Saturday, February 17, 2007

Faith for Healing and God's Sovereign Will

Some have asked the question, Do you believe people are healed when it's God's will or when they "have enough faith"?

I have some questions about that too. I think most of us do. Even Kathryn Khulman said she wouldn’t try to explain why some were not healed.

Sometimes I think the best answer is:

Deuteronomy 29:29

The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever

So my short answer is, I believe healing is received the same way today as it was in Bible times – however that was.

If we can learn how healing was received in the Bible – then that’s how it can be received today too. That’s what I think.

But I don’t claim to understand how to reconcile all the ins and outs of how and why healing was or wasn’t received even in Bible accounts.

Beyond that, I’m very reluctant to add anything, because I don’t have a fully formulated view. My current level of understanding and experience is far too limited to be able to write a systematic theology of divine healing.

I think a minister therefore really has to be led by the will of the Holy Spirit to know how to minister to each individual case of sickness, case by case. I don’t think the subject of how God deals in the affairs of man is as simple as saying that everything is done either by God’s sovereign will or that everything depends on man’s faith. I think there’s a bit more give-and-take to this: no matter whether the issue is salvation, healing, or God’s intervention in history etc.

The following are only thoughts – not firmly established conclusions:

  • That ideally it is God’s will that everybody be healed and healthy - although it doesn’t always happen that way. The Old Testament and New Testament are full of covenant promises in regard to healing
  • That faith is the usual way to appropriate the promises in God’s Word – whether it be salvation, receiving the Holy Spirit, healing or any other answer to prayer
  • That there are reasons why some people have not received healing – some of which God may reveal to us; other times He might say it is not for us to know.

(Healing didn’t always happen ideally in Bible times either despite the clear promises in the Law; e.g. Job was temporarily afflicted; Abraham’s prayer brought healing to a city-full of barren women yet his own wife was at that time still barren; Elisha died of a sickness despite having healed others; Israelites were often sick despite being heirs to the promises in Deuteronomy 28; and at Capernaum – Jesus could there do no mighty work)

  • And I think we can always allow room for God to also act sovereignly at times by making a special healing anointing available beyond the ordinary

The Perfect and the Permissive Will of God

I think it’s permissible to categorize something that happens as being within the will of God even though it may not have been ideally what God would have wanted.

I mean, sometimes even God chooses to make the best of a bad situation, don’t you think? I think there are examples of that in the Word of God.

This probably isn’t a very good example, but in the Prophets it says:

“The righteous are taken away, none considering that they are taken away from the evil to come”.

Now was it God’s will for the righteous to be taken away?

Ideally no – because the Law and the Psalms promised that “the righteous shall dwell long in the land” – so we know ideally that God would have preferred it if there was no need in the first place to remove the righteous.

But due to the circumstances of Israel’s backsliding, God was taking the righteous away to spare them from the troubles that were coming upon Israel.

Admittedly, this didn’t constitute a broken promise – because the promises were about blessing on a national level if Israel obeyed – not only about an individual who obeys, independent of what the nation as a whole may do.

Nevertheless in that instance could we say that it was both the will of God and yet at the same time that it wasn’t ideally the will of God, that the righteous be removed? I think so.

I don’t mean to be pedantic. I think this is an important concept: if someone is not healed, could we say therefore that it was not God’s will to heal them even though ideally it may have been His will to heal them?

Are Faith and the Sovereignty of God Mutually Exclusive?

For the rest of this post, I’m going to share some things I’ve noticed in the Word, but as I said, I don’t mean it to come across like it’s a well-formulated conclusion.

For example, I’m wondering whether there needn’t be a contradiction at all in our minds between the truth that healing is received by faith on one hand; and the truth that for one reason or another it may not be God’s “will” to heal somebody.

Is it possible that when it is God’s will for somebody to be healed, that God Himself will impart the faith into that person’s heart – through the hearing of His Word?

Because faith is a gift. It is not something worked-up by ourselves.

Remember the crippled man at the beautiful gate of the temple?

When he was healed, Peter said, “And his name through faith in his name has made this man strong…yea, the faith WHICH IS BY HIM hath given him this perfect soundness…” (Acts 3:16)

See, he was healed by faith alright – but the faith came by Jesus – not by any self effort on anyone’s part.

I Cor. 12 also shows that faith is a gift: “to another is given the gift of faith”.

Paul said we are “saved by grace through faith – and that not of yourselves, it (faith) is the gift of God”.

No-one got faith by himself. No matter whether it is faith for salvation, faith to receive the Holy Spirit, faith for healing or faith for any other thing - faith is a gift from God.

With regards to salvation, we are told, “all who were ordained to eternal life believed”.

In the same way, could we perhaps say then that all who were ordained to receive healing also believed – believed to receive healing?

That is, when God has ordained that somebody be healed, could it be that God will give that person the faith to be healed, in the same way that He gives someone faith to be saved?

If so, God’s will and faith, as a means for receiving healing – or salvation – or receiving anything at all from God – are reconcilable.

The same thing that’s true of salvation is also true of healing: when God has ordained that someone be saved or healed, they are received by God’s will through faith.

I’ll say it again: healing, like salvation, is received when it is God’s will and through faith at the same time. It’s not one or the other.

How to Get Faith

Now let’s say if God has ordained a certain person to receive salvation or healing – it would be harsh or unjust of us to demand that the person must have faith before he can receive it from God – if he must somehow strive to produce that faith by himself, instead of to receive that faith as a gift.

It is God’s own Word which says, “but without faith it is impossible to please Him”.

But since God Himself has ordained a way whereby we can get faith, then it is not unjust nor harsh of God to demand that we have faith.

So how can we get faith?

Some say it is harsh to point out that faith is the usual way to receive healing.

Not so – unless it is harsh to point-out that faith is the only way to receive salvation also.

Understand this: faith is a gift. Faith is not something that we must somehow try to generate within our own hearts.

Paul said faith is a gift.

