Position on Healing

To all Christ-Committed Followers throughout the CCF movement,

Grace and peace to you in the Name of Jesus!

It is with much joy that I share with all of you this paper containing CCF’s position on healing which was crafted through much prayer and discussion. This position paper expresses the CCF leadership’s key understanding regarding the matter of healing, taking into account the whole counsel of God as conveyed throughout the entire Bible, both in the Old Testament and New Testament.

For practical guidance, we have also included some specific points of pastoral counsel in relation to applying the principles in this paper. We will be sending answers to frequently-asked questions soon.

We acknowledge that not all people will agree with CCF’s position on certain theological issues. In leadership, we believe that it is imperative to keep an eye on the essentials and the “bottom line.” It helps us determine what really matters. This is especially crucial when there is a diversity of opinions among competent and well-intentioned servants of God. To address this matter, I want to share with you the four aspects of the bottom line which, like a four-legged stool, apply to any theological position CCF takes:

The Bottom Line of CCF Theological Positions:

  1. The Bottom Line of Diversity
    We are all entitled to our opinions, so long as they are not heretical in what pertains to the doctrinal fundamentals of our common faith and they are not against the clear teachings of Scripture. Our CCF Statement of Faith enumerates these doctrinal fundamentals which we consider as essential and non-negotiable, like who Jesus is, how one can be saved, and the authority of God’s Word. We need to uphold the “major on the major” principle. In allowing different opinions, we celebrate the diversity of our faith. Leaders can agree to disagree and still co-labor together.
  2. The Bottom Line of Unity
    Scripture tells God’s people to be “diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3). It is completely possible for Christians to display unity even in the midst of diversity, and this happens when we distinguish between doctrinal essentials and non-essentials. If and when we say or do anything that purposely or inadvertently leads to division among believers, it dishonors God and goes directly against one of the most fervent prayers of Jesus — that His followers “may all be one as we are one” (John 17:21).
  3. The Bottom Line of Humility and Submission
    One of CCF’s core values has to do with submission to God’s word and to God’s appointed authorities. More than anything else, this bottom line is a posture of humility and trust in God’s designated authorities (Hebrews 13:17). It is for our protection.

    Hebrews 13:17 – Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.

    Even the 1st century church had impassioned discussions on certain theological issues. However, when the apostles and elders in Jerusalem prayerfully crafted and released a letter as to their decision on the matter, it brought renewed unity and focus to the early church (see Acts 15:1-35). Clearly, it takes humility to have such a mindset, but let us remember that an unbelieving world, and the enemy of our souls, are watching for an opportunity to criticize and even split the church for which our dear Savior gave His life.

  4. The Bottom Line of Love
    In John 13:34-35, Jesus tells us, “I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, … By this all people will know that you are My disciples: if you have love for one another.” Our love for one another is our testimony to the world. It will be love that will prevent us from having unproductive debates – and even breakdowns in relationships – over doctrinal non-essentials. At the same time, this very same love compels us to support and promote only those teachings that are clearly supported by the Bible. Like Jesus, we need to exhibit both grace and truth (John 1:14).

To reiterate, we can agree to disagree in non-essentials, but our disagreement should never cause division or cause others to stumble. Whatever we do, we must do all to glorify God. When we cause division, it will dishonor Christ’s name and will clearly not bring glory to God.

In the future, should you feel that CCF, or any of its pastors or leaders, is teaching something that is contrary to the clear teaching of the Bible, it is important that you raise this with your Area Pastor or Satellite Pastor/Lead Overseer. You may also raise this with the Board of Elders or with my office if you think nothing is being done to correct it.

If you have questions or comments, please course it through your Area Pastor or to any of our Executive Pastors like Ptr Ricky Sarthou, Ptr Jim Whelchel, and Ptr JP Masakayan.

May our good Lord expand our ministry in helping people become healthy spiritually and physically for God’s glory.

All for Jesus,

Peter Tan-Chi

Senior Pastor

Position on Healing

Today, the teaching of Christian churches regarding supernatural healing often swings between extremes.

Some teach that God can and will (or must) heal immediately and supernaturally any time a believer prays in faith for such healing. Others teach that such immediate divine healing either never happens today, or is very, very rare.

