Is Healing in the Atonement?


By David W. Cloud





The following is from an excellent sermon on healing by Paul Locke:


“It's a very interesting thing to note some of the Greek words that are used in the Bible and their frequency. There is a law in the Bible, the law of occurrence. Whenever you see a word occurring over and over again, you know that it is teaching you something. When it does not occur, you know what that also is teaching. Because Jesus said, “If it were not so, I would have told you.”


“Let me give you some of the words, and the frequency of the occurrence of them. The word “sign” is the Greek word “semeion:” It is used 61 times in the Gospel and Acts. Now remember, the four Gospels are written primarily for the age of law and for the presentation of the King, the Messiah. The book of Acts is the transition period, but most of that transition period was spent preaching the Gospel to the Jewish nation. And signs were still evident, but they declined during that time. But the word “sign” is used 61 times in the Gospels and Acts, and only 16 times in the rest of the New Testament.


“The word “heal”—“therapeuo”--is used 45 times in the Gospels and Acts, and only three times in the rest of the New Testament, and two of the three times relate to the Antichrist in the book of Revelation. So the word is really only used once. But why is healing used 45 times in the Gospels and Acts, and then only once--as far as it applies to believers--only once in the rest of the Bible?”


“The word “heal”—“iaomai”--is used 25 times in the Gospels and Acts, and only three times in the rest of the New Testament.


“The word “wonder”—“teras”--is used 16 times, all used for the special signs of Christ and His apostles, and only once in the rest of the New Testament, and there it is used for the signs of the false prophet.”


“Now let's go to the other side. These are all words that apply to the sign ministry of Jesus Christ and the apostles. Let's take the word “faith.” It's used 40 times in the Gospels and Acts, and 204 times in the rest of the Bible. Now someone might say, Well, the rest of the New Testament covers a lot more chapters than the Gospels and Acts. The Gospels and Acts covers 117 chapters; the rest of the New Testament covers 143. So it's almost balanced out even. Yet we can see from these words what God is trying to teach us.”


“It's a real interesting thing about the word miracle as it's used, or overused, by these people today. They talk constantly about miracles. Miracle living, miracle this, miracle that. Do you know that the Greek word for miracle is not ever used in the Bible. Not once. The Greek word for miracle is “thoma.” It's never used in the Bible. But the Greek word “dunamis,” which is the word for powers or work and which is translated “miracle” in the Bible, is translated 16 different ways in the Bible, none of which relate to each other.”


“Now what does the word “miracle” in the Bible mean? It simply means, when it talks about the signs of the apostles or the miracles of the apostles, it means special powers. “Miracle” is not used because the word “miracle” does not fit some of the Scriptures here which are given. And the word “miracle” means actually something that is done that goes beyond the known physical laws.”


“The gift of healing stopped, we know. We have scriptural evidence. Like the gift of tongues, the gift of healing, the gift of knowledge, the gift of wisdom-all of these nine special gifts which were given for the transition period while the apostles were still preaching to the Jewish nation and holding out signs and trying to get them to believe--suddenly those special miracles came to an end. How do we know?


“Well, Epaphraditus was sick, and Paul wrote to the Philippians and said Epaphraditus was sick nigh unto death but God had mercy on him and he got well. Paul does not say, “I healed him; I had the special miracles.”


“And Paul's special miracles were not just a light thing. If you will turn to Acts 19 you will see how great the miracles, or healing powers, of Paul was. Acts 19:11—“And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul so that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs for aprons and the diseases departed from them and evil spirits went out of them.” It does not say they had faith. It does not say that Paul was even there. But handkerchiefs off of his body were used as they touched other people and healed people. Now that is a special miracle, special power.”


“Why didn't Paul heal Epaphraditus?”


Trophimus was another of Paul's closest friends, and a man of God. And Paul wrote in 2 Tim. 4:20 and said, “Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick.” Why would a man that had the ability that Paul had not at least send him a handkerchief off of his body to heal him? Paul didn't have the power. He lost the power.”


