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Don Stewart :: What Would Constitute a Modern-Day Miraculous Healing?

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What Would Constitute a Modern-Day Miraculous Healing?

Divine Healing – Question 21

There are people today who claim to have the ability to supernaturally heal the sick and the infirmed. Others claimed to have witnessed miraculous healings. There are also testimonies of people who claim that they themselves have been cured in a supernatural way from the illness or infirmity. What are we to make of such claims?

If someone claims to have performed, witnessed, or been part of a miraculous healing today then what criteria should there be to accept such a claim? In other words, what would it take for a modern-day healing miracle to be accepted as valid? How could we confirm such an event?

It Is Theoretically Possible for a Modern-Day Miraculous Healing to Occur

This first point is necessary to make. No human being is in a position to rule out the possibility of a modern-day healing miracle. Indeed, none of us have the qualifications of doing something like this. If the God of the Bible wishes to miraculously heal someone who is sick or infirmed then He certainly has the right, as well as the ability, to do so.

However, having said that, if such an event is claimed to have taken place, it would have to be subjected to the most rigorous examination for it to be accepted as valid. This would include the following.

Any Christian Healing Miracle Must Conform to New Testament Standards

To begin with, any genuine miracle that claims to come from the God of the Bible would have to conform to New Testament standards. This is primary. In other words, the healing miracle would have the same features which we find in the miracles of Jesus and His apostles. Otherwise, it cannot be rightly claimed to be a modern-day biblical miracle.

Some Christians Say There Is a Lesser Standard

There are some Christians who question this. They contend that we may have modern-day healers and healing miracles which do not rise to the level of the ones recorded in the New Testament. They point to Paul’s statement about the “gifts of healing” which the Lord gives to His church. Some have been gifted to heal the sick.

This, they argue, can mean that the healing miracle may not be exactly the same as what we find in the New Testament. Indeed, none of us can claim the same unique authority or power as the apostles of Jesus Christ. Consequently, we should not assume that modern-day people can heal to the same degree as these specially chosen individuals.

Thus, someone could have the gift of healing without being able to heal on all occasions or without healing the person completely. Since the modern-day healer would not have the same authority or ability as Jesus of his apostles we should not expect the same results from them. Thus, they could fail in their healing attempts while still possessing the gift. Consequently, we should allow for “degrees of the gift of healing.”


First, it is not sensible to build a biblical doctrine based upon the words “gifts of healing.” For one thing, the phrase is used only three times in the entire New Testament. Each of these references is found in one chapter; First Corinthians 12. Furthermore, it is not explained in the context. Therefore, it is unwise to base an important doctrine such as “degrees of healing” on a phrase which there is no consensus as to its meaning.

Furthermore, we find that each of the miraculous healings which are recorded in New Testament show the same characteristics. This is true from the healings performed by those who were not apostles! Indeed, Stephen, who was not an apostle, had the same miraculous healing gift as the apostles. Thus, one cannot claim that we should expect lesser healing miracles from non-apostles who miraculously heal.

In fact, Scripture knows nothing of “lesser healings” when the God of Scripture cures the infirmed. Indeed, there are no examples of this. None!

Consequently, the same healing gift should be displayed today if God is still healing the sick in this manner which He has always healed. Indeed, if we redefine what it means for someone to have the gift of healing, or what it means to be genuinely healed, then we make the idea of divine healing meaningless.

Therefore, for a modern-day healing to be considered “biblical” it must, at the very least, include the following factors.

The Miracle Would Be in the Name or Authority of Jesus Christ

This first point is primary. Any true biblical miracle which would actually take place in our day and age must magnify Jesus Christ. He receives the glory; not the person performing the healing. In the New Testament era, the power to heal was the power of Jesus Christ. This was always acknowledged by those who healed. Unless the healing miracle magnifies Jesus Christ and properly and correctly promotes His message to the world it cannot be considered a genuine biblical miracle.

