Divine Healing for Perfect Life
“All your sicknesses he heals, he saves your life from death.”—Ps. 103:3, 4, Mo.
1. What now poses a problem for medical science, but not for God?
JEHOVAH God, without the aid of the electronic scientists of today, can make a healthy world. The more advances medical science claims to make in its fight on disease, the more diseases or complications it encounters or appears to create for itself. In nations reputedly the most civilized the malignant diseases are spreading and yearly taking a terrible toll. The sign of the end of this system of things has also appeared in fulfillment of Jesus Christ’s prophecy. We see “in one place after another pestilences” and “food shortages” which lead to undernourishment and so open the way to the invasion of sickness and disease. (Luke 21:7, 11, NW; Matt. 24:3, 7) This poses an unconquerable problem for man, but not for Jehovah God the Almighty. Undismayed he moves ahead in carrying out his promise to create a diseaseless new world, where obedient mankind will enjoy perfect life forever.
2. What brought in ill-health and death? What does this show?
2 It was a completely healthy world that God established with Adam and Eve and their “covering cherub” back there in Eden. What, then, brought on these things called disease, sickness and ill-health, with death as the end? It was the violation of God’s inflexible law! No creature can tamper with His law and expect to remain well. By this we mean not only the physical law of nature but also the moral law, and this primarily.
3, 4. How did Jehovah’s dealings and covenant with Israel show the connection between keeping law and keeping well?
3 Terrible plagues Jehovah God brought upon the oppressor’s land in order to liberate his chosen people from the military power of ancient Egypt. Then in the free wilderness, to show what he could do for the national health, he cured the undrinkable water for his liberated people and said: “If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of Jehovah thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his eyes, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases upon thee, which I have put upon the Egyptians: for I am Jehovah that healeth thee.” (Ex. 15:22-26, AS) On his own wise terms he entered into a covenant or agreement with the nation of Israel, requiring strict obedience from them but promising unusual blessings. He gave them not only the most sanitary and healthful laws but also commandments concerning their moral conduct toward God, man and beast.
4 To warn against the idea they could tamper with his law and not suffer the unavoidable consequences, he said to them: “Jehovah will smite thee with the boil of Egypt, and with the emerods [or, tumors], and with the scurvy, and with the itch, whereof thou canst not be healed. Jehovah will smite thee in the knees, and in the legs, with a sore boil, whereof thou canst not be healed, from the sole of thy foot unto the crown of thy head. If thou wilt not observe to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, that thou mayest fear this glorious and fearful name, JEHOVAH THY GOD; then Jehovah will make thy plagues wonderful, and the plagues of thy seed, even great plagues, and of long continuance, and sore sicknesses, and of long continuance. And he will bring upon thee again all the diseases of Egypt, which thou wast afraid of; and they shall cleave unto thee. Also every sickness, and every plague, which is not written in the book of this law, them will Jehovah bring upon thee, until thou be destroyed.” (Deut. 28:27, 35, 58-61, AS, margin) So there is a connection between keeping the Creator’s laws and our health and well-being. The diseaseless free new world will be made up of happy creatures who keep their Maker’s laws perfectly.
5, 6. What facts about him and his Son argue in favor of Jehovah’s knowledge and ability as Healer?
5 Jehovah said to his fellow worker, his only-begotten Son who became the Jewish Messiah: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” (Gen. 1:26) So Jehovah the Creator and his Son Christ Jesus know all about the human system, a joint creation of theirs. They knew how to make it function perfectly at the beginning. They know what put it out of order down till this day. They know what to do to rid it of every disturbance and put it in perfect running order again. This knowledge they will fully prove in the righteous new world now so near. Still, all through human history, from man’s fall into sickness and death, Jehovah has revealed himself as the divine Healer. He especially manifested his power to heal by his beloved Son when on earth as the “man Christ Jesus”.
6 In his days on earth there was much physical suffering among the Jews in Palestine, and we read: “Jesus set out on a tour of all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the good news of the kingdom and curing every kind of disease and every kind of ailment.” (Matt. 9:35, NW) It was God’s spirit or active force operating through Jesus that did this. To this fact the apostle Peter testifies, saying: “Jesus who was from Nazareth, how God anointed him with holy spirit and power, and he went through the land doing good and healing all those oppressed by the Devil, because God was with him.” (Acts 10:37, 38, NW) No physical affliction in others could resist his treatment, not even death. The record reports a number of cases where he even raised the dead, so that he could say, in proof of his being the Messiah or Christ: “The dead are being raised up, and the poor are having the good news declared to them.”—Matt. 11:5, NW.
