Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Evidence and Testimonies of Demonic and Angelic Encounters

(completely rewritten as of 6/24/14)

This blog will continually be updated so as to include more information and links.

There are testimonies from both Christian and non-Christian sources for malevolent and benevolent immaterial personal entities. Almost all cultures past and present have them. As a Christian I believe such beings are spirits called demons and angels. This blog post contains links to (mostly) Christian testimonies to alleged angelic and demonic encounters. Even if only some of the testimonies included here are honest recollections of what people sincerely claim to have experienced, then that would suggest that angels and demons do exist.

Admittedly, from the point of view of non-Christians, there are other theories and hypotheses that could potentially explain such experiences so as not to shake one out of their atheism or other non-Christian supernaturalistic position. To my atheists friends and readers, I would encourage you to sincerely consider these testimonies. If such immaterial personal entities exist that are respectively benevolent and malevolent, then it is a small step to consider the possibility of a supremely good immaterial personal being, over and above all these other finite immaterial personal beings whom the malevolent entities oppose and from whom the benevolent entities carry out assignments to benefit and assist mankind. I would propose that that highest entity is the same one thought of commonly as the supreme deity, namely God.

To my non-Christian supernaturalistic friends and readers I would suggest that you consider the greater explanatory power and scope that the Christian position and worldview has over most other supernaturalistic positions. As a Christian I believe Christianity is superior to all other alternative positions and worldviews, but from an inductive point of view, I admit I have not examined all other possible alternatives past, present and future. For some arguments for the superiority of the Christian worldview, see one of my blogs that has many links to resources that argue for the truth of Christianity from many angles HERE.



According to the book "A Rustle of Angels" (by Marilynn Carlson Webber and William D. Webber) in 1943 the Encyclopaedia Britannica decided to publish The Great Books of the Western World. The now famous Mortimer J. Adler was selected by the editorial board to edit the work. It was decided that Adler should write essays about the great ideas that ran through the great books. Slightly over 100 ideas were identified. Despite initial resistance, Adler was able to convince his associates that the topic of angels should be included. As the Webber book notes, "...Mortimer Adler was adamant. He pointed out that the subject of angels ran through the great books because their authors obviously considered angels of major importance."

The same could be said about the ubiquity of the concept of malevolent spirits (or "demons") in almost all cultures past and present. The nearly universal idea of angels and demons might suggest to an open minded person their possible reality. From a logical point of view, I want to admit that the mere existence of angels, demons, and God per se doesn't necessarily mean that it is the Christian God, or even the Evangelical conception of God that exists. The point of this particular blog post is to suggest the reality of the supernatural by citing sources of testimonies of alleged angelic and demonic encounters.

The following links will include resources that give testimonies that provide evidence (not "proof") for their existence.


DISCLAIMER:
Obviously, not all claims to supernatural experiences and encounters are credible or true. In fact, we all intuitively know that some are intentionally fraudulent. However, the abundance of claimed angelic and demonic encounters crys out for some explanation.

NOTE: Just because I post a link to testimonies of angelic encounters doesn't mean I necessarily endorse the encounters as genuinely coming from a truly benevolent angel sent by God since the Bible clearly teaches that some demons pretend to be God's good and holy angels (2 Cor. 11:14). However, if the encounter was genuinely supernatural, and the testimony is credible then regardless of whether it was a real angel or a demon in disguise it would be evidence for the supernatural. Also, even if the supernatural encounter is that of a genuine demon or angel, I don't necessarily agree with the interpretations of the experiences given in the following resources or of their theology and recommended praxis. The resources are from diverse theology backgrounds. 

It should also be noted that nothing in Christianity (even Calvinistic versions) precludes the possibility of God answering the prayers of non-Christians. While God has freely self-obligated Himself to answer the prayers of Christians, He is also free to answer some prayers of non-Christians. Though He has the right to refuse to because they are not in covenant with Him through faith in Jesus Christ, who is the only true mediator between God and man. Nevertheless, it shouldn't be surprising that God may, at times, send angels to help non- Christians.

