Healing is one of the most controversial subjects we can raise in the church. Yet there is no doubt that the Bible is filled with accounts of Jesus' healing miracles. It seems clear as well from the following three Scriptures that healing is a by-product of the stripes Jesus endured before going to the cross:
"But He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed" (Is. 53:5);
"They brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: 'He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses'" (Matt. 8:16-17);
"Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed" (1 Pet. 2:24).
Furthermore, the Christians in the early church experienced miracles of healing as well. In fact, health and prosperity were objects of prayer for the believers: "Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers," the apostle John wrote in 3 John 1:2.
When we look at the healing ministry of Jesus, we must also recognize the vital connection we have with it: We are His body on earth today (1 Cor. 3:16). Therefore, we must exhibit the same passion for healing that we have observed in Him.
Any examination of Jesus' healing miracles during His generation will reveal facts about how He healed and whom He healed. Note that the Bible shows us that He healed: by the Word; by the faith of the sick; to release service; to restore life; to deliver from demons; through the faith of others besides the sick; through the faith of the desperate and persistent; to reveal God (and God's heart); His enemies. Therefore, we as His body must release His healing power to our generation as well.
Releasing the Power
Knowing all this, there are still questions and controversy that swirl around ministries of healing. Questions often asked include: 1) Does God heal everyone? 2) Why are some people not healed? 3) Whose faith is necessary for healing: the sick person's, the minister's, both?
I confess I don't know all the answers. But I have searched the Scriptures so that I can know how God healed. In doing so, I've found 10 ways the church can release God's healing power:
1. Through the presence of the gifts and the anointing to heal. There are times when God releases the gifts of healing in certain places. In these instances, the anointing is so great that even clothes are used as points of contact. People are healed in a Spirit-saturated environment where gifts of healing are released.
"Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them" (Acts 19:11-12). "To another faith [is given] by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit" (1 Cor. 12:9). Clearly healing is a gift given for the benefit of the church and for the glory of God.
2. Through the laying on of hands. It is the privilege of every true believer to lay hands on the sick and pray for their recovery. When this is done, a spiritual transference takes place in the invisible realm. "They will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover" (Mark 16:18).
3. Through elders, prayer and anointing oil. Here the believer by his own volition calls for the pastors to pray over him. Confession of sin and heart preparation is necessary. The oil symbolizes the work of the Holy Spirit.
"Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord" (James 5:14).
4. Through speaking the Word to your sickness. Note carefully in the following verse that the believer must say clearly his need. This word must be spoken confidently. Here is a tool for you to keep using until the sickness leaves!
"For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be removed and be cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says" (Mark 11:23).
5. Through the power of agreement and healing. The reason God gave us the church was so that we could learn the power of agreement. Psalm 133 speaks of God's commanded blessing when two or more get into agreement about the will of God. You need for a church to come into agreement with you for your healing.
"Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them" (Matt. 18:19-20).
6. Through your own faith. Your own faith-saturated prayer can deliver healing to you. Faith will make plans and move on in spite of the sickness. "Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them" (Mark 11:24).
7. Through the name of Jesus. The name of Jesus is a powerful force against disease and devils. It is a veritable battering ram for knocking down the disease.
"And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it" (John 14:13-14).
"Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. 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 from those who entered the temple; who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms. And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, 'Look at us.' So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them.
"Then Peter said, 'Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.' And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them—walking, leaping and praising God" (Acts 3:1-8).
Notice it was the name of Jesus that brought healing.
8. Through praying for others. God brought total restoration to Job when he forgot self-interest and began to intercede for his wayward friends. In the midst of his intercession God gave him what he needed. "And the Lord restored Job's losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before" (Job 42:10).
9. Through the faith of others. Jesus healed a paralytic because of the faith of the man's friends. Jesus responded to their faith. Likewise believers can pray for others.
"When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, 'Son, your sins are forgiven you.' And some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, 'Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?'
"But immediately, when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves, He said to them, 'Why do you reason about these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, "Your sins are forgiven you," or to say, "Arise, take up your bed and walk"? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins'—He said to the paralytic, 'I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house'" (Mark 2:5-11).
10. Through medicine. God has built the human body with defense systems that respond to attacks by sickness and disease. Because He has placed healing processes in the body, God may use medicine to heal, aiding the natural defenses of the body.
Recently I had knee-replacement surgery. I was surprised that many brothers and sisters in Christ rebuked me for having this operation because I didn't rely solely on prayer and intercession for my healing.
I was disturbed by this until my friend Charles Carrin reminded me that it was Jesus Himself who said, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick" (Matt. 9:12). God uses myriad approaches to effect healing for His children, and most people can be healed unless it is time for them to go home to be with the Lord.
Ron Phillips is senior pastor of Abba's House (formerly Central Baptist Church) near Chattanooga, Tenn., where he has pastored since 1979. He is the author of more than 20 books.