Divine Healing for Today

The Fall of man and woman in the Garden of Eden not only resulted in spiritual death, it also caused sickness, disease, and physical death to enter the human experience. Humans were hopelessly lost in a fallen and degenerate condition. However, God in His love and mercy provided atonement through Jesus Christ (Isaiah 53:1 – 6).

Jesus’ death and resurrection redeems us from every effect of sin. Not only does His atoning redemption provide believers the hope of eternal life in resurrected and glorified bodies, it offers us divine healing while in our fallen state. Matthew 8:14-17 says ––

When Jesus came into Peter’s house, He saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on Him. When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to Him, and He drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: "He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases".

The Lord Is a God Who Heals

Scripture reveals that the God of the Bible heals. Several Old Testament accounts attest to God’s supernatural intervention through healing the sick (2 Kings 4:32-35; 5:14; 20:5-7). The four Gospels are laced with accounts of Jesus’ healing ministry (Matthew 4:24; 8:13; 12:13; Mark 5:29; Luke 4:40; 7:21; John 4:49-53; 5:5-9). A major emphasis of Christ’s ministry on earth involved divine healing because of His compassion for the suffering and to validate His Messianic claims. Jesus sent His twelve disciples (Matthew 10:1-8), and then seventy others (Luke 10:1-20), with instructions to heal the sick.

We read in the book of Acts that following Jesus’ ascension, healings and miracles continued through the power of the Holy Spirit and faith in Jesus’ name. Acts chapter 3 documents the first specific miracle performed after the Holy Spirit was poured out at Pentecost as Peter healed a lame man. Peter gave the following explanation for this miraculous healing ––

... it is the name of Jesus which has strengthened this man whom you see and know; and the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect health in the presence of you all (Acts 3:16).

We then read in First Corinthians 12 about the gifts of the Spirit that were bestowed upon Christ’s church. Included is the gift of healing. Throughout church history –– in spite of numerous spurious claims and charlatan behavior –– there have been many accounts of genuine divine healing.

James 5: 13 - 16  records the primary instruction for divine healing in both the early church and the church today. It states ––

Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises. Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.

The instructions given by James have never been revoked and are therefore relevant for the church today.

As we consider divine healing in the Scriptures we  must acknowledge that there are some accounts which indicate that not everyone was healed (2 Samuel 12:15-18; 1 Timothy 5:23; 2 Timothy 4:20).

Today’s Show vs. Our Lord’s Example

While imitators “perform miracles” to impress people, Jesus did so out of compassion and to the glory of the Father. His miracles were a sign and validation of His message and Messianic claims. Jesus and the apostles healed blind eyes, lepers, palsy, the lame, paralytics, withered hands, a severed ear, and the like. They even raised the dead.

People healed in Scripture did not have to confess, claim, or visualize their healing before it occurred. The healings of Jesus were usually immediate, complete, irreversible, and undeniable –– even to His opponents.

When we think of the “miracles” performed by many of today’s faith healers, could we honestly say what Nicodemus said to Jesus ––

“Rabbi, we know that You have come from God ... for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him” (John 3:2).

You will not find those whom the Lord is really using in supernatural healings advertising their gift in Christian magazines or on television. Nor will they be showboating and boasting in themselves. They are missionaries praying the prayer of faith; local pastors and elders praying for the sick and anointing them with oil according to James 5:13-15. They are committed believers serving the Lord in places and ways through which they will not get much worldly credit.

One day Jesus’ true servants will receive their reward for faithfulness to Him and for allowing His power to be manifested through their lives — without attempting to use it to exalt themselves, advance their own ministries, or receive financial gain.

Some Amazing Healings

Although I have not yet seen healings of the level of Jesus and the apostle Paul, I have witnessed some amazing healings in Jesus’ name. The following are just a few:

Shortly after giving my life to Christ in May of 1971, I was working at Pit Stop before leaving for Bible college. A car battery exploded right in my face. The pressure on my eyes was tremendous and the severe burning sensation from the battery acid was excruciating. I was certain I was blinded. On the way to the hospital I cried out to the Lord for help –– and He answered in a miraculous way.

In January 1977, Youth For Christ wanted me to move to Washington, Pennsylvania to complete my training. However, Karen had somehow contracted a liver disease and we were concerned she would not survive. Shortly thereafter, the Lord spoke to my heart to start our own ministry in our local area so we would be close to family. About one month later after earnest prayer, Karen’s liver problem disappeared (and God began to unfold his plans for the Bill Rudge Ministries).

