The most important thing for Christians to
understand is that the gift of healing is for unbelievers. It is
mainly for evangelism and not for Christians. Jesus ministry was
mostly evangelistic. He came to save the lost, so when healing the
sick, he was often ministering to people who had not yet received
the benefits of the cross. Therefore, much of his healing ministry
belongs in this first stream. Similarly, many of the healings in
the Acts of the Apostles were for unbelievers.
The healing of an unbeliever in an evangelistic
situation is based on the mercy of God. The person healed is not
entitled to the benefits of the cross, because they have not yet
surrendered to Jesus. The Father lets them have the benefits of
the cross because he is merciful.
Jesus had a unique method of evangelism. He
would preach the gospel and then heal the sick and cast out demons
to confirm his message. Here are two examples.
The most important thing for Christians to understand is that the
gift of healing is for unbelievers. It is mainly for evangelism and not
for Christians. Jesus ministry was mostly evangelistic. He came to save
the lost, so when healing the sick, he was often ministering to people
who had not yet received the benefits of the cross. Therefore, much of
his healing ministry belongs in this first stream. Similarly, many of
the healings in the Acts of the Apostles were for unbelievers.
The healing of an unbeliever in an evangelistic situation is based on
the mercy of God. The person healed is not entitled to the benefits of
the cross, because they have not yet surrendered to Jesus. The Father
lets them have the benefits of the cross because he is merciful.
Jesus had a unique method of evangelism. He would preach the gospel
and then heal the sick and cast out demons to confirm his message. Here
are two examples.
Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues,
preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and
sickness among the people (Matt 4:23).
He went down with them and stood on a level place. A large crowd of
his disciples was there and a great number of people from all over
Judea, from Jerusalem, and from the coast of Tyre and Sidon, who had
come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. Those troubled by
evil spirits were cured, and the people all tried to touch him, because
power was coming from him and healing them all. Looking at his
disciples, he said:
Blessed are you who are poor,
for yours is the kingdom of God….
Jesus method was to go to a town and pray for someone who was sick.
When a crowd gathered to see what had happened, he would preach his
message. The healing confirmed Jesus’ message by demonstrating the
power and compassion of God. When they saw the sick being healed, his
listeners could not deny the reality of God or his mercy in Jesus.
Jesus gave the same commission to his disciples.
When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and
authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them
out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick (Luke 9:1,2).
As you go, preach this message: 'The kingdom of heaven is near.' Heal
the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out
demons. Freely you have received, freely give (Matt 10:7,8).
The pattern is receiving authority, preaching the gospel, healing the
We have the same authority to preach the gospel and to heal the sick.
Jesus promised that,
These signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will
drive out demons… they will place their hands on sick people, and they
will get well." Then the disciples went out and preached
everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the
signs that accompanied it (Mark 16:17,18,20).
Jesus promised that God would confirm the preaching of the gospel
with the signs and wonders. Peter and John experienced this as they went
to the temple and God healed a lame man. An amazed crowd gathered so
Peter preached to them. Several thousand came to faith in Jesus, because
God gave authority to Peter’s words before he had even spoken. The
same was true for Paul and Barnabas.
Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for
the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to do
miraculous signs and wonders (Acts 14:3).
The Holy Spirit loves to confirm bold preaching of the gospel with
gifts of healing and deliverance. This changes the nature of evangelism.
Normal New Testament evangelism is based round the healing of the
sick. This is confirmed in Acts 8:5,6:
Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Christ
there. When the crowds heard Philip and saw the miraculous signs he did,
they all paid close attention to what he said.
The passage says that the Samaritans were amazed at the miracles, but
only records that Philip preached the gospel. Luke just assumed that
proclaiming the gospel includes healing and miracles.
