The basic truth of the Bible and practical Christian life
A book about meaning of life - by Arvid Aasen
Chapter - 7
The Holy Spirit, Prayer, and Healing
The Holy Spirit
Jesus said in John 14: 16-17 «And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.»
The Holy Spirit - The Advocate, the Helper, the Comforter, the Teacher, the Spirit of Truth, the Spirit of Life has been in action on this planet since creation. God the Father, Jesus, His Son and the Holy Spirit worked together to create this earth.
Every time the power of God is manifested, the Holy Spirit is there.
Jesus Himself was dependent on the Holy Spirit as He walked around here on earth. When John the Baptist baptized Jesus in the Jordan River, it is written in Matthew 3:16 «When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him.»
John the Baptist said this about Jesus in Luke 3:16 «John answered, saying to all, “I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.»
Before the baptism in the Jordan river, Jesus had not yet preached or performed a miracle as a human being. After the Spirit came upon him, all that he did was done by the power of the Holy Spirit.
It is described in Luke 1:42 and 67 that Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit when she was pregnant with John and that Zechariah, his father, was filled with the Holy Spirit on the day of John's circumcision.
Like Jesus, the disciples were later baptized with the Holy Spirit so that they could become powerful witnesses, but we return to this a little later under the theme of healing.
In John 14:26, Jesus says, «But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.» Jesus described the Spirit as a helper from God and as the Spirit of Truth. In John 16:13, Jesus said, «However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.»
This whole passage in John where Jesus talks about who the Holy Spirit is, is worth reading. John 16: 5-15 says Jesus: «But now I go away to Him who sent Me, and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler (the devil) of this world is judged. “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.»
When Jesus returned to His Father in heaven, those who had received Him as their Savior were filled with the Holy Spirit. Now, it was not only Jesus who was filled with the Spirit of God, but all those who received Him and all those who gave Him the right to take residence in themselves. Christians then, become a temple of the Holy Spirit and the church of God becomes us instead of a physical building made by human hands. The church we talked about in the previous chapter, right?
In the Acts we read the promise Jesus gave the disciples and when they were first filled with the Holy Spirit.
Acts 1: 4-8 «And being assembled together with them (the disciples), He (Jesus) commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.»
And we read further in Acts 2: 1-4
«When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.»
The baptism of the Spirit is confirmed through, among other things, the gift of speaking in tongues, which is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Tongue-speaking is a language that the one who speaks it himself does not understand it with his head, but one understands it in his spirit, in his heart and in his soul, since it gives an inner response when it is spoken. It is when one prays with the help of the Holy Spirit that one feels in the midst of what Philippians 4: 7 describes: «and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.» This gift helps the believer to build his own spiritual life through direct and continuous fellowship with God. This is the beginning of a life where the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit will become more and more visible in one's life.
In the New Testament church, these experiences were seen as normal for all believers.
Being a Christian and not knowing the gift of the Holy Spirit, I would argue, is a tame, boring, or dead Christian life. The whole Word of the Bible is confirmed precisely through this, that when the Holy Spirit takes up residence in us, we experience that the Bible is no longer just a theoretical history book, but simply a living book. Hebrews 4:12 states: «For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.»
Study who the Holy Spirit is and ask God to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Invite the Spirit of God to dwell in your heart.
Paul says in Galatians 5: 16-18 «I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.»
Speaking in tongues without the Spirit leading is done by many believers. I say this because this is where the depth of fellowship with God sets one believer apart from another. Being filled with the Spirit is more than just speaking in tongues. It is a living life that is truly felt inside the one who carries it.
I suggest you spend some time on it right now. Feel free to find your Bible if you have one and let the Spirit of God guide you. I also give you a few more Bible verses about the Holy Spirit, without saying anything more about them. In the topic of prayer that comes after, we will try to get personal with our lives with God.
2 Peter 1: 21– «For prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.»
1 Corinthians 12: 1-11 – «Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant: You know that you were Gentiles, carried away to these dumb idols, however you were led. Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit. There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.»
2 Corinthians 6: 1-10 - «We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For He says: “In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. We give no offense in anything, that our ministry may not be blamed. But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in fastings; by purity, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love, by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, by honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.»
1 John 5: 7-8 – «For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness on earth: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one.»
What exactly is prayer? Why do we pray, and why should we pray? Are there any better ways to pray, and are there any wrong ways to pray? And how do we really get in touch with God?
