In a paper entitled “Suffering Saints” (October issue) we put forth the general remark that saint and sinner suffer alike in this world. Whilst this is generally true yet “God . . . is the Saviour [literally Preserver in a providential sense] of all men, specially of those that believe” (1 Tim. 4:10).
This was very noticeable in the early history of the church, when healing took its place among the gifts the ascended Lord gave in giving the Holy Spirit. That God can and does still in response to faith heal the bodies of His saints at the present time we do not deny, but a word of strong warning needs to be uttered in this connection. There is a class of persons who exalt faith healing into a system, and fix the minds of Christians upon their bodies instead of on Christ and His Word.
A little examination of Scripture on the subject should give us a sober sense of the matter. The gifts of healing and of tongues are put after the exclusively spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12, as being of less importance.
As we examine the Scriptures we find the gift of healing was abundantly exercised. The shadow of Peter was sought after by the sick (see Acts 5:15); handkerchiefs and aprons from the body of the Apostle Paul cured, under the hand of God, disease and exorcised evil spirits. Yet even Paul did not use his gift in every case. He says, “Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick” (2 Tim. 4:20); his bosom friend, Timothy, had “often infirmities”, yet Paul was content to advise the taking of wine as a curative agent. Indeed, we have no instance to Paul exercising this gift upon any of the Lord’s saints.
It seems as if these gifts that appealed to the senses and were visibly miraculous, were intended to carry conviction in connection with the establishment of Christianity, but now that need has passed, and moreover in face of the disunited condition of the church, its failure on every hand, its worldliness, it is no wonder that such a gift is not seen in vigorous manifestation. Apart from a system that exalts faith healing into a position Scripture never gave it, and which in reality degrades the whole Christian profession, there are instances in which, quietly and without ostentation, the prayer of faith has healed the sick.
But in these false systems cures largely take the form of auto-suggestion, and are on a par with those of Christian Science.