Saturday, June 21, 2008

Understanding Faith and Healing

Understanding Faith and Healing
Joseph Herrin (Updated 06-21-2008)

News headlines from an Associated Press article dated June 19, 2008 proclaim: Teen's Death Blamed on Faith Healing

The article begins:

GLADSTONE, Oregon (AP) -- Authorities say a teenager from a faith-healing family died from an illness that could have been easily treated, just a few months after a toddler cousin of his died in a case that has led to criminal charges.

Family members attend the Followers of Christ church. “The Followers believe in a literal translation of the Scripture, which states that the sick shall be anointed by elders and that faith will heal all. Death, if it comes, is God's will, they believe.”
[Source: The Oregonian: June 18, 1998 article]

Earlier deaths involving children from the church resulted in the State of Oregon passing legislation striking down religious shield laws for parents who treat sickness only with prayer.

Today’s news comes on the heels of another high profile story out of Wisconsin regarding the Neumann family whose 11 year old daughter Kara died in late March while her parents were praying and trusting God to heal her. The parents are now battling government charges of second degree reckless homicide. The Neumann’s were not part of any organized church, but they subscribed to the faith healing teachings of Unleavened Bread Ministry and its teacher David Eells. The Neumanns contacted an elder at UBM the day before their daughter Kara died, saying she was very sick, asking to speak and pray with David. David called the Neumanns and prayed with them for Kara’s healing. In a series of news releases following the death of Kara Neumann, David Eells shared the following:

When I called they shared concern for their daughter, Kara, who had started getting sick in just the last day or so (not as is reported for the last 30 days). They asked me to pray and agree with them in prayer, basically because she appeared pale and listless (not a quote). They did not seem overly concerned because they had had healings before. This is not an unusual kind of request to us. I and our elders and prayer ministers are used to praying for the sick and have seen many healed by our Lord. We do not dictate to people about whether to go to the doctor or not but agree with their faith as the Bible says: {Matthew 18:19} Again I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father who is in heaven. We are not commanded in scripture to send people to the doctor but to meet their needs through prayer and faith. As anyone here in the ministry will tell you, we are not against doctors for those who have their faith there and never condemn or restrict them in any way. But we know that the best one to trust in for healing is Jesus Christ. The foundation for receiving this benefit from Him is repentance and faith in His promises. {1Peter 2:24} who his own self bare our sins in his body upon the tree, that we, having died unto sins, might live unto righteousness; by whose stripes ye were healed.
Jesus, Whose faith was perfect, gave healing to anyone who had faith and still does. {Mt.8:13} And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; as thou hast believed, [so] be it done unto thee. And the servant was healed in that hour. ... {9:22} But Jesus turning and seeing her said, Daughter, be of good cheer; thy faith hath made thee whole. ... {29} Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it done unto you. {30} And their eyes were opened. I am very sorry that I have not yet manifested the faith of Jesus or His discernment when someone else has the repentance and faith needed. However, even in my weakness God's grace has healed many.

The day after I first spoke with the Neumanns they called me again from their car, very concerned as they followed an emergency vehicle with Kara in it. They told me that she had stopped breathing and asked if I would pray that The Lord would spare her and raise her up, which I did. I called on our prayer ministers and elders to pray for her, too.

In these words we can discern the doctrine of David Eells, to which the Neumanns also subscribed, concerning faith and healing. We also observe that the results the ministers at UBM have received have been inconsistent. David Eells stated, “I and our elders and prayer ministers are used to praying for the sick and have seen many healed by our Lord.” No percentages are listed. It would probably also be accurate to report that David and the elders and prayer ministers at UBM ministries “have seen many (NOT) healed by our Lord.” Kara Neumann being one example, for David admits that not only he, but also the prayer ministers and elders at UBM prayed that she would be healed, and after she quit breathing they prayed that she would be raised back up.

Those involved in these incidents subscribed to a doctrine based upon their understanding of various Scriptures, including the following from James.

James 5:14-15
Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him.

David Eells made reference to this verse when he wrote, “The foundation for receiving this benefit from Him is repentance and faith in His promises.” This passage from James mentions both repentance from sin and faith. Since the Neumanns called the elders of the church found at Unleavened Bread Ministries, and the elders prayed for healing, why did healing not result? According to that which David Eells shared, either sin must have been present, or faith must have been absent. David expresses humility concerning his own weakness in offering a prayer of faith, for he has said, “I am very sorry that I have not yet manifested the faith of Jesus or His discernment when someone else has the repentance and faith needed.

In this writing it is not my intent to condemn anyone. All who are involved manifest a great sincerity in their beliefs, a deep commitment to walk in a manner pleasing to the Lord, and a willingness to suffer deeply in order to be found faithful to their beliefs. My heart has been burdened by the depth of sorrow and grief that results from such a loss. Having lost a dearly beloved child (Kara means “beloved”), they have had to face the criticism and condemnation of the world at a time when they are wrestling to understand why their child was not healed. UBM ministries, and David Eells in particular, have also borne the brunt of much condemnation, being mentioned in relation to Kara’s death by national news outlets such as ABC, and then picked up by a host of smaller news outlets and lambasted widely across the Internet.

