Today I’m going to be posting up the the second part of my notes from the third talk I gave at the Last Days Bible Conference. That talk was about a biblical understanding of tongues, healing and prophecy. The previous post I put up was about tongues. Today, I’m going to be posting the notes about healing (specifically apostolic healing).
Again, my main objective in addressing the subject was to try to give, from the Bible, a definition of tongues, healing and prophecy as practice by Christ, the prophets and apostles. In the past, I’ve referred to apostolic healing as opposed to divine healing. Apostolic Healing is the type of healing as practiced by Jesus and the apostles where as divine healing is the type of healing performed by everyone else (i.e. where God heals directly, without any human mediator, in response to prayer). Again, I hope to take on a majority of the questions on the subject at a foundational level since a majority of people assume a wrong definition (that conveniently fits their expectations or experience) and then twist the biblical data to conform to their assumed definition, leading to many questions.
Here we go!
The Modern Claims of Healing Don’t Match the Apostolic Example in Four Ways:
- The manner in which the healing occurred in the NT isn’t occurring.
– Healing, as performed by the apostles was (a) instantaneous, (b) unchallenged, (c) public, and (d) complete healing of (e) outwardly manifest physical infirmities via a human agent, (f) without prayer (which sets New Testament apostolic healings apart from similar Old Testament prophetic ones; healings performed by prophets in the OT were dependent on prayer).
– Modern healings are partial, gradual, or simply fabricated stories. You never see someone healed of leprosy or paralysis in modern “healing” revivals; there’s never obvious physical infirmities (atrophied limbs spontaneously regaining muscle mass, cataracts spontaneously clearing up, etc.).
– Modern healings often regress over a short period of time (often because they’re psychosomatic in nature). On the contrary, there were no healing in the scripture that “didn’t take” or only worked for a matter of days or weeks.
– Modern healings are almost all testimonial:
a. Testimonies of healing that occurrences of healing. When we hear the stories about of resurrections and people getting healed of cancer, blindness, AIDS, etc., it always is happening somewhere else. Over here, it’s mostly tennis elbow, sore backs, stomach trouble, etc.
b. Testimonies of illness. In modern “healings”, an overwhelming majority the diagnoses are made by the patient and the healings are verified by them too. In Jesus day, people could often see what was wrong or everyone knew the crippled/diseased person.
– In their positional paper on Endtime Revivals (page 6), the Assemblies of God says:
“Valid healings can be confirmed and verified by medical records. Adherents of some religions claim to have seen strange appearances of Jesus, Mary, and symbols of the death of Jesus. Without empirical confirmation, we are skeptical of such reports. Unconfirmed reports of unbelievable happenings in revival services discredit rather than advance the cause of Christ.”
Legitimate healings can be medically confirmed.
Without empirical confirmation, I’m skeptical (and you should be as well).
Unconfirmed reports of unbelievable things do actually discredit the gospel.
(One may why, given their position on the issue, the Assemblies of God seems so utterly reticent to take a stand against all the fraudulent faith healing that is occurrs in their own denomination…you know, for the credibility of the gospel and all.)
2. The manner in which the healers were empowered in the NT isn’t occurring.
– Scripture never records an instance of healing that wasn’t done by an Old Testament prophet, a New Testament apostle, or Jesus Christ himself.
– Everyone in the New Testament who healed in this way received the authority to do so directly from Jesus Christ (Luke 9:1; 10:9).
– This wasn’t just a power to heal, but also to harm (Acts. 13:11), which also worked to establish continuity with the Old Testament occurrences (2 Kin. 6:18), showing that the power behind both was the same.
– The apostles are dead and scripture gives us no reason to believe that they passed off their power to their successors.
– Also, it’s often missed that Jesus and the apostles didn’t’ pray before healing someone (though prayer normally preceded healings in the OT). Jesus and the apostle were given an allotment of divine power to heal, and they used that power at will.
3. The extent of the healing in the NT isn’t occurring.
– Charismatics and Continuationists cry “foul” when cessationists ask for an example of someone, anywhere, going and cleaning out a cancer ward.
– Jesus and his apostles did that regularly (Matt. 4:24, 8:16, 12:15; Mark 3:10; Luke 4:40, 6:19; Acts 5:16, 8:7). Well, there weren’t cancer wards in Jesus’ day (obviously), but he healed everyone who was brought to him, regardless of what afflicted them.
– Jesus healed people of blindness, paralysis, open wounds that were chronic problems over a period of years, leprosy, etc.
– Yet with modern “healers,” every wheelchair that goes into a healing crusade comes out the other side (contrary to their deceitful advertising)…and they never clear out a hospital ward.
4. The verification that occurred in the NT isn’t occurring.
– Jesus sought out witnesses to throw his healing in their face. He healed in front of huge crowds of skeptics regularly and had Luke, a medical doctor and his disciple, write one of the gospels. Jesus went out of his way to make it impossible to challenge the veracity of his healing miracles.
– Luke would have also been familiar with the ministry of Jesus, having likely followed Jesus’ ministry (since Jesus would have put him out of a job for a little while…).
– Nobody ever challenged whether or not Jesus healed people. His healings were too public, too numerous, and too obvious. Jesus often healed well-known people with well-known infirmities.
– In response to Jesus’ healings, the only question that ever came up was “what does this mean?”
– The answer to that question was always found in his teaching (i.e. Luke 7:18-23).
As I was editing these notes, I thought of a fifth way the modern claims of healing don’t match the Apostolic example:
5. The healing wasn’t the drawing card in the NT.
– In the New Testament, people came to Jesus in order to see his healing and miracles but he didn’t use them to acquire an audience. Rather, Jesus performed miracles to confirm his teaching and also condemned his faithless audience for seeking miracles and signs. John 6:26-66 records a long and somewhat humorous interaction with the crowd and Jesus. They wanted free food and Jesus instead confused them and drove them away, for they were seeking a free meal rather than really listening to his teaching. Other passages contain outright condemnation of sign seeking, like Matt. 12:38-39, 16:1-4; Mark 8:11-13; Luke 11:29-32; John 12:37-43.
– Unlike Jesus and the apostles, modern “healers” shamelessly use the healing/miraculous as the drawing card for their events. The message isn’t some variant of “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is near” but rather “Come and get your healing!” It’s telling how, if a person watches a 3+ hour healing revival service, the healing follows the teaching. With Jesus, this order was reversed: the teaching followed the healing since the teaching was the pinnacle of his ministry, not the healing.
Also, I found this footage of a “Noches de Gloria” healing service from Carlos “Cash” Luna, the Guatemalan equivalent of Creflo Dollar/Benny Hinn (as if the name isn’t a clue). I don’t know what he’s saying, but you don’t need to know Spanish to know that he’s challenging pastors to pick up his Bible and they’re all overcome by his “anointing” (and if anyone who reads this speaks Spanish, feel free to correct me in the comments).
Does anyone honestly think that Luna is structuring his event around the the teaching?
To put it as simply as possible, Cash Luna’s “crusades” are about the “miracles”, not the message.
The same goes for most of the other “healing evangelists” in the Renewal circles.
Their “ministry” is the total opposite of the ministry of Jesus.
I know that for some, this will be difficult to stomach and come across as (insert hyperbolic negative adjective). Consider the scriptures, work through them, and then bring serious questions into the comments.
Until Next Time,
Lyndon “Cashless” Unger