T. J. de Ruiter, Pentecostal Pastor & Bible Teacher in The Netherlands
The Gospel of Reconciliation & Healing
Pastoral Message about Divine Healing ( In English & Dutch)
This brief article is written to give a clear understanding about the subject of divine healing in Scripture and as a guide for pastoral involvement with people, who are ill, but earnestly hope- and strive to have faith for an healing miracle of God.
This article does not claim to deal with all the aspects of the subject of divine healing. I realize that there are many questions left unanswered, especially those of them, who need a divine touch of healing, have waited for so long and prayed so earnestly for it, but heaven remains silent and the Spirit of God has not given the desired touch.
Perhaps reading this article may make an opening in your heart for the Spirit of God to give you the necessary touch. One thing you may be sure of: The Lord is still in business of healing people, saying all the time: "Be healed." Who knows, that word and that touch may just be 'around the corner.' That would be truly wonderful.
T. J. de
Healing of the sick is the work of God
Right at the beginning of this brief article of biblical teaching about Divine Healing I would like to make a statement and it is this: That the sick may always pray and continue to have hope for a healing touch of God, unless God told them explicitly that He, for some wise, sovereign purpose, is not going to heal them.
That man may hope and have faith for a healing touch of God is encouraged by the revelation of God and teachings in Scripture: He is an healing Lord and Saviour. Exodus 15:26, "I am the LORD, that healeth thee." Jesus healed the sick and freed the demon possessed and of these works He said that they were the works of His Father in heaven. In the commission to preach the Gospel Jesus included the command to heal the sick; Marc 16:18. In the previous verse Jesus said that healing of the sick would be a sign that followed message of the Gospel, to emphasize its divine authority. The apostles recognised that divine healing was functioning in the churches and wrote about it.
Gifts of healings, 1 Corinthians 12:9
How can we receive an healing touch from the Lord? Like all blessings from above healing is received by faith in the goodness, faithfulness, power and the will of God.
The apostle Paul teaches that the Lord invests healing power in the Church and that He distributes gifts of healing amongst its members; please read 1 Corinthians 12:9.
It is commonly understood that the apostle wrote here about the gift of healing. I like to point out that there is a second exegesis of 1 Corinthians 12:9. A reading of the Greek text shows the plural forms of the nouns in this verse. Paul wrote literally 'gifts of healings.' I am amongst the teachers, that draw from the plural forms 'gifts' and 'healings' the conclusion that the healing itself is a special gift of God, the Holy Spirit. If this interpretation from the Greek is correct, each healing can be seen as a gift from the Spirit of Christ. The examination of this verse seems to make it impossible to use this verse for the teaching that certain believers received a special gift to heal. It could be argued however that the Spirit administers gifts of healings through those, whom He has anointed for this ministry. Each healing is not only a gift to an individual, but also to the whole body of Christ. Please read also verse 11 in this chapter, which makes clear that the Holy Spirit gives the gifts (also that of an healing) to whom He wills.
Healing through the prayer of faith, James 5:15
The apostle James assured, giving directions for prayer for the sick in the church, that the prayer of faith, prayed by an elder of the church, will heal the sick; please read James 5:13-18. The prayer of faith might well be prayed by someone, who possesses the gift of faith; read 1 Corinthians 12:9. An elder was and is a mature, wise, pure, Spirit filled and responsible leader of the church. We might draw the conclusion that James treats illness of a believer as a serious matter, that not only concerns the individual believer but the whole church; please read also 1 Corinthians 12:26. James mentions that sins must be confessed to one another. In doing so not only hindrances between believers are cleared, but also - and this is most important - every hindrance for God to let His healing power flow. James mentions further: Anointing with oil, an act that strengthens faith and praying for one another, so expressing humility and true love for one another in the church, recognizing Gods sovereign presence and will. It is interesting to know that certain oils were used as medicine in those days. James also draws attention to the truth that not just our prayers work healing, but God does, for He gives power and effectiveness to our prayers. If you are ill and suffering and you are a member of a church, why not call for your pastor and elders and ask them to be obedient to this advice of the apostle James?
