FULL TRANSCRIPT HERE! Reasons why we may feel uneasy about healing meetings, why God heals and why we do not see everyone healed. A Sunday message from ChristChurch, London
Why does God heal? 4th March 2007
If you’re un-healed it’s not necessarily because you don’t have enough faith
We’ll finish tonight by praying for the sick, but first we’re going to see what the bible has to say about why God heals, and why God sometimes doesn’t heal.
But even before that, I just want to begin by touching on some of the reservations I, at least, have always had about healing meetings. Now those of you who were here last week will remember that we tackled some theological objections to healing. And I told you how sceptical I’d been about the whole subject, but what I didn’t tell you is that I reserved my greatest scepticism for healing meetings, like this one for example.
You see, I am an ex newspaper journalist, and at journalism school they actually trained us be cynical. And therefore, as a trained cynic, healing services, on the rare occasions I went to them, raised a number of questions. And you may be able to relate to a few of these . . .
1. At healing services, you get people giving on the spot healing testimonies that aren’t exactly Lazarus coming back from the dead. Lazarus coming back from the dead is the sort of testimony I find impressive. People who come to the microphone and say: “Yeah, I just want to thank God, because I was resurrected from the dead about 5 minutes ago. I actually died last Tuesday, I’ve got my death certificate here, and I’ve been in the morgue since Wednesday, which is why I’m looking a bit pale, and anyway, my sisters, hi Mary, hi Martha, my sisters, brought my decomposing corpse here tonight in this coffin, and I just got resurrected from the dead. So I just want to thank God.” That kind of testimony would really get our attention. But by contrast, the sort of testimonies we tend to get in healing meetings seem just a tad underwhelming. For example, let’s imagine someone comes up on stage before the end of tonight’s meeting and they say: “I had pain in such and such a part of my body, I was prayed for and now it’s totally gone.” Everyone cheers. Now of course the cynic in me says: “Whoopee! Hold the front page.”
But, don’t worry. We don’t have to call every testimony an extraordinary miracle. We don’t have to say: “No way! She had a pain, and now the pain has gone. This is the most amazing miracle London has ever seen! Let’s get her over to Sky News straight away.”
The best testimonies, by definition, rarely come on the night of the meeting, they come weeks or months after the healing meeting, because, where necessary, by that time, you’ve got your documentation, you’ve got your doctor’s letter about what used to be wrong with you, and you’ve now also got your letter from the same doctor saying that there’s nothing wrong with you anymore.
But we won’t have documentation tonight, because I doubt anyone has come today with a doctor’s letter to prove how ill they are. Because I don’t know anyone who carries that sort of thing around with them. I mean can you imagine sitting in your seat at 4.30 this afternoon waiting for the meeting to start, and someone you’ve never met before arrives and sits next to you, and you introduce yourself by saying: “Oh Hi! I’m Pete” and they reply, “Mate, forget that, let me just prove to you how ill I am. Check out my doctor’s note. I carry it with me everywhere.”
I got this doctor’s letter faxed to me this week. Now this isn’t the best letter I could read to you, but it is the most recent, so I’m just keeping it real here.
A few months ago, I went speak at a meeting just like this one at a large church in Hastings. There were about 700 people there, and I prayed for a primary school age boy called Dylan, who was seeing an autistic spectrum disorder specialist. He was in an extremely bad way.
So I prayed that the autism would go in Jesus name, and that he’d be healed. Well, he was healed, and this week I received from Dylan’s mum a copy of the following letter from a consultant paediatrician at the Conquest Hospital in Hastings, which reads as follows . . .
Problem: Austic Spectrum Disorder, high functioning
“I was really pleased when I met Dylan to hear about his good progress since his last appointment. This has been associated with the improvement in his speech and language.
“Dylan’s [school report] was very good. He is interacting well with other children and is very popular. He is not possessive . . . and shares well.
