1. WHY DOES THE C&MA MAKE SUCH A BIG DEAL ABOUT IT?
2. SHOULD WE ALWAYS PRAY FOR HEALING?
3. WHY ARE ONLY SOME PEOPLE HEALED AND NOT OTHERS?
4. WHAT ABOUT MODERN MEDICINE?
5. WHY SHOULD A CHURCH HAVE A HEALING MINISTRY?
6. HOW DO WE HAVE A HEALING MINISTRY WITHOUT MAKING THE CHURCH SICK?
Keith M. Bailey, The Children's Bread
A.B. Simpson, The Gospel of Healing and The Lord for the Body
Best book on healing presently available in my opinion...
This class is called Alliance History and Thought and it might be in order that I quickly address where and how I fit into that title in terms of what I am doing this morning. First, my church membership is with the Alliance as a member of Regina First Nations Alliance Church and I am accredited as an official worker with the Alliance. Second, I think, and this morning I hope to share some thoughts I've had on the most Alliance topic of healing. So I suppose you are getting one take on Alliance thought on healing, as I propose it anyway. What I'm offering this morning is not official dogma, and as "tradition" it is only a few years old, but it is my small contribution to the ongoing creation of Alliance tradition, which I understand as Ken Draper does, to be a "living tradition" which we feel free to appreciate even as we continue to shape and reshape our responses to an ever changing society.
My own stance toward the traditional Alliance teaching on healing is to greatly appreciate the zest and fervor of their confidence that God is interested in healing our bodies, but to regard it on the whole as a bit of the weak sister in terms of theological grounding -- both in terms of biblical theology and in terms of pastoral theology. This morning's exercise is to give you a presentation I have done in the past few years with two different Alliance churches. I was tempted to revise it and crank it up a notch or two in terms of the technical points in the theology, but I ended up changing my mind. Most of you are involved in some form of church ministry and I thought by leaving the presentation as I gave it to lay people during a normal church service, I could model how one passes along the lessons learned in "Alliance History and Thought" with typical lay people.
Preachers rarely hear the critical remarks, but I did enough polling after preaching this twice that I think that for the most part I asked the right questions, and my answers were understandable and for the most part useful. So my plan this morning is to simply give you the presentation I have prepared and used in the past, and then allow for an open question period, and if we have time, I'll mention some of the weak points in traditional Alliance theology of healing and what I propose as a solution. If your brain isn't completely bogged down after four straight days of lectures, you might even notice where in my presentation I deviate from the kind of stuff you heard yesterday when you discussed Simpson and healing. If I say elementary things about the Alliance that you already obviously know, bear with me, this is the kind of thing I tell people in Alliance churches and they're often quite surprised to discover it. So, without further ado, if I were to come to your church and speak on healing to your congregation, I would probably give them something along these lines...
A few years ago I spent a year and a half researching the question of how the early church approached the issue of divine healing. I asked questions like, how did they do healings, why did they do it that way, did they do it the same everywhere, who did the healings, and so on. I discovered some things I didn't know before, I confirmed some things I already knew, and, occasionally, I had to let go of some preconceived ideas I had about the NT and its ministry to its sick members.
You can relax, because I won't be going through all that. Rather, this morning I want to answer some of the questions I found people in my local Alliance church in Vancouver had about healing. Practical questions which need to be heard and properly addressed. This morning I have a list of six major questions which you may have concerning healing, and I will attempt to provide some answers for those questions. We'll go through a lot of material. If you miss some of it, don't worry. The key to this morning's message is to listen hard when I get to the sort of question you have about healing.
For those of you who don't know, the Christian and Missionary Alliance, that is, the denomination to which this church belongs, centers its message and ministry around four key themes. They have labeled this the "Fourfold Gospel" and created an puzzling sort of logo to go with it. This logo represents these four themes:
Jesus our Saviour (represented by the cross) speaks about Jesus saving us from the sin which separates us from God by dying on the cross,
Jesus our Sanctifier (represented by the laver, which looks a bit like a wine glass in the logo but actually represents a wash basin on a stand which was used in the OT in the temple to ceremonially wash sacrifices, or the hands and feet of priests before they came before God - it set them apart for God's special use).