Claiming healing on the grounds of the atonement of Christ?
A thorough study of relevant Scriptures seems to indicate that it is not in harmony with the New Testament to teach that the believer shall surely receive physical healing by exercising faith in Christ and His atonement as he received forgiveness of sins and a right standing before God. If it were true that every believer has a right to receive healing in this present life as the result of the atonement and that it is just a matter of claiming what is one's right, then, surely, there would be hardly any sickness amongst believers. Scriptures as Isaiah 53:6 and 1 Peter 2:24 will give a more profound meaning when examined in broader context of the truths of the Gospel. The reader will understand that it goes too far now to study at some length all the necessary Scriptures to support this view.
May it suffice here to say that Christians received the Holy Spirit and He is the warrant of the coming full salvation and renewal; Romans 8:23; Ephesians 1:13. In the gift of the Holy Spirit is His full potential of energies present, that's why miraculous powers operate amongst believers. As written above, it is the Spirit that gives the gifts to the individual believer in the church and one of His gifts is healing; 1 Corinthian 12:9;11. This being accepted as true we can conclude that a divine healing is rather a work of the Spirit, as a special gift, than a more or less automatic result of the exercise of faith in the atonement of Christ. But let it be clear that each divine healing must be received and welcomed as a result of the atonement. Christians will receive the full and eternal healing of their body when they are changed into immortality at the return of Christ for then is the work of their salvation complete.
The 'methodical steps of faith' teaching to receive healing
Some teach a 'Steps of faith' theology to receive a miracle healing from God. It is taught as a successful method to receive the desired healing miracle. The number of steps vary from 3 to 7 or even more, dependant upon the particular teaching. The healing teachers gvie usually - if not always - the assurance that if the steps are taken, the sick will receive the desired miracle.
Such a teaching about a systematic, methodical approach is however not endorsed by the Holy Scriptures, though those, who teach this kind of 'faith steps' theology do often try to support the methodical steps with Scripture verses. But they are often quoted without taking their context in consideration or without due respect for sound and responsible exposition of their meaning. Therefore I give a serious warning against such teaching.
Please notice that Jesus and his apostles did not teach logical or methodological steps to receive a miracle from God. In the Gospels we learn that miracles sometimes happened in answer to faith, but they happened also totally unexpected and even unasked for - even by the sick himself. Added to this let us be clear about it: Jesus is not anymore amongst us, and therefore there is no physical presence of God amongst us. The consequence of his absence is that coming to Him - also for healing - is entirely a spiritual encounter. This spiritual dimension has realities that are incomprehensible for us, for the spiritual has many aspects that are far above our consciousness and understanding. The word of Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:12, "Now we know in part," is also true here.
I want to emphasize that a miracle is per definition a phenomenon that cannot be produced by human calculations or logical systems of thinking or imagination and neither can it be explained with rational understanding. A divine healing miracle falls in the category of unexplainable phenonema, as a benign working of the supernatural God, produced by His power. There is no way, in which we can assure one another that a miracle will take place if we obey certain conditions or take the so called 'faith steps.' This having said, it remains true that God, the Holy Spirit, will often work a miracle in answer to prayer, a proclamation of faith or an authoritative command in Jesus' Name. However, God is sovereign, He does not ask anyone permission for what He does or does not do, and omniscient (all-knowing) and therefore knows all aspects of human life. It is wise and truly godly to let everything rest in His hands. Only in humble submission will the soul of man find the necessary peace and rest.
