It's good to see you all, it's great to be with you, I'm really enjoying my time here and I feel very much at home. Thank you for your welcome and reception of God's Word. I want you to turn with me to 1 Corinthians chapter 12, where we were last week. It has been great to be here, and I really sense that these are very strategic meetings for you and for me in some respects - and it's good to journey with you in this regard. I do apologise to a degree for the amount of stuff each night, with hindsight we're probably packing too much in each night - because we could almost take one night on each of these gifts of the Spirit to do it justice. What we're going to consider tonight, I mean, we could take a whole series on healing, for instance, on its own. So, just bearing that in mind, it's quite a cursory dealing with some of these things - but certainly it's an introduction, and for some of you it will be the first time you're hearing some of this truth.
Let's pray together before we launch into what we're looking at tonight. I want you to pray with me now - would you pray, and enter into prayer with me that God will come? Now, I believe God is going to do some stuff tonight - really I do - in our gathering. Because of the subject we're dealing with, I believe He's going to come in, and He's going to sovereignly move in our midst. So let's prepare ourselves for that, and whatever that means for you, just humble yourself before the Lord and open yourself for God to minister to you.
Let's pray: Father, we thank You for Jesus, we thank You that in Jesus we have a full and perfect revelation of Your heart. We've just been worshipping Him, and we want to reiterate that: there is no one like Him, there is no one like Him. He is the fairest of ten thousand, He's the altogether lovely One, He is the darling of our hearts, He is our Beloved. We thank You that He brings us to You, Father. We thank You for the ministry of the Holy Spirit, the Promise of the Father and the Son, who would testify of Jesus. Lord Jesus, just as You testified of the Father, the Holy Spirit testifies of You and the Father. We thank You that, Holy Spirit, You bring the Father and the Son and Yourself to us to dwell with us, to abide with us and within us. Holy Spirit, we want You to come tonight and bring God in such a remarkable, extravagant way to each of us and to our gathering tonight. Lord, deliver us from talking about these things and not experiencing them. So we just pray, Lord, for Your power to be evident tonight, and Your grace. We pray for a stillness upon the gathering, a focus in all of our hearts, and, Lord, give us the understanding that we need, and I the help that I desperately need. We ask all these things in the Name that is above every name, Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.
OK, week one if you were here - I apologise if you'll have to do a bit of catch up, but we've got the recordings here, you can get them at a later date - but we looked in a bit of an introduction at the question of whether or not these gifts of the Spirit are for today. I think that was necessary, because there is so much conflicting information that is going about in the church today (particularly in our land) concerning this, that we needed to deal with that. I'm not going to repeat any of that tonight, get the recording - but we spent a whole evening considering that from both a biblical and a historic perspective. Last week we launched into chapter 12 of 1 Corinthians, and we gave the context - which, again, I will not repeat - of this chapter and the Corinthian situation, their background, the chaos that was going on within the church. Then we began to tiptoe into the actual nine described gifts here in this chapter. We looked at the word of knowledge, the word of wisdom, and discernings of spirits - so if you need to know what those are, do get the recordings.
Tonight we're going to look at the gift of faith, the gifts of healings, and the workings of miracles. So let's read a couple of verses from chapter 12 - we'll not read everything like we did last week - but let's just launch into verse 9 of 1 Corinthians 12. Paul is talking about the various manifestations of the Spirit, it's the one Spirit but He manifests His presence and work through these different capabilities, supernatural capabilities. Verse 9: "to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles", and we'll stop there. Go down to verse 28: "God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues" - and we'll end our reading there.
You'll remember, if you were here last week, I said that the list of the gifts of the Spirit that we have here is not an absolute exhaustive list. You have other lists in the book of Romans, some in the book of Ephesians, and they are not absolutes in the sense that these are the only types of gifts that the Spirit gives. I think they are general areas of the Spirit's administration and operation. We also highlighted the fact that there aren't clear distinctions between each of these gifts. Do you remember the illustration about the rainbow? No? The colours of the rainbow looked rather distinct from a distance, but actually when you home in on them they tend to blend together, and it's hard to distinguish between the colours in the spectrum. It's the same with these gifts. We highlighted last week that sometimes we might hear a word of knowledge, but in fact it's also a word of wisdom because there is guidance and instruction being given through it. We might even wonder: 'Well, that's maybe a bit of prophecy there as well?', so is it a word of knowledge, a word of wisdom, or a word of prophecy, or maybe all three?
Tonight is going to be similar, there is overlap, as we will see, in the way healings sometimes merge into miracles. In other words, healings in the Bible could be considered miracles, but not all miracles are healings. Are you with me? Then we will see that the gift of faith is intrinsic to healings and miracles, faith is necessary as a gift. So healings, miracles, merge with faith as well. So Paul, while he is being helpful to us, and essentially he's just telling us: 'This is the one thing'. The whole passage is about the one thing, what is the one thing? The operation of the Spirit in the church - it's the one thing, but manifest in different ways. He's trying his best to distinguish them, but in a sense they are very hard to distinguish.
