In my recent post – “Healing is in the Word” – I set out some of my beliefs about healing. I did not, in that post, try to explain my views with backing from the Bible. I want to try to do that over the next few posts.
As I said last time, I know some of you will not agree with my position. That’s ok. Please give me the grace to be wrong if I am. I hope to show you why I believe what I do, and if nothing else, get you to think about what you believe.
As a starting point, we must ask if it is God’s will to heal today.
I am willing
In the first chapter of Mark, we read the following account. This account is also mirrored in Matthew’s Gospel in chapter 8.
Then a leper came to Jesus and began pleading with him. He fell on his knees and told him, “If you want to, you can make me clean.”
41 Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand, touched him, and told him, “I do want to. Be made clean!” 42 Instantly the leprosy left him, and he was clean.
Mark 1:40-42 (ISV)
A leper comes to Jesus seeking healing. He asks essentially what we are asking today – is it your will to heal? He does not question Jesus’ ability – in fact, that is assumed – “you can make me clean” but asks if He is willing. Before healing the man, Jesus corrects his thinking by confirming that indeed, “I am willing”.
It is never a good thing to take a single verse and make a doctrine out of it. We must interpret God’s Word in the light of other Scripture, not in the light of our experience or our pre-existing beliefs. My belief is that it is God’s will to heal, and I’ve used the above to demonstrate that. However, it could be that Jesus was speaking specifically to this man alone, and we cannot apply it to ourselves.
Are there other Scriptures we can look to?
I want you to be in health
3 John 2 says:
Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.
3 John 2 (ESV)
John, speaking by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, writes that it is his will for the recipient of his third letter (Gaius) to not only prosper, but be in good health. Again, it could be that this only applies to the addressee, but it is at least another example.
Does it refer to physical health?
The word “prosper” here may make us think of wealth. While that is certainly connected to material wealth, money or possessions alone do not make us “prosperous”. How prosperous is a billionaire whose marriage is breaking down, or whose children are estranged or who has a terminal illness? Wealth alone does not make one prosperous.
The word “health” here is the Greek word – hygiaino. This means “sound,” “well,” or “whole.” We might recognise the phrase to be “safe and sound,” or “safe and well.” This word conveys that same meaning. It can be used in the sense of “sound” or “wholesome” teaching or doctrine, but is used in Luke 7:10 to refer to the healing of the sick.
And they that were sent, returning to the house, found the servant whole that had been sick.
Luke 7:10 (KJV)
John says “that you would prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers.” This “health” he refers to cannot therefore be related to the “soul”. The “even as” part suggests that is a given, and he infers that he wants health and prosperity in other respects as well as the soul. Physical health it may well be therefore.
Gifts of healing
In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul lists a number of spiritual gifts – special endowments of the Holy Spirit given to the church for the benefit of the church.
Verse 9 says:
…to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit
1 Corinthians 12:9 (ESV, emphasis added)
So we see that some of the gifts given to the church by the Holy Spirit are for healing. And not just one “gift” but “gifts” – plural – of healing.
It stands to reason that if God did not want us well, then He would not have provided gifts of healing to us.
Elders should pray for the sick
In his letter, James writes:
Is anyone among you sick? He must call for the elders (spiritual leaders) of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; 15 and the prayer of faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.
James 5:14-15 (Amp)
So if we are sick, we are instructed to seek the elders or leaders of the church to come and to pray for us. Again, why would we do this if it was not God’s will to make us healthy?
James not only instructs us to seek healing and prayer support from the church leaders, but in verse 15 says that “the prayer of faith will restore the one who is sick.” It is not an empty prayer, but one of power. James expected there to be results of this prayer for healing. Do we expect the same thing?
Sadly, when we pray for healing, we only “hope” it will work, and if honest, we have little expectation that it actually will.
Why? Because we are not convinced it actually is God’s will to heal.
