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There are several questions about faith healing that need honest answers:

  1. Does God heal today in the same way Jesus and His apostles healed?

  2. Do the modern day "faith healers" have the genuine gift of healing?

  3. What about the testimonies of many that say they have been healed?


To answer these questions, it is our goal to evaluate our "experiences" in light of scripture and not scripture in light of our "experiences". This is important for several reasons:

!"Miracles" do not prove that a person is "of God".

#See Deuteronomy 13: 1-5 for the "test of a false prophet".

God never said false prophets could not work miracles or predict future signs. He actually allows "miracle workers" to come among His people to test their love for Him.

#See I Kings 13: 1-32 for a comparison of obedience to the known word of God and that which was "said to be" the word of God.

!We are commanded in scripture to "test the spirits" (l Jo 4: 1).

#John shows us by example in 1 John that the test is doctrinal--not experiential.

!Jesus warned us to beware of "miracle workers". (Ma 24:24; 7:21-23)

#He said Satan and his workers would multiply miracles in the last days.

#He said these miracles would be so believable that the truly saved would be close to being deceived.

!Jesus commends those that expose false prophets. (Re 2:2)

The Plan

We intend to look at the purpose and extent of miracles in scripture.

To study this subject from scripture we are going to take a two-fold approach.

  1. We intend to study the healing ministry of Jesus and His apostles and compare it with modern "faith healers"

  2. We intend to look at the doctrine of the "faith healers" and compare it with true Bible doctrine.

The Extent and Purpose of Miracles

Few People During Three Periods

A study of the Bible reveals that very few people in history were enabled by God to work miracles directly, regularly and seemingly at will. There seems to be only three periods recorded in scripture where men had this ability.


1. Moses

2. Elijah and Elisha

3. Jesus and His apostles

#In all of the New Testament miracles by individuals are recorded only of Jesus Christ, His immediate apostles, the apostle Paul, and men few men such as Stephen and Philip who were directly associated with the apostles. The rank and file believer is never shown to have the power to work miracles. Most of the people in the New Testament including most of the associates of Peter and Paul did not have this ability--(i.e. John the Baptist, Luke, Timothy, Titus, Barnabus, Silas, John Mark, James, Apollos, Aquila, etc.)


Latter New Testament Period

It should be noted that tongues are mentioned only in Acts and 1 Corinthians. Paul wrote 12 epistles after 1 Corinthians and never mentioned tongues or direct healing. Neither Peter, Jude, John, or James mentions tongues or the gift of healing. The only reference to direct healing and miracles is of the Antichrist who will be miraculously healed in Revelation 13 and the false prophet who will be a miracle worker.

It should also be noted that at least 3 times Paul seems to have lost the gift of healing--all toward tile end of his ministry. 

Epaproditus – Pp 2:25-30

!Timothy – 1 Ti 5:23

!Trophimus – 2 Ti 4:20

Had Paul lost his faith and power as some like to assert?--not according to his own testimony in 2 Ti 4:6-8.


The Early Church Fathers

The uniform testimony of tile early church fathers was that tongues and the sign gifts had ceased. Both Augustine and Chrysostom in the fourth century said that tongues were obsolete and were not even sure what their characteristics were. 1


From l00 A.D. until the beginning of this century there were only a few isolated groups that claimed to be able to speak in tongues and work miracles. These were the Montanists, the Cevennol prophets, the Jansenists, Shakers, and the Irvingites. It should be noted that the Jansenists were strong Roman Catholics who opposed the Reformation.


The Shakers were founded by a woman who regarded herself as the female equivalent of Jesus Christ. 2


The primary purpose for numerous directly worked miracles by individuals was to introduce new eras of revelation (He 2:3,4)

Miracles was a definite "sign" of an apostle. How could it be a sign if everyone was doing it? (2Co 12: 12; 1Co 15:7-8)

The Healing Ministry of Christ and His Apostles

There were at least 5 characteristics of the miracles of healing in the New Testament. If the faith healers today have the same gift as they claim for themselves, we should be able to observe similarities in the use of the gift.

