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My Back Has Been Healed – Am I Charismatic Now?

Wonderful news. My back has been healed.

Wait. Shelf that. I need to back up.

The moment I proclaim victory over something is the moment it usually comes back with a ferocious force and undermines (to say the least) my victory procession. I remember when I prayed for my sister Angie when she was fighting the war of her depression. It was a very particular time when hope was all but gone. The ultimate defeat seemed immanent. My other sister called me and asked me to pray. I paused on Lebanon Rd., just before I got to HWY 720, and prayed with all my heart that God would heal her. A little bit later I got a call saying that Angie suddenly “snapped out of it.” Excited beyond belief, I immediately asked when this changed occurred. I wanted the exact time, to coordinate it with my prayer on Lebonon. As it turned out, the “snap” came at the exact moment I prayed. Victory in the Lord! Praise God! So be it. Amen. These were all my thoughts as I began to spread the good news about the miracle God pulled off just in the nick of time. However, my excitement was short lived as Angie “snapped” back into it about an hour later. Some spiritual humiliation and embarrassment (spiritual mud in my face?) overwhelmed me as I had to tell all those that I had asked to join our victory dance to stop dancing. Eventually (a few months later), as many of you know, the depression took my sister’s life.

I could tell you a couple more stories exactly like that. That is why I am very tentative about my proclamations of victory. I don’t assume things upon the Lord and am very timid about reading too much into my experiences.

As most of you know, I am not charismatic. What I mean by this is that I don’t believe the supernatural gifts (sometimes called “sign” gifts) of the Spirit are continuing, normative, or should be expected (all three extremely important words). You know, gifts such as tongues, miracles, healings, and the like. As I have argued before, I don’t necessarily have any theological bias against them, I just think that ecclesiastical and personal experience says that they are not normative. As well, most of you know that I have been discussing this with my friend Sam Storms, who is a committed charismatic. Over the last year, we have been in dialogue about this issue. Our dialogue has been published both here on this blog and on the Theology Unplugged Podcast. I have been seeking God during this time, trying to be open to change. In fact, I want to change. I often tell people that I am the most want-to-be-charismatic non-charismatic that they will ever meet. And I am serious about this.

Now to my back. In 2005 I discovered that I had significant disc issues. An MRI revealed “Severe Degenerative Disc Disease.” Since 2005, the pain has become increasingly constant and debilitating. Those of you who have back issues know what I am talking about. For the last seven years, I have been to doctor after doctor, trying medicine after medicine, exercise after exercise, and hope after hope. I could not begin to tell you the number of people who have had “the” solution that I just had not tried yet. Nothing has worked with any degree of significance. The pain is there every day. Some days I am more functional than others, but for the most part, for the last few years, I have had to learn to live with radiating pain down my left leg; it has become a chronic butcher to my soul. I have been functional, yes, but you need to know this back story in order to know my back story.

In October, I wrote about a guy who tried to heal my back. He, along with his friend, overheard me complaining about my back at the Credo House. They, with great seriousness and gentleness, asked if they could lay hands on my back and pray for it. Open to charismatic gifts or not, who would refuse such an offer? “Of course, and thank you!” was my response. These two guys were both charismatic and had high expectations. Remember, this is often a criteria of being charismatic—you must expect God to heal. After they had finished their prayer, the pain was still radiating down my leg. In fact, it was worse as I had to stand in one place while they prayed for me (it is very difficult for me to stand in one place). They asked me after the prayer, “Did anything change?” I was heartbroken to be the bearer of bad news. I even thought about lying and just saying that it helped a little. Finally, I responded, “No…But thank you so much for praying for my back.” I then used this illustration as fodder for a blog post to show the “spiritual let-down” I see in the face of so many well-meaning charismatics who want so badly to be used of God to accomplish miraculous feats (well, maybe “fodder” is not the best use of the term).