Most modern evangelistic campaigns are very different. The
evangelistic meeting is often held in a church building, so a powerful
publicity campaign is required to get people to attend. The evangelistic
method is preaching a sermon, having an altar call and getting
decisions. This method has had some success, but it is not the New
New Testament evangelism is healing the sick/casting out demons and
preaching to the crowd that gathers. This method was very successful for
the early church, so we are unwise to do something different. Sickness
is the key vulnerability of the modern world. Our affluent lifestyle has
given people almost everything they need, but modern medicine has not
been able to conquer sickness. A gospel confirmed by healing of the sick
will be well received.
I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the
city until you have been clothed with power from on high (Luke 24:49).
If we do not have the power that we need for New Testament style
evangelism the answer is simple: we should wait until the power from on
high comes to us (see also Acts 1:4,5). I suspect that God would prefer
that we do some serious waiting, so that we can do evangelism his way,
rather than rush into doing evangelism our way.
Healing should be a normal part of evangelism. The good news is that
God is merciful, but a cynical world does not believe our claims.
Healing demonstrates God’s mercy and proves that Jesus is the Saviour.
The best visual aid for the gospel is for someone who is visibly sick
being healed (the other is baptism).
Strategy for Evangelism
Healing Evangelism should use the following strategy.
- Evangelists must understand their authority over sickness. Jesus
destroyed the power of sickness and sin and gave his followers authority
over them. There are no limits to his authority and power. He healed:
- all diseases (Matt 4:23),
- all people who came to him (Matt 12:15), in
- all places (Luke 9:6).
Jesus authority has not changed (Heb 13:8) and he has given the same
authority to us.
- As they go to share the gospel, evangelists should be led by the
Spirit. They should go to a place where God has prepared people and
wants to do things. This will usually be a public place where a crowd is
likely to gather. Jesus was always in the right place at the right time
(John 5:19). He exercised his ministry in public, but always where the
Holy Spirit was moving.
One day as he was teaching….. And the power of the Lord was present
for him to heal the sick (Luke 5:17).
and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from
him and healing them all (Luke 6:19).
Evangelists should learn to recognise the power of the Lord. They
should be led to the place where the Holy Spirit wants to gather a crowd
to hear the gospel.
- Once in the right place, the evangelists should then identify the
person that the Father wants to heal. When he went to the Pool of
Bethesda, Jesus chose the paralysed man out of the great number of sick
people waiting by the pool, because he was the one that the Father
wanted to touch (John 5:3).
The Holy Spirit will often point out the person to be healed, but
sometimes the person will come to the evangelist. The lame man at the
gate of the temple, came to Peter and John asking for money, but the
Holy Spirit wanted him healed (Acts 3:3). When Paul was at Lystra, he
saw a lame man whom the Holy Spirit had given faith to be healed (Acts
14:8,9). The evangelist will listen carefully to the Holy Spirit to
identify the person God wants to heal.
- The evangelists should lay hands on the person and command them to be
healed in the name of Jesus. If the Holy Spirit has indicted that he
wants the person to be healed, he will do what he said he would do and
make the person whole.
- When a person is dramatically healed, a crowd will generally gather.
One of the evangelistic team will take the opportunity to preach to the
crowd. They will explain that the healing is a demonstration of the
grace of God and the power of the gospel.
- The process will often involve drama and noise. In fact, more drama
is better, because a bigger crowd will come dramatic. When Peter and
John raised the lame man, a great tumult filled the temple area, the
temple authorities were stirred up, but thousands came to the Lord.
- The evangelist should be prepared to pray for anyone who comes
seeking healing. When they see what the Holy Spirit can do, many will
come wanting a touch from God. They will be looking for God’s mercy,
so he will not disappoint them. In the evening after Jesus had healed
Peter’s mother-in-law, the whole town gathered at the door and Jesus
healed many who had various diseases (Mark 1:30-34). The same thing
happened when Paul prayed for a sick man on the island of Malta.
His father was sick in bed, suffering from fever and dysentery. Paul
went in to see him and, after prayer, placed his hands on him and healed
him. When this had happened, the rest of the sick on the island came and
were cured (Acts 28:8,9).
