1 Corinthians 12:7-11
look up verse references go here)
all the gifts, the one gift I wished I had was the gift of
healing. I know that in the past I have jokingly said that the reason
I wished I had this gift was so our church could grow. But the real
reason why I wished I had this gift is because along with the gift of
pastoring that the Spirit has given me, also comes compassion for those
you minister to. For Jesus not only asks his sheperds to feed his sheep,
he asks them to provide tender loving care to them as well.
Through my many
years of pastoring I have prayed with people as they suffered tremendously
from painful diseases & accidents. Ive sat with them in the
waiting room as they nervously awaited the outcome of a diagnosis of
a sick family member, or the outcome of a surgery their parent, spouse,
or even child was having. I have the heart-wrenching experiences of
praying for people who had terminal diseases. And I have had to weep
with people has they mourned the untimely death of a parent or a child.
In each of these
situations I wished I could have laid my hands on them, and instantaneously
the disease that was causing so much suffering, or robbing the person
of his/her life, would not just be temporarily healed, but completely
gone. But for some reason, God hasnt giving me that power. And
except for the Lord Jesus, no one has ever had the ability to heal everyone,
of every kind of disease.
But that doesnt
stop me from asking God to give me the gift of healing whenever I go
the hospital, or you call for the elders. I ask God for the gift of
healing because I know that God, at times, in response to prayers, does
heal people. But to keep from adding more confusion and distress that
we all experience when we get sick, I never claim that God has to heal
them. Nor do I ever say that if they dont get healed it is because
of their lack of faith, or Gods indifference to them because of
some secret, unconfessed sin.
To clarify the
gift of healing in todays church, let me start off by debunking
3 of the current myths concerning the gift of healing. The first myth
is that the gift of healing was only a temporary sign gift given to
the early apostles as a way of confirming their calling.
If the gift of healing was only a sign given to the apostles, then why
did Clement, at the end of the 1st century, exhort the church at Rome
to pray, Master, Heal those around us who are sick! Or why
we did Ignatius, during the 1st quarter of the 2nd century, write to
Polycarp to Bear the diseases of all. Church historians
have recorded instances where throughout the history of the church there
has been manifestations of God healing the sick in response to prayer.
So to say that
God no longer heals today, would seem inconsistent of God, who in answer
to believing prayer, has healed throughout, not only biblical history,
that is healing is seen from Genesis to Revelation, but also in the
history of the church, from the first church in Jerusalem, to Calvary
Chapel of Aiken. Therefore, I believe it is safe to say that God has
not suddenly stopped healing people, nor that the gift of healing is
no longer available today. So if you need to be healed, seek the Lord
Jesus for healing. Ask him to touch your body or your mind. Never believe
for a moment that God no longer heals people who are sick in response
to prayers that are offered up in faith.
Having said that,
lets look at the 2nd myth that says that if youre not healed,
it is due to the lack of your faith. While I disagree with those who
say that if youre not healed its because of your lack of
faith, I do believe there is a direct correlation between our faith
in Gods ability to do the impossible, and God working in our lives,
especially in the area of healing. If you do a study of the gospels
you will learn that faith & healing go hand in hand. In every account
of healing, the healing occurred because of someones faith in
Jesus ability to heal.
Where me and the
faith healers disagree is that I believe if you have enough faith to
ask the Lord to heal you, or to ask others to pray for healing for you,
then youve have shown God that you have faith in his ability to
heal. Now whether or not the Lord will heal you is completely up to
him. Our attitude towards healing is that we cant demand God to
heal us. From what the Bible has to say about healing, God encourages
us to place our faith in his ability, in his willingness to heal, but
not to presume upon him having to heal us.
We are to approach
God for healing like the leper did when he came to Jesus to be healed.
