“And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him, 2 And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils, 3 And Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance”
The reference to “certain women, which had been healed” brings forth the complex Doctrine of Divine Healing. Since the Azusa Street Revival in 1906, led by William J. Seymour, an African-American preacher, the Pentecostal and Charismatic movement, has made divine healing one of the most important, and fascinating religious topics to be examined.
There are reports of a modern-day revival going on in Ashbury, Kentucky that might produce some fascinating stories of divine healing. We can hope that happens.
Most Christians would say they believe in miracles, and divine healing because the Bible clearly documents so many of each. However, once the general principle is established that God can work miracles, and perform acts of divine healing, individuals go in various directions.
Some Christians become what are known as Cessationists. They believe God can work miracles and perform divine healings, but He does not do so any longer. They say the days of miracles ceased with the passing of the apostles.
That is one position.
Other Christians disagree. We contend that God can work miracles and perform divine healings, and He continues to do so to the present hour. We are called, Non-Cessationist. In the body of Christ, there is a sharp line of division between the Cessationist and the Non-Cessationist.
Those who believe that certain spiritual gifts, including the gift of healing have ceased, demand objective proof that miracles still take place today. In 1971 Dr. William A. Nolen wrote a book A Doctor in Search of a Miracle. After attending several healing miracle services in Pittsburgh, PA, Dr. Nolan’s follow up investigation of twenty-three cases of alleged healing found only sickness, sorrow, and death.
Some of us would say that Dr. Nolen should have continued his research for he would have been able to document some bonafide healings, with x-rays, and case histories, verified by personal physicians.
Caught in the cross fire between the theology of the Cessationist, and the Non-Cessationist, is the average Christian. What are we to believe? Perhaps it is safe to say that most conservative Christians want to believe in a miracle working God. Many of us are crying, “More, Lord! More!”
“God, do it again!” “Lord, come and heal Your people.”
My own heart believes in a mighty God who forgives sin, answers prayers, divinely heals, distributes spiritual gifts, and moves mysteriously in the lives of individuals. Therefore, let me state what I believe the Bible teaches must happen in the hearts of those who want to focus attention upon seeing people divinely healed.
First, we must believe God is diverse. In the matter of divine healing, God has been pleased to use a variety of different ways to restore health. Some of the ways God has healed individuals can be noted.
Sometimes divine healing will take place through the Laws of Nature. God has given the body great recuperative powers, which is one reason David said, “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well” (Psalms 139:14). Much healing will take place by maintaining a good diet, exercise, and weight control.
Sometimes divine healing will take place using medical knowledge. We need people like Luke, who was a physician, as well as a historian, and gospel writer. The medical profession is an honorable one, for the most part. God has given to humanity wonderful knowledge which must not be dismissed. The use of surgery and medication is wise, not wicked, unless these gifts of God are abused by vanity, overmedication, or social experimentation. Those who do not believe in getting a legitimate vaccination, those who take their children off medication, or refuse to go to a hospital when they are in pain, are not honoring the Lord.
Sometimes divine healing will take place through the mind. The Lord knows this and tells His disciples not to worry (Matt. 6:25-34).The mind has a tremendous influence on the health of the body, which is why the Scriptures advocate spiritual self-talk, and meditation.
“Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance” (Psalms 42:5).
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Phil. 4:8).
Sometimes divine healing will take place through the gift of healing being exercised within the body of Christ. Peter and John were given the gift of healing. “There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one” (Acts 5:16).“To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:9).
Sometimes divine healing will take place through an anointing with oil and prayer.
“And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he has committed sins, they shall be forgiven him” (James 5:15).
Sometimes divine healing will take place through the anguish of a soul pleading with God.
“Turn again, and tell Hezekiah the captain of my people, Thus saith the LORD, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee: on the third day thou shalt go up unto the house of the LORD” (2 Kings 20:5).
Sometimes divine healing will take place as God is pleased to honor a humble display of faith.
“But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour” (Matt. 9:22).
Sometimes divine healing will take place through the faith of others being manifested on behalf of the sick.