“Dylan is not upset by change in routine and is not displaying obsessionality now. He displays good imaginative play and has shown very good aptitude for learning computer skills. Generally, Dylan is quite an easy child who does not have tantrums.
“In general, the present situation is not suggestive of an overall autistic spectrum disorder as Dylan is no longer obsessional, nor having difficulty with change in routine and interacts socially with his peer group . . . I am most encouraged by his progress and have not arranged to see him again in my clinic.”
Isn’t that great? ‘I’ve seen him before. He used to have this problem, now he doesn’t, so I don’t need to see him again.’
But you’ll rarely get a documented before and after testimony on the night.
And many people can only test whether they’ve been healed after the event. For example, a woman on the staff at my old church came up to me recently and said, “I used to be anaemic. Then you prayed for me. I’ve now had blood tests which show I’m not anaemic anymore.” Now we all like testimonies like that because they’re clear cut.
Folks, personally, I don’t think we need to beat ourselves up about the fact that the testimonies we get on the night, aren’t documented. Because nobody’s claiming anything different, so I don’t think there’s anything to worry about. So please, if you’ve got aches or pains now, and after prayer in a few minutes time, the pain goes, then great, come up onstage and tell us, you needn’t be embarrassed about coming up and telling us what’s happened.
2. My second objection was “What if the people giving testimony are lying? What if they’re Laura in London on Sunday, and Martina in Maidenhead on a Monday, and Tellula in Torquay on a Tuesday and so on.”
Well again, I’d want to say, “easy tiger.” You’d be welcome to check the identity of any of the people I mention. So you can investigate for yourself whether you’re being conned. And that should provide some peace of mind, and in the meantime, if you can’t cope with tonight, my advice would be, just reach for your Ipod, switch on your Peruvian pipe music, imagine you’re lying in your bath surrounded all your body shop candles, and just chill out. It’ll all be over sooner than you think.
3. My third objection was that healing meetings and healing ministries tend to exalt one individual hired holy man. They draw attention to man, rather than to God.
Well, I think we’d all agree there is something a bit disconcerting about God’s man of power for the hour, who blows in, blows up and blows out. But again, that’s not exactly the situation here tonight. This, for me, is home base, most of the people here tonight have been round my house. I’m not about to blow out of town. I’m married with kids who are in school. I’ll be around to pick up the pieces next week, next month, next year.
Besides, none of us at Christ Church want to have healing ministry all revolving around one person. That’s not our style anyway. We want to equip the saints, so, for example, it won’t be me doing all the praying tonight, we’re going to get lots of you to come forward and get involved. And one of the reasons why we’re going to put together a healing team, in weeks and months to come is so they can pray for folks after the service, so it doesn’t all revolve around my availability.
And church, let me just encourage you, if you are part of Christ Church London, 1 Corinthians 14:1 says “eagerly desire spiritual gifts.” 1 Corinthians 12 says that one of those gifts is healing. 1 Corinthians 1:7 says that all the spiritual gifts were present at Corinth. And we know, for example, that lots of people at Corinth could prophesy and speak in tongues. In the same way, I would expect that some of you here have got “gifts of healings” as 1 Corinthians 12 describes them. You might not have realised yet that you’ve got gifts of healings, but you have, you just need to keep on praying for people to be healed, while your gift develops.
4. My fourth objection was: “Don’t most healing ministries practice a sort of slot machine faith, whereby, the sick are required to have psychological certainty that they’ll be healed?’ In other words, the impression you get from the platform is “You put faith in, you turn the crank and God is obliged to heal you.” And we feel uncomfortable about that formula. It seems too simplistic.
Well again, I can re-assure you that no one tonight will be asked to produce psychological certainty that they’re going to be healed. The reason for that is because, Jesus did not require that of everyone he healed. I mean what about the father in Mark 9 whose son is demonized and mute? The father brings his son to Jesus and says to Jesus: “If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” I mean that is not a promising start is it? To say to Jesus, “If you can do anything.” And then he says: “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief.” So he’s got less than total certainty that Jesus will heal.
