The Biblical Basis for Healing
Healing is the subject of much debate, both inside and outside the church. There are many skeptics who would challenge the validity of divine healing. Some doubt healing itself, insisting there is no clinical evidence demonstrating that healing is a real phenomenon. Others challenge the idea of healing as a biblical principle that is valid for today. We’ll survey some of the most relevant passages of Scripture which reveal not only the biblical basis for divine healing, but the fact that it should be an essential part of ever believer’s life.
The Old Testament is rich with passages that teach the people of God about His character and nature. Each of God’s names, which are found in the Old Testament describe something about Him that was unknown at the time. In Exodus 15:26, God revealed that one of His names is, “Jehovah Rapha” … “I AM the LORD, who heals you.” The literal translation of this name is; “I AM your healing”. Healing is one of God’s unchanging attributes, and although God’s plans may change, He himself never changes. (Mal. 3:6) If God’s nature was to heal then, it is still His nature to heal today.
When God’s people rebelled against Him, serpents entered their camp. God told Moses to make a serpent of brass and put it on a pole and lift it up in the middle of the camp and anyone who looked at the serpent would be healed. God made a way for people to escape death and be healed. All they had to do was to turn their eyes upon the brass serpent. Many did, but some did not. Healing has always been like this. It is available to all who desire to be healed, but it is never forced upon anyone. (See Num. 21:8-9)
Before He was crucified, Jesus compared the death He would suffer to the time when Moses lifted up the brass serpent in the wilderness:
“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” (Jn. 3:14 -17)
Jesus came to give His life as a ransom for many. His death demonstrated God’s unconditional love for us and His desire to forgive sin. He came to reconcile those who were alienated and redeem that which was lost. He came to teach those who lived in darkness and to reveal the Father’s heart to His creation. Nowhere is God’s mercy and compassion more clearly demonstrated than in the healing miracles performed by the Rabbi who called himself ‘the Son of Man’.
When Jesus suffered beating and death on the cross, He not only obtained salvation for us, but He obtained our healing from sickness. In Isaiah 53, the prophet declared the things the Messiah would suffer and how His suffering would benefit us:
“Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned – every one – to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isa 53:4-6, NIV)
In this passage Isaiah sees 4 different things that are taken from us:
- Our griefs;
- Our sorrows;
- Our transgressions;
- Our iniquities;
He sees 2 things that are given to us:
- It brought us peace;
- With His stripes we are healed
With His suffering and death, Jesus purchased not only our freedom from sin, but our freedom from sickness. Notice the actions in this verse; the prophet saw our transgressions and iniquities being taken from us. He sees an active process where something is removed from us. Notice also that peace and healing are actively given to us. We receive something we did not have. If the suffering and death of Jesus purchased our forgiveness of sin, they also purchased our healing. These two are eternally tied together at the cross. Forgiveness and healing are spoken of together in other places in Scripture. Jesus connected them in the following account from the gospel of Mark:
“Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins” He said to the paralytic, “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.”. (Mk. 2:9-11)
While it’s true that Jesus used this encounter as a visible demonstration of His authority to forgive sin, it also illustrates the relationship between forgiveness of sin and healing. Jesus had the same authority over both and the grace of God deals with them in the same way. With the same proclamation Jesus forgave the man’s sin and healed him.
James also tied forgiveness and healing together. Notice how he confidently asserts the outcome of the prayers for the sick:
“Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. (Jas. 5:14-16)
James ties confession of sin and forgiveness to the sick being healed. They operate alongside one another. As Christians, we facilitate healing. In the same way that we’re given the ministry of reconciliation, where we assist others in being reconciled to God, we likewise help them obtain mercy in the form of healing. (2 Cor. 5:18)
The Will of God and Healing
The will of God toward healing is something we must know with certainty. His will is not as mysterious as it might seem. If you understand His will toward salvation, you can understand His will toward healing, because the same principles are at work in both.
