|Over the last few years, I
have been wrestling with the issue of Christian Healing. I have
watched some really strong Christians being beaten about by
serious sickness. Although they have kept a good attitude, their
sickness does not seem to have glorified God. Rather, the
effectiveness of their ministry has been severely limited. Their
experience has really bugged me, because it does not fit with the
scriptural promises about healing.
The Bible seems to be
really clear. Jesusí healing includes both forgiveness and
healing of sickness. For example, Psalm 103:2-4 says:
Praise the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits-
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion.
Forgiveness and healing
are part of the same package. Jesus confirmed this by making the
healing of the sick an important part of his ministry.
Our lack of victory over
sickness raises a serious question for me. If healing is not a
core part of our salvation, why did Jesus spend so much time
healing the sick? If salvation does not include healing, his
emphasis on healing was just giving a false hope. One suggestion
is that God gave Jesus healing power to authenticate his ministry.
This might be true, but surely the Holy Spirit needs to have his
ministry authenticated as well?
Victory over sickness and
eternal life both depend on the work of the cross, so I have to
ask this question. If we cannot obtain victory over sickness
through the cross, how can we be certain of eternal life based on
the work of the cross? Actually, I am certain about eternal life,
so I can only conclude that the problem is with our understanding
of healing and salvation. Our gospel of healing seems to be
deficient. Is there something missing?
While wrestling with these questions, I
have also searched the scriptures. During this search, I found
some important keys that I hope will empower Godís people to
greater victory over sickness.
Key 1: Two Streams
I have always been
fascinated the healing miracles in the gospels and the Acts of the
Apostles. The way the Holy Spirit worked was really exciting.
However, I was always really puzzled by James 5. I could not see
how it fitted with the rest of teaching about healing in the New
Testament. James message seemed so tame in comparison to Acts and
the Gospels. A couple of years ago, I discovered that there are
two streams of theology about healing in the Bible and then
suddenly everything fell into place. If we split the teaching of
the scripture into these two streams, we get a clearer
understanding of Godís healing. The two themes are:
- Healing and Evangelism
The gift of healing is primarily for
unbelievers as a demonstration of the love of God. A major theme
of the New Testament describes how the gift of healing works in
evangelism. Jesus brought good news to apostate Israel, so his
ministry demonstrated this type of healing.
- Healing and Believers
The second healing theme explains how
Godís people can walk in health. Healing is part of salvation,
so it should be a normal part of every believerís life. James
is actually a key passage in the second stream.
My understanding of healing was confirmed
when I heard that TL Osborne said,
- Healing of the unbeliever is based on
the mercy of God
- Healing of the believer is based on
The healing of an
unbeliever and a believer have a different basis in the work of
Christ. One is based on mercy and the other is based on covenant.
Unbelievers are in the kingdom of
darkness, so it is normal for them to be sick. They can only be
healed if God breaks in with healing power and mercy that they do
not deserve. On the other hand, Christians are living in Christ,
so they should be experiencing all the benefits of the cross. They
are entitled to the healing earned when strips of flesh were
ripped off Jesus back. Therefore, it is abnormal for Christians to
be sick. If Christians are sick something is wrong.
Unbelievers need the gospel to be freed
from the kingdom of darkness. God will sometime extend mercy to an
unbeliever to prove his existence and mercy and love. He does not
do this just for the benefit of the person healed, but for all
those who see the miracle. He releases his power to shake people
up and make them ready to receive the gospel.
Christians get sick because they have not
received something that they are entitled too. The solution is not
physical power, but removing the obstacle that is preventing them
from receiving what Jesus has earned for them. If they sort that
out on their own, they will need help from someone else with
greater faith or wisdom. This is why scriptures tell sick
Christians to go to their elders (James 5). There are a variety of
reasons why a Christian is sick: lack of faith, sin, a demon,
ignorance of the gospel or spiritual strongholds. The elders will
seek God for the reason. When they know what it is, they can deal
with it and allow the sick person to receive the health that Jesus
has bought from them.
The cause of sickness is different for
unbelievers and believers, so the solution must be different.
Healing is appropriated in different ways.
This material has now been updated in book form.