Is the day of miracles past? Does the living God heal sickness and disease today upon believing prayer? Or was healing performed only by Christ and the original apostles? Did God raise up medical science for our day? What about modern faith healers and public healing services?
You live in a world that relies primarily on medical doctors to treat illness. Most professing Christians today say: "God raised up medical science for our day. Jesus healed to prove He was the Messiah. But the day of miracles is now past." Some think God heals through self-professed faith healers and attend public healing shows. Some believe in healing by one of the forms of "mental science" — the power of mind over matter. Others say: "Well, I think God can heal — IF it's His will. But how can we know whether it's His will?" Yes, people say! But what does GOD say? Does He reveal whether He still heals, why He heals, how He heals, whether and when it is His will? For the answers we go to the Bible.
Christ's ministry was dual
Let's begin at the beginning. Actually, there are two beginnings, so far as the subject of healing is concerned — one in the New Testament, with Christ; the other in the Old Testament, with the people of ancient Israel. We shall begin with the ministry of Jesus. Later, many readers will be surprised to learn how much is recorded on the subject throughout the Old Testament. More than 1,900 years ago — in A.D. 27-31 — Jesus Christ appeared on earth as a messenger bearing history's most important message from God to mankind. His mission was prophesied in Malachi 3:1. That message actually was a stupendous NEWS ANNOUNCEMENT. The news was the most transcendent GOOD NEWS! It was the GOSPEL (which means "good news") of Jesus Christ. But Jesus' ministry was a dual ministry. And a miraculous ministry. Jesus came also healing the sick by the divine POWER of God. It was not the power of human mind over matter. Few realize the extent to which healing and casting out demons were an integral part of Jesus' ministry. Later, the apostles proclaimed His same message and healed the sick.
Ministry of healing ceases
It comes as an astounding shock to learn that long before the end of the first century, the proclamation of Christ's Gospel to the world and the ministry of physical healing ceased! But WHY? Christ's Gospel was the glorious messianic announcement of the coming world-ruling KINGDOM OF GOD. It was the announcement of the wonderful WORLD TOMORROW! It was not a message of doom! — except for the doom of this world's evils, sufferings and unhappiness. It was a joyous announcement of coming world peace, universal happiness and well-being! But the leaders of the people in Judea misunderstood and resented both that good NEWS and Jesus' MIRACLES. Jesus' miracles were public, but they weren't healing shows. He simply healed the sick wherever He came to them or they came to Him. But of course the miracles attracted enormous crowds. Many began to believe on Him. This alarmed the chief priests and the ruling Pharisees. It stirred them to violent persecution. They totally misunderstood Jesus' message! His news announcement was that of the yet-to-come Kingdom of God, not — as they supposed — of the overthrow of the Roman government of their day. The Romans, then ruling the Western world, avoided most of the details of government administration in Judea by causing the Jews to rule themselves at the lower levels. The Pharisaic rulers loved their position of authority. They viewed Jesus as an anti-Roman agitator proposing to overthrow the Roman rule. They feared being imprisoned as seditionists if they sided in any way with Jesus. They plotted to kill Him, and at God's set time Jesus was crucified, making possible man's reconciliation with God.
Power of the Holy Spirit given
God miraculously raised Jesus from the dead, making possible eternal life for humanity. On the 50th day (called Pentecost) after His resurrection, the 120 converts of Jesus, including the apostles, received the POWER of the Holy Spirit of God. In that power they proclaimed the good news of the Kingdom of God. In the same divine power from God by which Christ healed, they healed the sick wherever they went. But, as with Jesus, so now with the apostles: The miracles drew tremendous crowds. Without any pressured solicitations, thousands were converted and baptized. But soon the persecution against them multiplied. Two years after Jesus' resurrection, A.D. 33, Simon the Sorcerer (Acts 8), the Pater (father or Peter) of the Babylonian mystery religion in Samaria, after being rejected by Peter, appropriated the name of Christ and applied it to his Babylonian mystery religion, calling it "Christianity." Simon and his followers began systematic opposition and persecution against the true Church of God, founded in A.D. 31 by Jesus Christ. (How the Babylonian mystery religion was moved into Samaria in 718 B.C. is explained in II Kings 17:18-24.)
