Are faith healings real or phony?

By Jim Allen

Of all the shenanigans performed in the church today, I cannot imagine a more damaging ploy than phony healings. I was in such a church for a short time. I witnessed faith healers twisting Scripture to such an extent they effectively transformed the worship service into a display. God is not looking for circus performers and a display of signs and wonders. He is looking for those who will worship Him in spirit and truth, possessing a quiet and peaceful spirit (John 4:24).

The outcome from a quiet and peaceful spirit is a healing experience we can seek with a sense of God's presence, grace, guidance, and protection. This is the experience God has for us, and if that experience leads to physical healings then all the more glorious.

Looking to the Bible, we see the four gospels recording the highest number of healings. The healing ministry of Jesus was ongoing, beginning with the Leper in Matthew 8:2. "The Leper said, 'Lord, if you are willing make me clean. And, the Lord said, I am willing.'" From this verse we see Jesus is compassionate and willing to heal the least among us.

Jesus performed signs and wonders and healings to prove he was indeed the Messiah. But the healings were never the focus of his ministry and this is important to keep in mind. He also gave the apostles the power to heal. (Matthew 10:1; Matthew 10:6-8). But does this mean Jesus intended the church to have the same gift of healing? If yes, to what extent and to whom would the healing gift be given?

The Apostle Paul briefly writes about the gift of healing in 1 Corinthians 12:9 when he speaks about the ministry gifts given to the church. In 1 Corinthians 12:28-30, Paul clearly teaches that some believers will be given the gift of healing. In fact, Paul had the gift of healing (Acts 19:11-12) but lived with a condition he described as a thorn in the flesh.

Whatever his thorn, Paul prayed thrice to have it removed (2 Corinthians 12:2-10). Some think it was a physical ailment left over from when he was blinded on the road to Damascus (Acts 9). Others believe it was an agent sent from Satan to buffet him. Whatever the thorn, God's grace was sufficient for the apostle (2 Corinthians 12:9).

While many in the church claim to have the gift of healing, perhaps most disturbing about these claims are reports from despairing souls searching for a healing touch. Withdrawing money from savings and retirement accounts, families and friends traveled long distances in hope of a miracle healing for a loved one. In most every instant, they return home having their hope give way to despair and their faith to doubt.

The antics of phony faith healers are wide-ranging and strange to be sure. To teach and then encourage people to chase after these charlatans claiming to work signs and wonders is to ignore Ephesians 4:14, a verse that earnestly warns believers to avoid wayward doctrine.

To seek the healing instead of the Healer is a doctrine not taught in the Bible. Worse yet, sneering onlookers see these televised events as looney toon characters gone wild, wondering at the source of such behavior. Ultimately, what the world and sensible believers witness are bogus healing services that shame the Gospel of Christ.

The Bereans among us have followed these hirelings to discover many claims are untrue or grossly exaggerated. The Internet provides wide-ranging and unrestricted access to a vast numbers of healing ministries. While some are outright fakes, others are run by sincere souls who really believe they have the gift of healing.

Got Questions wisely writes:
Why, if faith healers have the power to heal, do they not walk the halls of the hospitals healing everyone and releasing them all? Why do they not go to Africa and cure all the AIDS cases? They do not because they cannot. They do not have the power of healing that Jesus possessed. (Source)
Former faith healer Mark Haville said about his own reprehensible behavior:
I learned gradually to do what all these speakers like Copeland, Cerullo, Benny Hinn and others do. They manipulate audiences and individuals simply by the power of suggestion. They call the result "signs and wonders." They are deluded...I find it very hard knowing how I unconsciously deceived good people into believing that the Holy Spirit was at work when it was common...hypnosis. But at the time I suppose I did believe, however incorrectly, that these things were the activity of God. (Source)
Aside from Haville's troubled admission of put-on healings, there are some reports of miraculously healings in the church. They do occur and reputable ministries report they can provide names and medical records to prove it. Yes, it would appear genuine healings really do occur.

For more than twenty years I suffered from a severe form of asthma and nearly died once. Several times during the day I relied on my asthma inhaler to breath. Never once did I ask to be healed. One day I awoke and the symptoms were gone. Since then, years have passed and today my lungs are symptom free.

Did God heal me or did I simply outgrow the allergen triggering the disorder? While I lean towards the former as the case, Mark Haville (during his faith-healing days) would agree with the former. But today, Mark Haville might think better of it and suggest I outgrew the allergen causing the condition.

The Bible teaches Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). Whatever healings Jesus performed during His earthly ministry are available today, but perhaps in a greater way than we think. John the Baptist, while imprisoned, received an answer to his question about Jesus as the Messiah. Jesus's reply to the question through a messenger was, "The blind see, the lame walk...and the dead are raised (Matthew 11:5)."

To John the message meant just that: Jesus was healing the blind and lame, and raising the dead. But there is a biblical principle at work that goes far beyond what the faith-healers fail to recognize. About this principle the Apostle Paul wrote, "...the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual" (1 Corinthians 15:46).

While explaining this principle might easily require a few more paragraphs, I'll keep it short. Jesus performed physical healings as a sign of his divinity but also as a foreshadowing of the spiritual healings that would follow (Acts 2).

So then, does God heal today? Absolutely! As a born again believer, you are healed. You were once blind but now see (Acts 9:18); you were once lame but now walk in the spirit (Galatians 5:16); and, you were once dead but now raised with Christ (Ephesians 2:5-6; Colossians 3:1).

Whether God heals the body or saves the soul, both are perfect works but the latter more assured.

In closing, God is compassionate. He is always willing to touch believers in miraculous ways. Jesus said, " first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you." The word "all" in the verse means exactly what it says and it is therefore fitting to declare "good health and healing of the body" as indeed part of "all these things" (Matthew 6:33).

Whatever our physical burdens, God's grace is sufficient for you and me until we gather at the river in the by-and-by. There, our earthly journey will end. There our physical infirmities experienced on earth will seem like a distant memory as they fade away in His presence.

Published 5-18-15