The “C” word strikes fear in the hearts of many today. Many today have had the hard experience of having a doctor sit them down and say, “I am sorry but I have a bad report for you.” That news is that you are one of the millions who have been diagnosed with cancer. People from every age group are affected by cancer and the risk of having it increases with age.
Rather than thinking of cancer as one disease, cancer is a class of diseases in which a group of cells exhibits uncontrolled growth and invades adjacent tissues and often spreads throughout the body. Most cancers create a tumour but leukaemia is one cancer that does not. We know today that cancer is caused by abnormality in the genetic material of transformed cells. It is believed that these abnormalities may result from tobacco use, infectious agents, chemicals and radiation, et cetera. Also, if cancer runs in the family, the genetic defects may be inherited. Most cancers can be treated and many can be forced into remission, depending on the stage of growth and type. These treatments can involve surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and hormone therapy.
What are symptoms which someone should look for if they think that they may have cancer? Local symptoms may include lumps, swelling, hemorrhaging, pain, ulcers and jaundice. Also, weight loss, poor appetite, fatigue, excessive sweating and hormonal changes may occur. Symptoms of spreading within the body may include enlarged lymph nodes, bone pain and neurological symptoms. What causes cancer? Tobacco is associated with many forms of cancer. Lung cancer is not the only form that it contributes to. Ultraviolet radiation and ionizing radiation are linked to cancer and even cell phone use is thought to, possibly, be a cause of some cancer because of its non-iodizing radiation. Infectious viruses cause some cancers. Heavy alcohol consumption can lead to liver cancer. Obesity can also be a risk factor for cancer.
Cancer research is ongoing and we still have much to learn about the disease. What doctors have learned may lead to more successful methods of treatment than at present and may, one day, lead to a cure. One encouraging breakthrough is the use of the vaccine “Gardasil.” In 2006, the FDA approved this vaccine which protects against cervical cancer.
Prevention includes general fitness, the intake of fruits and vegetables, avoidance of tobacco, alcohol and other known carcinogens, as well as avoiding sexually transmitted diseases. Also, it is advisable to avoid second-hand cigarette smoke. In addition, vitamin D is thought, though not proven, to be useful in the prevention of cancer.
More and more attention is being given to the role of sugar and glucose in the growth of cancer. Cancer seems to feed on sugar and glucose and some have had their cancer go away as a result of starving their body of sugar and glucose. Diets such as the “Ketogenic Diet” and the “Atkins Diet” are designed to limit or eliminate our intake of sugar and glucose.
Maybe you are reading this because you have cancer yourself. You may have been recently diagnosed or you may have been fighting it for years. Either way, you are dealing with many emotions and probably have many questions. Friend, you need to know that someone cares for you. Jesus Christ is His name. He has been healing people in body and spirit for thousands of years. However, God does not always heal physical diseases. Sometimes we end up walking through some difficult days with many questions. If this is you, then there is important help for you. There are pastors and laymen who want to come alongside of you. There are support groups where you can share your story and your fears with others who are going through the same thing. Don’t close yourself off from others who want to help. You can fight this disease with God’s help and with the support of friends as well as with medical treatment. Your hurts can be communicated to others who are willing to listen. Your family also needs moral support as you struggle through these days. Let that support come from Christians who care.
You may have already had surgery to remove the cancer. If so, you probably wrestle with questions such as: Did the doctors get it all? Can I go back to work? Can I rebuild my life after a crisis like this? There is much hope for you. That hope is found in Jesus Christ. Friend, our lifetimes are often shorter than we imagine. What is important is that we come to know God and belong to Him during the time that we are here. Everyone with cancer wants to be saved from the disease.
The Bible speaks of another kind of salvation, a salvation of your soul. It is a deliverance from sin, along with its guilt and its consequences, a deliverance from the greatest spiritual catastrophe, the fires of hell, a deliverance from the kingdom of darkness into the spiritual kingdom of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. Salvation is a conversion, an inward conversion of the soul and spirit of a person. Jesus Christ calls this being born anew. To understand this more clearly, let us visit an episode in the life of Christ Himself:
1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:
John 3.1-8 (ASV)
This passage records a conversation between Jesus Christ and a Pharisee named Nicodemus. Nicodemus was very religious, highly respected and had a position of leadership within the Jewish community but, more importantly, he had the beginnings of faith. He came to Jesus, having recognized that Jesus was a teacher from God. However, he was missing something, something crucial. Jesus said that unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God. The Bible (ASV) uses the terms “born anew” and “begotten again” (see John 3.3, 7; 1 Peter 1.23), “begotten of God” (see 1 John 3.9; 4.7; 5.1) and “born of the Spirit” (see John 3.8) to represent the same thing, spiritual birth. The King James Version of the Bible uses the term “born again” in verses 3 and 7 of John 3. Nicodemus was puzzled. He questioned how a grown person’s birth could be repeated. But Jesus wasn’t speaking of natural birth. God’s creative power is not limited to the material and physical world. God purposed to create spiritual birth within the soul and spirit of men and women. Spiritual birth is to be born into a life of divine communion with God. It is an experience of holiness that prompts us to respond instinctively with prayer, worship and thanksgiving towards God. It is an emergence from spiritual darkness into spiritual light. It is the life-giving operation of the Holy Spirit upon a lost human soul, bringing it into spiritual existence in the kingdom of God.
