Since becoming a Christian over nine years ago, I have noticed that the church is in the middle of tremendous conflict. One camp of Christians says God is the Healer, while the other says God might occasionally make you sick, in order to teach you humility, suffering, dedication, or some other esoteric lesson.
So I have searched the scriptures, hoping to find biblical examples that would prove which side of the aisle God falls on. And after years of research, I present to you every New Testament example where God made a Christian sick:
So there you have it. This list includes every time God injured one of His own children. It’s a fairly short list, so feel free to memorize it. It may come in handy someday.
[ your turn: God may not make Christians sick, but He sure does like to heal them. Post your favorite healing story in the comments below! ]
What about acts 12:23ish?
Does he make non Christians sick?
What about the old testament?
I agree with you but these are tough questions I run into.
Good question, Brad!
Acts 12 records Herod Agrippa’s persecution of the church, followed by his death. The chapter opens by telling us that Herod began persecuting the church, even going as far to murder James and imprison Peter. According to verse 3, this “pleased the Jews,” which is confirmed by history. According to the historical accounts, Christians didn’t like Herod; Jews did.
Later on in the chapter, people begin worshipping him as God, and Herod accepted this worship of himself. Shortly thereafter, he is struck by “an angel of the Lord” and dies.
There is much we could discuss about this story and the original Greek, but at a minimum, we have to agree that this was done to protect God’s family. Just as in the Old Testament, God protects His people. Herod was murdering Christians, and the immediate result of Herod’s death was “the Word of God grew and multiplied.” (Acts 12:24)
If I shot some guy, I’d be a murderer. But if I shot a terrorist holding a bunch of innocent people, I’d be a hero. Saying that God makes people sick, because in this story a man who was murdering Christians died of sickness, seems like a bit of a stretch to me.
And if you read through the entirety of scripture, you will find that God does not bring sickness on His family.
Thanks for the question, Brad!
(You may have noticed that I was very careful not to say that God made Herod sick, even though Herod was a bad guy. You can do word studies [rooted all the way back in Exodus 15:26] to demonstrate that God isn’t necessarily even behind bad people getting smited, but I figured it wasn’t too relevant to this post. After all, it’s plain to see that God doesn’t make Christians sick, and since I assume you aren’t murdering Christians, Herod’s death isn’t relevant to you.)
Great list Garrett – I have it memorized already! It is important not to write doctrine around some experiences we might have that we do not understand (i.e. untimely death of a loved one, etc.). To me, it is an acceptable answer to say, “I don’t know why that happened, but it doesn’t change the truth of God’s Word.”
On a side-note RE: Herod, you can find a more in-depth account of his death in the works of the historian Josephus…pretty gruesome stuff.
You guys forgot about God allowing Job to fall sick to test his faithfulness with satan’s deal.
Adam, thanks for bringing up Job. People are always bringing up the book of Job. However, I think we can both agree that most Christians are entirely confused about Job, so overriding solid and cohesive doctrine about God from other books of the bible because of a misunderstanding of Job probably isn’t the best thing to do.
Having said that, it is still important to address. I am currently working on two books about Job right now, but I have a couple of quick points I’d like to bring up concerning Job’s trials.
1. Job wasn’t a Christian. My blog specifically refers to New Testament Christians.
2. God didn’t make Job sick. Job 1 makes it clear that satan was behind Job’s plight.
3. Job’s sickness was a result of Job’s words and actions, not God’s will. In Job 42, Job repents of his words and claims that everything he said before was wrong, because he didn’t know how wonderful God was. As soon as Job repents, God restores his health and wealth.
Christians make the mistake of attributing the downfall of Job to God, when in fact, it was the result of satan’s will and Job’s ignorance. God was the One who fixed the situation, and He couldn’t fix Job’s life until Job allowed Him to.
Again, thanks for the comment. The Book of Job is important, and more Christians need to understand it. If you’re still of the opinion that satan essentially “tricked” God into harming Job, try reading the first two chapters in Young’s Literal Translation. It really clears up the passage.
Haha okay, my bad. I didn’t realize you are talking about New Testament. I agree with your points. I’m very sure God will never make us fall sick, but He does allow it for His sovereign plans. For example, waking up the stumble one.. God like to twist satan’s evil plans into something else for our good. Just like you said, God couldn’t fix Job’s life until Job allowed Him to. Is always the “allow” thing, because of free will.
I understand that your audience is for Christians who think they are being tested by God somehow through their illness. But I think that this research does not resolve the core issue.
If you would allow me to share my thoughts.
You implied with your findings that God heals Christians, and in fact likes to do so.
Could you also share findings on why Christians who are ill, do not get better?
I ask because I think Christians who believe that God is “teaching” them a lesson or “testing” them believe so not because they think God has caused the illness, but because God has not cured it.
While we believe in faith that God will heal all illnesses eventually upon the resurrection of the dead at the second coming, it this has not helped Christians from thinking about why God heals some now, and why some later.
It stirs the idea that some are “fit, ready, called, etc…” to have a purpose in this Earthly life and therefore are healed, while others will have a purpose later on in the new life at the end of time.
This results in the idea that if one could “learn” the quintessential esoteric lesson through their illness and devote their future life to speaking/preaching/ministring for that cause, they could have a life deemed worthy to cured by God. Or, that they were “taught” how to live more perfectly according to God’s will because their survival should mean something. After all, many others die of their illness everyday.
I think this logic is the core issue behind this “tremendous conflict.” Christians believe God makes them sick once in a while because they have to make sense of why they were healed while others have died, or they have to come to terms with why they have not yet been healed.
So again, if you have found scripture on why God choses to heal some rather than others, please do share.
There is a lot stuff you said in there, Paul, so for the sake of simplicity I will only respond to your final question: “Have you found a scripture on why God chooses to heal some rather than others?”
No. No I haven’t.
The reason is because such a scripture doesn’t exist. God doesn’t pick some to heal and some to curse with sickness, just as God doesn’t pick some to save and some to burn in hell. Jesus paid the price for all mankind on the cross of Calvary. According to Isaiah 53:5 (repeated in 1 Peter 2), Jesus took our sins and sickness upon Himself.
People don’t receive salvation today because of THEIR decision, not God’s. And people don’t get healed today because of THEIR decision, not God’s. We choose, not God.
This opens up a giant can of worms, because people can start bringing up specific situations that they know about to disprove what the bible says. And the whole point of this post was that when you consider what God has to say on the subject, He tells us over and over and over again about His desire for His people to be well. I don’t know someone’s great aunt who died of sickness. I’m sure she was a great person (as well as a great aunt), and I don’t know why she died. All I know is what the bible says. And the bible says by Christ’s stripes I am healed. The bible says all who came to Jesus for healing were healed. It says Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit and with power, and did good by healing all who were oppressed of the devil. It says I can lay hands on the sick and they will recover. It says I can do all things through Christ. It says nothing is impossible for me. It says I will have whatsoever I say. It says I can move mountains receive whatever I ask for in prayer. It says God’s nickname is Yahweh Rapha, the Lord that Heals. It says that if I ask, I will receive. It says all authority over the power of the devil has been given to me. And it says a heck of a lot more.
So to answer your question, I have found over 170 scriptures that talk about God’s desire, power, and willingness to heal. But I have also found verses that confirm that we receive healing the same way we receive salvation: by faith.
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