I observe that Christians desire no spiritual gifts more than the gifts of healings. This isn’t surprising since everyone has personal experiences in their surroundings with sickness and affliction.
It is interesting that Paul uses the twofold plural “gifts of healings” in 1 Corinthians 12:9, is it not? I like that. With this, he points out that there is not one gift of healing that can be defined clearly. Instead, there are healing gifts that can obviously operate in multiple ways and can have effects of varying intensity. There is not one irrevocable healing gift a Christian has access to in order to heal the sick freely. It is God’s spirit who gives and activates these gifts as HE wills. Therefore, even concerning this gift the person gifted with the Spirit is directly dependent on God’s spirit.
The foundation for the usage of these healing gifts comes from the situation that, on the one hand we live in a fallen world that is not perfect and therefore has to struggle to cope with sickness, but on the other hand, God wants to work in our world and give healing. The overall testimony of the Holy Scripture is obvious: God wants us to be well. He is interested in our overall well-being.
“For I am the Lord, who heals you.”
Exodus 15:26 (NIV, as all verses of Scripture in this article)
“The Lord will sustain him on his sickbed and restore him from his bed of illness.”
“I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak.”
This fundamental intention of God to heal does not imply that every sick person has turned away from God’s will. On the contrary: One can be in the center of God’s will and still be sick. To postulate a mechanistic automatism of healing for everyone who believes would neither comply with the testimony of the Bible nor with the lessons life teaches us. For many years, I have been praying resolutely and boldly for the sick. Many times I have seen God heal people, but at the same time I have been suffering from strong allergies for years. Even though I have suffered a lot of reproach because of this I am not letting myself get discouraged. God remains sovereign. And I remain modest.
The testimony of the Old Testament is further increased in Christ Jesus. Healing the sick is a central part of Jesus’ mission. I neither consider this assignment to only refer to healing physical sicknesses nor to only healing mental and spiritual sicknesses. Jesus’ goal is the overall well-being of man and he intends to restore him completely.
“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.”
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed.”
“Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.”
3 John 2
Finally, Jesus goes to an even higher level by passing on the assignment of healing the sick to his disciples. By doing this he highlights that despite his work of redemption on the cross there will still be sick people for whom there can be diverse possibilities for healing.
“They will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”
“Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God is near you.’”
“Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up.”
This common thread of God’s intention to heal can be seen throughout the entire Holy Scripture. It is the foundation that we pray for the sick and that God through his spirit wants to distribute gifts of healings. In this first article my intention was to emphasize this one idea: God wants to heal. In the second article I will also speak about the complexity and variety of both sickness and healing.