Updated February 6, 2008 (first published March 19, 2002) (David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143, firstname.lastname@example.org) –
When we warn that God does not promise always to heal and when we teach that certain sign gifts ceased with the apostles, we are consistently charged with not believing in God’s miracle working power. I can’t speak for others, but I know that for me that accusation is not true. I believe in a miracle-working God.
My God can do anything He pleases. He created the world in six days. He destroyed the ancient world by a great flood. He parted the Red Sea so the millions of the children of Israel marched through on dry ground. He brought Jesus into this world through the womb of a virgin. He died on the cross for my sins, and He rose from the dead the third day! He poured out the Holy Spirit on Pentecost with mighty signs and wonders.
My God can do ANYTHING, but my God also does what He wants when He wants! And He isn’t flooding the world today, nor is He parting the Red Sea, nor is He dying on a cross or rising from the dead. And He is not giving a new Pentecost today. That part of His glorious plan has been accomplished, and He is marching on gloriously toward the End.
My friends, I want to march in step with God. We must be satisfied with that which He IS doing, not carnally seeking after that which He has done in the past and that which we WISH He would do!
Faith is not forcing God to do what I want Him to do; it is believing God’s Word and accepting His will. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). The Lord Jesus warned, “An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign” (Matthew 12:39).
I can still hear the protests, though, saying, “Yea, you just believe in miracles for the past, not for today,” but that’s simply not true. I have experienced all sorts of miracles since I was converted in 1973. I can’t count the miraculous answers to prayer I’ve witnessed from the hand of God. The nearly 20 missionary years we have spent in South Asia have been absolutely filled with miracles. Our evangelistic work was illegal for 10 years and for at least three years, the government had a warrant out for my arrest, yet God protected us and kept us there to see a strong national church established. The churches that have been established are great miracles. In the first one, we began holding meetings in our house each week in the early 1980s, but many weeks went by and no one was saved. Many showed an interest in the gospel, but they were Hindus and they knew that if they were to reject their idols and follow Christ alone they would be persecuted by their friends and relatives. They might lose their jobs. Further, they could have been persecuted by the government, as well, in those days. Weeks went by and not one person repented and turned to Christ. Finally, we had a time of fasting and prayer, and almost immediately one man was saved. Then another man, then that man’s sister. Then another and another. The second man who was saved is a pastor today, and his sister is a pastor’s wife. God does miracles! Since then we have seen many people delivered from Satan’s power.
I could also tell of the miracles I saw in bringing Bibles and Christian literature into that land at a time when it was illegal. One time I brought 1,000 New Testaments into the country overland from northeast India all by myself, and the Lord miraculously opened the way for me through the customs -- without any bribing.
Our literature ministry for the past 30 years has been one long miracle of God’s protection, provision, and power. When I wanted to print our first book, which was a warning about the dangers of rock and roll music, I didn’t have any money for printing or any means to have it printed. I went to a commercial printer in North Carolina to see how much it would cost, and when I learned how expensive it was, I went out to my car, drove down the street a couple of blocks, parked under a tree, and poured out my heart to the Lord. I said, weeping, “Lord, I want to print this book. I want to exhort your people about this danger, but I don’t have any money. You see all of that printing equipment back there (at the commercial print shop). You see that they have the capability to print anything, but instead of using it for your glory, they are printing all sorts of worldly junk. Please open a door for me to have this book printed.” The next week I was in Brooksville, Florida, for a missionary deputation meeting, and after I preached, I was introduced to a church member who owned a commercial print shop. His name was Bobby Meadows. I told Bobby about my situation and my desire to print the book, and he said, “You are welcome to use my print shop. If you want to come in after we close at 5:30 each afternoon, you can use any of the equipment, and I will supply all of the materials.” What a miraculous answer to prayer! I had experience working as a commercial printer, so I gathered some volunteers from the church, and for about two weeks we worked from 5:30 each day through most of the night, printing the first books under the name Way of Life Literature. That was the miracle door the Lord opened. It has been like that ever since.
