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Does God stll heal?

Growing up in my Evangelical Free Church in the Missouri, we were taught a lot of wonderful things about Jesus and the Bible. But one subject that we never covered was the Holy Spirit’s raw, jaw-dropping power in our lives. We saw that he did a lot of awesome things back in Jesus’ day, but althou…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes
Growing up in my Evangelical Free Church in the Missouri, we were taught a lot of wonderful things about Jesus and the Bible. But one subject that we never covered was the Holy Spirit’s raw, jaw-dropping power in our lives. We saw that he did a lot of awesome things back in Jesus’ day, but although we never talked about it, something had obviously changed in our day and age. He was apparently no longer in the business of healing or dispensing the sensational gifts that you read about in Scripture.
I loved the people there. Our pastor was a wonderful man. I had no reason to even ask the questions about why things appeared to be different now than back when Jesus was showing his disciples how to do the stuff. Church may have been boring and my own view of God limited, but it was all I knew.
At 17 my mom encouraged me to go overseas. I started doing missionary work. People didn’t have hospitals. You needed to do something for them to alleviate their pain, so you prayed for healing. And every now and then, you’d run across people who were obviously tormented by something outside them – something evil that behaved like the demons Jesus always seemed to be doing battle with in Scripture. Out beyond America’s borders, you didn’t have the luxury of ignoring such things – they hit you in the face. And if you grew up like me, you were ill-prepared.
What I since learned is that a whole segment of the church actually has no experience with a God that heals or blasts demons back to hell, and so they’ve constructed a theology called “cessationism” to explain their lack of experience. According to this explanation, the Holy Spirit stopped healing or dispensing many of his gifts after the apostles died because these gifts were no longer necessary to expand the kingdom. They backed this theology up with verses like 1 Cor. 13:8-10 “…we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.”
I want to take these people by the hand and show them the things I’ve seen. I want to introduce them to the God I know – a God whose power is still transforming individual lives and, in fact whole nations, in amazing and sometimes spectacular ways. That’s why I often share stories of his power here on this blog. That’s why I take people on mission trips and show them that they can hear his voice today and can pray for the sick and see God respond.
I see it all the time and I want others to see it too. For example, here’s a story this week from World Racer Danielle Contarino. All her life she had been struggling with a crooked spine. Most pastors I knew in the first half of my life would have sent her to doctors who shrugged their shoulders. But last week, she met the God of power. She describes it in this blog.
It’s about time we all did. We need to let him out of the boxes of our limited experience. He wants to equip us in ways that may seem new to us, but are as old and as relevant as the Bible itself.
The news was devastating to my twelve year old body. This news would change my future career forever. My life at the time revolved around gymnastics; the sport that turned my dreams into reality. The doctor had x-rayed my back and diagnosed me with scoliosis, which is a lateral curvature of the spine. As a result, one of my legs was longer than the other and the doctors said that if I were to keep spinning and flipping, my back would only worsen, and suggested I not do so. Although their suggestions usually didn’t hinder me from doing what I wanted, I would occasionally have back aches. Now fast forward ten years…
Last Saturday we met a man named Mark Marx who is teaching us to pray for the sick and disabled as Jesus prayed for them. He called me out to the middle of the floor and had my team circle around me. They prayed that my left leg would lengthen and be the same size as my right leg. As they prayed, I felt an extension in my knee! I watched as my left leg grew. I know some of you won’t believe this, but I can only tell you what I felt and what I saw with my own eyes. And Praise the Lord almighty, for His love endures forever! My team then placed their hands on my back, praying that my back would align and the scoliosis would be gone.
As sure as the reality of my fingers touching the keyboard, I felt my spine being moved! My spine has been curved to the right, and I felt it being pulled towards the left. Straightening! It was obeying its Creator! There was not a doubt in my mind as to what had occurred. Jesus made my back straight!!!! I give all the praise and glory to God! He is so good! As Amy Grant would say “I can’t explain it any other way, but God, truly God, truly God.” There is a physical Therapist assistant and another nurse on our team who also verified that the alignment was straight. I wish I could show you the huge smile on my face as I type this! God is so good and His love endures forever! I was covered by His love tonight!
And just to add the cherry on top, my computer has had a virus since Thursday and has not been turning on except to show “the blue screen of death”. I figured if God could heal bodies… He could heal computers too! I prayed and had my team pray as well. The guy who was going to fix it, Brian, turned it on and simply said, “Danielle, your prayers were answered.” There was nothing wrong with it! I am here to testify that God answers prayers my friend. There is no doubting it!
Whether it is fixing a crooked spine, or turning on a computer that wouldn’t work, there is nothing He can’t do! I wish I could tell you each this story face to face and let you feel my back! God is so good and I am so overwhelmed by His love! He loves you just the same my friend, with such unspeakable love! These stories aren’t even scratching the surface! My challenge to you is to keep your eyes open and allow Him to pour His love out on your life! He has so much for you!
I love this testimony. If you don’t know this God of miracles, aren’t you tired of living a faith that feels impotent? God hasn’t stopped doing the miracles that Jesus taught his disciples to do. He sent them out to drive out evil spirits, raise the dead, and heal every disease. And when he proclaimed, “You’ll do even greater things than these,” he wasn’t speaking metaphorically. Today he’s still sending us out that way. Ask the Lord to introduce you to a life of greater power and he will.

