No, that’s not a trick question.
Whenever I hear some preachers blatantly ignore straightforward things the Word of God says, and replace it with what their experiences and circumstances say, it grieves and saddens me, to be honest. Not because I’m insecure and don’t like that people don’t believe the same as me, but because in some cases it can mean life or death for some people who may listen to these people’s opinions about healing, for the specific example I’ll get to in a moment.
Way too many believers live in total defeat thinking God is the author of their sickness or disease, or that they have no reason to expect God to heal them. They base this on their disappointing experiences over and above the Word of God, often time claiming they stick to the Word of God and not their experiences, ironically enough. If we look at the life and ministry of Jesus, and the overall testimony of the New Testament, we’d never come to the conclusion the gifts of the Holy Spirit would ever stop or that miracles and healings were only for the first-century church. That needs to be taught.
Why is it as believers we are too afraid to have faith for big things? Impossible things? Why must we walk by certainty and be comfortable all the time and have the answers to each question?
“Paradoxes” Don’t Bother Me So Much
It seems when things seemingly contradict each other, many believers can’t handle the tension, and instead pick one side of the coin and form their whole perception of God based on that ONE aspect they choose to go with, and then ignore Scriptures that seem to contradict that. Man’s free will and God’s sovereignty are a great example of that.
It’s like two flies flying over a giant rocket. One lands underneath the rocket, the other lands on top of the ship’s nose. Upon takeoff, both have a radically different experience. One is scorched by the flames from the rockets as the ship lifts high into the sky, the other is taken up into the skies at new heights and is amazed and marvels at the sights he gets to see. Both have a legit experience, but both form radical conclusions diametrically opposed to each other’s. But neither one of these flies has the right to assume their experience is the sum total of how a rocket works. But if I were going to pick a “side”, I’d rather be on top of the rocket and not underneath it, and soar high and not get fried.
Too many Christians form their doctrines and beliefs from getting fried.
Likewise, I cringe when I listen to people in the Body of Christ insist on one side of a view that has many more angles. Such examples include but are not limited to divine healing, the Holy Spirit and by default ways in which He operates, and Calvinism (predestination) vs. Arminianism (emphasis on man’s free will to choose salvation). Neither Jean Calvin and Jacobus Arminius are in the Bible, so why either of them are treated as though their writings belong in Scripture canon is beyond me.
So, how come we throw the baby out with the bathwater on the subject of faith for healing?
Many believers figure if we don’t see God heal someone, then they rule out the idea that divine healing is for today at all. Then let’s be consistent with this view in all areas of our theology and not just compartmentalize certain things. I know very little about Benny Hinn, to be honest, but he’s the default person most people refer to when I’m talking about this subject, under the impression saying something negative about him will undermine everything I am telling them on this subject. I patiently listen to most people as they build straw man arguments to dismantle and look like they made me look uneducated but I will use him as a hypothetical example anyway since he’s probably known most prominently.
Let’s say Hinn holds a crusade and 10,000 people attend it. Of those 10,000, God (not Hinn) “only” heals 500 people, but another 1000 people get prayed for but are not healed, I’ve heard people suggest that those who didn’t receive healing makes him a false prophet (I think the proper accusation would be a false healer since healing is the subject here, not prophecy, but I don’t nitpick at this point).
Wait a minute, isn’t 500 people — even though it’s a mere 5% of those in attendance — still an awesome testimony? Why overlook what DID happen and only focus on what God didn’t appear to do? Instead, critics look at the 10% who received prayer but didn’t get healed and the other 85% that didn’t get prayer at all but just watched as spectators, and conclude negative things about the event.
Statistically speaking, let’s apply these numbers to salvation
If the retired and gifted evangelist Billy Graham held a crusade, and 10,000 people attended it, why is he the most historic evangelist of our time if he produces many more backsliders than Hinn produces of unhealed attendees of his meetings? If 1500 people came forward during the altar call and gave their lives to Christ, but a year later only 500 of them were growing in discipleship and actively a part of a local fellowship, you’d never hear people call him a false evangelist because of all the decisions for Christ than didn’t produce any fruit in the long-term.
The criticisms only get applied to the salvation of a physical body (healing), and not the soul (evangelism).
I’ve read in articles where Graham himself stated that for decades of his ministry, statistics showed that out of all the people who got saved at his altar calls, ONLY 5% were found in local churches in the next 6 months! What happened to the other salvations? That means out of whatever proportion of his audiences that responded to receive salvation, 95% of the ones that did respond became… backsliders! But nobody questions that Billy Graham is a gifted evangelist, based on the portion of the fruit that does last.
The epistle of James 5:14-16 says:
“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. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” (English Standard Version)
Notice the intertwining of forgiveness of sins and healing a body? If you get prayer for healing, your sins will also be forgiven. When they lifted the lame man through the roof Jesus healed him AND told him his sins were forgiven. Jesus did both, stating,
“But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the man who was paralyzed— “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home.”” (Luke 5:24, ESV)
To prove Jesus had the authority to forgive, he healed a person’s body. The two are intertwined. Healing is simply a physical salvation of a body, of which Jesus said was the easier of the two to do (Luke 5:23).
But for some reason, we equate lack of results in the healing of bodies with the preacher being false, but the lack of results in the salvation of souls not mattering, and the preacher is still a wonderful evangelist. Like I said at the beginning of this comparison, why don’t we apply the same logic everywhere in our spiritual lives?
Why Don’t We Care That Doctors Don’t Cure ALL Their Patients?
This might amaze you, but did you know I’ve never met anybody who said “I’m not going to go see a doctor because statistically, he doesn’t cure more than 25% of his patients”? Nobody feels that way in real life! But if the made-up person in this scenario was like most of us Christians, he’d say “I have only a 3 out of 4 chance I won’t get cured, well then I won’t bother to go at all. That doctor’s a fake!”
Did you know that not acting in faith makes you now have a 100% certainty of not getting cured by that doctor? It’s true! But yet that’s how the skeptical Christians are. We act on the side of doubting and unbelief more often than not, and then build our theology and doctrines around these experiences. I’ve heard Bill Johnson say that too much of the Church’s theology is based on its failures. Is that not right?
Let’s rethink our thoughts, and go at the Bible afresh with all of our preconceived notions, or one-sided views of things, and just see what it says, believe it, and see if our lives don’t get radically changed.
If you’d like to visit this topic further, get yourself a copy of my book 6 Lies People Believe About Divine Healing for the price of a cup of coffee (or a few Tim Horton’s coffees).
Audiobook version now available on Audible!