Is it Always God’s Will to Heal?

Article by Costi Hinn, Pastor of Adult Ministries at Mission Bible Church in Orange County, CA. Costi is married to the love of his life Christyne, and has two children. (original source here)

Jesus is getting a lot of really confusing press when it comes to physical healing these days. This post will answer one of the biggest questions that arises from all of the confusion.

As of right now, miraculous healing is one of the most popular subjects inside and outside the church. Preachers are preaching it, televangelists are guaranteeing, desperate people need it – it’s a healing-hungry world out there.

Recently, I was on a camping trip with my family and thought I was free and clear of any healing ministry enthusiasts. That first night a man walked up to my campsite out of the blue, introduced himself, and proceeded to spend 2 hours telling me about his divine healing ministry. The crescendo of our campfire pow-wow? No, he didn’t heal my wife’s asthma (or even offer). But he did give me two copies of his most recent book on using the power of positive words to speak healing into every sick person I know. After I declined his offer of 400 copies for our church, I shared truth, and he didn’t return again.

You probably experience the same kind of chaotic intrusion from time to time as well. Peruse through your local TV stations or mainstream Christian bookstore and it won’t be long before you’re promised divine healing and a miracle of some sort. On the flip side to all of that, there’s a whole slew of authors and teachers who will tell you that God does nothing supernatural, so not to get your hopes up.

All of the opinions can be downright confusing for people who just need a clear answer to one begging question:

Is it always God’s will to heal everyone during their life on earth?

To find this answer we don’t need a faith healer’s FAQ webpage, or a blanket guarantee from someone who has “seen and experienced some things” in a healing room or a jungle overseas. We need nothing more than to incline our ears and fill our minds with answers from the word of God.

Here are six clear truths that explain God’s will in regards to healing:

I. GOD DOESN’T HEAL EVERYONE ALL THE TIME

This is the most important point to start off any discussion on God’s will and miraculous healing. God doesn’t heal everyone all the time and the Bible gives irrefutable evidence to support this. Miracles of healing were primarily done through God the Son – Jesus Christ, and His Apostles. Jesus healed just one man out of a multitude of sick people at the Pool of Bethesda (John 5:3-8). Jesus didn’t heal people in His hometown of Nazareth (Matthew 13:58). After a healing-spree in the district of Galilee, Jesus plainly decided to go somewhere else to preach even though desperately sick and hurting people were looking for Him (Mark 1:38). His reasoning was simple: “Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby, so that I may preach there also; for that is what I came for.”

Christ didn’t come to earth to hold a healing crusade, He came to bring salvation! As for the most prolific Apostle and writer of 13 New Testament books? Paul wielded miraculous gifts yet told Timothy to take wine for his stomach issues. Why didn’t the Apostle wield his gift of healing? (1 Timothy 5:23). Paul also left one of his faithful ministry teammates, Trophimus, sick at Miletus. Why didn’t he heal him and bring him along? (2 Timothy 4:20). Clearly, God heals as He wills and even sovereignly controlled the specially gifted Apostles. God’s will in healing is not a formula that man can master. Continue reading

6 Truths About Sickness

sicknessBrian Najapfour fever, incurable disease, chronic ailment, or terminal illness like cancer. And since sickness is a part of our existence, understanding it properly is of great importance. Therefore, in this post we will examine what the Bible teaches about illness.

1. Sickness is a consequence of original sin; and in this sense, sickness is a punishment from God for sin.
In Genesis 2:17 God commanded Adam not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for in the day that he eats of it he shall surely die. Adam disobeyed God. And the moment he sinned, his body started dying. His body became subject to illness. God punished Adam for his sin. If Adam had not sinned, there would be no death, there would be no sickness.

Hence the presence of sickness shows the reality of sin in this world. Sickness exists because sin does. In the new heaven and new earth there will be no sickness because there will be no sin (Rev. 21:4). Sickness is a sad reminder of the fall of Adam, our federal representative. It is one of the effects of original sin.

2. Your sickness may be a consequence of your personal sin; and in this sense, your sickness is a chastisement from the Lord.
In James 5:14-15 the author asks, “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him…And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.” Here it is possible that the person is sick because of particular sin in his life. Writing to the Corinthian church, Paul proclaims,

27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died (1 Cor. 11:27-30).

Notice the connection between sickness and sin here. Many members of the Corinthian church are sick because of their sin regarding the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper.

It is therefore possible that God has given you infirmity in order to chastise you (Heb. 12:6). Perhaps it is a consequence of your irresponsible care of your body (e.g. bad diet). Nevertheless, in this context, affliction comes to us from the loving hand of God. Affliction is like a rod that God uses to bring back his wandering sheep to the fold.