Here is what I have not told you: About three weeks after this attempted healing, I saw the same guy at Credo studying. He is a regular. As I was walking back to my office, he stood up and asked how my back was. I told him that it was terrible, but thanks for asking. In fact, that morning was particularly bad. The pain in my leg was so terrible I could hardly think straight. I did not expect anything more than an, “I am sorry. I will continue to pray for you,” from this guy. After all, the attempt failed last time, and my present state was just further confirmation of its ineffectiveness. But this guy is a trooper. He said the unexpected, “Can I pray for your back again?” My answer was a pastoral, “of course,” as I wanted him to keep his spirits up (even if that meant a continued hope in these naive charismatic ideas). Like the time before, he laid his hands on me. Like the time before, he prayed specifically for the miraculous healing power of God to come over me and heal my back. But this time was not like the last. As I stood under his hand, just wanting to get the token prayer of concern (as I saw it) over with, something happened. From the place where his hand was laid on me to the tip of my toe, I felt a warm, burning sensation. It was only in the places where my back often hurt. The burning sensation replaced and overwhelmed the nerve pain. It was definite and unexpected. The warmth was then replaced with relief. My back pain had completely disappeared while he prayed.

Once he was done praying, I held a poker face. I did not say, “I am healed!” I did not even say, “It feels better.” I just said, “thank you,” and went back to my office. In truth, I simply anticipated the pain to return and that its cessation would be short lived. As I thought about it in my office, I wondered, “what if?” After all, my “healing,” were it real, could not have been psychologically induced. I was not expecting to be healed, have been somewhat critical of those who do expect such things, and was not really even listening to the prayer. I was just anticipating getting back to my office so that I could sit down and get a tiny bit of relief. However, I sat in my office pain-free for the first time in I don’t know how long.

I did not tell anyone about this. Even as days turned into weeks, I kept quiet, anticipating that the pain would come back. Again, I don’t like to invite people to victory parades which I suspect will turn into bad investments of their hope. Remember Angie?

But here I am writing this five months later. Since that time, my back has not been an issue. Since then, I have been almost completely pain free. Now, I say “almost,” and you are going to have to take this as far as you think you should. There have been two days where I felt a bit of the pain come back. But nothing like it was for five straight years, with hardly a day’s rest. It would be like someone miraculously moving a mountain and leaving a dirt pile behind. The presence of the dirt pile (two days of slight pain), while confusing, does not undermine the absence of the mountain (the serious pain).

I believe that God miraculously healed my back a few months ago through the agency of a wonderful man who was determined not to give up. Even if the pain did come back today, the combination of the warmth, sudden disappearance of pain, and five months of being virtually pain-free after suffering so much over the years leads me to believe that God placed his hand on my back and gave me relief. For this I am so grateful.

Though my friend who prayed for me is a committed charismatic, I still am not. Even if I never have back pain again, it would not be compelling enough to make me move the that camp. Why? Because I have always believed (at least in theory) in the power of prayer and I have always believed that God may heal through prayer. The charismatic issue has to do with the continuation, normativeness, and expectancy of gifts being given to people to function in the church, not one-time healings here and there. While I remain somewhat skeptical of my own experiences, I do invite you to this parade. For five months I have been without pain in my back and God dun it!

58 Responses to “My Back Has Been Healed – Am I Charismatic Now?”

  1. Wonderful news about your back! May it remain healed. :-)

  2. Oops…looks like the story got cut off! Please fix it, I’d love to finish the article and hear your thoughts on this.

  3. Jesse, I don’t know what happened, but it is up to date now.

  4. Wow me and my wife are both rejoicing with you!!! This is awesome! Maybe at least you will turn into a continuist. : )

  5. Great news Michael! As a cessationist I also believe that God will, on His own schedule and choosing, will do miraculous healing and sometimes do it as a result of healing prayer. Why did He do it this time and not others? Who knows? God does and I just trust Him.

    As an aside, I suffer with back pain as well. I’ve also been prayed over. I had to chuckle at you saying how hard it was to stand while they prayed over you. I’ve been there with pain shooting down my leg as they prayed and prayed and prayed. God bless them, but I kept thinking “why can’t they do this like they did in the Bible? ‘Be healed!! Bam! Done!”

