“For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us—by me, Silvanus, and Timothy—was not Yes and No, but in Him was Yes. For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” (2 Cor 1: 19-22)
We have two chickens, called Jessica and Roadrunner. They they live in a Summer house that has been converted to a chicken run: it has a door, which normally stays shut except when we go in to collect the eggs or clean them out etc, and it has a little chicken door the size of a catflap, which opens and shuts automatically on a timer. One morning I looked up the garden and noticed that the door had been left open all night, yet Jessica and Roadrunner hadn’t come down to the house for their morning treat. (They have a little bit of crumbled cheese every morning, mixed with a soaked slice of bread. Don’t ask.) I feared the worst, and began to gear myself up to go into the chicken house and find a pile of feathers left by the visit of Mr Fox. Then as I looked up the garden I saw Roadrunner, then Jessica, emerge from the Summer house through their little door that had just opened on its timer. They had ignored the wide open door, and waited until the timer lifted their flap before coming out. Photos and laughing emojis soon circulated on the family WhatsApp group.
Moving on to rainbows, that glorious symbol of God’s covenant promises, I saw one yesterday and was blessed by a new (well, new for me, anyway) awareness of how the rainbow is created: the sunlight combining with water can represent the light of the Sun of Righteousness combining with the water of the Holy Spirit affirming the faithfulness of God the Father to keep His promises. And now I’m coming to my point, because it’s with healing in His wings that the Sun of Righteousness arises (Malachi 4:2). Yet how often do we pray for healing for people and see them go away disappointed? Yes, we encourage them, and ourselves, with the promise of Mark 16:18 – “You shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover-” yet we know that as often as not they don’t, and won’t. Instead of faith arising, disappointment niggles. Our prayers feel like they are hitting that little chicken flap before the timer lifts it: it is firmly shut.
And yet as full gospel Christians we know that the promise of healing is there in the Word of God. “You shall lay hands… and they will…” Why don’t we see it as part of our normal Christian experience?
I think it’s because we are waiting for the flap to open and we are missing the door. The context of Mark 16:18 is this: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature… And these signs will follow those who believe: … they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” The sign of healing follows the preaching of the gospel. It’s the gospel that is “the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes,” (Romans 1:16) and as we know, the Greek word translated as salvation means healing of the whole person; body and mind as well as spirit. I had the blessing a couple of weeks ago to spend some time with an evangelist who has seen countless miraculous healings, including six people being raised from the dead. Is he a “better Christian” than me or anyone else that I know? I don’t think so. He is certainly a man of faith and fervent prayer, but I don’t think that is the main point. I think the main point is this: he believes; he preaches the gospel, and signs and wonders follow to confirm the word he preaches.
I think there’s been a separation the Church between healing and preaching the gospel, to the extent even that many evangelical churches who don’t operate in the gifts of the Holy Spirit give a call to salvation at all their services, and many churches who do believe that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are at work in the Body of Christ today will pray for people to be healed but don’t make a habit of preaching the gospel at all their meetings. You need to turn on the switch (preach the gospel) for the light to come on (the power of God to heal). You can’t have the power without the switch, and the switch without the light achieves nothing.
I’ll bring this to land with the rainbow: the water of the Holy Spirit combined with the Sun of the Word of God affirm the promise of the Father to heal. If you know that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Saviour you have the Sun, and if you are baptised in the Holy Spirit you have the water. Romans 10:8 tells us that ‘“The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach).’ The very experience of being baptised in the Holy Spirit, especially with the evidence of speaking in tongues, is itself the “guarantee” that God will honour His promise to heal, as Paul writes in 2 Cor 1:22 above. The mustard seed of faith is another subject of course, and only you know whether or not you really do believe yourself, or if you have only fed off the faith of other people when it comes to healing. But if you do believe, and if you know that you are baptised in the Holy Spirit, go out and do what Jesus has commissioned us to do: preach the gospel, lay hands on the sick, and they will recover. It’s a promise. The door is wide open; don’t be a chicken. Go out and turn on some lights.
(On the topic of faith – there are a lot of articles in the “Living By Faith” section – “Resurrection Life” isn’t a bad place to start.)
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