My son, BJ, completely tore his ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) in his knee for the third time while playing soccer his freshman year at college. We took him to Dr. Freddie Fu in Pittsburgh, one of the world’s leading surgeons for this type of injury. Before we went, BJ was anointed with oil and prayed over by the elders of the church we attended. The MRI confirmed that his ACL was completely torn, but upon examination, Dr. Fu was baffled by the strength and tightness of his knee. He told us in amazement that BJ did not need surgery. He then said by way of explanation to his bewildered colleague, “These people are very religious.”

In March 2004 Karen was diagnosed with cancer. The doctor in Pittsburgh only gave her a few years to live. We opted to go the alternative way as she radically modified her diet and lifestyle. We also had the Board of Directors of BRM and the elders of our church anoint her with oil and lay hands on her and pray, as well as the prayers and fasting of many ministry friends and family members. Today she is doing better than she did ten years ago.

On June 25, 2005 I was bitten by a brown recluse spider. I prayed and trusted the Lord and did self treatments. The only side effects I had from this highly venomous and potentially deadly spider bite was a growth on my finger from the venom being drawn out by poultices. I believe the Lord left that growth to validate that it really was a brown recluse spider bite. I prayed and fasted and the pastor and elders at church prayed and anointed me with oil on Sunday, August 28, 2005. The following day I had the tissue mass surgically removed and everyone was amazed that I had no underlying tissue damage.

I could share many more illustrations of God’s protection and healing power for sickness and injuries. But there have also been many times that prayers for healing went unanswered for reasons only God knows. Suffice it to say that each incident –– whether God intervened with healing or not –– ultimately proved to be a time of great spiritual growth and victory.

I do believe that in the near future the Lord is going to manifest His healing power in an even more real and powerful way on believers who desperately need and desire Him. As Jesus’ return approaches I am convinced a great outpouring of genuine healings, as in the days of His apostles, will precede His coming.

If We Are Divinely Made Why Are So Many Believers Sick?

The psalmist declared, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your workmanship is marvelous and how well I know it” (Psalm 139:14). But why are so many Christians sick and not walking in health? In many cases it is because we violate biblical principles, lack self-control, have bad health habits, and overindulge in junk food. We also neglect proper exercise and sleep, have unresolved stress, overwork or are lazy, come in contact with dangerous chemicals and pollutants, receive excessive sun exposure, and allow negative and destructive emotions such as jealousy, hatred, revenge, and bitterness to dominate our lives.

Considering the toxicity of our bodies, minds, and spirits, the fact we live in relatively good health as long as we do is a testimony of how wonderfully we are made. However, when our amazing “machine” malfunctions after years of abuse, we wonder: “Why has God allowed this sickness or disease to come upon me?” We often resort to quick prayers for healing. If healing does not occur, many turn to New Age healing techniques or use drugs and alcohol to mask the pain.

Sometimes, we do not get healed because God wants to deal with the real problem –– not merely the symptoms. The real problem is usually a lack of discipline and self-control and a need to obey biblical health principles. It is hard to pray for divine healing when someone is violating all the biblical health principles or mixing in New Age “healing” techniques.

What Has Taken Its Toll?

Although I now strive for optimum health, there are many things which have taken a toll on my health:

  • Damage from my previous abusive lifestyle and junk food diet
  • Ten car wrecks
  • Other accidents and injuries
  • Stress as a result of a growing ministry with continual deadlines, financial pressures, and spiritual warfare
  • Hundreds of plane trips and the potential health hazards of many mission trips
  • Environmental pollutants from exhaust fumes in Third World countries, exposure to toxic substances, and heavy metal poisoning
  • Concern for spiritual and financial needs of missionaries, pastors, and people worldwide

Nevertheless, I am in better physical shape and live a healthier life than most people I have met. I also realize I am in a fallen, deteriorating body. The constant “giving of my body” for the sake of the Gospel takes its toll. Paul states in 2 Corinthians 4:16, “Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.” I am waiting for my resurrected body at the Lord’s return (Romans 8:18-25; 1 Corinthians 15:35-57; Philippians 3:20,21).

By the age of 30 I had depleted my health. It was a long road back but well worth the effort. In spite of all the things that attempt to rob me of my health, the Lord promised that He would restore my youth like the eagles (Psalm 103:5). He has done so as I have attempted to obey His Word and glorify Him with every aspect of my life.

Intense prayer and fasting, renewing my mind with God’s Word, and obedience to the biblical principles and health laws have provided tremendous physical, mental, and spiritual benefits and blessings.

