The case for: Healing? Not Always.

The case for: Healing? Not Always.

God's Character Healing Promises

In my last post, I spoke a bit about the case for healing. In reading over that post, I affirm and agree with what I have written... but...


In my younger days I would always use Romans 3:4Romans 3:4 (ESV)
By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written, “That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged.”
as a fall back position when people did not receive healing. God's word says in Isaiah that salvation covers our sins, our minds, and our bodies (Isaiah 53:5Isaiah 53:5 (ESV)
But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.
). If we are not seeing that active in the lives of people around us, it is not because God's word isn't true - so it must be something within us...


Having grown up in a Pentecostal/charismatic environment, I was indubitably indoctrinated into their way of thinking. Every denomination has their particular slant, and I'm not knocking that, but none of us are perfect and none of us see perfectly clearly (see Romans 3 and 1 Corinthians 3:121 Corinthians 3:12-15 (ESV)
Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.
). I was taught that healing, as man sees it and defines it, is an absolute truth we can see and have now.


As I have grown to consider the message of some preachers in the prosperity/health/wealth movement, I've become bothered by common points made by (again, some) of the common preachers. In a nutshell, since God can't be a liar and they claim his word demonstrates absolute healing no matter what, then it must be our fault if we are not healed. By default, that also implies that it's our doing if we are healed. We had the faith or we didn't. What bothers me here is the principal antecedent of the pronouns in these sentences - man. Is God not sovereign? Does everything really rest on our shoulders? For the poor soul who doesn't get healed, this message tells them to act in more faith - that they must do something better, and if they do things right, their healing will come to pass. Sadly, with some of the preachers, giving more money to their ministry will be the seed that increases faith. Think about what is happening and being said here. Our healing is up to us, and if we don't get it, then something is wrong with us. That is neither a yolk that is easy nor a burden that is light! (See Matthew 11:28-30Matthew 11:28-30 (ESV)
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.


The movement teaches that healing is absolute. There is no instance of Jesus not healing someone, except when it was due to the people's unbelief (see Mark 6:5Mark 6:5 (ESV)
And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them.
- And in this instance, I feel I must point out the unbelief was regarding who Jesus was - not an unbelief in his ability/willingness to heal despite knowing and accepting that he was the Savior of the world). All through the new testament, it is said by most people in the faith movement, people were always completely physically healed.


Is this really true? Are there really no instances of people not getting healed in the new testament that we have to deal with? I have previously spoken regarding Paul's thorn. The thorn itself wasn't sickness. The bible clearly states that the thorn was "a messenger of Satan sent to buffet him" (2 Corinthians 12:7-102 Corinthians 12:7-10 (ESV)
So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
), but as I write this, I think, "could the messenger of Satan sent to harass Paul have harassed him by inflicting physical pain on him?" Maybe? Isn't that what Satan did to Job - harassed him by bringing destruction, loss and sickness - all under the watchful and permissible eye of God?

But what about other instances beyond Paul's thorn. What about those who are not in danger of becoming "conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations" given to them, as was the purpose of Paul's thorn. What about the masses?

Mark 1:32-38Mark 1:32-38 (ESV)
That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. And the whole city was gathered together at the door. And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him. And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.” And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.”
tells of Jesus healing the sick in the evening while staying at Simon and Andrew's house. The text is clear in saying that they brought all who were sick and Jesus healed many of them. The text goes on to say that the next morning, the people were back, looking for Jesus who had gone off to pray. When Simon and others found Jesus and told him that there were people looking for him, Jesus said "let's go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” Jesus did not go back and offer healing to the many that came out that morning - instead, he left town and moved on to another. He knew his primary purpose, and that was to spread the gospel everywhere, so knowing that this town realized that someone special named Jesus had come, he moved on to the next.

A similar happening occurred at the pool of Bethesda (See John 5). Here, the Bible says that there was a "great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting..." Jesus healed one man who had been there for 38 years, and that single healing caused a controversy with the Jews as it was the Sabbath and Jesus had told the man to take up his bed and walk - which he did. There is no evidence to suggest that Jesus hung around to heal the others. I'm sure the story of the Jews being singularly mad at the single man who was healed would have played out quite differently if Jesus were still there healing everyone in their midst. The Bible clearly says that Jesus had "withdrawn" after the singular healing.

Then there are the small lines here and there throughout the new testament that have always bothered me. One of the more famous ones is where Paul tells Timothy to "No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments." (see 1 Timothy 5:231 Timothy 5:23 (ESV)
(No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.)
).  While wine can be used to purify water, most scholars seem to feel that this advice was given to Timothy as a medicinal aide personal to him. Other people at this time and place were surviving well drinking only water (such as the Essenes, and other Jewish ascetic sects who only drank water for reasons of personal purity). This hints to the idea that not only faith, but medicinal aide are acceptable in times of sickness. Some preachers, in reading this passage, blame Timothy as not having faith enough for healing. If this is the case, why was he allowed to be so involved in the initial spread of the gospel? Why did Paul not give Timothy better instruction on faith? Maybe Timothy needed to give Paul some money as seed for faith. These types of arguments fall apart. While Timothy was obviously well enough to work for the gospel, it can not be denied that while doing so he had stomach issues and frequent ailments. Rather than seeking healing directly, he was encouraged in scripture to instead seek medicinal assistance.