Comments (16)

  • Just for the record, the vast majority of “cessationists” DO believe that God can and does heal.

    What they don’t believe is that there are so-called “faith healers” running around with the apostolic (think: Peter & Paul) gift of healing, clearing out hospital wards and curing illnesses with a touch of their hand or their shadows as they pass by.

    And I’ve never met a cessationist who denies the reality of the demonic realm or who would refuse to pray for a demon to be cast out.

    In response to the question, “Does God Still Heal?”, most high-profile cessationists that I know of (John MacArthur, Albert Mohler, Paul Washer) would say, “OF COURSE HE DOES!”

    Just for fun, here’s an example of one of the aforementioned cessationists pleading for prayer for a sick teenager on his Twitter account just yesterday:

    @albertmohler RT Please pray RIGHT NOW for Bradley Wilson – 8th grader in Louisville in critical condition w bacterial infection. (via @JimmyScroggins)

    BTW, I just found an article from a cessationist that I admire a lot (Phil Johnson, Ex. Director of “Grace to You”) that might be of interest to some people:


    And, once again, Phil Johnson doesn’t fit the cessationist stereotype. In the article, he clearly states:

    “I don’t for a moment doubt God’s power to do miracles or to heal.”

  • I love it when I see the evidence of God’s power at work. I can feel Danielle’s huge and joyful smile as I read her words! Fantastic testimony.

    I know God doesn’t always say yes to healing because He has a bigger picture going on up there that’s often way beyond me to second guess, but I love it when He does. I love it when people oppressed by demons walk free. I love what He’s done in my life and I love what I have seen Him do in other people.

    I love the Psalmist saying “Magnify the Lord with me.” He doesn’t need to be made bigger, He needs to be seen as bigger in our eyes.

  • Dear Eugene,

    I hear what you are saying about cessationists believing in healing. But for most, their picture of God’s healing is separate and independent from the Body of Christ. We can pray at a prayer meeting or from home, and then, hopefully, the report from the doctor will reveal the answer to prayer. That’s pretty wonderful, but falls short of the distribution of God’s grace through the Body. God did indeed distribute the gift of healing throughout the Body. And for those who do not have that gift, we are still called to exercise it, just as we are to exercise giving, helping, teaching, etc. even if we do not have that particular giftedness.

    Even Jesus (and the apostles) did not clean out “hospital wards” because He only did what He saw His Father doing. And so we are to follow His example. I say we definitely need to be more “hands on” regarding healing, Not seeing healing and miracles among us on a daily basis means we are still falling way short of His Kingdom on the earth.

    And it makes me ask the question: What DO we actually believe about God’s heart and ability to heal today? HE is not unwilling, unable or lacking compassion. I know this is heard a lot, but it is still the Word of God: “Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday , today and forever.”

    I am so grateful for God’s hands of healing through the hands of the Body of Christ. Healing brings freedom and mobilization for His work, and refreshes our hearts about the personal love of Christ.

  • oh my goodness, what a good word for today! I was in one of those 3-hour, “bring down God’s glory” church services this morning listening to a friend of a friend here in Sarasota, Lesley Anne Leighton (who has ministered with Heidi Baker) pour out the Word. It was good, it was sweet – and best of all, this kind of life is not just for people like her. Or World Racers. IT’S FOR ME. AND YOU. I know that I am in a season of preparation right now – but what an astounding delight to know He is leading me (and my kids) into this life of greater power — into a life that sees our living God working miracles like Danielle experienced ALL the time.

    I crave that in my soul because I know that THIS is the God of the Bible! A God who delights to have us involved in bringing His Kingdom to pass.

    I agree that most cessationists do believe in healing and deliverance. They’ve even witnessed it a few times. But having grown up that way, I know that it is something considered out of the norm, something we just don’t run into everyday. But I think that is due to our unbelief – our unwillingness to step out on faith and truly BELIEVE AND ACT ON the radical nature of Jesus’ power. Like Capernaum in the NT, He doesn’t do as much here because of that.

