Bill with his wife Beni Johnson are the Senior Pastors of Bethel Church. Bill is a fifth generation pastor with a...
When Jesus walked the earth, people believed that sickness was from the devil and that healing was from God. But today, two thousand years later, many people think that affliction is allowed and sometimes sent by God to build character and that those who pursue the ministry of healing are deceived by the devil.
While the thinking of the church has changed, God hasn’t. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). Jesus healed every person who came to Him asking to be made well. There were no exceptions. It didn’t seem to matter if they had great or weak faith or even sin in their lives. They all left His presence with their miracle.
It’s important to note that Jesus was the perfect revelation of the Father. Hebrews 1:3 says Jesus is the exact representation of God. Revealing the Father was a primary assignment in Christ’s coming. What was hidden in the shadows of the Old Testament was clearly seen in the life of Jesus: the love of the Father is extravagant and everyone is welcome to come to Him and receive.
"I must pursue Him in order to be like Him."
Yet Jesus was not able to heal the sick apart from the Father. This fact is taken from His own words, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself." (John 5:19 NKJV) He was unable to heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out demons or cleanse the lepers, unless God worked through Him. When Jesus commanded His disciples to do these things, He was requiring them to do what was impossible without God’s help.
Jesus Christ is both the eternal Son of God, and the Son of Man. As God, nothing is impossible for Him. But, He chose to live with self-imposed restrictions that He might be the model for all who would believe in His name. This is a very important part of our theology. If Jesus did miracles as God, I am obviously impressed by His love and power, but I’m not able to duplicate it. However, if He did them as a man through a right relationship with the Father, then I must pursue Him in order to be like Him.
Although He lived as a man, He had two unique characteristics: He had no sin to separate Him from the Father, and He was completely dependent on the Holy Spirit to empower Him for the impossible. The blood of Jesus makes us sinless. And when a believer receives the baptism in the Holy Spirit, we have access to the limitless power of heaven. Because of this, Jesus commanded us to follow Him in all things, even in His confrontation with the impossible, saying, “Greater works than these he will do...” (John 14:12 NKJV)
"One of the great temptations for the church in North America is to reduce the Bible to our level of experience."
In the same way that Jesus expected fruit out of season from the fig tree in Matthew 2:18-22, an impossibility, so God requires us to bear fruit from the supernatural realm. He has given us access to that reality through His blood, and the indwelling person of the Holy Spirit.
One of the great temptations for the church in North America is to reduce the Bible to our level of experience. This present move of God, which many have called “The Father’s Blessing,” has awakened us to God’s purposes. There’s a growing sense that the church should represent Jesus properly to the world, which sometimes means that we need to “re-present” Jesus. We desperately want our experiences to be lifted to scriptural standards.
In 1987 I attended two of John Wimber’s conferences. I wanted the miracles of the Bible to be active in and through me and had heard that the Vineyard Church had been experiencing what I was hungry for. While my heritage is rich in this area, I had little personal experience. I attended every meeting the conference offered so I could learn the “secret” to the healing ministry.
When it was over, I left very discouraged. Not because it wasn’t good and beneficial. On the contrary — it was because every principle that I heard from the speakers I had taught before. Especially surprising to me was that some of the examples and illustrations were the exact ones I had used. While some would have been encouraged because of the confirmation, I was discouraged, because the ones who brought these wonderful messages had supernatural fruit in their ministries. All I had was good doctrine.
"The Holy Spirit is in me for my sake, but He is upon me the sake of others."
For the next eight years, I watched videotapes on healing from people that had more experience than I had. I created classes that gave people opportunities to pursue healing in a safe environment and attempted in our services and in public places to bring miracles to the sick and diseased. Some received miracles; others didn’t. But one thing is certain: I could no longer be satisfied with a theory. I had to take the necessary risks to get experience. It was a simple lesson, but it has changed my life.
When the outpouring began in Toronto, I was hungry and ready. The fresh experience with the Holy Spirit was exactly what I needed. He helped me to discover the Father’s love in a new way. And the realization that His power could actually come upon me did wonders in building my confidence in His intent to use me. It was at this time that I began to learn that the Holy Spirit is in me for my sake, but He is upon me the sake of others.
