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Healings for Us to Do

We are the Church -- the ecclesia, the "called out ones." We have been equipped with powerful gifts and entrusted with awesome responsibilities. Right from the beginning the Church won the pagan Roman world to Christ by bold preaching combined with unprecedented displays of love and supernatural power: Those early believers loved the outcasts, healed the sick and drove out demons. That was meant to be just the beginning of wonders.[1]

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21

All scripture citations are from the English Standard Version (ESV) unless otherwise noted.

The Command to Heal

Jesus sent out the disciples during His earthly ministry commanding them to "heal the sick" as well as witness toPrayer Group : Scriptures for Healing : The Church Today the coming kingdom. Those early disciples were in some way anointed, authorized and empowered to do what He was sending them out to do. Nothing has changed. Unless it has vastly improved in our favor. Can anyone honestly believe that our position after the cross and Pentecost is less than that of Jesus' followers who didn't have "saving faith" and lacked the indwelling Spirit?

In Matthew's account of the twelve disciples, we see Jesus linking the healing mission to a bold proclamation of the kingdom of God being "at hand." This is the kingdom that we now know is always with us and around us, because of the indwelling Spirit.[2] They didn't know that! Yet, they went out in obedience to Jesus' command, not knowing even the half of that greater perspective which we enjoy on this side of the cross. In Jesus' famous prayer, He told us to pray that God's kingdom would come "on earth as in heaven."[3] Believing this, we can have great faith-confidence that our Father desires heaven's perfect health to come to us on earth, just as it already does for everyone in heaven.

These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, "Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And proclaim as you go, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay. Matthew 10:5-8

Luke's account of the seventy-two shows us that we don't even have to be on the first string! The hand-picked twelve had already been sent out. Now, it was time for the "others"—all seventy-two of them. This second group had been waiting patiently on the bench for their turn on the playing field. Speaking of playing fields, this one—the harvest field—evidently requires lots of prayer. Perhaps, while the seventy-two were waiting their turn, they were praying. God moves when we pray, but He can also use our prayers to get us moving, as in: "Lord, send someone else. You know how shy I am, or how busy!" And He taps you on the shoulder anyway, throws the ball to you and out you go. This passage shows us that it is not our level of training, or our natural abilities, but His calling and our willingness that matter. These seventy-two make no excuses and show no sign of hesitation. Let us also embrace the adventure. He is certainly anointing, authorizing and empowering us to do what those pre-cross disciples were able to do.

After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. And he said to them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest... Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick in it and say to them, 'The kingdom of God has come near to you.' Luke 10:1-2, 8-9

We need to know that Jesus still wants the sick to be healed by us, just as He also wants us to be witnesses. It is not one or the other. In this sending passage from Mark, Jesus commands the eleven and through them, all of us, to "go into all the world." The assignment? To proclaim the gospel of course. But not only that: They were to cast out demons, speak in tongues and pray for the sick. With that we could empty the pews in many churches. Getting to heaven is what many Christians signed on for but getting heaven to earth is why Jesus recruited us.

Clearly, the Lord will equip us to do what He has commissioned us to do. That's where this sending passage gets sticky. Certain mainline Protestant denomination (not naming any names) are all onboard with the commission in Matthew 28 which only mentions preaching and teaching. However, to do this Great Commission, the baptism in the Spirit is required. How else can we pray in tongues? Not only that but casting out spirits and praying for the sick happen so much more frequently in those faith communities who believe in and practice the "second blessing" as the Lord's chosen path to spiritual empowerment. For more on this please see The Baptism of Power at forerunners4Him.org.

Later, he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. And he said to them, "Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover." Mark 16:14-18

The Power of the Believer—Our Access to the Holy Spirit

The power of the believer does not come from receiving the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit alone. Jesus commanded His disciples to remain in Jerusalem and pray for "power from on high." Let us remember that these were the same men that He had breathed upon in the Upper Room on the evening of His resurrection, saying "Receive the Holy Spirit."[4] You can't possibly be more born again or more indwelt by the Holy Spirit than that. Yet, Jesus was saying in effect that even that was not enough. He had something else "up His sleeve" -- the empowerment promised by the Father.

When it came on the day of Pentecost, Peter didn't hesitate to say that this was the promise of Joel that the Holy Spirit would be poured out "upon" believers in the Latter Days.[5] This "clothing with power" upon believers is often called the baptism in the Spirit. But by whatever name it may be called, one thing is clear: this experience of empowerment a) does not come automatically with conversion and saving faith (it didn't for the disciples) and b) according to Jesus it requires further seeking and prayer on the part of those who are already born again (He required it of His first converts). With this baptism of power, healings began to happen along with great boldness in witnessing. Why would we imagine it would be any different for us?

Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high."  Luke 24:45-49

And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, "you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now." So, when they had come together, they asked him, "Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."  Acts 1:4-8

The Authority of the Believer—Our Position in Christ

Our position of authority is based upon two things: The Atonement and Justification. Because of the Atonement, healing is now available to everyone! At the cross of Christ the Father was "in Christ reconciling the world to Himself" -- not counting anyone's sins against them.[6] By the "stripes" of Jesus everyone on earth was healed.[7] Just as everyone is now "pre-qualified" for the total forgiveness for their sins, so too everyone is also "pre-qualified" to receive immediate healing for their body. Every issue of salvation was settled at the cross.

