Saturday, April 6, 2019

Does God Promise Physical Healing In This Life?

        The Charismatic Movement is known for its emphasis on people having the ability to perform sign gifts that were originally conferred to the twelve apostles by the Holy Spirit. One of the miracles believed to remain operative today by a number of people who subscribe to this ideology is faith healing. It is claimed that sick people can be cured by means of faith and prayer. God is believed to restore a person's physical and spiritual wellbeing in response to our petitions.

        The purpose of God occasionally using the apostles as vessels to work signs and wonders was to verify that they were indeed His messengers. These men could not simply use sign gifts whenever they pleased. The problem with the idea of modern-day faith healers is that nowhere does God in Scripture guarantee complete healing from every sickness or injury. It is actually God's will that we sometimes endure suffering while on this earth. In fact, the Apostle Paul nowhere mentioned having the ability to heal when speaking of his companions who had illnesses (which is contrasted with what we see in the Book of Acts):

         "But I thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger and minister to my need; because he was longing for you all and was distressed because you had heard that he was sick." (Philippians 2:25-26)

         "Erastus remained at Corinth, but Trophimus I left sick at Miletus." (2 Timothy 4:20)

         If sign gifts were supposed to remain operative after the ministry of the twelve apostles, then it surely is strange how Paul could not miraculously heal individuals that he mentioned in his epistles. It would be nonsense to suggest that he lacked the faith in God to perform supernatural works. To spell matters out more bluntly, Paul had requested prayer and recommended the use of medicine to Timothy:

         "No longer drink water exclusively, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments." (1 Timothy 5:23)

        Wine had medicinal purposes ranging from the cleansing of bodily injuries to being mixed with other ingredients for consumption by patients. It retained that kind of use when the Greeks created a more systematized form of medical practice. Hippocrates believed drinking wine to be essential to a healthy diet. The Romans maintained its use. The above cited passage indicates that it is indeed appropriate for Christians to consult doctors when necessary. 

        This teaching of faith healing that is prevalent among charismatics is a variation of prosperity theology. It is not only unbiblical, but also dangerous. Countless Christians throughout church history have passed away due to organic diseases. Withholding medical attention for either adults or children who need it can only further harm them or result in their death. What if a man renounces his faith just because his health continues to deteriorate after believing false promises? It would be spiritual abuse to insist that his problems stem from a lack of trust in God.

        While it is one thing to say that all healing comes from God, it is quite another to say that He promises to take away all our problems in this life. There is a healing aspect to the atonement of Jesus Christ, which does not come to full realization until we enter into the fullness of His presence. Faith healing is tied to a placebo effect in that people may convince themselves of feeling better about their health conditions while not actually recovering. It has no therapeutic value.

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