On a certain morning in March 2013 my wife and I prayed for our youngest daughter Christina who was on her way to Haiti for a spring break mission trip sponsored by First Baptist Houston. Now Christina has been trained how to heal the sick and cast out demons to demonstrate to the lost that our Father in heaven is the only true God, and Jesus Christ is the only way to Him. But it was a bit sad to us that on her mission trip to a land as spiritually dark as Haiti where black magic and witchcraft prevails, that she would have little opportunity to use the weapons of power and authority over infirmities and demons given by the Lord to His disciples to bring the lost to Him.
A chasm within the Church
In the area of miraculous healing there is an unfortunate chasm within the Church, a polarization created no doubt by the enemy to paralyze us especially in the area of the Great Commission.
On the one hand there are God-fearing evangelicals who shy away from the subject of miraculous healing. Some have been persuaded by the doctrine of cessationism which basically holds that miracles ceased with the passing of Jesus’ original apostles. In my estimation, this teaching evolved gradually on the heels of modern enlightenment which sought to explain everything in terms of scientific principles. “Miracles” of course had no place in this paradigm and were relegated to the realm of superstition and the uneducated pagan masses of the Third World. It is not difficult to see how such a prevailing worldview then helped to give birth to the teaching of cessationism in the Church.
Adding to this are certain practices from the other side of the Church spectrum—from certain charismatic circles. In these circles, healing services can be used as a stage for one-man-show preachers to promote themselves and to enrich themselves with generous offerings from grateful people. Supernatural manifestations which take place during such services can be unscriptural, leading some to wonder if the miracles are genuine, or even if they are, whose power is behind them?
Moreover, those who attend such meetings are most often infirm believers who seek healing from the Lord. The miraculous healings which may take place are ordinarily not as a demonstration of the truth of the gospel to the lost, but rather merely as a blessing to infirm believers. This is a misplaced priority in the eyes of many evangelicals.
These things have resulted in evangelicals shying away from miraculous healing. For the same reason, evangelicals leaders also shy away from teaching their people in this area. Even when they attempt to teach it and apply it, the miraculous healings simply do not take place as we see them recorded in the New Testament. Various reasons of course are proffered for the dearth of miraculous healings in evangelical circles.
The work of the enemy
We see this polarization and confusion in the Church as the work of the enemy who seeks to paralyze us in this area so that we cannot make disciples of all nations as commanded by Jesus Christ two thousand years ago. For us the primary motivation behind healing the sick and casting out demons should be confirming the truth of the gospel to the lost. Ministering healing to infirm believers, as important as it clearly is, should hold only a distant secondary priority.
We are now in the last days, and the Messiah’s return is near. Before His Second Coming, the Church must fulfill the Great Commission. In order for this to take place the teaching on the Church’s authority over disease and demons in the context of proclaiming the kingdom of God must be restored. Interestingly this teaching is quite clearly and simply presented in the gospels and Acts, but the enemy has veiled the eyes of the Church to it—in part through the confusion and polarization described above. But we are seeing that when the teaching is presented in a way which follows New Testament Scripture closely—and avoids “hot button” issues—it is acceptable to many evangelicals. Moreover, infirm people are being miraculously healed as the teaching is applied according to Scripture.
If the multiplied millions of God-fearing evangelicals in the West can be trained to preach the gospel, heal the sick, and cast out demons according to John 14:12, then we will be able to make ready a people prepared for the Second Coming of the Lord. In addition, we will be able to disciple the huge multitudes of non-Christian people groups—the Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, idol-worshippers, and followers of witchcraft—who never heard the gospel, thus fulfilling the Great Commission before the great and terrible Day of the Lord.