Sanctification speaks about Jesus ongoing work in our life as he matures us and we give him more and more control over our lives, setting us apart for God's special use.
Jesus the Healer (represented by the pitcher which symbolizes the anointing oil put on the sick in James 5) speaks about Jesus providing for our physical healing by his death on the cross,
and Jesus the Coming King (represented by the crown) which speaks about his return to establish God's end-time rule.
Our topic this morning focuses the on the theme which is perhaps one of the more controversial or at the very least, more difficult-- Jesus the healer. This leads us to the first of our major questions:
1. WHY DOES THE C&MA MAKE SUCH A BIG DEAL ABOUT IT?
The short answer is that within the C&MA denomination it is part of our defining "Statement of Faith." The statement of faith of all Alliance churches contains the following subsection. "Provision is made in the redemptive work of the Lord Jesus Christ for the healing of the mortal body. Prayer for the sick and anointing with oil as taught in the Scripture are privileges for the Church in this present age."
Why is it part of the fourfold gospel logo?
How did something like healing end up on a church logo? The best explanation is that it is a product of Alliance history. The founder of the Alliance was a less than healthy specimen and in the course of his life discovered the power of God to heal his sickly body. This personal experience, combined with other movements of the time which brought the debate about physical healing to the fore, caused this point of doctrine to take on enormous importance for the denomination as it formed. As a central tenant based on this history it is not surprising that it ended up as a member in the fourfold gospel. Since the logo is a pictorial representation of this fourfold gospel, obviously a symbol for Jesus the healer is needed.
This of course is the more difficult question. Anyone who has read the Bible knows that Jesus can be given more than 4 descriptive roles. For instance, we could include Jesus the exorcist based on the gospels, or Jesus the creator based on John and Colossians. Why is healer included with other roles which most consider much more important, such as Jesus the savior?
Well, I don't want to suggest we can rank Jesus' roles in terms of importance, since we are really concerned with Jesus and his mission as a whole package. However, I believe that scripture demonstrates the importance of Jesus' healing from Jesus' own perspective. In Luke 7:18ff. John the Baptist sent messengers to Jesus to ask if he was indeed the promised Messiah. Jesus responded as follows. "Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and good news is preached to the poor."
This is of course an allusion to Isaiah 35:5-6 and 61:1. These are the events which are prophesied to take place on the year of the Lord's favor, when God would rule in a new and powerful way. Jesus preached the coming of the Kingdom of God, or God's rule, and one of the results of the spreading Kingdom was miraculous healings. Wherever God's rule extended, there were the signs which accompaniend God's rule - blind receiving sight, lame walking, deaf hearing, and leprosy cured. As people who continue to live in and spread God's end time rule, we ought to expect the role of Jesus as healer has ongoing significance.
2. SHOULD WE ALWAYS PRAY FOR HEALING?
This is quite a common response, and one I don't want to put down, since I know many people who's courage through illness has been nothing short of inspiring. However, there is a notion here which is less than biblically sound. In support of this idea that illness is sent by God to test us the following verses are often quoted.
James 1:2 - "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance." (NIV)
or 1 Peter 4:12 - "Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the suffering of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed." (NIV)
The problem with these and other passages which call for a positive, or even welcoming attitude toward trials and sufferings is that they refer to persecution for our faith, not physical ailment. According to the Bible, physical suffering is a result of humans introducing sin into God's perfect world. We not only suffer for our own sin, but we also suffer because of the sin of others around us and those who lived before us. We don't rejoice in ailment which are a product of a sin ridden cosmos. We pray for the release from sin and its effects as we await God's rule in its fullness. There's nothing unholy or wimpy about wanting to see God's rule as expressed in Jesus ability to heal in our lives. Prayer for healing is like the line in the Lord's prayer which says, "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."
This is an interesting question which I think needs to be addressed, although some of you may never have thought of it. Suppose someone has cirrhosis of the liver after a life as an alcoholic, or AIDS because of a sexually promiscuous lifestyle. Should we even bother to pray for these. Are they not just a just punishment from God because of their sin? Or how about the athlete participating in a dangerous sport? If he wrecks his knee should we pray for that, or for a boxer who suffers a head injury? Or how about a drunk driver injured in a car accident?
