The church in the West has often lost sight of the biblical ministry of healing and its important role in declaring the good news of the kingdom. If we are going to be serious about following the ministry of Jesus as an evangelist, he modelled a combination of declaration, explanation and demonstrations of heaven coming to earth, in the form of healing and deliverance ministry.
In my experience the church in the West is often more cynical about healing than those outside the church. There are a number of reasons for this:
1. A lack of practitioners who model healing (unless they find examples outside of western cultures)
2. An infiltration of secular mindsets into church practice (adopting a secular/sacred divide)
3. Poor theology including an underdeveloped theology of suffering.
4. Spiritual warfare (the kingdom of darkness does not want exposed).
In Matthew 4:23 at the start of Jesus' three-year ministry it says:
“Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.”
There are clear action words in this verse. First Jesus went, which is the act of reaching out, secondly he taught, which helps people receive truth, third he proclaimed the good news and it is demonstrated through healing. There is a clear connection between the good news, the kingdom of God and the healing ministry.
Jesus as a good news person modelled proclamation and the healing ministry to his disciples and expected them to follow his example. This is exactly what we see in the gospels and the book of Acts. The classic text for this is John 14:12 "“whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these."
In Matthew 10:1 tells us that "Jesus summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness."
Examples of the disciples healing in the Book of Acts include:
Healing of a lame beggar 3:1-4:22
Paul's eyes 9:10-19; 22:10-21
Peter heals Aeneas 9:32-35
Peter heals Dorcas (Tabitha) 9:36-43
Raising Dead Lame man at Lystra 14:8-18
Paul raised at Lystra 14:19-20 Slave girl at Philippi 16:16-40 Demonic Deliverance
Eutychus 20:7-12 Raising Dead Paul's Snakebite 28:3-6 Publius' father 28:8-9
In Acts 14, Paul and Barnabas have traveled throughout Asia Minor proclaiming the good news and demonstrating the kingdom with examples of healing. In Acts 14:8-10 it says:
"In Lystra there sat a man who was lame. He had been that way from birth and had never walked.9 He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed10 and called out, “Stand up on your feet!” At that, the man jumped up and began to walk."
Notice this lame man was listening to Paul teach about Jesus, the healing came in response to faith in Jesus. Paul "saw the he had faith to be healed." I am not sure what happened here, did Paul have some kind of insight, or was there a physical symptom, it is not clear. What we do know is that he was healing in response to faith in the message of Jesus.
Evangelism is therefore part of a wider declaration that can include teaching, proclamation and healing. Some evangelists are stronger teachers, other betters at declaration and some are bold when it comes too healing. All three ingredients are part of the Jesus model of sharing the good news.
How do we grow in following Jesus' example?
The first thing is to recognise the Jesus pattern of teaching, proclamation and demonstration. Once we see this we will want to reproduce the Jesus Way.
Second, be aware of our strengths and weakness, can we major on our strengths and develop skills where we are weaker? Learn from others who are strong in our area of weakness. I personally love to watch the African prophets and evangelists who regularly see God do miracles.
Third, work on a biblical theology of healing. If you doubt that modern day Christians have authority to heal I recommend Randy Clark's teaching. I sat through his healing school a number of years ago and found it biblical and practical especially for christians in the West. You can see an example of his teaching at https://vimeo.com/209131149.
If you have any other resources please feel free to share them.