Is there a Gift of Healing Today?
By: Scott Morton
This is a question that many people ask. Everyone can think of someone that would be able to benefit from this gift, if it is still in effect today. It would be an easy answer for people to have, as many people suffer from various afflictions.
There are numerous ministries that proclaim that this gift is currently in effect. I am taking great care to not name any names of ministries or trying to go out of my way to offend someone with this article. They state there is evidence that people have been healed of the problems they have been dealing with. When a person states they were not healed, there are explanations that are given to state the reason the person that was not healed. The reasons that are usually given is that either the person did not have enough faith in order to have this gift take effect in their lives, or there is some unconfused sin that the person has that is preventing the healing from taking place.
In this article we are going to take a look at the gift of healing and attempt to answer the question of if this is in effect today. This question needs to be answered in order to give the encouragement to people that are going through physical afflictions, no matter what the answer to this question is.
The place to start with any type of study of healing is with the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ. This is because there are numerous passages that can be used to describe this gift. We will take a look at some of these passages in order to get a sense of what Jesus was doing during this time.
One of the first passages we are going to look at is the passage in John 4:43-54. This was the second miracle that is recorded in John, with the first being the turning of water into wine in John 2. One of the key elements that is seen in this passage was that the nobleman came to Jesus in order to convince Him to come to perform the healing. There was a complete belief that there could be a healing. We also see a mention of the fact that Jesus knew that they would only believe that He was who He said He was based on the fact that miracles (signs) were being performed. This ties in with the mention that Paul makes in 1 Corinthians 1:22 that the Jews required a sign. There needed to be more than just faith in order for the members of the nation of Israel to believe.
The miracles were performed in various passages in the four gospels. These healings showed the fact that there were large multitudes of people that received this gift.
And when Jesus was come into Peter's house, he saw his wife's mother laid, and sick of a fever.  And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered unto them.  When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick:  That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.
Now when the sun was setting, all they that had any sick with divers diseases brought them unto him; and he laid his hands on every one of them, and healed them.
These two passages show that all that came were healed. There is no evidence that Jesus became 'too tired' to perform another healing or that there was a healing that was too tough for him to do. There is a passage that seems to say this and we need to take a look at this.
And he cometh to Bethsaida; and they bring a blind man unto him, and besought him to touch him.  And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands upon him, he asked him if he saw ought.  And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking.  After that he put his hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly.  And he sent him away to his house, saying, Neither go into the town, nor tell it to any in the town.
Many people are confused by this passage. They will say that Jesus Christ was struggling to perform this miracle. If it were true that there was a struggle, this would mean that Jesus was not all powerful and that he was not God in the flesh. If this were the case, then He was not who the Bible says that He was, and then would not be our Saviour. This passage does say that the miracle was done in two steps, with one step being a partial restoration of sight. It was not until the second time that the individual was able to see perfectly.
The miracles that were performed by Christ during the earthly ministry were done in order to demonstrate the doctrine that had been taught. Christ had been with apostles and had been teaching them doctrine. In the earlier part of Mark 8, we see that they were still questioning what had been done. They were not able to see what was being done, even though they were eyewitnesses of everything that was going on. They could not see what was going on during the earthly ministry of Christ (the 1st time). It was not until after the death of Christ that they were able to see what was going on (Luke 24:44-48). This is what Jesus Christ was trying to demonstrate to his followers, that they were not really seeing what was going on, but they were going to see the true meaning of things at a later point.
The healing miracles were done on people that were known to have been sick. There was nothing done on someone that would have been possibly sick, or just had a temporary affliction that would have went away. These healings were done on people that were known by all to have been sick and in need of some form of miracle for this to have went away. This is why it was recorded that the fame of Christ grew as a result of what was transpiring (Luke 5:12-16). There is also a key phrase that people that believe the healing miracles are still in place do not like to look at.
And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years,  And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse,  When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment.  For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole.  And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague.  And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes?  And his disciples said unto him, Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?  And he looked round about to see her that had done this thing.  But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth.  And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.
The key idea is that the woman is made whole. There are no continued problems that the person appears to still have. Many times the modern healing miracles never demonstrate the idea of being made whole. An example of this would be a person going to a healer and having their cancer 'healed'. However, the person still has to wear glasses due to poor vision and walks with a cane in order to improve their balance. The individual is said to have been healed, but the passage we just looked at says this could not be the case. They were not made whole, as glasses and a cane are still needed. This is not what some would call nitpicking, but is an honest assessment of the passages that deal with healings.
It is also important to look at the reason that the healings were being performed. This would give the reasoning that we should follow if these healings are still being performed today.
Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.  Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert.
This passage is dealing with the prophetic program related to the nation of Israel. It is talking about the establishment of the kingdom here on earth, which was one of the promises that had been made to Israel (the fulfillment of the Abrahamic and Davidic Covenants). These covenants are something that the Body of Christ is said to be strangers from (Ephesians 2:11-12) and cannot apply to us today. Christ is going to come and establish a literal, physical kingdom on planet earth for the nation of Israel, but the promises for the Body of Christ are related to spiritual blessings in heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3).
In order to establish a kingdom on earth, the nation of Israel had to be ready to receive it. They are instructed that they will be a kingdom of priests (Exodus 19:6). In order for this to happen, the nation had to be in a position to have this occur for them. The nation had been overrun by some of the physical problems that are seen in the four gospel accounts. Jesus Christ performed the miracles that are referenced in the passages that have been discussed in order for the nation to be in a position to have the covenants fulfilled and the kingdom established.
