of a despot and others as victims of happenstance. He clearly says that these people did not die because they were sinners. In that day and in the modern day our thinking is commonly held that these things happen because they “had it coming…” for some offense, or they died because they were singled out for a precious experience in God through suffering. Jesus clearly says this is not the case but then challenges His hearers by saying unless they repent they will likewise perish. Repent means to change your mind. What was their thinking? That God brought death upon these unfortunate people? As long as we think this way we open ourselves up to the same fate. Our belief however misguided becomes self-engendering. Yet herein lies our hope – IF WE REPENT and start thinking differently THE IMPLIED PROMISE of Jesus’ statement is that we will experience DIVINE PROTECTION and PROVIDENCE if and only in the context of a deeper and more accurate understanding that accepts that God does NOT author such things in our lives for any reason.
Jesus said He came that we might have life and life more abundantly. He came to save and to heal not to kill and destroy. There is nothing abundant in poverty or sickness or death. It is time for you to shake yourself from the death pall of a theology of unbelief that is outside the parameters of GOD SPEAKING TO US by His son Jesus! The heart of the Father is expressed in the words of John:
[3Jo 1:2 KJV] 2 Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.
Notice this is God’s HIGHEST PRIORITY that you prosper and be in health. There are no caveats. There are no exceptions if we believe that this is God’s highest priority for our lives. If we think somehow He can and will at times suspend this priority for some other purpose then we don’t believe what 3 John 2 says and we should rip that page from our bible. God loves us. He loves you. He wants you well. He wants you whole. He wants you to experience life and life more abundantly NOW and when you get to heaven. Let’s repent and believe the gospel!
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