Throughout the ages, many recipes for prayer have been given. When someone finds that a particular way worked and God answers, others try to copy and do exactly the same prayer. But beyond what we find about prayer in the Bible, there is no magical formula that automatically opens the floodgates of heaven over your head and let you hear the voice of God. God sees you as unique and His desire is that you and Him should have a genuine dialogue all day long. God wants more than the 2 minute and 15 second prayer right after brushing your teeth in the evening, although He probably hears it too, He wants to share life with you.
The Bible gives us answers. That is one of the reasons why we should read it, because what God wants to tell us, He has arranged so that we have His word in a book, the Bible, the Word of God. The Bible gives us a lot of guidance of what prayer is, how we should pray and what we should pray for. Prayer is a very interesting topic because prayer is the whole key to life with God. It is in prayer that we get to know God personally, it is in prayer that He answers and leads us. Prayer can in a way be compared to dialogue with a good friend, a friend you can say absolutely everything to, a friend who listens, answers, and asks questions at the right time and in the right way, a friend who is always there and who never gets tired of listening to you. But it is also a friend who guides you, asks the unpleasant questions and is careful that you live and do right.
In Matthew 7: 8, Jesus said, «For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.»
In these passages, Jesus simply gives some promises, and I can confirm them to be true. I have an incredible amount of experience with God answering my prayers, probably enough for several books about answers to prayers. I say this to confirm that what the Bible tells us about prayer, I know it works, it's not just a theory or a heartfelt desire for it to work, YES; Prayer works!
So, let's take it step by step and go through the Bible verse bit by bit. "The one who knocks" Where does one knock? Is it just to find a church, a statue (made of wood or stone made by human hands), a cross or a wall, and then start knocking? Or light a candle, listen to blissful music and sit or lie in a specific position to breathe properly? Is there any physical place one must go to or a physical place one must be for prayer to work and for God to answer?
We will return to the question - where do you knock, but first I want to say a little about what doesn’t work and what is not prayer to God because, in the absence of the presence of the Holy Spirit, people make desperate attempts to create their own mood, settings or images of gods, trying to create their own way up to God. It doesn’t work! No matter how many candles you light, or how long you stand on your head, or who or what the statue is. God does not know that it is He you are trying to reach. The devil on the other hand, has always tried to copy God and always tries to pull us away from finding God. He is simply jealous. Do you remember what I said about the devil in chapter 4, that one of his names or what he is referred to is the angel of light?
In heaven before he was cast out because he sinned, he was the master of praise, and it is said that he had a beautiful appearance. In the Garden of Eden, he managed to deceive Adam and Eve, who also knew what the Lord looked like. Do you think he can fool us even today?
Jesus said in Matthew 7: 13-14 «Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.» The wide road is the devils, where he makes countless religions, prayer rituals and recipes for life that only lead to one and the same place – lost forever
The narrow gate, why does Jesus say the narrow gate, and that it is the one we are to go through? And what is the narrow gate?
In John 10: 9a, Jesus says, «I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved,» and in John 14: 6 -7 Jesus says, «I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.» So, since we know Jesus and confess His name, God hears us. Our friend is Jesus!
In John 14: 11-14 Jesus says: «Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves. “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.»
So, prayer in the name of Jesus gives us authority in the spiritual realm, in that which is invisible to our eyes, but which still surrounds us. Prayer is a connection to God. It is a daily dialogue or conversation, where God is part of our everyday life. God is not far away, His Spirit lives in the inner man, in the heart of everyone who has invited Him to do so. As Christians, we are a temple of the Holy Spirit, therefore He also hears us when we pray in our hearts. Speaking words with our mouths in prayer, worship and supplication to God is still important. Because, when one uses audible words, the forces of darkness also hear us, and our prayers disarm and set aside the spiritual forces we do not want to be a part of. Therefore, it is both important and right with common prayer, prayer together with other believers, as well as the individual's inner and personal prayer and fellowship with God..
One of the examples of prayer in the Bible, where there is a visible surrender and worship to God is when the people of Israel were attacked in the wilderness.
Exodus 17: 8-16 «Now Amalek came and fought with Israel in Rephidim. And Moses said to Joshua, “Choose us some men and go out, fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in my hand.” So Joshua did as Moses said to him, and fought with Amalek. And Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. And so it was, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands became heavy; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. And Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. So Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword. Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this for a memorial in the book and recount it in the hearing of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.” And Moses built an altar and called its name, The-Lord-Is-My-Banner; for he said, “Because the Lord has sworn: the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.»