There is also another issue that can be seen that healing was needed for. It appears from some passages that physical problems were linked to the issue of sin.
And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.  And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?  Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.  I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.  As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.  When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay,  And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.
The disciples clearly understood this association, as is evidenced by their question in verse 2. Jesus answers them by saying that a sin had not been committed, but shows how this instance was given for the power of God to be made manifest among them. He never corrects the idea of sin having had any impact on a person having a physical ailment come about them. It is clear from the gospel accounts that Christ was able to forgive sins, something that is only attributed to God to be able to do. In fact, you see passages such as Psalms 19:7-12 where David is recording that he is praying to be cleansed of his sin.
Many people still will make a reference to the fact that this is still in place. In fact, when a person comes down with some form of illness, the first question that will be asked is what sin did the person commit or if there is a sin that they did not confess and make some form of atonement for. This will not apply if they get sick, as they will have some other reason for their own illness. It is important to note that the issue of sin has been taken care of for us today and this is not an issue (for further information on this important issue, please refer to the excellent article on identification that is also on this website).
As members of the Body of Christ and believers in the idea of rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15), we follow the instruction of the Apostle Paul. It is through his letters that we find our doctrine. However, there are some things about his early ministry that can cause some confusion when looking at some issues. Healing is one of these issues, as there are some things that are seen in his early ministry that are not found in what he does later on.
During his ministry in the book of Acts, there are several instances where we can see Paul performing healing. Let's look at one of these accounts:
And there sat a certain man at Lystra, impotent in his feet, being a cripple from his mother's womb, who never had walked:  The same heard Paul speak: who stedfastly beholding him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed,  Said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked.
The question that has to be asked is, is this any different than what had been seen performed by Jesus Christ in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, or the miracles that were performed by Peter in the early part of the book of Acts? There does not appear to be any difference to what we have already looked at. It clearly appears that Paul is doing exactly what the other people that were performing healing miracles were doing. We can also see Paul performing a healing where he actually raises an individual from the dead (Acts 20:8-12) and he is still performing these miracles while he is on the way to Roms (Acts 28:7-10). We even see Paul make mention of his healing ministry at the end of the book:
And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers,  Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive:  For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.  Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it.
Paul's ministry during the book of Acts demonstrates that he practiced healing miracles. How often has this been pointed out to someone that is trying to show that healing is not in place for today? The argument is that if Paul is our pattern (1 Timothy 1:16), we should be doing everything that he did during his ministry. This is especially relevant as shown by the list of gifts that Paul states are in effect in his epistle to the Corinthian church
Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.  And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.  And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.  But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.  For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;  To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;  To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:
These passages do show that healing has been in effect. It is also true that Paul is the pattern for members of the Body of Christ today, once a person becomes a member by believing the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). The problem comes from the idea that there is something that is called progressive revelation. This means that Paul did not receive all of the information related to the mystery at one time. Paul received this information a little bit at a time. He could only minister with the information that he had been given. This is why there are things that appear to contradict themselves in Paul's ministry. An example of this would be the fact that Paul did baptize people (Acts 16), but then would later state that he was glad that he had not been sent to baptize (1 Corinthians 1:14-17). The reason is that water baptism was not necessary, as there had been a replacement with the one baptism for the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13, Ephesians 4:4-6).
Can the same thing be said about the gift of healing? Paul does address the gifts that he had listed in 1 Corinthians 12. He talks about how long these gifts are going to last:
Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.  For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.  But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.  When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.  For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.  And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
Paul states that the gifts are not going to last. There is a timeframe given that will occur when the gifts are no longer needed. Paul identifies this as being when that which is perfect is come. That means that there is going to be something perfect that will be here that will replace the need for the gifts. Wouldn't it be nice to know that we have something that could be called perfect? Well, let me tell you that we do have this as a present possession today. In order to demonstrate this, let me put a quote from our doctrinal statement that shows this as the case.
15. The Gifts
We believe that all the following gifts being temporal in nature have ceased with the completion of Scripture. (All gifts listed in Romans 12:6-8, 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, Ephesians 4:11). We today have a perfect gift in the written Word of God. Though supernatural manifestations have ceased (1 Corinthians 13:8-10, Ephesians 4:11-16), the Word of God can and will produce in the yielded believer that which abides: faith (Romans 10:17), hope (Romans 5:2-5, 8:24, 15:4), and charity (1 Timothy 1:15). Because we are so gifted by God, every member of the Body of Christ can stand against doctrinal and personal compromise, and the traditions of men which can make the Word of God void. In the Dispensation of Grace, any spiritual need that could ever be met by means of supernatural gifts can now be met by the Holy Ghost working in the believer "to will and to do of his good pleasure." (Philippians 2:13). We do not look for men with supernatural endowments to minister the Word of God to the Church which is His Body, rather we look to the complete and infallible Word of God.
As you can see, the perfect gift is the completed Word of God. This means when Paul penned the last book and fulfilled the word (Colossians 1:25) there was no need for these gifts. This would include the gift of healing. It explains why you see in Paul's letters that he prescribed wine as a medicine (1 Timothy 5:23) and that he left people sick (2 Timothy 4:20).
The answer when a person is sick is not for them to look for a healing miracle. This is not what God would have us do. He would rather have us put things in His hands through prayer (Philippians 4:6-7). This is the only thing that we can do and rely on the fact that things are going to work out according to His will (Romans 8:26-28).