Note by Phil Scovell.
I obtained the electronic text version of this sermon many years
ago by downloading it from a bulletin board system (BBS) long
before the internet days. The comments which follow about the
transcription of the text are not mine but those of the one who
did the translation work. My rebuttal is also displayed on this
website for those who are interested in reading both sides. The
transcribers contact information is at the end of this document
but I doubt it is valid after all these years.
End Of Note.
DOES GOD STILL HEAL?
The following message was delivered at Grace Community Church in
Panorama City, California, By John MacArthur Jr. It was
transcribed from the tape, GC 90-60, titled "Charismatic Chaos"
Part 9. A copy of the tape can be obtained by writing, Word of
Grace, P.O. Box 4000, Panorama City, CA 91412.
I have made every effort to ensure that an accurate transcription
of the original tape was made. Please note that at times
sentence structure may appear to vary from accepted English
conventions. This is due primarily to the techniques involved
in preaching and the obvious choices I had to make in placing
the correct punctuation in the article.
It is my intent and prayer that the Holy Spirit will use this
transcription of the sermon, "Charismatic Chaos" Part 9, to
strengthen and encourage the true Church of Jesus Christ.
Charismatic Chaos - Part 9
Does God Still Heal?"
Well, as you know, we are involved in a study of the
Charismatic movement, the contemporary movement, and tonight we
come to a section entitled, "Does God Still Heal?" Now, in the
messages that I have been giving we have intersected with the
thoughts about healing, and we have said some things about that
in some of our prior studies and we are not going to repeat those
things. But there is much more that needs to be said tonight as
we evaluate a movement that advocates healing. In fact, if
there is anything that would be typically Charismatic or
typically characteristic of the modern Pentecostal movement,
Third Wave movement, or Charismatic movement, it would be a
major emphasis on healing, and we need to understand that.
Let me begin with some illustrations that set the scene for us.
A familiar name to anybody who studies the Charismatic movement
and delves into the issues of healing is the name of a man,
Hobart Freeman, a very interesting man, at one time a professor
of Old Testament at Grace Theological Seminary, from which our
own Dick Mayhue graduated. And when he was a professor there in
Old Testament, he was considered to be the finest communicator,
the finest teacher there. In fact, Hobart Freeman wrote a very
significant book entitled, "An Introduction to the Old Testament
Prophets" which, in 1969, was published and printed by the Moody
Bible Institute. So he was considered by everybody to be a
mainline evangelical professor, one who not only understood but
could adroitly teach the truth of Scripture.
Somewhere along the line he changed. Hobart Freeman believed
that God had healed him from Polio. Nonetheless, one of
Freeman's legs was so much shorter than the other that he had to
wear corrective shoes and walked with great difficulty. Freeman
became a pastor. He began his ministry as a Baptist and after
he had written and taught for some years, in the mid 60's he
became very fascinated with "faith healing," and it moved him
into the Charismatic movement, and then it moved him further and
further towards the fringes of that movement. He started his
own church in Claypool, Indiana; it was known as Faith Assembly
and it grew to more than 2,000 members. Meetings were held in a
building which he called the "Glory Barn" and Church services
were closed to non-members.
So it was kind of a secretive and cultic association. Freeman
and the Faith Assembly congregation utterly disdained all
medical treatment. He believed that modern medicine was an
extension of ancient witchcraft and black magic. To submit to a
doctor's remedies, Freeman believed, was to expose oneself to
demonic influence. Expectant mothers in Freeman's congregation
were told that they must give birth at home with the help only
of a church sponsored midwife rather than go to a hospital
delivery room or to be treated by a doctor. By the way,
obedience to that teaching, cost a number of mothers and infants
their lives. In fact, over the years, at least 90 church members
died as a result of ailments that would have been easily
treatable. No one really knows what the actual death toll would
be if nationwide figures could be compiled on all the other
people who followed Hobart Freeman's teaching.
After a 15 year old girl whose parents belong to Faith Assembly,
died of a medically treatable malady, the parents were convicted
of negligent homicide and sentenced to ten years in prison.
Freeman himself was charged with aiding and inducing reckless
homicide in the case. Shortly afterward, on December 8, 1984,
Freeman himself died, interestingly enough of pneumonia and
heart failure complicated by a severely ulcerated leg.
Hobart Freeman's theology did not allow him to acknowledge that
Polio had left one of his legs disfigured and lame. Quote, he
said, "I have my healing." And that is all he would say when
anyone pointed out the rather conspicuous inconsistency between
his physical disabilities and his theology. Ultimately, his
refusal to acknowledge his infirmities cost him his life. He
had dutifully, according to his own theology, refused all medical
treatment for the maladies that were killing him, and medical
science could easily have prolonged his life, but in the end he
was a victim of his own teaching.
Now, Hobart Freeman is a very familiar name to those involved in
Faith Healing, but he is not the only one. There is another one
who succumbed to ailments and that is a man by the name of
William Brannom (sp.), and if you study anything about the
healing movement you are going to come across the name of
William Brannom (sp.). He would be the father of the post World
War II healing revival. He was a man reputed to have been
instrumental in some of the most spectacular healings that the
Pentecostals have ever seen. He died, however, in 1965 at age
56, after suffering for six days from injuries received in an
automobile accident. His theology was unbiblical and heretical,
and of course when applied to himself his theology of healing had
no effect whatsoever, though his followers right to the end, were
confident God was going to raise him up. And even after he died
they believed that God would raise him from the dead.
As a boy, I was brought to become aware of another Faith Healer
who became very, very famous, a man by the name of A. A. Allen.
And A. A. Allen, about whom I read and whom I followed with
curiosity, was a famed "Tent Evangelist." He took his healing
meeting from place to place in a tent. Interestingly enough, A.