“How about Timothy? Listen to what he says about Timothy. “Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities.” And the Greek word for infirmities is the word sickness—“esthenia.” Why didn't Paul heal him of his stomach trouble? These were all men that were important in the ministry of Paul in his later years. But you see, Paul never gave one promise to anyone about healing, because Paul was a sick man all of his life. He had the thorn in the flesh; he had a physical disability which he called a sickness and a weakness, a physical weakness.”


“And it's very interesting to note, that in the Oral Roberts Bible, in the Abundant Life version of the Bible, translated by George Lambsda, that was printed quite a number of years ago, that he came to the passage in 2 Cor. 12 and he couldn't get around the fact that it meant sicknesses. So he talks there about Paul having physical weakness. Well what is physical weakness other than sickness? They can't translate it any other way.”


“And then in the history of the church since that time--we have all the writings of the church to testify--that there were no gifts of healing during those early years in Christianity. Now God always has healed, but on a different basis than the miraculous kind of healing that we find in the life of Christ and His apostles.”


“In the history of the church there has never been anything like the miracles of Christ that He performed. His own disciples weren't able to do them. And it says of Jesus even when He came to a place where the unbelief was there He still healed everybody that He touched. He healed everybody. It says, “He healed them all”

Of those who came to him, there was not just a small proportion healed. All were healed.”


“Now why did healing stop? There is only one thing that we can use as an explanation. That is that it is God's will for us to believe by faith. Jesus' words to Thomas prove this. “Truly,” he said, “you believe because you have seen, but I say unto you more blessed are they that see not yet believe.”


“The Lord warned us about false teachers that would come making merchandise, and it says that they were enemies of the cross of Christ. And the basic thing about them would be that they would mind earthly things and they would combine with the world. What about the claims of these men? Someone says, Well do you deny that these men have healed anybody?”


“You see, I'm in a position where I cannot take man's word as final because God has told me not to. I can simply back away and say, I don't know, because God didn't tell me to spend my life checking out the claims of all these different men. He told me not to trust in man. In fact, “cursed be the man that putteth his trust in man.” He told me to believe the Word of God, teach the Word of God, correct false teaching with it, and proclaim the Word. And He did not say that I had to take the word of any man.”


“Someone says, Don't you believe that among them some people were healed? Certainly I do. But the satanists, and the spiritualists, and the Moslems-all those people have claimed things that are just as great for healing. I worked in the Army in psychosomatic work, and I saw the power of psychosomatic healing. Sometimes just even a word by somebody else, an encouragement, will heal somebody. But that doesn't replace a severed arm, or a severed leg. It does not raise the dead. Raising the dead certainly goes along with all the other powers that Jesus gave to his disciples. The Bible says that if people will not take the Word, they put themselves into a position where God will permit them to believe a lie. 2 Thess. 2 says, if they believe not the truth, then God will send them strong delusion that they would believe a lie.”


“So I have to say that I don't believe in man. I believe in God. And I believe in His Word” (Paul Locke, “What the Bible Teaches about Healing”).





Again we quote from Paul Locke's sermon on healing:


“Our Bible came to us from the hands of sick men, of men who suffered deprivation. And I want to read you something that I've never read before, but I think this is very significant. This has just come to light recently in the life of William Tyndale. And William Tyndale probably had more to do with our English translation of the Scriptures [than any other man]. He wrote a letter to someone in authority and said,

