Does God Heal TODAY?
Have you considered the neglected aspect of true Christianity? What would the original Apostles do if they were alive today? What part would DIVINE HEALING have in their ministry?
The subject of divine healing is a greatly neglected part of Christianity for most people. It is rarely discussed in most mainstream churches.
Why? The primary reason for this neglect is that a very real Satan the Devil has blinded the vast majority of humanity—including most professing Christians! Today, most churchgoers do not really study the Bible. They do not look to it as the real "authority" in their lives. They are content to follow the teachings and traditions of men—which are all too often diametrically contrary to the Bible. Then, also, many have seen the "tent meetings" put on by various "evangelists" where there is a lot of whooping and hollering and mass hysteria—and precious little genuine healing!
But, as always, we should ask: "What does the Bible actually say? Can we PROVE this matter of divine healing very clearly from the inspired Word of God?"
Yes. We certainly can! And the biblical proofs are more plain and pervasive than you have probably even imagined.
Looking carefully at the ministry of Jesus Christ and the Apostles, it is clear that divine healing was a vital part of the preaching of the Gospel. The Gospel of Matthew tells us early on how Jesus began His ministry: "And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people" (Matthew 4:23).
You will notice that Jesus constantly did three things in His ministry. He:
- Preached the Gospel
- Healed the sick
- Cast out demons
Later, in Peter's home, Matthew taught more about the background of divine healing: "When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: 'He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses'" (Matthew 8:16–17). Here, Matthew explains that Jesus' healings were to fulfill the scripture in Isaiah which shows that Jesus—the Messiah—"bore our sicknesses." Matthew was here quoting the famous passage in Isaiah 53 which clearly described the role of the coming Messiah. He was to be "despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief" (v. 3). But then the inspired Isaiah tells us: "Surely our diseases He did bear, and our pains he carried; whereas we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded because of our transgressions, He was crushed because of our iniquities: the chastisement of our welfare was upon him, and with his stripes we were healed" (Isaiah 53:4–5; The Holy Scriptures).
The Jewish scholars who performed the above translation do know how to translate the Hebrew Bible! They correctly indicate that Jesus bore "our diseases." However, the vast majority of scholars indicate this also, as can be found in footnotes in the New King James Version, Revised Standard Version and other translations of the Bible. The New International Version renders it "infirmities." The scholars know that the word translated as "griefs" is literally "sicknesses" in the original Hebrew language in which God inspired the book of Isaiah.
In Matthew 10, we find that Jesus gave His 12 leading disciples authority to heal and to cast out demons: "And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease" (v. 1). But, many will say: "Wasn't this just for the 12 original Apostles and NOT for us today?"
No! In Luke 10:1–9, we read that Jesus gave "seventy others" this same authority to heal! Notice: "'Whatever city you enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you. And heal the sick there, and say to them, 'The kingdom of God has come near to you.'" (vv. 8–9). And at the very end of His human life, Jesus gave what was obviously basic instruction for all of His faithful servants down through time. He commanded: "'Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.… And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover'" (Mark 16:15, 17–18).
One of the "signs" of the true Church of God is "divine healing!" This was manifested throughout the ministry of Jesus and the original Apostles and the "seventy others." Later, we find that the Apostle Paul, called to take the gospel to the gentiles, healed people frequently. Acts 14 tells us of one incident where Paul, seeing that a crippled man "had FAITH to be healed, said with a loud voice, 'Stand up straight on your feet!' And he leaped and walked" (vv. 9–10).
In Acts 8:1–7, we read that God's Church was scattered from Jerusalem, and that the disciples traveled throughout Palestine preaching and teaching Christ's message. One of them, Philip, had recently been ordained as a deacon (Acts 6:5). Yet—no doubt because he had a great deal of FAITH as did his fellow deacon, Stephen (v. 8)—Philip was used to HEAL the sick, cast out demons and perform miracles. Notice: "And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed" (Acts 8:6–7).
The above is very clear biblical PROOF that others—not just the Apostles—were used to heal the sick and cast out demons. Of course, it was through the power of Jesus Christ and in His "name"—His authority—that these miracles were performed. God's Word tells us: "Jesus Christ is the SAME yesterday, today and FOREVER" (Hebrews 13:8). That power to heal is available to God's faithful ministers today just as it was to ALL of the Apostles, the "seventy others" and the other faithful servants of God all during the Apostolic Age and ever since, for those who have FAITH in the Word of God!
