Healing comes from God and is related to a trust in Him. Today, when people are sick, they pray to God and expect to be made whole. These people go directly to God or expect a miracle to be performed through a faith-healer. They believe that going to a doctor shows a lack of faith. Actually, suffering’s purpose is to turn us from our sin and give us a greater faith in God. Although at one time God did perform miracles, and though He is still capable of doing so today, He no longer uses miracles to reveal Himself.
A miracle could be defined as an extraordinary event wrought by the immediate, divine power of God for a divine purpose. “A miracle usually constitutes evidence of implications much wider than the event itself.” 1 There are many purposes of miracles in general. Jesus told a nobleman, “Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.” John 4:48). The Apostles went forth and confirmed by miracles that what they were preaching was the true Word of God. (Mark 16:20). Other miracles were performed so that the Israelite might know that the earth is the Lord’s and that He was their God (Exodus 9:29, 16:12).
There is no denying the fact that at one time, God did choose to reveals Himself in miraculous ways. We read of many miracles in the Bible, both in the Old and New Testament. The Old Testament miracles proved that God is the only true living God and the gods of the heathen were dead. These are the many examples of the Old Testament miracles. The ten plagues of Egypt proved that the Lord is God (Exodus 7-11). God led His people on dry land by the division of the Red Sea Jordan (Exodus 14: 15 – 30; Joshua 3: 13-4:18). Even in the Old Testament, people were raised from the dead (I Kings 17:19-23, II Kings 4: 32-37).
We also read of miracles in the New Testament. Miracles performed by Christ proved that He was the Son of God, the Messiah. There are forty or more miracles recorded in the Gospels that were performed by Christ. The resurrection of Christ is truly a miracle. If this miracle did not happen, our faith would be in vain.
In the book of Acts, we read of the miracles performed by the Apostles. They had to prove they were sent by God. The people never heard of missionaries before, so miracles helped them believe. The Apostles had to guard the church from error. Miracles were needed to strengthen the faith of the infant Church.
One thing should be made plain, and that is that Satan and his forces also performed miracles, or better called, “works of magic.” 2 In Matthew 24:24, Jesus warns us that false prophets would come and show great signs and wonders, to the extent that even the elect would be deceived. Many of the so-called faith-healers of today are sent by Satan and have their origin I him, rather than in God.
Miracles stopped when the Christian Church had a firm, solid beginning. Once the Apostles had spread the Word of God over the then-known world, the purpose of the apostolic miracles had been accomplished. Miracles died with the Apostles or shortly afterwards.
If a gift of healing existed today, in order to be Scriptural, it would have to conform to these distinctive features:
1.“Sufferers would be healed immediately.” 3 When Jesus and the Apostles healed people of their diseases, they were immediately made whole. Lame men did not slowly sit up, but immediately ran and leaped (Acts 3:7, 8, Mark 2:12). The blind immediately received sight (Luke 18:32). Fever immediately left those who touched Jesus (Mark 1:31). Today, the supposed miracles are slow and gradual which shows that they are not miracles at all
2. “All would be healed perfectly – no trace of disease remaining. 4
3. “Permanency would characterize all cures – no recurrence following elation over cure.” 5
4. “No payment for attempts at healing. Many modern professed faith-healers are extremely wealthy.” 6 Not once did Christ of the Apostles accept money for healing someone of a disease.
God did not reveal Himself by miracles throughout the whole Bible history, or as T. Alton Bryant, Editor of the New Compact Bible Dictionary, puts it, “From Bible history, and History since Bible times, the fact stands out that God does not reveal Himself by demonstrative miracles at all times. On the contrary, there have been long periods of history, even in Bible times when God has not used miracles in dealings with His people.”
There are many reasons people give, why (they believe) God should and does reveal Himself in miraculous ways today. Joni Erickson summarizes a few of them.
- “Sickness and death are the works of Satan and his forces (Luke 13:16; Acts 10:38). Since the whole purpose of Jesus coming was to destroy the works of the devil (I John 3:8), those who believe in Jesus can expect freedom from disease.
- “Jesus healed people during His lifetime. Verses like Hebrews 13:8 tell us that God never changes, that Jesus Christ is “the same yesterday, today and forever.” Therefore, He must still be healing people today as He did centuries ago.”
- “We have promises in Scripture that whatever we ask in Jesus name will be done for us (John 14:14, Mark 11:22-24; I John 3:22). These promises would seem to include prayers for healing.
- “There are a number of Scripture passages which specifically guarantee the health and healing of believers. The most well known is Isaiah 53:5”…and with His stripes we are healed.” Also, Psalm 103:3; I Peter 2:24; James 5:15.”
- The most obvious way God uses suffering to glorify Himself is to miraculously remove that suffering.
There are many arguments that are used to contradict the above statements.
