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Posts Tagged ‘Divine Healing

Strange Fire Review (Chapter Eight)

In chapter eight of Dr. John MacArthur’s book, Strange Firehe writes about faith healers and false hopes.  He opens the chapter by examining two leading faith healers: Oral Roberts and Benny Hinn.  MacArthur shows that both men have made bizarre claims (such as Roberts’ claim to see a 900 foot Jesus who warned him that unless he received millions of dollars, he would be killed or Hinn who claimed to have received his healing anointing after visiting the grave of faith healer Katherine Kuhlman).  MacArthur does this to show that faith healers are not even close to the biblical healings nor to the men of God that God used to do these healings.

MacArthur then dives into the New Testament to show what types of healings God did and the men of God that He used.  He makes several key points:

  • New Testament healings were not performed for money or fame.  In fact, many of the healings were performed on obviously poor people who never could have paid for these healings (Matthew 9:27-31; 20:29-34; 21:14; Mark 8:22-26; Luke 17:11-21; John 5:1-9; Acts 3:1-10; 14:8-18).  Jesus, unlike modern faith healers, told the healed to tell no one what happened (Matthew 8:4; 9:30; Mark 5:43).  In contrast, Benny Hinn told TBN viewers that if they gave to TBN, God would perform a miracle for them.  Hinn brings in $100 million a year to his ministry all in the name of healings.
  • New Testament healings were completely successful (Matthew 14:36).  There were no failures.  Every attempt to heal was successful.  This is not the case with modern faith healers.  MacArthur points out that Hinn promises all to be healed based on the promises of God’s Word yet when the sick are not healed, Hinn will often say that a person didn’t have enough faith to be healed.  Rather than question his own teachings, Hinn will point the blame at those whom he is trying to teach.  MacArthur also points out that Hinn has often questioned why God doesn’t heal everyone including an article in the LA Times where Hinn ponders this question.  MacArthur points out that Hinn (nor any faith healers) can document complete healings like those done in the New Testament.  Not even one.
  • New Testament healings were undeniable (John 11:47-48; Acts 4:16-17).  While NT healings left unbelievers having to dip so low as to say that Jesus was healing by the power of Satan (Matthew 12:24), modern faith healers have convinced no one.  MacArthur points out that HBO followed Hinn around in a documentary called, A Question of Miraclesbut the director concluded the series by saying that no one was healed at Hinn’s crusades.  None.  The director even wrote in the NY Times, “If I had seen miracles, I would have been happy to trumpet it but in retrospect, I think they do more damage to Christianity than the most committed atheist.”
  • New Testament healings were immediate and spontaneous.  Leapers are cleansed (Mark 1:42), blind men were immediately given sight (Mark 10:52), the paralyzed are able to walk immediately (Acts 3:8).  Nearly all NT healings were immediate and spontaneous except a select few (Mark 8:22-26; Luke 17:11-19; John 9:1-7).  Jesus was able to heal on the spot (Matthew 8:14-15; 9:20).  Yet not so with faith healers.  MacArthur points out that faith healers often claim that the atmosphere must be prepared for healings.  Where is this in the NT?  Why must faith healers rent a stadium to do miracles instead of doing their healings out in public for the lost to see if in fact healings point to God (Hebrews 2:1-4)?
  • New Testament healings authenticated a true message.  NT healings were used to open doors for the gospel (John 20:30-31).  NT healings also pointed to the deity of Christ (John 10:38; Acts 2:22) and authenticated the Apostles (Romans 15:18-19; 2 Corinthians 12:12).  In contrast, MacArthur points out that even Satan can do false miracles (2 Corinthians 11:13; 2 Thessalonians 2:9) and if the gospel message is not accurate, it is from Satan (Galatians 1:8-9).  Yet faith healers are not known for preaching the gospel but instead they are known for loving money.  Further, faith healers are often caught in sinful acts and rarely repent until caught.

