First of all, we must understand that it is GOD who heals us, and He does so because of Christ’s supreme Sacrifice.
In our free booklet, “Sickness and Healing–What the Bible Tells Us,” we point out the following in this regard, beginning on page 44:
“The Bible teaches that the sacrifice of Jesus Christ clearly includes physical healing… He was beaten and tortured before He died… We already touched upon the pivotal Scripture of Isaiah 53:3–5… ‘A Man of sorrows [margin, pains] and acquainted with grief [margin, sickness]… Surely, He has borne our griefs [margin, sicknesses], And carried our sorrows [margin, pains]… He was wounded [margin, pierced through] for our transgressions, He was bruised [margin, crushed] for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes [margin, blows that cut in] we are healed.’
“This aspect of Christ’s sacrifice, that His body was brutally beaten and crushed, pierced through and viciously wounded, deals with our physical healing. This fact is confirmed in Matthew 8:16–17 where we read: ‘When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: “He Himself took our infirmities And bore our sicknesses.”‘”
However, we are also told that there are certain requirements which WE must fulfill in order to be granted godly healing. In future Updates, we will discuss some of these important requirements. In this Q&A, we will limit ourselves to the role of the ministry in the healing process. Even though it is God who heals, it is clearly revealed that He is using His true ministers in the process.
We say the following in our above-mentioned booklet on pages 25-26:
“We read in Ezekiel 34:4 that ministers who were supposed to ‘heal’ God’s sick flock, refused to do so: ‘The weak you have not strengthened, nor have you healed those who were sick, nor bound up the broken, nor brought back what was driven away, nor sought what was lost; but with force and cruelty you have ruled them.’…
“We note, too, that Zechariah 11:16 prophesies that there will arise a very influential and powerful shepherd in the land ‘who will not care for those who are cut off, nor seek the young, nor heal those that are broken, nor feed those that still stand.'”
Even though these passages speak foremost of spiritual healing and reconciliation with God, they CAN also be applied to physical healing. It is the duty of God’s true ministers to fulfill their role in the physical healing process, as instructed by God.
We continue to point out in our booklet, beginning on page 31, that God healed many times through His apostles and ministers:
“We find that when Christ’s disciples anointed a sick person with oil, the sick person was healed (compare Mark 6:12–13). In order to receive the benefit of God’s healing today, God’s ministers are instructed by God to anoint sick persons with oil (James 5:14)…
“We are told that people were healed when they touched the aprons or handkerchiefs from Paul’s body (Acts 19:12). Based on this Biblical example, God’s ministers use a variation of that ‘method’ today—they may anoint a cloth with oil, pray over it, and send it to the sick person who lives too far away from a minister to make a personal visit…
“God’s ministers today lay their hands on the sick person’s head, then they anoint him or her with oil, setting him or her apart to receive God’s power of healing. Christ said in Mark 16:18 that sick people will recover when His ministers lay their hands on the sick. When they send a cloth, they place their hands on the anointed cloth while praying to God for healing for the sick person…”
We might want to elaborate here on the particular wording in Acts 19:11-12, where we read: “Now God worked unusual miracles BY THE HANDS OF PAUL, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them…”
The reference to the “hands of Paul” seems to indicate that Paul laid his HANDS on the apron, anointed it with a drop of oil and prayed over it, before sending it to the sick. This is the exact method used by God’s ministers today. They anoint a small linen cloth with a drop of oil as a symbol of the Holy Spirit, lay their hands on the cloth and pray over it on behalf of the sick person to whom the cloth will be sent. Mention will be made in the prayer as to the specific nature of the sickness, for which healing is requested. When the sick person receives the cloth, he or she is asked to place it on his or her head and pray to God that He would heal him or her from the sickness. Following the prayer, the cloth should be disposed of in order to prevent any future (superstitious) use or “idolization.” The cloth has no magical significance, and it is not to be confused with any “miracle water” or other unbiblical “tools” or “procedures” for alleged healing (none of which originate with the true God of the Bible).
