Foundation Truths on Healing in the Church
Allan Down

I am not a teacher, not a theologian, no Bible School. Working toward being a disciple, prayed for many times and still in a wheelchair, seeking all the truth -- thus a good person to share my journey.

I am not trying to convince you, teach you, encourage or discourage you - posing more questions than answers. I am just going going to share my journey along the road of gaining understanding, knowledge, belief and faith regarding this subject, as there are some of you sitting here who one day will pray for a sick loved one or friend, or a stranger. You will see that person recover after a doctor has said, "We've done all we can". I trust that my story will help you along your path to that day as the Holy Spirit teaches, guides and speaks to you.

A few observations :
  • When we encounter a contradiction between what the Bible says and what is happening in our lives or surroundings, we Christians are prone to usually come up with explanations to excuse us from in any way being responsible, or we adjust our doctrine or theology, or we find a better interpretation to a plain statement in scripture.
  • Rather than admit failure or that there is something lacking we avoid the issue, "stay out of unexplored territory".
  • No church or Bible study I ever attended ever taught the basic fundamental truths about health, sickness and Jesus Christ the Healer.
  • There are sequential steps in spiritual growth and understanding.

    ".. adding to your diligence to divine promises, employ every effort in exercising faith to develop virtue, knowledge, self-control, patience, godliness, brotherly affection, Christian love" - 2 Peter 1:5-7 (Amp)

    "... trials and temptations, testing faith, endurance, patience, fully developed.." - James 1: 2-4.
There are two things I need to grasp :
  • on what basis do I ask God for something, (or anyone else), and do I hope He will respond or know He will respond.
  • on what basis do I issue a command to someone or something.
My journey :

When did I first become aware that Jesus is the same yesterday and to-day, and if so He heals the sick just like in the Sunday School stories. (I recall the story of a little girl who started going to Sunday School and the teacher was telling the stories about Jesus loving the little children and healing the sick. One Sunday after service the girl came to the teacher and asked if she could bring a sick friend the next Sunday so Jesus could make her better. How would I answer her?)

It was when I was about 13 yrs old. My family was church going. The United Church was the only church in our small village in those days. We believed the Bible was the Word of God and true.

Due to polio, when 4 yrs old, I was either crawling around, riding in a wagon or being carried to get from one place to another. My Dad was being ovetaken with encephalitis lethargica, commonly called sleeping sickness, gradually becoming less able to work in our general store.

Gram had become a born again believer and heard about a Dr.Charles Price, a Presbyterian, who was travelling the country preaching the gospel and healing the sick. Nearest to us was Livingstone, Mont. a long journey. We went, heard the gospel about believing in Jesus and receiving Him and being "saved". I saw people leaving crutches, was prayed for with little physical results but did receive Jesus at my level of understand and seeds were planted which sprouted years later.

Back home, some said that those things recorded in gospels didn't happen to-day as we had advanced in science and knowledge. What seemed like miracles then can now be explained as natural events.

It was not until 27 yrs later, when our 4 yr old child was diagnosed with cancer of the kidney that those seeds of belief and faith were watered & began to grow. Out came the books Gram and Dad had passed along. God sent the pastor from the little Pentecostal church to study and pray with us. There was an initial operation to have a look, tumour too big, radiation over several months might shrink it to operable size.

In the meantime we were confronted with 3 generally held views in the Christian community in our area -
  1. Some said God does not heal today beyond working through medical expertise and ability and our increased knowledge of health practises and recovery through natural process God has put in the human body.
  2. Others said that what Jesus took upon Himself on the cross, when He shed His blood & gave His life does not include physical sickness and infirmities.
  3. Others said that althogh God sometimes heals today it is obviously, as we look around, not His will to heal everyone.
  1. This was at the time of the beginning of charis. renewal in some of the main line churches, the early ministry of Oral Roberts, T L Osborne, Gerald Derstine (Mennonite) reports told of many being healed of medically incurable ailments. In my tour of the Bible I found it speaks of health, healing, avoiding plagues, all indicating that our Father wants us in health, wholeness in soul and body, if sick, to be healed and recover ...