Well the first thing we need to keep in mind is that all ailment is the result of human sin, from SIDS to Alzheimers, is according to Scripture, ultimately attributed to the rebellion of man against God. You don't have to personally sin to be affected physically by the results of human sin in general.
Second, if we are going to believe that God uses disease in this present age to take out his wrath on people he particularly despises, we are all in big trouble. If in this present age we were to receive the just deserts for our sinfulness, we would all be dead long ago.
Third, we believe that all of God's blessings are the result of grace and not our personal striving. Did any of us deserve to be the beneficiaries of Jesus' saving work on the cross? Absolutely not. The message of the gospel is that God isn't fair. We don't get what we deserve, we get God's fatherly blessing instead. If God can willingly forgive sin because of Jesus' work on the cross, he can equally well heal on that basis as well, and not based on our deservedness. Whether people's ailment comes from personal sin or from simply living in a sin-ridden world, we must pray for God's gracious healing to be extended to those who suffer.
3. WHY ARE ONLY SOME PEOPLE HEALED AND NOT OTHERS?
This is a very tough question. In fact this is what causes more grief and dissension on the issue of Jesus healing ministry today than any other. There are two major problems associated with this issue. One is theological, the other is personal.
The theological problem can be stated briefly as follows. If Jesus' redemptive work on the cross is the basis of our healing, then why is everyone forgiven based on that, but not everyone healed? Let's hold off on that question for a moment.
Perhaps more important to you sitting in the pew, especially those who have prayed for healing and haven't received it, is why am I not healed, or why is my father or child not healed, or Joe my friend? I suspect this latter question is the harder of the two to answer since the emotions of questions like these aren't usually satisfied with pat answers. People who pray for healing and then don't receive it feel cheated, or upset with God, perhaps betrayed, or abandoned, maybe even guilty. The fact that others are miraculously healed may only intensify these feelings.
Let me begin by answering a general theological issue.
The answer here is an unqualified yes. It is always God's will for people to have healthy, whole bodies. If we look at the end of human history as presented in the book of Revelation we have the following picture:
"He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." (Revelation 21:4, NIV)
Secondly, even a quick reading of the last few chapters of Revelation will demonstrate to the reader that these end-time blessings come about because of the work of Jesus Christ, who is called the Lamb that was Slain in the book of Revelation.
The real question is not whether ultimate healing comes from the redemptive work of Jesus on the cross, but whether end-time healing benefits can be experienced in the present. Is it God's will to heal us today? The answer to this question lies in our present reality as Christians.
We sit in between the time of the coming of Christ and his establishment of God's rule 2000 years ago, and the still to come rule of God, the coming King as is pictured in the crown of the Logo. What is the reality in this in between stage of God's redemptive work?
This reality is described in a number of ways in the New Testament. Jesus gives an excellent picture of our present reality in Mark 3:26. Here he has been accused of casting out demons by the power of Satan. He denies this by stating it makes no sense for Satan to destroy himself. He counters this with his own description of reality. Jesus say, "In fact, no one can enter a strong man's house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can rob his house." Jesus is the thief, stronger than the strong man. Jesus has tied up the strong man--Satan, and is now pillaging Satan's house at will.
The time of God's rule, the Kingdom of God, has come in Jesus' ministry, but its final victory is in the future. The strong man has been tied up and can be robbed, but his final defeat is yet to come. When Jesus faced his accusers in his trial, he said a reality was yet to come in which he would ride the clouds of heaven and rule from the right hand of God. The final victory was yet to come. For the Jewish people the resurrection was the sign of the end times. Paul in 1 Cor. 15 talks about how Christ's resurrection is a sign that the end times have indeed arrived, and yet we await for the resurrection of everyone. (See the illustration in Part 3)
The classic description of our present reality comes from a scholar named Beasley-Murray--the Christ event we have witnessed in the NT, his ministry, death and resurrection is like D-day in WWII. His second coming is like V-day. When the Allied troops took a beachhead on European soil on D-Day in WWII, everyone knew who would ultimately win the war. It was really the climax of the war. And yet, more soldiers died between D-day and V-day, the day of Victory, than during the whole war up to this point. It was essentially a mopping up operation, the outcome was secured, but it still had its casualties.