- An evangelist should always follow the leading of the Holy Spirit
(Acts 10:38, Luke 6:19). He is the one who heals, so we must let him
operate how he wants. The order that he works will often be different.
For the man by the pool of Bethesda healing came before repentance,
whereas the paralytic lowered through the roof repented before he was
healed. The order can be:
The Holy Spirit will know the order required.
We should be careful not to get locked in one way of operating. The
human tendency is to find something that works and then flog it to
death. “Pray and Slay” is the current fashion. In contrast, Jesus
always did things in ways that were different and unique.
Jesus healed blind people in five different ways.
touching the eyes
spitting on the eyes
declaring they could see
commanding the eyes to open
rubbing clay and saliva on their eyes John 9:6,7
He touched one leper, but told the ten to go and show themselves to
the priests. If evangelists listen to the Spirit, a similar variety of
methods will be present in their ministry.
- Jesus sent his disciples out in pairs. When preaching the gospel and
healing the sick, Christians should work in a group or two or three or
There is power in agreement. Jesus promised that when two or three
people work together, he would be with them (Matt 18:19,20, Acts 3:4,5).
There are a number of reasons why unbelievers may not be healed in
the context of evangelism. (They are not explanations for Christians
1. Failure to Command
Jesus always commanded sickness to leave. He would address the person
and command the sickness. Here are some examples of his words.
Take up your bed and walk
He sometimes made a declaration: “You are healed” (Mark 5:34,39).
He sometimes told the sick person to do something and they would be
healed. He sometimes declared that the person already was healed.
Jesus never asked God to heal a sick person, but always confronted
the sickness himself. Likewise, the apostles never prayed for the
sick, but always commanded sickness to leave. We must understand the
authority we have in Christ. We cannot ask Jesus to heal people, because
he has given us authority to heal them (Matt 10:1).
2. Not Enough Faith
Lack of faith is probably the main reason for people not being
healed. Faith is essential for healing (Acts 3:16), but it can have
- The sick person may have faith to be healed.
Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed (Acts
This level of faith will be rare among unbelievers, as it is very
hard for a person who is chronically ill to have faith.
- Friends of the sick person may have faith. This was the case with the
paralytic man lowered through the roof
Jesus saw their faith… (Luke 5:20).
- Usually the evangelists will be the ones with faith (Acts 3:1-7).
They will have faith, because they understand their authority.
Faith is inescapable. Nothing will happen without it. The more
miracles they see, the more their faith will increase (John 2:23).
3. Persistance Needed
Mark 8:22-26 records that Jesus had to touch the eyes of a blind man
twice to get full healing. After the first touching, the man could
see, but not properly. Jesus had to act a second time to heal his mind
so he could understand what he was seeing. If Jesus had to deal
with the blind eyes twice to get victory, we should not be ashamed to
resist sickness more than once. Some serious sickness may need
continuous confrontation over a period of time (2 Kings 4:32-35).
4. Lack of Discernment
Mark 7:33-35 and Matt 9:32,33 describe the healing of two different
people who could not speak. They had the same symptoms, but the
diagnosis and the solution were both different. The reason was that one
had a physical impediment and could be healed by command, whereas the
other had a demon that needed to be cast out. The symptoms were the
same, so discernment was needed to know what to do. If a sick person is
not healed, a demon may need to be cast out.
Unconfessed sin in the group may render their prayer ineffective.
Before praying, the group should make sure they are at peace with the
Lord and with each other. The group must be in unity. Pride is
particularly dangerous when praying for the sick. Once we have seen a
couple of people healed we can start to think we are experts. That sort
of pride usually comes before a fall. We can only heal the sick under
the anointing of the Spirit (Luke 5:17), so grieving him will make us
The sin of the sick person is not relevant, because they are dead in
the stuff. The purpose of healing is to dig them out of sin. Jesus did
not worry about the sin of the man by the pool, until after he was
healed. He then told him to “Go and sin no more” (John 5:14). Once
saved, sin does become an issue.
