The following message was delivered at Grace Community Church in Panorama
City, California, By John MacArthur Jr. It was transcribed from the tape,
GC 90-60, titled “Charismatic Chaos” Part 9. A copy of the tape can be
obtained by writing, Word of Grace, P.O. Box 4000, Panorama City, CA 91412.
I have made every effort to ensure that an accurate transcription of the
original tape was made. Please note that at times sentence structure may
appear to vary from accepted English conventions. This is due primarily to
the techniques involved in preaching and the obvious choices I had to make in
placing the correct punctuation in the article.
It is my intent and prayer that the Holy Spirit will use this transcription
of the sermon, “Charismatic Chaos” Part 9, to strengthen and encourage the
true Church of Jesus Christ.
Charismatic Chaos – Part 9
“Does God Still Heal?”
John F. MacArthur, Jr.
All rights reserved.
Well, as you know, we are involved in a study of the Charismatic movement,
the contemporary movement, and tonight we come to a section entitled, “Does
God Still Heal?” Now, in the messages that I have been giving we have
intersected with the thoughts about healing, and we have said some things
about that in some of our prior studies and we are not going to repeat those
things. But there is much more that needs to be said tonight as we evaluate
a movement that advocates healing. In fact, if there is anything that would
be typically Charismatic or typically characteristic of the modern
Pentecostal movement, Third Wave movement, or Charismatic movement, it would
be a major emphasis on healing, and we need to understand that.
Let me begin with some illustrations that set the scene for us. A familiar
name to anybody who studies the Charismatic movement and delves into the
issues of healing is the name of a man, Hobart Freeman, a very interesting
man, at one time a professor of Old Testament at Grace Theological Seminary,
from which our own Dick Mayhue graduated. And when he was a professor there
in Old Testament, he was considered to be the finest communicator, the finest
teacher there. In fact, Hobart Freeman wrote a very significant book
entitled, “An Introduction to the Old Testament Prophets” which, in 1969, was
published and printed by the Moody Bible Institute. So he was considered by
everybody to be a mainline evangelical professor, one who not only understood
but could adroitly teach the truth of Scripture.
Somewhere along the line he changed. Hobart Freeman believed that God had
healed him from Polio. Nonetheless, one of Freeman’s legs was so much
shorter than the other that he had to wear corrective shoes and walked with
great difficulty. Freeman became a pastor. He began his ministry as a
Baptist and after he had written and taught for some years, in the mid 60’s
he became very fascinated with “faith healing,” and it moved him into the
Charismatic movement, and then it moved him further and further towards the
fringes of that movement. He started his own church in Claypool, Indiana; it
was known as Faith Assembly and it grew to more than 2,000 members. Meetings
were held in a building which he called the “Glory Barn” and Church services
were closed to non-members.
So it was kind of a secretive and cultic association. Freeman and the Faith
Assembly congregation utterly disdained all medical treatment. He believed
that modern medicine was an extension of ancient witchcraft and black magic.
To submit to a doctor’s remedies, Freeman believed, was to expose oneself to
demonic influence. Expectant mothers in Freeman’s congregation were told
that they must give birth at home with the help only of a church sponsored
midwife rather than go to a hospital delivery room or to be treated by a
doctor. By the way, obedience to that teaching, cost a number of mothers and
infants their lives. In fact, over the years, at least 90 church members
died as a result of ailments that would have been easily treatable. No one
really knows what the actual death toll would be if nationwide figures could
be compiled on all the other people who followed Hobart Freeman’s teaching.
After a 15 year old girl whose parents belong to Faith Assembly, died of a
medically treatable malady, the parents were convicted of negligent homicide
and sentenced to ten years in prison. Freeman himself was charged with
aiding and inducing reckless homicide in the case. Shortly afterward, on
December 8, 1984, Freeman himself died, interestingly enough of pneumonia and
heart failure complicated by a severely ulcerated leg.
Hobart Freeman’s theology did not allow him to acknowledge that Polio had
left one of his legs disfigured and lame. Quote, he said, “I have my
healing.” And that is all he would say when anyone pointed out the rather
conspicuous inconsistency between his physical disabilities and his theology.
Ultimately, his refusal to acknowledge his infirmities cost him his life. He
had dutifully, according to his own theology, refused all medical treatment
for the maladies that were killing him, and medical science could easily have
prolonged his life, but in the end he was a victim of his own teaching.
Now, Hobart Freeman is a very familiar name to those involved in Faith
Healing, but he is not the only one. There is another one who succumbed to
ailments and that is a man by the name of William Brannom (sp.), and if you
study anything about the healing movement you are going to come across the
name of William Brannom (sp.). He would be the father of the post World War
II healing revival. He was a man reputed to have been instrumental in some
of the most spectacular healings that the Pentecostals have ever seen. He
died, however, in 1965 at age 56, after suffering for six days from injuries
received in an automobile accident. His theology was unbiblical and
heretical, and of course when applied to himself his theology of healing had
no effect whatsoever, though his followers right to the end, were confident
God was going to raise him up. And even after he died they believed that God
would raise him from the dead.
As a boy, I was brought to become aware of another Faith Healer who became
very, very famous, a man by the name of A. A. Allen. And A. A. Allen, about
whom I read and whom I followed with curiosity, was a famed “Tent
Evangelist.” He took his healing meeting from place to place in a tent.
Interestingly enough, A. A. Allen claimed thousands upon thousands of
healings, and himself died of sclerosis of the liver in 1967, having secretly
been involved with alcohol for many years while supposedly being able to heal
Perhaps a more familiar name in the healing movement would be the name of one
who is elevated almost to the status of the Roman Catholic elevation of Mary,
and that’s a woman by the name of Kathryn Kuhlman. Kathryn Kuhlman died of
heart failure in 1976, curiously enough. She had battled heart disease for
nearly twenty years, and that statement is made by Jamie Buckingham who would
have been one of her disciples.
