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

Sickness and Healing (Part 2)

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

We now arrive at the question of whether or not we can expect that it is always God's will to heal. We have seen from James 5:14-15 that the early church did have an expectation that in general, God would heal the sick person. However, as the following passages will demonstrate, the early church also knew that in some situations God would not heal.

James 5:11 Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy. 12 But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation. 13 Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms. 14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. 16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

It is important to note that in the context of James 5, healing is spoken of after James reminds his audience about the patience of Job. James also reminds his audience that despite the length of time Job suffered troubles, they know that in the end God restored him. By bringing up sickness and healing in this context, the implication from James is clear. It was expected that God would heal, but it was also understood that, like Job, it may take some time before that occurred. And by bringing up Job, James is also indicating that sicknesses may come as a test from God, as Job's did. Therefore, we cannot assume every sickness and infirmity is from demonic attack.

Some tragedies, sicknesses, and infirmities may be part of God's overall plan to build our character. However, those in the Faith Movement have said that God is testing us indeed with such things. For them, God is testing us to prompt us to use our faith to overcome the sickness. But by referencing Job, we see that is not at all the kind of test God had in mind. In Job, the test was whether or not Job would remain faithful to God or forsake God if he suffered rather than experienced blessings. So, by referring back to that context, James is not reminding his audience of a test to overcome by faith, but instead that some difficulties in life, including sickness, come so that God can test and see whether or not it is him that we love or the blessings that come from him. Would we remain faithful to God even if God did not protect and bless us?

And finally from James we also see clearly in verse 16 that Christians being healed was not a guarantee. It was dependent upon their confessing their sins and repenting as well as their praying for one another. In short, Christians who lived in compromise with the world could not expect healing. Health was contingent at least in part upon the Church staying on track with God. This is very similar to what we have already seen from Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:28-30.

And when we look to the Old Testament, we also find detailed instructions in Leviticus 13-14 regarding lepers. It should be noted that there was no provision to heal these lepers in the Old Testament. If you contracted leprosy, you weren't guaranteed healing. You were exiled in order to keep from contaminating the rest of the people. The Jews of the first century were quite familiar with this and they continued the practice to that day (Luke 17:11-19.) And this practice would have formed part of the context in which they viewed God and healing. In other words, based upon such long-standing regulations concerning lepers, the Jews of the first century would have been well aware that God did not always heal every disease and infirmity.

In the Old Testament, we also find the account of David's first child with Bathsheba. This story is recorded for us in 2 Samuel 12:12-24. And in this account we find that David's first child with Bathsheba died despite David's pleading with God. This again reinforces that the Jews understood that God did not always heal. Sometimes it was in his purpose for sickness and infirmity to continue.

And, so that we just don't think that this was limited to the Old Testament, we also find what the most prominent example possible that it was not always God's will to heal. In Galatians 4:15 and 1 Corinthians 12:7-10, we see that Paul had problems with his eyes and his eyesight for the rest of his life. He had asked the Lord to heal him on more than one occasion. The Lord's answer was not that Paul didn't have enough faith to be healed. Instead, the Lord's answer was that he had a purpose for keeping Paul under this infirmity. This would have further reinforced to the early Christians that it was not always God's will to heal or for us to be healthy and whole. From the prominent example of Paul, early Christians would have known that sometimes God actually wills for us to remain ill or under infirmity. Not because he likes to see us suffer but because in the long run we will benefit from it.

Finally, we turn to the very long-standing and defining Charismatic belief that the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus automatically provides healing for all Christians.

"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 basis for this belief comes directly from the Old Testament prophecy of Isaiah concerning Jesus Christ.

Isaiah 53:4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. 8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. 9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. 10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. 11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.

Both Charismatics and non-Charismatics agree that this is a prophecy concerning the sacrificial and atoning death of Jesus Christ. However, Charismatics believe that the phrase "and with his stripes we are healed" in verse 6 indicates that the suffering death of Jesus Christ freed Christians from ever having to suffer illness or infirmity.

There are several problems with this. The first problem with this teaching, we cannot take credit for but instead read it in Hank Hanegraaff's book Christianity in Crisis. And it bears repeating here because it is a good point. As Hanegraaff points out, if you believe that verse 6 is meant to indicate that Jesus' atoning work frees us from sickness and infirmity, if you don't receive healing, then you must conclude that your faith in Jesus' atonement is insufficient and not bringing you with the intended provisions. As such, if you do not have enough faith in the atonement to be healed, you should also conclude that you don't have enough faith in the atonement to be saved. This means that all those in the Charismatic Movement who stand on this verse and are not yet healed, should also count themselves as not really being saved either.

But the bigger problems with appealing to this text as support for the Charismatic doctrine regarding healing are problems of interpretation. Specifically, this passage from Isaiah is quoted in the New Testament and interpreted for us. And, the interpretation given in the New Testament does not line up with how the Charismatic Movement interprets this verse. So, either the New Testament is interpreting this verse incorrectly or those in the Charismatic Movement are. Of course, obviously it is the Charismatic Movement, and not the New Testament, that is in error on this point.

Let's take a look at how the New Testament applies and interprets this prophecy from Isaiah.

Matthew 8:16 When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick: 17 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.

First, in the above passage, Matthew interprets Isaiah's prophecy as a reference to the fact that Jesus would during his lifetime heal a great many people from all sort of physical problems. This means that as far as Matthew was concerned, Isaiah's statement that "Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows" was in no way intended to convey that Jesus' death provided our healing. Rather than our healing coming automatically by Jesus' death, Matthew views the healing aspect of Isaiah's prophecy as a reference to Jesus' work during his ministry before his death.

And Peter, too, offers us additional insight on how to interpret this passage from Isaiah.

1 Peter 2:21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: 22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: 24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. 25 For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

According to Peter, what was it that Jesus' death healed? Was it our sicknesses? Was it our infirmities? No. According to Peter, the phrase "by his stripes we are healed" referred to Jesus' healing us from being dead in sin and reviving us so that we would live in righteousness. In other words, it was clearly the healing of our dead spirits and not a reference to the healing of the body. In fact, immediately after quoting the phrase "by whose stripes ye were healed," Peter continues his thought in verse 25 by saying "For ye were sheep going astray; but are now returned." By the use of the word "For" Peter clearly indicates that what he is about to say in verse 25 further explains his previous statement and quote in verse 24. In other words, Peter is telling us yet again that the phrase "by his stripes we are healed" is a reference to our being astray from God and being brought back to him by Christ's death, not by our obtaining physical healing by Christ's death. It should also be noted that this phrase "sheep going astray; but are now returned" is also a quote from Isaiah's prophecy, which further indicates that Peter is letting the prophecy interpret itself.

Furthermore, we know from verse 1 Peter 2:21 that Isaiah 53 cannot be used to support the notion that God wills Christians not to suffer. Peter begins in verse 21 by plainly stating that Christ suffered for us and that we are to follow his example. In other words, we should be willing to suffer for the sake of others just as Christ suffered for us. Therefore, since Peter speaks of Isaiah 53 in this context and immediately after this statement, we know that Isaiah 53 cannot be used to support the claim that God does not will for Christians to suffer.

As we can plainly see from both Matthew and 1 Peter, the Charismatic interpretation of Isaiah 53 is incorrect and it contradicts the way the New Testament itself interprets those words. Unless we want to conclude that the New Testament interpretation of Isaiah 53 is incorrect, we must instead conclude that the Charismatic interpretation of Isaiah 53 is incorrect. And from our examination of the causes of sickness and infirmity and the issue of whether or not it is always God's will to heal, we can see that the Charismatic views regarding healing are incorrect as well.