Worship the Lord your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you, and none will miscarriage or be barren in your land. I will give you a full life span.
Healing has been a lot on my mind lately. Firstly, as a Director of The Bethesda Healing Rooms in Brighton, we have been exploring a move that will take us more into the centre of Brighton and secondly I have not long returned from a Christians in Science conference held in Oxford entitled ‘Miracles-Can a scientist believe in miracles’. It got me thinking back to time when, as a scientist, I would probably have said, “No.” And that all apparent miracles had a natural explanation, which may yet to be discovered. However, God has led me on a journey where today I would amswer “Yes”.
This journey began 30 years ago while on a holiday in Switzerland. My wife, who really deserved a good break, developed a migraine on the first day of our holiday, despite the ‘medicine’ she was taking. Unfortunately, this occurred frequently for her. I was more than a bit miffed as this threatened to undermine the enjoyment of our holiday. As a scientist I was at the time sceptical about the efficacy of appealing to God to heal; nevertheless, I decided to ‘give it a go’ since there was nothing to lose. I simply prayed in a doubting fashion over her, challenging God to heal her. To my surprise her migraine disappeared within 20 minutes and to this day has never returned. Since I could think of no scientific explanation for its sudden disappearance my whole way of thinking both scientifically and theologically was challenged.
At first I remained quite sceptical. And you like many others may be reading this also with a degree of scepticism. Why is this? When we in modern Europe and the Western world think of healing we think of Doctor’s medicine and therapy. And this is indeed an important way in which God heals. He reveals knowledge about ourselves and the way in which our bodies function and ways in which we can administer healing through therapeutically correcting malfunctions.
So can we believe in a God who heals, or is what we experience as apparent healing from God just due to hitherto unknown medical factors, especially when we see many who are not healed despite modern therapy, medicine and much prayer?
What does the bible say?
Healing was normal in the Old Testament. God announced himself to be the healer of his people with these words: ‘I am the Lord who heals you’, (Ex.15:16). He spoke those words to about three million people (Ex.12:37). Everyone of them who needed healing was made perfectly whole. We are also told that: He (God) brought them forth…. and there was not one feeble person among their tribes (Ps. 105:37).
Healing was normal for Jesus.
He spent a good proportion of his ministry in healing. Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in the synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness among the people. Jesus proclaimed the kingdom in word and deed.
Healing was normal for the disciples.
Jesus gave the 12 authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases and sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick (Lk.9:1-6). A little later on Jesus gives the same authority and commission to seventy two others who returned full of joy at what they had seen happen in His name (Lk.10:1-10,17.)
This healing ministry continues into the early church after Pentecost.
Peter heals the crippled beggar, Acts 3:1-9. Crucially Peter affirms that the cripple was healed by the name of Jesus, and links salvation and healing together, Acts 3: 9-12. In Acts 5: 12-16 we learn that the Apostles healed many.
But did these healing interventions finish with the Apostles?
There is evidence that healing interventions by Jesus have taken place in post Apostolic times. Cyprian told in one of his letters how baptism itself was sometimes the means by which a serious illness was cured, and that there were Christians living on and giving their lives to the church because of such an experience.
Morton Kelsey: Healing & Christianity (1), page 108
St. Augustine is recorded as stating in ‘The City of God’: “I realised how many miracles were occurring in our own day and which were so like the miracles of old and also how wrong it would be to allow the memory of these marvels of divine power to perish from among our people. It is only two years ago that the keeping of records was begun here in Hippo, and already, at this writing, we have nearly seventy attested miracles.”(2)
So what about today 21 centuries after Jesus walked the earth?
Jesus is the same yesterday, and today and forever. Heb. 13:8.
If God worked miracles in times past, but will not do the same today, it must be that He is a God who was and not a God who is. But the Bible says, I am the Lord who heals you. Today and tomorrow he says and will be saying exactly the same thing. He is healing the sick today and He will be healing the sick tomorrow. He heals all who come to Him and believe in His promise.
Jesus is still healing the sick today in order to continue to fulfil the prophetic words from Isaiah as stated in Matthew 8:16-17.
And there are examples of sudden scientifically indxplicable miraculous healings today, where clear intervention by God, when he is summoned in the name of Jesus, has occurred. I myself have been present when one such a miracle of healing took place, described at the beginning of this article. This incident led to my involvement in a healing ministry where I have been present at a number of incidents where prayer for healing has been answered sometimes instantly and dramatically.
One such occurrence was with Cherry (not her real name) who was the receptionist at a hotel where members of the Healing Rooms (www.facebook.com/healingroomsbrighton) team were staying. We discovered that she wanted to be an Artist but couldn’t because of the effect of a tumour on her pituitary gland. This produces pressure in the region of the brain concerned with eyesight, very much restricting peripheral vision. We tested this and confirmed that she had a very narrow field of vision. We prayed for her in the knowledge that Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, acting out the will of God the Father, would cause the tumour to disappear. On testing her vision we discovered that her peripheral vision had returned to normal. The tumour had gone! She gave her life to Christ there and then in that Reception room. This was particularly special since her family were Sikhs. On returning to the Hotel a year later she greeted us warmly and told us that she was in a Christian community and had introduced her sister to Christ.
