Let’s be gloriously blunt: the ministry of physical healing was never intended to be an option in the Christian church. One of the most prevalent commands by Jesus to the disciples was to heal the sick. If there were no other scriptural support, this fact alone would make the healing ministry qualify as a viable part of the Great Commission.
When Jesus laid out His charge before the disciples, it included “Teach them to observe (obey) all that I have commanded you…” (Mathew 28:20). One of these commandments is recorded in Luke, Chapter 1, as He sent out the seventy followers on a mission assignment. Paraphrased, He said, “While you are there, heal the sick!”
What was the real purpose or significance of Pentecost? We get a clear answer by observing the course of events after the Holy Spirit fell on that exciting day. Before His ascension, Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit for the clear purpose of empowering the Body of Christ – the church – to carry on the same ministry He practiced while physically present on earth. According to our text Scripture, the church would be involved with an even greater ministry! WOW! Do you believe it?
This introduces an interesting question: By what authority was the healing ministry eliminated from some main-line church ministries, and declared to be “not for today”? It is certain that directive did not originate with the Holy Spirit or the Word of God. The reality is, ministering to the temporal needs of God’s people is a definite responsibility of the Church and should be an objective second only to salvation.
It is a historical fact that the successors to the twelve apostles carried forward the ministry and power of the Church of the Book of Acts. In 165 AD, Justin Martyr wrote a vivid description of demons being cast out by the power of the Holy Spirit, and believers routinely being healed in the mighty Name of Jesus.
Irenaeus, writing in 200 AD, “Those who are in truth His disciples, (are) receiving grace from Him, in His name to perform miracles … by laying their hands on them they are made whole. Yea, moreover, as I have said, the dead have been raised up and remained with us for many years!”
Origen and Clement wrote exciting reports of the power of the second and third century church. Then moving on down in the timeline, documents are prevalent to show that men like Martin Luther and John Wesley had strong commitments to the healing power of Christ, and they practiced it.
But in recent centuries we have gone the opposite direction. We have even come to the point where some Christians equate suffering in sickness with suffering for “Christ’s sake”. There is no comparison. Sickness is often described by those same people as the “cross we must bear.” Not so! The cross that Jesus invites us to take up and carry is taken up voluntarily, and we can lay it down if we so choose.
Then of course, Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” usually surfaces to add fuel to doubt: Why didn’t God heal Paul?” is the usual query. The answer is simple … Paul wasn’t sick! Nothing within the context of 2 Corinthians 12 even hints at a physical problem. The scripture states clearly that the “thorn” was “a messenger (angel) of satan sent to buffet me.”
The great church leaders like Chrystosym, Augustine, Luther, Calvin and others, all referred to Paul’s “thorn” as repeated and continual nagging and harassment incited by satan and his messengers to demean Paul in the eyes of the Gentiles he was trying to win to Christ. The sickness concept is strictly man’s invention, and cannot be found in church teaching prior to the 20th century.
Here’s a painful thought: because of this erroneous doctrine, just think how many of God’s people have actually allowed Paul to stand in the way of their healing. It would break the great Apostle’s heart.
Beloved, Jesus, our Lord and Messiah, is interested in you as a whole person. He shed His Blood for your salvation, and took agonizing whip lashes on His back for your healing. He has not only promised to heal you; He has already accomplished that healing. So cast aside your doubts and believe in Him to make you whole!
Then take His healing word and His healing power to the people around you who need it. Remember our text scripture and its promise: “He that believeth on Me, the works that I do shall He do also.”
You have a healing ministry. Now go fulfill it!