So let's look tonight at faith, gifts of healings, and workings of miracles. I hope, again, you've got your index finger and thumb with you, because we will try - we'll maybe not be looking at as many scriptures, but I will be referring too many of them. If you can take notes that would be really good, because you certainly will not imbibe everything that I share with you tonight.
First of all: faith. Now we all know, I hope, that there is faith for salvation, there is faith in order to have our sins forgiven, receive eternal life, and be born again. Ephesians 2 verse 8 is very clear: it is by grace we are saved through faith, it's not of works, it's not of ourselves. So grace, if you like, is a free gift, God's hand giving us forgiveness; but faith is a bit like our hand receiving it, where we take God at His word and we enter into this new life in Christ. So that's faith for salvation, but that's not what is being spoken of here regarding the gift, the supernatural spiritual gift of faith. There is also a deposit of faith, Romans 12 talks about this in verse 3: 'God has dealt to each one a measure of faith'. So God has deposited in each of us different levels of faith - that doesn't mean someone is better than another at all, and it doesn't mean you can't progress in the level of faith. You take what God has given you - it's a bit like the talents to a degree, you know the parable of the talents - you take what God has given you, you invest it, you use it, and you seek more and you will get more. We know that from Hebrews 11 verse 6: 'Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him'. So if you get inspired tonight in hearing about the gift of faith, well, come and get it! Everything is here for the taking through Jesus, but some of us have been given starter-level faith that is a bit more than others.
That's not what is being talked about here in the gift of faith, this is something else. There is saving faith, there is faith that is deposited in each of us, there is the pursuit of more faith - then there is another faith that is mentioned in Galatians chapter 5. We're looking at the gifts of the Spirit, but there you have the fruit of the Spirit, and one of the expressions of the fruit of the Spirit is faith - but actually the Greek word means essentially 'faithfulness' or 'dependability' or 'trustworthiness'. That's talking more about something to do with our virtue rather than something that God gives us, although we get it through the supernatural workings of the Spirit in our lives. Remember that the fruit of the Spirit is the characteristics, the personality of God; whereas the gifts of the Spirit is the power and expression of God in that sense.
That's not what we're talking about tonight, we're talking about the gift of the Spirit, the supernatural gift of miraculous faith. It's like the other gifts, an impartation that comes directly from God. It's under God's control, and it's not done at our will. You cannot switch it on and off, it doesn't come through human volition. Turn with me to Mark chapter 11 till I establish this through the teaching and works of our Lord Himself. Mark 11, beginning to read at verse 12, and this is the account of the cursing of the fig tree - Mark 11:12: 'Now the next day, when they had come out from Bethany, He was hungry. And seeing from afar a fig tree having leaves, He went to see if perhaps He would find something on it', He's looking for fruit. 'When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. In response Jesus said to it, 'Let no one eat fruit from you ever again'. And His disciples heard it'. Now go down to verse 20: 'Now in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. And Peter, remembering, said to Him, 'Rabbi, look! The fig tree which You cursed has withered away'. So Jesus answered and said to them, 'Have faith in God''. Now literally, in your margin, and your Bible might actually read this, that could be translated 'Have the faith of God' - remember that. Now look down at verse 23: 'For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be removed and be cast into the sea', and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them'.
Now, let's just look at this for a moment: God's faith, this miraculous, supernatural gift of faith, is actually an impartation of God's faith. It is expressed, the spiritual gift is expressed in our words when we speak the word of faith and, when we do that, what we are saying is as authoritative as if God Himself had spoken those words. Did you get that? So much so that Jesus says here in verse 23 that whoever says to this mountain, or whoever asks in faith, will have whatever - so there is a whoever-whatever connection. Whoever - isn't that good news? Whoever receives this impartation of faith can speak out whatever God has given faith for, and you will have it - I mean, that's just a guarantee. There are no ifs, buts, question-marks about this. It's not a blank cheque, but it's whenever this spiritual gift engages within us, and God imparts His own faith, it's going to happen. But the condition is to have the faith of God. I would call this not only miraculous faith, but mountain-moving faith. In fact, there is an allusion to this in 1 Corinthians 13, you know the great passage on love; where, if you look down at verse 2, he's going through all the different gifts that we might have, and he's saying that if we are without love we're nothing - but he mentions: 'and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing'. So he's actually referencing the fact that this gift of faith is the faith to move mountains, to say to the mountain 'Move' and it moves, because God has imparted His own faith to you.
