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Matthew 8:1-17 by Robert Dean
You're ill and many are praying for you to be healed. Does it depend on how much faith you have? Listen to this lesson to learn what God has revealed in the Bible about healing in today's world. See how healing is accomplished in different ways in different times in the Bible. Understand why Jesus healed some, but not all, people when He was on earth. Learn that the twelve apostles established their credentials by their ability to heal. Beware of being deceived in regard to the tests that come into your life and accept that God's plan for believers is perfect and that it may or may not include being healed. Additional information on healing is available in Dr. Dean's Doctrine of Healing
Series:Matthew (2013)
Duration:41 mins 38 secs

Healing in the New Testament
Matthew 8:1-17 
Matthew Lesson #050
September 14, 2014

This morning we are continuing with what we studied last time about what the Bible teaches about healing and illness and sickness. There is confusion about the implications of the Scripture in relation to these. There is a lot of false communication and a tremendous amount of deception that goes on, both within the church and outside of the church. There is a dramatic difference between what is practiced by both some Christian evangelists, televangelists, that I would put under the classification of faith healing that is not any different from the faith healing of many that are not even Christians, that are outside of the church.

In Deuteronomy chapter thirteen there is a warning that was given by God through Moses to the people in terms of a test of a prophet. If that prophet appeared and would perform miracles and heal people—and the text is treating this is as if this was something that actually happened—and yet his teaching, prophecy, content did not conform to what was already accepted revelation from God then he was not from God. Even though in Scripture miracles may validate someone's ministry or someone's claim that was not the ultimate test of authenticity. The ultimate test of authenticity is accuracy in relation to the revealed Word of God. False teachers will, according to the Scripture, will perform miracles that appear to be legitimate. They may appear to heal people. One of the reasons people are healed is through something called the placebo effect. A placebo is like a sugar pill. It is telling somebody that if they do something, like take a certain medication or something of that nature, it will heal them. And they have faith in that solution, in that medicine, to the degree that upwards of sixty per cent of people will show a positive response to a sugar pill as opposed to the drug or the antibiotic. That is the power of the mind.

So when people go to healing crusades and they go to various other healers—eastern mystics, mind control—or watch somebody on television. they have a certain response. But just because they seem to have that response, they seem to have an experience that appears to be that somebody heals them, does not mean that God had anything to do with it. That is the point of the warning in Deuteronomy 13.

In fact, what we learn from Scripture is that if you are a Christian and you interpret the Bible from your experience you are not being obedient to Scripture. We interpret our experience from the Word of God. The Word of God tells us how things really are, and sometimes we experience things and we don't know all the details. Even though we went through the experience that appears to us that something happened and that we understand it, that this must be from God, and it is such a real experience. But we don't know all the data, we don't see into the invisible world, and we don't understand the deceptions of Satan and the cosmic system; and we don't understand everything about the psychology of our own soul. As a result of that we are easily deceived by our experience. And so we have to be extremely cautious, and the only foundation we have to understand what the Bible teaches about healing is to just understand what the Bible says about healing.

A little summary focusing on the four questions pointed out last time. Does God heal today? Does God want you healthy and well? Why did Jesus and the apostles heal? Was faith necessary to be healed?

The answer to the first question: yes indeed, God heals today. As we will see, it is how does He heal today. Does He heal through intermediate agencies, i.e., healers or people with a gift of healing, or does He heal directly as a result of simply of prayer? 

With regard to the second question, this points out the error of what is known as the health and wealth gospel, the prosperity gospel, the name and claim it gospel that is rife today in many congregations. It is not biblical at all. It has its roots in a lot of eastern mystical, metaphysical religions and concepts. A good book on this is The Seduction of Christianity by Dave Hunt. The answer is, no, God does not want you healthy and wealthy in that sense. We live in a world that is fallen, a world where there is illness, disease, and many, many problems, where there is poverty. The Lord said: "The poor will be with you always". Christ died for our sin; He did not die for the specifics of healing.

Fourth, we often hear the myth that the reason people aren't healed is that they don't have enough faith. The problem is that there are many examples in the Bible where there is no mention at all of the faith of the person who is healed. In fact, in some cases we are not even sure if they were a believer in Christ in terms Him being the Messiah. They just realized that this was a person who could heal them, they had a problem, and they went to Him for healing. There is no indication in the text whatsoever that the person was a believer in Jesus Christ.