This writing seeks to point out an error in belief relating to the doctrine of faith and healing. It seeks to present a sound understanding of this matter that further unnecessary tragedy might be averted. It was only a couple weeks ago that I learned of David Eells association with the Neumanns. I subsequently wrote to him, asking him to re-examine his doctrinal beliefs relating to healing. I sent him a copy of an article I wrote in December of 2000 titled Faith and Healing, that had been written after witnessing s similar event in the lives of a family with whom I was familiar.

David responded by stating that he did not have time to read lengthy e-mails, and he felt that his doctrinal beliefs were sound. I expressed to him briefly that a necessary ingredient of faith is receiving a word from God specific to our situation, and without such a word there is no foundation for faith. If God has not said He will raise up one who is sick, and made known the manner in which the healing should be performed, then there is no basis for faith. David responded, “I have a lot of experience in healing for 35 years and God has been my healer consistently by just holding to the Word. I notice that the people who have to have God speak to them never get the consistent results.

I wrote to David a second time. I asked him if he did not consider the death of Kara Neumann to be “inconsistent results.” Clearly there have been many other times when David and the elders at UBM have prayed for people’s healing and they have not received the result they have sought. Is it not possible that there is a flaw in the doctrine they are operating upon? I sent a second e-mail about a week later asking David to please read the article in order to judge this matter. He was courteous in his reply, but once more declined to read what I had sent him. David wrote me back the following:

I have had consistent healing and have watched those who waited for a word from God to tell them they could believe His Word, do without healing. I believe the WORD can be stood upon. I raised 5 kids without doctors or medicine. I saw broken bones, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, gycoma (sic), etc healed consistently. Why would God have to tell you His word is true.

The proof of the truth is that it works. The Rhema / Logos theory does not. By their failure to get results God is asking these people why they don't belive (sic) His Word.

The secret is that When one is humble to the written Word by acting upon it, it beomes a Rhema to him. If God says you are healed - 1 Pet. 2:24. then you are. You don't have to ask him - are you sure? - is this truth?

David used I Peter 2:24 as a scriptural example of a blanket promise of healing. I wish very much he had read the writing I had sent him, for in it this verse was examined in context, revealing that it is not speaking of physical healing. It is concerned only with spiritual healing from the penalty of sin.

Peter is quoting a passage from the prophet Isaiah, so let us begin by looking at Isaiah’s words, which are also quoted widely in support of a doctrine of universal healing from sickness and injury.

Isaiah 53:5
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

A question that many have glossed over is, “What kind of healing is the verse referring to?” Many saints have not studied this verse “as a workman that need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of God.” Looking no further than the surface to gain understanding and to find their interpretation and application, they have failed to arrive at the truth. They see the word “healed” here and make an assumption that the verse is speaking of physical healing. Assumptions are very dangerous, leading to sorrow in many occasions. The word healed is not used exclusively in relation to physical sickness. We speak of someone being healed of a broken heart. This is healing of the soul. God’s has spoken through the use of metaphors extensively throughout the Bible. In one place He refers to a judgment upon Israel by scattering her among the nations as having wounded her.

Nahum 3:19
There is no relief for your breakdown, your wound is incurable.

Incurable, means there is no healing, but it is obvious that a physical healing for sickness is not what is in view here. In another place Yahweh speaks of afflicting Israel due the her numerous sins, and the word healing is mentioned.

Jeremiah 30:12-14
For thus says Yahweh, your wound is incurable, and your injury is serious. There is no one to plead your cause; No healing for your sore, no recovery for you. All your lovers have forgotten you, they do not seek you; For I have wounded you with the wound of an enemy, with the punishment of a cruel one, because your iniquity is great and your sins are numerous.

It is obvious here that physical healing is not the subject, but healing from the penalty of sin. The passage from Isaiah must also be examined carefully to determine what type of healing is in view. If it is not speaking of physical healing from sickness, disease and injury, then those who seek to form a doctrine of universal physical healing from the verse are in great error.

There are many clues in the context of the verse that make its meaning clear. Large portions of the prophetic books of the Bible are written in a poetic style that was common to the Hebrews. One of the features of Hebrew poetry is the use of parallelism. Parallelism is the repetition of a thought, either restating a thought using different words, or making a contrast to the thought by stating its opposite. This is seen clearly in the Psalms.

Ps 6:1
O Yahweh, do not rebuke me in Your anger, nor chasten me in Your wrath.

Ps 7:9
O let the evil of the wicked come to an end, but establish the righteous...

In these two verses we see examples of parallelism. In the first verse the same thought is stated in two different manners. In the second verse parallelism is again used, but this time the thoughts are in contrast to one another. By understanding this feature of Hebrew poetry the translators of scripture have been able to discern the meaning of many obscure words. Because they knew a thought was restated, or contrasted, they were able to compare known words with words they were uncertain about and come to a clearer understanding of the word’s definition.

As students of the scriptures, we can also use this device to more clearly determine meaning when we perceive parallelism is being used. Look again now at the verse from Isaiah.

Isaiah 53:5
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

It is clearly evident that parallelism is being used in this scripture. Is the parallelism restating the same thought, or is it a contrast? As we look at the verse we see that the same thought is restated. The first clause is:

“He was wounded for our transgressions...”

The parallel clause is:

“He was bruised for our iniquities.”

