The idea of being healed of bodily affliction is certainly very attractive. The debilitating effects of sickness and disease can truly be difficult and very sad for many. There are many self-styled individuals roaming around today making the claim that they are “faith healers”. For example, I just read of a man who will be touring a number of churches in Melbourne. He comes with the claim of being able to heal people. What are we to make of such claims? It is my conclusion that these self-styled “faith healers” are simply undervaluing the biblical gift of healing. Furthermore, they are guilty of offending the purity and power of the Holy Spirit. In the midst of all their claims to be displaying the power of the Holy Spirit, they are actually performing things that undermine and undervalue the true power of the Holy Spirit.
THE GIFT OF HEALING
At this point, I think it would be helpful to talk about the meaning and nature of the gift of healing. There are many who go around today claiming to have this gift and they make promises of being able to heal people. Is such a claim valid? In-order to answer that question, it is best to go back to the Scriptures and examine the real deal and then place the modern claims next to it. The Bible contains many examples of miraculous healing. It is seen in practice by some of the Old Testament prophets, by Jesus, and by the apostles. When one examines all the data, it becomes clear that there were certain common characteristics that all of these examples share.
Biblical Healing was Immediate
When healing took place in the examples provided by Scripture, the healing of the individual was immediate (Matt. 8:13; Mark 5:29; Luke 17:14; Acts 3:7-8; 14:8-10, 19-20; 20:9-12). The individuals did not have to recover or recuperate. The powerful nature of biblical examples of healing was that it was immediate.
Biblical Healing was Exceptional
The second important characteristic of healing as found in Scripture was that it was exceptional. That is to say, you don’t read of the healing of things like back pain, headaches, stress and other like things. No, the examples in Scripture were truly exceptional. You have the dead being raised from the dead, paralytics being healed, withered hands restored, sight to the blind, just to state some examples.
Biblical Healing was Entire
A third characteristic was that biblical healing was entire. That is to say, when biblical healings took place, they actually brought healing in entirety. If sight was granted, the individual could see. If a paralytic was healed he could actually walk. It was not a slight healing it was an entire healing, and this is what made so many people marvel.
Without a doubt, the greatest Biblical demonstration of the ability to heal was none other than that of the Lord Jesus Christ. The healing ministry of Jesus Christ is unparalleled in all of history. The methods He used to heal were not always the same as He employed a variety of approaches. He healed by touch (Matt. 8:15; 20:34; Luke 13:13), speech (Matt. 9:6-7; Mark 10:52; John 5:8-9), through His garment (Matt. 9:20-22; 14:36; Luke 8:44), by His saliva (Mark 8:22-26) and with clay (John 9:6). One thing becomes clear when you read the gospel accounts – all His miracles were undeniable. This is demonstrated by the acceptance of these miracles, even by His enemies (John 9). Furthermore, many “faith healers” today claim that if people are not being healed it is because they don’t have enough faith. Really, that is a convenient excuse for their lack of “gifting”. When Jesus healed, some of those individuals were not even believers (Matt. 8:1-4; Luke 17:11-19; John 5:1-9). Furthermore, when He raised the dead to life, that individual certainly was unable to employ faith.
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF HEALING
The miracles performed by the Lord Jesus Christ were truly amazing and reveal so much about who He is. If you were to take time an examine each of the miracles recorded in Scripture, no doubt you would be amazed by what is actually happening. Imagine if you were present when they were performed. I would have loved to see the face of the man born blind when Jesus gave him sight. Or to shake the hand of the man who had a withered hand. Each of these would have had an amazing sense of thrill and excitement when they occurred. As amazing as they were, we need to remember that these acts of healing were actually signs. As signs, they were intended to point to a greater reality. By way of example, in the Gospel according to John there seven selected signs. The signs Jesus performed were not designed to bring attention to the miracle itself; rather they proved that Jesus is the Son of God by confirming His claims to be true. Each sign provides us with an understanding of what Jesus Christ can do spiritually for fallen humanity. Of those seven signs, four of them include healing (John 4:43-54; 5:1-16; 9:1-12; 11:38-44). What were there ultimate purpose? In his purpose statement John writes, “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:30-31).
The Scripture sets the standard for the Divine gift of healing, however the modern counterfeits of today simply undervalue this gift.
In part 2 of this post series, I will consider the significance of the four healing miracles of the Lord Jesus Christ as seen in the Gospel of John.