Summary: Describes the Nazarene stance on Healing and confronts the difference between Divine Healing and the spiritual Gift of Healing.
A woman went to her doctor’s office. She was seen by one of the new doctors, but after about 4 minutes in the examination room, she burst out screaming and ran down the hall. An older doctor stopped her and asked what the problem was, and she explained. He had her sit down and relax in another room. The older doctor marched back to the first and demanded, "What’s the matter with you? Mrs. Terry is 63 years old, she has four grown children and seven grandchildren, and you told her she was pregnant?" The new doctor smiled smugly as he continued to write on his clipboard. "Cured her hiccups though, didn’t it?"
This morning, we will look at our fourteenth Article of Faith, which is:
XIV. Divine Healing
Here is the description of this 14th tenet of our faith:
We believe in the Bible doctrine of divine healing and urge our people [to seek] to offer the prayer of faith for the healing of the sick. We also believe God heals through the means of medical science.
That’s the first article statement that I’ve read where I didn’t feel like passing out by the time I was done.
As a whole, I believe that Christians feel like healing is a simple thing. But I think it is one of the most misunderstood things in Christianity. In fact, because it has been misunderstood by so many, there are whole denominations and cults that limit the work of God in healing by excluding certain types of healing. And there are just as many that include healing ceremonies that have no biblical basis.
You will first notice that our Article statement says that we believe in ‘Divine Healing.’ It does NOT say that we believe in the ‘gift of healing.’ The first thing that likely come’s to your mind when I say this is ‘aren’t they the same thing?’ If you believe in one, don’t you have to believe in the other?’ The answer to both of those questions is a resounding NO.
Let me explain the difference. Believing in Divine Healing means that we believe that the healing work of the Holy Spirit continues on until the return of Christ. What it does not mean is that we necessarily believe that God still bestows upon people the miraculous spiritual gift of healing. The difference is that we believe that divine healing can and does occur through the prayers of God’s people. God answers prayer. He always has and He always will.
However, when Jesus or the Apostles healed someone, with the miraculous or supernatural gift of the Holt Spirit, they did not pray to ask God to accomplish the healing. They just did it. Let me give you an example (Acts 3:6-7):
But Peter said, “I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk.” And he took him by the right hand and raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong.
You see, Peter did not pray for the man’s healing. He had the power already within himself, given by the Holy Spirit, to heal the man. He did not need permission. Even when Jesus rose Lazarus from the dead, although He prayed, He said that He only prayed for the sake of the people around Him, so that they would know that His authority to do this was from God. He didn’t actually need to pray to raise Lazarus.
I can only find one case where an Apostle prayed before performing a miracle. This occurred in the 9th chapter of Acts when Peter rose Tabitha from the dead. He sent everyone from the room and then prayed. Then He ordered Tabitha to get up. I would consider this something beyond healing and I think that Peter did as well, so he prayed prior to accomplishing it. In every other case, they just healed.
I am telling you this to show you the difference between the gift of healing and divine healing. Our Article does not say anything about the supernatural gift of healing because there are differing views of the ‘supernatural’ gifts that are spoken of in the 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians. The supernatural gifts that are listed are speaking in tongues, healing, and prophecy (foretelling). Though spiritual gifts are listed elsewhere, these three are not included in those other lists. There is a common stance on these gifts, believed by many denominations including most Southern Baptists, that the supernatural gifts (those three that I mentioned) ceased with the death of the last Apostle. This belief is called Cessationism. However, one of the common misconceptions that charismatic (those that believe in and practice the ‘supernatural’ gifts) believers want to ascribe to cessationists is that they do not believe in healing. This is absolutely not true. They fiercely believe in divine healing through the power of prayer. They just do not believe that the gift, where someone has the power, given by the Holy Spirit, within them to heal on command, continues to this day.