PHYSICAL CURES SUSPENDED FOR CENTURIES
7. Did Jesus reserve the healing power to himself? What are the facts?
7 Jesus passed on this power to certain ones of his disciples. We read: “So he summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, in order to expel these and to cure every kind of disease and every kind of ailment. These twelve Jesus sent forth, giving them these orders: ‘ . . . Cure sick people, raise up dead persons, make lepers clean, expel demons. You received free, give free.’” (Matt. 10:1, 5-8, NW) When he afterward sent out seventy more followers, he gave them similar instructions: “Cure the sick ones in it, and go on telling them: ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’” (Luke 9:1-6; 10:1-10, NW) After Jesus returned to heaven, this healing power continued with his apostles. In fact, beginning at the Pentecostal feast, the glorified Jesus poured out the holy spirit of God upon all his devoted followers, and upon some of them he conferred the gift of the power to heal and even raise the dead. (Acts 2:1-18; 5:16) The last physical cure by the power of God’s spirit to be reported in inspired Scripture is that where, about A.D. 59, the apostle Paul on the island of Malta prayed, laid his hands on a man and healed him of fever and dysentery.—Acts 28:7, 8, NW.
8. Who now insist on divine healing? What questions does this raise?
8 Today, after nineteen centuries, there are religionists in Christendom who practice what they call “divine healing”. There are a number of religious sects that insist on it. Their members outwardly refuse to take any medicines and claim to rely solely on prayer, fasting and mental concentration. Certain evangelists see that printed announcements of themselves are made attractive to the public by including in the advertisement “miracles of God’s power” and “prayers for the sick”. Apparently miraculous cures are effected at public healing meetings which astound the onlookers. Is this “divine healing” and is it done by the gift of the holy spirit? That claim is made, but is it true? And are we to reject all the benefits of modern medical science and to seek cures from God by his miraculous power? Is it a rejection of Christian faith to use medicines and have operations?
9. What big fact helps us to answer these questions? What proves it?
9 One big fact helps us to answer these questions, and it is this: That divine physical healing was a feature of Christ’s first presence and of the infancy of his congregation, but it was due to pass away with the death of his apostles and their associates. Authority to heal was one of the gifts of the spirit which, since Pentecost, was imparted only through the apostles or in their presence. Do not let any of us fail to see what the magician Simon of Samaria could see, namely, “that through the laying on of the hands of the apostles the spirit was given,” and so Simon was shrewd enough to offer Peter money to buy this apostolic power but was refused with indignation. (Acts 8:17, 18, NW) Again it was while the apostle was present, preaching to the Italian centurion Cornelius and his household, that, without Peter’s laying his hands upon these Gentiles, “the holy spirit fell upon all those hearing the word” and they began “speaking with tongues and glorifying God”. (Acts 10:44-46, NW) For the same reason it was first when those twelve men at Ephesus listened to the apostle Paul and got baptized again, this time in the name of the Lord Jesus, and “Paul laid his hands upon them,” that “the holy spirit came upon them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying”.—Acts 19:1-7, NW.
10. Why is it futile to pray now for healing or for healing power?
10 Men who received the gift of miraculous healing through or in the presence of the apostles could not impart the spirit to others. So they could not pass on the gift of healing power to others. Consequently when the apostles died and also those associated with them, then the spiritual gift of miraculously healing people in a physical way ceased to be imparted or exercised. Today we are nineteen centuries removed from the apostles. That is a very big gap to be leaped between us and the apostles through whom the gifts of healing were imparted. So in the physical absence of Jesus and his apostles it is futile for a Christian to pray for the spiritual gift to heal others and for himself to be miraculously healed.
