When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. …So they set out and went from village to village, proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere. (Luke 9:1-2, 6)
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. …9 Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ …17 The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” (Luke 10:9, 17)
We see clearly that our Lord Jesus delegated his power and authority to drive out demons and to cure diseases first to his Twelve disciples. Then he sent them out to preach the gospel to the lost and to heal the sick in his name by using this very power and authority.
He then later delegated some of this power and authority over sickness to the seventy-two as well, commanding them to heal the sick as they proclaimed the kingdom of God to the lost. It’s clear that he also gave them authority over demons in his name.
This ministry continued on into Acts as the disciples continued to use the Lord’s power and authority to heal the sick in the context of proclaiming the kingdom of God to those who never heard.
His father was sick in bed, suffering from fever and dysentery. Paul went in to see him and, after prayer, placed his hands on him and healed him. (Acts 28:8)
It would behoove us to ask the very relevant question: exactly who is healing the sick here?
Clearly the disciples are not healing the sick on their own power. They were able to heal the sick because the Lord had delegated to them his power and authority to do so. At the same time, it was not Jesus himself personally healing the sick. Rather he was doing so through those whom he had authorized to do so and then sent out to preach the gospel. It is not unreasonable to see Jesus and his disciples as “co-workers.” The participation of both parties was absolutely necessary for the job to get done—for the gospel to be preached to every creature and for the sick to be healed in Jesus’ name.
As God’s co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. (2 Corinthians 6:1)
An analogy would be that of a business owner authorizing his employee to go to the office supply store, using the boss’s credit card to purchase supplies. The participation of both parties is necessary. The boss must give authority to the employee to charge the purchase on his credit card, and the employee must physically go to the store with the card to make the purchase.
We certainly understand and prioritize the necessity of humility and dependence on the Lord on the part of the disciple in this partnership. We can do nothing apart from him and the work of the Spirit in us. Absolutely. Pride cometh before a fall.
At the same time let us recognize that we are obligated to do our part as God’s co-workers in the harvest. Our head, Christ Jesus is in heaven. He has left on earth his body, the Church—his hands and feet—through whom the Great Commission will be fulfilled. Scripturally, we preach the gospel to the lost. We heal the sick in Jesus’ name. We cast out demons in Jesus’ name. We will fulfill the Great Commission.
Let us recognize the roles of both the Head at the right hand of the Father, and of us His body on earth. Both are necessary for the Great Commission to be fulfilled before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
In the end it might very well boil down to a matter of the terminology with which we feel comfortable depending on our church background when discussing such issues. For us personally—sadly lacking a more traditional church background—we can only follow the terminology we see laid out in Scripture. We certainly agree that apart from Him we can do nothing. Ultimately it is Christ in us through the Holy Spirit who is preaching the gospel, healing the sick, casting out demons, and making disciples!