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Don Stewart :: Does God Want to Heal Everyone?

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Does God Want to Heal Everyone?

Divine Healing – Question 14

Is it God’s desire that everyone who is sick be healed? If so, is there something spiritually wrong with a believer in Jesus Christ who prays for healing but remains ill?

Many people believe this is the case. They contend if a believer is sick then there must be some sin in their life or some lack of faith. Is this really what the Bible has to say about the subject? Does the Lord truly want to heal everyone?

Is God’s Purpose That We Always Be in Good Health?

There are some people argue that it is the purpose of God that all believers should remain well. God originally created the world without any sin or sickness. However, the Bible says that this perfect world was tainted with the entrance of sin. Sin caused such things as sickness, dying and death.

Once sin entered the world God promised to make an end of it someday. In the meantime it is claimed that those who believe in the Lord should be able to experience His original creative purpose – good health. Bodily healing, they argue, is merely one dimension in the entire salvation process. The psalmist wrote.

Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. The LORD works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed (Psalm 103:2-6 NIV).

The psalmist stated that the Lord is the one who “heals all of our diseases.” Thus, it is contended that good health is that which is supposed to be the norm for every believer. This is the claim. However Scripture, as well as experience, tells us that this is not the case. A number of points need to be made.

God Did Not Heal in Every Instance

The gift of healing, as recorded in the New Testament, allowed a person to be an instrument of God’s healing grace to a sick individual. However, there is a limit as to what any healing can accomplish. As a result of the fall of humankind, sin, disease and death are part of normal human experience. Death is called an enemy.

The last enemy that will be destroyed is death (1 Corinthians 15:26 NKJV).

This is one enemy which all of us must face. There is no getting around this.

The good news is that all of our enemies will pass away when Jesus Christ returns. We read about this wonderful future that is ours in the Book of Revelation. It says.

And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true” (Revelation 21:5 NRSV).

Until that time everyone, including believers, will suffer physically and eventually die. There is our destiny as fallen human beings.

It Is Not Always God’s Will for People to Be Healed

Contrary to what some people believe and teach, the Bible clearly shows that it is not God’s will to heal everybody. Scripture offers no promise that the Christian will be free from sickness in this life. Furthermore, it gives a number of illustrations of believers who became sick or infirmed and remained that way.

The New Testament includes four such examples.

Paul Had a Thorn in the Flesh

The Apostle Paul describes a certain “thorn in the flesh” from which he needed healing from the Lord. He wrote the following to the Corinthians about this problem.

even though I have received wonderful revelations from God. But to keep me from getting puffed up, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from getting proud. Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may work through me. Since I know it is all for Christ’s good, I am quite content with my weaknesses and with insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:7-10 NLT).

Note that Paul did not assume God would heal him. Three times he asked, not demanded, that God would heal him of this ailment which was constantly bothering him. However each time God refused his request. Instead, God told the Apostle Paul that His grace was enough. This caused the apostle to be strong in his weakness. This is a lesson each of us should learn. In our weakness, God’s strength can be made known to everyone.

Earlier, in that same letter, Paul told the Corinthians.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us (2 Corinthians 4:7 TNIV).

The fact that we are merely “jars of clay” or “vessels of broken pottery” illustrates the fact that we are in the dying process. It further highlights the fact that it is the Lord, not us, who is the power behind anything righteous which we do. His strength, not ours, gains us the spiritual victories.

Paul Left Trophimus Sick

In another episode involving Paul, we see a similar situation. When he wrote his last letter to Timothy, he said the following.

Erastus stayed in Corinth, but Trophimus I have left in Miletus sick (2 Timothy 4:20 NKJV).

We know the Apostle Paul exercised the gift of healing on a number of occasions. Why didn’t he exercise it for Trophimus if it is God’s will for everyone to be healed? Why would he leave someone sick if he had the ability to heal him; especially if good health was the norm for all believers? It is clear that it is not God’s desire that everyone remains physically healthy during their entire life here upon the earth. This example illustrates this fact.

Timothy Had a Continuous Stomach Ailment

Timothy, Paul’s companion in the ministry, seemed to have some type of stomach problem as well as other ailments. These problems were continuously troubling him. To remedy the situation, Paul told Timothy to do the following about these ailments.

No longer drink only water, but take a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments (1 Timothy 5:23 NRSV).

Timothy certainly was a man of faith, but Paul nevertheless told him to drink wine for his infirmities. In other words, Paul had no problem encouraging Timothy to use something which would have medicinal value. In doing so, Paul says nothing of a divine right to be healed. In fact, this Scripture passage indicates that Timothy would continue, at times, to be sick. This was considered to be the normal course of events for someone who had Timothy’s problems. Again, we find no encouragement to seek out someone who has the gift of healing or to “claim” ones victory over sickness.