We see here that the words “wounded” and “bruised” are parallel to one another, speaking of the suffering of Christ before and during His crucifixion. We also see that the words “transgressions” and “iniquities” are parallel. These parallel clauses are clearly speaking of Christ suffering for the sin of man.

This verse is very interesting in that it repeats the original statement not once, but three times. The next sentence contains two more perfect parallels to the original statement.

“The chastisement of our peace was upon Him...”

“With His stripes we are healed.”

It is easy to discern that the words “chastisement” and “stripes” continue the parallels found in the words “wounded” and “bruised.” All four words describe various forms of suffering. It takes a little more Bible knowledge to discern the parallel in the last part of these clauses. What is meant by “the chastisement of our peace was upon Him”? When someone sinned under the Levitical Law an offering had to be made to atone for the sin. One such offering was called a “peace offering.” This is the meaning of “the chastisement of our peace was upon Him.” This thought is further stated in the following passage.

Colossians 1:19-20
For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fulness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross...

The cross was the place where the peace offering was made and it restored the relationship between God and man where sin had caused a division. It is evident then that the first three clauses of this verse from Isaiah are all dealing with sin and Yahshua bearing sin’s penalty. Could we not expect that the final phrase will bear the same meaning? Let us examine it.

“And with his stripes we are healed.”

I have already noted that “stripes” is a parallel to “wounded,” “bruised,” and “chastisement.” All of these words are linked to Yahshua paying the penalty of sin. How then are Christians able to break the established parallelism and declare that Isaiah is now writing about physical healing when all the other clauses have been speaking of sin’s healing?

The word that is interpreted “healed” in this verse is elsewhere interpreted as “repaired” (I Kings 18:30), and “be made whole” (Jeremiah 19:11). The scripture from Kings is speaking of “repairing” the altar and the scripture from Jeremiah is speaking of destroying a piece of pottery so that it cannot “be made whole” again. We see then that the word can have a diversity of meaning, and we must look to the context of the passage it is found in to determine its application.

If you still have doubts about the meaning of this verse from Isaiah, you need only look at the verse in its context. The rest of the passage contains these words:

Isaiah 53:6,10
All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but Yahweh has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him... But Yahweh was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; if He would render himself as a guilt offering...

The stripes Yahshua suffered were an example of Yahweh putting His Son to grief that He might render Himself a guilt offering. What is the purpose of a guilt offering? It is to atone for sin. By His stripes we were healed from our sin guiltiness.

To conclusively settle this matter, we need only look at the New Testament to observe how the apostles understood this Scripture. The very Scripture David Eells cited, refutes his conclusion.

I Peter 2:24
He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.

The subject of this verse is sin and righteousness. The final clause relates to all that has been said before it. “By His wounds you were healed” from sin that you might live to righteousness.

It is a great manifestation of poor Bible interpretation that would lead a person to conclude that these verses were making a general promise of physical healing from all sickness to Christians. Tragically, many saints have taken such verses and attempted to stand upon them and claim physical healing. God never intended this verse, or others, to be used in such a manner. Christians cannot take a verse which speaks of reconciliation between man and God through the sacrifice of Yahshua the Messiah and use it as a basis upon which to demand that Yahweh heal them or a loved one.

The doctrine that declares that God has made an universal promise of healing to all Christians is based upon scriptures such as these which are misunderstood. People may be very sincere in their misunderstanding, but their sincerity does not change the meaning of God’s word. It must be “rightly divided” and this requires that the saints apply themselves to diligent study as “a workman that need not be ashamed.” Another scripture that David Eells quoted in support of his doctrinal stance is the following:

Matthew 18:19
Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven.

The faith teachers of the day make great use of this verse to suggest that Christians can have anything their lustful hearts desire. But surely a mature Christian does not believe that the “anything” stated here actually means “anything” that man can think up? Does this mean if two Christians agree together that God should give them both a million dollars, that Yahweh is obligated to do so?

James 4:3-4
You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God?

James reveals that there are some limitations to those things we can expect to receive from God. Is it possible that there may be other conditions that must be met in order for a prayer to be answered? Is it possible that Christians are to discern the will of God in each situation before they make their request? The Scriptures reveal that the answer is an emphatic “YES!”

George Muller, the minister who established large orphanages in England in the 1800's knew much about prayer and faith. In 1880 he preached a sermon where he shared the following:

Had it been left to us to make promises concerning prayer, I do not know that you or I could have done any more than say, “Ask, and ye shall receive.” Yet, while the promise is so full, so deep, so broad, so precious in every way, we have here, as becomes us with other parts of the word of God, to compare Scripture with Scripture, because in other parts additions are made, or conditions are given, which, if we neglect, will hinder our getting the full benefit of prayer.

George Muller went on to detail a number of conditions that were attached to the simple “Ask, and ye shall receive.” First, our petitions must be according to the will of God as is revealed in I John 5:14.

I John 5:14
And this is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.

Brothers and sisters, we have to get the whole counsel of God on a matter. If you would seriously contemplate this matter of prayer and faith, you would surely have to acknowledge that God will not do anything the mind of man will conceive simply by his asking for it. What a mixed up world this would be. Mankind would end up ruling in the heavens. God would be at the beck and call of man, existing to meet man’s every whim, to move at man’s command. This is a total overthrow of the authority of God over His creation. A true and mature understanding of prayer and faith must acknowledge that man must at all time be subject to the will of the Father. If man asks “anything” according to His will, He hears us and will answer from heaven. If it is not according to His will, then man has no expectation of God granting His petition.

