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The Healing of God and The Gifts of the Holy Spirit Today
Is God still healing today? Is He still working miracles, giving revelations through prophets, are we experiencing words of wisdom, words of knowledge, discerning of spirits, tongues and interpretation of tongues in the same way that they did in the early church at the time of the Apostles?
It appears that there are many questions to be answered by very disheartened Christians when it comes to the workings of God.
Christians that believe in their hearts that God can still heal people today and work miracles are disappointed because they are not seeing these things in their own lives or the lives of fellow believers.
They hear of things happening or read of things happening, whether it be from books, magazines the telly evangelists or whoever else but they are not seeing it or hearing of it in their own churches.
This can effect their faith and make them feel that maybe it has something to do with their own lack of faith.
This is compounded when they read scriptures such as John 14: “Truly, truly, I say unto you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father will be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it”.
For many Christians this does not seem to be happening.
Does this mean that God has stopped doing these things, or is it a lack of faith on our part.
A friend of mine suffered from cancer, he was prayed for many times and one time in particular. Later he visited that same fellowship again and since there had been no sign of recovery, the person who had prayed for him said that he was disappointed in the lack of faith in my friend, he seemed to be suggesting that it was his lack of faith that was keeping God from working. How odd he never considered his own faith.
However, was this the correct response? Did Jesus not heal those with faith and also those without faith?
In fact the scripture tells us that Jesus healed ALL who came to him and so did His disciples.
So what was the difference, was Jesus and the disciples discerning the will of God and are people today praying without discerning Gods will. Is this the problem?
Obviously the problem is not with God. So then, what is the reason we are not seeing these things happen in the same way as the early church?
We hear about and see on television meetings, people being, apparently healed. Are these things true or are they just hype.
I belonged to a charismatic fellowship for fourteen years and was involved in ministering to the sick. We practised the gifts of the Holy Spirit. however looking back on those times, I don’t believe that I experienced anything extraordinary in the way of healing's, or miracles. Also over the years I have attended many other venues and in all of my forty plus years of Christianity, I can testify to never seeing what I would call a genuine healing or a genuine miracle. I have however seen many people healed of many things by visiting their medical GP or local hospital. Odd, wouldn't you say for a professing Christian, born again, baptised with the Holy Spirit and a believer in a Sovereign God of power and wonders.
So, what is happening today?
Jesus demonstrated that He is the Son of God and He is God by performing powerful miracles and healing throughout His ministry.
In all the years I have been a Christian, I have never met a religious figure who could walk on water, command the wind and the waves, heal people born blind, feed five thousand people with a few loaves and fishes, and raise the dead. I have heard preachers claim that they could or that it is being done by others but in my experience, it appears that there is not much evidence being produced for it.
It is obvious from scripture that miracles testified to Jesus authority, that he was the promised Messiah. The miracles fulfilled the prophecies about Him in the Old Testament. He also healed because of His compassion and also as a response to faith. We also know that Jesus gave the same power to His disciples, which testified to the fact that they too were preaching the words of God. But what happened after He left?
Did the healing's and miracles cease. Did they stop? No, they did not! They continued through his disciples and throughout the early years of the church. The question is, do they continue to this day?
The scriptures teach that there is power in the spoken word of faith. We see that through the word of God, men, women and children are coming to faith in Jesus and seeing their lives being transformed through the power of the Holy Spirit. However there are, sadly, some who take this word of faith a lot further than they should. There are those who exhort others to speak by faith for whatever they want. The so called “name it and claim it” movement, or as Jacob Prasch calls it, “blab it and grab it” within Christianity.
This is known as the Word Faith Movement, people being told to pray things into existence. You want a lot of money, a big car, a big house, well! Just name it and claim it. If you are deprived of anything, it is your own fault, after all, you are a Kings kid. God does not want you to be poor, sick or sad.
This is the kind of rubbish that is being preached by the prosperity gospel and Word Faith movement. This is far from the truth of the Bible.