    • U are right Jim. I am in same situation, a single mom of 3 boys with similar pain for 4 year. Now, i m in my bed 24/7 bcz sometimes i can’t stand up by my own, a 24/7 almost killing. I am with ongoing flashing pain in both sides, from my middle back and affecting all my SI bones ans muscles (feel like my hips’ muscles have rotten). I tried all powerful medication, phy. therapy, acupuncture,…. no solution. But somebody told me last week that she gonna ask people to pray for me, i don’t go church or anywhere no as even going to the bathroom is trouble. I am just here, home n mostly in bed, and hope that if God wishes, will heal me.
      I am even afraid to do surgery bcz i m afraid what will happen when my kids stay alone (we don’t have any relative), and no friends bcz we hv just relocated to Seattle, WA. Anybody who feel s/he can would pray for me, God bless you guys.

  6. Interesting stuff. As someone who is charismatic (in theory), I would like to know if your healing was verified by any medical tests, as in, did a subsequent MRI reveal that your “Severe Degenerative Disc Disease” had disappeared? I do believe in healing, but since legitimate healings are a big deal and provide some clear evidence of God’s continuing action among men, we should try our best to make sure those evidences are solid.

  7. Good stuff!

    So beyond the immediate benefit you’ve received – do you think that this healing validates (at least partially) something that this guy knows/says/does? I.e. is this healing a sign of some description?

  8. Great news about your back! Been there. Still go there on occasion. So I know what it is like and am grateful that you now have relief and it no longer hinders your ministry. And a wonderful lesson that God isn’t a genie that can be made to perform if we have enough faith or if our target has enough faith. He does HIS will, not ours.

  9. I don’t know about the medical tests. The MRI cost me $550 out of pocket, so, as much as I want to satisfy my curiosity, I don’t think that I will go there.

    However, I don’t know what I would think if the MRI did not show anything anymore. If it did, then it would be a miracle in and of itself as the pain is still gone. Really, I suppose for the purpose that I am trying to account for here, the pain being gone is just as valid to me as an MRI.

    Now, I just wish he would do something more needed and personal and heal my mother of her paralysis. If that happened . . . well, let’s just say it would be different.

  10. Matt,

    I don’t know. While this guy was a charismatic, I don’t know exactly what his view of healing is. I don’t think he thinks he has the gift (though he might).

    But, again, what happened to my back wouldn’t disturb the view of the most hardened cessationist (or at least it would not have to).

  11. Hi Michael,

    I don’t really mean his view on healing per se, but more generally. He’s obviously got something right in order for God to work through him in such a way. It would be interesting to work out with him what that is. He may or may not know precisely – but I believe God is underscoring something in his life and it would be good to discover what that is.

  12. Laying on of hands to heal is found in other religions, including New Age ones. Reiki is one such art, involving four or five people who lay their hands on a person while the person is laying on their stomach or back. I dated a girl who was a member of such a healing group.

    There are also churches and/or sects of Bible believers (of questionable “Christian orthodoxy” in their belief systems, but who would call themselves Christian none the less) who believe in miraculous healings and make it part of their church or sect. Even the Church of Scientology has testimonies of healing from disease, drug addiction, etc.

    I have a friend who practices laying on of hands to heal, he’s Buddhist. He’s told me some fascinating stories of his healing successes over the years. But he hasn’t broadcast them on his website. He was born again in college (and was a fan of C. S. Lewis at that time) but started reading the works of Christian mystics like St. John of the Cross and Meister Eckhart, and then read Evelyn Underhill whom Lewis cited, Underhill studied all the world’s religious mystics and wrote books on the topic, but my friend wished to read them for himself and also practice meditation for himself so he read eastern mystics from Sufi to Hindu to Buddhist. One person who influenced him on his journey was Alan Watts whose book, Behold the Spirit, discusses correspondences between eastern and western spirituality and ideas. Also, William Johnson’s book, The Inner Eye of Love that discussed correspondences between Christian compassion and Amida Buddhist compassion/karnua in Japan.

    Watts, the author of Behold the Spirit, graduated from an Anglican Seminary where he translated the Christian mystic classic, The Cloud of Unknowing. William Johnson, the author of The Inner Eye of Love is a Jesuit priest who dialogued with Amida Biddhists in Japan. In Japan they have Buddhist bookstores, and books on “Buddhism and business,” among other topics, but not so many Christian bookstores.