The Miracle Would Be Done Publicly

Modern-day healing miracles would have to be done publicly. The miracles of Jesus and His apostles were done so that all could witness. There was no idea of removing people to a desolate place for the miracle to take place. If anyone claims to be part of a modern-day healing miracle then the miracle must be done out in the open, not behind closed doors. If it is a true miracle then it should be done for everyone in the world to see. This way the claim could be properly evaluated.

The Healing Would Take Place Immediately

If someone claims to have the gift of healing, then, to be a modern day healing miracle, the healing of the infirmed person would take place immediately. There would be no delay, no lag time. Once the healer declares that the person has been healed, the result of that miracle healing should be immediate. Indeed, there will be no delay whatsoever if a true biblical healing has occurred.

It Would Not Be a Staged Event

The miracle would be unplanned. In other words, it would not be part of some staged “healing event.” Indeed, Scripture knows nothing of such things. The healing miracles recorded in the New Testament took place as the apostles of Jesus were going out and preaching His message. The miraculous signs were not planned, they were not staged. In other words, they happened in the normal course of events.

For example, we read the following.

As Jesus was walking along, two blind men began following him and shouting, “Son of David, have pity on us!” After Jesus had gone indoors, the two blind men came up to him. He asked them, “Do you believe I can make you well?” “Yes, Lord,” they answered. Jesus touched their eyes and said, “Because of your faith, you will be healed.” They were able to see, and Jesus strictly warned them not to tell anyone about him. But they left and talked about him to everyone in that part of the country (Matthew 9:27-31 CEV).

Notice that Jesus was merely walking along when He encountered these people. He then miraculously healed them.

On another occasion, Jesus encountered an infirmed man when entered a particular synagogue on the Sabbath.

And a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a human being than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other. But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus (Matthew 12:10-14 TNIV).

This healing took place on the Sabbath when the people met to study and worship. There was no planning ahead of time for this to happen. Indeed, it merely happened.

Luke records another instance where Jesus encountered an infirmed woman on the Sabbath.

Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. And there was a woman who had had a disabling spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself. (Luke 13:10-11 ESV).

This woman was also healed by the Lord. Yet this meeting between Jesus and the woman was not pre-planned, it was not staged. It merely happened when each of them arrived at the same synagogue.

Any modern-day healing miracle, from any person who claims to have the gift of healing, must also take place in this manner. In other words, the gift must be exercised while the person is doing the work of the ministry.

The Miracle Would Cover Something Which Medicine Cannot Cure

For the healing to be genuine, the ailment would be something that medicine had not treated and that medicine cannot cure. Jesus Christ healed those who were blind, those who were deaf, those who had never spoken a word, as well as those who had never walked. Modern-day healers must match these types of healing if they wish to be taken seriously.

The Symptoms Would Not Return

If someone today truly heals in the same manner as we find in the New Testament, then the symptoms would not return to the healed person. In other words, a blind person, who had been healed, would not have their blindness return; a deaf person would not again lose their ability to hear. When Jesus healed the sick their symptoms did not reoccur. We must find this to be true today to claim a biblical healing.

The Healer Would Not Seek Public Acclaim

If someone today claims to have the gift of healing, then they would not seek public acclaim or attention. This was the example set by Jesus. While Jesus performed many public healings which involved the multitudes, it was always in the context of proclaiming His message about the kingdom of God. The message was primary while the healings were secondary.

This is confirmed in certain instances when Jesus healed someone privately. Over and over again we find Him instructing the people who were involved in these private healings not to proclaim it to others.

For example, after Jesus brought the daughter of a man named Jairus back from the dead, He instructed the parents of the child to keep silent about the miracle.

Her parents were astonished, but he ordered them not to tell anyone what had happened (Luke 8:56 TNIV)

Instead of seeking public attention, Jesus wanted the episode to be kept quiet. Again we stress, the healings were always second to the message.

Jesus Taught Us What to Rejoice About

This is further illustrated with Jesus response to the seventy, or the seventy-two, disciples whom He had sent out with His authority. When they returned, they were rejoicing that they had been give authority over disease as well as demons. Jesus, however, told them what they should have been rejoicing about. Luke writes.