We are God's ambassadors seeking to make known what God did for everyone through the cross of Christ.[8] We are also Jesus' agents sent out to minister faith, healing and salvation -- all of the benefits of His work. By faith we have been reborn "in Christ" so that God can now do through us anything He did through Jesus.[9] By justification God has given us the same position and favor as He gives to Jesus. That is how thoroughly the Atonement has "seated us" in Christ.[10] Jesus has not only given us the commission to heal everyone, He has given us permission to forgive everyone.

Among other things our position in Christ means that we are intended to pass on all of the benefits of the Atonement to everyone, not wondering whether "they qualify" or whether "God wills it." His will is to forgive, save and heal. His plan is to do it through us. He has "pre-qualified" everyone. Doubts only get in the way.[11] Even a little doubt or a smidgen of unbelief can block a whole lot of faith. That is why is really helps to search the Word to gain clarity about the truth of God's desire to heal people today. Jesus even fully expects that we will do more than He did![12]  You will recall that many times Jesus healed everyone who came to Him -- never stopping to figure out if they qualified for healing or if His Father wanted Him to heal them. That's our standard.

The Church's Assignment and Equipping

Jesus makes the startling claim which is also a prophetic prediction that a day is coming when His followers will do "greater works" than He did. What did He mean by that? Does it mean greater in the sense that there will be far more of us praying for healings and miracles and seeing them happen, than even He could accomplish during His glorious three years of ministry? Or, does it meant that miracles even greater in magnitude will happen? We don't know, but we are looking forward to finding out. Few believe that this prophecy was fulfilled by the apostles or the Early Church. That glorious time was a wonderful foretaste, but the best is yet to come. You and I are living at the cusp of those Last Days prophesied so long ago, when the glory of the latter house will exceed that of the former.[13] Every need we see, every opportunity we have to pray for healing, takes us one step closer to the fulness of what Jesus set before us. Let's keep practicing and pressing in for that ultimate break-through.

Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves. "Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. John 14:11-14

In this next passage, we see our commission. It is directly from the One who chose us. Jesus chose us to bear fruit and is working with us to help our fruit abide. This promise literally covers the map. Every aspect of our faith journey falls under the scope of this abiding promise: Jesus is with us to help us with "anything" we ask in His Name. We need the fruit of His Spirit in our lives, right? We also need the fruit of good deeds. (Let this article, Talent, Fruit and Gifts bring fresh insight.) Above all, our interest here is in the fruit of healed and restored lives and bodies.

The key is going to be growing the kind of faith-confidence that anything we ask in Jesus' Name, will be done for us by the Father. If this was as easy as adding "the Name of Jesus" to the end of every prayer, we would see the entire Christian world healed and whole by now. That just isn't happening. The secret may be in learning to "abide" in Jesus. Unless we abide in Jesus none of the fruit of the Spirit "remain" in us -- the peace sails out when anxiety barges in. Joy leaves when anger arrives. Doing His works requires abiding in Him to some degree. Only the Lord knows that equation, but we can know this one: To do what He did, it only makes sense that we learn to live as He lived. That way He can live through us now and work through us now, so much better. As John the Baptist said, we must decrease that He might increase.[14]

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.  John 15:16

Paul gives us the clearest picture of the equipping that comes through the baptism of the Holy Spirit. These nine gifts of the Spirit were evident in Jesus' life after the Holy Spirit descended upon Him. At Pentecost, the apostles began moving in the same supernatural ministry as Jesus as soon as they, too, were baptized in the Holy Spirit. Often called "Manifestation Gifts" these "activities" of the Spirit are essential for supernatural ministry and miraculous healings. They are never under our direct control. The gift is given—manifested—as needed in the moment. Nevertheless, there is much that we can do to learn about them, receive them, cultivate them and be ready to operate in them. As with so many other things in life (sports for instance), if we want to get good at something it takes practice and it also helps to hang out with others who are doing the same thing. Churches and conferences where these gifts are in operation are, perhaps, the best place to go to grow in these gifts or to receive healing through those who already walk in them.

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. 1 Corinthians 12:4-11

This passage from Paul's letter to the Corinthians shows us what the apostles expected to see in a typical church of their day. We have fallen quite a way from that good beginning. Take time to go over this list slowly with the churches of today in mind. Paul isn't expecting that anyone would have all the gifts or that everyone would have any particular one of them. But he certainly seems to take it for grated that every one of these gifts and positions is filled and functioning in the local church. That cannot yet be said of many of our churches. Let us hope the good change is coming. In the meantime, the Lord can meet us where He places us and lead us if we are in the wrong place. Seek Him. Just realize what we are up against, so to speak, when we seek healing in the present-day church. We are not yet restored to the level of the Early Church, but the Lord is working with us. That day will come, and even now He can still do mighty things with an expectant and believing heart. Many of us believe that a great healing revival is on the horizon. We who are seeking healing, or seeking to grow at praying for healing, are helping prepare the way for the next move of God.

Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the higher gifts. 1 Corinthians 12:27-31

Paul takes the lid off with this soaring praise to the One who can do "far more abundantly than all that we ask or think." In business terms, this is God's way of saying that we have been leaving a lot on the table. He has so much more for us than we are (so far) able to access or receive. But we are learning. One of the major learning points for the Body of Christ in the last few decades has been that this power we seek is "at work within us." For centuries the Church had been trained to go to God in petition alone, when seeking healing or any other answer to prayer. Now, we are seeing that more results come our way when we pray like Jesus and the apostles did. They didn't just petition God, they rebuked disease and demons away and they commanded healing and miracles to come. This is a sea change for our little ships of faith. It puts us into uncertain waters but brings with it the promise of new horizons to explore. Follow this link for more on the Five Biblical Ways to Pray.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21

James packed a lot into this brief passage. His expectation is that our first line of defense is to do our own praying: "let him pray." However, as we know we can be stumped in prayer, so when outside help is needed, go to the "elders of the church." This probably meant men in a position of church leadership but can be interpreted broadly to mean those who like elders, have an ability, or calling, or experience which recommends them to you for their prayers. Anointing with oil is advised, but it is the "prayer of faith" that brings the saving help.

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. 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 one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.  James 5:13-16

Everywhere we go, we keep coming back to the central role of faith. However, we need to understand that the faith needed is of a special kind. We may not be able to describe what it is exactly, but God certainly knows what He is looking for.[15] Healing is not a reward for proper faith. It is an activity that happens through faith—through the right kind of faith, because faith is the "substance" of things hoped for.[16] All of salvation comes to us through faith: Healing is no different. The saving help of healing comes through a special quality of faith that cannot be faked, or worked up, or imitated. Jesus said to work at our faith.[17] Indeed, all who seek to be vessels of healing work at holding a faith-expectancy in their hearts. All who desire to receive, may likewise work at holding faith expectancy in their hearts, too. But there is no precise pattern or guarantee. There is mystery. And there is promise. And there is time to keep growing.

A further point from James is the thorny connection between sin and sickness. Not all sickness may be due to a person's sin by any means. Some sickness come to us when someone we are helping sneezes on us! But modern medical science has been uncovering the connection between sickness and what we could call sinfulness. Being anxious or afraid, being jealous or resentful, are conditions that few would want to call sins. They are, however, sinful conditions of the heart. They certainly aren't righteous conditions of the heart. Whatever is not of the deep peace of Christ, throws us into stress of one kind or another and it is stress that pulls down our immune system and comprises our health where so many diseases are concerned.

James doesn't know our science, but he does know that disease comes in through what's wrong in us, not through anything wrong with God. His conclusion? God definitely wants to heal us. We may, however, need to repent of an action or an attitude, confessing to one another and praying for each other. Begin by checking for unforgiveness, fear or depression. These attract illness like magnets. For more on this see Disease and Dis-ease.

Next Healing Essential

Steve's Story  Over half of Rescued from Hell is posted on this site (for free) for two reasons: 1) You have a right to know about the one who is seeking to help you grow in the spiritual life, so that you can better decide if you want to trust me as a teacher and 2) practically everything on the site first came into my life as a truth I needed for the sake of my own growth. There are, therefore, many points where my story carries a testimony that could help you gain insights or inspiration to overcome your own obstacles.  

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Endnotes

[1] "The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts. And in this place I will give peace, declares the Lord of hosts." Haggai 2:9

[2] One quick way to see this reality of the kingdom being with us is through Paul's description which links the kingdom of God to the Holy Spirit's power and presence. And we know where that is: it is right inside every believer! For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Romans 14:17

[3] Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Matthew 6:10

[4] On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you."  When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you." And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven; if you withhold forgiveness from anyone, it is withheld." John 20:19-23

[5] But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them, "Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel: "'And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.'"  Acts 2:14-17

[6] All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19

[7] 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.  Isaiah 53:5

[8] Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5:20

[9] Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17

[10] But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ -- by grace you have been saved -- and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:4-6

[11] I'm not saying that I don't have doubts to deal with, but that when they come up, they get in the way if we don’t find a way to get rid of them and replace all doubt with confident, believing faith.

[12] We have Jesus own statement in John 14:11-14 as well as the promise of Haggai that the "latter" glory of the people of God will surpass anything that came earlier: "The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts. And in this place I will give peace, declares the Lord of hosts." Haggai 2:9

[13] The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the LORD of hosts. And in this place I will give peace, declares the LORD of hosts. Haggai 2:9

[14] "He must increase, but I must decrease." John 3:30

[15] Jesus was looking for a certain kind of faith. He saw it in the men who lowered their paralyzed friend through the roof:  And when he saw their faith, he said, "Man, your sins are forgiven you." Luke 5:20. That Jesus is looking for faith all over the earth is attested to by Luke also: "I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?" Luke 18:8

[16] Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1

[17] Then they said to him, "What must we do, to be doing the works of God?" Jesus answered them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent." John 6:28-29

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