Notice this revealing incident which took place near the end of Paul's ministry—and the end of the Apostolic Age: "And it happened that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and dysentery. Paul went in to him and prayed, and he laid his hands on him and healed him. So when this was done, the rest of those on the island who had diseases also came and were healed" (Acts 28:8–9). Note that Paul "laid his hands" on Publius as he healed him. This was a regular practice of God's true servants indicating, among other things, that God works through human instruments.
We find that even Jesus "laid His hands" on sick people to heal them (Mark 6:5), and that when the 12 Apostles were sent out on a local mission, "they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick, and healed them" (v. 13). It is important to note that the disciples "anointed with oil" the sick people. The oil itself did not heal; it was a "symbol" of the Holy Spirit—a reminder that through the POWER of the Holy Spirit, healing would take place.
The Apostles, like all faithful ministers since, usually prayed for the sick, laid hands on them and also anointed them with oil. Sometimes dramatic miracles of healing occurred when God's servants just commanded the healing to take place, but "standard procedure" for the Apostles and elders included the "laying on of hands" and "anointing with oil." The Apostle James gave an instruction clearly for all time: "Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven" (James 5:14–15).
Why do professing ministers of Jesus Christ not practice this today? Why are so few professing Christians being supernaturally healed?
Mankind's best efforts are not "all bad" in and of themselves. Highly trained physicians and other health professionals certainly do help millions of people every day. Let us NOT forget this fact! Many health care professionals are loving and sincere in their efforts to serve their fellow man. They certainly ought to be appreciated and commended for this.
Jesus Himself stated: "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick" (Matthew 9:12). In this verse, Jesus indicated that physicians certainly are able to help with sickness and disease. Some religious extremists believe that doctors and medicines are intrinsically evil. If that were the case, then the Son of God would NOT have made the above statement! And the Apostle Paul would NOT have written about "Luke the BELOVED physician" (Colossians 4:14).
Every true Christian needs to get his or her "balance" on this issue. Satan and our own human reason will often cause us to go from one extreme to another!
Reading the entire Bible carefully and honestly, you will find physicians among God's people, as was Luke. Even Jesus' parable of the "good Samaritan" shows that—in case of injury—it is important to bind up wounds and apply wine (or another antiseptic) to prevent cuts from becoming infected. Pediatricians can be very helpful with prenatal care and delivery. In the past, some "holy rollers" and tent campaign "healers" have completely neglected the above passages from the inspired Word of God, but in modern times most of society is ignoring God and going to the other extreme! Today, the vast majority of "educated" humanity looks to doctors, medicines, pills and potions alone as the SOURCE of healing—and the living GOD is left COMPLETELY OUT of the picture. This extreme, just like the other, is absolutely WRONG!
The Bible is the revelation of the mind of God to mankind—of that basic knowledge which mankind would otherwise be unable to learn or to understand. The Bible reveals the "mind" of God, and true Christians are told in Philippians 2:5: "Let this MIND be in you which was also in Christ Jesus." It is vital that every genuine Christian learn to "think like Jesus thinks" on this and every subject! Jesus Christ said: "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by EVERY Word of God" (Luke 4:4). Remember that the only "Word of God" available at that time was what we today call the "Old Testament."
Satan the Devil has thoroughly BLINDED the vast majority of humanity—including many of you who read this! God's inspired Word describes Satan as "that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world" (Revelation 12:9). Later, God tells us that at Christ's return to earth, Satan will be cast into the bottomless pit, "so that he should deceive the nations no more" (Revelation 20:3).
As the "prince of the power of the air"—the invisible RULER over this earth (Ephesians 2:2)—Satan has influenced human society, and even most churches, to think of God as "unreal," as "far away" and NOT as a powerful Personality who can and does intervene in human affairs regularly! Frankly, Satan is glad to have us think of the Creator God as a vague, far-away entity. For if we knew that God was a very real, dynamic and POWERFUL Spirit Being who, IF we have faith, could and does directly help us, bless us and HEAL us of every sickness and of every disease, then we might actually begin to genuinely worship and OBEY that great God—and DO what God says! But this is the very last thing that Satan wants.
Satan the Devil wants to keep humans BLINDED to the "reality" of God so that we will not truly serve and obey Him and will not, therefore, be counted worthy to become kings and priests in Christ's soon-coming Kingdom and replace Satan and his demons in ruling over this earth (1 Corinthians 6:2–3; Revelation 2:26–27; 5:10).
Satan has influenced mankind to seek a DIFFERENT WAY of deliverance from sickness than looking to God. He has influenced man in this—as in every way of life—to look to his own devices and his own human reason instead of seeking God's will and His solutions.