A. Allen claimed thousands upon thousands of healings, and
himself died of sclerosis of the liver in 1967, having secretly
been involved with alcohol for many years while supposedly being
able to heal everybody else.
Perhaps a more familiar name in the healing movement would be the
name of one who is elevated almost to the status of the Roman
Catholic elevation of Mary, and that's a woman by the name of
Kathryn Kuhlman. Kathryn Kuhlman died of heart failure in 1976,
curiously enough. She had battled heart disease for nearly
twenty years, and that statement is made by Jamie Buckingham who
would have been one of her disciples.
Another one that comes to mind, Ruth Carter Stapleton, was the
Faith Healing sister of former United States President Jimmie
Carter. [She] refused medical treatment for cancer because of
her belief in faith healing. She died of the disease in 1983.
And even John Wimber, who would be probably the most prominent
modern contemporary Third Wave healer, struggles with chronic
angina and heart problems. He begins his book on Power Healing
with a personal note. This is what it says; quoting John
Wimber, he says,
I had what doctors later suspected were a series of
coronary attacks. When we returned home a series of
medical tests confirmed my worst fears, I had a damaged
heart, possibly seriously damaged. Tests indicated that
my heart was not functioning properly, a condition
complicated and possibly caused by high blood pressure.
These problems combined with my being overweight and
overworked meant that I could die at any time.
Wimber writes that he sought God and he says that God told him
that in the same way Abraham waited for his child, I was to wait
for my healing. In the meantime, he says, "He told me to follow
my doctor's orders." Wimber writes, "I wish I could write that
at this time I am completely healed, that I no longer have
physical problems, but if I did it would not be true." Now, it
seems obvious, at least a curiosity to all of us, that so many
leading advocates of faith healing are sick!
Annette Capps (sp.), the daughter of Faith Healer Charles Capps
(sp.), and herself a Faith Healer, raised that question in her
book; her book is entitled "Reverse the Curse in Your Body and
Emotions." This is what she writes,
People have stumbled over the fact that the so-called
"Healing Minister" later became ill or died. They say, "I
don't understand this. If the Power of God came into
operation and all those people were healed, why did the
evangelist get sick? Why did he or she die?" The reason
is because healings that take place in meetings like that
are a special manifestation of the Holy Spirit. This is
different from using your own faith. The evangelist who
is being used by God in the gifts of healings, is still
required to use his own faith in the Word of God to
receive divine health and divine healing for his own body.
Why? Because the gifts of healings are not manifested for
the individual who is ministering, they are for the benefit
of the people.
Now that double-talk basically means that somebody could have
faith for somebody else's healing but not enough faith for their
own healing. And so, sometimes without faith for their own
healing they die, while they have enough faith for other
people's healings who live. She goes on to say,
Over the years I have seen various manifestations of the
gifts of healing in my own ministry, but I have always had
to use my own faith in God's word for my healing. There
have been times that I have been attacked with illness in
my body but as I ministered many were healed even though I
did not feel well. I had to receive my healing through
faith and acting on God's word.
Thus, she astonishingly concludes that if a Faith Healer gets
sick, it is because his or her personal faith is somehow
deficient when applied to his or herself. Now, to take that a
step further, you must understand that these people go so far as
to say, "That even Jesus Himself sometimes did not have the
faith required for people to be healed."
Perspectives on Faith Healing often seem as varied as the number
of Faith Healers around. Some say that God wants to heal all
sickness, others come close to conceding that God's purposes may
sometimes be fulfilled in our illness and infirmity. Some
equate sickness with sin; others stop short of that, but still
find it hard to explain why spiritually strong people get sick.
Some people just "flat out" blame the devil, and they think if
they can tie the devil up in a knot and send him off to Tibet or
something [then] everybody will get well.
Some claim to have the "Gifts of Healing;" others say they have
no unusual healing ability, they simply are used of God to show
people the way of faith. A lot of people used to say they had
the "Gift of Healing" but the chicanery they were using has for
so many years been exposed that nobody today can get away with
that stuff anymore. So now they just claim they don't have the
"Gift of Healing," they just sort of pray and have faith and God
does what He wants. Some will say they heal with a physical
touch; some will say you heal through anointing with oil; others
say they can speak forth a healing, that they can speak it into
existence; some people say they can only pray for a healing, and
so forth and so on. And there are healers who just keep
changing from one approach to another as the chicanery and the
charlatanism of the healing movement becomes exposed and they
have to change their methodology.
Always a Faith Healer, the well known Oral Roberts used to claim
that he could heal. He claimed great powers of healing; he no
longer claims that. Oral Roberts claimed God had called him, in
fact, to build a massive hospital. And He said this massive
hospital would blend conventional medicine with Faith Healing.
If you visit the city of Tulsa, as I did this summer, you are
absolutely astonished at this facility. It is mind boggling to
see a sixty story building rising out of a weed patch outside
Tulsa, Oklahoma, and next to it a thirty story building rising
as well, now completely vacant and most of it unfinished on the
inside. In the face of huge financial losses apparently God
changed His mind and declared that the whole thing should be
closed down. It is a monument to the unfulfilled promises of
Faith Healing. Nonetheless, in spite of these bizarre claims
that never come to pass, Faith Healing and the Charismatic
movement keep growing.
Charles Fox Pharham (sp.) who is the father of the contemporary
Pentecostal movement, came to the conviction originally (this is
way back at the turn of the century when the Charismatic
movement was then known as Pentecostalism and just starting) he
claimed that God desired all believers to have complete healing
and he developed that into an entire Pentecostal system, and then
it began to flow through the leaders. Amy Simple McPherson (who
founded the Foursquare Church), Angelus Temple (sp.), E. W.
