They’re Telling Me I’m Sick ‘Cause I Lack Faith

downloadAm I sick because I lack faith? In Bill Johnson’s 2004 book When Heaven Invades Earth he tells the story of a miracle wedding where a man is supposedly “healed” in the kitchen while bride and groom look on. After describing the scene, he makes the statement, “There wasn’t a great person involved, except for Jesus. All the rest of us simply made room for God, believing Him to be good 100 percent of the time… In the midst of this marriage celebration God invaded a home marked by hellish disease” (p.27).

Johnson then platforms a sinister doctrine by misapplying Matthew 16 to signify that believers have authority to wield and perform miracles on earth writing, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you shall bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven” (Matt 16:19). Johnson gives this verse as explanation for his healing power at the “miracle” wedding and purports that many Christians should be wielding power just as Jesus did. Make sure you’re reading clearly: Bill Johnson contends that many, if not all, Christians should wield healing power like Jesus.

Bill Johnson contends that many, if not all, Christians should wield healing power like Jesus.

It is essential to note that the context of this Matthew 16 statement by Jesus in no way represents “authority” as signs and wonders. In fact, the “keys of the kingdom” represent the authority to preach the Gospel of Christ (see v. 19) and thus to open the door of Heaven.

The concept “sick people need more faith” runs as a theme for Johnson in his book (pp. 45, 53, 75) stating that, “Sickness is to the body what sin is to the soul” (p.45). According to Johnson and his click of followers like Todd White and Heidi Baker sickness comes from lack of faith or demonic forces. But, does the Bible indicate that sickness is due to some lack of faith or hellish consequence?

The answer is clearly “no.” In fact, the Bible teaches that God is responsible for howspeakers-bill people are created, even for those with deformities (Ex. 4:11). The man born blind in John 9 and Jesus’ personal friend Lazarus in John 11 are clear evidences that God personally ordains suffering and sickness for His purposed ends. The apostle Paul who suffered from his own “unhealed” thorn in the flesh urges, “Our trials are producing an eternal weight of glory…” (2 Cor 4:17-18). And remarkably, when one of Paul’s favorite young pupils was sick, he didn’t heal him but commended he, “drink a little wine for his stomach…” (1 Tim 5:23).

The reality is you won’t find anyone – including supposed faith healers – who don’t eventually become sick and die. In fact, most of earth’s greatest preachers and teachers suffered from disease and forms of trial throughout their life. Together, you and I could list name after name of famed men and women of God who endured gout, back pain, eye trouble, and various cancers. The apostle Paul, Charles Spurgeon, Amy Carmichael, Joni Eareckson Tada, Nick Vujicic, Mike Justice, and Lacie Habekott are just a few examples of those who’ve suffered a form of “health trial.” To say that some Christians are only sick due to their lack of faith is to slight the faith of earth’s greatest saints. Will we really accept that Nick Vujicic is lacking limbs due to his lack of faith?

Further, if illness is a signature of weak faith than what have we said about all those who serve people with disabilities? Is their ministry faithless? Are they wasting their time? For that matter, what about doctors, nurses, and international aid workers? Clearly, illness is part of the human condition due to original sin. Sometimes God heals based on prayer and His good will. At other times, his plan includes illness, and death, allowing true saints to shine amidst earth’s darkest circumstances.

As one would assume, Johnson’s false teaching on health bleeds over into His promise of riches and prosperity. In his book he says, “Is anyone starving in heaven? Of course not! This request is a practical application of how His dominion should be seen here on earth – abundant supply” (p.60).

Friends, only an egotistical first-world American who drives an Aston Martin would dare say such an insensitive thing. How do you tell Christian brothers starving in Kenya, or enduring martyrdom in the Middle East, that they simply “don’t have enough faith” in the Kingdom or else it would arrive in material abundance? Their very daily hope is built on a greater Kingdom to come, not in this life but the next, precisely as the apostle Paul promised (2 Cor. 4:17). For thousands of years, from slaves to paupers, it has been faith in the coming kingdom that brought hope during the current pain.