Another one liner comes in second Timothy during the final greetings. In 2 Timothy 4:20 the word says "Erastus remained at Corinth, and I left Trophimus, who was ill, at Miletus. (emphasis mine)" Here, Paul is speaking and he says he simply left Trophimus behind because he was sick. If anyone should have known about the gospel of perfect health, it would have been Paul, who wrote most of the new testament. Why would Paul leave Trophimus behind if he could have simply prayed for his healing. Why did Paul not say "and I left Trophimus behind because he did not have enough faith to receive his healing" as some preachers today would make people believe. Paul also did not say that he left Trophimus behind because he was weak and ill because of his sin. The word is telling in its simplicity. Paul left Trophimus behind because he was ill. If there had been better options, there is no reason to think Paul would not have used them. Paul is still sending greeting on behalf of Trophimus; he is still included with the faithful.

While Epaphroditus was ultimately healed, it is apparent in Philippians 2:25-30Philippians 2:25-30 (ESV)
I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need, for he has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill. Indeed he was ill, near to death. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. I am the more eager to send him, therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. So receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men, for he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me.
that he suffered with a lengthy sickness that nearly took his life before he was healed. It is further pointed out that he was sick because of his work for Christ - the opposite of faithlessness or sin. This too, would not fit the pattern laid out by modern faith preachers. One could go a bit far and teach that if you are a lazy Christian, others may get sick because of your lacking, but that would not be a fair use of scripture either (Philippians 2:30 - "...for he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me."). Finally, it says he was healed by the mercy of God, and not because of God's obligation to heal or because Epaphroditus had finally mustered enough faith before the sickness took him.

These verses speak specifically to healing and sickness. These do not speak to suffering, which while denied by many faith preachers, is something to which we are called (John 16:33John 16:33 (ESV)
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
, Romans 8:17Romans 8:17 (ESV)
and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
, 2 Corinthians 1:52 Corinthians 1:5 (ESV)
For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.
, 2 Corinthians 4:8-102 Corinthians 4:8-10 (ESV)
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.
, Philippians 1:29Philippians 1:29 (ESV)
For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake,
, James 5:10James 5:10 (ESV)
As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.
). But that's another entry.

And then there's 1 Peter 4:1-2 (NKJV). These verses read:

Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.

While the word translated as "suffer" in the verses above can refer to persecutions, it can also refer to sickness (compare Matthew 17:12Matthew 17:12, 15 (ESV)
17:12 But I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man will certainly suffer at their hands.”

17:15 ... Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly. For often he falls into the fire, and often into the water.
with and Matthew 17:15Matthew 17:12, 15 (ESV)
17:12 But I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man will certainly suffer at their hands.”

17:15 ... Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly. For often he falls into the fire, and often into the water.
). When seeking the Lord, suffering in the flesh (no matter the form/source) can be used by God to remove us from sin. We know this speaks to us, and isn't referencing Christ who suffered in the flesh, because it says that "he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men..." Jesus never spent any of this time in the flesh for the lusts of men. This is clearly a message to us. If we are suffering, no matter the cause, let us be sure we are allowing God to use that suffering to purify our lives. Even if for a season, the suffering can hang around and do us a world of good. Remember the point of Paul's thorn, though - we should know what improvements are being made in us due to the suffering or the reason for it - if we do not, we are either wasting an opportunity God is trying to take to cleanse us from some sin, or we are allowing an unpermitted illness to wreck havoc in our lives for no purpose but the enemy's.

I must reiterate this final point. I have not stated the above in an effort to disprove healing. My previous entry should speak to that. I fully believe Jesus is our healer. But I can't say I believe we can always claim instant healing in this lifetime. Yes... we should pray. Yes... we should expect to see people healed...


Sometimes God has other plans and purposes in mind. As Romans 8 makes clear, all of creation is groaning and waiting for the final redemption, and this includes the redemption of our bodies.

As a final thought on Biblical healing, I encourage you to watch the following video with Joni Eareckson Tada. She speaks to a greater healing that we all need. Be encouraged.

Please note that the above video is from John MacArthur's/Grace to You's Strange Fire conference. While the conference (and book) give needed rebuke to some of the more outlandish in the charismatic movement, inclusion of this valuable and worthwhile video from that conference does not imply that I agree with the biblically unsound cessationist theology.

Healing? Yes! What Happened Between Crucifixion and Resurrection?