Monday, October 13, 2008

My Statement of Faith

After attending my first Charismatic service on Sunday since we left our CLB, I am left with so many questions.

The biggest one I walked away with was this: If I were ever somehow put in charge of leading a service, (which I’m sure I won’t be but go with me here for a minute) and the subject of having faith that God would heal you, came up....what would I say?

Yesterday, I heard the classic charismatic theme of God wants to you be healed, saved and delivered today.

I realized that I could never make that promise to a group of people.

So I would have to say something to the effect that: 1) God can heal. 2) I would love for you to be healed. 3) I am willing to ask that you be healed. 4) I know God will hear us.

But if that is all that I could say about healing, wouldn't that take someone’s faith away? We had always had taught to us that we needed to raise the faith level of the people in the room by convincing them that God WOULD heal. That way they would have faith to BE healed.

But even scripturally, I can’t make those promises. Jesus didn’t always heal everyone. Sometimes he just didn’t (did only what he saw the Father doing kind of thing). Other times he couldn’t heal because of the atmosphere of disbelief. Other times it seemed that he had a different time frame in mind - like in Lazarus and the man born blind.

So my question is this: What is faith and what are we to have faith in?

I can no longer preach a faith that God will always heal. Nor will I preach that it is always because of your lack of faith that you are not healed.

I truly believe that there is a faith in our God who can heal but I wonder if the faith is misplaced.

Maybe we have placed our faith in what God does... or can do...and not who he is.

See, if I have faith in a God of love then my faith rests in his love for me - no matter what my circumstances. My faith is wrapped up in His love, ergo in who he is, not what he can do.

It says that people lived in caves and were sawed in two ‘in faith.’ Their faith did not rescue them from our vantage point so it is safe to assume that what is preached as faith today misses the mark.

Faith has to be big enough to encompass both getting what you have asked for, believed in and been promised, and not getting what you have asked for, believed in and were promised.

Therefore, it is my conclusion tonight that faith has to be much bigger than what I heard on Sunday morning. In fact my faith has to be as big as the heart of the Father.

Faith has to be the determination to trust in this Father heart no matter what. Faith has to say to the Enemy of our souls that no matter what, I will have faith in, trust in and rest in the Love of God.

Therein lies my faith tonight.


Rob Harrison said...

Amen. I think you hit the nail square on the head and drove it flush with one strike. (I say this, fwiw, as a weird sort of Reformed/Vineyard mongrel.) We have faith in God, for his love and his goodness, that he is at work in us for our best; but it's our best as he knows it, not as we define it. I know few people more in need of physical healing than the author, musician and worship leader Marva Dawn; I know of few people of greater faith. She's lost count of the number of times people have prayed over her for physical healing; it's never happened--but she does believe that God has used it for her spiritual healing and growth.

I will say, btw: if you ever felt ready and felt that God was calling you to it, I would trust you in my pulpit anytime.

Maria said...

For me the question boils down to, does our faith heal us, or does God? If we think we have to drum up enough faith, the answer is the former. In the end faith in my faith (or some superstar preachers') is faith in myself (or someone else). I'd prefer to put my faith in God, whatever the outcome.

SteveS said...

I like Vineyard’s POV on this. My version of it: We don’t tell God what to do, He tells us. We pray for someone to be healed when we sense God is leading us to pray for them to be healed. No promises. No guarantees. Just listen to God and do what He tells you to do. Why God sometimes tells you to pray for their healing and other times to pray for their comfort is above our pay grade. Just trust that God loves us and knows what He is doing in the Big Picture of which we only have a small view.

Mike said...

Hi Barb ~ I want to approach this from a different direction. Is it possible that healing has been misinterpreted all of these years. Yes, Jesus healed and yes, Jesus told his disciples to go an heal but I don't really believe that it was physical healing that they were all about. The physical healing was meant to get down to the real brass tacks, the healing of the soul.

These bodies of ours are not going to be of any worth to us in the hereafter (and a lot of times they aren't now) but a healthy soul will go with us and stay with us through eternity.

I don't think that God cares whether or not we can see, hear or walk. I think it's more important to him that we see HIM, that we hear HIM and that we walk with HIM.

I have witnessed and been part of healings first hand that were only temporary in the physical being but changed those people forever in the spiritual sense. So having said that, I think that we can have faith that a healing has occurred as long as we stop dictating to God how it should look.

Heidi W said...

Growing up with my mom living with chronic illness and having her told repeatedly that she didn't have enough faith (and that is why she wasn't healed) really was hard. When we "fail" in our prayers to heal someone, the easiest thing to do is blame it on them. After all, it can't be God's fault, or ours... right? Ugh.

I've been toying with the idea that I'm possibly ex-charasmatic. These types of teaching are the reasons why. I still believe God is fully able to heal... but it seems like we are just trying to manipulate God and people with this sort of teaching.

Ruth said...

Recently a very close friend was diagnosed with cancer and passed away within a month. She was eager to be healed and asked for prayer from various people.

I felt that my heart wasn't in it....I want her to be healed and I wanted to have faith so I felt really guilty for not praying with any kind of conviction. Instead, I wanted to minister to her spirit and help her to be at peace with God.

After she passed away several people said they felt God saying right from the beginning that he wanted to take her home.

I see things differently now. I'm going to ask God what he wants to do and trust that voice inside.

Barry said...

People used to tell me all the "God WILL heal" stuff, and for a time I believed it. Then I gradually realised that the evidence just wasn't there to back it up. People who came into our prayer meetings and "ministry times" sick went out of them sick. Many of them remained sick for a long time.

Now I believe that God CAN heal; I don't necessarily believe that he WILL do so. As to why he doesn't do so in the majority of cases, I have no idea. I wish someone could tell me.

Anonymous said...

I think God can heal, but as it was when Jesus was here on earth, it's not his main goal to heal us physically (or even emotionally). I think rather, He came to save us and then prepare a place for us that we can REALLY call home - heaven.

And he wants us to bring as many of his lost children with him as possible.

Heaven is where our hope is. Even Abraham didn't get all what was promised to him, but he saw it fulfilled while he was in heaven.

I believe in the end, our journey here on earth, through all the ups and downs, is all to draw us closer to the One with whom we'll be spending the rest of our lives as, for those of us that have confessed Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

If we can't point to the goodness of God in our present situation, we can definitely point to the past in the Cross, and the Future in Heaven.

Evangelist Changing said...

I think physical healing, whether it is through prayer or medicine, is always a pointer to the future when He will heal all our sickness.
I don't believe we are meant to escape this body though, I believe we will have a beautiful glorified body when Jesus returns, some might say it will be perfect. What perfect looks like though is unknown. Will someone who is born with down syndrome still have it in heaven? Will someone with one arm still only have one arm? etc etc. What is 'perfect'? Who knows. All I know is that we will be at peace with ourselves and with each other. Creation will be what God always intended it to be. This will be our Promised Land!

The thing is faith is a gift from God. It is not something we can gain in ourselves. So maybe we sometimes have faith that God will heal, but maybe in those instances it is God increasing our faith for that moment. It is all about grace, not faith in my opinion. I'm grateful for my faith because it is by the grace of God I have it.

Anonymous said...

Amen Amen Amen!

Wonderful blog, my friend... nothing wrong at ALL with avoiding making promises that God, himself, never makes!