Research about the success of this 'faith steps' teaching shows that the vast majority of sick do not receive divine healing. It is sincerely to be regretted and truly saddening that so many sick develop serious spiritual and emotional problems - apart from their physical pain - through fanatical and unbalanced preaching about faith in relation to healing. Not a few develop also serious guilt problems as a result of the idea that they remain sick as a result of failing to have faith in God. There is much evidence that there is a great number of heavily frustrated sick believers, who visited with great expectations healing meetings with high hopes and real faith - without receiving healing. Preachers of divine healing will usually take no responsibility for those, who are not healed. Such people are desperately in need of loving, sympathetic and scriptural pastoral care, but many healing preachers rather avoid contact with such frustrated believers.
Attitude towards medical treatment
Having hope and faith for divine healing, does not release the sick - and those around the sick person - from the moral duty to make use of good medical treatment and the necessary medical and loving care - I really want to stress this point.
Applied to believers this means that they should not reject medical treatment in principle. Even if there is a strong expectation of a miracle they should not postpone medical aid unnecessary. I know that some Christians are against any medical help, but this has not seldom caused damage to the testimony of Christ - as many have sadly experienced.
We have a recent example of the value of the above teaching. On Saturday, 22 September 2001, our daughter Deborah became suddenly ill. We consulted her physician and he sent her with urgency to the hospital. After the necessary hospital procedures with hours delay, while having severe pains - it was weekendservice in the hospital - she was diagnosed as having an acute appendicitis and immediately operated succesfully. Three weeks later she was almost completely recovered. We gave thanks to God for the medical skill of the surgeon and the good care of the nurses.
That Saturday morning, when she gave her first phone call, we did pray for Gods miraculous intervention, but realised that we needed to take the necessary steps. It was quite frightening as the pain came so sudden and the waiting was so long in the hospital. We have not regretted our urgent steps toward medical help as we realized, after the diagnosis was made, that appendicitis can have serious, even fatal complications.
Recapitulation, Receiving healing from God
For the Christian: Believe the Word of God and honour Christ as your Lord. Clean your heart, confess your sins and receive forgiveness, based on the atonement of Christ on the cross. In case personal prayer does not give the desired result, call your pastor and leaders as James 5 instructs the believers. Let there not just be a fast ritual anointing, but take time together to read the Word, pray and get sure that you are right with God and one another. Let the Spirit work, maybe He reveals a secret hindrance for Him to move, e.g. an evil, occult, spiritual power, a curse or power of magic, that must broken. The Spirit may give a prophetic word, that will give a hopeful insight or a powerful faith for healing.
Please do not forget: God may heal, letting the natural healings powers of the bodily and mental systems work. He may also heal through good medical treatment or help. And He can work miraculously, in a completely unusual way, far above any understanding and on a moment that you expect it not. Healings occur in private time, in regular churchservices, in evangelistic meetings or in a conference. How true is the line of a wellknown hymn, also in the case of healing: "God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform."
And, if after all is done, there is still no healing, leave all in the hands of the Sovereign God and your Saviour Jesus Christ, committing your body, soul and spirit to Him. We know in part, but He knows all things perfectly.
In closing I point out that wonderful, miraculous divine healings are also signs of the powers of the coming age, when God will free his people completely from all sickness and pain. There is surely coming a time, commencing at the return of the Lord, when there will be no sickness and death anymore. Then the full blessings of the atonement, inclusive physical and mental healing, will come into effect.
All creation, and certainly God's children, who taste now and then, or perhaps frequently, of those wonderful divine powers look forward to this wonderful age of God's Kingdom on earth. The present believers will be changed into immortality in the twinkling of an eye. And the divine, powerful ministry of the reigning Christ will bring perfect healing for all as the powers of evil, that bring sickness will be bound. This hope will give strength to the believer - even in the moment when the end of this present mortal life is arriving.
And if you, dear reader, are sick and suffering, why not pray, maybe again, to the Lord, and ask for His compassionate healing touch. Who knows, perhaps this time a surprising reaction from heaven will give you that desired move of His Spirit. "Lord, we will give you all the glory for it. Amen."
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