John Calvin wrote:
There is one psalm which clearly teaches that prayers are not without effect, though they do not penetrate to heaven by faith (Ps. 107:6, 13, 19). For it enumerates the prayers which, by natural instinct, necessity extorts from unbelievers not less than from believers, and to which it shows by the event, that God is, notwithstanding, propitious. Is it to testify by such readiness to hear that their prayers [i.e. non-Christians'] are agreeable to him? Nay; it is, first, to magnify or display his mercy by the circumstance, that even the wishes of unbelievers are not denied; and, secondly, to stimulate his true worshippers to more urgent prayer, when they see that sometimes even the wailings of the ungodly are not without avail. [Calvin's Institutes third book, chapter 20 section 15]


Finally, some testimonies will be more credible than others. Evaluate them using your own judgment.


Alleged Angelic Encounters
(again, please read disclaimer above)


Two books I'm aware of that have collected *Christian* testimonies of angelic encounters from a specifically Christian perspective are "A Rustle of Angels" by Marilynn Carlson Webber and William D. Webber; and "When Angels Appear" by Hope MacDonald. I highly recommend both books because they seem to be sufficiently Evangelical in their outlook.

-Christian philosophy J.P. Moreland's encounter with angels:
http://www.closertotruth.com/contributor/jp-moreland/profile

J.P. Moreland's supernatural experiences including an angelic encounter:
http://youtu.be/Da-WMdu3qd4


-Angels On Earth http://www.guideposts.org/inspiration/angels-on-earth
This is a non-sectarian website about angels that welcomes Protestant, Catholic and Jewish writers. From a consistently Evangelical point of view such an ecumenical endeavor is a bad idea and is the result of (and fosters) poor discernment. Nevertheless, it's unlikely that absolutely all the testimonies are fraudulent. In my estimation, some of them are genuinely supernatural and possibly demonic rather than angelic.


-Angels: Miraculous Messengers
http://youtu.be/2KpSH2SlP6Y


-Bruce Van Natta
http://youtu.be/wDXwnRd-EWs


-Sid Roth is a charismatic Messianic Jewish Christian who has been investigating and interviewing alleged cases of supernatural activity among Christians. His website www.sidroth.org has MANY interviews online of professing Christians who claim to have experienced, or continue to experience the supernatural. I myself am a continuationist and charismatic, but some of the claims both he and his interviewees make are "way out there." Some of the doctrines promoted are also suspect (either false, or partly true, and partly false). Nevertheless, I suspect that some of the experiences he attempts to document are genuine, while others aren't. Here's an example of an angelic testimony.


-Judith MacNutt angelic testimony http://www.sidroth.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=11448&news_iv_ctrl=0&abbr=tv_


-Wayne Grudem is a well known Christian theologian who wrote a popular book titled An Introduction to Systematic Theology. At THIS LINK is a series of 120 lessons he gave based on his popular book. The following are links to PART 1 and PART 2 of his lessons on the topic of angels.

Angels & Demons (video) by Catholic writer Dr Peter Kreeft
http://youtu.be/rjGU4tvgayw
Since the speaker is a Catholic, I obviously don't agree with everything he says (being an Evangelical myself).


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Alleged Demonic Encounters
(again, please read disclaimer above)




-The late Reformed minister Ferrell Griswold's experiences on the subject of Possession, Oppression and the Occult www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=1220071430123


-The late Dr. Kurt E. Koch's book (complete?) Between Christ and Satan [alternatively titled "The Lure of the Occult"] www.fatheralexander.org/booklets/english/between_christ_satan_koch_e.htm

-Excerpts from Dr. Koch's Occult ABC www.fatheralexander.org/booklets/english/occult_abc_koch.htm


-Testimonies of demonic encounters from the 700 Club:
Dean Ogden
Tara Lawson
Jeff Harshbarger
Sandra Clifton
Yasmeen Suri part 1 and part 2 
 Dean and Jennifer Moe
Jimi Merrell
Laura Adams (starts at 2 minutes and 35 seconds)
Ryan Hendricks (starts at 36 seconds)


-Doreen Irvine's alleged exit out of witchcraft and into Christianity was popular among Christian circles in time past. Nowadays, her testimony has been maligned by many sceptics. The greatest complaint is probably the one where she makes statements about a global network of Satanists which allegedly exists. However, if you read her story, she clearly seems to be repeating what she claims others in her coven told her. In which case, she might be conveying what she believes to be true, but which in fact are lies told to her by others in the coven to make their movement seem larger than it actually was. In which case, the general flow of her testimony might be true even if she makes some statements she believed to be true due to her own naïveté.