A gift is something that we can neither be proud of nor strive for.

So how does faith come?

“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10).

Yes God commands us, “have faith in God”.

But He also gave us the means whereby we can obtain faith – by hearing His Word.

This means that rather than strive to somehow produce faith in my heart, all I need to do is sit under the teaching of His Word – Paul called it the Word of faith – and then – if my heart is “good and honest” – faith will be the automatic result.

God said so: “Faith comes by hearing”. That’s His Word.

So that’s how faith comes – by hearing the Word.

All who were ordained to eternal life believed, when they heard the Word.

Faith is a fruit of the Spirit – not a work of the flesh (Gal.5:22,23).

Notice that the works of the flesh involved us doing something; whereas the fruit of the Spirit simply requires that we remain connected to the vine. Faith is a fruit, not a work of self-effort.

So that takes the harshness out of the demand for faith. Praise God! God gives us faith through hearing His Word – the Gospel – both for salvation and for healing. That’s if we are hearing the right Word, of course.

The Role of Faith

See, healings in the Bible didn’t just break-out in unexplainable locations. Neither did salvations. Salvations and healings only happened where the Word was received.

People overseas today don’t suddenly get saved all by themselves without hearing any Word.

People used to tell William Carey, “If God wants to save the heathen, He can do so Himself without our help”. But that’s not true. Faith comes by hearing.

Well the same thing is true of healing. No-one in the Bible got healed unexplainably. They got healed because they heard and accepted something – the Word.

For example, take the crippled man at Lystra.

We are told: “the same heard Paul speak”.

Then it says, “And Paul, perceiving that he had faith to be healed, said, ‘Rise and walk’. And he walked”.

The man wasn’t healed arbitrarily. He was healed because Paul perceived that he “had faith”.

And where did that Gentile man suddenly get that faith from? Did he just wake up one day and there it was?

“…the same heard Paul speak”.

That’s where he got it from – he got it from hearing Paul’s message.

This same co-relation between hearing the Word and healing are also evident in the ministry of Jesus; and also throughout the whole Bible – Old Testament and New Testament.

Each recipient of healing in the Bible either heard the Word first or acted on some specific instruction from God that was tantamount to faith in action.

Thankfully God will deal just as graciously with us as He did with people in Bible times: before He tries to get His healing over onto us, He will first try to get His Word over onto us, so that faith can automatically be formulated within our heart. Then all we’ll have to do is act on that Word, and we’ll be healed.

See the same thing is true of salvation isn’t it? Before God can get His salvation onto us, He first has to get His Word onto us, so He can get faith into us – and then we can act on the Word by confessing Christ – and we receive salvation.

Yes, God has ordained people to eternal life – but just because it is His will, doesn’t mean that they can be saved independent of faith. But God supplies the faith, through the hearing of His Word. Same thing’s true of healing. So faith for healing is a gift from God that comes through hearing the Gospel.

(If the preaching of the Gospel that we are listening to today is not producing within our hearts the same faith to be healed that Paul’s preaching produced – maybe it is because we’re not hearing the same message that Paul preached, at least not in its fullness. Paul and Jesus alike preached a Gospel that produced faith for healing.

I guess that’s why some early Pentecostal groups that taught Divine healing came to be called “Full Gospel” churches – because they preached a full Gospel – they didn’t preach a message that prematurely did away with one part of the Gospel).

Thank God, He has ordained a way to produce faith within every one of us – simply by giving us the preached Gospel message to hear. That’s how everyone of us can get faith. Faith is formulated within us whilst we hear the Word.

“He sent His Word and healed them,” says the Psalms.

If God is in the business of saving someone, He will first send that person His Word.

Similarly, if God is willing to heal somebody, He will first send that person His Word.

In both instances, faith is produced by the Word – and then through faith, the person receives – whether it’s salvation we’re talking about, or healing, or anything.

So receiving anything at all from God always starts first of all with God’s will, and then with His Word, and then through faith. Isn’t the Bible full of that pattern?

So you can see how important it is to have the right diet of the Word – to be feeding on the right type of preaching.

Because in the natural, if someone’s diet lacks iodine, he could end-up with a goitre. But if all his nutritional requirements are present in his diet, he’ll automatically be healthy.

Same thing is true in the spiritual. If the sermons we regularly listen to are lacking in one aspect of the faith-producing Word of God – then our hearts will lack faith in the same corresponding area.

But if our spiritual diet includes listening to sermons on every aspect of the Gospel – then we’ll automatically be strong in faith in every aspect of the Gospel.

Why are Some Not Healed?

Having pointed out so far the importance of three great things: God’s will, God’s Word, and faith – I wouldn’t however want to be insensitive towards someone who has not as yet received their healing.

I guess if someone was not getting healed, one good course of action could be to ask God what needs to be done.

Of course one possible answer could be simply that it is His will that they are not healed.

As I’ll illustrate later on, I think if anything, we could be a little too quick to relegate things into that category.

But neither do I think that faith is the only issue, in such instances.

In our extended family we’ve had the sad duty of burying two premature babies.

My pregnant sister was rushed to hospital and her twins were born premature by Caesarean at the doctor’s discretion. They were so premature one twin weighed only 1.5lb the other 1.7lb. They were both placed on life-support. I immediately knew that day that they were in trouble, so to speak.

Anyway I went downstairs to the Hospital shop intending to buy two teddy-bears, when suddenly I felt an impression on the inside of me that said, “Just buy one”.

Although I didn’t want to admit it, I knew what this meant – that only one of the twins would live.

But just in case I was mishearing the Lord, I decided to do everything I knew how to do anyway, until the end.

So I fasted. I prayed.

Nevertheless on the fourth day little Christopher went to heaven.

And his twin David remained in a humidicrib in Intensive Care for another three months before they let him home.

Another time my brother’s wife began to dialate at 23 weeks. The doctors couldn’t stop the contractions so I phoned every hospital I could find pleading with them to admit my sister-in-law and place her baby on life-support as soon as she was born, but each hospital refused, saying it wasn’t their policy to offer life-support under 25 weeks of gestation.

