The reason God’s miraculous gifts and graces wane in Church history “was not only that faith and holiness were well nigh lost; but that dry, formal, orthodox men began even then to ridicule whatever gifts they had not themselves, and to decry them all as either madness or imposture.”
– Fr. John Wesley, Anglican Priest and founder of Methodism.
From the Anglican Catechism
131 What is the anointing of the sick?
Through prayer and anointing with oil, the minister invokes God’s blessing upon those suffering in body, mind, or spirit. (Matthew 10:8; James 5:14-16).
132 What grace does God give in the anointing of the sick?
As God wills, the healing given through anointing may bring bodily recovery from illness, peace of mind or spirit, and strength to persevere in adversity, especially in preparation for death.
There are epochs of renewal, restoration, and reformation in the history of the Church. Wesley wrote those words in the 1700s. Since then, there have been healing renewal movements come and go, and more ‘dry, formal’ theologians teach that God doesn’t heal.
Bad theology is a bad master. If you have been taught that God does not heal anymore, please know that He does. According to Jesus, healing is the bread of the children (Matt. 15:26). Paul indicates that healing is the proper result of the Eucharistic meal (1 Cor. 11:27-32). Healing is a gift of the Spirit (1 Cor. 12: 9).
Healing was present throughout the ministry of the prophets in the Old Testament, starting with the prayers of Abraham (Gen. 20:7), the ministry of Moses (Ex. 4:6-7; Num. 21:6-9), Elijah, (1 Kings 17: 17-24) and Elisha (2 Kings 5:1-14). Connected to healing ministry, especially the pronouncement of healing already accomplished, was the ministry of the priests (Lev. 14:3).
With the advent of Jesus’ ministry, His administration of healing is exponentially manifest. In many cases, Jesus did not only heal an individual, but entire towns were healed of all their diseases (Mk 1:32; Matt. 12:15). When Jesus was asked by His disciples how to pray, He taught them to pray that the kingdom of the Father be on earth as it is in heaven (Luke 11:1-13). In His model prayer, Jesus links the will of God with the kingdom of God that is administered on the earth by the Holy Spirit through the disciples.
In Luke’s Gospel, by the time Jesus teaches them to pray, He has already sent out both the 12 and the 70 to heal the sick, preach the kingdom’s nearness, drive out demons, cleanse lepers, and even raise the dead. He plainly told them after one such occasion, “I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions, and to overcome all the power of the enemy,” (Luke 10:19). Such authority conveyed and delegated to the apostolic teams was the power and authority of the King. Jesus, as King in the kingdom, was appointing official delegates of the kingdom to announce its nearness.
After He has taught the disciples how to pray for the authority of God to be released, He said to those who questioned His authority, “if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, the kingdom of God has come upon you,” (Luke 11:20). The manifest presence of the Kingdom is not without its opponents. In Jesus’ day, the Pharisees and Romans stood opposed to it. The world, flesh and devil opposed it (1 John 2:15-17). The spiritual powers, the very rulers (kosmokrator) of this present darkness have set themselves up against the kingdom of God. A main objective of the evil powers is to stop, slow down, teach against, and create theologies that justify the absence of divine kingdom power which illustrates the present reign of Christ. Such ideas and theologies must be cast down by the Spirit (2 Cor. 10:3-5).
Why Doesn’t Healing Always Happen?
Before a serious discussion about why healing does not happen in every case, the terms for healing need to be considered. There are five types of healing presented in the New Testament:
- physical healing by immediate divine intervention,
- by natural causes God laid into the created order,
- the skill of physicians,
- the superintending grace of God to endure the infirmity, and
- healing via a victorious death in faith.
Most often, when healing is sought, the first three kinds of healing are desired. If God will heal immediately, this is best for most of us! If He will not, then perhaps He will move through the natural order He created to renew. Lastly, in case those are not divinely willed, perhaps medicine will bring about the desired result. We need to realize that in those cases when the Lord does not heal as we are asking, that His wisdom is greater than ours.
When one considers “why are not all healed,” the only scenario where someone would not be healed according the five definitions above is when a person breaks faith in Christ, turns from His kindness and ends his days in pain, suffering, and sin outside the mercy of God. It would be erroneous then, to think that God is not willing to “heal” all of His children. All of God’s promises in Christ are “yes,” and “amen,” (2 Cor. 1:20). If God, who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all, will He not then also give us all things? Things that include healing (Rom. 8:32, paraphrase)?
It takes discernment to know when the Lord is permitting a test of physical illness only to heal and when He is permitting the illness to give the person time to prepare for their physical deaths. While not an exact illustration, Jesus knew He was going to suffer before death, Peter knew he would be lead to death he did not want, and so did Paul (Mark 8:31; John 21:18; 2 Pet. 1:14; Phil. 1:20-21).
More often then not, these five considerations are not what is in our hearts when we lay hold of God for healing miracles. For these divine manifestations of power and love, there can be many reasons why healing does not always happen.
- Sometimes it is because of disbelief (Mk. 6:5).
- Sometimes it is because of sin against God (2 Kings 1:1-4).
- Sometimes the evil spirit afflicting with illness can only be driven out by prayer and fasting and the person needing healing gives up in their spiritual battle (Mk. 9:18).
- Sometimes God does not say, since He does have His own reasons (Deut. 29:29).
- Sometimes God does not heal with divine power because the fullness of the Messianic Age has not come (Rev. 19:11-20:1ff).
- Sometimes divine healing is not given because it is not the time for the healing (John 9:1-7).
Faith is very important to healing, and we can take the request for healing as the mustard seed size of faith that is enough, since Jesus said it was. Faith is not a mechanic formula or algebraic equation. Faith is holy love that relies upon the active grace of God. Faith works because faith is not merely mental assent to dogma, but a living active obedience, trust and love of God (Rom. 1:3-5).
Is it possible that the absence of divine healing in the many parts of the church today is because leaders in the churches do not pray or fast because they do not trust the Lord to manifest His power over the world, the flesh and the devil?
May you step out in faith to be healing, pray for healing, and encourage others in their sickness that the Lord does love them and they can trust Him.