Healing must never become a technique to win people for Jesus.
When Jesus… saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed
their sick (Matt 14:14).
The gift of healing must flow out of compassion. Healing without
compassion does not reflect the love of Jesus.
7. Wrong Place
We all want to see the Holy Spirit healing the sick, but we forget
where it happens. Here are two passages that provide a key to successful
And wherever he went–into villages, towns or countryside–they
placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch
even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched him were healed (Mark
As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them
on beds and mats so that at least Peter's shadow might fall on some of
them as he passed by (Acts 5:15).
Large numbers of people were healed in the streets and the market
place. This is where the Holy Spirit prefers to work. I suspect that he
sometimes gets bored with our meetings and longs to get out into the
public places and heal the sick. If we want to see him doing this, we
should follow him.
The Holy Spirit works locally, not globally. He is not interested in
large audiences or getting onto television. He prefers to work in a
particular locality with local people. When Peter’s mother-in-law was
healed, the entire neighbourhood came with their sick. They realised
something special was going on, because they knew Peter and his
mother-in-law. Some that had seen her with the fever saw her again
healed. They did not need further proof.
As soon as healing goes onto the public stage, questions get asked.
Was the person really healed? Were they pretending to be sick to get
close to the great preacher? Were they as sick as they claimed? Did the
sickness come back next week? Has the healing been authenticated by
their doctor? God does not need this junk.
The Holy Spirit prefers to work locally. The people living close will
know the person that is healed. They can quickly work out for themselves
if the healing is real. When Jesus healed the man who was blind from
birth, “his neighbours and those who had formerly seen him begging”
could see that he was healed (Jn 9:8).
One reasons that we do not see as many healings as we would like is
that we look in the wrong places. We expect people to be healed on the
stage at the front of a church or on television. The Holy Spirit loves
to work locally. If we went and prayed for our sick neighbours, we would
see greater healings.
Key 2: The Gift of Healing is for the Lost
Going to the lost with the gift of healing is very important. Over
the last decades God has been restoring the gift of healing to the
church. This is great, but we have tended to keep it in the church and
only prayed for Christians. This is a mistake.
Praying for Christians is a good way to learn about healing, but we
need to go on to praying for the lost. If we do not, we will often lose
the gift. The Holy Spirit loves the world and is always moving out
towards it to draw people to the Father (John 7:37,38). If we don’t go
with him, he will go on without us.
Jesus blessed us so we could bless others. If we are just seeking our
own healing, we are missing the point. We should be seeking healing for
the lost who are in pain. When sending out the disciples to heal the
sick, Jesus said,
Go the lost sheep… (Matt 10:6).
We should do the same.
Jesus instructed the church how to do evangelism in Mark 16:15-19. He
said we should go into the world (not stay in the church) and preach the
gospel. We should expect God to confirm our gospel message, by healing
the sick and other signs. This method has always been successful. It
worked for the twelve and the seventy-two when Jesus sent them out. When
the latter returned, Jesus saw Satan falling from heaven (Luke 10:18).
Jesus method worked for Peter and John when 5000 men came to the Lord,
as a consequence of one lame man being healed (Act 3,4). The same method
worked for Paul in Malta, even though he was a prisoner (Acts 28:1-10).
Yet strangely, the church has ignored this method of evangelism
through most of history. We dream up other methods of evangelism, like
inviting an evangelist to the church and getting people to bring their
friends (they rarely do) or putting on a concert or user friendly
worship to bring people to the church. Yet we stubbornly refuse to use
the method of evangelism that Jesus specifically commanded, so we should
not be surprised that we do not have revival.
The evangelists with the anointing to heal the sick must be shooed
out of the churches and into the world to demonstrate the love of God to
the world, by healing the sick and preaching the gospel. This would
This material has been updated in book form.