Does healing still happen today?

Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of seeing much in the way of healing.

I’ve been in meetings where people have been prayed for who walked for the first time, or whose hearing was restored. I’ve seen arthritis disappear, legs lengthened, epilepsy healed. (It’s not that I prayed for most of these people–just that I witnessed these things first hand.)

I used to have a heart arrhythmia that would occur several times per day. Once it went on for so long I nearly went to the E.R. Although we were living here in the States at the time, I was back in London at a meeting where Paul Cain (a prophet) was speaking. In the middle of the meeting he asked anyone who had a heart condition to stand up. I, along with several dozen others, stood. He prayed a brief, couple of sentence prayer and we all sat down again. I’ve never had  that arrhythmia again!

I know Jesus still heals today.

In my current study of healing, I’ve been examining some of the conditions that Jesus healed when he walked this earth. Here are some of the definitions I’ve found from the Greek words that are used:

Noson: translated as sickness or disease

Malakion: a softness or weakness, a disease that weakens the victim, loss of muscle etc.

Kakos: bad, evil, inwardly foul, rotten, poisoned

Basanos: a touchstone used to test metals, examined by torture, torture, torment

Seleniazonemous: one being “moonized,” lunatic, epileptic

Paralutikos: paralytic (palsy)

So take a verse like Matthew 4:23:

And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogs, preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness (noson) and all kinds of disease (malakion) among the people. Then his fame went throughout all Syria; and they brought to him all sick (kakos) people who were afflicted with various diseases (noson) and torments (basanos), and those who were demon possessed, epileptic (seleniazonemous) and paralytics (paralutikos) and he healed them.

As a doctor (in a previous life) I find this fascinating. Jesus healed every kind of disease.

I long to see that happen again.

Crutches

Photo Credit: Bettina via Compfight cc

Freedom from sin and sickness?

I’ve recently been re-reading Christ the Healer by F. F. Bosworth (the second time through in the last three months). An excellent book on healing. Bosworth continuously raises the question, is physical healing part of Christ’s redemptive work on the cross? His conclusion is, yes, Christ died to redeem us physically as well as spiritually. We can experience healing from sickness and disease as well as forgiveness of sin.

Since putting into practice some of the principles he describes, a painful knee condition I’ve been dealing with for several months has just about disappeared. (You may say, “Well it would have gotten better anyway!” but it was noticeable how often when I chose to believe God’s word, the pain went away.)

So I’ve been exploring around the topic.

One of the chief passages about what Jesus accomplished through his  finished work on the cross comes in Isaiah 53.

He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
And like one from whom men hide their face
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten of God, and afflicted.
But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed. (vv 3-5 NASB)

The words, griefs and sorrows, which come twice here, are the Hebrew words  choli and yagon. According to Strong’s Hebrew Concordance, choli is translated as “grief” three times, but words like “disease,” “illness” and “sickness” twenty-two times.  Yagon is translated as “sorrow” four times, but words like “pain” twelve times.

So it seems that “A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief might be equally well (or better)  translated, “A man of pain and acquainted with sickness,” and “Surely our griefs he bore and our sorrows he carried,” as “Surely our sickness he bore and our pain he carried.”

That’s how Matthew interpreted it too.

When evening came, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed; and He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were ill.  This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: “He Himself took our infirmities and carried away our diseases.” (Matthew 8:16-17)

Makes you think!

Christ the Healer

 

An Army of Ordinary People

Which is more effective in the long term? A highly skilled evangelist (think Billy Graham or a gifted pastor) or An Army of Ordinary People sharing the good news of Jesus everywhere they go?  Much as I appreciate and value evangelists, I believe equipping people to do the work of an evangelist (which, according to Ephesians 4:11-12 is what an evangelist should do) will have a greater impact.

In my experience, while it obviously needs the work of the Holy Spirit, there are three main contexts in which a person is likely to become a follower of Jesus:

  1. When Jesus meets them at their point of need–eg after prayer for healing, or for finance etc. (Luke 10:9)
  2. In response to our story and the story of Jesus (Acts 26)
  3. As they explore the word of God is a participatory (Discovery) Bible study. This is the context in which we’ve seen whole groups find Jesus. (Hebrews 4:12-13)

Therefore, there are some skills we need to acquire:

  1. How to pray in faith–which means taking risks
  2. How to tell our story in a way that is neither religious nor self-righteous (nor full of Christianese) and then bridge into the story of Jesus
  3. How to introduce people to and lead them in a participatory Bible study

All of this can be simple enough that a new disciple can train others too.

What do you think?

Iwo Jima

The mystery of healing

Some of you who have been reading my blog for a while will remember the amazing story of Rosaura and her son, Jose (and another story here).

Healing is a mystery! As a church, we’ve many times seen the Lord step in and heal. But not on every occasion. This time,  Rosaura is instantly healed from 30 years of alcoholism and drug addiction with no withdrawal symptoms. On the other hand, within a week, her son, Jose, is diagnosed with a brain tumor.

Today, Jose had his fifth major brain surgery, this time to completely remove the tumor. In the past, the surgeon had deliberately left some of the tumor in order to preserve Jose’s eyesight. Today, the surgeon found “a mess” when he operated. One piece of good news. What they thought was tumor pressing on his optic nerve turned out to be a blood clot. But as he was operating to remove the remainder of the tumor that had entwined around a major blood vessel, a small blood vessel burst, and there was a large amount of bleeding. He was only able to clamp the vessel and quickly end the operation without being able to remove all the tumor.

The danger is that Jose has suffered a stroke from the bleed in his brain.

