Top Ten Reasons Why the Power of God Is for Today

Christians united against God’s power?

It is sad for me to report that there are millions of Christians today who deny that the power of God is available to heal and to do miracles. They deny that when we are sick, we can pray with confidence that God will deliver us and make us healthy again. These Bible-believing Christians assert that if healing does happen, it is the exception to the rule, and that for believers to be sick is normal and should be accepted with calm resignation.

What is worse, these Christians I am talking about are not extremist liberals who deny that Scripture is inspired by God. They are, in fact, some of the most ardent defenders of the inspiration of Scripture in the world today. These Christians are not sucked into a naturalist world view that denies the reality of anything that science cannot explain. In fact, these Christians are some of the strongest opponents of evolution and of the ungodly world view that evolutionary science brings. These people are evangelicals and fundamentalists, staunch defenders of the foundational truths of God’s word against a rising tide of worldly opposition to those truths. Unfortunately, these people are also Cessationists. A Cessationist is a Christian who believes that God’s power only worked in biblical times. Today the same power is not available for believers, except in rare cases.

Why are Cessationists opposed to the healing power of God? If you ask one of them, they will likely tell you that they simply believe that this is what the Bible teaches. But when you ask them for a Scripture that teaches that healing is not for today, their list of prooftexts is wanting. The most common places they turn to are Hebrews 1:1-2 and 2:3. There is much I can say about their exegesis of these texts, and perhaps I will in a later blog, but rather than focus on the interpretation of a few isolated texts, none of which were written to teach about healing and whether it is still available today, I would like to address this subject from a different perspective. Because so many of us (including my 14-year-old daughter) are being confronted by people who deny that healing is for today, and their arguments are blows against our faith, I am going to give a top ten list of why all Christians should believe that healing is for today, and why we shoud appropriate it by faith any time we are sick. These 10 reasons should serve as answers you can give Cessationists when they come knocking at your door.

Reason #10God heals the whole person. Cessationists commonly assert that healing of the body is not in the atonement. The healing that is mentioned in, say, Isa 53, pertains to spiritual, not physical healing. For any interpretation of Scripture to be correct, it has to be a possible meaning of the text for the people to whom it was written. For example, when Augustine interpreted the innkeeper in the parable of the Good Samaritan to be the Apostle Paul, we know he was incorrect, because the people who heard Jesus give this parable could not possibly have interpreted it this way. At that time Paul was Saul, an unknown aspiring Pharisee. Likewise, it is highly unlikely that the followers of Jesus could have interpreted the covenant that he was establishing to only pertain to the spirit, and not also to the body.

Unlike the Western world, which particularizes everything, breaking things down to its minutest parts, the Near Eastern mindset was holistic. That means they saw the whole as more important than the parts, and rarely bothered to separate wholes into parts. Ancient Israelites saw the human as a complete entity, and they would not have understood a concept that suggests God would deliver only part of the person. To suggest that God would deliver the soul from death, but not the body, would have been a foreign concept to the Israelite believer in Yahweh. It is the modern, Western mindset that allows for such a dichotomist interpretation of the atonement.

Reason #9Healing was a central feature of the old covenant. Some of the greatest healing promises in the Bible are found in the Old Testament: “I am the Lord who heals you” (Exod 15:26); “Praise the Lord…who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases” (Ps 103:2-3); “I will take away sickness from among you” (Exod 23:25). God promised physical healing among the many benefits of the Mosaic covenant. The New Testament consistently testifies that the covenant established by Jesus is superior to the one established through Moses. It is ironic that the book of Hebrews, which was written to prove the complete superiority of the new covenant, is the home of two of the leading prooftexts Cessationists use to prove that the new covenant is inferior to the old when it comes to bodily healing.

Reason #8God does not want his people to be sick. God does what he pleases. He is not bound by any outside forces; no laws external to him restrict anything he does. His laws exist so he can freely do what pleases him and so he can teach us, his people, to do the same. If Cessationists think that bodily healing is not part of the atonement, then they are going to have to prove why God would want his new covenant people to be bound by sickness and disease for the duration of their earthly lives.

It is not enough to say the Bible teaches healing is not for today. Too many people believe the Bible teaches that healing is for today. The latter have no difficulty explaining that God wants his people to be healthy. But if God did not include bodily healing in the atonement, then the pink elephant standing in the middle of the room is asking, “Why?” Why would God choose not to include healing in the new covenant. The only answer is that God did not want to do it. But God wants his people healthy, so that is not an acceptable answer.

Reason #7Healing was central to the ministry of Jesus. The ministry of Jesus was a ministry of healing and deliverance. Luke provides a fitting summary of the life of Jesus in his recording of Peter’s words in Acts 10:38, declaring how Jesus, “went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.” If this is what Christ did during his ministry, what are we, who are in Christ, supposed to do in ours? Put another way, why would Jesus perform healings throughout his earthly ministry if he did not intend for his people to do the same in theirs?  The fact is, he did intend for us to do the same. he said, “anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. he will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father” (Jn 14:12). To affirm the healing ministry of Jesus but deny the similar ministry of his followers is inconsistent.

Reason #6Compassion and faith are still for today. A common Cessationist response to the healings found in the Gospels and Acts is that these healings were restricted to the first century because they were sign gifts, provided to authenticate the gospel in places where it had never been heard before. In other words, it was a temporary manifestation to aid in the fulfilling of the Great Commission. The problems with this interpretation are many. First, the NT promises that all believers will also do these miracles. Not only is this evident in John 14:12, quoted above, but also in Mark 16:16-18, which pertains to “whoever believes and is baptized.” It is telling that when this passage is quoted to Cessationists, the first response is often a denial that these verses belong in the Bible. These promises were not just for the apostles. The healing ministry of Jesus was not just for the apostles. The Great Commission is still being fulfilled today, long after the apostles have died, and we evangelicals who are committed to seeing the gospel go to the nations, need the power of God in our lives and ministries.

