Teaching, Miracles and Healing

Posted: March 5, 2009 in Uncategorized

After polishing off prophecy, Wayne Grudem tackles the spiritual gifts of teaching, miracles, healing, tongues and wisdom in chapter 53 of his Systematic Theology.  We will look at teaching, miracles and healing today and save the rest for Friday.

Grudem defines the gift of teaching in the New Testament as “the ability to explain Scripture and apply it to people’s lives.”  In support, Grudem points his readers to texts like Acts 15:35; 18:11; Heb. 5:12; 2 Tim. 3:16, etc.  Grudem obviously sees this gift as indispensable to a healthy church.

What about miracles? Grudem rightly points out that the Greek word “dynamis” that is often translated as “miracle” can also simply mean “power.”  We see the “power” of God manifested in many ways such as delivering believers from danger (Acts 5:19-20 and 12:6-11) or in judgment upon the enemies of the Gospel (Acts 5:1-11 or 13:9-12), etc. Personally, I have seen Christians gifted with an amazing ability to remain calm and guide fellow believers through crisis with a steady hand. In fact, my father is one of those people that God has so gifted.

What about healing? Grudem brackets the entire conversation by reminding us that illness is a product of the fall.  Disease and death are the outworking of sin but that Jesus came to heal through his own suffering and death (Isa. 53:4-5). 

Even before the cross, however, we see Jesus healing the afflicted as a foretaste of his perfect future rule in which there will be no illness or death.  A preview of a redeemed heaven and earth is part of the purpose of healing as is it also a sign of the merciful nature of our God.

But is it lack of faith to seek medical assistance? King Asa seems to have been cursed for it(1 Chron. 16:12-13) yet we also see Isaiah use  medicine to heal King Hezekiah (1 Kings 20:7).  The former, therefore, seems to outwardly demonstrated Asa’s lack of inward faith. Thus, one must trust in God and pray to God along with wise medical procedures not over and against them.

Does the New Testament show common methods used in healing? Typically, believers lay hands on the ill (Luke 4:40), anoint them with oil and pray for them (James 5:14-15). 

Is it right to pray specifically for healing? Absolutely.  John writes to Gaius that he wishes him “good health” (3 John 2) and many come to Jesus asking specifically to be healed and their request is granted.  Yet, some may object that this may set up a person already ill to be disappointed.  Grudem cautions that we should urge fellow believers to pray with the caveat that we still live in a fallen world where illness and death have not yet been vanquished.

Grudem believes there are those among us who have been gifted by the Holy Spirit to pray for the ill and through such prayers be delivered.  Yet, such gifts will only be discovered if more believers regularly engage in the discipline!

And what do we do if God does not heal? Grudem reminds us that even the Apostles were not always able to serve as immediate instruments of God’s healing.  Paul suffered from a “thorn in the flesh” all of his life (2 Cor. 12:9), Epaphroditus was “near death” while with Paul (Phil. 2:27) and Paul left Trophimus “ill at Miletus” (2 Tim. 4:20).  Thus, we ask but God in His perfect wisdom will always do what is right.

Tomorrow, we will finish up Grudem’s discussion of Gifts of the Spirit and move on next week to discuss The Doctrine of the Future.

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