So my brother named his daughter Ami – after the verse – “how amiable are thy courts O Lord” – since that’s where she now is, beholding the beauty of the Lord in the courts of our God.

Was there some sin in our family? Did we lack faith? Or was it the will of God for some unknown reason not to save our babies?

Sometimes I think it’s comforting to forget those things which are behind and to just leave some things which we cannot explain with God – in all His wisdom and love – without trying to understand it all – until He chooses to tell us.

And in the meantime, if He grants us any faith, then we’ll accept it, and go ahead and act that faith and receive the object of that faith.

Faith is both a sovereign gift of God – which comes through His Word – and it is also something which we are commanded to “receive” and “have” and to “hold”.

I don’t know why the Lord told me (if it was the Lord, and I think it was), “Just buy one [teddy-bear]”.

There have been other times when I sensed the Lord telling me not to try to use my faith to see the Holy Spirit intervene in a situation as well.

Then I have been in situations where I sensed in my heart that the Lord was telling me to hold on in faith and to trust Him for a marvellous outcome and to even do something specific to enact it. And because of His specific Word spoken in my heart, my faith had an anchor – and when I acted on His specific leading which was unique to that situation – I got a miraculous outcome.

Recently someone I know went to the doctor because of migraine headache, and the doctor gave her a pain-killer injection. She suffered an allergic reaction to it, and it sent her into a drug-induced psychosis. She didn’t even recognize her own husband. Her behaviour became so totally out-of-character that she had to be admitted to a psychiatric hospital.

So her husband asked for prayer. I went down on my knees, and immediately the Lord gave me a specific Word in my heart which I was able to anchor my faith onto. When all around me people were worried, I knew what God had told me to believe.

I don’t always know why He leads me to deal differently in different cases. Sometimes I do. Other times it’s still a mystery to me.

Sometimes He’s led me to enact a miracle through faith. Other times He’s actually directed me not to go that way.

It’s reassuring to know that Jesus wasn’t always led to try to heal everybody either.

But sometimes I’ve wondered in hindsight: Should I have persisted, like the Syrophoenician woman who wouldn’t take no for an answer from Jesus?

“Yea Lord, but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the Master’s table”.

So I’ve still got a lot to learn about God. But certainly, I believe that the Word of God is the place to search for explanations as to why it may be God’s will that somebody die; and as to the dynamics of faith.

Brother Hagin

Brother Hagin witnessed many remarkable healings under his ministry, but I recall that he lost a sister – to cancer, I believe it was.

Soon after his sister’s death, a certain prophetess told brother Hagin that he would soon have an experience similar to Enoch’s in that Enoch was carried away into the presence of God.

Well a short time afterwards, brother Hagin said he had a vision in which he was taken to heaven where he saw his deceased sister talking with Jesus. When she saw him, she stopped talking to Jesus and came and talked with him.

“Don’t feel badly that you couldn’t pray the prayer of faith for me,” she told him, “there was a reason why you couldn’t.” She didn’t say what that reason was. And in the vision brother Hagin was exhorted to continue teaching about faith.

So although brother Hagin teaches strongly that healing may be appropriated through faith – he certainly makes room in his theology for cases where people are not healed.

I’ve even heard him mention at least two instances where he states categorically that sometimes it has been the Lord’s will that certain people were not healed.

Surprisingly, I can recall numerous examples in his booklets where brother Hagin discusses cases people that were not healed – and he offers some of the most detailed, and comforting explanations I’ve ever heard. I might mention one or two of them right at the end of this email.

So even though brother Hagin taught a lot about faith, it’s interesting that most of his explanations as to why some were not healed had nothing to do with a lack of faith per se.

So in Hagin’s theology of divine healing, it’s not a case of either/or – of, it comes by God’s will/or by faith.

He seems to teach that there’s a lot more complexity to healing at times than to say it’s exclusively either one of faith or God’s will.

It’s pretty good stuff some of his expositions! He even has some great things to say about Calvinism and Arminianism. I found it really helpful.

It got me to thinking that some critics of brother Hagin might be surprised how conservative his theology is, if they got into it a bit more!

(I’m certainly impressed by his strong emphasis on consecration and obedience.)

(Which leads me to this little side-thought: sometimes I think it’s a common misconception among non-Pentecostals, that Pentecostals are always emphasizing healing and tongues.

I can honestly report that in the past eleven years of belonging to my local Assembly of God in Queensland, Australia – I have only ever seen it happen once that somebody publicly spoke with a tongue during a Sunday gathering.

I see it happen more often in my meetings – because speaking with tongues and interpreting is, I believe, one of my gifts.

But in my local church – I’ve only seen it happen once in eleven years. And that’s the leading Pentecostal church in the city.

On that occasion someone else immediately followed it up with an interpretation.

The interpretation said, “Come and be healed – come and be healed emotionally and physically, says the Lord.”

So the minister followed it up by inviting those who had need of healing to come forward for the laying on of hands.

As a result, we saw one person delivered from an evil spirit and several received healings. People were visibly touched by the Holy Spirit’s power.

But that was the only time in eleven years that I’ve ever seen tongues expressed publicly in that particular Pentecostal church.

There has never been a sermon specifically about tongues or healing.

So if anything, I think Pentecostals err on the side of needing to re-dig some of those old wells of doctrine again! Eleven years!!

Of course they’ve seen healings and tongues and visions manifested a bit more often during informal home groups and the like.

But the good thing is, every Sunday new souls are coming to the Lord – especially young people. Our church runs an effective youth ministry and rehabilitation ministry, as you can see on my YouTube channel the video “Transformations – Real Change”.)

So, getting back to brother Hagin, I’ve heard him teach that sometimes it is the will of God that someone die. And yet he was such a strong proponent of the view that healing can be received through faith.

