First we would set before the reader some of the much used (or much abused, whichever the case may be) portions of the Word upon which the “divine healers” base their claims of commission and power.
“Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of diseases among the people.” Matthew 4:23.
“And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM and healing EVERY sickness and EVERY disease among the people.” Matthew 9:35.
“And as ye go, preach, saying, THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS AT HAND. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons; freely ye have received, freely give” Matthew 10:7 and 8.
“He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; in My name they shall cast out demons; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” Mark 16:16 to 18.
That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias (Isaiah) the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.” Matthew 8:17.
“Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up.” James 5:14 and 15.
We could perhaps write an interesting paper about the “self-styled-divine-healers” of today: however, such a procedure would be of no lasting profit—for personal frailties or follies in no way either prove or disprove so much as a single statement of the Word of God. Our desire is to be of real help to the many earnest children of God who are greatly disturbed by the claims and demonstrations of these present day “healers.”
Therefore we shall simply attempt to show that when the Word of God is handled honestly and consistently not a vestige of Scriptural support remains upon which these self-appointed “healers” can rest their claims.
Now let us turn to a consideration of the portions of Scripture above—but before we do let us remind the reader that it is a rule of utmost importance in Bible study that the Word of God be considered in its context. If we bear this in mind we shall be able to understand that which is contained in the “words which the Holy Ghost teacheth.”
In Matthew 4:23 we find the Lord going about preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom and healing all manner of sickness and disease among the people. In the eighth chapter of Matthew we find the Lord heals a leper, the centurion’s servant, Peter’s wife’s mother, also many that were possessed with demons (Matthew 8:1 to 16); we see Him stilling the waves (Matthew 8:23 to 27); casting out demons (Matthew 8:28 to 34); healing the palsied man (Matthew 9:6); healing a woman with an issue of blood (Matthew 9:22); healing two blind men (Matthew 9:30); casting out a demon (Matthew 9:33). Then we find a parallel to the statement in Matthew 4:23, namely, Matthew 9:35 which we quote: “And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.”
Now we must not disregard the fact that the Spirit of God has caused these things to be recorded in context bound in by Matthew 4:23 and Matthew 9:36. It is noted that all these miracles performed by the Lord were done in immediate connection with the preaching of “THE GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM.” Therefore, let us not do violence to the Word by separating or taking anything from that unit until authorized to do so by God.
Turning to, the next portion of the Word of God: Matthew 10; do we find a changed order here? Let us see. Here the Lord instructs and sends forth His disciples. Do we not find the same message here continued with signs and healings? Let us look carefully: “When he had called unto Him His twelve disciples, He gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal ALL MANNER of sickness and ALL MANNER of disease … These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not (here is a positive prohibition that must not be disregarded or passed over lightly): but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (here is a positive limitation). And as ye go, preach saying, The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. HEAL the sick, CLEANSE the lepers, RAISE dead, CAST OUT demons: freely ye have received, freely give. Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses. Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat.” Matthew 10:1 to 10.
All this is found to be in perfect harmony with what has been revealed before. Therefore let us consider this portion carefully: letting the things which God has put together remain together:
First—if this portion of the Word of God is taken as authority for what is done by present day “healers,” the first thing we note is that they are OUT OF THE WILL OF GOD in their preaching to Gentiles—for the positive prohibition is: “GO NOT INTO THE WAY OF THE GENTILES.”
Second—their ministry must be limited to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel.” No provision is here made for large throngs of Gentiles. The specific limit is: “Go to the Jews.”
Third—they must preach, “THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS AT HAND.” Now, anyone who preaches this message today is out of the will of God and is “frustrating the grace of God.” This we shall consider more at length when we come to the ministry of the apostle to the Gentiles.