11. Was the passing away of the healing gift foretold? Where? How?
11 No, we are not arguing that God’s holy spirit has not been poured out upon the remnant of Christ’s faithful congregation in these last days. We merely mean that this special miraculous gift has not been bestowed with it. But the “fruit of the spirit”, which is love, has not failed to appear. It abounds in the true Christian congregation today. Paul made it clear that love would remain after the miraculous gifts of the spirit passed away. He wrote: “Love never fails. But whether there are gifts of prophesying, they will be done away with; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will be done away with.” The gift of miraculous healing marked the babyhood of the Christian congregation in order to build up its faith and to identify it as God’s chosen people from then on. But now that it has come to manhood or maturity after these nineteen centuries of Christian experience, the true remnant of Christ’s followers do not exercise that gift. “When I was a babe, I used to speak as a babe, to think as a babe, to reason as a babe; but now that I have become a man, I have done away with the traits of a babe.” (1 Cor. 13:8-11, NW) Now we Christians have something grander and larger than physical healing, and this we shall presently explain.
12, 13. (a) Why can it not be argued that divine healing is a necessary qualification? (b) What proves divine healers now fraudulent?
12 Sticklers for divine physical healing in these “last days” will argue that if we do not possess and use this miraculous power it proves we are not the true organization of God. But we ask, Were all Christians who received the holy spirit to be endowed with the gift of miraculous healing? Or miraculous tongues? Or miraculous translations of tongues? No; no more than all Christians were meant to be apostles, or predictors of future events, or miracle workers. “Not all are apostles, are they? Not all are prophets, are they? Not all are teachers, are they? Not all perform powerful works, do they? Not all have gifts of healings, do they? Not all speak in tongues, do they? Not all are translators, are they? But keep striving after the greater gifts. And yet I show you a surpassing way. If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels but do not have love, I have become a sounding piece of brass or a clashing cymbal.” (1 Cor. 12:29 to 13:1, NW) Many are the so-called “healers” throughout heathendom as well as Christendom. And yet how they all display the lack of love in that they covet financial reward, fame, notoriety, prominence, and selfish power over people! So they are nothing in God’s sight, despite their wonder-working.
13 Such healers do their works, not to support divine truth, but to perpetuate religious lies. They apparently cure physically, but fail to impart the more vital healing which is spiritual, leading to life in the new world. They release people from the power of a bodily ailment, but do not liberate them from the power of the Devil and his organization, this world. Measured by these facts, their works of healing are not manifestations of God’s spirit.
14. What shows healing was not the spirit’s foremost manifestation?
14 Instead of placing heavy stress on miraculous cures, note where God’s Word puts them in the list: not first, but fifth. Count: “God has set the respective ones in the congregation, first, apostles; second, prophets; third, teachers; then powerful works; then gifts of healings.” (1 Cor. 12:28-30, NW) Moreover, when Jehovah God foretold that he would pour out his spirit upon all kinds of flesh, he did not put the healing gift to the front as the proof of that spirit upon his people. He said: “I shall pour some of my spirit out upon every kind of flesh, and your sons and your daughters will prophesy and your young men will see visions and your old men will dream dreams; and even upon my men slaves and upon my women slaves I will pour out some of my spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. . . . And then anyone that calls upon the name of Jehovah will be saved.” (Acts 2:16-21, NW; Joel 2:28-32, AS) Prophesying, or the preaching of the Word of Jehovah’s prophecy! This is what is foremost in proving the outpouring of His spirit upon all flesh that is devoted to him as his witnesses and slaves. This prophesying of the divine truth accomplishes far more than mere physical healing does.
15. How does Jesus’ farewell commission to us support this? Why does Mark 16:9-20 not contradict this?
15 Accordingly when Jesus, about to ascend back to heaven, gave his farewell commission to his followers, he did not give prominence to the fifth-rate gift of healing. He emphasized preaching, witnessing, and teaching. Read his words on this at Matthew 28:19, 20; Luke 24:46-48; Acts 1:6-9. This fact is not contradicted by the words that appear in the King James Version, the Douay Version and other old versions of the Bible, at Mark 16:17, 18, namely: “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” Those words, in fact, all the verses from Mark 16:9-20, do not appear in the most ancient and authentic Greek manuscripts. Hence they are branded as spurious. The best modern Bible translations mark them as such or leave them out altogether. Even Jesuit Lattey’s translation, the Westminster Version of 1948, is obliged to admit in a footnote on Mark 16:9-20, “These verses have not the same textual support as the rest of the gospel.” Hence the unquestionably inspired words of the apostle Paul at 1 Corinthians 12:28 to 13:11, quoted above, place a limit to how far and how long those added words of Mark’s gospel may apply. They could not apply beyond the death of the apostles and their personal associates.