    Also speaks considerably about why we are sometimes sick and what might be hindering the flow of God's power for our healing.

  2. We find answers if we search the scriptures and seek the Lord. The prophet Isaiah spoke about salvation provided by Jesus in His suffering, beating, death on the cross, how broad and great it was -- was physical healing covered? Is 53:4,5.

    One day Jesus was healing people of sickness and infirmities and He commented that this is what Is spoke of. One day Jesus went to Peter's house for lunch, his mother-in-law was too sick with fever to get the meal so Jesus solved the problem with a touch. Later that evening they brought many who were under the power of demons, He drove out the spirits with a word and restored to health all who were sick, just as is said "He Himself took our sicknesses and infirmities and bore away our diseases" (Math 8:17). Another day after He straightened out a man's hand and a Pharisee's bad theology. He went to another place where many people joined Him and He cured them all, just as Isaiah said. Peter 2: 21-25/

  3. Sometimes I heard people pray "Lord, if it is your will, please heal (my uncle, sister,etc) of (cancer, diabetes, etc)..." but they never finished the sentence "... and if it not your will...". There was no expectation of what was going to happen in that prayer. No one ever prayed "if it be your will, please save ..." because the scripture plainly states ".. He is not willing that any should perish".

    Although the scriptures are not this plain as to healing they do indicate the Father's will. All that Jesus accomplished for us at the cross was in obedience to the Father's plan and will. Jesus only did what He saw the Father doing, healing those who asked and even some who didn't ask.

    Nowhere did I find it was not the Father's will. But Jesus did have to straighten some people out about believing, about faith, about who He was. One day a sick person said straight-out "If you are willing...", to which Jesus responded, "Of course I am willing" or words to that effect.

    Just because something is God's will does not mean it is done on earth automatically or we would not be told to pray "Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven". And Peter reminded us "... He is long suffering toward you, not desiring that any should perish, but all should turn to repentance" - 2 Peter 3:9.

    But said to say each day we see many perishing and not turning to repentance, God's will is not being done, thus when we see many not healed we cannot conclude that it is not God's will to heal them. Sometimes we prayed that surgery will be successful, that the surgeon will be at his best ... check in my spirit ... are we limiting our expectation to what God can do? To my simple mind that settled number 3).

    To carry on with the story :

    It was time for the second surgery, we were surprisingly at peace. The doctor came out of the OR and reported that there was no tumour as such but there was considerable metastases (a change in form like shredded tissue) so the kidney was not removed as too risky. The child recovered rapidly and we believed our prayers had been answered.

    We were a family with 6 children, involved in the community and busy, and less time was spent in study and prayer. Some days I had peace, other days my soul was swept over with doubts, anxiety, fear, and despair. In those days we did not have the understanding we have to-day about Satan's ability to impose these feelings and thoughts in our emotions and thinking and how we believe they are our own and we start to question our beliefs, trust and faith. That fall, a regular check-up revealed that the cancer had returned in the blood and liver. Once again we turned to God, with prayer in the home and church, many in the community praying. Some of our relatives were believers and were praying and fellowshipping with us by mail and 'phone.

    We heard that T. L. Osborne was holding evangelistic/healing meetings in N. Dakota, so we took our child there. While there we heard about the move of the Holy Spirit in the Episcopal Churches and realized that we lacked in many areas.

    The child got steadily worse and left for heaven in December.

    So now what? Based on the events that had taken place that year it seemed that what we had come to believe about God and sickness and Jesus and healing was not all together true, yet the Spirit witnessed that they were true and more revelation, understanding and knowledge of the truth was needed to why that was recorded in scriptures about the healing ministry in this age was not yet fully manifested.

    Life had to go on, five children to raise, managing a fast growing financial institution, involvement in church and community affairs but we were still drawn by the Spirit what was lacking spiritually. Thru a series a highly improbably events we found ourselves and 4 others seated around a kitchen table in S'toon with an Episcopal priest from Glendive, Mont. teaching us about the Holy Spirit, telling what the Lord was doing in unlikely places and praying with us to be baptized in the Holy Spirit.

