A church back in the midwest hired on a pastor, and from the beginning there was conflict between one particular elder and said pastor. They would get into arguments constantly in meetings, because their approaches to the running of the ministry were very different. Animosity grew between the two; in fact it got to the point where they couldn’t even speak to each other without venomous words spewing out. Then one day the elder became sick. There was a spot on one of his organs; cancer, that if not operated on would spread and eventually kill him. As he was lying in the hospital bed God spoke with him about making amends with the pastor. So, the elder asked to see the man he had battled with for so long. At their meeting the elder asked for forgiveness, but it wasn’t given. The pastor walked away with animosity still in his heart, but the elder had obeyed what he was instructed to do.
Soon after the elder had his surgery. It was shorter than expected, and when he was lucid again, he found out why. When the doctor opened him up, there was no spot, no cancer, nothing was wrong.
This story comes from Pastor David Gilmore who leads one of our Alliance sister churches over in Cathedral City, California, who’s father was the elder. He shared his father’s story several years ago at one of our conferences. It highlighted one of the main aspects of what the Alliance emphasizes, Jesus is our healer.
But when we talk about this subject, the idea of God’s divine healing gets so muddy so often that we need to dive into what it is and what it is not. And one of the best Scripture passages, that I have found, that summarizes what divine healing is and what it isn’t, is found in the book of Acts chapter 3, starting in verse 1. So if you have your Bibles, we’re going to be jumping into what divine healing is, by looking at Acts 3, starting in verse 1.
And as we open up in our Bibles, let’s recap where we’re at in our sermon series on the Fourfold Gospel and what the Alliance is.
We started this sermon series with the question what is the Alliance? Because so often we get people that come through those doors that have no idea what the Alliance is. And we really don’t empathize that we are an Alliance denomination. In fact, in all the twelve years I’ve been here, we’ve only talked about it, maybe a handful of times, and that’s including what we’re doing right now. To us, it’s not important that people know who the Alliance is, what’s important is that people know who Jesus is, and that he is lifted up through the work he has given us to do in Quartzsite.
But we’re taking some time to talk about the core aspects of what makes up the Alliance, and what drives us to do the work that God has called us to do.
So in our first we we talked about the emphasis on Jesus being our Savior. Like all Christian denominations or non-denominations, this is a huge aspect. I mean, what’s the point of any of this, if Jesus isn’t our Savior? We’re just meeting together in a building for an hour to make ourselves feel good, when we could be out exploring the desert, or going to the river. No, we meet together because Jesus saved us from our sin, and now we are his followers.
Then in our second week we talked about Jesus our Sanctifier, and I have to tell you I was very surprised at the response I got. See, I was expecting that when we talked about Jesus as Healer and Coming King, we were going to get into some controversial territory, because I’m going to warn you now, I will probably say something through this talk today that you’re not going to like. But what surprised me was that there were some people that took issue with a few things I said during our talk last week. In our Sunday night discussion, we had a great interaction about being sanctified and what that was, and it was great. Which is why we have these Sunday night discussions. It’s a place where we as a church can go deeper together. Sunday mornings is just the tip of the iceberg of how deep these topics are. On the other end of the spectrum, I got a couple of comments, with the most productive being from a person who left a review on our church’s Google listing that contained some disagreements. I was able to connect with this person over the phone and we had a good hour long conversation.
Here are some things that I said last Sunday that were controversial: I mentioned the shooting in New Zealand, and how many of those shot were going to hell. This is because they have not accepted Jesus as their Savior. This is plainly laid out in passages like John 1:12, and John 14:6, and other places if I need to provide more. The point of bringing this up was to talk about how, we need to have the love of God grow deep in us, so that we may share the Gospel with people. Because God’s desire is that no one would go to hell, our desire should line up with that (2 Peter 3:9; 1 Timothy 2:4). But if we’re not willing to share the Gospel, then we have some growing to do.
Second, I said that I once believed that things like homosexuality were okay, and now I don’t. Well, I also believed lying, and stealing were okay, and a whole host of other things. My point was, as we get closer to God, things that we believe will be shaken, and if we’re serious about being sanctified by God, then we must be willing to have our beliefs, desires, and actions conform to his. It was on this topic that I was asked a specific question this week, “Can homosexual Christians go to heaven?” If you would like to know how I responded, I have printed my response, and put it on the information table in the foyer.