Another one that comes to mind, Ruth Carter Stapleton, was the Faith Healing
sister of former United States President Jimmie Carter. [She] refused
medical treatment for cancer because of her belief in faith healing. She
died of the disease in 1983. And even John Wimber, who would be probably the
most prominent modern contemporary Third Wave healer, struggles with chronic
angina and heart problems. He begins his book on Power Healing with a
personal note. This is what it says; quoting John Wimber, he says,
I had what doctors later suspected were a series of coronary
attacks. When we returned home a series of medical tests
confirmed my worst fears, I had a damaged heart, possibly
seriously damaged. Tests indicated that my heart was not
functioning properly, a condition complicated and possibly
caused by high blood pressure. These problems combined with my
being overweight and overworked meant that I could die at any
Wimber writes that he sought God and he says that God told him that in the
same way Abraham waited for his child, I was to wait for my healing. In the
meantime, he says, “He told me to follow my doctor’s orders.” Wimber writes,
“I wish I could write that at this time I am completely healed, that I no
longer have physical problems, but if I did it would not be true.” Now, it
seems obvious, at least a curiosity to all of us, that so many leading
advocates of faith healing are sick!
Annette Capps (sp.), the daughter of Faith Healer Charles Capps (sp.), and
herself a Faith Healer, raised that question in her book; her book is
entitled “Reverse the Curse in Your Body and Emotions.” This is what she
People have stumbled over the fact that the so-called “Healing
Minister” later became ill or died. They say, “I don’t
understand this. If the Power of God came into operation and
all those people were healed, why did the evangelist get sick?
Why did he or she die?” The reason is because healings that
take place in meetings like that are a special manifestation of
the Holy Spirit. This is different from using your own faith.
The evangelist who is being used by God in the gifts of
healings, is still required to use his own faith in the Word of
God to receive divine health and divine healing for his own
body. Why? Because the gifts of healings are not manifested
for the individual who is ministering, they are for the benefit
of the people.
Now that double-talk basically means that somebody could have faith for
somebody else’s healing but not enough faith for their own healing. And so,
sometimes without faith for their own healing they die, while they have
enough faith for other people’s healings who live. She goes on to say,
Over the years I have seen various manifestations of the gifts
of healing in my own ministry, but I have always had to use my
own faith in God’s word for my healing. There have been times
that I have been attacked with illness in my body but as I
ministered many were healed even though I did not feel well. I
had to receive my healing through faith and acting on God’s
Thus, she astonishingly concludes that if a Faith Healer gets sick, it is
because his or her personal faith is somehow deficient when applied to his or
herself. Now, to take that a step further, you must understand that these
people go so far as to say, “That even Jesus Himself sometimes did not have
the faith required for people to be healed.”
Perspectives on Faith Healing often seem as varied as the number of Faith
Healers around. Some say that God wants to heal all sickness, others come
close to conceding that God’s purposes may sometimes be fulfilled in our
illness and infirmity. Some equate sickness with sin; others stop short of
that, but still find it hard to explain why spiritually strong people get
sick. Some people just “flat out” blame the devil, and they think if they
can tie the devil up in a knot and send him off to Tibet or something [then]
everybody will get well.
Some claim to have the “Gifts of Healing;” others say they have no unusual
healing ability, they simply are used of God to show people the way of faith.
A lot of people used to say they had the “Gift of Healing” but the chicanery
they were using has for so many years been exposed that nobody today can get
away with that stuff anymore. So now they just claim they don’t have the
“Gift of Healing,” they just sort of pray and have faith and God does what He
wants. Some will say they heal with a physical touch; some will say you heal
through anointing with oil; others say they can speak forth a healing, that
they can speak it into existence; some people say they can only pray for a
healing, and so forth and so on. And there are healers who just keep
changing from one approach to another as the chicanery and the charlatanism
of the healing movement becomes exposed and they have to change their
Always a Faith Healer, the well known Oral Roberts used to claim that he
could heal. He claimed great powers of healing; he no longer claims that.
Oral Roberts claimed God had called him, in fact, to build a massive
hospital. And He said this massive hospital would blend conventional
medicine with Faith Healing. If you visit the city of Tulsa, as I did this
summer, you are absolutely astonished at this facility. It is mind boggling
to see a sixty story building rising out of a weed patch outside Tulsa,
Oklahoma, and next to it a thirty story building rising as well, now
completely vacant and most of it unfinished on the inside. In the face of
huge financial losses apparently God changed His mind and declared that the
whole thing should be closed down. It is a monument to the unfulfilled
promises of Faith Healing. Nonetheless, in spite of these bizarre claims
that never come to pass, Faith Healing and the Charismatic movement keep
Charles Fox Pharham (sp.) who is the father of the contemporary Pentecostal
movement, came to the conviction originally (this is way back at the turn of
the century when the Charismatic movement was then known as Pentecostalism
and just starting) he claimed that God desired all believers to have complete
healing and he developed that into an entire Pentecostal system, and then it
began to flow through the leaders. Amy Simple McPherson (who founded the
Foursquare Church), Angelus Temple (sp.), E. W. Kenyon, William Brannom
(sp.), Kathryn Kuhlman, Oral Roberts, Kenneth Hagan, Kenneth Copeland,
Fredrick Price, Jerry Seville (sp.), Charles Capps (sp.), Norval Hayes,
Robert Tilton, Benny Hinn, Larry Lee, and on and on it goes. They have all
headlined their public meetings with healing.
