Analyzing an Extreme Healing Teaching

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Analyzing an Extreme “Healing” Teaching

Recently the news of the arrest of a Pentecostal husband and wife came to my attention. According to the news sources, these parents allowed their child to die without seeking medical attention.  Apparently this couple also had another child who died in the past without their seeking medical help and the court placed them on probation. The stipulations would require that they have regular medical check-ups for their children and also consult a medical doctor if a child has a major illness.  According to the reports, the law enforcement officers are convinced that the parents didn’t do this, thus they are in custody and their children have been taken away from them. Foster care may await them.

We don’t know the accuracy of the reports we have read. On the one hand, we object to too much intrusion by the federal (or local) government into the teaching and training of children. God has placed primary responsibility for children into the hands of the parents. The government has no right to educate children according to the philosophies of humanism and secularism. Parents must jealously guard their children’s teaching and training in the ways of God (cf. Deuteronomy 6:5ff; Ephesians 6:4).

Yet it made me wonder what religious teaching these parents had that caused them to think that God will heal under all circumstances and physicians should never be consulted.  Apparently these incarcerated parents were part of a small group that calls itself the “First Century Gospel Church.”  This church claims that a Christian must not seek medical attention or take any medicine under any circumstances, but instead should rely on God alone who has promised to heal. To seek medical help for physical healing would be a sign of lack of faith and it would be very sinful.  Apparently the parents of these two deceased children believed this doctrine and lived by it—to the detriment of their children.

As I read of this case, my mind went back to another ministry that taught against any medical intervention.  Years ago Hobart Freeman taught his congregation at the Glory Barn (as I recall) that it would be sinful to have any contact with physicians. He, himself, refused to wear needed eyeglasses, claiming that God would heal his eyes if he had enough faith.  As it turned out, Freeman died prematurely and medical authorities claimed that he could have taken steps to heal his maladies which may have given him years of life. Tragically, over one hundred (100) of his followers died during the years that Freeman taught.  They refused to seek medical attention for themselves and their children—with tragic results.

Let’s examine the teaching of this church in regard to healing and notice the scriptural passages used to support it. Following is an article that promotes this view of unconditional healing.  We could find no copyright notice, thus we include it in full.  Along with the article (entitled “Healing—From God or Medicine?”), I will insert comments and Biblical passages that will critique the contents.  (These comments will be placed in the color blue and indented for ease of reading.) Take your Bible in hand and follow along with me.

Healing—From God or Medicine?

Since God cannot change; Jesus is the same; and the Holy Spirit is with us, then the same healing all through the Bible, is the healing from God anyone can receive who believes.  The healing ministry of Jesus is all through the New Testament, and since He is Hebrews 13:8 “the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever,”  then we can claim the same healing today.

You will notice that Hebrews 13:8 is used as a proof text. This verse does prove that Jesus doesn’t change as to his character and nature. However, we can’t say that He doesn’t change in regard to His workings. The same is true with regard to God the Father. God sent a worldwide flood and delivered eight godly people—but He doesn’t do this today (Genesis 9:8-17). God established a covenant with Israel at Sinai (Exodus 20-24) which included ten commandments as well as “the book of the covenant” that included several hundred commands and prohibitions.  However, God is not establishing additional covenants since he inaugurated the “second covenant” or the “new covenant” through Christ (Jeremiah 31:31-34).  Jesus walked on the water and stilled the storm, but He has not promised to do this today for His followers.  Simply because Jesus worked in a certain way in history doesn’t mean that He will do the same today. Thus, Hebrews 13:8 cannot be used to prove unconditional healing in our day.

            He told His disciples to Acts 1:4 “wait for the promise of the Father”—the Holy Spirit, Who inspires faith in us to believe for healing.  Jesus promised Matthew 28:20, “I am with you always, even unto the end of the world”—saying the same to us Matthew 9:22, “Take heart, daughter, your faith has healed you.  And the woman was healed from that moment.”  God promises to heal us, if we will make the choice to believe and trust Him in faith; not distrust Him and depend on a drug in unbelief.

In no way did God promise perfect health. After Adam sinned and sin entered the world, death also came into the world (Romans 5:12) and will continue until God takes it away in the new heavens and new earth (Revelation 21:4). 

