By H. Slack. These are the notes from a bible study we had in our bible study group on Tuesday 12th March.
Argument: God cannot or will not perform healing if there is even one doubter in the room.
‘Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished these parables, that He departed from there. When He had come to His own country, He taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished and said, “Where did this Man get this wisdom and these mighty works? Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses, Simon, and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this Man get all these things?” So they were offended at Him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house.” Now He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief.’
Question: Is this passage telling us that God NEEDS our faith to work miracles?
Group Conclusion: No. God is complete and in need of nothing. It teaches that familiarity breeds contempt. They could not see the true deity of the boy they knew from down the street so they did not come to Him and therefore did not receive anything from Him. Their unbelief did not diminish Jesus’ healing power.
Here Jesus resurrected His friend Lazarus from the dead.
Question: Whose faith raised Lazarus?
Discussion: We see in this scenario Martha and Mary lacking faith in Jesus’ ability to raise Lazarus from the dead. They believed he could heal the sick and could therefore avert the death of Lazarus if only He came earlier before Lazarus died. Their mourning and weeping was an indication that they had given up hope. It seems they believed in the final resurrection but not that Jesus could do it there and then, now.
Group Conclusion: It was the predetermined will of God that Lazarus be raised from the dead to the glory of God so Jesus did it even in the midst of their unbelief. Their unbelief did not diminish Jesus’ ability to raise someone from the dead. Lazarus was dead so he couldn’t exercise his faith.
God is not a puppet at the end of the strings of our faith. Our faith or lack thereof does not dictate what God can or cannot do.
Argument: We all have the authority to command healing because Jesus took our sickness on the cross and we are all healed.
“Yet I considered it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier, but your messenger and the one who ministered to my need; since he was longing for you all, and was distressed because you had heard that he was sick. For indeed he was sick almost unto death; but God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.”
Question: Why couldn’t Paul the apostle and man of God heal Epaphroditus at will?
Group Conclusion: We understand in this passage that Paul almost lost Epaphroditus and could not heal him before the illness advanced to near death. It was clearly down to God who had mercy and not Paul’s or Epaphroditus’ faith.
2 Timothy 4:20
“Erastus stayed in Corinth, but Trophimus I have left in Miletus sick.”
Question: If Paul had the authority to heal at will how could he be so thoughtless to leave Trophimus sick in Miletus?
Group Conclusion: It was not for Paul to decide neither do we have the authority to decide who gets healed. God is sovereign and He decides.
2 Kings 13:14
“Elisha had become sick with the illness of which he would die.”
Discussion: Elisha is arguably in the top 3 greatest miracle worker in all history yet this man who raised the dead, healed leprosy, made and axe head float, fed a multitude (100 men) and had left overs (indicating they had their fill) from 20 loaves of bread (these are only a few of his miracles) died from an illness.
Group Conclusion: It was not down to Elisha what miracles he performed. This was brought out in the story of him feeding the multitude. “Then a man came from Baal Shalisha, and brought the man of God bread of the firstfruits, twenty loaves of barley bread, and newly ripened grain in his knapsack. And he said, ‘Give it to the people, that they may eat.’ But his servant said, ‘What? Shall I set this before one hundred men?’ He said again, ‘Give it to the people, that they may eat; for thus says the Lord: “They shall eat and have some left over.”’ So he set it before them; and they ate and had some left over, according to the word of the Lord.” 2 Kings 4:42-44
Elisha’s miracles were as a result of what God had said and not what Elisha desired.
Can we, in isolated incidences, actually command healing?
Discussion: To be clear on the answer to this we need to have a better understanding of what faith is. NOTE: The following is an abridged version and not an exhaustive teaching on faith.
There are two types of faith…
- There is ‘general’ faith/belief from which the word faithfulness is derived (the word belief is sometimes interchanged with faith in scriptures). This is generated by our will, when convicted we must choose to put aside our doubts and trust God.
- There is also the gift of faith (1 Corinthians 12:9). This is a download from God, a ‘rhema’ word where God speaks directly to us as he did to Elisha in the scripture above. With this assurance directly from heaven we can command to happen the thing God tells us will happen.
There can be no faith where God has not spoken. “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17 Our faith/belief must have its roots in both His written and living word. In Mark 8:18 Jesus differentiated between hearing natural words and hearing the words of the Spirit. For us to have the faith that produces miracles such as the born again experience we must hear beyond natural words and hear God.
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.” Hebrews 11:1-3
Vs 2 – “For by this [kind of] faith the men of old gained [divine] approval.” (AMP)
The words ‘By faith’ appears over 15 times in Hebrews 11, all of them having their foundation in the first ‘By faith’ mentioned in vs 3. “…the worlds were framed by the word of God…” God’s word has immense creative and miraculous power in both the natural as well as the unseen world. Our words have no spiritual power. Miracles are spiritual.
When we get a download of God’s word in our spirits (His word comes alive in us) signs and wonders happen both internal and external, not because we will it but because God spoke it.
“…without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”
Group conclusion: Yes, in isolated cases one could command healing if they received the gift of faith i.e. if they heard God say in their spirits that He is going to heal that person. Peter seems to have received this assurance in his spirit when he healed the man at the gate beautiful. “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” What did Peter have? An assurance of this man’s healing. What Peter explained later is vital. “Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?” Peter and John did not claim ownership of the power that healed this man, they didn’t heal him of their own will or desire, God did.
Rap up: Our faith cannot manipulate God. That said, God requires faith and God rewards faith and may choose not to do anything where there is no faith. God tends to do a lot more where there is faith simply because 1. it’s obedience to Hime and 2. trusting Him pleases Him. “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4
“And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.“ 1 John 3:22
God is a giver who loves to give so where there is faith He is pleased and those with faith will receive God’s [divine] approval (Hebrews 11:3 & 6) and see God’s glory and His amazing wonder working power. If the God of heaven gives us a promise it is an insult to not believe He will perform His promise. He will therefore, do much less or possibly nothing where no one trusts Him (James 1:6-8).
God is greater than our doubt it is therefore ridiculous to think one doubter in a group can stop Him from working miracles if He so chooses. The fact that God requires faith does not mean that He is controlled by it. It is heretical also, to believe and insist on the notion that we all have the authority to walk into a hospital and command a critically ill person to be healed then tell them to sign off and go home even though there is not one stitch of evidence to support your claim. To be able to do such a thing is not a general rule but only happen in cases where God specifically anoint, assign and send someone to do it. In such a case their healing will be verifiably evident like the crippled man at the gate beautiful who, after his healing, was “…walking, leaping, and praising God.” Acts 3:8
So, when you read scriptures that speak about what we can or will do if we have faith understand it in the light of all we discussed above.
“And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen.”
If we love, delight in and trust God we will at some point, some more regularly than others, be given authority over evil spirits, we will receive Spiritual gifts, we will experience His divine protection and we will experience the miracle working power of God working through us. God will also do these things to show that He approves of the gospel message we preach. Jesus said it, it’s a promise so trust Him to do it and stop trying to work up faith or work up a miracle.
“And 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. 9And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:7-10
Here Paul had to seek God to take away his ‘thorn in the flesh’. Paul couldn’t simply command it to go away. Three times God told him NO, He was not going to take it away. Paul had to learn to live with it because God’s will over-ruled his desire.
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