    Another person is Bede Griffiths, who converted at Oxford around the same time C. S. Lewis did. They became fast friends, likelong correspondents as well. Griffiths became a Catholic priest and started a Christian–Hindu ashram where he dialogued, and wrote books about the universality of spirituality. The story of his religious journey is titled The Golden Thread. (And in India they swear on the Indian holy book, The Gita, in the courtroom, rather than swearing on the Bible.)

    And recently, about a month or two ago, a Reformed Christian and philosopher and blogger converted to Hinduism after having what he says was a spiritual encounter with the love of Krishna.

    At any rate my friend’s story of his conversion to eastern spirituality is found in a book I edited, Leaving the Fold: Testimonies of Former Fundamentalists. A small part of his testimony is found online as well: http://amritayana.blogspot.com/2011/08/testimony.html

  13. Hi Michael,
    I had to chuckle when I read this post. Remember on TTP when you laugh at the ‘leg growing’ incident that ‘never happened’? Well, I along with at least five other people watched as a lady with a ‘gift’ prayed for my leg and it grew at least and inch and a half.
    I have wanted to tell you that for about a year, maybe more, but I never had the opportunity. I haven’t come across any growing hoses, or angel hitch hikers though.
    I had a recurring slipped disc issue from childhood after an accident that left one leg quite a bit shorter than the other. The back pain that left me screaming as a child was terrible. I never expected my leg to grow, I never even believed it would happen, but looking at my leg growing and the people around me in hysterics watching it has been burned in my mind for the last 13/14 years.
    Funny thing though, I am totally skeptical whenever anyone tells me about a ‘miracle’ healing. I just don’t believe them. At all. I always rationalize it, its ‘probably all in their mind’ sort of thoughts. Maybe God had to do it for me so I would know that He IS sovereign, maybe I was doubting Him? I don’t know, and I don’t ever really talk about my experience because most people think I’m slightly crackers.
    Maybe God was showing you something? You got healed anyway, put that one in the bag!
    William

  14. In 1992 I was told my cancer was incurable and that at best, I had seven months left on this earth. In a revival God touched me and today there is still no evidence of cancer anywhere in my body. Being a conservative Pentecostal, I believe in all the charisms still being in effect today. I rejoice with Brother Patton over his healing and hope he will think even more deeply about the Biblical foundations of continuationism.

  15. I believe God can heal certainly, He is GOD, but it does appear He has now put the Church in the place of cessation to the gifts of healing, etc. I too have had a back surgery L-4-5, due to a bad parachute jump some years ago. I jumped as a Royal Marine, etc. I have daily pain also.

  16. Hello Fr. Robert,
    I was just wondering, have you or anyone you know ever thought to yourself ‘Why do I not just try and pray for this person to be healed?’ with the laying on of hands etc. Why don’t we ever try this? Is is wrong?
    I am a soft cessationist because I think I have personally experienced healing, but disbelieve everyone else when it comes to this issue. Yes, very wrong of me.
    William

  17. In response to 13 Scott O:

    People who experience spontaneous remissions from cancer are found among a variety of people, not just the religiously devout. See

    http://discovermagazine.com/2007/sep/the-body-can-stave-off-terminal-cancer-sometimes/article_view?b_start:int=1&-C=

    and see

    http://www.sirjasonwinters.com/story.htm

  18. William: I have lived thru the whole charismatic movement and renewal, at least that of the 70’s and 80’s, both in the Roman Catholic and the Anglican Communion. Of course with mostly the Brit’s. No doubt some people were healed by GOD back then, but not because of someone who had the supposed “gifts” of healing. Yes, I would have much “harder” cessationist views. But, hey I am a Augustinian and even a Calvinist on human nature! ;)

  19. See, now this is why I – like William – am a “soft” cessationist (or perhaps “uncertain” might be a better qualifier). I DO think that God can – and does – miraculously heal in the present age, and although I haven’t actually heard of any stories, I suspect that He does sometimes immediately gift people with a special ability to communicate His Gospel.

    My HUGE stumbling block with the stereotypical charismatic is their assertion that these types of things are “normal” – *AND* the showiness/publicity of these “gifts” (yes, I’m using a lot of scare quotes).