He had all the faith in the world that Jesus could heal him, but what
he didnt know is if Jesus would heal him. For he said to Jesus,
Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean. (Matthew
Notice he acknowledged
Jesus right to do whatever he wanted. But he also acknowledged
Jesus ability. The lepers faith in Jesus ability,
and his willingness to submit to Jesus sovereignty, moved Jesus
so much that Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, I
am willing; be cleansed. Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.
(Matthew 8:3) From this example we see that acknowledging Gods
right to heal or not to heal, in no way shows we lack faith in God.
But how does having
faith in Gods ability to heal play a part in our getting healed?
Some of those who argue against the gift of healing being a viable gift
for today, do so because they say that we dont see as many people
getting healed today as they did during the times of Jesus & the
first apostles. I believe that the reason not as many people are healed
as often today as they were in Jesus day can be traced to the
general attitude of unbelief towards anything supernatural that exists
in todays world, and in todays church. And unbelief is something
that can hinder the power of the Spirit to do miraculous things, like
our child-like faith in Gods ability to heal. Remember as a child
going to your mom or dad and saying, I got a boo-boo, kiss it
and make it feel better! And as soon as they kissed it, it quit
hurting. Now is there some medicinal power in a kiss? No! But what caused
the pain to go away was our faith in our parents ability to make
it quit hurting. And this is the same kind of faith God wants us to
have towards him in all areas of our Christian life, even healing.
Let me ask you
this, before the advances of modern medicine, where did the people go
to get healed? The answer is they went to someone who had the gift of
healing. Unsaved people went to a doctor, if there was one available.
But normally, they went to a witch doctor or a sorcerer. And when they
got saved, they went to the church to find someone who had been anointed
by the Holy Spirit with the gift of healing.
They did this because
of the apostles exhortations like, 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. (James 5:14-15)
Church historians teach us that praying for the sick was a common part
of the worship services of the early church. It would be nothing to
see people coming forward, or bringing their sick loved ones, to a worship
service to have those with the gift of healing, or the elders pray for
their healing. And guess what happened? They often were healed.
Having said that,
then let me encourage you to start to look to God first when you get
sick. When you get a headache, before you pop a pill, call for prayers.
When you get a cold or the flu, before you pop a pill, call for prayers.
When are diagnosed with depression, before you pop a prozac, ask the
elders to pray for you. When your child is diagnosed with ADHD, as you
put them on Ritalin, also bring them to us and let us lay hands on them
asking God to reach out from his heart of compassion for children, and
bring peace into your childs life. If you were to be diagnosed
with cancer, please call the elders to pray for you before you start
radiation or chemo therapy.
In the last case,
I got a feeling that thats kind of no-brainer. But what in those
other cases? Would you ever think to ask for prayer that God would heal
you of something insignificant as a headache or a cold, or something
a little more serious, but not life-threatening, like depression or
ADHD? Some of you yes, but for the most, no. And this is sad because
we used to go to our parents and believe that by them kissing our ouches,
the pain would magically go away.
sisters, our God loves us so much more than our parents do. The God
that we know and serve is such a loving Father that he has provided
healing for his children. He told Moses that If you diligently
heed the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in His sight,
give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none
of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I
am the LORD who heals you. (Exodus 15:26)
This healing that
God promised was not just for the Israelites, but for us today as well.
For Matthew said that the Lord Jesus ability to heal was the fulfillment
of that Which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: He
Himself took our infirmities. And bore our sicknesses. (Matthew
8:17) What I find interesting about that verse is that the word sicknesses,
in the Greek, means an ordinary kind of illness, like a headache or
a cold. This tells me that whatever kind of illness we are fighting,
big or small, we first ought to seek healing.
And I think this
is important because it is a way for us to build our faith in Gods
ability to heal us. If we experience the Lord healing our small problems,
like a headache or a cold, we will go to him with bigger problems, like
depression. And when the really big diseases hit us, like cancer, we
will have no problem believing that God can actually heal us.