The story of King Asa is told in 2 Chronicles chapters 14 to 16. We find that God sent a prophet to tell this basically good king of Judah: "The Lord is with you while you are with Him. If you SEEK Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you" (2 Chronicles 15:2). Note that God is not automatically "with you" all the time. He is "with" His servants "while you are with Him," and "IF you seek Him, He will be found by you."
HOW MANY professing "Christians" truly SEEK God's will regarding "healing?" The truth is that most of them have never even thought about it, or been taught about it!
King Asa obviously did not consider that God was in the picture either! For although God had blessed him and delivered him in many ways, when Asa became seriously ill: "He did NOT seek the Lord but the physicians" (2 Chronicles 16:12). The result? "So Asa rested with his fathers; he died in the forty-first year of his reign" (2 Chronicles 16:13).
The key point to remember is that Asa left God out of the picture completely. In his sickness, Asa seemed to forget totally that the great Creator God—who had delivered him before—could do ANYTHING, and certainly can heal "all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease" (Matthew 4:23). So Asa DIED as a comparatively young man.
Then we read of the story of Ahaziah, king of Israel during the time of Elijah the prophet. Ahaziah had every reason to know that God was real and that He was the Healer, for Elijah had performed many signs and wonders that must have come to Ahaziah's attention.
But when Ahaziah was seriously injured, what did he do? "He sent messengers and said to them, 'Go, inquire of Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron, whether I shall recover from this injury'" (2 Kings 1:2). God's faithful servant, Elijah, heard of this and sent word to Ahaziah: "'Is it because there is NO GOD in Israel that you are going to inquire of Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron?' Now therefore, thus says the Lord: 'You shall not come down from the bed to which you have gone up, but you shall surely die.' So Elijah departed" (vv. 3–4). And verse 17 completes the rest of the story: "So Ahaziah died according to the word of the Lord which Elijah had spoken."
Obviously much of the problem lay in the fact that Ahaziah went NOT to the true God, but to Beelzebub, the god of Ekron. It is important to note that this Beelzebub was also the "god of medicine." Indications are that Beelzebub's adherents were given various potions or healing medicines along with their devotion to this pagan "god."
Most religious scholars recognize that New Testament Christians are considered spiritual "Israelites" or spiritual "Jews" (Romans 2:28–29). Note Galatians 6:16, where Paul tells the Galatian Christians: "And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God." If Christ were to come among us today—in this human society—would He not tell us: "Is it because there is NO GOD in the CHURCH (spiritual 'Israel') that you are constantly going to human doctors and utterly FAIL to come to ME as your Healer?"
We need to get our balance on this vital subject. There are many things that doctors and dentists can—and often should—do for us. In circumstances such as traumatic injury, broken bones, internal bleeding and severe burns, there are many procedures that are necessary and right for doctors to perform.
Even in these cases of serious injury, however, it is vital for a Bible-believing Christian to heed the lesson of Ahaziah, for to genuine Christians there IS a God in Israel! So if we feel we must seek man's help—to have our bones set, have our wounds stitched up or have other repairs taken care of by a competent physician or chiropractor—we must at the same time ask for God's intervention to cause the injury to heal properly. Even when we go to man for what our wisdom and understanding tells us that man can properly do, we must still look to God our Father to go ABOVE AND BEYOND what man can do—and ask Him to intervene directly when necessary. We should NEVER leave God "out of the picture!"
Each Christian has to make up his own mind as to how far he should go with man's devices. As he or she grows in FAITH, the Christian will experience more and more divine "healings" from every kind of sickness and disease, for God is NOT limited! Yet Christians should not "judge" one another or condemn one another in this matter (Matthew 7:1). For each individual has the personal responsibility to "draw the line" and use medical help according to his understanding and his faith—not someone else's. And as God's Word tells us, "whatever is not from faith is SIN" (Romans 14:23).
At this juncture, it is important that we fully realize where we are heading as a society! Everyone who truly BELIEVES the Bible knows that Jesus Christ directly predicted that "pestilences"—DISEASE EPIDEMICS—would be one of the major signs heralding His second coming. Today, we are at a time in history when the spread of AIDS, the Ebola virus and now even "mad-cow disease" is a growing threat to vast numbers of human beings!
So far, there is NO CURE for these diseases. Only the true GOD can heal these plagues! And as far back as 1997, United States Secretary of Defense William Cohen described the growing threat of biological and chemical weapons and the ways to deliver them. Secretary Cohen said this threat was "neither far-fetched nor far off."