There are even Catholic Charismatics such as Father John Bertilucci (sp.),
and Francis McNutt (sp.) who have followed suit seeing that the Charismatic
healing emphasis is a natural extension of Roman Catholic tradition. And
then in the last phase of this so called “The Third Wave” in which we talked
about leaders like John Wimber and others, Paul Cane (sp.) and the Kansas
City Prophets, et al., have made healing a central element in their
repertoire. The claims and methods of these Faith Healers range frankly from
the eccentric to the grotesque. A few years ago I received–I receive
everything in the mail; if they don’t send it to me, somebody who wants me to
see it does. And I have received bottles of healing oil and healing water and
all kinds of things–but I received a miracle prayer cloth, and in it the
message said, and I am quoting,
Take this special miracle prayer cloth and put it under your
pillow and sleep on it tonight. Or you may want to place it on
your body or on a loved one. Use it as a release point wherever
you hurt. First thing in the morning send it back to me in the
“green” envelope. Do not keep this prayer cloth, return it to
me. I will take it, pray over it all night. Miracle power will
flow like a river. God has something better for you, a special
miracle to meet your needs.
Now, these are the kinds of things that go on all the time. And of course in
the “green” envelope you not only send the cloth but you send some “green”
money as well. Green being a good reminder of what color they would like to
see. Interestingly enough, the sender of the prayer cloth feels he has
biblical support for doing this. While Paul was in Ephesus, you remember God
performed extraordinary miracles through him, and according to Acts 19, it
says, “Handkerchiefs or aprons were carried from his body to the sick and the
diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them.” And as we have
been seeing in the series, however, Paul and the other apostles had been
given unique power, and we talked about Apostolic Power as unique power;
certainly nothing in the New Testament suggests that anybody could send out
handkerchiefs and they are going to produce miracles.
Kenneth Hagan (sp.) tells of one Faith Healer he heard of who used a method
that I have never personally witnessed. Kenneth Hagen (sp.) writes,
He’d always spit on them, every single one of them. He’d spit
in his hand and rub it on them. That’s the way he ministered.
If there was something wrong with your head, he’d spit in his
hand and rub it on your forehead. If you had stomach trouble,
he’d spit in his hand and rub it on your clothes and on your
stomach. If you had something wrong with your knee, he’d spit
in his hand and rub it on your knee. And all the people would
Other gimmicks, not quite that uncouth, but every bit as outlandish, also can
be visualized everyday as you watch your television set. Some ask for “Seed
Faith” money. Oral Roberts often says that if you donate money to him, that
is in effect a down payment on your own personal healing. Robert Tilton
regularly devises simple ploys; [he] pledges special healings and financial
miracles to people who send him money; the larger the gift, the better the
miracle. “It’s in direct proportion to how much money you send,” he says.
Pat Robertson will peer into the camera and as if he can see into people’s
living rooms describe people who are being healed that very moment. Benny
Hinn recently healed fellow Faith Healer and Talk Show Host Paul Crouch
(sp.). He healed him on the live broadcast of the Trinity Network. After
Hinn had released his anointing to a roomful of people, Crouch step forward
to testify that he had been miraculously cured of a persistent ringing in the
ears he had been suffering from for years. And on and on it goes, this list
of fantastic claims, incredible stories of healings grow at a frantic pace,
but real evidence of genuine miracles is conspicuously absent.
And everywhere you go people are asking questions about this. From all sides
comes confusion, questions, contradictions. Now as we study the Scripture,
we find there are three categories of spiritual gifts, if we want to call
them that. First would be the category we could say are gifted men like
apostles, prophets, evangelists, and teaching pastors. These are the men
themselves given as gifts from Christ to the Church. And then we could say
there are the permanent edifying gifts and the temporary sign gifts (the
other two categories). Permanent edifying gifts would be gifts related to
knowledge, and wisdom, and preaching, and teaching, and exhortation, and
faith, and discernment, and showing mercy, and giving, and administration,
and helps, and those things that have an ongoing ministry in the Church.
And then there are those temporary sign gifts, in other words, divine
enablements given by the Holy Spirit for a temporary period of time as a sign
for a very special purpose. These are listed for us in Scripture; they are
miracles, healings, tongues (or languages), and the interpretation or
translation of those languages.
Now, we have noted in our study that such sign gifts had a unique purpose:
very simple–they were to identify the authentic spokesman for God. First of
all, Jesus did miracles. Jesus cast out demons. He did miracles that fall
into three categories: Miracles of Physical Healing; Miracles of Demonic
Deliverance; and Miracles of Natural Phenomena, like walking on water, or
stilling the sea, feeding the people by multiplying bread and fish. And
those miracles were to demonstrate to people that Jesus was not a mere man,
but that He was the Messiah of God. It should be very clear to everyone who
saw Him that this was not a man, because no man could do what He did.
And so Christ had unique capability to do supernatural things in order to
draw attention to the fact that He was unique. In fact, you need to remember
that up until the time of Jesus Christ, there was nobody who could just go
around healing people. There were some healings in the Old Testament, and
there were some miracles of nature, and there were some powerful exhibitions
of God’s supernatural work: in creation, and the flood, and many other
supernatural powerful things; but as far as a miracle, which is a subcategory
of the supernatural. . .sometimes people say, “Well, you people always say
there are only three eras of miracles,” (and that would be: the Time of
Moses; and then Elijah and Elisha; and then Christ and the Apostles, and
those are the only three periods of miracles). And then they will say,
“Well, that’s not true, because creation was miracle, and the flood was a
miracle,” and they will go right on through, “Jacob wrestled with an angel
and that was a miracle, and God was always doing supernatural things.” But
they fail to make the clear distinction that “miracle” is a technical term:
it is a subcategory for the supernatural.
