SPECIAL TOPIC: HEALING
It is shocking to me that not all those healed in the NT were simultaneously "saved" (i.e., trust Christ and have eternal life). Physical healing is a poor substitute for spiritual salvation. Miracles are only truly helpful if they bring us to God. All humans live in a fallen world. Bad things happen. God often chooses not to intervene, but this says nothing about His love and concern. Be careful of demanding that God act miraculously for every need in this current evil age. He is sovereign and we do not know the full implications of any given situation.
At this point I would like to add my commentary notes from 2 Tim. 4:20 about Paul and physical healing (see www.freebiblecommentary.org ):
"There are so many questions we would like to ask the NT writers. One subject all believers think about is physical healing. In Acts (cf. 19:12; 28:7-9) Paul is able to heal, but here and in 2 Cor. 12:7-10 and Phil. 2:25-30, he seems unable. Why are some healed and not all, and is there a time window connected to healing which has closed?
I surely believe in a supernatural, compassionate Father who has and does heal physically as well as spiritually, but why is this healing aspect seemingly present and then noticeably absent? I do not think that it is connected to human faith, for surely Paul had faith (cf. 2 Corinthians 12). I feel that healing and believing miracles affirmed the truthfulness and validity of the gospel, which it still does in areas of the world where it is first proclaimed. However, I feel that God wants us to walk by faith and not by sight. Also, physical illness is often allowed in believer’s lives:
1. as temporal punishment for sin
2. as consequences of life in a fallen world
3. to help believers mature spiritually
My problem is that I never know which one is involved! My prayer for God’s will to be done in each case is not a lack of faith but a sincere attempt to allow the gracious, compassionate God to work His will in each life."
Here are my conclusions:
1. Healing was a significant aspect of the ministry of Jesus and the Apostles.
2. It was intended primarily to confirm the radically new message about God and His kingdom.
3. It shows the heart of God for hurting people.
4. God has not changed (Mal. 3:6) and He still acts in love, in healing (all the spiritual gifts continue, cf. 1 Cor. 12:9,28,30).
5. There are examples where the healing of those with great faith did not take place ( a booklet that has helped me in this area is Gordon Fee, The Disease of the Health, Wealth Gospel).
a. Paul, 2 Cor. 12:7-10
b. Trophimus, 2 Tim. 4:20
6. Sin and sickness were associated in rabbinical thought (cf. John. 9:2; James 5:13-18).
7. Healing is not a guarantee of the New Covenant. It is not part of the atonement described in Isa. 53:4-5 and Ps. 103:3, where healing is imagery for forgiveness (see Isa. 1:5-6, where sickness is a metaphor for sin).
8. There is true mystery about why some are healed and some are not.
9. It is possible that although healing is present in every age, there was a significant increase during Jesus’ lifetime; this increase will occur again just before His return.
The modern author who has helped me realize that my own demoninational tradition has depreciated the work of the Spirit, especially the miraculous ones, is Gordon Fee. He has several books, but the two I like that deal with this area are
1. Paul, the Spirit, and the People of God
2. God's Empowering Presence: The Holy Spirit and the Letters of Paul
As with most biblical issues, there are two extremes. We must all walk in the light we have in love, but always open to more light from the Bible and the Spirit.
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