In the Church there is a lack of scriptural teaching on the clear difference between power and authority over diseases and demons on the one hand, and the gift of healing on the other hand. This confusion has led to the ministry of healing today falling far short of what we would expect from the Scriptures.

First let us examine power and authority in the Scriptures.

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)

Power and authority, therefore, are to be used in proclaiming the kingdom of God to the lost. The kingdom of the Most High and One True God is to be proclaimed with power and authority over the dominion of darkness which is clearly inferior to the kingdom of God. It is WAR between two opposing kingdoms. Kingdom power and authority are to be used to DESTROY the works of the kingdom of darkness—in this context, diseases and demonic afflictions—as evidence to the world that our God is the One True God and that Jesus is the only way to Him.

Power and authority are therefore DESTRUCTIVE WEAPONS which disciples of Jesus Christ use to save the lost through the preaching of the gospel.

This is graphically described in an incident in Luke 4 where Jesus casts out a demon.

They were amazed at his teaching, because his words had authority. In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an impure spirit. He cried out at the top of his voice, “Go away! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are–the Holy One of God!” “Be quiet!” Jesus said sternly. “Come out of him!” Then the demon threw the man down before them all and came out without injuring him. All the people were amazed and said to each other, “What words these are! With authority and power he gives orders to impure spirits and they come out!” (Luke 4:32-36)

With authority and power Jesus rebuked the demon harshly, commanding it to come out. The demon obeyed. Authority and power are weapons of superior firepower to be used to destroy the works of the enemy for the sake of the gospel.

The gift of healing, by contrast, is to be used in ministering to and among believers and so is not a “weapon” in the same sense. Such gifts were made available to the Church at Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came, well after power and authority were given to the disciples in the gospels.

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, (1 Corinthians 12:7-9)

The teaching of 1 Corinthians 12 focuses on the gifts of the Holy Spirit which are given to the members of the body of Christ for ministry to one another with the body. Here the ministry is clearly not to the lost in the world outside, but rather to those saved brethren within the body of Christ. Just as family members (and friends) in love give gifts to one another on certain occasions, so gifts of healing are given to some members within the family of God for ministering miraculous healing to one another.

Power and authority, therefore, are clearly different from the gift of healing. The one is a destructive weapon for destroying the works of the enemy for the sake of the gospel. The other is for lovingly and gently ministering miraculous healing to infirm believers within the Body of Christ.

They also different with regard to mode of operation. Whether or not to use the supernatural power and authority to heal the sick is completely up to the disciple since they have already been entrusted to the disciple to use when proclaiming the kingdom of God. But the operation of the more special gift of healing might well depend on the Holy Spirit, for example, through a “rhema” or word of knowledge.

Finally, while every disciple is given a measure of supernatural power and authority in order to be an effective witness to the world, not every disciple has the more special gift of healing for ministry to the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:30).

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