Q Jesus gave His twelve disciples power against unclean spirits and to heal all kinds of sickness in Matthew 10:1. I have heard some Christian preachers say believers today have this same power. Can believers today pray for the sick and expect they will be healed? Please explain.
by Pastor Matt Ritchey, Managing Editor
Estimated Time to Read: 4 Minutes
ANSWER: Too often, people find the Scriptures that they like and apply them without taking the time to consider the context in which the verse applies. In Matthew 10:1, Jesus is giving certain abilities to a specific group of people in order to aid them in their ministry. The verse tells us directly to whom these gifts were given: the twelve disciples. These abilities were not even given to all Jesus’ followers, but only to the Twelve. And, we are not left guessing the identity of which twelve disciples because the following verses (vv. 2-4) list the men by name who received the authority to cast out unclean spirits and power to heal all manner of sickness and disease.
Further, there are other instructions that go along with these abilities/gifts that, in order to be consistent, need to be applied and obeyed. These twelve were to only go to Israel. They were specifically told NOT to go to Samaritans or Gentiles (vv. 5-6). The gospel they were to share was that the Kingdom is almost here (vs. 7). They were not to raise financial support or take any money with them, or even a change of clothes (vv. 9-10). They were not to prepare their sermons ahead of time because the Holy Spirit would take over to give them the words to say (vv. 19-20).
Does Matthew 10 Apply to Us At All?
While there are lessons in Matthew 10 that we can learn as we serve the Lord (i.e., be willing and prepared to face persecution for the Lord, vs. 17-19 cf. II Tim. 3:12-13), there is nothing we can directly apply from Matthew 10 (e.g., they WOULD be brought before councils, synagogues, and Gentile courts) for the Twelve Disciples ministered under an entirely different program than we do today. Today, if we are practicing any of the directions given to the Twelve in Jesus’ early ministry, we are out of the will of God.
We currently minister under the Dispensation of the Grace of God, and God revealed this truth to one apostle: Paul (Eph. 3:2-5). We are not just permitted to go to Gentiles and Samaritans, but are told to go to all nations (Acts 13:46), for there is no distinction between Jews, Samaritans, and Gentiles today (Rom. 10:12; Gal. 3:28). The Gospel is not that the Kingdom is coming, but that Christ died for your sins, was buried and rose again (I Cor. 15:3-4), the Gospel of the Grace of God (Acts 20:24). We are told to study the Scriptures in order to be prepared and equipped (II Tim. 2:15; 3:16-17), and we are not told to depend on the Holy Spirit to give us special revealed knowledge. We are instructed to provide for our own family; otherwise, we are worse than the heathen (I Cor. 9:11; I Tim. 5:8). Different dispensation, different instructions to follow.
Healing and Spiritual Warfare Today
No one has the power to cure all manners of disease or cast out demons. We have no promise in this current dispensation that those who pray WILL ABSOLUTELY be healed from their sickness and disease. This lack of assured healing is not due to a lack of faith of the one praying, but it is due to the fact that today God’s grace is sufficient for us (II Cor. 12:9). We are to take the proper treatments to treat curable physical ailments (I Tim. 5:23). Regarding demons, our instruction is our preparation: the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit (I Cor. 3:16), the deliverance of the Gospel (Acts 26:18), and utilizing the armor of God (Eph. 6:11).
We cannot take the instructions of Matthew 10 and expect them to work today. God is working according to the spiritual provision under Grace today. Can God choose to heal someone of their physical infirmities? Yes, He reserves that right. Do you or I have the power any more to heal someone of sickness? No, we do not; these were signs of the coming, prophesied Kingdom, which has been placed on hold for the duration of the Age of Grace. Our instruction is not to expect physical comfort and health, but to be content in the Lord (Phil. 4:11; I Tim. 6:8). Contentment comes when we truly understand the magnitude with which God has graced us as members of the Body of Christ.
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