There are those today who believe that Jesus not only paid for sin on the cross, but that He also paid for our sickness. They say that each is received by faith, if you have enough faith to receive it. Loss of faith, then, causes the loss of these benefits of faith. They claim some are especially gifted in healing and can heal those who come to them. They say God did miracles in the Bible and he is still a miracle-working God today.
What about this? Is this true? This is not just one peripheral issue, but stands very central in our salvation and Christian life. Is God’s sovereignty or man’s free will the final and ultimate deciding factor? It must be God’s sovereignty. The motive for living for Jesus should not be fear of losing our salvation. The goal of living for Jesus should not be a problem free life. Pain and suffering isn’t to be faced by whipping up enough ‘faith’ so that God removes it (or living with the feelings of failure and guilt if it isn’t removed and we believe that is our fault by not having enough faith). What about these claims of ‘faith healers’? What does the Bible say?
Is the gift of healing for today? While it’s true that Jesus and the Apostles healed, it was done as a sign to authenticate that they were from God (Matthew 12:39). This was God’s way of having people listen to them instead of all the counterfeits around. When they were fully authenticated, there was no longer any reason for the sign. In AD 35 all were healed but by AD 60 some were not (Epaphroditus, Paul’s thorn in the flesh). Then by AD 67 very few were being healed (Trophimus was left at Miletus sick, Timothy’s stomach was unhealed, etc.). Jerusalem, the scene of many early miracles, had not one miracle done in it after Stephen was stoned. The people had the evidence but rejected it. James, the oldest book in the Bible, says that if someone is sick we are to pray for them (James 5:14).
Should we see miracles today like in bible times? Actually if you list all the miracles in the Bible you will find almost all of them fit three time periods. They aren’t evenly spread out throughout history but cluster in the times of Moses/Joshua, Elijah/Elisha and Jesus/apostles. In each of these times a new mess had developed so God sent a new message through a new messenger whom He authenticated by miracles (“signs”). One more time of miracles is coming, called the Tribulation.
Is faith a prerequisite for healing? Jesus didn’t make faith a requirement for healing. Many that He healed didn’t have faith. The impotent man at the pool didn’t even know who He was. The man with the withered hand and the man with dropsy were healed as a sign to religious leaders who were present, they didn’t ask to be healed. The cripple that Peter and Paul healed outside the temple didn’t exercise any faith. Of course the demoniacs who were delivered and those brought back from the dead didn’t exercise faith. Then there are others who had strong faith but weren’t healed: Stephen, Paul, Timothy, Job, David, Elisha, etc.