Ever since the Azusa Street revival in 1907, which spawned the Pentecostal awakening, the church has been continually growing in its understanding of healing and deliverance. In the last 100 years we’ve uncovered some valuable information that has helped provide a clearer picture of how healing and deliverance work.
I’m grateful for the contributions made by leaders of past movements in healing. The revelation they’ve received has moved us closer to the goal of seeing everyone healed and set free. But as much as the leaders of former generations have uncovered some fundamental truths, if we were to be completely honest we’d admit that their understanding (and ours) is incomplete – particularly when it comes to the question of why people are not always healed.
Leaders of former generations brought forth their best theories about why some people are not healed or set free of demonic oppression. Those theories became the standard answers the church has given for these questions. The answers generally involved issues like generational sins or curses, a lack of faith on the part of the person who is sick, unforgiveness, etc. Despite their widespread acceptance, the fruit borne from these explanations has been pretty poor. I don’t wish to invalidate all of the current explanations for failed healing, because I think there may be some validity to them but I believe time will prove that these explanations are not the true cause of failed healing or deliverance in most cases.
The revelation of yesterday served the generation for which it was intended. But today’s leaders must come up with better answers that bear fruit worthy of the kingdom. I’m challenging all of today’s leaders to go to the Lord and seek a better understanding of the issues involved in failed healing and deliverance.
Steve Peace Harmon is a great example of a current leader who has evaluated the practice of deliverance as it’s been done for the last 100 years and found it to be inadequate. Rather than using the same old methods everyone else has used, he’s taken a bold new direction in deliverance. He’s doing things that leaders of the former generation would never have done. He’s considering possibilities no one else has considered. And he’s getting the kind of results none of the former leaders has gotten - because he’s rejected the traditional approaches and explanations that frankly, haven’t worked very well.
A key part of Steve’s success and a foundation to his different approach to healing and deliverance is his THEOLOGY. Steve sees God differently than most of us do – at least when it comes to healing and deliverance. (I’ll go out on a limb and speak for Steve, because we both see God in a similar way. I’m going to try to explain his theology in a way that he and I haven’t discussed yet, but I think it represents his views accurately.)
Most of us believe that if God wanted us to be healed or set free of a demonic spirit,He could simply do it now (sovereignly) and that would be the end of it. Most of us have been taught that this is how God heals. He does whatever He wants, whenever He wants to do it and if He wanted us healed, He would just do it. When healing doesn't happen, we tend to assume God doesn't want us healed for some reason.
Most people view healing and deliverance as a completely sovereign act of God that cannot be changed or altered by any created being. We completely remove the participation of demons and man from the equation. Some people hold to this view of God, but they place God’s sovereign actions in time – allowing for His “perfect timing” for healing to happen, but they still believe that God does whatever He want, whenever He wants as a sovereign, almighty God.
This view of God is fundamentally flawed. This is not how God operates when it comes to healing and deliverance. This flawed view of God is the foundation upon which are built all the misunderstandings and misconceptions about why people are not healed. Contrary to popular belief, God does not operate out of complete sovereignty when it comes to healing and deliverance. I’d like to illustrate the work of God in a related subject and draw some parallels to healing, because I think it might reveal our flawed theology a little better.
While most of us would have no problem asking “Why are some people healed, while others are not?” It’s unlikely that we would ask, "Why are some people saved while others are not?" Most Christians know the answer to this question:
“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Pet. 3:9)
God’s will is that all people would be saved. God could sovereignly save everyone if He wanted to, but He has decided not to do it that way. Men and women are saved by the preaching of the gospel. If the gospel is not preached, no one hears it. If they do not hear it - they are not saved. Salvation comes when men and women cooperate with God in preaching the gospel and when their hearts are open and receive it. If men are not saved, it is not because God doesn't want them saved, but because man has not effectively preached the gospel or he has rejected it.
In the realm of salvation, God’s sovereign will is not forced upon us. His work in our hearts requires our cooperation. The same is true for the process of being transformed into the image of Christ. This is not a sovereign work where God overrides our free will and forces us to comply with His plans for sanctification. We must yield ourselves to His work. It’s a surrendering on our part and a work of the Holy Spirit in response to our surrender that creates holiness. It is not a sovereign act.
The same exact principles at work in salvation and sanctification are at work in healing, because healing like salvation and sanctification is an act of God’s grace.
For some reason, most of us understand that we have a responsibility to participate with God in working out our salvation and in being conformed into His image, but when it comes to healing and deliverance, we expect that we can just sit back and let God sovereignly keep the demons out of our lives or keep us from having any pain or sickness. Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way. We must stop placing all the responsibility for healing and deliverance on God and start asking what our responsibility is in the process of receiving and keeping our healing.
Healing is released by believers. It must also be received by us and I believe one of the reasons for failed healing is our own inability to receive God's work in our lives.
In the parable of the sower, Jesus illustrated the word of God as a seed and the human heart as four types of soil. The effect that the word has upon the individual is not dependent upon God's sovereign will, but upon the type of soil the seed falls upon. If it falls among thorns, it springs up, but produces no fruit. If it falls upon hard ground, it is snatched away by the enemy. If it finds good soil, it produced a harvest. This parable applies to many things of the kingdom including healing. God's work of healing in our lives is primarily a matter of the kind of heart we have cultivated. If our hearts are stony, the enemy will take away what God gives us, but if our hearts have been made ready to receive His grace and healing power, His work will produce a harvest that results in sustained healing and deliverance.
I believe that if we’ll allow ourselves to see healing differently from the way we’ve seen it in the past, the old worn-out explanations will be seen for what they are and better revelation will come forth that speaks more to the truth of the matter. God wants to give us the answers we're looking for, but we have to develop a mindset and a view of God that allows us to receive the revelation He wants to give us.
This is a subject I discuss in depth in my soon to be released book, Divine Healing Made Simple.