A quote from Chuck Smith ( Calvary Chapel, Costa Mesa )“The difference is that when Peter or Paul spoke a word of faith, the Holy Spirit had already revealed to them what He wanted to do. You cannot direct the work of God. They are God’s works; they always begin with Him” So, If God heals today, in what ways does he do it? There are different ways that God can bring healing in our lives. Obviously God can if He wills, heal supernaturally, miraculously, in only the way He can do. God can also work through doctors and medical science, this is known as integrative healing. However, what if you have prayed for healing, or been prayed for by others, you have been to the medical doctors, you have tried everything and you still have not seen any healing, it may cause you to question, Why doesn't God heal me or my loved one? If you have waited for a long time and you don’t understand God’s character, you may become discouraged, and begin to wonder about your faith.
At the end of the day, we have to trust in God’s character, that He is at work.
He has His own plan and He knows what is best for our lives. We won’t have all the answers this side of Heaven.
There is another way that God heals.
He heals redemptively, by using your illness or disability to bless the lives of others around you, how you live in the reality of your illness or disability, how you rest in the Sovereignty of God, knowing that God is at work in your situation.
Romans 8:28: And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are the called according to His purpose.
Recognising that God’s grace is sufficient. As the Apostle Paul said, after seeking God three times to remove what he called a thorn in his flesh.
2 Cor 12:9: And He said to me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest on me.
A great example of this redemptive healing is seen in Joni Erickson, who was paralysed from the neck down in a diving accident when she was a teenager.
She can say now, there are a million reasons she is grateful God did not heal her of paralysis when she was young.
She says her affliction “stretched her hope, made her know Jesus better, helped her long for the truth, led her to repentance of sin, goaded her to give thanks in times of sorrow, increase her faith, and strengthen her character”.
There are however, those people that advocate not having anything to do with doctors or the medical profession. Refusing medical help, receiving no healing, continuing in suffering and in some cases died.
Then there are those from the Charismatic movements, where healing plays a major part in their services. Who apparently had enough faith for others but not for themselves.
Extracts from John MacArthur’s article on “Does God still Heal”
Quote: Men such as Hobart Freeman. He believed that modern medicine was an extension of ancient witchcraft and black magic. To submit to a doctor’s remedies, Freedman believed, was to expose oneself to demonic influence. End of Quote.
Then there was William Brannom, a very familiar name to those who are involved in the faith healing movement. William Brannom was a man reputed to have been instrumental in some of the most spectacular healing's in the Pentecostal movement. He died however in 1965 at the age of 56, after suffering for six days from injuries received in an automobile accident. His theology was unbiblical and heretical, and of course when applied to himself, his theology of healing had no effect whatsoever, though his followers right to the end, were confident that God was going to raise him up, and even after he died, they believed that God would raise him from the dead. He did not.
Another one, perhaps a more familiar name in the healing movement would be the name of one who is elevated to almost the status of the Roman Catholic Mary, and that is the name of Kathryn Kuhlman. Kathryn Kuhlman died of heart failure in 1976, curiously enough. She had battled heart disease for nearly 20 years.
John Wimber who also died of heart problems said, that he sought God and he says that God told him that in the same way Abraham waited for his child, I was to wait for my healing. In the meantime, he says “ He told me to follow my doctors orders”. Wimber writes, “I wish I could write that at this time I am completely healed, that I no longer have physical problems, but if I did it would not be true”. Now it seems obvious, at least a curiosity to all of us, that so many leading advocates of healing, are sick. End of Quote.
So therefore, is there any use praying for the sick? By all means, we are exhorted in scripture:
James 5:14: Is any sick among you? 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.
We are to pray and leave it with the Lord. We also pray and say with the Apostle Paul to Timothy.
1 Tim 5:23: Drink no longer water, but take a little wine for thy stomachs sake and thine often infirmities.
How should we pray for the sick?
