DO ADVENTISTS BELIEVE IN THE GIFT OF HEALING?
We certainly do. According to Scripture, God can answer our prayers and heal those for whom we pray (Jas 5:13–15). Some have difficulty understanding the nature of this gift for at least two reasons: First, it would appear that the manifestation of the gift today is not as common as it was during the apostolic period; and second, our perception of it has been tainted by what we see among charismatic Christian churches. Some believe that the gift should manifest itself among us in the same way it does among those Christian communities.
1. God’s gift in biblical times. An interesting phenomenon in Scripture with respect to miracles and healings is that there are very few of them! The history recorded in the Bible covers a period of several thousand years. Examine it as a whole, and you’ll soon realize that miracles and healings were not as common as one may think. If you count them, you will realize not only that their number was limited, but also that they tended to occur in clusters at particular historical junctures. For instance, a significant amount of them took place during the exodus from Egypt. This was a moment of crisis when God had to manifest His power to demonstrate that He was the true God. Miracles were performed in unusual numbers during the ministries of Elijah and Elisha. This was another time of great apostasy in Israel, and God was demonstrating that He was the true God of Israel.
We witness a major manifestation of healing miracles in the ministry of Jesus and the apostles. Such unique displays of divine power had several purposes. A central one was to validate the divine mission and authenticity of the work of Jesus. But throughout Bible history, we also find sporadic manifestations of the gift of healing. In other words, the gift was permanent among God’s people, but God chose when to manifest it in a powerful or more intense way. It happened in moments of crisis, when God was revealing that He was active in the ministry of His people to validate their work and assist those who were in doubt.
2. Present and future experience of the gift. The gift is still in His church, but the Lord chooses when and how to manifest it. Healing miracles happen among God’s remnant people all over the world in response to the fervent prayers of pastors and members. These occur sporadically, in isolation from each other, through the silent presence of the Spirit among us. The Lord has probably chosen to do it this way because at the close of the cosmic conflict, the forces of evil will use miracles to validate their claims as being from God (Rev 13:13; 16:14). Our safety is not in miracles and healings, but in the teachings of Scripture.
As we get closer to the end of the cosmic conflict, apostasy and confusion will reach global dimensions, and God will manifest the power of the Spirit in a most glorious way. He will intensify the manifestation of the Spirit among us, and the prophecy of Joel will find its ultimate fulfillment (Joel 2:28–32). God will validate the message and mission of His remnant people through Scripture and through the magnificent display of the power of the Spirit.
3. Healing and medicine. Today we experience the gift of healing through medical services—yes, medical services. Jesus defeated evil powers through His healings, and today He can do it through those who find ways to prevent, treat, and heal diseases. Those involved in medical missionary work and research are participating in the cosmic conflict at the cellular level, and the Lord gives them wisdom to assist Him in bringing healing to a world in distress and suffering. The wisdom given to them by the Lord is His gift to His church for the benefit of humanity. Therefore, medical missionary work, performed by people consecrated to the Lord who seek only to give Him glory, is a valid manifestation of the gift of healing that transcends the boundaries of the church and is from our sovereign Lord.
Ángel Manuel Rodríguez is retired after a career of service as pastor, professor, and theologian. He is a former director of the Biblical Research Institute at the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists in Silver Spring, MD, USA. This answer is used by permission.