3. Your sickness may not be a consequence of your personal sin; and in this sense, your sickness is a test from the Lord.
The word “if” in James 5:15 also allows the possibility that the sick person has not committed sins and in this way his sickness is not a result of his personal sin. Job is an excellent example of this truth (Job 2:4-7).

Sickness became an instrument in the hand of God to mold Job into the person that God wanted him to be. Sickness became a blessing for Job, for it brought him closer to God. The wheelchair- bound Joni Eareckson Tada once declared, “Suffering provides the gym equipment on which my faith can be exercised.”

4. Sickness can be a consequence of the personal sin of another person.
2 Samuel 12:15 tells us that “the Lord afflicted the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David, and he became sick.” David’s child died as a result of his sin concerning Bathsheba and Uriah. David committed adultery and murder. It is thus possible for a child to suffer the consequence of his parents’ sins. It is possible that your child is sick because of your sin.

5. Sickness can neither be a consequence of our personal sin, nor a consequence of the personal sin of another person. In this sense, sickness is simply a demonstration of God’s absolute sovereignty.
Remember the man born blind in John 9:1-3. In that passage the disciples asked Jesus, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus replied, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” No one sinned. God is simply practicing his absolute prerogative to do whatever pleases him. And his purpose in doing this is to display His sovereignty—to remind us that we do not control our health. He does!

6. Sickness comes to us from God ultimately for His glory and for our good.
In John 11 when Jesus heard that Lazarus was sick, he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Whatever kind of sickness you have, pray that through it God may be glorified.

While sickness is for God’s glory, it is also for our good. Paul notes in 2 Corinthians 12:7, “So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh…to keep me from becoming conceited.” In short, God has given Paul “a thorn in the flesh” in order to keep him from the sin of pride.

Maybe God has given you that illness that you have in order to keep you from pride. And God may not heal you in order that you may learn more to depend on his grace (2 Cor. 12:9). Once you have learned the lesson, you can sing with the psalmist, “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes” (Psalm 119:71).

When healing does not come…

Prayer7Andrew Wilson wrote this article on Wednesday, at www.thinktheology.co.uk. It is entitled “The Problem with ‘the problem’s never at God’s end'” and deserves to be read widely.

“When people don’t get healed, the problem is never at God’s end.” Pithy, popular, memorable, intuitive – but also misleading, and sometimes very unhelpful. Here are three reasons why.

Firstly, it assumes that somebody not being healed this side of the resurrection is always a “problem”. So every time someone is prayed for and remains unwell, we have a problem. Every time someone dies, we have a problem. Not just a tragedy, or a loss, or another painful reminder that the world we live in is still broken, but a problem, with someone to blame. Given that it’s a problem, it’s obvious that it must be at our end or at God’s end. And who wants to attribute “problems” to God?

But this obviously begs the question. How do we know it’s a problem when somebody isn’t healed, especially in the light of the characters we encounter in the gospels (all but one of the “multitude” at the pool called Bethesda) and the epistles (Epaphroditus, Trophimus, Timothy, Paul himself), who weren’t immediately healed? Would we say the same of all suffering – “if someone is still facing persecution, then the problem is not at God’s end” – and if not, why say it of sickness? Would we say it of those who have not been raised from the dead? To assume that these things are “problems”, such that either God or a particular human being is somehow to blame for them, is itself a problem.

Secondly, the extremely pithy nature of the statement – and this is true of almost all bumper-sticker theology – oversimplifies something that is actually quite complex, and collapses a variety of biblical explanations into one all-encompassing überexplanation.

Biblically speaking, some people are sick because the people praying for them have insufficient faith (Matt 17:19-20). Some people are sick because the people praying for them need to pray [and fast?] (Mark 9:29). Some people are sick because there’s something going on behind the scenes that we know nothing about (Job 1-2). Some people are sick because the glory of God is going to be revealed through them in the future (John 11:4). Some people are sick because God created them that way (Exod 4:11). Some people are sick as a result of divine discipline (1 Cor 11:27-32; cf. Heb 12:3-11). Some people are sick because they need to change their lifestyle in some way (1 Tim 5:23). Some people are sick because they have not yet approached the elders for prayer (James 5:14-15) or perhaps because healing is a charismatic gift that not all possess (1 Cor 12:27-31). Paul may have been sick because God wanted to bring him to Galatia to preach the gospel (Gal 4:13) or because God wanted to crush his pride and teach him to rely on divine strength (2 Cor 12:7-10). And with some sicknesses, of course, there is no explanation; we just do not know why Trophimus was ill (2 Tim 4:20), and we shouldn’t talk as if we do. The biblical reality is that sometimes, the reason people aren’t healed is to do with us; sometimes, it’s to do with God; sometimes, it’s to do with both; and sometimes we don’t know.

