How God’s Presence Brings Healing
After the day of Pentecost, the disciples became very adept at healing. So many of the sick had been healed that people brought out their sick and laid them in the street hoping that the shadow of the apostles would fall on them:
“And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, so that they brought the sick out into the streets and laid them on beds and couches, that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might fall on some of them.” (Acts 5:14-15)
The passage says that people brought out the sick hoping that the shadow of Peter might fall on them. The passage doesn’t actually say that the sick were healed by Peter’s shadow. It says that people believed his shadow had healing power. Why would they come to this conclusion?
We don’t know for certain, but it seems as though the sick were healed as the disciples passed near them. We also know that on a number of occasions, power went out from Jesus as He passed through a crowd and the sick were healed. The power (or anointing) upon Jesus flowed from Him to them. I believe the disciples carried the anointing of God just as Jesus did and when someone needed healing, power left them and the sick were healed, often without their knowledge. I believe the same thing is happening today.
Some of us carry God’s presence in a way that releases healing on a regular basis, often without our awareness and without a single word being said. I became aware of this phenomenon a few years ago, when some of my patients mysteriously began getting better during transports in the ambulance. Some of these transports were nothing short of miraculous.
On one transport, a comatose patient with almost no blood pressure who was expected to die had an unexpected increase in blood pressure and came out of his coma before we got to the destination. I was so busy providing medical care I didn’t have time to pray for him. At first, I shrugged it off as wishful thinking, until the night I had a dream that revealed something I wasn’t aware of.
In the dream, I transported a man who sustained severe crushing injuries in a car accident. I didn’t provide any medical treatment or pray for him. When we arrived at the hospital, the doctor asked what I did for him. I told him I didn’t do anything, but I thought he was healed. And in fact, he was healed. In the dream, I knew that God’s presence had come into the ambulance had healed all of his injuries, without my direct involvement. I just sat in my seat and did nothing. This dream was God’s way of letting me know that He was in fact healing people through His presence, even though I wasn’t always aware of it.
I often ask God to bring His presence into the room or ambulance while ministering healing. The concept of God’s presence puzzles some people. A friend once asked, “If God lives in us, and we are one with Him then how can He also be apart from us?
Some leaders teach that the Holy Spirit no longer rests ‘upon’ God’s people as He did in Old Testament days. They believe that as a result of the new covenant, and new birth, having the Holy Spirit inside of us, we no longer have (or need) the Holy Spirit to rest ‘upon’ us. This would seem to make sense, but let’s look at what the Bible says.
In John chapter 14, Jesus taught the disciples about the relationship they would have with the Holy Spirit:
“I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever – the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” (Jn. 14:16-17)
Here we see two different relationships that believers can have with the Holy Spirit – He can dwell with us and in us. But there is a third relationship Jesus said they would have. In the first chapter of the book of Acts, He commissioned them, saying they would receive power when the Holy Spirit came upon (epi) them:
“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
This third relationship is noteworthy for a couple of reasons:
- Jesus tied the power for ministry to the new relationship they had not yet experienced. “You will receive power– when the Spirit comes upon you.”
When Jesus was baptized by John, the Holy Spirit came to rest ‘upon’ Him, and remained there. (Jn. 1:32) The baptism of Jesus was the point at which His ministry began. He received the anointing and power for ministry through the same experience He later told the disciples they would have.
In Acts 2:3, the Holy Spirit manifested as divided tongues of fire resting ‘upon’ the believers. In Acts chapter 8, Peter and John went to Samaria to assist the new believers in receiving the Holy Spirit:
“For as yet He had fallen upon (epi) none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. (Acts 8:16)
Paul also assisted believers in receiving the Holy Spirit:
“And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came ‘on’ (epi) them; and they spoke with tongues, and prophesied.” (Acts 19:6)
Finally, Peter taught that the Spirit of God rested ‘upon’ believers:
“If you are reproached for the name of Christ, be happy; for the spirit of glory and of God rests ‘upon’ (epi) you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.” (1 Pet. 4:14)
The Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit does in fact rest ‘upon’ believers today, just as He did with the saints of the Old Testament. If we agree that Jesus and the disciples had the Spirit come to rest upon them at the starting point of their ministry, we could make the case that the power for ministry depends on this experience.
Is God Everywhere?
It is often taught that God is present everywhere and yet people claim that God’s presence “shows up” in different locations for different reasons. How do we reconcile this apparent contradiction?
One of the main verses used to support the idea that God is present everywhere is from this observation by the psalmist:
“Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me.”
The Bible does seem to teach (or at least imply) that God’s presence is everywhere. And yet it also teaches that in some way, God appears at certain times and places, where He was not previously present, or at least not present in the same way.
One example is when God’s presence (or His glory) inhabited the temple of worship. Another is the indwelling of His Spirit in us, after we are born again. How can God become present in some place when He is already present everywhere?
Let’s look at a few more passages of scripture.
In the following passage, God’s Spirit appeared in a cloud, from which He spoke:
“Then the Lord came down in the cloud, and spoke to him, (Moses) and took of the Spirit that was upon him, and placed the same upon the seventy elders; and it happened, when the Spirit rested upon them, that they prophesied, although they never did so again.” (Num. 11:25)
In the days of the kings of Israel, the manifest presence (glory) of God rested between the cherubim upon the mercy seat above the Ark of the testimony. At one point, Ezekiel witnessed the glory of the Lord as it departed from the temple:
“So the cherubim lifted up their wings, with the wheels beside them, and the glory of the God of Israel was high above them. And the glory of the LORD went up from the midst of the city and stood on the mountain, which is on the east side of the city.” (Ezek. 11: 22-23)
The Holy Spirit is a person. He inhabits us and never leaves us. The manifest presence of God (His glory) is the spiritual substance of His being and not a person. God’s presence (or glory) comes and goes, though His Spirit does not.
When people refer to God’s presence being ‘everywhere’ they’re speaking of God’s awareness of all that is happening in creation. But there is a different aspect to His presence, which is purely relational and it has to do with worship. It’s this presence (His glory) that was manifest in the temple. The presence of God as it was manifest in the temple, and which is now manifested at different times in different places, is not present everywhere or all the time. It is reserved for places and times of worship.
God Was With Him
Jesus was fully God and fully man, but it wasn’t his divine power that performed miracles. Peter made a fascinating comment about why Jesus was able to heal the sick: “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. .” (Acts 10:38)
Peter’s explanation was that Jesus didn’t heal the sick because he was God, but rather, because he was anointed by God and that God was with him.
Jesus was God and yet, God was with him and rested upon Him. Somehow, the oneness shared by the Godhead allows for all these seemingly impossible relationships to exist. Since God’s nature doesn’t change and His nature has been to allow His Spirit to reside with, in, and upon individuals and in certain places, His Spirit could rest upon you or I and His presence could manifest in a church building, your living room or my ambulance.
Healing can happen as we exercise authority over sickness and operate in faith. Both of these require action on our part. But God can and does heal on His own, tagging along with us wherever we go, releasing healing power to those He loves. His presence can fill a city park, a room or inhabit your personal space and touch people you’re ministering to.
This is an excerpt from the book Divine Healing Made Simple.