When the seventy-two disciples returned, they joyfully reported to him, “Lord, even the demons obey us when we use your name!” “Yes,” he told them, “I saw Satan fall from heaven like lightning! Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them. Nothing will injure you. But don’t rejoice because evil spirits obey you; rejoice because your names are registered in heaven.” (Luke 10:17-20 NLT).

According to Jesus, people given miraculous gifts should rejoice in the fact that their names are written in heaven, rather than gift they have been given to supernaturally heal. Again, this underscores what our emphasis should be; it is the fact that we have been saved from our sin not that we may be temporarily healed from our infirmities.

The Healer Would Not Do It for Financial Gain

In Scripture, we find that those who healed the sick and infirmed refused to accept a financial reward for their healing miracle. An example of this can be found with the prophet Elisha. Naaman the Syrian asked Elisha for healing of his leprosy. Elisha told him to dip himself seven times in the Jordan River and his leprosy would be cured. Naaman obeyed and was healed of the dreaded disease. As a result Naaman wished to pay Elisha for his help. Elisha refused.

We read about what took place in the Book of Second Kings.

Then Naaman and all his attendants went back to the man of God. He stood before him and said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel. So please accept a gift from your servant.” The prophet answered, “As surely as the LORD lives, whom I serve, I will not accept a thing.” And even though Naaman urged him, he refused (2 Kings 5:15-16 TNIV).

Again, any modern-day healer would have the same attitude. They could not take the credit neither should they accept any monetary reward.

The Miracle Healing Could Not Be Denied by Anyone

This last point is crucial. For a genuine biblical miracle to take place then it must be undeniable. In other words, unbelievers would have no rational explanation for what has taken place. The facts must force everyone to admit that something extraordinary has occurred. Unless the miracle can be verified by skeptics, then a genuine miracle cannot be claimed.

Conclusion: There Is a Standard Which Can Be Met

From the New Testament evidence we find that the Lord has set a standard as to what a genuine miracle would truly consist of if someone truly had the gift of healing as set down in the Scripture. Anyone who claims to have witnessed a miracle, been part of a miracle healing, or says they have the gift of healing must meet all the criteria the New Testament sets down. Otherwise the claim of a miracle-healing by those who say that they have the “gift of healing” must be rejected.

God Heals without Healers

If modern-day Christian healers do not really exist then does this mean that God no longer heals the sick and infirmed today? Not at all! Evaluating whether anyone has the supernatural gift of healing is not the same thing as denying that God answers prayer and supernaturally heals certain ailing persons. God certainly does do this sort of thing whenever and wherever He desires.

Indeed, there are a number of cases where doctors gave the infirmed person no hope whatsoever yet the person was restored to health. These examples have occurred when believers in Jesus Christ prayed for people who were in desperate need. They asked the Lord if He would be merciful and heal the sick or infirmed person. The Lord then intervened and healed. All of this took place without a faith healer or anyone claiming the healing gift. It was the prayers of God’s people, along with mercy of God, which allowed the healing to take place. This is how the Lord heals people in our modern era; it is not through the so-called “faith healer.”

The Important Thing Is the Message of Jesus Christ

Finally, we must again stress, that it is the message of forgiveness of sin found in Jesus Christ that must be proclaimed to this lost world. The gospel that Jesus’ followers proclaimed was the good news of forgiveness of sin; it was not the healing from sickness and infirmities.

Indeed, the gospel of Jesus Christ has been defined as His death on the cross for our sins. The Apostle Paul explained it this way.

Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand...For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, (1 Corinthians 15:1,3 NKJV).

Note that the gospel message is that Christ died for our sins. Nothing is said about Jesus dying for our physical infirmities.

The Message of Jesus Christ Is Eternal Life Not Temporary Physical Health

Consequently, the gift which the Lord offers people is not some temporary physical health but rather “eternal life” through Jesus Christ. Paul wrote to the Romans how we all have sinned against God.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23 TNIV).

Each of us is separated from God for our sin. Yet, there is a remedy for the sin problem, the gift of God which Jesus Christ offers. Paul also wrote about this to the Romans.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23 TNIV)

Jesus Christ died to solve the sin problem. Our sicknesses will still be with us in this life. However, there will come a time that they too will be a thing of the past. This will take place when we receive the new bodies which the Lord has promised to all who believe.

