What is divine healing and is it for today?

by Matt Slick

Divine healing is the act of God through the person of Jesus and the prayers of the saints where a person is healed physically and/or delivered from emotional, mental, or spiritual affliction. Most often, it is seen as a physical healing of sickness, such as cancer, diseases, deformities, etc., but it is not restricted to the physical.

Sometimes such healings are accompanied by rituals such as specified prayers and fasting and often by anointing the sick with oil. The one who is afflicted is supposed to faithfully trust and expect a healing to occur as he or she prays to God in Jesus' name. In all Christian groups that seek divine healing, it is always associated with the atoning work of Christ where, it is said, He purchased healing for us. So, those church groups that emphasize divine healing also emphasize the idea that the redemption of the soul also purchased redemption of the flesh which includes healing. Some of the verses used in support of this doctrine are as follows . . . 

  • Isaiah 53:5, "But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed."
  • Matthew 8:16-17, "When evening came, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed; and He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were ill. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: “He Himself took our infirmities and carried away our diseases."
  • 1 Peter 2:24, "and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed."
  • James 5:14-15, "Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; 15 and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him."

Jesus did buy us healing while on the cross. Because in the resurrection, all of our infirmities will be healed. But this does not mean God owes us healings right now. After all, there's always going to be one ailment we never recover from, and that is our last one.

Furthermore, sometimes God does not heal us for our benefit. I think we can make the case that when we are suffering but praising God through it, keeping our eyes on Him and exalting His holy and precious name, that this brings great glory to God. He is worthy of our praise, and our adoration of Him should not depend on our circumstances or our personal condition. He is always worthy of worship. So, our ailments which are not healed in this lifetime can be the things that show us what we are made of before God. It could be that enduring an ailment is something God desires for us because it glorifies Him more and it could bring us greater rewards in heaven. After all, the eternal aspect of things is more important than the temporal.

Expect healing according to God's will

Not everything we ask for in prayer will be accomplished the way we want. I'm thankful that God has not answered all of my prayers according to my desires. I can look back in life and recognize some bad choices that I'm glad didn't go my way at the time. The same thing goes with healing. We don't know what is best for us, but God does.

1 John 5:14, "And this is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us."

God wants us to pray and ask great things of him, but we must always ask in accordance with His will. We must always seek to desire what God desires. Now, there are those who would say that God has promised us healing in the atonement and that God desires for all to be healthy. But, this is simply not the case. When we look to Scripture, we can find that it is not always God's will to heal somebody. Take Paul the apostle for example:

2 Corinthians 12:7-9, And because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me--to keep me from exalting myself! 8 Concerning this I entreated the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me

Now, there's a lot of debate on what the thorn in the flesh is, but it could be what Paul refers to here:

Gal. 4:13-14, I beg of you, brethren, become as I am, for I also have become as you are. You have done me no wrong; 13 but you know that it was because of a bodily illness that I preached the gospel to you the first time; 14 and that which was a trial to you in my bodily condition you did not despise or loathe, but you received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus Himself.

Whatever the thorn in the flesh was, apparently the Apostle Paul was not healed physically according to his desires. So, if the Apostle Paul was not healed, are we to say we are better than he, or had more faith, and we should be healed? Of course not.

But, let me say again, we serve a loving God who wants the best for us. He does not enjoy our suffering, and He most certainly sympathizes with it. Our prayers, in the humility of our suffering, can break our hearts to a deeper fellowship and dependence on God. In our dependence, we ask God to heal us, and we can have the confidence that He can heal and that He may very well do that for us. Remember, our faith is only as good as that which we put it in, and we put it in God. It's a great faith, and great faith often results in miracles.


About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.