"'The front lines are no longer overseas,' Cohen said, releasing a report that said Americans could fall victim to such an attack, because criminal organizations and cults—as well as nation-states—could deploy such weapons. These weapons are 'the poor man's atomic bomb—cheaper, easier to produce and extremely deadly,' the defense secretary said" (North County Times, November 26, 1997).
From the San Diego Tribune of November 29, 2000, we read that scientists are increasingly concerned about the probability of "germ warfare" aiding terrorism: "Scourges such as smallpox and anthrax are increasingly likely to fall into terrorists' hands as Third World nations start germ warfare programs, a panel of scientists predicted yesterday.… The threat comes in part from nations such as Iran and Iraq, which 'can't challenge the U.S. head-on… so they need something else to shift the balance of power,' Yale University political scientist Paul Bracken told a two-day symposium on responses to bioterrorism."
So WHO will cure these deadly diseases if bioterrorists purposely spread them—further clogging our hospitals and emergency facilities with masses of frightened and desperate people? Again, we must NOT leave God out of the picture. More and more, as this age draws to a close, true Christians must learn to look to God as their ultimate Protector, Deliverer and Healer! This is a vital part of returning to "Apostolic Christianity"—of contending earnestly "for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3).
Many articles have come out in recent years, describing how enlightened doctors and hospitals are cooperating now more than ever with ministers and "prayer partners" to aid in the healing process. Some of this is probably helpful. But, sadly, most of the emphasis is on the psychosomatic benefit of people having a "positive attitude"—of being "encouraged" or "hopeful." The emphasis is NOT upon an all-powerful GOD who directly intervenes and supernaturally "heals" sickness and disease!
Yet supernatural healing is exactly what the Bible describes as taking place in New Testament times. Please read carefully the inspired account in Mark 2:1–12 of Jesus healing a paralytic man. "When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, 'Son, your sins are forgiven you'" (v. 5). Sensing that his hearers were hostile to this concept, Jesus said: "Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven you,' or to say, 'Arise, take up your bed and walk'? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins—He said to the paralytic, 'I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house'" (vv. 9–11).
Then: "Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, 'We never saw anything like this!'" (v. 12).
This was NOT some "gradual" recovery that took place with the aid of doctors, drugs and blood transfusions. No, indeed. God intervened and removed the PENALTY of physical mistakes, sins and carelessness that are nearly always the CAUSE of sickness and disease. Remember, as we saw earlier, that Isaiah 53:4 tells us that Jesus has borne our SICKNESSES.
Just before Jesus was crucified, Pilate caused Jesus to be beaten horribly by the Roman "scourging" usually administered to a condemned man. This brutal whipping was usually done with a leather whip, into which were fastened embedded shards of glass or metal, designed to tear the skin and induce severe bleeding and excruciating pain. Many men DIED just from this beating alone! That is WHY Isaiah said: "By His stripes we are healed" (v. 5).
Most professing Christians observe what they call the Eucharist or the "Lord's Supper." This service is actually a corruption of the biblical festival called "Passover." Describing the importance of FAITH and humility as one takes the emblems of bread and wine at the Passover, the Apostle Paul warned: "But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep [have died]" (1 Corinthians 11:28–30).
In the Corinthian church, many were "weak" or "sickly" because they had not learned to discern the real meaning of the bread and wine—that our Savior suffered the terrible "scourging" that we might be HEALED. The broken bread symbolizes Christ's body, "broken" for our physical healing. The wine symbolizes His shed blood given in payment for our spiritual sins!
That is WHY—as Mark 2:1–12 and Matthew 9:1–8 bring out—Jesus' healing of the paralytic man was described as the forgiveness of "sin"! Physical healing and spiritual forgiveness are tied together in the Bible. Our Savior, Jesus Christ, SUFFERED terribly so that both would be possible. God's Word also describes this principle: "Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases" (Psalm 103:1–3).
We cannot take the biblical Passover properly without looking to Christ as our HEALER, for He paid the penalty of our physical carelessness and transgressions of the physical laws of health just as surely as He paid the penalty of spiritual SIN. As Psalm 103 indicates, both physical healing and spiritual forgiveness are "benefits" offered by a loving God. But a deceived mankind has usually been persuaded to accept one of these benefits and totally neglect the other!