In a sermon to his people, Johnson promises:

No, two thousand years ago Jesus made a purchase. He does not decide not to heal people today. The decision two thousand years ago was to heal. Either the payment was sufficient for all sin or no sin. Either the payment was sufficient for all sickness or no sickness… The brushstrokes of God’s redemption was to wipe out the root of sin, the root of illness and the root of poverty.”[1]

Remarkably in a correlating and more recent work, Johnson was forced to respond to questions surrounding failed healings at his church, including the death of his very own father:

We had to make a choice regarding what we were going to believe about God in the face of this contradiction. We had to come back to the truth that the problem was still on our end. The problem is never on God’s end. He is good, and He hasn’t changed… For clarification, when I say the problem is on our end, it doesn’t imply that God was disappointed with us or somehow at odds with us. It doesn’t imply that we had misheard what God had said, were being disobedient, or that what we did was entirely ineffective. It just means that the problem is part of the reality of living in a world that still does not express the will of God on earth.[2]

Johnson’s statement sums up the quandary for all who claim health and wealth as related to faith. The empirical data all rests in direct contradiction. It never adds up. There are faithful people who get sick and wicked people who remain well. If any man purports to be a “healer” he must examine why his efforts have failed – either he is faithless or God, in fact, does not work this way.

The primary difference between the healing Johnson teaches and the healing ministry of Jesus is that Jesus nailed it 100% of the time. The Gospels continually develop the theme that Jesus healed when and how he chose, sometimes based on the faith of people, many times not based on faith at all. At times Jesus even healed despite the faith of people (Matt. 8:5-13, Mk. 1:23-26, Mk. 9:17-29, Lk. 17:11-19, Jn. 5:1-16), marking Christ’s miracle ministry as light years different from anything showcased by miracle-mystics of today.


[1] Bill Johnson – Does God Ever Cause Sickness? YouTube, 05:02, October 26, 2009, accessed April 20, 2016 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0iXrX9eSHWA.

[2] Bill Johnson, Releasing the Spirit of Prophecy, Destiny Image, 2014, p. 127

 