But folks here’s the encouraging thing . . . Jesus performed the healing, anyway. Jesus didn’t say: “Me help you with your unbelief? Not likely. Your unbelief? You obviously don’t have psychological certainty. No can do sunshine. I only heal those who are absolutely certain that they’re going to be healed. No healing for you.” On the contrary Jesus did the healing anyway, he responded to the faith the guy did have. So we can be encouraged by that.
And it’s clear from the New Testament that there is no foolproof formula for healing that can be applied in a plastic way.
For example, do you remember the seven sons of Sceva? They thought they’d really cracked the formula for healing in Acts 19. I always picture the seven sons of Sceva, as a bit like Donny Osmond and the Osmonds all dressed in white suits, with perfect teeth and perfect hair, and TV smiles. So they said to a demonized man: “In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” (Acts 19:13). So they got the right name, Jesus, they even got the right Jesus, in other words, the one whom Paul preaches, and they even got the right command: “come out”, but the demon didn’t come out, in fact the demon overpowered all seven of them and left them running for their lives naked and bleeding. So they arrived in white suits, and left without even their underpants. What do we learn from this episode? We learn that clearly there’s more to healing than just a slot machine formula. And the key to it is relationship with God the father. Even Jesus was totally dependent upon his relationship with his father. Jesus said: “the son can do nothing by himself; he can only do what he sees his father doing.”
OK, let’s move on . . .
In a moment, we’ll see that God’s will for us is healing. But if that is true, it does rather beg the question, well,
SLIDE: Why isn’t everyone healed?
then, why isn’t everyone healed? The bible gives us a few reasons:
1. Sin. Sickness came into the world as a result of sin. And where people don’t repent of their sin, sickness will sometimes follow. So for example, Jesus told one guy he’d just healed: “stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” And Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 11:30, that some Christians who were behaving in a disgraceful way at Corinth had fallen sick as a result of their sin.
But the problem with even saying this is, is that we may be tempted to abandon hope as a result. We’re tempted to throw our hands up and assume the worst. We say: “There we are I knew it. The reason I’m sick is because I sinned. If only I recycled, perhaps I wouldn’t have this broken arm.”
As British Christians and we have a fairly downbeat assessment of ourselves anyway, and we assume that our sickness is automatically the result of sin. This is exactly the mistake the disciples made in John 9. They saw a man blind from birth, and asked Jesus: “Who sinned this man or his parents that he was born blind?” And Jesus replied “neither this man nor his parents sinned. ”
In other words, Jesus says, he’s not blind because he sinned. And, besides, here’s the good news, even if our sickness is the result of sin, all we have to do is repent, and turn away from our sin, and the problem, if there is one, is removed.
This is without any shadow or question the biggest barrier to healing.
We talked about this at length last week. For example, how Jesus did not, and in fact, Mark says “could not” heal more of the Nazarenes because of their lack of faith.
We talked about how the disciples failed to heal the boy in Matthew 17 because of their lack of faith.
And part of the reason for our unbelief is that we mistakenly think that sickness and suffering are one and the same thing. And in the New Testament, they’re not.
You see in English we often say things like: “I’m suffering from a heavy cold.” Or “she was doing well until she suffered a broken arm in a fall last winter.”
But in the bible, the Greek words for suffering and sickness are totally different, and whereas there are loads of verses that make clear God’s will sometimes for us as Christians includes suffering; (In other words we most definitely are called to suffer for the sake of Christ,) there is no verse in the New Testament that says that it’s God’s will that we should be sick. I’ve spent hours searching for this verse at home, “now where is that verse that says that God wants me to be sick?” I know it’s in here somewhere. “God wants me sick, God’s plan for me is sickness. God wants to teach me a lesson by making me ill. Let me get a concordance.” Friend, it’s just not there.