1. Jesus and His apostles healed directly and at will.

Mark 10: 1 says that Jesus gave His apostles the power to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. (Acts 5:14-16; 19:11-12) Why don't the faith healers come out of their tents, their studios, and their environments to do healing ? It seems that their gift of healing begins and ends according to the program schedule or the time schedule.

Why does it seem to take a special and dramatic effort on the part of healer to heal when Jesus and His apostles simply touched, spoke a word, even healed people they did not even realize they were healing? (Lu 8:45, Acts 5:16; 19:12)

2. Jesus and His apostles healed instantly and totally.

God still heals today. However often the healings come to us through the normal processes of recuperation. At times He can and does heal in direct answer to prayer--but this has nothing to do with the "gift of healing". (Ja 5: 13-16)

Why do faith healers claim that the reason people lose their healing is because of lack of faith ? There is not one example of such a thing in the Bible. When people were healed they were instantly and permanently well.


3. Jesus and His apostles healed organic as well as functional diseases.

An organic disease is one in which the organ is diseased, maimed, physically impaired, or even defunct. (Cancers, broken bones, withered arm or leg, infections, hernias, slipped discs, congenital deformities, lacerations)

A functional disease is one in which a perfectly good organ does not function properly. (Sore arm, headache, ringing in ears, twitching of muscles, stomach ache, common cold)

A psychogenic disease is one that is only in your mind. You are not sick at all, but only think you are sick.


A number of people have done studies of those "healed" by faith healers. A magician named James Randi wrote a book examining tile evidence of faith healers. He asked scores of faith healers to supply him with "direct, examinable evidence" of true healings.3 

But not one faith healer anywhere gave him a single case of medically confirmed healing that could not be explained as natural convalescence, psychosomatic improvement, or outright fakery. He concluded, "Reduced to its basics, faith-healing today--as it has always been--is simply magic." 4

After a four square campaign in Vancouver where 350 cases of healing were claimed, it was discovered later that:

  • 39 died within six months

  • 5 went insane

  • 301 were found at the end of six months to have received no benefit

  • 5 were reportedly cured but had functional ailments.

The healers had asked for photographs and testimonies of the "healed" for their advertisement literature before any doubts had arisen about their healings. After the study was done, the healers continued to use the literature claiming the non-existent healings.5

4. Jesus and His apostles healed everyone.

Why do healers today leave long lines of sick people at the end of the show ?

5. Jesus and His apostles raised the dead.

!Widow of Nain's Son (Lu 7:11-17) no stage, no gimmicks

!The boy who fell out of the window (Ac 20: 10)

!Dorcus raised by Peter (Ac 9:40)


What About the Results ?

What are we to say about all those that claim to be healed?

1. Dr. William Nolen, a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, spent thousands of dollars and two years of time following faith healers. He says he did not find one example of organic disease healed. 6

2. Nolen says that up to 70% of everyone who comes to a doctor has either a self-limiting sickness that gets better on its own--like a common cold, sore muscle, headache, etc--a psychosomatic sickness. It has been noted that those who believe in healers are prone to be the same as those whose illnesses are treated psychologically.

Doctors do this by saying things like, take this medicine and you will be better over night, or get some rest and you will be better in a couple days. 7

3. Many more are hurt than helped.


1. Chrysostom, "Homilies in First Corinthians," Philip Schaff, ed., The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, Vol. 12 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956), 168.


2. McArthur, John F. Jr., Charismatic Chaos (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan,1992), 230-237.


3. James Randi, 771" Faith Healers, (Buffalo: Prometheus, 1987), 287.


4. McArthur, Charismatic Chaos, 204-209.


5. John R. Rice, The Charismatic Movement, (Murfreesboro, TN: Sword of the Lord), 263.

6. William Nolen, Healing: A Doctor in Search of a Miracle, (New York: Random House, 1974), 239

7. Ibid, 307.

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16-01-03 edited by cpl