Gifts of Miracles and Healing
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles, please, to Paul's first Corinthian letter, chapter 12, which is the heart of the series of messages about which we have been thinking.

I Corinthians 12:

1Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant.
2Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led.
3Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.
4Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
5And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.
6And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.
7But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.
8For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
9To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
10To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:
11But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.
27Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular [literally, with each member in his own place and ministry].
28And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.
29Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?
30Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?
31But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.

I would like for you to turn to Romans, chapter 12, and notice beginning in verse 3:

Romans 12:

3For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
4For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:
5So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.
6Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;
7Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;
8Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.

Spiritual Gifts

We have asked you to turn to these two passages of Scripture because in these two passages is listed for us what we have been talking about for the last several weeks—namely, the gifts of the Holy Spirit. We have suggested to you that the gifts of the Holy Spirit as they are found in the Scripture are related to a number of different subjects, so we have taken the liberty, as you probably realize, of dividing them into three different categories. We have said that some of these gifts are related to spiritual gifts—that is, those things that are related to the spiritual ministry of the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Under those spiritual gifts, we have considered wisdom and knowledge and prophecy, the discerning of spirits, and the subject of teaching.

Service Gifts

Then we said there were service gifts. These service gifts are not gifts particularly of a spiritual nature. We would not want to suggest to you that they have no real spiritual value to them, but they are of a more practical value; and we have listed them as helps, those ministries which individuals perform related to the Body of Christ that are of a material nature. Anything that needs to be done can be done willingly by such people.

There is the matter of governments, and we pointed out to you that this refers to elders and officers in the Body of Christ, systematic giving which a great many people do not realize as a service rendered; but we pointed out to you that many folk who can perform no other service for the Lord, for many different reasons, can perform a very valuable service for the Lord through the matter of giving. Then the last gift which came under the service gifts is the showing of mercy—all of the different manners and means of indicating to people that you are interested in them, that you have a heart of compassion for them and you are willing to do for them and with them that which can be of help to them. Multitudes of people today are scattered about who are in dire need of this gift of the showing of mercy.

Sign Gifts

The third category of gifts to which we referred is sign gifts. We have referred to these gifts as sign gifts because primarily they were used as a source of the authenticity of apostolic ministry. They were used primarily as a proof of the apostolic ministry, and it would follow that they would not necessarily be in existence today, some of them, and in most cases are not.

The gifts which are related to sign gifts, which we also said can be called supernatural gifts because they had a supernatural quality about them, are faith, healing, miracles, tongues, and the interpretation of tongues. Those of you who have been able to be with us for the past several Sundays will recognize that we have been discussing particularly one gift—the gift of faith. Today we want to discuss, in addition to the gift of faith and somewhat in relation to the gift of faith, the gift of healing and the gift of miracles for these two sign gifts do go somewhat together. I might add that the gift of faith is related somewhat to the sign gifts because, as we pointed out to you the last time we met, one of the definitions of the gift of faith is an ancient definition used by old-time theologians wherein they defined faith as the faith which works miracles. If we are talking about a faith which works miracles, then we can partially associate the gift of faith, not exclusively, with the gift of healing and the gift of miracles.

We are living in a day when there is a great deal of confusion concerning these gifts. Personally, I believe the devil would have it so, because he would love to take the things of God that He has given to the believers of God as a precious heritage and delude people in relation to them, confuse people in relation to them so that they will not have all of the blessing that God intended them to have in relation to them. Because there is this confusion to which I have referred, I believe it would be wise for us to discuss the subject we are going to think about today in the manner suggested by these three phrases.

We are going to think, first, of the gifts as they were actually given by God Himself. Then we are going to think of these gifts as they have been perverted by man. That may seem like a rather strong word, but let me suggest to you today that when I use the statement, “gifts perverted by man,” I do not think of somebody deliberately perverting these gifts with the idea of doing harm; but I say that they have been perverted by man in any number of ways and through this confusion have caused, I believe time will tell, a great deal of damage.

