If it is God’s will to heal all the time, then why don’t we see all get healed?
What about Job?
What about Trophimus and Timothy in the New Testament?
What about Paul himself? His thorn in the flesh?
And what of the fact that we don’t see healing happen all the time?
Same people pray for two people to be healed – one does get miraculously healed and another one doesn’t. Surely, that should make it clear to you that God wills for some to be healed and not others.
These were the same arguments I strongly defended for much of my life as a believer in Jesus.
That is until a few years ago, when the Holy Spirit took me on a journey of discovering my true identity in Jesus and my purpose in life as a disciple of Jesus.
Let’s start at the beginning…
When God created the world, everything He made was good.
The garden of Eden was paradise. There was no sin and no sickness. Dominion over the earth and all that was on earth was given to men. (Genesis 1:26, 28).
All of that was lost when Adam and Eve rebelled against God’s one very simple command.
Sin came into the world and with it, sickness and death.
Sickness and death were our punishment – a consequence for sin.
People became subjected to the law of sin and death.
All appeared desperately lost until Jesus, the innocent Lamb of God, became our sin, nailing the law of sin and death to the cross. (2 Corinthians 5:21, Colossians 2:13-14)
For most of my life as a Christian, I believed that Jesus came only to pay the penalty for our sin.
Sickness/disease was a norm in our lives because of the fallen nature of the world we live in, as we explained it.
I have heard of miraculous healings, but these testimonies were few. In fact, the sheer low count of these healings confirmed my belief that God’s will is to heal only some.
This belief began to crumble a few years ago when I was challenged to read the Bible with the Holy Spirit and not through the lens of men and their teachings. After all the Holy Spirit is the one that inspired the writers to pen the Scriptures…
I feel compelled to note that even prior to this challenge I could never reconcile some things in the Bible.
For instance, God is a supernatural God in the Old Testament. God is also a supernatural God in the New Testament. Why is it that all of a sudden God decides to really “tone it down,” so to say.
Reading about Jesus and his supernatural ministry on earth in the four Gospels, I could never fully understand the common explanations I heard about why we don’t see many miracles today.
“The miracles, signs, and wonders were done for the purpose of confirming/authenticating the Gospel.”
“The supernatural gifts (healing, prophecy, etc) of the Holy Spirit were given to the apostolic church in order to help establish the first church. Today we have the Bible and that is enough.”
“Only the evil generation is seeking signs and wonders.” (Matthew 12:39 is grossly taken out of context by many Christian believers and applied to those who are convinced that the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit have never ceased operating).
There were other inconsistencies between what I read in the Bible and how we practically implemented it into our lives.
One of examples that stands out the most is the passage from John 14:12-13, where Jesus gives his final teaching to His disciples before the cross.
“Whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”
“That was said to the disciples and it was only for the time of the apostolic church,” is the explanation I heard.
Are we not the disciples of Jesus?
Moreover, the argument that Jesus healed and did miracles only to confirm his Messianic mission does not make any sense to me.
Isn’t Jesus the same yesterday, today, and forever? (Hebrews 13:8)
As the Holy Spirit led me through reading God’s Word without the lens of what I have been taught by men and their interpretations, my entire doctrinal world began to shake.
I simply couldn’t live the same life anymore.
My whole Christian life until that moment became a conviction of the fact that although I called myself a disciple of Jesus, I wasn’t carrying out His teachings.
I was not being obedient to His words…
“If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me” (John 14:23-24).
“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well” (Mark 16:15-18). (Yes, I am aware that this passage is not found in some of the earliest manuscripts. However, it is not much different from what Jesus taught in the other passages).
Why do we conveniently pick out the part that we are comfortable with, applying it to ourselves, while leaving out the rest of the passage to the twelve apostles?
Why do we ignore some parts of Jesus’ teachings to his disciples applying them only to the twelve disciples of Jesus while applying only a part of His teachings given in the same passage to ourselves?