So, connected with the gift of faith is the word of faith. 'Whoever', Jesus says, 'says to this mountain'. Now, that's what Jesus taught about the faith of God, but when we actually look at His example - remember we said that He is our pattern, He is our example - and we look at how He operated in faith, we see that He spoke, He spoke in faith, the word of faith that God had imparted to Him. Let me give you a number of examples, you may want to jot this down. In Luke chapter 7 you have the resurrection, if you want to use that term, of the widow of Nain's son. It says in Luke 7:14 that Jesus touched the open coffin and He said, listen: 'Young man, I say to you, arise'. I want you to note a pattern here: whenever Jesus raised people from the dead, He spoke to the dead body - that had to be faith, yes? This dead body can't hear, it can't receive, it's dead, but He speaks to the dead people. Then we see it in Jairus' daughter in Luke chapter 8, the next chapter. He goes into that house, He tells them: 'Don't weep, she is not dead, she sleeps' - and they laugh at Him. He puts out the mourners - we'll see this pattern tonight, He puts out unbelief - and He says: 'Little girl, arise'. He speaks to the 12-year-old girl, and it says her spirit returns to her, and He tells them to go and get her something to eat. Again, He speaks the word of faith to the one that is dead.
Then, of course, you'll be familiar with Lazarus in John chapter 11 and verse 43. Jesus prays to God first of all, before the stone is rolled away, and He asks the stone to be rolled away and then and a loud voice, it says, He cries: 'Lazarus, come forth!'. He addresses the corpse again - that's the word of faith. It wasn't just unique to Jesus, we see it in the life of Peter the apostle as well. In Acts chapter 9 verse 40, again in relation to a dead person, this time Dorcas, otherwise named Tabitha; we read there that again, it's interesting, Peter follows the pattern of Jesus, he puts the mourners out, he puts out unbelief. In other words, people who are saying the opposite of what is the reality in God's mind, and what is being imparted to the apostle. You see the apostle had imparted to him what God said was the reality, whereas the mourners were just seeing the reality of a dead person - who can blame them? Then Peter turns to the body, that's literally what it says, turns to the body and says: 'Tabitha, arise', and she rises.
Now there was not one iota of possibility that that would not happen, because the word of faith had been given by God, the gift of faith - do you understand? We can't just walk into mortuaries and tell dead bodies to come back to life, some people try that - I'm not against it, I'm just saying we haven't the guarantee that it's going to happen when we do that - but there were absolute guarantees here, because God had imparted His own faith.
There are even words of judgement that come through faith. Do you remember in Cyprus Paul encountered Elymas the sorcerer? Turn with me to Acts chapter 13 for a moment, verse 8. Now this is a most uncommon use, I would say, of the gift of faith, but nevertheless it's there - but it's not a warrant for us to go around doing this to people, I hope you know. 'But Elymas the sorcerer (for so his name is translated) withstood them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith' - the proconsul was going to be converted, and he was coming to interfere in a devilish way. 'Then Saul, who also is called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him and said, 'O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord? And now, indeed, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you shall be blind, not seeing the sun for a time'. And immediately a dark mist fell on him, and he went around seeking someone to lead him by the hand. Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had been done, being astonished at the teaching of the Lord'.
Now some people say Paul was overstepping the mark here, and he shouldn't have done what he did - but I would show you verse 9 again. It says he was filled with the Holy Spirit when he did this; and also verse 12, the result was that the proconsul believed. Again, that's a very exceptional, I would say, use of this - you have to really know you're walking in the Spirit to do things like that! But here's the whole point: the gift of faith is a supernatural gift, where God imparts divine faith, and we speak forth the same results as if God had spoken directly Himself. Now listen: if God wants us to, we can have power over creation, over death itself, and over the devil. If you want that supernatural faith it's available - however, what I would say is: if you're wanting to take steps toward pursuing this, first of all saturate your whole being in the word of God. There are a lot of people in the church who are wanting to move in the supernatural, particularly in the gifts of the Spirit, but they haven't got the wherewithal to lift their Bible throughout the week to read what God says. Romans 10 verse 17 says: 'Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God'. You need to get into the word of God, that's all I'll say - pursue that gift, but you need to get into the word of God, you need to know the mind of God, you need your mind transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit. But do you know where the mind of God is displayed? Within His word. If you want to think like God thinks, and know what He wants, you need to get into His word.
So that's the gift of faith, and that's important for what we're going to look at now - because the next two gifts are built on that foundation: gifts of healings and workings of miracles. Now let's look at gifts of healings. Now this is a very superficial dealing as I hinted, because it's a massive subject. First of all, let's consider: why is this needed? Why is the gift of healing needed? Well, that's obvious, isn't it? Sickness! But why is sickness here? This must be established before we go on any further: sickness is a result of the fall. Do you understand? When man fell into sin. I'm not saying your sickness is because of something you did that's wrong - it might be, but it's not always of course - but all brokenness in creation comes from the fall into sin. So illness and disease are out-workings of a curse that has come through sin over all mankind, and it eventually will lead to physical death.