Kenyon, William Brannom (sp.), Kathryn Kuhlman, Oral Roberts,
Kenneth Hagan, Kenneth Copeland, Fredrick Price, Jerry Seville
(sp.), Charles Capps (sp.), Norval Hayes, Robert Tilton, Benny
Hinn, Larry Lee, and on and on it goes. They have all headlined
their public meetings with healing.
There are even Catholic Charismatics such as Father John
Bertilucci (sp.), and Francis McNutt (sp.) who have followed
suit seeing that the Charismatic healing emphasis is a natural
extension of Roman Catholic tradition. And then in the last
phase of this so called "The Third Wave" in which we talked
about leaders like John Wimber and others, Paul Cane (sp.) and
the Kansas City Prophets, et al., have made healing a central
element in their repertoire. The claims and methods of these
Faith Healers range frankly from the eccentric to the grotesque.
A few years ago I received--I receive everything in the mail; if
they don't send it to me, somebody who wants me to see it does.
And I have received bottles of healing oil and healing water and
all kinds of things--but I received a miracle prayer cloth, and
in it the message said, and I am quoting,
Take this special miracle prayer cloth and put it under
your pillow and sleep on it tonight. Or you may want to
place it on your body or on a loved one. Use it as a
release point wherever you hurt. First thing in the
morning send it back to me in the "green" envelope. Do
not keep this prayer cloth, return it to me. I will take
it, pray over it all night. Miracle power will flow like
a river. God has something better for you, a special
miracle to meet your needs.
Now, these are the kinds of things that go on all the time. And
of course in the "green" envelope you not only send the cloth
but you send some "green" money as well. Green being a good
reminder of what color they would like to see. Interestingly
enough, the sender of the prayer cloth feels he has biblical
support for doing this. While Paul was in Ephesus, you remember
God performed extraordinary miracles through him, and according
to Acts 19, it says, "Handkerchiefs or aprons were carried from
his body to the sick and the diseases left them and the evil
spirits went out of them." And as we have been seeing in the
series, however, Paul and the other apostles had been given
unique power, and we talked about Apostolic Power as unique
power; certainly nothing in the New Testament suggests that
anybody could send out handkerchiefs and they are going to
Kenneth Hagan (sp.) tells of one Faith Healer he heard of who
used a method that I have never personally witnessed. Kenneth
Hagen (sp.) writes,
He'd always spit on them, every single one of them. He'd
spit in his hand and rub it on them. That's the way he
ministered. If there was something wrong with your head,
he'd spit in his hand and rub it on your forehead. If you
had stomach trouble, he'd spit in his hand and rub it on
your clothes and on your stomach. If you had something
wrong with your knee, he'd spit in his hand and rub it on
your knee. And all the people would get healed.
Other gimmicks, not quite that uncouth, but every bit as
outlandish, also can be visualized everyday as you watch your
television set. Some ask for "Seed Faith" money. Oral Roberts
often says that if you donate money to him, that is in effect a
down payment on your own personal healing. Robert Tilton
regularly devises simple ploys; [he] pledges special healings and
financial miracles to people who send him money; the larger the
gift, the better the miracle. "It's in direct proportion to how
much money you send," he says. Pat Robertson will peer into the
camera and as if he can see into people's living rooms describe
people who are being healed that very moment. Benny Hinn
recently healed fellow Faith Healer and Talk Show Host Paul
Crouch (sp.). He healed him on the live broadcast of the
Trinity Network. After Hinn had released his anointing to a
roomful of people, Crouch step forward to testify that he had
been miraculously cured of a persistent ringing in the ears he
had been suffering from for years. And on and on it goes, this
list of fantastic claims, incredible stories of healings grow at
a frantic pace, but real evidence of genuine miracles is
And everywhere you go people are asking questions about this.
From all sides comes confusion, questions, contradictions. Now
as we study the Scripture, we find there are three categories of
spiritual gifts, if we want to call them that. First would be
the category we could say are gifted men like apostles,
prophets, evangelists, and teaching pastors. These are the men
themselves given as gifts from Christ to the Church. And then we
could say there are the permanent edifying gifts and the
temporary sign gifts (the other two categories). Permanent
edifying gifts would be gifts related to knowledge, and wisdom,
and preaching, and teaching, and exhortation, and faith, and
discernment, and showing mercy, and giving, and administration,
and helps, and those things that have an ongoing ministry in the
And then there are those temporary sign gifts, in other words,
divine enablements given by the Holy Spirit for a temporary
period of time as a sign for a very special purpose. These are
listed for us in Scripture; they are miracles, healings, tongues
(or languages), and the interpretation or translation of those
Now, we have noted in our study that such sign gifts had a
unique purpose: very simple--they were to identify the authentic
spokesman for God. First of all, Jesus did miracles. Jesus
cast out demons. He did miracles that fall into three
categories: Miracles of Physical Healing; Miracles of Demonic
Deliverance; and Miracles of Natural Phenomena, like walking on
water, or stilling the sea, feeding the people by multiplying
bread and fish. And those miracles were to demonstrate to
people that Jesus was not a mere man, but that He was the
Messiah of God. It should be very clear to everyone who saw Him
that this was not a man, because no man could do what He did.
And so Christ had unique capability to do supernatural things in
order to draw attention to the fact that He was unique. In
fact, you need to remember that up until the time of Jesus
Christ, there was nobody who could just go around healing
people. There were some healings in the Old Testament, and
there were some miracles of nature, and there were some powerful
exhibitions of God's supernatural work: in creation, and the
flood, and many other supernatural powerful things; but as far
as a miracle, which is a subcategory of the supernatural. .