This is an excellent description of our already, but not yet reality as Christians. We have already experienced D-day, but not yet V-day. Sin and its consequences such as sickness and death have been dealt a D-day blow which signals their ultimate defeat. But we're still waiting for the final V-day victory over sin and death. So how does this all relate to healing?
Well, we know all our benefits from God are as a result of Christ's work on our behalf. When we ask for forgiveness for sin, we are forgiven. Yet, each of us knows that even as Christians, complete liberation from sin in our present reality is an impossibility. We continue to be tempted, and we, on occasion, fall into sin. Furthermore, we continue to feel the effects of the sins committed by others. There are times in our lives when in a special way God will liberate us from certain temptations and sins we are in bondage to, but complete freedom awaits V-day.
This same reality effects our health. There are times when we experience the end time benefits of physical healing and health in a special way from God. And yet, we also remain in the old age, suffering the effects of humanity's sin, awaiting V-day. This is not something new. Lazarus was even resurrected from the dead by Jesus, but he was not given physical eternal life. As far as I know, Lazarus died a second time.
Now I realize that a pat theological answer is less than satisfying for the walking wounded. As an answer to the more personal question of, "Is it God's will to heal me." I can only say, that, yes, ultimately God wants to see you physically whole and he ultimately will give you an indestructible body. As you live in the in between time, God's answer to your request for healing is never "No" but either "Yes" or "Wait a while".
How do we know which it is? I believe one of the things the church must do with regard to a healing ministry is exercise the full scope of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The same Holy Spirit who works Jesus' healing power in the present age also gives insight, discernment, wisdom, and knowledge. Those involved in prayer for healing must be open to the Holy Spirit's whisper. Prayer for healing isn't simply a ritual event in which we follow steps one through four for success. It is an encounter with God, and it requires people with spiritual ears who can hear and feel the Holy Spirits prompting. Perhaps the Holy Spirit will provide a word of comfort or hope to an ill person through those ministering to the person. Perhaps the Holy Spirit will give the call to "wait a while" through those praying. Perhaps the Holy Spirit will prompt those ministering to pray fervently because physical deliverance is coming. The Holy Spirit may even point out things unknown to those ministering such as sin or other root causes for an illness which must be dealt with first before prayer for healing can continue.
These are just a few possibilities. This is why those involved in prayer for healing must be willing listeners, both to God and those suffering. If in fact your prayer for healing is not answered, the scripture guarantees that it is not because of a lack of God's love and care for you. Revelation 21 stands as a testimony to what God will ultimately do for you.
This is a very important question since there are preachers out there telling people they are not healed because of a lack of faith. People point to passages like Mark 6:5 with its reference to Jesus' inability to heal in his hometown because of their lack of faith, or James 5:15 where it refers to a "prayer offered in faith" making the sick person well. So often healing miracles in the New Testament are accompanied by references to faith. What is the link between faith and healing?
Well, that is a sermon by itself, but I have a few suggestions:
1.) In the James 5 passage on healing, the faith is not on the part of the sick person, but on the elders who pray.
If you are going to use James 5 to say people aren't healed because of lack of faith, the blame falls on those praying, not those being prayed for. I wish preacher/miracle-workers who blamed the unhealed sick for their lack of faith would realize if we're going to talk about lack of faith, the blame would fall on them, not the sick person.
2.) Secondly, there is never a suggestion that it is our responsibility to pump up our faith in order to get God's blessing in exchange.
According to Jesus, even mustard size faith is enough to move mountains. At any rate, we have already determined, all the benefits of Jesus come to us because of God's grace, not because we have done something to deserve it. The same principle applies to healing. Obviously if someone asks for prayer for healing they have already demonstrated mustard-size faith in Jesus' ability to heal them.
3.) In 1 Cor 12 it talks about the spiritual gift of "faith."