When Moses' arms were raised, they won, when they became heavy and fell down, they had setbacks. This is a clear and visible proof of the spiritual warfare in the invisible. By raising his arms, Moses gave the angelic army of God the authority to fight the battle spiritually, and thus giving Joshua physical progress in the war.
Prayer is not «Fake it until you make it.» It’s not about how many words you use, how nice your words are, or the right wording. Nor is it about doing it enough times, praying at the right times, or praying long enough. No, when you come to God and use the authority and access Jesus Christ has given you in His name, then God hears you! You just have to know your "toolbox" - the Bible and know what to use when. The Holy Spirit guides us in prayer if we let Him.
I could formulate for you a wonderful example of what a great prayer with the right words should be, but the thing is, there is no answer sheet on words, and how to say them. God wants to get to know you and know how you feel, what you care about and what you want. He wants your relationship with Him make your life better and it is through prayer that one builds this friendship with God.
Prayer is about your faith and trust in God, and your faith is about perseverance and surrender.
The first thing you ask a new friend is not - give me 100 dollars and I will believe you? Friendship with God is not primarily about what we can get, it is about finding out what we already have. When my wife goes to the grocery store to shop, she often asks me to check in the fridge and in the pantry to see what we have before she buys as we don’t need to buy what we already have.
That is exactly what happens with the Bible, that it tells us what we have. When we know what we have in the fridge, it is easier to know what to make or what we can cook. When we don't know, we can, in the worst case, starve to death next to the bread box.
My brother-in-law came once on a surprise visit, it was late at night when he arrived, and he was hungry. He had driven from one side of the country to the other. He asked if we had any food he could make, something we did not think we had, but since he was so hungry, we let him look around the kitchen to see if he could find something to eat. After a while he asked; are you hungry? Do you also want to eat? We were surprised by the question, because we thought we had nothing we could use to make a meal, but since he is a chef, he was able to put together an evening dish that was yummy. Had we known what all the ingredients could be used for and ways to put them together, we could have offered him food when he arrived. While we thought we didn't have anything, we surprisingly did.
Jesus said in John 4:10 «If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.» The "success" of knowing God is through reading His Word the Bible and fellowship with Him in prayer.
Have you ever written down a finished dialogue that you speak out to your friend every time you meet? I hope your answer is no, and that you don’t do it in prayer either. It's easy and straightforward because talking to God is having fellowship with Him and getting close to Him. Where one simply spends time with Him. Conversations with Him are as you would converse with a close friend. It is also important to remember that we all carry "lived life baggage", with sin and injustice that we have done. It is absolutely crucial to bring this to God and ask Him for forgiveness and turn away from a life that is not according to God's pleasure and standard. The more we spend time with God, the Holy Spirit gradually show us what sin is.
In John 16: 7-12, Jesus says, «Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.»
The coming of Jesus gives us an example of how to live as fellow human beings and with God as our Heavenly Father. The arrival of the Advocate, the Holy Spirit make us, each one who believes in Him, a living temple of the Holy Spirit .. Isn't it fantastic?
Doesn’t this then give meaning in finding out more of who Jesus is, how He lived, what He said and how He prayed?
Had His disciples really fully understood this, they would not have fallen asleep during the "best" prayer meeting/moments ever.
Let's read the story in Mark 14: 32-42 «Then they came to a place which was named Gethsemane; and He said to His disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” And He took Peter, James, and John with Him, and He began to be troubled and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch.” He went a little farther, and fell on the ground, and prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him. And He said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.” Then He came and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “Simon, are you sleeping? Could you not watch one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Again He went away and prayed, and spoke the same words. And when He returned, He found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy; and they did not know what to answer Him. Then He came the third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? It is enough! The hour has come; behold, the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand.»
This happened right after Jesus prayed for all of us believers to be one in Christ and with one another. (John 17). Imagine that they experienced praying with Jesus, but then they fell asleep… Anyway, there are some principles here we can learn from, both what and how Jesus prays and that He spends a long time with God.
It cannot be said enough times - Jesus is the only way to God. It is Jesus who has paved the way for us to the throne of God, therefore we pray in his name because He is our only opportunity to talk to God. It is as if your father or mother is giving you a power of attorney for their bank account. Jesus is the authority given by God himself to us. Without the power of attorney, we have no access and with the power of attorney we have full access.
