Many Christians today believe in the doctrine of healing by faith in God. But some wonder: How can a person who fully believes in this doctrine actually receive the blessing and appropriate healing?
I suggest seven steps.
First, be fully persuaded of the Word of God in this matter. The Word is the only sure foundation of rational and scriptural faith. Your faith must rest on the great principles and promises of the Bible, or it can never stand the testings that are sure to come. You must be so sure that this is part of the gospel and the redemption of Christ that all the reasonings of the best men and women cannot shake you.
Most of the practical failures of faith in this matter result from defective or doubtful convictions concerning the divine Word. A woman who had fully embraced this truth and accepted Christ as her Healer was immediately strengthened very much both in spirit and body. Her overflowing heart was only too glad to tell the good news to all her friends. Among others, she met her pastor and told him of her faith and blessing.
To her surprise, he immediately objected to any such views. He warned her against this new fanaticism and told her that these promises on which she was resting were not for us but were only for the apostles and the apostolic age. She listened, questioned, yielded and abandoned her confidence. In less than one month, when I saw her again, she had sunk to such depression that she scarcely knew whether she even believed the Bible.
If those promises were for the apostles, she argued, why might not all the other promises of the Bible also be for them only? I invited her to spend time examining the teaching of the Word of God.
We carefully compared the promises of healing from Exodus to James. Every question we calmly weighed until the truth became so manifest and its evidence so overwhelming that she could only say, "I know it is here, and I know it is true, even if all the world should deny it!"
Then she knelt and asked the Lord's forgiveness for her weakness and unbelief. She renewed her solemn profession of faith and consecration and claimed again the promise of healing and the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
From that day she has been restored and blessed with all spiritual blessings. The very pastor who caused her to stumble has been forced to own that this is the finger of God. But the starting point of all her blessing was the moment when she fully accepted and rested in the living Word.
Second, be fully assured of the will of God to heal you. Most persons are ready enough to admit the power of Christ to heal. But true faith implies equal confidence in the willingness of God to answer the prayer of faith. Any doubt on this point will surely paralyze your prayer for definite healing. If there is any question of God's will to heal you, there can be no certainty in your expectation.
A mere vague trust in the possible acceptance of your prayer is not faith definite enough to grapple with the forces of disease and death. The prayer for healing, "if it be Thy will," carries with it no claim for which Satan will quit his hold. This is a matter about which you ought to know His will before you ask, and then you must will and claim it because it is His will.
Has God given you any means by which you may know His will? Most assuredly. If the Lord Jesus has purchased healing for you in His redemption, it must be God's will for you to have it, for Christ's whole redeeming work was simply the executing of the Father's will. If Jesus has promised it to you, it must be His will that you receive it, for how can you know His will but by His Word?
The Word of God is forever the standard of His will, and that Word has declared immutably that it is God's greatest desire and unalterable principle of action to give to every person according as he or she will believe. Especially has He promised to save all who will receive Christ by faith and to heal all who will receive healing by similar faith.
No one thinks of asking for forgiveness "if it be Thy will." Nor should you throw any stronger doubt on His promise of physical redemption. Both are freely offered to every trusting person who will accept them.
Third, be careful that you are right with God. If your sickness has come to you on account of any sinful cause, be sure that you thoroughly repent of and confess your sins and make all restitution as far as it is in your power. If sickness has been a discipline designed to separate you from some evil, at once present yourself to God in frank self-judgment and consecration and claim from Him the grace to sanctify you and keep you holy.
An impure heart is a constant fountain of disease. A sanctified spirit is in itself as wholesome as it is holy. At the same time, do not let Satan paralyze your faith by throwing you back on your unworthiness, telling you that you are not good enough to claim healing.
You never can deserve any of God's mercies. The only plea is the name, the merits and the righteousness of Christ.
But you can renounce known sin and you can walk so as to please God. You can judge yourself and put away all that God shows you to be wrong. The moment you do this you are forgiven.
Do not wait to feel forgiveness or joy, but let your will be wholly turned to God, and believe at once that you are accepted. Then "draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having [your heart] sprinkled from an evil conscience and [your body] washed with pure water" (Heb. 10:22).
It is quite vain for you to try to exercise faith for yourself or others in the face of willful transgression and in defiance of the chastening God has meant you should respect and yield to. But when you receive His correction and turn to Him with a humble and obedient heart, He may then graciously remove the pain and make the touch of healing the token of His forgiving love.
