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Matthew 4:23 And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.
24 And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them.
I would that they did have this power today but, I have to say in all the 50+ years of my adult life, I have never seen a newspaper headline or a news bulletin which began ‘Pastor/Evangelist/Bishop HEALS...’
Neither have I seen a follow-up interview 5 or 10 years on of a person healed of some serious infirmity by a Pastor/Evangelist/Bishop...
We don’t see Pastors/Evangelists/Bishops visiting hospitals in order to heal people.What I believe is this.Jesus healed because he had the Holy Spirit - the power of God - at his command.
Matthew 3:16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:
Luke 4:40 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.
Luke 5:17 And it came to pass on a certain day, as he was teaching, that there were Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by, which were come out of every town of Galilee, and Judaea, and Jerusalem: and the power of the Lord was present to heal them.
This power was made available to the disciples for a time during Jesus’ ministry.
Matthew 10:1 And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.
5 These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not:
6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
7 And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.
8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.
At Pentecost the same disciples (with Matthias replacing Judas) and others were baptised with the Holy Spirit.Peter and John were able to heal a lame man.
Acts 3:11 And as the lame man which was healed held Peter and John, all the people ran together unto them in the porch that is called Solomon’s, greatly wondering.
12 And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk?
From this we see that the power was not of themselves, but that God did the healing through them.
Acts 4:29 And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word,
30 By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus.
If we compare the healing recorded in the New Testament with today we see a marked difference.
In the first century, infirmities which cannot be tackled by modern medical science were cured with a word.
Looking more closely at the healing by Peter and John.
Acts 3:1 Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.
2 And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple;
3 Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms.
4 And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us.
5 And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them.
6 Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.
7 And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.
8 And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.
That a miracle was performed was without question and Peter uses it to preach the gospel to the people who knew the man, had seen him begging for years at the Temple and had no doubt that a miraculous cure had been performed. The man was 40 years old.
If such miracles were being done today, it would be in the papers, on television and the church would be filled.
Acts 5:12 And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; ....
15 Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them.
16 There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one.
We do not see this today.The general public do not queue up at the church and line the streets with their sick to catch the shadow of a passing Pastor/Evangelist/Bishop.
Acts 19:11 And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul:
12 So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them.
We do not see this today.Pastor’s/Evangelist’s/Bishop’s handkerchiefs are not used to cure the sick.
Peter cured a paralytic.
Acts 9:32 And it came to pass, as Peter passed throughout all quarters, he came down also to the saints which dwelt at Lydda.
33 And there he found a certain man named Æneas, which had kept his bed eight years, and was sick of the palsy.
34 And Peter said unto him, Æneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole: arise, and make thy bed. And he arose immediately.
35 And all that dwelt at Lydda and Saron saw him, and turned to the Lord.
We don’t seePastors/Evangelists/Bishops today curing paralytics and causing people to turn to God.
Peter raised the dead.
Acts 9: 36 Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did.
37 And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died: whom when they had washed, they laid her in an upper chamber.
38 And forasmuch as Lydda was nigh to Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent unto him two men, desiring him that he would not delay to come to them.
39 Then Peter arose and went with them. When he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber: and all the widows stood by him weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them.
40 But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up.
41 And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive.
42 And it was known throughout all Joppa; and many believed in the Lord.
Paul raised the dead.
Acts 20:9 And there sat in a window a certain young man named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep: and as Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with sleep, and fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead.
10 And Paul went down, and fell on him, and embracing him said, Trouble not yourselves; for his life is in him.
11 When he therefore was come up again, and had broken bread, and eaten, and talked a long while, even till break of day, so he departed.
12 And they brought the young man alive, and were not a little comforted.
No one raises the dead today.
Philip healed cripples, paralytics and mental illnesses.
Acts 8:5 Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.
6 And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.
7 For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed.
8 And there was great joy in that city.
Thisdoesn’t happen today.People are not brought out of mental hospitals and taken to Pastors/Evangelists/Bishops to be healed.Whole cities do not rejoice because the paralysed and lame are healed.
Why the difference?
We have to ask why the difference? Could it be that the Holy Spirit gifts are not actually available today?
If we look in more detail at the New Testament record we find the following:
In the case of the Samaritans, the Holy Spirit gifts were not given at baptism. Philip (who had Holy Spirit gifts) could not confer them. The Apostles had to come from Jerusalem to lay their hands on them.
Acts 8:12 But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.
14 Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:
15 Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:
16 (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)
17 Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.
This fact did not go unnoticed by Simon the sorcerer.
18 And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money,
19 Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.
If the baptised Samaritans required the Apostles to lay hands on them before they could receive the Holy Spirit, (Philip who had worked miracles, converted and baptised them couldn’t do it) how does this agree with what is said about receiving the Holy Spirit gifts today?
The baptised Ephesians required the laying on of the hands of Paul.
Acts 19:4 Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.
5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.
7 And all the men were about twelve.
That the pouring out of the Holy Spirit on believers was NOT the norm is illustrated in the case of Cornelius. The fact that it happened was a sign to the Apostles from God that they were to extend their preaching to the Gentiles. They were astonished; it comes into the category of a special case.
From Peter’s words we can see that it was only the second time it had happened.
Acts 11:15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning.
It jogged his memory
16 Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.
If only the Apostles could confer gifts of the Holy Spirit by the laying on of hands and those like Philip who received the gifts could not pass them on; it would follow that Holy Spirit gifts ceased with the death of the second generation of first century Christians.
If we consider the primary purpose of the Holy Spirit gifts we obtain another perspective.
The prime purpose of the baptism with the Holy Spirit was to bring the whole of Christ’s teaching to the apostles’ remembrance and to guide them into truth.
John 14:26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
It gave the apostles total recall of Jesus’ teaching over the 3.1/2 years they were with him so that they could preach the truth.
John 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
Its secondary purpose was a sign from God that the gospel preached by the apostles was the truth.The miracles of healing were God’s testimony to the truth that they preached.When the New Testament was complete the truth was available in written form and the Church was established.Today there are many churches which profess to have members with the Holy Spirit but it is evident that they do not all preach the same gospel.
Is God then the author of confusion? Is he allowing his power to be used to demonstrate the truth of any old gospel?Or is it not more reasonable to suppose that they don’t preach the truth and the claim to be able to heal is in fact false?
Galatians 1:8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
Preaching the true gospel is a serious undertaking.Would it not be prudent on our part to put their claims of healing to one side and compare the gospel they preach with that preached by Paul?
Which is more sensible? - To believe their gospel because they claim to be able to heal? Or to believe their gospel because it agrees with what we find in the Bible?
In the end it is not gifts of healing which save us; it is belief and obedience to the true gospel.
Mark 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved...
I hope this helps.