George Muller’s life provides a good study in the foundations of faith. Mr. Muller always sought the mind of the Father before making any decision pertaining to care of the orphans. Any time an expansion of the ministry was considered he would still his soul, and come to a place of complete rest where he was able to receive the knowledge of the desire of God in the matter. He never wanted to be found to have acted presumptuously, for God is not obligated to meet our needs if we have acted in presumption. Mr. Muller sought the knowledge of God’s will in all things that he might carry out the work in the manner the Father desired.

The Scriptures declare that true righteousness is found in caring for widows and orphans.

James 1:27
This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father, to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

Despite the fact that the Scriptures declare that it is in keeping with the character of God to care for widows and orphans, it would have been presumptuous for George Muller to determine on his own initiative the form of this ministry. At the height of his work with the orphans Mr. Muller was caring for thousands while making their daily needs known only to God. God moved mightily in sending provision, but there were many long years where faith was tried severely. In these days it was necessary for George Muller to look to God and declare, “Father, I did not begin this work of my own initiative. I was led by your Spirit in all things. I am therefore confident that You will supply every need.” George Muller’s faith arose out of his having waited upon God and received a word of direction from Him.

True faith ALWAYS includes a word from God providing direction for our path. Let me declare this again, for it is at this point that many stumble and suffer great sorrow.


Romans 10:17
So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word (rhema) of God.

The expression “faith comes by hearing” is not translated literally into English here. The word “by” is a translation of the Greek word “ek” which literally means “out.” It would be more accurate to translate this statement as “faith comes out of hearing.” In other words, faith must have something to arise out of, and that which it arises out of is something we hear.

Where does hearing come from? It comes from the (rhema) word of God. The Greek word rhema literally means “to utter, speak or say.” (Definition from Strong’s Concordance of Greek and Hebrew Words). Let us then look at this verse anew with this understanding.

Romans 10:17
So then faith come out of hearing, and hearing by the utterance, the speech, or saying of God.

We see then that faith always arises out of hearing God speak to us. If God has spoken nothing, we have nothing out of which faith can arise.

Let me declare this again, as it is vitally important.

Faith always arises out of hearing God speak to us. If God has spoken nothing, we have nothing out of which faith can arise.

If a man, woman or child has not heard anything from God, faith is not present, and belief is not possible. What many are calling faith and belief is merely positive thinking, or misplaced confidence based upon a wrong understanding of God’s word. Some might say, “Don’t the Scriptures speak God’s word to us, and don’t they promise that He will heal all who believe?” David Eells has stated, “The secret is that When one is humble to the written Word by acting upon it, it beomes a Rhema to him. If God says you are healed - 1 Pet. 2:24. then you are. You don't have to ask him - are you sure? - is this truth?

No! This is error. The natural mind of man can read the Bible and come up with an infinite variety of ways in which to apply it to his circumstances. The Christian is not to do so, however. The Christian life is to be one directed by Christ through the indwelling Spirit.

John 10:27
"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me...”

Romans 8:14
For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

Christ knew the Scriptures better than any other man of His day, yet He never operated out of general principles derived from Scriptures. He did not begin His ministry until the Spirit descended upon Him and remained. Immediately He was led of the Spirit into the wilderness to fast for forty days. His entire ministry was characterized by a complete submission to the will of the Father as it was revealed to Him by the Spirit. He plainly states how dependent He was upon the Father to know His desire in every circumstance and situation.

John 5:19-20
Yahshua therefore answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and greater works than these will He show Him, that you may marvel.”

Christ NEVER determined for Himself who He would heal, or how the healing would be accomplished. He looked to the Father, and whatever the Father showed Him He did “in like manner.” If the Son saw the Father healing a blind man by taking spittle and clay and making mud to place on his eyes, He did exactly as the Father showed Him. If He saw the Father healing ten lepers by telling them to go a present themselves to the priest, knowing they would be healed along the way, then He instructed them exactly according to what the Father showed Him.

Christ never healed by formula. He never quoted from Isaiah or another verse mentioning healing, and said “Based upon this verse, you are healed.” Neither do we see the apostles ever healing in this way. They all walked according to the leading and direction of the Spirit who has been given to make known to us the thoughts of God.

I Corinthians 2:10-12
To us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man, which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God...

If any man had the ability to apply the Scriptures according to His understanding, surely it was Yahshua. Yet He strictly avoided ever being led in this way. He never made a decision apart from discerning the will of the Father for that situation.

John 5:30
I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”

The Son of God never acted presumptuously. Although He said He was greater in wisdom than Solomon, He did not judge things Himself. As He heard from His Father, He judged. Whatever the Father revealed to Him, that He did “in like manner.” It is the tendency of natural man to gather what facts he can through his natural senses, and then make a decision based upon the facts and his own understanding of righteousness. This the Son of God never did.

Isaiah 11:3-4
He will not judge by what His eyes see, nor make a decision by what His ears hear; but with righteousness He will judge...

God the Father is the only source of righteous judgment. Only He can decide what will be done in every situation. He chooses to heal, or not heal (for example, Paul’s thorn in the flesh). He alone sees perfectly the cause for an illness, and we must discern His mind that we might know what He would have done. Consider the following examples from Yahshua’s ministry.

