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Can Christians Perform Miraculous Healings Today?

Ask Pastor Alex, Episode. 54

This is the Ask Pastor Alex podcast with your host, Pastor Alex. All right, we are back with another episode and another question. And the question for this episode is, can Christians perform miraculous healings today? And this is an interesting question that requires a fair amount of nuance. To start with, the question is not asking, does God still heal people today? The answer is yes, He absolutely does. Also, the question is not asking, does God still perform miracles today? Again, the answer to that question is yes, He does still perform miracles today. The question we are addressing is whether or not Christians today still have the ability to perform miraculous healings. In fact, the exact question that was asked of me was, why did Peter have the ability to heal a man in God’s name, as we read about in Acts chapter 3, but people today cannot do the same? And this is an issue that’s caused a fair amount of confusion and been the source of a lot of deception in our world today. 

I’m talking about you, Benny Hinn and Todd White. These charlatans, because that’s what they actually are, perform fake miracles. Benny Hinn swings his coat around wildly, hitting people, claiming to heal them just by touching his jacket. And Todd White goes around miraculously lengthening people’s legs, because apparently having one leg shorter than the other is super common in our world today. Thank the Lord that Todd White is there to fix that for him. Benny Hinn and Todd White and many others like them have deceived the masses into thinking that they are capable of performing miraculous healings. So people are naturally curious if this gift is still operative today or if it has ceased. So let’s dive in and see what scripture has to say about this. 

When most people think about miraculous healings, they often associate it with the spiritual gift of healing. The reason for this is because healing is listed among the other spiritual gifts listed in 1 Corinthians chapter 12. In 1 Corinthians chapter 12, you have the famous chapter on spiritual gifts and healing is listed among them. Fun fact though, there are a few passages in the Bible that list spiritual gifts and no two lists are the same. And healing is only listed in 1 Corinthians chapter 12. It’s never listed in the other lists of spiritual gifts. But there’s also something else that’s really interesting about this particular gift. 1 Corinthians chapter 12 verse 9 says, “to another faith by the same spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one spirit.” Now did you catch that? I tried to put a little bit of emphasis there. It says gifts of healing. And actually in the Greek it says gifts of healings. It’s in the plural. Almost all the other gifts are singular like the gift of teaching or the gift of service or the gift of hospitality. But healing is plural. So why is that? 

Some have suggested that maybe it means that there were different types of healings given to different people. For example, like one person might be more gifted with healing colds and another person might be more gifted with healing back pain or healing a headache or things like that. However, there’s no such distinction ever made in scripture. Another suggestion says that it means that different people had the ability to heal using different methods. So like one person would have the gift of healing but could only heal by speaking out loud and another person might have the gift of healing but he could only heal by physically touching someone. However, this too is unsupported by scripture. The people who heal in the Bible are never limited to one particular method. So what does it mean? Why is it plural? And I think the most likely explanation is that the gift would be given at various times. In other words, a person with this gift would not be able to use it at will anytime he liked but could only use it when the spirit would give this gift at various times to serve God’s purposes. And this view actually is supported by scripture. 

For instance, we know that Paul was able to heal. Acts 19 verses 11 through 12 says, “and God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them.” So Paul could heal people but he could not heal people at any time or place just because he wanted to. We know this from scripture as well. For instance, 2 Timothy 4.20 says that “when Paul left Miletus, Timothy was sick but Paul did not heal him, probably because the gift of healing was not with him at that time.” We see something similar in Philippians chapter 2 when Paul mentions that his friend Epaphroditus was sick almost to death. But even there when Epaphroditus was sick almost to the point of death, Paul was not able to heal him. We don’t even see that he tried to heal him. And we even know thanks to 2 Corinthians chapter 12 that “Paul was given a thorn in his flesh.” Now no one knows exactly what it was but many have suggested that maybe it was a particular long lasting sickness or physical ailment. But Paul did not heal himself. Even when Paul wrote to Timothy in 1 Timothy, he mentions Timothy’s stomach pains. But he does not encourage him to seek a healer or promise that he will heal him as soon as he sees him. Rather, he tells him drink a little wine to help his stomach. So all of this is to say that the gift of healing was given by the spirit at various times for God’s purposes. But it was not in the possession or accessible to people at all times for every single illness. That’s because this gift, along with a few others, served a very particular purpose in redemptive history.

I would say that this gift has ceased today. Meaning that no Christian today has the ability to heal in the way we see the apostles heal in the New Testament. Now pay attention to what I’m saying and what I’m not saying. I’m not saying God doesn’t heal today. He does. I’m not saying Christians shouldn’t pray for healing. They should. And I’m not saying God doesn’t answer Christians’ prayers for healing. He often does. What I’m saying is that Christians today do not possess the ability to heal in the way the apostles did in the New Testament. And the question is, why? Why would it be the case that we no longer have this ability or this gift today? Well, Ephesians chapter 2 verse 20 tells us that the church is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets. And since the foundation has been laid, we no longer have need for apostles and prophets today. For instance, prophets were to declare the revelation of God. And this was needed throughout the New Testament period because the canon of Scripture was not yet completed. However, with the completion of the New Testament canon, we have the completed Word of God. Therefore, we no longer have need for someone to proclaim revelation from God because we have His full and final revelation in the completed Bible. Similarly, apostles were needed to establish the church as authentic and the message of the gospel as being from God. I mean, just think about the context of the New Testament. After Jesus’s ascension, Christianity was considered a new religion, and many Romans and Jews believed it to be a false religion and its adherents to be heretics. Therefore, God gave the apostles, people who had been commissioned by God and seen the risen Lord Jesus, to build and establish the church as authentic and from God. 

Now think about how God did this. In order to prove to people that the church was authentic, that the message of the gospel was true, and that these people were from God and declaring things from God and working in the name of God, God gave the apostles various gifts to authenticate what they were saying and doing. He gave them the ability to speak in tongues, for instance, which were other known languages. And so the apostles would speak in a language that they didn’t know, but it was a real language and God did that so that the message of the gospel would go forth to all nations. God also gave them the ability to heal and perform miracles so that when people witnessed them healing and performing miracles, the people would know for sure that they were empowered by God because they were doing things that no one could do apart from the power of God. I really like the way that theologian Tom Shriner says it. He says, “God gave gifts and miracles, signs and wonders, in remarkable ways at certain points in redemptive history to authenticate his revelation. Now that the church has the authoritative guidance for faith and practices in the scriptures, the gifts and miracles which were needed to build up the early church are no longer needed and they are not common.” This is why Christians today no longer have the ability to do miracles or heal like the apostles were able to in the New Testament. Those were specific gifts given to a specific group of people at a specific point in redemptive history for a specific purpose.

 Yes, God does still miraculously heal people, but it is God doing it. God does still perform miracles, but it is God doing it. God does answer prayers for healing when he sees fit and Christians should pray for healing, but no Christian alive today has the ability to perform the kinds of miracles and healings that the apostles were able to do in the New Testament because the foundation of the church has been laid. The message has been authenticated and the offices of apostle and prophet have ceased. So I hope that you have found this answer helpful and hope you understand more now about what the gift of healing was in the first place and why it is no longer operative today. I look forward to answering more questions in the future.