In your fellowship with God, you will feel that He fills your inner self with His peace. You will experience answers to prayer, perhaps most often when you look back and think about what the situation looked like when you prayed and how the solution was afterwards. We see only in part, and fortunately do not understand everything. But when God is allowed to lead us, we can be sure that His way is safe, even in an insecure world.
As said earlier - Darkness is the absence of light. There is no darkness! It is dark because there is no light. The darkness cannot overcome the light. Even a small match breaks the darkness. Light is energy. We can create light with the help of electricity. The sun emits an enormous amount of energy that both shines and warms. Darkness cannot be created; it is just that there is an absence of light. A follower of Jesus is this light for the people of the world today. We do not point to ourselves, but to Him who is the Light in us, Jesus Christ! Jesus said in John 8:12 - «I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.»
Prayer and fellowship with Jesus make us alive. I Matthew 6: 22-23a Jesus said – «The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.»
When you pray, you invite the light into your life and the more you pray, the more space you give the light to shine and to illuminate the areas of your life that are in darkness. When the light comes on, it may become obvious that there are areas in your life that need to be fixed a bit, maybe something that needs healing. Wounds or feelings you or others have inflicted on you. God can and will fix all this, but He needs you to open up for it to be fixed. God is a gentleman who only touches the areas you allow Him to touch. My appeal to you is therefore to give everything to God, let Him fix and be allowed to do His will in your life. He has created you; He has created everything around you, and He knows exactly what is best for you.
Once you have opened up, confessed and asked God to forgive you, it is important to put the past behind you. No, we don't forget what has happened and unfortunately none of us can rewind time and do things again but when we have given it to God and repented, we can say as Paul said in Philippians 3: 3b «but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,»
You are the only one that can develop your friendship and prayer life with God. He is waiting for you, and He will answer you. In your walk and in your quest to know Him more, I recommend that you read the four Gospels about Jesus - Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. They are four eyewitnesses who have written and documented what they saw and experienced with Jesus Himself. They recount different experiences and from different angles of what Jesus did and spoke. The stories coincide so much allowing us to see and understand that it is the same man they are talking about. Through the stories of Jesus and what He said, we can learn a lot about prayer. The Acts is a useful book in the Bible to read as it shows and teaches us how the first Christians used prayer in their lives.
In the Old Testament in the book of Psalms, we can read how David poured out his heart, both in joy and in sorrow. David was king of Israel, he lived close to God, and he really got to know the ups and downs of life. The psalms also teach us a lot about prayer and about expressing our heart and thoughts to God.
Several verses in the Bible can be mentioned in connection with prayer because it is a living book with unedited stories about people who lived close to God and people who turned their backs on God.
Since prayer which is our fellowship with God is absolutely crucial in our Christian's life, we will come back to it in the next chapter. In the next sections and in the next chapter on spiritual battle, we will get into more aspects of prayer, so we are not ending the topic of prayer even though there is now a new headline.
In the Bible, we find a lot about healing and that God heals. And since God created us, He knows exactly how our bodies work. Is it not then natural that He can and will heal us?
The first time my eyes were opened, and I got to witness the miracle of healing was when I was about 10 years old. It was during summer and my family, and I were at a Christian conference. At one of the meetings, I sat on a bench and dangled with my feet. I was a little unfocused on what was happening on stage but did manage to hear that the speaker invited people who needed healing to come up and be prayed for. I was sitting next to a man and on his other side, past the aisle in a wheelchair, sat his wife. When the speaker invited people up for prayer, this lady got up from the wheelchair and went on stage. I didn't react to this as I didn't know them and did not know at that time that she was lame. But when her husband suddenly jerked so that the whole bench shook, I understood that something was going on. He looked at the empty wheelchair, looked at his wife who went up and looked back at the wheelchair, touched his head, and ran after her. Afterwards, I was told that this lady was lame and could not walk before the healing which explained her husband’s reaction. He was not a Christian when they came to this meeting, but this event changed him, his wife was healed, and he was saved.