John 9:2-3
And His disciples asked Him, saying, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind?" Yahshua answered, "It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was in order that the works of God might be displayed in him.”

John 5:7-14
The sick man answered Him, "Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming, another steps down before me."
Yahshua said to him, "Arise, take up your pallet, and walk." And immediately the man became well, and took up his pallet and began to walk. Now it was the Sabbath on that day... Afterward Yahshua found him in the temple, and said to him, "Behold, you have become well; do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse may befall you."

In the first example Yahshua was asked if the man or his parents had sinned, causing his blindness. Yahshua said that neither had sinned. In the second example Yahshua discerned that the man’s sin had indeed precipitated his condition and He cautioned him to sin no more. How could Yahshua discern this? Certainly not by outward observation. It would be impossible to construct a set of doctrines or a theological structure to use to determine why a person is sick. It is only by the Spirit of God that this could be discerned. Yahshua was in constant communion with the Spirit and was always discerning the mind of the Father in this way. This is the same way that the saint of God is to approach every situation.

When we are presented with a situation regarding healing we need to discern the mind of God just as surely as Yahshua did. Yahshua never treated two people alike. He did not work by formula. He did not recite scriptures over everyone and proclaim them healed. He acted as God directed Him. For one blind man He simply touched his eyes and told him to be healed. For another He made mud from spit and dirt and applied it to the blind man’s eyes and told him to go wash in the pool of Siloam. For some afflicted people Yahshua cast out unclean spirits that He discerned to be in them. For some He simply told them to stretch out their hand, or rise up off their pallet. For some He said, “Your sins are forgiven.” In each situation Yahshua discerned the mind of the Spirit and acted accordingly.

Living by spiritual formula leads to an independence from a daily reliance upon the leading of the Spirit. We are called to “abide” in Christ. Yahweh has so designed the Christian life and experience so His children will seek Him always. Great error occurs when men seek to construct a theological framework whereby they can determine what to do in every situation. We are called to be a people of the Spirit, not a people of the letter.

II Corinthians 3:6
It is He Who has qualified us making us to be fit and worthy and sufficient as ministers and dispensers of a new covenant of salvation through Christ, not ministers of the letter of legally written code but of the Spirit; for the code of the Law kills, but the Holy Spirit makes alive.
(Amplified Bible)

Those who declare that all we need is God’s word have made the Bible into an idol. This idol leads men and women away from a daily reliance upon the life of Christ expressed through the indwelling Spirit of Christ. Placing the Bible into a role God intended His Spirit to occupy renders Christians susceptible to many errors of judgment that result in heartache and loss.

Let us look at the example of the apostles to see if the doctrine of universal healing for all Christians holds up. The apostle Paul was a man of great faith. He was also used of the Lord to perform spectacular healings.

Acts 19:11-12
And God was performing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that handkerchiefs or aprons were even carried from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out.

Notice here who it says was doing the miracles. “God was performing extraordinary miracles” and Paul was simply God’s hands in performing the work. Paul was directed by God in these activities and what the Spirit revealed to him he did in like manner. It is evident that Paul did not subscribe to an universal healing doctrine based upon a perceived Biblical promise. He only healed when Yahweh revealed it was His will to do so, and in the manner Yahweh revealed. There were times when Yahweh gave Paul no revelation for the healing of an individual.

II Timothy 4:20
Trophimus I left sick at Miletus.

How is it that a man with the spiritual maturity of the apostle Paul left an associate behind due to sickness? Didn’t Paul know that there was a universal promise of healing for all, and the prayer of faith would raise them up? We see that this absence of healing extended to Paul’s own life.

Galatians 4:13-15
But you know that it was because of a bodily illness that I preached the gospel to you the first time; and that which was a trial to you in my bodily condition you did not despise or loathe, but you received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus Himself. Where then is that sense of blessing you had? For I bear you witness, that if possible, you would have plucked out your eyes and given them to me.

By Paul’s own confession he had a loathsome condition that afflicted his eyes. This was a prolonged condition, for trouble with his eyes is mentioned frequently.

Galatians 6:11
See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand.

Because Paul was nearly blind, he often dictated his letters and only signed his name at the end of them.

Romans 16:22
I, Tertius, who write this letter, greet you in the Lord.

I Corinthians 16:21
The greeting is in my own hand-- Paul.

How did Paul respond to this bodily affliction? Did he seek to claim a blanket promise of healing perceived in the Scriptures, such as “by His stripes we are healed”? No! Paul sought the Lord concerning the matter.

II Corinthians 12:8-9
Concerning this I entreated the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me.

I believe this loathsome affliction to his eyes was Paul’s thorn in the flesh. Of it he says he prayed to God three times about it “entreating” the Lord to remove the affliction. Paul entreated. He did not claim some general promise. Paul sought the Lord’s mind, and when the Lord revealed it was His will for the affliction to remain, Paul accepted it.

Paul’s actions lend no support to the faith healing doctrines that suggest God will heal all who have faith and repentance. Clearly this is not the case. God did not remove Paul’s sore affliction of his eyes. Will men suggest this was due to Paul being deficient in faith, or having unconfessed sin in his life?

