Pink wrote a short book, Divine Healing: Is it Scriptural? that, more or less, was a response to what would probably be known today as the “Health & Wealth ‘gospel'” (I place the word gospel in quotes because it is not the gospel). I generally appreciate much of what Pink writes, though I had reservations about what he’d say regarding aspects of the charismata. After all, Pink seems to take typical Cessationist views since they were largely unchecked within the two traditions he wrote from (Reformed and previously Dispensational). However, after writing a thoroughly insightful response to the problems with the “divine healing cults” (his language), he surprisingly writes:
“It is no sufficient reply for preachers to say, We have far weightier and more essential themes to expound. True, the salvation of the soul is immeasurably greater than the healing of the body, nevertheless the Scriptures have much to say concerning the body, and it is to our very great loss if we ignore or remain ignorant about the same. Is it of no moment at all whether the Christian be healthy or sickly? Has our loving heavenly Father left His children without any instruction concerning the laws of health? And when they fall ill is their situation no better than that of the unbelieving world? Must they too lean upon the arm of flesh when sickness overtakes them, and seek the help of a doctor—often an infidel? The Lord is “a very present help in trouble” (Ps. 46:1): does that mean nothing more than that the saint must, in every instance, seek grace from Him to patiently endure his afflictions? God has promised to supply “all the need” of His people (Phil. 4:19): does that include nothing better than drugs and medicines, such as the Christ-rejector has access to, when I am ill? These are not questions to be lightly dismissed, but prayerfully pondered in the light of Holy Writ.”
Along with Pink, I would also caution those of us who are extremely concerned about the doctrinal errors of the Word of Faith Movement to not be so quick to ignore much of what Scripture writes concerning the issue of healing and how the church is supposed to respond to those who are dealing with sicknesses and disease. Pink also writes,
“If the Divine healing cults have gone to one extreme, that of unbalanced fanaticism, have not most of the Lord’s people in this matter gone to the opposite extreme—that of unbelieving stoicism or fatalistic inertia? Is not the attitude of only too many something like this? O well, man is born unto trouble as the sparks fly upward, so as I cannot expect immunity from physical sufferings, hence I must take what remedies I can for relief, and then make the best of a bad job; or, since this be my appointed lot, I must endeavor to bear it as patiently as I can. Of course when pain is acute they cry unto the Lord and beg Him to ease their anguish, just as Pharaoh did when God’s sore plagues were upon his land. And when Christians pray for recovery, how many of them really do so with the expectation of its being granted? how many know where to turn for a pertinent promise and then plead the same prevailingly? Yet some of them feel they are living beneath their privileges as sons and daughters of the Almighty, and when they hear or read what is advanced by the “faith healing” people wonder how much of it is true and how much false.”
From these two quotes, I’m reminded of the need to always present the biblical truth of God’s sovereignty and human responsibility. God is sovereign over all sickness, which means people do not get sick while God is on vacation because God does not go on vacation. However, the Scriptures affirm that when people are sick, they are to call for the Elders and receive prayer (James 5:14-15). Along with Pink, I’m “very loathe to regard [James 5:14-15] as being an obsolete one, that it refers to something which pertained only to the apostolic age and relates not at all to us.” Having faith in Christ is essential to the healing and salvific work of the gospel. Thus, we are to have faith through our sickness as we trust our sovereign God and we are to have faith while we either ask for people to pray for us and/or as we pray for those who are sick. Let’s not dismiss faith because some “purple-haired-lady” and some “shiny-suit-preacher” on some television absolutely destroy the context of numerous biblical passages. Let’s not dismiss the pursuit of God to heal because so many others make God either our puppet or a jolly-wolly Santa Clause who has come to give us whatever gift we tell him too. No, let’s take the Bible seriously.
I agree! It seems like at every turn Satan is tempting us to dismiss biblical expectations and found our life and faith on unbiblical notions.