In conclusion, MacArthur acknowledges that the Lord does heal in answer to prayer.  James 5:14-15 calls us to pray for the sick but we are to leave the results up to God.  Further, James 5:14-15 is not the same as the New Testament gift of healing.  Faith healers cannot do apostolic quality miracles and have given no proof that God is using them to do miracles.  To this day, faith healers have produced not one verifiable healing that points to the glory of God.  Instead, faith healers are shams, use parlor tricks, showmanship, are frauds, and scam artists who feed off the desires of the sick.

I agreed with much of what MacArthur wrote in this chapter.  While I will continue to pray for the sick to be healed, I make no claims that I have seen miracles or that true faith healers exist.  I believe in the supernatural power of God and I believe He is more than able to heal whomever He desires.  Ultimately, true healing only occurs in heaven (2 Corinthians 5:1-8; Revelation 21:4).  My earthly father is blind.  Yet I am confident that he will see in heaven.  Sickness is part of the fall of man in Genesis 3 and thankfully the second Adam has reversed the curse so that in eternity, sickness must flee from the presence of God and His holy ones.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

03/11/2014 at 12:14 PM

Intercession and Physical Healing

In Mark 7:31-37 we read the following:

31 Then he returned from the region of Tyre and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. 32 And they brought to him a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment, and they begged him to lay his hand on him. 33 And taking him aside from the crowd privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and after spitting touched his tongue. 34 And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” 35 And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. 36 And Jesus charged them to tell no one. But the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. 37 And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

In this text I wish you to show you three truths about prayer and physical healing.  I believe we can pray for the sick to be healed.  This is not a debate over whether healing is the in atonement as a guarantee (which all true Christians believe it is if you believe in heaven (1 Corinthians 15:49-57).  I know that God is sovereign in healing and that He has not always healed the way that we might want Him to heal.  I had a friend once who was diagnosed with cancer on his spine.  We prayed and he prayed earnestly for healing.  He truly wanted to be healed for the glory of God and he was earnest in his prayers for his atheist doctor to see the power of God manifested in his life.  He would preach on healing, write about healing, and pray healing passages but in the end, he died.  I don’t have answers other than to say that God did heal Jonathan but not as we thought.

Isaiah 55:8 reads, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.”  God’s ways are always holy and just.  We can rest in that but we don’t always know why He doesn’t act the way that we want Him to act.  He is God.  We are but flesh.  We need to trust Him even when we don’t understand (Hebrews 11:1).  That is true faith, trusting God when hope seems to fail (Romans 4:18-21).

However, this should not deter us from praying for the sick to be healed and truly believing that God can and does heal.  The ultimate healing is salvation.  Salvation is complete deliverance.  A.W. Pink writes that salvation is four-fold.  It is the deliverance from the penalty, power, presence, and pleasure of sin.  If this is true, the power of sickness will be broken by the power of God whether here or in eternity.  God will deliver His people just as He did for the Israelites from the hand of the Egyptians and even from their diseases (Exodus 15:26).

In Mark 7:31-37 we read of three main points about praying for someone else to be healed.  That is:

1.  The Man’s Impediment (v.32)

2.  The People’s Intercession (v.32)

3.  The Lord’s Involvement (vv.33-37)

Let us look at each point briefly.

1.  The Man’s Impediment.

It is easy to see this man’s impediment.  According to Mark 7:32 this man was deaf and had a speech impediment.  His condition was something that these people could not help him with.  The doctors of his day would have nothing for him.  This man needed a touch from Jesus.  That was his only hope.  Many in our day are the same.  This world can only do so much and often very little for us.  We need Jesus.  We need His touch.

2.  The People’s Intercession.

The people beg Jesus to lay His hand on this sick man.  The word beg here is the same Greek word found in Romans 8:26 where we read of the Holy Spirit interceding for us.  The word intercession is found here.  The people are interceding for this man.

This is the heart of my post.  We are the intercessors often for others.  We have the honor to come before the Lord and beseech Him for others.  What an honor!  We know the promise of Hebrews 4:14-16 which reads:

14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

We can come boldly into God’s presence because of Christ and we can intercede for others.  While others may be in their impediment, we can intercede for them.  We have the honor of coming into the Lord’s presence and asking Him to touch them.  This is just what the people did.  And the Lord heard their cries and He answered them.

