Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Bethesda Factor

Re-Posted from "Meditations of a Charismatic Calvinist Who Does Not Speak in Tongues"

Does God always heal if we just have enough faith? Jesus came to the Pool of Bethesda and found a crowd of sick people (John 5:1-17).  But Jesus approached and healed only one of them.  There is no indication that this individual had any high degree of faith (he was looking to be healed by being dipped in the pool). But Jesus only approached this one man. Now there are cases where it says Jesus healed all the sick brought to Him (Matthew 8:16; 12:15; Luke 4:40), but it is clearly speaking of those who happened to be there at that day and time.  But as Bethesda shows, Jesus could also be selective. We see this even more clearly in the case of the Apostle Paul.  Paul had a consistent record of praying for people and having them be healed (Acts 19:11,12), and he continued to do so at least till the near end of the book of Acts (Acts 28:1-10) and most probably beyond it.  Yet he could not obtain healing for himself (2 Corinthians 12:7-10) or Epaphroditus (Philippians 2:25-30), or Timothy (1 Timothy 5:23), or Trophimus (2 Timothy 4:20). 

Therefore, God does not heal in every case nor has He ever healed in every case.  Now many who believe healing has passed away at the present time seem to believe that in New Testament times, God did always heal, and now He has ceased doing it.  But I would suggest that while God still heals today (and I see no basis in Scripture for believing He does not), He never healed in every case. Now it is true that faith is a factor in whether an individual is healed (Matthew 13:58; 9:22; Mark 2:5).  Though the one case where the disciples failed to accomplish a miracle (it was casting out a demon rather than a healing), Jesus rebuked the disciples for lack of faith, not the demonized boy or his father (Matthew 17:14-20).  He then cast out the demon based on the father's shaky faith (Mark 9:14-29).  But though faith is a factor, it is also clear that there is in healing a matter of God's will, and to assume that God will heal everyone if they only have enough faith is simplistic. Therefore, we should pray to God that He will heal people but be willing to accept the fact that there may be cases where it is God's will not to heal. And we should avoid jumping to the conclusion that if someone is not healed it is because of their lack of faith.

1 comment:

  1. Agree with the Charismatic Calvinist. Here are a few of my older posts that says similar things:

    Healing and the Will of God – speaks to theologies that do not offer hope.

    Healing and Chronic Sickness – a rebuttal of health and wealth theology.