Since this cannot refer to saving faith, in most likely refers to a special faith given to a person by God so they can work a miracle. If this is the case, then we have no business trying to psyche ourselves up, or bolster our faith through positive thinking and the like. The necessary faith comes as a gift from God.
We can only be like the Father of the possessed boy who cried, "I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief." (Mark 9:24) That was good enough for Jesus then, and its still good enough today.
4.) A lack of faith will only stop our being healed if it keeps us from asking God for healing and from asking for others to pray for our healing.
This was the problem in Jesus hometown. They were unwilling to see that Jesus was the one bringing in the Kingdom of God, and as a result, they didn't experience the signs and effects of God's rule which was healings. This kind of lack of faith will result in our not being healed. If we lack the faith to even ask for prayer for healing, this may well stop us from receiving Jesus healing power in our lives.
If, however, we have the faith to ask, and others have the faith to pray, and we ask God to give use the necessary faith, then according to the Bible, you have met the faith criteria.
This is another suggestion you often hear. The answer here is yes and no. There are times when personal sin which we knowingly harbor and are unwilling to confess stands in the way of God working in our lives, including healing. But that is not to say if someone isn't healed it is because of sin.
In James 5:15 it says that if sin accompanies illness, then it should be confessed and forgiven at the same time as the illness is prayed for. Remember, IF. James 5 clearly implies that personal sin and sickness may or may not be connected. If there is personal sin, deal with that as well.
James 5 also suggests that those praying ought also to keep a clean slate before God. Jesus healing of the paralytic lowered through the roof indicates that Jesus can equally well both forgive and heal, and he willingly does both. If you have a clean slate before God, and you are prayed for but not healed, you don't have to feel like the fault lies in you--as if you need to probe for hidden sin you might not be aware of. Illness is ultimately the result of a world of sin, not just your personal sin. This is simply one of the realities of living in the in between times.
4. WHAT ABOUT MODERN MEDICINE?
I'm sure you have heard the horror stories of people who thought that they should just trust God for healing and didn't go to a doctor or worse didn't take sick children to a doctor and tragedy ensued.
The question we ask therefore is...
In doing my Master's thesis on healing I came across a delightful bit of wisdom written two centuries before Christ by a Jewish wise man named Jesus ben Sirach in a book often known as Ecclesiasticus. Here is his advice on God, healing, and physicians:
Well, we no longer offer sacrifices, but I commend this writer for a great insight into the affairs of God. All blessings of health come from the hand of God, and all true knowledge is God's knowledge. Modern medicine is not an alternative to resurrection and people who occasionally suffer under it know it isn't perfect, but it can do wonders because of the mental abilities, wisdom and knowledge God has given to humans. I agree with ben Sirach that we shake our fist at God if we utterly ignore his generous gift of physicians. Ben Sirach says, Pray to God for healing, make sure you are right with God, then go see your doctor. Our problem is, we often forget the first two steps.
5. WHY SHOULD A CHURCH HAVE A HEALING MINISTRY?
We have already given a theological answer to this question. Jesus made healing a vital part of his earthly ministry and he promised that it would continue to be a part of his ministry through the Holy Spirit working through his followers. If we shut out a healing ministry from the church, we are in effect not allowing Jesus to minister fully to his people. However, two practical questions arise.
The answer to this question lies in the very way God has chosen to operate among his people. In 1 Cor 12-14 it is clear that the Holy Spirit shows himself (12:7) and meets the various needs of individuals in the church through other people. Being a Christian means God will show himself to you by his Spirit through others in the community of faith. This is part of our interdependence. The one unifying Spirit accomplished part of the task of unifying us as a body by making us depend on each other. Its how we express our love (why else is 1 Cor 13 between 1 Cor 12 and 14?). The simple answer to why we ought to pray for each others healing rather than just for our own needs is that that is simply how the Holy Spirit operates among his people.
This is unfortunately true. Healing ministries which are done without a full understanding of our present already but not yet reality can cause all sorts of grief. If someone presumes that God must always heal and healing doesn't occur in a particular case, fingers start being pointed as to who is at fault. Every failed attempt at healing becomes accompanied with blame. The poor unhealthy victim is chided for lack of faith or for having sin in their life. Perhaps the person praying is labeled as not spiritual enough. More feelings are hurt and more individuals crushed than are healed.