God is always acting in a supernatural way, even today. Every time someone
is saved that is a supernatural work. But “miracle” is a technical term to
describe an act of God which He does through a human agency, and they are
very rare. And even when you go back into the Old Testament and you find
miracles where God acts through a human instrumentation to authenticate his
messenger and the message, they are rare and nothing like the healing
ministry of Jesus. No one ever just roamed everywhere, healing everybody.
So what you have in the case of Jesus [is something] you have never seen
before. Nothing like this has ever happened before in the history of the
world. And so this is a very unique thing. And to assume that it never
happened before (to know that by Old Testament revelation) and it happened at
the time of Christ, uniquely, and then it faded out in the end of the New
Testament era, and now for some strange reason it has all come back at the
same level as once it did and we are supposed to have this massive kind of
healing going on as it did in the day of Christ, is to demonstrate an
imbalanced and an unsound perspective of the purpose of the miracle ministry
of Jesus. It was to authenticate His Messiahship, and it is therefore
irreproducible and unrepeatable.
And so Jesus did unique things which were unique to His own ministry. Now,
it is true that Jesus passed on to the Apostles power in two of the three
categories. Remember now, He healed diseases, He had power over demons, and
He did miracles of nature (natural phenomenon). The first two he gave the
Apostles. They never did any miracles of nature. But “Peter,” you say,
“Walked on water!” Yes, but that was a miracle Christ was performing and
that occurred only in His presence. They never did anything like “Feed the
5,000” or “Walk on water” after that, or “Still a storm” or anything like
that. The only two things they were given power to do were “cast out demons
and heal the sick (including raising the dead).”
But in their case, again, these were to point to them as the messengers of
God. There was no printed New Testament and it was very essential that among
all of the people who were saying that they spoke for God somebody be able to
tell who was real, and you could tell because they had power over demons and
power over disease. And so they were given that ability to do those things.
And the Apostles could do them, and those closely associated with the
Apostles could do them.
Go back into Matthew 10:1, “Having summoned His twelve disciples, He gave
them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out,” (and that by the way
is the Gift of Miracles: miracle is “dunamis (Greek)” power, power over the
forces of demons) “and He gave them the power to heal every kind of disease
and every kind of sickness.” And that was granted to the Twelve. Later on
you find out that that group was expanded and it included the Seventy.
Remember when He sent the Seventy, two-by-two and gave them the same power?
So it was a very small group. “These were the signs,” says Paul, of a true
Apostle. “Signs and wonders and miracles,” 2 Corinthians 12:12. They were
limited in scope–only casting out demons and healing diseases, and they were
limited in terms of who received them–only the Apostles and the Seventy
commissioned directly by Jesus, those who worked alongside the Apostles. It
never went beyond that.
It never became common for anybody and everybody in the Church to do this.
There is no indication that the evangelists, that the prophets (with a few
exceptions: Barnabas, Philip, Stephen, and those very early men), never an
indication that teaching pastors could do this, and certainly no indication
that members of the Church, the Body of Christ, could do this. These were
unique apostolic gifts. When you study the epistles of Paul–and Paul is
very clear about the fact that if you have problems with Satan and demons you
don’t find somebody who can chase them away: you put on your armor. Right?
“We have spiritual weapons to battle against those forces,” he said.
Now if false teachers want credibility it is very obvious that they can sure
draw a crowd and gain creditability if they can heal. And so that is always
a kind of ploy that is used by false teachers–it has been so in history,
whether you are talking about tribal witch doctors in Shamanism, in Animism,
and in Paganism, or whether you are talking about Occultic kinds of healings,
or New Age kind of mind healings, or whether you are talking about the
charlatans and the frauds who parade themselves even as Christian healers.
It is a great way to draw a crowd. Why? Because the number one human
anxiety is illness and death.
Since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden disease has been a terrible
reality, and for millennia the search for cures to alleviate illness and
suffering has consumed mankind. And I will tell you that if I could choose
one gift, if God would give me one gift that I don’t have and I could ask Him
for it and get it, I would ask Him for the gift of healing. I mean, if it
was available to me. Can you imagine what you could accomplish with it?
There are many occasions when I have wished that I could heal. I have stood
in a room in a hospital watching a precious child die of Leukemia while the
parents wept. I prayed with a dear friend as inoperable cancer ate at his
insides. I have stood by helplessly as a young person fought for life in an
intensive care unit, the result of a motorcycle or an automobile accident. I
have seen teenagers crushed through those kinds of things. I have watched
their parents in agony.
I have seen people in the hospital on the edge of death with a gunshot wound.
I have watched people lie comatose while machines try to keep their vital
signs alive, at least on a screen, if not in reality. I watched a close
friend weaken and die after an unsuccessful heart transplant. I have seen
friends in terrible pain from surgery. I know people who are permanently
disabled with sickness and injury. I see babies born with heart breaking
deformities. I have helped people learn to cope with amputations and other
tragic losses. I have been there when a mother was holding to her arms, in
the bedroom, a dead baby who had died of “crib death.”
If I could wish for anything, I could certainly wish that I could do
that–heal all those people. Think how thrilling it would be. Think how
rewarding it would be to have that gift. Think of what it would be like to
go into a hospital among the sick and the dying, walk up and down the hall
and touch people and heal them like Jesus did. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to
go into the Cancer Ward and the Heart Disease Ward and the Aids Ward, and all
the other places and just heal everybody. And somewhere along the line you
want to ask these Charismatic healers why they don’t assemble all of
themselves and go down to that place and let’s see if they have the power to
heal! Opportunities to heal the sick are unlimited. And if, as Charismatics
claim, such miracles are “Signs and Wonders,” (listen carefully, they say
this) if they are “Signs and Wonders” designed to convince unbelievers that
the gospel is true, then wouldn’t that be the way to really convince them?