From Witchcraft to Christ by Doreen Irvine

-More testimonies of exiting the occult at the same website:
http://www.the-new-way.org/testimonies/index_conv.html


-Roger Sapp is a Christian minister who specializes in the healing ministry. Among those who are alive and active, I respect him the most of all the ministers in the healing ministry I'm aware of. I have some reservations about his theology of healing (see footnote 1), but I do believe he does genuinely operate in healing ministry by the power of the Holy Spirit. He has frequently said that in his own experience in the healing ministry that about 1 in 4 instances of sickness are demonic in origin or have a demonic root. He claims that the four Gospels seem to portray Jesus' ministry having that same aproximate ratio. I've linked to many Roger Sapp materials at another blog. Here are the links to his FREE online BOOKS and his AUDIO/VISUALS.

Here are some of his resources addressing deliverance ministry. There are more resources in the links above.

Casting Out Evil Spirits by Roger Sapp
http://www.allnationsmin.org/Download/documents/Casting_Out_Evil_Spirits.pdf
A testimony of deliverance by Roger Sapp HERE
Roger Sapp Discussing Deliverance (i.e. exorcism) with Rob Short (audio)

-Neil T. Anderson is another controversial figure in Evangelicalism. He is featured on many YouTube videos. Here's an example: http://youtu.be/wR7x1WrxKrk
Here's his most famous book The Bondage Breaker online:
http://selfdefinition.org/hearing-voices/Neil-T-Anderson-The-Bondage-Breaker.pdf
The book has been re-written and re-edited multiple times down through the years because of controversial teaching inside and because of the development of his understanding on the subject. Presumably, it's more orthodox than it was when it was originally published over 20 years ago.


-Derek Prince had a controversial ministry. I definitely have differences with his theology and praxis.
There are many videos of his teaching on YouTube. Here are just two on deliverance.
http://youtu.be/Ec_NgpvS2os
http://youtu.be/Ed8j33e8viE


-The Handbook for Spiritual Warfare by Ed Murphy is a controversial book in the Evangelical world, but it contains some accounts of demonic encounters.
http://www.breadoflifebiblestudy.com/Lessons/18Deliverance/Articles/HandbookForSpiritualWarfare.pdf


-Donald Grey Barnhouse was a respected Evangelical preacher in the early 20th century. In his book The Invisible War he deals with the topic of demonology. Having only scanned the book years ago it seemed much of what he says is speculation, even though he expresses it with (IMHO) undue confidence. I haven't yet found where he gives testimonies of his own encounters with the demonic, but I would assume he would mention one example somewhere in the book. Even if he doesn't, the book is a resource one can go to for material on the subject of demonology. Here's a link to his book.
The Invisible War by Donald Grey Barnhouse
http://pursulibrary.org/PursuLibrary/Library/Donald%20Grey%20Barnhouse/The%20Invisible%20War%20%2866%29/The%20Invisible%20War%20-%20Donald%20Grey%20Barnhouse.pdf


-Walter Martin (the original Bible Answerman) was a disciple of D.G. Barnhouse. Martin's book The Kingdom of the Cults is the (nearly 50 year bestseller) classic book on the cults from an Evangelical perspective. Another recommended book is his (posthumously collated) book The Kingdom of the Occult (preview here). Here are links to two audio files where his daughter Jill Martin Rische plays recordings of her late father Walter Martin speaking on his experience with demonic possession. The first audio has the recording of Walter start right before 7 minutes. On the second audio file, the recording continues soon after the 4th minute starts. Walter Martin begins telling his testimony of an exorcism at 41 minutes into the first audio file.

The Truth about Spiritual Warfare, Demon Possession & Exorcism with Walter Martin
Part ONE, Part TWO


-Wayne Grudem is a well known Christian theologian who wrote a popular book titled Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. At THIS LINK is a series of 120 lessons he gave based on his popular book. The following are links to PART 1, PART 2 and PART 3 of his lessons on the topic of demons.