Evidently, although there’s more to healing than just faith or God’s sovereign will – the two are not necessarily mutually exclusive).

God’s Will

I would say Jesus was willing to heal a lot more people than actually came to Him and received healing. And I think the same could be said today.

In other words, although sometimes it may be God’s will that somebody not be healed, I would say that most of the time the problem isn’t with God’s willingness, but with the shortage of believers who are going out there announcing the Gospel and laying hands on the sick.

Because God’s will – God’s heart – is so good.

“I am willing – be thou cleansed,” said Jesus.

Most of the time, He is still willing.

The will of God is a beautiful subject, isn't it.

I find it to be one of the most beautiful revelations in the Word of God! I just love the character of our heavenly Father, as revealed in His Word.

God has more love and wisdom and knowledge than there is water in the ocean. Who can ever say they've thoroughly surveyed the limits of His wisdom?

How unsearchable are His ways, and His ways past finding out.

The more I get to know Him - through the Word, through the Holy Spirit, and through experience - the more I like Him!

I'm coming to know God the Father as holy, happy, fun-loving, life-giving, abundant, delightful - and He just loves giving us the desires of our heart.

I often say, He could have made the world in black-and-white - and the world could still have been functional - but He chose to make it in colour!

Extravagant is another word I’d use to describe Him – He placed millions of stars and miles of galaxies in space – just to give light upon the earth at night.

And look at the variety of fauna and flora that He made. The faces of some animals make me laugh. I know God has a sense of humour, when I look at some of His designs!

Then He planted a paradise for man; and even hid gold in the rivers for man to discover - and not just any gold, but "the gold of that land was good" says the Book of Genesis.

Then some time after the work of creation was already finished, God was willing to come back on the job - without any extra pay or overtime, even though He'd already clocked-off for the day - and He came back and completed what was lacking for man – and gave Him his wife.

The feeling I get about our Father whenever I read the creation story is similar to the feeling I get whenever I’ve walked into a kindergarten to fetch one of my young nephews: just alive with colour, drawings, animals, fun and good intentions for man!

Isn't God just such a river of holiness, love, life, joy, delight, abundance, happiness, and light - in all things - spiritual and material?

I once heard a preacher say this, that God wouldn't have had a single serious thought if it wasn't for sin.

When you think about it, that's true. If it wasn't for sin, every plan that God had for man was just full of delight - both that God would be delighted, and also that man would feel delighted – in Him. Thank you Lord. God is so good.

God's will is described as "good, acceptable and perfect" (Romans 12:1-3).

In summary, "God is love" (I John 4:8).

I think it would help a lot of us to start realizing how soft God can be.

Paul said, "Behold therefore both the goodness and the severity of God".

I have found God to be astute and unbending on many things, while in some things I've seen that God is willing to let a righteous man change His mind.

But if He is unbending about something, you soon discover it was only for our own protection.

Can God be made to change His mind? Or is God’s will always set in concrete?

Sometimes it definitely is set in concrete – but part of God's beauty is that with some things He can also be bended by mere man.

We are the same with little children, aren't we?

My nephews will ask me to do something, and sometimes I'll say no. The oldest nephew is compliant, and seldom persists once I've answered no. But the youngest nephew always persists in asking.

Now some of the time, no matter how much he persists, the more I think about it, my answer is still no.

But you know most of the time - if there's no serious reason why I should say no – he’s so cute he ends up getting me to come around, and I end-up delighting in doing what he's asked - even when initially I'd said no – so long as it’s nothing harmful.

Jesus said "if ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your heavenly father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?"

God is more delighted to give than we are to ask. Jesus said this speaking of the miracles and healings which the Father was doing through Him.

God delights to give healings to those who ask – maybe even if initially His answer might have been no (more on that possibility, later).

In big things, God cannot change His mind. For example, there is no way He will allow iniquity to share His throne.

I also believe that the judgment is final and eternal. I don’t believe in Universalism. In this, God’s judgment is, I believe, fixed.

But I enjoy seeing Scriptures that show situations where God is shown to be a little less rigid - less unrelenting - than perhaps we've thought: Scriptures that portray Him to be a little more "human" - for want of a better description.

For example:

"It repenteth me that I have made man" (Gen.6:6,7)

Imagine God sitting up there on His throne, feeling that way!

Then there was the time when God was ready to destroy Israel, but Moses interceded.

And God changed His mind - just because of Moses.

Hundreds of years later, God said He wouldn't change His mind this time, regarding Israel – even if Moses and Samuel stood before Him (Jeremiah 15:1).

And Ezekiel said, "Though these three men, Noah, Daniel and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness...they shall deliver neither sons nor daughters..." (Ezekiel 14:4,16).

So God was intreatable.

But His bendableness had its limits!

On this occasion, Israel had to go into captivity. But even before Israel went into captivity, God was already promising restoration. And as soon as they got to Babylon He started treating them real good.

And even before the foundation of the world, Jesus Christ was slain for our redemption – in the mind, plan and will of God.

See - that's the heart of our wonderful Father.

Our redemption - in all it's facets - is the most beautiful expression of God's will.

Jesus’ ministry – and the healings that accompanied it – was the will of God in action.

So what I’m saying about God’s will is that when we are trying to assess how often it may be God’s will not to heal, I think we should still keep in mind that:

The Father’s basic character is to want to heal

Jesus was willing to heal

Jesus bore our sicknesses as well as our sins on the cross

God ordained the healing ministry in the church, where it will stay until the Second Coming of Christ

He sent us forth to preach the Word and to heal

Keeping all that in mind, I would say that it’s likely many of us today could tend to err on the side of being too quick to assign to God that it isn’t His will to heal such-and-such a person.

God has never had any trouble finding people who think that God doesn’t want to deliver them. But “will He find faith on the earth when He comes?” – that’s His question.

In my assessment of God’s character and His love, if I was to hazard a guess as to which side of the pendulum man errs on – it would be that he tends to err on the side of doubt – before he tends to err on the side of failing to acknowledge that in some extreme circumstances God may think it best not to intervene and heal somebody.