The reason I bring
this up is because when major things do attack your body, I want you
go to God out of faith, not out of fear. Nowhere in the Bible does it
ever say that God responds to our fears. Now before you misunderstand
the point Im trying to make, let me say that there is nothing
wrong with taking a pill if youve got a headache, or the flu,
or if you are depressed, or even putting your kids on Ritalin if they
have some kind of hyperactive disorder. But the point I want to make
is that the pill should only be taken after, or at least in conjunction
with prayer. For no matter what, the pill can only do so much, the rest
is up to God.
I also dont
want you to think that Im opposed to us going to doctors, because
Im not. I believe that doctors are a part of Gods gift of
healing. For the past month I have been in excruciating pain as my sciatic
nerve is pinched. Sometimes it hurts so bad to stand up that I want
to cry. During these past weeks I have cried out, over and over again,
for God to heal me. In the midst of my suffering, I started to understand
why people who suffer would, in sheer desperation, grab hold of something
like the half-truths the faith healers proclaim.
But despite the
pain I suffered, I didnt put my hands on the TV set while I was
watching Copeland or Hinn in the hopes that they could heal me. Nor
did I send off for some anionted prayer cloth to put on my back in the
hopes of getting healed. Instead, after a couple of weeks of praying
for God to supernaturally heal me, he impressed upon me to start seeing
Dr. Shane, and trusting that through the gift of healing God has giving
him, and through the prayers of the saints, that in Gods timing,
God is going to heal me.
The final myth
I want to debunk is the myth that God wants everyone to be healed. Let
me give you a couple of examples where godly people experienced sickness.
Paul, when writing to Timothy, told him that he had Left Trophimus
sick in Miletus. (2 Timothy 4:20)
I cant believe
that a man of faith, like Paul, had the nerve to leaven a sick friend
behind rather than healing him! That doesnt sound like Paul was
much of a friend, does it? We know that Paul had the gift of healing.
So why would he leave his friend while he was still sick? The only possible
answer is for some reason the Lord choose not to heal Trophimus.
What about Timothy?
He was not only one of Pauls dearest friends, he was also Pauls
spiritual son. So you know Paul had a special love for Timothy. Yet
there was a time when Timothy was sick, and Paul either didnt
or couldnt heal him.
Timothy was pastoring
a church in Ephesus and probably had to deal with all sorts of problems.
Because of the problems that come with pastoring, Timothy developed
a stomach problem. More than likely he had developed an ulcer from worrying
about the people so much. Do you realize that I didnt have any
gray in my beard until I became your pastor.
to Timothy was to Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine
because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses. (1 Timothy
5:23) Knowing Paul, Im sure that he had previously encouraged
Timothy to go to God with any sickness. And yet, when God didnt
heal Timothy, Paul didnt rebuke him for not having enough faith
to be healed. Instead, Paul accepts the fact that God didnt see
fit to heal him instantly, so he reminds Timothy to use a common remedy
of the day.
His advice is like
the advice given to us before we go to a foreign land: Dont
drink the water; for you never know whats swimming in there.
Paul tells Timothy to use a little common sense and take the well-known
rememdy of the day for stomach aches: Wine mixed with water. This shows
us that taking medicine is not out of the will of God, nor does it show
a lack of faith on our part to trust God to heal our sicknesses.
There are other
examples in the Bible that show us that even though this is a gift that
the Spirit wants us to use in todays church, we always have to
acknowledge that God does not have to heal in the way we want him to.
We always have to acknowledge that Gods ways are not our ways.
And sometimes the reasons he chooses not to heal is because he wants
to use the sickness to draw us closer to himself, and to cause us to
have total dependence on him.
We see this in
the life of Paul. Paul tells us that he had some kind of physical ailment,
a thorn in the flesh, that came from Satan, that wouldnt go away.
We dont know for sure what this thorn was. But because the word
thorn can be defined as some kind of a constant nagging pain, some said
it was Pauls wife. Im not going there. But most believe
it was a problem with his eyesight.
Three times Paul
prayed that God would heal him. But instead God choose not to heal him.