.sometimes people say, "Well, you people always say there are
only three eras of miracles," (and that would be: the Time of
Moses; and then Elijah and Elisha; and then Christ and the
Apostles, and those are the only three periods of miracles).
And then they will say, "Well, that's not true, because creation
was miracle, and the flood was a miracle," and they will go
right on through, "Jacob wrestled with an angel and that was a
miracle, and God was always doing supernatural things." But
they fail to make the clear distinction that "miracle" is a
technical term: it is a subcategory for the supernatural.
God is always acting in a supernatural way, even today. Every
time someone is saved that is a supernatural work. But
"miracle" is a technical term to describe an act of God which He
does through a human agency, and they are very rare. And even
when you go back into the Old Testament and you find miracles
where God acts through a human instrumentation to authenticate
his messenger and the message, they are rare and nothing like
the healing ministry of Jesus. No one ever just roamed
everywhere, healing everybody.
So what you have in the case of Jesus [is something] you have
never seen before. Nothing like this has ever happened before
in the history of the world. And so this is a very unique
thing. And to assume that it never happened before (to know
that by Old Testament revelation) and it happened at the time of
Christ, uniquely, and then it faded out in the end of the New
Testament era, and now for some strange reason it has all come
back at the same level as once it did and we are supposed to
have this massive kind of healing going on as it did in the day
of Christ, is to demonstrate an imbalanced and an unsound
perspective of the purpose of the miracle ministry of Jesus. It
was to authenticate His Messiahship, and it is therefore
irreproducible and unrepeatable.
And so Jesus did unique things which were unique to His own
ministry. Now, it is true that Jesus passed on to the Apostles
power in two of the three categories. Remember now, He healed
diseases, He had power over demons, and He did miracles of
nature (natural phenomenon). The first two he gave the
Apostles. They never did any miracles of nature. But "Peter,"
you say, "Walked on water!" Yes, but that was a miracle Christ
was performing and that occurred only in His presence. They
never did anything like "Feed the 5,000" or "Walk on water"
after that, or "Still a storm" or anything like that. The only
two things they were given power to do were "cast out demons and
heal the sick (including raising the dead)."
But in their case, again, these were to point to them as the
messengers of God. There was no printed New Testament and it
was very essential that among all of the people who were saying
that they spoke for God somebody be able to tell who was real,
and you could tell because they had power over demons and power
over disease. And so they were given that ability to do those
things. And the Apostles could do them, and those closely
associated with the Apostles could do them.
Go back into Matthew 10:1, "Having summoned His twelve disciples,
He gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out,"
(and that by the way is the Gift of Miracles: miracle is
"dunamis (Greek)" power, power over the forces of demons) "and
He gave them the power to heal every kind of disease and every
kind of sickness." And that was granted to the Twelve. Later on
you find out that that group was expanded and it included the
Seventy. Remember when He sent the Seventy, two-by-two and gave
them the same power? So it was a very small group. "These were
the signs," says Paul, of a true Apostle. "Signs and wonders
and miracles," 2 Corinthians 12:12. They were limited in scope-
-only casting out demons and healing diseases, and they were
limited in terms of who received them--only the Apostles and the
Seventy commissioned directly by Jesus, those who worked
alongside the Apostles. It never went beyond that.
It never became common for anybody and everybody in the Church to
do this. There is no indication that the evangelists, that the
prophets (with a few exceptions: Barnabas, Philip, Stephen, and
those very early men), never an indication that teaching pastors
could do this, and certainly no indication that members of the
Church, the Body of Christ, could do this. These were unique
apostolic gifts. When you study the epistles of Paul--and Paul
is very clear about the fact that if you have problems with
Satan and demons you don't find somebody who can chase them
away: you put on your armor. Right? "We have spiritual weapons
to battle against those forces," he said.
Now if false teachers want credibility it is very obvious that
they can sure draw a crowd and gain creditability if they can
heal. And so that is always a kind of ploy that is used by
false teachers--it has been so in history, whether you are
talking about tribal witch doctors in Shamanism, in Animism, and
in Paganism, or whether you are talking about Occultic kinds of
healings, or New Age kind of mind healings, or whether you are
talking about the charlatans and the frauds who parade
themselves even as Christian healers. It is a great way to draw
a crowd. Why? Because the number one human anxiety is illness
Since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden disease has been a
terrible reality, and for millennia the search for cures to
alleviate illness and suffering has consumed mankind. And I
will tell you that if I could choose one gift, if God would give
me one gift that I don't have and I could ask Him for it and get
it, I would ask Him for the gift of healing. I mean, if it was
available to me. Can you imagine what you could accomplish with
it? There are many occasions when I have wished that I could
heal. I have stood in a room in a hospital watching a precious
child die of Leukemia while the parents wept. I prayed with a
dear friend as inoperable cancer ate at his insides. I have
stood by helplessly as a young person fought for life in an
intensive care unit, the result of a motorcycle or an automobile
accident. I have seen teenagers crushed through those kinds of
things. I have watched their parents in agony.
I have seen people in the hospital on the edge of death with a
gunshot wound. I have watched people lie comatose while
machines try to keep their vital signs alive, at least on a
screen, if not in reality. I watched a close friend weaken and
die after an unsuccessful heart transplant. I have seen friends
in terrible pain from surgery. I know people who are permanently
disabled with sickness and injury. I see babies born with heart
breaking deformities. I have helped people learn to cope with
amputations and other tragic losses. I have been there when a
mother was holding to her arms, in the bedroom, a dead baby who
had died of "crib death."