NATURAL CURATIVE METHODS NOT DEBARRED
16. Is resort to divine healing for self-benefit Christlike?
16 In this day of great medical advancement those who contend for divine physical healing insist on resorting to it, for selfish benefit, rather than resorting to all the ordinary curative methods which are available today. They claim this is an evidence of their faith in God and their reliance upon him. But such a selfish application of divine healing is not supported by Jesus Christ and his apostles. There is no question that these men truly exercised the gift of miraculous healing by God’s spirit. Did they exercise this miraculous power for their own physical benefit? Never! At the close of a 40-day fast Jesus did not satisfy his extreme hunger by turning stones into loaves of bread. The suggestion to use his power in such a selfish way came from Satan the Devil, not from God. When Jesus got tired from journeying, he sat down to rest, as by the fountainside at Samaria. When he grew sleepy, he slept for recuperation, as on the pillow in the stern of the boat when crossing the sea of Galilee. When his apostles returned from a strenuous missionary tour and reported to him, he took into consideration their physical and nervous frame and invited them to withdraw with him into a lonely place to “rest up a bit”. (John 4:6; Mark 4:38; Luke 8:23; Mark 6:30-32, NW) So Jesus did not resort to the miraculous for the benefit of himself and his disciples.
17, 18. Why did Jesus not follow the Nazarenes’ proverb, “Physician, cure yourself”?
17 In this respect Jesus did not follow the slogan, “Physician, cure yourself.” At his home town of Nazareth, when preaching to his old associates in their synagogue, he said: “No doubt you will apply this illustration to me, ‘Physician, cure yourself’; the things we heard as having happened in Capernaum do also here in your native territory.” By this his old townsmen were meaning he should practice his miraculous powers on his former neighbors, the people of his town where he had been brought up, as if to say, Curing begins at home, for the benefit of your own first. “But he said: ‘Certainly I tell you that no prophet is accepted in his native territory. For instance, I tell you in truth, There were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, so that a great famine fell upon all the land, yet Elijah was sent to none of those women, but only to Zarephath in the land of Zidon to a widow. Also there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the man of Syria was.’” Jesus tried to appeal to his own townspeople by his preaching rather than by the miraculous relief of sickness. If he had followed their idea, “Physician, cure yourself,” he would not have been run out of town by them and threatened with stoning to death.—Luke 4:16-30, NW.
18 Hence Matthew 13:58 tells us: “He did not do many powerful works there on account of their lack of faith.” (NW) His miracles of healing he did on outsiders, just as the ancient prophet Elijah did. He knew that healing powers were not for personal advantage, but for a sign to outsiders, just like the gift of tongues: “Tongues are for a sign, not to the believers, but to the unbelievers, whereas prophesying [preaching] is, not for the unbelievers, but for the believers.” (1 Cor. 14:22, NW) The one gifted with the power of divine healing was not to be a self-healer.
19, 20. What does Elisha’s course show as to self-cure and pay for miracles of healing?
19 If such a gifted person were to use his power selfishly, to keep himself always well, then, barring accidents or persecutions, when would he determine to die or let himself die? The prophet Elisha succeeded Elijah, and Elisha was used to raise a dead boy to life and to recover the foreigner, Naaman, from his leprosy, and to do other miracles. But did he cure himself or pray for miraculous cure? The faithful Record informs us: “Now Elisha was fallen sick of his sickness whereof he died. And Joash the king of Israel came down unto him, and wept over his face.” On his deathbed Elisha used his prophetic power for King Joash but did not seek miraculous recovery for himself. “And Elisha died, and they buried him.” Then what happened? “It came to pass, as they were burying a man, that, behold, they spied a band of men; and they cast the man into the sepulchre of Elisha: and when the man was let down, and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood up on his feet.”—2 Ki. 13:14-21.
