By Eleanor F. Miles
On Facebook there was a recent quote saying, “You will never see healing evangelists working in hospitals for the same reason you will never see psychics winning the lottery, because they are a fraud.” It was a grievous statement, for though many psychics are frauds; there are legitimate healing evangelists and testimonies of people in hospitals being healed. What made it more grievous is that it was posted by another Christian, and not an unbeliever. Dr. Thimell is right, “Anyone who tries to launch a healing minister today will face obstacles,” as “many people in modern society do not believe in miracles because they no longer believe that there is a God.” Sadly, this secular world view “supports even Christian skepticism about healing,” (Blue 51) and influences theological works and evangelical seminaries (Wimber 9). Secularism is also a major reason we do not see many miracles in the Western countries, whereas miracles are commonplace in Third World countries. However, Divine Healing does not have to be restricted to Third World countries, and we can participate in the healing ministry of Yeshua.
Theological Foundations of Sharing in Healing Ministry
The theological foundations for preaching the gospel and sharing in healing can be seen in Yeshua’s healing ministry, the commissioning of His disciples, and their instructions to the churches, indicating their continuation. Healing needs to remain in the context of the Gospel. Though sin, sickness, and death entered the world through Adam, God desires wholeness found in His perfect shalom. It is important to understand that Yeshua is the “exegesis” or revelation of the Father (Blue 73), and that he demonstrates the deep gut-wrenching compassion of his Father, (Blue 77). The Gospels continually point out how Yeshua was moved with compassion, and went about healing every kind of disease and sickness. His miracles not only revealed God, but also brought about the Kingdom of God of which He was teaching and preaching to those he healed. Yeshua then commanded is disciples to preach the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick. Blue states this command “is more than an outline for the mission of the church, it reflects the will of his Father in heaven, specifically his Father’s will regarding sickness and healing,” (Blue 67).
In the Gospels, Yeshua commissioned his disciples to preach and heal on three different occasions. There was the commissioning of the twelve (Matt 10:1), the seventy-two (Luke 10:1-17), and then to his disciples before he ascended into heaven (Mark 16:15-20). With the commissioning of the twelve, “Yeshua called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.” He did the same with the seventy-two and they returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” The final commission was at his ascension (Mark 16:15-20) where He told them to preach the Gospel, and that these signs will follow those who believe: casting out demons, speaking in tongues, snakes and poison not hurting them, and being able to heal the sick. Some believers say Yeshua performed miracles only to verify he was the Messiah, and that healing only served as credentials for the disciples (Thimell Lesson 6). Even if that argument were valid, don’t we need credentials still today? They are signs that will follow those who believe. If the Gospel is for today, so is healing. Interesting how healing is part of the Good News and also confirms the Good News.
Wimber shares his struggle with believing for healing and then his vision of God’s mercy as honey available to everyone. Both Wimber and Blue address what Blue calls “Theological weeds” which hinder healing in the church. One such error is confusing sickness with persecution (Wimber 18, Blue 28), another is presuming God’s sovereignty (Wimber 156) or what Blue calls “Divine Determinism,” (Blue 34).
What Does Yeshua Heal?
Through Yeshua, God is interested in healing the whole person – whither from sin, the hurts of the past, those who are demonized, those who need physical healing of the body, or those who are dying or dead (Wimber 61). This wholeness is seen in the Hebrew word Shalom (peace), which is used to ask someone how they are doing, “mah sholmek? How is your peace?” Wimber shares about his wife having a lump in her breast and how inner (emotional) healing brought physical healing. Blue also points out how healing affects the whole person – emotionally, spiritually and physically, and how healing in one area will often affect another. Thimell points out how God wants to heal our relationships – to be at peace with Him and each other.
The Kingdom of God Here and Not Yet
Wrestling with the “here and not yet of the kingdom,” Blue compares the Kingdom of God to “D-Day” when the victory was sure for the allies, and “V-E Day” when the victory was finalized, (p.94). Wimber makes a great point that, “The fact that we are living between the first and second coming of Yeshua, what George Ladd call living between the ‘already and the not yet,’ provides the interpretive key for the understanding why the physical healing that Christ secured for us in our through the atonement is not always experienced today,”(Wimber 156). We have a future hope. If healing does not come now, it will in the age to come when ‘we will be changed’ and ‘the perishable will clothe itself with the imperishable and mortal with immortality,’ (Wimber 157).