The CCF leadership has observed both of these extremes, even within our congregation. To make clear our perspective, and to give pastoral guidance to the congregation, the following outlines CCF’s beliefs and practices regarding divine healing based on the counsel of the whole Bible:

  1. We believe that God continues to exercise power over human sickness by healing people who are sick. He can and does heal many of those we pray for through His power and for His glory.
    1. Healing is part of God’s character and nature. One of the names God is identified by in the Old Testament is Jehovah Rapha, the Lord who heals.

      And He said, “If you will give earnest heed to the voice of the Lord your God, and do what is right in His sight, and give ear to His commandments, and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have put on the Egyptians; for I, the Lord, am your healer.” Exodus 15:26

      God’s names are reflections of God’s nature. This indicates that healing is part of who He is and what He does – He heals and restores (Psalm 41:3; Jeremiah 33:6; Hosea 6:1).

      Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits; who pardons all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases. Psalm 103:2-3

    2. The Old Testament records many promises that God will heal – the land, His people, individuals, and even surrounding nations (2 Chronicles 7:14; 2 Chronicles 30:18-20; Psalm 107:17-22; Isaiah 53:5). This was not only metaphorical, but literal healing in many cases.

      For a multitude of the people, even many from Ephraim and Manasseh, Issachar and Zebulun, had not purified themselves, yet they ate the Passover otherwise than prescribed. For Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, “May the good Lord pardon everyone who prepares his heart to seek God, the Lord God of his fathers, though not according to the purification rules of the sanctuary.” So the Lord heard Hezekiah and healed the people. 2 Chronicles 30:18-20

      The Lord will strike Egypt, striking but healing; so they will return to the Lord, and He will respond to them and will heal them. Isaiah 19:22

    3. There are multiple examples from the Old Testament where God healed people. His healing extended not only to the children of Israel, but to others as well.

      Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech and his wife and his maids, so that they bore children. Genesis 20:17

      So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child and he was clean. 2 Kings 5:14

      “Return and say to Hezekiah the leader of My people, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of your father David, “I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; behold, I will heal you. On the third day you shall go up to the house of the Lord.” 2 Kings 20:5

      O Lord my God, I cried to You for help, and You healed me. O Lord, You have brought up my soul from Sheol; You have kept me alive, that I would not go down to the pit. Psalm 30:2-3

      Yet it is I who taught Ephraim to walk, I took them in My arms; But they did not know that I healed them. Hosea 11:3

    4. In the New Testament, Jesus healed many people.

      The news about Him spread throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all who were ill, those suffering with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, paralytics; and He healed them. Matthew 4:24

      Miracles of healing and deliverance were one of the primary ways that Jesus demonstrated that He was the Messiah, the Son of God. Some examples include:

      • A leper, an outcast of society – Mark 1:40-45
      • A Roman Centurion’s servant – Matthew 8:5-13
      • Two blind men – Matthew 9:27-31
      • A beggar at the pool of Siloam – John 9:1-9
      • A deaf and mute man – Mark 7:31-37
    5. Jesus even linked His ability to heal with His authority to forgive sin.

      Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven’; or to say, ‘Get up, and pick up your pallet and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”— He said to the paralytic, “I say to you, get up, pick up your pallet and go home.” And he got up and immediately picked up the pallet and went out in the sight of everyone, so that they were all amazed and were glorifying God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this.” Mark 2:9-12

    6. There is no record in the New Testament where someone sought Jesus for healing, and came away still blind, lame, or sick. His authority over sickness and death was absolute. With a single word, or even a touch of His garment, those who were sick, lame or even dead were healed, restored, and raised from the dead. (Matthew 15:30; Matthew 8:16; Luke 8:43-48; John 11:43; Mark 5:41)
    7. Jesus’ disciples were commissioned to pursue their ministry with the same authority to preach the good news of the kingdom, to heal the sick and cast out demons that Jesus Himself modeled. They exercised that authority, and they also saw God work in miraculous ways. (Matthew 10:1, 8; Luke 10:9; 10:17).

      And He called the twelve together, and gave them power and authority over all the demons and to heal diseases. And He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to perform healing… Departing, they began going throughout the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere. Luke 9:1-2, 6

    8. Jesus taught His disciples that they would do greater works than He did. While some say that means merely bringing people to faith in Christ, the clearer implication is that they could literally do the same and greater works, including evangelism and miracles of healing.

      Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. John 14:12

    9. The Book of Acts documents many incidents where Peter, Stephen, Philip, and Paul saw God use them to miraculously heal people. (Acts 3:1-11; 5:12-16; 6:8; 8:5-7; 9:33-35; 14:8-10; 19:11-12; 20:9-12; 28:7-8)

      But Peter said, “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—walk!” And seizing him by the right hand, he raised him up; and immediately his feet and his ankles were strengthened. With a leap he stood upright and began to walk; and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. Acts 3:6-8

    10. Among the gifts of the Spirit described in 1 Corinthians 12:9 are gifts of healing. These were apparently gifts given to members of the New Testament church, not only to apostles or leaders.

      For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit… 1 Corinthians 12:8-9

    11. The New Testament is full of clear teaching to pray in faith. When we pray in the Name of Jesus, in accordance with His will, with faith and conviction, God promises to hear and answer. This seems especially applicable to praying for the sick. (Matthew 21:21-23; John 16:23; Mark 11:24; 1 John 5:14-15; James 5:14-16)

      And Jesus answered and said to them, “Truly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ it will happen. And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” Matthew 21:21-22

    12. James 5:14-16 outlines clear instructions concerning praying for sickness:

      Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.

    13. No passage in Scripture says or implies that God’s ability to heal, or gifts of healing, are no longer valid for today. Some conservative commentators argue that there is no longer a need for miracles to validate the Gospel since now we have the Bible. But there is no evidence in Scripture that God’s ability or inclination to heal, or to use His people as instruments of healing, has ceased.
  2. We believe that God is glorified when He heals in response to His people praying in faith for healing in His name.
    1. There are many examples in Scripture when people glorified God and believed in Jesus as a result of seeing God’s miraculous power. (Matthew 4:24; John 7:31; John 2:23; John 9:35-38; Mark 1:27)

      But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—then He said to the paralytic, “Get up, pick up your bed and go home.” And he got up and went home. But when the crowds saw this, they were awestruck, and glorified God, who had given such authority to men. Matthew 9:6-8

      When He saw them, He said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they were going, they were cleansed. Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice. Luke 17:14-15

    2. People also saw His compassion through acts of healing (Matthew 9:35-38; 14:14; Philippians 2:27)

      Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed. Mark 1:41-42

    3. Even today we see the power of God manifested through healing in CCF’s ministries. Every year there are accounts of healing during prayer and fasting week. People who have been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, people with chronic and seemingly incurable ailments, and people who had been given days or weeks to live have been miraculously and instantaneously healed.

    CCF Beyond’s partners in Africa, South Asia, and East Asia have seen many miraculous healings. It is safe to say that tens of thousands of new believers in South Asia have come to Christ because they have seen someone physically healed or delivered from demonic oppression. In CCF we have seen and expect to continue to see God answer prayers for healing.

  3. While we are to minister in faith for healing, we recognize that not everyone we pray for is healed, nor can we demand healing from God. We pray in faith and expectantly, yet humbly submit to God’s answers.
    1. Not everyone in the Bible who needed healing was actually healed. Some examples include:
      • Timothy, who had frequent stomach ailments (1 Timothy 5:23)
      • Trophimus, who was not able to continue his journey with Paul because of sickness (2 Timothy 4:20)
      • David’s child with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 12:16-18)
      • Jesus pointed out that God saved one widow during a great famine and healed one man (Naaman) with leprosy in the time of Elisha and Elijah. But many others were not healed (Luke 4:24-27).
      • Elisha got sick with a sickness from which he eventually died

        When Elisha became sick with the illness of which he was to die,… (2 Kings 13:14)