Based on the revelation of Scripture, I think much of Christendom today is too quick to say it was God’s will not to heal. Then on the other hand, it’s possible for someone to be ignorant that God can do what He thinks is best, given any extreme circumstances that may exist.

Not to mention that even if initially it is apparently not God’s will to heal – sometimes we can still end-up receiving our healing anyway, if we ask. Here’s a Scripture for that:

Remember the time when the Gentile Syrophoenician woman begged Jesus to heal her daughter of an evil spirit? Jesus refused.

His ministry at that time was strictly to Israel (during His three-year ministry, Jesus functioned principally in the office of an Old Covenant prophet.)

"It's not suitable to take the children's
(Israel's) bread (healing) and throw it to the dogs (Gentiles)", He said.

But the woman persisted. "Yes Lord - but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the children's table".

Jesus answered, "Great is your faith. Go your way, your daughter is healed."

See, she changed Jesus' mind - and Jesus called this faith.

So you could say that it wasn't God's will for Jesus to heal her – based on Jesus' initial reply. And yet, ideally it was probably God's will all along that this woman be healed. But what made the difference? Persistence; the woman's understanding - faith.

She actually changed Jesus’ mind. And Jesus called that faith.

See, initially it wasn’t Jesus’ will to heal her – but through her faith she was able to change His mind, in a sense. Sometimes faith can do that.

Did Jesus Heal only to prove His Deity?

Now here’s an interesting point: some people think that Jesus always healed everybody all the time - to prove His deity.

Then they say that if any healing ministry today was valid, it ought to accomplish the same thing.

"Why don't you go and clear-out all the hospitals," they taunt.

But something I've noticed about Jesus' healing ministry is that there could have been a lot more people healed than there were, even back then – if they’d met the conditions. Not that I want that to sound cruel.

Have you ever noticed that no-one was ever healed by Jesus unless they heard His Word first? If they didn’t receive the Word, they couldn’t receive the healing.

Why? Because "faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God".

Even in the Old Testament, no-one was healed without faith. The very act of going to a prophet to ask for healing was for them an expression of faith.

Come to think of it, I can't think of any healings that happened under Jesus' ministry that happened solely because of sovereign intervention by God to prove Jesus' divinity – without Jesus talking to the person first, and then they somehow acted on Jesus’ instructions – in other words, without faith being a prerequisite on the part of the recipient. Acting on Jesus’ word was tantamount to faith.

See, Jesus ministered healing not as the Son of God per se, but as a prophet anointed by the Holy Spirit.

For proof, in the first place, Jesus said, "I can of mine own self do nothing".

Then He said, "It is not me who does the works, but my Father in me."

It wasn't Jesus who healed, it was the Father in Him.

This was because, when the Word became flesh, He laid aside His divine prowess.

Jesus did no miracle until the Spirit came upon him at the age of 30 at John’s baptism.

And when He couldn’t do any miracles in Capernaum, Jesus said, “A prophet is not without honour save in his own hometown”.

See, Jesus explained that His healing ministry was administered as a prophet, And because the people in Capernaum didn’t honour Him as they would a prophet, He couldn’t do any miracles there.

So during His three-year ministry, Jesus was limited in how He could heal people.

Yes, He was and is the Son of God, but during His ministry He was in a sense limited as to when He could heal people. The people had something to do with it.

Firstly, He could only heal as the Father led Him.

Secondly, the same laws that governed whether healing was or was not received under the Old Covenant still applied in His ministry – just like it did to Elijah and Elisha.

Take Naaman the Gentile, for example. If Naaman had remained unwilling to dip seven times in the Jordan, he would not have been healed. His healing was governed by a law – the law of faith. Naaman had to act his faith – he had to obey the Lord’s instruction in the mouth of the prophet – to receive his healing.

Jesus actually used that story as an explanation for why He couldn’t do any great miracles while in his own home town.

Remember when Jesus went to His home town? It says "Jesus could there do no mighty work, save that He laid His hands on a few sick folk and healed them".

Notice it says He could not, not He would not. It had nothing to do with God's will, per se. It doesn't say - He would not, or God would not. But, He could not.

Only a few were healed. How many is a few?

Brother Hagin points out that Scripturally, the Bible says "a few, that is, eight souls were saved" in the days of Noah. So Scripturally speaking, a "few" can mean around eight.

So in His own home town, Jesus probably healed only about eight people. And those few that He did heal apparently didn’t have very much wrong with them.

We are told that Jesus couldn’t do any mighty works there, "…except that He laid His hands on a few sick folk and healed them". The Amplified Bible renders it "a few sickly people". One translation calls it "minor ailments".

So much for proving His divinity in His own home town!

So if the reason for Jesus' healing ministry was to prove His divinity – or if healing was only a sovereign act of God with no involvement by man's faith – then He certainly failed miserably in the one place where, humanly speaking, He would have wanted to prove Himself most of all – in His own home town. It says he could not, not would not.

This was a stark contrast to Jesus' ministry in other places where often everyone in a crowd was healed - of major ailments.

If Jesus was capable of healing people to prove His divinity, without any requirement on the recipient's behalf, here's what He could have done in Capernaum, according to brother Hagin:

When they taunted Him, Jesus could have challenged them to round-up a handful of medically certified blind, crippled, deaf and dumb people. He could have asked a Doctor like Luke to first verify the illnesses. Then He could have healed them all – and prove His divinity.

But instead it says, "...He could there do no mighty work..."

In fact, they forced Him out of town.

And all Jesus could do about it was go somewhere else and teach.

See, it is a bit of a misconception that Jesus healed people sovereignly just to prove His Sonship.

To say so is shallow ground upon which to found the doctrine that the gifts of healings were only around to prove the deity of Jesus during Christianity’s early days.

Sure, the healings that Jesus did do – and still does – do attest to the deity of Jesus Christ. But He couldn’t do any miracles in Capernaum because of their unbelief.