Practically, of course, we should live and act on the basis that God wills to heal – which the ministry of Jesus in the Gospels demonstrates unequivocally that he does – and make sure that we have done, and are doing, all of the things God has called us to do to see that happen (prayer, obedience, faith, using gifts, and so on). If our starting assumption is “God has ordained my sickness,” rather than, say, “this daughter of Abraham has been bound by Satan for eighteen years” (Luke 13:16), the chances are that we will never have faith to pray for anyone to be healed. We should also bear in mind the obvious fact that people who believe God always wills to heal, as many Pentecostals and Charismatics do, pray for far more healings, and see far more healings, than people who don’t. But taken simply as a reflection of biblical teaching, the claim that God is never responsible for human sickness simply cannot be sustained. (For what it may be worth, I still regard P-J Smyth’s message on this subject at Together on a Mission, just after his recovery from cancer, as the best I have ever heard). Continue reading

Anja’s Healing

Anja was born with a severe case of Cerebral Palsy. Watch as her parents give testimony to the amazing improvement she experiences as prayer persists for her. Let us rejoice in the wonderful healing power of the Lord Jesus, seeing just how far she has come. Lets also be encouraged to reach out in praying for others:

Healing and Exorcism

What is the gift of healing? And are there “healers” today?

The apostle Paul lists healing among the spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12, but has anything significant changed between then and now?

Dr. John Piper – What Is the Gift of Healing? (7 minutes)

What about exorcism? Dr. John Piper recounts the chilling story of an exorcism he participated in early in his pastorate.

Suffering, Sickness and Healing

PJ Smyth is a young and dynamic Reformed Pastor from South Africa. I have never had the privilege of meeting him but I have prayed for him (as a great many others have also) in hearing of his battle with cancer at such a young age. I have followed his health updates (online) over the last six months or so and have also passed them on to others who have prayed. We can give thanks to God that after extensive and invasive chemotherapy, he is now declared “cancer free” by the doctors (or in remission), and we pray that would continue.

Its been a long battle but he recently had enough energy to preach a sermon concerning his learning process over the last year or so. It is VERY insightful and heart warming. It will do your heart and your head much good!

You can hear it here:

Someone in attendance took notes as PJ was speaking. Here’s what they wrote:

8 ways he has tried to live in response to his cancer this past year (Note that at times in these notes I refer to PJ as “I”!)

1. I reflected on the possible sources of sickness

a. The fall Genesis 3:3. You will surely die. The common pattern of this world is live, get sick, die. Romans 8 we are in bondage to decay. There are no 120 year old faith healers!

b. Foolish living. Sowing and reaping. If you crash your car don’t blame others. Poor diet, pollution, etc.

c. Satan (Luke 13, Acts 10:38). The default option of Jesus and the local church is to treat sickness as the work of Satan.

d. Sin. John 9. Jesus said “Neither this man nor his parents sinned…” He doesn’t say all sickness is caused by specific sin, but it can be.

Psalm 32. David is sick because of his sin.

1 Corinthians 11. Many were sick and some had already died because of abusing communion.

Usually it is not a specific sin that leads to death but it can be.

“Sin deserves death and it is because of God’s mercy that we are not each struck down whenever we sin.” – Carson

e. Direct from God. Actively instigated or actively permitted.

Knowing that God is in control (God’s sovereignty) is very comforting. If it was outside of his rule it would mean he cant heal us.

If he can’t prevent it how can he stop it? How can he use it for my good either? We would lose Romans 8:28.

If you try and rescue God from responsibility for suffering then you rescue him from being God, and that is about as uncomforting as things can be.

2. I reflected on the possible sources of healing

a. the power of the cross – the place of victory over sin and all its evil relations – sickness, suffering and death.

Matthew 8 “This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah” Isaiah 53 is about the cross, so there is a clear link between the cross and healing. Some feel it is automatic. Some say that Christ purchased healing for us and by faith we apply for divine health now automatically. Others say the cross is the source of all healing power but if someone is not healed it is not a failure in the cross or faith because it is not automatic. Believing the automatic link is the primary source of confusion and disillusionment when healing doesn’t happen.

