Does God still heal? In a word, YES! That is, if we are talking about YHWH*. If the question were asked whether Jesus still heals, the answer would again be a resounding yes: because YHWH is one. And he still uses Christians to minister it as members of his body, the universal church of Jesus Christ. In fact, the Bible makes fairly clear that healing is one of our continuing duties, and the experience of those who have accepted that confirms that Jesus is still healing.
The Bible contains far more scriptural evidence than I can provide here that YHWH intended to continue healing after the events in the Bible and that he intends us to be part of his healing work.
Look at Matthew 28:16-20, which has been pretty widely referred to as "the Great Commission":
But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (NASB)
From the Greek text that I have, what Jesus says in verses 19 and 20 might be translated more literally as follows:
"Going [or As you go], therefore, make disciples of all nations, baptizing them into [not in] the name of the Father, and the son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey [not watch or merely learn] all that I have commanded you; and behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
What I take from this is that Jesus assumes that we are in the world already, so as we go about our daily affairs, he expects us to make disciples of everyone, to saturate (baptize) them with the whole person of YHWH, his son Jesus Christ, and his Holy Spirit, by reporting about him and living out the new life he puts in us, and to obey everything he commanded his disciples. This is discussed in more detail, with a more literal translation of those verses, in my lesson on full-time ministry.
And what Jesus commanded his disciples to do is set forth in the gospels: preach the good news of the kingdom, heal the sick, cast out the demons, raise the dead, and if anyone doesn't listen, shake the dust off and head down the road (see, e.g., Matt. 10:7-9 and Mark 3:14-15, and Luke 10:8-11). After Jesus' resurrection, Mark 16:17-18 reports that he declared that those who have believed in his name will, among other things, lay hands on the sick and they will recover. In John 14:10-13, Jesus speaks of his words and works as from the Father abiding in him, then declares that someone believing in him would do greater works. James 5:13-16 instructs those who are sick to get the elders to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord and ". . . the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up . . . . " (NASB). The literal translation of James 5:16b that appears in my lesson on praying effectively reveals that righteous or innocent prayer, by itself, improves bodily health.
In none of these pronouncements does Jesus tell us that healing power ended with him or the disciples who followed him. Moreover, scripture tells us that his people are Jesus' body, of which he is the head (Rom. 12:4-5 and Eph. 4:12-15). Consider, then, that when he walked as a man on the earth, Jesus healed numerous people, and Heb. 13:8 tells us that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. He could hardly be the same if he quit healing. And since we are his body, we continue to do what he did and what he commanded his disciples to do.
Much more scriptural evidence exists to demonstrate that YHWH intended healing to continue after the events in the Bible, and it is confirmed by the experiences of those who have believed what Jesus said.
If you tend to be an intellectual and "rational" being, this entire subject may play havoc with your worldview. It certainly did mine during my early adulthood, even though I was seeking to know the truth about God, Jesus and the Bible. My search led me to read much of the Bible, some parts several times, both on my own and in Bible study groups, and I began to sense a reality in its narratives. In fact, as a lawyer, I found the Bible's reports strangely similar to the reports of people who have witnessed the same events but tell them differently and select different facts to highlight, especially if the events happened many years before the report, and I actually began to question why I was questioning some of the unusual facts reported in the Bible. Then YHWH provided me an opportunity to witness him at work:
I first accepted the reality of YHWH's healing in the early 1970s when my wife Laurie's grandmother, M'dear, lay unconscious in a coma in the ICU at St. Luke's Hospital in Houston, Texas, and was dying, with fluids building up in her lungs that she was not discharging. The family had been called up to see her one last time. We were admitted one or two at a time. When our turn came, I reminded Laurie of a recent Bible study about healing the sick and laying hands on them. I suggested we try that with M'dear. I took one hand and she took the other, and I offered a prayer something like this, "God, if it's within your will, we ask you to heal M'dear." Then we left. Just after the next couple had gone into the ICU, they were being rushed out by the nurse. M'dear had recovered consciousness and was coughing up the fluids in her lungs. She recovered. That experience, my first taste of healing prayer, impressed me so much that I retain a vivid memory of it.
In 1983, after I had received the Holy Spirit, Jesus' commands seemed too strong to ignore, so I began praying for people, laying hands on them and doing many other things that once had seemed strange, even weird. I did it with no training, just following what I read in the Bible. I have now witnessed too many healings to offer even a rough estimate of them. When I could, I followed up with the people who said they were healed to confirm that they had gotten a clean bill of health from their doctors or at least no longer experienced symptoms.