Seems to be a convenient way of releasing ourselves of some of our responsibilities…
We pride ourselves on our missionary work to spread the Gospel to the ends of the earth, forgetting that the Gospel is not just in word but in power. (1 Corinthians 4:20, 1 Thessalonians 1:5).
One of the greatest missionaries of all time, said this: “My speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (1 Cor. 2:4-5).
What was this “demonstration of the Spirit and of power?”
So, the argument that God purposed the miracles and healings only for the apostolic church does not make any sense to me.
Go to all the world and preach the Gospel. Yes, the church does this.
In the same passage it says, “These signs will accompany those that believe.”
Well, this doesn’t apply to our time, many say…
Do you call yourself a disciple of Jesus? Then it applies to you.
Do you know what being a disciple meant in the Middle Eastern concept of discipleship?
Being a disciple of a teacher meant that you imitate the teacher in everything, not just his words but his deeds as well.
John the Baptist had disciples who followed him. Pharisees also had their own disciples (Mark 2:18).
Before his ascension to heaven, Jesus gave his final instructions to the disciples:
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matt. 28:18-20)
Can it be any more clear than this?
First, Jesus called the twelve (Matthew 10:1). Then Jesus appointed seventy-two others disciples to spread the Gospel (Luke 10:1-12). And with his final instructions to the disciples, Jesus tells them to “go and make disciples of all nations.”
And again, do you call yourself a disciple of Jesus? Then do what He told us to do!
“These signs will accompany those who believe.” Do you believe? Then praying for the sick applies to you.
The Bible is very clear on this actually, as it is also clear on God’s will for healing.
Let’s take a look at the Old Testament first.
When I read the Old Testament, I read it from the perspective of the New Testament, keeping in mind that the people in the OT are still under the law of sin and death. They are living under the Old Covenant God made with his people.
What boggles my mind is that even in the OT, under the subjection of law and death, at a time prior to atonement, God’s Word is clear in regards to God’s will on healing.
“You shall serve the LORD your God, and he will bless your bread and your water, and I will take sickness away from among you” (Exodus 23:25).
In Deuteronomy 7:12-15, God is saying that He will take away sickness from those who serve Him.
Further, God gives a list of all the curses that will fall upon those who choose not to listen/obey His laws in Deuteronomy 28:15-69. The reason for these sicknesses is to destroy and not bless those who disobey God, as written in verse 61. Moreover, this verse states that ALL of the afflictions/diseases are a curse for disobeying God, even all of diseases that are not listed in the passage.
It appears that God was using sickness to punish those who disobeyed His law. An affliction/disease was meant to be a deterrent (or an example) for others not to disobey God as well.
So, when well-meaning and sincere Christians say that their sickness is a blessing, this is not supported by the Bible, because sickness was almost always associated with a curse and the opposite of life and blessing (Deuteronomy 30:19).
From 2 Chronicles 21, we can see that God used sickness as punishment for sin and as a warning to others not to sin. In this passage, God did not bless Jehoram, but instead punished him for sin with a horrible disease of the bowels that killed him over the course of two years.
Isaiah 38 tells us about king Hezekiah becoming sick and hearing from the Lord that He will die. “Then the word of the Lord came to Isaiah: ‘Go and say to Hezekiah, Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will add fifteen years to your life'” (v. 4-5). In this case, Hezekiah’s sickness was healed after Hezekiah sought the Lord.
These are just a few examples of sickness being a curse of the law in the OT, not a blessing.
However, there are also examples of righteous people afflicted with sickness, like Job.
God Himself says that Job was being destroyed without cause (Job 2:3). However, Job’s friends on the other hand were insisting that Job was carrying out a punishment because of a grievous sin. This charge from Job’s friends caused the Lord to be so angry that He nearly wiped them off the face of the earth (Job 42).