One of the benefits of believing
In my recent series, “All the Benefits of Believing,” I spent a good many weeks teaching on Psalm 103 verse by verse.
Verse 3 tells us that one of the many benefits to believing is:
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
Psalm 103:3 (ESV, emphasis added)
Not some of our diseases, but all of them. And the word translated as “diseases” there is the Hebrew word – tachaluw – and it means… well, diseases!
You can read more in the blog post called Trusting the Unseen.
Other Psalms also speak of the Lord healing His people. Psalm 107:20 which i discussed last week, says God send forth His word and heals them. Also, Psalm 91:9-10 says that for those who belong to the Lord, no plague will come near their tent.
Jesus spent much of His ministry on Earth healing the sick who were brought to Him. There were several occasions when every single person brought to Christ was healed of whatever ailment they were afflicted with. He never turned anyone away and there were even times when just grasping the hem of His cloak was enough to release healing virtue.
It may be one thing for Jesus to go about healing people, but what about us?
Firstly, if Jesus did it, then we must understand that it was His will, and subsequently His Father’s will to heal people.
Secondly, Jesus gave that same authority to His disciples. In Matthew 10, we read:
Jesus summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority andpower over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.
Matthew 10:1 (Amp)
Jesus bestowed His authority and power to heal the sick to His disciples. And they then went throughout the towns of Israel healing in the name of Jesus.
But does this apply to us? On the face of it, Jesus is clearly speaking here to the twelve disciples. The word “twelve” is present, and unless you are over 2,000 years old and a close personal friend of Jesus – you and I are not one of them.
I could not argue with this view if Matthew 10 closed there. Clearly, much of what Jesus goes on to tell His disciples is meant for them and then alone. But Jesus also widens His teaching, talking of imprisonment, beating and that ultimately they would not reach all of the towns of Israel before He returns. Returns? He had not yet left at this point! It’s clear therefore that Jesus was referring to times beyond the twelve apostles alone.
The Great Commission
I want to close this post by thinking about the Great Commission. Most of us think of the book of Matthew when we hear this phrase, and Jesus lasting command to His people to share the Gospel and make disciples of all they can.
Mark also records the Great Commission in his Gospel, and it can be found in Mark 16:
Then he told them, “As you go into the entire world, proclaim the gospel to everyone. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever doesn’t believe will be condemned. 17 These are the signs that will accompany those who believe: In my name they’ll drive out demons. they’ll speak in new languages, 18 and they’ll pick up snakes with their hands. Even if they drink any deadly poison, it won’t hurt them, and they’ll place their hands on the sick, and they’ll recover.”
Mark 16:15-18 (ISV, emphasis added)
Most churches I’ve been involved in take the preaching of the Gospel very seriously – and rightly so. Very few seem to take the responsibility for laying hands and the sick, and seeing them recover.
What I have said here is by no means a definitive argument. Many of you will rightly point out that there are other Scriptures not mentioned here which may paint a different view. I agree completely. I hope, next time, to select some of those Scriptures and examine them to see what we can learn from them.
Equally though, what I have mentioned above is just a handful of places in the Bible that suggest it is indeed God’s will to heal. I stop this post here, not because I run out of Scriptures, but because it is already long enough.
I hope that as you read these thoughts and the accompanying Scriptures, that you will consider your own position. Do I believe in healing? Do I believe it is God’s will to heal? Do I base by belief on a whole view of the Bible, or on my own experiences?
Before I close, I want to add that just because it is God’s will to heal, it does not mean it happens in every case. I am not ignorant, and completely understand that there are times when we pray or lay hands, and for some reason healing does not come. It is a tragedy when that happens, and it has happened to me too.
It does not mean that God chose not to heal that individual. It may surprise you to learn that God does not always get what He wants. But that’s a topic for another day.
For now, pray about this subject. Consider the verses here and others you know of. Seek the Lord in this matter and ask Him, “Is it your will to heal Father?”