Question and Answer

"Apostolic" Healing Services on TV

Question:

So much of so-called Christian television is dominated by theatrical "healings" and other "miracles," and based on the physical audience alone. These modern "apostles" seem to have quite a following. I myself have several contacts who attend these "churches"; therefore, I was wondering with what scriptures and in what manner should I minister to these people who are lead astray by all these spurious apostolic miracles when the apostolic age has clearly passed?

Answer:

Here is at least a partial answer to your question. If you would like further details or a fuller response, please write again.

1. The counterfeiting of supernatural works of our Lord should be a big issue. Jesus never made a city-wide publicity campaign when He came to town. He worked faith in those He healed, and He always emphasized saving faith as the needy were healed. He also did it in what we today would call a "low key" manner. But they were healed. And the healing had a redemptive purpose—attesting to the messianic calling of Jesus.

It was similar with the apostles. Their healings attested to the message they brought. It is not the same with the Pentecostal faith healing movement. They are saying God wants to do "signs and wonders" and that such will make people believe; but those who are Reformed take Jesus' words in Luke 16:27-31 seriously (note especially the last verse):

Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

Yes, we wait on the Lord and bless Him for what He is pleased to do in our midst, but the days of attesting to the veracity of the Messiah and the apostles ended in the first century. True, in the history of pioneer missions among pagan strongholds there have been some marvelous signs and wonders to the testimony of the Gospel of Jesus, but they have not been associated with business practices of questionable ethics. Our ardent desire as Reformed people is visitations of God's saving grace to the souls of sinners, not miracles to make a name for ourselves. Jesus teaches us that the Kingdom of God comes in blessedness, righteousness and peace with God. Faith comes by hearing, the written word of God (Rom. 10:17).

2. The depreciation of the church and its ministry by Pentecostal faith healers needs to be stressed. What should be present (but is not) in their public services is that people should be led to get into discipleship classes in their local congregations (and instructed in a good catechism?). What is missing from such "apostolic" healing services is teaching the people that God's kingdom is entered by "repentance toward God and by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 20:21), not by signs and wonders, nor by miracles.

Jesus said many will cast out demons in His name and tell their Lord what signs and wonders they did. But Jesus, in that great and glorious day, will say to them, "Depart! for I do not know you" (Matt. 7:15-23). In this passage the part about bad fruit is as important as the part about prophesying and casting out demons in Jesus' Name.

Faith-healers depreciate the reading of God's Word and sitting under the preaching of God's Word, but the Bible says faith comes by hearing God's Word (Rom. 10:17; Luke 16:31). In contrast, faith-healers say faith comes by seeing miracles, signs and wonders, and by attending large healing meetings. Sadly, they too often also say that if you did not receive your miracle, it is because you lacked faith.

"You lacked faith" is not good pastoring! It is not Biblical! Jesus and the Apostle Paul, both of whom did many healing miracles, never told people those words!

The Apostle Paul asked for his infirmity to be taken away, but God did not do it. God did not heal him (2 Cor. 12:7-10). In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus also asked the Father to take away this cruel painful death of being a sin-bearer and drinking the whole cup of God's wrath down to its bitter dregs for the elect. God did not take it away (Matt. 26:36-46).

Neither the Apostle Paul, nor the Lord Jesus Christ can be charged with lacking faith, or not being prepared and pure in their soul. God turned down their petitions for other reasons. Faith healers ignore these two examples, and they rarely if ever preach to all present that:

(a) people must have faith in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ, as well as in God the Holy Spirit;

(b) people must know that the Scriptures are sufficient; that God the Holy Spirit inspired the men whom He used to write them; and that the Scriptures are above and judge everything, including "miraculous" healing manifestations (whether they are of the Holy Spirit or of unholy spirits, presented by men who are bluffing the work of God the Holy Spirit);

(c) people must be thankful for the ordinary things of daily life and for the great propitiation Christ accomplished as our "Passover lamb" (1 Cor. 5:7)

(d) people must "walk in the Spirit" (Gal. 5:16), according to the example of the Apostles Peter and Paul in the Acts of the Apostles and in the letters of Peter and Paul. In fact, a study of the use of the metaphor "walk" in the New Testament will be very instructive in countering the Pentecostal mind-set of TV "apostolic" healing services that has the thinly disguised unbelief of always trying to "prove" the Lord.

Jesus exposed of this mind-set of unbelief when, in His temptation, he proof-texted the Devil with Deuteronomy 6:16, "It is written, 'You shall not tempt the Lord your God'" (Matt. 4:7).

If you have more specific questions, I would encourage you to write again.


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