Think of all of the godly men and women who suffered physical distress and sickness in history. Both Isaac and Jacob were blind (Genesis 27:1; 48:10).  Hezekiah (2 Kings 20:1), Aneas (Acts 9:32-34), Dorcas (Acts 9:37), Epaphroditus (Philippians 2:26-27), Elisha (2 Kings 13:14), Lazarus (John 11:1ff) were all sick. Although some were healed, they eventually died.  Then there was Trophimus whom Paul didn’t heal but left him sick at Melitus (2 Timothy 4:20). 

Paul’s close companion Timothy also suffered an illness that was not healed (1 Timothy 5:23). Even Paul suffered affliction (Galatians 4:13-15; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10).  Instead of healing Paul, Jesus said to him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). God can use physical illness for His own purposes and for our good.

            The first recorded healing is when Genesis 20:17 ”Abraham prayed to God; and God healed Abimelech,” and on to Exodus 23:25 ”You shall serve the Lord your God, and He will bless your bread and your water.  And I will take sickness away from the midst of you.” 

We need to remember that physical wellness was part of the Mosaic covenant or First Covenant with Israel. It was based on loyalty to Yahweh God and obedience to the Law of Moses (Leviticus 26:1-13; Deuteronomy 28:1-14).  Disobedience would bring physical illness.  We simply can’t apply Mosaic blessings to Christians today who are not under the first covenant but under the covenant of Christ.

This same healing continues to this day; Jesus 1 Peter 2:24 ”Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.”

We must not confuse physical healing with spiritual “healing” (forgiveness). This is what Peter has in mind in this passage.  Even if physical healing would be included, we know that perfect health awaits us when we receive a glorified body in the resurrection (Philippians 3:20-21; 1 Corinthians 15:50-58; Revelation 21:4). Perfect physical health is not assured the faithful follower of Christ today.

            Many profess faith in Christ, but do not act in faith on His Atonement Blood for healing, protection, provisions, and other life issues.  They say that doctors, medicine, and drugs are gifts from God—but the Bible does not say that, nor teach that.  Bible Christians trusted God alone for healing.

It is true that we should seek the Lord for alleviation from physical suffering. God, indeed, may heal in this way if it is His will.  On the other hand, there is a place for medical professionals.  Jesus said, “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick” (Luke 5:31). Remember that Luke was called “the beloved physician” (Colossians 4:14). If it was sinful to consult a physician (or doctor), it would have been sinful to be a physician!

            James 1:17 ”Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above.”  Drugs and medications would have to heal, and not ever harm, but statistics say that the major cause of death in the United States has been medical mistakes—over 250,000 die in hospitals every year from taking the wrong medication.

We can’t debate that doctors have misdiagnosed diseases and prescribed medications with no good effect. And mistakes have been made in hospitals that result in dire consequences.  But this doesn’t conflict with the reality that some medications in certain cases can be helpful in alleviating pain and even effecting a cure. All of this comes from God’s providential mercy.

            There is no Bible command to take medicine, but many verses warn against trusting in doctors or drugs.  2 Chronicles 16:12 “In the thirty‑ninth year of his reign Asa was afflicted with a disease in his feet.  Though his disease was severe, even in his illness he did not seek help from the LORD, but only from the physicians.”  The king died two years later with no mention of repenting.

As the scripture above states, his sin was in not seeking help from the Lord rather than his calling for medical help.

            There is the woman Mark 5:26 who “had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse.”  Job called them  “forgers of lies, You are all worthless physicians.” 

Job’s friends should have given him help and not be like “worthless physicians” who could not help (Job 13:4). This says nothing about “helpful” or “profitable” physicians.

The only mention of asking help from a doctor is when Genesis 50:2 ”Joseph directed the physicians in his service to embalm his father Israel.”

            In the beginning everything was perfect—Genesis 1:31 “God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.”  Satan, however, deceived Adam and Eve to disobey God, which brought sin, sickness, and disease into the world.  God had a plan to give us hope 1 John 3:8 “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.”

            God said Exodus 15:26, “If you diligently heed the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians.  For I am the Lord who heals you.”

God does heal as the scripture says. Or perhaps this particular statement refers to God’s covenant blessings to Israel (as we noticed earlier) which would have granted to faithful Israel health and prosperity. The faithful exegete must always ask to whom a verse is directed.

