As I continue my sermon series on salvation, I will be turning to the idea that salvation includes healing. In preparation for that sermon, I thought I would share a few paragraphs that I wrote about healing in my book on spiritual gifts (Unfettered Spirit: Spiritual Gifts for the New Great Awakening). The idea that God heals and that this is connected to the idea of salvation is not always an easy one to embrace for many modern Christians. When we get sick, we go to the doctor. We pray for healing, but do we really believe that God heals. I invite you to read these paragraphs and then pursue the question more fully in my book on spiritual gifts. This excerpt is found on page 147 of Unfettered Spirit.
Healing is a sign of the reign of God present among us. Amos Yong, a Pentecostal theologian writes that healing not only leads to the restoring of human bodies, it serves as a sign that Jesus is “representative of the messianic promise to bring about the redemption, reconciliation, and release long associated with the year of the Lord’s favor.” [Yong, Who Is the Holy Spirit? 44.] Jürgen Moltmann suggests that healing serves as “signs of the rebirth of life and herald the new creation of all things.” They are tokens of “the resurrection world which drives out death.” [Moltmann, The Source of Life, 64-65]. Although such healings don’t forestall death as a human experience, they remind us that in ultimate terms the curse of death has been defeated and wholeness is possible.
Every Sunday we gather in our churches and pray for the healing of our family, friends, neighbors. We pray in the belief that such prayers have an effect at the spiritual level, bringing wholeness to the recipients of our prayers. James told the sick to call for the elders to anoint with oil and pray that their bodies would be healed (James 5:14-15).
As we see from the Gospels, healing played an important role in Jesus’ ministry. Jesus healed the sick, restored sight to the blind, made the lame walk. A total of forty-one separate instances of healing body or mind can be found in the four gospels. Morton Kelsey has written “that Jesus’ ministry of healing is certainly in line with the constant emphasis in his teachings about compassion and caring about one’s neighbor.” [Kelsey,Healing and Christianity, 42-45].