Since 1995 we have seen several thousand people healed from various afflictions and diseases. A shift has taken place where we are now seeing more people healed in public places than in church services. The church is learning to be the church. In our adventure to embrace this part of the Great Commission, there have been several things we teach and model for those who desire to experience an increase in the supernatural ministry as commissioned by Jesus.
Many years ago, I flew across the country to attend a conference led by Randy Clark. I was desperate for the anointing that was in his life, and prayerfully anticipated the impartation service to be held on the last night of the conference. God touched me through him. That experience has had a great impact on my life, with a definite increase in the miracle realm. A small part of the grace for miracles in his life was imparted to me. While it’s not always possible to have someone lay hands on you, it is important to pursue it when it’s available. The grace for a particular type of ministry can be received by hearing, yet it is best received when you can also have the laying on of hands.
There are at least four other giants killed in the Bible besides Goliath; and they were all killed by men who were followers of David. If you want to kill giants, hang around a giant killer.
These are the men and women who have gone before us that broke into realms of God that are unfamiliar to us today. I especially like the books and videos from the healing revivalists of the 1950’s. Some won’t read their materials because a few of them finished the race poorly. (If we carry that approach to the reading of scripture, we’d have to throw out Proverbs, as Solomon didn’t end too well either.) We must learn to eat the meat and throw out the bones.
Be specific. Let Him know exactly what you want. Our prayers in this manner are both for the individual and corporate breakthrough. For example, we are crying out to become a “cancer free zone”. Passionate prayer is essential in fulfilling the command to pursue and earnestly desire spiritual gifts. (1 Corinthians 12:31) That can be translated “lustfully pursue”! It’s not casual or convenient. It is sacrificial in nature, and must endure when reason commands you to stop. Prayer must be followed by radical obedience to be effective. If I don’t actually lay hands on the sick, there’s little chance of me increasing in the anointing for that ministry. I must give away what I have in order to be entrusted with more.
“The works of the Lord are great, studied by all who have pleasure in them.” (Psalm 111:2 NKJV) I have pleasure in the miracles of God. They are accurate expressions of His nature. Study them. Learn to see as He sees. The secrets to the miracle realm are contained in the pages of scripture. Don’t study so you can teach someone else. Study to learn by prayerfully reading with meditation.
In the quest to grow in this ministry it would be good to take note of two of the enemy's devices that can affect our call. Many make the mistake of praying, “Thy will be done” when they’re praying for the sick. It’s not the earnest cry for the will of God that is the problem. It’s the lack of conviction as to what that will is that dilutes the power of our prayers. Jesus made the will of God easy to see! Even many who believe in healing accept that it is at least occasionally God’s will to be sick.
Sickness is to my body what sin is to my soul. It’s imperative that we have an anchor in our belief system that acknowledges the complete accomplishment of Jesus on the cross. His blood does not only cover some of my sins. It covers all. Neither did His stripes pay for only some of my diseases but all of them. Prayers offered without this conviction may lose their power over the long haul in the more difficult situations.
Secondly, don’t let the enemy get you to be introspective. That’s what happens when examine our personal level of faith. While I may feel that I don’t have enough faith for the needed miracle, I can always obey and lay hands on the person in need. It can be a real trap to focus on my faith, great or small. Looking inward never solves the problem. It’s not about me. It’s about the Father’s love for that person. The best thing for me to do is to lay hands on the person, turn my heart towards the Lord, and pray my best prayer.
If we don’t live on the edge of impossibility, we will reduce ministry to what we are capable of doing through our own abilities. That makes us no different than any of the other service clubs in our communities. They are nice to have around, but they’ll never be credited with a revolution. That distinction has been reserved for a generation that will openly display the raw power of God. That generation will live from the revelation of Paul’s message, "The kingdom of God is not in word but in power." (1 Corinthians 4:20 NKJV)
The world has heard our words. It’s time for them to see the power.
This archived article was written by Bill Johnson for release in Mar, 2003. Circumstances and situations may have changed regarding the author, locations and ministries. This content may therefore be outdated or misinformed.
Sign up to receive a periodical digest of some of the best content from this magazine.