Of course, all Christians believe that Christ redeemed us from the curse when He died on the cross, there is no dispute there among believers. Isaiah 53 verse 5 says: 'But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement', or the punishment, 'for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed'. Now Isaiah 53 verse 5 refers to both physical and spiritual healing, and I think all Christians are agreed on that. They differ on the application of it, but they agree that ultimately, because of the cross, we will be healed spirit, soul, and body one day. Peter the apostle applies this phrase in Isaiah 53:5, 'By His stripes we are healed', to spiritual healing in 1 Peter 2 verse 24. Let me read that to you: 'Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness; by whose stripes you were healed'. So it definitely applies to salvation, healing of the soul and the spirit. But in Matthew's Gospel, chapter 8 verses 16 and 17, Matthew quotes Isaiah 53:5 in reference to physical healings that Jesus has performed. Matthew 8:16-17, just listen: 'When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demonpossessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: 'He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses''.
OK, so Peter is applying it to spiritual healing, Matthew is applying it to physical healing. Now, I used to argue that Matthew's case showed that the fulfilment was in Jesus and His ministry, OK? That the physical element of healing was in the earthly ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ, but He fulfilled it then and that's it done - we don't need it now. But that's wrong, because that completely ignores all the material on healing after Jesus, in the Acts of the Apostles and in the Epistles, that reference it to the New Testament Church, such as the gifts of healings. But all Christians probably agree that Christ purchased complete freedom from sin at the cross and from sickness as well, but the question of contention is: when does this come to fruition? When can we know this healing?
Now, again, everyone is agreed that all the benefits will not come until Jesus returns again. Because we know, we know from this book of Corinthians, 1 Corinthians 15, that it will not be until we have our resurrection bodies that this mortal, this corruptible will put on immortality and incorruption. So, what then do we make of the gifts of healings, how do we understand it? Well, we may not have our resurrection bodies yet, but what we do have is resurrection life in our bodies. Romans 8:11 says: 'But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you'. Listen to 2 Corinthians 4:10-12, you might want to jot it down, Paul talking of his own experience says he was: 'always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus', so he's physically suffering for his faith, 'that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus' sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So then death is working in us, but life in you'. So what he's saying is: 'What I'm suffering from Jesus is killing my body, but I have resurrection life in me that is being manifested, irrespective of what's happening to my body'.
Now, surely one of the ways that this resurrection life is manifested is through healing and health. So, here we're getting the balance of the teaching of the word of God - there is a 'now, but not yet' aspect to God's kingdom, a 'now, but not yet'. In other words, we do not yet have our resurrection bodies; we do not yet have perfect healing and health, yes? But there is also a 'now' element to the kingdom of God where we can experience, from time to time, God imparting, through gifts of healing, a foretaste, or you might say a down payment, of healing that He's going to grant is completely in the future. Do you understand? Now, but not yet.
Of course, we see healing in the ministry of Jesus, we see it in the ministry of the apostles, we see it in the healings in the church age that testify that this is part of the New Covenant blessing. It all shows us that God wills to heal people. Now please allow that to sink into your mind and heart, because that is a huge question for many people: does God want to heal? Is it God's will to heal? Jesus frequently healed all who came to Him, and He never turned anybody away and said: 'It's not your time', or 'It's not God's will to heal you, I'm sorry', or 'God has more for you to learn through this suffering, you haven't learned your lesson yet'. He didn't say that once. There was a leper that came to Him in Matthew chapter 8, and he said: 'If You are willing, You can make me clean', and Jesus said 'I am willing, be made clean'.
Of course, Jesus is the express image of God's Person, isn't He? He's the Word of God, He speaks God's mind and heart, and so Jesus shows us that God desires to heal people. Does that mean all will be healed? No, it doesn't, and this is where we must be sensitive - never to say 'God always heals everyone today', or especially never say 'If you had enough faith, you would be healed' - that's a terrible thing to say to anybody! Even during the apostolic age, not everybody was healed, I could give you examples: Epaphroditus in Philippians 2:27 wasn't healed, eventually he was, but he wasn't healed for a long time; Timothy had to take a little wine for his stomach's sake, he didn't get healed of that, there and then anyway; and 2 Timothy 4:20 we read of Trophimus who was left sick in Miletus by the apostle. So not everybody gets healed, not everyone will be healed when we pray for healing, just the same way that not everybody is saved when we pray that they will be - but is it God's will that any should perish? No. It doesn't prevent you praying for people's salvation, just because everybody is not saved, does it? I hope not! Equally, we ought to persevere in praying for the sick, even though we don't always see everybody healed.
