There are those today who believe that Jesus not only paid for sin on the cross, but that He also paid for our sickness. They say that each is received by faith, if you have enough faith to receive it. Loss of faith, then, causes the loss of these benefits of faith. They claim some are especially gifted in healing and can heal those who come to them. They say God did miracles in the Bible and he is still a miracle-working God today.
What about this? Is this true? This is not just one peripheral issue, but stands very central in our salvation and Christian life. Is God’s sovereignty or man’s free will the final and ultimate deciding factor? It must be God’s sovereignty. The motive for living for Jesus should not be fear of losing our salvation. The goal of living for Jesus should not be a problem free life. Pain and suffering isn’t to be faced by whipping up enough ‘faith’ so that God removes it (or living with the feelings of failure and guilt if it isn’t removed and we believe that is our fault by not having enough faith). What about these claims of ‘faith healers’? What does the Bible say?
IS THE GIFT OF HEALING FOR TODAY? While it’s true that Jesus and the Apostles healed, it was done as a sign to authenticate that they were from God (Mt 12:39). This was God’s way having people listen to them instead of all the counterfeits around. When they were fully authenticated, there was no longer any reason for the sign. In AD 35 all were healed but by AD 60 some were not (Epaphroditus, Paul’s thorn in the flesh). Then by AD 67 very few were being healed (Trophimus was left at Miletus sick, Timothy’s stomach was unhealed, etc.). Jerusalem, the scene of many early miracles, had not one miracle done in it after Stephen was stoned. The people had the evidence but rejected it. James, the oldest book in the Bible, says that if someone is sick we are to pray for them (James 5:14).
SHOULD WE SEE MIRACLES TODAY LIKE IN BIBLE TIMES? Actually if you list all the miracles in the Bible you will find almost all of them fit three time periods. They aren’t evenly spread out throughout history but cluster in the times of Moses/Joshua, Elijah/Elisha and Jesus/apostles. In each of these times a new mess had developed so God sent a new message through a new messenger whom He authenticated by miracles (“signs”). One more time of miracles is coming, called the Tribulation.
IS FAITH A PREREQUISITE FOR HEALING? Jesus didn’t make faith a requirement for healing. Many that He healed didn’t have faith. The impotent man at the pool didn’t even know who He was. The man with the withered hand and the man with dropsy were healed as a sign to religious leaders who were present, they didn’t ask to be healed. The cripple that Peter and Paul healed outside the temple didn’t exercise any faith. Of course the demoniacs who were delivered and those brought back from the dead didn’t exercise faith. Then there are others who had strong faith but weren’t healed: Stephen, Paul, Timothy, Job, David, Elisha, etc.
IS ‘HEALING’ TODAY THE SAME AS IN BIBLE TIMES? Today’s ‘healers’ must meet the same characteristics of Jesus and the apostles to claim they are doing what was done then. Jesus and the apostles healed with a word or touch wherever and whenever. There was no special place or time, no chants or music, no gimmicks, nothing. Do today’s faith healers walk down the hall in a hospital and empty every room? That’s how Jesus and Peter did it. Also, Bible miracles were done instantly, not gradually or slowly. There was no healing to ‘claim’ or lose. Healing was then done totally, not partially, and it was never lost. Everyone was healed. There was no screening done. 100% of every one, no matter the need, was healed. Organic diseases were healed: limbs grew back instantly, strong enough to walk on, eyes were open, leprosy instantly gone and healthy flesh gown. Then, too, the dead were raised. Today’s faith healing doesn’t nearly meet these characteristics.
DOES GOD NOT HEAL? Yes, a sovereign God can always heal. He is always able to heal, but He is not always willing. Healing isn’t guaranteed. Healing isn’t based on our having enough faith. Miracles by Jesus and the apostles were done as a sign to authenticate the One who could heal an unseen soul. God can and does heal, but He doesn’t gift others to do it, nor does He say that is the recommended norm for His people.
WHAT ARE WE TO DO WHEN SICK? When we are sick its good to first make sure it isn’t for sin or disobedience. If there is sin that God is using the sickness to point out, confess it and God will forgive and then use that illness for good (Romans 8:28). It’s fine to pray, asking God to heal if that is His will. We are to submit to His will, not demand He do what we want. Ask Him to use the pain and suffering for His glory (that we and others can see His greatness through His provision and peace) and our growth(make us trust Him more and become more like Jesus). Use the best available resources: diet, rest, exercise and medical help. Realize that all healing does ultimately come from God. Leave the results to His will, though.
Granted, this whole subject of faith and healing can be a confusing and guilt-producing area. Specific verses can be found to seemingly support most any view. However an overview of the Bible and it’s teaching about these things definitely seems to substantiate the above view of healing. Always remember, our faith must be in Jesus. HE is the object of our faith, never a human person or group. Put faith in Jesus, not faith in your faith! HE is the one we are to look to and glorify. Always keep your eyes on Him. Trust and serve Him no matter what.
Ask God to help you know how to pray about physical ailments for yourself and others. Don’t just assume you should pray for immediate and total healing for everyone. God often uses these things to bring us and others closer to Him (as Paul’s thorn in the flesh). Allow Him to use whatever He chooses in your life or in the lives of others to make the prson more like Jesus.
(If I can answer questions or offer personal counsel, or if you would like a free copy of my Spiritual Warfare Handbook, email me at Jerry@ChristianTrainingOrganization.org or download it from http://sw.christiantrainingonline.org/. My next book, Spiritual Warfare in the Bible, which is a more advanced treatment of spiritual warfare, is also available there for free.)