We looked at this distinction between faith healing, the pseudo healing that takes place. In fact, there are going to be these kinds of pseudo miracles—I call them pseudo miracles not because it is a phony but because it is not coming from the source of God as claimed. 2 Thessalonians 2 describes the fact that the Antichrist, the prince who is to come who will rule over the ten-nation confederacy of the revived Roman empire during the future Tribulation period, will confirm his claims to be the Messiah (he is a false messiah) by performing many signs and wonders. He will deceive many, "even the elect". Just because you are believer doesn't mean you are free from deception.

God has healed historically through different means. First of all, indirectly or mediately through a human agent. Sometimes it was an apostle, sometimes a prophet in the Old Testament who healed. That would be a supernatural healing through a human agent. But then there are other times when a person is healed intermediately or indirectly by natural means. God uses a doctor, a physician, and medication in order to cure the disease. We have the supernatural miraculous healing, such as the lame man in Acts 3:11, and then natural healing which is probably the case with Epaphroditus in Philippians 3.

Then we have the fact that God also heals directly without any human agent at times. But even in the Bible this was extremely rare. There was a very small minority of people healed because the purpose of Jesus' coming wasn't to heal people, the healing was something that was a sign of who He claimed to be, the Messiah. The Old Testament predicted that when the messianic age came, when the Messiah came, when the kingdom was in effect, that He would heal all of the diseases. So as He came at the first advent to offer the kingdom to Israel He was giving a preview of coming attractions with these miracles. He was showing through these miracles that He was capable. He had the power to do what the Messiah was predicted to do from the Old Testament and that He could fulfill that. This was a foretaste. He wasn't healing everybody. He wasn't bringing in the kingdom; He was offering the kingdom. Again, this is a misunderstood concept in Scripture. Jesus offered the kingdom at the first coming. When He was rejected by the religious leaders of Israel the kingdom was completely, totally, absolutely, unequivocally, and without any doubt postponed. You can't have a kingdom without any king, and He currently is not a King. Jesus doesn't receive the crown for the kingdom, according to Daniel chapter seven, as the Son of Man until the Ancient of Days fives Him that crown, gives Him the kingdom; and it is at that point that He returns to the earth at the second coming. This occurs at the end of the Tribulation period, in the future. It is described in Revelation 19. Until then, according to Revelation 3:20, 21, Jesus is sitting not on His throne but on His Father's throne. He has not yet received the kingdom, so He is not yet the King. What is happening in the Gospels is a foretaste, a foreshadowing, a preview of coming attraction.

God does not heal indirectly through prophets and apostles today. He does heal as an answer to prayer. The issue is not the question, does God heal today? People will hear what I teach and say: "You don't believe God heals". No, you haven't really listened. I believe God heals; I believe God heals people numerous times throughout the year. It is not the normal expectation for the church age and He doesn't do it in the church age through intermediate healers. So the issue is, how has God revealed that He heals today? I put it that way because people come back and say: "Well you are putting God in a box". No, no, no, you still don't understand. If you really believe the Bible is the Word of God then you have to believe that God reveals how He works in human history. You can't say, well I had this experience so it must be God. You have to put the Bible first. The Bible is where you go to for your authority, and in the Bible God says: "I am working at different times in different ways in different dispensations.                 

People come along and say: "You don't believe God does miracles today". No, I said I don't believe God does miracles today the way He did them during the first advent because that was for a specific purpose, and that purpose no longer exists. God has revealed that He is doing things differently during the church age from what He did in earlier ages and from what He will do in future ages. So the issue is in the second question, has God revealed that we should expect His intervention in our illnesses, our diseases and deformities as a normal experience in the Christian life? And the answer to that is a resounding no. It wasn't a normal expectation even among believers during Christ's incarnation. Those who were healed represented a small minority of those who trusted in Him as Messiah during the time that He was upon the earth when the offer of the kingdom was made again during the period of the Acts under the apostles in the early part of the church age as they made a reoffer of the kingdom to Israel before it was rejected. During that time there were many who were not healed.

So when then address the question: why did the apostles heal? Was faith and/or salvation a prerequisite for healing? Jesus healed to present His messianic credentials. This is seen in passages like Isaiah 42:7; 28:18; 35:4-6. This was what was prophesied of the Messiah.

Another thing that we saw was that healings were never performed merely for their physical benefit. If Jesus' mission was to heal then He would have gone to the counterpart of hospitals at that time, and He would have healed all who were sick. Jesus healed those who came to Him, and in some cases those who were in His presence, but His focal point wasn't healing; His focal point was the message.

Jesus' miracles were not performed randomly or indiscriminately. He did not always heal those who needed healing or perform on demand, but He did so to fulfill the plan of God, as stated in John 5:2-5; Matthew 12:38-40.