If I could wish for anything, I could certainly wish that I could
do that--heal all those people. Think how thrilling it would
be. Think how rewarding it would be to have that gift. Think
of what it would be like to go into a hospital among the sick
and the dying, walk up and down the hall and touch people and
heal them like Jesus did. Wouldn't it be wonderful to go into
the Cancer Ward and the Heart Disease Ward and the Aids Ward, and
all the other places and just heal everybody. And somewhere
along the line you want to ask these Charismatic healers why
they don't assemble all of themselves and go down to that place
and let's see if they have the power to heal! Opportunities to
heal the sick are unlimited. And if, as Charismatics claim,
such miracles are "Signs and Wonders," (listen carefully, they
say this) if they are "Signs and Wonders" designed to convince
unbelievers that the gospel is true, then wouldn't that be the
way to really convince them?
But strangely, the healers rarely, if ever, come out of their
tents, rarely ever come out of their buildings, rarely ever come
out of their television studios. I have never seen them in a
hospital. I have never seen them walking down a ward with a
camera following them. They always seem to exercise their gift
in an environment in which they totally control, staged their
way, run according to their schedule. Why don't we see them
Paul Kane (sp.) with whom I met recently, personally, who is sort
of the main prophet in this new movement, has prophetically seen
this, and I quote one writing about him,
Kane describes his vision of an army of children that will
parade down the streets healing whole hospital wards. He
foresees news broadcasts where the "Anchors" report no bad
news because everyone is in sports arenas hearing the
gospel. Over a billion will be saved, the dead will be
raised, limbs will be restored, those with handicaps will
jump from their wheelchairs and crutches will be cast
aside, and those in the stadiums will go for days without
food or water and never notice.
Now I don't know what kind of a world that is or how they are
going to make it happen but I think it is time to start if they
have that ability. Is this happening? No, because those who
claim to have the gift of healing and the power of healing, and
claim to be able to tap into that power really don't have it.
The gift of healing was a temporary sign gift for the
authenticating of those who wrote the Scripture and those who
preached the message in that first century. And once the
Scripture was completed and that authenticity was established,
the gift of healing ceased. It is not anything new to claim it.
The original claimants were the Roman Catholics.
If you read some of Roman Catholic history you will be amazed
probably. They boasted of healing people with the bones of John
the Baptist, healing people with the bones of Peter, healing
people with pieces of the cross (and somebody said, "There are
enough pieces of the cross around to build a two-story
building!"). They have said that they, "Have healed people with
the vials of Mary's breast milk." There is a place that you
know about in France called Lourdes, a Catholic shrine that has
supposedly been the sight of countless miraculous healings. I
have been to the largest Catholic cathedral in the Western
Hemisphere in Montreal, San Joseph, where people climb 450
stairs on their knees and they go in and they kiss a little box
that has the heart of a little friar in it, and all along the
walls and everywhere are crutches, all over the place.
Supposedly countless tens of thousands have been healed there.
And now in Metajorie (sp.) in Yugoslavia (you have been reading
about it) more than 50,000,000 people have gone in less than a
decade. Why? They are in search of a miracle from the virgin
Mary who appeared in 1981 to six little children. If you read
carefully about that it is bizarre.
It is very much like the occultic kind of healings you hear about
in pagan parts of the world. You have the oriental psychic
healers who say they can do bloodless surgery. They way their
hands over afflicted organs and say incantations and claim
people are cured. Witch Doctors, Shamans, claim to raise the
dead. Occultist use Black Magic and Lying Wonders to do their
thing. Mary Baker Eddy, [who] you remember founded Christian
Science, claimed to have healed people through telepathy. And
she had buried with her in her casket a telephone because she
was going to come to life and call somebody and tell them to
come and get her. You see Satan has always captivated people's
hearts through the promise of healing. Even today the people
who promised that "Health, Wealth, Prosperity Gospel" are hooking
people on this tremendous human desire for physical healing and
the fear of disease and death.
This goes on and on and on. One pastor on a popular Charismatic
television show explained that his gift of healing works this
In the morning services the Lord tells me what healings are
available. The Lord will say, "I have got three cancers
available, I have got one bad back, I have got two headache
healings." I announce that to the congregation and tell them
that anyone who comes at night, with faith, can claim those
that are available for that evening.
Now if you take a closer look at these healings you will find
some very interesting things. The only documented cases that
you can find, the only actually documented cases you can find,
are cases of people who didn't get healed. The cases of
supposed people who do get healed, you can't find any
documentation. One of the most telling studies of this was done
by a medical doctor by the name of William Nolan who decided
that he would look into the healing ministry of really the
prototype of all of it, Kathryn Kuhlman (sp.) when she was still
going strong before her death. And he wrote a book after
studying her, called "Healing, a doctor in search of a miracle."
And he went beyond Kathryn Kuhlman, but the major section of
interest to me was the section on Kathryn Kuhlman. And he made
the point in his book that Miss Kuhlman did not understand
psychogenic disease. She did not understand, that is, disease
related to the mind. In simple terms a functional disease might
be a sore arm. An organic disease would be a withered arm or no
arm at all.
Now Katherine would heal a sore arm but not give somebody one who
didn't have one. A psychogenic disease would be thinking your
arm was sore and Kathryn could make you think that your arm
wasn't sore. Nolan wrote,
Search the literature as I have and you will find no
documented cures, by healers, of gall stones, heart
disease, cancer, or any other serious organic disease.
