Home Church Community

Statement of Beliefs

Contact Us

Search Our Site

Bible Study Resource

Printer Friendly Version

Particulars of Christianity:
310 Pentecostalism,
the Charismatic
and Faith Movements

Sickness and Healing (Part 1)

Specific Doctrines of the Charismatic Movement/Faith Movement
Kenotic Theology
The Anointing and Being Under Authority (Part 1)
The Anointing and Being Under Authority (Part 2)
Sickness and Healing (Part 1)
Sickness and Healing (Part 2)
Prayer, Asking and Receiving (Part 1)
Prayer, Asking and Receiving (Part 2)
Christians and Material Wealth (Part 1)
Christians and Material Wealth (Part 2)
Christians and Material Wealth (Part 3)
The "Rhema" and "Logos" Word (Part 1)
The "Rhema" and "Logos" Word (Part 2)
Those Who Speak in Tongues Necessarily Understand Themselves

Section 1 | Section 2 | Section 3 | Section 4
| Section 5

In an earlier section entitled, "What Happened to the Gifts: Scriptural Indications" we spent a great deal of time explaining the two following facts. First, based upon 1 Corinthians 12:9 and James 5:14-15, it is certainly true that the early Church had the power to perform miraculous healings and expected, in general, that God would heal Christians of their sicknesses. However, in that section, we also examined how passages like 1 Corinthians 11:28-32 and 2 Corinthians 6:17-18 indicated that the healing capacity of the Church as well as the other gifts could be disrupted and lost through inappropriate behavior and changes in the Church plausibly including compromise with the world and worldly ideologies.

We also stated at that point that one role of the Holy Spirit was to testify to the doctrine of Jesus Christ, that in accordance with that role he manifested the miraculous gifts according to his will and discretion (1 Corinthians 12:4-11), and that given Jesus' comments in John 7, the Holy Spirit would cease enabling Christians to perform such works if the Church left Christ's doctrine in favor of alternate teaching. And even though there are scriptural indications and prescriptions about the loss of the miraculous gifts if the Church left the doctrine of Christ, there are no scriptural guarantees that the miraculous gifts must manifest immediately or at all if the Church were to repent from whatever activities led to the loss of these gifts. These gifts were an added bonus given to a holy Church. These gifts are not an automatic function of holiness or even correct doctrine. So, even if the Church were to follow passionately after holiness, we cannot assume that the miraculous gifts would resume as a result of that pursuit.

It is entirely a matter of the Holy Spirit's prerogative and purposes whether or not He decides to restore the miraculous gifts to the Church. God does not "owe" us these gifts. That is precisely why they are called gifts. If He owed them to us, they would be wages. No amount of repentance or preparation can automatically restore the miraculous gifts or guarantee their return. There is no guarantee of their return as if God automatically owes them to us. All that is promised in Luke 11:9-13 is the Holy Spirit himself. While promising that those who ask will receive the Holy Spirit himself, Luke 11:9-13 does not in any way promise that once inside us, the Holy Spirit will manifest miraculous gifts.

With that said and with this understanding as our backdrop, in this current section we will be examining more closely the specific Charismatic and Faith Movement doctrines regarding healing.

"Besides glossolalia, Pentecostals promote other gifts of the Spirit (charismata), including faith healing, prophecy, and exorcism. Ecstatic experience remains the unifying element of the movement." (Bartleby.com, The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001. "Pentecostalism.")

"As segments of the movement became comfortable in their new faith and settled into less spontaneous worship, speaking in tongues and faith healing became somewhat routinized." (Britannica.com, "Pentecostalism: International growth of Pentecostalism.")

"Parham and his students understood these recurrences of Pentecost prophetically, interpreting them as signs of the imminence of the last days, or Endtime. Imbued with this sense of urgency, they set out on an evangelical mission. Their initial efforts were unsuccessful, and the movement nearly collapsed as it encountered disbelief and ridicule. In 1903 its fortunes were revived when Parham returned to the practice of faith healing. Borrowed from several Holiness churches, notably the Christian and Missionary Alliance, faith healing became a hallmark of Pentecostalism. Parham was the first in a long line of Pentecostal evangelists (Mary B. Woodworth-Etter, Charles Price, Aimee Semple McPherson, and, more recently Oral Roberts, Kathryn Kuhman, and Benny Hinn) who taught that Christ's atonement provides deliverance from sickness and is, therefore, the privilege of all who have the requisite faith." (Britannica.com, "Pentecostalism.")

