They come to be healed. They are people afflicted with everything from paralysis, cancer to blindness. Some travel great distances for a promise to be healed instantly in the name of Jesus Christ. ABC's "Nightline" this week aired a report titled "Turning to Revivals for Healing." In the story, reporter Bill Weir examines the validity of the revivals and interviews evangelist Nathan Morris and revival presider Pastor John Kilpatrick at a revival event held recently in Mobile, Ala. Do miracles really take place at these healing revivals? Are people really cured? Or are they simply "mirages," as the report states, organized it seems with only one purpose — taking people's money?
"People brought all their sick to him and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched him were healed."
Miracles are two things — they are real and they are rare. Only because there is a God is the miraculous possible.
When a bona fide miracle occurs, it is undeniable, unexplainable and graciously wrought by the hand of God. Healings are beautifully breathtaking events. God does not often break his own rules of physics or even bend them. But when he does, God pulls back the curtain of heaven just a bit and we see how small our frailties are compared to how big our God is.
I've seen it happen at our church. On the other hand, contrary to what today's "miracles for money" charlatans would have us believe, genuine miracles are exceptionally rare. No amount of prayer or faith or money can obligate God to do our bidding. He does what he will according to his own good purposes. Predictably, things like health, physiology and medicine most of the time continue as they always have. Even the holy apostles, brimming with the power of God, occasionally could not heal their loved ones.
There were roughly three periods of biblical history wherein most miracles occurred. In these periods, God used miracles to authenticate his chosen messengers: Moses, Elijah/Elisha and Jesus and the apostles. Like today, outside of these periods, miracles were extremely rare.
Compare this to the faith healers of today who can only knock people over through a carefully choreographed formula of background music, suggestion, singing, lighting and peer pressure from an intensely emotional crowd. How sad to see the faithful return to their seats unhealed, still confined to the wheelchairs they hoped to leave behind. Someone today with a genuine ability to heal by the power of God would need no external tricks or gimmicks. Even as Jesus could, this person today could enter Glendale Adventist or Verdugo Hills or Huntington Memorial and empty them — for free! I wonder if today's faith healers would ever consider performing their miracles for free. This is one reason Jesus is called the Great Physician.
The Rev. Jon T. Karn,
Light on the Corner Church,
The New Testament is replete with stories of Jesus Christ healing the sick and afflicted, including the woman who had such faith that by touching Christ's garment, she believed that she would be healed (Matthew 9:22). After Christ called his apostles, he sent them out two by two and they healed the sick (Mark 6:13). Even after Christ's resurrection and ascension, his Apostles continued to heal the sick (Acts 28:8).
In 1 Corinthians, Chapter 12, the apostle Paul taught about the gifts of the spirit, including the gift of healing and the working of miracles. In James 5:14-15, we are taught: "Is any sick among you? 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 shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him."
Did the healing of the sick cease with the death of the apostles? The answer is no. I believe that people are healed in this day and age based on their faith in Jesus Christ and the faith of those who, as in olden times, are called in to prayer for them in faith.
Turning to the revivals referred to in the question, do I believe that miracles of healing take place? I tend to be skeptical of such revivals, especially when sensationalism, fame and money are involved or associated with them. But having not attended such revivals myself, I'm probably not in a position to judge such events from a distance.
For me, Jesus Christ works miracles in the lives of those who believe and have faith in him. Such miracles most often occur in a quiet manner, based on prayer, and perhaps fasting. They are not predicated on money or fame. They are based on true devotion and the will of God.
Taking a break while watching the video, I picked up a newspaper and read an account of a recent conference in Los Angeles of the Council for Secular Humanism. I would rather pull weeds or stand in rain with an anti-war sign than attend meetings on anything all weekend, so reading the in-depth report in the New York Times religion column was ideal. I am interested in religion and disbelief and in keeping church strictly out of state; I just can't sit still that long.
To broadly characterize a very nuanced debate among the doubters on making the atheist/humanist case to the public, a central question quoted in the article was, "How publicly scornful of religion should we be?" Going back to the video I confess I had scorn-heaping urges, not on the revival participants, but upon their manipulators (and entertainers), the revival organizer and healer.