However, Jesus' always seemed motivated by compassion when he healed. He truly cared about the people he healed individually. Our healing ministry must carry the same amount of compassion. We care for the whole person, not just their illness. A person who ask for prayer for healing from the church ought to already have caring people around him or her. People who care about the whole person. These people demonstrate their love for this person before, during, and after prayer for healing. This network stays in place whether miraculous healing occurs or not.
My thesis supervisor told me a story of a severely handicapped child in their church. On various occasions, people had laid hands on the child and prayed for healing. Nothing had happened to date. But the family was not bitter or angry. That's because the church had demonstrated incredible compassion for both the parents and the child long before the prayer for healing and also during the various times of prayer, and continued to demonstrate compassion even when healing didn't come. If we can create this kind of healing ministry, one that remembers that in everything we do we must demonstrate Jesus' compassion, it won't become a divisive or hurtful matter, but rather be an expression of God's love.
Healing ministries can have several functions or purposes, and many of these are mutual. The New Testament demonstrates that miraculous healings can have an evangelistic purpose. Jesus' healing power is a demonstration of his saving power, his victory over sin and its consequences. Now, this has been abused by televangelist types to be sure, but abuse by someone else does not mean it is a bad thing. The challenge of the church today in North America is how to do this with tact and integrity. I believe it can be done, but I am still waiting to witness this sort of evangelism in North America in person before I recommend what works best.
Healing ministries obviously have the function of demonstrating our care and concern for one another. If we believe Jesus will answer our prayers for healing, then it is our duty to pray over those who are in need of healing. This can be our only compassionate response. How could we not do it? Just as we share all our burdens and concerns with one another, so our physical burdens and concerns are a concern to the community of faith as well.
Finally, having a healing ministry in the church allows the Holy Spirit to gift people for acts of healing. According to 1 Cor 12, just as the Holy Spirit gifts people for the other needs of the Church body, so he gifts some for acts of healing. By having healing prayer as a set part of our church practice, we make room for the Holy Spirit to gift people for healing acts.
6. HOW DO WE HAVE A HEALING MINISTRY WITHOUT MAKING THE CHURCH SICK?
A writer by the name of Peter C. Wagner wrote a book with this as the catchy title. One of the keys to a healthy healing ministry is to look at the successful ministries in the church. Which ministries are highly successful? Is it the ones which are well structured, with set guidelines, authority lines clearly established or the ones which are more loosely structured, with more freedom for individual activity? Neither is right or wrong, but simply more or less effective in a given context.
My suggestion is to follow the pattern of ministries which are successful in the local church. In some churches this may mean the burden of healing prayer falls on the pastor, perhaps the elders in other cases, perhaps whoever feels led to pray for healing, or perhaps a group of individuals charged with this ministry responsibility. The freedom is ours, the key is to go do it!
I would only make one further suggestion. The key to healing ministries which don't make churches sick is to involve as much as possible the kind of people who have a high degree of sensitivity to the Holy Spirit and to other people. These are people who are willing to wait and listen, both to God's direction in a particular situation and to the needs of the people whom they are ministering to. If these kinds of people are involved in the church's healing ministry, the ministry will not make the church sick at all, but rather much healthier than could ever be imagined.
We've covered a lot of issues pertaining to healing, but I want to leave you with a picture of Jesus the healer, as we see him at work in the gospels.
A leper came to him begging him, and kneeling he said to him, "If you
choose, you can make me clean."
Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, "I do choose. Be made clean!"
Immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean.
Mark 5:24-34 (NRSV)
So he went with him. And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on
him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve
years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that
she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse.
She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, "If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well."
Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, "Who touched my clothes?"
And his disciples said to him, "You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, 'Who touched me?'"
He looked all around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth.
He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease."
Mark 10:46-52 (NRSV)
They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving
Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside.
When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say,
"Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"
Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, "Son of David, have mercy on me!"
Jesus stood still and said, "Call him here."
And they called the blind man, saying to him, "Take heart; get up, he is calling you."
So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, "What do you want me to do for you?"
The blind man said to him, "My teacher, let me see again."
