The Physician, the Publican, and the Prostitute

I have addressed the abuse of Colossians 4:14 elsewhere, but I will say it again. Paul referred to Luke as “the physician.” This is construed as an endorsement of medical science. However, everyone had an identity or profession before his involvement in ministry. Peter was a fisherman who became an apostle, but this does not tell us anything about his profession as a fisherman. Even if a person begins ministry as a baby, he still has a background. We could call him “Josh, the Baby” or “The Baby Preacher.” The name might stick with him for the rest of his life, but that does not mean he would still be a baby after fifty years. Imagine having to explain something like this to a bunch of theological professors. Welcome to my world.

Matthew was a publican who became an apostle, but his profession was openly despised. Since tax collectors were often dishonest and oppressive, even the Bible identifies them with sinners (Matthew 18:17). But in the list of the twelve apostles, he is still called “Matthew the tax collector” (Matthew 10:3). Then, Hebrews 11:31 and James 2:25 refer to “Rahab the prostitute” even in the context of commending her faith. As for Paul, he was a Pharisee who persecuted and murdered Christians, and who then became an apostle. Sometimes he still called himself a Pharisee (Acts 23:6). All of this does not suggest that the Bible endorses fraud and extortion, prostitution, murder, and such things. Therefore, the mere fact that Luke was a physician does not contribute to our discussion. It is possible that Paul mentioned Luke’s profession only as a way to identify him. In the Bible, we are not told whether he continued to practice medicine — his accomplishments are never associated with his profession as a doctor, and he recorded only miracles of healing.

Luke himself wrote, “And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and though she had spent all her living on physicians, she could not be healed by anyone” (Luke 8:43, ESV). He said, “She could not be healed by anyone,” suggesting that it is often futile to seek help from doctors like himself. Mark was even more emphatic. He wrote, “She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse” (Mark 5:26). If we are supposed to derive an endorsement for the entire medical field based on a reference to someone’s background or vocation, what are we supposed to conclude from a verse like this? Think of other verses that people have used to endorse medicine. None of them can compete with a verse like this. Some doctrines in your historic creeds have less explicit biblical basis than this!

Why don’t Christian scholars give texts like these their proper place when they talk about medicine? Why don’t they squeeze every bit of juice from verses like these? The inference from Colossians 4:14 is utter lunacy. Several other verses in the Bible have been used in a similar fashion, but the same stupid scholars who make these inferences would not have tolerated such abuse on other topics. They are attempts to force the Bible to approve of their unbelief and lifestyle. Rahab received more definite and extensive praise than Luke, so does this mean that it is better to be a prostitute than a physician? But ladies and gentleman, this is Christian scholarship. These are the people who write books to defend the creeds, teach you doctrines, and admonish you on how to interpret the Bible! No eisegesis, they say! As Paul said, “You then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself?” (Romans 2:21). Worthless religious hypocrites. By the way, Luke’s Gospel is the only one that includes the proverb, “Physician, heal yourself!” (Luke 4:23). Can I make a big deal out of this too? Of course I can…but I won’t.

Let me state my position on medicine again in order to prevent misrepresentation. I do not condemn medicine. However, I am against the claim that the Bible endorses it, because I see no such support in the Bible, and every attempt that I came across has been fraudulent. The Bible seems to allow medicine, but nothing in it amounts to an endorsement. Moreover, the Bible undeniably presents healing from God by faith at the minimum as the first choice and the best option. This is a nonnegotiable gospel doctrine. I have elaborated on these points in other places.

That said, I think there is an important place for doctors in this world. Doctors can attempt to save those who are being harmed and even killed by cessationists and traditionalists. Regular people commit murder from the outside with guns and knives, but cessationists and traditionalists are much worse in that they commit murder from the inside by injecting unbelief into people. They kill their victims by corrupting their souls and deadening their spirits. This poisons their bodies from the inside, starting a process of decay and allowing external forces to finish them off. Who will save these people but doctors? Even non-Christian evolutionist doctors realize that sickness is a curse and an enemy, and they have to counteract the effects of “Christian” religionists who teach people that sickness is a gift from God.

Nevertheless, the gospel is the true solution, and we are scrambling to save these victims of unbelief and tradition. Doctors can attempt to keep them alive until we reach them and convince them with the gospel. Christians have been so unfaithful to preach the gospel — the gospel of both spiritual and physical health, the only gospel in the Bible — so that even with our modern technologies, the news that God heals our bodies has not yet reached so many people. In fact, this gospel — the only gospel — has still not reached most “Christians.” Thus those of us who actually believe the gospel — again, there is no gospel that does not heal the body — must work harder to reach the masses, both “Christians” and non-Christians, with the news that Jesus Christ is the same, and that he heals and performs miracles.

Christian preachers must operate with certainty, because they preach a message that is true and final. Preachers know the absolute truth. In contrast, Christian doctors must operate with UNCERTAINTY, because they practice a field that lacks truth and stability. Their work is a desperate feeling in the dark, attempting to address the effects that sin has wrought in the body, while false doctrines from self-righteous “Christians” intensify these damages. From this perspective, doctors deserve our respect. They are saving stupid Christians from suicide by unbelief and heresy. We are getting the gospel to people as fast as we can, and doctors can buy us some time, to keep some people from suffering and perishing before we reach them.

Critics might assume that we are against medicine because we teach what the Bible says on healing. But no, I am grateful to the doctors for partnering with us, even unknowingly, as we combat the satanic religion of sickness that dominates the church today. In fact, I am grateful to God that when Christians are harming and killing themselves with false doctrine, he would use even the unbelievers to hold off disease and death against the cessationists and traditionalists, and those who pervert the sovereignty of God and other doctrines. There is no common grace, since reprobates are preserved by divine wrath to reach the full measure of sin and to increase their condemnation, but the chosen ones are preserved by grace to receive the gospel.

Nevertheless, a doctor who claims to be a Christian but who does not practice miracle healing denies his own faith. A Christian is qualified to be a medical doctor only if he puts ahead of his own vocation God, faith, and miracle healing. Also, he must realize that he has been made the embodiment of an excuse for unbelief, rebellion, and idol worship. “Christians” see him as a substitute for God and for faith in the gospel. Thus he must also be a teacher of healing, and rebuke those who come to him in unbelief and doctrines made by men. He must teach that sickness is not a gift from God, but as the Bible declares, a demonic attack and oppression, a chain and a curse. He must teach that Jesus Christ bore the curse and took away its power.

One preacher talked about a doctor who became a Christian and learned about God’s promise of healing. He continued to practice medicine, but he would first tell his patients about the gospel, and offer to pray for their healing. He would say, “I can pray for you, and God can heal you and this visit will be free of charge. On the other hand, I will prescribe medicine if you wish, but I will have to charge you money because this is how I make my living.” What an excellent Christian doctor! Unbelievers were converted and many people were healed by prayer in his office. You see, a Christian can be a doctor, the best kind of doctor, if he will put miracle faith ahead of medical science. But a doctor who denies the gospel in his practice is not a good doctor, if he is a Christian at all.