The above quote from Britanica.com demonstrates not only the importance of miraculous healing to the Pentecostal, Charismatic, and Faith Movements, but it also demonstrates a "continuity" relationship between Parham, Aimee Semple McPherson, Oral Robers, and Benny Hinn as well others, of course, who are associated both directly and indirectly with their teaching and ministries. The teaching regarding "faith healing" that began in the Holiness churches and was revived and carried over into Pentecostalism through the efforts of Parham and others like him involved the specific belief that Christ's atonement provided healing from all sickness for all believers.

Of course, the direct conclusion of this belief is that God will heal Christians of every disease. And a secondary notion that developed out of this belief was the idea that evil spirits were responsible for all sickness. As such, the everyday speech of those in these movements regarding healing became a matter of casting out the demons responsible for whatever illness was present.

We have already spent time during our discussion of the Test of Purpose and Verifiability establishing that any reported miracle, including healing miracles, which can be explained by ordinary, natural factors should not be considered a miracle at all since it does not really require God's involvement. We will not recover that ground here. It is sufficient to say that no healing should be considered miraculous if it involves 1) symptoms which cannot be diagnosed or verified, 2) a gradual healing process over an extended period of time, 3) a symptom or illness that is known to go away or go into remission on its own, or 4) the ongoing treatment of the problem through medicine or other medical procedures.

In this section, we will be covering 2 areas. First, we will establish that not all illness is caused by demons and what the doctrinal implications of this are. Second, we will examine the scriptures primarily used by those in the Pentecostal, Charismatic, and Faith Movements as a basis for their teaching that supernatural healing is an automatic consequence of Christ's atonement. For simplicity, from this point forward we will use the term Charismatic Movement as a general term inclusive of the Pentecostal, Charismatic, and Faith Movements as a whole.

Concerning the question of what causes illnesses, there is no one answer to this question. In the Bible, illnesses and infirmities result from various causes including the curse of sin and death in general, evil spirits, and even God himself.

Those in the Charismatic Movement quite typically refer to illnesses and infirmities being caused by the demon of this or the demon of that. Thus, they believe that the sickness will be healed by rebuking, binding, or casting out the demon or demons involved. It should be noted that many of the charismatic concepts concerning demon possession and casting out demons are based upon inaccurate interpretations of the scripture. These interpretive errors are not the topic of this particular section, but to understand what is incorrect about these views and practices, please visit our articles about Spiritual Warfare.

With regard to our current topic, it is undeniable that adversarial spirits (including demons and fallen angels) are indeed sometimes the cause of illnesses and infirmities. The following passages are but a few examples in the Bible where that is the case.

Mark 9:17 And one of the multitude answered and said, Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit; 18 And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not. 19 He answereth him, and saith, O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him unto me. 20 And they brought him unto him: and when he saw him, straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming.

Job 2:4 And Satan answered the LORD, and said, Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life. 5 But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face. 6 And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life. 7 So went Satan forth from the presence of the LORD, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown.

Luke 13:11 And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself. 12 And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity. 13 And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God. 14 And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the sabbath day, and said unto the people, There are six days in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the sabbath day. 15 The Lord then answered him, and said, Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering? 16 And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day? 17 And when he had said these things, all his adversaries were ashamed: and all the people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him.

Mark 9 and Job 2 are straightforward and simple enough. In Mark 9 an evil spirit causes a boy to be mute and to have seizures to say the least. In Job 2, the adversary smites Job with sores over his entire body. Luke 13 is also clear concerning the fact that the adversary is responsible for this woman's illness. However, for reasons concerning other Charismatic doctrine we probably ought to take little time to discuss this particular passage.