"The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed" (James 5:15-16).
Fourth, commit your body to God and claim by simple faith His promise of healing in the name of Jesus. Having become fully persuaded of the Word of God, the will of God and your own personal acceptance with God, now appropriate your healing. Do not merely ask for it, but humbly and firmly claim healing as His covenant pledge, as your inheritance, as a purchased redemption right. Claim it as something already fully offered you in the gospel and waiting only your acceptance to make good your possession.
There is a great difference between asking and taking, between expecting and accepting. You must take Christ as your Healer--not as an experiment, not as a future benefit, but as a present reality. You must believe that He does now, according to His promise, touch your life with His almighty hand and quicken the fountains of your being with His strength.
Do not merely believe that He will do so, but claim and believe that He does now touch you and begins the work of healing in your body. And go forth counting it done, acknowledging and praising Him for it.
From that moment, doubt should be regarded as absolutely out of the question and even the thought of retreating to old "means" inadmissible. God has become the Physician, and He will not give His glory to another. God has healed, and all human attempts at helping would imply a doubt of the reality of the healing.
Fifth, act your faith. To the paralyzed man, Jesus commanded, "'Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house'" (Mark 2:11). Not to show your faith or display your courage but because of your faith begin to act as one who is healed.
Treat Christ as if you trusted Him by attempting in His name and strength what would be impossible in your own. He will not fail you if you really trust Him and continue to act your faith consistently and courageously. But it is most important that you not do this on human faith or word.
Do not rise from your bed or walk on your lame foot because somebody tells you to do so. That is not faith but impression. God will surely tell you to, but it must be at His Word.
If you are walking with Him and trusting Him, you will know His voice. Your prayer, like Peter's, must be, "Lord ... bid me come unto Thee on the water," and He will surely bid you if He is to heal you.
Sixth, be prepared for trials of faith. Do not look necessarily for the immediate removal of the symptoms. Do not think of them. Simply ignore them and press forward, claiming the reality back of all symptoms.
Remember the health you have claimed is not your own natural strength, but the life of Jesus manifested in your mortal flesh. Therefore, the old natural life may still be encompassed with many infirmities, but back of it and over against it is the all-sufficient life of Christ to sustain your body. "You died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God" (Col. 3:3).
But Christ is your life (v. 4), and "the life which [you] now live in the flesh [you] live by faith in the Son of God, who loved [you] and gave Himself for [you]" (Gal. 2:20). Do not, then, wonder if nature fails you. The Lord's healing is not nature. It is grace. It is by the power of the risen Lord.
It is Christ who is your life. Christ's body is for your body as His Spirit was for your spirit. Therefore, do not wonder if there should be trials. They come to show you your need of Christ and to throw you back upon Him.
To know this and so to put on His strength in your weakness and live in it moment by moment is the way of perfect healing. Then, again, trials always test and strengthen faith in proportion as it is real. Faith must be shown to be genuine so that God can vindicate His reward of it before the whole universe.
Seventh, use your new strength and health for God, and be careful to obey the will of the Master. This Christ-given strength is a very sacred thing. It is the resurrection life of Christ in you. And it must be spent as He Himself would spend it.
It cannot be wasted on sin and selfishness. It must be given to God as "a living sacrifice" (Rom. 12:1). The strength will fail when it is devoted to the world, and sin will always bring bodily chastisement. You may expect to "prosper and be in health, even as [your] soul prospereth."
Nor is it enough for you to use this healing for yourself. You must testify of it to others. You must tell it to the world. You must be a fearless and faithful witness to the gospel of full redemption.
This is not a faith that you can hold to yourself. It is a great and solemn trust. In receiving it you must unite with others to use it for the glory of God, for a witness to the truth and for the spread of the gospel.
In taking these seven steps, let us claim and keep and consecrate this great gift of the gospel and the grace of God. And let us trust "the God of peace Himself" to "sanctify [us] completely" and to preserve our "whole spirit, soul, and body ... blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." For "He who calls [us] is faithful, who also will do it" (1 Thess. 5:23-24).
Albert Benjamin (A.B.) Simpson (1843-1919) was a Pentecostal pastor, evangelist and preacher based in New York City. He founded the Christian and Missionary Alliance in 1897 to promote world missions.