We've got Scripture for this. Jesus taught us to pray: 'Deliver us from evil', isn't that right? In 3 John 2, that little Epistle, John says: 'Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers'. So here is an individual whose soul was very healthy, but their body obviously was sick - and John is saying: 'My prayer is that your body will catch up with your soul, and your body will be in health just as your soul is'. So we have warrant to pray for that, surely. It's not just healing that is being spoken of there, is it? It's health, that's a different thing. Psalm 103:5 talks about our youth being renewed like the eagle's - and I know some of you need that, don't you, tonight? Imagine that! Remember Moses, Deuteronomy 34 verse 7 says 'Moses was one hundred and twenty years old when he died. His eyes were not dim nor his natural vigour diminished'. Do you know why I think that was? Because he spent so much time in the immediate presence of God that he lived in a different atmosphere, he breathed different air - this is before Jesus on the cross, you know. Health in the presence of God.
Is it God's will that we should be healed? What do you do when you're sick? I hope you pray, but what is probably the first or second thing that you do when you're sick? Paracetamol? Go to the doctor! Why do you go to the doctor? Because you want to be well, you have an innate understanding that God made you - even the body, is it not the case, the body heals itself, or at least tries to most of the time, it has that capacity which betrays the Divine intent that we should know health and healing. So you go to the doctor because you believe you need to be well.
Now, a common objection that people will raise is: 'Well, OK, if you believe that you can have this gifts of healings today' - and I used to say this - 'why don't you all go up to the hospital and heal everybody?' Go down to the hospice to those poor people who are dying and go and heal them!'. That shows a complete ignorance about this gift and how it operates, and indeed all the gifts of the Spirit. You see that the phrase is in the plural, 'gifts of healings'. Now that can mean that there are different kinds of healing gifts, there is no doubt about that. There is not just physical healing, we know that, don't we? There is emotional, mental, spiritual healing, and there is deliverance which also comes into the category of healing. But it doesn't just mean there are a variety of types of gifts of healing, it also means that each time a healing occurs it is a 'charism', it is a gift of God, it's a grace gift. Every time it happens it's because God has imparted supernaturally His gift of healing in that moment. It's not the case that people own this gift personally, and they can go around just healing anybody. There may be people who are used by God in certain areas of healing, I'm not disputing that, but all I'm saying is - as we cited at the beginning - this is not something that you do at will, just like the gift of faith. It's not something that you do at will, it's a gift from God.
Do you remember John chapter 5? There is a man there lying by the pool at Bethesda, and that pool was a place, supposedly, of healing - whether you believe the story or not, that an angel came down, rippled the waters, and if you got in the pool quick enough you would be healed. So it was littered, literally littered with people with ailments and diseases and paralysis. There is one man there that was lying there 38 years, and Jesus goes into that vicinity with all those sick people around, and He goes to the one man, and He says to him - I'd love to see his thoughts hearing this - 'Do you want to be healed?'. 'I'm lying here 38 years, what do You think?' - but the Lord Jesus was touching something that that man was ignorant of, that there had become a resignation in his condition. He had resigned himself to the fact that everybody was going to beat him into that pool, and he was never going to be healed. But I want you to understand something - there are so many lessons in that story, but it says there was a great multitude of sick there, but Jesus only healed one, isn't that right? Now we know He healed everybody that came to Him, it would appear; but on that occasion He only healed one. The comment in chapter 5 of John, verse 19, that helps us understand that - I'll read it in the New Living Translation: 'So Jesus explained, 'I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does''.
We cited this last week, Jesus did nothing independently of the Father. He did not walk around independently as the Son of God doing stuff through His divine attributes, but He only did what He saw the Father do. That day, the Father was healing that man, and that's all Jesus did. This is where we need to get to: it's like the gift of faith, it comes from God, so we need to be hearing the word of faith. These gifts of healing come from God, so we need to be seeing what the Father is doing, hearing what the Father's will is. We can't do anything without the Father's direction.
Now, there were many unconventional methods that Jesus used when He healed people. Again, that is, I believe, partly to illustrate that He was totally relying on the Spirit. Sometimes He put clay on blind eyes, and He spat and made mud paste, rubbed it on eyes. He even spat and touched somebody's tongue that was dumb - yuck! I mean, seriously, let's read this in a real way, it's bizarre! In the natural, it seems ridiculous. In His healing dealings, He varied His approach - why do you think that was? Well, I don't know the whole reason, but I do think it was so that we would avoid formula and realise that this is God, and we need to be doing whatever God is telling us at any given moment. Most commonly, we believe, and I can show you this but we haven't time, most commonly Jesus laid hands on people to heal them - but there were other times that people touched Him, and we read that virtue or healing power went out of Jesus almost in an involuntary way. Sometimes we even have the account that the atmosphere of where Jesus was holding a gathering of teaching was permeated with healing power, you remember Luke 5 and verse 17, that 'the power of the Lord was present there to heal them'. This is not reserved to Jesus, because when we go to the Acts of the Apostles chapter 5, we read that even Peter the apostle's shadow was cast upon sick people and they were healed. That was not because of anything superstitious about Peter's shadow, it was because of the One who overshadowed Peter - the Healer Himself.
