When I was back in seminary, I met a pastor by the name of Tim Boyd. He was, and is, a great guy who pastors a church west of Indianapolis in North Salem, IN. He is married and has a number of children, including Jared, the subject of tonight’s post.
Several years ago, Jared was complaining of leg and hip pain; and after a long process of tests and examinations, it was determined that he had bone cancer – Ewing’s Sarcoma, that generally attacks children 11-19 years old, with a frequency of 6:1 in boys over girls. Anyway, he underwent extreme surgery and chemo treatments, as well as radiation – and eventually received a clean bill of health as the doctors were able to successfully remove the tumor. He was seventeen at the time.
During the last year, his situation has been up and down. The doctors discovered another tumor – this time in the tissue, and not in the bone. Additionally, they found tumors in his lungs; and it appeared that the cancer had spread. He has continued to undergo treatments and as of the last report, the doctors can’t explain the fact that he appears to once again be cancer-free. The tumors that were in his lungs now appear to be benign masses, and the family is optimistic that he may have been healed by God.
Of course, we don’t know, but God is good, and the family is a family of unbelievable faith. Jared is staunch in his belief in God, and when things weren’t going so well, he was prepared to die, and even had an event so he could properly prepare people for his death. I still marvel at people, especially young people, who cling so profoundly to God’s promise of an eternity with Him. Yes, I believe in God, as many of you do, but to see teenagers with such sure faith is a blessing and an encouragement for the rest of us. We once thought that our son Andrew had cancer, and I never had a more intense, prayer filled two weeks in my life. Luckily, the results were negative; and we didn’t have to face the issues the Boyd family has had to deal with.
The real question of tonight’s post is whether the spiritual gift of healing exists today. Yes, I know that people are healed, but my point is that in the first century, Christ specifically empowered people to go out and perform miracles, including healing, in His name. And many people today believe that there are still those among us who can cause healing to happen at any time they wish. I have a difficult time with this. While I acknowledge that God can heal, at His discretion, and certainly through His people, the point is that I don’t know of anybody who can call down miracles and heal “on demand”, as they did in the first century.
Depending on what you believe about what we call the “sign” gifts – speaking in tongues, interpretation of tongues, miracles, healing and prophecy – you either believe that these gifts still exist today, or that they ended when the apostles died near the end of the first century. In other words, the only folks who had the ability to perform these gifts were those people, including Paul, who walked with Christ and were taught by Him directly – thus claiming apostolic position.
Whether you believe in these “sign” gifts today depends on how you interpret 1 Cor. 13:8-10. Paul added an addendum at the conclusion of his famous “love” chapter – you know, “Love is patient, love is kind; it does not boast……love never fails.” The text continues, “But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.”
Many people believe that “perfection” refers to Christ, and that means that the gifts will continue until the return of Christ – but others believe that the Bible is God’s perfect word, with us until the return of Christ Himself. At the conclusion of the writing of the text, somewhere around 95 A.D., followed by the death of the apostle John, we received God’s inspired word, through the agency of the Holy Spirit and these special gifts were no longer needed. Because we had God’s perfect word.
Whichever way you believe, I hope that you acknowledge that God is capable of healing; any time and place, through any person that He chooses. And just perhaps, Jared’s faith, and the faith of his family and friends, has healed him. I hope so, but I will keep you posted.
My encouragement tonight is to never give up on God. Even when things look dim, God is up to the task, and we don’t know what His will for our lives is. My prayer is that you will continue to seek His favor; and that God will bless you and keep you all the days of your life.