And through this ailment Paul heard the Lord say to him, My grace
is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness. (2
Satan is so stupid
that he thought that through the illness Paul would turn away from God,
but instead, Paul turned towards God. For Paul tells us that Therefore
most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of
Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in
reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake.
For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
look at how the gift of healing is manifested. The most important thing
we need to know is that in the Greek the word gift is plural. So in
reality, Paul is talking about the gifts of healings. This would suggest
that there are different manifestations of this gift. That is, there
are different ways in which the Spirit accomplishes the healing.
First of all the
Spirit may heal instantly. As you read through the New Testament, one
of the words that is used 100% of the time, in those cases where someone
was healed, is the word Immediately. As long as people had
faith in his ability to heal them, Jesus healed them.
this kind of healing in our midst. I am reminded of Beverly Rapp. About
a year ago a test showed a presence of a tumor. She asked for prayers.
We prayed. And when she went back in, the tumor was completely gone.
But that isnt
the only way God heals. Sometimes the Spirit heals gradually over a
period of time. This is a point that faith healers miss. They have overlooked
the examples in the Bible where God didnt heal right away, but
the healing eventually came.
Paul tells us about
a man named Epaphroditus, who was sick. In fact, Epaphroditus was so
sick that he almost died while in Pauls very presence. Im
sure that Paul must have prayed many times for the Lord to heal him.
And eventually the Lord healed him.
Yet Paul doesnt
suggest that when he was healed that he was healed instantaneously.
Instead he gives the impression that the Lord healed him as the sickness
simply ran its course. Paul tells us that Indeed he was sick almost
unto death; but God had mercy on him. (Philippians 2:27)
this kind of healing in my wifes life. Carol has a birth defect
that causes her to experience great pain in her back. When we first
got saved, the people at the church we were attending said they wanted
to pray for her. She agreed, and the Lord partially healed her. That
is he healed part of what was wrong, but he hasnt finished healing
the rest, yet.
Back then, when her back started to hurt, she often would also get a
When this occured,
things really got bad. For if she could lie down, her back would start
to get better. But when the headaches occured, lying down only made
it worse. When the saints prayed for her healing she received both an
instantaneous and a gradual healing.
Immediately the Lord healed her of her headaches. And 24 years later,
she has never had another headache that was associated with her back
hurting. But the healing of her back is still in process. And I know
that one day, either this side of glory, or the other side, her back
is going to be completely healed.
The third way the
Spirit heals is through medical science. James says that if there 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.(James
The word James
uses for anoint means to oil the skin by rubbing. He uses this word
to show us that this practice is more than a symbolic putting on of
oil, like we see in most churches today. Before the days of drugs, rubbing
with oil was one of the most common medical remedies of the day. What
James is telling us to do, is that when a sickness isnt instantly
healed, then we are to incorporate both the best medical know-how with
the methods of healing that come from God. In doing so, we acknowledge
that God is still the source of the healing. And that in this case,
God is healing through both the medical world and the spiritual world.
Never forget that
despite all the advances in the medical field, a person will not get
better unless it is Gods will. I have heard too many doctors say
that they didnt understand why the person isnt getting better,
or even worse, why they died. Listen to me, all doctors and nurses can
do is to perform surgery and administer drugs. But when we combine what
they do with prayer, we invite God to administer spiritual aid to ensure
So if you have
to go to the doctor, if you have to have surgery, dont feel like
God has let you down. Neither feel like it shows you have a lack of
faith. Instead, call the elders before you go to the doctor. Call me
before you have surgery. Let us pray that God will sanctify the doctors,
nurses, and the medicine, so that they will become instruments of healing
in his hands.
I am glad that
the medical world is finally starting to see the importance of the spiritual
component in healing. They have noticed that when a person is prayed
for before surgery, that the person is less apprehensive going into
the surgery. And that the person gets out of the recovery room a lot
quicker. Plus, they notice that when a person is prayed for regularly
while they are recovering, that they get better quicker. So let me say
once again, call me or your elder before any kind of surgery, or if
you have to go to the hospital.