But strangely, the healers rarely, if ever, come out of their tents, rarely
ever come out of their buildings, rarely ever come out of their television
studios. I have never seen them in a hospital. I have never seen them
walking down a ward with a camera following them. They always seem to
exercise their gift in an environment in which they totally control, staged
their way, run according to their schedule. Why don’t we see them moving
Paul Kane (sp.) with whom I met recently, personally, who is sort of the main
prophet in this new movement, has prophetically seen this, and I quote one
writing about him,
Kane describes his vision of an army of children that will
parade down the streets healing whole hospital wards. He
foresees news broadcasts where the “Anchors” report no bad news
because everyone is in sports arenas hearing the gospel. Over a
billion will be saved, the dead will be raised, limbs will be
restored, those with handicaps will jump from their wheelchairs
and crutches will be cast aside, and those in the stadiums will
go for days without food or water and never notice.
Now I don’t know what kind of a world that is or how they are going to make
it happen but I think it is time to start if they have that ability. Is this
happening? No, because those who claim to have the gift of healing and the
power of healing, and claim to be able to tap into that power really don’t
have it. The gift of healing was a temporary sign gift for the
authenticating of those who wrote the Scripture and those who preached the
message in that first century. And once the Scripture was completed and that
authenticity was established, the gift of healing ceased. It is not anything
new to claim it. The original claimants were the Roman Catholics.
If you read some of Roman Catholic history you will be amazed probably. They
boasted of healing people with the bones of John the Baptist, healing people
with the bones of Peter, healing people with pieces of the cross (and
somebody said, “There are enough pieces of the cross around to build a two-
story building!”). They have said that they, “Have healed people with the
vials of Mary’s breast milk.” There is a place that you know about in France
called Lourdes, a Catholic shrine that has supposedly been the sight of
countless miraculous healings. I have been to the largest Catholic cathedral
in the Western Hemisphere in Montreal, San Joseph, where people climb 450
stairs on their knees and they go in and they kiss a little box that has the
heart of a little friar in it, and all along the walls and everywhere are
crutches, all over the place. Supposedly countless tens of thousands have
been healed there. And now in Metajorie (sp.) in Yugoslavia (you have been
reading about it) more than 50,000,000 people have gone in less than a
decade. Why? They are in search of a miracle from the virgin Mary who
appeared in 1981 to six little children. If you read carefully about that it
It is very much like the occultic kind of healings you hear about in pagan
parts of the world. You have the oriental psychic healers who say they can
do bloodless surgery. They way their hands over afflicted organs and say
incantations and claim people are cured. Witch Doctors, Shamans, claim to
raise the dead. Occultist use Black Magic and Lying Wonders to do their
thing. Mary Baker Eddy, [who] you remember founded Christian Science,
claimed to have healed people through telepathy. And she had buried with her
in her casket a telephone because she was going to come to life and call
somebody and tell them to come and get her. You see Satan has always
captivated people’s hearts through the promise of healing. Even today the
people who promised that “Health, Wealth, Prosperity Gospel” are hooking
people on this tremendous human desire for physical healing and the fear of
disease and death.
This goes on and on and on. One pastor on a popular Charismatic television
show explained that his gift of healing works this way, quote,
In the morning services the Lord tells me what healings are
available. The Lord will say, “I have got three cancers
available, I have got one bad back, I have got two headache
healings.” I announce that to the congregation and tell them
that anyone who comes at night, with faith, can claim those that
are available for that evening.
Now if you take a closer look at these healings you will find some very
interesting things. The only documented cases that you can find, the only
actually documented cases you can find, are cases of people who didn’t get
healed. The cases of supposed people who do get healed, you can’t find any
documentation. One of the most telling studies of this was done by a medical
doctor by the name of William Nolan who decided that he would look into the
healing ministry of really the prototype of all of it, Kathryn Kuhlman (sp.)
when she was still going strong before her death. And he wrote a book after
studying her, called “Healing, a doctor in search of a miracle.” And he went
beyond Kathryn Kuhlman, but the major section of interest to me was the
section on Kathryn Kuhlman. And he made the point in his book that Miss
Kuhlman did not understand psychogenic disease. She did not understand, that
is, disease related to the mind. In simple terms a functional disease might
be a sore arm. An organic disease would be a withered arm or no arm at all.