Most of us don’t need to ask, “Why are some people saved while others are not?” We know the answer to this question:
“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Pet. 3:9)
It is God’s will that all would be saved. Men and women are saved by the preaching of the gospel. If the gospel is not preached, no one hears. If they do not hear, they are not saved. (Rom. 10:14-15) Salvation comes when men and women cooperate with God in preaching the gospel and receiving it. If men are not saved, it is not because God doesn’t want them saved, but because man has not effectively preached the gospel or because they have rejected it. The bottom line is – God’s will about salvation is known. The exact same principle is true for healing, because healing, like salvation is an act of grace toward man. Healing is delivered to the world through believers like you and I. If we fail to deliver healing or if people refuse to receive it, we shouldn’t question God’s will. He has chosen to limit His involvement in the affairs of man to the degree that Satan and his kingdom are allowed to oppose virtually every aspect of His will – including His will for us to be healed.
Jesus healed all who came to Him. No one was turned away. As long as they were willing to be healed, He was willing to heal them. Note that He didn’t heal all who were sick, but rather, those who were willing to be made well. The will of man is always honored by God, who gives according to our desires. If all who came to him were healed, it demonstrates that God’s will is for all to be healed. He said He always did the will of the Father (Jn. 5:30). If there were no exceptions in the ministry of Jesus, there are no exceptions in the will of the Father. Bill Johnson observed that Jesus is “perfect theology”. Any belief we have about the will of God that we don’t see modeled in the life of Jesus is suspect.
If the will of God was for us to be sick, then no one disregarded the will of God more than Jesus. Every time He healed someone, He would have cheated them of the lesson they needed to develop their character. You could argue that persecution builds character, because the Bible teaches that Godly character comes by enduring persecution. (See 1 Pet. 4:12-19) But you can’t argue from Scripture that sickness builds character. Nowhere is this taught in the Bible.
We must also consider the will of the enemy in regard to healing. Jesus said the enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy. (Jn. 10:10) In calling His enemy a thief, He revealed that Satan’s activities are illegal. The fact that stealing is illegal doesn’t keep people from committing robbery. God allows crime, not because He approves of it, but because He values free will and wants us to exercise our free will partnering with Him in abolishing lawlessness. In the same way, God allows sickness not because He approves of it, but because He values free will and wants our participation in His plan to defeat it. Sickness is now an unauthorized activity carried out by the kingdom of darkness. There are criminals who break the law and there are agents authorized to fight illegal activity. In the same way that police fight crime, we are commissioned to fight sickness. Healing is a matter of enforcing God’s will here upon the earth as His representatives.
Ephesians chapter six teaches that we are involved in a war against the enemy and psalm 84:11 says that God withholds no good thing from us. Bearing these things in mind, let’s look at a passage that will help clear up the issue of God’s timing and healing:
“And when they had come to the multitude, a man came to Him, kneeling down to Him and saying, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. So I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him.”
Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.” And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour.” (Mt. 17:14-17)
After repeated failed attempts by the disciples to heal his son, the man could have easily concluded that it wasn’t God’s will for his son to be healed or that it wasn’t God’s time. Failure robs us of hope and hope deferred makes the heart sick. But this man didn’t give up hope — he went to Jesus.
By casting out the demon, and healing the boy, Jesus demonstrated that the condition (epilepsy) had a spiritual cause and that it was God’s will and time for the boy to be healed. Many well-meaning people will attempt to heal the sick and fail, because they haven’t developed faith that consistently heals. We can’t fault them for trying, but we shouldn’t assume that their failure means that God doesn’t want healing to take place. Failed healing usually results from a lack of faith on the part of the healer, not a lack of willingness on the part of God. Remember, Jesus rebuked His disciples for their lack of faith. If someone has prayed with you and you haven’t been healed, don’t let their failure make you to believe that God doesn’t want you healed. Be like the Father of the sick boy and find someone full of faith or go to Jesus yourself.Healing is often a gradual process, like the rest of God’s work in our lives. From the first day we believe in Christ as our savior, changes begin to take place. Although we are immediately given the righteousness of God, our conduct doesn’t immediately become righteous. The transformation from rebellious sinner to obedient son or daughter is a process called sanctification. How quickly it happens is determined by our cooperation with God. The more we resist, the longer it takes. Over time, God’s grace transforms us into the image of His Son. The Apostle Paul encouraged believers
“…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” (Phil. 2:12-13)
Salvation, though it is immediately available, may take time to be brought to fulfillment. Healing can be much the same way. God’s grace toward us for healing is always available. We can obtain it immediately. But the change in our body may take time. God’s plan for healing can be resisted by us and by the enemy, slowing our healing. In another chapter we’ll look at the ways that we can work against God’s plan for our healing.