We also explain in our booklet that under certain circumstances, God’s ministers will honor anointing requests by sick persons outside the Church of God. We state, beginning on page 54:
“The Bible is very clear that God heals sick people who try to obey God and who have faith that He will heal them. He tells us in Exodus 15:26, ‘If you diligently heed the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the LORD who heals you.’…
“We find that Christ healed many people who were not converted… After the New Testament Church began in 31 A.D., as Acts 2 reports, God continued to use the apostles and elders to heal people who were not members of the body of Christ, some of whom were even demon-possessed (Acts 5:12–16; 8:5–8; 28:7–9)… Paul later healed a man who had been a cripple from his mother’s womb, after Paul had observed him ‘intently,’ seeing that ‘he had faith to be healed’ (Acts 14:9).
“Many times, healing may be one of the means for God to lead a person to total surrender to Him—or it might be a witness for others to turn to God (compare Acts 9:32–35). In particular, children of parents in the church, as well as unconverted mates, may experience healing, sometimes in unusual ways, so that their faith in God the Father and Jesus Christ may be strengthened…
“If a sick person asks one of our ministers for anointing or an anointed cloth, believing that God will heal them, they will receive what they request. God commanded His servants to preach the gospel of the Kingdom of God and to ‘heal the sick’ (Matthew 10:8; Luke 9:2; 10:9). If a sick person has the faith in God to be healed, they should take advantage of the tremendous benefit that God bestows on us to heal us from our sicknesses and diseases. Our sicknesses are important in God’s eyes. If we are suffering with a sickness, let us ask God for His intervention. After all, He is the God Who heals us!”
The question arises as to how often one should be anointed by God’s ministers or request an anointed cloth for the same sickness. While the concept of anointing can be trivialized, a request for repeated anointing pertaining to the same sickness can be made and should be honored, unless obvious circumstances to the contrary would render this ill-advised. Those circumstances could be seen in a lack of understanding regarding the nature of healing–thinking perhaps that the request for anointing is the same as taking a pill against pain. Another possibility barring repeated anointing for the same sickness could be seen in an obvious lack of faith of the sick person in God’s healing power; an unwillingness to reconcile with other human beings; or a conscientious and rebellious refusal to obey God’s laws (These concepts will be discussed in future Q&A’s).
Apart from this, we read in God’s Word that in some cases, repeated prayers were made to God for His intervention and healing for the same situation. These examples can be used in an analogous way for repeated requests for healing of the same sickness.
We read in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 that Paul asked God three times to remove from him “a thorn in the flesh.” Most commentaries feel that Paul is referring to a sickness, perhaps Malaria or a serious eye problem, and that he asked God three times for healing in a formal way; perhaps by asking God’s ministry to anoint him. In this particular case, however, God decided not to heal Paul, as his sickness served an important purpose (verses 9-10).
We read in 1 Kings 17:17-24 that Elijah prayed three times to God to revive a dead child; and 2 Kings 4:29-35 reports on Elisha’s repeated prayers and other “procedures” to revive a dead child. Naaman’s leprosy was healed, following Elisha’s specific instructions to wash himself seven times in the Jordan river (2 Kings 5:10-14). We also read that Christ healed a blind man after first spitting on his eyes and putting His hands on him, and then putting His hands on him a second time (Mark 8:22-25).
Faith in God’s healing is absolutely necessary, but sometimes God may not intervene immediately because He wants to test our patience. Even after having received anointing, it is necessary, while we might not be healed immediately, to continue praying to God “day and night” for His merciful intervention (Luke 18:7). We read in James 5:16: “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”
It would be ill-advised to think that we do not need God’s ministry in order to be healed. The Bible teaches the opposite, and we must obey God in all things. God commands us in James 5:14-15: “Is anyone among you sick? LET HIM CALL FOR THE ELDERS OF THE CHURCH, and let them pray over him, anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord WILL raise him up…”
Lead Writer: Norbert Link