There are many other testimonies to miraculous healing, not least from doctors themselves.
I believe it is the will of God to heal all and that we need to have more faith in His willingness to heal us than in the medicine we take or the therapy that is administered; for he is the God who heals!
This is not to say that Doctors and medicine are unimportant, for such knowledge as they have is God given and God often acts by enhancing the effects of such therapies to bring about healing. Since we are created by God he may also use and enhance the natural healing processes to speed recovery, what I call hyper-natural healing. God gives and uses such knowledge as a strategem for healing. Which may be why God apparently heals more through direct action in the underdeveloped world where western medicine is less accessible.
Healing in the Bible is physical as well as spiritual.
The spirit that is within us underpins our very being. As a consequence dis-ease of the spirit is more fundamental than dis-ease of the body. Which is one of the reasons why Jesus said to the man sick with palsy to be of good cheer for his sins are forgiven. He was then able to get up and walk because Jesus provided the remedy for both his spiritual and physical condition.
If it is in God’s will that all should be free from disease why does this not happen every time we ask God to heal? There are no easy or simple answers to this question except to say that God is sovereign and just because one person is not healed we cannot conclude that God cannot and does not heal and that there must be a non-miraculous explanation for the ones who are healed.
Barriers to Godly Healing.
Henry W. Wright in his excellent book lists 33 spiritual blocks to healing (3).
A good number of these are included in the statement: many believe that God heals but qualify this with a ‘BUT’.
The greatest barrier to faith of many seeking healing in our day is the uncertainty in their minds as to it being the will of God to heal. Nearly everyone knows that God does heal some, but there is much in modern theology that prevents people from knowing what the Bible clearly teaches – that healing is provided for all who believe.
Some are confused by what appear to be contrary statements in scripture. For example, 1 Pet.5:10 implies that suffering is a form of grace to make one perfect, to strengthen and to settle.
However, this scripture does not say: after you have been sick and suffered awhile, God will make you perfect and stable. It is possible to suffer in ways that do not involve illness. Jesus suffered for us on the cross. And Paul’s sufferings for Christ’s sake included, hardships, reproaches, necessities, persecutions, distresses, stripes, imprisonments and tumults (2Cor. 6:9; 11:23-25). No-one has the right to include sickness or disease here.
It is because Paul endured these sufferings for Christ’s sake that Paul could say, henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness (2Tim. 4:8). We will never receive a crown of righteousness for having been sick. If a sick person believed that, they would not call in a doctor to cure the sickness, nor ask God to heal it.
Heb. 42:6-8. Is interpreted by some to mean that God sends sicknesses to chasten those in his kingdom. The scripture does not say: “Whom the Lord loves He makes sick, or smites with disease”. The word chaste comes from the Greek word meaning to instruct, train, discipline, teach or educate. God does not use cancer, blindness, a crippled limb or some other form of infirmity to chasten. If God did act in this way it would leave obedient consecrated believers with covenantal and redemptive rights wondering why they are being punished. No, God wants us to be whole and free from disease so that we are fit to ‘abound in every good work’ (2Cor. 9:8). It is Satan who afflicts us with disease not God. It is Satan who tries to persuade us it is from God. It is not a punishment sent by God or sent to bring us closer to God, although that may well happen, dis-ease has not been sent for that purpose, but may be used by God to draw us closer to him.
When Jesus laid his hands on everyone of them and healed them, he was revealing and doing the will of God for all people. “Lo, I come to do your will, O God.” Heb.10:7. “I came down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me.” Jn.6:38.
Everything Jesus did for needy humanity during His earthly ministry was a direct revelation of the perfect will of God for the Human Race.
Among all those who sought healing from Christ only one, the outcast leper, asked God for healing if it be his will. He knew he could but didn’t know if he would. The first thing Jesus did was to correct his uncertainty by assuring him, I will. That should settle it. If he wills to heal one, then he wills to heal all. See also Matt. 12:15;14:16 and Lk.6:9. We do not ask God for healing if it is to be his will – we claim healing because it is his will. Jesus himself is a revelation of the will of God. He did the will of God, Heb.10:7.
All that God has given us is through Christ Jesus our Lord for whoever will meet the conditions and believe the word. We may exempt ourselves, saying, “it is not his will”; but God leaves no one out. He is no respecter of persons. His promises are for all. ‘Is any (not some) sick among you?’ Jms.5:14.
‘If you shall ask anything in my name, I will do it.’ Jn.14:14.
‘Ask and it shall be given you.’ Matt.7:7.
‘Whatever you desire when you pray, believe that you receive it, and you shall have it.’ Mk.41:24.
Healing is promised through the power of the Holy Spirit, Rom. 8:11.