-Gerry Breshears gives an 11 part lecture series Spiritual Warfare from a Christian perspective. In part 11, he recounts his own personal experiences of the demonic.
https://www.biblicaltraining.org/seminar/spiritual-warfare/gerry-breshears



-John Piper is one of the most well known Evangelical Christian ministers living today. Here's a link to a video where he recounts an experience which he suspects to be a case of demonic influence or possession.
http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/piper-on-healing-and-exorcism  or  Here

-Mike Licona gives a testimony of how when he was young whenever his father would do radio interviews telling people that Masonry is not compatible with Christianity that their house would seem haunted. They would have poltergeist like activity. He gives a few examples like an object twirling in the air without any human holding it.
http://www.apologetics315.com/2009/07/is-god-active-in-world-today-gary.html  at 33 minutes into interview.

Mike Licona sharing a testimony of a Yale educated friend of his who encountered a spirit right before giving a speech/sermon. The spirit choked him nearly to death. At around 42 minutes.
http://commonsenseatheism.com/?p=261
The direct link to the mp3 is HERE:
 http://www.archive.org/download/ConversationsFromThePaleBlueDot002-MikeLicona/002-MikeLicona.mp3

-Johann Christoph Blumhardt was a Lutheran pastor who lived in the 19th century and is famous for having had a notable healing and demonic deliverance ministry. The book The Awakening recounts the story of how Pastor Blumhardt unexpectedly and without warning was forced into starting a deliverance ministry.

An introduction to the book can be read here: http://www.plough.com/en/ebooks/a/awakening

A Direct Link to the book can be accessed Here: http://cdn.plough.com/~/media/Files/Plough/ebooks/pdfs/a/awakeningEN.pdf

Blumhardt's Battle: A Conflict With Satan by Thomas E. Lowe

Pastor Blumhardt: A Record of the Wonderful Spiritual and Physical Manifestations of God's Power in Healing Souls and Bodies, Through the Prayers of His Servant, Christoph Blumhardt by Capt. R. Kelso Carter
http://books.google.com/books?id=5J02x5qbQ5EC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false

Johann Christoph Blumhardt's son Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt wrote the essay Jesus is the Victor based on his father's sermons and notes.  Here's a link describing the book.

The book can be directly assessed Here: http://cdn.plough.com/~/media/Files/Plough/ebooks/pdfs/j/jesusisthevictorEN.pdf

Investigating the Practice of Christian Exorcism and the Methods Used to Cast out Demons by Kenneth D. Royal, Ph.D.

Satan: His Personality, Power and Overthrow by Edward M. Bounds


Dealing with Demons by Eowyn Stoddard
http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2013/12/10/dealing-with-demons/print/

DEMON EXPERIENCES  in Many Lands  by  Various Contributors
http://www.baptistbiblebelievers.com/OtherBookTitles/DEMONEXPERIENCESINMANYLANDS/tabid/360/Default.aspx 

Angels & Demons (video) by Catholic writer Dr Peter Kreeft
http://youtu.be/rjGU4tvgayw
Since the speaker is a Catholic, I obviously don't agree with everything he says (being an Evangelical myself).

Dr. Robert H. Bennett , PhD, S.T.M, MDiv.
On demonic possession, exorcism etc.
http://www.drroberthbennettphd.com/index.html


Demons in relation to UFOs
-Many people who have claimed to have had reoccurring alien abductions have been able to virtually or completely stop them by appealing to the authority of the name of Jesus. See This Link HERE. And those who occasionally still have the experience are able to immediately end them by resisting them in the name of Jesus. This would strongly suggest that, at least in these cases the "aliens" were demons in disguise. In which case, all alien encounters may be demonic. There's also a logical possibility that some encounters with aliens are demonic and some are genuinely of extra-terrestrials. From a Christian perspective, there's nothing inherently inconsistent with the possibility of malevolent extra-terrestrials which God may have originally created good. Or they may be the offspring (in some distant way) of the Nephilim (assuming a particular interpretation of Gen. 6).