    I realize that it is quite probably my personal bias, but I really think that God would allow these gifts to be used only in circumstances where there is NOT a lot of hype and emotionalism, and only when it is He – and ONLY He – who gets the glory. True, I can’t quote chapter and verse, but I really think God might still be moving using these charismatic gifts, but only in His “still, small voice” way.

    It’s certainly something I’m not going to be dogmatic about, and I’m VERY cautious about saying something like “That was a MIRACLE!!!”… but healings like yours, Michael, really make me stop and think, “Well… It *could* be!”

    At any rate, I am so glad that your back is feeling better, and rejoice that God – in whatever method – has blessed you with this (still being cautious, here) respite. I pray that He continues this blessing in your life so that you may proclaim His name and glory with even more strength and faithfulness!

  20. Christ doesn’t refer to the power to heal as a ‘gift’. I think referring to it in such a sense distorts what healings are generally about (Yes – I’m looking at you Paul). When a (true, miraculous) healing occurs God has clearly allowed the ‘healer’ to invoke God’s power. Don’t write it off as ‘just a gift’ like a nice singing voice, or an academic brain – but realise that to be in such a favoured position with God has required some sort of effort, action, and comprehension of God and his purpose.

  21. Ed,

    I have the same precausions concerning such things. In fact, this experience does not have any apologetic or evidential value in my worldview. It makes me believe in Christ no more or no less. While it may be an ACT of God, it need not be an EVIDENCE of God. The foundation for my faith is based on the historicity of Christ’s resurrection. If that happened, then Christianity is true. If it did not, then, no matter how many backs get healed, it is false.

    I study NDEs (near death experiences) quite a bit. And I also temper their apologetic value by showing how they seem to happen to people of other religions in a very simular way to that of Christians. (Well, there is more to it than that, but you get the point).

    However, when there are multiple factors involved the legitimacy of such things increases greatly. If something just quacks like a duck, it may not be a duck. However, if it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, smell, feels, lays eggs, and sings like a duck, then its more than likely a duck.

    Other religions claims to healing may be true, but they don’t necessarily evidence anything other than that the person was healed. Christ did not come and perform one miracle and leave us to eternally debate whether or not that one miracle happened. There was much more involved in his sustantiation of his claim. The big difference in my worldview and that of a Buddist is that my worldview has a historic occurance of a dying and rising Christ. Therefore, this factor makes the duck much more like a duck. Since Christ rose from the grave, my faith is substantiated and I can fit this healing into my worldview with great excitement and no harm due to possible parallels.

    Having said all of this, I really don’t take this back healing too far. Of course it is a personal experience that really happened, but I sure wish that God would do something more meaningful and substantial like heal my mother. If that happens then it would be of more apologetic value (though still not foundational in any sense).

    Hope you are doing well.

  22. “but I sure wish that God would do something more meaningful and substantial like heal my mother”

    Then aren’t you at least going to find that guy and get him to pray for your mother? ;)

  23. Glory to God!

  24. Michael,

    I think a lot of it has to do with purity of heart of the one who praying. I believe God knows the difference. I mean that as to whether we believe the gifts themselves heal or the Lord. That is His determination in the long run. So much of that difference has been corrupted by the church, sort of like the ‘prove to me to you love me’ sort of thing that we girls got from our boyfriends as teenagers until we learned better. I am an unapologetic continuationist, yet the first one who will challenge false healers who call attention to themselves rather than the Lord.

  25. BTW, your edit function is still not working for me. so please forgive any typos. Thanks.

  26. Very happy for you, Michael! God has been gracious to you. So what’s the difference between a non-cessasionist who believes sometimes God answers prayer for healing and a cessasionist who believes sometimes God answers prayer for healing?

  27. Thanks Zion.

    Good question. In my own trying to keep things straight, a continuationist is one who believes that these gifts are continuing. A charismatic believes that they are not only continuing but normative and should be sought out. There is also much expectation built in.

    The cessationist believes that God still performs miracles to varying degrees but not through the agency of the spiritual gifts.

  28. Dear Michael, I can not work out what it is you are telling us here. What exactly is it you believe happened 5 months ago? Wherein lies the miracle in your healing? You are saying “My back has been healed” and that “God miraculously healed” your back. Do you think God healed you as in restoring the discs or by disconnecting some sensors?

