Does Jesus Still Heal?

Healing directly attributed to God has generated many discussions and debates over the years among pastors and churches. Some people believe God still heals, while others feel like this has passed away and won’t be seen again until Jesus returns. 

While more denominations and independent churches accept that God can still heal today, there continues to be confusion and difficulty in comprehending how and why God chooses to heal and how He can use us in the process. In the Christian and Missionary Alliance, “Jesus as Healer” is one of the foundational pieces of the four-fold gospel presented by A.B. Simpson, its founder. Simpson himself experienced the healing power of Jesus in his own life. He wrote in his book, The Gospel of Healing:

“The Redeemer appears among men with both hands stretched out to our misery and need. In one He holds salvation; in the other healing. He offers Himself to us as a complete Saviour.” 

It has been clear from the beginning of Scripture that God cares about human beings and their bodies. God created Adam’s body from dust and breathed the breath of life into His nostrils.  God didn’t create any other living creature this way. A creator cares for the thing they have created, just as any artist cares about the piece they create. God created humans in His own image.  Pastor Erwin McManus puts it this way,

“Our story begins with a kiss, mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, God pressing against us. We begin when God exhales, and we inhale. And we get to bear the image of God.”  

Sin entered the world through Adam’s choice to eat from the one tree God asked Him not to and his sin brought death. Even after Adam and Eve sinned, the Bible tells us that God made clothes for them, so that they would no longer be naked and could withstand the harsh climate outside the Garden of Eden. Pastor Ben Elliott writes, “It wasn’t God’s plan for us to get sick and then die, God’s plan was life.” He goes on to say that the foundation of sickness is sin itself.  Sickness is a sin problem. Sin, sickness and death are all from the devil and not part of God’s intended plan.  

From the beginning, God had a plan to bring healing. He began it in the Old Testament. During the Exodus, God gave Moses instructions on how to live. He told Moses that if the people worshiped Him, He would bless them with food and water and remove their sickness. He even stated that there would be no miscarriages or infertility. David also comments in Psalm 103 that God heals all his diseases.

Even before Jesus’ ministry on earth, God was known as a Healer of His people. Isaiah 53 speaks of God’s gift of redemption through Jesus. Jesus would be the one to suffer on the cross for our sins. Isaiah prophesied about Jesus, saying, “Surely He took our pain and bore our suffering,” and goes on to say, “…and by His wounds we are healed.”  A.B. Simpson, discussing this passage, wrote, “Therefore in the same full sense as He has borne our sins, Jesus Christ has surely borne away and carried off our sickness, yes even our pains, so that abiding in Him, we may be fully delivered from both sickness and pain.”  

Jesus went on to fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy by healing many people. James McGarvey states that there is no account in scripture of Jesus turning anyone away when they approached Him for healing. We read that Jesus healed and brought back to life 30 specific people, not to mention the many others who were healed among the crowds and at the temple. Healing was a prevalent part of His ministry. In the New Testament, we see that one-quarter of the Gospels are concerned with healing.  Jesus preached the good news, healed the sick, and sent His disciples to do the same thing. They were to preach that the Kingdom was near. They were to heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy and cast out demons. Why would Jesus bother to do this if healing was to end after His return to Heaven? 

Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross was the beginning of a new reality for us. One that would eventually see sin completely disappear, ushering in a healed and restored world where a final and definitive death would not be the outcome. Jesus not only took our sin upon himself but also the effects of sin, which includes sickness. If sickness is an effect of sin in the world, then by Jesus dying and taking away our sins, the effects of sin must dissipate as the forgiveness of sins is attained. 

Jesus absorbed the wrath we deserved for our sins and, with that, naturally absorbed the effects of sin as well.  Because Jesus made atonement for our sin, A.B. Simpson said, “If sickness is only a natural condition it may be met with natural means, but if it be abnormal, and but a stage of death, which has passed upon all because all have sinned, then its divinely appointed remedy is the atonement of Jesus Christ, which God has set over against all effects of the fall.”   Healing is available to people today through Jesus.  A piece of the remedy to our sickness is the forgiveness of sins, which is only attained through Jesus’ sacrifice. 

Our healing is found in Jesus, and God continues to use many ways to heal our bodies. First, our bodies have a marvellous way of healing themselves from small ailments, breaks, and abrasions. There are also many medicines available through natural plants and scientific discoveries. God also created gifted doctors and surgeons to help Him heal us. And sometimes, dying and going to heaven is the way God chooses to bring us into full healing. We don’t want to discount any of these as ways that God heals. 

However, before we seek these means, God calls the church to pray for healing. We cannot ignore that God told His disciples that they would do even greater things than Him if they believed in Him.   So, we need to be a community of believers who come together in prayer for one another, lifting our burdens and illnesses up for healing.  James 5:16 compels us to confess our sins and to pray for each other so that we may be healed. Why would we want to leave anyone to suffer if there is an opportunity for them to experience healing through Jesus? Even if the spiritual gift of healing, given by the Holy Spirit, is not your gift, we all have the ability to connect with God in prayer and lift each other up.  

