28th July 2023
Rev. Kyle Norman asks
Can Christians Today Still Miraculously Heal the Sick?
Scripture declares a certain reality of life.
This reality centres upon the activity of God within the world.
In the Old Testament, we see God choosing and journeying with the nation of Israel.
The Lord's presence brings with it the manifestation of God's power. God acts in mighty and miraculous ways.
The Old Testament declares a reality of life; a reality in which God is present and active.
To deny this reality is to deny the very veracity of the Old Testament.
This reality of the world is carried over into the New Testament.
As Jesus sends the disciples out for their evangelistic mission, he gives them
"power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, sending them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick".
The Book of Acts continues this witness of God's power in human life.
With the bestowal of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, we see the Christian community engage in the miraculous healing in Acts. The disciples continue to cast out demons and heal the sick.
Thus, the same reality of life illuminated through the Old Testament and the Gospels is present in the Book of Acts.
An interesting question to ask is:
Is this our reality today?
Healings abound throughout the Book of Acts that records that
"Awe came upon everyone, because many signs and wonders were being done by the Apostles".
Such signs and wonders naturally included acts of miraculous healing.
From here, acts of healing are peppered throughout the rest of the book.
This association with "signs and wonders" seems to be that which identified the Christian community and set them apart from other religious sects.
Acts 4 records a prayer for the boldness of the Christian community.
Here the church prays;
"grant your servants to speak your word with boldness while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed."
Signs and wonders were understood to be a natural and expected part of Christian life and ministry.
Do we have a similar expectation within the Christian community today?
The difference between these accounts and the disciples' own ministry of healing is clear.
For the Christian community, the working of the Holy Spirit is always connected to the proclamation of the gospel.
Acts of healing are never ends in and of themselves.
Physical healings necessarily point to the reality and lordship of Jesus, and the power of God's kingdom on earth.
Does the Holy Spirit Give Power to Christians Today?
To answer this question, it is best to explore the consequences of believing that the Holy Spirit does not give power to Christians today?
If miraculous healings do not occur, then we are declaring that Christians do not abide in the same reality as the early apostles.
Such a belief would assume then that the power of the Holy Spirit is limited in the contemporary age.
But what if the reality of life declared in Scripture is unchanged?
What if life today is still rooted in the powerful presence of God?
Could this possibly mean that the same acts of healing that occurred then, can occur now?
Perhaps it is our own doubt as to this reality that creates a stumbling block today.
Do we embody the same zeal as the early Christians did?
Do we believe that the reality presented in Scripture is reflective of the reality of our lives?
Perhaps the age of healings seems past simply because we do not risk living as if it were true.
For many, faith has become a private matter.
Many feel uncomfortable speaking about their spiritual lives, particularly with other people.
Therefore, praying for one's healing is simply out of the question.
Has the boldness of the disciples then become the reasoned wariness of disciples today?
Yet the call remains. James encourages:
"Is anyone among you sick?
Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.
And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up...The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective".
Such a statement speaks to the availability of God's power to heal, restore, and save.
Scripture does not make such statements out of lofty idealism or fanciful wish-dreams.
The prevalence of God's healing throughout the biblical witness points to a reality of the world in which we live.
God is present. God is active. Healings can occur.
Only one question remains:
Do we believe it enough to act upon it?
Bible references avaiable, on request
Rev. Kyle Norman, Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer, is the Rector of St. Paul's Cathedral, located in Kamloops BC, Canada.
He holds a doctorate in Spiritual formation and is a sought-after writer, speaker, and retreat leader. His writing can be found at Christianity.com, crosswalk.com, ibelieve.com, Renovare Canada, and many others.
He also maintains his own blog revkylenorman.ca. He has 20 years of pastoral experience, and his ministry focuses on helping people overcome times of spiritual discouragement.