20 These facts corroborate that the healing power was to be used for others, not for the healer’s personal comfort. Neither was the healer to enrich himself by this practice and accept financial pay or material rewards for his miracles. Elisha refused a reward from Naaman for cleansing him of his plague but gave the glory to God. So when his servant Gehazi deceitfully tried to collect the reward offered and misused Elisha’s name, he was stricken with the disease from which Naaman had been cleansed. (2 Ki. 5:1-27) Those who pretend to practice divine healing and who accept pay or rewards or take up collections of money render themselves unclean before God. Jesus instructed his gifted apostles: “You received free, give free.”
21, 22. What do the cases of Eutychus, Epaphroditus and Trophimus show?
21 Take now the apostle Paul for further illustration. Once he preached till midnight and Eutychus at a window collapsed with sleep and fell from the third story and was picked up dead. Paul freed himself from any blame by restoring Eutychus to life. That was an emergency miracle on a man within the congregation who had an accident.—Acts 20:7-12.
22 But how about making other members of the congregation well? There was Epaphroditus from Philippi, about whom Paul writes: “He fell sick nearly to the point of death; but God had mercy on him, in fact, not only on him, but also on me, that I should not get grief upon grief. . . . on account of the Lord’s work he came quite near to death, exposing his soul to danger, that he might fully make up for your not being here to render private service to me.” (Phil. 2:25-30, NW) But there is not the trace of a suggestion here that Paul performed divine healing to save Epaphroditus from dying. Nor did he prevent him from getting near the gates of death, even though this fellow worker was of great help to Paul. But God blessed what means were used to bring him back to health and so God had mercy on the sick brother. Incidentally, if Epaphroditus were not to sleep in death but to go immediately to heaven at death, would sparing him for further earthly life have been a mercy to him? Besides him, there was Trophimus. In Paul’s last letter before his death at Rome he writes to tell Timothy: “I left Trophimus sick at Miletus.” (2 Tim. 4:20, NW) Why, now, did the gifted Paul leave Trophimus sick, and why had not Trophimus asked Paul to use his gift of the spirit upon him to make him well? Because miraculous power is not to be used for our personal convenience or for the relief of devoted Christians in the congregation.
23. Did Paul use or recommend divine healing for Timothy?
23 There was another companion and fellow worker of Paul’s who was afflicted with chronic sickness, Timothy. He had stomach disorders and frequent spells of sickness. Did Paul use his gift on him and miraculously drive away his ailments beyond return? Or did he say: “Timothy, exercise faith and pray for God to intervene and put you in better physical condition for the ministry of the good news”? Listen to Paul’s prescription to Timothy: “Do not drink water any longer, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent cases of sickness.” (1 Tim. 5:23, NW) Timothy may have been a total abstainer from alcoholics; we do not know for sure. But then the drinking water may have been bad and so contributory to Timothy’s ailment. Paul told him the sensible thing to do; no, not go to a drugstore and get a pharmacist’s special wine for constitutional disorders (as prohibitionists argue), but just “use a little wine”, without specifying what kind.
24. What does Luke’s accompanying Paul argue?
24 As for Paul himself, he was not an altogether well man according to various suggestions in the Scriptures. Luke describes himself as accompanying Paul on his missionary trips, from Troas, in Asia Minor, on. And what was this Luke’s profession? Paul tells us in these words: “Luke the beloved physician sends you his greetings.” (Col. 4:14, NW) Not in a spiritual sense, but in a physical medical sense Luke was a physician. The reasonable inference is that Paul had him along for the medical services he could render both Paul and his fellow missionaries. Were true Christians under obligation to restrict themselves to faith cures and divine healing, it would have been inconsistent for Luke as a Christian to practice his profession, especially upon his companions in service.
25. So from the above facts what do we conclude we may and may not do?
25 From these Scriptural facts we rightly conclude that, when we fall sick or certain ailments come on us with age, we may turn to natural methods of cure, or medical remedies. We may resort to doctors of whatever school seems to us to be the best. We may go to sanatoria or to hospitals or have a surgical operation. Such curative methods are not barred to a Christian of faith. We need not delay the proper treatment or care of ourselves by praying and waiting upon miraculous divine healing. It would be wrong to pray and wait for an answer to such a prayer. Why? First, because such healing is not for believers themselves and, second, because such gift of healing by the holy spirit has passed away. To apply to faith healers would do us a spiritual injury, because these carry on their profession, not by power of God’s spirit, but by the Deceiver’s power. Their teachings and works prove they do so. If they understood the Scriptures they would not be in that business.