Great to hear your thoughts on healing.
I must say I was surprised by your first comment about faith. I had always thought faith was essential. I even spent considerable time in my early years searching the Bible for an out that would assure me I didn’t have to believe, and God would still heal me. That backfired slightly, because I ended up more convinced that faith was the normal way of operating, but I also increased in my faith for healing so that was worthwhile.
Thinking about your questions:
- Did Christ die for our sins AND so that we can have healing in this life? If it is so, then Christ’s death might be deemed ineffective because we still have sick christians.
I think I would say that physical healing is to be seen as a by-product of reconciliation to God. In Mt 9:1-8 Jesus closely links healing & forgiveness, and the healing was evidence of the forgiveness. Before sin, there was no sickness, and every sickness (& other destructive force) can be traced back to someone’s sin somewhere. (I am not saying the link is always direct – some is a direct sowing & reaping, some is the result of another person’s wickedness affecting us, and some (for example some natural disasters) is more a general result of sin in the world breaking the God-ordained order & introducing decay etc. When the sin problem is dealt with, the door is open for healing as well.Then again, if Jesus shows us what God is like, & He went around doing good & healing all who were under the power of the devil (Acts 10:38) then it is likely that is what God wants to happen everywhere.
- What then is the role and practice of healing that we have now? It seems to be more hit and miss than the consistency that the Apostles had. If physical healing is a sign of power that our gospel is true (as it is used in Acts), Matthew 7:21-23 and testimonies from other religions almost serve to discount that.
It is truly complex & hard to completely understand. Some of the principles I have learnt are:
– Healing & miracles are used as confirmation of the message (also Gal 3:1-5)- Backslidden / ungodly Christians can also get miracles. I suspect this is because the proclamation of the message & salvation of others is sometimes a higher priority than the persons individual lifestyle (see Phil 1:15-18). Classically illustrated by the American healing evangelists who had amazing meetings even while they were severely sinning. This also suggests that some people have a gifting in this area, or have entered into a dynamic that is generally lost to the mainstream body of Christ.
– False Christs will also perform miracles, so it is not a guaranteed seal of God’s approval. This also suggests a connection with a spiritual dynamic that can operate independent of Christ (but probably not independent of some (good/bad) spiritual authority figure.
- I read verses like John 14:11-12 and Acts 14:8-10 (the man had “faith to be healed” not “faith to believe”) and am perplexed (or even Luke 10:1-17). Ae we expected to be able to heal as Jesus did or as the Apostles did?I believe it is an undeniable teaching that we are supposed to demonstrate the power of the God in our lives & proclamation of the gospel. We are all supposed to desire spiritual gifts, one of which is healing.
It also appears that while we should all pray for healing, some have greater authority in this area. The story of Dorcas in Acts 9 demonstrated a pattern of Christians calling for the apostle to get their healing. Whether the other Christians had already prayed for her is not mentioned, but the “special” believer had greater power. This is also interesting because it is not directly associated with an evangelistic event. And James instructs anyone that is sick to call for the Elders & get healed. This passage also links sickness with sin & healing with forgiveness, and encourages us ordinary people to pray & believe.
- What do we do with all these sick Christians?
We must always get our beliefs from the Word first, and not from what we see around us. We live in a society that is characterised by unbelief, and we are struggling to throw off that cultural mindset in order to reach the fullness of what God has for us. The pervasive trust in riches is also a deceitful snare that blinds & hinders us. I suspect that this is why we hear about miracles in 3rd world nations & don’t see them here.And we have to realise that we will never fully attain Christlikeness until we see Him face to face.
As well as that, there is an aspect of the sovereignty of God that can never be calculated & explained. Some people appear to meet all the criteria & not get healed, and some get healed almost by accident.
But the important thing is whether you should be praying for the sick. On this I have no doubt. I do not doubt that you are called to (at the least) be an elder in the body, and therefore part of that group with special authority to heal the sick. I also know that you need to add unpredictable Holy Spirit fireworks to your solidly reasoned scripture. “He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” 2 Cor 3:6. There is a danger that we can reason ourselves out of faith & out of usefulness by wanting everything packaged nicely with logic & formula, but following Christ is a walk of faith out into the unknown & unreasonable. You and Sara have an ability to tap into the Spirit when you sing together – especially when Sara sings I can see the power to refresh & heal. You need to draw from that & find a way to connect that same dynamic to the Word. We like to minister from our strengths but in order to be anointed we need to have an element where we are out of our depth and totally dependent on God – and praying for the sick adds that. It keeps us humble and dependant because we cannot impress anyone without His help.
More & more I am also convinced that we are like the Laodicean church. We think we are rich & successful, but we are blind, poor & naked. We are the amateurs when it comes to the things of God, and we need to put aside our fear that it might not work, & set ourselves on a lifelong journey to discover a life truly lived in the Spirit.
I hope this is helpful – let it light a fire that never dies!