To say that Jesus healed only to help lay the foundation of Christian doctrine regarding His Sonship has the effect of obscuring another great reason why Jesus healed – a reason that proves beyond shadow of doubt that God is still in the healing business today (more on that further down).

But first, notice Jesus’ response when He noticed they wouldn’t accept His healing ministry? It says He got run out of town, and He went around teaching. Jesus wanted to build faith in men’s hearts – so He resorted to teaching. Faith comes by hearing.

Jesus told them in Capernaum that during the days of Elijah (or was it Elisha?) there were many widows in Israel – but the prophet wasn't sent to any of them except to one widow – who I think may have been a Gentile, not a Jew – and she received a miracle.

Then Jesus told them there were many lepers in Israel at the time, but only a Gentile – Naaman – was healed by the prophet.

The point? It could be that the Israelites in Capernaum had something to do with why healings weren't happening there. It had nothing to do with Christ’s divinity, or even God’s will – on this occasion. It’s because faith was missing.

The thought occurred to me the other day that Jesus never went up to someone cold-turkey and healed them. He always shared the Word first. He had to. There was no other way He could get healing across to them.

Much of the time, it was people who approached Jesus for healing, not Jesus trying to impose healing on anyone. The reason they approached Him is because they had heard that Jesus was healing people.

See, they had heard something – faith comes by hearing.

There were times when Jesus healed everybody – but He certainly didn’t heal everybody all the time. There were times when He healed only one sick person amongst many sick folk.

That’s the reason you and I can’t just walk into a hospital and get everybody healed to prove Jesus Christ’s divinity. It doesn’t work that way.

If it did, you could get saved for somebody else too – but you can’t: each person has to get saved by hearing and believing the Gospel message himself.

Same thing’s true with healing. Someone has to receive the Word, or act on some simple instructions, to be healed. But unfortunately some people, even in hospitals, refuse to be prayed for.

But if you can get someone to receive the Word – to act on the Word first – then you’ll be able to help get healing over to them.

That’s the reason why more miracles are likely to happen during an Evangelistic Crusade than if you walk into a hospital and try to clear the place out – because for starters, if somebody comes to a crusade, they are already showing some attraction to the message; and secondly, they get to hear and believe at the crusade.

That’s how healing worked, in Jesus’ ministry.

My feeling is that whenever Jesus went into a different synagogue to speak, He probably had a habit of using as His first sermon the text of Isaiah 61:1,2 – because it says in Luke 4:16,16 "as his custom was...":

Jesus would open the Book of Isaiah and turn to the part where it says:

"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; becuase the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound, [Luke 4:18 adds, “to give recovery of sight to the blind".

As Jesus read the promise about healing, and told the people gathered in the synagogue that it is fulfilled today in your hearing, God would impart faith into their hearts, so that Jesus was able to say to the man with a withered hand, “Stretch it forth” and he did so because he had faith – and he received his healing.

Even Jesus’ critics knew that the healings that Jesus did were connected to His doctrine – they could see that the healings occurred in connection with His Word – not randomly or independently.

“What new doctrine is this?” they asked – in response to seeing healings.

So even Jesus’ critics knew that healing was part of Jesus’ doctrine.

And it still is part of the Gospel today.

Therefore if we make healing part of our Gospel like Jesus did in Luke 4 and like the Apostles did throughout the entirety of the New Testament – then faith for healing will be imparted to our hearers – and healings will be the result.

Paul said in Galatians that “he that ministereth the Spirit among you and worketh miracles among you…doeth…it…by the hearing of faith”.

That’s how miracles take place – by the hearing of faith.

That’s how they took place in Jesus’ ministry too.

They couldn’t take place any other way – even in Jesus’ ministry – even though He is the Son of God. Even in Elisha’s day – only those who had faith received a miracle.

If Jesus went some place where the people did not accept His message, well they couldn't receive the healing either.

Yes the healings proved His divinity – but He still could not do them without a certain response from the recipient. They had to receive the Word first. There had to be faith.

Jesus said, "He who believes in me, the works that I do shall he do also and greater works than these shall he do because I go to the Father" (John 14:12).

The healings that God does through missionaries today certainly prove Jesus' divinity to the lost – but there is still a requirement before they miracles can work, just as there was during Jesus’ ministry and during the ministry of the prophets.

What is the condition? Jesus said, "These signs shall follow them that believe".

See, the signs don't come first – the believing comes first. The signs shall follow.

Then it says in Mark that "they went forth and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word with signs following."

See, the signs don't precede the Word – they follow the Word.

Why? Because miracles are worked through faith; and faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.

As I write this email, I'm trying to think of a Scriptural example of anyone who was ever healed without faith. And I can't think of one. Can you?

Neither before the Law was given; nor under the Law and the prophets; not in the Gospels, and not in the Book of Acts.

It seems all of them came in faith, or heard the Word first, or Jesus had some sort of conversation with them first, or they followed some instruction. In fact, Jesus often made a point of questioning a person’s faith before He ministered to them.

I'm also trying to think of a Scriptural example where the text specifically mentions someone coming to God, asking with faith specifically to be healed – only to be denied because it wasn't God's will. And I can't think of one either, except the syrophoenician woman – but she got what she wanted in the end anyway because of her faith.

In fact, every time someone received healing in the Bible that I can think of, they were specifically commended for their faith, or they were acting on a Word from God, which is faith.

Jesus Our Example

Jesus did miracles as a man - a prophet - anointed by the Holy Ghost and power. He didn't do them only because He was Divine, although He is. So in that sense, Jesus' healing and preaching ministry is an example to us who believe.

If we combine the account in Mark and Matthew, we see that healing is part of the great commission.

Healing is said to be something that we are to expect will follow wherever the Word is accepted.

So if we make the healing part of this passage to be no longer applicable to our age, then neither can the go and preach part be applicable to us either, unless you can find the same command repeated elsewhere in the Bible – because here, it is part of the one and same conversation.