Now Katherine would heal a sore arm but not give somebody one who didn’t have
one. A psychogenic disease would be thinking your arm was sore and Kathryn
could make you think that your arm wasn’t sore. Nolan wrote,
Search the literature as I have and you will find no documented
cures, by healers, of gall stones, heart disease, cancer, or any
other serious organic disease. Certainly you will find patients
temporarily relieved of their upset stomach, their chest pain,
their breathing problems. You will find healers and believers
who will interpret this interruption of symptoms as evidence
that the disease is cured. But when you track the patient down
and find out what happened later you will always find the cure
to have been purely symptomatic and transient. The underlying
I remember one of A. A. Allen’s cures; a man threw away his crutches and a
horrible result came from it, and he was sued by a family for the severe
injury that occurred to that man, when under the emotion of the moment, he
was sort of able to prop himself momentarily and brought great harm to
himself. When faith healers try to treat serious organic diseases they are
very often responsible for very serious anguish and unhappiness, and
sometimes even life threatening things. Dr. Nolan had Miss Kuhlman herself
send him a list of the cancer victims she had seen cured, and this is what
the doctor discovered,
I wrote to all the cancer victims on her list and the only one
who offered cooperation was a man who claimed that he had been
cured of cancer by Miss Kuhlman. He sent me a complete report
of his case. He had prostatitis cancer which is frequently
responsive to hormone therapy, if it spreads it is also highly
responsive to radiation therapy. This man had had that and he
had also had extensive treatment with surgery, radiation, and
hormones. He had also dealt with Kathryn Kuhlman. He chose to
attribute his cure or remission, as the case may be, to Miss
Kuhlman. But anyone who read his report, layman or doctor,
would see immediately that it is impossible to tell which kind
of treatment had actually done most to prolong his life. If
Miss Kuhlman had to rely on this case to prove the Holy Spirit
cured cancer through her, she would be in very desperate
Dr. Nolan did further work on 82 cases of Kathryn Kuhlman’s healings using
names that she herself supplied. His conclusion at the end of the entire
investigation was that not one of the so called healings was legitimate–not
More recently, a very interesting man by the name of James Randy–Have you
heard that? He’s called the “Amazing Randy” (he gave himself that name). He
is a professional magician. As a professional magician he has written a book
in which he examines the claims of “faith healers.” Why? Because he knows
all the gimmicks. He is the man who exposed television evangelist Peter
Poppoff’s (sp.) fakery in 1986, on the “Tonight Show.” You remember that
Peter Poppoff (sp.) was one of the healers that claimed to get “words of
knowledge.” He would stand there and he would say, “Jesus is telling me this
about you.” And the truth was he had a little earphone and his wife was
giving him all this information because everybody who came to the meeting had
to fill out a card. And I don’t know if you know about how that works but
healers throughout the years have always had the “preservice” meeting, when
everybody who wants to be cured and get in the “healing line” fills out a
very full card. And there is a very simple way, by staggering the cards,
that the guy can be holding up a card to his head and telling you all you
need to know about yourself, to convince you that this man speaks for God.
In the case of Peter Poppoff (sp.) he was repeating information his wife was
putting in his ear, from the “crib sheets” assembled in the “pre-meeting.”
Now the “Amazing Randy” is really not so amazing, he’s just a magician. But
he is openly antagonistic to Christianity. His antagonism is fed, I think,
continually by what he finds out. But, nevertheless, he seems to have done
his investigation thoroughly. He asks scores of “faith healers” to supply
him with direct, examinable evidence of true healings. Quote, he said,
I have been willing to accept just one case of a miracle cure,
so that I might say in this book that at least on one occasion a
miracle occurred. But not one “faith healer” anywhere has given
him a single case of medically confirmed healing that couldn’t
be explained as natural convalescence, psychosomatic improvement
or outright fakery.
What is Randy’s conclusion? I quote,
Reduced to its basics, “faith healing” today (as it always has
been) is simply magic! Though the preachers vehemently deny any
connection with the practice, their activities meet all the
requirements for the definition; all of the elements are present
and the intent is identical.
Well, I don’t want to just be ungracious, that’s not my intention; but it is
very important that you know the truth and that you be warned. And if the
Apostle John would even speak the name of Diotrephes just because he loved to
have the preeminence in the Church, and that posed a threat, then how
important it is for us to identify these people who pose an even more severe
threat, as they say they represent the very voice of God and can prove it by
the fact they can do miracles.
I had a meeting with a man who is a very bright, a very intelligent, a very
academically trained, a very intellectual man who understands the Bible, and
he said to me,
The reason that I am in this movement is because one of these
prophets stood up in a meeting and looked at me and told me the
name of my mother–my mother’s maiden name! And not only that
he was able to tell me my father’s real name, and my father goes
by a nickname and I knew that he could only know that by direct
Now, how utterly gullible can a man be? If I could find a full-fledged,
bonifide theologian, first-ranked, teaching in one of the most respected
seminaries in the world, and if I could convince him of my being a prophet of
God by just finding out the name of his mother and his father’s real name,
that wouldn’t be too tough if that’s all it took, especially if I had been
plying that kind of trade for years. It’s amazing how gullible people are.
We hear about these healings, but there is never any evidence. Not one of
today’s self-styled healers has produced irrefutable proof of the miracles
they claimed to have wrought. Many of them are transparently fraudulent, and
the healings in many cases aren’t healings at all. Many things can occur by
the power of suggestion, like people falling over backwards and so forth.
But that can do the opposite of healing you as we noted a few weeks ago when
we reminded you that one lady fell over in a Benny Hinn meeting and killed
the lady she fell on. And now he is being sued.
Now we all know that desperation accompanies disease. Sickness drives
people to do frantic, extreme things they normally wouldn’t do. People who
are clear-minded and balanced become irrational. Remember, Satan knows this.
That’s why he said in Job 2:4, “Skin for skin, yes, all that a man has will
he give for his life.” The most desperate, heart-breaking cases involve
people who are incurably organically ill. Others aren’t really sick at all.
You know, if I may be very personal, one of the real joys of our church is
the dear precious people that come here every Sunday in wheelchairs. I can’t
tell you how many of those people have told me that people have said to them,
“If you had enough faith, or if you went to another church, other than Grace
Church, you could get out of that wheelchair.”
