While it cannot be denied that the New Testament teaches that God did heal many people supernaturally in the first century, there are many in the church today who would be keen to downplay the present day relevance of such examples for those presently suffering with various forms of sickness and disease. The ministry of divine healing in the name of Jesus has been especially controversial in the last century, and has stirred up much religious feeling on both sides of the issue. At times this has been at least in part due to the unwise practices of certain well-known “faith-healers”. In some cases people have rejected divine healing because they could not accept some of the doctrines and practices of those who advocated it. Yet the Scripture does speak on this issue, and it is of great relevance to those who are sick and suffering, if perchance Jesus Christ might still be willing to demonstrate his compassion and power by healing them.
We must be willing to “test all things”, and “hold fast to that which is good”. Our standard of reference for discerning truth must be the Scriptures themselves, and not the pronouncements of popes, reformers, theologians, pastors, teachers or evangelists – although all of these may have something worthwhile to say at times.
God has more than a Religious Theory to help those who are sick and in pain.
Many times the church has sought to comfort the sick with religious notions instead of effectively ministering divine healing through faith in the name of Jesus. The seriously ill may be encouraged by such ideas as these: “You must be very holy for God to have chosen you to suffer in this way.” or “God is using this to teach you a lesson.” or “God is pleased when He looks down and sees you suffering so patiently”. All these notions and others like them may be quite comforting to the minds of the sufferers, but that does not mean that they are the pure truth of God at all!
In fact, such words may in fact lead to religious pride or to distorted views of the character of God. Sometimes sick Christians will hold on to such ideas with more tenacity than to any of the Scriptural encouragements to faith for divine healing. These religious notions can therefore become barriers to what God wants to do in producing expectation and faith for healing in the sufferer.
The Good News is that God is healing people today through faith in the name of Jesus. All kinds of miracles have taken place. We have Scriptural reasons to believe that God wants to heal us when we are sick. We can have deliverance today through the ministry of God’s Spirit to our mortal bodies.
Do we learn the will of God from experience or from the Word?
Some have confused notions concerning what is meant by the Will of God. It is believed by some that whatever happens is the Sovereign Will of God. For such believers, the question of God’s will in the matter of healing must be determined by experience. Prayer may be offered for healing, and if the sickness persists, it is concluded that the sickness must have been the will of God! If the person got better – be it through medical intervention or otherwise, it is concluded that it was God’s will to heal that person – but when the next case comes along we will just have to wait and see what God’s will is.
When people think like that, there is little room left for faith, since faith is the “substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1) or “faith is being sure of what we hope for, and it is certain of what we do not see.” When people are unsure whether what they hope for is God’s will, they cannot be sure that it will come. This is not faith. In fact it is merely natural hope mixed with uncertainty.
Some point to examples of Christians, even great Christians, who were sick and died sick. Some even believed they would be healed. This does not prove anything one way or the other. We are not called to judge the spirituality of such Christians. Nor should we use their example to determine what the Scriptural teaching is. We would do better to judge experiences by the Word of God, than to judge the Word of God by experiences.
We take a great step forward when we realize two things:
(1) That God tells us what His will for us is in His Word. It is revealed through His promises, His declarations, and through the life and ministry of His Son Jesus Christ.
(2) The will of God is not always done in our life or in our world.
Concerning the latter point, consider the Scripture “[The Lord] … is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9). We know that not all come to repentance – even though God would like them too. Therefore God’s will is not done in their lives.
There is another interesting verse in this regard in Luke 7:30. Here the Word of God states, “But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the will of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him [John].” The plain meaning is that it is possible for men to reject the will of God for themselves. This means that what happens is not always the will of God. This means that just because a person was not healed does not automatically mean that it was not God’s will to heal them.