So what we're saying is, ultimately - and we could, as I say, take a series on the gifts of healings - but ultimately it's God's power, isn't it? Yet, with the gift of faith it's the same, yet John 14:12 'the works that I do you will do; and greater works than those'. So we can't stand back and say: 'Oh, well, it's God does it, so there's nothing for me to do', Jesus said to the disciples, Luke 10:10, 'Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the leper, cast out demons'. It comes from God, but there is responsibility on us to do it because Jesus has said: 'Go in My name, and everything that I have taught you, do'.
He even instructed the disciples to anoint with oil for healing, a lot of people don't know that - Mark 6:13. They go straightaway to James 5 where it says: 'If any of you are sick, let him call for the elders of the church', and they say only elders can anoint with oil - and they seldom do it, in my own experience. Some of them refuse to do it because they don't believe in it. But it's not reserved to elders of the church, they can do it because they're in a position of spiritual authority, but it's not reserved to them. If you go to Mark chapter 6:13, the disciples were sent out to anoint with oil for healing. Even in James chapter 5, if you look at verse 16 in the same context, do you know what it says? 'Confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed' - so there you have it, to everyone. Mark 16:17-18: 'These signs will follow those who believe' - not just apostles, not just Jesus, but these signs will follow those who believe - 'In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover'. That's believing believers, by the way, believing believers who believe what God says.
So there is the gift of faith, the gifts of healings, and following on from what we have just understood there is the workings of miracles. Again, please note that this gift is referred to in the plural. Again, it's a double plural: workings, in the original 'workings of miracles'. Now there are many miracles in the New Testament that were healings, but Paul here in this list actually separates the workings of miracles as a gift from the gifts of healings. Now, why is that? Well, in the context he must have something other than physical healing in view when he's talking about the workings of miracles. When we actually look at the Greek word for 'miracles' here, it's the Greek word 'dunamis' or 'dynamis', it literally is translated 'power'. So the NIV translates this gift 'miraculous powers' in verse 10, the New American Standard Bible in the margin translates verse 10 and verse 28 'works of power'. So really, what this gift is is any activity where God's mighty power is displayed. It's not reserved just to healing.
The word 'dynamis' is used in Matthew 13:54, which reads of the crowd: 'They were astonished and said, 'Where did this Man', Jesus, 'get this wisdom and these mighty works?'' - that's the word 'dynamis', 'works of power'. Now we could talk about them, but we don't have time - the water being turned into wine, the first sign in John's Gospel; we could talk about the feeding of the 5000, besides women and children, in John 6, another sign. Peter, when he was preaching on the Day of Pentecost, refers to the works of power by Jesus in Acts 2:22. He said: 'Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles', works of power, dunamis, 'wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know'. These works of power testified to who Jesus was and the message that He preached. Often these works of power used of deliverance from danger, even the casting out of demons. In fact, Derek Prince says that almost every time you find this expression of works of power, there is some kind of casting out of demons happening somewhere.
Ultimately, the purpose of these works of power, like all the gifts of the Spirit, are what? To glorify God - isn't that right? But I want you to understand that these works of dunamis power are attesting signs - we saw that from what Peter said at Pentecost - but often people will say they attest to the authenticity of the Gospel, 'These are signs to attest to the Gospel'. But I actually believe more than that, that these are not just signs that attest to the Gospel, but they are part of the Gospel - I'll explain that. The Gospel means 'good news', doesn't it? God is not doing these mighty power acts just to show 'I am who I say I am, and My message is true', but God is doing good things to help people, and He's showing that He's a good God and He's interested in people and He loves them - it's part of the message.
The Jews, of course, would never acknowledge a prophet who did not do supernatural signs, works of power. We know that the signs of an apostle include these miracles, 2 Corinthians 12:12: 'Truly the signs of an apostle were accomplished among you with all perseverance, in signs and wonders and mighty deeds' - 2 Corinthians 12:12, the mighty deeds are the 'dunamis', the acts of power. Let me explain this for a moment: miracles are of a slightly different order than healing, OK? Miracles are slightly different, they are of a higher order than healing. Go back with me to 1 Corinthians 12 for a moment, verse 28 that we read at the very beginning, 1 Corinthians 12:28, there's a bit of an order here: 'God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings'. It seems that miracles, acts of power, are of a higher order. Healing can be gradual, do you believe that? Do you? Often healing can be a process, you know, especially inner healing. Healing can be imperceptible, we can pray for someone tonight and you'll not know for a while until you've been healed - it's not always obvious. But a miracle usually is instantaneous, it happens in a moment and it's obvious, everybody can see it.