    2. While lack of faith or unconfessed sin may be reasons why God does not heal a person (James 5:15-16), they are not the only reasons why a person may not be healed. At times, Jesus acknowledges the faith of those who experience healing (Matthew 9:29, 15:28; Mark 5:34). At other times it is not their faith, but completely His initiative to heal that is involved (John 5:5-9). In other cases, it was actually the faith of others, not the faith of the person healed that is recognized (Mark 2:5; Matthew 8:10, 13).Blaming those who pray for sick people, or even worse those who are not healed, for lacking faith, or assuming that they have unrepentant sin, makes us judges of the hearts of people (Matthew 7:1-5; Romans 14:13; James 4:11-12). Only God fully knows the hearts of people (Psalm 139:23-24; Jeremiah 17:10; Romans 8:27).
    3. The Bible identifies various reasons why people are not healed, including:
      1. Sin, disobedience, or unbelief (Matthew 13:58; James 5:16)
      2. His judgement on a nation or a group of people (Deuteronomy 28:20-22; 2 Samuel 24:15; Revelation 2:20-23)
      3. Natural consequences of lifestyle or age (Psalm 90:10; 1 Kings 1:1; 2 Kings 13:14; 1 Corinthians 15:42-44; Galatians 6:7-8)
  4. God can and does allow sickness and other trials and tragedies to accomplish His purposes.
    Many times, God will allow and use sickness to judge and discipline His people as a consequence of sin. It is beyond our human reason to fully comprehend the purposes of God. Often the answers to our questions of why — if they ever come — come much later, and are only clear in hindsight (John 13:7). In other cases, we may never fully understand in this life. We must trust His sovereignty and goodness, and continue to walk faithfully with God even if He does not reveal the details of His purposes.

    All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. Hebrews 12:11

    “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

    The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law. Deuteronomy 29:29

  5. While we believe in physical healing from God, our complete healing will only ultimately be accomplished in eternity with God.
    Physical death is a consequence of the Fall, and everyone is ultimately subject to it. (Genesis 2:16-17; 1 Corinthians 15:20-22; Corinthians 4:16)

    And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment… Hebrews 9:27

    Even those who experience God’s healing eventually will die. Hezekiah pleaded that God would extend his life. God graciously gave him 15 more years to live. But He did not grant him immortality. (Isaiah 38:1-6)

    God ultimately determines the length of our lives and the time of our departure from this world. (Job 14:1-6; Psalm 139:16; Acts 13:36; Hebrews 9:27)

    Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
    And in Your book were all written
    The days that were ordained for me,
    When as yet there was not one of them. Psalm 139:16

    The only final and complete release from sickness and the deterioration of our finite human frame is the glorified body that we will receive when we go to be with Jesus. (1 Corinthians 15:42-44)

    Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. 1 Corinthians 15:51-53

    “…and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4

In summary, in CCF we believe that God continues to heal, both immediately and miraculously, as well as through natural and medical means. He is glorified when we pray in faith that people are healed, and when He answers to demonstrate His power and grace. We also acknowledge that not everyone we pray for will be healed. This may be for different reasons, including sin, lack of faith, or to accomplish purposes that we are not able to fathom. While healing should be sought and prayed for, our ultimate healing will happen when we receive our resurrected bodies in eternity.

Our faith must always be anchored in God’s faithfulness, goodness, wisdom, righteous character, and love for us. We do not need to defend His character or power. What will please Him most is our faith in Him. As Job said, “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him.” (Job 13:15)

Pastoral counsel on healing in light of our beliefs

  1. We should pray boldly and in faith for healing, believing that God is more than able to supernaturally heal those who are sick.
  2. Follow the biblical pattern for those in the congregation who are sick (James 5:13-16).
  3. Be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit when we pray for healing. When people ask for prayer, ask questions about their lives to understand any possible underlying issues that may be influencing their situation.
    1. Do they have a personal relationship with Christ?
    2. Are they living in obedience to Christ?
    3. Do they have a history of past sin or addiction?
    4. How is their family life?
    5. Do they have bitterness or unforgiveness?
  4. Ask God to give you wisdom and discernment as you pray so that you will pray in accordance to His will.
  5. Test the spirits. Not all so-called “faith healers” are from God, including some highly visible celebrity preachers (2 Timothy 4:3-4; 2 Peter 2:1-3; 1 John 4:1).
    1. Observe how they teach the Bible – are they sound doctrinally, do they take passages out of context, do they only appeal to emotions?
    2. Take note of who gets the glory – the one healing or the Lord?
    3. Are they above reproach financially and in their moral lives?
  6. Do not rely on a special formula or wording in our prayers that ensure people will be healed. Healing comes in the name and through the power of Jesus, but there is no verbal formula that we can say that ensures healing.
  7. Recognize that God’s healing can also come through medical treatment prescribed by trained medical practitioners.
  8. Be good stewards of our bodies by eating healthy, getting enough sleep, exercising, and maintaining bodily discipline.
  9. Be diligent to research claims of health products before believing or propagating products or services that promise healing or enhanced health.
  10. Be wise during the COVID crisis. Some may foolishly believe that, since they are believers, they are magically protected from any sickness, including COVID. Some cite Ps. 91:10 where God promises the psalmist that no plague will come near his tent. But Satan quoted the same passage when he tried to tempt Jesus to jump from the pinnacle of the temple. Jesus answered, “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.” Our advice is to be prudent: heed the advice and regulations of authorities and medical experts, take reasonable precautions, and continue to trust God for His protection and, if necessary, His healing.