What God’s will is, is clearly revealed through the Scriptures. It can be seen through the ministry of Jesus to the sick, for Jesus perfectly revealed the will of God on the earth. It is seen in the many promises concerning divine healing in both the Old and New Testaments. We must remember that “all the promises of God in Him [Christ] are Yes, and in Him, Amen, to the glory of God through us.” (2 Cor. 1:20). Whatever God’s Word has promised is a clear indication of God’s will – for it is God’s will to keep His promises. And we will consider many of those great and precious promises concerning divine healing in the sections below.
All of this is not a denial of God’s Sovereignty and rulership of the universe. It just shows how serious human choices are. God respects our ability to choose and will faithfully administrate the outcome of those choices – be it through judgements or blessings. Nothing takes God by surprise – and yet there are many choices people make and things people do that were not desired by our loving Father.
God did heal supernaturally. Does God still do it?
Yes! Today more and more people are thanking God for the healing they received from God, which was accomplished by a direct action of the Spirit of God in their bodies. All the time cases are reported of deaf ears opening, cripples walking, internal organs being healed, backs straightening and so on. Jesus Christ is still doing it!
The Scripture provides many models of Christ’s healing work. All these principles are relevant to us in building up our faith in these areas. We should not allow the traditions of men to neutralise the impact of these Scriptures to us.
How can one know if the source of supernatural healing is Divine or satanic?
Satanic healings take the attention away from Jesus Christ as the healer and are coming through people who promote unscriptural and/or occultic doctrines. They come without any reference to the cross of Christ and they lead people away from the true knowledge of God rather than to the foot of the cross. Satanic healings transfer the problem from the body to the soul of man. Those who have been to occultic healers often become mentally disturbed and confused.
This should not lead us to be fearful of the godly ministry of divine healing, however. We should bear in mind the teaching of Jesus in Mathew’s gospel.
“Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” Matthew 7:9-11
We have nothing to fear of the ministry of humble, Christ exalting men who teach the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God, call people to true repentance and faith in Him and give all the glory to God for the miracles and changed lives that come as a result.
What Are Some of The Scriptures Indicating Divine Healing is God’s Will?
My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ears to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; Keep them in the midst of your heart; For they are life to those who find them, And health to all their flesh. Proverbs 4:20-22
The Word of God has a key role in divine healing (see also Ps. 107:20). It can be health to all our flesh – leaving no room for sickness and disease in our flesh. It is difficult to spiritualise this passage and say that it is really talking about healing for our spirits or souls – since it specifically mentions our flesh – with no ifs or buts about it.
If you are sick you need to get your ears and your eyes onto the Word of God itself and off negative reports, unbelieving theologies, religious traditions and the pain itself. For God’s Word itself can become medicine to your flesh if you take that medicine faithfully according to prescription. God is Almighty but also a God of integrity, and sooner or later He will back up His own words when they are mixed with faith.
Is anyone among you sick? 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. And the prayer of faith will save [heal] the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. James 5:14-15
This is a New Testament instruction that many sick Christians do not put into practice. The implication here is that the elders of the church should be willing to come to the bed of the sufferer, and able to pray the prayer of faith for healing. The word for “saved” in Greek is “sozo” and is used many times for “healed” as well as “saved” in the New Testament. This is no accident, because healing is really just an expression of God’s salvation for the body.
Here we have two very unambiguous promises concerning divine healing. Together with other promises and statements made in the Word of God, little room is left for doubt and unbelief at least concerning what the Bible teaches is God’s promise and intention in these matters.
And these signs will follow those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons … they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover. Mark 16:17-18
Although this promise is primarily valid for those engaged in evangelism (Mark 16:15), the truth remains that many times God will use the laying on of hands to impart the power of the Holy Spirit into a person’s body so that sickness is dissolved. Often this happens in conjunction with “the gifts of healings” (1 Cor. 12:9) – one of the manifestations of the Spirit given to build up the body of Christ.
Other Relevant Scriptures
Is. 53:4,5; Ex. 15:26; Ps. 103:3; 3 John 2; Ps. 107:20; Romans 8:11.