Earlier this year my friend Faith Totushek explained on Pentecostals & Charismatics for Peace & Justice why she is a Holy Spirit Activist – or as I like to call it, a charismactivist:
“From beginning to end, we see an amazing God who longs for the world and the people he created to flourish and find life. And time and time again, this God seeks to partner with us as his agents. And he empowers this people with his presence through the Holy Spirit giving gifts, insight, truth, endurance—whatever is needed to accomplish the purposes displayed in the Bible.”
In other words, God doesn’t leave us alone with the big task of loving people and promote life and happiness. He partners with us by bestowing His Spirit upon us. Peter writes: “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” (1 Peter 4:10). Serving people is one of the main purposes of God’s gifts of grace, or charismata as they are known in Greek.
One of many Biblical examples of this can be found in the last chapter of the book of Acts. Paul is a prisoner of the Roman empire and his guards are taking him to Rome so that he can speak to the emperor. Their ship is wrecked on an island, probably Malta, and God miraculously saves Paul’s life after he is bitten by a poisonous snake. Not only that, God miraculously gives other people life as well through the hands of Paul:
There was an estate nearby that belonged to Publius, the chief official of the island. He welcomed us to his home and showed us generous hospitality for three days. His father was sick in bed, suffering from fever and dysentery. Paul went in to see him and, after prayer, placed his hands on him and healed him.When this had happened, the rest of the sick on the island came and were cured. They honored us in many ways; and when we were ready to sail, they furnished us with the supplies we needed. (Acts 28:7-10)
Luke doesn’t tell us if the people that were healed also were saved. I sure hope they were, but I also know of several cases where people don’t choose to follow the Lord even though He has made a miracle in their lives. In fact, once when Jesus healed ten people only one of them thanked Him (Lk 17:11-19). The beautiful thing though is that our loving Saviour still heals them.
Now, if Paul had not have the power of the Spirit his help and comfort to the sick on the island would have been much more limited. Unlike Luke, he wasn’t a doctor, and it seems like Luke himself is thankful to the supernatural cures God offers through the apostle. This should be embraced by all Christians that seek to make the world healthier, happier, more just and more peaceful. Partly because miraculous Spiritual gifts are biblical, but also because they are effective.
Indeed, though we should also be reminded that Paul was not always able to heal people (or should I say the Lord did not always heal people through Paul!), as recorded in the NT (at least 2 examples are given). That serves as a reminder that we should not presume that God will always heal someone just because we ask Him.
Indeed, sometimes healing doesn’t happen for various reasons. Our job is to love, His job is to heal.