At the present time I personally DO NOT believe extra-terrestrials are actually abducting humans or interacting with humans, or visiting earth via UFOs. However, the UFO phenomena seems to be real and may be demonic too. Steven Greer's documentaries (Here and here) of various former military personnel usually doesn't involve alleged encounters with extra-terrestrials. Only a few do and when you listen to their testimonies, they seem suspect.


-Paranormal activity (in its various forms) is often (but not always) rightly attributed to demonic deception. Skeptiko podcasts deal with hard-nosed skeptic vs. believer debates and interviews on science and spirituality. Each episode features lively discussion with leading researchers, thinkers, and their critics. WARNING: Skeptiko is NOT a Christian podcast show. I've added a link to their podcasts because they interview some of the more reliable researchers into the paranormal. Here's a link to the podcasts:
http://www.skeptiko.com/past-shows/


-I recommend doing a search on Triablogue.blogspot.com on the topic of "occult", "angels", "demons", etc. Go to www.google.com/advanced_search and type in "triablogue.blogspot.com" in the "site or domain:" field.
Don't type "www.triablogue.blogspot.com" [i.e. leave out "www."]
Here are examples of the great blogs on Triablogue:

 Bell, book, & candle
http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2009/02/bell-book-candle.html

 The Exorcism of Emily Rose
http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2010/02/exorcism-of-emily-rose.html


One may wonder why I presented more evidence for the the possible existence of demons than the possible existence of angels. The reason is because demonic testimonies are more easy to find. I believe that's because of three reasons.

First, because of our morbid taste for the spooky and scary, we naturally tend to want to discuss more about demons than angels.

Second, angels, if they are genuinely from God (rather than demons in disguise intent on deceiving) will want to give all the glory of human help and deliverance to God who is the ultimate source of help (either 1. immediately/directly or 2. mediately/indirectly through angels). Angels will therefore do their best to stay out of the limelight. Which means they will tend not to linger in a visible manner whenever they do happen to manifest themselves. Their visibility or invisibility presumably is controllable by both God and/or the angel. There may be instances in which angels choose to make themselves visible with God's explicit or tacit approval. Other times it may be that an angel might not be intentionally choosing to be visible, but in that instance God may make them visible (with or without their knowledge) for the purpose of comforting those humans who see them.

The third reason is, unlike angels, demons have no such desires. Demons will use deception, accusation, fear and temptation in their attempts to eternally destroy the souls of human beings. And so, in contrast to angels, demons will do their very best to either hide or expose themselves in whichever way will do the worse damage to humanity and God's reputation.

As C.S. Lewis wrote in his book The Screwtape Letters,

"There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils [i.e. demons]. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight." 

Because of the incurable religiosity of human nature, pure secularists and materialists will generally be in the minority. Therefore, given the option to either veil or expose their existence, demons will more likely tend to expose their existence more readily than angels. Thus explaining the disparity of testimonies. Though, the increase in the interest of angels has so increased in this generation in comparison to previous generations that I can't help thinking that many (though certainly not all) testimonies of alleged angelic encounters may in reality be cases of demonic subterfuge. As the apostle Paul said, sometimes demons come disguised as angels of light (i.e. angelic messengers of truth/beauty/goodness) [see. 2 Cor. 11:14].

The testimonial evidence presented here is mostly from Christian sources and so some might object to sectarianly selective bias. I admit to such a bias. There's a limit to how many testimonies I could present and since I'm a Christian, I'm going to mostly present testimonies that would favor and support Christianity. It seems sufficient for me to present testimonial evidence that would make materialists and atheists reconsider their position. As well as testimonial evidence that would make non-Christians who believe in the supernatural consider the superiority of Christianity in making sense of and accounting for all of the data abductively.





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Footnotes:

footnote #1
1. Roger Sapp believes it is always God's will to heal the sick 100% of the time. This is the position of all Classical Pentecostals (i.e. Paleo-Pentecostals who hold to the earlier view as opposed to many modern Pentecostals and Charismatics who often believe that it is not always God's will to heal).
[See this article by Rick Walston on the three waves of modern continuationism.]

For myself, I'm a Calvinist and  a Charismatic. Charismatics and Pentecostals are usually not Calvinists. Just as Calvinists tend not to be Charismatic or Pentecostal. Though, there's a growing number who consider themselves Calvinist and Continuationist (whether Charismatic, or Pentecostal or otherwise).

