Healing gifts have ceased. They have passed away because we now have the Bible. If you are not healed it is because of sin or a lack of faith on your part. God only heals from His sovereignty. Healing is guaranteed in the atonement, if you are not healed, it’s your fault.
These and many other diverse perspectives have left many in the body of Christ in confusion and pain. This five-part blog series will be excerpts from my book, Healing: Hope or Hype? In it, I try to find a new covenant, grace-filled, faith-filled, God-honoring, scripture-honoring middle road on this topic. Neither ditch of passive, fatalist, unbelief in a mysterious sovereignty and the guilt, manipulation, and fraud of the televangelists is acceptable. Those suffering in their bodies deserve better than either of these extremes can offer. Those of us in health owe it to those who suffer to minister to them in identificational care, and power . . . without the hype, shame, and manipulation.
Faith and prayer—who among us couldn’t offer more of both all the days of our lives? There’s nothing easier for a preacher or youth leader[i] to do to get an altar full of weeping people, than to overwhelm folks with a sense of inadequacy in both of these areas. The technique is fueled by the over use of phrases such as: the Lord deserves our best, if we were just more committed, if we were more wholehearted, if we would only pray He will breakthrough, if we are diligent He will takes us to the “next level,” and so forth.
When is enough, enough? At what point does God become satisfied? Tormenting people with a sense of inadequacy is not the Gospel. I want to avoid energizing this mentality on the topic of healing. Our shortcomings and inadequacies are never far from our consciousness. The only place they should be mentioned is in the arms of His unfailing love. Our identity and acceptance in Him is the foundation and prerequisite to any exhortation about our responsibilities in Christian disciplines. We must never, never forget it.
Believers tend to operate under a lot of assumptions. Understanding is not a prerequisite for obedience. Ignorant relational faith in action is better than inactive informed faith. But informed faith in action is the ideal combination. If I want to make edible table salt, I best start with sodium hydroxide and hydrochloric acid. Sodium hydroxide and sulfuric acid will give me a salt, but I might not want to put it on my fish and chips. Since this chapter concerns the role of faith and prayer in relationship to healing, let’s make sure we have the right ingredients before we start tasting the result.
There’s also a strong tendency in Western Christianity to provide people with spiritual techniques and tools, thereby making technicians and clinicians instead of birthing relational sons and daughters of Christ. The Church has more “how to” seminars and books than MacDonald’s has French fries. You can give a devil a college education and a computer and he’s still a devil. We’re not called to produce competent devils. Biblical equipping is about the impartation of a right heart, the transformation of humanity into the image of Christ, not the transference of right information. It’s more than teaching someone the right stuff, and then—teaching more of the right stuff. We’ve been doing that for centuries. In our culture it has produced very mixed results. Right information is important, but it’s a question of sequence and priority. Right information planted in toxic soil produces deadly results.
A cold heart and a highlighted Bible is a bad combination. It’s the essence of evil because it’s an incarnated misrepresentation of God, like someone we know from Genesis: “Yea, hath God said . . .? Genuine biblical equipping means I facilitate an encounter between another human being and the Risen Lord. From that Truth encounter, a relationship is birthed (or deepened). From that relationship spiritual understanding develops, which eventually affects behavior.
When it comes to faith for healing, we will ultimately talk about tools and “how to’s.” However, we must remember that Christ is the effective cause of healing. Faith is only the instrumental cause. Healing as a blessing is never to be disassociated from Christ. A.B. Simpson always encouraged people not to believe for healing, but to appropriate Christ the Healer. I say a hearty amen to that. The former is a technical approach. The latter is relational. We cannot afford to master technique, but miss the Master.
This blog is an excerpt from our title: Healing: Hope or Hype? Why Legitimate Physical Healings are Rare in Local Churches, and What We Can do About it! It is available in all formats at www.stevecrosby.com.
[i] Young people’s ministries and youth groups are especially vulnerable to it because those groups tend to focus on changing outward behavior to satisfy parental expectations of: “You’re doing a good job with our kids!” (Meaning our kids are causing us less problems than they used to!). Behavior modification through the management of sinful habits is not Christ’s gospel.
[ii] It’s akin to murder. The logical end of religion is murder. In our culture we will be satisfied with slander and destroying a person’s character and reputation.
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