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Don Stewart :: Should a Person Who Is Sick Seek Supernatural Healing?

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Should a Person Who Is Sick Seek Supernatural Healing? Is It Lack of Faith to Consult a Doctor?

Divine Healing – Question 17

A practical question arises as to what to do when one is sick or infirmed. Does God heal the sick today, and if He does, is there any limitation or condition that is involved? Should a person seek God on all occasions for a supernatural healing? Is consulting a doctor a sign of a lack of faith? What is the right thing to do when a person becomes sick?

We Should Always Pray

To begin with, whenever a believer in Jesus Christ is sick, prayer to God is always the proper thing to do. Indeed, the Book of James gives us the following instructions.

Is anyone among you sick? 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. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven (James 5:14, 15 ESV).

But this does not necessarily mean that the person should leave it at that, for God can heal in a variety of ways.

God Heals in a Number of Ways

There are, at least, four ways in which a person can be healed of their infirmity. They are: instantly and directly, gradually through natural processes, through medicine, and in the resurrection of the dead. We can make the following observations.

1. God Can Heal Instantly

There are occasions where the God of the Bible will heal someone instantly when that person is prayed for. Scripture gives a number of examples of this occurring. Indeed, we find that Jesus instantly healed all who came to Him. For example, the following episode occurred when Jesus healed a paralyzed man. He said to the crowd.

I will prove that I, the Son of Man, have the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said,“Stand up, take your mat, and go on home, because you are healed!” The man jumped up, took the mat, and pushed his way through the stunned onlookers. Then they all praised God. “We’ve never seen anything like this before!” they exclaimed.” (Mark 2:10-12 NLT).

In this case, this particular healing of Jesus was instantaneous. However, we see from the response of the people that this was something nobody had ever seen before.

Jesus’ disciples were given the same ability to heal someone instantly. There is an example of this in the Book of Acts when we read about healing a man who could not walk. We read of the following account.

But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong (Acts 3:6, 7 ESV).

Again, there was an instant healing of this lame man.

Later in the Book of Acts, we read of many people being instantly cured. The Bible chronicles it in this manner.

A great number of people would also gather from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all cured (Acts 5:16 NRSV).

Instant healing is a distinct possibility, but this is not what normally occurs. Thus, if someone does not become healed immediately after they are prayed for they should not feel out of favor with God. Indeed, this particular method is not the norm. In fact, it is quite rare.

2. God Often Heals Gradually

Sometimes the healing will not take place instantly but will occur gradually. God will give the person the grace to endure while he, or she, is in the process of being healed.

For example, natural processes healed Epaphroditus, one of the leaders of the church of Philippi, as he was close to death. Paul wrote.

Meanwhile, I thought I should send Epaphroditus back to you. He is a true brother, a faithful worker, and a courageous soldier. And he was your messenger to help me in my need. Now I am sending him home again, for he has been longing to see you, and he was very distressed that you heard he was ill. And he surely was ill; in fact, he almost died. But God had mercy on him–and also on me, so that I would not have such unbearable sorrow. (Philippians 2:25-27 NLT).

The Bible says that this man was eventually healed of his ailment but it was not instantly. Therefore, we should allow the possibility that we will get well through gradual healing.

3. The Lord Can Heal through Doctors and Medical Remedies

Sometimes God will have the believer see a doctor and become healed through medicine. This does not show a lack of faith. Human means are permissible when it comes to receiving healings.

Unfortunately, the following passage is often used to discourage people to seek doctors. It reads as follows.

In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa became diseased in his feet. His disease was severe, yet even in his disease he did not seek the LORD, but the physicians. So Asa slept with his fathers, having died in the forty-first year of his reign (2 Chronicles 16:12, 13 NASB).

We need to set the record straight. King Asa did not die because he sought help from physicians. Rather he died because he did not also seek the Lord’s help!

The Bible Is Not Opposed to Medical Remedies

As we search the Scripture we find that it is not opposed to believers seeking out medical remedies for their problems.

Isaiah Wrote of Healing Open Wounds

In the Old Testament, we read of this. For example, Isaiah the prophet wrote about the following condition of the nation of Israel.

From the sole of your foot to the top of your head there is no soundness– only wounds and welts and open sores, not cleansed or bandaged or soothed with oil (Isaiah 1:6 TNIV).

Isaiah speaks of cleaning a wound, bandaging it, and then rubbing on oil to soothe it. The inference is that this is something the people should have done. Nothing in this context implies that it would have been wrong to do so.