Now, it should be noted that the word for "loosed" in verse 12 and 16 are the Greek words "apoluo" (Strong's No. 630) and "luo" (Strong's No. 3089) respectively. "Luo" is also translated "loose" in Matthew 18:18 where Jesus says, "Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

Likewise, the words for "bond" and "bound" in verse 16 are the Greek words, "deo" (Strong's No. 1210) and "desmon" (Strong's No. 1199), which is derived from "deo." This word "deo" is the same word that occurs twice in Matthew 18:18 and is translated as "bind" and "bound."

However, we should not interpret Jesus' statement in Matthew 18:18 to refer to the binding and loosing of illnesses or evil spirits.

First, in Matthew 18 it is clear that the context of Jesus' statement is with regard to excommunication or forgiveness, not healing or casting out demons. In fact, in the parable about forgiveness that follows Matthew 18:18, Jesus specifically uses the word "apoluo" in verse 27 to refer to a man being forgiven. This indicates for us that these words were general words that were not limited to a single topic and that Jesus' was certainly talking about two separate issues in Luke 19 and Matthew 18.

Since the words "luo," "apoluo," "deo," and "desmon" are a general verbs, not a technical terms. They simply mean to "set free" or "release" and "to bind, tie, or fasten." As such they can be applied to a number of different concepts. There are any number of things in life that men are bound by and any number of things that men can be set free from. Men can be bound by illness and set free from it. And men can be bound by sin and so excommunicated. They can also be loosed from excommunication and forgiven as we see in 1 Corinthians 5: and 2 Corinthians 5:5.

Therefore, when words are used generally and are not technical terms, to assume that we can apply statements in one passage to doctrine taught in another passage simply based on the fact that both passages contain a few of the same words would be a huge error. This is even truer when the passages have different authors since different writers may adopt and use words in different ways as is the case with Luke 13 and Matthew 18. This point is best established by a few examples.

Luke 11:43 Woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye love [25] the uppermost seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets.

Luke 7:41 There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty.42 And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love [25] him most?

In both of the two passages above, the same Greek word is used for "love." It is the Greek word "agapao" (Strong's No. 25.) Should we assume that both passages are talking about the same subject or the same topic just because this same word is used? Of course not. The word "agapao" is a very generally used word that is applied to various topics. It is not a technical term. This is why in Luke 11:43 it is used in reference to the Phrasees' love of the people's esteem and in Luke 7:41 it is used of loving someone for forgiving you.

Matthew 10:28 And fear [5399] not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear [5399] him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

Matthew 17:5 While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him. 6 And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid [5399]. 7 And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid [5399].

Here in Matthew 10 and 17 Jesus uses the same Greek word for fear. In both passages it is the Greek word "phobeo" (Strong's No. 5399.) In Matthew 10, Jesus explains that men should fear God who has the power to destroy both soul and body in hell. Yet in Matthew 17, when God speaks from a cloud, the apostles react in fear. This would be appropriate since Jesus had previously told them that if they were going to fear anyone it should be God. Yet, Jesus tells them to "fear not." If we assume that Jesus is talking about the same thing in both passages simply because he uses the same generally-used word "fear" then we would think Jesus is contradicting himself. But when we take into account the context of each passage, we can see that Jesus is talking about two different things and making two different points despite the fact that he is using the very same Greek word.

So, when a word is a generally used term and not a technical term, we cannot assume that all passages containing that word are talking about the same subject. Using the same word is one indicator that a similar topic is in view, but unless the context supports that, we cannot automatically make such an assumption. And in the case of Matthew 18 and Luke 13, the same topic is not in view. In Matthew 18, Jesus is using the terms binding and losing with regard to instructions to the apostles about forgiveness and excommunication of those in the Church. In Luke 13, Jesus is using those same general Greek words but in an entirely different context and on an entirely different topic, the topic of healing. Because the context is different, we cannot simply assume the presence of the same Greek words indicates that the doctrines in these separate passages are related.

Just because Jesus tells the apostles that they have the authority to bind and set free with regard to forgiveness and excommunication, it does not mean that all diseases and all healing occurs by binding evil spirits just because the same general word for "binding" and "setting free" is used in both cases. Therefore, we should not assume that the inclusion of these words here in Luke 13 necessarily indicates that Jesus' is talking about the same concept in both Luke 13 and Matthew 18.

