When we begin ministering to others and talking about faith and God’s will to heal, it sometimes uncovers a lot of emotional pain. When I started seeing God heal people, I was weeping all the time because of what I saw God do. I just wanted others to experience what I had. Yet a few people were so upset at me that I actually felt their mistaken judgments like a dark cloud coming over me. For a while I became introspective, wondering if I was in pride or some great sin. But I soon realized that the dark cloud was a lie.
I’d like to do a few posts that deal with understanding why the topics of faith and healing can be so painful for some. Satan tries to take truth and glory and twist it into condemnation and playing the “blame game.” This week and next, we’ll look at the weaknesses of some faith and healing movements in the past, and compare them with how things are changing for the better.
How Things Are Changing
Many older Christians think of the “Word of Faith” movement and healing evangelists of past decades when they think of faith and healing. Sometimes their pain is attached to bad experiences with these past “faith movements.”
I’m not writing as a critic of the Word of Faith movement or the older healing evangelists. I’m thankful for the great move of the Holy Spirit through their lives. Yet these past faith movements sometimes got derailed with a self-centered focus. (Kenneth Hagin recognized this in the area of prosperity teaching and wrote to correct it in his book “Midas Touch.”)
There is a new “faith movement” spreading around the world today, and it’s different in some ways from many “faith movements” of the past.” It includes many people ministering and seeing miracles happen in everyday life. A lot of the roots of this movement seem to trace back to Dan Mohler or Curry Blake‘s influence. It has been spread through people like Todd White and Pete Cabrera Jr. making Youtube videos. I met Dan Mohler around 2006 and was not familiar with Curry Blake until years later. Dan’s teaching encouraged me and I began to minister more to unbelievers and not just Christians. It’s amazing to see how much that teaching has multiplied and born fruit since then.
This “new faith movement” really isn’t totally new. It has a lot in common with the emphasis of John G. Lake’s ministry in the early 1900’s. It includes a strong belief in God’s will to heal and in the importance of us partnering with God in faith to see His will be done. However, it’s different in some ways than the “faith” and “healing” movements that many people have known. I think talking about how things have changed helps us see what’s happening in the body of Christ and understand why the topics of faith and healing have so much “baggage” attached to them for some people.
I see four areas where today’s “new faith movement” tends to contrast with much of the teaching on healing and faith from the past decades. I see this as a good thing. The body of Christ is growing into greater maturity
1. It’s Focused On Ministering To Others
I’ve read a lot of older books on faith and divine healing, and I’ve listened to messages by some famous teachers of the past. The Biblical foundation that they present on God’s will for healing is really valuable. However, many of them focus heavily on how to “get your healing” and how to “have faith for yourself.”
Is learning to have faith for yourself bad? No. Jesus also encouraged people to believe. However, the weakness of that teaching was that it sometimes became very self-centered. I’ve known people who were close adherents of “Word of Faith” teaching, but many of them never even tried to exercise faith until an emergency arose in their own family. I rarely or never saw them reaching out and ministering healing to others.
So even though they studied faith and talked about it a lot, they missed many opportunities to exercise and develop faith! The danger of that is that “faith” can become a religious dogma that we believe in but don’t really know how to exercise. I remember Bill Johnson talking about the time before he became totally unsatisfied with mere theory. He said “We would fight to the death to defend the doctrine of God’s will to heal, but few of us could remember the last time we actually saw someone healed.”
Of course, this was not always the result of teaching that emphasized the faith of the sick person. But it happens a lot more easily when teaching focuses too heavily on “getting your healing” rather than on ministering to other people. I often think that the worst kind of unbelief is to mentally assent to a dogma but never really act like it’s true! For kids and teens growing up in church, to hear people “confess the word” all the time but almost never reach out to minister to a neighbor is a breeding ground for unbelief.
The greatest unbelief I’ve encountered has usually been in religious environments where people had convinced themselves “I already know about healing. I believe it.” They actually say things like “Oh, you don’t need to pray for me. I’m healed.” Their hearts were hardened by talk without action.
James 1:22 (NIV) Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
Many people have found it much easier to start ministering healing to others than to minister healing to themselves. It’s not that it has to be that way, but it’s just that we tend to take personal issues more personally! I personally saw hundreds of other people healed when I laid hands on them before I ever successfully ministered healing to myself!
The “Word of Faith” movement talked a lot about “confessing the Word.” While confessing the Word is good, confessing the word without acting on it leads to unbelief. We grow in faith much more by stepping out and ministering to others than we do by just “confessing the Word.”
If the primary emphasis ever becomes “getting your healing” rather than ministering to others, we miss many opportunities to exercise faith. It’s a lot easier to get discouraged if we are waiting for a personal crisis to exercise faith. It then becomes easy to fall into the trap of talking without acting, which leads to unbelief and hard hearts.
The “new faith movement” focuses much more on ministering to others than on “believing for your healing.” People are taught to heal the sick. Many are doing so even when they themselves have issues that they are still feeling in their bodies. Regan Bothman, for example, was ministering and seeing God do miracles in hospitals when he was still having epileptic seizures. (He is now totally free from epilepsy!) This gives us much more opportunity to actually put faith into practice and grow in faith.
The first point is closely related to the second and third points. We’ll continue our discussions of the “faith movement” has changed for the better next week.