The way I've synthesized the two theologies on healing is described in this footnote. In order to understand the Calvinist side of my theology, one has to understand the different senses of GOD'S WILL in Calvinism. I've explained FIVE of them HERE. Now given those distinctions, and assuming one understands those distinctions, here's my theology of healing (in a simplified form).

1. Corresponding to my Charismatic beliefs (but using the Calvinistic distinctions mentioned above):

I believe, "all things being equal", in His natural kindness and mercy God is willing to heal all sick persons according to His general Will of Disposition. Additionally, God is willing to heal all sick persons on the condition of faith according to God's Will of Demand (i.e. His Revealed Will) in Scripture (cf. Matt. 10:1, 7-8; 17:16-21; 28:20; Luke 9:2, 6; 10:9; James 5:14-16; Ps. 103:3; etc.). I believe that God encourages all Christians (especially minsters) to develop their faith for healing physical sickness and other physical problems (Mark 9:23-24 etc.). God is free to heal even with little or no faith on the part of the pray-ers and/or prayees. However, God's normative way of healing is on the condition of our having faith for healing (on the part of the pray-ers, or prayees or both). In the context of healing and deliverance from evil spirits, Jesus said "all things are possible to him who believes." Healing is sometimes instantaneous and sometimes progressive. When it is progressive, it is often (but not always) because people receive according to the faith of the pray-ers and/or the prayees. I also believe...

2. Corresponding to my Calvinistic beliefs:

I believe At The Same Time that in God's sovereignty, omniscience (all knowedge), omnisapience (all wisdom) and currently secret purposes, "all things considered" God sometimes intends not to heal specific individuals either at the present time (but at a latter time). Or the healing is intended by God to be progressive in this life. Or God doesn't intend to heal the person ever in this life (for whatever purposes God might have). If the person is a genuine Christian, it's always God's will to heal that person eventually (either in this life or in the afterlife). Sometimes healing may fluctuate up and down depending on the degree of faith a pray-er and/or prayee may have for healing, but that fluctuation and the faith itself which determines its fluctuation is itself ultimately due to the sovereign decree of God. If the person is non-elect, God may or may not heal the person in this life. God chooses all these things according to His Secret Will of Decree.

3. While we can do things to increase our faith from our human perspective (e.g. read the Bible, pray, listen to sermons and read books on healing, worship etc.), ultimately faith (and its varying degrees and quality) is the gift of God. Sanctification can fluctuate according to one's degree of faith, and that faith itself is in the sovereign control of God. Similarly, healing can fluctuate according to one's degree of faith even though that faith too is in the sovereign control of God.

Synthesizing these three beliefs (which only appear to contradict), I've concluded that whatever the case may be according to His secret Will of Decree, Christians are not supposed to try to divine/detemine/guess God's hidden intentions, but rather to live and pray in accordance with God's Revealed Will of healing the sick and God's general mercy, kindness and compassion (i.e. God's Dispositional Will) [again see THIS BLOG]. The assumption should always be that God is willing for any sick person to get well if someone will have the faith for it. This can be inferred from the fact that on multiple occasions Jesus healed entire multitudes who actively came to Him for healing (Matt. 4:23-25; 8:16-17; 9:35-38; 12:15; 14:14; 15:30-31; 19:2; 21:14; Mark 1:32-34; 3:10; Luke 4:18-19; 40-41; 6:17-19; 9:10-11; 13:15-16; 14:5; 17:11-19; John 6:2). If Jesus hadn't healed all Ten Lepers and only healed (say) 2 of the 10, then we might be able to infer that in general God is willing to heal only about 20% of any group of sick people at any given time. But by healing all 10 lepers, that would suggest that God's general will is to heal all those who are sick and believingly come to God through Christ for healing. We know that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb. 13:8) and so it only makes sense that before His 2nd Coming and while we are still in the "Church Age" [i.e. the inter-adventual period] Jesus would continue to heal. And continue to heal in the same way He did in the Gospels during His time on Earth. The book of Acts begins with saying that it is a record of the things Jesus "began to do and teach." During His earthly ministry, Jesus never had to pray to determine God's will as to whether He should or shouldn't heal a particular individual who came to Him in faith for healing.


