The New Testament Perspective on Miraculous Healing


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In the Church today there is considerable debate on the question of miraculous healing. Different teachings on healing have circulated for decades. One popular variation of what is called “cessationism” holds that with the completion of the New Testament Canon the supernatural gifts of the Spirit, including the gift of healing, have ceased entirely. Another line of thinking holds that with the advance of medical science today there is far less need for miraculous healing, although God of course can still perform  miracles (in accordance with His will) when doctors are helpless. At the opposite end of the spectrum we are told that God wills to heal everyone, especially believers.

Notice there is one common element to all of the above. Whether explicit or not, they all focus on the question of healing for believers. The gifts of the Spirit, according to 1 Corinthians 12, are for the edification of and ministry to believers in the body of Christ. The dialogue about healing through medical science instead of God revolves primarily around sick believers; for unbelievers healing from God is hardly if at all considered. And then finally the extreme position of course holds that God wills to heal all infirm believers. The general focus within the debate on miraculous healing in the Church is therefore healing for believers.

The focus of healing in the New Testament, however, is not on healing for believers.

Rather the primary focus in New Testament Scripture by far is on miraculous healing as the evidence to the world that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the promised Messiah, and the only way to the Father. The miraculous healings were predominantly a sign to the lost in order to bring them to faith in Christ. We see this again and again and again in the gospels and then continuing on in Acts.

In stark contrast, the Scriptures which explicitly teach on healing for saved believers are extremely few. They comprise the three verses of James 4:14-16. Nowhere else in the New Testament do we find miraculous healing for believers taught explicitly other than Paul’s one-time mention of gifts of healing in I Corinthians 12 to be used in building up the body of Christ.

Yet the dialogue about healing in the Church today focuses nearly exclusively on healing for believers. Miraculous healing in the context of proclaiming the kingdom of God to the lost and gospel-resistant, so frequently taught and recorded in the gospels and Acts, is rarely mentioned in the dialogue today. There is a reason for this. Even though we are children of God, our human nature perhaps predisposes us to focus on ourselves and our current needs. If we are ill, we want naturally to be well as soon as possible. We will focus on what we need to do in order to get well. That of course is quite natural.

However Scripture teaches us: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)

Is it possible that if we believers obey this command in every area of our lives, healing will be provided for us who are not well physically? Is it possible that our focus in this life as believers has been distracted and even corrupted by teachers who constantly encourage us to seek God’s so-called “best” for our lives while on earth?

Our Lord Jesus commands us to seek first his kingdom and his righteousness—referring to his kingdom in our lives and to the kingdom of God on earth which comes through the preaching of the gospel. Let us first prioritize proclaiming the kingdom of God and His righteousness on earth—and all the things we need in this life, and we dare to include physical healing, can be given to us as well.

Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. (James 5:14-16)

Therefore if we confess our sins to each other and seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, the Lord will raise us up and make us well.


Which has highest priority: “Feed my sheep” or “Preach the gospel to all creation”?   Read

 

 

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