A third observation about Jesus healing is that His healing was immediate or within minutes. In two cases they were not immediate but were very close to it. They were not gradual; they did not take place over a period of time, and the consequences of His healing were irreversible. People didn't go home and then have the symptoms come back a week or two later. That is a sign of some sort of psychosomatic healing or some sort of placebo effect.

The fourth thing we observe from looking at all of the healings that are mentioned in Scripture is that there was really an abundance of healings. To say that there was an abundance of healings doesn't mean that He healed everyone. There were just a number of places, like we have in our passage, where Jesus healed a large number of people that came to Him. For example in Matthew 8:16 NASB "When evening came, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed; and He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were ill."  So there was an abundance of healings to indicate that He was the Messiah. This is the whole point here in this particular section because the very next verse says, NASB"{This was} to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: "HE HIMSELF TOOK OUR INFIRMITIES AND CARRIED AWAY OUR DISEASES." That is a quote from Isaiah 53:4, and in Matthew's citation of that verse [he is quoting from the LXX (Septuagint)] he changed the verbs because the verbs in Isaiah indicated a sacrifice but the verbs that he uses in this citation are not terms that were used for a ritual sacrifice. So it is not referring to the atonement at all. He takes this and applies it to the situation and says that of the Messiah was to heal us from diseases it is not the same ritual term that is used in the Hebrew of Isaiah 53:4.

Jesus healed in a variety of ways. He healed by touch and command. He would touch someone, as we saw with the leper, and the leper was cleansed. In another case in John 5:8, 9 He issued a command. He was not physically present. We see the same thing in this chapter with the healing of the centurion's servant. A third way is through the touch of His cloak, Matthew chapter nine. A fourth way is, He spat on the ground and mixed it with dirt on the ground and applied this to the eyes of the blind man and he was healed. He was not restricted to one particular method.

Not all who were healed expressed faith or were saved. That is an important point. The writers of Scripture do not make a point out of the salvation status of the person who was healed, or necessarily their faith status. In some places they do. For example, in Matthew chapter nine which is talking about the woman who touched the hem of His garment (v. 22) Jesus said: "Daughter, take courage; your faith has made you well." He comments on the fact that she had faith. But there are many times when the faith of the person isn't mention. For example, when we look at the healing of the centurion's servant in Matthew 8:5-13 the centurion certainly had faith, but we don't know anything about whether or not his servant who was healed had faith. When we look at the example of the healing of the paralytic in the first part of chapter nine his friends had faith but we don't know if he had faith. Nothing is said. The writers of Scripture do not make a point of emphasizing faith on the part of the person who is healed all the time. In some cases we doubt whether the person was saved.

When we go beyond the Gospels and into Acts we ask why it is there are more miracles at the beginning of the book than at the end of the book. It is not because they had less faith, it is because as the church is transitioning from spiritual infancy to a more mature church where they have a more completed canon of Scripture and most of the New Testament is written there is less and less need for miracles for revelation and for healings to take place. Acts is transitional, it is history, it is not telling us that this is the way things should be, it is describing the way things were. It is de-scripted; it is not pre-scripted. One of the things we see is that in the apostolic age signs and wonders and miracles and healings were part of the authentication, the credentials, of the apostles. 2 Corinthians 12:12, NASB "The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with all perseverance, by signs and wonders and miracles."

The requirement for being an apostle was first he had to have seen Jesus. He had to have heard Him teach and had to be personally commissioned by Jesus. So there were very, very few apostles. There were actually only eleven plus the apostle Paul. The term apostle was used in two senses. The word apostle means someone who is commissioned to a task. There were two types of apostles in the New Testament. One is the apostle who is commissioned directly by Jesus Christ to a task. There was a second type of apostle that was commissioned by a local church to go out as a missionary. The first kind of apostle is what we are talking about here, those who were commissioned by Christ. When we come to Revelation we see that the foundation stones of the New Jerusalem are the twelve apostles. The Bible doesn't recognize more than that, and so we don't add to the apostolic body. A genuine apostle, one of the twelve, was vindicated and validated by the miracles that he performed.

We see this in places like Acts chapters three and four where Peter and John healed the lame man. It was not just to heal him. They healed him to gain a hearing from the crowds out on the steps of the temple in order to present the gospel of the kingdom to those who were present in the temple. They were not doing it for the sake of healing; they were doing it to win people to the gospel message. Acts 5:12 tells us that at the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were taking place among the people who were all with one accord in Solomon's portico. So there were numerous miracles performed to validate and verify the message of the apostles.