The only possible contender is Paul’s thorn in the flesh in 2 Corinthians 12, and even then it is highly unlikely, given the context, that Paul was referring to a physical affliction. It’s much more likely that his thorn in the flesh was a person or a situation, and that his thorn in the flesh is a figure of speech like “a pain in the neck.”
And we so easily forget that the whole context of the passage is that Paul is saying that he is a totally unique case. Paul was given the thorn to stop him from become conceited because of the surpassingly great revelations he received. You see God had given the apostle Paul an experience that as far as we know, no other Christian has been given, either before or since. God gave Paul a day trip to heaven, and gave Paul an experience there so awesome that Paul was not permitted to tell any human being about it.
So, Question, am I in the same category as the apostle Paul?
For example, can I say that like Paul, 14 years ago I went up to the third heaven? No! 14 years ago, the closest I got to heaven was driving a Marine blue 2 litre Ford Sierra.
Have I been chosen by God, like Paul was to write a third of the New Testament? No! I’ve written shopping lists, but I’ve not written scripture.
Have I received 5 times from the Jews the forty lashes minus one? No.
Have I been beaten with rods three times? No.
Have I been stoned? That’s none of your business.
Have I been shipwrecked three times? No.
And have I spent a night and a day in the open sea? No, the most I’ve done is 25 meters, one length of Morden Baths.
But Paul talks about his thorn in the context of listing these hardships in 2 Corinthians 11.
So to believe that God wants me sick I will have to abandon every rule of biblical interpretation I’ve ever been taught, and, on the basis of one highly unlikely interpretation of one obscure reference in Paul’s letters, I would have to choose to ignore all the hundreds of verses that clearly say that God’s will is healing. No we interpret the obscure in the light of the clear. Not the other way around.
However, the point I am making is a much more simple one about unbelief. I’m sure we can all agree that if I think that God wants me to be sick, I won’t seek healing. If I think God wants me to be ill or injured, I could go for years, or even my whole life without ever seeking prayer for healing.
And so unbelief is a major barrier to healing in the most practical way imaginable. If I think God wants me to be sick, I won’t ask for healing prayer. Or as James chapter 4 verse 2 puts it so starkly: “You do not have because you do not ask.”
The third and final reason why some are not healed is because of what I call
3. The “not yet” of the kingdom
In heaven there will be no sin, no sickness, no mourning, no pain. In heaven we’ll be perfect, we’ll even have new bodies.
Meanwhile, of course this world is characterised by sin, and it’s results, which are sickness and death.
And we also know that when Jesus arrived on the scene, when he came from heaven to earth, he brought with him an invasion of the kingdom of God, into this world.
So every healing Jesus did was a sign that this future age of the kingdom of God is breaking into this present age.
But you only have to turn on the TV to realise that the kingdom of God is not yet fully present on earth, and so we live in the “not yet” of the kingdom.
So even Paul didn’t see everyone healed, he left Trophimus sick at Miletus, for example.
And so not even Paul lived in the “not yet.” Now to state the obvious, Paul had a massively bigger healing gift than I do, for example.
VISUAL AID: L plates
I’ve come here tonight with my L plates on because I’ve only recently started out in this healing ministry. I did originally plan to do this whole talk with this L plate round my neck, but then I thought I’d better not because it would look a bit weird, and of course, being British, looking weird is that’s the last thing we want.
So I’ve still got my L plates on, and I can’t parallel park yet, and my clutch control on a hill start is rubbish, etc etc, but the Bible still says that God heals today, so I get in the car, I keep coming back for more. I go for healing because the Bible tells me that God wants to heal.
And when you start praying for the sick, you start seeing healings. And I have seen hundreds of people healed in the last two years.
I’m going to show you a video in a second, but just to explain the testimony you’re about to see . . .
In the summer of 2005, I spoke at an event with about 5,000 people at a football stadium in Nottingham. And I prayed a prayer over everyone who wanted healing, which is exactly the prayer I’m going to pray with you guys in about 10 minutes time.