These scriptures clearly make known God’s will to heal whoever comes to him in faith. He has willed us healing, health and strength in Christ. This is our right and privilege in Him. We praise and glorify Him by accepting His way. He wills that we be well. It is a provision of his love. We need to have faith that it is His will, brought about by the redemptive work of the cross, and it is this faith that brings healing. To pray “Lord, heal me if it be your will,” implies doubt, and doubt cancels faith.
Dis-ease is the result of our interactions in a fallen a world where Satan has blurred our relationship with God.
So perhaps one of the reasons why some individuals are not healed is there spiritual condition.
The full truth of the gospel is that Jesus came to bring wholeness through redemption not just of the spirit but also of the body. This is the Truth that sets us free (Jn. 8:32). If we want to see people delivered from bondage of disease, we must teach them the part of God’s word that sets them free from disease.
Healing of the spirit and healing of body and mind are intrinsically intertwined. If you believe your soul has been redeemed by the death and resurrection of Jesus then it follows that you should have faith that you are healed in body, mind and spirit. This is God’s promise of healing. But receiving the promise depends entirely on faith, Rom. 4:16.
In 1Pet. 2:24 we read ‘He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds we have been healed.’ God seeks wholeness for everyone of us. In Romans 8:11we read, ‘If the spirit of him who raised Christ Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies by his spirit that dwells within you.’ The health of our spirit is fundamental to the health of our body.
Many of the people that I meet and pray for in the Healing Ministry that I facilitate for Jesus are dis-eased in their spirits, which are scarred by persistent sin, bitterness, emotional trauma, unforgiveness, unforgivingness and a sense of unworthiness. We pray for healing in these areas first so that they become right before God, there is then no barrier to their prayer for physical healing, because ‘the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective’, (Jms.5:15-16).
Once a person discovers that Jesus bore both our sins and sicknesses on the cross they have found the truth that sets them free in their bodies as well as in their spirits (Jn.8:32). Healing is a free gift from God even though we are all unworthy of receiving it. If this truth is taught and believed through the Words of God: ‘I am the Lord who heals you’, through his Son who bore our sins and sicknesses, then it is my belief that as many as can truly believe will be healed.
Although this may be theologically true it remains a mystery why some faithful believers are not healed despite much prayer; this however should not discourage from laying hands on the sick with the expectation of healing. Sick people do not seek God to be healed and the church generally does not pray for people with the expectation that they will be healed.
And this, perhaps, is one of the significant reasons why fewer people are healed in today’s western world. Naturalism has crept into the church where we are considered to be bodies that house the spirit; whereas it my belief that we are primarily spiritual beings dwelling in a natural body which ‘goes along’ with the spirit. The church has lost confidence in the gospel and has forgotten about the supernatural. We do not have because we do not ask!
Instead, when we are sick we go straight to the doctor with a greater faith in expectation that science can heal. I am not saying that we should not seek the and use the knowledge given to Western medical practitioners, of course we should. But I am saying that perhaps more healing will take place when we seek not only treatment from medical science but also, and perhaps more so, from the God who heals and longs to be asked to heal.
One final obstacle to healing may simply be age. Healing does not take place because one’s allotted time in life is fulfilled. Psm. 90:10 states ‘The days of our years are three score years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off and we fly away’. ‘Anything less than 70-80years’, says Henry Wright, p. 341, ‘is a curse’. God promises us longevity so that His righteousness can be established in our generation, to be part of His plan in His kingdom. Eighty years of life, if the Lord delays, should be the minimum we are looking for.
When I pray for the aged who are ‘terminally’ ill I pray for healing of their spirit and for freedom from anxiety and pain and that they may experience the peace of God.
Let us, therefore, stand by the bed of sick people to empathise, but not sympathise, with their pains. Let us never insinuate that it must be God’s will “To teach them patience”; or that perhaps, “they will be drawn closer to the Lord” through sickness. If sickness is not from God then it must be from Satan – either directly – as with Peter’s mother in law from whom Jesus rebuked a spirit to heal her fever, or indirectly through the fall of all humanity. Let us, therefore, treat sickness as an enemy, the same as all medical doctors, with the belief that God always wants to heal. People are healed when they truly believe that healing is for all. We can then be bold and confident in claiming the healing promises of God, even for those who do not believe. For the healing of the sick is a demonstration of God’s love and power to convince those who do not believe (1Cor.2:4) as well as strengthening the faith of those that do.
Because He says ‘I am the God who heals.’
Kelsey, Morton. “Healing &Christianilty”, 1995, Augsburg Books
St.Augustine. “City of God”, Trans. Dods, Marcus. Random House.
Wright, Henry, W. “A More Excellent Way to Be in Health.” 2009. Whitaker House.
I am Director of the Bethesda Healing Rooms, Brighton. Located at the Kemptown Crypt Community Centre. We pray with visitors for healing every Sunday from 6-7.30pm. See http://www.facebook.com/healingroomsbrighton