“I believe, right worshipful, that you are not aware of what may have been determined concerning me. Wherefore I beg of your lordship, and that by the Lord Jesus, that if I am to remain here through the winter you will request the commissary to have the kindness to send me from the goods of mine which he has a warmer cap, for I suffer greatly from the cold in the head and am afflicted by a perpetual catarrh, which is much increased in this cell. A warmer coat also, for this which I have is very thin. A piece of cloth, too, to patch my leggings. My overcoat is worn out. My shirts are also worn out. He has a woolen shirt, if he will be good enough to send it. I have with him also leggings of thicker cloth to put on above. He also has warmer night caps. And I ask to be allowed to have a lamp in the evening. It is indeed a wearisome to sit alone in the dark. But most of all beg and beseech your clemency to be with the commissary that he will kindly permit me to have the Hebrew Bible, Hebrew grammar, and Hebrew dictionary, that I may pass the time in that study. In return may you obtain that which you most desire so only that it be for the salvation of your soul. But if any other decision has been taken concerning me to be carried out before winter, I will be patient. Abiding the will of God to the glory of the grace of my Lord Jesus Christ, whose Spirit I pray may ever direct your heart. Signed William Tyndale.”


“Now here is a man that God has permitted to suffer in prison. But here is a man that is translating the Bible. What is more important than that? What more important ministry of all the ages has been to translate the Bible into English and other languages? Why would God not heal this man? Is this man great in God's plan? Certainly he is. Are these men today that talk about healing, that healing is the most important thing in the Christian's life, healing and prosperity, are these men greater than William Tyndale? I don't think so.”


“Almost every hymn that we have in our hymnbook came to us from the hands of sick people. Charlotte Elliot was sick all her life. Fanny Crosby was blind from birth, blind 95 years. She wrote, “Saved by Grace” and “Safe in the Arms of Jesus.” William Bradbury, who wrote “He Leadeth Me”; August Toplady, who wrote “Rock of Ages”; Philipp Doddridge, who wrote “Oh Happy Day”; Sarah Flower Adams, who wrote “Nearer My God to Thee”-­all of them had TB all their lives and finally died of it. Isaac Watts, who wrote “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross,” and “Marching to Zion,” and “Joy to the World,” suffered all his life of acute suffering. He had a frail body.

“John Knox was sick all of his life.”


“John Bunyan was sick because of diseases that he got when he was in prison.


“Joseph Scribben, who wrote "What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” had tragedy and sickness all his life.

“The Reverend Frank Graff, who wrote “Does Jesus Care,” again, was sick most of his life.”


“Eleanor Whitney has said, “Christians are like tea bags. You never know what kind they are until they are in hot water.” And I believe this. I believe God tests us to see what we're made of. And believe me, I do not believe that the life of a Christian is chosen by the Lord to be a life of ease, and a life of health and prosperity, necessarily.”

“Robert Murray McCheyne and David Brainard were two men who were known as the holiest men of their time. They both died with lung trouble at the age of 30.”


“Are these men today more spiritual than these men that we've been talking about? If healing was in the atonement and if it was God's will for us to be in health, to be prosperous, why weren't these men healthy and prosperous?” (Paul Locke, “What the Bible Teaches about Healing”). ­





“And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gideon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again: AND OTHERS were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: AND OTHERS had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented” (Heb. 11:32-37).


Charismatic healers speak much of faith. “If you have faith, God will heal you; you must only believe.” But this teaching ignores the fact that faith does not always overcome.


There are two kinds of faith mentioned in this passage in Hebrews--overcoming and enduring. Some heroes of the Bible overcame sickness and troubles by faith, but others, whose faith was just as real, were not delivered from their troubles. Yet all find their place equally in the record of God's heroes of faith.


We all want overcoming faith, but it simply is not always God's will to give deliverance. Many times the faith we are given is that which allows us to endure the sickness or problem for God's glory.


God's Word, then, does not guarantee physical healing for Christians. Sometimes He heals; sometimes He does not. This is the clear example of the New Testament and is the honest experience of godly Christians of every century. God sometimes has a purpose in our sicknesses, and as long as we are in this body we will be subject to infirmities, weaknesses, disease, old age, death.


The teaching which says God always heals if we pray in true faith has resulted in much confusion, for it is a cruel error. Many have believed this false idea and have become discouraged and confused when God did not heal. It is crucial to understand exactly what God promises and does not promise about faith and healing. We must rightly divide the Word of God.





According to many Pentecostal-Charismatic teachers, the modern sign gift movement is a fulfillment of prophecy. They teach that a revival of sign gifts is prophesied before the coming of Christ.