    Regardless of what happened, you believe no more and no less that God exists, he loves you and sent his only Son to die for your sins. But how you view what happened must affect your view of how God relates to us, and as a consequence of that who God really is. Doesn’t it?

    I struggle. Was with my wife at the hospital again this morning, for radiation treatment. We ran into a lady from our church who was just diagnosed with an aggressive and far gone cancer. While my wife was in the machine the lady asked how we are doing. “We are coping, but how are YOU doing?” She eventually cried while telling me the doctors has not given her much hope. In tears she tells me “but Jesus is going to heal me”. What do I tell her? I believe God can heal, he has the power. But we buried two people close to us just recently. We prayed for them. I don’t know what to pray anymore, and definitely not what to say. I said “we are praying for you” and we do, but… Michael, it is so hard. I think I understand some of what you are talking about with regards to your sister and prayer.

    Glad your back is not playing up anymore, but miracle? I just…

  29. I am not sure what you are asking. You are right to be skeptical about such things and I dare not ask you to give me a pass. My testimony is as far as it goes. I don’t have a definite interpretation as to what this means for me much less what it might mean for you. In the end severe and unrelenting pain in my back ceased five months ago as a many prayed for it. I believe that God used his prayer to accomplish this. It is one thing to hear about such things but another when yoj experience them. Could it have been a quincidence? Sure. Could it have been psychological. I don’t see any way for reasons I said in the op.

    Could this be explained by science? That is a funny question as, for the Christian, science is merely an extension and reflection of God’s character. In this sense, God could allow anything to be explained. Theoretically, God could share with us how he raised Christ from the grave and then it would be a matter of science.

    Anyway, like I said before, back pain is one thing, healing my mother would be something else.

  30. Hallelujah. I was actually welling up a bit as I got to the end of the story. Delighted that God has chosen to heal you in this way, and delighted that He has given you another pointer on your theological journey too.

  31. I’d say that absolutely you’re probably not a charismatic, but rather you’ve witness the power of prayer among some really faithful Charismatics who really love you, and the faithfulness of your father in heaven…

    And, you’ve probably gotten rid of the stress that was contributing to the pain….

  32. Jesus does heal!

    (some)

    Mostly not.

    Thanks be to God that you’re back ….is back!

  33. I am no a charismai either, but my approach in these circumstances is first and foremost (in the words of the well known hymn): “To God Be the Glory”

  34. I don’t care if you call yourself charismatic or not I’m just glad you are healed. Your honesty has always blessed me! I long for those who have great theology to join the “Majority world” view by believing in the supernatural. Thanks for posting this Michael!

  35. ichael,

    Sorry for confusing post yesterday. Emotions.

    I was trying to ask:

    1) I am a de facto soft cessationist. My heart is aching of pain and compassion for a young mother who might be dying. She is scared, she is terrified. How would you pray?
    2) When someone tells you they are dying but hoping God/Jesus will heal them. As a cessationist, how do you stay honest to your belief and yet comforting? What do you say when this person says they are putting all their hope in God?

    The only thing I could think of saying was “God is almighty, he can do anything. You are in God’s hand.” I hoped that would sound like what she wanted to hear (as in comforting), but at the same time not telling her something I don’t know or even believe in. However, what did I say? Nothing really.

    3) If people pray for this person, in faith that miraculous healing is available if only we have faith that it will happen, can I jinx that by either: a) praying without having faith in that it is going to happen or b) by opting not to pray to stay clear.

    I know, I am beyond confusion. One part of the question is about what does other people who have thought about this a lot think about God and healing. Another, non theological, question is how can I comfort, be of any help to people when I am in this place (with my theology)?

    Cheers

  36. Can a soft cessationist prayer be: God, I am so confused. I don’t believe I can make you do anything. I know you can do anything. I cry out to you, please heal this woman. At the same time, Your will be done. Your will is beyond my understanding and I respect that. You are the creator. I have one more request, help me to know how to deal with this situation. Help me to know how to comfort this person. Whatever happens, help us all to assist her in finding peace with what ever the future holds. Amen.