Ezekiel Spoke of Leaves Used for Healing

The prophet Ezekiel wrote about leaves which would be used for healing. He put it this way.

Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear fruit, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing (Ezekiel 47:12 TNIV).

We find that using leaves for healing is permittable. There is no indication whatsoever that this type of remedy was somehow showing a “lack of faith.”

Jeremiah Wrote about Physicians and Healing Salve

The prophet Jeremiah spoke of physicians as well as “balm” to be used in the healing process.

Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then has the health of the daughter of my people not been restored? (Jeremiah 8:22 ESV).

This assumes that they should have consulted physicians when necessary. What’s more, the use of balm, or salve, on the wound is also encouraged.

Jesus Approved Using Doctors

Furthermore, we find that Christ spoke approvingly of doctors. In one instance we find that Jesus spoke of those of the ill consulting a physician. We read the following.

Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick” (Luke 5:31 NIV).

His statement neither says nor implies anything negative about doing this. In fact, Jesus said that the sick “need” a physician.

The Good Samaritan Used Oil and Wine to Soothe Wounds

In Jesus’ parable of the “good Samaritan” the Samaritan poured oil and wine on the injured person. Jesus said.

But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine (Luke 10:33, 34 TNIV).

Again, we find the Lord speaking approvingly of using other than supernatural means to cure the infirmed.

Luke Was a Physician

In fact, the writer of the third gospel, Luke, was a physician. Paul acknowledged his occupation when he wrote to the Colossians. He said the following.

Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you (Colossian 4:14 NKJV).

Note also that Paul did not describe him as Luke the “former physician” or the “ex-physician.”

Paul Told Timothy to Use a Little Wine for His Physical Problems

In another instance, Paul told Timothy to use a “little bit of wine” for medicinal purposes.

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

Here we have the direct command to use whatever means are necessary to combat a recurring illness. Interestingly, like the Lord Jesus, Paul had the gift of healing. Yet he still told Timothy to use this natural remedy.

Scripture Also Recognizes That Physicians Cannot Cure Everything

While the Bible encourages consulting doctors and using available remedies, it also recognizes that physicians cannot heal everything. Indeed, Mark records a story of a woman who had consulted doctors but was not cured of her infirmity.

And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse (Mark 5:25-26 ESV).

This passage recognizes that doctors, while able to do marvelous things, are still limited in what they can accomplish. Indeed, they cannot cure everything. Furthermore, we find that spending a lot of money for a remedy will not necessarily guarantee we will find one.

Thus, it is possible to become healed through consulting a physician and using medical remedies. However, there is no guarantee that the physical, as well as any available medicine, will be able to cure every infirmity.

4. Ultimately He Heals in the Resurrection

There are occasions when the believer will not be healed in this life. Some will have to suffer until their death. Paul prayed for physical healing for some unnamed illness which he had. However, God did not grant his request. Paul’s response was highly instructive.

Especially because of the excessive number of revelations that I’ve had. Therefore, to keep me from becoming conceited, I am forced to deal with a recurring problem. That problem, Satan’s messenger, torments me to keep me from being conceited. I begged the Lord three times to take it away from me. But he told me: “My kindness is all you need. My power is strongest when you are weak.” So I will brag even more about my weaknesses in order that Christ’s power will live in me (2 Corinthians 12:7-9 God’s Word).

Paul was told that he would have to endure this illness his entire life. His healing would not take place until the time he was in the presence of the Lord.

Consequently, the healing of some people will only take place when God restores their body to wholeness at the resurrection of the dead. Paul wrote the following to the Corinthians about the wonderful promise of a resurrected body for believers in Christ.

When this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled: “Death has been swallowed up in victory” (1 Corinthians 15:54 NRSV)

Everyone who has believed in Jesus Christ will eventually be given that resurrected body. When that occurs, there will be no more sickness or physical infirmity.

God does heal apart from the gift of healing. When a person is sick, they should seek Him for a healing, but this does not mean that other precautions should be ignored, such as visiting a doctor and taking medicine.

Some Important Points to Consider

There are a number of other important points to consider about this subject of healing. They are as follows.

1. God Does Not Have to Prove That He Exists by Healing Someone

It must be also understood that the God of the Bible does not have to heal someone to prove that He is God. Many times the character of God is put in question as a result of sickness. It is argued that God must “prove Himself.”

However, there is nowhere in Scripture He has committed Himself to doing this. To assume God must heal someone is presumption, not faith.