A Companion Document to CCF’s Position Paper on Healing

  1. Are all Christians commanded and empowered to heal/pray for healing, or is it just a gift for a few?

    The ministry of praying for the sick is the ministry of every true follower of Jesus. This is largely based on Jesus’ instructions to His disciples in Luke 10:1-2, 8-9. God is ultimately the healer, and He can use any believer to pray for healing. We do not believe that God’s healing power is only accessible to a few, and therefore only to be exercised by those select individuals.

    However, Scripture does indicate that there are people endowed with “gifts of healing” (1 Corinthians 12:9). Therefore, it should not be surprising that some Christians who exercise their gifts of healing may see healing take place more often or more dramatically than others.

    While all believers are given spiritual gifts, not all are given gifts of healing. We cannot choose the gifts that God endows us with but we can ask (1 Corinthians 14:1). We should not compare nor compete, nor prohibit anyone from exercising their gifts (1 Corinthians 14:39) but instead believe that “to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good (1 Corinthians 12:7).” In the end, it is all for the glory of God.

  1. What does 1 Peter 2:24 mean when it says, “for by His wounds you were healed?”

    The text, “for by His wounds you were healed” is the subject of considerable debate. This is one example of how sincere, Bible-believing Christians can have differing opinions but should not allow it to be a point of division. A group of Christians holding to one view should never consider themselves as “mature” or being “biblically true,” while regarding those of a different view as “less mature” or “biblically compromised.” Such an attitude will be divisive and therefore not in accordance with Jesus’s prayer for unity (not necessarily uniformity) among His followers (John 17:21).

    There are three main views to consider when it comes to this Scripture text:

    1. The text refers only to salvation, i.e. spiritual healing from sin.
    2. The text refers only to physical healing.
    3. The text refers to both spiritual and physical healing as results of Jesus’s atoning sacrifice.

    The CCF leadership agrees with the third view, that the wounds Jesus sustained in His atoning sacrifice include both spiritual and physical healing. However, there are important clarifications to be made in this regard.

    First of all, answering this question requires that we see what the entire verse 24 says, including the surrounding verses that provide the context. Here is 1 Peter 2:21-25:

    21 For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, 22 who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; 23 and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. 25 For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.

    The phrase referred to in regard to healing is in the latter portion of verse 24: “for by His wounds you were healed.”

    The context of the entire 1 Peter chapter 2 is that we should endure suffering and persecution just as Jesus did. He was an example of silently enduring pain and injustice, even to the point of sacrificing Himself on the cross. Because of Jesus’ death for us, we now should live righteously for Him. While the phrase “for by His wounds you were healed” may well be taken to indicate a physical aspect to the effect of Christ’s death, the context makes it clear that physical healing is not the focus of the passage. We take this as a confirmation that while physical healing is clearly available in Jesus, spiritual healing, forgiveness of sins (i.e. salvation), is still the priority and ultimate objective of Jesus’ sacrifice.

    It is equally clear that the passage Peter quoted is not primarily about physical healing. The phrase in 1 Peter 2:24 is taken from Isaiah 53. The following shows the context of the quotation in Isaiah 53:4-6:

    4 Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
    And our sorrows He carried;
    Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
    Smitten of God, and afflicted.
    5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
    He was crushed for our iniquities;
    The chastening for our well being fell upon Him,
    And by His scourging we are healed.
    6 All of us like sheep have gone astray,
    Each of us has turned to his own way;
    But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.

    The point of Isaiah 53 is that the Messiah’s death on the cross would be for the sins of the people. Yes, verse 5 does mention that through his scourging we are healed, but in comparison, the sacrifice for sin is mentioned in verses 5 and 6, as well as in portions of subsequent verses:

    8 … who considered
    That He was cut off out of the land of the living
    For the transgression of my people (emphasis added), to whom the stroke was due?
    11 … My Servant, will justify the many,
    As He will bear their iniquities (emphasis added).
    12 …Yet He Himself bore the sin of many (emphasis added),
    And interceded for the transgressors.