    Does that make sense? Hope that was clearer. I don’t even know how to pray any more. Theology 101 pls.

  37. Sometimes I think we take our doctrinal position more seriously than we take the words of Christ. But what Jesus asked about was this: when He returns will He find FAITH? He didn’t ask if He’d find a particular sect of Christianity or a particular doctrinal bent, just faith.

    Obviously, the man who prayed had faith and God was pleased to answer his prayer and heal your back. It might have given him a chuckle to heal you since you don’t believe the gifts exist.

    God is still the same. He has not changed.

    My husband and I have seen many healings as a result of prayer and faith (but not ALWAYS), but we are neither charismatics or word-faith people. We are just old fogies who have walked with God a long time and we believe that His promises still apply today and occasionally we apply them because we have no where else to go and God responds by making them come to pass. That’s how we see it and we see it without blurring the picture with a particular doctrinal stance. We just see Jesus. That truly is enough for us.

    Jesus truly loves you and wanted to show you that He can do whatever He wants to do, no matter what you believe. I am sure you are totally blessed. I know what back pain feels like, and there is NOTHING worse.

  38. Wow H-man, that is tough! So sorry you have to go through all this with your wife, I am glad you desire to be there for the young mom.

    Hard to answer all this for me, I do believe in the gifts, but think our western church falls too soon into the trap of idolizing the gifts, therefore, in our immaturity about them, they aren’t that strong here. In the east all religions have gifts and stories about the power of those gifts. The Christians have them too, but not being unique keeps them humble – to a degree.

    For me, if prayer doesn’t do it, I would suggest fasting, three days with water is doable. If that doesn’t work, then who knows. Why do Christians pray for healing, but not fast? It is harder, and more intense, but Jesus does say it works above and beyond prayer. IF I was the young mom, I would hope my church would fast for me, I would fast for a member if death was imminent. Not that it will cure everything, but we are called to fast and pray, our N. American Charismatic churches often skip fasting, our experience with healing is less then low. I think it would be an opportunity to put a spiritual disciple into practice – if we pray (a discipline) then we should fast (also a discipline). If God’s mind is made up then it won’t change a thing, however, if we feel we should pray in obedience to God, we should consider fasting in obedience to God. The only thought I can offer in this sad situation.

  39. “I kept thinking “why can’t they do this like they did in the Bible? ‘Be healed!! Bam! Done!””

    Except that isn’t how IT WORKED WITH JESUS in Mark 8:22-25!!!!!

  40. Cheers Loo, I appreciate your thoughts. The situation is sad, and I believe our faith in God can help us in dealing with that. He is our strength etc. With an eternal viewpoint we can go forward.

    It is not sad as in it is all over, because it is not. It is sad that people are suffering, and it is sad to think of the worst outcome. But I am not the one suffering the most. I am more frustrated because I feel as if there is nothing I can do.

    What I have faith in that God can do to change the outcome I am certain about. What He will do, and how that relate to what we do, how we pray and all, that is the question for me. I don’t think it’s got anything to do with how we pray, rituals (is fasting a ritual, or a biblical doctrine for Christians), perserverance etc. But again, right now I am empty. I don’t know anything anymore.

    Judy, Michael, I hope what I wrote did not come out as patronising or demeaning about back pain. I certainly did not mean it that way. I hope you stay healed!

  41. Matt, sorry. Just getting to this. Does this experience validate his charismatic stance in my opinion? Well, it does not hurt!

    Obviously, it is not compelling. However, if I talk to him (which I have not in a couple of months, I would like to discuss this with him more. I am pretty sure he falls into the Sam Storms “itenerate gifts” stance. My word not his. If this is the case, I don’t really see this as “charismatic” in a proper sense. If the gift of healing (gifts of healings) travel from person to person and no one really has it, then I dont see this a the gift of healing. Just prayer that brings about healings sometimes. When we go that direction it is hard to see the difference between charismatics and cessationists as we all believe that God can and does heal through prayer occasionally.

  42. H-Man,

    That is tough brother. I don’t think we ever give anyone any unwarranted hope. We should not try to muster up faith so that others can stand on our shoulders. This can set up an emotional fall that is crippling and heartbreaking.