The third thing we will think about today is the gracious provision of God. I am so glad that, even though God gives us something exactly as it should be, to be used as is intended, man, for whatever reason, perverts the gift that God gives, God, in His mercy and His grace, overrules and makes gracious provision so that the need of man might be met.

The Purpose Of Giving Sign Gifts

Turn with me in your Bibles to Acts, chapter 2, as I remind you of the the purpose of God's giving these sign gifts. In Acts, chapter 2, you will recognize the sermon Peter preached on the Day of Pentecost. He was talking about Jesus of Nazareth, whom we know to be the Son of God, but whom the people of that generation knew as only Jesus of Nazareth and were not at all convinced that He was the Son of God. Peter, speaking of this individual, mentioned the manner in which He was going to work in that era and in that generation, and of another era and generation, if you please, who were to walk by signs and not by faith. God, in His mercy and in His grace, has given us the privilege to walk by faith. Does that sound strange for me to say to you that God has given us the privilege to walk by faith instead of by signs? If we had to walk by signs as did people of another day, if we did not see those signs, if we did not rightly interpret them, we would be in distress more than in joy. But when we are able to walk by faith and not by signs, and be able to say, “Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Thy sight,” then we ought to be able to live with a peace that cannot change. Notice Acts, chapter 2, beginning in verse 22:

Acts 2:

22Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:
23Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:

That is as far as we are going to read, calling your attention particularly to verse 22. Why did the Lord Jesus Christ perform miracles? Why did He heal the sick? Here is the answer: that men might believe that He was sent from God. If you examine the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ very carefully, you will discover that He did not heal everybody who was sick with whom He came into contact. You will discover He did not perform a miracle every time an opportunity was presented. As a matter of fact, if you examine His ministry very carefully, you will find that He deliberately walked away from a crowd of sick people when people were begging Him to show His power and heal these individuals. He deliberately refused to perform a miracle at the request of His own mother because, as He said, “His hour was not yet come.” True, He did meet the need eventually, but He did not perform miracles on every occasion nor did He heal all the sick with whom He came into contact. For His ministry, in relation to the performing of miracles and the healing of the sick, was proven by the miracles and the healings themselves.

Another Purpose Of Miracles and Healing

Turn with me to II Corinthians, chapter 12, and notice another purpose of God's giving the gift of working of miracles and the gift of healing. The Apostle Paul, you will recall, was an apostle born out of due time. He always had to prove his right to be an apostle. He said, in so many words, “Really, there is no reason I should be talking like this; there is no reason I should be arguing about it. The signs of an apostle accompanied my ministry.” Glance down at verse 11, where he said:

II Corinthians 12:

11I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing.
12 [Notice] Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.

You will notice particularly the word wonders. It is the same word as the word miracles and mighty deeds . The signs of an apostle were wrought in my life to prove that God has called me to this particular ministry.

Turn with me, please, to the book of Hebrews, chapter 2, keeping in mind that the book of Hebrews represents God's last call to the nation of Israel before Israel was dispersed among all the nations of the world. If the nation of Israel had repented of her sin of rejecting her Messiah, then this judgment would not have come. This truth is emphasized in Hebrews, chapter 2, where we read, beginning with verse 3:

Hebrews 2:

3How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;
4God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?

Notice that the statement says that God bore witness to the ministry of the apostle with signs, with wonders, with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost according to His own will. I would like to emphasize the last part of that verse today; that the Holy Spirit gave these gifts to the apostles for the purpose according to His own will. I am going to suggest to you today that the purpose for which God gave these gifts of healing and miracles was to lend evidence of authority to the ministry of the apostles.

We have used the word healing. Actually, if we were to take the time to go back to the Corinthian letter, we would find instead of the word healing, the phrase, the gift of healing, and we would find also instead of the word miracles, as we suggested to you, the working of miracles. It might be wise for us to understand the purpose for which God gave these two particular gifts, to recognize exactly what we are talking about; so I would like to suggest to you that the gift of healing comes from two Greek words, one of them the word charisma and the other iama . Charisma means “gifts”; iama means “healings.” Some folk translate the word charisma with the word acts , which would make the entire phrase mean “acts of healing.”