Somebody asked me recently if we get a lot of people here coming out of
healing churches? I say, “Yes, we get the people who go and don’t get
healed–no question about it.” What a tragic thing; multitudes go away
shattered, disconsolate, feeling they have either failed God or God has
failed them. Now, let me say this, people are going to say, “Well, are you
saying God doesn’t heal?” No, I’m not saying that, if God wants to heal, He
can heal. That’s completely, obviously within His power, and if it is in his
purpose [then] He can heal. He may heal as a result of prayer. He may heal
through simple processes, through medical assistance, or he may heal in a way
that we can’t explain medically. God may speedup the recovery mechanism and
restore a person to health in a way that medicine can’t even explain.
Sometimes He may overrule a medical prognosis and allow someone to recover
from a normally debilitating disease. Healings like that may come, He may do
them; He may do them in response to prayer, He may do them just because He
wants to do them. But the gift of healing, and the ability to heal, and
special anointings for healing, and healings that can be claimed and
therefore realized, and all the typical “faith healing” technique billed on
the idea that God wants everybody well all the time, has no Biblical sanction
whatsoever in the Post-Apostolic era.
Now, backing off a minute, if we just said, “Let’s look at Jesus, and if
anybody is healing today, and if Jesus’ healings are the pattern, and if the
apostles is the pattern, how did they heal?” And I will simply remind you of
it. We will make a comparison and see if today it works like that.
1. Jesus healed with a word or a touch.
That’s all it took. He touched, He spoke, they were healed.
2. Jesus healed instantaneously.
Never in all His healings does the Bible say He healed somebody and they
started getting better. No, there was never a process, because if there
was a process the point wasn’t made. Right? Because if there was a
process then it could be explained in another way. It was instantaneous.
“The Centurion’s servant was healed” (I love it), Matthew 8:13, “that
very hour.” The woman with the bleeding problem–it went away
immediately. Jesus healed ten lepers instantaneously. The crippled man
at the Pool of Bethesda, immediately became well.
3. Jesus healed totally.
When someone was healed they were totally and completely healed–the only
kind of healing Jesus ever did. He didn’t partially heal. He healed
4. He healed anybody.
You didn’t have to have a long line of people filling out cards. And He
certainly didn’t have a whole group of people who came into the meeting
in wheelchairs and left in wheelchairs (if they had wheelchairs, or
crutches, or whatever). Luke 4:40 says, “While the Sun was setting, all
who had any sick with various diseases brought them to Him; and laying
His hands on everyone of them, He was healing them.” It’s an incredible
thing. He healed everybody. He healed everybody instantaneously. He
healed everybody totally and He healed everybody with a word. There
wasn’t some falderal there was just a word!
5. He healed organic disease.
He didn’t just go around Palestine healing lower back pain, heart
palpitations, headaches, and other things like that. He healed the most
obvious organic disease; crippled bent legs, withered hands, blind eyes,
6. He raised the dead.
He raised the dead. He came up on a funeral and he raised the dead! You
remember that? Here comes the funeral procession; the widow is going to
bury her son and Jesus stops the procession, touches the casket and says,
“Young man, arise!” and the dead man sat up and began to speak. Now, I
will tell you something, people who tout the gift of healing today don’t
spend a lot of time in funeral processions; the reason is obvious. And
you need to note, by the way, that Jesus did virtually all His healings
and raising the dead in public before vast crowds of people. Why?
Because the gift of healing was real and it was an authenticating gift.
He used it to confirm the claim that He was the Son of God in a way that
displayed His power and compassion.
Then we ask the question, “How did the disciples or apostles heal? How did
they heal? How did the Twelve, and the Seventy, and others who worked with
them, like Barnabas, and Philip, and Stephen?” And those are the only ones;
it didn’t just run rampant through everybody in the Church. But those people
who had that gift; how did they heal? How did they do it? Well, the same
way; they healed with a word or a touch. We see that in the Book of Acts:
they healed instantaneously, immediately. Remember the temple gate with
Peter and John? The man immediately went to his feet, started leaping,
walking, and praising God. They healed totally, not partial, total. They
healed everybody. In fact, people who got under Peter’s shadow got healed!
They healed organic disease, not just functional, psychosomatic, symptomatic
problems, and the apostles even raised the dead. Now, nobody is exhibiting
those six traits in a healing ministry today. So if this is supposed to be
the recapturing of the Apostolic era it is really “out of sync” with that.
And a final note; according to Scripture, those who possess those abilities
to heal could use their gift at will. That’s not true of the contemporary
healers because they don’t have that gift. They play games with people’s
minds–the power of suggestion. They prey upon people, making them believe
things that aren’t really true and they use deception. Look at the Apostle
Paul, in Philippians 2, he mentions that his good friend Epaphroditus was
very sick. Now, Paul had previously displayed the ability to heal, but he
doesn’t heal Epaphroditus. It’s fair to say that, maybe, that gift was
passing out of operation, but it is sure fair to say that the gift of healing
was never (listen carefully) intended to keep Christians happy and healthy!
In fact, you look through the New Testament and find out how many healings
occurred to believers–absolutely rare–Peter’s wife mother, Dorcas. [But
there were] masses of unbelievers; masses of people who may or may not have
believed anything about Christ or the Apostles. But it surely wasn’t given
to keep everybody in the Church healthy; and yet today it is being portrayed
as something that is supposed to be done for believers to keep them healthy,
to show them that in the atonement is their healing: totally foreign to
Second Timothy 4:20, Paul mentioned he that he left Trophimus sick at
Miletus; now, why leave a good friend sick? Why did he leave his Christian
friend sick? Why didn’t he heal him? Well, maybe he didn’t have that
ability as the time passed on out of the Apostolic era, but for sure he
recognized that healing was not something you run around doing for your
Christian friends. It was never intended as a permanent way to keep the
Church healthy; yet today Charismatics teach that God wants every Christian
well all the time. If that is true, then why did He let them get sick to
start with? It seems a basic question. God didn’t give you an HMO in your
salvation, a sort of supernatural HMO that works automatically. God heals
when He wants and when He wishes, but that’s up to Him.