Many Christians often quote Job as an argument against God’s will for healing. Since God “allowed” righteous Job to be afflicted with sorrow and sickness, therefore it would make logical sense that if sickness befalls on Christians today, it must be God’s will, they say.
Although this argument is one that I personally have used before, I cannot use it anymore in light of what the Holy Spirit revealed to me about sickness and God’s will on healing.
We have to remember that Job lived in the time before Jesus’ precious blood was shed to pay for the curse of law of sin and death on the cross. What I take away from Job is his unwavering faith in a God whom he had never seen before or perhaps never even read about. (There is a lot of debate about when the book of Job was written with some pointing to before Moses and others to the early Second Temple period).
“Though He slay me, I will hope in Him.”
What a powerful quote! Coming from a man who did not have all of the books of the Bible we have today. Job did NOT have the full revelation of who God is through Jesus!
Jesus is the visible image of an invisible God (Col. 1:15).
We live in the time after God has spoken through His Son, “who is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” (Hebrews 1:1-4).
Everything Jesus did, everything He said was a perfect and full representation of God’s heart and His will for us.
Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves. “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it” (John 14:8-14).
One only has to read through the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ ministry on earth to see that God’s desire and His will is to heal all the time.
There are a total of 14 examples where Jesus healed all the sick who were present where He was. The following are just a few of those.
“That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick” (Matt. 8:16).
“Many followed him, and he healed them all” (Matt. 12:15).
“Now when the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to him, and he laid his hands on every one of them and healed them” (Luke 4:40).
Further passages to look over are Matthew 9:35, Matthew 14:14, Matthew 14:34-36, Matthew 15:30-31, Matthew 19:2, Matthew 21:14, Mark 6:56, Luke 6:17-19, Luke 9:11, and Luke 17:12-17.
These citations are not exhaustive of all the examples when Jesus healed those who came to him seeking healing.
There are many believers today who would claim that Jesus healed for the only reason of affirming Himself as the Messiah.
While it is true that many miracles and signs were done by Him for this reason, Jesus healed people because that was always God’s will and His heart for humanity. It still is!
Jesus healed out of compassion.
“When He went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and felt [profound] compassion for them and healed their sick” (Matt. 14:14 AMP).
Strong’s Dictionary defines the Greek word that stands for compassion (splagchnizomai) as “to be moved in the inward parts.” Jesus, seeing the large crowd, was moved with compassion for them, a feeling so strong that He felt it in the pit of his stomach.
“Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him” (Matt. 20:34 NIV).
“Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed” (Mark 1:41 NASB).
Jesus healed all that came to Him for healing, NEVER turning anyone away.
Jesus healed because he came to give COMPLETE freedom from the law of sin and death.
One day Jesus was in a synagogue and a scroll of Isaiah was handed to Him.
He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:17-21).
Although I have always been taught to interpret this passage only as Jesus giving us freedom from sin, the Holy Spirit taught me that Jesus came to give us full freedom and healing – body, mind, and soul.
The atonement on the cross was always two-fold: blood shed for our sins and body bruised for the curse of the sin (sickness/disease). This revelation has deepened my understanding of communion in a whole new way.
“But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.” (Is. 53:5 NIV)
His blood shed for your sins… His body bruised… By His wounds you are healed…
Most Christians take part in communion every month or so.
What does communion mean to you?
“And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood'” (Luke 22:19-20).
What did Paul mean when he wrote about taking part in remembering Jesus’ sacrifice?
“For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died” (1 Corinthians 11:23-30).
Could it be that Paul is giving us a clear reason for why many Christian believers are sick?
I am not saying that we should blame the ill believer for his/her sickness. Again, I am only making a connection to the full scope of the price Jesus paid for our sin.
“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5 NIV).
If you still have any doubt as to the truth of this connection between Jesus physically healing the sick and the prophecy of Isaiah 53:5, read Matthew 8.
