Instruction For Sick Believers
The Word of God gives us the instruction and help we need in every circumstance of life. It tells us how to behave as believers for the glory of our God. James tells the afflicted to pray and the merry to sing. But what about the sick? What are they to do? How can we honor our God in our sickness? James tells us.
"IS ANY SICK AMONG YOU?" Faithful, believing men and women are not immune to bodily disease. The sickness James has in mind is not some general, bodily ailment. That is mentioned in verse 13. This is a desperate illness, sickness at the point of death. The fact is, God's saints in this world do get sick and die. Our sicknesses come by the will of God. And they are ordained for our spiritual, eternal good (Rom. ). If a Lazarus gets sick it is for the glory of God (John 11:3), and it is never unto death (John 11:4). When a believer's body dies, then he begins to live. For us death is the beginning of life!
"LET HIM CALL FOR THE ELDERS OF THE CHURCH." The one who is sick is to call, or ask, for the elders of the church. It is not a vain, or superstitious thing for believers to call upon their spiritual guides in times of trouble and sickness. God's servants are not priests, or even apostles. But they are guides, men to guide you to Christ for comfort and strength.
"AND LET THEM PRAY OVER HIM, ANOINTING HIM WITH OIL." The elders are to both pray for and anoint the sick one. The oil has no magical power. But it is a biblical symbol of the Holy Spirit. This prayer and anointing is to be done "IN THE NAME OF THE LORD." That does not mean a mere repetition of the Savior's name. To pray in the name of Christ is to pray trusting his name, submitting to his will, trusting the authority of his name, and seeking the glory of his name.
"AND THE PRAYER OF FAITH SHALL SAVE THE SICK." Obviously, not all for whom believers pray are healed of their bodily diseases. There are none today with apostolic gifts of healing. What do these words mean? Certainly, they have reference to physical healing. God often answers our prayers and heals the bodies of our sick brethren. But more importantly, God answers our prayers and the prayers of our sick brothers and sisters by making them completely well, raising them up from the bed of sickness to their home in heaven!