When we were fairly new to Paris, a friend of mine and I were out walking. Along the way, we met a lady whose engine had stopped, so she asked us for help with the car. We couldn't help her with the car, but she was walking on crutches, so we asked what was wrong and if we could pray for healing for her leg. She was clear and said that she did not believe in God since her previous experiences were of not receiving any answers to her prayers, but she still let us pray for her. She said: «Why not, I can't get anywhere anyway.» When I put my hand on her shoulder, she jumped almost a meter away from me. I was a little surprised and asked if she did not want us to pray for her. Her answer was; «When you put your hand on my shoulder, it felt like an electric shock inside me, so it was not on purpose that I jumped.» She was a little startled and we, a little startled as well, tried again. I put my hand on her shoulder and my friend put his hand on her knee and we prayed. It was a short prayer, and the lady was overjoyed when she gave us her crutches to walk around and test if it actually worked and it had. She was still skeptical of God, so she wanted to take it a little slow, step by step and seek Him on her own. We gave her some information about where she could find out more, and where she could read the Bible. But right before we parted ways, she said; «There was an incredible warmth inside my body when you prayed, I have never felt that before, so I promise to find out more of what you believe in.»
The gift of healing is a God-given Spiritual gift. Healing can only take place through the power of God's Spirit to heal, where we believers are only a channel for God's miracles. However, healing does not always happen when you lay hands on a person who needs to be healed. I think there are several reasons for this, and I think it should not be used to measure a Christian who is following God.
1 Corinthians 12: 27-31 tells us, «Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.»
In Mark 16: 17-18 Jesus says, «He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.»
Since Psalm 119: 160 states that; «The entirety of Your word is truth,..» we need to look at the various Bible verses to understand the totality of how things are connected. We do this because it is easy to doubt wondering if something is wrong since healing does not happen when you pray. Am I really a Christian since the gift of healing is not manifested through me? Or is it just that this gift has not been given to me? I wish that everyone I prayed for was healed, but that is not the case. Some are healed and others are not. Why? No, I don't know but I have decided that when the Holy Spirit leads me to pray for the sick, I will be obedient to do so. I rest in the truth that God gives different spiritual gifts and gifts of service, and that it is not a given that all followers of Jesus Christ have everything. We Christians form the body that constitutes the church of God and is described as the body of Christ here on this earth.
As humans, we carry the sinful nature as long as we are here on this earth. The fulfillment of all the promises of salvation will happen when Jesus comes again, and he takes those that belong to him and have their names written in the book of Life home to heaven. Therefore, we must endure living in the tribulations of this world and not allow tribulations to cause us to lose faith and not follow Jesus, even when we don't understand everything.
Perhaps it is good for us humans that no one receives all of God's spiritual gifts when others don’t have any. As we have seen before, the devil's pride brought him down. He was in heaven, and he served God, but he became full of himself, wanted to make a name for himself and with that he fell out of God's anointing, and his fall was great. In Luke 6: 46-49 Jesus says something about this; «But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say? Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock. But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great.»
In Philippians 3: 12-16, Paul says; «Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.»
I wholeheartedly believe in healing. I have experienced it with my own body, on the body of others when I have prayed for them, and I have seen others experience it, by the laying of hands and prayer. I can't explain it away because it has been so clear that God performed the miracles I have seen. Healing and the Holy Spirit are both a clear confirmation of the existence of God, that the Bible is a book of life, and the word of God is alive. Hebrews 4:12 «For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.»
Having God's given gifts or spiritual gifts as they are referred to, can lead to one becoming full of themselves. Not having them can make one be occupied with searching for them instead of seeking God. It is therefore important to pay attention to what God's word says. I am leading into the topic, but do not give a complete or perfect conclusion. My wish is that every individual will be good at finding the answers the Bible gives, through reading and prayer. The understanding of the Bible is given and is available to us all with the help of The Holy Spirit. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 3:11 «For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.»
I want to be careful and stick to God's word as there are arrangements in the kingdom of God that we cannot bypass. Among other things, we can read in 1 Peter 5: 5-11 «Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.»
It is quite clear that Jesus wants everyone to be healthy, we can read that in Matthew 4:23 «And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people.»
No disease is too big, and none is too small, God wants us to be healthy, that is how He created everything from the very beginning. So, the call Paul gave us in 1 Corinthians 12:31 «But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.» is a recommendation to listen to and adhere to.
Few years ago, my wife became ill with cancer. We wanted healing for her and prayed for her, at the same time as the treatments began. It was easy to follow the doctors' advice and treatment as we believe that God also works through them. The treatment made her very ill and weak. When she was at her weakest and just lying-in bed, I didn't want to think or talk about believing in healing.
