REASON FOUR: HEALING IS A VISIBLE SIGN OF THE KINGDOM
Dr. John I. Penn
As stated previously, healing or restoration is a visible sign of the kingdom. At its core, healing is restoration. To fully understand healing, you cannot separate restoration from the story of creation and the Fall. Let me state that, again, healing is central to the story of creation and the fall of humanity.
The Fall brought about the distortion of God’s perfect order in creation. If these core biblical and theological constructs are not understood, the redemptive work of Jesus’ death on the cross and his resurrection will diminish its restoration and transformative power. It will always have a secondary role and place in the life and ministry of the Christian Church. Restoration is central to carrying out its ministry of reconciling the world to God (2 Cor. 5:15-21) and is central to the sign of our restoration through salvation.
The gospel of the kingdom of salvation is God’s response to sin, which caused the Fall. That is why healing must be understood as restoration. God’s heart was broken when the serpent deceived the first human family, filling their heads with lies, and causing their hearts to distrust and disobey God’s instructions to them. Sin, human brokenness, and spiritual death were introduced into God’s perfect order of creation. The Fall was a spiritual event, causing a cosmic disruption that had never been seen, and will never be seen again. It was caused by the deception of the serpent (Satan) and the disobedience of the first human family. Because of that, God put enmity between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman. (See Gen. 2-3).
The prophet Isaiah explains God’s redemptive love, mercy, and grace for fallen humanity:
“Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished
by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds, we are healed.We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us
has turned to our way, and the Lord has laid on himthe iniquity of us all. He
was oppressed and afflicted,yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a
lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not
open his mouth. By oppression and judgment, he was taken away. Yet who of his
generation protested? For he was cut off from the land of the living, he was
punished for the transgression of my people. He was assigned a grave with the
wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any
deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and
prolong his days,and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand” (Isa. 53:4-10 NIV).
Isaiah tells us that God allowed the people of the Old Testament to see in their spiritual imagination a future when God sacrificed the perfect lamb, His servant, Jesus, who took the world’s sins and punishment upon himself. His death atoned for our sins, restoring our relationship with God from the beginning and restoring the glory humanity shared in the perfect order of creation. Therefore, healing is best understood as restoration.
Christians don’t just live for themselves! Nor are people saved just to go to heaven. God saves people for a divine purpose! People are saved for manifesting God’s kingdom on the earth, building the beloved community—a restoration community. God saved us to do good works (Eph. 2:8-10). Miracles, healing, the practice of spiritual gifts, and the born-again experience are visible signs that God’s kingdom has broken into human history.
That is why Jesus has conferred his power and authority to his disciples, empowering them to continue his threefold ministry of teaching, preaching, and restoration. He sent them out to preach repentance, heal the sick, cast out demons, and even raise the dead as visible evidence that the kingdom of God has come near with power (Mt. 10:5, 8).
In conclusion, healing is a visible sign that God’s good creation is being restored. As a visible sign, the gospel of salvation offered through Jesus Christ is holistic, transformative, and universal (See Mt. 28:18-20).