            The people were afflicted when they sinned, but were healed by God when they turned back to Him in faith.  God is always faithful to His promise—Exodus 23:25 “I will take sickness away from the midst of you,” because He ”cannot lie” Titus 1:2 and He cannot change Malachi 3:6; James 1:17.

            Jesus said John 12:44, “When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me.”  The Jews said they believed God, but they opposed divine healing through His Son.  After a man was healed by Jesus, the Pharisees Mark 3:6 “immediately plotted” “how they might destroy Him.”  To reject divine healing in unbelief, is to reject Almighty God as our Healer.

            The apostle Paul noticed the lame man “had faith to be healed” and told him Acts 14:10 to “’Stand up straight on your feet!’ And he leaped and walked.”  Everyone today has that same choice to believe, and to act in faith on the Word of God. 

But we do not have the omniscience ourselves to determine whether God wants us to get better or to continue in our sickness.  As in Paul’s case, sickness sometimes has a purpose for our spiritual benefit (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).  The teaching that God always wants to heal His children today is a false doctrine.  This is often taught in the Word of Faith or Prosperity movement but it overlooks many key passages of Scripture.

When we are enlightened and inspired by the Holy Spirit John 16:13, we will be able to trust God in faith and to receive the victory. 

This is a promise given to Christ’s apostles (cf. John 13-16). Although some portions do have an application to all followers of Jesus, we must not assume that every word of this passage applies to them.  John 16:13 definitely applies to the specially-chosen Apostles (just notice the wording of it).

Jesus said John 12:46 “I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.”

            A minister who claims to teach from the Bible, but goes to a hospital for medical help, is not trusting God in faith on the Blood sacrifice of His Son. 

It is interesting that many of the “perfect health” and “healing” televangelists and preachers have been sick themselves. Even the famed Oral Roberts wore glasses! Kathryn Kuhlman died with sickness.  These preachers have contracted cancer, heart disease, and an assortment of other illnesses and diseases.

The minister’s decision reveals his serious lack of faith.  To preach that Jesus came to save us, but not to heal us, is false teaching—and we are to watch out for false prophets Matthew 7:15; (24:4; Mark 8:15; 12:38; 13:5; Luke 21:8; 16:17; Philippians 3:2; 2 John 1:8.)

            Our close friends should share our believing faith in Christ, and our trust on God for health, healing, and Heaven.  Jesus said His true followers were those who did His Father’s will Matthew 12:50—and it is God’s will to trust Him for healing.

Indeed, we should seek God’s healing and believe that God can grant it, according to His will.  But it is presumption to claim to have the infallible knowledge of God’s desire to heal in any given case.

            God sent His Son, to give His life on the cross, and to heal those oppressed by the devil Acts 10:38.  If we accept Christ as our Savior, we also have to accept Him as our Healer, because Jesus defeated Satan who causes sickness. 

The ultimate “healing” will come when we are resurrected and receive new, glorified bodies (Philippians 3:20-21). Christ indeed did defeat Satan at the cross (Colossians 2:15) but this doesn’t guarantee physical healing.  

It is a definite sin to trust in medical help and pills; and it is real faith to trust on the Name of Jesus for healing.  Romans 14:23 ”All conduct not based on faith is sinful.”  God wants us to repent of the sin that caused the illness and to trust Him alone for the healing.

Surely we should repent of any sin that has resulted in our illness (cf. John 5:14). We need to repent and turn away from all such sin (Proverbs 28:13). However, we do not read in Scripture that we should not use natural means to seek healing, which would include medical doctors, medications, good food, and other means.

            Moses was educated in Egypt, and would have known about the Pharaoh’s medical plans.  If taking medicine was God’s will, he would have taught the Israelites to use it, but Moses did not do that.  He always told them to go directly to God in prayer about everything.

            Sickness is from the devil, but we can be healed by faith in the Blood of Jesus.  John 14:13 ”Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”  Trusting on medicine brings no glory to God, but results in huge profits for the drug company.

            God’s people left Egypt in perfect health because a lamb’s blood was shed for them Psalm 105:37, so we can claim health and healing today on the merit of Jesus’ Blood.  The disciples were sent to ”Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons.  Freely you have received, freely give” Matthew 10:8. 