Second, notice that in Luke 13, the word "loosed" is most certainly applied to Jesus. Jesus is doing the loosing. But who is doing the binding? Jesus isn't doing the binding in Luke 13. In Luke 13, Satan is doing the binding. So, if we interpret Matthew 18:18 in light of Luke 13, Jesus' isn't simply passing on his binding and losing authority to the apostles, he's passing on his loosing ability and Satan's binding ability to the apostles. Furthermore, in Luke 13, "binding" refers to the woman being kept sick for all those years. On the other hand, in Matthew 18:18, it is the apostles who are to do both the binding and the loosing. So, if we interpret "binding" and "loosing" in Luke 13 to refer to the same thing as Matthew 18:18, then we end up with the doctrine that in Matthew 18:18 Jesus gave the apostles the authority to bind people by making them sick for long periods of time.

Instead, what is clear is that the binding and loosing in Matthew 18:18 are both activities that the apostles were given over people. And in the context of Matthew 18:18, both of those terms are defined. "Loosing" refers to forgiving and "binding" refers to excommunication. This is evidenced by verses 17 and 27. So, in Matthew, "binding" refers to the excommunication performed by the apostles to those who won't repent. And in Luke 13, binding refers to Satan's binding of people under sickness for long durations of time. Clearly, the word "binding" means something entirely different in both passages. And since the word binding is referring to something different in each passage, the word loosing is also probably not referring to the same thing in both passages. Since the words "binding" and "loosing" are not referring to the same thing in these passages, the content of these passages is, therefore, not related.

As we return to the topic at hand, we can clearly see from these 3 brief examples that evil spirits including adversarial angels are sometimes involved in causing illness and infirmities. However there are other causes as well. Sometimes God himself directly causes disease and infirmity.

In Exodus 9:1-12, God himself sends sores upon all of the Egyptians. In Numbers 12:1-16 God strikes Moses' sister Miriam with leprosy for speaking against Moses. (On a side note, to use this passage as a basis for teaching the Faith Movement teachers on not to be criticized requires the assumption that they are equivalent to Moses, which is a large assumption indeed. We have no reason to expand this specific incident into a universal rule that applies to situations in general. And furthermore, it should be noted that that there is no mention or reference to Moses being anointed in this passage, nor is anointing even hinted at as part of the issue.)

In Numbers 21:5-9, the people of Israel complain about lack of food and water and God sends poisonous snakes among the people, which causes many of the people to die. In 2 Chronicles 26:16-22 God makes Uzziah leprous because he offered incense on the altar, which only the priests were to do. In 1 Kings 12:32-13:6, God sends a prophet who makes King Jeroboam's arm dry up and become paralyzed for offering incense to two calf idols. In Genesis 19:4-11, the two angels strike the men of Sodom with blindness. In Luke 1:18-22, 62-64, the angel Gabriel renders Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, mute and deaf until John is born. Acts 9:8,17-18, Galatians 4:15, and 1 Corinthians 12:7-10 describe how Paul was made blind on the rode to Damascus. His sight was returned to him but symptoms of eye problems continued for Paul for the rest of his life. In Acts 13:10-12, Paul speaks a command from God, which causes a sorcerer to go blind.

In all of these cases God causes sickness or infirmity, often in response to sin. And because God sometimes causes or allows people to become sick or infirmed, we must be careful not to assume or declare every sickness or infirmity to be the work of evil spirits and adversarial angels. If we do, we run the very great risk of calling God's work the work of an evil spirit or fallen angel as the Pharisees did in Matthew 12:24-32. If not outright blasphemy, these kinds of misstatements are too close for comfort and should be cautiously avoided.

So, sometimes sickness and infirmity are caused by evil spirits and adversarial angels. And other times they are caused by God himself. In many of the examples above, sickness comes as a result of the specific sins of an individual or group.

Romans 1:25-27 also hints (although not conclusively) that certain behaviors actually bring about disease, specifically unhealthy sexual behavior where the cultivation, transfer, and spread of germs is involved.