Not only is this not true; it is exactly contrary to what the Bible actually teaches about the last hours of this age. Scripture doesn't foretell a revival of miracle sign gifts in the churches, but just the opposite. The Scripture prophesies of a leavening apostasy which will grow within the lump of Christendom until the whole is leavened (Matt. 13:33). The mystery of iniquity will increase over the course of the church age until the final revelation of the great Harlot of the seventeenth chapter of Revelation. 2 Tim. 3:13 warns that “evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.” This is a prophecy of increasing apostasy, not of revival.


The signs and wonders spoken of for the last hours are deceiving signs. Consider some Scriptures:

“For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” Matt. 24:24


“For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming. Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders.” 2 Thess. 2:7-9

“And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, and deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast...” Rev. 13:13-14


In light of these warnings it is crucial that the Christian be wary of any signs or wonders movement in these last hours. The signs and wonders movement prophesied in Scripture for the hours prior to Christ's return is one of demonic deception.





Not only is the healing movement contrary to the Bible's teaching, it is hurtful. Consider this discerning statement by a British medical doctor:


“Apart from the damage which the miraculous healing movement is doing to the faith, it is a cruel teaching because by claiming all may be healed if they have sufficient faith, it increases the agony of many who are sick. At Horsforth, on the edge of Leeds, Don Double conducted a healing crusade. Mr. Double heals different ailments on different nights and it so happened one night he was healing the deaf, and a friend of mine who is deaf in one ear thought he would have a go at being healed. Hands were laid upon him and he was told that he was healed, but he said, “I am not.” The healer said, “Yes you are.” My friend insisted, “No, I am not,” only to be told, “Well it must be that you have not got sufficient faith.” After a brief altercation the healer went on down the line of deaf people. When the healing activities had finished my friend turned to the lady next to him and said, “What did it do for you, love?” and she replied with her hand cupped to her ear, “What did you say?”

“It is necessary to say that this miraculous healing teaching is not only damaging, it is often disastrous. I think of a general practitioner who was a great friend of mine, a fine Christian lady who had led many people to Christ, but she suffered from severe depression. Fortunately her depression was controlled by medication. Her counseling ministry was one that I valued so much that I would often send my depressed patients to her for help. Unfortunately she fell in with a group who majored on this miraculous healing teaching, and she was informed that she had been healed. She therefore abandoned her medication, but three weeks later she hanged herself.”


“I think of another person, a girl from Leeds, who had severe epilepsy, but fortunately she was controlled on medication. She too fell in with a similar Charismatic group, and likewise she abandoned her medication. One day she traveled over to Harrogate, stepped off a bus, had a major epileptic fit and fell under the wheels of an oncoming car to be killed outright. I put the deaths of those two useful Christians firmly and squarely at the door of those who promoted such disastrous teaching, and I assert as strongly as possible that it is distressing, it is damaging, and it is dangerous in the extreme” (Verna Wright, MD FRCP, “A Medical View of Miraculous Healing,” quoted by Dr. Peter Masters, The Healing Epidemic, pp. 215-224; Professor Wright is chief of rheumatology at Leeds University, England).


We could also mention the immense discouragement which the healing movement has caused to God's people. There is discouragement on the part of those who try to work up enough faith to be healed, but there is no healing. There is discouragement on the part of those multitudes who have attended healing crusades and who thought they were healed, but realized later that there was no healing. Dr. William Nolan, who investigated the Kuhlman crusades, describes the discouragement of the sick who attended only to leave without healing:


“I was not sure that whatever good Miss Kuhlman was doing was not far outweighed by the pain she was causing. I could not get those crippled and idiot children and their weeping, broken­hearted parents out of my mind, and all the others cruelly disappointed.” (William Nolan, Healing: A Doctor in Search of a Miracle).


It is impossible to calculate the damage the healing movement has done to people through its false, unscriptural claims. The highway of the healing movement is strewn with the wreckage of discouragement.