This was given to the twelve apostles under the so-called “limited commission” (Matthew 10:1-4).  We are not given this commission to heal the sick and raise the dead ourselves.  In fact, not every Christian had the same spiritual gifts, such as healing and miracles (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:28-30).

Medical insurance, hospital fees, and prescription costs today are enormous, but a believer receives healing for free.

            The ministry of Christ was a ministry of healing Luke 5:20 ”When Jesus saw their faith, he said, ‘Friend, your sins are forgiven,’” and Jesus is the same forever Hebrews 13:8, so we are to repent, and to trust God’s Ephesians 1:19 ”incomparably great power for us who believe.”  God wants us to be in good health and be healed by our faith in Him.

God, in His infinite wisdom, chooses to allow some to remain in their sickness without physical healing.

            The centurion Matthew 8:10-11 just wanted a Word from Jesus; who then replied: ”I have not found such faith, no, not in Israel.”  It was the kind of faith that believes God and brings healing.  ”Many shall come from the east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of Heaven.”  Faith like that to be healed is the type that enters Heaven.

            Jesus added 12 ”But the children of the kingdom shall be cast into outer darkness, where there is weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth.”  Many would not receive eternal life, because they would not trust God for healing.  If anyone has more faith in doctors and drugs, than they have in the living God and the risen Savior, their salvation would be in serious jeopardy.

This poses the present issue as an either/or one.  We definitely do need to trust in God but this doesn’t suggest that it is wrong to seek medical intervention as well.

            There is a great risk involved, when we trust Him for healing; we risk our life on His Word. 

This is just what the unfortunate couple did whom we mentioned at the beginning of our review above.  They trusted God and refused medical help. Their two children died and now they have lost custody of their other children and await prosecution.  It would be a shame for them to face such charges of death because of a misunderstanding of Scripture and the misleading of religious leaders.

If we can trust God for divine healing, however, we can easily trust Him for any lesser need.  Jesus said “your faith has healed you” many times to encourage us to trust in His Atonement sacrifice [Matthew 9:22; Mark 5:34; Luke 7:50; 8:48; 17:19; 18:42].  We trust God to avenge our wrongs and to help us forgive people, because if we will not forgive others, God cannot forgive us Matthew 6:14.

            Jesus said Luke 14:26 “If anyone comes to me, but loves his father, mother—[or anything] more than he loves me, then he cannot be my follower.”  If we love some thing, some person, or some plan of the world more than we love God, it is because they have first place in our heart—it is idolatry. Exodus 20:3 “You shall have no other gods before Me.”

This is quite true but not relevant to the present issue.

            The Israelites were under a lamb’s blood in Egypt as a substitute for the real Lamb’s Blood.  Not one thing could touch anyone who obeyed the Word.  ”When I see the blood, I will pass over you” Exodus 12:13 [all translations].  We are to trust in faith on the shed Blood of Christ, and then to act in faith on the Word of God, because the “preaching of the Cross… is the power of God” for us 1 Corinthians 1:18.

This doesn’t address the issue we are discussing.

            When Israel reached the Red Sea, they were still under the blood.  God went ahead in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire at night Exodus 13:21.  They were trapped by enemies in back, and had a raging sea in front, but the blood provided a path through the waters.

            Psalm 103:2-5 ”Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with loving-kindness and tender mercies, Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

            No matter what the test, trial, trouble, or temptation; and no matter how impassible the barrier, or impossible the situation—whether angry waves, a fiery furnace, a den of lions, or a physical attack of the devil—With God all things are possible Matthew 19:26.  There are over ten Bible references saying “with God all things [certainly the healing of our body] are possible.”

God doesn’t do everything that He can do.  In fact, it is clear that he doesn’t do many things that He has the power to do. It all depends on His revealed will and not our own—along with His “secret” will.

We hope that the review of this teaching will be helpful to those who have wondered about this issue and been confused because of some things that “Word of Faith” teachers have said.  The idea that God only wants us to seek His supernatural healing and not seek medical help goes even further than most Word of Faith teachers will go.  They too get sick and die—thus it seems that they make allowance for medical treatments.

The case we have been examining here is a rare exception—that all medical help (whether medical doctors or medications) is to be refused and it is sinful to seek such help.  No, this is a false doctrine and should be seen as this by all of those who honor God and revere His Word.  Make no mistake: your health and the health of your loved ones is at stake.

Reviewed by Richard Hollerman

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