Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins

Wouldn’t it be Great to have the Gift of Healing?

James 5:14-15 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.  And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.


Mark 6:13 And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick, and healed them.


What does James Mean?

The passage in James has been difficult for me to explain or understand.  On the one hand it would seem that members of the church should not need a medical program. They should be able to be healed by the elders of the church who should anoint them with oil and pray for them.  Of course, practical experience seems to contradict this understanding of the passage.  There are those who make a religious business of claiming to be healers.  Most of them have been proven to be charlatans.  I have seen miraculous answers to healing prayers, but I have never known any one person who had the ability to heal others with a prayer of faith. 


Some have said that the ceremony mentioned in James is just metaphorical for using the best medicine available (oil was a medicine) and then praying for the individual.  I do recommend doing this, but I do not see that as the interpretation of this passage.  You will notice in Mark 6, that when the Lord sent out his twelve apostles, they did exactly what is described in James.  The same word for anointing is used and the same word for oil is used.  So whatever the Lord commissioned in Mark, seems to be what James is describing.  So why doesn’t it work today like it did then?


Possible Explanations

The ability to do miracles on a regular basis by individuals occurs on a very limited basis in the Bible.  Moses did miracles.  Elijah and Elisha did miracles.  The Lord did miracles and the early church was able to do miracles.  The gift of healing is mentioned as one of those graces given to the church in 1 Corinthians 12.  In each case, the purpose of the miracle was to prove to Israel that the person speaking to them had the authority of God behind them.  In each case Israel was in bondage and needed to be freed from that bondage.  But the miracles did not prevail for long periods of time.  There will be a future time when the Lord will have two prophets doing miracles again.  Those prophets will be slain just as the Lord was slain (Revelation 11). 


Since the Jews need signs while the Gentiles (rest of us) need wisdom or logical reasoning (see 1 Corinthians 1:22), Moses did miracles to prove that he was speaking for God.  The miracles should have had convinced the Egyptians (gentiles) as well but since Pharaoh considered himself a god, he never really believed Moses.  The Jews should have been convinced that they needed to turn from idol worship back to the worship of Jehovah under Elijah and Elisha.  The Jews should have understood that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the Living God when He was here. They should have turned from their ritualistic seal-serving religion to the actual worship of the Lord.  The Jews should have been convinced after the resurrection that the apostles who could heal were the real deal and were telling them the truth about the Lord.  While most of the healing in the early church was done by the middle of the narrative of the history of the early church that we call the Acts of the Apostles, yet Paul still healed in Acts 28.  1 Corinthians 13 makes it clear that as the church reaches maturity (when it becomes a man or adult), the sign gifts or miracles would fade away.  While the gift of healing is not mentioned specifically in 1 Corinthians 13, I think the gifts that are mentioned are representative and not all inclusive  I think the gift of healing as seen in the book of James has now passed away.  I wish it hadn’t, but I think it has.


Should we Anoint Today?

I see no harm in performing the ceremony today particularly where a person’s illness is connected with specific sins that need to be confessed.  But when the ceremony does not work as hoped, do not think that God has failed or has broken His promise. The sign gifts passed away when they were no longer needed to confirm the message to the Jews that Jesus was their Messiah.  As a nation (not as individuals), the Jews have rejected their Messiah and no miracle is going to change their mind.  Since James is considered by many to be the earliest New Testament epistle and since it was written while many of the apostles were yet alive, I believe that the ceremony for healing on the part of elders (who may actually have been apostles) is probably no longer operative.  We know that when Peter wrote his 1st epistle he considered himself to be an elder (1 Peter 5:1).  The purpose of all miracles is to convince the Jews as well as the world that Jesus is the Savior of the world.  I know that seeing a miracle would never have convinced me to believe on the Lord.  But reading the Bible did.


My prayer is that my sick friends will be healed.  However, I do not have the ability to heal them.  I hope that does not stumble any one since that gift was needed in the early church to give credibility to the apostles, but is not needed now.  We have the Bible.  And if we won’t believe the Bible, we won’t believe in the Lord because of miracles.  I am convinced of that. 


Bruce Collins


Meditation for the week of February 26, 2017

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>