“And it came to pass on a certain day, as he was teaching, that there were Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by, which were come out of every town of Galilee, and Judæa, and Jerusalem: and the power of the Lord was present to heal them. 18 And, behold, men brought in a bed a man which was taken with a palsy: and they sought means to bring him in, and to lay him before him.
19 And when they could not find by what way they might bring him in because of the multitude, they went upon the housetop, and let him down through the tiling with his couch into the midst before Jesus. 20 And when he saw their faith, he said unto him, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee. 21 And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?
22 But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answering said unto them, What reason ye in your hearts? 23 Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up and walk? 24 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins, (he said unto the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house. 25 And immediately he rose up before them, and took up that whereon he lay, and departed to his own house, glorifying God” (Luke 5:17-25).
Sometimes divine healing will take place based on the principle of God’s pity and grace.
“For I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds, saith the LORD; because they called thee an Outcast, saying, This is Zion, whom no man seeketh after” (Jer. 30:17)
Sometimes divine healing will take place when a demonic spirit is cast out through prayer and fasting.
“And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling to him, and saying, 15 Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water.
16 And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him. 17 Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? Bring him hither to me. 18 And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour. 19 Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? 20 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. 21 Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting” (Matt. 17:14-21).
Second, as God is diverse, so He is sovereign, and therefore nothing is too hard for Him. What God has created; He can recreate.
“And the LORD said unto him [Moses], Who hath made man’s mouth? Or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? Have not I the LORD?” (Ex. 4:11).
The God who brought Christ back from the dead can remove cancer cells, restore health to the diabetic, make goiters disappear, give sight to the blind, and hearing to the deaf. There is nothing too hard for God. Faith boldly believes God is omnipotent.
So, in any authentic healing service, the diversity of God, and His absolute sovereignty must be recognized.
Now, the Bible does instruct the Church to test the spirits. This is especially necessary when there is a focus of attention on praying for the sick.
“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).
In any healing service conducted in the name and power of Jesus a test must be made. A, W. Tozer offers one test to know, beyond any doubt, whether the healing service is of God, be it large or small. Let this question be answered.
“Has this time together affected my attitude toward and my relation to God, Christ, the Holy Scriptures, self, other Christians, the world and sin?”
What Mr. Tozer contends is that in a bonafide healing service where the Spirit of God is present, and not lying wonders, every soul will be drawn closer to God, Christ will be honored, the Holy Spirit will be respected, and not made to look foolish, the Scriptures will be accurately taught,
self will be sanctified, other Christians will be loved, the world will be hated, and not imitated,
and all transgressions will be repented of.
The counsel of A. W. Tozer is wise. Let the question be answered. What then is to be done?
Let me suggest the healing service continue.
The Lord will be present because, a biblical healing service will include a willingness to believe in diverse methods of healing.
The Lord will be present because a biblical healing service will include a willingness to submit to the absolute sovereignty of God. This means instead of a theology that teaches dogmatically God wants everyone present to be healthy, there is the acknowledgement that God does not want everyone to be healed, or we would all be in perfect health. There is a place for pain and suffering in the plan of God. However, this does not stop the Church from believing, and seeking God’s favor of Divine healing. We want to pray for the sick, and anoint them with oil upon request.
“Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord” (James 5:14).
When healing comes, time should be given to testify of that fact. There is nothing wrong with giving the Lord thanks for what He has done. On one occasion, Jesus healed ten lepers. One returned to say, “Thank you.”
“And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine?” (Luke 17:17).
In preparation for divine healing, honest confession of inappropriate behavior must be confessed.
Our attitude and actions are noted by the Lord.
“Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16).
While we are not to be demanding or presumptuous, the Church can anticipate what God might do when things are done according to His will, decently and in order. Uncontrolled laughter, barking like a dog, withering in the isle, speaking in an unknown tongue are all signs of a foreign spirit being present. They dishonor the Lord, and mock the Holy Spirit.
The Lord is most pleased when the gospel is proclaimed in a respectful manner.
A biblical healing service will be characterized by a proclamation of the gospel with special emphasis upon the salvation of the soul.
With these guidelines in place, the local Church can reclaim its rightful place in ministering to the sick of body as well as those who are sick in soul. This we will do, as God permits. In the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.