Jose is an outstanding young man who loves Jesus with all his heart. He has a delightful sense of humor, is a natural leader, and was set on becoming a nurse until the latest set of complications occurred and he had to give up his place in nursing school. I have no doubt that God has plans for Jose’s life.

Please pray with us for Jose. Pray he makes a full recovery with no signs of stroke. Pray that we, his church family, learn all we need to about the mystery of healing. And pray that the Master-Physician steps in and heals Jose completely, and that he, alone, gets the glory for a miracle.

Update: I just received a video from Rosaura showing Jose raising both hands in the air. Thank you, Lord!

Guest post by Sean Steckbeck: Demonstration of Power

Sean Steckbeck is a good friend who sees God working in power in the lives of unbelievers on an everyday basis. It’s easy for us to think, “God does it over there.” It’s time for us to expect him to do it here too. John Wimber used to say, “You spell faith, R-I-S-K.” Sean’s post is a challenge for us all to get out of out comfort zones.

Driving in the back roads of southern Judea, we come to a small Palestinian village. We climb a rough mountain with our car and have arrived.  As we get out, we are immediately invited for tea and coffee and are welcomed with a great smile typical of Arab hospitality. My partner and I are Israelis. He is a Jewish Israeli who immigrated to Israel from South Africa and I am married to a native born Jewish Israeli. My wife’s brother was killed by a Palestinian PLO operative in Lebanon in the early 1980’s and politically we typically are right-wing. My partner is also well known for his garnering support for Israel and the Jewish people in South Africa.

Returning to the story, our hearts were pounding as our Muslim Palestinian hosts asked us , “Why would you come here? Don’t you know it is dangerous for you to be here?”

We smiled and answered, “There are many people who are willing to die for hate, we are willing to die for love.”

We saw that it clearly touched their hearts as they opened up and expressed to us that we had their trust.  We began to tell stories from the New Testament and ask questions, and then were called to eat dinner with them. As we ate dinner, my partner and I started getting words of knowledge about certain sicknesses that were in the room. This led to an outbreak of healings which the whole village gathered to see.  We spoke of Jesus’ healing power, and then went back home with a promise to follow up the next week.

When we arrived the next week, one young man fell asleep on the coach. As we tried to waken him, he fell on the ground and started manifesting demons. My partner and I started casting out demons, and again the whole village came to watch this display of supernatural–they had never seen anything like it before.

This led to the opening up of a seeker group, which eventually led to several other small house meetings throughout the area discussing both the power of God and stories from the Bible. Here and in other places we have now seen over six generations of simple church multiplication and 36 home groups and seeker groups both among Jews and Muslims.  This has also led to Jews reaching out to Muslims and Muslims reaching out to Jews!

Why would two Israelis be willing to risk their lives for their seemingly Palestinian enemy in a Hamas infested area?

I believe there are many reasons, but I would like to briefly discuss two:

“My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power” – 1 Corinthians 2:4

In chapter of 1 Corinthians 2, just like today’s simple church movement, Paul desired to do things simply.  His message didn’t contain many words, but rather demonstrations.  He even boasted in his weak communication skills as an advantage! The one thing that Paul said that was working for him was demonstrations of power.

When I look at the ministry of Yeshua, as an example for us, we see his main apostolic methods were building a family and team in which to work through, telling stories, asking questions, eating at people’s homes, and demonstrating the power of God through healings and miracles.  Of course, Yeshua did this not in grandiose church buildings, but in the homes and marketplaces of everyday life.

I would like to challenge those in simple church and organic church who  have mastered storytelling, eating in homes, asking interactive questions, and building family; where are the demonstrations of power?  Do you have this missing element for starting a disciple-making movement?

Do you come with great methods, or do you also rely on demonstrations of power?

Do you consider healing the sick as optional, or a command to be obeyed?

Practice: Make a list of potential unbelieving neighbors who need a miracle in their life. Invite yourself over for dinner,  ask if they need prayer, and watch the power of God work!

This painting, entitled, “Grace,” hangs in the main foyer of our company. 

A quiet healing

Sometimes healing happens without fanfare, and it’s only later you realize the enormity of what has happened.

A new person came to the church that meets in our home a month ago. We had a time of listening to the Lord, and someone shared a picture about a little fish being gobbled by a shark. It seemed spiritually relevant, so we asked if anyone felt that life was overwhelming them, that they were being “eaten up” by circumstances. Several responded, including the new lady.

She mentioned that she had abdominal pain, and so, as well as her surrendering her life to Christ (the bigger miracle), we prayed she would be set free.

Last Friday, we heard the significance of what went on. The story went like this:

For 10 years, this beautiful girl had had crippling abdominal pain resulting in many visits to the ER–sometimes several times a month. During that time she had not had a single day without pain. She was unable to work or finish school because of it.

Since the day the church prayed, she has not had a single episode of pain.

We serve an awesome God!

Do you remember the extraordinary story of Jose?

Many people prayed for Jose when I blogged about his extraordinary  story here and here.

I’d like to give you an update.

It’s now 8 months since those events took place. Rosaura, Jose’s mom, is still completely free from her 30 year crack and drug addiction problems. God is doing some beautiful things in her life. She called me two days ago.

“I’ve got some great news. I’ve got some great, great, great, great news!”

Jose had an operation for brain cancer last October/November. They could only remove 85% of the tumor, and he has been receiving medication for it since then. He had a follow up MRI on his brain last week.

When Rosaura and Jose went to the appointment to get the results, the doctor examined the MRI again and again. He looked puzzled.

“There’s absolutely no trace of the tumor!”

There will be great rejoicing in the church that meets in our home on Friday. Thank you so much to those of you who prayed for them.