Except for one instance, or when He withdrew from the crowds to spend some quality time in prayer, Jesus never turned anyone away who actively came to Him in faith for healing. There's only one instance of Jesus refusing to heal someone because He specifically said it was (in some sense) God's Will not to heal the person. That only exception was that of the Syrophoenician woman asking for her demoniac daughter to be healed because Jesus' mission at the time was confined to the "House of Israel". Yet AMAZINGLY, she still got the healing she persistently sought after. Unlike the case of the Centurion, she wasn't a representative of the Kingdom of Man who also had Jewish elders willingly and earnestly requesting Jesus to heal his servant who was sick [Luke 7:3-5; Matt. 8:5ff.]. It was for the disciples after Christ's resurrection to reach out to Gentiles. Yet the Syrophoenician woman got the healing even though it was contrary to God's will (i.e. contrary to God's Revealed Will at the time). Notice that even though Jesus wasn't assigned to preach and demonstrate the Gospel for this Gentile woman (since He initially refused her), she eventually got the healing she was asking for because of her persistent faith (even though she had no covenant with the God of Israel). However, as F.F. Bosworth demonstrates in his book, there are promises of healing for those who ARE in Covenant relationship with God. If someone without covenant promises could obtain healing through persistence, then how much more should those who are in the covenant have confidence to receive healing?

Another possible exception of Jesus healing all those who appealed to Him for healing is the case of Lazarus. But even in that instance, neither Lazarus or his sisters actively requested Jesus to heal him. Apparently they left it up to Jesus to respond however way He would. As a Calvinist, I obviously believe that God ordained that they not actively and believingly request Jesus to heal Lazarus in order that "the works of God might be made manifest" in Lazarus' resurrection (like in the case of the man born blind John 9:3).

The incident of the man who was an invalid for 38 years (John 5:5ff.) might also be cited to show that Jesus didn't heal everyone since He singled out one person of the multitude who were sick and healed him alone. But there's no indication that anyone else was actively seeking Jesus for healing (not even the invalid). Evidently, it was a sovereign act of Jesus to heal this person in the absence of faith. For all we know, Jesus sovereignly healed the invalid in order to encourage others to actively seek Him for their healing. Now that the Gospel (and its accompanying blessings) is meant to be proclaimed and offered to all nations, Jesus' reply to the leper's statement "If You are willing, You can [heal me]" applies to all of us. Namely, "I am willing, be [healed]."

Theologians often pit the "theology of the cross" against the "theology of glory." Given that theologians nowadays also acknowledge that the New Testament teaches that the Kingdom is both "now and not yet", then it only makes sense that the blessings of the Kingdom are also "now and not yet" (including the promise of healing). Lutheran theologians are especially known to pit "the theology of the cross" against "the theology of glory" claiming that the latter is an unbiblical triumphalism and an overly realized eschatology. Yet in Martin Luther's magnum opus "The Bondage of the Will", Luther taught that we should affirm both God as Hidden ("deus absconditus", meaning God as He is beyond our full or exhaustive comprehension) and God as Revealed in Christ ("deus revelatus"). I believe the revelation of God in Christ is that God is predisposed to healing the sick (as He was under the Old Testament for those who were under the Covenant [e.g. Ex. 15:26; 23:25-26; Ps. 103:2-3]). Under the New Covenant, God is even disposed to healing non-Christians in Evangelistic campaigns/settings that use signs and wonders (Acts 4:24-31; Matt. 10:7-8; Luke 10:19-20; Rom. 15:18-19; see also the list of passages above where Jesus indiscriminately healed all who came to Him in faith). Calvinists believe that since we cannot know who is elect or non-elect, we are therefore to preach salvation indiscriminately to all people. Similarly, I believe that since we don't know who God intends to heal or when He intends to heal (and to what progressive or instantaneous  degree), we are to preach healing indiscriminately to all people knowing that God has a general promise to heal those who ask Him for healing in faith. Knowing also that sometimes it require perseverance in prayer and faith to receive (Luke 18:1ff).

