(1)Word-Faith preachers claim that physical healing has
been provided for in the Atonement. Their claim is based
on the misinterpretation of Isaiah 53:3-5.
(2)Is physical healing guaranteed in the atonement
1.No. First of all, while ultimate physical healing is in
the atonement (a healing we will enjoy in our resurrection
bodies), healing of our bodies while in the mortal state
(prior to our death and resurrection) is not guaranteed
in the atonement.
2.Moreover, it is important to note that the Hebrew word
for healing (napha) can refer not just to physical healing
but to spiritual healing.
3.The context of Isaiah 53:4 indicates that spiritual healing
is in view. In verse 5 we are clearly told, [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] (v. 5).
4.Because [transgressions] and [iniquities] set the context,
spiritual healing from the misery of man’s sin is in view.
5.This text is primarily referring to the redemptive value of
the atonement. Its major emphasis is on sin not physical
sickness. The Hebrew word for [heal] in Isaiah 53:5 is
commonly used elsewhere in the Old Testament to refer to
spiritual healing, not physical (Jer. 3:22 ).
(3)Although verse 4 does indeed appear to be referring to
physical healing, it is given an important qualification in the
Gospels. Matthew writes how the sick and demon
possessed were brought to Jesus and He healed them
and how this occurred [so that what was spoken of through
the prophet Isaiah would be fulfilled” (Matthew 8:1-17 ).
1.The healing that Isaiah was speaking was therefore
fulfilled during Christ’s earthly ministry, before the
atonement, and so cannot be used as a proof text to
automatically guarantee a Christian’s healing today.
2.Based on the misinterpretation of Isaiah 53:5 and
Matthew 8:17, the Word-of-Faith preachers teach that Jesus
was wounded on the cross so that every Christian who has enough
faith can enjoy complete physical healing.
(B)Denial of Physical Senses
(1)Word-of-Faith doctrine denies the reality of sickness.
The Word-of-Faith preachers teach that only true reality
is spiritual, and the earthly senses are deceptive.
(2)Not only the reality of disease and sickness repudiated, but it is
also maintained that God commands all faithful believers
to experience perfect health. God never wants His people to
suffer from illness.
(3)The devil is said to be the culprit behind every form of sickness.
The devil tricks believers into imagining they are not feeling well
and to entice them to think or say a negative confession.
Sickness is an attempt by Satan to rob believers of their
divine right to total health.
(4)Because Isaiah speaks in the present tense ([we are healed])
many of the most prominent Faith preachers teach that
believers should deny the symptoms of sickness, and
instead positively confess that they are already healed.
Thus, believers of Word-of-Faith are led to deny that they
(5)The divine healing is inseparably linked to its positive
confession doctrine. After praying for healing and confessing
in faith that they will be healed, the sick person does not get
(6)According to the Word-of-Faith preachers, it is a mistake to
examine oneself after praying for healing and that a person
should accept the testimony of the Bible even if his or her physical
senses indicate otherwise.
(7)Such denial is probably the most dangerous aspect of the
Word-Faith movement. The denial of an illness can
progress to such a point that it becomes terminal.
(8)According to the teaching of the Word-of-Faith preachers,
healing always comes, and the problem is with our receiving
not God’s giving. A lack of faith is labeled as the reason why
Word-of-Faith believers fail to be healed, and enjoy perfect
(9)These preachers teach that stories about believers not
healed are lies. These sick followers of Word-of-Faith feel
that they have not only failed themselves, but God as well.
(10)According to the Bible, Christians often develop
sicknesses and don’t always get healed, regardless
of their level of faith. To deny such a fact is a denial of reality.
1.For example, although the apostle Paul operated in the power
of God to heal the sick (Acts 19:11), on many occasions
he was unable to heal those closest to him
( 1 Tim 5:23; 2 Tim 4:20; Phil 3:25-27 ).
2.In his own life, sickness was still a reality. (Gal 4:13-15) .