One day, I heard that a lady we had just started getting to know broke her hand in three places when she was playing handball. My hope was to not meet her because I could not bear to say that I believed in healing. But who do I meet if not her and while the conversation about my wife's illness and this lady's broken hand is going on, I thought in my quiet mind that I should not say anything about healing but suddenly I hear myself say - «I believe in healing, can I pray for you?» I felt bad because I flustered with it as the lady reached out her hand and said - «Yes, come on, pray!» I managed a few clumsy words about - «Dear God, heal this hand amen, amen.» Everything I had learned and everything I could have said and prayed in that situation was just completely gone. When I had finished my short "unprofessional" prayer, she said - «Well, then we'll see in two days if it's healed. You see, the fracture was complicated, so I have to take another x-ray in two days to find out how they can treat my hand.» When she took another x-ray, the doctors could no longer find the fractures in her hand. They could only state that it was healed since they had pictures of the hand with a fracture only a week earlier. I can say with all certainty that I did not heal that hand, it was God's power through my "unwilling" willingness. When I put my hand on her hand, God could use me as His channel to heal her body.
At the very beginning of the corona pandemic before anything was announced about a vaccine, I got a thought. If there was a vaccine coming, then I would not take it. Few months later, the promotion about the vaccine began, and when it came, I did not take it for no other reason other than the thought and conviction I had in me of not taking it. During the period when the pandemic was at its strongest, I was, one day, lying in bed with more pain in my body than I had ever had. I was completely exhausted and there were no muscles in my body that were willing to help me get up. I was freezing and sweating all over, and my whole body was shaking. Of course, the thought that I should probably take the vaccine came, but if I had decided to take it, I would not have been vaccinated at that time anyway. At that time, they had just started with vaccination of the elderly and the most vulnerable.
The evening came and I was still completely exhausted. My wife was also bedridden due to an operation in connection with her cancer treatment. I started thinking about who would cook dinner for the kids and take care of the family if I could not do it. It was so incredibly bad timing for being sick. What about my wife, would she cope with getting this as well?
As I lay there a thought came and I felt it was God talking to me. It was, "Get up, you brave giant!" The sentence came again and again, so I decided to follow this voice to get up. My legs were barely able to carry me to the kitchen, but I was able to begin to cook and thank God that He had healed me. Little by little I felt the strength coming and before we sat down to eat dinner together, I felt completely healthy. A few days later, the whole family was diagnosed with corona, but we then went through it with mild symptoms. Even my wife, who could have become very ill, did not get more symptoms than she could handle without further help. I am convinced that it was God who intervened and healed me!
One of the most important things to understand and to learn from the Bible is forgiveness. There are two important aspects in the topic of forgiveness that we must talk about :
That God has forgiven us
That we should forgive each other.
Colossians 3: 13b «even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.»
Forgiveness is not primarily about the person being forgiven, it is about our well-being and position before God.
I have a story from my own life, which I want to share with you regarding forgiveness. I am not telling the story in order to slander anyone or exalt myself saying that I was in the right. I am sharing it to point out the power of forgiveness.
In a previous workplace I had, I experienced not being wanted by a group of people. I worked in a church where I was responsible for the youth ministry. The youth group I was responsible for was progressing and I experienced that the young people wanted me. There were several who expressed that they were happy with me as their leader. The experience was not the same when it came to a group of leaders in the church. I experienced that they didn't want me when I challenged them. I spoke about what I thought was wrong in their attitudes and pointed out someone's attempt to acquire a position in the church for their own gain. This led to my departure. I was terminated but it was made to look like I quit voluntarily which was not true as I didn't want to quit. This happened during a period when I was tired and very vulnerable. I fell into a deep depression, and I was bitter about these people. I promised myself that I would never to go to church again and that I would not work for either church or the kingdom of God anymore. I got regular job, worked a lot, and tried to forget everything that had happened, but I was not okay on the inside. On top of that, my marriage went through a very difficult period. After two and a half years, I was even further down in my spirit and in my frustration. I went out on another long walk in the woods. When I was in the middle of the forest and thought I was alone, I cried out in despair «God, where are you? Why did you just suddenly disappear?» And I cried «I have done everything for You, stood day and night, all my life I have followed You and then You are suddenly gone… You are not there anymore…» Suddenly I heard a voice right behind me saying - «But Arvid, I have never left you. You are the one who has turned your back on Me.» I turned around and looked for the person talking to me, but I could not see anyone even though the voice was right behind me. I sat down on my knees and asked God for forgiveness for turning my back to Him, and I said «God, from today, You are Lord in my life, I will follow You where You want me!» In that moment and in that situation, it was an easy sentence to say, but it has certainly cost me to live up to the words I said then. However, I can’t imagine not saying those words. I know that being where God wants us to be is definitely the best place to be, even if in this world perspective, it is not always experienced as such.
