This study of Luke ch9 verses 1-17 was given by pastor Barry Forder on 12th February 2023.
Having seen Jesus demonstrate His power and authority over sickness and those possessed, Jesus now sends his 12 disciples out to do the same:
“Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick”. (Luke 9:1-2)
On this occasion, this power and authority was given to just the 12, but later Jesus will tell the disciples that this remit is now given to all who follow on and believe in His name: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover” (Mark 16:15-18)
Paul will later tell us that the ‘healing of the sick’ and ‘working miracles’ are two of the gifts the Holy Spirit will give to the church (see 1 Cor 12:8-11).
Certainly, the early church specifically prayed for this power and authority over sickness and demonic spirits (Acts 4:29-31) and God answered this prayer: “And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.) Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them. There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one.” (Acts 5:14-16).
The South African Bible scholar, author and teacher, Andrew Murray, said: “The Bible does not authorize us, either by the words of the Lord or His apostles, to believe that the gifts of healing were granted only to the early times of the Church; on the contrary, the promises which Jesus made to the apostles when He gave them instructions concerning their mission, shortly before His ascension, appear to us applicable to all times. Paul places the gift of healing among the operations of the Holy Spirit. James gives a precise command on this matter without any restriction of time. The entire Scriptures declare that these graces will be granted according to the measure of the Spirit and of faith.”.
“Oh, that we could learn to believe in the promises of God! God has not gone back from His promises; Jesus is still He who heals both soul and body; salvation offers us even now healing and holiness, and the Holy Spirit is always ready to give us some manifestations of His power. Even when we ask why this divine power is not more often seen, He answers us: ‘Because of your unbelief. The more we give ourselves to experience personally ‘sanctification by faith’, the more we shall also experience healing by faith. These two doctrines walk abreast. The more the Spirit of God lives and acts in the soul of believers, the more will the miracles multiply by which He works in the body. Thereby the world can recognize what redemption means.”.
…and that is the great secret that unlocks this divine power and authority to heal the sick: The Holy Spirit working in the lives of believers! It is not our power, it’s His!
Why do we not see more of this power at work in the Church today?
1) Partly because of unbelief – we have allowed our rational (western) 21st Century mind to tell us it doesn’t / can’t happen today (Satan’s old, regurgitated lie “hath God really said…?”).
2) Because so few Christians today give themselves totally to God to be used by Him as He chooses and not for our own endeavours and plans.
God is still the same. He still wants to see the lost saved. He has paid for our sin and our sickness on the cross (Isaiah 53:4-5). We receive our salvation by faith in His Word, believing it in our hearts and confessing it with our lips. We can receive His healing (that has already been paid for) if we simply ask in faith, believing, not doubting His promise and not doubting His completed work, and then confessing with our lips. (Romans 10:9-10). This is why James boldly states: “Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms. Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him” (James 5:13-15).
It is why John, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, declares: “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth”. (3 John 1:2).
The LORD is looking today for sanctified vessels (like Stephen – see Acts 6:3-8), ‘full of the Holy Spirit’ that He can use to bring the gospel to the lost. The early church saw multitudes added to the church as the Lord confirmed the Word with signs following (Mark 16:20). We live in a sceptical world that sees no need for God in their busy (desperate) lives.
The power and authority that God gives to His church has not changed because God has not changed.
There is a call, just as in Isaiah’s day, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” (Isaiah 6:8).
Will you be one of the few that answer?
You will either have this word snatched away (Luke 8:12)… Or be one who initially receives this with joy, only for Satan to come and tempt you by saying ‘Has God really said?’ (Luke 8:123) … Or you will simply be too busy with the cares and concerns of this life (Luke 8:14). Or you may be one of those who receive the Word with faith, who produce a wonderful crop unto eternal life! (Luke 8:15).
May you be blessed and encouraged by this study.