Writing to the Corinthians he explained how his
[thorn in the flesh] remained even he asked the Lord
to take it from him three times (2 Cor 12:7-9 )
(C)The following are two testimonies regarding to divine
healing and denial of physical senses.
(1)The first testimony is given by Paul Prather in an article
entitled [It’s dangerous to rely on faith as a magic
elixir]at the following website.
The following are excerpts from this article.
1.Recently, Time magazine explored the popularity of
prosperity theology. I have more than a passing interest in
this theology. I hold it partly responsible for my wife’s
2.Time highlighted pastors Joel Osteen, T.D. Jakes and Creflo
Dollar as prosperity theology’s most visible spokesmen.
It focused on their belief in material riches. However,
although Time didn’t say so, divine healing is another
core tenet of this system — thus the alternate name,
health and wealth.
3.I’ve heard Osteen, to cite one example, preach about
his mother’s recovery from advanced cancer,
which he attributes to her unwavering faith.
When my wife, Renee, was sick, she read Dodie Osteen’s
book Healed of Cancer.
4.In any case, Joel Osteen, Jakes and Dollar are only
three representatives of a much larger movement.
Many lesser-known ministers preach prosperity theology.
The details of their teachings vary — and some are far more
radical than Osteen, Jakes or Dollar.
5.Generally, prosperity theology says that whatever
happens to us is the result of our personal faith
in God, or lack thereof. If we exhibit enough faith,
God gives us what we want, whether it’s a Harley motorcycle
or a miraculous healing from AIDS.
6.Prosperity preachers demand that Christians maintain
stratospherically high levels of faith, what I’d describe as
super-faith. They insist that Christians speak only positive
words; negative words are symptoms of doubt.
7.You might get attacked by a [spirit of poverty], the preachers
say, a demonic spirit that wants to keep you poor. But if
you stand firm by refusing to admit you’re poor,
and if you have enough faith (and, too often, if you send
that particular minister a sizable offering), God is obligated,
by his biblical promises, to make you wealthy.
8.Likewise, you might get attacked by sickness. But if
you flex your faith enough, and continually tell
everyone you’re well, God absolutely must heal you,
9.The subtext is clear: If you’re not healthy or wealthy,
you’re a weak Christian. It’s your own fault you’re
suffering — you don’t believe what God said.
10.In late 1996 or early 1997, Renee found a lump in her left
breast. When Renee found that lump, she decided she could
overcome it through faith. She would pray for her
breast and proclaim that she was healed. God had to
deliver her, she believed.
11.God wants us to have faith, I argued, but he also gave us
brains and intended us to use them. Sure, we should pray,
I said. But get medical help, too.
12.She said I was walking in [doubt and unbelief],
a prosperity gospel catch-phrase.She wouldn’t see
a doctor — for three years. By then, the cancer had
spread to both her breasts, her lungs, her bones
and her liver. It was incurable.
13.For five more years, she talked about the awesome
testimony she would have when God healed her. Daily
she watched the Copelands, Dollar or Osteen on TV, or listened
to their tapes. She enrolled in correspondence courses on
14.We couldn’t even discuss our situation honestly,
because Renee thought it was heresy to admit
she might not get well. It was maddening.
15.I don’t blame the prosperity preachers totally for
Renee’s death. It’s not their fault she got cancer. And, to be fair,
prosperity ministers don’t explicitly instruct
Christians to refuse medical treatment.
16.Nevertheless, having listened to hundreds of prosperity
sermons, I think Renee’s reactions were predictable. The
health-and-wealth gospel’s foundational message
is this: Faith is all you need. It’s very seductive.
17.But God isn’t a cosmic ATM hooked to a bottomless bank
account. You don’t feed him your password — a few pet
Scriptures, the right prayer incantation — and withdraw
heaping stacks of $50 bills. Neither does God grant
you a miraculous cure any time you want it.
Maybe it was God who gave us doctors and science.