The apostle John’s letter to his dear friend Gaius infers that the prosperity of the soul has a benefit on the whole person. It states: “Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well” (Third John 2). Concerning this verse The MacArthur Study Bible states, “Gaius’ spiritual state was so excellent that John prayed that his physical health would match his spiritual vigor.”

The Lord desires our total being to be healthy ––  physically by bringing healing and health; mentally and emotionally by having our minds renewed with His Word and having His thoughts, attitudes, emotions, desires, goals, dreams, and vision; and spiritually by filling us with His Spirit and conforming us to His image, producing the fruit of His Spirit in our lives, and manifesting the gifts of His Spirit through us.

Recovery From Shattered Ankle

If we are this wonderful creation of God as the psalmist said (Psalm 139:14), how can we walk in greater health until the final redemption of our bodies?

Before we deal with some of the biblical principles for optimal health, let me mention that Romans chapter 14 and other Scriptures make it clear that we as believers in Jesus Christ have freedom to eat what we want without endangering our relationship with Him or our eternal destiny. Nevertheless, wisdom spread throughout the pages of the Bible reveals the importance of avoiding gluttony and self-destructive behavior. Such reckless lifestyles are not only unprofitable, they are dangerous and can be deadly.

Optimum health is dependent on each person’s circumstances. It is taking whatever your situation and limitations are and seeking by faith and adherence to God’s principles to improve whatever you can. Some may have irreversible injuries or genetic disabilities to deal with. We can still choose to trust and honor God and seek as far as possible to implement His biblical health principles.

When I shattered my ankle at the age of 27 I had to have extensive surgery and was hospitalized for a week. As soon as I recovered from the anesthesia I began to design and implement my own recovery program. (All before the days of rehab and therapy –– back then it was usually just bed rest.) At first it was merely moving my toes in my cast and light exercises in my hospital bed. Once at home I modified my strength training routine to accommodate my physical limitations. I would hop on one foot to the monkey bars and do pull-ups and dips. After the cast was off, I developed a routine to strengthen my injured ankle and leg. The doctor was amazed by my speedy recovery and how quickly I was able to walk again.

Why Am I Doing It?

Paul states in 1 Timothy 4:8 ––

For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.

When I was a new Christian and thought I would have to give up working out, a wise minister told me, “The little that exercise does profit is very important, and not to be neglected.” Exercise is like tires on a car –– small in comparison to the rest of the vehicle, but crucially important.

All believers must ask themselves “Why should I exercise and eat more nutritionally?” Hopefully it is because we want to take care of our bodies, the temples of the Holy Spirit. Having health and vitality to better serve the Lord also enables us to be more effective witnesses for Him.

My goal is to have the health and energy to fulfill God’s purpose and finish the race He has called me to run. Therefore, I work out, eat nutritionally, fast, pray, and study the Word to be prepared for the rigors of the ministry and my next mission trip, and to be able to do things with my grandchildren.

Discipline Yourself Now or ...

I have cautioned many people who abused themselves with over consumption of junk food and other unhealthy practices. Most smiled at me and said, “No problem. It is not hurting me.” I usually responded, “You can either discipline yourself now or one day you will be forced to.” Without exception, often within a few months or years, these people were forced to change their diets and lifestyles because of health problems.

Time is the great equalizer and one day you will pay for the poor choices you made concerning diet and lifestyle. Just remember, the farther you walk down the road of poor health habits, the longer the walk back. Usually, the older you get the wiser –– but not always.

Injuries and poor health choices are accumulative. If I knew I was going to live this long, I would have made better choices as a youth.

I try to warn family and friends about the consequences of unhealthy choices and motivate them to make healthy choices. Some used to laugh –– but not so much any more. Many have made crucial changes –– some willingly, others because they were forced to. I guess everyone has to walk their own path before they become motivated to live according to biblical principles. And I suppose some never will be.

For His Glory

Always remember, “Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). As wise stewards we are responsible to take care of the temples God has given us. We need self-control, a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:23), and must bring every area of our lives under His control.

While Scripture declares that death (or the rapture) is inevitable, disease is not. When we walk in obedience to God’s health laws and biblical principles, we can achieve optimal health. We will live a better quality of life. We will not be lured by New Age healing techniques which seduce us from pure devotion to the Lord and compromise our biblical convictions. We will have more energy to accomplish His will and be more effective witnesses for our Lord.

If there ever was a time we need divine healing, it is now! If there ever was a time we need obedience to God’s natural health laws, it is now!