We know that Yeshua is now seated at the right hand of the Father, but he is not yet enthroned on the earth. Yeshua taught us to pray, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Clearly God’s will is not fully accomplished in the earth yet. Yeshua wept over Jerusalem and said in Matt 23:37-39, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”
Dr. Thimell commented on Irving’s question about how much power of the ascended Messiah (Christ) is available to the church. He said, “The only way for the fullness of Christ’s power to be displayed would be for him to return in all his fullness, and that would be the Kingdom come in its totality. This brings us back to the realization that there is a tension in our experience as the church living in these days. We live in the tension between the Now and the Not Yet.”
The question is then, “Why not yet?” Yeshua answered this question in Matt 23:39, ” For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” which is confirmed by Zech 12:10 “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.” There is an interesting parallel between Yeshua and King David in 2 Sam 19:11-12, “King David sent this message to Zadok and Abiathar, the priests: “Ask the elders of Judah, ‘Why should you be the last to bring the king back to his palace, since what is being said throughout Israel has reached the king at his quarters? You are my relatives, my own flesh and blood. So why should you be the last to bring back the king?’”
Yeshua could have restored the Kingdom to Israel after his resurrection, but the Jewish leaders still rejected him, as he said they would in Luke 16:31, “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.” Here is the consequence of free will – no kingdom yet and Satan is free to continue enslaving people. The good news is that Israel’s rejection enabled the gentiles to be grafted into his kingdom, but their rejection is not final, as ALL of Israel WILL be saved, (see Romans 11). Those who accept him now get to experience his kingship now, but not fully until He returns.
Wimber’s and Blue’s Model for Healing
Yeshua demonstrated to his disciples how to heal and then commissioned them to heal. It was part of proclaiming the Kingdom of God and drew thousands of people to hear the good news. Sadly, over time healing has been down played by the church and believers have not been trained for the work of the ministry. Praise the Lord, He has found faithful servants throughout history to obey and take risk in praying for healing. Today we need His power more than ever in this secular world, so that our faith is not just a philosophy. Paul said in 1Cor 2:4-5, “My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.”
Shortly after John Wimber saw his first healing, he decided to develop a model to help train large numbers of Christians in the healing ministry. He warns not to copy his congregation’s program, but instead the principles and values that remain constant (Wimber 188). Wimber’s training model for healing consists of 5 steps, which Wimber says can be used anywhere (hotels, homes, airplanes, work office and church) and Blue states is compatible with all various traditions and denominations, making it easy to for those with little to no experience in healing the sick to become involved with the healing ministry. These five steps and the questions they answer are: (1) The Interview, “Where does it hurt?” (2) Diagnostic Decision, “Why does this person have this condition?” (3) Prayer Selection, “What kind of prayer is needed to help this person?” (4) Prayer Engagement, “How effective are our prayers?” and (5) Post-prayer Directions, “What should person do to remain healed?” or “What should person do if not healed?” (Wimber 199). Blue copies Wimber’s model, but breaks it up a little differently: (1) interviewing, (2) choosing a prayer strategy, (3) praying for specific results, (4) assessing the results, and (5) giving post prayer direction (Blue 125).
Their model fills in potential gaps. Often only three out of five steps are done, like interviewing, praying and assessing results. Sometimes we need to ask, “Why does this person have this condition?” as healing often comes when the person repents of sin in their life or through forgiving someone who has sinned against them. The latter can be very hard to do, but not impossible through Messiah Yeshua who himself forgave those who crucified him. Giving post-prayer direction is just as important as diagnosing. Blue gives an example of a woman who was healed when prayed for, but would continually get sick again because she was still engaging in sin. After diagnosing the cause of her illness (and she repented) they were able to give post-prayer direction of what she should do to remain healed. Then there is the case of those who are not healed. They may need to be reassured that God loves them and encouraged to seek more prayer with a prayer team, (Wimber 235). The church needs to get over its fear of praying for healing. Wimber and Blue are very encouraging, that even if God does not heal someone right away that the person who received prayer will still feel loved by the one who prayed. Our job is not to heal; it is to obey God who heals. We will have more authority as we are more obedient.
Wimber, J., Springer, K., Power Healing, Harper One, 2009.
Blue, K., Authority to Heal, IVP Books, Downers Grove, IL, 1987.