Reading Time: 5 minutes

What does the Bible say about medicine?

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

facebook twitter instagram

The following text is adapted from the transcription of the video above. To be notified of these videos when they release, subscribe to the Denison Forum YouTube channel by clicking the button below:

Chris Elkins: Hello, my name is Chris Elkins, and I’m here today with Dr. Jim Denison to talk about a really big subject. It’ll be hard to do in just such a short period of time. But, you know, every day we hear more and more news about the medical challenges, the diseases, the pandemics, everything that’s going on around us and a medical kind of genre.

But with an ancient book like the Bible, how well does it speak into this current situation that we’re facing? Jim, the question is, what does the Bible say about medicine?

Dr. Jim Denison: Well, Chris, you’re right. We could talk about this for hours and hours, obviously, certainly, couldn’t we. But to try to do this as briefly as possible, and as practically as possible, I think I’d want to make four points.

First of all, God made our bodies, and God still cares about our bodies.

We’re all made in God’s image, according to Genesis 1. And even though we’re fallen, God still cares about our health and about our well-being. You see Jesus healing bodies, you see healing all through the Old and New Testament, even today.

So this idea that your body is somehow inherently so sinful and so fallen that the God wouldn’t care about it, it’s really Greek philosophy. The Greeks had this idea that your soul existed in some preincarnate state of sin, we would say, and it was punished by being put in your body. And the point of life is to purify your soul so it can go back to where it came from.

Well, that’s Greek philosophy. That’s not biblical theology. God made your body. God cares about your body. If your body was so inherently sinful that God wouldn’t care about it, then how could Jesus take on flesh and be sinless?

So first of all, understand God cares about health. God cares about your physical body even still today.

Second point I think I would make biblically is that: medicine as we understand it was practiced all through the Old and New Testament, as they understood it, of course in their day.

I’m thinking about that time in 2 Kings 20, for instance, when the prophet Isaiah was led to make a pack of figs and lay them on a boil that had come up on King Hezekiah as a means of medicine for the day.

But here’s the catch.

You remember Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan, had the good Samaritan anointing the wounds of the man that had been waylaid by the robbers with oil. And water was a kind of medicine of the day. When Paul told Timothy to take a little wine for your stomach’s sake, that was a medicine of the day. And so medicine, as they understood it, certainly was practiced all across the biblical era.

A third point: Jesus was and is the Great Physician.

You see Jesus all across his earthly ministry, healing all sorts of illness and disease, so much of which was incurable in their day, from blind eyes to leprosy, obviously, demonic possession. He cared about our physical bodies and still does today.

And that leads to a fourth point I would make biblically. God calls doctors into medicine and uses their medical means as an extension of his love and his grace.

So I close by asking:

How do we balance the medical and the miraculous?

How do we balance medicine as practiced by humans and medicine as practiced by the Great Physician?

I think the answer is to trust both.

When we’re dealing with a physical difficulty, with a disease or illness and injury, we’re certainly going to be praying for God to lead us to the best care providers. We’re going to pray for God to give them wisdom and direction for God to use their hands and their expertise, and in gratitude for those that God equips and leads into the practice of medicine.

But as we’re asking God to work medically, we’re also asking God to work miraculously.

We’re asking God to do what medicine can’t do. We’re asking God to to lead where only he can lead and to provide what only he can provide, and then trust him for whatever is best.

And so we’re thanking him for medicine. We’re thanking him for miracles. And we’re thanking him most of all for his grace, the grace that is available to all of us from the Great Physician who still wants to meet our need, according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

A doctor can only give what you’ll receive. A surgeon can only operate if you’ll let them operate. A physician can only help those that are willing to be helped. Self-sufficiency is spiritual suicide.

Where is it that you need healing today? Physical or emotional, relational, spiritual healing?

We’ll look for medical means, but also look for miraculous means and trust that the Great Physician is still the Great Physician today.

That is the invitation and the promise of God.