Video available here: http://youtu.be/J5dz-ZPrtzg
The assistant pastor at the church we attend made a statement last Sunday, touching momentarily on the health and wealth gospels that grew from Branham and Dowie. It was only a few words, yet that statement brought several deep questions when you compare the "gospel of divine healing" with the Gospel of Jesus Christ."
Referring to people asking for prayer for family members with terminal illness, he said that he no longer prayed, "Jesus heal them." Instead, he asked the family how THEY wanted him to pray.
God is the great Healer, but he also is the Savior. The prayers we lift in faith to Him are answered, and He still works miracles today. But are the answers always what we expect?
John chapter 11 tells the story of the death of Lazurus, a story often used as an example in the gospel of divine healing. It is the perfect example in scripture describing Jesus Christ as fully God, fully man. But is the gospel of divine healing missing the much bigger picture?
When Mary and Martha first came to Jesus, Lazarus was ill. Jesus said that this was not a terminal illness, telling the women that "This illness does not lead to death." In other words, he was not one that had a "hard case" as many of the faith healers described patients with cancer or multiple sclerosis. But that does not necessarily mean that he was not terminally ill. Lazarus did, in fact, die from his sickness.
But Jesus, being fully God, fully man, knew the outcome before Mary and Martha came to Him.
And I'm sure that as Lazarus lay there suffering, it must have seemed like Jesus missed the "discernment." He was dying, and all around him could see it. But remember, Jesus said, "It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it."
The gospel of Divine Healing trained the people to place their faith in the man on the platform as the "one who caused the sickness to flee." While still believing that God gives the healing, many Christians persuaded by this movement become one step distanced from the Mediator between God and man -- otherwise joining together in prayer with two or three at home would have satisfied. When Lazarus was healed, Christ was glorified. When God heals a person who travelled from afar to see a "divine healer," that "healer" is glorified.
But the focus of this story is not the single man who was suffering. Nor was it on the disciples who doubted Jesus' power to heal when they said, "Let us also go, that we may die with him." The focus of the story was not even on the Almighty power of God through Jesus Christ, who could raise the man.
The story is telling us that Christ can raise you and me, no matter how these earthly bodies fade away.
Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?" She said to him, "Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world." - John 11:25-27
The ministry for many great names preaching the "gospel of divine healing" has bore much different fruit than what this passage of scripture describes. Followers of William Branham believe that you must also believe in William Branham to inherit salvation. Reading scriptures similar to this, they associate them to the life and times of another human being, and feast on those stories in their worship services. It is no different for the followers of Dowie, Roberts, McPherson, or many of the hundreds mentioned in Branham's magazine "Voice of Healing."
By nature, the gospel of divine healing teaches both "faith in faith," and "faith in the healer who calls on the Name of Jesus." Many who have been influenced by this movement falsely believe they do not receive healing because their faith was insufficient. Some of the "healers," like Branham, reinforce this belief, passing out pamphlets describing "how to keep your healing."
But as Lazarus lay in the tomb, the people did not believe. Some said, "Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?"
Lazarus, though a good man and a close friend of Jesus, was destined to become sick. His life, sickness, and death were to be used as an example to point our hearts and minds to Jesus Christ. The story tells us that while we tend to focus on the things of this world -- our possessions, jobs, and even our earthly bodies, Christianity focuses on heavenly things. To be more concerned with our flesh than how God can use our lives to save another from death is to practice worldliness.
If Jesus were walking this earth today, and watched the people placing their faith in men, what would He say? Would he bow down and offer praise to the man who lifted himself above a following? Or would he repeat what He said in John chapter 5?
How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? - John 5:44