So if this conversation (Jesus’ great commission) is no longer the Church’s mandate today, then you would have to find another Scripture to use as a basis for doing evangelistic work today.

Of course there are other passages, such as in the Epistles, which repeat the theme of preaching the Gospel – but the problem with those passages is that those passages also assume that healings and miracles will accompany the preaching of the Gospel.

So if the healing which is taught in these passages in the Epistles is now done away with, then we can't use those passages in the Epistles as a basis for the Church’s mandate to preach the Gospel today either – since they are part of the same passage, the same document – without any mention in the text that part of it was soon to pass away.

So that would leave the Church today with no Scripture that applies specifically to us in our dispensation – if God has already removed the healing ministry from the world.

Why Jesus Healed

You see, I think we have missed one of the reasons why Jesus healed.

Yes it proved His divinity.

But in addition to that, Jesus said, "It is not meat to take the children's [the children of Abraham's] bread [healing] and throw it to the dogs [the Gentiles]".

Jesus healed because healing belonged to the Israelites. It was their bread.

Bread was the staple diet - a subsistence-level necessity of life. It wasn't some optional extra thrown in just to prove Christ's divinity; or something extra thrown in once in a while if God willed it.

Bread is the most basic requirement of people. What father would withhold it from His children?

Well my question is, since healing belonged to the children of Abraham – since it was their bread - when did healing ever stop belonging to the children of Abraham?

When did God ever stop promising Israel one of their most basic of needs? Was healing the children’s bread only until the New Testament was written?

No. Healing was their bread even under the Old Covenant. It didn’t become their bread only whilst Jesus was on the scene trying to prove something.

Healing belonged to the children of Abraham not to prove anything – not to establish some doctrine. But to heal them and keep them healthy!

See, healing and health was promised under the Old Covenant, long before the Messiah came.

Remember when Jesus healed a woman on the Sabbath? He explained Himself by saying, "Ought not this woman, whom Satan hath bound, be loosed on the Sabbath Day, seeing she also is a child of Abraham?"

See, she had a Covenant-right to healing simply by being a child of Abraham and Jesus acknowledged this. Healing was her bread too.

But did being a child of Abraham alone guarantee healing, or salvation, or any other blessing? No. Obedience and faith were always the requirement - both in the Old Testament, and during Jesus' ministry.

Why were some people ill, even though they had the promises?

Jesus said, “…whom Satan hath bound”. Sickness was oppression from the devil.

The Law stated that sometimes, though not always, the root cause of sickness was disobedience to the Law (Deuteronomy 28).

So somewhere back along the line, despite the promises of health, sickness originated with sin and the devil.

The Power of the Cross

But what was the purpose of the cross? It was to do away with sin and to give us the New Birth and the indwelling Spirit so that the righteousness of the Law could be fulfilled in us. Love is the fulfilling of the Law.

Well since the righteousness of the Law is fulfilled in us - and that is our experience now, not when we get to heaven - then the promised blessing (the blessing of the Law and the blessing of Abraham) is ours now also.

And part of the promised blessing is health.

That's what I mean when I say healing is part of the scope of the atonement.

Since the atonement deals with sin, then it deals with the curse of the Law, and replaces it with the blessing.

The curse included sickness – and we are free from it – therefore health, which is part of the blessing is ours.

Anything that was promised under the Old Covenant can now be received - through faith, not by the works of the Law.

Of course the resurrection of the body awaits the last day, at the last trump, at the coming of Christ. But the Old Covenant Law didn't include immortality at that time either. But it did include healing.

Jesus came to vouchsafe to Israel everything that was promised to them under the Law. They couldn’t receive it under the Law because of the weakness of human flesh to keep the Law. So He dealt with that weakness by condemning sin in the flesh on the cross.

Healing was never something which God was planning to postpone until the Second Coming - neither in the Law nor in the New Testament. The resurrection awaits the last day. But healing was always our bread now.

Well since healing was promised in this life even under the Law – then the New Testament certainly ought to provide healing in this life too – or else it is an inferior covenant with regard to healing.

But it isn't inferior. It is "better" said Paul.

This blessing also goes to the Gentiles, through the Gospel.

Therefore we Gentiles, through the Gospel, are included as joint-heirs of the promise.

What promise is that?

Eternal life? Yes.

Justification? Yes.

Healing? Well, any of the results of justification – so, yes.

See, if sickness was a curse due to disobedience of the Law – then justification is a basis for healing. That’s clear, isn’t it?

Most people agree that the cross removes all the effects of sin including sickness – except that they put healing off until the same time as the resurrection of the body.

But that’s not necessarily Scriptural. Healing was always available now – both in the Old Testament and the New Testament.

It’s only the resurrection of the body that we are waiting for.

Healing was promised under the Old Testament to the righteous. God didn’t say to Israel, “Well if you obey my Law, I’ll take sickness away from you – on the last day”. He meant now! So Jesus came to reinforce this. And Jesus called this the Gospel.

Through the cross we are made righteous, that is, through the cross, the righteousness of the Law is restored to Israel. Therefore, by extension, healing is in the atonement - or put it this way: healing is an extension, an inevitable by-product of the atonement, because the cause of sickness, which is sin or the curse – is dealt with.

If sin (the root) is dealt with, then so are the branches (sickness). (In Deuteronomy, the curse included sickness). Jesus dealt with the root (sin). Therefore healing accompanies it. That’s the Gospel.

See in the Jewish mind it’s impossible to separate the spiritual part of man from the physical part of man. This thinking was instilled in them from centuries of reading God’s Word in the Law. It’s just not Biblical to say that justification can come, without bringing with it blessing – in this life too, not just in heaven.

The Atonement

But there is another basis for including healing in the atonement.

Isaiah said, "Himself took our infirmities and carried our griefs...with His stripes we are healed".

Some say, "Yes but ‘infirmities’ and ‘griefs’ don't mean sickness".