Most of the people I know who operate in healing have something they want to be healed of, but they haven’t received it yet. I’ve been healed of chronic neck and shoulder pain, back pain, numerous headaches and a heart condition that I had for over 25 years. But I’m still waiting for my eyes to be healed, so I don’t need reading glasses. I believe my healing is coming, so I wait for it. I think it’s worth our time to pursue healing with a passion but until it arrives, we must patiently wait.
In most of the chapters of this book, I’ll share my personal revelation from God in the form of dreams, but in this chapter our dream comes from a friend. Ken Nichols has been used by God in healing for some time. He wrestled with the question of whether he had blanket authority to pray with everyone for healing or if he had limited authority to pray only for certain people. On December 5 2010, Jesus paid him a visit in a dream and answered that question. This is his account:
“Before I explain the dream, let me give some background. Now as many of you may know I fully realize from the Word of God, that we are one with Christ who has been given all authority in Heaven and earth. Jesus our example and teacher demonstrated to us the will of the Father in all things, including healing the sick. He never prayed for even one, instead He gave a word of command and declaration. Another way of saying this is, He exercised authority and healed them. But there have been some books I read and those who are well meaning who said: “We only have authority over those things we are specifically given authority over, it’s not just a blanket authority!”
I had been looking in the Word of God to see where Jesus ever said He lacked authority to heal someone, where He said He lacked the authority to do a miracle or stop a storm. Instead I see Him even “cursing” a fig tree and it dried up from the roots. So did Father God tell Jesus to curse the tree, thus giving Him specific authority? I think not. Same as with Elijah when the captain and his 50 showed up on 3 occasions and he called fire down on them and burned them up. On the third time an angel was sent to tell Elijah not to fear them and go with them. So if God had to give specific authority to the prophet or nothing would happen, the angel would not have needed to be sent, to stop him from burning them up too. Authority means just that; pre-permission to do what had already been spoken for you to do. Jesus said heal the sick, cast out devils, raise the dead, etc.
Anyway, in the dream I had, I was sitting in an empty room on a chair and was praying and asking Jesus about this teaching. In the room there were couches and other chairs around a table. I had my head slightly down and facing straight ahead, as I was praying and asking for clarity, Jesus walked in the room off to my side. I felt His presence; I heard His voice and the atmosphere shifted. He physically walked in, not some spiritualized visitation. He said: “I hereby give you specific authority to heal all the sick, infirm and hurting. That clears that up! I want all of them healed, but you will never be able to reach all of them, so whoever YOU choose to minister to, I not only want them healed, I expect them to be healed. I will be there and watching what you do and how determined you are to see them made well. Once you decide to minister to this one or that one, you have a responsibility to their healing, unless they choose to walk away from it.” (What came to my mind in the dream was similar to what John G. Lake had his Divine Healing Technicians do for graduation from his training. He gave them a name of someone in the community typically terminal or incurable and told them to go and heal them and come back. If you don’t heal them, don’t come back.) He said, “You now have specific authority right from me and you never have to wonder or question that again. But with it comes responsibility as well. If you give up, if you try and fail I want you to come back here and we’ll talk. I want all of them healed, remember that.” Then the dream ended.
Ken goes on to say that he was left with a sense of the extreme love that Jesus has for all people and of His desire to see them all healed, more than a sense that he always had to make the right choice in who would be healed.
To check out the book Divine Healing Made Simple click on the link or the image below:
Other excerpts from the book: