1 Peter 2:24b

“By his wounds you have been healed.”

I’m going to step away from my intended blog post today to focus on this passage. This phrase “By his wounds you have been healed” is part of the last three verses that I will be covering in 1 Peter 2. It is a passage that has been pulled out of its context by popular pastors and has been made to say something it is not meant to say. I want to spend a little time with that today.

In my last post, I wrote about how a large movement in Christianity today has misused this verse. Now I will expand on this. One of the pioneers of the Word of Faith movement was Kenneth Hagin (1917- 2003). I remember seeing a copy of his book Healing Belongs to Us many years ago. Even then, the title didn’t sit right with me. I felt that Hagin was saying God owed us something. One of his claims was that Jesus’ death on the cross purchased our physical healing and he used this verse as one of his texts. There is an article on the Rhema website (Kenneth Hagin Ministries website) titled “Healing- A Forever Settled Subject.” Hagin wrote, “So we know that God dealt with the sin problem in Christ’s great substitutionary work. But both of these scriptures also state that God dealt with sickness and disease for us in the same act of redemption.” The two scriptures he is referring to are 1 Peter 2:24 and Isaiah 53:3-4, which Peter is alluding to in his letter. But is this what Peter meant when he wrote these words?

Another hugely popular pastor, Bill Johnson of Bethel Redding also teaches that it is always God’s will to heal us. In a Q&A on Bethel’s website, I found the following: “Q: Is it always God’s will to heal someone? A: How can God choose not to heal someone when he already purchased their healing? Was his blood enough for all sin, or just certain sin?” Johnson teaches that salvation includes physical healing. To teach anything else is to teach another gospel. He teaches that healing is as much of the gospel as the message of forgiveness.

There is so much harm in this teaching. In this theology, if someone is not healed, it begs the question, are they truly saved? How heartbreaking for the people who have gone to these churches fully believing that they would be healed. And how much guilt, shame, and sorrow they feel when they aren’t. I am not saying that God cannot heal or that healing is not for today. But I do believe that this verse does not teach that.

Another thing that these churches offer are healing schools. Bethel offers a healing school every year and I pulled this information from the Bethel web page calendar for this year’s event. “Bethel Healing School explores the healing culture of heaven that overflows into the miraculous. You will be inspired, activated, and launched into a lifestyle of healing and miracles.” A quick online search found healing schools offered by Rhema (Kenneth Hagin Ministries), Gloria Copeland (the Victory Channel), Andrew Wommack (Charis Bible College), and Rev. Chris Oyakhilome (Christ Embassy Churches Worldwide), just to name a few.

What does the Bible say about this? Is there anything about learning how to heal? Are there any verses about “a healing culture of heaven” or being “inspired, activated, and launched into a lifestyle of healing”? Spoiler alert! The answer is no. Paul writes about the spiritual gifts in first Corinthians 12. Verses 7-9 say, “A manifestation of the Spirit is given to each person for the common good: to one is given a message of wisdom through the Spirit, to another, a message of knowledge by the same Spirit, to another, faith by the same Spirit, to another, gifts of healing by the one Spirit…” Verse 11 is clear. “One and the same Spirit is active in all these, distributing to each person as he wills.” And in verse 30, “Do all have gifts of healing?” Paul is very clear. Healing is a gift of the Holy Spirit. It is not something we learn. It is something imparted by the Holy Spirit as he wills.

There is one last thing I want to say about these churches and their teaching on healing before I move on. If healing did work this way, wouldn’t Bethel and all of the Word of Faith churches that teach this doctrine be free of sickness? In a Christian Research Institute article titled “Off the Map: Bill Johnson and the Pursuit of Extra Biblical Authentication” (June 15, 2016), Bob Hunter addresses this issue. He writes, “The Johnsons admit that sometimes people haven’t been healed. One time the declaration was made that Redding would be a cancer-free zone, only to have someone die of cancer.” Sadly, Bill Johnson’s wife Beni died of cancer this last year. If only these churches and teachers could understand how God uses sickness and suffering to draw us closer to him instead of trying to declare that it doesn’t exist.

As I mentioned before, there is a huge problem with connecting healing to salvation. Salvation is a completely separate issue from physical healing. I will show what that verse means in context in my next blog post. There are many faithful Christians who have not been physically healed. To suggest that they just need to have faith because their physical healing was purchased for them is wrong. God uses our suffering in ways we don’t always understand, but he is always sovereign. He knows the big picture and we trust that he has our (and his) best interest in his plans. I think of people like Joni Earickson Tada, who has used her paralysis to glorify God and reach millions that she wouldn’t have otherwise reached. The apostle Paul had a thorn in his flesh that he begged God to remove. But God told him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12: 9). I have close friends whose infertility resulted in the adoption of wonderful children. Another dear friend suffers with debilitating back problems which have caused her to cling more closely to her Savior. And my own health issues make me realize how thankful I am that this body is only temporary. I have seen God heal friends of cancer, and he has taken some home to be with him. We can certainly pray for healing. In James, we are told that if we are sick, we are to ask the elders of our church to anoint us with oil and pray for us. But there is nowhere in the Bible where we are to declare our healing.

So what does this verse really mean? You’ll have to tune in to my next post to find out! I’ll give you a little hint. One of my favorite apologists, Greg Koukl, says “Never read a Bible verse.” You might be thinking to yourself, what is he talking about?! He goes on. “That’s right, never read a Bible verse. Instead, always read a paragraph at least.” You can find this article at the STR website. (Never Read a Bible Verse, str.org, 2/4/2013). In my next post, I’ll put this verse back in context and we’ll make sense of it all!

Grace be with you!


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