Certainly you will find patients temporarily relieved of
their upset stomach, their chest pain, their breathing
problems. You will find healers and believers who will
interpret this interruption of symptoms as evidence that
the disease is cured. But when you track the patient down
and find out what happened later you will always find the cure
to have been purely symptomatic and transient. The underlying
I remember one of A. A. Allen's cures; a man threw away his
crutches and a horrible result came from it, and he was sued by
a family for the severe injury that occurred to that man, when
under the emotion of the moment, he was sort of able to prop
himself momentarily and brought great harm to himself. When
faith healers try to treat serious organic diseases they are
very often responsible for very serious anguish and unhappiness,
and sometimes even life threatening things. Dr. Nolan had Miss
Kuhlman herself send him a list of the cancer victims she had
seen cured, and this is what the doctor discovered,
I wrote to all the cancer victims on her list and the only
one who offered cooperation was a man who claimed that he
had been cured of cancer by Miss Kuhlman. He sent me a
complete report of his case. He had prostatitis cancer
which is frequently responsive to hormone therapy, if it
spreads it is also highly responsive to radiation therapy.
This man had had that and he had also had extensive
treatment with surgery, radiation, and hormones. He had
also dealt with Kathryn Kuhlman. He chose to attribute
his cure or remission, as the case may be, to Miss
Kuhlman. But anyone who read his report, layman or doctor,
would see immediately that it is impossible to tell which kind
of treatment had actually done most to prolong his life. If
Miss Kuhlman had to rely on this case to prove the Holy
Spirit cured cancer through her, she would be in very
Dr. Nolan did further work on 82 cases of Kathryn Kuhlman's
healings using names that she herself supplied. His conclusion
at the end of the entire investigation was that not one of the
so called healings was legitimate--not one!
More recently, a very interesting man by the name of James Randy-
-Have you heard that? He's called the "Amazing Randy" (he gave
himself that name). He is a professional magician. As a
professional magician he has written a book in which he examines
the claims of "faith healers." Why? Because he knows all the
gimmicks. He is the man who exposed television evangelist Peter
Poppoff's (sp.) fakery in 1986, on the "Tonight Show." You
remember that Peter Poppoff (sp.) was one of the healers that
claimed to get "words of knowledge." He would stand there and
he would say, "Jesus is telling me this about you." And the
truth was he had a little earphone and his wife was giving him
all this information because everybody who came to the meeting
had to fill out a card. And I don't know if you know about how
that works but healers throughout the years have always had the
"preservice" meeting, when everybody who wants to be cured and
get in the "healing line" fills out a very full card. And there
is a very simple way, by staggering the cards, that the guy can
be holding up a card to his head and telling you all you need to
know about yourself, to convince you that this man speaks for
God. In the case of Peter Poppoff (sp.) he was repeating
information his wife was putting in his ear, from the "crib
sheets" assembled in the "pre-meeting."
Now the "Amazing Randy" is really not so amazing, he's just a
magician. But he is openly antagonistic to Christianity. His
antagonism is fed, I think, continually by what he finds out.
But, nevertheless, he seems to have done his investigation
thoroughly. He asks scores of "faith healers" to supply him
with direct, examinable evidence of true healings. Quote, he
I have been willing to accept just one case of a miracle
cure, so that I might say in this book that at least on
one occasion a miracle occurred. But not one "faith
healer" anywhere has given him a single case of medically
confirmed healing that couldn't be explained as natural
convalescence, psychosomatic improvement or outright
What is Randy's conclusion? I quote,
Reduced to its basics, "faith healing" today (as it always
has been) is simply magic! Though the preachers
vehemently deny any connection with the practice, their
activities meet all the requirements for the definition;
all of the elements are present and the intent is
Well, I don't want to just be ungracious, that's not my
intention; but it is very important that you know the truth and
that you be warned. And if the Apostle John would even speak
the name of Diotrephes just because he loved to have the
preeminence in the Church, and that posed a threat, then how
important it is for us to identify these people who pose an even
more severe threat, as they say they represent the very voice of
God and can prove it by the fact they can do miracles.
I had a meeting with a man who is a very bright, a very
intelligent, a very academically trained, a very intellectual
man who understands the Bible, and he said to me,
The reason that I am in this movement is because one of
these prophets stood up in a meeting and looked at me and
told me the name of my mother--my mother's maiden name!
And not only that he was able to tell me my father's real
name, and my father goes by a nickname and I knew that he
could only know that by direct revelation.
Now, how utterly gullible can a man be? If I could find a full-
fledged, bonifide theologian, first-ranked, teaching in one of
the most respected seminaries in the world, and if I could
convince him of my being a prophet of God by just finding out
the name of his mother and his father's real name, that wouldn't
be too tough if that's all it took, especially if I had been
plying that kind of trade for years. It's amazing how gullible
people are. We hear about these healings, but there is never
any evidence. Not one of today's self-styled healers has
produced irrefutable proof of the miracles they claimed to have
wrought. Many of them are transparently fraudulent, and the
healings in many cases aren't healings at all. Many things can
occur by the power of suggestion, like people falling over
backwards and so forth. But that can do the opposite of healing
you as we noted a few weeks ago when we reminded you that one
lady fell over in a Benny Hinn meeting and killed the lady she
fell on. And now he is being sued.
Now we all know that desperation accompanies disease. Sickness
drives people to do frantic, extreme things they normally
wouldn't do. People who are clear-minded and balanced become
irrational. Remember, Satan knows this. That's why he said in
Job 2:4, "Skin for skin, yes, all that a man has will he give
for his life." The most desperate, heart-breaking cases involve
people who are incurably organically ill. Others aren't really
sick at all. You know, if I may be very personal, one of the
real joys of our church is the dear precious people that come
here every Sunday in wheelchairs. I can't tell you how many of
those people have told me that people have said to them, "If you
had enough faith, or if you went to another church, other than
Grace Church, you could get out of that wheelchair."