Fourth—they must heal the sick. Note that the power was to heal ALL MANNER of sickness (Matthew 10:1). There is no allowance made here for failures in cases of “little faith” or a “total lack of faith.” There is no instruction that the candidate for healing must fill out a “healing card”; or attend “anointing services”; or purchase books on “divine healing”; or attend two or three “consecutive meetings”—whatever the fancy of the ‘healer’ might be. Now of course we readily acknowledge some seemingly successful healings by these Scripture twistings, through possibly well meaning healers—but the most noticeable thing in all their doings is their evident inability to carry out this specific instruction to heal “ALL MANNER OF SICKNESS.”
Fifth—they must cleanse the lepers—and why not? Surely leprosy is included in “all manner of disease,” over which the disciples were given power. But we find the present-day “healers” let the lepers strictly alone—and wisely so! For were they to be foolish enough to lay hands on these poor unfortunates, they would ere long be numbered with the lepers. Here, certainly, the “divine (?) healers” prove their unscriptural position by their utter failure to obey this part of the instructions given.
Sixth—they must raise the dead. O yes, we are all aware that most “divine (?) healers” have at least one such case in their history—But usually that one’s residence is on the other side of the globe; and is possessed of a name that no one seems to be able to remember; but after all, “WHAT’S IN A NAME?” Certainly there is noticeable failure here.
Seventh—they must do all these things “freely”. They must “provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass” in their purses; nor baggage for their journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, etc., etc.
This, dear reader, is not simply a flippant handling of the Word of God—but we believe it to be the only honest handling of that Word. For the message the TWELVE were to preach, and the signs and instructions accompanying that message can apply only to the place and people for which they were intended—and the message and the methods must all remain together where the Lord has placed them.
However, all this means little, if anything, to the “divine healers” who twist the Word of God to their own destruction. If these are their marching orders, let them march according to them; let them cease taking gold, silver and brass offerings to fill their purses; and “walk” according to their marching orders.
We now turn to a consideration of the GREAT COMMISSION as given in Matthew 28:18 to 20 and Mark 16:16 to 18.
“Jesus spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them TO OBSERVE ALL THINGS WHATSOEVER I HAVE COMMANDED YOU; and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the age” . . . “ He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe: (1) In my name they shall cast out demons; (2) they shall speak with new tongues; (3) they take up serpents; (4) and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; (5) they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover.”
All this is in perfect harmony with that which has gone before and with that which was carried on for many years after Pentecost—But all this will not fit in with God’s program for members of the “Body of Christ.” Certainly the twelve apostles did not understand the Great Commission to authorize them to disciple Gentiles. They certainly took the “all nations” to mean the “all nations of the Jews.” In perfect harmony with the Great Commission they preached on the day of Pentecost to “Jews, devout men out of every nation under heaven.” Acts 2:5. They were addressed as “ye men of Judea” Acts 2:14. “Ye men of Israel” Acts 2:22; “Ye men of Israel” Acts 3:12; “Ye are the children of the prophets” Acts 3:25. Even seven years after Pentecost it was unlawful for a Christian Jew to come to one of another nation. Acts 10:28. As late as Acts 11:19 the ELEVEN preached the gospel “to none but unto the Jews only.”
Thus far nothing has been said about the grace of God being sent to the Gentile. But when we come to the conversion, call, and commission of the apostle Paul, we meet the one who is the instrument in God’s hands to declare the unsearchable riches of Christ to the Gentiles.
Paul was not working under the great commission, nor was his message the “Gospel of the Kingdom.” Paul received his commission and message direct from the Lord in glory by revelation (Galatians 1:13) and he went up to Jerusalem by “revelation” to communicate unto the other apostles and disciples the message he had received to preach among the Gentiles (Galatians 2:2). That this gospel differed from the gospel preached by the TWELVE APOSTLES is proven by Galatians 2:7 to 9:—“BUT CONTRARIWISE, WHEN THEY SAW THE GOSPEL OF THE UNCIRCUMCISION WAS COMMITTED UNTO ME, AS THE GOSPEL OF THE CIRCUMCISION WAS UNTO PETER; For He that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles: and when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived THE GRACE THAT WAS GIVEN UNTO ME, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that WE SHOULD GO UNTO THE HEATHEN (Gentiles), and THAT THEY SHOULD GO UNTO THE CIRCUMCISION (Jews).”
