Many churches today claim that divine healing is "available to all believers." They say the atonement of Christ and His Spirit gave us the same authority over disease as Jesus and the Apostles had. That we will do greater works than He did means healing and miracles like they did. Is it true? Do we have the same divine authority, the same power, as Jesus and the Apostles?
Well, they could heal any disease without a single failure. I'd love for that to be true! Many people on my prayer list have cancer, Alzheimers, Parkinson's, and other conditions. Having personally experienced a miracle, I came to Christ believing that we could all perform them. Originally, I even prayed for, fasted for, and commanded healing of the sick. Almost all of them weren't healed. God did answer some with stunning improvements we praised Him for. Yet, they were partial and slow healings. Those in the New Testament were full and instant. I asked God: "Why aren't people being healed?"
I surveyed believers here and overseas for miracle reports. I set the bar at instant, full healing of incurable conditions like Jesus and the Apostles repeatedly did. These were very rare here in the United States. Most were overseas were in Unreached areas with limited access to the Bible, few churches, and much persecution. My surveys found many more believers suffering and dying than being healed. The status quo in churches today is that suffering is common, many who pray for healing still need medicine, God usually heals through normal means (esp time or medicine), and supernatural healing is rare. Many also stay on prescription drugs, have pacemakers, and keep old injuries. There's a massive difference between healing in Scripture and what people in churches experience today. That forced me to look for a better interpretation of Scripture.
That's not the worst of it. In some churches, the preachers tell their congregations God wants to heal them all. It's not true. God doesn't heal them. Then, they blame themselves for their continued suffering. Others often treat them worse believing the same thing. Some preachers also lie that giving money will bring God's blessings. The desperate in both flocks become like the woman in Mark 5:25-34: emotionally and maybe financially exhausted with the same condition they started with. This has happened to large numbers of people in Third World countries whose strong faith made them more impoverished and sick. Many people doubt and reject Jesus Christ Himself because of experiences like these.
Obeying 1 Thes. 5:20-22, we'll still test the claim that we have Jesus' and the Apostles' authority today. We'll look at the healings in the New Testament, what churches do today, and do a comparison. We'll use the clearest examples. I'll also give you simple tests to see if your church has the same authority.
(Quick note: Unlike divine authority and healing on command, I do believe supernatural healing happens today as a result of prayer when God decides to grant it. Like in Acts 4:29-30, we should pray that God grants bold preaching and healing and signs and wonders to build up His church. We can also ask for more mercy on suffering people. If He says no, then it's either not His will or not the right time. We can't know unless we ask.)
Let's look at what Christ and specific disciples could do in the NT. Today's healers mostly talk about conditions that might be psychosomatic or placebo healings. As in, the kind the mind can cause that belief of any kind might cure. You always want to eliminate that possibility if assessing if healings are miracles.
Here's a random article I found listing Jesus' miracles. We see Jesus heal incurable, physical conditions. Leprosy was so hopeless that lepers were quarantined from others in society. Jesus both touched and healed them. That some healings involved just speaking words showed that's all His authority really needed. In this case, He wasn't even present for the person to hear that He was about to do it. He also casted out demons. He made a specific amount of food break the laws of physics to feed thousands of people. He rebuked a hurricane-like storm into still waters with His words.
How did people react? Whatever Jesus and the Apostles were doing looked real to everyone around them. Even Jesus' enemies, like the Pharisees, said He could heal. A professional deceiver, Simon the Magician, not only believed in the Apostles' power: he tried to buy it from them. That he was a believer needing to buy it already suggests we don't all have it. Unlike Jesus and the Apostles, charismatic and apostolic churches today leave most visitors thinking their power isn't real. Atheists, "spiritual" people, Christians... all accuse them of being fake. That's a big difference.
What about Scripture examples? Most passages about healing have multiple interpretations, or ambiguities. I prayed that God give me passages that would show a clear difference between then and now if it existed. Here they are:
"Jesus went about in all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the Good News of the Kingdom, and healing every disease and every sickness among the people. The report about him went out into all of Syria. They brought to him all who were sick, afflicted with various diseases and torments, possessed with demons, epileptics, and paralytics; and he healed them. Great multitudes from Galilee, Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and from beyond the Jordan followed him." (Matt. 4:23-25)
"When Jesus came into Peter’s house, he saw his wife’s mother lying sick with a fever. He touched her hand, and the fever left her. So she got up and served him. When evening came, they brought to him many possessed with demons. He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken through Isaiah the prophet, saying, 'He took our infirmities and bore our diseases.'" (Matt. 8:14-17)
Excerpts of the same story
came and took her by the hand and raised her up. The fever left her
immediately, and she served them. At evening, when the sun had set, they
brought to him all who were sick and those who were possessed by
the city was gathered together at the door. He healed many who
were sick with various diseases and cast out many demons."
