“The Healing Power of Jesus Christ”
Series: The Church on Fire!
Rev. Todd Linn, PhD
First Baptist Henderson, KY
- Take God’s word and open to Acts, chapter 9.
If you’re visiting with us we’re continuing our series of messages through the book of Acts. We’re making our way verse-by-verse through the book and we’re about a third of the way through it now as we finish up chapter number 9.
We’re reading about the early church and one of the things we’ve noted about the early church is that there is a remarkable work of God through signs and wonders. One of the wonders of the early church is the number of physical healings that took place when the church began. We’re going to read a couple of examples of healing this morning.
- Stand in honor of the reading of the word of God.
32 Now it came to pass, as Peter went through all parts of the country, that he also came down to the saints who dwelt in Lydda.
33 There he found a certain man named Aeneas, who had been bedridden eight years and was paralyzed.
34 And Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus the Christ heals you. Arise and make your bed.” Then he arose immediately.
35 So all who dwelt at Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.
36 At Joppa there was a certain disciple named Tabitha, which is translated Dorcas. This woman was full of good works and charitable deeds which she did.
37 But it happened in those days that she became sick and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room.
38 And since Lydda was near Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent two men to him, imploring him not to delay in coming to them.
39 Then Peter arose and went with them. When he had come, they brought him to the upper room. And all the widows stood by him weeping, showing the tunics and garments which Dorcas had made while she was with them.
40 But Peter put them all out, and knelt down and prayed. And turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up.
41 Then he gave her his hand and lifted her up; and when he had called the saints and widows, he presented her alive.
42 And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed on the Lord.
43 So it was that he stayed many days in Joppa with Simon, a tanner.
It’s kind of hard knowing exactly where to begin when we read about healing in the Bible and how it applies today. Part of the pastor’s job is not only to proclaim the truth of Scripture, but also to deal with error, with false teaching and false applications of Scripture in the world today. 2 Timothy 3:16 says that Scripture is profitable not only for instruction in righteousness, but also for reproof and correction. And 2 Timothy 4:2 says that preaching includes rebuking. So there’s a necessary element of “setting the record straight” where it comes to certain applications of Scripture.
I say all of this because I do believe there are some misapplications of Scripture today and that we find that often in the teachings of healing. Especially in our American context over the past century there has been, in my estimation, a sort of sensationalism about healing and it gave rise to a number of people who referred to themselves as “faith healers” and there are some today who refer to themselves this way.
By the way, I heard about a guy who went to a tent revival and went forward for prayer with the evangelist. The evangelist was one of these so-called “faith healers.” The man told the evangelist he wanted prayer for his hearing, his “hearing,” okay? So the evangelist quickly put his fingers in the man’s ears and closed his eyes and shouted a few words the man didn’t understand. Then the evangelist said, “Now, how’s your hearing?” The man said, “I don’t know, my hearing is not till Tuesday at the county courthouse!”
Well, I want to deal with this topic of healing today as we study about “The Healing Power of Jesus Christ.” We won’t treat the topic exhaustively, but we’ll scratch the surface together and at least get us thinking about healing in the Bible and how it applies today. Here are some truths about the healing power of Jesus Christ. First:
I. Christ can Heal our Sickness (32-35)
You ask me, “Brother Todd, do you believe Jesus Christ can heal our sicknesses today?” Absolutely! There is healing power in the name of Jesus Christ. We see that evidenced here in two healings. The first involves a man named Aeneas in verses 32-35. Look there in your Bibles and let’s take a closer look.
The Bible says in verse 32 that Peter is going throughout the country and he comes to the saints in Lydda. The word “saints” is a reference to Christians. Every Christian is a saint. Isn’t that good to know?! So verse 33 says that Peter found a certain man named Aeneas, who had been bedridden for how long? 8 years. Why? What was his physical sickness? He was paralyzed.
By the way, I like the fact that Luke, the writer of Acts, tells us that Peter “found” Aeneas. It suggests he was looking for him. It suggests that Peter was seeking to minister to someone who needed the Lord Jesus Christ. I have discovered that when you look for people to bless, you will find them! Try that out this afternoon. Just look for someone to bless and see if you don’t find them. Look for someone to pray for or to share the gospel with or speak a word of encouragement to, and see if God doesn’t just give you success and let you find that person. He will!
Verse 34 says that Peter said, “Aeneas, Jesus the Christ heals you.” Who healed Aeneas? Jesus the Christ, Jesus the Messiah. “Arise and make your bed.” Then he arose immediately.
By the way, how many parents of teenagers are here this morning? Don’t you wish you had that kind of supernatural power that you could say to your teenagers, “Arise and make your bed!” The Bible says Aeneas, a man who had been paralyzed for 8 years arose immediately. He got up. He was healed.
This healing reminds us a bit of the Lord Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry when he healed the man in Mark 2:1-12. Remember the guy who was paralyzed in the Gospels? He had four friends who let him down into a house where Jesus was? The place was packed and they couldn’t get in so they broke through the roof to get the paralytic to Jesus. Jesus said to the paralytic, “Arise, take up your bed and walk.” Very similar to what Peter does here, the main difference is that Peter makes it clear it is not he himself who is doing the healing, but he uses the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now, let’s pause right here and note a few things. First, Peter is an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is an apostle. The Bible identifies an apostle as someone who witnessed the risen Lord; actually saw the risen Lord Christ sometime after Christ’s resurrection. In order to be an apostle, you had to witness the risen Christ. That disqualifies every single one of us listening to this message from being an apostle. Okay? We were not there. We did not see the risen Lord Christ. Oh, I know we have seen Him in another way altogether, but not physically as did the apostles 2,000 years ago. Similarly, the entire New Testament was written by the apostles, by those who witnessed the risen Christ. None of you has witnessed the risen Christ so don’t try to write a letter to add to the Bible. You are not qualified.
Now why am I saying this? Because the Bible demonstrates that there were certain apostolic gifts that ceased with the passing of the apostles. Now hear me clearly on this. Remember the question I posed earlier? “Brother Todd, do you believe Jesus Christ can heal our sicknesses today?” Yes! But here’s a different question: “Do you believe there are apostles today?” No. So there is no apostolic gift of healing today.
Now, Christ does heal sicknesses today, but in a different way than we read in the book of Acts. In the book of Acts, we read a great deal about healing coming through the hands of the apostles. We read about Peter and John and Paul and we read about healing they do in the name of Jesus Christ. Now get this carefully: with the passing of time, the apostolic gift of healing became less frequent. God used apostolic healing at the birth of the church to authenticate the gospel message. It was like a power boost to the spread of the church. People heard about Jesus Christ and they saw these healings in his name at the hands of the apostles and they were like, “Wow, I want in on that!” But over time, the apostolic gift of healing became less frequent.
In fact, in the New Testament, the words “heal” “healed” and “healing” occur 79 times. 79 times in the New Testament. Listen! All but four of those 79 times occur in the book of Acts. Did you know that? Of the 79 references to the word “heal” in the New Testament, 75 occur in the book of Acts. And what you see is that over a period of time, the apostles’ ability to heal by speaking the name of Jesus Christ becomes less and less frequent and then ceases with their passing.
For example, Paul had the apostolic gift of healing. But his ability to heal slowed over time. He didn’t always have that apostolic gift. The book of Acts deals with events right after the death and resurrection of Christ. We’re reading about stuff post AD 33. So there’s this incredible healing at the hands of the apostles, but what happens by the time Paul writes his letter to the Philippians in AD 60? He mentions in Philippians 2:25-30 that a guy named Epaphroditus is sick. “Hey, Paul! Why don’t you just heal him?” Because he couldn’t. The apostolic gift of healing slowed over time. When Paul writes to Timothy in AD 62-63 he notes that Timothy has some kind of stomach problem in 1 Timothy 5:23. “But, just heal him Paul!” He couldn’t. And when Paul writes Timothy his second letter in AD 64 he notes in 2 Timothy 4:20 that a guy named Trophimus is sick. Again, “Just heal him Paul!” But that’s the point. By the time the New Testament is completed, the apostolic gift of healing ceases completely with the passing of the apostles. Now listen carefully: I did not say that Jesus Christ could not heal our sicknesses. I merely said that the way healing occurred by the hands of the apostles ceased with their passing.
So there really is no biblical basis for someone claiming to possess this kind of power as a self-designated “faith healer.” That kind of power was unique to the apostles. The Bible does refer, however, to those who have “gifts of healing” to be used through the local church. 1 Corinthians 12:9, for example, mentions this gift in a list of other gifts that are to be used in the context of a local church, not in the context of a traveling ministry that goes on the road and sets up tents. And the phrase, “gifts of healing” refers to church members who have a God-given ability pray in faith for healing in the body of Christ. The gift is to be used in the context of the church, much as James mentions in his letter in James 5 that when someone is sick he is to call for the elders of the church to pray for him and, he says, “the prayer of faith will heal the sick.”
By the way, I hope this discussion also helps us understand that it is not God’s will for every single person to be healed of every single physical ailment. It was not God’s will to heal Epaphroditus, nor Trophimus, nor Timothy, nor even Paul himself, who suffered from some kind of problem with his eyes. Aeneas was healed here in the passage, but does he eventually get sick again? Yes. He eventually dies. We read a moment ago about Tabitha whom Peter raised from the dead. But even Tabitha got sick again and eventually died.
Furthermore, the Bible does not say that these people were sick because of some kind of sin in their lives. Sometimes someone says, “Well, that person’s sick because of sin in their life!” How do you know that?! That was the typical belief in Jesus’ day. Remember when the disciples asked that of Jesus in John 9? They saw a man who was blind and they asked Jesus, “Who sinned that this man was born blind—him or his parents?” They’re like, “Obviously somebody sinned! I mean this is divine punishment, right?!” And Jesus says, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned. He was born blind that I might glorify God by healing him right now.” To be sure, there is a possiblity that some sicknesses may be related to sin (1 Corinthians 11:30; James 5:15). The liver damage an alcoholic experiences, for example, is directly related to years of drunkenness. We are wrong, however, when we “play the judge” and confidently tell someone else that he is sick because of sin in his life.