Has God promised to heal everybody who has faith? He doesn’t promise that He
will always heal, but I think the Christian can look to heaven for healing.
Now, I want to turn the table a little bit as I close in the next couple of
minutes. I think that we can go to the Lord for healing. I think that we
can pray to Him for deliverance from disease, and I do believe that there are
times when God touches us. Sometimes He heals through medicine, sometimes He
heals through surgery, sometimes He heals through natural process working in
the body. The body is an amazing self-healing thing. And sometimes He may
just heal supernaturally because it is His will, and we can look to heaven
for that. We can cry out to God in our sickness and ask for His healing. I
would suggest that there are three reasons why we could expect that God might
1. He might heal because of His person.
You remember his Old Testament name, that wonderful name: it’s really
Yahweh Rapecca (sp.)–The Lord that Heals. God heals because of His
person. “I the Lord am your healer,” He told the Israelites. And the
very fact that when Jesus came into the world He could have done a lot of
different miracles. I mean if He wanted to convince people about His
Messiahship He could have just flown around, and He could have said,
“See, I can do this, and who else can do this?” Or He could have jumped
a building at a single bound, or flown faster than a speeding bullet, or
He could have put on a “Superman Show” and everybody would have been in
awe of that. But why did he choose to heal people? Because He was
demonstrating His compassion, and a compassionate God has a heart to
heal. And I think that we have experienced that at times in our life;
God raises up someone from sickness.
2. God heals because of His promise.
He says, “Whatever we ask in His name, believing and according to His
will, He will do it.” And there must be times when He will do that.
There is certainly a description in James 5 of a broken, shattered,
devastated person, who goes in for prayer. The elders gather around that
individual and while the pain of that situation is spiritual it has
tremendous physical ramifications, and through prayer that person is
restored. “The effectual fervent prayer avails much.” If in God’s will
He has designed that [then] He will do that because of His promise.
3. God heals because that is His pattern.
It is true that in the atonement God bore our diseases, Matthew 8 says
it. Matthew 8 says, “He Himself took our infirmities, and carried away
our diseases.” Now, we have already discussed 1 Peter 2:24 and I won’t
do it again; it doesn’t mean that healing for every sickness is in the
atonement for now! But healing for every sickness is in the atonement
for someday–isn’t it? And someday He will remove all of those diseases.
Ultimately, eternally we will be delivered from sickness and infirmity.
And it may just be that He would chose because of that pattern of
providing a salvation that ultimately delivers us from bodily infirmity
when we get a glorified body, that maybe He will give us a taste of
God may heal. That poses the final question, “Should a Christian go to the
doctor?” And we come all the way back to Hobart Freeman again. We would
never advocate such idiocy. You say, “Well, does the Bible say anything
about this?” Sure, read Isaiah 38. Not now. I knew that you would do that;
your heads just go right down–that’s good. Pavlov’s dogs! Just instant
response. That’s not derogatory, by the way, that’s trained response. In
Isaiah 38, King Hezekiah was deathly ill, and you remember the king was
crying, and he was crying tears, and then he was crying to the Lord, and God
answered his request. And he says this, “Let them take a cake of figs and
apply it to the boil, that he may recover.” Isn’t that good? That’s what we
used to call a poultice. Right? Now, God is saying, “Do the medical thing.”
In Matthew 9:12, Jesus confirmed the same idea when He said this, “It is not
those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick.” And so
the Lord has given us that instruction also.
Now, in closing, I simply say, I want to reiterate that I believe that God
can heal. God can do anything He wants to do. I do not believe the gift of
healing is for today because it was to authenticate the Biblical message and
messenger. That is in place; it needs no more authentication then the
authentication given to it by the Spirit of God to the heart of the reader.
But I do believe that God may in His grace chose to heal, and we have every
right to pray for that, and at the same time seek the finest medical help
that we can because to Lord desires us to do that as well.
Let’s pray. Father, thank you for letting us cover all of this tonight. Our
minds are full of these considerations. Lord, we would not at all be
ungracious to the many people who are victims of these kinds of things. And
even Lord, there may be some in these movements who are well meaning and well
intentioned, who for some reason or other believe that these things really
Lord, we would pray for those who have a true and a pure intention, and who
are genuinely believing that this is true, that You would show them the truth
of Your word and help them to see the light. And then Lord, for those who
are just playing with the hearts and minds and the wallets of people, that
you would cause them to be struck with the truth of what they are doing. To
be literally stopped in their tracks by the fear of God, as they would
Lord, we pray for Your Church to be discerning, clear minded. And then Lord,
even as we close tonight, we would remember to pray for those in our
congregation who have physical illness, disability, physical pain and
suffering, some with even the diagnosis of a fatal disease, that Lord, You
would be gracious to them. We know that You are going to heal them someday,
and if it would suit Your glorious purpose and bring honor to the name of
Jesus Christ, we would ask that you heal them now; that You might receive
glory for that. But if not, that You might give them the grace to
acknowledge Your perfect will. And help us to know Lord that it is not
through these kinds of miraculous things that people are going to believe the
truth. It is through hearing about Jesus Christ and reading the Scripture
and having it presented to them, not only on the page but through the work of
the Holy Spirit in their hearts, that they shall come to the truth. And so
may we faithfully proclaim this word, which can authenticate itself by the
Holy Spirit to the heart of one who hears.
Thank You again Father for the clear word that You do care and that there is
a day of healing coming for us all. We rejoice in anticipation of it, in
Christ’s name. Amen.
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