    But o God, I don’t want to be numbered in that crowd anymore. Rain down on us skeptics and deliver us from lives of mediocrity, from the religiosity that claims Your power but fails to see it manifest in day-to-day life.

  • Thanks, Seth. I trust too that you received my other email about Seth your son. I will look forward to talking with him. The project sounds interesting.

    Among the hard topics in the Bible and wafting around the corners of our sometimes shaky faith as Jesus followers is this one. This week I will be in Newport News, VA to see one of the most God fearing and passionate moms on the planet deal with another round of suspicious cells having already seen a breast and kidney encounter this odd creation of cancer cells run amuck. And a slightly older sister while tender to Jesus and those around her is dying. She watches the same disease that killed our father occupy room after room in her life. And the miracle is the joy she keeps while the carnage keeps coming. I prayed every day for 25 years for my dad to be healed. And he wasn’t in the way we hoped for– notwithstanding his attendance at a miracle crusade with Kathryn Kulman or one of the other charismatic notables.

    The healing graces are real. And often they don’t come. As a kid I’d cry at night thinking my shallow faith was the reason. That was hell.

    So I cling to the cross and believe in the face of the unbelievable. Which is why Hebrews 11:13 has been and still remains a life favorite.

    God is God. We are not. And He doesn’t do well when we prescribe omnipotent behavior. He is love. And that is a comfort.

  • Butch and his family have had far more experience than most of us in the realm of watching loved ones suffer … believing, hoping, only to have the answer returned as “not this way, not this time.” And I know you have too Seth with your daughter.

    God IS God and indeed we are silly to try and “prescribe” that God do His almighty deliverance according to what we want. Yet it seems we do it all the time. We want God to do a certain healing – yet when He begins to do it through a means we didn’t anticipate or with a result quite different than we’d hoped for, we get mad, confused, offended. We kick against the pricks. I know I’ve been guilty of this many times … and I know I’m not alone!

    Only God knows what is best and when. Yet He says so very plainly: ask and it shall be given to you … pray for healing … lay hands on the sick … believe and your faith (in HIM) will move mountains … you’ll do even greater things than Me. (wow, that last one is hard to believe)

    I cannot begin to understand the depth of meaning behind all this. In the end, it seems they are just truths to be held in tension that yes, Jesus does still heal and delights in doing so every day – but not everyone is healed in the way or with the timing we think should happen. I can only surmise that He is busy making treasures in the darkness for the latter.

  • I remember when I was pregnant with my daughter and was struggling with alot of back pain. I presumed it was due to the baby “laying funny” as she was my 3rd child and I hadnt had much trouble with my other 2 pregnancies.

    I asked a good friend of mine to pray for me and so she said “ok, lets ask God what the problem is”. As we waited upon the Lord He showed her a picture of my spine and one of my vertibrae was out of line. As He showed her this the Lord brought back to mind an accident I had as a young child that hurt my back, my parents never got my back x-rayed.

    The reason why my back was playing up now with this pregnancy was because I was pushing a pushchair this time as there is only 18 mnths difference between my last 2 children and it was putting pressure on this part of my back.

    My friend started to pray….without touching me I felt a warm feeling on my back and pressure building up and building up until suddenly the bone clicked back into place ( it was painful as God did not use anesthetic!) Ever since then my back is fine.

    I remember having trouble with asthma…the doc prescribed me with an inhaler but then a friend prayed for and I was delived of a deom and the asthma went.

    I remember burning my fingers a few years ago whilst cooking and was in agony, again after prayer the pain disappeared and my fingers were healed, not even sore!Totally restored.

    I remember time and time again where I feel like I am coming down with a cold or temprature, prayed and then felt well straight after.

    The God I serve heals.Thats all I know!

  • Frederick Buechner quotes Agnes Sanford as saying she sees Jesus standing in our churches with his hands tied behind his back because we don’t believe he will heal. Her book, The Healing Light, is excellent (and quaint — it was written in the 1940s), as is her autobiography. God wants to heal through his followers today, both in the physical and demonic sense.

    My experience in healing ministry included a clear call and the gift of knowing that he brings to us those for whom we are to pray. He also has taught me that there are seasons of abundance in heeding his call and seasons when we ourselves are being pruned by the Master Gardener. I am still learning to trust and obey.

  • Eugene,

    For clarification, cessationist need not classify people gifted with healing as “faith healers”. That is a radical mischaracterization all too commonly used in defense of cessationists. Most people gifted with any function within the Body of Christ as outlined in 1 Corinthians 12 would not look like what one finds offensive on TV, nor be appropriately classified as a “faith healer”. Further, 1 Timothy 4:14 seems to indicate that our objective is to “neglect not” those gifts.