1 Timothy 2:1-2 tells us to pray for everyone, to intercede for all and in context to pray for their salvation.  Daniel 9 is a picture of intercession as we find Daniel praying for his own people and asking God to forgive their sins.  John 17 is another picture of the intercession from the lips of our Lord.  Praise God for Hebrews 7:25 that Jesus intercedes for us!  What an honor for us to be able to join in with Jesus and pray for others.  How sad that we often waste too much time on ourselves instead of seeking God for others.  These people in Mark 7:32 were interceding for this poor man.

3.  The Lord’s Involvement.

After the people cried out to Jesus for Him to touch this deaf man, Jesus heard their cries and He came to the man.  We have a God who is not far from us.  He hears our cries.  Just as He heard the cries of the Israelites in Exodus 2:24-25, so Jesus heard these.  Jesus taught His disciples in John 14:12-14 that they would do greater works than He because they would be able to pray.  Prayer opens the heavens and brings the glory of God.  The purpose of God even answering our cries is because He loves us but also because He wants to exalt His name.

Jesus came to hear the cries of the people and He came to heal this man but He did so because of verse 37.  This miracle (and all miracles and all answers to prayer) were for the glory of God.  The miracles of Jesus pointed to His being the true Messiah.  In Matthew 8:14-17 we read of Jesus healing Peter’s mother-in-law and many others.  Matthew records in verse 17 that this was to fulfill Isaiah 53:4.  Miracles pointed to the authority of Jesus and demonstrated that God was with Him (John 3:2) and were given to exalt the Messiah (John 2:11).

The Lord hears our cries and He answers our prayers because of His glory.  Jesus said that our faith in Him can move mountains (Mark 11:22-24).  It is not faith in faith that can move the hand and heart of God but faith in His power, faith in His person.  1 John 5:14-15 tells us how we are to pray:

14 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.

An amazing promise!  We must pray however according to the will of God.  What is the will of God?  We find God’s will firmly in the Scriptures.  For example, we can pray 1 Thessalonians 4:3 for both ourselves and others.  We can pray 1 Timothy 2:4 for the lost.  We can pray for healing based on James 5:16.  We can pray for discernment according to Proverbs 2:3.  There are so many promises that God has given us in His Word.  As we meditate upon His Word (Psalm 1:2), the Lord will use His Word to teach us to pray.  Yet when the Lord hears our cries, it is because of His passion for His glory.  The glory of the Lord will reign supreme in eternity (Revelation 4:11).

Prayer is focused on the glory of God.  This is true of all true praying.  True praying earnestly wants to exalt the Lord God.  True praying is not focused on the flesh.  True praying is always focused on the will of the Spirit.  Further, even praying for the healing of the sick must focus not upon us, the intercessors, or the sick but the glory of God.  We want to see God heal not because we want to see a miracle but we want to see Him exalted.  We are passionate about what God is passionate about: His glory!

Conclusion

I do believe we should be like these people here in Mark 7:32 and bring the sick to the Lord but our focus must be on verse 37 and the glory of God.  God answers prayer not merely because He is good and loving but also because He wants to glorify His name.  As God answers our prayers, He does so for His honor and fame.  This healing, and all healings, focuses on the glory of God (John 9:1-3).  God desires to hear our cries and He will answer our prayers but His fame is what He is about.  We too must pray for this.  Intercessory prayer brings glory to God because God moves through us and in us to exalt His Son.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

06/16/2013 at 10:17 AM

Review of “Word Spirit Power” by R.T. Kendall, Charles Carrin, Jack Taylor

How often have we felt as R.T. Kendall describes in this book, theologically sound but powerless.  This book describes seeking God for the power of the Holy Spirit.  The authors are not content to simply teach biblical truths or to be sound in their theology but they want to see the power of God manifested in His Church through healings, through signs and wonders, through the gifts of the Spirit.  Like many others, they are tired of going through the motions of “church” and they want to see the living God.