So there is that difference - but also, think of this, you cannot heal something that isn't there. Do you understand? So you've something wrong with you, that's why you've come for the healing, but when God does a creative miracle and puts something there that wasn't there to begin with, that's a work of power, that's a miracle, do you understand? Healing might be fixing something that's broken, a miracle can be creating something that doesn't exist.
But we're going full circle now, and I know we've covered an awful lot of ground, but we are actually returning again to this fundamental issue of faith regarding healing and regarding works of miracles. Now I want you to turn with me - and I'm bringing it all to a conclusion now - to Galatians chapter 3, I want you to go there with me, Galatians chapter 3. Let me explain the context of this Epistle before we read these verses. They were believing another gospel, a group called Judaisers came in who were trying to convince these Gentiles that they needed to become pseudo-Jews, keep the laws, regulations, dietary laws, rituals, even be circumcised - and so the gospel they were preaching was Christ-plus good works and Judaism. Paul accuses them of following another Christ and believing another gospel. OK, so this is a church that's in serious error, and they're now trying to live their Christian life through legalism - do you understand? Trying to earn favour with God through performance, keeping rules, rather than living by grace and in the power of the Spirit. There is also rife immorality in their ranks, and if you want to know about that you read chapter 5 and you'll see the works of the flesh being demonstrated there. By the way, there's some instruction for you: if you live your Christian life in the flesh, you're only going to aggravate the bad flesh, you must be walking in the Spirit.
So this is the context, and yet look at what Paul says in verse 2 of chapter 3: 'This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?'. By grace are you saved through...? Faith! So he's saying to them: 'How did you come to know Jesus? How were you saved? Was it through works? No, it was by faith'. Verse 3: 'Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?'. So you got saved by faith through the Spirit's work, but you're trying to perfect your salvation and sanctification by works. Verse 4: 'Have you suffered so many things in vain; if indeed it was in vain? Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?'. This is staggering to me, because - I used to, I suppose, believe this, I'm eating a lot of humble pie, aren't I? I used to think everybody had to have everything doctrinally right before God would show up and do anything - and here's a church in heresy, and God is still working miracles among them. Now, you just think about that for a moment. It's the Bible, don't argue with me, it's there - but notice what the key was of their salvation and of the miracles that are being performed among them, the phrase is repeated in verse 2 and in verse 5: 'The hearing of faith'. Yes? Hearing from God, what the mind and heart of Father is!
You study the miracles of the Bible, and you will find that almost every time there is an act of faith that triggers the miracle - whether it's a healing, or a deliverance, or an act of power, there is faith that triggers it. Take healing, for instance: sometimes it's the faith of the sick person, you see it in Luke chapter 8:48, Luke 17:19, you see that sometimes it's the faith. Sometimes the apostles see faith in someone, they can actually see the faith in them through discerning. But then there are other times that it's the faith of the people bringing the sick person, you remember Mark chapter 2 verse 5, you remember the four guys who bring their friend and put him through, probably, Peter's rooftop - I'm sure he wasn't too happy about that! Lay the person down, the paralysed man at Jesus' feet, because the room was so crowded that was the only way they could get him in - and Jesus healed the man because of the faith of the friends. What an encouragement to bring people in prayer, to stand in place for people who don't even have faith themselves.
We see people coming to Jesus for faith on behalf of others, the Syrophoenician woman came for her daughter; the centurion came for his servant - and Jesus, so impressed by both their faith, lauded them as having greater faith than the Jews. James, remember we cited in James chapter 5: 'Anyone sick, let him call for the elders', and the passage goes on to say 'and the prayer of faith will save the sick' - that's the faith of the elders. You see where I'm going with this?
Jesus, when He was in Nazareth, it says, if you go with me to Mark chapter 6 - you remember that was His hometown, you know that, don't you? Do you remember what He said? Let's read the context, because I think this is actually important - I think there's a word here, because I wasn't planning to say this, there is a word here. So He's in His hometown, look at verse 1: 'Then He went out from there and came to His own country, and His disciples followed Him. And when the Sabbath had come, He began to teach in the synagogue. And many hearing Him were astonished, saying, 'Where did this Man get these things?'' - you see, they know Him from He was knee-high. 'And what wisdom is this which is given to Him, that such mighty works are performed by His hands!' - so they know about the works and acts of power. ''Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?' And they were offended at Him. But Jesus said to them, 'A prophet is not without honour except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house'' - and that's the word of the Lord for someone, so you pick it up, someone here tonight in Magherafelt. 'Now He could do no mighty work there', that's 'dunamis', 'except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. And He marvelled because of their unbelief. Then He went about the villages in a circuit, teaching'.