Certainly no truth is more clearly set forth: namely, that to the TWELVE APOSTLES was committed the GOSPEL OF THE CIRCUMCISION—the gospel of the KINGDOM for the Jews—the gospel of the “Great Commission” in which we hear, “GO NOT into the way of the Gentiles.”
But to the apostle Paul was committed the GOSPEL OF THE UNCIRCUMCISION—not the gospel of the KINGDOM—not the gospel of the “Great Commission—not the gospel with a command to baptize (I Corinthians 1:17); but the “gospel of glory” with which Paul was sent “before the Gentiles” (Acts 9:15 and Acts 22:21).
In the light of this, how can we assume that the GREAT COMMISSION authorized the TWELVE apostles to disciple Gentiles—when Peter and his associates agreed to confine their ministry to the Jews?
The apostle Paul was given no commission to “heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, etc.” We well recognize that even Paul had power to do these things, and did do them; but only so long as he had a ministry of confirmation in connection with God’s national dealings on behalf of the nation ISRAEL. The moment God set aside that nation, (for which all the signs were intended and to which those signs and physical blessings had been promised by the prophets), all power to perform miracles and healings ceased.This can be readily, proven by such portions of Scripture as Philippians 2:26 to 27; Second Timothy 4:20; First Timothy 5:23. What is the answer? Why was Paul passing through great sorrow because Epaphroditus was so very sick, if all Paul or some other Apostle needed to do was to lay hands on him to bring about his recovery? Why did Paul advise Timothy to take a little wine for his stomach trouble and his often infirmities, if Paul or someone else could anoint him or send him a handkerchief to bring about his cure? Paul had done this on former occasions, why not to Timothy? Why did Paul have to leave “Trophimus at Miletum sick,” if he were yet able to heal him and take him along?
The answer is of course that God was no longer bearing witness to His people with signs and wonders. The Nation Israel has been set aside—and the offer of the Kingdom has been withdrawn. All that belonged to the “GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN,” which is now postponed because of Israel’s unbelief an unwillingness to receive their Messiah and King. (See Acts 28:25 to 28 also Romans 11.)
What God is doing in this day is something entirely new; he is making “ONE NEW MAN” (Ephesians 2:15); this was not the subject of Prophecy (Ephesians 3:5); it was a mystery untraceable in the prophetic Scriptures for it was “hid in God” until revealed to and through the apostle Paul (Ephesians 3:8 and 9). Not one word concerning the Church which is “the Body of Christ,” can be found in the prophets.
On the contrary the prophets unitedly declare the glories of the Kingdom that the Lord will yet establish upon earth—the day will come when in sorrow and repentance those who pierced Him shall look upon Him. Then God shall redeem and establish his people Israel in the earth.
Now we are ready to consider the statement of Matthew 8:17 “That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.” This must be understood in the light of the context of the prophets. God had promised these very things to Israel, and to the world through them, when Israel should come into the full blessing of the KINGDOM in the presence of the King. But it will be evident to all that if the “NEW THING” which God is doing today is not the subject of prophecy, this statement of Isaiah can have nothing to do with us.
Finally, the portion of Scripture recorded in James needs but little explanation. If we will be honest in our Bible study and read the whole context we will have no problem here. The very first verse in the Epistle is the key to its understanding: “JAMES a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, TO THE TWELVE TRIBES SCATTERED ABROAD . . . “This was written to the Jews of the dispersion. This is in perfect harmony with the “GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM.” Nowhere in God’s Word do we ever find “anointing with oil” apart from Israel. No Gentile was ever privileged to anoint anyone or to lay hands on anybody. And certainly we can find no female elders in the Bible.
Therefore, though we do believe that God does answer the prayers of his people and may according to His will heal the sick, we must conclude that no one in this day has Scriptural authority for taking Israel’s Kingdom Program and applying it to the members of the “CHURCH WHICH IS HIS BODY”. And, consequently, though God may and does heal today; HE HAS NO “DIVINE HEALERS.”