There is no doubt that spiritual healing is foundational. When someone who was dead in their sins and trespasses is gloriously redeemed and transformed by the grace of God, it is cause for great celebration. But today I want to briefly examine physical healing. When it comes to the subject of physical healing in the New Testament, Jesus made some very clear and bold statements. Note the following passages:
Jesus summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give (Matthew 10:1, 7-8).
And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. These signs will accompany those who have believed….they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover” (Mark 16:15, 17-18).
And He called the twelve together, and gave them power and authority over all the demons and to heal diseases. And He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to perform healing (Luke 9:1-2).
Now after this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them in pairs ahead of Him to every city and place where He Himself was going to come…and heal those in it who are sick, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you’ (Luke 10:1, 9).
My friend and mentor Dr. Jon Ruthven says that when it comes to the subject of healing, we need to examine four questions. First, what does the Bible say Jesus came to do? In His inaugural message, Jesus stated He came to heal blind eyes (Luke 4:18). John told us that Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil, and that would include setting bodies free of all diseases (1 John 3:8). Second, what did Jesus actually do? The answer is obvious, Jesus traveled about healing various diseases and sicknesses (Matthew 4:23; 9:35). Third, what did He tell His disciples to do? Based on the commission verses above, the answer seems clear: Jesus told His followers to heal the sick. Fourth, what did the disciples actually do? Certainly, the disciples participated in various activities, but the evidence in the gospels and the book of Acts points directly to the central activity of healing.
When Philip went to Samaria, he healed the sick and the entire city was filled with joy (Acts 8:7-8). When Barnabas and Paul returned from their ministry trip, they gave a report of many signs and wonders that took place among the gentile believers (Acts 15:12). When Paul was shipwrecked on the island of Malta, he cured the sicknesses of all the people who came to him (Acts 28:9). These stories underscore the fact that healing was a major activity for the followers of Jesus in the New Testament.
I realize that the subject of healing is filled with much mystery, debate, and even much disappointment. Many have sought healing only to experience the tragic loss of someone who they loved dearly. In the midst of many wonderful miracles of healing in our church ten years ago, my wife was not instantly healed of cancer. So I'm fully aware of the tension that exists between what the Bible says and our experiences. Yet, I have no other truth source to cling to than what I read in God’s Word concerning the subject matter of physical healing. God’s Word is truth (John 17:17). Therefore, we don’t have the right to reinterpret what the Bible says to fit into our limited experiences of healing. We must continually hold to the standard of the scriptures as our target.
Years ago, I taught my sons how to shoot with a bow and arrow. When they missed the target, I didn’t move it to where the arrow landed. They practiced until they were able to hit the target more precisely. Our challenge is to pray, press into the presence of Jesus, and seek fresh baptisms with the Holy Spirit until our lives manifest the standard of the Bible. If Jesus healed people and He commissioned His followers to do the same, then we should expect to be just like Him (see Luke 6:40). Granted, healing doesn’t always happen the way that we want or when we want. But the Bible still declares, “The prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick” (James 5:15).
Over the course of the last decade, I have witnessed blind eyes opening, wheelchair bound people walking, cancer being cured, the lame leaping and dancing, and many other wonderful miracles of healing too numerous to remember. So my encouragement to us is to trust the truth of God’s Word over what might be true in your life. A diagnosis from a doctor might be true, but that doesn’t make it truth. His Word is truth; His truth is superior to what might be true. Declare God’s truth—His Word—over those who are sick and don’t stop praying. We’re told to keep asking, seeking, and knocking (Luke 11:9).
Finally, learn to give praise to God no matter what. Truly, giving thanks in everything is the will of God for you and me (1 Thessalonians 5:18). One of the strategies of the enemy is to make people think that they are not spiritual enough to be healed or to pray for someone else to be healed. Don’t fall prey to that lie. Healing is not based on what you do but on what Jesus has already done. Praise and thanksgiving are deterrents to feeling unworthy. Additionally, learn to give praise to God in advance for the healing that you believe will take place in your life or those you’re praying for.
Father, I pray for those who are sick. I speak healing over those with unusual diseases, back issues, heart or lung problems, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, neck injuries, sleeping disorders, migraines, fibromyalgia, sinus issues, and any other sicknesses. I thank you in advance for those who will be healed as they read this prayer. We choose to believe your Word, in Jesus’ name, amen.