One time I went all the way around the world without any money. We were missionaries in South Asia, and I felt the Lord leading me to expand our publishing ministry in America. I wanted to travel to the States with the goal of visiting several places across the country, conferring with some pastor friends, in search of the Lord’s will. The problem was that I did not have the money even to reach my first destination, which was Florida, and if I were somehow to reach there, I didn’t have a car to drive on my desired trip across the States, and even if I were somehow able to obtain all of that, I didn’t have any money to return to our home in Asia. Believing the Lord was leading me to go anyway, I purchased a ticket as far as I could, which was New York City. As I was flying from London to New York, I learned that the man sitting next to me was a Christian man, a printer who was returning from a printing convention in Germany. We talked about the things of Christ, but I didn’t tell him anything about my situation. Before we landed in New York, though, he gave me $300 in traveler’s checks. When I landed in New York on Monday or Tuesday, I called a preacher in upper state New York. We had never met, but we had briefly corresponded a year or so before that. He had no idea I was coming through New York at that time, but he invited me to come up and preach for him that Wednesday night, so I took the money the printer had given me and purchased a ticket on a commuter flight. After I preached, the church gave me a nice love offering, which enabled me to fly on to Florida. Within three days of arriving there, a Christian man gave me the keys to a beautiful car with the insurance and everything already paid. The late model car was mine free and clear, and I headed out on my trip across the full length of America from Florida to Washington State! I didn’t have any meetings scheduled and no one knew I was coming, but the Lord provided step by step all the way across the country and then back to South Asia. This is only one of many such experiences I could describe.
I have personally experienced physical healing in answer to prayer. On a trip to the States in the 1980s, I experienced a wonderful healing. I had contracted a severe amebic dysentery in Calcutta just before embarking to the States. (Having spent a few years in that part of the world by that time, I had become something of an “expert” on stomach problems, and I knew that what I had then was not something that would go away on its own!) My first meeting was in Cody, Wyoming, and those first two days were miserable and as the dysentery was showing no sign of abating and I was very sick. I was planning to go to a doctor as soon as I could reach the next city. I stopped that night at the home of a pastor friend, Bill Redmond, in Thermopolis, Wyoming, and we talked into the wee hours of the morning. Before we retired, he prayed for me to be healed of my sickness. He didn’t rebuke the devil or demand that God heal. He simply prayed for me and we submitted ourselves to His will. When I woke up after a few hours of sleep to continue my trip, I discovered to my great joy that the Lord had completely healed me, and I felt like I had slept a full night’s sleep.
Another example of miraculous healing was experienced by our friend Paul Timmerman, a pastor in the mountains of New York State. A few years ago, he told me of a healing he experienced when he was co-piloting seaplanes in the Coast Guard, and I asked him to write it down so I could share it with others:
“Hello, I’m Paul Timmerman. I give the following as testimony of the great power that our God has to heal a person. I personally have had several instances of divine healing in my life that were just plain miracles, that could be explained no other way. These were attested to by federal medical personnel and flight surgeons, and the healings that I have had are a matter of my own military record.
“The one that I would like to share for this moment happened in 1971, when I was serving with the United States Coast Guard. I was stationed at Port Angeles, Washington, [at the] Coast Guard Air Station there, flying sea planes and single engine helicopters at that time. While stationed there, I developed a very sore wrist condition, whereby the use of my hands was badly impaired, and I had growths on the insides of my wrists that started growing up and came about a half an inch high or so on each wrist. It would keep my wrist from moving, became very painful, and the doctors checked it out, and, after X-raying and all, said that it was a tissue growth called a ganglia. They tried several different medical ways to remove them, and to stop the growth of them, and to give me back the use of my wrists, and these methods failed. So they sent me to a specialist at the Army hospital, Madigan General Hospital, Fort Lewis, Washington. There the medical staff again X-rayed and examined my wrists and set up the date for surgery because there was no other alternative that they had at that point to remove the growths that were quite visible, and very sore, and hindering the use of my hands. They set up the surgery date, and the day before my surgery I had to report in to the hospital for prepping, for pre-surgery examination. And the surgeons examined again the X-rays and my wrists, and saw the extent of the damage, and prepared me for surgery for the following day.
“However, that evening, after the doctors left, I was in my hospital bed there waiting, studying my Bible, and just relying on the promises of the Lord, and I turned sincerely to the Lord and asked Him--knowing full well He had the power to heal through surgeons or through divine healing--and I just asked Him to work a miracle, and take these away, that the name of the Lord Jesus Christ would be magnified and glorified throughout that hospital, due to the miracle that had been worked.
