While they were at Lystra, Paul and Barnabas came upon a man with crippled feet. He had been that way from birth, so he had never walked. He was sitting and listening as Paul preached. Looking straight at him, Paul realized he had faith to be healed. So Paul called to him in a loud voice, “Stand up!” And the man jumped to his feet and started walking.Acts 14:8-10
When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in their local dialect, “These men are gods in human form!” They decided that Barnabas was the Greek god Zeus and that Paul was Hermes, since he was the chief speaker. Now the temple of Zeus was located just outside the town. So the priest of the temple and the crowd brought bulls and wreaths of flowers to the town gates, and they prepared to offer sacrifices to the apostles. But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard what was happening, they tore their clothing in dismay and ran out among the people, shouting, “Friends, why are you doing this? We are merely human beings—just like you! We have come to bring you the Good News that you should turn from these worthless things and turn to the living God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them. In the past He permitted all the nations to go their own ways, but He never left them without evidence of Himself and His goodness. For instance, He sends you rain and good crops and gives you food and joyful hearts.” But even with these words, Paul and Barnabas could scarcely restrain the people from sacrificing to them.Acts 14:11-18
There is one question left that I did not cover in the last Gems:
What does it mean “faith to be healed”? Is there a different level of faith, and how can you reach that level of faith ?
Allow me to answer that question by clipping what I wrote in Gem 432 when I covered the “gift of faith” in 1 Cor 12:9.
“to another faith by the same Spirit”
It is clear. Paul is saying that there is a gift of faith which is listed among the manifestation gifts. As I have already said in Bible Gem 243 on Rom 12:3 “The gift of faith is different from the faith we need in Christ to open the way to receiving His righteousness.” God has given us different measures of faith, the ability to believe for the impossible. To some people God has given a huge measure of faith. It is like they can believe for anything. They truly believe God can do ANYTHING. God uses them to inspire faith in others. But the level of their faith is above and beyond. That is why it inspires. It is not faith for salvation but a gift of faith. This gift of faith is listed among the manifestation gifts because such faith manifests God. God presences Himself around men and women of great faith. He inhabits the praises of His people and I believe He also inhabits the extraordinary faith of His people.
I believe some leaders have that measure of faith and conversely some don’t. To be a good leader and to inspire others one needs a measure of faith that is above the rest. Don’t let your theology get in the way of your faith. Don’t let your denomination get in the way of your faith. Your ability to believe God for the impossible feeds from and builds on the God experiences you have had. As I have seen God do some amazing things that knowledge of the certainty of His supernatural power becomes a catalyst to greater things ahead. That is the case for all of us. It is certainly true for Tania and I as we have walked this rather amazing journey. But I am not talking about that in commenting on the gift of faith. We all grow in our faith. Each time God does something new or each time we believe for the impossible and it comes to pass it inspires us to higher heights in Him. That is true. But that is not the gift of faith.
During my time as Director of Wycliffe Bible Translators NZ I was privileged to meet many world leaders in the kingdom of God. I have noticed there are some who have the gift of faith and there are those who don’t. The gift of faith is God given. We can’t summon it up. We do that with our experiential faith. Because of what God has done in the past I can trust him for this next step. That is why the Lord had the children of Israel set up monument stones (Joshua 4). When He worked miracles in their midst they were to build a memorial to that so future generations would know what he did there. This inspires faith. We should all do it. Leaders especially should do. Those who have the gift of faith do it naturally. But the true gift of faith is not that. It is not a matter of summoning faith on the basis of what you have seen or experienced.
There have been times for us in the past when I have seen the clear difference between the two. There are times when my faith is by virtue of my past experience and times when the faith that I have at a given moment is granted by God for that moment. I won’t bore you with more examples. (I am writing our story in a book; read about there.) I have seen that true inspiring leaders operate at that level not just occasionally but frequently if not all the time. And I hasten to add I am not talking about those leaders who “talk it up” to inspire the troops. No, I am talking about a gift of faith that comes from within for that moment in time. I have known it in myself and I have seen it in others.
There is a gift of faith given by God by His grace for the moments we need it. Learn to discern it and above all, learn to operate in it when it is present.