  • In response to everyone’s responses, I, too, am one struggling with this tension between not being healed YET and all that the Word tells me about the nature and promises of God. I use the word “tension” because I just can’t believe what many say of finding God’s purpose in it. It sounds like more human reasoning, trying to figure God out and make the best of the disease. I cannot find that track in His Word. I do find in Scripture MANY promises. I DO find the the Lord “desires the well-being of His servant.” I see that it is not begging for the healing WE want. It is GOD who wants to heal. I DO find in Scripture that unbelief did indeed tie Jesus’ hands. And this is not an indictment against an individual’s faith level. We are a BODY…a COMMUNITY. While I don’t know for sure the answer to this question, the question keeps popping up in my spirit: Are we seeing a lack of healing due to OUR lack of fasting/prayer lifestyle as a Church? OUR spiritual laziness to lay hold and believe? OUR lack of willingness to pay the price? I am convicted by my own questions. This is not a guilt trip. But if we can discern what God is saying and have a change of thinking (repentance), it would be pretty wonderful to have a healthy Body to take His healing to those who are not yet in the Body!

  • I hear you, Kathy… I am sure we as a Body are not living the prayer/fasting lifestyle we should. I know myself that having prayed/fasted once over a period of months and not seen the healing *I wanted* to see, I was reluctant to do it again. What does that say about my spiritual laziness, my inconsistency, my lack of perseverance? Not to mention the fact that my prayer should have been “Not my will, but YOURS be done. In substance. In timing. In everything.”

    Indeed, you lay out some convicting thoughts. I feel like I have been shaking the rafters of heaven lately asking for healing too – and while it’s been coming in parts, I still seem to always hear “Press in further” … I *think* that means there is more that God wants to uncover in my own heart. Things that He wants to teach me that can’t be learned any other way than to go through the pain, step by step… I hardly ever have dreams that I remember, but I have been asking God to speak to me this way more and did have one the other night that seemed to bear this out … I have very tall kitchen cupboards that require a step ladder to reach and in my dream I was lazy, didn’t want to pull out the step stool, so i tried to stand on one of the cabinet doors to reach it. Of course I fell, not having attained whatever I was trying to get. The interpretation seemed pretty clear: “don’t be lazy. Don’t take the shortcut and think you’ll get to where I want you.”

    When the disciples asked Jesus, “who sinned – this man or his parents – that he was born blind (and had to live these 40 years blind)?” Jesus said – “neither – it was all so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.”

    What best displays the work of God in our lives? We think it is a healing – and that may in fact be the case (this particular one used a process, it wasn’t just the touch of Jesus – the man had to go and do what Jesus told him to do) … but perhaps it is also our testimony in the midst of pain and suffering.

    Anyway, some more thoughts to ponder…

  • Mark Marx does his leg lengthening trick all over the place….it is his ‘go to’ healing. Quite why or how he happens to find so many people who just happen to have a condition that can be healed by a well known parlour trick that has been widely debunked is a questopn only he can answer. I have seen many videos on youtube where Marx asks the camera to come closer to see what is going to happen….hoe does he KNOW God will do as he asks and why does he not do the same for someone with a missing limb or something that can’t be explained by trickery. Beware Chrisitians….our God is an awesome God but he does not obey the command of people like Mark Marx every time they ask for a leg to ‘grow out’! Discernment seems to be something that is sadly lacking is parts of the church today.

  • I believe God does heal as He did in the times of the first church. The Apostle Paul was given a thorn in the flesh and was refused healing. Do you suppose that healing is for testimony and non healing is for the same testimony? I suffer from issues and have proof from the MRI’s as the problems are real. I believe the Lord can heal me and am learning to accept that His grace is also sufficient for some.

  • You said: Dear reader, aren’t you tired of living a faith that feels impotent? ( sound to me a little bit like an infomercial)
    That is not true faith. then is not a true believer. A true believer will submit completely to the will of God in faith. I read the blog of this girl and I don’t see any before-after picture or X-rays nor doctor testimony nor video or picture of the event. I have the Holy Spirit in me working truth faith in my trials and praying always for healing if is need it. God has all the power and glory and He has the last word. I am just a wretched woman. Blessing!

  • This is why this so call “faith healers” are making so much damage to true Christia like you. I am praying for you as you should. WE submitted to God everything and through the Holy Spirit, we have the power to go through our trails IN FAITH, believing that God has the last words and that we do not belong in this place but we are citizens of heaven where our father has a place for us. As Christians, we prove His power not in the healing but in the faith that He is Lord of all and has all the power. Can God heals us? Of course! if is in His will. He is a good God and always His will is better than ours. It is hard to believe that within our human minds! yes! That is why we have the Holy Spirit in us to take us in faith in our journey. God bless you!

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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