Dr. Milton Gordon | Ashland City, Tennessee
For many years, the Church of God of Prophecy has held to the teaching of divine healing provided for all in the atonement. Divine healing is defined, for this article, as healing miraculously completed by God through the efficacious work of Jesus Christ without the aid or assistance of medical science. Of course, there are many benefits from medical science that can aid a person’s health. Medical doctors of various types have been present throughout history. Luke is known as the beloved physician. Today, medical science has many treatments, surgical procedures, and medicines for helping people with their health. This does not detract from the fact that God miraculously heals.
One woman noted in the Scriptures spent all she had on doctors but only became worse. When she got to Jesus, she was healed instantly (Mark 5:25–34). With much thanksgiving and praise, my wife and I can testify to God’s healing of her broken foot, inside an emergency room on an examination table. It is also with great thanksgiving, that after two major cancers and surgeries, I am here to testify of God’s healing and preserving grace for the past 27 years. Everyone will leave this world in some way—cancer, heart attack, accidents, stroke, various other diseases, etc. The important thing is to be ready, to know Jesus Christ personally as Savior and Lord. The ultimate reason Jesus came to this earth is to bring us back to the Father. He proved His power many times, with many miracles.
The accounts in the Scriptures show that Jesus healed many people and gave His apostles and disciples the authority over the devil, to preach the Kingdom of God, to cure diseases, and to heal the sick (Luke 9:1–2). One verse states Jesus healed all that were brought to Him (Luke 6:19). Jesus prayed often. He prayed all night at times. He walked and lived on the earth for over 30 years as the Son of God /Son of man. As the Son of man, He walked and lived as a human, communing and communicating with His Father in prayer. His desire was to do His Father’s will and He did His Father’s will right to the cross, to the tomb, and rising again.
Luke 5:15–26 is an interesting account of Jesus ministry. Verse 15 tells us that Jesus fame spread abroad because he healed many and many more people were pressing in to be healed. Yet, verse 16 says, “And he withdrew himself in the wilderness, and prayed.” Jesus is our example of prayer. In His humanity, He surely must have felt the pressure of the multitudes pushing in on Him as well as the complaining, criticizing, accusing religious leaders. He knew when it was time to be alone and He felt the strong need to commune with His Father. Verse 17 notes that Jesus is teaching some time later. Religious leaders came out of every town of Galilee, and Judaea, and Jerusalem to see Him. It is remarkable to note that Jesus was continually about His Father’s business. Verse 17 continues, “and the power of the Lord was present to heal them.” Then, verse 18 gives the account of the man being brought on a bed by friends to be healed of palsy. They could not get to Jesus since so many were surrounding Him, so they let the man down through the roof of the house. Jesus saw the faith of the men and proclaimed, “Man, thy sins are forgiven thee” (Luke 5:20). Could the question be asked, “Does Jesus see our faith?” These four men were determined to get their friend to Jesus. Prayer and faith work hand in hand. As usual, the religious leaders were busy with their complaining, criticizing thoughts after Jesus told the man, “thy sins be forgiven.” He knew their thoughts. He let them know, that as the Son of man, it was just as easy to forgive sins as to heal. He then healed the man to show His power on earth to heal and to forgive sins. He has commissioned us, His disciples, to pray and believe for healing. Is prayer a last minute effort? Prayer is the catalyst of our faith in God.
Luke 18:1–8 covers the account of the parable of Jesus to show the need of persistent prayer. After emphasizing the persistence of the widow coming to the unjust judge for vindication (Luke 18:1–7), He asked the question, “When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8). Prayer is seeking God, His will, and favor. Faith is trusting God for His will and favor. Prayer and faith are inseparable just as truth and love are inseparable. The old song says, prayer is the key to heaven, but faith unlocks the door. The question that should be asked is not, “Can God heal or does God heal, but is there prayer to God and faith in God?” God does the healing. Jesus is the example to follow in seeking God, His will, and favor.
Mark 6:7–13 includes the commissioning of the disciples and the first account in the Scriptures of the disciples anointing with oil. They were following the commissioning of Jesus as they “cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them” (Mark 6:13). This first account of the disciples anointing the sick with oil and healing people parallels with James 5:14–16. James tells us, “Is any sick among you? 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). The oil has no healing power in and of itself without the power of the Holy Spirit. Oil in the Scripture represents the Holy Spirit. James advised the church to anoint with oil. Again, there is no healing power in the oil until, and unless, the anointing of the Holy Spirit is present and operating. There are other accounts of healing and deliverance from evil spirits as God performed miracles when handkerchiefs and aprons were brought from Paul’s body to the sick. The apostle Paul was a man of prayer and fasting. Prayer and faith work hand in hand. Prayer moves the heart to God, and God grants His power to heal, through faith in His Son.
The instruction of James to the Church continues today as the Scriptures admonish us to “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). James continues in verse 15, “And the prayer of faith shall save the sick.” Prayer and faith work hand in hand. It is not only prayer. James does not say just faith alone. He says the prayer of faith. The anointing with oil is in the name of the Lord, or in the authority and power of Jesus Christ. James continues, “and the Lord shall raise him (them) up.” Surely, we understand that the efficacious work of our Lord does the healing. The elders, the disciples of Christ pray. It has been said, and needs repeating, “The problem is not un-answered prayers, but un-prayed prayers.” Yet, it is not faith in our praying, it is faith in the One who does the healing. Further, this does not diminish the need to pray, it encourages the need to pray, for Jesus is our supreme example of prayer. James continues, “and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.” Our Lord does a complete work when He heals.
Finally, we hear James continue in verse 16, “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.” This is one instruction in the Scriptures that this author believes we are lacking in the church. Other Bible teachers, preachers, and ministers have expressed the same belief.1 Of course, no one, that I ever remember, has announced a confessional service time for the local church. Spiritually maturing disciples of Christ should be prepared and ready to confess, and to hear confessions of each other. James is clear that we should confess our faults to one another. The confession of the faults could be done to one another in some private way to trusted, mature, spiritual friends. This trusted friend is to pray for the confessor and trust that the efficacious work of Christ will do the healing. The confession opens the person to the work of the Holy Spirit through the finished work of Christ. The prayer of the person receiving the confession should be offered while considering their own struggles with faults and failures. Therefore, James concludes this section of Scripture with a most challenging word for elders and disciples of Christ. He says, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16). As strong men and women humble themselves and cry out to God, He will hear and answer. Again, Jesus is our supreme example of prayer. Again, prayer and faith go hand in hand. Those times of closet prayer are vital for the elders and the disciples of Christ to fervently seek the Lord, confess their own failures and faults, and be prayed up for the time to pray for those who need the healing of our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ. He still heals all types of disease, delivers from all evil spirits, binds up the broken heart, and gives the peace that only the Prince of Peace can give. To Him be glory now and forever.
1Thomas, John Christopher. The Devil, Disease, and Deliverance (pp. 312-313). CPT Press. Kindle Edition. Thomas asserts, “It appears that in some New Testament communities public confession was practiced. The fact that there is no place for such confession in many contemporary churches within Pentecostal and Charismatic circles is more an indication of the church’s superficiality and fragmentation than it is a sign of the early church’s naiveté or lack of sophistication. Part of the problem with appropriating such a practice today is that in many parts of the world, churches (within the Pentecostal/Charismatic tradition) are no longer communities, but rather collections of individuals. It would appear that the church has paid the price for failing to provide an opportunity for confession as a regular and on-going part of the community’s worship.