2. It Not Necessarily Because of Lack of Faith or Unconfessed Sin That a Person Remains Sick

Also, it is not necessary to equate physical healing with believing in the supernatural. One can believe in the supernatural and the healing power of God and still not be healed.

Consequently, if someone who prays for healing is not immediately healed, one should not assume lack of faith, or some unconfessed sin in their life. There is no guarantee that any believer will be divinely healed from his or her sickness.

3. God Cares about Our Suffering

The Bible tells us that God does care about our suffering and our physical needs. However continual health for those who trust in Jesus Christ is not part of His plan for believers. If that were the case, then no believer would ever die.

4. There Are Two Extremes to Avoid When It Comes to Divine Healing

When it comes to believers and divine healing there are two extremes to avoid. We must be careful not to fall into either of these traps.

The first is to assume that God always heals someone who is sick. This is not what the Bible teaches neither is it the experience of Christians down through the ages. God heals when and where He desires. Consequently, we have no right to demand that God heals us.

The other extreme is to assume that God never heals anyone who is sick. While people cannot assume that God will heal them from their illness they certainly should pray to be healed. God does heal at the time and place of His choice. Thus, it is always wise to pray.

Consequently, each of these assumptions is wrong. God does supernaturally heal. However, it is always at His pleasure. Indeed, it is never at ours.

Therefore, when a believer in Jesus Christ is ill it is always proper to pray to the Lord for healing. However, we must recognize that God can heal us in a number of different ways.

Summary – Question 17
Should a Person Who Is Sick Seek Supernatural Healing? Is It Lack of Faith to Consult a Doctor?

When a person is sick or infirmed is it proper to ask God for healing? The Bible says that indeed it is. God does heal. However, we find that God heals in at least four ways. They are as follows. He may heal the infirmed person instantly. We find examples of this in the ministry of Jesus Christ as well as the ministry of His apostles. While God does heal in this manner, it is rare. Thus, we should not expect this to be the case.

He may heal the sick person through natural processes. This is often what takes place when an individual is sick. Rather than being healed instantly the believer is healed through natural processes which the Lord has wonderfully set up in the human body.

God may allow the person to me healed through medical knowledge. Indeed, there is nothing wrong in consulting doctors when one is ill. God gave people this knowledge so that the human body could be healed from disease.

In the Old Testament we find the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel speak approvingly of doctors and possible medical remedies. Nothing is ever said, or implied, that this showed a lack of faith.

We find the same thing in the New Testament. Jesus spoke approvingly of physicians. In fact, He said that the sick “need” to consult a physician. In addition, in His parable of the Good Samaritan we find this man pouring oil and wine on the wounds of the injured person. This further illustrates the use of medical remedies is permissible.

The Apostle Paul instructed Timothy to “take a little wine” for his recurring health problems. This comes from a man who had the gift of healing!

Furthermore, the writer of the third gospel, Luke, was a doctor; not a former doctor. Thus, there is nothing sinful about visiting a doctor. Indeed, it does not show lack of faith.

Yet we also find that the Scriptures recognize that physicians are not able to cure every illness or infirmity. Indeed, we have the story of an infirmed woman being healed by Jesus after she had spent all her money on doctors. In this instance, the doctors were unable to help her.

Thus, while it is not a sign of any lack of faith to visit a physician we must always recognize that there are limitations as to what doctors and medical science can do.

Finally, the Lord may heal the sick or infirmed person at the resurrection of the dead. In other words, in this life there will be no healing for a particular illness or infirmity. We must accept that sometimes this is the way in which the Lord chooses to heal us.

The point is that God heals people apart from the gift of divine or supernatural healing.

There have been well-meaning believers who have wrongly insisted that God wants everyone healed, and if one is not healed it is because of lack of faith, or some unconfessed sin. This is not what the Scripture teaches. There are reasons, known to God alone, why certain people remain ill. God does care about our suffering but has not promised continuous health for every Christian. This is crucial for us to realize.

The proper attitude is to pray for a healing when a person is sick. We should avoid the extreme of thinking that God always heals, or the other extreme, that God never heals. Not everyone gets healed but there are some people who do. This result is something which is completely in the hands of the Lord. Our responsibility is to pray and ask for healing. We must always leave the results up to Him.

According to the Bible, Why Do People Get Sick? ← Prior Section
Does the Bible Make a Distinction between Sickness and Other Types of Suffering? 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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