Then there were a number of examples where the faith of the recipient was not present at the time of healing. For example, the nobleman's son. This took place also in Capernaum. This is described in John 4:46-54. He was not a believer, but afterward he became a believer. We see the cripple at Bethesda, John 5:1-9. He is not a believer, Jesus seems to just randomly pick him out of the crowd and heal him. There is the demon possessed man in Capernaum who was healed on the Sabbath does not appear to have faith in Christ. There is no mention of faith at all of paralyzed man that is healed in Matthew 9:2-8. There is the faith of those who are with him, but his faith is not indicated. We may assume that it is there but we are assuming without evidence. The text has to state it so we can be sure. There is no mention of faith of the centurion's servant in Matthew 8:5-13. Then there is the blind and mute man that Jesus heals. He restores his sight and speech in Matthew 12:22 and Luke 11:14 but there is no mention of his faith. There is no mention of faith of the Gadarene demoniac. There is a demon-possessed man in Matthew chapter nine and there is no mention of his faith. In the feeding of the five thousand that five thousand didn't have to express faith, they were just hungry. Same thing with the feeding of the four thousand mentioned in Matthew 15:29-31; Mark 8:1-9. There was the healing of the Canaanite woman's daughter. The mother had faith but not necessarily the daughter (Matthew 15:21-28; Mark 7:24-30). There are so many of these: the deaf mute in Decapolis (Mark 7:31-37), the demon possessed boy (Matthew 17:14-18), the restoration of Malchus' ear, the two blind men at Jericho (Matthew 9:27-31), and nine of the ten lepers who were healed by Jesus don't respond in faith.

The point covered in all of this is that many examples in Scripture were not based on faith. But there was faith present in many of them. There was the healing of the leper in Matthew 8:2-4, the healing of the crippled hand in Matthew 12:9-13, Peter walking on the water in Matthew 14:24-33, the man born blind in John 9:1-7, blind Bartemaus, the woman with the continuing hemorrhaging in Matthew 9:20-22. There was the first miraculous catch of fish, Luke 5:1-11 indicated faith on the part of the disciples, the second miraculous catch of fish in John 21:1-11. My point in all of this is that we hear these myths that are promoted by different people who say that if you aren't healed it is because you don't have enough faith, or you don't have faith like a child. So the idea that it is your faith that renders the healing inoperative is garbage. It puts a guilt complex on you and people who say that are teaching doctrines straight from the pit of hell. It is not biblical; it is designed to promote guilt and anguish and in many cases to line their own pockets with offerings. And this is horrible; it takes advantage of the sheep.

In the Old Testament there is the word rapha, which means healing. It is often used just for physical disease but it is used as a synonym for the solution to sin. For example, in Jeremiah 3:22 the Lord says to Israel NASB "Return, O faithless sons, I will heal your faithlessness." He doesn't say, "You sick children, you ill children, you lame, blind or deaf children". He is not talking about a physical problem but a spiritual problem, and He says, "Turn and I will heal you". The healing there is a synonym for forgiveness. This is the same kind of thing we see in Isaiah 53:5, a verse that is often taken out of context to say there is healing in the atonement. Notice what the parallel is here. What is the passage talking about? "He was wounded for our transgressions [sin], He was bruised for our iniquities [sin]…" This is talking about substitutionary atonement. "… the chastening for our well-being {fell} upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed." Physical healing doesn't have anything to do with the context. The context is talking about solving the sin problem. We have to understand the word healing there in the context is used as a synonym for the atonement, paying the price for our sin, and sin is the root cause of all disease—not personal sin but the sin of Adam. Adam's sin plunged the world into corruption and as a result of that we have the rise of death and disease and sufferings, famines and wars, and everything else. The root cause is sin, and when sin's penalty is paid for then the root solution is available. Then on the basis of the fact that sin has been paid for on the cross God is free to heal and to save.

That takes us back to the gospel, that the real issue for each of us is our relationship to God. If you are not a believer in Jesus Christ then the solution for you is to trust in Christ as savior, to believe in Him who died for you and paid your sin penalty so you could have eternal life. If you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ then the issue is to walk with Him. The issue is to realize all of the blessings that have been already given as Christians. God didn't leave anything out. As Paul said in Ephesians 1:3, we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies. We already have them. The only way we can learn about them and access them is through our study of God's Word, believing and learning about them, and living in light of them. That is the challenge for every single believer. The choice is ours. We either live in light of what Christ did on the cross or we reject it. If we live in light of it then God promises that eventually there will be complete justice in our lives and we will experience full healing, eventually. It is in the future. And we might on occasion experience a glimpse of that in our lives.