As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. 2And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.”[John 9:1-3]
Is God still in the healing business? Is God still able to work miracles of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual healing? Of course He can. God is omnipotent and limitless in power. It’s not a question of if God heals, but how He heals and to what end. How can we know when we have truly witnessed the hand of God and not just a natural phenomenon?
Unfortunately, the authenticity of the church and the credibility of the gospel has been compromised and corrupted by countless imposters posing as “faith healers,” grossly abusing and perverting this “gift” for their own filthy greed and financial gain. What’s worse, however, is that the faith of untold millions has been destroyed by their heretical exploits. These false teachers will meet a swift destruction on that Day for the damage they have done.
They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children! 15Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing.[2 Peter 2:14-15]
Despite all of this, the Bible clearly recognizes the legitimate work of divine healing. Many of God’s most faithful witnesses and prophets were validated in their message through the demonstration of miraculous signs and wonders. Of course our Lord Jesus came with healing in His hands, showing His authority over creation, reversing the curse, and providing a foretaste of the age to come.
Although supernatural healing is not always God’s immediate or even regular response to our human condition, God is more than capable to heal the sick when He so chooses to do so. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever, which means that God certainly can and does heal the sick today, yet it remains reserved for God to know why He is willing to heal some and not others.
So if God still is in the healing business, then how are we to understand divine healing?
What does the Bible say about healing?
Divine Healing is Immediate
And behold, there was a woman who had had a disabling spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself. 12When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your disability.” 13And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God.[Luke 13:11-13]
Typically when God chooses to supernaturally heal someone, He doesn’t waste any time. It’s not like gradually getting your strength back from a broken bone or slowly beating cancer through rounds of chemo and radiation. Although we are grateful for the gifts of modern medicine and the advancements in technology that have afforded a better quality of life, we must recognize the difference between natural “healing” and supernatural healing.
Whether spiritual, mental, emotional or physical, when God chooses to heal us it is immediate. It is the difference of being out of your mind one minute tormented by a demon, and completely at peace and sane the next minute, sitting at the feet of Jesus. It is being blind from birth, and all at once being able to see after being touched by the hand of God.
Then people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. 36And those who had seen it told them how the demon-possessed man had been healed.[Luke 8:35-36]
Divine Healing is Irrefutable
As they were going away, behold, a demon-oppressed man who was mute was brought to him. 33And when the demon had been cast out, the mute man spoke. And the crowds marveled, saying, “Never was anything like this seen in Israel.”[Matthew 9:32-33]
When God heals the sick, not only is it immediate, but it is irrefutable — indisputable. That’s not to say there won’t always be scoffers and skeptics who already have their minds made up. It’s unlikely you will believing in miracles if you don’t allow God and the supernatural in your worldview.
Yet for the overwhelming majority who witness a true miracle, there is a collective amazement and unwavering recognition of the power of God. When Jesus raised Lazarus and Jairus’s daughter, there was no debate, no room for doubt. When the dead live and the blind see, we have witnessed the divine and transcended the laws of nature.
Divine Healing is Irreversible
He went on from there and entered their synagogue. 10And a man was there with a withered hand … Then Jesus said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And the man stretched it out, and it was restored, healthy like the other.[Matthew 12:9-10, 13]
When Jesus or the Apostles healed the lame or raised the dead, it always was irreversible. Divine healing isn’t temporary or partial. It is permanent. It’s not like getting better for a little while and then suffering a relapse. It’s not like the man with a shriveled hand later saw his hand draw up again.
No! When God heals, He heals completely. We should be very careful to attribute anything less to God. Now on a side note * — I understand that God theoretically could legitimately heal someone of cancer, for example, in a way that defies nature, but then later the cancer could come back or another ailment altogether. The point is that we must raise the standard of validation to what the Bible says and not man.
Divine Healing Validates God’s Messengers
And John, calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them.“[Luke 7:19, 22]
Moses was God’s chosen servant and faithful witness, and to validate his message, God sent Moses to Egypt working amazing signs and wonders. So it was with Elijah and Elisha, and of course with Jesus and the Apostles of the early church.
Because the sign gifts of healing, tongues, and miracles are not God’s ordinary mode of operation, we must understand that the primary purpose of these gifts serve to validate God’s messengers and ultimately promote the good news of God’s salvation.
If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; 38but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.[John 10:37-38]
Spiritual regeneration and redemption remain to be man’s greatest need. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation to all who believe. Jesus came preaching the good news of the kingdom to the poor and His miracles authenticated His message. The greatest miracle is the salvation of the sinner, so God uses physical healing to stir the heart of man and awaken him to his spiritual need for God.
For it is the healing of the heart mind and soul that matters most for now. Our identity in Christ determines our destiny of everlasting life and seals us spiritually for the day of redemption — when God regenerates the entire universe.
Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? 10But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— 11“I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” 12And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”[Mark 2:9-11]
Divine Healing is for the Glory of God
So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”4But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”[John 11:3-4]
Every supernatural act of healing is for the good of man but more so for the glory of God. Any manifestation of healing that is performed or perceived must be to the praise of Almighty God — the Healer. Anything less attempts to elevate the gift above the Giver or the servant above the Master.
The most important distinction, however, is to understand that God is worthy of all honor and glory and praise whether He chooses to heal or not. God’s worth is not contingent upon what He can do for us but rather upon who He is in His very nature and essence. God is holy and just and true and good. God will forever be glorified whether He is willing to heal or not.
In so choosing to heal, however, God shows mercy to undeserving sinners and has compassion upon whom He will.
Behold, blessed is the one whom God reproves;[Job 5:17-18]
therefore despise not the discipline of the Almighty.
18For he wounds, but he binds up;
he shatters, but his hands heal
Divine Healing is a Foretaste of Resurrection and the Coming Kingdom
Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to Jesus, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw. 23And all the people were amazed, and said, “Can this be the Son of David?” …
Jesus said, “But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.“[Matthew 12:22-23,28]
Jesus Christ came waging war on the spiritual forces of darkness and through His death and resurrection, Jesus paid our ransom and has redeemed sinners from the power of death and delivered us from the evil one. Jesus is conquering the kingdom of darkness with every sinner that is saved and brought into God’s kingdom.
Our immediate spiritual salvation, however, is only a partial promise of God’s greater work of redemption. For Jesus will return to establish His kingdom on earth and redeem the created world once and for all, including the glorious resurrection of our physical bodies. Every miracle is a foretaste of that Day when everything is made new and Jesus wipes away every tear from our eyes.
Even Lazarus — once raised — had to die again, yet like all of God’s children, he awaits the final and future resurrection on the last day when Jesus comes again in all His power and great glory [see John 11:24-28]. It is always with this final restoration and recreation in mind that we must keep our hope steadfast in the promises of God.
Our hope is the coming kingdom. Our Blessed Hope is King Jesus Himself who is coming to give life to these mortal bodies and clothe His children in light and immortality.
Perhaps no one conveyed this reality better than Paul.
22For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.[Romans 8:22-23]
God most definitely is our only Hope and Healer, and although He can and still chooses to heal according to His will and purposes, there is only one way to validate a true divine healing. We must know what the Bible says and must always measure miraculous manifestations by what already has been revealed in Scripture. God’s word must be the ultimate authority and standard and anyone claiming true divine healing must pass the test. If not, then I would be very reluctant to attribute that work to God.
True miraculous healing will be immediate, indisputable, and irreversible. Divine healing will validate the messengers of God, point us to the Son of God, authenticate the gospel of God, lead to the glory of God, and serve as a foretaste of the Kingdom of God.
Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.[James 5:14-16]