It may be asked, "What if a Christian doesn't receive his/her healing in this life? Does that mean that the Christian (and those praying for him) didn't have enough faith?" It may be asked, "Won't your view (i.e. me Annoyed Pinoy) result in 'false hope' leading to disappointment for some as well as bringing about false condemnation on those who remain sick?" I would say "no" because God is sovereign over whether one will have "enough" faith (for lack of better words) or the right "kind" of faith for a healing to fully manifest. I believe that a Christian sincerely striving to believe and receive healing is pleasing to God even if the healing never manifests in this life. As Smith Wigglesworth reputedly said, "I'd rather die believing than live doubting." John Calvin said in a different context, "...you know however that our duties by no means depend on our hopes of success, but that it behooves us to accomplish what God requires of us, even when we are in the greatest despair respecting the results."

God requires of us, and it is our duty to be believing regarding things promised in His Word even if we don't get the results we were hoping for. And healing is something promised repeatedly in Scripture. Having said all that I want to affirm that Calvinism is right when it teaches that God is ultimately sovereign over all sicknesses and calamity. No one can be sick, remain sick, be healed, or remain healed apart from God's sovereign decree. The same can be said about prosperity and salvation. While Satan was proximately the cause of Job's troubles and sickness (Job 2:7), God was the ultimate source of his sickness and troubles as both Job and the narrator of the book affirms (Job 1:20; 2:10; 42:11). In mercy sometimes God doesn't heal a believer (or even allows the believer to die). For example Abijah, Jereboam's son, died of his sickness rather than living long enough to see calamitous times (1 Kings 14:1, 13; see esp. v. 13). The text specifically teaches that God determined Abijah to die because He was showing mercy to him. Even Elisha himself died of his sickness despite the fact that he was a godly and faithful man of God (2 Kings 13:14-20). Of course, as I mentioned above and in my blog about the distinctions in God's Will, what God allows or determines to happen is distinct from what God requires of us and is willing to do upon the condition of faith. "Willing", that is, in the sense of 1. God's Will of Demand and 2. God's Will of Delight. I recommend with little reservation Larry Keefauver's book When God Doesn't Heal Now. The best introductory book documenting the promises of God in the Bible for healing is F.F. Bosworth's book Christ the Healer which can be accessed HERE or HERE (personally I prefer the 8th edition). I would also recommend The Gospel of Healing by A.B. Simpson, Divine Healing by Andrew Murray and The Ministry of Healing by A.J. Gordon as good introductions too. All three books can be found at my blog HERE. From a Calvinist perspective, I recommend Vincent Cheung's books on healing which can be accessed HERE.

My blog page dedicated to providing resources on Divine Healing HERE.


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Related Links:

Evidence and Arguments Against Materialism and Naturalism
http://misclane.blogspot.com/2014/01/evidence-and-arguments-against.html

Sleep Paralysis, Old Hag Syndrome and Alien Abductions
http://misclane.blogspot.com/2014/03/sleep-paralysis-old-hag-syndrome.html

Near Death Experiences and Christianity
http://misclane.blogspot.com/2014/01/near-death-experiences-and-christianity.html

UFOs and Christianity
http://misclane.blogspot.com/2013/08/ufos-and-christianity.html

Alleged Visions, Dreams and Visitations of Jesus to Muslims
http://misclane.blogspot.com/2013/04/alleged-visions-dreams-and-visitations.html

Unveiling The Hiddenness of God
http://gospelcrumbs.blogspot.com/2013/07/the-hiddenness-of-god.html

Links on the Subject of Miracles in the Context of Craig Keener's Recent Book 
(Includes links to three interviews of Keener discussing past and PRESENT miracles)
www.gospelcrumbs.blogspot.com/2012/11/links-on-subject-of-miracles-in-context.html


I will be posting additional links and information indefinitely to this blog.

1 comment:

  1. This is a very interesting blog, which I enjoyed reading. I have had many encounters with the supernatural, and I truly believe there is concrete evidence, and that it had to be real when it took place in my life. I wrote about it in my book "In due season: we will hear God's voice." http://www.mycinsay.com/c/we-will-hear-gods-voice/inspirational-book

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