(2)The second testimony is given by Tricia Tillin in an article
entitled [My Word-of -Faith Testimony] at the following
The following are excerpts from this article.
1.I rarely had any physical encouragement to believe.
Once or twice there were healings of headaches or colds,
but usually I had to admit my confessions and
visualisation and affirmations made no difference
to my material circumstances.
2.That didn’t put me off, though. I knew I had to develop my faith
by memorising the words of scripture, so I bought
scripture tapes and sang scripture choruses to help myself
bury the Word deep in my mind.
3.And healing – my faith was absolute that NO illness or disease
should come upon a believer who was living in the faith realm.
I understood perfectly that Jesus had taken all disease at the
Cross, and therefore we had complete authority over it.
4.Whenever I felt any kind of physical discomfort, prayer
would be my first port of call, and I despised any who
turned to pills or the Doctor. Medical intervention
was a sign of weak faith!
5.It would have done no good whatsoever to point out to me
that, despite my high level of faith and my profound grasp
of the scriptures, I had exactly the same amount of
physical problems as any other Christian in my
fellowship. It probably puzzled me at the time, but it would
have done no good to point this out to me. Everything could
be explained by my lack of faith. I just wasn’t doing it right.
I had to work harder to know the scriptures and to confess
them even bolder than before, that was all. If ONLY I could
get rid of my doubts, and be in perfect faith!
6.Anything that opened me to doubt and [negativity] I ruthlessly
rejected or destroyed. I would not listen to tapes that criticised
the Word of Faith message. I would not read the books or
booklets I was offered about the fallacies of the Movement.
These, in my mind, were all judgmental and jealous attacks
written by people who had no understanding of the ways of
the Spirit. They would only tend to lead me into doubt,
so I turned off my mind and refused to look at them.
7.One stumbling block to faith, and something we could not
understand, was the number of friends who genuinely
prayed for healing and did not receive it, and Jon and I
also experienced these medical setbacks. There was a cute
little boy, the young son of a Christian family known to us,
who was diagnosed with leukaemia. We all prayed,
and we rebuked the enemy, we took authority, we quoted
all the scriptures and claimed a complete restoration for this
little boy – yet he died. How could this happen?
8.My eyesight was very poor, and I couldn’t understand
how God would not heal my eyesight, despite hours
and hours of positive confessions. I truly was [in faith]
for healing, but it never happened. I would walk around
[by faith] without my glasses, stumbling into things and unable
to see beyond the end of my nose. My friends even threatened
to remove my glasses and stamp on them, as this would be a
positive action reinforcing my faith. But all of this made not the
slightest difference to my eyes. Where was I failing? According to
the Faith doctrines, there is no mountain too huge to remove
by our faith, and whatsoever we say will be given unto us,
as long as it lines up with the Bible. Healing was a given;
no disease or bodily lack had the right to afflict a believer,
so we could confidently expect God to remove our infirmities.
But as for me, despite my faith, God seemed to have
let me down. Why?
9.Then there was the problem of illness in the scriptures,
such as Paul’s thorn, the [many illnesses] of Timothy,
(1 Tim 5:23) and the sickness of Trophimus
(2 Tim 4:20).
10.I comforted myself by reading all kinds of explanations for
the instances of illness in believers, but somehow they never
rang true. It seemed like the Word-Faith teachers were
twisting the scriptures to fit their own belief in the
absolute absence of illness for a believer. Yes, I did believe
we should pray in faith for healing, and I did believe God had
made a provision for healing in his Word – yet was it as all-
encompassing as the Faith teachers said? Were there
not instances in scripture and in the life of Christians
where God allowed illness, deformity or weakness
in a believer’s life for a higher purpose? There did
seem to be. I just could not square these two ideas.
Summary: Divine Healing
1.The faith movement’s brand of divine healing is inseparably
linked to its positive confession doctrine.
2.For example, Hagin reflects on the many occasions whereby
people who have come to him to be prayed for healing and
speaks of praying over them and confessing in faith that
they will be healed.
