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Saturday, 20 September 2008

The ministry of healing.

During the week, I was asked about “spiritual healing” – in this case involving what I consider to be the suspect practice of “Reiki”. It’s one of these situations in which the terminology used needs to be very specific. Allow me to explain!

As I see it, “spiritual healing” can be obtained from any powerful enough spiritual force. The problem here is that not every spiritual force is able to be referred to as benign. I remember well making the discovery (many years ago!) that the devil can counterfeit all of the gifts of God the Holy Spirit. However, what he is totally incapable of doing is counterfeiting the fruit of God the Holy Spirit (Gal.5:22-23). That is why I am always wary of accepting someone simply on the basis of their apparent spiritual gifting. Even Jesus recommended that course of action (Matt.7;16)! And, of course, just a few sentences further on, the Lord is recorded as having said that there would be those who, on the Judgement day, would say that they had even performed miracles (including, I imagine, miracles of healing) in His Name – who would not be owned by Him. (v.22). Perhaps it is by our fruit that even He will know us??!

Another commonly-used term is “faith healing”. The problem that I see here is that the emphasis is placed on the faith of the recipient. Now, I am well aware that there were occasions on which the Lord Jesus, Himself, seems to have responded to – and even expected – an element of faith. I think of the two blind men whose healing is recorded in Matt.9:27ff. It is, Jesus says, “Because of your faith …” (v29) that the healing was granted. However, I also think of the leper, whose story Matthew records just a little earlier. In Matt.8:1-3 we discover that the man recognised that if Jesus was willing, He could make him whole. Jesus was willing – and the man’s leprosy disappeared! Faith in the Lord is certainly useful, but it is He Who heals – regardless of the level of that faith. I love the honesty of the man who said to Jesus “I do believe (have faith), but help me overcome my unbelief (my lack of faith)” (Mark 9:24). But I love even more, the Lord’s gracious response!!

So, for me, the only acceptable term is “divine healing”. This allows all of the credit, and all of the glory, to go to the Lord Himself. It is a recognition that all healing comes from Him, and Him alone. That, as the old medics used to admit, “We set the bone; the Lord does the healing.”

So why, then, does not everyone for whom healing is requested, in the Name of Jesus, with genuine faith, and with a recognition that all is of Him? Sadly, since the fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden, physical death has been part of our mortality. We simply cannot live forever in these bodies (although, for those who have placed their trust in the Lord Jesus, there is a glorious resurrection body to take its place). And, of course, if we believe in the Sovereignty of God, then we believe that He knows best, and will always do what is best for us. Paul could say that to be with Christ (after physical death) is “… far better …” (Phil.1:23); and Jesus went to the Cross, even ’though He knew what that experience of human death would be for Him.

Rom.8:28, 38-39, seem appropriate words on which to end a somewhat longer post than usual. May each of us be found, regardless of our state of health, or our circumstances, praising Him, and giving Him all glory and honour.

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