I want you to think closely about that today, lest you think that I am denying the healing power of God. What I am suggesting to you is that in the early days of the Church, in order to authenticate the work of the apostles, God gave them the power to perform individual acts (plural) of healing because there were many different kinds of diseases, and each one was a different individual act performed by the person who was endowed with this particular power. We referred to the word miracles in the text. Actually it is the working of miracles, the word working coming from the Greek word energema and the word miracle coming from the Greek word dunamis . The kind of miracle is not actually emphasized at all, for it could have been any number of kinds of miracles. Let me repeat: God gave these miracles for a distinct and definite purpose, and we have laid before you in the text of God's Word the manner in which God actually gave them.

Perversions Of These Gifts

I want you to think with me about the manner in which man has actually perverted these particular gifts, because there is no doubt that man has perverted them. So we look at the second point—the gifts as perverted by man. How has man perverted these individual gifts? I'm going to suggest that we think of the manner in which man has perverted the gift of healing because it would be impossible for us to discuss all of the many miracles which men have claimed to perform; but the gift of healing, as it is practiced by some individuals is, I believe, a definite perversion of the gift that God gave. Let me suggest several reasons.

First, there are people who teach that we have the right to demand healing from God and they say that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. We have a right to demand healing. The reason they feel that we have a right to demand healing from God is because they believe that healing is provided for in the atonement of Christ. Their reason for believing that is that we are told in Isaiah, chapter 53, that with His stripes we are healed. If healing is in the atonement, then we as Christians have a right to demand healing. They feel they have a right to go about laying their hands on individuals, demanding the disease leave the body and the person be made whole immediately. In some instances, where they feel the healing is related to the activity of a certain demon, they demand, on the basis of what I have suggested to you, that the demon related to the disease leave the body. No wonder there are all kinds of healing meetings scattered about the country where people may go and sit under the ministry of certain so-called healers. They get in the healing line, the healer lays his hand upon them in some fashion or other (There are varieties of ways in which the touch of faith is given.), and the individuals are healed upon demand of the individual in question.

Other people pervert this gift of healing by suggesting that the healing works or does not work on the basis of the faith of the individual involved. We would like to remind you that you can examine the Scripture, and nowhere will you find that the individual who had the gift of healing demanded the manifestation of faith on the part of the individual himself. It is true that the Lord Jesus Christ saw the faith of individuals in relation to a man who needed to be healed when they brought that man to Christ, but there is no evidence that the gift of healing was being exercised. There is an instance in the Acts of the Apostles where the apostles themselves perceived that the individual in question did not have the faith to be healed. But if you read the context, it was not a matter of the exercise of the gift of healing. If an individual has the gift of healing, there will be no failures.

We suggest to you that you examine some of the healings that are found in the Word of God, and you will find that all Bible healing, with the exception of one, were instantaneous and that one was instantaneous in stages. The blind man, you will remember, who came to the Lord Jesus Christ for healing, had his eyes anointed. The Lord Jesus Christ said, “What do you see?” He said, “I see men as trees walking.” And immediately the Lord Jesus Christ touched his eyes again and he saw clearly. You say, “Why?” We don't have time to go into it at the moment except to say that every miracle in the Bible performed by the Lord Jesus Christ was followed by a spiritual lesson, which leads us to believe that many, if not all, of the miracles recorded in the New Testament were meant to teach a spiritual lesson as well as relieve a physical difficulty.

Another way this matter of the exercise of the gift of healing is perverted is to suggest that illness is always a sign of disobedience, that illness is always the work of the devil and never the work of God. These things I have suggested to you indicate the manner in which the gift is perverted and cause a great deal of confusion and hurt to a great many people.

