Churches should not fear spiritual healing. The television “faith stealers” should not have this domain to themselves, any more than the “prosperity preachers” should get to dominate the potential for divine provision.
We all pray for sick people. We all know those who benefit from the prayer of faith for the sick. This is a blessing thing, like angels and heaven. No amount of sanctimony or self-promotion on the part of some should scare away the many who want nothing for their prayers except the deliverance of the sick/oppressed.
Physical deliverance from illness and evil is certainly presented as part of the life of the first Christian century church. As the church matures, there seems to be less attention paid to actual healing miracles but this may be more because their place is assumed in/by the early church than it is about an end to healing. The great need for doctrinal teaching (in our day more than ever, apparently) is the primary purpose of the epistles, as the church works out how it will live in relation to other churches and to the world in general.
The healing ministry of the early church has several consequences, which appear to manifest themselves repeatedly. They are:
- Deliverance from illness/oppression is referenced as a sign or wonder. That is, each of these miraculous acts is intended to point to God as deliverer. The acts of the Holy Spirit in signs and wonders are not ends in themselves but means by which persons may glorify God, Acts 5:12-13.
- Deliverance from illness/oppression are extended to each, as he has need, in order to gather all, Acts 5:14-16
- Healing ministry seeks to minister healing, not to place blame, as to moral failure or to lack of faith, 5:16
- Provokes companions to faith and opponents to jealousy, 5:16-26
- Since it is a matter of sign/wonder, the healing ministry so results in pointing to God’s acts, 5:21
- Since it is sent by God, the healing ministry of the church will see other acts of God in tandem with it, Acts 5:19-21
The healing ministry of the church is done publicly but is not for publicity only. One heals/delivers in order to proclaim. Note that in the encounters with their opposition, the apostles are not questioned about their healing wonders but about their authority in proclamation, 5:28. The occassion of healing is the need of man meeting the provision of God for the sake of relieving human suffering and growing the Kingdom of God.
The healing ministry of the church ought to make people stop and think, 5:33-42, as to whether this ministry, this gospel, this church, be of God. If these works be of God, they cannot be stopped. If these things be not of God, they cannot forever be propped up and ought to be allowed to die.