One of the characteristics of the Word of Faith Movement is that it emphasises physical healing. According to them Jesus’ atonement not only secured our spiritual healing, but our physical healing too. According to this movement, Christians should simply claim God’s promises by faith and the sick will be made well and the ill restored. Sickness and disease are enemies from Satan and God wants his people to be healthy and prosperous.
If, as a Christian, you are not healed it is because you do not have enough faith or because you have unrepentant sin in your life. Many Christians as a result have left Word of Faith churches disillusioned and damaged.
Even raising the dead
Recently I saw an advertisement for a “Glory, Signs & Wonders: Holy Spirit Convocation” Word of Faith type conference. This is what it said about one of the speakers, “David has seen many signs, wonders and miracles in his ministry and has even been a part of raising many from the dead. You will receive a new impartation of faith and power under his ministry.”
Wow, this sounds pretty impressive! Christian leaders claiming to raise people from the dead! I have never heard of a verified case of someone being raised from the dead and I think these so-called “spiritual” leaders are fakers making false claims.
Jesus the healer
The New Testament, on the other hand, is comprised of reliable, historical documents that have stood under scrutiny. The New Testament tells us that Jesus healed many people with severe challenges and on a couple of occasions even raised dead people back to life. Jesus was and is God the Son and so he could easily heal sick, paralysed people and even raise dead corpses – but that doesn’t mean we can do it too. Just because Jesus walked on water does not mean we can. Just because Jesus feed 5000 people (probably more) with a couple of fish does not mean we can. Jesus’ and the apostles’ miracles acted as divine authentication from God that they were his spokesmen (2 Corinthians 12:12) and these miraculous gifts are no longer available or necessary for the church today (Ephesians 2:20). God does heal today, but not through the hands of men.
Claim it in Jesus’ name
Sometimes the Word of Faith people misuse Matthews 9:22 where a woman who had been bleeding for 12 years touched Jesus’ cloak and Jesus said to her, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” The Word of Faith proponents will say, “You see! If you have enough faith God will heal you and if you are not healed it is because you lack faith.”
However, the important thing to see in the woman’s words (and the entire chapter) is that it is not the size of her faith, but the object of her faith that counts. A little later in Matthew’s gospel Jesus’ disciples try to cast out a demon and cannot. Jesus then casts the demon out and says to his disciples, “For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20) Again the lesson is plain. It is not the size of your faith that counts, but the object of your faith. The disciples thought they could cast out the demon in their own power and ability instead of placing their confidence in Jesus’ power and ability. The power is not in your faith, but in the object of your faith. If your faith is in Jesus, he is very powerful.
The Bible surprisingly records Jesus doing more miracles without anyone exercising faith than with their faith. If God were dependent on people for a certain amount of faith to be healed we all would be looking to ourselves for the power instead of relying on God. Miraculous healings do not depend on our amount of faith; but are given according to the purpose and providence of God.
A different league
We often hear about miracle crusades and healing services. We see and hear of people being healed of back-ache, bad hearing and diabetes – all things you can’t verify at the time. The so-called healer often says, just to cover all his bases, that you have to keep believing in your healing otherwise you will lose your miracle! When Jesus healed it was not back-ache, but blindness. Not dodgy hearing, but complete deafness. Not diabetes, but being physically dead. Now of course Jesus can heal anything including back-ache and diabetes. Jesus’ healings were verifiable, instantaneous, always successful and permanent. They were done to prove who Jesus was and not for all Christians to imitate. Christians in reality can’t imitate Jesus’ miracles, because we are not Jesus. Some try to imitate Jesus’ healings by trying to heal minor ailments, but even those healings can’t be verified and confirmed. Jesus suffered and died so that we need not endure the wrath of God; not to remove our back-ache.
Sickness in the New Testament
Healings in New Testament times were not as common place as we think. The apostle Paul prayed for healing for himself and God refused to heal as he had a greater purpose in mind (2 Corinthians 12:1-10). I dare say that a Word of Faith “healer” may have rebuked Paul for his lack of faith or unrepentant sin. On one occasion Paul did not heal Timothy but told him to take his medicine (1 Timothy 5:23). At another time Paul was extremely grateful to God for sparing the life of Epaphroditus who was very ill and close to death. Notice that Paul did not have a healing service for Timothy or Epaphroditus. Paul would have prayed for them, told them to go to the doctor (as God heals through miracle and medicine) and then left the outcome to God.
Even Jesus prayed, “Not my will, but yours be done.” It is extremely arrogant for any Christian or Christian leader to demand or prescribe to God what he should or shouldn’t do in any situation. And if God does choose to heal us, our healing is not dependent on the size of our faith, but on the providence of God. I challenge the Word of Faith “healers” to leave their atmosphere-induced, music-playing-softly-in-the-background healing services and go to any of our state hospitals and heal the sick and lame like Jesus did.