    Let us first consider this theologically. Due to God’s attributes – particularly that He is holy and just – the forgiveness of our sins requires an efficacious atonement. The prophet Isaiah clearly points to the sacrifice of Christ as being that efficacious atonement as he focuses on how the Suffering Servant would be offered as the sacrifice for sin.

    But what of that specific portion of Isaiah 53:5 that says, “and by His scourging we are healed,” which was quoted in 1 Peter 2:24?

    Now come the exegetical considerations:

    First, we need to acknowledge that the word “healed” in Hebrew (original Old Testament language) and Greek (original New Testament language) can actually refer to spiritual or physical healing. But again, the central issue in both passages (Isaiah 53 and 1 Peter 2) is sin, and therefore the obvious priority is spiritual healing.

    Second, we need to acknowledge that, while the word “griefs” in Isaiah 53:4 can be translated as “sickness,” we cannot deny the conspicuous lack of direct mention of, or direct reference to, sickness in Isaiah 53. To shed light on this, we need to realize that Isaiah 53 was written in the genre of Hebrew poetry. Hebrew poetry often utilizes parallelisms where the idea or thought (instead of meter or rhyme) of one line is reiterated in another line, thus helping reveal the meaning of what is written.

    Isaiah 53:4
    Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
    And our sorrows He carried;
    Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
    Smitten of God, and afflicted.

    Isaiah 53:5
    But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
    He was crushed for our iniquities;
    The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
    And by His scourging we are healed.

    Hence, when we consider both the immediate literary context as well as use of parallelism in Hebrew poetry, clearly the focus of the passage is primarily on spiritual healing.

    But there is one more thing: How do we explain Matthew 8:16-17, which makes clear reference to physical healing when referring to the same passage from Isaiah 53?

    16 When evening came, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed; and He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were ill. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: “He Himself took our infirmities and carried away our diseases.”

    Matthew 8:16-17 clearly shows us the heart of God and His desire to make people whole through spiritual salvation and even by physical healing. We should note, however, that this is not a quotation of Isaiah 53:5 which was cited in 1 Peter 2:24 as “for by His wounds you were healed”. This is a quotation from Isaiah 53:4, and Matthew uses this quotation as proof that Jesus is the prophesied Messiah.

    To reiterate, the CCF leadership agrees with the view that the wounds Jesus sustained in His atoning sacrifice include both spiritual and physical healing. This is not to say, however, that believers are therefore exempt from suffering or disease in this life.

    Rev. Edmund Chan of Covenant Evangelical Free Church sheds further clarity:

    “The atoning work of Jesus on the cross also applicationally impacts our earthly existence to bring an assurance that physical healing comes in the mighty name of Jesus!

    “HOWEVER, while BOTH spiritual healing (Isaiah 53:5, 1 Peter 2:24) AND physical healing (Matthew 8:16-17) are wrought by the CROSS, they are clearly NOT in the same manner and measure.

    “In short, ALL true Christians are freed from sin’s penalty through the Cross (in spiritual healing); but NOT ALL Christians are healed, here and now, by the Atonement (in physical healing).”

    Therefore, taking that portion of 1 Peter 2:24 that states “for by His wounds you were healed” in its proper and complete context leads us to conclude the following:

    1. Physical healing is part of the Atonement provided by our Lord Jesus Christ.
    2. Our Lord Jesus can and does heal today, even in instantaneous and miraculous ways.
    3. We cannot presume, however, that this phrase in 1 Peter 2:24 or any other related passage of Scripture guarantees instant or miraculous physical healing each time we pray.
    4. The physical healing we pray for can take place over time and through a variety of interventions such as medical care, and it would be no less an answer to prayer.
    5. In some cases, healing will happen only when the true believer goes to be with Jesus. This will be the ultimate healing for all believers in Jesus.
  1. Was Paul’s thorn in the flesh a physical ailment?

    The key passage is found in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10:

    7 Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! 8 Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. 9 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

    There are different views concerning Paul’s thorn in the flesh. It has been associated with some form of physical affliction by many interpreters from the time of the early church to the present. However, others have argued that it was either a literal messenger of Satan the opposition of Jewish Christians, guilt from Paul’s own past persecution of believers, and many others. The passage leaves room for different interpretations.

