Healing & Church Growth
Healing constituted one-third of the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ. It was
also an integral part of the apostles ministry. However, in today's church,
divine healing is a much neglected or disputed aspect of Christian ministry.
Most churches do not have any effective healing ministry nor do they teach and
preach healing. There is no clear authoritative teaching on divine healing and
people perish for lack of knowledge in this primary area.
Sickness and disease and incipient death being a common enemy, churches that
pray for the sick, or for some other reasons effectively or otherwise are
usually the most crowded and fastest growing churches.
Sickness and disease is playing havoc in the lives of the people of God today.
Lives, careers, families and even ministries are devastated by ailments that
cost hundreds and thousands of our money. Sickness and disease has come to be an
accepted and expected way of life. Medical science and doctors, though a gift
from God, have taken the place of the Word of God in homes. Cases of people not
being healed despite strong faith and prayers, the illness and untimely passing
away of those serving God, the fear of failure in prayer, instances of excesses
and extremes have all added to weaken faith in Christ as the Healer.
There is very little knowledgeable and effective spiritual resistance to
sickness. There is more faith in medical knowledge than in the God of knowledge.
God's Word has been set aside and the doctor's word has become "yes" and "amen"
today. People can reel off doctors and lab reports and medical prescriptions
while they find it hard to quote few scriptures on divine healing. This
unnatural state of affairs prevails today, because churches have failed to teach
divine healing as a doctrine, as the children's bread. There is no bible college
or seminary that has a separate, extensive paper on healing.
Sometimes, it seems as if Christians would fight for the right to be sick simply
because healing is taught outside their circles. We often come across Christians
who prefer to die rather than change their stubborn ways. Christians do not resist
sickness as they ought to, simply leaving everything to God:, with a brief
prayer and without any serious study on this matter, while even some non
Christian doctors would fight till the end to save a life. In truth many
Christians owe their lives to doctors and all their talk about putting
everything in the hands of God is plain talk and they have failed in not
fighting the good fight of faith in this area of Christian life.
There is no doubt in the minds of any of God's people that God can heal any
sickness or disease. Even an unsaved person will assert that nothing is
impossible with God. But the lingering, faith-crippling doubt is, "Will God
heal this time, in this case?" Incorrect teaching, genuine doubts from a casual
reading of scriptures, failure to recognize and attribute certain diseases to
the working of evil spirits, differing opinions from theologians, using
scriptures out of context and experiences of failures, force God's people to use
the scriptures to apply to their conditions rather than to bring their
experiences around to match the divine attributes of God.
Has the attribute of Jehovah Rapha, "I am the Lord that healeth Thee" changed?
If it has, then we are in danger of standing on unsure ground concerning His
other attributes precious and dear to us as, "The Lord our Shepherd" (Jehovah
Roi), The Lord our Peace, (Jehovah Shalom), etc.
Church's often fail to realize that sickness came after the fall, that the law
given by Moses also associated sickness and diseases with failure to keep the
law (Deut 28: 15) Even the wonderful promises in the Old Testament are enough
to overcome sickness. What a tragedy it is to fail to see the healing Christ as
the same living Lord today. How sad it is when we fail to see the promises of
healing become a provision in the New Testament. How sad it is to see terribly
ailing ones being told by healthy and fine looking ministers that the healing
scriptures refer only to spiritual healing. How sad it is when we are not filled
with the compassion of Christ to such an extent that will cause us to minister
healing by faith. However comforting it may be in the face of sickness., how sad
it is to hear words like, "It is all in the will of God." This is the religious
equivalent of the unsaved man who will say, "It is all our fate!" This is the
produce of theology without kneeology.
What pitiable laments are words like these - "Who can understand God's ways," or
"Oh! His ways are so mysterious" - when the New Testament in the blood of Jesus
commands us not to be unwise, but to understand His will, when we are enjoined
to allow the mind of Christ to work in us, when we are given power over all the
power of the enemy, when the Great Commission includes the casting out of devils
and the recovery of the sick, when the Blessed New Testament includes God
dwellling in us and walking in us! Away with ignorance and forms of godliness
that deny the power and let us humbly learn and let Christ arise in His churches
with the blessed bread of bodily healing
With the worldwide healing revival in the 1960's, churches in that embraced,
encouraged and practised healing began to see a tremendous growth. Many had
remarkable, indelible, healing encounters with the Living Lord Jesus Christ,
that they left all to preach the gospel ; and this caused the great mushrooming
of churches that endeavored to preach and teach the fullness of redemptions'
provisions. This healing revival was recorded in countries around the globe.