Jesus said to him, "Go; your faith has made you well."
Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.
Luke 4:40 (NRSV)
As the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various kinds of diseases brought them to him; and he laid his hands on each of them and cured them. This then is Jesus our healer, compassionate and powerful, willing and able to heal our bodies.
What follows is my brief assessment of current Alliance publications on healing. I think the "received tradition" has a tremendous value but time itself relentlessly and continuously alters the context from within which we are doing our theology. Hence, even as we respect this tradition, we must not be blind to the need to carry forward our thinking on critical issues such as healing within the C&MA denomination.
Keith M. Bailey, The Children's Bread (Camp Hill: Christian Publications, 1977)
Need to Move Forward because...Bailey's distinction between "sign miracles" which are God's way of acting in power to win converts and healing as "the children's bread" is nearly impossible to sustain exegetically and creates more problems than it apparently solves.
This distinction is one which was an effective weapon against the dispensationalists who are his "dialogue partners" in The Children's Bread. For dispensationalists the "signs of the Kingdom" are what Jesus does to convince Israel. The Church and the "Kingdom of God" are radically divided and hence healing is not an aspect of the subsequent "church age" and one has a cessation of signs. Bailey concedes the dispensationalist understanding of the Kingdom and hence must use the OT covenant framework to understand healing. However, in the present climate in which dispensationalism has been thoroughly and utterly discredited, the new developments in understanding Jesus' Kingdom message (in a non-dispensationalist way, e.g. Cullman, Beasley-Murray, Ladd) make that distinction unnecessary and ultimately unhelpful.
A.B. Simpson, The Gospel of Healing (Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications, 1986), 16-19; K.M. Bailey, Divine Healing: The Children's Bread (Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications, 1977), 43-58; R. M. Sipley, Understanding Divine Healing (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1986), 115-118. All three of these Alliance writers also begin their discussion on healing in Exodus 15:22-26 which conclude with YHWH's words in Exodus 15:26, "He said, 'If you will listen carefully to the voice of the LORD your God, and do what is right in his sight, and give heed to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will not bring upon you any of the diseases that I brought upon the Egyptians; for I am the LORD who heals you'" (NRSV)(Simpson,14-15; Bailey, 18-22; Sipley,8-11). As a "proof-text" this remains highly problematic as the covenantal framework in which it is found also promises wealth and security if Israel remains faithful--hardly something most people in touch with the teaching of Jesus and the general thrust of New Testament theology would wish to affirm as having ongoing significance in our present eschatological age.
A.B. Simpson, The Gospel of Healing and The Lord for the Body
"We are in the age of miracles, the age of Christ, the age that lies between the two advents. Underneath the eye of a ceaseless Divine Presence, this is the age of power, the age which above all ages of time should be intensely alive" (Simpson, The Gospel, 43).
Emphasis on Christ as the healer and the resurrection as the source of healing power.
Need to move forward because...Simpsons concept of a life lived free of all illness with death at an old age is a "half-utopia" which fails to fully appreciate death itself as evidence for the ongoing effects of living in "this age"ultimately every bit as much as illness in the course of ones life en route to the grave (The Gospel, 37-38). Simpson's over-exuberant statements on healing lead to the negative implication that believers who suffer from illness do so from sin or lack of faith. What indeed would Simpson have said to Job?
Again an already/not yet Kingdom of God framework allow us to be confident in God's ability and willingness to heal in the present without the necessary corollary that when it doesn't happen it is "our fault". Indeed this is still an age where we need to pray for the coming of God's rule to a greater degree, we are called by Christ himself to pray, "Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven" -- surely a prayer we pray because God's will in the present isn't always done on earth as it is in heaven, even if Christ's resurrection (and all the other "end-time" benefits we now receive) makes us confident that one day it will be!
Best book on healing presently available in my opinion:
Ken Blue, Authority to Heal (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1987)
The following (with the exception of the square brackets) is taken from
G. D. Fee and D. Stuart, How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth (Grand Rapids: Academie Books, 1982), 120.
health.....................................................no sickness or death
Spirit......................................................in complete fullness
[one resurrection]....................................[our resurrection]