Some might be protesting all of this, saying, “You just don't believe in the miracle-working power of God.” That accusation is not true. I believe in a miracle-working God.


You see, I DO believe in miracles. My God can do anything. He created the world in six days. He destroyed the ancient world by a great flood. He parted the Red Sea so the millions of the children of Israel marched through on dry ground. He brought Jesus into this world through the womb of a virgin. He died on the cross for my sins, and He rose from the dead the third day! He has saved multitudes of all nationalities from eternal hell and brought them into the kingdom of His dear Son.


My God can do ANYTHING. But my God also does what He wants when He wants! And He isn't flooding the world today, nor is He parting the Red Sea today, nor is He dying on a cross today. And He is not giving a new Pentecost today. That part of His glorious plan has been accomplished, and He is marching on toward the End.


My friends, I want to march in step with God. We must be satisfied with that which He IS doing, not carnally seeking after that which He has done in the past and that which we WISH He would do!


I can still hear the protests, though, saying, “Yea, you just believe in miracles for the past, not for today.” That's not true, either. I have personally experienced physical healings in answer to prayer. I have experienced all sorts of miracles, in fact, since I was converted in 1973. I couldn't count the miraculous answers to prayer I've witnessed from the hand of God. The 10 missionary years we spent in Nepal were absolutely filled with miracles. Our evangelistic work was illegal and for at least three years of that time the government had a warrant out for my arrest, yet God protected us and kept us there to see a strong national church established. I could also tell of the miracles I saw in smuggling Bibles and Christian literature into that land. Our missionary and literature ministry for the past 20 years has been one long miracle of God's protection, provision, and power.


On a trip to the States in the 1980s I experienced a wonderful healing. I had contracted a severe amebic dysentery in Calcutta just before embarking to the States. The first two days were absolutely miserable and as the dysentery was showing no sign of abating, I was planning to go to a doctor as soon as I could reach the next city. I stopped that night at the home of a pastor friend in a remote part of Wyoming and we talked into the wee hours of the morning. Before we retired, he prayed for me to be healed of my sickness. When I awoke after a few hours of sleep to continue my trip, I discovered to my great joy that the Lord had completely healed me.


We also fellowship with Christians who believe in the power of God. An example is Paul Timmerman, a deacon in our church. This dear brother knows about the power and blessing of God today. Recently he told me of a miraculous healing he experienced when he was co-piloting seaplanes in the Coast Guard, and I asked him to share that for our readers:


“Hello, I'm Paul Timmerman. I give the following as testimony of the great power that our God has to heal a person. I personally have had several instances of divine healing in my life that were just plain miracles that could be explained no other way. These were attested to by federal medical personnel and flight surgeons, and the healings that I have had are a matter of my own military record.”


“The one that I would like to share for this moment happened in 1971, when I was serving with the United States Coast Guard. I was stationed at Port Angeles, Washington, [at the] Coast Guard Air Station there, flying sea planes and single engine helicopters at that time. While stationed there, I developed a very sore wrist condition, whereby, the use of my hands was badly impaired, and I had growths on the insides of my wrists that started growing up and came about a half an inch high or so on each wrist. It would keep my wrist from moving, became very painful, and the doctors checked it out, and, after X-raying and all, said that it was a tissue growth called a ganglia. They tried several different medical ways to remove them, and to stop the growth of them, and to give me back the use of my wrists, and these methods failed. So they sent me to a specialist at the Army hospital, Madigan General Hospital, Fort Lewis, Washington. There the medical staff again X-rayed and examined my wrists and set up the date for surgery because there was no other alternative that they had at that point to remove the growths that were quite visible, and very sore, and hindering the use of my hands. They set up the surgery date, and the day before my surgery I had to report in to the hospital for prepping, for pre-surgery examination. And the surgeons examined again the X-­rays and my wrists and saw the extent of the damage, and prepared me for surgery for the following day.”