    After this happened there was hunger to study the Bible, have gatherings to praise and worship, experience the presence of God and pray more effectively. We had study, praise and prayer meetings in our home, our summer holidays now included family camps such as Gerald Derstine's Minnenite one at Strawberry Lake, Minn where David du Plessis taught and preached, where gifts of the Spirit were manifested. We visited St. Luke's in Seattle where Dennis Bennett held his famous Friday night meetings. We attended FGBM in Calgary where we heard, among others Derek Prince with his in depth teaching about the Spirit-filled life. I was prayed for many times, but I could not make the stretch to actually expect to be walking around.

    Back home we shared these things in the local church. I had become an elder, taught adult Sunday School and preached occasionally, trying to communicate with people where they were at spiritually, and based on the early church model what should be happening in the church, so busy in these activities that prayer, meditation and study of the scriptures was neglected.

    I was constantly drawn back to the question that persisted -- why was the healing ministry not part of our church life as it was in some places we had heard about and had been in the early days of our denomination? Dr. Keith Bailey had written the book "The Children's Bread" trying to persuade us that we were missing part of our great salvation. With other books and tapes and the Bible I once again set out to learn some more fundamental truths. In the book of Acts, healing, signs and wonders were part of evangelism, in Jesus' ministry and in most of the great revivals. I focused on 4 sections of scripture that pertained to church life.

    At he end of Mark 16 (:17-18), it states that "those who believe" .... believe what? who God is, what He is like, what He desires for each of us and His Body the Chruch and what all was provided for at Calvary, what the Bible says about faith, power and authority......, "in My name ... they will" what does that phrase we use so much really mean? ... As representatives of Jesus, as agents of Jesus doing what Jesus would do if He were actually present in the flesh, besides in the Spirit. Jesus did what He saw His Father doing, so I must only do in any situtation what the Father is doing as revealed by the Holy Spirit or as clearly commanded in Holy scripture.

    Do I realize what I am saying, when I say I am doing something in Jesus' Name? I didn't then and am not entirely sure to-day. I realized that this was very important when it came to "lay hands on the sick" just as Jesus did with His motivation and compassion, and have happen what the Word says will happen ... "they shall get well". What trust the Lord has in us .. how great must be my trust in Him! I must never just tack the phrase on the end of a prayer without a great "Selah"

    When I was an elder in the church, one year we had 3 members with cancer. Each one asked us to visit them, one other elder went with me. Each time we prayed all the way there and prayed with them and for their healing ... they got worse ... they eventually died.

    This was not the picture I had of the elder's visit in James 5:14-16 -- it looked like a major prayer and ministry meeting -- many things dealt with. What were the basic ingredients for the results stated. He should (actually an imperative word), call in the church elders. Why wouldn't he? Why so few? why don't I? pride? unbelief? no confidence in elders or the scriptures? They (the elders), should pray over him (also a command, better they are to) - anointing him with oil in Jesus Name, as agents of Jesus, releasing the Holy Spirit's power ... I needed to grasp the significance in the act of anointing with oil and what was happening in the spiritual realm. - v 15 is not this what Isaiah foretold what the Lord would do?

    Maybe there are sins not dealt with ... is discussion and sharing needed among all involved including doubts, fears, expectations, all involved praying for one another so that there in not only recovery from sickness, and finally when the confidence is there to pray the prayer of faith -- what confidence? simply stated in 1 John 5: 14-15 : so what if the Lord does not eventually raise him up? In those days we "left it in the Lord's hands" ... bluntly put we gave up.

    We should have done as the disciples did when things didn't happen as they were supposed to. In Math 17:19, they went and asked Jesus "why couldn't we?" His answer was simple 'because of the littleness of your faith" and He also pointed out that the problem needed a combination of prayer and fasting beforehand. In later years I found out that many churches that have a healing ministry do not stop after one meeting but consider to pray and seek the Lord with the sick person. Henry Warkentin ministered to one person over many months before deliverance was accomplished.