Throughout His ministry, Jesus often told individuals who wanted to be healed: "According to your FAITH let it be to you" (Matthew 9:29). When several men were so faithful and zealous that they "uncovered the roof" of a room so the paralytic man could reach Jesus and be healed, God's Word tells us: "When Jesus saw their FAITH, He said to the paralytic, 'Son, your sins are forgiven you'" (Mark 2:5)—and the man was HEALED right in front of their eyes!
As the prophesied END of this age draws near, we must all focus our minds on the REALITY of the great GOD who gives us life and breath. We need to BELIEVE His inspired Word, the Holy Bible. We need to believe HIM! We need to understand that God is NOT a liar! When He promises us something in His Word, He will back it up by powerful ACTION—if we will just believe!
God tells us: "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6).
The above is a STRONG statement! You and I CANNOT please the true God until we learn to BELIEVE Him—to rely totally on what He says in His inspired Word!
To help each of you to build the living FAITH we all need so much, I would heartily recommend that you call us or write us to request two very helpful and meaningful booklets: The Real God: Proofs and Promises and Twelve Keys to Answered Prayer. These booklets will be sent absolutely free upon your request. If you will really study them and look up the scriptural references given, they will help you to become more fully aware of the REALITY of the true God, and how to receive genuine answers to your prayers.
A number of years ago, one of my college students—a young married man—was missing one day from Freshman Bible Class. Right after the class was dismissed, he met me in the lobby of the building and was obviously very anxious and worried about something. "What's wrong?" I asked him.
"It's my little daughter," he blurted out. "The doctor has tested her blood and found that she has the fatal variety of spinal meningitis! He does not give her very long to live. Her fever is going up and she is having convulsions from time to time. Please come out and anoint her and pray for her!"
I quickly grabbed a nearby phone and asked my secretary to cancel appointments I had for the next couple of hours. Then I got in my car and followed this young man to his home. The doctor had dropped by earlier, but said that nothing could be done for the little child at this late stage.
When I arrived, the mother had been crying and the little girl lay there, still awake, but weak with fever of over 100 degrees. Feeling deeply the seriousness of the situation, I knelt with her parents by the little girl's bedside, anointed her forehead with a drop of oil from a little bottle of olive oil I always carry, and I beseeched our God and Father to completely HEAL her and to apply the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and make her totally well—and SOON.
Knowing that, humanly speaking, death was very near, I poured out my heart and prayed to God very earnestly—claiming His PROMISE to heal and beseeching Him to have mercy on this little child whose life was just really beginning. Then, after encouraging the parents to BELIEVE God, I left and returned to my other duties. But I kept on praying about this matter in my mind for the rest of the day and again in my evening prayer before going to bed. Late the next morning, I received the call I had been waiting for! The child's mother told me that the little girl lapsed into a deep and peaceful sleep soon after I anointed her. Later in the day she awakened and was hungry—genuinely hungry for the first time in days. The fever was gone! No more convulsions. Then she went to sleep again and slept for many hours until late the next morning.
"Now," her mother said, "she is up, feeling good and playing with her dolls as if nothing had ever happened." This child had been quickly and supernaturally HEALED by the living Christ who had paid the penalty of sickness and disease in her stead!
I could write at length about the woman I knew who received an "anointed cloth" (see Acts 19:11–12) and her withered arm was totally healed. I could write about a lady with breast cancer who was "given up" by the doctors and yet was HEALED just when it seemed to be "too late."
Also, I could write about the recent healing of a man who had visited Africa and had contracted a form of hepatitis C which is often fatal. Briefly, without telling the entire story, here is part of his letter expressing thanks for God's intervention:
"Dear Dr. Meredith,
I have good news. As you recall, my previous blood test was unable to measure my viral load due to not enough virus. My most recent test shows that I no longer have hepatitis C. My liver enzymes are within acceptable ranges… I thank God and pray that I can use the rest of my life to His service and glory.… I again thank you for your prayer of faith."
These are not sentimental stories; they are facts. I want all of you Tomorrow's World readers to know that I am very aware that many people give seemingly amazing but unprovable "testimonies" claiming that they were healed. But the incidents cited above were genuine healings—the divine intervention of the God of creation in response to faithful prayer.
God's Word is what we should and must rely on! God tells us: "The prayer of faith WILL save the sick" (James 5:15). May God help each of you to study this subject in your own Bible. May He inspire you to cry out to Him for the courage and the FAITH you need to please Him. And even if you seek appropriate attention from health care professionals from time to time, may each of you learn to always involve GOD in the process. Learn to GROW in understanding and in faith. Learn to have FAITH that the living God can do what man is unable to do. For God—and He alone—is our ultimate Healer.