We should pray for discernment, not neglecting to pray for one another, whether they are suffering from physical illness, disability, physical pain and suffering, even the diagnosis of a fatal illness, that God would be all that they need at the time and if it be His will, that He would heal them today. Alternately, that God would use the medical profession to bring about a full recovery and we will be careful to give Him all the praise and Glory.
What about the gifts of the Spirit today.
Do Christians possess the gift of healing's, the working of miracles, the gift of prophecy and so on?
It is interesting that from around 65AD and onward's, very little is written about the manifestations of the Spirit that we heard of in the beginning of the church.
The church at Corinth was one of the earliest churches established and quite obviously was seeing the gifts of the Holy Spirit being manifest in the congregation, even with its many abuses and problems.
However we read in Chapter thirteen of Paul's letter to the church of Corinth an indication or prophecy that eventually these gifts would indeed cease or fade away.
This seems evident in the fact that as the word of God became more established in the churches, the gifts were spoken of less and less.
This of course hinges on the scripture 1 Corinthians 13:10-10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
“When that which is perfect” ( greek neuter. Teleios— Complete ) not relating to a person but something that has come to maturity or something that is complete is come, then these gifts would either cease or pass away.
There would be no more need for revelatory gifts because the Apostles doctrine had been established and there would be no more revelation given.
Hebrews 1:1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
The signs and wonders gifts were a means of verifying and attesting that the Apostles words were from God, in the same way that Jesus words were shown to be of God by the working of miracles and healing's.
For the next 1900 years there were no manifestations of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. If there were, they were in many cases attached to false and pagan religions.
The apparent revival of these gifts seemed to appear in the early 1800s and developed through the beginnings of the Pentecostal movement and followed by the Charismatic Renewal.
Whether this is what really happened is a matter of opinion.
The question that many ask today is, is this the true work of the Holy Spirit or is it the work of the flesh?
I remember in the 70s, one brother saying to me that the manifestations being evident in our church are nothing more than light entertainment. I was shocked, but now I understand just what he meant. Even if it was a true manifestation of the Holy Spirit, something seems to have gone drastically wrong. Even if the Charismatic movement was a work of God, what we are seeing today is very dubious indeed. With the advent of the Telly evangelists, the new emergent church, the new age movement, the supposed Toronto Blessing, The Kundalini experience and many preaching what some believe, is a different gospel. An easy believism, with no emphasis on repentance.
There are many questions. When we see people rolling around on the floor laughing and barking and making sounds like animals, supposedly drunk in the spirit, shaking with involuntary movement. How can we not wonder what is going on.
What is more, this movement is growing faster than ever. We are led to believe that there are mighty revivals occurring all over the world. It makes you wonder, is this genuine, are these people really being genuinely born again or is there a delusion taking place?
Are they being lulled into a false belief system, based on their own emotional choice, rather than based on salvation in Christ through regeneration, a conviction of sin and a quickening of the Holy Ghost.
It seems like experiential Christianity is replacing the written word. People are seeking mystical experience rather that trusting in the teachings of the Bible. People are looking for a sign to prove their faith rather than believing what the word of God says.
We are seeing a rise in seeker sensitive Christianity, the question is being asked, what do we need to do to fill our churches. Are we to compete with the world in entertainment, attract by any means? What has happened to the preaching of the simple gospel and allowing God to draw to Himself those He has preordained before the foundation of the world.
We are told in scripture. Ephesians 2: And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
Romans 8: 28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
Salvation is ALL of God and not of ourselves.
So what is our conclusion?
Should we be looking for signs and wonders, or should we be trusting God’s word.
Seeing a miracle or healing will not convert anyone. Only God can do that through His word by conviction of the Holy Ghost.
Our faith can only be strengthened by feeding on His truths and being obedient to His commands.
We should make the aim of our lives to be the study of Gods word, being obedient to it by doing what we were told to do by Jesus.
Go into the world and preach the Gospel, not trying to get the world to come to us.
We should love one another and give an account of our faith, when the opportunity is presented.
Acts 2:47 : Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.