So last week was, I thought, not going to be such a controversial topic, but it was. Now, let’s get into the really controversial one.
Let’s dive into Acts chapter 3 verse 1.
1 One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. 2 Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. 3 When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. 4 Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” 5 So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.
6 Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” 7 Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. 8 He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. 9 When all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
I love this passage because it sums up what divine healing is, and what it isn’t. For the last two weeks we have been going all over the Bible and showing passages that connect with our topic. Today, I want us to take the insights of A.B. Simpson, and put them against the healing we see in Acts 3.
So what are some big things we see in Acts 3? Peter and John, two of Jesus’ closest disciples are heading to the Jewish temple at prayer time. There is a man who cannot walk from birth. This man begged every day to help with his situation, and everyone knew him. The lame man requested money, Peter had none, but Peter said the only thing he did have was Jesus. Peter grabbed the man and stood the man up. The lame man was completely healed, and began praising God. The people were amazed. These are the basic beats of the story.
Now, let’s look at what A.B. Simpson comments on what divine healing is not and see if it agrees with the passage.
Divine healing is not medical healing. We’re there any doctors, or medical professionals operating on the man? No, so divine healing is not simple medical fixes of the body. It is more than operations. Can we be healed through medical work? Yes, but that’s not what we’re talking about when we’re talking about divine healing.
Next, divine healing is not metaphysical healing. This means that the man isn’t “mind curing” himself. He wasn’t put into a state of hypnosis, or trance. Can we “trick” ourselves into feeling better? Of course, that’s the placebo effect, but that’s not what we’re talking about with divine healing. This man was simply grabbed, and healed.
Third, divine healing is not magnetic healing. We see this all the time in Quartzsite and maybe you’re wearing one right now. Using magnetic bracelets to help our bodies natural electrical charge flow better. This isn’t divine healing. We don’t see any bracelets, or magnets anywhere to be found, because that isn’t divine healing.
Following that, divine healing is not spiritualism. This is referencing that Satan has power to give and take away disease. We see this in the Old Testament where the enemy gives boils to Job. The healing we’re talking about is not Satan’s work, or any other spiritual being’s power. Peter says, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Satan has no power in response to Jesus.
Next, divine healing is not prayer cure. I get this all the time. Because I’m a pastor people ask for me to pray for them, because my prayers seem to work. If my prayers work, it’s only because I pray in God’s will. No one believer has any greater access to the throne of God than any other one. A pastor is not more spiritual because he has a title. There is no truth to the idea that some of us were made to be closer to God than others. The real question in prayer is, are we asking in God’s will, or our own. Peter and John didn’t even pray in this situation.
Fifth, divine healing is not faith cure. The last one focused on someone else’s prayer and faith, this one focuses on our own. I’ve heard it so many times, if you would just have more faith, then you would be cured. No! Faith is not the object of the healing, Jesus is! More faith does not equal more healing. The man in Acts didn’t have any faith to be healed, he wasn’t even thinking about being healed, he was thinking about getting money from the disciples, yet he was healed.
Sixth, divine healing is not will power. This one piggy backs on the metaphysical, “mind cure” one. We might will ourselves to stay off a cold. We might will ourselves to work through the pain. But these are only temporary “cures”. The man could not will his legs to work, it only came from the outside power of God to move in his body.
Next, divine healing is not defiance of God's will. I have heard this from people who usually quote places like Matthew 21:22, where Jesus says, “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” or Mark 11:24, “ Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” But what people tend to miss, is that every time Jesus mentions words like this, it’s always in the context of our will being submitted to God’s. Therefore we’re asking for things that fit his will and not our own. We’re not forcing him into something, we’re agreeing with him. The man in the passage didn’t even seek the healing, but it was rather thrusted upon him, because it was the will of God.
This next one I think we want, but isn’t even close to what God wants: divine healing is not physical immortality. This past few months, I prayed that one of our members would still be with us, because there was so many things that would have benefited from his touch. I prayed several times for his healing, but it came to a point where my prayers changed from wanting keep him here, to letting him go to be with God. This is a momentary life, we are meant for the eternity of God. We had a man several years back named Ralph who was healed of a back pain. But only a couple years later God took him home.
