Question and Answer
Faith in God's Healing Power
Does the OPC believe that faith in God's healing power in every area of life in this world is applicable today for each of us who believes that we are given authority by Jesus to do soto use this God-given NT authority to defeat any work of Satan in our lives, by the faith given us by Christ?
Thank you in advance for your reply to this.
My answer is a resounding "Yes!" But there is so much misunderstanding with respect to prayer and healing that I believe I need to add these comments. Even Paul the great Apostle did not receive the healing he requested though he asked for it three times (2 Cor. 12:8
8For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
). This does not prove that Paul lacked faith, nor does it prove that he did not believe "in God's healing power." No, what it proves is that even true believers should not make the mistake of thinking that we are given authority by Jesus to always get a "yes" answer to our prayers. Sometimes, as in this case, God's answer is no!
It is also a mistake to think that we, today, can expect to be able to do everything the Apostles of Jesus did (as recorded in the New Testament). On two occasions that I can think of, both Peter and Paul restored dead people to life (Acts 9:36-42
36Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did.
37And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died: whom when they had washed, they laid her in an upper chamber.
38And forasmuch as Lydda was nigh to Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent unto him two men, desiring him that he would not delay to come to them.
39Then Peter arose and went with them. When he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber: and all the widows stood by him weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them.
40But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up.
41And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive.
42And it was known throughout all Joppa; and many believed in the Lord.
and Acts 20:9-10
9And there sat in a window a certain young man named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep: and as Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with sleep, and fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead.
10And Paul went down, and fell on him, and embracing him said, Trouble not yourselves; for his life is in him.
). There is no credible record of anything like this in the history of the church after the time when the original apostles were still alive. The Bible itself draws attention to this when it speaks of "the signs of an apostle" (2 Cor. 12:12
12Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.
). These were supernatural miracles which were done only in connection with or "through the hands of the apostles" Acts 5:12
12And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon's porch.
. To expect such today is like expecting another virgin to conceive and bring forth a son as Mary did.
This does not mean, however, that God does not heal. He does. I was once quite ill and so I did what James (the Lord's brother) said I should do (James 5:14
14Is any sick among you? 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:
). I called for the elders of the church while I also made use of medicine. They prayed for me and I was healed. The fact that I used means does not in any way diminish the fact that God was pleased to grant me healing.
To speak of a "God-given N.T. authority to defeat any work of Satan in our lives" also needs some qualification. Paul spoke of his physical malady as "a thorn in the flesh" and "a messenger of Satan" (2 Cor. 12:7). But he also recognized that this was given to him, in a sense, by God himself through the agency of Satan. Listen to his testimony: "lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness'" (2 Cor. 12:7-9). You can see from this that Paul was not defeated by Satan. Far from it. But Satan was not defeated by Paul being granted his request not to be buffeted by Satan, but by his being sanctified by enduring something very unpleasant for God's glory.
John 5:18 says "He who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him." The meaning is that a true believer is secure. There is nothing that Satan can do to make him forsake his faith. It does not mean that there is nothing that Satan can do to put that faith to a test. The whole Bible book of Job proves otherwise.
I hope this is a helpful answer to your interesting question.
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