3.However, when the same people come back to him and
ask for more prayer, he tells them that they have denied
their healing and the Word of God, nullified his prayer,
and destroyed the effects of his faith through their
4.Hagin teaches that it is a mistake to examine oneself after
praying for healing and that a person should accept the
testimony of the Bible even if his or her physical senses
5.Hagin claims that if he had a headache, he would not tell
anyone; and if someone should ask him how he was feeling
he would reply [I’m fine thank you].
6.Such denial is probably the most dangerous aspect of the
faith movement. To deny the symptoms of such discomforts
as common headaches and colds, does not usually bring
any serious repercussions, but in more serious instances,
such as cancer (where an early diagnosis is vital in
combating the disease), the denial of an illness can progress
to such a point that it becomes terminal.
7.However, the faith teachers themselves do not regard their
blend of divine healing as denial. On the contrary, Copeland
states that healing always comes and that the problem is with
our receiving not God’s giving.
8.Concerning the many instances where believers are not healed,
Copeland goes as far as to say that such stories are lies.
9.As a result of such teaching, Christians who are not healed
often feel that they have not only failed themselves, but God
10.But despite the words of the faith teachers, the fact remains
that Christians often develop sicknesses and don’t always get
healed, regardless of their level of faith.
11.To deny such a fact not only results in a denial of reality
but also of what the Bible itself has to say on the matter.
For example, although the apostle Paul operated in the
power of God to heal the sick (Acts 19:11), on many occasions
he was unable to heal those closest to him (1 Tim. 5:23;
2 Tim. 4:20; Phil. 3:25-27). 20 Not only was Paul at times
unable to see healing in the lives of his friends but even in
his own life sickness was still a reality. Writing to the Galatians,
Paul reminds them how it was because of an illness he had
suffered that an occasion for ministry among them arose
(Gal. 4:13-15). Likewise, writing to the Corinthians he
explained how his ‘thorn in the flesh’ remained even
though He asked the Lord to take it from him three times
(2 Cor. 12:7- 9).
12.Probably the text that is quoted most repeatedly by
adherents of the health and wealth movement as a proof
text to support their theology of healing is Isaiah 53:5 4-5.
But it should be noted that this text is referring primarily
to the redemptive value of the atonement. Its major
emphasis is on sin not physical sickness. The Hebrew
word for heal in verse 5 (raphah) is commonly used
elsewhere in the Old Testament to refer to spiritual
healing, not physical (eg. Jer. 3:22). Although verse 4
does indeed appear to be referring to physical healing,
it is given an important qualification in the Gospels.
Matthew writes how the sick and demon possessed were
brought to Jesus and He healed them and how this occurred
[so that what was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah
would be fulfilled] (Matt. 8:16-17). The healing that Isaiah
was speaking of was therefore fulfilled during Christ’s earthly
ministry, before the atonement, and so cannot be used as a
proof text to automatically guarantee a Christians healing
13.Although God does indeed heal today under the New
Covenant, and does indeed respond to faith, the error of the
faith movement is that they deny God’s sovereignty and have
attempted to reduce Him to a puppet who must always respond
14.In so doing they reject all prayers that are asked in God’s will
and boldly assert that by praying as such, one is actually calling
God a fool.
15.But contrary to what the faith teachers say, Christ Himself
prayed that God’s will be done (Matt. 6:10; 26:39), as did His
brother James (James 4:15) and the apostle Paul (Rom. 1:10;
15:32). It is the faith teachers themselves who are acting like
fools in that they fail to realise that God, being God, can act
as He pleases. The truth is, that as a result of the fall, all of
creation groans under the curse of suffering (Rom. 8:19-21),
and disease will only be fully defeated in the believers life
when death is defeated with the coming of Christ and the
general resurrection (1 Cor. 15:51-55). It is only then that
the natural body, characterised by perishability, weakness,
and dishonour will be raised imperishable, powerful,
and in glory (1 Cor. 15:42-44). 29
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