Abraham is called “the father of faith,” and we can discern something very important about the character of faith from an examination of his life. Faith always consists of two parts: a word from God, and a response of trusting obedience. Most Christians fail to receive a word from God, so they have nothing upon which to base their faith.

Genesis 12:1-4
Now Yahweh said to Abram, "Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father's house, to the land which I will show you; and I will make you a great nation... So Abram went forth as Yahweh had spoken to him.

Abraham heard a word from God, and he responded with trusting obedience. God credited this faith of Abraham to him as righteousness. Faith comes out of hearing. Yahweh had to speak something to Abraham in order for faith to arise.

Consider for a moment that Abraham did not choose to leave Ur of the Chaldees, or Haran, at his own initiative. Abraham did not reason one day, “I am sure tired of this city. I think I will leave and go to a place I have never been before, and I will trust God to prosper and protect me.” No! This would have been presumption, not faith. Faith does not originate in the thoughts of a man. Faith ALWAYS originates in a word from God. Consider another event from the life of Abraham.

Genesis 22:1-3
Now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham, and said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am." And He said, "Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah; and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you." So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him and Isaac his son; and he split wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.

Yahweh once more appeared to Abraham, giving him specific instructions. Abraham responded in faith. If there had been no word from God, there would have been no possibility of faith being present. Abraham did not have to wonder, “Does God want me to do this?” Abraham had heard God give him specific instructions and Abraham responded in trusting obedience. How many of us, however, have been tormented because we were not sure that we had heard God speak? How many have heard some man tell them that they needed to take a group of scriptures and stand on them, but they had no specific word from God relating to their circumstance?

David Eells is not a wicked man. He is seeking to walk faithfully to what he believes. He has observed God performing numerous acts of healing in his own life and that of his family. David has supposed that this is the result of having stood upon Scriptures that promise healing, but the truth of the matter is that God has given David Eells specific instruction concerning these things. Yahweh has led David to place the health of his family into the hands of God in order that He might demonstrate His faithfulness and power, and that David’s faith might be strengthened for days ahead.

In his testimony David shares of the Spirit leading him to take specific steps of faith, such as canceling all his insurance, including health insurance, and looking to God to provide healing. God gave me the same instructions back in 1999, and because I heard God and obeyed Him my family and I have seen Yahweh’s healing manifested in our lives in extraordinary ways. Just as Yahweh appeared to Abraham, Yahweh spoke to me. He gave me a specific word, and due to the presence of this word faith had a foundation out of which to arise.

I have never felt led to tell other men to tell do as God instructed me to do. Rather, I have told them to seek God to receive a word for their situation. Only then would they have the necessary prerequisite for faith. Only then would they be equipped to overcome the doubts and fears that accompany trials of faith. I have been enabled to stand and see the promises of God fulfilled by continually returning to what God spoke to me. I would encourage myself by praying, “God, remember that you spoke this to me, and I am not doing this of my own initiative, but at Your leading. Therefore I am depending upon You to fulfill what You have promised.” This is the only true basis for faith, resting upon the word God speaks to us.

I recently listened to an audio recording sent to me. It consists of an interview David Eells did on his radio broadcast with Rex Veron on June 15th, 2008. In the interview the subject of David recently experiencing a severe health crisis was brought up. Rex suggested that David was able to stand and claim healing from the Lord because the Lord had given him specific promises that had not yet been fulfilled in his life and ministry. David acknowledged that God had given him promises, but he said what he really stood upon was the Bible’s promises of healing. I am convinced that David is mistaken. Without the promises of God spoken to him, David would not have had the confidence to claim healing from God. Neither would God have been obligated to heal David, for God is only obliged to do that which He has promised. He has given no universal promise of healing in the Bible.

There are incidents in Scripture where the revealed will of God in bringing healing is not clearly stated, but it is always present. Faith always arises out of a word from God. Consider the following examples:

Luke 17:19
And He said to him, "Rise, and go your way; your faith has made you well."

On the surface it may appear that Yahshua is declaring that the leper who was cleansed was healed because he envisioned Christ healing him and believed it, therefore it became a reality. This is not the truth, however. The leper received a word of specific instruction and he acted upon it.

Luke 17:12-14
And as He entered a certain village, ten leprous men who stood at a distance met Him; and they raised their voices, saying, "Yahshua, Master, have mercy on us!" And when He saw them, He said to them, "Go and show yourselves to the priests." And it came about that as they were going, they were cleansed.

As we already read, Yahshua only did those things the Father showed Him to do. The Father showed His Son that the lepers were to be healed in this manner. Yahshua relayed the Father’s will to them, they responded in trusting obedience, and the promise of healing was realized. Let us look at another example.

Acts 27:23-25
Last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me and said, 'Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.' So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me.

Here Paul makes the statement that he has faith in God. Again is this some mysterious principle or force that allows the miraculous to happen? No! Paul’s faith in God actually has a very specific basis. An angel of God appeared to him and gave him a word of revelation. Paul’s faith is not some general belief in God, but it is a trusting response to the word that God presented to him. Again we see the two ingredients of revelation and trusting response.

I am convinced that every instance of faith includes these two vital ingredients, revelation and trusting response. Even in instances where both are not clearly stated, as one examines the situation it can be shown that both were present. For example, when the woman with an issue of blood came and touched the hem of Yahshua's garment and was healed, Yahshua told her that her faith had healed her. Was her faith some mysterious power to transact a miracle? No, she believed that if she could just touch Him that she would be healed. Where did this belief arise from? It clearly had its source in God for “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.”