PJ believes completely that God heals today but he does not believe the automatic link. We can have success in healing without believing in this automatic link.
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Healing is in Your hands

Healing is in Your hands by Christy Nockels

No mountain, no valley, no gain or loss we know
Could keep us from Your love
No sickness, no secret, no chain is strong enough
To keep us from Your love
To keep us from Your love

Chorus
How high, how wide
No matter where I am
Healing is in Your hands
How deep, how strong
Now by Your grace I stand
Healing is in Your hands

Our present, our future, our past is in Your hands
We’re covered by Your blood
We’re covered by Your blood

Chorus
How high, How wide
No matter where I am
Healing is in Your hands
How deep, how strong
Now by Your grace I stand
Healing is in Your hands

Bridge
In all things, we know that
We are more than conquerors
You keep us by Your love

(Repeat Chorus)

What do you think about this?

Its interesting to note the content of the apostle’s preaching in the New Testament. They did not preach “divine healing” as such, though they certainly were used mightily by God in healing. They preached Christ as the crucified and risen Lord and Savior and summoned people to turn to God in repentance and faith. Having said this, I believe healing can certainly be a means whereby God opens people’s hearts bringing attention to His reality, in order to draw people to Himself.

Signs are meant to point to something. A road sign is put up to point people in a certain direction. The sign is not something to be wondered at or marvelled at. Its whole purpose is to point people to something other than itself.

Not all signs should be followed. If someone in Dallas, Texas (in central southern USA) wishes to get to Los Angeles (to the west), he should avoid signs that point to Florida (to the east). There are false signs and lying wonders just as there are true signs that are ordained by God. Peter spoke of “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.” (Acts 10:38) God has often used signs, both in the Old Testament and the New, to point people to Himself as the one true God and to the Lord Jesus Christ, and especially to Christ’s substitutionary work on the cross for sinners.

The sign is never meant to take the place of the cross; just the opposite; its whole purpose is to point people to it. In the same way, Divine healing is a sign of God’s great heart of compassion for sinners and is meant to point people to the cross, where Christ crushed the powers of sin, death, hell and the grave.

Healing is not the gospel, but is meant to point people to it. The gospel is Christ Himself, His Person and His work, which includes His virgin birth, His sinless life pleasing the Father, fulfilling every requirement of the law of God in thought, word and deed, as well as His substitutionary death on behalf of sinners on the cross, as well as His triumphant resurrection. The Gospel includes all that He achieved because of this, and especially that although all of us have commited high and cosmic treason against God because of our sin, He has shown His great love for the world. Based on the God breathed Scriptures alone, sinners are brought into right standing with Himself (justified) by grace alone, through faith alone, in the Lord Jesus Christ alone, all to the glory of God alone. All those who put their trust in Christ as Lord will find Him to be the perfect Savior; He will save them completely for they will in no way perish but instead have everlasting life.

As wonderful as any testimony of healing is, unless it is accompanied by the gospel, it is like a sign without information; utterly useless. Jesus said, “what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?” I would also ask, “What does it profit a man if he gains healing for his entire body, if he then loses his soul? and what does it profit a man should he see even the dead raised to life, if he does not hear the only gospel that saves?”

Romans 10:14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

Though I do not doubt God’s ability to raise even the dead, I do wish the Church at large would herald the one true biblical gospel and I very much wish it was present in this video clip (below).

After a massive heart attack took this man’s life, the cardiologist felt an overwhelming urge to pray over his body.

If God Wills Disease Why Should We Try to Eradicate It?

I read this short article by Dr. John Piper today and thought it was well worth passing on:

This question arises from the biblical teaching that all things are ultimately under God’s control. “My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose” (Isaiah 46:10). “Whatever the Lord pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps” (Psalm 135:6). “He does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, ‘What have you done?'” (Daniel 4:35). “[He] works all things according to the counsel of his will” (Ephesians 1:11).

This means that God governs all calamity and all disease. Satan is real and has a hand in it, but he is not ultimate and can do nothing but what God permits (Job 1:12-2:10). And God does not permit things willy-nilly. He permits things for a reason. There is infinite wisdom in all he does and all he permits. So what he permits is part of his plan just as much as what he does more directly.

Therefore this raises the question: If God wills disease why should we try to eradicate it? This is a crucial question for me because I have heard Christians say recently that believing in the sovereignty of God hinders Christians from working hard to eradicate diseases like malaria and tuberculosis and cancer and AIDS. They think the logic goes like this: If God sovereignly wills all things, including malaria, then we would be striving against God to invest millions of dollars to find a way to wipe it out.
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