“In the morning, much to the surprise of the doctors when they came in, the growths were completely gone from my wrists. I had full use of my hands, my wrists. And to this day, almost 20 years later, I have never had a reoccurrence of this phenomena on my wrists. The doctors then were totally baffled by what happened, thinking perhaps they had the wrong patient or whatever. I simply witnessed for the Lord Jesus Christ and told them that I had asked the Lord to work a miracle a night before if it be His will, knowing full well that He could, and that He had decided that it was for the glory and honor of Jesus Christ that He did. And He healed me that night, and like I say, it has never reoccurred. I went about the hospital just praising the Lord Jesus Christ and glorifying His name, telling others about Him, witnessing to the great miracle that took place there. And the testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ went throughout that hospital to many military men, and the doctors, of course, had nothing to say but that they certainly had done nothing to change that, but that condition was totally healed.”
Isn’t that a blessing! Let me give you another healing testimony from an independent Baptist preacher who believes in the miracles of God today but not the sign-miracles of apostolic times. The following is the testimony of evangelist Al Lacy, which he gave on May 8, 1996, at the Bible Baptist Church in Oak Harbor, Washington. At the time this miracle healing occurred, Lacy was a pastor:
“My wife had a rare disease which destroyed her kidney and it had to be removed. Eight years later the same symptoms were discovered in her remaining kidney. The doctors said that two-thirds of the kidney was dead. They said she had one year to live. One and a half maximum. She was too weak for a transplant. (That was in the early days of kidney transplants.) I called the 27 deacons of the church, and they anointed her with oil and prayed over her. The Lord stopped the disease right there and she has lived 21 years as of this telling.”
I should mention that Bible-believing Baptists of old have believed in and prayed for divine healing, though they knew that God does not always heal and His people must be willing to bow to His sovereign purposes even in sickness. There are several of these accounts in the old Baptist histories in my library. One example is the ministry of Owen Thomas, who pastored the first Baptist church in Delaware. Thomas was born in Wales in 1676 and came to America in 1707. He took the pastoral care of the Welsh Tract church in 1740 and continued in that office until 1748, when he resigned it, to go to Yellow Springs, where he died, November 12, 1760. Pastor Thomas left behind the following note: “I have been called upon three times to anoint the sick with oil for recovery; the effect was surprising in every case, but in none more so, than in the case of our brother Rynallt Howel: he was so sore with the bruises which he received by a cask falling on him from a wagon, that he could not bear to be turned in bed: the next day he went to meeting” (David Benedict, A General History of the Baptists in America, 1813, Vol. 2, Chapter 1).
You don’t have to follow Charismatic error to believe in the power and blessing of God. I believe in miracles for today, but friends, I also believe in the Bible, and I refuse to force the Bible to say what I want it to say. The Bible tells me that the miracles of Christ and the apostles were unique and were not something that will be duplicated by Christians in general. If the sign miracles were something that were done by Christians at large in the first century, how could they have been the “signs of an apostle” (2 Cor. 12:12)? If you go through the book of Acts and examine the various miracles, you will see that the apostles performed them in the overwhelming number of cases. There is one or two exceptions of miracles performed by non-apostles, but they did so after being ordained by the apostles and through working closely with the apostles.
Furthermore, the Bible tells me that God often heals but he does not always heal. The Bible tells me that sickness and trouble can be a blessing from Him. The Bible says that faith is more important than miracles. The Bible says that kingdom power and glory is yet future, and will flow through the world when Christ returns--not before. The Bible warns that the end times will be characterized by deceiving signs and wonders (Matthew 24:24; 2 Thessalonians 2: 9-10), and Jesus warned, “An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign” (Matthew 12:39).
We close with the words of Fanny Crosby about the matter of health. This godly woman, one of the most greatly beloved hymnists of the church age, was blind all her life, yet she did not demand that God heal her; she did not believe that the devil had afflicted her with the blindness; she did not rebuke the devil for her affliction; she did not doubt God because He chose not to heal her. She had a different testimony:
O what a happy soul am I!
Although I cannot see
I am resolved that in this world
Contented I will be.
How many blessings I enjoy,
That other people don’t.
To weep and sigh because I’m blind,
I cannot, and I won’t.