Thus, our hope on this earth lies in what is to come. Paul wrote about this hope in his letter to the Romans.

Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? (Romans 8:23, 24 TNIV).

Therefore, while we are here upon the earth, we should have our minds set on things above, not on divine healing for our physical infirmities.

Summary – Question 21
What Would Constitute a Modern-day Miraculous Healing?

There are those who claim to actually have the New Testament gift of healing. They claim that God has given them the ability to cure the sick and infirmed.

Others testify that they have witnessed a miraculous healing or have been the recipient of divine healing at the hands of one who has the gift. Are there healing miracles today? Does anyone have such a gift? If so, how can we determine whether a genuine healing miracle has take place.

To begin with, we must allow for the possibility of God performing a miracle today through a person with the healing gift. However, if we are to believe that a genuine healing has taken place then it must be similar to the healings we find recorded in New Testament.

There are some believers who claim that God can still be giving the gift of healing but not with the same power or results as we find in the New Testament. They claim the apostles were a select group and thus we should not expect anyone to display miracles of healing in the same manner as they did.

Yet this makes any modern day claims of healing as meaningless. Indeed, if the person cannot miraculously heal the incurable, or cannot demonstrate to the satisfaction of everyone that the symptoms have not returned, then any claim that they have the “gift of healing” is meaningless.

Furthermore, it was not merely the apostles who had the gift of healing. Others, lesser in authority had the gift. Like the apostles, their healings displayed the same results. If God has given the same gift of healing today, as He did in the first century, then we would find the same results. They include the following.

First and foremost the healing would be in the authority of Jesus Christ. It would be His power alone which performed the miracle. The “healer” could take no credit whatsoever. Furthermore, the healing would be coupled with the proclamation of the message of Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world, the only hope for humanity. Otherwise it is not a biblical healing.

The miracle healing must be done publicly for all to see. Private healings of the infirmed, behind closed doors, are not what we generally find in the New Testament. Indeed, Jesus and His apostles healed publicly for all to see.

Once the healing miracle was claimed to have occurred the results must be evident at once. No time delay is allowable. Indeed, in the New Testament when a person was healed they were instantly healed. Any modern claim to a supernatural healing by someone with the “gift of healing” must display the same immediate results.

The healing miracle must be in the context of preaching the message of Jesus Christ. There is no such thing as “healing meeting.” The New Testament healing miracles were all accomplished when God’s people were out preaching the gospel of Jesus. In other words, there were no staged healing events. Indeed, each of the healing occurred in the normal course of ministry.

Furthermore, the healing must be of something which medicine has no cure. Blindness, deafness, incurable diseases qualify. Ailments which can be cured by modern medicine or over time do not qualify. In addition, once the miraculous healing takes place there would be no relapse. In other words, a person would not again lose their eyesight if they had been healed of blindness.

Those who claim to have the healing gift would not seek public acclaim. Neither would they accept financial reward for their ability to cure the sick and infirmed. This is the biblical pattern. The glory, and everything else, goes to the Lord.

Finally, a crucial feature of any modern-day healing done in the name of Jesus Christ is that nobody could deny that it took place. Skeptics would have to admit that something took place which has no natural explanation.

This is what we find with the New Testament miracles. Indeed, the miracles of Jesus were never denied. The question was “how” He did them rather than “if” He did them.

Consequently, someone claiming the gift of healing in our modern times must meet these criteria to be accepted by Bible-believing Christians. Nothing less will satisfy.

We must again emphasize that denying the existence of “faith healers” or the “gifts of healing” is not a denial that God still heals. He does. However, He does this in answer to prayer. Indeed, there are numerous examples of infirmed people who have been healed after having been prayed for. Doctors cannot give any logical or rational explanation to these occurrences. They were indeed miraculous answers to prayer.

Therefore, we should reach out to the Lord in prayer for those who are sick. Whether or not He heals them is His choice. It is our responsibility to pray for them and acknowledge that He has the power to heal if He so chooses. We then leave the results in His gracious hands.

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