    While we are not absolutely sure of the nature of his condition, it is clear that God did not take it away. Paul sought the intervention of God three times, and God’s answer was, “My grace is sufficient.” What can we learn from Paul’s experience?

    1. Paul repeatedly asked God to remove the thorn that tormented him. But God chose not to
      grant his request at that time of writing.
    2. Since Paul was obviously a man of great faith, we can clearly conclude that God’s answer to him was not a result of Paul’s lack of faith or because he was in sin.
    3. Based on God’s answer to Paul, God had a very clear purpose in allowing Paul to experience the thorn: it was for Paul’s own protection, to keep him humble and dependent on God.
    4. In terms of application, even in the midst of prayers not answered according to our request, we should keep trusting God and in His sovereign purpose that His grace will be sufficient in every circumstance.
  1. Can God draw us closer to Him and help mold our character in the midst of sickness? 

    God does not desire sickness for us but He will cause all things to work together for good. But that doesn’t mean that we should stop praying for healing. Any pain and suffering in the lives of God’s people can be redeemed by God to deepen our dependence on Him, our knowledge of Him, and help us walk humbly before Him (Micah 6:8). Jesus felt compassion for those He ministered to, including those who were sick (Matthew 9:35-38). He is close to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18), He is the God of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3).

    We can be confident that God’s purpose even in pain and suffering will lead to His glory, as in the case of the man born blind:

    John 9:1-3
    1 As He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. 2 And His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him.

    Ultimately, our confidence lies in the fact that God causes all things to work together for good, and that our highest good is to become more like Jesus. This is what we read in Paul’s letter to Romans:

    Romans 8:28-29
    28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;


  1. Is healing always an indication of God’s power at work?

    There is a danger in assuming that all signs and wonders are from God. We are told in scripture to test the spirits, and to be discerning about claims that people are acting in the power and authority of Christ (1 John 4:1).

    Deuteronomy 13:1-4 warns the children of Israel to not be deceived by false prophets who perform signs and wonders yet lead the people to worship and serve false gods and idols.

    “If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him.”

    There are also several accounts in the Bible that indicate that others can imitate miraculous signs and wonders. The magicians of Egypt were able to replicate several of the signs and plagues that God sent, including making their staffs turn into snakes (Exodus 7:10-11) and water turn into blood (Exodus 7:22).

    God is the true healer and He gives us gifts to build up the church. But Satan can also come up with counterfeits to deceive people. In Revelation 13:3, the beast is healed of its fatal wound, and that leads to many being in awe and being deceived. Also Matthew 7:22 suggests that the false believers who cast out demons and performed signs and wonders were able to heal miraculously. In Matthew 24:24, Jesus warns that in the last days false prophets will arise who are able to do great signs and wonders. We should be on the alert, and not be misled. (Refer to Test the Spirits in the Statement)

    We need to be careful not to assume that all people who claim the ability to perform signs and wonders, including miraculous healing, are doing so in the power of the Holy Spirit. There are many charlatans who deceive many, including leaders of cults in this country, who are followed by millions (1 John 4:1-3). (See also point 4 in the Pastoral Counsel section of the CCF Position on Healing)

    1 John 4:1-3
    1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.

  1. If God is willing and able to heal, should we still seek medical attention?

    Absolutely. There is no conflict whatsoever in praying in faith for healing and seeking help from medical science and its practitioners.

    Paul instructed Timothy to take some wine for his frequent stomach ailments (1 Timothy 5:23). This was apparently a common medical approach to such problems in that day. Luke, the writer of the gospel of Luke and the book of Acts, was a physician who apparently continued to be known as such even after he became a traveling companion of the Apostle Paul (Colossians 4:14).

    God answered Hezekiah’s prayer to heal him and to extend his life (2 Kings 20:5-7), but He used the prophet Isaiah to instruct him how to treat the disease: He had Isaiah put cakes of figs on Hezekiah’s boils in order to accomplish the healing.

    Even in the story of the Good Samaritan, part of the way that the Samaritan man showed compassion was to clean, sterilize, and bandage the injured man’s wounds, and to bring him to a place where he could recuperate (Luke 10:33-34). Jesus referred to a common sense approach to medical care when he said “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick” (Matthew 9:12). The implication is that those who are sick need a physician.

    This is not to say that we should come to Jesus only as a last resort. Through prayer, we should seek Jesus as our first and continuing resort, and the ultimate object of faith and trust for our healing.