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In our last lesson, we looked at how the Old Testament shows God to be a healing God. What might we conclude from this Old Testament study?
First, sickness is not the usual work of God. Isaiah 28:21 tells us, "For the Lord will rise up as at Mount Perazim, He will be angry as in the Valley of Gibeon-- that He may do His work, His awesome work, and bring to pass His act, His unusual act." Normally a person can expect God to heal. It takes special prophetic revelation for the contrary to happen -- where all too often, the contrary has been taught to explain why healings do not take place. In point of fact, healing power was not lost to the Church because God is withdrawing it. Rather it is lost through disobedience to His laws and holiness.
Second, we conclude that those who fear His name will have healing. Malachi 4:2 tells us, "But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in His wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall." I had a believer friend who was a framer in Co Fermanagh, Ireland. He read this promise when he was in the hospital with tuberculosis (TB). He felt a prophetic anointing on these words, so he signed himself out of hospital. Two days later, on the back of a horse on his own farm, the disease left him, and it has never come back in the last thirty years!
Third, we conclude that God demonstrates His will to heal by healing which comes through His prophetic words, not merely through their prayer. Proverbs 4:22, "For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh."
The New Testament Shows Christ As A Healer
As I studied healing in the life of Jesus, I came to an amazing realization: Jesus did not pray for the sick, He healed them through His word!
The Gospels reveal God's will is "healing in Christ" in the New Testament. In this context, I discovered that Christ, the living Word, perfectly reveals God's will. If it were not God's will to heal all, why do we read that Christ went throughout Israel healing all? Matthew 4:23-24 says, "And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. And His fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto Him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatic, and those that had the palsy; and He healed them."
Christ linked His work with the Old Testament revelation of God as the Healer. Matthew 8:16-17 says, "When the even was come, they brought unto Him many that were possessed with devils: and He cast out the spirits with His word, and healed all that were sick. That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, 'Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.'" The New Testament verse quotes Isaiah 53:4, which says, "Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted." We see this same theme repeated in 1 Peter 2:24, "Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed."
A woman came into one of our meetings in Northern Ireland. She walked out of the hall, before I had finished teaching. "Why are you leaving?" I called out. "I have just realized," she replied, "that if He carried my sickness as well as my sins on the Cross, then I do not have to carry them as well. I immediately found that my legs were healed and now I am able to walk without pain ..." (That is one way to avoid long sermons and appeals for offerings!)
In fact, reading the New Testament again, found there are more references to Christ healing the sick, than His forgiving sinners. This brings a tremendous challenge to a Church which limits itself to "preaching the Gospel" including only deliverance from sin! "He Himself" implies that healing the sick is more demanding of faith in that it provides visible proof of forgiveness. We see this demonstrated in Matthew 9:5-8, "For whether is easier, to say, 'Thy sins be forgiven thee'; or to say, 'Arise, and walk?' But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith He to the sick of the palsy), arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house. And he arose, and departed to his house. But when the multitudes saw it, they marveled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men."
Christ never avoided the challenge to demonstrate this power. Should we avoid this challenge today? Is God just interested in saving souls from Hell and not rescuing bodies from sickness? Is there anything too hard for Him? Are there limits to what He can do through His followers today?
Christ revealed God's will by healing all classes of disease. Let's look at a few examples from the book of Matthew:
Matt. 9:35 And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.
Matt. 12:15 But when Jesus knew it, He withdrew Himself from thence: and great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them all;
Matt. 14:35 And when the men of that place had knowledge of Him, they sent out into all that country round about, and brought unto Him all that were diseased;
Matt. 14:36 And besought Him that they might only touch the hem of His garment: and as many as touched were made perfectly whole.
Do we believe every word of the bible is true? If so, then see Him as our model, because everyone on whom He laid His hands was healed! Luke 4:40 tells us, "Now when the sun was setting, all they that had any sick with divers diseases brought them unto Him; and He laid His hands on every one of them, and healed them."
This does not conflict with doctors, who are pledged by Hippocratic oath, to heal all of the sick. In fact Luke was a doctor! Luke the doctor, records that there was a power that went out of Him and healed people. Luke 6:19, "And the whole multitude sought to touch Him: for there went virtue out of Him, and healed them all."
The Greek word for virtue was "dunamis," and it is found also in Acts 10:38. This must follow logically from what the bible teaches: If God did not want all healed, Christ would have disobeyed Him by doing general healing.
Was this practice follow by New Testament Apostles and Prophets?
New Testament Preachers Revealed God As Healer
Some brief examples make this clear. For instance, Peter preached healing under the leading of the Spirit and he practiced it as well. Look at Acts 3:2-8, "And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple. And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, 'Look on us.' Then Peter said, 'Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.' And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking and leaping and praising God." The effect of this healing on the people is recorded in Acts 3:10, "And they knew that it was he which sat for alms at the Beautiful gate of the temple: and they were filled with wonder and amazement at that which had happened unto him."
Notice the prophetic word of command was followed by immediate results. This also led to a general expectation of miracles in the community (which is sometimes lacking today, in my experience, except in the poorer countries in which we minister around the world). Here is an example of that type of expectancy, and the results it yields, in Acts 5:16, "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."
New Testament evangelism included greater healing than the local witch doctors could perform. We see this in the Book of Acts in Samaria. Is not this the way to challenge the modern occult revival? Phillip preached God's will in Samaria and had results that even amazed the witch doctor in Acts 8:5-13. "Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies and that were lame, were healed. And there was great joy in that city. But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one: To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, 'This man is the great power of God.' And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries. But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done."
Here is one important fact that emerges. Divine healing is bigger than faith healing and it draws attention to Christ -- and not to the healer or the faith of the person being healed.
What about the writers of the Epistles?
Paul practiced and preached healing. We see His prophetic insights and power in action at Lystra in Acts 14:9-10. "The same heard Paul speak: who steadfastly beholding him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed, Said with a loud voice, 'Stand upright on thy feet.' And he leaped and walked."
James wrote of healing for all in James 5:14-15. "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. And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him." Notice that this type of healing included the practice of confessing our sin and was done in the context of local elders doing the healing.
John expressed the same teaching from God in his prayer for the readers of his epistle, 3 John 1:2, "Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth." Given this therefore, we conclude that the New Testament teaches us that healing is the perfect will of God, applied by the Spirit.