I have been listening to some preachers out there, particularly in Albuquerque, New Mexico who are quite well known – Mark Driscoll and Skip Heitzig. I got started doing that because Skip is a host along with Joel Rosenberg on the Epicenter DVD, and I heard him wishing Billy Graham happy birthday, and I knew he was familiar. I thought I would look up his church and listen to his sermons. Then it led to finding Mark who is also in the same city. I like Mark a lot – he is fresh and dynamic. Skip is good too – very knowledgeable and has a good demeanor. Both of them are likeable men, probably because they have such a good demeanor – such a kind and gentle spirit.
I came to sermons that dealt with healing and found that both of them disagree with me about that, which led to thinking about what I actually believe regarding healing.
Skip said that he disagreed with the “Word of Faith” people who say that God MUST do something. He said that he feels God has used sickness to teach him things, and that Paul’s thorn is an example of how God used sickness for a purpose, and we shouldn’t tell God “no” to sickness. God is sovereign and can decide when and if to heal.
Mark Driscoll is pretty much in the same camp as far as what he believes. He says God is God and can do whatever He wants – that’s what you get to do when you are God, he says, you get to do whatever you want. No one can tell Him you must do something.
But it doesn’t line up with what Jesus taught.
It was included in the gospels for our instruction, the story of the woman who had a daughter who was demon possessed who wanted Jesus to heal her daughter, and she was refused, at first, by Jesus. Jesus was testing her, because He knew her and that she would refuse to back down. He even called her a dog, saying that the bread is for the children of Israel and not for the dogs. He knew this woman could handle that. She told him that even the dogs eat the bread that falls from the table. He told her, “great is your faith.”
What did He mean by that? He meant that she had a high expectation of good from God, that God would do what she wanted Him to do, and that she wouldn’t give up until she got from God what she wanted. That was something He commended her for. It is called faith. We make demands of God. It is our relationship with God that has so much to do with whether or not we are healed. Our expectation, our demands on God He hears and He responds to.
God also saw to it that included in the gospels is the story of the man who had an annoying neighbor who kept coming to bother him, until he finally gave in and gave the neighbor what he was asking for. Jesus was saying in that illustration, that God looks for persistence and responds to it. It’s all wrapped up in our relationship with God – the quality of our relationship. What do we believe about God and His goodness?
In Hebrews 11:6 it says “without faith it is impossible to please God. For he who would come to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”
God rewards diligent seeking of Him. He rewards demands on Him, because that means we believe He is a good God and He will give us good things.
And what about this thorn? I heard a sermon in Minneapolis where the preacher was saying he thought the thorn in Paul’s flesh was referring to a person who was bothering him. Now please tell me how you can build a theology on something that no one yet knows for sure? No one has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt what the thorn in Paul’s flesh really was.
And if it was a physical affliction, it may have been some minor affliction, but otherwise he was virtually free of all diseases and just had this one annoying thing. I can imagine I might be able to put up with one annoying thing and might conclude that God was allowing me to keep that one. I have a list of about 28 afflictions that I need healing from. I don’t think that God gave me 28 thorns in the flesh!! I am believing for healing from them all. Some of them have improved, some have gone away already.
Skip also said that he believes that since Jesus told His father “nevertheless, not MY will but THINE be done,” we should do the same, and say, “not MY will God,” regarding healing. It’s only if it’s YOUR will. But we know that when Jesus was shrinking back from the death he would die on the cross, it was a temporary feeling of fear, as a man, knowing what he would have to endure. But He did it to pay the price for sin, and to buy our redemption, and our HEALING. We are not supposed to pay the price AGAIN for our sin and suffer affliction, the way Jesus did. Yes, we follow Jesus’ example, but this is taking it too far, because Jesus paid the price for our sin, and that is something that we do not do.
We know that it IS God’s will, and when I pray for people in a healing room, I do not even stop to ask Jesus for healing many times, I go ahead and command the disease to leave in Jesus’ name, because I already know what Jesus would do in that situation. It has a lot to do with my relationship with God.
But the important thing is, it is not godly to have a resentful attitude towards someone who doesn’t believe the same way you do. So, I do not want to get into pride, or resentment towards those who do not have this revelation or walk in this power. I know I must walk in humility and love towards those like Heitzig and Driscoll.