We believe and seek Jesus, understanding that He alone through the Father decides who, if and when someone will be healed. The point of our prayer should not center on the person being well but rather that Jesus is glorified through everything, including healing. Healing itself is a nice side effect of Jesus receiving the glory according to Rev. John F. Soper.  James 5:14 tells us to call the elders to pray and anoint the sick with oil. This is the practice in our church and we often invite others to pray as well. This is an act of obedience on the part of the sick to come forward and ask for prayer. It is also an act of obedience that the elders and congregation take the initiative to pray with the sick individual.

We have established that God wants to heal. But sometimes, what we see as needing to be healed is not what God wants to heal. Often our external injuries & illnesses are signs of something internal that needs to be healed. What we see is an outward manifestation of an inward problem — and that is what God wants to deal with. God really wants to heal the sin issue.  Maybe it is some hurt or wrong that we are holding onto. Maybe it is an area of unbelief or some part of us that is resisting Jesus taking control. I have observed that when we allow Jesus to heal it, often and miraculously, our other ailments disappear.

As I have prayed with people and watched God heal, I have noticed that holding onto unforgiveness is something that can often cripple a body or make one ill as well. When we hold onto unforgiveness, it can become tension in our bodies. It can manifest into pain and illness. Like the parable of the Unmerciful Servant in Matthew 18, we become prisoners suffering within our own bodies; they become our prison.

Jesus makes it clear we will be treated as a prisoner by our Heavenly Father when we don’t forgive. He wants to help us forgive and release the pain that holding on to unforgiveness causes us. And if it is something internal, when He heals it, we begin to live out that healing and then suddenly our external injuries improve. Back pain dissipates, headaches subside, and more. Just because we don’t see the healing doesn’t mean God isn’t working. Whatever the reason, we need to keep believing that He is our Healer and not give up. 

Personally, in 2019, I had a potassium deficiency. My body was unable to keep my potassium levels up to where they needed to be which caused pain to my organs. Medicine was helping but not getting my potassium levels to where they should have been. I along with many people had prayed for it to be healed but it wasn’t happening. Then, one day, at the annual Alliance Prayer Retreat, I was sitting in a session and during that session, my faith felt like it was rising. I was internally agreeing with the truths being spoken by the speaker about who God is. God spoke very clearly to me at that moment, “I’m healing your potassium now.”

There was no explanation. Why then? Why not earlier? Was there a lesson or a more in-depth explanation? I still don’t know the complete answer. But I did stop the medication, had it checked, and indeed my levels were back up. I have felt well in this area of my body ever since.

Over 10 years ago was the first time I witnessed God heal while I was praying for someone. I was at a conference with a girl who had a shattered ankle. It was being held together with steel bolts and she had to wear an air cast all the time. She had many people praying for her and still, God had not healed her ankle. She had not lost hope and was still there, seeking healing.  A friend and I ran into her as we were waiting in line. Of course, we asked if we could pray for her and she enthusiastically said yes. 

We started praying and she began to feel something. We asked her to try walking on it a bit. She did. We kept praying and she could still feel something happening. I asked her if she felt comfortable taking off the cast.  She did and could put some weight on it but not stand on it fully. At that moment, a man from China came by and asked what we were doing. The man asked if he could join us. He knelt down and prayed with his hand on her foot. When he finished, she began running up and down the hall putting full weight on that foot. She was healed!  

Why did it take so long? Why not sooner? It had been over a year since her accident. Most of the time we don’t get to know why and when God works. His ways are beyond our own and we have to accept that. Two days later, I was standing talking to her. She told me that each morning since her healing, she had decided to walk the two miles from her hotel to the conference site! The man from China who had prayed with us, came up to us while we were talking. Very excited, he told us that he had come to the conference because he was a doctor in China where medicine and physicians are the only way to heal.  He had heard that God heals and was coming to North America to see if it was true. He was so profoundly moved and changed because God had allowed him to be part of her healing. He was so excited to return to China and share the good news that Jesus is a great Healer and that God can heal, not just physicians! 

God chose that day to heal because He wanted to show His power and who He was to a man from China who was excited to share the good news with others at home. I believe this is how Jesus was going to be glorified in China and the people of that country would come to know that Jesus heals. I believe He does heal even when I don’t see it. What God chooses to do is up to Him and not me. Our role is to seek Him for healing as we lift up those around us in prayer, always trusting He has a plan and that one day our bodies will be healed completely.

To conclude, we read in Revelation that when Jesus returns there will be a new heaven and a new earth. And He will wipe every tear and there will be no death, crying or pain, for all of these things will have passed away in the new reality.  Perhaps it is this passage that leads us to think that healing only occurred while Jesus was on earth and it will only happen again once He returns? All these passages of scripture all point to the importance of healing and the reality that our God heals.

Healing has clearly been available throughout history and God promises to heal His people.  In Acts, the church took Jesus’ words seriously and obeyed all He commanded, which included praying for healing. There are many stories in Acts, where the followers of Jesus healed people in the name of Jesus. This proves that healing has occurred since Jesus returned to heaven. Perhaps the belief has come out of the fact that we don’t see or hear about as many divine healings today and therefore, people have surmised that somehow this has ended until Jesus returns? But the reality is as the church continues to pray and seek Jesus, we will witness the healing power of God too.

Written by Jeff Marshall, Senior Associate Pastor – Campus Operations

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