Jesus further said; “Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born anew.” (John 3.7ASV). It was not enough that Nicodemus was religious, pious, sincere, talented or morally refined. He may have been right in his relationships with other people, yet his relationship with God was non-existent. He had a great deal of knowledge of religious tradition but he needed to humble himself and enter into a born-anew experience from God. Jesus refused to recognize as true disciples those who would not see their need for a radical, total, inward change of heart. Jesus emphatically repeated that “ … Ye must be born anew.”
Why is this so? It is because “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (John 3.6 ASV). What does this mean? “Flesh” can be understood to be two things. Firstly, it is our physical body and, secondly, it is our fallen sinful nature, which is, from the time of Adam, our inner rebellion toward God and His ways. The flesh is an inclination towards committing sin and sin alienates us from God. Just as a deceased man is dead to the world around him so, too, the natural man is dead to the spiritual things of God’s kingdom. He is dominated by his fleshly nature and he needs to be born anew.
Every natural man has need of the new birth. Why? Because he naturally has a “ … heart of stone …”. We read; “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36.26 NASB). Only God can take out the heart of stone and give us a heart of flesh. Only He can put His Spirit within us. This, and forgiveness of sins, is man’s greatest need. The Apostle Paul says; “Wherefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature: the old things are passed away; behold, they are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5.17ASV).
To be a Christian is to be “ … in Christ … ” and this state of being is different and new. When someone is converted to the Christian faith and experience, he or she becomes “ … a new creature: … ”. Their old life is over and “ … they are become new.” They are now a spiritual creature who is alive in God’s kingdom. To be in Christ is to be in spiritual union with Him. In this union, the record of a sinful life is blotted out and we are given a fresh start. We are also empowered to live a different kind of life than we lived before.
We read :
Titus 3.4-7 ASV
These verses say that we must be saved through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.
Friend, do you know this washing? Do you know this renewing? Have you undergone the inward cleansing and do you have a new heart from God? Have the old things passed away and are you a new creation? Or, do you have a stony heart that is unspiritual?
Jesus confronted Nicodemus and said that unless one was born anew he could not see God’s kingdom. This was not a gentle nudge to encourage Nicodemus to try harder in his efforts to be a good person. It was a pointed confrontation which challenged everything Nicodemus stood for. It put a finger on the spurious nature of his human-based religion and his self-righteousness. Jesus told him of his huge need for real spiritual experience and heart-salvation.1 Jesus only gave him one directive; he must be born anew. It was a call for Nicodemus to completely turn over his life to Jesus.
Jesus confronted Nicodemus and, friend, now the challenge is extended to you. If you have not come to God in repentance and faith, then the time to do so is now. What are you trusting in to give you favour with God? Salvation was bought for you at a tremendous cost. The blood of Jesus Christ was shed, not for crimes of His own but, instead, for your sins and mine. That same blood of Jesus stands ready to wash away all of your sins, if you will have it applied to you. Yes, He died for you and me and then, after three days, He rose again, triumphing over death. Now it is your death that He is trying to save you from. I am talking about eternal death in hell. You must be born anew. His grace is here, in this moment, to carry you over the gulf to the other side. He is here in this moment, this moment of faith. Still, you must choose it. It is time. It is time to be made alive.
Cancer may take a person’s natural life but it can’t take your soul from you. Your soul is yours to give to Jesus and experience His saving grace. Friend, pray to Him now. Cry out to Jesus in your own words and from your heart.
I offer this prayer for you:
Lord Jesus Christ, Author of Salvation, I come to you on behalf of this precious soul and, if they do not know You, I pray that You will aid them now in seeing their spiritual need and in calling on Your holy name. Cancer may have shown them their own mortality. May they see that all of their good deeds and good intentions are not of the same value as Your precious blood which was shed for them on a cruel cross. You paid the price, the only price that is acceptable to Father God. Then You rose from the dead. You have the power to grant new life, new birth, and You have the power to form a new heart within them. As they acknowledge these things, and as they call out to You now, cause them to understand Your great love for them. Help them to respond to Your call and Your pull with faith and commitment. Help them to turn their lives over to Your full control and Your full lordship. As they call out for Your forgiveness, help them to make a solid and determined decision to follow You and Your plan for their life. As they call out to You now, meet them in this moment and make them a new creature. Lord, as they cry out to You, putting their faith in You, make all things new within them and may they say in truth “Christ lives in me.” Amen.
Henry, Matthew. Matthew Henry’s Commentary On The Whole Bible, Vol. 5. Iowa Falls:
World Bible Publishers.
MacArthur, John F. Jr. The Gospel According To Jesus. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1994.
Miley, John, D.D., LL.D. Systematic Theology, Vol. 11. Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1989.
NKJV Study Bible. Editors Earl D. Radmacher, Ronald B. Allen, et al. Nashville. Thomas Nelson. 2007
Scripture references taken from the American Standard Version and
“Scripture quotations taken from the New American Standard Bible®,
Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973,
1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation
Used by permission.” (www.Lockman.org)
1John F. MacArthur Jr., The Gospel According To Jesus (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1994), 43-53.