But Matthew understood it to mean sickness, because he quoted it and applied it to Jesus’ healing ministry!

The Hebrew words for infirmities and griefs literally mean sicknesses and pains. Matthew and any Jew understood it this way.

What healed us? Jesus' stripes. He got the stripes under Pilate.

See, Jesus didn’t heal only to prove His divinity - although healing certainly achieves that. He healed to remove the curse of the Law from afflicted Israelites. And you and I Gentiles are grafted-in to the same promise. With His stripes we are healed. That happened on the cross. When else did Jesus get stripes? Only on the cross.

“He carried our pains”

A Hebrew scholar pointed-out that the word “carried” is a Levitical term. It is reminiscent of the sin-offering bearing our sin; or of the animal that had to be carried outside the camp.

Similarly, Jesus substitutionally carried our sickness on the cross.

Yes, he healed us from sin. But Matthew understands Isaiah to be talking about sickness.

But even if Isaiah was talking strictly about healing from sin, well then it still includes the idea of healing, because healing is the concomitant of justification from sin.

Is that right? is healing really the concomitant of justification from sin? Jesus said so!

Remember, Jesus said to the paralysed man, “Your sins are forgiven you?” In that instance, Jesus said that to say, “Your sins are forgiven you,” was equal to saying, “Rise and walk”.

If you can believe that healing is the concomitant of forgiveness – you’ve just received your miracle!

Was healing the concomitant of forgiveness only then? or is it still so – even now that the New Testament has been written? To detach the two is to unravel all of revealed Scripture up to that point.

Not that God is boxed-in to that. Take Job. Take the blind person where Jesus said that “neither this man hath sinned nor his parents, but that the glory of God should be made manifest, I must work the works of him who sent me.

The last enemy that is to be put under His feet is death.

But healing doesn't necessarily have to wait until the last day - provision was made for healing now - both under the Law and everywhere else in the Bible.

Is Healing Always God’s Will?

I think we could say yes and no.

Even when healing is God's will, it seems that most of the time, hearing the Gospel and faith is still required before it can be received.

Now, are there times when healing isn't God's will?

Yes and no. I'll try to explain.

Was it God's will for Israel to be healthy? Absolutely.

He said, "I will put none of these diseases upon you..."

But did God say they could ever be sick? Again, absolutely.

Was it His will if any Israelite became sick? Well ideally no. But God in His holiness cannot lie or break His own Laws.

Things happen that weren't part of His original plan - but this doesn't take anything away from His sovereignty.

Put it this way: God is duty-bound to allow some things to transpire, even though it might not have been what He would have ideally wanted.

Sometimes, to allow something to happen, might be the best option that God has at His disposal, given that He must stay true to His own character and His own Laws.

Like I said, surprisingly, I've heard brother Hagin talk about several instances in his own ministry where it was not God's will to heal.

For example, brother Hagin said that at one stage in his ministry, he was reluctant to preach about healing because he didn't want to be associated with fanatics. So he neglected to teach on it, for a season. In those days he fell and broke his arm, if my memory serves me correctly.

The Lord showed Hagin that he had disqualified himself in a measure from the blessing of God because his relucatance to preach about healing was actually disobedience. The Lord told him that although he had healed him instantly in the past, this time he was going to leave a small percentage of the problem there as a reminder of what can happen if he gets out of the will of God again.

His arm healed quicker than any doctor had ever seen a broken arm heal before: but to this day, that little reminder is still there.

So there is a case where in Hagin's own theology, God may have his reasons for thinking it best not to heal someone completely.

Was it God's will for Hagin to have an awkward shoulder? Ideally, no. But given the circumstances of Hagin's needing to learn an important lesson which could save his life in the future, yes it was God's will.

Then there’s the other example I already mentioned, in the prophets where it says, "The righteous are taken away, none considering that they are taken away from the evil to come"

The righteous are meant to stay long in the land, it was promised in the Law and in the Psalms. But during Jeremiah's day, they were being taken away.

Why? So they wouldn't have to experience the trouble that was coming.

So God can state a promise in His Law - but then He is still God - He can move in extraordinary ways if He wants to, if it's for the better. I know you would agree with that.

Well was it God's will that it happen? Ideally no. But given the circumstances of Israel's disobedience - it was actually a blessing in disguise, for the righteous, that they were being removed.

Of course Job is another example.

Another time brother Hagin was about to lay his hands on a sick man when he felt like the Lord stopped him. Then the Lord said, "Let him go. He's never been more ready to meet me than at any time in his life".

The Lord told Hagin what age the man was saved, and told him that he'd had sins that he never dealt with; but that recently he had dealt with them and the man was never in a better state to meet the Judge than now. The man was in his 60s I think.

But the Lord told him, "Pray for him instead that he will be filled with the Holy Ghost and that his last days will be the most glorious he's ever had".

So Hagin laid hands on him to receive the Holy Ghost. The man was filled and spent his last days with a look of glory on his face. And the doctors said they'd never seen a man die of cancer so painlessly.

Later, Hagin found out that the man indeed was saved at the exact age of which the Lord told him; and he was also told by his relatives about some of the areas of his life that he had made right before he died.

Well was that the perfect will of God for that brother that he die of cancer? In one way no. But in another way, it was the best thing for him, given the circumstances.

So even Hagin believes it's not always the Lord's will to heal, in a sense. And he doesn’t always say that it’s because of sin or unbelief. Sometimes, he says, we just plain don’t know.

Brother Hagin's wife had a life-threatening goitre. When Hagin prayed for her, the Lord told him, "It was in my will that she die, but just because you've asked, she'll live". She was healed.

Years later, His wife also developed breast tumours, and the first time they prayed, it got worse. Then they asked the Lord why, and He told them. They corrected themselves. Then she was immediately healed.

So a lack of faith isn't the only obstacle. According to Hagin's doctrine, there are other things that can make faith work or not work - such as our obedience, our love-walk, and such as God's will if He knows to do something better.

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