A second problem with the Cessationist interpretation of NT miracles is that most of them do not fit under the category of sign gifts. Jesus often healed out of compassion (Mat 9:35-36; 14:14; 15:32-39; 20:34), and many healings were the direct result of faith (Mat 8:10; 9:2; 9:22; 9:29; 15:28). I believe compassion and faith are still for today, and a simple syllogism works out the implications of this fact. If A) compassion and faith consistently produced healing and miracles in the NT, and B) compassion and faith are still for today, then the natural conclusion is C) healing and miracles are still for today. To conclude that healing and miracles are not for today, one has to either contend that Jesus is not consistent in his response to compassion and faith (contra Heb 13:8), or that compassion and faith are not for today.

The last five points of this top ten list will appear next week. Feel free to comment on these points here or in the Revolutingnow Facebook group page. Raise any issues or counter-arguments that you see and I will be happy to respond to them.


6 comments on “Top Ten Reasons Why the Power of God Is for Today

  1. Notborn Yesterday says:

    I would have thought that 1 Tim 5:23 was a better evidence that God heals at His own will and time, not ours and not even the Apostle Paul’s!

    • I did not post the 2nd comment you made, so all is forgotten. I will try to be as brief as I can in response to a very good question. Timothy had a reoccurring stomach ailment. The water-only diet that Timothy espoused may have been contributing to the problem. Water in the ancient world (and in much of the world today) was unsafe to drink, except for the locals. It is possible that Timothy did experience divine healing for his stomach problem, but that it kept coming back, and Paul is prescribing wine as a preventative measure in an application of wisdom. Similarly, today, I might have frequent headaches related to my caffeine consumption. I may be miraculously healed of a migraine, and get another two weeks later and then a few weeks after that. A man of God may speak a word of wisdom to me telling me to check my caffeine consumption. That does not deny the guarantee of healing when an ailment arises. It provides a way to not get sick in the first place.

  2. Notborn Yesterday says:

    Apologies: I see both comments are still awaiting moderation. This was not evident when I first refreshed the page. My comment had just disappeared.

    I would be very keen to hear your explanation of 1 Tim 5:23 and why Paul didn’t counsel Timothy to “have more faith” for his healing, rather than prescribe alcohol.

  3. Notborn Yesterday says:

    Thanks for replying. Your answer is logical and well-thought out. However, it does seem to me to be “making excuses for God” that He couldn’t quite perform a lasting healing. My view of God is that His works are perfect and complete. I’m aware of people – quite close to me in fact – who have been healed by God following prayer. My own mother was totally healed of a brain tumour. It never, ever came back.

    So you see, I don’t in fact “deny that the power of God is available to heal and to do miracles.” Neither am I a strict cessationist. However, I don’t believe “we can pray with confidence that God will deliver us and make us healthy again.” In God’s providence, there are many things we can’t know of His will until they actually happen. The Bible reveals His will for our lives, ie (in short) that we are sanctified and grow in grace. He is more concerned with what is happening inside us than outside. Nevertheless, he has called many to wonderful ministries that they couldn’t have exercised had they been in perfect health. Others He has called to martyrdom, but ALL have been called to lives of sacrifice and ALL have been promised suffering and persecution – to be hated as He was hated. Many are sick and pray for healing over years, and discover that only as they yield to His will for their lives do they learn valuable lessons about God and His will, and then, to their surprise they are healed. My wife was one. God often brings people wonderful growth as they accept that His will may not be to heal them right now (or even “ever”), but for them to suffer adversity.

  4. I am in general agreement with your comments, but I have come into contact with a number of people with impressive healing ministries, and they all say the same thing: it is always God’s will to heal. In other words, the only people who do not believe it is always His will are those who rarely or never experience healing.

    There are two reasons why I would say it is more reasonable to believe God always heals. (1) If I do not believe it is always His will to heal, then I cannot ever pray in faith for healing because I will always question whether my prayer is in the will of God. I would rather believe it is God’s will to heal every time and give myself the best chance to pray a prayer of faith. (2) When I see Jesus face to face, I would rather He tell me, “you had too much faith. You believed I would do more than I was willing to do,” than for Him to tell me, “Why did you have so little faith?”

    The men I minister with hold similar beliefs about God and healing. One of them lost his wife years ago to cancer. He prayed ceaselessly for her and God eventually told him to let her go. It seemed that God was saying He wasn’t going to heal her. My colleague still believes in God’s healing power today as much as he did back then, and he sees many miracles in his ministry. I believe there is a time when God calls a person home, and God may not heal the person at that time, but I will assume that is not the case until God tells me otherwise. In the meantime, I pray as if it is always God’s will to heal, and when it does not happen, I trust God will have a good explanation for it.

    Scripture says “if anyone is sick, let him call on the elders.” As an elder of my church, it behooves me to have as much faith for healing as the people who call on me to pray for them. as a result, I have seen numerous healings. The people who do not get healed do not stop me from believing. I do not need an answer. I just keep praying and sometimes I see God work miracles. I do not think our views are very different. I know that not everyone got healed, even in the New Testament church. I believe there are sometimes other things that are higher on God’s priority list. Spiritual needs are more important than physical ones. But once the higher items are dealt with there is nothing to prevent healing from occurring. I would encourage you to move in a direction that increases faith, and not let any experience or any Scripture that offers more than one interpretation hinder your faith from growing.

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