Epaphroditus Was Mercifully Healed

While these three people, Paul, Trophimus, and Timothy, were not healed of their ailments, God mercifully healed Epaphroditus. Paul wrote about this gracious act of God to the Philippians. He explained it in this manner.

I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need, for he has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill. Indeed he was ill, near to death. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow (Philippians 2:25-27 ESV).

Epaphroditus was a fellow-worker in the ministry; a man of faith. Paul said that this man of God was near death. However, he was healed due to God’s mercy. Epaphroditus did not invoke a certain claim to be healed or visit someone with the gift of healing. Instead, God graciously healed him in this instance. Again, we have no indication whatsoever that healing was his “right” or something which he could “claim.”

We Should Pray to the Lord When We Are Sick

Although God does not promise to supernaturally heal everyone, it is perfectly proper to pray and ask Him that He will do so. The Bible encourages us to ask God for things.

You do not have because you do not ask (James 4:2 NKJV).

We should ask the Lord to heal us when we are sick. This is our responsibility. However, the results are always left to Him. Indeed, He decides what is best for us and for the spread of the gospel.

Divine Healing Was Not the Norm in New Testament Times

From the above facts we can make a number of conclusions. First, nowhere in the New Testament do we find that perfect health throughout this life is considered to be the norm. Indeed, Scripture never indicates that the people remained sick because they lacked faith to be healed. Neither does the Bible indicate that God heals those who “claim” or “demand” it.

In fact, people were always healed according to God’s mercy. Individuals have the right to ask God for healing, but the result is left up to Him. We should never presume upon God to insist that someone be healed from his or her illness.

God’s Methods Are Not Our Methods

We do not know why some people are healed and others are not. God’s ways and methods are certainly not the same as ours. Isaiah the prophet wrote.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9 TNIV)

This is something which we should always remember when we pray about any matter. The Lord accomplishes His purposes in His own manner. We must always give Him the right to do so.

In sum, the God of the Bible does heal people but He does so when and where He desires. While we can ask for healing, we cannot demand it. When someone is healed by the Lord it is because of His grace and mercy. It is not a “right” or “promise” that we have been given as Christians.

Finally, if God truly wanted to heal everyone, as some people mistakenly claim, then everyone would be healed. The fact that they are not cured from their sickness or infirmity makes it clear that this is not God’s will for everyone.

Summary – Question 14
Does God Want to Heal Everyone?

Good health is something which we all desire. Indeed, nobody likes to be sick. This being the case, do we find anything in the Bible about God’s promise of health for those who believe in Him?

While there are certain people which claim that God wants to heal everybody of their physical ailments we find that both Scripture as well as personal experience testifies that this is not the case. Indeed, God does not promise to heal every believer in Christ of their physical illnesses. A number of points need to be made.

As long as we are still in these bodies we will become sick and eventually die. This is one of the results of the curse of the Fall. Once sin entered our world the death process began. Each of us is under that curse. We will grow old, become ill, and eventually die. This is something which none of us can avoid.

The good news is that there is a new body promised for those who have trusted Jesus Christ as Savior. This perfect body is something we will have for all eternity. Until that time, we have to live in these sinful bodies which grow old and die. At times, these bodies will become ill and infirmed.

The New Testament confirms that everyone, believers and non-believers alike, will become ill and eventually die. Furthermore, we find that believers are not guaranteed that they will always be in good health in this life. Indeed, the New Testament we find a number of examples of sick or infirmed believers who were not healed.

For example, Paul was not healed of his “thorn in the flesh.” In fact, he prayed three times asking the Lord to take it away. The Lord did not. Instead, Paul was assured that God was going to be with him in his infirmity. Paul never assumed that he would be healed or demanded to be healed.

Paul said that he left behind an ill believer named Trophimus. Though Paul had the gift of healing, he did not heal this individual. This is further testimony that God does not promise that everyone will be well as all times.

Paul wrote to Timothy about a continuous stomach ailment that Timothy had. He told him to take a little wine for this ailment. Never did the apostle tell Timothy to claim divine healing for himself. Indeed, it was not his “right” to do so.

In another episode, Paul wrote to the Philippians about a man named Epaphroditus who was mercifully healed by the Lord. In this instance, there was no guarantee that this man would be made well. Therefore, his healing was not because of any demand on his part or anyone else. Instead it was due to God’s mercy and His mercy alone.

So we conclude that divine healing, while possible, was not the norm in the New Testament. Therefore, Christians should not expect to be in good health at all times. Indeed, there will be times when we are ill or infirmed. This is something which cannot be avoided as long as we live in these sinful bodies.

Does the New Testament Give Examples of "Faith Healers?" ← Prior Section
What about Verses That Seem to Promise Healing? Next Section →
CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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