7 thoughts on “They’re Telling Me I’m Sick ‘Cause I Lack Faith

  1. This is a miss on both accounts: First and foremost people need to understand that what faith they have is not their own – the act of humility is coming to the understanding that you cannot do anything in and of yourself and that in this life you need Jesus in a most profound way. The gospel tells us that God has faith for us even when we doubt or have little faith. What is faith – Is it trusting? Is it believing? How do you trust or believe? When Jesus taught in His ministry the people heard Him and His disciples preach and teach about the Kingdom of Heaven. They heard the word and they believed in the message and began to trust in Jesus. Those who rebuked His word, rebuked Jesus and remained faithful to the Law of Moses. Today we gain belief and trust through reading the word of God in the gospel our bible. As we read we begin to believe and trust the word of God through Christ Jesus. If you look closely at the structure of the sentences in the original Hebrew and Greek you will see that having faith is in the passive voice meaning in many cases it is something given to you not something you will of yourself. Put plainly your faith is Jesus and if your faith is Jesus you can have no greater faith than Him and what faith you have is from Him and not yourself. Those that place the burden of faith on you do not understand the heart of God and the purpose of Jesus. Jesus was the perfect sacrifice of substitution: meaning that Jesus went to the cross for you in your place and took your punishment that you deserved for you in substitution. The payment that Jesus remitted for you was not just sufficient but was an over-payment for you. One drop of His blood would have cleansed you whole but Jesus spilled all His blood for you and gave up His spirit willingly. You must read and understand the old testament concerning payment for someone’s property which was stolen or damaged. The grieved would always be due an overpayment of goods or property by the law. This was no different when Jesus went to the cross. He over paid our debt and now that the debt has been settled by over payment, sin is no longer the issue. When Jesus died we too, who believe on Him, became dead to sin and resurrected into a new life, became a new creation. There are no spiritually sick people – you are either dead spiritually (without Christ) or alive spiritually (in Christ). Now you must understand the purpose of healing during Christ’s ministry was to show the Nation of Israel (only) that their Messiah was amongst them and that the Kingdom of Heaven was near – in fact the Kingdom of Heaven would be theirs if they accepted Jesus as Messiah – but they did not and the Kingdom was placed on hold and Paul was allowed to bring in the church age. Two very distinct times in the bible with two very distinct purposes. You cannot mix them and should not mix them because what is for the Jews is not what is for the Church and vice versa. The healing that Jesus performed had the divine purpose of showing the Jews He was their Messiah. For the Gentile, even though Jesus is King, He is our Savior and through Him we have sonship, not discipleship. with God through adoption. Sickness: It is a tragedy of our fallen existence which was borne to us by Adam who fell to the guiles of satan. Because this federal head of man fell into sin, all of mankind is now born into the prison of sin no matter how good or bad he or she is. Those who cry out to Jesus and believe on Him are placed into the prison of righteousness and no matter what you do or how bad you are you cannot escape this prison either because we rely on Jesus for everything and once you are forgiven by God you are judged righteous by faith and not by works. Your earthly body however is subject to the fragilities of this world and you may suffer sickness in life and you will eventually die regardless of how healthy or unhealthy you are. So, if your faith is Jesus then you can have no greater faith nor lack of faith because your faith is your position not your condition. Your faith is faithful (Jesus is faithful to you always even when you are not) and it never fluctuates as if it were yours to begin with – it is for you but not of you – it does not rely on you to create it – either you believe on Jesus or you do not – again you are either alive or dead. Go back to the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve fell – the burden of creating life was placed on them – not God – yes God created the Heaven and the Earth as well as the first man and woman – but they in their fallen bodies created and populated the world – Not God. This is an important concept to remember when dealing with sickness. Our flesh comes from fallen flesh but our spirit which is breathed into us by God is immortal and must be housed in one of three places: our body, Heaven or Hell. Regardless of your physical condition your spirit is either alive in Christ or dead without Christ. However, through your faith (Jesus) you are assured healing (By His stripe we are healed) this is physical as well as spiritual healing and all you need to do is receive it, This healing goes deeper than just your physical ailments – it goes into your psyche and spirit and it assures that your name remains in the book of life. Ever wonder why God was so against idols? Why He was so adamant about us not worshipping images of Him? Idols and images are dead they are not living just as our God is the living God He is just and holy and would not have His children worshipping dead things because He is not the God of the dead He is the God of the living. Earth bound and earthly thinking has us believing that when a body dies they are dead – but Jesus would have us know that the person is sleeping yet alive in Christ Jesus. Because you are a Christian and believe on Jesus you can never lack faith because Jesus is your faith and He has sufficiently abundant grace and faith for you. You are alive in Christ Jesus Son of the living God who has promised you eternal life and His word cannot come back void. You, the faithful, are healed through Jesus Christ and one with in as the body of Christ and as the Head goes so does the body.

    Amen,
    J Arnn

  2. Mr. Wood,
    I would like offer an alternative view on some of the quotes you made in this article, if I may,

    First, you said: ” : Bill Johnson contends that many, if not all, Christians should wield healing power like Jesus.” Does John 14:12 support your position or Bill Johnson’s? How about Mark 16:17? It seems to me that “Christians,” i.e. BELIEVERS (Not unbelievers) should wield the same power like Jesus, and they did. The early Christians did the same works Jesus did.

    You also made the statement that sickness and disease was not the result of “demonic forces.” Have you ever read Acts 10:38? Those that were healed by Jesus were satanically oppressed. If I were to believe you, the reverse would be true, and God is the culprit making people sick. Is that really where your eisegesis has led you? Here’s another scripture that screams at your twisted views – Luke 13:16. Jesus said the woman was bound for 18 years, not by God, but by SATAN. He also said she ought to be LOOSED.

    This article is replete with fallacies that would take me to long to rebut, but there is one that cannot go unchallenged. You said: “Further, if illness is a signature of weak faith….” This really is a straw man argument, Mr. Wood. I don’t know of any so called faith healer or anyone who believes in divine healing who believes that sickness is a signature of weak faith. Sickness is satanic oppression pure and simple. Satan attacks us all whether you have faith or not. If you are of the mindset that God is teaching you something through the cancer or whatever sickness it may be, then you will assume the supine position and allow yourself to be oppressed by the ENEMY. If, on the other hand, you realize that sickness is a satanic attack, you will unsheathe the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God and go to war. Believers are over-comers and bring God glory by defeating our enemies and His. Any one of Saul’s soldiers could have defeated Goliath. In fact, one of them could have defeated 1000 Philistines. David was the only one who had faith. Would I be unscriptural to say that they cowered and were afraid because they had no faith?