Romans 1:25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. 26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

On the other hand, Paul's words here indicate that sickness can and does sometimes come as a result of specific sinful behavior. Or at least, the way for sickness is opened by sinning, as was the case here in Corinthians where the church had the gift of miraculous healing (1 Corinthians 12:9.)

1 Corinthians 11:28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. 29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. 30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.

But still other times, maybe even the vast majority of the time, sickness does not come as a direct result of specific sins. Instead, it is the result of human sin in general and the curse of death upon all men. In Luke 13 and John 9, Jesus clarifies that not all human tragedy comes directly as retribution for specific sins of an individual or group.

Luke 13:1 There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? 3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

Here in Luke 13, Jesus uses 2 examples, one in which Pilate kills Galilaeans and mixed their blood with their sacrifices and another in which a tower falls on some men in Jerusalem. He then goes on to instruct the people that these tragedies in no way indicated that these men were worse sinners than anyone else. The tragedies did not have to do with their specific sins. Yet, Jesus warns the people that if they do not repent, they too will die tragically. (It is clear from the kind of tragedy that Jesus probably has in view the destruction of Jerusalem that would come in 70 AD.) So, even though the specific sins of these men did not cause their tragedies, the sinfulness of man in general does cause tragedy for Jesus said that those who repented could avert the tragedy.

John 9:1 And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. 2 And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? 3 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.

Here in John 9, we see Jesus is asked by his disciples whether or not it was this man's sin or his parents sin that caused him to be born blind. Jesus responds by saying that his infirmity was not caused by his sin or his parent's sin. In saying this, Jesus again indicates that some infirmities and illnesses are not sent because of specific human sins.

While sometimes God sends tragedy, sickness, or death in direct response to an individual or group's specific sins (as we saw above), some tragedies including sickness and infirmity are simply a general result of human sin as a whole and the curse of death.

Genesis 3:17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; 18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; 19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return...22 And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: 23 Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.

Romans 5:14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. 15 But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.

Because of Adam's sin, mankind was condemned to die. Since that day, mankind has suffered the corruption of his body from old age (Genesis 27:1), disease (Genesis 48:1), and tragedy (Genesis 4:1-11). Illness and infirmity are just one of the mechanisms working on the human body to bring about the end result of death.

2 Samuel 4:4 And Jonathan, Saul's son, had a son that was lame of his feet. He was five years old when the tidings came of Saul and Jonathan out of Jezreel, and his nurse took him up, and fled: and it came to pass, as she made haste to flee, that he fell, and became lame. And his name was Mephibosheth.

From 2 Samuel 4, we see that sometimes infirmities, such as paralysis in this case, can be caused simply from accidental events and circumstances. Similar to the case of the blind man in John 9, there is no indication that Mephibosheth's paralysis resulted from God punishing sin. And, of course, his paralysis did not result from human ill will. For, the nurse who dropped him was not trying to harm him but simply trying to save him. Thus, just as those on whom the tower in Siloam fell (Luke 13:4-5), some infirmities result from simple accidents or accidental circumstances.

Judging from this survey, we can see that there can be no hard and fast single rule about what causes sin and infirmity. Sometimes evil spirits and adversarial angels cause it. Sometimes God causes it. Sometimes sin and death in general cause it. And because we cannot assume the same factor is causing sickness and infirmity in all or even most cases, we cannot assume that the solution is the same in every case as well.

Or more practically speaking, because we can't assume that every or even most sickness and infirmity is caused by demons, we can't assume that casting out demons is the way to cure all sickness and infirmity. If we call all sickness a demonic work, then we run the risk of possibly calling God's work evil, as the Pharisees did in Matthew 12:24-32. If not outright blasphemy, these kinds of misstatements are too close for comfort and should be cautiously avoided. And at the very least, in the cases when sickness is simply the result of sin and the curse in general, we will end up getting nowhere as we try to cure someone by casting out a demon when the problem isn't caused by a demon in the first place. This will be frustrating, misleading, and has even broken the faith of some who cannot understand why they aren't being healed.