“When Jesus came into Peter’s house, he saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him. When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “He took up our infirmities and bore our diseases“ (Matthew 8:14-17).
I fail to find adequate words to express the state of my mind and heart when these truths were revealed to me…
However, the enemy is always ready to steal what was just sown. After this revelation, I went through months and even years of wrestling between holding on to this newly revealed truth or going back to what I have always believed.
It definitely seemed so much easier to believe what I have always believed. After all, most people I have prayed for did not get healed. At least I didn’t see it happen. Moreover, most Christian believers I knew were not seeing the same truth I began to see and the lack of support was sometimes too heavy to bear. However, I could never unsee what the Holy Spirit showed me, and I kept wrestling with the arguments for and against God’s will to always heal.
As I wrestled through this, crying out to the Lord for clarity, the Holy Spirit led me to Scripture, over and over again…
Reading through the book of Psalms I came to Psalm 103.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases.
A long time before Jesus, David prophesied about the two-fold atonement: Forgiveness of sin and freedom from the curse of sin…
However, there are many modern day theologians, pastors, and teachers who argue that this passage absolutely does not mean that it is God’s will to heal all of our diseases.
Thankfully, God is not moved by our shortcomings. It turns out He even has a good sense of humor!
This video includes an audio recording of a pastor who was healed while teaching on Psalm 103 with a belief that God does not heal all of our diseases:
I thank the Holy Spirit for opening up Psalm 103 to me in a whole new way, connecting it with Isaiah 53:5 and the entire Gospel!
By this time, I hope that I have provided sufficient support for why I believe it is God’s will to heal all the time.
However, many of you may still ask, “What about Paul’s thorn in the flesh?”
“And why did Paul leave Trophimus sick and not heal him?”
“Why did Paul advise Timothy to take a little wine for his frequent stomach ailments?”
First of all, Jesus is our ultimate model.
Jesus is the head of the church. As the disciples of Christ, we follow HIM. We represent HIM and his teachings.
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you” (John 20:21).
I can extensively go into why I believe Paul’s thorn in the flesh in context means constant persecution against him because of his zeal to spread the Gospel to the ends of the earth.
I can also go into the probability that plain drinking water was contaminated in the times of the apostolic church and Paul was simply giving practical health advice to Timothy to prevent his frequent stomach ailments.
Also, the example of Paul leaving Trophimus sick doesn’t change my view on God’s will for healing. For all we know Paul must have prayed over Trophimus and left him before seeing the healing. Either way, one sentence in 2 Timothy 4:20 does not change what I see in an overwhelming number of passages about Jesus revealing to us God’s Will on healing.
Bottom line is: Our personal life experiences should NEVER make us reinterpret what God’s Word says. Just because we see a lack of supernatural healings, does not mean that God does not will to heal all the time.
Perhaps the answer is similar to the question we can pose from 1 Timothy 2:4?
If it is God’s desire and His will that all should be saved, why don’t all people get saved?
In a similar way, if it is God’s will that all be healed, why don’t all get healed?
I cannot pretend that I have it all figured out.
I do not.
I wrestle with questions a lot of the time.
Why didn’t God heal Nabeel Qureshi for example?
However, while I can wrestle with these questions, I can also rest in knowing that all my questions will be answered once I see my Savior face to face.
Together with thousands of other believers, Nabeel’s wife Michelle prayed for him to be healed from terminal stomach cancer. On September 16, 2017 Nabeel went home to be with Jesus.
Since Nabeel’s death, Michelle released an encouraging video statement of how I believe every believer in Jesus should obey what Jesus taught us to do:
Just like Michelle, I don’t need to have everything figured out.
The Lord calls me to be obedient to what He told us to do.
I am not going to question God’s motives or His intentions when I don’t see a result when praying for someone to be healed.
God is the one who heals. Not me.
But I will pray for the sick, each time believing that it is God’s will to heal.
“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way” (Eph. 1:18-23 NIV).
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