In this Healing Moment we will consider the following means of God's healing grace: faith, medicine, spiritual gifts and salvation.
Faith is one of the "spiritual gifts" and is also a means of healing grace. James says that faith without deeds is dead (James 1:14-17; 2:26). The writer of Hebrews says that it is impossible to please God without faith (Hebrews 11:6). Faith believes in the impossible.
Because of a lack of faith, Jesus was only able to heal a few sick people in his own hometown (Matthew 13:58). Unbelief is an obstacle to God's healing grace. It is difficult to see how people face tragedies without God and faith in their lives.
Many times Jesus acknowledged the strong faith of those seeking healing. Jesus told the woman with the issue of blood, "Your faith has healed you" (Matthew 9:22). Jesus told the blind beggar "Receive your sight, your faith has healed you" (Luke 18:42) On another occasion, Jesus was amazed at the great faith of the Centurion who sent his servants to ask Jesus to come and heal one of his servants. Jesus said, "I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel" (Luke 7:9).
People who exercise unwavering faith, release God's power to do good; and to do what is not possible to human beings. Faith is a means of God's grace that comes to those who believe in God's ability to do what is needed. Jesus made this statement concerning faith that blows my mind: "If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, "Be uprooted and planted in the sea,and it will obey you" (Matthew 17:20). This means that we can bring our insufficiencies to the all sufficient Christ.
How many of you have heard or know someone who has heard these words from a doctor: "We have done everything we could, but can do nothing else for you." If allowed, these can be power and destructive words! The woman with the issue of blood had heard these words from many physicians, after spending all the money she had. Still, she did not give up her quest to be made whole, but turned to the Great Physician, Jesus Christ to be healed. The gift of faith was the means of healing grace that brought her miraculous healing (Mark 5:25-34).
The use of "medicine" or "medical therapy," is a common means of healing grace. All healing comes from God. God uses all means of grace to make people whole and well. Doctors, alone with the whole medical community, are God's healers. All of the natural medicines used to heal people come from God's good earth. Many medical researchers and scientists have been endowed with divine wisdom and knowledge to discover what plants, herbs, and natural compounds, found in the earth, can be used to help our bodies heal themselves.
The earlier priests in the church were also trained doctors. In biblical history, spirituality and medicine were combined. The church was the first to establish hospitals. Churches still establish hospitals that provide excellent health care and save many lives.
However, it is important to understand that medicine is not an exact science. Medical science is always evolving. In the practice of medicine, some doctors are incompetent, poorly trained, unskilled, and are driven by greed, which lead to serious medical mistakes, make wrong diagnoses, provide wrong medications to patients, which at times, result in death. Conversely, most doctors are well trained, competent, skilled, and are dedicated to providing the best medical services possible, to people. Without excellent medical therapy and medical technology, people will suffer needlessly and die prematurely.
Some illnesses can only be healed when spiritual therapy is practiced. Still, other people are healed only by a combination of spiritual and medical therapies. However, no amount of medicine can heal a person with a broken heart.
It has now been proven that healing happens best as a team approach. The team approach meets both the physical and spiritual needs of people. A healing team consists of doctors, nurses, pastoral ministers, a the loving and caring community.
God's vision for human wholeness is to make all of us whole in the four dimension of life: spirit, body, mind, and relationships. When we seek to bring health and well being to the whole person, we will enjoy the abundant life, Jesus Christ came to bring. When we focus only on physical healing, we often limit God's healing intervention, and also miss God's best and highest good for our lives.
Another of the gifts of the Spirit is "healing." It is important to note that Paul lists this gift as plural--gifts of healing (1 Corinthians 12:9). As I have briefly stated, Jesus probably used all of the gifts of the Spirit to heal people and to perform the many miracles he did. The gifts are an expression of the many manifestations of the supernatural power of God. They show that there are no limits to the power of God.
Jesus often relied upon the gifts of "miracles," "word of wisdom," "word of knowledge," and "discernment," or a combination of them, to heal people. Perhaps Jesus relied upon a "word of wisdom" to know how to bring healing to Peter's mother-in-law, who was suffering with a fever (Luke 4:38-39). He probably used the gift of discernment to heal the paralytic man. Jesus discerned that sin--a spiritual condition, was the root cause of the man's need for physical healing (Matthew 9:1-7).
As Jesus was traveling with the disciples, they came upon a man that was blind. His disciples asked Jesus "...who sinned, this man or his parents that he was born blind?" Jesus answered, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God's works might be revealed in him" (John 9:2-3). I believe Jesus used a combination of the gifts of a word of knowledge and a word of wisdom, to know that this man was born blind, so as to reveal the works of God. The gift of miracles was the means of grace by which the man was healed. I call this miracle, a creative miracle. I believe that the mud paste that Jesus made and applied to the man's eyes, was to create the eyeballs that were missing, when the man was developing in his mother's womb. When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, this too was an awesome display of God's miracle working power (John 11:17-44).
We have already seen how Jesus used the spiritual gift of "discernment" to bring healing to people. This is the next means of healing grace we will discuss. The apostle Paul used the gift of discernment and the gift of miracles to liberate a demon possessed slave girl, from the abuse of her owners. She had a spirit of divination (or foretelling or prediction) which she used to make money for her owners. The girl had followed Paul and those who gathered to hear his messages of salvation. After several days, Paul became troubled and commanded the demon spirit to come out of her. Paul said, "In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!" At that moment the spirit left her" (Acts 16:16-18). It was the gift of miracles that liberated the slave girl physically, providing the opportunity for her to be redeemed spiritually. The healing of the slave girl manifested the presence of the kingdom of God, which also demonstrated that demon power is no match for the supernatural power of God.
Salvation is the final means of healing grace to be considered in this Healing Moment. Salvation and healing are inseparable. Salvation is ultimate healing.
The Greek word "sozo" can be translated into English, as "to save," "to heal," or "to make whole." The same English words health, wholeness, and salvation can be traced back to this same Greek root word. We can clearly see in the illustrations below, the ways the biblical scholars translated into English, the Greek word "sozo" (in the original Greek) in the different versions of the New Testament, concerning this passage in Matthew 9:20-22.
In the English Bibles sozo is translated in:
The King James Version (KJV)
The International Version (NIV)
The New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
The Amplified Version
"restore to health"
Part III of this Healing Moment will conclude with these three ways to bring God's healing power to people: reconciliation, sacraments, and exorcism. God uses a variety of ways or means to manifest his healing power, because people have different needs for healing. God offers us personal grace, because we are all loved personally and unconditionally.