Do you see what's happening here? He could do some healings - we would all take that, wouldn't we? - but He was restricted to just doing a few healings, but no mighty work. Why do you think? Unbelief, the atmosphere of unbelief cancelled out, even in the life of the Lord Jesus Christ, what He could have potentially done if there had been faith! Go to chapter 7 of Mark verse 31: 'Again, departing from the region of Tyre and Sidon, He came through the midst of the region of Decapolis to the Sea of Galilee. Then they brought to Him one who was deaf and had an impediment in his speech, and they begged Him to put His hand on him. And He took him aside from the multitude, and put His fingers in his ears, and He spat and touched his tongue. Then, looking up to heaven, He sighed, and said to him, 'Ephphatha', that is, 'Be opened'. Immediately his ears were opened'.
Now why did He take him aside from the multitude? Well, perhaps because He didn't want to make a spectacle of this man who was deaf and dumb - but could it be because of the unbelief of the crowd? Could it be that they were just testing Him? Look at chapter 8 again, chapter 8 of this Gospel and verse 22 - a blind man is healed at Bethsaida: 'Then He came to Bethsaida; and they brought a blind man to Him, and begged Him to touch him. So He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the town'. Jesus, You don't half waste time! What did You need to do that for? You're the Son of God, just heal him! 'He led him out of the town. And when He had spit on his eyes and put His hands on him, He asked him if he saw anything. And he looked up and said, 'I see men like trees, walking'. Then He put His hands on his eyes again and made him look up. And he was restored and saw everyone clearly. Then He sent him away to his house, saying, 'Neither go into the town, nor tell anyone in the town''.
Do you see it? Unbelief. Do you know the atmosphere of this place in here, you folk - I love you all, lovely people - but the atmosphere that you create can cancel out what God wants to do. It's just a fact, I'm not accusing you of anything, it's just a fact. Jesus prayed twice for this man, it's interesting, isn't it? First of all, maybe He was just teaching us a lesson - that, you know, it's OK to pray more than once. I used to say: 'Look, you've prayed for that, and it hasn't happened - it's because the gift is dead, it died with the apostles, wise up. Stop keeping praying with people, why, if it's the power of God, and gifts of healing, why do you have to keep praying?'. Jesus prayed twice for this man! Alright? So I can pray 22 times if I like with someone - maybe my faith is too weak, maybe it needs to strengthen, maybe I need to take more risks - but the bottom line is this: faith is the catalyst for everything in the Christian life. This Christian life is from faith to faith. Without faith it is impossible to please God. That which is not of faith is sin. Wow!
So healings merge with miracles. Miracles are instantaneous and visible, even when they are healings. Miracles are instantaneous and visible, even when healings are gradual and imperceptible - but healings and miracles, both in that spectrum of the rainbow, merge with faith. Faith is the pigment permeated through it all. So do you want the supernatural? 'Oh, yes, please!' - if you want that, you must have faith, you must take risks and not doubt.
Now I know there is a lot to take in there tonight, an awful lot - but don't worry if you didn't get it all. Can I just say as a caveat and disclaimer: believing in the gifts of healings does not mean that you don't go to the doctor or you don't take medicine. We believe in prayer, and we believe in going to God first before anything else, yes; not relying on medicine and doctors over and above God as Asa did in the Bible - but it's both, and. Luke was a doctor. The prophet Isaiah told Hezekiah that he would be healed, he wouldn't die as was going to happen, but he would be healed and live another 15 years - but he also instructed him to go and get a poultice of figs and put it on a boil that he had. So it was both and, both and. If God leads you a certain way, not to go a certain direction, that's between you and God - but don't tell other people to do it or require it of them. But when doctors cannot heal, and medicine has no answer, Jesus is able. There is a mystery in the will of God, I'm not going to lie to you - I don't know why everybody we pray with doesn't get healed, but some of them do, I don't know why that is; but I believe that because of what I've dispensed to you tonight, specifically this area of truth, I believe that God is giving gifts of faith now, I believe He's giving gifts of healing now, and I have to believe that He can do acts and demonstrations of power in our midst. The question is: do you believe that? Do you believe that?
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered at The Lighthouse Fellowship, Magherafelt, Northern Ireland, by David Legge. It was transcribed from the third recording in his The Gifts Of The Holy Spirit series, titled "Faith, Gifts of Healings and Workings of Miracles" - Transcribed by Preach The Word.
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