In the last two articles, I defined Faith and also showed you examples of foolishness last week. Today’s article is an attempt to draw clearer, although imperfect lines between the three and to particularly apply my thoughts to COVID-19 vaccination.
Faith is an assurance, a strong conviction and firm persuasion (Hebrews11:1). It automatically results in a verbal declaration of what it believes (2 Corinthians 4.13), and acts accordingly (James 2.20). It is presumption to simply think once we quote the word of God, we will get results. The foundation of a strong conviction based on hearing must be laid. The hearing of faith as referenced in Galatians 3:3, 3:5 and Romans 10:17 apart from other places goes beyond hearing a sermon and includes the idea of achieving spiritual understanding. This understanding comes by the revelation of the Spirit of God. When the Holy Spirit reveals truth, that truth becomes a reality that is stronger than facts. However, many who do not have such firm persuasion presume that the word of God will work for them without a personal revelation of it. The 7 sons of sceva were presumptuous like that.
“Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists took it upon themselves to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “We exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.””
Acts 19:13 NKJV
These Jewish exorcists (these are people who cast out devils) noticed the supernatural and quick results that Paul had through the name of Jesus and began to cast out devils in the same name without personal revelations of Jesus. The result for them was embarrassing and life-threatening.
“Also there were seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, who did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?” Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.”
Acts 19:14-16 NKJV
In about 35 years of consistent walk with the Lord Jesus, I have stopped assuming that everyone who claims to believe the Word of God truly does. On healing testimony lines, I’ve heard people express surprise at their miracles at times, express fear the sickness may come back or express fear of dignosis and therefore did not go to the hospital to have their symptoms checked. The scriptures show that faith operates on different levels. The righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith (Romans 1:17). The children of Israel where described as children in whom is no faith (Deuteronomy 32:20) and Jesus rebuked his disciples for being of little faith in Matthew 6:30 when they were worried about daily needs like most Christians today and also Matthew 8:26 for their fear in the midst of the storm. Jesus however commended the faith of the centurion as great faith in Matthew 8:10. Such faith was based on the Word of Jesus alone and did not require laying on of hands, anointing with oil or any other natural thing to aid such faith. Jesus commended the syrophenicean woman’s faith in Matthew 15:28 also for trusting Christ despite being a gentile. These references show faith is on different levels. The Word is all it takes for some to be healed, others need laying on of hands (Mark 16:18), yet others will be helped when anointed with oil (James 5.14). The bottom line is that faith is on different levels and every believer must be honest to admit the level of his faith and not overreach himself.
Let me apply this to the matter of covid 19 and the surrounding controversies. The gospel truth is that we are as much healed through the redemptive work of Christ at Calvary as we are forgiven our sins (Isaiah 53:5). As believers, we can stand on the Word of God and stay victorious throughout this pandemic. Taking the vaccine is not a must, however we must be honest with ourselves. We are not on the same level of faith and so it is not lack of faith to take the vaccine for some natural immunity to help our faith. Moreover, matters of health are affected by diet, rest, exercise, genetics, age and mental health, among others. God gave the wisdom for natural medicine to doctors and scientists. Using their products does not negate faith. It is presumption for someone who normally gets sick before and seeks medical help to presume he cannot have a Covid-19 infection simply because his pastor said so or simply because God’s Word promises health. His level of faith is not in the place where that of someone who never seeks medical assistance is. I have been healed supernaturally many times but will admit that I have also sought medical attention many times. March last year, I had Covid-19 symptoms and even infected members of my family at a time when tests were difficult to come by and the first 2 doctors we saw lacked the capacity to diagnose it. We stood on God’s Word at a time when the world was yet to know how to handle the disease and God gave us the victory. To assume I cannot have the symptoms again will be presumptuous, although I believe even if they come, my victory is guaranteed as it was last year. Getting vaccinated to get additional natural immunity does not negate my faith, neither is it unscriptural. However, to wear no masks, get no vaccination nor any other medical protection and yet be someone who normally needs medical attention when sick is foolishness.
