November 30, 2008 Q & A

Faith in God's Healing Power


Does the OPC believe that faith in God's healing power in every area of life in this world is applicable today for each of us who believes that we are given authority by Jesus to do so—to use this God-given NT authority to defeat any work of Satan in our lives, by the faith given us by Christ?

Thank you in advance for your reply to this.


My answer is a resounding "Yes!" But there is so much misunderstanding with respect to prayer and healing that I believe I need to add these comments. Even Paul the great Apostle did not receive the healing he requested though he asked for it three times (2 Cor. 12:8 ). This does not prove that Paul lacked faith, nor does it prove that he did not believe "in God's healing power." No, what it proves is that even true believers should not make the mistake of thinking that we are given authority by Jesus to always get a "yes" answer to our prayers. Sometimes, as in this case, God's answer is no!

It is also a mistake to think that we, today, can expect to be able to do everything the Apostles of Jesus did (as recorded in the New Testament). On two occasions that I can think of, both Peter and Paul restored dead people to life (Acts 9:36-42 and Acts 20:9-10 ). There is no credible record of anything like this in the history of the church after the time when the original apostles were still alive. The Bible itself draws attention to this when it speaks of "the signs of an apostle" (2 Cor. 12:12 ). These were supernatural miracles which were done only in connection with or "through the hands of the apostles" Acts 5:12 . To expect such today is like expecting another virgin to conceive and bring forth a son as Mary did.

This does not mean, however, that God does not heal. He does. I was once quite ill and so I did what James (the Lord's brother) said I should do (James 5:14 ). I called for the elders of the church while I also made use of medicine. They prayed for me and I was healed. The fact that I used means does not in any way diminish the fact that God was pleased to grant me healing.

To speak of a "God-given N.T. authority to defeat any work of Satan in our lives" also needs some qualification. Paul spoke of his physical malady as "a thorn in the flesh" and "a messenger of Satan" (2 Cor. 12:7). But he also recognized that this was given to him, in a sense, by God himself through the agency of Satan. Listen to his testimony: "lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness'" (2 Cor. 12:7-9). You can see from this that Paul was not defeated by Satan. Far from it. But Satan was not defeated by Paul being granted his request not to be buffeted by Satan, but by his being sanctified by enduring something very unpleasant for God's glory.

John 5:18 says "He who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him." The meaning is that a true believer is secure. There is nothing that Satan can do to make him forsake his faith. It does not mean that there is nothing that Satan can do to put that faith to a test. The whole Bible book of Job proves otherwise.

I hope this is a helpful answer to your interesting question.



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