Gentile and Jewish opposition
The earliest opposition against Christ's Church was Jewish, opposing the acceptance of Jesus as the Messiah. Judaizers insisted on observing the temporary rituals of Mosaic law. For this reason the early ministry of the apostles put prime emphasis on the replacement of rituals by the Holy Spirit, and on the resurrection, infallible proof of Christ's messiahship. The apostles were personally with Jesus for 3 1/2 years before His crucifixion and for 40 days after His resurrection — so they were eyewitnesses to the resurrection. After A.D. 33, as the work of this Simon the Sorcerer spread, the opposition to the true Church became gentile. The writings of Paul, as well as I and II Peter, of James, of I, II and III John and Jude show the gentile opposition was primarily aimed against the law of God. Simon appropriated the doctrine of grace from the teaching of the apostles, but it was grace turned into license to disobey (Jude 4). They preached a false Jesus who, they said, did away with the basic spiritual law of God. Simon and his followers preached a totally different gospel than the apostles — primarily that of their own Babylonian mystery religion with grace and Christ's name added. Of course they got it to the Galatians. To the Galatians, Paul wrote: "I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel " (Galatians 1:6). To the Corinthians, Paul wrote: "For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus... or another gospel... " (II Corinthians 11:4). Of these Simon Magus-type preachers, Paul wrote: "For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness" (verses 13-15). It was Satan — the former cherub Lucifer (Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezekiel 28:12-17) — who originally rebelled against the GOVERNMENT OF GOD and caused its removal from the earth. Satan is the god of this world (II Corinthians 4:4). He has his churches and his ministers. They oppose the law of God. Therefore they oppose the KINGDOM of God, since it is governed by the laws of God. These apostles of Satan offered the world an easier religion. Obedience was unnecessary.
Dark Age begins
The opposition of Simon's false church finally snuffed out the proclaiming of the MESSAGE of the KINGDOM OF GOD. Before the end of the first century, the curtain was systematically rung down on all records of true Church history. When the curtain lifts, late in the second century, we behold a "Christianity" utterly unlike that of Christ and His original apostles. Its doctrines, sacraments and customs were those of the Babylonian mystery religion. It persecuted and martyred those true Christians still holding to the teachings and customs of Christ and His apostles. Christ's doctrines and customs were branded as "Jewish." The term "Jewish" became a dirty word — an epithet. The message God sent to mankind by Jesus Christ — the true Gospel Christ preached, the announcement of the coming KINGDOM OF GOD — was done away by expediently calling THE CHURCH (Simon's) "the kingdom of God." Some, later, reduced the KINGDOM OF GOD to an ethereal indescribable something "set up in men's hearts." Thus, through manipulations of "the god of this world," Satan, by whom ALL NATIONS HAVE BEEN DECEIVED (Revelation 12:9), the true GOSPEL MESSAGE CHRIST BROUGHT was suppressed and not proclaimed to the world after the first century! And healing the sick as a regular practice had ceased also. Thus the DUAL ministry of Christ and the apostles was no part of what the world has accepted as traditional Christianity. But persecuted over the centuries, mostly unrecognized by the world, the true and original Church of God has continued through all generations to the present. In the book of Revelation two churches are described. One, in the 12th chapter, the true and original Church of God, small and persecuted, having to endure hardship, persecution and martyrdom for survival; the other, in the 17th chapter, the great politically popular church, ruling over kings and nations of this world, drunk with the blood of saints and martyrs of Jesus. For 18 1/2 centuries Christ's true Gospel — His MESSAGE from God of the coming KINGDOM OF GOD — had not been proclaimed to the world. It was only taught to the comparative few — secretly — who kept the Church of God alive through the centuries.
The original one and only true Church of God still lives! And still persecuted, maligned, misrepresented, it is restoring the true Gospel of Jesus Christ today! It is sending out that good news worldwide– as a witness for all nations, in real POWER! And Christ's doctrine of healing the sick is also being restored. There have been multiple thousands of miraculous healings. But not, in our time, spectacular public displays of sensational miracles to attract both crowds and added persecutions. The REASONS for this and the truth about the whole subject of healing will be made plain in this series of articles. There have been "gospel" programs — scores of them — all over the world. But, as Paul described, they have each been another gospel. Christ's MESSAGE was suppressed. Christ has been preached to the world — but a different Jesus. But, what about healing the sick TODAY? HOW is it being restored in God's Church? This important series will continue next issue and will be available later in booklet form.