There have been many conspiracy theories about the vaccines and everyone has a right to believe whatever he wants. However, I have found it wise to follow science. Statistics from around the world are showing how much that more of the unvaccinated are being infected than the vaccinated and most of the dying are the unvaccinated. From the US to Canada where I partially reside, to UK and all the way to China, the statistics are speaking for themselves. The more the populace are vaccinated, the lesser the infections and fatalities. What more viable alternative has the anti vaccine crowd offered?
It is also presumptuous for the strong in faith to assume everyone is as strong as they are. We Christian leaders should also remember that not all members of our churches are strong in faith. Moreover, our responsibilities go beyond the four walls of our churches to the wider society. Remember we are the salt of the earth and not of the church. As we teach God’s Word, so should we contribute to national and international discussions intelligently and not be found to be aloof and unconcerned about the world outside our confines. What is the solution for Christians of other denominations who do not believe in divine healing and people of other religions? Why are we fighting the only solution they have? Is it not foolishness to prescribe the Word of God to people who don’t believe in it? When we speak to the world, we should speak reasonably and not foolishly to them. When we speak to ourselves, we should seek to build one another’s faith but like the scriptures, help people to receive from God on their levels of faith.
I will never forget many years ago when I was totally against the use of the anointing oil to pray for the sick or blessed handkerchiefs in ministering to people due to abuses, excessive emphasis and distractions resulting from it. The Holy Spirit spoke to me and said “I love the weak in faith as much as the strong in faith just as much as a parent loves both the weak academically and the strong.” He made me realize like in scriptures, He will lead me in ministry to minister that way at times to help the faith of the weak. The employment of natural medicine is similar as in the exhortation of Paul to Timothy to no longer drink water but a little wine because of his stomach and “often infirmities” (1 Timothy 5:23). The wine is clearly to serve a medicinal purpose. Paul saw Timothy’s level of faith required this natural help. The “often” nature of the problem presumes it was something of regular, persistent challenge that had been of concern not only to Timothy (a younger Apostle and Pastor of the mega church at Ephesus) but also to Paul. God provided the natural for all human beings and we should take maximum advantage of it. To ignore natural provisions and assume God only works spiritually is presumptuous. For Timothy to have ignored Paul’s advice would have not only been presumptuous but foolish like many people who have spoken against vaccines and died of COVID-19 in recent times. Please check these facts on Google and YouTube.
I have received the two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine particularly to save me from mandatory 2 week quarantine in Canada every time I return there. I cannot afford to continue the heavy initial 3 day hotel expenditure of 2,000 dollars and the difficulty of being in my small apartment alone for 2 weeks. Despite my vaccination, I am not demonized with the mark of the beast nor suffering and genetic mutation. My faith remains in the Word of God but I am grateful also for the extra natural immunity I have from the vaccine. It will be presumptuous of me to see the vaccines as enough to keep me from COVID-19 as only God can secure my life. The vaccines only reduce the chances and severity of infection and fatality but not a total protection. I am also ensuring the right diet with at least moderate exercises to keep my natural immunity up against this disease and other ones. To ignore the word of God and a healthy lifestyle would be foolishness. As powerful as John G. Lake was, so anointed that he and his associates were burying the dead unprotected during the bobanic plague, he died of stroke at 65 years of age. With better diet, rest and exercise, he could have lived longer. His first wife died of exhaustion at a young age. No revelation of the Word of healing or eternal life can singlehandedly keep a man immune from disease. It’s a combination of factors as highlighted earlier. Simple recollection of history will remind us of the shock we faced at the loss of some highly anointed ministers of the gospel in Nigeria who although used mightily in the miraculous, succumbed to premature death due to the neglect of their bodies although they had strong faith.
Let us stay in the Word and keep building our faith, study about the vaccines carefully and decide intelligently whether to take them or not but also ensure we build our immunity through healthy lifestyles, wear masks in public where we should, practise social isolation as much as we can also. By God’s grace, the victory is ours over this pandemic that the world is yet to fully comprehend. With this, I conclude this series