There is another way in which the gift of healing is perverted, and I don't know of a better way to describe it than to refer to it as the distortion of the Scriptures . Any of you who have listened to a radio station late at night or any Christian program during the day have heard this said, and it is a distortion of the Scriptures. It is based upon chapter 19 of the book of the Acts of the Apostles, and I suggest that you read it when you have the time. In chapter 19, there is told the story of how God performed many special miracles by the Apostle Paul. Then it is recorded that people took sweat cloths which Paul had used to wipe his brow as he made tents, and carried them out to people who were sick, and those people were healed. Likewise, Paul wore an apron, an ordinary carpenter's apron as he mended tents and people superstitiously took these aprons and carried them out to where individuals were sick and laid the aprons upon them and these individuals became well.

The distortion is illustrated in the many radio programs which you may hear from time to time, when you are invited to send in for a prayer cloth, and if you place that prayer cloth on a certain person who is ill, then he is guaranteed to be well. You are invited to send in for oil to be used to anoint the individual who is ill, and the individual becomes well. You are invited to send in for pieces of cloth of certain dimensions over which a great deal of prayer has been made, and if you sew these pieces of cloth into the underwear of individuals who are in need of some kind of help or other, then these individuals will be delivered. I want to suggest to you, Beloved, that this is a distortion of the Scriptures, a distortion of what God actually intended.

The Gracious Provision Of God

I must say a word about one last thing lest you misunderstand everything I have said to you today, and that is the gracious provision of God. Otherwise, some of you might leave here today and say, “Joe Temple does not believe in miracles.” Some of you may leave here today and say, “Joe Temple does not believe that God is able to heal.” Beloved, I believe in miracles. I have seen God work. I have seen God work in ways that cannot be explained by any human effort whatsoever. What I do not believe in is that any individual whom I have had the privilege of meeting has the gift of working miracles so that he could say to this building, if there were a need to say it, “Be removed,” and it would be removed. I've never met anyone who had a gift like that. I don't want you to go out of here and say, “Joe Temple does not believe in the healing power of God.” He does.

I stand before you today for one reason, and one reason alone—because God is able to heal the body. When I was twelve years of age, I was in bed for one whole year. They did not expect me to live; but God, in His providence, even though I was not a Christian, permitted me to live. When I was eighteen years of age, I collapsed with a heart ailment, and they said, “This is it; there is no hope;” but I had become a Christian, and I sent for some people who believed in prayer and asked them to pray for me. No, they didn't have a gift of healing. They simply believed that God could answer prayer, and they prayed for me. God gave me an extension of days until four years ago, when I, for want of a better term, collapsed again. Humanly speaking, there was no hope. But I believe with all of my heart that God is a God Who is able to heal, and He permitted me to live long enough until He could give men the widom to know how to stick a knife in your heart and not kill you. I believe that God, in His mercy, permitted me to live long enough until men, through His grace, could acquire the skill that could open a valve in the heart and cause the blood to flow again and give an extension of days.

God, in His grace, has given me an extension of days. I look upon it only as an extension of days, and that is why I am so concerned in using these days as wisely as I can use them. I believe in miracles. I believe in the healing power of God. I have gone into homes on the basis of James, chapter 5, and anointed people with oil when they have asked for it, along with some men in this fellowship who had the responsibility of elders, and I have seen God raise those people up. Some of them sit in your midst today. But we have prayed for people in the same fashion and the same manner, and they have died. We didn't have the gift of healing. We simply believed in a God Who is able to heal when it is in accordance with His divine plan and purpose.

Conclusion

So I say to you today that God's gracious provision is such that in this age, He does answer prayer. But before you fall prey to all the suggestions that are being made in the day in which we live concerning things that were meant for another age, be sure that you know where you stand. At the moment, it might not make any difference, but I have lived long enough and I have been familiar enough with this perversion of teaching to see people terribly disillusioned. I've seen some of them in mental institutions, and I officiated at the funeral of one of them who committed suicide because he had been talked into believing that he had a gift that he didn't have. It worked for a while, but when he came face-to-face with reality, he couldn't stand it and ended his life. He was one of the finest Christians I have ever had the privilege of knowing. I heard him preach a sermon one time that his entire family of eight people came to know the Lord Jesus Christ at the conclusion of the service. But when it came to facing reality, there followed disillusionment; he couldn't do it. That is what concerns me and that is what weighs heavily upon my heart in these days of confusion.


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