My thoughts on the book are that the authors do give you a hunger for God.  I agreed with them that our God is a living God.  God is not dead.  He didn’t give us the Bible and then abandon us.  He didn’t heal people during the ministry of Jesus and the book of Acts only to leave us with the completion of the New Testament.  I have read articles and books on the cessation of the manifestation gifts of the Spirit such as speaking in tongues, prophecy, or healing and while I agree that there can be abuses of these gifts, I find the arguments in favor of their cessation based on a philosophy more than a theology.  I agreed with the authors that the Bible is given to us not to replace the supernatural but to correct abuses of it.  This was a good point.  The book focuses on the experiences of the authors and then allows the authors to write short chapters on seeking God and His power.

What are the weaknesses of the book?  First, while I am not a full cessationist, I would call myself a “partial cessationist.”  Why?  Because I believe the healings of Jesus and the Apostles were unique to the work of God.  The healings of Jesus, for example, showed He was the Messiah and verified that He was sent from God (John 3:2; 6:38; Acts 10:38).  The Apostles likewise were able to perform miracles to demonstrate their validity (Acts 14:3).  Few would claim to be able to do miracles as Jesus or the Apostles did and few (if any) would ever claim to be speaking on the same level as God spoke through Jesus or the Apostles.  No doubt the Lord Jesus and the Apostles carried a unique authority from God to glorify His name.  While I agree that all disciples of Jesus are now full of the Spirit (Acts 2:38), few if any would claim to be speaking on the same level as say Paul the Apostle or would claim to heal as Jesus healed (Matthew 4:23-25).  I have never witnessed a special and unique healing such as raising the dead.  While I believe God can raise the dead, I have never heard of a verified raising of the dead.  I believe that since the completion of the New Testament, God is not speaking the same to us as He did through the Apostles.  Few, other than cults, would disagree.

That said, the book does give me a hunger for more of God.  I truly do believe that God answers prayer.  I believe He is certainly able to do miracles.  I believe He longs to hear our cries (John 14:13-14).  I believe that prayer is powerful not because prayer itself has power but because of the intercessory work of Jesus Christ who sits at the right hand of God the Father (Hebrews 4:14-16).  Jesus is our faithful high priest (Hebrews 7:25) and because He is praying for us before the Father, we can pray and I believe God can do mighty things to exalt His name and His glory in the earth.  I believe, as the authors do, that we should pray great and mighty prayers.  While we do not know the will of God, we can know that God does desire to glorify His name (Ephesians 3:20-21).  Faith in God can move mountains (Mark 11:22-24).

Overall, this book will generate a passion for the Lord Jesus and His presence.  Critics won’t find much to wrestle with here except perhaps the experiences of the authors.  The chapters are given not to theologically show our need for God and His power but to generate a hunger for God.  I am hungry for God.  I want Him to move in power in my life.  I want to see souls saved for the glory of God and I want Jesus to be exalted in answering our cries.  Truly He is a mighty God!

Written by The Seeking Disciple

08/14/2012 at 9:15 AM

Review of Healing: Unplugged by Bill Johnson and Randy Clark

I will admit from the outset that I am not the biggest Bill Johnson or Randy Clark fan.  For those of you who don’t know much about these two men, both are huge in the charismatic movement with large followings.  Bill Johnson pastors Bethel Church in Redding, California and is a well sought after speaker.  His main emphasis is on divine healing and charismatic personal prophecy.  He claims to have raised the dead and other miracles though he offers no evidence as you can see at this site from a secular newspaper that ran an article on him and his ministry.  You would think that when a secular paper comes to investigate the claims of healings that Johnson would want to present evidence that would show the power of God but he does not and says that faith doesn’t need evidence.

Clark is best known for his days with the Toronto Blessing.  Again, for those unfamiliar with these terms, the Toronto Blessing was a “revival” that broke out in the mid 1990’s at the Toronto Airport Vineyard with Randy Clark.  The “revival” turned bizarre with people barking like dogs, flying around the room like eagles, or roaring like lions.  Along with uncontrollable laughter, the “revival” became known as the Toronto Blessing or the Laughter Revival.  The Toronto Blessing was responsible for many other off-shoot revivals including a laughter revival at Holy Trinity Brompton Church in London, England (an Anglican Church) and the Brownsville Revival at Brownsville Assembly of God in Pensacola, Florida.  I visited the Brownsville Revival on three separate occasions and saw some good and saw much flesh.  Needless to say, Randy Clark has been traveling the world since preaching his “revival” gospel with a focus on healing, signs and wonders, and personal prophecy.