Many people in the day in which Yahshua walked this earth heard of Him from the testimony of others. As this woman heard of the miracles He was performing she believed that He would heal her, too. Into her soul came the thought that if she could just touch His garment she would be healed. God was clearly the source of this thought and she responded in trusting obedience and was rewarded for it.

Did God speak to people in this way during the time of Christ? We know He did. Yahshua's own words to Peter when Peter declared Yahshua to be the Messiah were, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 16:17). Similarly, it was God who revealed to the woman with the issue of blood that she would be healed if she touched the hem of Yahshua's garment. If we conclude anything contrary to this, we end up violating other Scriptures which reveal that this is always the way in which faith works.

Consider what is revealed in the following words of Scripture:

Luke 5:17
And it came about one day that He was teaching; and there were some Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem; and the power of the Lord was present for Him to perform healing.

It was the Father who determined whether the power would be present to heal on that day and in that place. God is able to make His power present or absent at His discretion. If the Father had not made His power present on that day, then Yahshua would not have healed the paralyzed man who was let down through the roof on a pallet. What is observed in this Scripture is that healing is always at the discretion of the Father.

Yahshua was always looking to the Father to see what He was doing, and He was careful to do it in like manner. Consider the occasion when Yahshua went to the pool of Bethesda and saw a multitude of sick laying there. Yahshua observed the Father healing only one man, and this is precisely what Yahshua did, leaving all the others unchanged.

John 5:2-9
Now there is in Jerusalem by the sheep gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew Bethesda, having five porticoes. In these lay a multitude of those who were sick, blind, lame, and withered... And a certain man was there, who had been thirty-eight years in his sickness. When Yahshua saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him, "Do you wish to get well?" The sick man answered Him, "Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming, another steps down before me." Yahshua said to him, "Arise, take up your pallet, and walk." And immediately the man became well, and took up his pallet and began to walk.

Yahshua demonstrated the manner in which all of God’s children are to walk. They are to look to the Father and see what He is doing and do it in like manner. We are not to assume things or act out of our own initiative. We are to be led into all of our activities, beliefs, and words by the Spirit of God. Consider now how this relates to James’ instructions to the elders concerning praying for the sick.

James 5:14-15
Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him.

To understand this we must keep in mind what we have already seen. Faith must include revelation and a trusting response. Many people call for the elders to pray for them today and they are not healed. This passage is often quoted in many churches, but there is very seldom any healing that takes place. Why is this so?

It states here that not just any prayer will restore the one who is sick, but it is the prayer of faith. There must be revelation and a trusting response. Why are so many prayers of the elders ineffective? Because there is no revelation from God before they pray. Many simply pray some formulaic prayer, citing verses of Scripture that speak of healing, or saying “Lord, if it is Your will let this person be healed.” Is this a prayer of faith? Absolutely not. There is no revelation and therefore no word of God out of which faith can arise.

James states here that if the person has sinned his sins will be forgiven him. How is this to be discerned? In the same way that Yahshua discerned if a person’s sickness was due to sin or not. This comes through revelation of the Spirit of God. The position of elder is a spiritual duty, providing oversight for the souls of the saints. The elder is to be one who is Spirit filled and led by the Spirit of God. They should be capable of discerning such matters as they wait before God for direction.

Even after having heard God instruct me to trust Him for the health of my family, I encountered situations in others lives where I needed to know what to do. I knew I could not simply tell them God would heal them, for I had no word specific to their circumstance.

One day my wife and a close friend of hers went out to pick some peaches. When they got back the lady she was with said she was feeling very poorly. Her breathing became affected and she was experiencing numbness and tingling throughout her body. I was quite concerned, and began praying. I told the Father that I did not know what to do, and I asked Him to reveal what should be done. A few moments later a lady from the community dropped by and she took a look at this lady and discerned immediately that she was having an allergic reaction due to pesticides that had been sprayed on the peach trees just before they picked peaches. This woman had some Benadryl in her purse and gave one to my wife’s friend and she quickly felt better and in less than 30 minutes she was able to get up and eat a meal.

There are times when Yahweh chooses to use some natural remedy or treatment to affect healing. We find the apostle Paul giving the following instructions to Timothy.

I Timothy 5:23
No longer drink water exclusively, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.

What is interesting to note here is that Paul did not do anything that the erroneous faith healing doctrine would suggest. He did not tell Timothy to stand on promises of healing found in the word of God. He did not tell Timothy to rebuke the devil. Paul did not even suggest that Timothy call for the elders of the church, for Paul was Timothy’s elder. Paul discerned that Timothy should drink a little wine for his stomach and his frequent ailments, and this is what Paul recommended to him.

As Christians we must be discerning of the Father’s thoughts for us. He does not choose to heal every person anymore than He chooses to make everyone financially prosperous. Though, just like this doctrine that suggests universal health to be promised in the Bible, many faith teachers today say there are a multitude of promises of universal wealth to all who will believe. Yet God chooses to subject His children to lean times financially as well as physically. Through these means He is able to reduce the strength of the outer man in order that the fragrant aroma of the life of Christ might be released through us. Concerning Paul’s physical affliction, he understood the following:

II Corinthians 12:7
To keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh...