The gift of faith may be given for a specific event or project or issue you are facing. It may well be removed at the end of that happening. Oh the person may well learn from the experience to hang on to God in faith in ways they did not before but it is highly likely that the gift of faith as such has been taken back in order to be given again at the next instance it is required. I suspect that the true gift of faith does not stay with you as yours forever and a day. It is something which the Holy Spirit of God gives at a particular time for a season. It is not the same as the faith you learn to exercise as a result of having seen God work in ways in your life which enables you to trust for the future on the basis of what He has done in the past.
I have been the recipient of His healing a number of times. Miraculously healed by God’s direct power and through the gift of healing in others. I cannot deny it. But each time I have been healed it was different. There is no magic formula to healing. I have many stories to tell but I will limit myself to one at this point. I believe it is illustrative of God’s creative and multi-faceted ways of bringing healing to His people. So we don’t put Him in a box and treat Him like a genie, rubbing the lamp when we have a need. God will never be treated in that way.
One Sunday in the late 1970’s I was in church in Matamata (NZ) and suffering great pain in right knee from a injury on the soccer field on Thursday night when training the school’s 1st XI. We had a visiting speaker who also practised the gift of healing. At one point in the service, while he was calling people out for specific ailments, he said “There is someone here with pain in their knee, will you stand please?” I stood up and so did my best friend. He asked, “Which knee has the pain?” My friend said “My left knee”. He said, “no I specifically saw the right knee”. He then asked me, “Which knee do you have pain in?” I told him the right knee and he invited me forward.
After praying over for sometime he asked me if the pain had gone. I said No, it hadn’t. I wasn’t going to lie and go along with a farce. Either I was healed or I wasn’t. I won’t play games. He announced to me and the church that the Lord had healed me but I had to wait three days. Oh I had a major problem at that point. I was so annoyed at what I thought this man was doing. I wasn’t healed and so we play this other game of cover up saying I would be healed in three days. I thought what nonsense. This is a sham and left church that day somewhat disillusioned. Three days later having forgotten all about it, or pushing into the back of my mind. I wasn’t dwelling on it, the moment had passed. God had had His chance to show me healing and had blown it. I didn’t believe the preacher’s statement and so I was not holding any hope of anything more happening. I was sitting on the couch in the lounge and reading my Bible. I sensed the thought form in my mind, “Put your hand on your knee (the right one).” I did it out of impulse and “obedience” to the thought. Instantly heat flowed from my own hand into my knee and I was healed. I sat there amazed. Remembering what the man had said on the Sunday I started to cry because I had been so anti and so unbelieving of the preacher’s statement. Despite all that, God was faithful and it seems he had put in the preacher’s mind to tell me “three days”. God brings His healing in the way He determines. Just accept that and embrace His purposes for you. And what about my friend? Why wasn’t his knee healed too? I am sure he was more deserving than me at that time, he was certainly more spiritual. God is God and He will bring His granted His healing as he please. Healing is not Christian magic or a matter of saying the right words. But it is real and it meted out through the gifts granted to members of the body. That much I know. See the “scars” – he healed me.
The gift of faith and the gift of healing go hand in hand. The gift of faith operates both sides of the healing divide. In other words the one who is being used to bring healing to another must have the faith that God will heal strongly enough to speak it out, as Paul did this time in Lystra. But also too the one being healed must have the faith to believe that God will heal them – not just that He can heal, or that He has healed other people. No they must have the faith to believe that God will heal them. Many times in Scripture it is recorded that people were healed because of their faith. But then there are other times when God heals irrespective of the recipient’s faith. It is all part of the mystery that is God.
Take time now to look at the portion above which we haven’t covered yet. Namely the reaction of Paul and Barnabas to the Lystrans calling them gods.
Yes like Ross, I too have wondered to what extent Paul and Barnabas tore their clothes.
Faith is to believe what we do not see, and the reward of this faith is to see what we believe.St. Augustine
Faith means believing in advance, what will only make sense in reverse.Philip Yancey
Faith comes by hearing, but patience comes by silence.Anon
Sometimes all you need to do to get you to another level is go take a “Leap of Faith”.Anon