Jesus was a noted healer. He trained his apostles to be healers as well. Both Jesus and the apostles used God’s supernatural power as a matter of course. I believe we can do the same. I do, however, believe that the use of supernatural power needs to fall within the constraints of both the new covenant and the lordship of Jesus. I discuss the importance of this framework in my post of Oct. 13, 2010 Gentlemen This is a Football. So what does the use of supernatural power, within the constraints of the lordship of Jesus and the new covenant look like?
Led by Jesus
New covenant supernaturalism under the lordship of Jesus, will reflect Jesus’ ministry on earth. Jesus said he could only do what he saw the Father doing (Jn. 5:19). This was said in the context of his healing at the Pool of Bethesda in John 5. This passage is a good place to understand how Jesus used supernatural power. Jesus came to a place where there were all sorts of disabled people. He healed one. The passage even says he slipped away into the crowd that was there after healing that one person. It doesn’t sound like he had a large healing meeting, although it was exactly the place to do one.
Jesus was led by God, or he didn’t use his supernatural power. Should we try to do things differently? In fact in Jn. 15:5 Jesus said that apart from him we can do nothing. I see a lot of prayer for healings that don’t work and some that do. I suspect that the ones that don’t take, no matter how much faith was involved, is because someone is trying to heal on their own authority (something that God give us), but without the leading of the Spirit. At least this is one reason. Jesus also said lack of faith affected healing. If we decide who to heal, without Jesus’ leading, who is acting as Lord? Our ministry needs to reflect the lordship of Jesus…he leads, we follow. It also is within the framework of the new covenant. We listen to what the Holy Spirit puts in our hearts and minds; then we obey.
Healing, Not Mere Curing
Jesus was highly interested in proclaiming his kingdom. He often did this by first validating it with supernaturalism. In fact he taught his apostles to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons (Matt. 10:8). Sometimes the apostles were successful, sometimes they weren’t (Matt. 17:14-21). He also told them to proclaim the kingdom (Matt. 10:7; Lk. 9:2). Supernaturalism, as Jesus used it, was seldom, if ever, an end in itself. It was used to validate his lordship and his kingdom.
I see a lot of what I’d call trying to cure people instead of heal them. Let me explain how I’m using these words. A cure is what a doctor does. He fixes a problem. If you have a bum knee, he fixes it. But Jesus aim was much more profound. He wanted to move people toward his Kingdom. He wanted them to understand that he is Lord. Again the John 5 passage is instructive. Jesus cures a man (Jn. 5:9). He slips away into the crowd, without proclaiming who he was or explaining the gospel of the kingdom (v.13). But, he later finds the man and further explains who he was and deals with spiritual issues (vv. 14-15).
I believe our use of supernaturalism needs to be hemmed in within the same boundaries within which Jesus functioned. He followed the leading of the Father; we follow his leading through the Spirit. This constrains our ministry where it belongs, firmly under his Lordship and within the framework of our spiritual operating system, the new covenant (see Spiritual Operating Systems). I personally believe that a significant part of lack of success in supernatural ministry is due to our choosing explicitly or tacitly to step outside of our God given parameters.
- Can we have spiritual power and authority but not the go ahead to use it? What would happen to a bank employee who used the combination to the safe when she wasn’t supposed to?
- Do you believe there is any room for supernaturalism today? Do you think supernaturalism is culturally or geographically bound?
- Is supernaturalism a part of the ministry God has called you to?
- Do you feel that your ministry behavior falls within the constraints of the new covenant and the lordship of Jesus?