    I have heard of people who weren’t Christians and yet when they contracted a disease, they assumed a fighting posture. “I’m going to defeat this cancer,” they would say, and they used every natural means at their disposal along with shear force of will to win . Christians, on the other hand, taught by people like you, accept whatever satan does to them. One way of recognizing error in the church is that it always puts you in a position of nonresistance to satan’s oppression.

    In closing, Paul’s thorn in the flesh was not sickness! The Greek word for sickness is astheneo. Paul doesn’t use this word. He said it was a messenger of satan sent to buffet (strike with repeated blows) him.
    In Christ,
    Aubrey

    1. Aubrey,
      Thank you for writing, you bring up some important points. Texts such as Mark 16 do emphasize powerful moments in the life of the apostles just as historical narrative is meant to do. What a special time as Jesus walked earth! But, you’ll note this is a special case as the men also survived snake bits and other items modern faith-healers would not propose. Also, none of the apostles did what Jesus did (i.e. adjusting the chemistry of wine, calming nature, or rising from the dead etc) as the “greater works” is clearly scale and not scope. Also, the book of Job does provide insight that God is sovereign over all, including illness etc, and it appears the theme for Job was to “trust God” even amidst suffering, not attempt solutions, or remonstrance against Satan. In Christ, AW

      1. Mr. Wood, I’m really stunned at your statement, “Texts such as Mark 16 do emphasize powerful moments in the life of the apostles just as historical narrative is meant to do.”

        You relegate the great commission to “historical narrative.” Let me emphasize again – Mark 16:15-18 was addressed to BELIEVERS. In your zeal to condemn healing and miracles, you’ve twisted yourself into a knot.. Is verse 15 merely ‘historical narrative” about apostles or a clarion call to all believers to preach the gospel. I’m sure you would agree that Mark 16:15 is the rubric under which all ministry today including yours is carried out. How then can you accept verse 15 as being a valid command by our king and yet dismiss the other parts of the discourse as only “historical narrative?” Moreover, the early believers did the same works Jesus did. Peter walked on water; believers healed the sick, cast out devils, and raised the dead.

        Finally, Jesus lets us know that if we have faith, NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE including healing! Perhaps you can explain to me how some poor slob can have faith to be heal and yet not be healed.

        Unbelief always short circuits the healing process whether it’s on the part of the one praying for healing or the one receiving healing. Let God’s Word be true, brother, but every man and devil a liar (Romans 3:4)! Jesus could not do any might works in Nazareth because of the unbelief of the people – Mark 6:5. Notice that the scripture doesn’t say He wouldn’t but He COULD NOT! So, who’s fault is it because someone doesn’t receive healing when prayed for – either the one receiving prayer or the one offering prayer. Certainly the fault is not God’s because healing is the children’s bread Matthew 15:26.

        In Christ
        Aubrey

      2. Hi Aubrey,
        Your selected points are better off when balanced with larger scope of Scripture: Jesus isn’t speaking to Gentile believers, he’s speaking to His hand-selected jewish disciples. The jewish people rejected Him (hence, the “could not” of Mk 6:5), Jesus thus removed His special kingdom offer, and will one day return literally to give Israel what she missed out on (Ac 3:20, Ro 11:25). Until that day, Jesus left the Gentile church (Paul’s “mystery” of Eph 3), who learn His “principles” from Gospel narratives, and receive their primary “method” from the Pauline discourse material. When interpreting Scripture, it’s easier if we not force ourselves into all 6,000 years of unfolding revelation etc.

  3. Say what???? Carl Sandburg once said, “If the facts are against you, argue the law. If the law is against you, argue the facts. If the law and the facts are against you, pound the table…” You, Mr. Wood, are pounding the table. All scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. That the man of God may be perfect, thouroughly furnished unto all good works (2Timothy 3:16-17). The Word loses its efficacy when one chooses to give unscriptural notions and ideas sanctuary within mental strongholds built up in one’s mind.
    In Christ,
    Aubrey

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