Anyway, someone called Abi Coles from Beaconsfield was instantly healed that night. She came up on stage holding two massive syringes and an apple.
And this is what she said:
“For 10 years I suffered from an increasing/progressive allergy to the protein Heva, which meant I couldn’t eat any fruit or nuts or be around rubber latex. Simply being in a room with balloons meant anaphylactic shock. Sitting in a room where apples were was also life-threatening. I had to take the antihistamine, Neoclarityn daily and carry an emergency response kit including these 2 adrenaline pens (or syringes) and wear a medic alert at all times.
“I ended up in hospital being resuscitated 3 times and missed an average 1 day a week due to allergies at school. It inhibited every day of my life.
“Tonight, I knew God would heal me. In response to your instructions, I placed one hand on my mouth and the other towards heaven.
“I felt a lift from my entire body and a stir in my soul.
“Much to my friends’ despair, and with them all ready to dial 999 for an ambulance, I placed a latex wristband on my forearm. There was no reaction. So then I ate a small piece of my cousin’s apple. Again no reaction, just the most amazing taste of apple! I then ate the whole apple and ate a huge piece of cashew nut.”
So she came up on stage. And it was as far as anyone could tell and instant and total healing.
Here’s what she wrote a week later . . .
“All the following night I ate jam sandwiches, peaches, bananas and blowing up balloons – all things which before could have (no exaggeration) killed me. Praise God!”
So that’s pretty exciting, I just wanted to show you how she’s doing one year on . . . this was filmed on 6 August on stage at Newday 06:
“I am totally well now. I haven’t had a single hive, a single itch a single tingle. Nothing. My Epipens are utterly redundant. I threw the prescriptions back in the bin. My GP is totally bemused. And it’s meant, well, anyone who’s got an allergy knows that you live in daily fear. That your family are watching whatever you’re eating, whatever you’re touching, everything you’re going near. You can’t go round to your friend’s house for a meal, without saying beforehand, “I can’t eat this, I can’t eat that. Don’t clean your kitchen with this or that.”
“You live in total fear that, I’m not exaggerating, that this might be my last day.
“Since my healing, I’ve left home. I live 200 miles from my mother’s careful eye. I can go anywhere.
“I am Abby, I am not the girl with the Allergy. I’m free.”
SLIDE: Why God does heal?
“I am the Lord who heals you,” (Exodus 15:26).
God heals because it’s in his nature to heal. In the Old Testament, God revealed himself by giving himself seven covenant names. And one of those names is “I am the Lord who heals you,” (Exodus 15:26).
Healing for many of us is a sort of minor part of the Christian faith that we occasionally venture into. Not so for God, his very identity is healing. My Grandad’s name is Cecil Holloway. God’s name is “I am the Lord who heals you.” Healing is totally integral to God’s character. And God has not changed his identity.
For example, one of the other six names for God is Jehovah Jireh, which means the Lord will provide. But no Christian would ever say, “Oh, no the Lord isn’t our provider anymore, he’s changed.” In the same way, God has not changed his very character, he is the Lord who heals you.
A Yorkshire plumber called Smith Wigglesworth used to run a Christian mission in the back streets of Bradford nearly 100 years ago, and he flew a flag from the top of his mission hall which simply said: “I am the Lord, that healeth thee.” And by putting his faith in an unchanging God, Wigglesworth saw thousands of people healed all over the world.
Let’s just look at four other reasons why God heals:
SLIDE: God heals because of . . .
a) His eternal desire to glorify himself and his son
“It is for God’s glory so that God’s Son many be glorified through it.” (John 11:4)
This, for example, was one of the primary purposes for raising Lazarus from the dead. Jesus told his disciples: “It is for God’s glory so that God’s Son many be glorified through it.” (John 11:4)
And Luke continually refers to how people glorified God when they saw paralytics healed and blind eyes opened.