Among the numerous healings I have witnessed, a pastor's foot was healed instantly when I prayed and laid hands on it in my office, a friend's knee was healed while I laid hands on it and prayed, and the same friend's left leg that had been shorter than his right was restored to the same length while Laurie and I prayed for him. Another friend was delivered from terrifying delusions for which the psychiatrist had prescribed psychotropic drugs. Although the drugs had kept the delusions in check, the drugs were doing serious physical harm, but every time the friend had tried to discontinue them, the delusions resumed immediately-- until YHWH's healing, that is. I have seen cancer healed instantly and have heard of people being completely healed from AIDS and multiple sclerosis.
But I have also seen a young boy die after Laurie and I had prayed for him several times. Fortunately he died only after accepting Jesus as Lord and savior, and his parents' broken marriage was healed as they witnessed Jesus' love touching their son. Others have not received complete healing, although most of those show some improvement. I confess that those are disappointing, but they do not discourage me, because my job is just to pray and minister Jesus' love. Healing is YHWH's job.
If Jesus Is the Same Today, Why Isn't Everyone Healed Instantly?
If we want to understand why everyone isn't healed when we pray for them, we have to recognize, first, that even Jesus didn't heal everyone at the first touch or command. For example, in Mark 8:22-25, we encounter the blind man who required a second touch from Jesus before he was healed. In Luke 8:27-33, we read of the demonized man who Jesus delivered from a legion of demons. In verse 29, we read that Jesus "had been commanding the unclean spirit to come out of the man." Clearly, more than one command was required.
Next, we have to understand something about the way YHWH has chosen to work. Although he's King of all, he tends to let us act as if we are kings of our own lives. He has given us a wonderful body that is self-healing if we give it the nutrients, rest, air and water it needs-- and avoid those things that damage the body. But far too often, we don't. We tend to be careless with our bodies, especially when young. Our souls are also self-healing, although in a different way. While I have seen Jesus respond with miraculous healings that follow almost immediately after a prayer, most of the time healings occur more slowly, frequently against the dire predictions of the physician. If I and others who prayed for some of those healings had given up when we didn't see the healing right away, we might well have missed the joy of seeing Jesus do his stuff.
In many cases, the body's or soul's ability to receive healing has been impaired by one or more barriers that must be dealt with before healing takes place. For example, just some of the impediments that often make it hard for a person to heal include the following:
Several of these factors together may impede the body's or soul's self-healing. We, as prayer ministers are not physicians, and we should never suggest that people discontinue their medications or other treatments. But we do try to diagnose what a person needs in order to receive a healing, so that we can choose an effective spiritual "medicine" for that particular condition, such as prayer, laying on of hands, speaking to a condition, or deliverance.
Enjoying prayer ministry requires learning to persist and avoid discouragement. Just because what we may have done the first time did not produce the desired result does not mean we won't get it right the second, third, fourth or even later time. The compassion that flows out of me when I pray for someone who is hurting often amazes me, because I don't think it's there much at other times. That helps to confirm to me that Jesus is at work in me. He is still healing and loving.
And above all, no matter what I see with my eyes, I know he's always doing something to minister to the person with whom I have prayed. He promised it: "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." Rom. 8:28 (NASB).
*YHWH or YHVH is the English representation of the four Hebrew letters that spell the name of the God of the Bible, the one true, living God worshipped by Jews and Christians. YHWH was the name by which he identified himself to Moses in Ex. 3:14. According to references that I've read, the exact pronunciation of YHWH's name was lost in antiquity. I prefer to pronounce the name "Yah-o-wah" (the "h" being aspirated as in "hay"), but the generally accepted pronounciation in common English is "Yah-weh" or "Yah-way". Some translations of the Bible, such as the KJV and NASB, substitute "the LORD" for his name, following a practice begun before Jesus' birth.
YHWH revealed himself in various ways to the children of Israel in the Hebrew Bible, which Christians call the Old Testament. He also revealed himself in and through his son Jesus Christ and acts, among other ways, in and through Christians by the Holy Spirit. Because the word "God" is being used today to designate all kinds of human inventions, although accepted for centuries in English as a name for YHWH, I prefer to use the name that YHWH chose for himself rather than "God" or "the LORD" as I did in early versions of my writings. Please read The Name of the One True, Living God for a fuller discussion.
|Remember who He is and whose you are|