Question and Answer
"Apostolic" Healing Services—Revisited
While I agree with the answer given to the subject "TV 'Apostolic' Healing Services", there is one part that doesn't seem to be totally accurate. You state:
"Sadly, they too often also say that if you did not receive your miracle, it is because you lacked faith. 'You lacked faith' is not good pastoring! It is not Biblical! Jesus and the Apostle Paul, both of whom did many healing miracles, never told people those words!"
Jesus did use these words in Matthew 14:31 (granted that this is not a healing miracle, but a miracle nonetheless) and, to some extent, in Matthew 17:14-20. Also, many of the miracles Jesus performed were granted because of the faith present in the person being healed. Obviously, faith was granted to these individuals as well, but their faith is still provided as the reason for the healing. (Matt. 8:13, 9:22, 27-29 are a few examples.)
Any feedback you might have would be appreciated.
You are right that Jesus often connected healing with the exercising of faith. I have often stressed and exhorted on that point in my preaching over the last 40 years.
However, there are some other factors to be considered.
1. Jesus who healed others did not heal himself from his wounds or death at the hands of his enemies. Neither did the Apostle Paul—who also healed others—on at least one occasion obtain the healing he sought from God:
To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor. 1:7-10, New International Version)
Note these things: God had Paul heal others, even though it was God's will upon this occasion not to heal Paul, and the reason given for Paul's failure to be healed was not that of lack of faith, but that it might be seen that God's grace is sufficient.
2. Application: Not always can we pastor our people that they are not healed because they lack faith. We pastors have to have other evidence than lack of the healing asked for to have sufficient grounds for saying, "you are not healed because you lack faith."
3. The Pentecostal thinking to which I referred has been insufficiently guarded against counterfeit healing [worship and praise] services. God did not send them to be Apostles. God did not call them to a ministry of miraculous healing of the type that Apostles were sent on, the gift of such healing as can be done in a quiet, sober-minded and God-honoring manner. They proclaim "There is healing in the atonement" and go on to say we are going on faith.
I have met Pentecostal Christians who pray, as I would also do, in the manner of James 5. But then, sadly, I have also met Pentecostals who boast of how noisy their services are and who say they are exercising greater faith when they are demanding that God heal now and by a miracle. They are testing and tempting God, a thing forbidden in Exodus 17 and forbidden by Jesus in Luke 4:12 in his temptation by Satan. These "healers" sometimes claim that miracles will produce faith even where reading the Word of God will not produce faith, but consider Luke 16:28-31, NIV:
Abraham replied, "They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them." "No, father Abraham," he said, "but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent." He said to him, "If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead."
Such reliance upon healing miracles are the claims not of "great believers," but of unbelievers.
In sum I have agreed with you that often (but definitely not always) healing is related to faith. But it is also true that a failure to be healed cannot be dogmatically declared to be the result of "a lack of faith." In fact, sometimes God's perfect will is that His people (like the Apostle Paul) not be healed, and the result here is the glory of God as much as it is in those situations where God chooses to heal. Thank you for your interest in the things of Jesus. May the Lord continue to grant you His favor and a calling in His kingdom.
"Questions and Answers" is a weekly feature of the OPC website. At least one new question is posted each week, so there should always be something new here for you to read. (For those who would like to look at previous questions and answers, they will continue to be available as well.)
The questions come from individuals like yourself. If you have questions about biblical and theological matters, you are invited to send them by e-mail by using the "Pose a Question" link on the OPC home page or by clicking here.
The purpose of the OPC website's "Questions and Answers" is to respond to biblical and theological questions. Matters of church discipline, disputes, or debates go beyond the scope of our work. We recommend that you present your concerns in these areas to the appropriate judicatory. In most cases this will be to a local pastor, elder, or session. We do not want the website to replace personal involvement in, or commitment to, the local, visible church.
While we will respond to every serious questioner, we are not bound to give a substantive answer to every question, should we deem the question to be beyond the scope of our purpose or our own ability to answer.
You will receive an answer by email. Please be patient as many of our respondents are busy pastors. The response to your question may take up to two weeks. Some of the questions submitted will be chosen to be posted here, along with the corresponding answers.
The answers come from individual ministers in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church expressing their own convictions and do not necessarily represent an "official" position of the Church, especially in areas where the Standards of the Church (the Scriptures and the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms) are silent.
Note that the "Questions and Answers" posted on the site have been editedall personal references are removed, Scripture references may be added, and sometimes portions are expandedto make the questions and answers more useful to a larger audience.