    Faith is a big subject and I don't fully understand it but it is mentioned hundreds of times in the Bible and is essential in every area of our lives ..."without faith ...." and I needed to have some basic understanding of it without it being too complicated. I needed to know what it is and how I get it if it that important.

    Hebrews 11 explains what it is an gives examples. It is active -- the biblical response to truth and believing truth is a choice. two steps in believing, in my head and in my heart (spirit). Truth is true (reality) whether I believe it or not. Jesus said "Believe in Me," so I decide whether to believe what He said, what He did, the content of "it is written" etc. Faith is my response to reality, my knowing the truth and in particular Jesus who is the Truth in all that He is, says and does. My "knowing" develops as I become absolutely certain that what the Bible says is the truth, only then such statements as written in 1 John 5 : 14-15 become real happenings in my life. This knowing comes as the Holy Spirit brings the rhema Word to me. Satan is constantly putting doubts in my mind, creating a degree of unbelief. At times I cry out "Lord, help my unbelief..."

    So could there be something in the sick person or the elders or the church that is hindering the impartation of the faith needed to pray such a prayer; the witholding of the flow of healing power? Consider some questions Jesus asked "Do you believe I can do this?" "Do you really want to be healed?" (this is one of the answers as to why I am still in a wheelchair) other statements "He could (would) no mighty works there..." The scriptures remind of times when the Lord does not hear us; gives reasons why some are not healed, most can be dealt with, others must be accepted. "The hand of the Lord is upon you, and you shall be blind, unable to see the sun for a time" (Acts 13:6-12), "Careless and unworthy participation is the reason many many of you are weak and sickly and some of you have died" (1 Cor 11:30 ...), unrepented sin (Num 16:46).

    We want to get well for the wrong reason ... you do ask and yet fail to receive because you ask with wrong purpose and selfish motives (James 4:3). It could be that because very few Christians and churches are willing to pursue these matters when the sick are not recovering and raised up, we see so few being healed other than those who recover naturally or with medical help.

    Two other scriptures need to be considered :

    1. 1 Cor 12: 7,9 - "But to each one is given the manifestation of the Holy Spirit for good and profit ... to another wonder-working faith by the same Spirit, to another the extraordinary powers of healing by the one Spirit".

      Peterson's paraphrase of this passage "God's various expressions of power are in action everywhere; but God himself is behind it all. Each person is given something to do that shows who God is. Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people ! ...simple trust, healing the sick, miraculous acts ..."

      I have a friend who has that gift. At various times in various places the Spirit will point out someone and tell him that the person is in pain. Upon enquiry the person tells where the pain is and will say "yes" to the offer of prayer, after which the pain is gone, and often leads to a discussion of the Lord, whether believer and not. We should expect to see such manifestations in most churches as the power of the Spirit becomes active.
    2. "Now you collectively are Christ's body and individually you are members of it, each with his own place and function. So God has appointed some in the church : first apostles, second prophets; third teachers, the wonder-workers, then those with ability to heal the sick, helpers, administrators, speakers in different tongues".

      In the first churches, there were not such appointments in every local church, but teams travelled throughout the area. Notice some had ability to heal the sick, compared to those in the church who were laying on hands and praying over the sick.

      Is not God making such appointments to-day, but there seem to be few such healers travelling throughout N. America to-day considering the thousands that need ministry, and much confusion about them in the Body of Christ. And when they do come to our area how many are able or want to go where they are ministering, and if all who are sick did go, the multitudes would be like in Jesus' day except more so in size.

    I have shared these things with you that you may build on the truths I have shared, have a foundation on which to pray effectively with faith, believing the Holy Spirit will lead us into all the truth. I don't know if I'll live long enough to these things happening in the Body of Christ, but I believe you will as you grow in grace and the knowledge of God, His promises and His ways. There are spots in America where most are are being healed and delivered even today.

    Books I have found worthwhile :
    • Christ the Healer -- Bosworth
    • The Real Faith -- Dr. Charles Price
    • The Christian's Bread -- Dr. Keith Bailey
    • ????? -- Ken Blue
    • A Healing Ministry in Any Church -- Peter Wagner
    • Power to Heal -- John Hagee

    Allan Down