Summary: Spiritual Gifts Series - 3 of 13.
THE GIFTS OF HEALING
INTRO: Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. I once read a news story about a lawsuit in Tennessee. It seems that an evangelist was being sued for $1 million by a woman who claimed the evangelist-healer tried to punch a demon out of her stomach. The punch knocked the lady over onto another woman whose hip was broken by the fall. Both the women were hospitalized for extended periods. They were demanding compensation for hospital costs and punitive damages also (Baptist and Reflector, Nov. 1987).
Much confusion rages over the subject of healing in our time. As there are various kinds of illness, there are various kinds of healing gifts. Paul said there are gifts of healing. Don’t overlook the fact that “gifts” is plural. All healing comes from God. He still heals — sometimes using the medical profession, sometimes not. The gifts were given to authenticate the gospel. It should be noted that even Paul could not heal indiscrimately (2 Timothy 4:20).
I. A GOOD DEFINITION.
It’s interesting to note that Paul literally wrote “gifts of healing.” Note the plural form. This may imply that healing takes place in several areas. The N. T. shows many healings. It was a world full of sickness and disease. If ever an age needed miracles of healing, that was it! Perhaps the reason we don’t see so much of this gift today is due to God’s blessings through medical science.
While we all have the desire to be healed of our sicknesses, it may be that our healing depends on whether sickness, whether recovery, or whether death glorifies God most. Faith is not always the issue. Abraham, the father of the faith, died. Paul, the apostle of faith, was sick occasionally and also died. Like Job, we know there is much mystery surrounding pain and suffering.
God is still in the healing business. Sometimes He heals instantaneously, sometimes gradually, and sometimes through medicine. Through His churches God continually works in the ministry of healing. Our Southern Baptist Convention Is Deeply Involved in God’s Healing Ministry to the World Through Our Medical Missions and Hospitals.
II. A GOOD EXAMPLE.
Jesus was known widely as a healer. Note the characteristics of His healing ministry. It occurred when the best available medical skill could not help (see Mark 5:25-34; 9:14-29). It occurred to glorify God — not the healer! Jesus did not like crowds around when He healed, unlike today’s “healers.” He was never so presumptive as to go into a town and put up posters saying, “There will be a healing service today.”
ILLUS: We are living in a time in which millions of people are exploring alternatives to traditional Western Medicine. An “holistic health explosion,” it has been called. We realize, of course, that traditional Western Medicine is very valuable and, for most of us, when we get sick, it is the first place we turn to. It is a gift from God, and we thank God for the dedicated persons who serve their fellow human beings through the practice of traditional Western Medicine.
But, today, millions and millions of people are exploring a growing list of alternative healing methods: Bio Feedback, Autogenics Training, Kenesiology, Acupuncture, Guided Imagery, Bio Energetics, Reflexology, Stress Management, Gestalt Therapy, Therapeutic Touch, Homeopathy, Naturopathy, Macrobiotics (and that’s just a partial list.).
Many people are finding help in some of these alternative healing methods. But the remarkable thing about them is that people are discerning, more and more, that the actual healing is in none of them. They can remove some of the obstacles to healing. They can help to evoke it, but the healing itself is in the power of God.
III. GOOD USE OF THE GIFT.
While some say this gift is no longer available, we must be careful about picking and choosing. If it does occur, we must say it is rare. What are the marks of those with this gift? Using Jesus as a model, we must say that this person is:
1. Compassionate and moved by suffering.
2. Has no self-seeking motives.
3. Has great faith in the sufficiency of God.
4. Using the apostles’ example, lifts up Jesus.
In James 4:14-16 we have instructions about the use of prayer when someone is sick. This passage has led to many erroneous teachings. The central theme of the passage is PRAYER! In biblical times, oil was widely believed to have a medicinal value. The text is stating that the prayer of faith will heal and that medical means are to be used. God does occasionally, however, directly heal those who are ill.
CONC: Needless to say, there is little likelihood that anyone in our church today has this gift. However, if someone does, they must exercise caution in applying this gift. It must be used in the right way, and for the right reasons.