And it is also wrong to assume that God will heal every single person of every single physical sickness. God heals selectively in accordance to His perfect plan. In His sovereignty and for His glory, He chooses to heal some people at certain times, but even then it is not forever. He may heal through someone’s prayer, through medicine, through a doctor, but Christ always does the healing. Christ can heal our sicknesses. Number two:
II. Christ can Heal our Sorrows (36-43)
I love this story about Peter’s healing of Tabitha in verse 36. While Peter is in Lydda, there’s this woman 12 miles away on the Mediterranean coast town of Joppa. The Bible says there’s this woman there named Tabitha. That’s her Aramaic name. Her Greek name is Dorcas. Personally, I prefer Tabitha! But anyway, the Bible describes her as “full of good works and charitable deeds.” We read earlier that she was a seamstress who sewed clothing for others. She was a godly woman and everyone loved her.
Now the Bible says in verse 37 that she became sick and died. By the way, no sin mentioned here! She was “full of good works and charitable deeds,” but she died. It happens. The Bible says that rather than burying her, the people wash her body and lay her in an upper room. Then, verse 38 says they go after Peter. Peter, remember, is just 12 miles away in the town of Lydda and Peter has the apostolic gift of healing. So they’re thinking, “Let’s get Peter. We’ve heard how God is using him in a mighty way, healing people in the name of Jesus Christ.” So they fetch Peter and he comes right away.
Look at this picture of sorrow in verse 39. The Bible says that when Peter got there to Joppa all of these ladies are crying and they’re showing Peter all of the clothes Dorcas had made for them. Can you picture them? They’re like, “Look at this nice sweater that Dorcas made for me” and, “Look at this beautiful coat, Peter!” They sound like a bunch of ladies, don’t they?! Some of you ladies can relate. They’re all over Peter showing him Dorcas’ sewing collection and verse 40, Peter’s like, “You all are going to have to go!” He put them out and then he knelt down and prayed.
Hey, before we go on. How many of you think these ladies missed Dorcas, can I see your hands? Yeah. Here’s the question: will people miss you when you’re gone? Just a question to think about. What kind of legacy will you leave?
So Peter put the ladies out to get some peace and quiet so he can pray. He’s not drawing attention to himself so everyone will be amazed at him. He’s no sideshow faith-healer. He’s alone with the body. He prays. Then he turns to Tabitha and says, “Tabitha, arise.” Again, he reminds us of Jesus. Remember in the gospels when Jesus raised the little girl from the dead? He spoke to her in Aramaic and said, “Talitha, cumi” which means, “Little girl, arise! (Mark 5:41).” Peter turns to Tabitha and, in the Aramaic, he’s saying, “Tabitha, cumi.” Just one-letter difference! Peter mirrors the Lord Jesus Christ here. It’s just another way of drawing attention to the healing power of Jesus Christ.
So Tabitha opens her yes and sits up. Peter extends his hand, lifts her up, and calls the ladies back into the room, presenting Tabitha to them alive and well. Christ can heal our sickness and Christ can heal our sorrows.
You know there’s an implication here that’s worthy of our serious consideration. It goes something like this: If Christ can heal a person of paralysis and Christ can raise the dead, what can He not do in your life and mine? Amen? He can heal your sickness and heal your sorrow. I mean, whatever sorrow you’re facing in your life right how, a marital problem, a financial worry, a recurring sin or personal failure. If Christ can heal the sick and raise the dead, He can fix your problem, too. Trust Him to do it. That takes us to our final point. Christ can heal our sickness. Christ can heal our sorrow. And:
III. Christ can Heal our Souls (35, 42)
This is the most important part of these healing stories. The most important part is not that Christ can heal our sickness and our sorrows, but that Christ can heal our souls.
There is a statement that occurs at the end of both of these healings. After Aeneas is healed, the Bible says in verse 35, “So all who dwelt in Lydda and Sharon saw him and—what?—turned to the Lord.” That means, they became believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. The people saw a physical healing and they received a spiritual healing.
Same thing with Tabitha. She is healed and what do we read in verse 42? “And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many—what?—believed in the Lord.” The people saw a physical healing and they received a spiritual healing.
That’s the most important part of these healings. As wonderful as physical healing is, we have said before that physical healing does not last forever. You can be sick and get better, but eventually you’ll get sick again.
And we pray for healing, don’t we? I love to see God heal people. We’ve seen it happen in our congregation. We’ve seen many people close to death get healed by the power of Jesus Christ and God is glorified in those healings. I continue to pray for healing of our members. I believe He wants to do even greater things through our prayers.
But you know what? Your greatest need and my greatest need is not physical healing. Your greatest need is spiritual healing. Physical healing does not last forever, but spiritual healing does. Christ can—and wants to—heal your soul.
The hymn-writer put it this way:
I heard about His healing,
Of His cleansing power revealing.
How He made the lame to walk again
And caused the blind to see;
And then I cried, “Dear Jesus,
Come and heal my broken spirit,”
And somehow Jesus came and brought
To me the victory.
- Stand for prayer.
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