Another version of that story in Luke
4:36-5:9 of that story says: "When
the sun was setting, all those who had any sick with various diseases
brought them to him; and he laid his hands on every one of them,
and healed them." Scripture can't contradict. One passage said
"many," one said "every one of them," and so he healed every one of
them. "Many" just meant it was a large number of people.
Two more examples:
"He came down with them, and stood on a level place, with a crowd of his disciples, and a great number of the people from all Judea and Jerusalem, and the sea coast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; as well as those who were troubled by unclean spirits, and they were being healed. All the multitude sought to touch him, for power came out of him and healed them all." (Luke 6:17-19)
"When they had crossed
over, they came to land at Gennesaret, and moored to the shore. When they had come out of the
boat, immediately the people recognized him, and ran around that whole region, and began to
bring those who were sick on their mats to where they heard he
he entered, into villages, or into cities, or into the country, they
laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged him that
they might just touch the fringe of his garment; and as many as touched
him were made well." (Mark
"They even carried out the sick into the streets, and laid them on cots and mattresses, so that as Peter came by, at the least his shadow might overshadow some of them. The multitude also came together from the cities around Jerusalem, bringing sick people and those who were tormented by unclean spirits: and they were all healed." (Acts 5:15-16)
worked special miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even
handkerchiefs or aprons were carried away from his body to the
sick, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went
out." (Acts 19:11-12)
Jesus went in there preaching like He had
special authority from God. He proved it by instantly, effortlessly
healing the sick by either touch or words. They were usually physically
there but didn't have to be. Jesus didn't give sermons trying to argue
He had healing power, set up healing tents, or beg people to come see
Jesus got started, His reputation preceded Him. Whatever He
did was so convincing that His fame as a healer spread everywhere. Multitudes of people
brought Him all their sick, they often had incurable conditions, and
He healed "every one of them."
Jesus had no failures. Nobody waited weeks to a month. His healings always got results. Two Apostles did the same thing to whole areas of people. Their healings and laying on of hands worked 100% of the time. Even Jesus' and Paul's clothes healed people!
If your church can do this, then you would know without them having to tell you or explain healing. We should see many people come in who are blind, deaf, mute, epileptics, paralyzed from provable injuries (eg X-rays), have stage 4 cancer, missing body parts, massive damage to their skin (eg burns), huge cysts, whatever. The witnesses would include people who are believers, neutral, and hardcore skeptics. In view of witnesses, preachers at your church then just touch the person or say "be healed." The condition goes away instantly as if they never had it. They tell all kinds of people your church heals for real with people only questioning where your power comes from. Is that what happens at your church?
Churches today claiming the same authority aren't
like that. They say they can work those miracles, talk about how the
"Spirit" is telling them someone will be healed, and the people that
came in with conditions walk out just as sick. Some churches lay hands
on people for various signs without them happening. Especially healing
and speaking in tongues. This can go on a long time. Then, their
preachers talk about "spiritual, emotional, and financial healing." Or
how God works over time through doctors but at a faster rate than
normal. Everything but what we saw in God's Word.
What we read about above is actual, physical, immediate healing of large numbers of incurable people on command. You either can do that or you can't. If you can't, then you don't have the same authority Jesus and the Apostles had.
Prove it like Jesus did! He healed whole towns worth of people with skeptical people verifying the results. Here's some suggestions:
1. Go to places for the blind and deaf. Say "be healed." They should see and hear.
2. Go to hospitals where there's medical evidence of physical disabilities and incurable conditions. Say be healed. We should see limbs regrow, organs heal, and bullet holes closing. Maybe the bullets pop out of them, too. Re-run the scans and take pictures to prove it.
3. Go to morgues, tell the dead to "Come forth!," and they should get back to normal.
4. If you do 1-3, then go to St. Jude and children's schools for deaf and blind. Heal all of them. Otherwise, don't even go there to avoid letting the kids down.
I'll go further than healing. Jesus rebuked a storm for His disciples. He calmed a raging sea! These preachers claim they have Jesus' authority. Hurricanes Katrina and Harvey put whole cities worth of homes underwater with many dead or in need of rescue. Many were our brothers and sisters in Christ. Why didn't these "powerful" preachers get in the middle of that hurricane, tell it to be quiet, and prevent all of that? Did they lack the power of Jesus Christ? Or did they just not care about human suffering?
They say we have Jesus' authority. They say
we will do greater works than Jesus did. They say that means miracles.
They can't even do what Jesus did, much less greater works. Many claim
to be apostles with their authority. They can't do what the apostles
did. Their claims are false.
Jesus and the Apostles had special authority to establish the New Covenant, bootstrap the first churches, and finalize Scripture. God used the authority to put a spotlight on them. We clearly don't have that authority. We do have the Holy Spirit helping us in countless ways with our mission. We also can, and should, pray for healing and signs and wonders which God sometimes grants. We must not deceive people with false teachings, though. Those lies just hurt our mission and other people.
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