This book, Healing: Unplugged is a book that seeks to get into the minds of Bill Johnson and Randy Clark.  Both men claim to be used by God to do miracles.  Both men claim to have seen incredible miracles.  In this book, Clark first interviews Johnson and asks him questions about his ministry such as how do he get into a healing ministry, what lessons has he learned from his mistakes, what are a few stories of the most incredible healings he has ever seen.  Johnson then turns around and interviews Clark and asks him essentially the same questions.

The book is not that long.  168 pages of actual reading.  I read the book in one day.  The stories are truly incredible.  It is also interesting to read how both Johnson and Clark got started in a healing ministry.  Johnson was raised in the Pentecostal movement so he was always familiar with the teaching of divine healing and praying for the sick according to James 5:13-15.  Johnson does take a swipe at Pentecostals in a way by pointing out that while they believed in divine healing and did pray for the sick, no one ever got healed as far as he can remember.  It was just a tradition that they seemed to follow but never saw actual healings from.

Clark’s adventure into a healing ministry is a bit more unusual.  Clark was pastoring a traditional Baptist church that slowly turned toward the charismatic movement after Clark begin to listen to Vineyard teacher, the late John Wimber.  Clark begin to push his Baptist church toward praying for the sick and actually believing God would do miracles if they had faith according to Mark 11:22-24.  Clark said that soon their Baptist church was jumping and he even begin to invite men such as John Wimber to come and preach to their church about healing and signs and wonders.  I enjoyed Clark’s story because he came out of a non-Pentecostal background and begin to pray for healings.

The problems I have with the book are many.  First, there are only 3 passages of Scripture that are even referenced in 168 pages. Did you read that and catch that?  Here is a book that seeks to build faith in the people reading the book to begin to pursue God for divine healings and miracles yet only three passages from the Bible are even referenced and those only in passing.  None of the three passages are even exegeted.  How can Bible teachers or prophets or healers claim to be speaking for God and seeking to build people’s faith in God yet not deal with the Scriptures?  Romans 10:17 says that the Word of God builds our faith but we don’t find much focus on the Word of God in this book at all.

Secondly, the stories, while incredible, are simply told and we are to just believe them.  In some cases they will even say that a doctor checked out the healed person and verified the healing but nothing is given as proof.  The Bible, on the other hand, is a book that can be tested (2 Peter 1:16-21).  The Bible doesn’t tell us to trust God blindly.  It gives us proofs in the Bible that show us that God is truthful in what He has said (John 17:17).  I don’t doubt that I too have told stories and not given any proof for my story and simply expect people to believe me but in this case, Johnson and Clark are sending this book out to millions of people with only their view of the healings as proof.

Lastly, I found that the book really didn’t do a good job of focusing on Jesus.  The Apostles in the book of Acts always focused on Jesus as the Savior, Lord, and Healer (Acts 3:26).  In fact, Peter (Acts 4:8-9) and Paul (Acts 14:14-18) both clearly told people to look to Jesus and not to them.  The focus of healings, signs and wonders is always to point to the Savior (Mark 16:20; Hebrews 2:4).  In Acts 14:3 we read, “So they remained for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord, who bore witness to the word of his grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.” But the focus was entirely upon Jesus Christ and His gospel.  Mankind’s greatest need is not healing of our bodies but our sins forgiven through Christ (Luke 24:47).  This should be our aim: to exalt Jesus Christ so that all may be saved through faith in Him (John 6:37; 2 Peter 3:9).

Overall I do not recommend this book for those interested in divine healing.  A couple of books to look at about healing would be Jack Deere’s Surprised by the Power of the Spirit

Here is the book

and Richard Mayhue’s The Healing Promise.  I strongly recommend Mayhue’s book.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

06/10/2012 at 2:20 PM

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