Review Acts 3:1-19; Acts 5:12-16; Acts 9:36-42; Acts 20:7-10; 1 Corinthians 12:7-9, 1 Cor. 28-31; and James 5:13-16. How should modern Christians evaluate the importance of healing ministry to the New Testament church?
First-century disciples witnessed firsthand Christ’s promise of seeing
greater things than these fulfilled (John 1:50, compare John 5:20, John 14:12). Miraculous healings and resurrections attended the ministries of early Christianity’s most prominent disciples: Peter and Paul. These events figured significantly in the early church’s growth. God’s eternal presence, signified by miraculous healing, influenced thousands of religious leaders to accept Christ. Their flocks often followed.
Sometimes new disciples misunderstood the divine purpose. Simon attempted to purchase miraculous power, revealing self-centered motivations (Acts 8:9-25). Most, however, recognized that the significance of these miraculous wonders rested in the fact that they revealed God’s presence among them. These displays of divine power proved that God existed and that He was worthy of their praise.
Although Christ had ascended to heaven, throngs still followed Him through the ministries of His disciples. They furthered the mission Jesus had started. They were fulfilling the vision Christ had shared.
Clearly health was an ongoing concern and a healing ministry an ongoing function of Christ’s church. Healing was listed among the spiritual gifts. Instructions for ministering God’s healing grace to those afflicted by sickness were recorded in Scripture. These gifts would benefit believers until Christ’s second coming, when His personal presence would render them unnecessary. Church history chronicles the dedication of believers to health ministry during many different time periods. Certainly, relieving human suffering was an important motivation. Others, however, recognized healing as the first step toward coming to know the complete gospel.