Errors Concerning Divine Healing
That God is able to heal the sick without the use of remedies, and physicians, we think no one will deny. All agree in saying he can. And that he has thus healed the sick, without interposition of medical aid, in all ages of the world, is in like manner beyond question, and is confirmed by competent witnesses. This writer has himself been thus healed, and has personally witnessed the healing of many others.
However, we are persuaded that in much of the teaching in modern times — concerning the subject — there is a serious error. Wrong premises must invariably lead to wrong conclusions. In order to meet these errors let me first state the premises in the case as taught by some. First they say, “Healing is in the atonement,” and cite Matthew 8:17 in proof of this statement. Second, they will refer to the ministry of healing that Christ performed while he was upon earth, and quote Hebrew 13:8, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever.” And third, they will insist that he is no respecter of persons, according to Acts 10:34. And therefore, since healing is in the atonement, and he has healed others, and is the same forever, and is no respecter of persons, therefore all should in like manner be healed.
We think if this argument proves anything it proves too much. Might not a person just as well reason that since Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead on the fourth day, and seeing he is ever the same, and no respecter of persons, all might thus be raised from the dead on the fourth day: or since he turned water into wine at the wedding in Cana, he should turn water into wine at every wedding. Not only so, but Matthew 8:17 says he not only “bare our sickness” but “took our infirmities,” thus proving that the atonement covered our “infirmities”. Then why not put the same emphasis on “infirmities,” as well as on “sicknesses”? Would not the same logic prove that we should be delivered from all “infirmities,” seeing it is in the atonement, as well as healing? But who would dare to teach that we should thus be delivered from all physical and mental infirmities.
We fully believe, and readily admit, that the atonement includes and provides for the body as well as for the soul, and that because of the atonement we shall have resurrection, and glorified and immortal bodies; but we do not believe that we should all receive the same today. In fact we believe all the effects of the fall of man have been covered by the atonement, and that all blessings and blessedness we enjoy today both spiritual and temporal, are directly and indirectly provided by the atonement. But evidently, some things provided by the atonement are bestowed arbitrarily according to the sovereign will and purposes of God; that while the atonement provides me a glorified and immortal body, I may not claim and possess the same today, seeing it is not yet fully due; while I have the check (promise) for the same I may need to wait until the morning of the resurrection before I can have it cashed.
But perhaps the most serious error lies in the failure to distinguish between the grace of faith, and the gift of faith. By “the grace of faith” we mean the faith that has to do with salvation. By “the gift of faith” we refer to the faith that comes in the realm of gifts. Where the case is equal, in all logic, the greater must necessarily include the lesser. It would be impossible for a man to have ten dollars and not have five dollars. All will admit that the saving and sanctifying of the soul is greater — of greater value and of greater importance — than the healing of the body; that while a person might reach heaven through a sick or diseased body, no one could hope to reach heaven with an impure, of sinful heart. Hence, if the case were equal, faith for the saving of the soul, which is the greater, would necessarily include the healing of the body, which is the lesser; and that whosoever did not have sufficient faith to be healed of all bodily ailments could not have sufficient faith to save his soul. Here is the peril in this line of reasoning, seeing there is absolutely no escape from the logic of the argument. To reason thus would bring darkness and condemnation to many saintly souls.
But the case is not equal, according to the teaching of the Scriptures; and this is exactly our point. We would insist that healing for the body is not in the realm of saving faith, but in the realm of the gifts, and the gift of faith. If this were not true, why should there be “gifts of healing”? There would be no necessity for this special gift if it already existed in the grace of faith, as all who are saved would have it. Seeing the case is not equal, a person may have faith for the saving and sanctifying of his soul which is the greater and not have faith — the gift of faith — for the healing of the body, which is the lesser. Someone will refer us to James 5:14 and insist that here is healing for all. Yes, providing someone is able to pray the prayer of faith. Herein lies the secret. If God sees fit to bestow the gift of faith, so as to enable some one to pray the prayer of faith, the healing is assured. But we doubt that anyone can pray this “prayer of faith” without the ”gift of faith.”
Another error in the modern teaching on this subject is that all may be healed, at any time; that since Jesus never refused healing to anyone while on earth and seeing he is ever the same, all may be healed today who will call upon him. This teaching overlooks the statement in the Scripture, that all the gifts are bestowed arbitrarily, according to the sovereign wisdom and purpose of God, “Severally as he will.” I Cor. 12:11. Hence, in praying for healing, we need ever to say, “If it be thy will,” whereas there is no occasion to say, “If it be thy will, when praying for salvation, since he has said, “Whosoever will.” In enumerating and speaking of the gifts, including “healing,” I Corinthians 12:28-29, Paul raises the question, “Have all the gifts of healing?” This was simply another way of saying, all may not have this gift, even is all may not become apostles, or prophets, or be endued with the power to perform miracles. So we conclude that while all may and must have faith for the salvation of the soul, or be lost, all may not have the gift of faith for the healing of the body, and yet be guiltless, and the soul be saved. Therefore, the essential thing is not healing but salvation. While salvation is a duty, healing at most, is merely a privilege.
That some persons have the “gift of healing” and “the gift of faith” for healing, we are most happy to believe; and we are persuaded that many more might have various gifts, including healing, if they would but “covet earnestly” (I Corinthians 12:31) with an eye single to the glory of God.