I was born with a hereditary bone disease called Osteogenesis Imperfecta, or Brittle Bone Disease. From the age of seven to the age of thirteen I broke multiples bones and had numerous surgeries to repair these injuries. Looking back I can see the Lord’s purpose in this. Had I been a physically strong person I would have had a tendency toward pride and independence that would have been very destructive. Yahweh wanted to produce a son who was humble and who looked to Him at all times. To accomplish this He gave me a body that was easily broken. The strength of the natural man provides a barrier to walking in humility before God. Yahweh will often choose to subject His children to some affliction, or weakness in order to produce sons in His image.

I Corinthians 1:26-29
For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised, God has chosen, the things that are not, that He might nullify the things that are, that no man should boast before God.

God will choose to afflict His children in various ways for the sake of their own conformity to Christ. As we receive some weakness or affliction Yahweh has chosen for us, He provides a more abundant grace that the life of Christ might be revealed in us.

II Corinthians 12:9
Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me.

God will not choose to heal all sickness, disease and affliction for He has chosen some to bear these things for their perfecting as saints. Though you stand and claim healing Scriptures from dawn to dusk, God will not change His mind concerning His will for your life. I have been much impressed from the time of my youth with the testimony of Joni Eareckson Tada. As a teenager she experienced a diving accident that left her paralyzed from the neck down. She prayed for healing, and many others prayed for her, yet it was not God’s will to remove the paralysis.

As Joni came to accept the brokenness of her body, the fragrant aroma of Christ within her began to manifest more and more. Her compassion, tenderness, patience, and joy are of an unusual degree even among the saints of Christ. She has subsequently been enabled to impact the lives of millions through the testimony of Christ’s sufficiency in her weakness. She considers her wheelchair not to be a prison that holds her captive, but a throne upon which the Son of God can be manifest.

I read the book Joni when I was a teenager. In it she shared how some well meaning believers told her that if she would just have enough faith that God would heal her. This was like kicking a person when they were down. It is true that many stumble in unbelief, but as we have seen, faith must have a word from God out of which to arise. God revealed to Joni that it was His will that she endure this condition, and His grace has truly been sufficient. His power has been manifest through her weakness.

Believers, all of what I have shared with you is with the intent of bringing you to the understanding that in all situations we must discern the mind of the Father. We must not try to stand on general principles, for this truly brings about inconsistent results, and much unnecessary heartache. As the sons of God, we must emulate the firstborn Son of God.

John 5:19-20
Yahshua therefore answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and greater works than these will He show Him, that you may marvel.”

Yahshua lived in a constant relationship of looking to the Father, and so should we. If we will come to Him in our time of need, He will answer us and show us His will.

I believe there is good reason that God did not just give the church a blank check regarding healing. If God had told the church that all they needed to do was embrace a principle or stand on certain scriptures, then the church would in effect become independent of Him. God wants His children to be intimate with Him. God wants His children to seek Him diligently and develop ears to discern the still, small voice of the Spirit. God wants communion with His children and He wants His children to be conformed to the image of His Son who did nothing of His own initiative. Yahshua was always beholding the Father. Yahshua was always looking to God to guide Him in His activities and even in the very words that He spoke. How much more do we need to do so.

John 20:21-22
Yahshua therefore said to them again, "Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you." And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

Much insight can be gained from these two scripture verses. Yahshua is commissioning His disciples. He is sending them forth as the Father had sent Him. How did the Father send Him? He is not telling them to be independent of God. He is not handing them an instruction book and telling them to develop principles of kingdom life to apply to every circumstance. He is sending them forth after His own example which was to walk in the Spirit.

This is clearly revealed in verse 22. Even as Yahshua began His ministry immediately after the Spirit descended on Him, so He has commanded them to receive the Spirit. He later gave them further instruction at His ascension, telling them to tarry in Jerusalem until they were endued with power from on high. This happened on Pentecost when the Spirit was given to the church.

The saint of God is to be led of the Spirit of God as he walks out his life. God doesn’t want the saints to be led of their own reason and intellect. This will not lead to the will of God. God knows man’s tendency toward independence and self initiative. He has therefore devised things to keep man from walking apart from Him.

Yahweh never intended for His sons to act independently of Him. He wants them to remain close and to hear His voice and be led into all things by His Spirit. The saint that is versed in the word of God, but does not know the voice of the Spirit is a prime candidate for following the voice of another. We must know God’s voice.

John 10:3-5
"To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name, and leads them out. When he puts forth all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. And a stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers."

Many will come in these latter days quoting Scriptures and speaking things contrary to the mind of the Father. Savage wolves will enter in among the flock. It will be absolutely necessary that the sheep know the voice of their Shepherd. Yahshua will lead them into all truth by His Spirit.

John 16:13
When He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth.

We are called to be a people of the Spirit. If you would like to read more concerning the principle of being led of the Spirit in all of our activities and ways, I would recommend to you the book Sabbath. It can be read in its entirety online.

If you would like to read how the Spirit of Christ has led this son of His to an experience of dependence upon God, manifesting His hand in healings and miracles of provision, I would recommend to you the book Evidence of Things Unseen. It too can be read online:

May you be blessed with peace and understanding in these days.

Heart4God Website:
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Mailing Address:
Joseph Herrin
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063

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