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HEALING: A NEGLECTED MINISTRY

(1)  "EXPLORING OUR CONVICTIONS"  

READING:MATTHEW 8/1-17

 

INTRODUCTION:

 

There are a number of subjects that cause warning lights to flash in the hearts of Christians and the subject of HEALING is up near the top of the list.To undertake an objective Bible Study is difficult (some would say impossible) because the waters are muddied by Biblical ignorance, appeals to experience (good or bad), prejudice (pre-judgment), fear of extremes, imbalance, misinformation and close-mindedness.....to name just a few!  

 

Yet there is no denying that healing and deliverance played a very significant part in the ministry of Jesus and the early church.....certainly, a more significant part than in the ministry of 21st century Christians in the Western World.   Why is that?  Is it because we believe the healing ministry was for 1st century Christianity but not for now?  Have we lost or abandoned a valid dimension of ministry because we now have amazing medical knowledge and technology which is the avenue through which healing comes?Overall, we evangelical Christians are disturbingly vague about such questions. 

 

Our responses most often reveal that we have not really wrestled with the issues such questions raise.  Our failure to adequately explore these questions means that we have "de-faulted" and the teaching and practice of the healing ministry have been left to minority groups.....some of whom are "weird", to say the least!  

 

[1]   OWNING OUR CONVICTIONS  

 

One of the most difficult aspects of this series of studies on healing will be for each of us to distinguish between our preconceptions and the Word of God.  Where those two differ, we will be confronted with the choice as to which we will accept and obey.  I ask you to note the following:   

 

a. What we think/believe the Bible teaches on this subject will effect how we minister (or don't minister).  

b. Contrary to popular opinion, the Bible in only ONE factor shaping our convictions. We like to think that what we believe is based solely and exclusively on what the Bible teaches. Wrong! We are kidding ourselves if we think that way about our own convictions.  

c. Other factors that shape our belief system include religious tradition, the impact of our upbringing, the influence and convictions of other believers whom we admire, personal experiences (positive or negative) & prejudices etc.  

d. These factors have produced beliefs or convictions that sound like the following....

 

"God has sent this sickness to refine you" -it's your cross to bear

"Miracles of healing finished with the death of Apostles and completion of the Bible"

"It is always God's will to heal everyone, every time and in every situation"

"If you are sick and not healed, it is because their is sin in your life & lack of faith"  

 

e. Do any of the above statements reflect what the Bible actually teaches or do they express what we have been told (or assumed) the Bible teaches?      

 

[2]  FACING OUR FEARS  

 

It may not come as a surprise to you but fear is a significant factor in how we approach the subject of healing and wholeness.  

 

a. Fear of Extremes - Abuses, bad models, false claims leading to damage & confusion. Most of us have seen examples of such extremes and they can be a powerful "turn off" so far as engaging in a healing/wholeness is concerned.

b. Fear of the "Charismatic" Label - We don't want to be labelled as weird or extreme and thus be alienated or isolated from those who hold a different view.

c. Fear of the Devil - The fear of being deceived by anything e.g. counterfeit miracles. Interestingly, we seem more convinced about Satan's ability to perform miracles than we are about God's willingness and power to do so.

d. Fear of Failure - What if we pray for healing but no one is healed? What if the person gets worse? Or dies?!!  How could we explain that failure?

e. Fear of the Unknown - Fear of new frontiers and new paths can be intimidating to the point where we determine not to launch into the unknown but to stay with what we know and have experienced.  

 

INTERACTION:  

 

1.  Spend time in your group sharing your honest feelings and reactions to the subject of the ministry of healing in a local Church context.  

a)  Circle the word (or words) that best describe your immediate response when you hear someone talk about healing  

 

*Caution        *Fear         *Neutrality       *Excitement         *Expectation       *Faith

*Curiosity        *Antagonism               *Other.........................  

 

b)  Drawing upon your own inner response and the response of others or within your group, complete the following statement:  

 

"The main reason why 21st century evangelical Christians tend to neglect the healing ministry today is because.....................................................................................    

 

2.  Which of the following statements most accurately represent your convictions about healing as a ministry today?  

a)  "The miracles of healing were for Bible days only."

b)  "God now heals people through doctors and medical science." c

)  "I believe God can heal but He doesn't always want to."

d)  " I believe God wants to heal everybody."

e)  "I believe we would see more people healed if we had more faith."

f)  "Most alleged healings today are either frauds or psychosomatic".

g)  "God sends sickness to refine us"

h)  "All sickness is the result of sin in the person's life"

Other................................................................................................ ........................................................................................................  

 

3.  In Matthew 8 we find three separate incidents in which Jesus healed people.....a man with leprosy, a paralysed man and a woman with a fever.As a group take time to consider each incident and answer the questions raised.  

 

A)  Vs. 2-4    A man with leprosy.

a)  The man had a conviction about Jesus' ability.What was it? (v.2)

b)  What was Jesus' will in face of this need? (v.3)

c)  If Jesus healed people to "prove" who He was, why did He command the man to keep it quiet?

d)  Read Mark 1/40-45.  According to v.41, why did Jesus heal the man?  

 

B)  Vs. 5-13    A paralysed man.

a)  What was Jesus' will in this case? (v.7)

b)  Can you see how the Centurion understood the authority that Jesus had? (vs. 8,9)

c)  What was Jesus' reaction to the Centurion's faith? (v.10)  

 

C)  Vs. 14,15    A woman with a fever

a)  What do you observe in this brief report?

b)  The individual scene gives way to a multiple ministry.  What two kinds of healings are identified in v.16?  

 

4.  When we speak of healing or wholeness we are speaking of an activity of God that has more than one dimension.  In the "Introduction" to these studies, we emphasised the nature of the "wholeness" that God wants to impart to us. Spiritual,  emotional,  relational and physical.   Using those 4 categories, read the following verses and identify the "type" of healing which took place.  

a)  Mark 1/21-26...................................................................

b)  Mark 2/1-12 (there are two types here!)

(i)...................................................................................   (ii)..................................................................................

c)  Mark 5/21-24;35-43..........................................................

d)  Mark 8/22-26................................................................

 

5.  Earlier in this session, we identified 5 categories or types of fear that people may encounter when it comes to the practice of healing. Do you relate to any one of the five in particular?

a. Fear of Extremes

b. Fear of the "Charismatic" label

c. Fear of the Devil (counterfeit)

d. Fear of Failure

e. Fear of the Unknown        

 

FINALLY:   How have you responded to the points of view expressed in your group in this session? Very likely, people in your group have had experiences with "healing ministries" - some good and some bad. How significant or influential do you sense that those experiences have been in your group discussion?   Have you identified any one aspect from this first session that you want to explore in more detail?                

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