The final way the
Spirit heals is the least favorite one of all. For the Spirit also heals
through the resurrection. Jesus indicated that there is a sickness that
leads to death. As much as we hate to admit it, part of Gods will
for us is that each one of us is going to die. And most of us wont
be in the same kind of physical shape Moses was in when he died. The
Bible says that Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when
he died, yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone. (Deuteronomy
Most of us are
going to get some kind of disease that is going to cause this temple
to deteriorate, and eventually collapse. The only thing we can hope
for, is that if the rapture doesnt happen before we die, is that
our death will glorify God. That is why when I am ministering to someone
who is teminally ill, that I have no problem praying that God will either
heal them miraculously, or be merciful to them while they die. I can
do that because I have accepted the fact that some sicknesses do lead
to death, and sometimes God answers our prayers for healing by allowing
that person to die.
Now this may not
seem fair, but if you think about it, the only true healing we will
every receive is the one that comes after we die. For even if the Lord
were to take away a cold, or even cancer, eventually some kind of disease
is going to kill you. But not once we get to heaven. For when we finally
get to heaven then There shall no longer be any death; there shall
no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain. (Revelation 21:4)
And despite the
pain we suffer here on earth, once we get to heaven, we wont even
remember the pain. When I was 6 yrs. old, I fell off the monkey bars
and busted my head wide open. My mom says that I bled like a stuck hog.
And I ran around screaming at the top of my lungs. Yet despite the pain
I must have felt, almost 50 yrs. later, I dont remember any of
the pain I went through. In fact, if it wasnt for the bump thats
still on the back of my head I wont even know that I ever got
The same is true
once we get to heaven. Years after youve been in heaven, you wont
remember the years you lived with pain & suffering here on earth.
I promise you that any anger, or disappointment you may now have towards
God for the physical sufferings youve experienced so far in your
life, that once you get that new, glorified body, all that anger, all
that disappointment, will be gone, forever in eternity.
Before I close,
I want to emphasis the fact that God is far more concerned with the
healing of your soul than he is with the healing of your body. A good
example of the importance of curing the disease of sin more than curing
the diseases that attack our physical bodies is seen in the time that
Paul was in Lystra. There he healed a man who had been unable to walk
for his entire life.
Dr. Luke tells
us that Paul told the man to stand up on his feet! In response to Pauls
request, the man jumped up and began to walk. When the crowd saw what
had happened, they went crazy.
These pagan people
understood that only the gods could heal people. And they put 2 and
2 together and arrived at the conclusion that since this man was healed,
Paul and Barnabus must therefore be gods. Paul immediately rebukes them
for this false conclusion as he points them away from himself to God.
Paul knew that the healing merely opened the door for them to preach
the gospel. For he said, We are bringing you good news, telling
you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made
heaven and earth and sea and everything in them. (Acts 14:10-11,
In closing, let
me ask you what good does it do for you to be healed only to die later
in your sins? Oh you may be a good looking corpse lying in your coffin,
but those good looks wont do you any good as you spend eternity
in hell. Even the strength you now have wont help you overcome
the pain that comes from being burned by the flames of hell that are
so hot that they torment you, yet they never kill you. That is why it
is essential for you to have a relationship with the only one who can
give you eternal life.
not a Christian, let me encourage you to right now ask the Great Physican,
the Lord Jesus Christ, to come into your heart, and heal your sin-sick
soul. He can do this because he is the one who let the Roman soldiers
beat his back with a whip, 39 times, just so his blood could flow from
those wounds so that he could rescue you from the terrorist Satan, who
is holding you as a hostage. Jesus also let the Roman soldiers nail
his hands & feet to a cross so that through the blood that came
forth from those wounds could pay the ransom to set you free from the
penalty & power of sin. And he did all that just because he loved
you. So how can you reject one who has such a love for you?
TO 1 CORINTHIANS SERIES INDEX