“However, that evening, after the doctors left, I was in my hospital bed there waiting, studying my Bible, and just relying on the promises of the Lord, and I turned sincerely to the Lord and asked Him--knowing full well He had the power to heal through surgeons or through divine healing--and I just asked Him to work a miracle, and take these away, that the name of the Lord Jesus Christ would be magnified and glorified throughout that hospital, due to the miracle that had been worked.”


“In the morning, much to the surprise of the doctors when they came in, the growths were completely gone from my wrists. I had full use of my hands, my wrists. And to this day, almost 20 years later, I have never had a reoccurrence of this phenomena on my wrists. The doctors then were totally baffled by what happened, thinking perhaps they had the wrong patient or whatever. I simply witnessed for the Lord Jesus Christ and told them that I had asked the Lord to work a miracle a night before if it be His will, knowing full well that He could, and that He had decided that it was for the glory and honor of Jesus Christ that He did. And He healed me that night, and like I say, it has never reoccurred. I went about the hospital just praising the Lord Jesus Christ and glorifying His name, telling others about Him, witnessing to the great miracle that took place there. And the testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ went throughout that hospital to many military men, and the doctors, of course, had nothing to say but that they certainly had done nothing to change that, but that condition was totally healed.”


Isn't that a blessing! Let me give you another miracle healing testimony from an independent Baptist preacher who believes in the miracles of God today but not the sign­miracles of apostolic times. The following is the testimony of Evangelist Al Lacy, which he gave on May 8, 1996, at the Bible Baptist Church in Oak Harbor, Washington. At the time this miracle healing occurred, Brother Lacy was a pastor:


“My wife had a rare disease which destroyed her kidney and it had to be removed. Eight years later the same symptoms were discovered in her remaining kidney. The doctors said that two-thirds of the kidney was dead. They said she had one year to live, one and a half maximum. She was too weak for a transplant. (That was in the early days of kidney transplants.) I called the 27 deacons of the church, and they anointed her with oil and prayed over her. The Lord stopped the disease right there and she has lived 21 years as of this telling.”


I should mention that Bible-believing Baptists of old have believed in and prayed for divine healing, though they knew that God does always heal and His people must be willing to bow to His sovereign purposes even in sickness. An example of divine healing among ancient Baptists is found in the ministry of Owen Thomas, who pastored the First Baptist Church in Delaware. Thomas was born in Wales in 1676 and came to America in 1707. He took the pastoral care of the Welsh Tract church in 1740 and continued in that office until 1748, when he resigned it, to go to Yellow Springs, where he died, November 12,1760. Pastor Thomas left behind the following note: “I have been called upon three times to anoint the sick with oil for recovery; the effect was surprising in every case, but in none more so, than in the case of our brother Rynallt Howel: he was so sore with the bruises which he received by a cask falling on him from a wagon, that he could not bear to be turned in bed: the next day he went to meeting” ( David Benedict, A General History of the Baptists in America, 1813, Vol. 2, Chapter 1).


You don't have to follow Charismatic error to believe in the power and blessing of God. I believe in miracles for today, but friends, I also believe in the Bible, and I refuse to force the Bible to say what I want it to say. The Bible tells me that the miracles of Christ and the apostles were unique and were not something that will be duplicated by Christians in general. The Bible tells me that God often heals but he does not always heal. The Bible tells me that sickness and trouble can be a blessing from Him. The Bible says that faith is more important than miracles. The Bible says that kingdom power and glory is yet future, and will flow through the world when Christ returns--not before. The Bible warns that the end times will be characterized by deceiving signs and wonders.

We close with the words of Fanny Crosby about the matter of health. This godly woman was blind all her life, yet she did not demand that God heal her; she did not believe that the devil had afflicted her with the blindness; she did not rebuke the devil for her affliction; she did not doubt God because He chose not to heal her. She had a different testimony:


0 what a happy soul am I! Although I cannot see

I am resolved that in this world Contented I will be.

How many blessings I enjoy,

That other people don't.

To weep and sigh because I'm blind, I cannot, and I won't.

--Fanny Crosby