Anyway, back to the story. The people I felt that had hurt me with their actions still bothered me even though they were no longer a part of my physical life. It was a long process to work this out and I felt that God led me back to meet these people. I arranged meetings and sat directly in front of them one by one and I told them what had hurt and that I forgave them. I also asked if there was anything I had said or done that they had against me, for which I could ask forgiveness for. Although this felt difficult to do then, this walk allowed me to hear and feel God speaking to me again.
My unforgiveness for these people, even though they did not know they had hurt me, prevented the spirit of God from entering my life. I had turned to the wounds and the injustice and insisted on «my rights» and on «that I did right and they did wrong.» I was probably right in a lot of this, but it wouldn’t change what had happened anyway. This is what forgiveness is all about. Time cannot be rewinded for any of us, what has happened has happened. The question is what do we do with it, how do we put behind what is wrong and reach for the right that lies ahead.
Forgiveness is a choice. It can, in a way, be compared to when you are inflicted with a small or a large wound on your body. The wound comes often unexpectedly, quickly, from unexpected places and perhaps not intentionally. It still takes time to clean, patch and heal the wound. Even after the wound has healed, a scar often appears that can hurt for a while. A wound that is treated is healed but a wound that is allowed to continue to bleed is fatal. It is the same with wounds inflicted on our soul, they must be treated and given time to heal. Forgiveness is the name of this spiritual treatment. Treating these wounds is a choice and sometimes help from others is needed to clean and bandage the wounds. If not cleaned properly infection or inflammation can occur and create new wounds and cause new pain. As it is with wounds on our body, it is also in our spiritual life. If the wounds in the soul are not properly cleansed, the wounds will make us sick. In most cases, it is about forgiving and putting things behind you. While in other cases where the other party inflicting wounds does not understand that they are inflicting wounds and confrontation doesn’t lead to change, it may be right to end or break the relationship. Within the family, it is a necessity to clean the wounds, otherwise the whole family will be affected, and the relationships destroyed. Among friends, colleagues, acquaintances or other Christians, there is room for ending relationships if these relationships drag one down instead of lifting each other up. It is important that condescending thoughts, jealousy, hatred, or anything else are not given room to grow in one's own thoughts about the other person. Such thoughts, jealousy and hatred don't make the guilty person sick, but the one who carries these thoughts becomes ill, bitter, and self-absorbed with such thoughts. That is why forgiveness is first and foremost for our own benefit as it sets us free. Whether the person who caused the wounds repents or not, it doesn’t make a difference in one's own freedom. Of course, it hurts to look at a person who does not understand the power of forgiveness and maintains the unresolved as if it were settled. But again, forgiveness sets one free, whether it is to the person himself one asks for forgiveness, or that it is to God that one repents and asks for forgiveness.
When Jesus hung on the cross and was about to die because of human injustice against Him, He said, «Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.» Luke 23:34
In Mark 6: 10-11a, Jesus says to His disciples, «In whatever place you enter a house, stay there till you depart from that place. And whoever will not receive you nor hear you, when you depart from there, shake off the dust under your feet as a testimony against them.»
In Matthew 5: 43-45, Jesus said, « You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.»
Unforgiveness is sin, and the devil wants us to be stuck in sin, so that we do not let Jesus come into our lives. John 8: 34-36 «Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.»
Since we all are sinners according to God's law, we need His forgiveness. The fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden has affected us all. It testifies to our body and soul as it decays and dies. Since the day we were born, we have been shaped by the mindset of this world. The Bible refers to the devil as the god of this world, since humans initially turned away from God and exalted the devil as god instead. Maybe you hate the devil, and you have no intention of following him, yet we are all sinners and need God's forgiveness. Romans 3: 21-26 states: «But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.»
Romans 12: 1-3 says «I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.»