Every believer needs to learn how to lead souls to Christ—this is without argument the greatest miracle of all. In the same way, believers can also be taught from Scripture how to heal the sick and cast out demons, which are in effect “lesser” miracles. If we can learn how to win souls for the gospel, we should also be able to learn how to heal the sick for the gospel. We learn it simply by studying from Scripture how Jesus and the disciples healed the sick, and then doing it just as they did. Currently we often minister to the sick following a tradition that unfortunately discourages us from following the pattern set by Christ and his disciples. Christians can be trained to minister to the sick boldly and without doubt in the name of Jesus as confirmation of the gospel to unbelievers. When we dare to use the authority the Lord has given us, we will witness the miracles as a matter of course.
In Houston Chinatown we have a “healing outreach” in a large shopping mall frequented by many Vietnamese and Chinese, most of whom are Buddhists and idol-worshippers. We post a large sign which reads “Healing Prayer” in three languages next to our table where we lay out Christian tracts. People will stop by and request healing prayer for physical infirmities. We minister to them in the name of Jesus. They experience the Lord’s healing touch, and then we share the gospel with them. In this way, idol-worshippers who would not otherwise be drawn to Christ, enter the kingdom of God.
Luke 9:1 When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.
It is very clear that Jesus imparted to the Twelve power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases. As verse 2 states, the purpose of this impartation was none other than preaching the gospel to the lost. It was for saving souls. Was this authority given to other believers, or only to the original Twelve?
Luke 10:1 After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. 2 He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field…9 Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God is near you.’ …17 The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”
These seventy-two who were sent out later were instructed to heal the sick. When they returned from their successful mission they joyfully testified to the authority that they had to cast out demons. Clearly, Jesus had also given to these seventy-two believers a measure of authority to heal the sick and cast out demons. The purpose of this impartation to the workers was to reap the “harvest,” that is, to preach the gospel and save the lost. Was this power available to other believers as well, or only to the Twelve and the Seventy-Two? Is it still available today for the workers who go out to reap the plentiful harvest of the Lord?
John 14:12 I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing…
The followers of Christ will do what He did…they will heal the sick and cast out demons as they proclaim the kingdom of God. The promise is clearly not just for the early disciples, it is for disciples of every age, especially the present one in which God wants to accelerate the pace of the Great Commission in order that Jesus may return without further delay. What is the purpose of the miracles? The purpose is to confirm and testify to the message of the gospel.
Hebrews 2:1 We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. 2 For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, 3 how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. 4 God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.
So exactly how do you do miracles? How do you cast out demons? First, let us see from Scripture how not to do it. Mark 16:17 tells us that in the name of Jesus, believers will cast out demons. Unfortunately, believers today rarely follow this mandate. Instead, when faced with the task of casting out a demon, believers usually pray to the Lord and ask Him to do it. This is the traditional practice taught to evangelicals in the seemingly rare event of demonic attack. But because it does not quite follow Scripture, it is at best an inefficient practice. It is far more effective to cast out the demons ourselves, in the name of Jesus. He has already given us the authority to do so in His name.