Healings, however, are meant to turn people to the Lord. If we follow the
healing ministry of Jesus in the gospels, we see that it is always preceded or
followed by the giving out of the Bread of Life. We see the same pattern in the
ministry of the apostles in the book of Acts and we also see it in the ministry
of men and women who are truly ordained by the Lord and sent out into the
One vital aspect that has discouraged the churches from persevering in healing
is the failure to discern Christ's method of healing within Israel and to
others. We have failed to learn the pattern of healing within the Church and
outside the Church.
When Jesus sent the twelve apostles, He sent them specifically to the lost sheep
of the house of Israel (Mat 10:6), they were to clearly tell about the kingdom of
God and then heal the sick Healing is the children's bread but nevertheless in
the Church it is first the kingdom of God within, the river of God flowing from
But when Jesus sent the seventy to the other towns and cities, He reversed the
order! In Luke 10:1, He tells them to heal the sick and tell them of the kingdom
of God. A drowning man does not need swimming lessons. He needs a rope quickly.
Those who are sliding to hell through sickness desperately need a miraculous
lifting hand and heart that will heal and then teach.
Again, today's Church worldwide (with the rare exception of few ministries) has
failed to understand the real meaning of binding the strongman, which term is
common in discussing church conditions and growth. Removing demonic strongholds
or binding the strongman both mean the same. The phrase about binding the strong
man is used only in one context by Jesus in the Bible - in the gospels in Matthew 12:29 and Mark
3:27. The Church has miserably failed to see that this phrase is in the context
of healing and casting out devils and so has become woefully weak in this area.
Pioneering ministers who depend on the power and operation of the Holy Ghost
will readily testify that it is only after a healing or deliverance from demons,
they have been able to enter a village or establish a congregation.
Though we can say that divine healing is Jesus "visiting card", there are times
when healings will not have the desired effect. When Jesus healed the mad man of
Gadarea, he was asked to leave the city. When Paul cast out an evil spirit from
a girl, the enemies of righteousness caused a city wide stir (Acts 16: 16-24) In
Luke 16:31 we are told that some will not believe even if one rose from the
Healing is not salvation and without salvation there is no adding to the church.
Out of the ten lepers who were cleansed, only one came to give thanks. Even
today many receive healing and deliverance but are not added to any local
church. People throng to some churches basically for healing or deliverance from
demon power and many leaders are content to see overflowing congregations.
Evangelists are content with reporting healings and the efforts to establish the
blessed person in the Body of Christ is very feeble or ineffective. Without
people being baptized into the Body of Christ (the Lord knows them that are His)
there is no real church growth.
Again, we should consider the percentage of healings and not the number of
healings. If 5000 sick people attend various healing ministering churches in a
city or town on a Sunday morning and 500 are healed, then only ten percent of
the people are being healed. If the percentage of healings increase then we can
expect greater true church growth.
After the miraculous events in Acts 2, about 3000 souls are added to the church.
After a major healing in Acts 3, many believed and 4000 more are added to the
church in Acts 4. The adding of 3000 souls to the church is often attributed
solely to the miracle of different languages and the bold preaching of Peter and
the adding of 4000 to the church is again attributed solely to the healing in
Acts 3 and the bold preaching in Acts 4 even in the face of dire threats.
Without a shadow of doubt, the miracles are connected to the conversions. But we
must also remember that these conversions were not very far apart in time from
the ministry of Jesus. It is highly probable that most of those who came under the
ministry of the apostles in the birthing of the Church had already been under
the ministry of Jesus too; and Jesus healed all the sick who came to Him.
Jesus said in John 12:24 that when a corn of wheat falls into the ground and
dies, it will bring forth much fruit. Jesus' death, burial and resurrection are even today bringing forth fruit and how much more we can link it to the birthing
of the early church.
So, the percentage of healings is important to church growth. This can increase
only when sickness and disease are attacked on a war footing and the children of
God receive their inheritance of bodily healing. The ministry of healing is also
vital to Christian unity which again is vital to church growth (John 17:21) One
would have observed that under a healing ministry, people from all sections of
In closing this chapter, one rarely spoken of aspect of Christian ministry in
relation to true church growth must be mentioned. We all admit that Jesus is our
perfect example and His words of Commissioning are to be taken very seriously.
He has very specifically told us to preach repentance and remission of sins in
His Name (Luke 24:47) and He has given us the promise that He would build His
Church. Instead, many are terribly busy building church buildings and then
wooing people with all the fringe benefits of the gospel to fill their
Such comers to the church are hard to disciple. Discipling or growing a church,
is not just putting the members through a time bound course but rather a
demanding, challenging and radical lifestyle. Bless God, despite all the
failures or frailties of His people, we have the majestic proclamation of
Jesus, "I will build MY CHURCH and the gates of hell cannot prevail against it."
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