Somebody asked me recently if we get a lot of people here coming
out of healing churches? I say, "Yes, we get the people who go
and don't get healed--no question about it." What a tragic
thing; multitudes go away shattered, disconsolate, feeling they
have either failed God or God has failed them. Now, let me say
this, people are going to say, "Well, are you saying God doesn't
heal?" No, I'm not saying that, if God wants to heal, He can
heal. That's completely, obviously within His power, and if it
is in his purpose [then] He can heal. He may heal as a result
of prayer. He may heal through simple processes, through
medical assistance, or he may heal in a way that we can't
explain medically. God may speedup the recovery mechanism and
restore a person to health in a way that medicine can't even
explain. Sometimes He may overrule a medical prognosis and
allow someone to recover from a normally debilitating disease.
Healings like that may come, He may do them; He may do them in
response to prayer, He may do them just because He wants to do
them. But the gift of healing, and the ability to heal, and
special anointings for healing, and healings that can be claimed
and therefore realized, and all the typical "faith healing"
technique billed on the idea that God wants everybody well all
the time, has no Biblical sanction whatsoever in the Post-
Now, backing off a minute, if we just said, "Let's look at
Jesus, and if anybody is healing today, and if Jesus' healings
are the pattern, and if the apostles is the pattern, how did
they heal?" And I will simply remind you of it. We will make a
comparison and see if today it works like that.
1. Jesus healed with a word or a touch.
That's all it took. He touched, He spoke, they were healed.
2. Jesus healed instantaneously.
Never in all His healings does the Bible say He healed
somebody and they started getting better. No, there was
never a process, because if there was a process the point
wasn't made. Right? Because if there was a process then it
could be explained in another way. It was instantaneous.
"The Centurion's servant was healed" (I love it), Matthew 8:13,
"that very hour." The woman with the bleeding problem--it
went away immediately. Jesus healed ten lepers
instantaneously. The crippled man at the Pool of Bethesda,
immediately became well.
3. Jesus healed totally.
When someone was healed they were totally and completely
healed--the only kind of healing Jesus ever did. He didn't
partially heal. He healed totally.
4. He healed anybody.
You didn't have to have a long line of people filling out
cards. And He certainly didn't have a whole group of people
who came into the meeting in wheelchairs and left in
wheelchairs (if they had wheelchairs, or crutches, or
whatever). Luke 4:40 says, "While the Sun was setting, all
who had any sick with various diseases brought them to Him; and
laying His hands on everyone of them, He was healing them."
It's an incredible thing. He healed everybody. He healed
everybody instantaneously. He healed everybody totally and
He healed everybody with a word. There wasn't some falderal
there was just a word!
5. He healed organic disease.
He didn't just go around Palestine healing lower back pain,
heart palpitations, headaches, and other things like that.
He healed the most obvious organic disease; crippled bent
legs, withered hands, blind eyes, paralysis.
6. He raised the dead.
He raised the dead. He came up on a funeral and he raised
the dead! You remember that? Here comes the funeral
procession; the widow is going to bury her son and Jesus
stops the procession, touches the casket and says, "Young
man, arise!" and the dead man sat up and began to speak. Now, I
will tell you something, people who tout the gift of healing
today don't spend a lot of time in funeral processions; the
reason is obvious. And you need to note, by the way, that
Jesus did virtually all His healings and raising the dead in
public before vast crowds of people. Why? Because the gift
of healing was real and it was an authenticating gift. He
used it to confirm the claim that He was the Son of God in a way
that displayed His power and compassion.
Then we ask the question, "How did the disciples or apostles
heal? How did they heal? How did the Twelve, and the Seventy,
and others who worked with them, like Barnabas, and Philip, and
Stephen?" And those are the only ones; it didn't just run
rampant through everybody in the Church. But those people who
had that gift; how did they heal? How did they do it? Well, the
same way; they healed with a word or a touch. We see that in
the Book of Acts: they healed instantaneously, immediately.
Remember the temple gate with Peter and John? The man
immediately went to his feet, started leaping, walking, and
praising God. They healed totally, not partial, total. They
healed everybody. In fact, people who got under Peter's shadow
got healed! They healed organic disease, not just functional,
psychosomatic, symptomatic problems, and the apostles even
raised the dead. Now, nobody is exhibiting those six traits in
a healing ministry today. So if this is supposed to be the
recapturing of the Apostolic era it is really "out of sync" with
And a final note; according to Scripture, those who possess those
abilities to heal could use their gift at will. That's not true
of the contemporary healers because they don't have that gift.
They play games with people's minds--the power of suggestion.
They prey upon people, making them believe things that aren't
really true and they use deception. Look at the Apostle Paul,
in Philippians 2, he mentions that his good friend Epaphroditus
was very sick. Now, Paul had previously displayed the ability
to heal, but he doesn't heal Epaphroditus. It's fair to say
that, maybe, that gift was passing out of operation, but it is
sure fair to say that the gift of healing was never (listen
carefully) intended to keep Christians happy and healthy! In
fact, you look through the New Testament and find out how many
healings occurred to believers--absolutely rare--Peter's wife
mother, Dorcas. [But there were] masses of unbelievers; masses
of people who may or may not have believed anything about Christ
or the Apostles. But it surely wasn't given to keep everybody
in the Church healthy; and yet today it is being portrayed as
something that is supposed to be done for believers to keep them
healthy, to show them that in the atonement is their healing:
totally foreign to Scripture.
Second Timothy 4:20, Paul mentioned he that he left Trophimus
sick at Miletus; now, why leave a good friend sick? Why did he
leave his Christian friend sick? Why didn't he heal him? Well,
maybe he didn't have that ability as the time passed on out of
the Apostolic era, but for sure he recognized that healing was
not something you run around doing for your Christian friends.
It was never intended as a permanent way to keep the Church
healthy; yet today Charismatics teach that God wants every
Christian well all the time. If that is true, then why did He
let them get sick to start with? It seems a basic question.