Finally, divine healing is not a mercenary medical profession. This means, that you can’t make a living off people going around healing them. Peter and John’s purpose was not to go around and just heal people. Jesus’ purpose was not just going around and heal people. They could have done that, but their purpose was the spreading of the Gospel. That was their intention, and the healing of this man, gave the disciples that very opportunity.
So what then is divine healing?
First, it’s the supernatural divine power of God infused into human bodies. This is what the tree of life is in Genesis 2. This is what the river of life is in Revelation 22. This is branch connection to the vine of John 15. This is what Peter said to the man, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you.” Peter had the Holy Spirit and that’s all he could give the man. Divine healing is God’s divine power penetrating our very being to heal.
Next, divine healing is founded on the Word of God alone, not on anyone else’s word. People are not healed because I say people are healed. People are not healed because some evangelist says people are healed. And people are not healed because other people say they have been healed. No, people are healed because God says, people can be healed. Isaiah 53:5, “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” God’s work of healing, is deeply connected to the saving work of Jesus on the cross. And by God’s Word, the Savior came and died for us, and by God’s Word, we can be healed in a multitude of ways through that sacrifice. Peter was only there, and was only able to heal that man, because Jesus had sacrificed himself on the cross.
Third, divine healing recognizes and submits to the will of God. People ask, why didn’t someone get healed? I don’t know, but what I do know is God’s will is a major crux of why. In the case of the man in the passage, I know why he did. Everyone recognized him as the lame man begging day in and day out. But all of the a sudden he was healed, and jumping around causing a scene. This gave Peter and John an opportunity to share the Gospel, which led to the disciples being arrested and put in jail. But then something interesting happens in the fourth chapter, verse thirty-one, after Peter and John we’re released. It says, “After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly. 32 All the believers were one in heart and mind…” This one healing was a catalyst to the Gospel being proclaimed, believers being filled with the Spirit, the believer’s being embolden, and the Church being united. What more is the will of God than these?
Next, divine healing is the work of the Holy Spirit and cannot be produced by man. We cannot force God’s hand, nor can we manifest this type of healing on our own. It is the work of the Holy Spirit. This goes hand-in-hand with our will being submitted to God’s will. And us not being able to produce it through medical, metaphysical, or our own faith focus. But rather it is God’s will accomplished through the Holy Spirit.
Fifth, divine healing comes to us by faith in God. This means that God is the focus, not what we can do, but what he can do in us. It’s not about me having more faith, or finding people that have enough of it, but rather knowing that if it is God’s will, then we may be healed. Peter and John had faith that healing was only found in God, and God moved.
Finally, we know that divine healing is in accordance with Church history, and that it is one of the signs of the age. Take a survey of church history, and you will find personal testimonies of people agreeing with the miraculous work of God. Origen, Justin Martyr, D.L. Moody, A.B. Simpson, David Gilmore. There are even people in this church that have experienced God’s divine healing in their lives, I mentioned Ralph. The Holy Spirit was at work at the beginning of the Church, and he is still at work today.
But here’s the thing, how does this impact us? How does God’s divine healing effect us today?
Maybe you’re dealing with an infirmity, most people in Quartzsite are. I would encourage you to seek God’s healing. Maybe you have sought it, and nothing has happened, I would encourage you to keep seeking it until God says no. Whether you have sought it or not, here’s the key that I have found to divine healing: We have access to God’s healing through the saving work of Jesus on our behalf, we are being transformed by God through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, and as we are aligned in his will, the healing of our bodies because secondary to the work that God desires to produce in us.
And when our attitude moves beyond our own momentary glory, to God’s eternal glory, then we will be content in the work of God in our lives. Whether we experience healing or not.
But until God says and abrupt no to healing, we continue to seek him, as a child seeks their parent for the goodness that they have.
This is my challenge for you today, if you have something you desire to be healed, and that might be a physical ailment, a mental ailment, or a spiritual ailment, the elders of the church want to pray for you. We’re going to anoint you with oil, and lift you up to God for his work to be done. But don’t ask if you’re not willing to have your will aligned with God’s, because then we’re just going to be seeking our own good, rather than the glory of God.
This is a part of the Alliance that drives us forward. God is active and working through his people today to heal every aspect of us, in accordance with his will. What great and wonderful things has he for us? Let us seek them from him together. Amen.