    Should we not pray like shadrach in Daniel? The Lord is able to deliver us, but even if he does not…

  43. Don’t really understand the question. Does any Christian think that God cannot heal people as he chooses today?

    That is not the issue with Modern Charismatics.

  44. Truth Unites... and Divides February 17, 2012 at 11:22 am

    “That is not the issue with Modern Charismatics.”

    Hi David Carlson,

    From your perspective (and those who share it), what do you consider the substantive issues and objections to Modern Charismatics?

  45. Isn’t the issues and objections to Modern Charismatics personified in people like Bill Johnson, Jason Westerfield, Rick Joyner etc, and even more so in preposterous renditions or copies of those by random so called ministers looking to create some heavenly action?

    David Calson, isn’t the question for any Christian about if God choses to heal or not rather than if He can (is able to)? Or even more so, if there is anything we can do to MAKE Him do what WE WANT him to do? If our preference would be to see healing, and God doesn’t, how do we explain that. A Charismatic would say “it’s lack of human effort”, a non Charismatic might “say it’s not God’s time”. Got that wrong did I?

    Apologies for the non academic approach to the subject. I realize it was not the right forum, but it was close enough to the questions that are big for me (a layman with no academic ambitions what so ever) at the moment. Please feel free to remove this comment if it is not suitable for the intended purpose of the discussion. I’m done, my frustration is hereby released. Sry you had to listen to it. :)

  46. H-man: I would personally challenge you to read some good-old biblical theology! The Bible has its own “academic” standard, as it creates the Christian soul! Btw, there are a few good old Anglican’s here, note W.H. Griffith Thomas, who early had something to do with Dallas Seminary.

  47. A friend of mine who reads your blog pointed me to your article. I praise Jesus for your healing, brother. Very cool.

    John 14
    12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.”

    Amen.

  48. Sorry if I am intruding. I just stumbled upon your blog while doing some research about Dr Martyn Lloyd Jones. While reading the comments section, I see a common theme in why so many readers claim to be a cessationist. They say that they do not see any gifts as the norm in their experience and I think this view is flawed for several reasons. One is that everyone I have heard say such things only has experience with Christianity in Europe and in America. I personally see these two territories as similar to the Lord’s home town, which failed to receive any miracles because of its familiarity with Jesus. As a pastor and world traveler I can tell you that what I see here in America and what I see in India, Brazil and Africa is drastically different, especially among the unreached populations. I have seen many healings and undeniable gifts of the Spirit such as prophecy in constant operation among some believers. Even so, I don’t base my theology on my experience but on the Word of God and I still believe that by His stripes we are healed.

    No one deserves to be healed and few who have a lot of religion in their lives ever are but I believe if we could get back to the pure Gospel and understand Jesus sacrifice in depth then many more would. People misunderstand God’s character when they say that God can but may decide not too. It is clear what He decided when you look at the cross. We simply do not fully understand and fully believe in the power of His sacrifice.

  49. My favourite book on healing is “The Real Faith for Healing” by an old Congregational minister, Charles Price. It turns on 1 John 5:14f “if we know that he hears us…we know that we have what we asked of him”. This used to be called, “praying through”. I believe this is also what is referred to when James talks about the elders praying with faith. The mercy of God operates sovereignly because that is the nature of mercy according to Romans 9:14. Therefore it comes through the atonement as do all of God’s gifts (Rom.3:25). Some believe healing may be demanded or expected. Others of us believe it is a gift of grace.

  50. I am a charismatic and even I know that ‘cessationists, non continuationists’ believe that God can heal anytime. When we pray for healing for the cessationist, we don’t think they disbelieve in healings by prayer or by fiat. But your article was a good explanation of your unique position. Just so happy for your back! I know from whence you speak. I was in pain like that from a herniated disc but it quit and resolved (or God healed it through prayers) after a month. My one tiny reminder is like Jacob’s lame hip – a small part of my thumb that was numb during the herniation has only a tiny tiny area of numbness. It is there and always reminds me of what is NOT there now (the horrific pain of that month). Love your story and so glad you are pain free. My daughter suffers constant bone pain from an undiagnosed illness so we know what suffering like that is truly like.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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  2. Healing | KevStar.us - April 23, 2012

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