SLIDE: God heals because of . . .
b) His deep compassion for those who are suffering.
“The crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.” (Matthew 14:14)
This is perhaps the most commonly stated reason why God heals. Jesus healed people because he loved them. He had compassion on them. He wanted to solve their problems.
So in Matthew 14, for example, we read that:
“The crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.”
Next, God heals because of . . .
SLIDE: God heals because of . . .
c) His constant willingness to respond to those who have faith
“your faith has healed you.” (Matthew 9:22).
“Woman you have great faith, your request is granted.” (Matthew 15:28)
This, I would say, is the biggest discovery I’ve made in the last 5 years. Previously I had dramatically under-estimated the role of faith in biblical miracles. But when I came to just read the scriptures again, you see that faith is often decisive.
For example, Jesus said to the woman with the issue of blood: “your faith has healed you.” (Matthew 9:22). Jesus said to the Caananite woman: “Woman you have great faith, your request is granted.” (Matthew 15:28), and we see the same principle at work in the book of Acts. So, for example, we see Paul in action . . .
SLIDE: “In Lystra there sat a man crippled in his feet, who was lame from birth and had never walked. He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed and called out, “Stand up on your feet!” At that, the man jumped up and began to walk.” (Acts 14:8-10)
Again it looks like the man’s faith caught Paul’s attention, and released the miracle.
SLIDE: God heals . . .
d) In response to his own command and promise to the church.
“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16)
No matter what we may think about healing, no matter what our private views or personal opinions may be there is no getting round this verse. Healing, on the basis of this verse alone, is most definitely for today, and if anyone of us is sick, we are told here to “pray for each other so that you may be healed.”
And that’s what we’re going to do right now.
So in a moment, if you’re ill, injured or in pain, we’d be delighted to pray for you right where you’re standing now. I’ll just ask you, in a minute, to put your hand on the part of your body where it hurts. You can stay where you are and then I’ll pray.
And just to encourage you, we did exactly the same thing at our Newday conference this summer 211 people filled out a card to say that they had been immediately healed, just through a single prayer like the one we’re about to pray:
Pics of healings at Newday 06
When God revealed himself to people in the Old Testament, he revealed himself as “The Lord who heals you.”
So when we’re asking God to heal, we’re not trying to twist his arm, and force him to do something against his will. It’s in his very nature to heal, because he is the Lord who heals you!
And that’s why God’s Son, Jesus, was full of compassion towards the sick. Jesus healed to show that “the Lord who heals you” had come near in the person of Jesus Christ.
PERHAPS THE BAND COULD COME UP?
Before he physically left this planet, Jesus gave his followers authority to heal the sick. And they did.
The first Christians laid their hands on sick people and saw them recover. They showed God’s love and compassion for those who were sick and in pain.
And Jesus heals through his followers today. Jesus hasn’t changed. The Bible says that he’s the same, yesterday, today and forever.
And so God’s healing power is available tonight.
You see, sickness and disease were never part of God’s original plan for us, and they’re not part of God’s future plan for us. When we’re in heaven, there’ll be no more death, or mourning or pain.
And that future age broke in with the arrival of Jesus on the scene, and it’s been breaking in at different times and seasons ever since. And the future age of the Kingdom of heaven is breaking in again here tonight.
Some of you have come here tonight hoping to be healed. And for some, even as I’ve begun speaking, faith has begun to rise in your heart that God does want to heal you.
If you feel faith rising in your heart, that God wants to heal you, then in a second I’m going to ask you to put your hand on the part of the body where it hurts, or where the problem is, and then I’m going to pray.
One of the ways that Jesus showed his love and compassion for people was by healing the sick.
So healing is a sign that points you towards the fact that God is real and that he cares about people like Abby Coles, people like you, people like me. God is full of love and compassion . . .
HEALING MINISTRY FOLLOWS