It is true that Satan often sends diseases, but God rules over Satan. Satan can only do what God permits (Job 1:12; 2:6). “God actually uses Satan’s deeds to serve His own ends and accomplish His own purposes. 7 Many times Satan meant to do harm to God’s people, but his evil-doings only served God’s purposes. An example of this is in the crucifixion of Christ. Satan was behind this evil deed. He was the one who made the people shout, “Crucify Him!”. He was the one who made Pilot condemn Jesus to death. But yet, God saved His people from their sins by the death of His Son. When Joseph’s brothers did evil unto him, they meant harm, but God meant good (Genesis 50:20)
As for the second argument, it is true, God never changes. He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. His character and attributes remain the same. God could never become more holy (becomes that means He is) or less holy (because that means He wouldn’t be God later). If God changes, He wouldn’t be God. But what God does, or how He works, often does change. During different times of history, He worked in different ways. Deuteronomy 29:5 tells us that God preserved the clothes and shoes of the Israelites when they wandered in the wilderness for forty years. God does not preserve our clothes that long today. At one time, God worked through a nation, Israel. Now He works that the Church. Jesus once submitted to those who mocked, ridiculed, smote and spit upon Him. When He comes again, He will send them to hell. It is the same with miracles. At one time, God did reveal Himself in miracles, but He no longer does this today.
Jesus tells us whatever we ask I His name, He will do it (John 14:14). First of all, God always answers our prayers, unless we have wickedness in our hearts (Psalm 66:18). He knows what is best for us. But he will grants us our request only if it is in accordance with His will. Scripture passages to prove this are Matthew 8: 2, 3; Mark 1: 40, 41; James 4:15; I John 5: 14, 15; and many more. Everything that happens, whether sickness or God’s will. If is His will that we are sick, then we must pray, “Let Thy will be done,” Christ did in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:39, 42; Mark 14:36). Secondly, true Christians will not ask for things that they do not really need, such as earthly things. But those who are elect, who have Christ in their hearts, will only, ask for spiritual things that will truly help them as Christians. Thirdly, we must live in close fellowship with God, keeping His commandments, and He will hear our prayers (I John 3:22). Finally many people use James 5:14, 15 as a proof text that God still heals people in miraculous ways today. “Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the pray of faith shall save the sick, and Lord shall raise him up;” This sickness does not refer to physical sickness. If we look at the context, we see that it refers to spiritual weakness. The elders pray for the weak in faith because he cannot pray for himself. The words “shall heal” are not mentioned, but “shall save” are.
Even though God hates disease, He wills it to exist (Exodus 4:11; Isaiah 45:7; Lamentations 3:38). “Sometimes sickness serves as God’s chastiser to wake us from our sin” 8 (I Corinthians 11:29, 30; I Peter 4:1). Sickness is God’s proof that He loves us. Sickness is God’s discipline for His children. God uses our suffering so that we many comfort others with the comfort He gives us. (II Corinthians 1:4).
It is true that God was glorified when Jesus and other servants of God performed miracles to heal people of their sicknesses. But God is also glorified by sending sicknesses to His people.
God maintains the loyalty of His people even when they face difficult trials. God’s strength is most obvious when sickness and suffering “drive us to our knees in weakness and frailty”.9
There are many reasons why God allows sickness. (Of course, we cannot completely understand God, so there might be more or different reasons than these given). One reason is to mold a Christian character. God uses sickness t remove personal sin. Another reason is that if God stops sickness, He must stop the cause of sickness, which is sin. Sinners would then be destroyed, and the world would come to an end. But the unconverted elect would perish along with the reprobate. Christ cannot come again until the last elect person is converted. If we had a perfect life, a life without pain, suffering and trials, we would soon become proud, and that we do not need God. But sickness leads us to God. It sets our minds on heavenly things. It teaches us to depend on God alone, and not on human strength. And finally, suffering prepares us for heaven. It makes us want to go to heaven, where there will be no more suffering and sickness.
Thus, you can see that although God is capable of performing miracles today, He no longer uses miraculous means to reveal Himself. “There is no evidence in Scripture that God meant the gift of healing to continue in the church.” 10 The Apostle Paul, even though he healed many people, left a person sick while he went on to Rome (II Timothy 4:20). He told Timothy to take “medicine” for his infirmities (I Timothy 5:23). So even at the time of Paul, God was revealing Himself in other ways.
Sin has many results. Why should we single our disease and say we want to be rid of it? We deserve hell, and many times we as Christians admit that too. But we complain when we get the slightest taste of it here on earth but Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Who committed no sins, suffered greatly while on this earth. His whole life was full of suffering. We, who are mere specs of dust, who sin against God continually, should suffer more Christ, because of Christ’s death on the cross, we are made righteous before God and look forward to the time when Christ will come again and bring us to heaven, where there will be no more suffering or sickness.
- “Miracles” The New Compact Bible Dictionary (1967), 368
- , p 368
- Herbert Lockyer, All the Miracles of the Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1965)p.154
- , p 154
- , p 154
- Joni Erickson and Steve Estes, A Step Further (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1987), p.137
- , p 154
- , p 48
- Herbert Lockyer, All the Miracles of the Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1965, p 154
- Erickson and Estes, op. cit., p 190