“He sent forth his word and healed them”. Psalm 107:19
One day, driving past a hospital, I recognized a familiar symptom. Discomfort in my left tonsil told me that I was about to have another dose of tonsillitis. Infections had tended to go straight for my tonsils ever since I had had acute tonsillitis when I was a boy.
This time, almost simultaneously, another message dropped into mind: ‘By his wounds you have been healed’. It was unbidden and unexpected. My unthinking response was ‘Thank you, Lord’. The symptom faded. I did not get tonsillitis. This happened about forty years ago and I have not had it since, though from time to time the symptom has tried to return. When this has happened, in order to stay healed, I have found it necessary to stand on the truth of the word of God rather than accept what the symptom was trying to tell me.
The words that dropped into mind that day were a quotation from the first letter of Peter chapter 2 verse 24: ‘He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.’
Peter, the apostle, is saying that when Jesus died on the Cross he made provision both for the forgiveness of our sins and the healing of our sicknesses. In claiming this he was echoing what the prophet Isaiah said: ‘Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.’
Something to notice is that whereas Isaiah said ‘By his wounds we are healed’ Peter, looking back to the Cross, says ‘By his wounds you have been healed’.
In 1980 I was diagnosed with a skin cancer (malignant melanoma) when a mole on my face started to grow. It was removed by surgery but returned a year later. It was removed by surgery again. Then a black spot appeared on my leg. By then I had met a lovely Christian woman who had a strong conviction about the Lord’s willingness to heal so I asked her to pray for me. I did not have any faith of my own, but I did have faith in her faith. The spot was removed by surgery and declared to be benign.
Someone who played a significant role in my healing was John Wimber, an American who made a significant impact on sections of the Church in the 1980s and 90s. During his last visit to this country he led a conference at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester. By then he was seriously ill with cancer himself and confined to a wheelchair, but was still ministering powerfully. As the Holy Spirit came upon him, he rattled off at high speed a list of things the Lord was doing including ‘Someone with a cancer on the left cheek has been healed’. This is where my cancer had started and my response was to throw my hands in the air exclaiming ‘Thank you, Lord’.
The practice of the Christian ministry of healing arises from a biblical world-view, the conviction that the bible tells it like it is and that it is the Word of God, authoritative for faith and practice. However this is not to make a god of the bible and we need to be aware of the warning of Jesus:
‘You diligently study the scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life, yet you refuse to come to me to have life’ (John 5:39-40).