God didn't give you an HMO in your salvation, a sort of
supernatural HMO that works automatically. God heals when He
wants and when He wishes, but that's up to Him.
Has God promised to heal everybody who has faith? He doesn't
promise that He will always heal, but I think the Christian can
look to heaven for healing. Now, I want to turn the table a
little bit as I close in the next couple of minutes. I think
that we can go to the Lord for healing. I think that we can
pray to Him for deliverance from disease, and I do believe that
there are times when God touches us. Sometimes He heals through
medicine, sometimes He heals through surgery, sometimes He heals
through natural process working in the body. The body is an
amazing self-healing thing. And sometimes He may just heal
supernaturally because it is His will, and we can look to heaven
for that. We can cry out to God in our sickness and ask for His
healing. I would suggest that there are three reasons why we
could expect that God might heal:
1. He might heal because of His person.
You remember his Old Testament name, that wonderful name:
it's really Yahweh Rapecca (sp.)--The Lord that Heals. God
heals because of His person. "I the Lord am your healer,"
He told the Israelites. And the very fact that when Jesus
came into the world He could have done a lot of different
miracles. I mean if He wanted to convince people about His
Messiahship He could have just flown around, and He could have
said, "See, I can do this, and who else can do this?" Or He
could have jumped a building at a single bound, or flown
faster than a speeding bullet, or He could have put on a
"Superman Show" and everybody would have been in awe of
that. But why did he choose to heal people? Because He was
demonstrating His compassion, and a compassionate God has a heart
to heal. And I think that we have experienced that at times
in our life; God raises up someone from sickness.
2. God heals because of His promise.
He says, "Whatever we ask in His name, believing and
according to His will, He will do it." And there must be
times when He will do that. There is certainly a
description in James 5 of a broken, shattered, devastated
person, who goes in for prayer. The elders gather around that
individual and while the pain of that situation is spiritual it
has tremendous physical ramifications, and through prayer
that person is restored. "The effectual fervent prayer
avails much." If in God's will He has designed that [then]
He will do that because of His promise.
3. God heals because that is His pattern.
It is true that in the atonement God bore our diseases,
Matthew 8 says it. Matthew 8 says, "He Himself took our
infirmities, and carried away our diseases." Now, we have
already discussed 1 Peter 2:24 and I won't do it again; it
doesn't mean that healing for every sickness is in the
atonement for now! But healing for every sickness is in the
atonement for someday--isn't it? And someday He will remove
all of those diseases. Ultimately, eternally we will be
delivered from sickness and infirmity. And it may just be
that He would chose because of that pattern of providing a
salvation that ultimately delivers us from bodily infirmity
when we get a glorified body, that maybe He will give us a taste
of "Glory Divine."
God may heal. That poses the final question, "Should a Christian
go to the doctor?" And we come all the way back to Hobart
Freeman again. We would never advocate such idiocy. You say,
"Well, does the Bible say anything about this?" Sure, read
Isaiah 38. Not now. I knew that you would do that; your heads
just go right down--that's good. Pavlov's dogs! Just instant
response. That's not derogatory, by the way, that's trained
response. In Isaiah 38, King Hezekiah was deathly ill, and you
remember the king was crying, and he was crying tears, and then
he was crying to the Lord, and God answered his request. And he
says this, "Let them take a cake of figs and apply it to the
boil, that he may recover." Isn't that good? That's what we
used to call a poultice. Right? Now, God is saying, "Do the
medical thing." In Matthew 9:12, Jesus confirmed the same idea
when He said this, "It is not those who are healthy who need a
physician, but those who are sick." And so the Lord has given
us that instruction also.
Now, in closing, I simply say, I want to reiterate that I believe
that God can heal. God can do anything He wants to do. I do
not believe the gift of healing is for today because it was to
authenticate the Biblical message and messenger. That is in
place; it needs no more authentication then the authentication
given to it by the Spirit of God to the heart of the reader.
But I do believe that God may in His grace chose to heal, and we
have every right to pray for that, and at the same time seek the
finest medical help that we can because to Lord desires us to do
that as well.
Let's pray. Father, thank you for letting us cover all of this
tonight. Our minds are full of these considerations. Lord, we
would not at all be ungracious to the many people who are
victims of these kinds of things. And even Lord, there may be
some in these movements who are well meaning and well
intentioned, who for some reason or other believe that these
things really are happening.
Lord, we would pray for those who have a true and a pure
intention, and who are genuinely believing that this is true,
that You would show them the truth of Your word and help them to
see the light. And then Lord, for those who are just playing
with the hearts and minds and the wallets of people, that you
would cause them to be struck with the truth of what they are
doing. To be literally stopped in their tracks by the fear of
God, as they would misrepresent You.
Lord, we pray for Your Church to be discerning, clear minded.
And then Lord, even as we close tonight, we would remember to
pray for those in our congregation who have physical illness,
disability, physical pain and suffering, some with even the
diagnosis of a fatal disease, that Lord, You would be gracious
to them. We know that You are going to heal them someday, and
if it would suit Your glorious purpose and bring honor to the
name of Jesus Christ, we would ask that you heal them now; that
You might receive glory for that. But if not, that You might
give them the grace to acknowledge Your perfect will. And help
us to know Lord that it is not through these kinds of miraculous
things that people are going to believe the truth. It is
through hearing about Jesus Christ and reading the Scripture and
having it presented to them, not only on the page but through the
work of the Holy Spirit in their hearts, that they shall come to
the truth. And so may we faithfully proclaim this word, which
can authenticate itself by the Holy Spirit to the heart of one
Thank You again Father for the clear word that You do care and
that there is a day of healing coming for us all. We rejoice in
anticipation of it, in Christ's name. Amen.
Transcribed by Tony Capoccia of
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