Mr. Stuart C. Henrich is a teaching elder at South Side Bible Chapel, St. Louis, Missouri.
His study on this sometimes controversial and misunderstood subject is both enlightening and helpful. We suggest that it be read carefully and thoughtfully with an open Bible.
God’s Word reveals His great ability to heal the sick. This ability was displayed many times in the days of our Lord’s sojourn on earth and in the years which immediately followed. It is to be noted that not only did the Lord Jesus Christ heal but He gave His followers the ability to do the same.
In Matt. 10:1-8 we find the Lord Jesus Christ exercising His divine power in giving the twelve apostles the ability to “heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons.”
Luke 10:1-11 tells us that the Lord Jesus commissioned seventy disciples to “Heal the sick” in every city they entered.
In Mark 16:17-18 He says of His followers that “they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover.”
1 Cor. 12:9, 11, 30 informs us that the Holy Spirit is said to give the “gifts of healings” to those persons He chooses.
Heb. 2:3, 4 tells us that the gifts God gave were given for the purpose of confirming the word of those who spoke for the Lord Jesus Christ.
Today the gift to heal is claimed by Satanists, various cults and some Christian groups. In view of the warnings God has given concerning the last days in which there are to be those who “depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons” (1 Tim. 4:1), we must discern the true God-given gifts. This can be done only by submitting the matter to the pure light of God’s Holy Word.
How can we discern that which is of God?
Healings which are of God can be recognized by their meeting the requirements and standards set by the Word of God.
1. THE GIFTS OF HEALING, IF THEY ARE TRULY OF GOD, MUST COME FROM GOD. The healer that was sent by God received the “gifts of healing” from God (see Matt. 10:1-8; Luke 16:17-18; 1 Cor. 12:9, 28, 30). The “gifts” were only given as the Holy Spirit willed to give them (1 Cor. 12:11).
WHAT PROOF DO WE HAVE OF THE HEALER RECEIVING THE GIFT FROM GOD? Like the prophets of the Old Testament who identified themselves as being prophets of the living God by being one hundred percent right in all that they prophesied (Deut. 18:21, 22), so the healer that is of God must be able to heal all that come to him for healing, regardless of his infirmity.
—(a) The Lord Jesus Christ did not let anyone who came to Him go away unhealed, whether the need was hearing, seeing, walking, healing of the body or mind. Consider Matt. 4:23, 24; 8:16 and note: He “healed all that were sick”; Matt. 9:35, “Healing every sickness and every disease among the people;” Matt. 12:15, “He healed them all”; Matt. 14:34-36, “They were made perfectly whole”; also Luke 4:40 and Luke 6:19. No one who came to Him was sent away without complete healing! (The only ones who failed to experience His healing power were those who did not come or did not ask to be healed (cf. Matt. 13:58; Mark 6:5, 6 and Luke 5:17).
—(b) The disciples who had the “gifts of healings” healed all who came to them. (There was one occasion in which the healing was delayed for a short time which we will examine in a later paragraph).
In Acts 5:12-16 we find multitudes of people coming to Peter from Jerusalem and from the cities that surround it “bringing sick folks, and them that were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one.”
One proof that a person has the “gifts of healings” from God is that they can heal every person who comes to them for healing, no matter what the disease or infirmity that person may have.
3. The healings that God did through His followers were perfect and complete. In Acts 3:1-8 we see that the healings done through the disciples were like that of the Lord Jesus Christ’s (Matt. 14:34-36); those they healed were “made perfectly whole.” In Acts 3:1-8 we see a man who was lame from birth, unable to walk, healed at the word of Peter, “immediately” found “his feet and ankle bones received strength. And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking and leaping and praising God.” Note, too, that the people saw it (v. 9).
Note this well: the only time that healing was delayed was when the Lord Jesus Christ sought to teach His disciples the following important fact:
WHEN A PERSON COMES TO A HEALER, AND THAT PERSON DOES NOT RECEIVE HEALING, IT IS BECAUSE OF THE LACK OF FAITH ON THE PART OF THE HEALER, NOT THE LACK OF FAITH ON THE PART OF THE ONE DESIRING TO BE HEALED.
Read Matt. 17:14-21 and note that in verse 16 the man came that his son might be healed; in verse 19 we see that the disciples could not heal the boy; in verse 20, when the Lord Jesus Christ was asked by them, why they could not heal the boy, He said, “Because of your unbelief!”
Therefore, when a person comes to the professing healer, and that healer cannot heal, it is not the lack of faith on the part of the one desiring to be healed but rather the lack of faith on the part of the healer.
Did they have healing meetings in the early Church?
None is ever recorded in the whole of the New Testament.
Did they take gifts for their Healing?
No. They were told that they had freely received these abilities and were to use them for others free of any charge (Mark 16:17-18).
Is it God’s plan that everyone should enjoy the best of health?
There is a claim being made today that the Lord Jesus Christ not only died for our sins but that the healing for the body was also in the atonement He made. The verse used to give proof to this assertion is found in Isaiah 53:5, “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him and with His stripes we are healed.”
The Holy Spirit anticipated the error some would fall into in misunderstanding this verse, so He tells us in Matt. 8:16, 17 exactly when this passage in Isaiah found its fulfillment. As you read Matt. 8:16, 17 note that He “healed all that were sick: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esais (Isaiah) the prophet, Himself took over infirmities and bare our sicknesses.” Thus one can see that He fulfilled that prophecy of Isaiah when He healed while He was on earth, and it is wrong to apply to today that which the Holy Spirit said was fulfilled when the Lord Jesus Christ was on earth.
Therefore, those who apply this Scripture to this day are misapplying it.
1. The healers of today do not heal all that come to them (in fact they “heal” very few); therefore, their “gift” is not of God.
2. The healings they offer are partial, not complete healings; therefore, they are not of God.
3. If they cannot heal, they blame it on the person whom they cannot heal by saying that person doesn’t have the faith to be healed, while God says that if the healer cannot heal, it is his lack of faith that hinders.
4. There were no healing meetings ever recorded.
5. No love offerings or collections were taken at any time of the healings done by the disciples.
6. Therefore, we can Scripturally say, “Healers” of today are not of God!
Does God always heal when Asked?
No! The example of Paul is outstanding in this regard. In 2 Cor. 12:7-9 we have Paul’s account of his “infirmities” (asthenia, in the Greek, meaning, want of strength, weakness. It is used of the woman whose back was bent in Luke 13:11). Paul asked three times that he be healed and Lord told him, no!
Do Godly people suffer sickness?
Godly men suffered physical sickness. Look up 2 Cor. 5:4; 1 Tim. 5:23; Phil. 2:24-27; 2 John 1, 2; 2 Tim. 4:20. Godly Christians suffer today (see Romans 8:22, 23).
Remember that these godly men and women were sickly persons: David Brainard, Robert Murry McCheyene, Charles Spurgeon, Fanny Crosby and Frances Havergal, whose hymns you sing in your church.
Can God heal today?
Of course He can and does. He does this healing through prayer that is according to His will.
1. Matt. 9:12 points of the value of seeking medical help, but at the same time one must seek God’s blessings on the work of the physicians (2 Chron. 16:12-13).
2. James 5:13-16 indicates the need of praying one for another.
(a) James 4:2 shows the need for such prayer.
3. If it is not God’s plan to heal (as it is in every man’s life at some time for all men die of some physical failure), then we must seek His grace to meet our need to bear with our infirmities. In your weakness His strength is made perfect (2 Cor. 12:7-10).