We are living at present between the first and second appearances of Jesus Christ. At His
first coming He provided, through His life, death, and resurrection, atonement for sin and
its consequences. In this era divine healing, a gift of God’s grace, is seen as a proleptic
expression of the complete redemption of the human body. At His second coming what
was begun will be brought to completion—salvation from sin and all its effects will be
realized. In this period of the “already and not yet” some are healed instantly, some
gradually, and others are not healed.
The Bible indicates that until Jesus comes we groan because we have not yet received the
full redemption of our bodies (Romans 8:23). Only when the dead in Christ rise and we
are changed do we receive the new bodies which are like His glorious body
(1 Corinthians 15:42–44,51–54). Even followers of Christ groan and travail in pain like
the rest of creation, waiting patiently for the fulfillment of our hope (Romans 8:21–25).
In that the human body is described by Paul as a “temple of the Holy Spirit” (1
Corinthians 6:19), we must care for it and avoid that which would abuse it. But, no matter
what we do for this body, no matter how many times we are healed, unless the rapture of
the Church intervenes we shall die.
The promise and reality of divine healing does not rule out suffering for the sake of
Christ and that of the gospel. We are expected to be prepared to follow His example
(Hebrews 5:8; 1 Peter 2:19,21; 4:12–14,19). Nor are we to look to divine healing as a
substitute for obedience to the rules of physical and mental health. Jesus recognized the
need of the disciples to get away from the crowds and rest awhile (Mark 6:31). Jethro,
Moses’ father-in-law, advised him to delegate some of his responsibilities so that he
could stand the strain of leading Israel (Exodus 18:17,18).
Neither is divine healing a means of avoiding the effects of old age. Moses did retain a
clear eye and his natural strength until the day of his death (Deuteronomy 34:7), but this
privilege was not granted to King David (1 Kings 1:1–4). The gradual breakdown of old
age, pictured so graphically in Ecclesiastes 12:1–7, is the common experience of
believers as well as unbelievers. Healing is still available to the aged, but the part that is
healed usually continues to age like the rest of the body. We do not yet have the
redemption of the body.
It is possible that the refusal to alter one’s lifestyle to accord with biblical principles
could hinder healing (John 5:14). While the amount of faith is not always, as noted
above, determinative, if one does not believe that divine healing can occur, it might not.
We must also be open to God’s will and activities, always designed by His love and for
our good, understanding that they are beyond our immediate ability to understand. He is,
by healing us now and by not healing us, moved by His great compassion, desiring that
we be drawn increasingly closer to Him.
We recognize that there have been abuses regarding divine healing. Excessive claims and
unfounded judgments are offered by some. But we must not let that cause us to retreat
from a positive proclamation of the truth of the Scripture. Peter and John were able to say 7
to the lame man who was to be healed, “What I have I give you. In the name of Jesus
Christ of Nazareth, walk” (Acts 3:6). May we, too, remain committed to the reality of the
power of God to effect divine healing.
In humility we confess that we do not understand all that pertains to divine healing. We
do not understand fully why some are healed and others are not, any more than we
understand why God permitted James to be martyred and Peter delivered (Acts 12:1–19).
Scripture makes it clear, however, that our part is to preach the Word, expecting signs,
including divine healing, to follow. Finally, at the Lord’s return, “when the perishable has
been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality” (1 Corinthians
15:54), the full realization of divine healing will have come.