Sermon Notes


In our study of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, today, we turn our attention to the gift of faith and healings.

1 Corinthians 12:9 ESV
9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit,

Let me remind you of the context of this passage again. Paul addresses the issue of the gifts and gives us exact reasons for why he’s addressing this topic, namely that he wants no one to be unaware of the nature and purpose of spiritual gifts.

He traces the origins of these varieties of gifts to the very Trinitarian Godhead. In other words, according to Paul, all this is God’s doing.
And then, Paul shows us the variety of these gifts by giving us a list (although not an exhaustive one). There is a reason that Paul is not exhaustive on this list or any other listing of spiritual gifts, and that is because Paul’s intention is always to categorize any and all endowments of the Holy Spirit as ‘charisma’ or grace-gifts.
So, any gift, service, or workings that God chooses to anoint and energize in his people is called a ‘charisma’, and making an exhaustive list of that would be impossible. Yet, he gives us a list of some of the gifts, I think, in order to denote the variety of gifts God gives to his people.

Last week we looked at the gift of ‘utterance of wisdom and knowledge. And today is all about faith, healings, & faith healings.

Our Baggage is often too heavy

Among the many reasons why a lot of people don’t want to have anything to do with the present charismatic world, the most common reason is the way in which they have been hurt or betrayed by the health, wealth, and prosperity false gospel.
The unbridled use of tongues and other weird practices put a lot of people off, but one of the more important baggage that Christians carry around has to do with the teaching that God always wants to heal the sick. This teaching concludes that the only reason one is not healed is because he/she lacks the faith required to realize God’s healing. In other words, they are not healed because they lack the faith required to bring about such healing.
Consequently, many live in discouragement and sorrow because of this kind of teaching, which at the onset I’d like to state, is built upon a false premise that God wants to heal us all the time. The Bible clearly teaches otherwise.
We will get into all that in a moment.
But let me first implore you to seek the truth written in God’s word and to proceed to live out that truth no matter what baggage you carry from the past. We are taught that all things are passing away, but his word will remain forever.

The Gift of Faith

“to another faith by the same Spirit”

1 Corinthians 12:4 ESV
4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit;

Paul is showing us this variety but attributing all of it to the Holy Spirit. But here now Paul calls ‘faith’ a gift of the Holy Spirit.
It may seem strange that faith should be listed here when we know that Paul’s entire thesis at the end of the chapter is to say that not all are given these same gifts. That means to some are given this gift of faith while others are not. This is again what is indicated when Paul says, “to another” faith is given.
Now, it should be clear to some of you that Paul’s not referring to ‘saving faith’, that faith that is given to us at the time of our conversion, that faith that set our hope on Christ. Saving faith or justifying faith is given to all Christians. But here, Paul seems to be referring to a different kind of faith.
In fact, we read in :
Galatians 2:20 ESV
20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Maybe we should call this faith – ‘sanctifying faith’, and this too is a faith that is present in all the elect to varying degrees.
Therefore, we can safely say that there is a justifying nature of faith and a sanctifying nature of faith.

So then, what faith does Paul have in mind here in 1 Corinthians 12.
D.A Carson in his book ‘Showing the Spirit’, points out that while saving faith is grounded in what is clearly revealed in Scripture (in God’s self-disclosure of himself), this nature of the faith mentioned here in 1 Corinthians is of a kind that enables people to trust God for something that they do not have an explicit biblical warrant for.
It may be so, that the gift of faith mentioned here is an increase of what we call sanctifying faith or at least falls broadly in that category.

When I believe in Jesus as a new Christian, I am given a measure of faith to believe, but I am also given a measure of faith to exercise that belief in my life through my obedience and submission to God’s word.
So, here we have the justifying and sanctifying nature of the gift of faith. But tomorrow I may be faced with a particular situation for which according to my natural spiritual progression, I do not have the measure of faith I need. And here, 1 Corinthians 12 gives me hope of a special intensity of faith that God is able to give me if he so wills.
But in each and every one of these instances, faith is a gift that God alone can give, and man cannot produce.

Therefore, you can have absolute assurance that God works all things together for the good of those who love him, but not have that kind of assurance about whether God is going to answer a particular prayer of yours.
But with this gift of faith mentioned here, God may impress upon your heart weight of confidence for a particular situation where God uses that faith to reward you with the answer to your prayer.

Mark 11:22–24 ESV
22 And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God.
23 Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.
24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.


Matthew 17:20–21 ESV
20 He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”

Moving mountains was a literary metaphor for the ‘impossible’ during Jesus’ ministry. He is not suggesting that we re-order the Himalayas.
Now, Jesus attributed the mourning of the apostles during their near-death experience in the storm to the ‘littleness’ of their faith. As much as these men believed in Christ, and left all they had to follow him, there were many occasions for which their faith did not measure up.

Mark 11:21–24 ESV
21 And Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.”
22 And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God.
23 Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.
24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

Now, this is where things get tricky.
Is Jesus suggesting that we name and claim everything we pray for and plug our ears from any whisper of doubt so that we can have whatever we pray for? No. There is no reason to believe that.

There are many occasions in scripture where God did not answer the faithful prayer of his servants, like Paul’s thorn in the flesh to name one.
1 Peter 3:7 ESV
7 Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.
James 4:3 ESV
3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.
Mark 11:25 ESV
25 And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
Therefore, faith, though a key element to answered prayer, is not the only factor in consideration. Motives, relationships, and forgiveness, all come into play.
Sam Storms reminds us in his book ‘Understanding the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, that no matter how much doubt we banish from our minds, God will not give me what I ask for if what I ask for is not consistent with the will and character of God.

Faith, beloved, is not a force of the will, but a gift from God.
Although faith is given to us at the time of our salvation, there is also a place of ‘little faith’ where a truly faithful Christian can stand. And :
Romans 1:17 ESV
17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
This verse suggests that our faith grows the more we walk obediently with the Holy Spirit.
However, the gift of faith mentioned in 1 Corinthians seems to denote a kind of faith that is superimposed on us at a time of need according to God’s free will.
Faith in any form is ultimately a gift of God. Though the scripture encourages the nurturing of this gift through prayer and obedience, its presence or growth is not owed to our works or forced intensity. You cannot produce or generate faith.

Surely, you might ask, “Then why does Jesus ask us to ‘have faith’ or scold his disciples for having ‘little faith’?”
Well, for the same reason that Jesus condemns the unbelievers for not believing in him.
John 6:44 ESV
44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.
If no one can come to Christ unless God draws them, then why does God condemn those who don’t come to saving faith if he’s the one who should be drawing them?
Because the state of man’s lostness is owing to sin, mankind is responsible to bear the judgment for their sinfulness.
In much the same way, the lack of our faith is owing to the sin of our flesh. For this, we are guilty, but as Christians, we are not guilty unto death like unbelievers are. Because, we repent for our lack of faith, and look to Jesus who is pleased to gift us more faith.

Why is this important? This is important because if faith is ultimately a gift, then it cannot be forced by man. Faith is not to be had by sheer will, and as Sam Storms points out no amount of faith will ever force God’s hand to do something that is contrary to his will for us, or our welfare.
Maybe a helpful way to think about it is to say that we do not exercise our willpower to produce faith, rather we exercise our faith in God to wilfully pursue him.

Therefore, any exercise of faith is owed to God’s gift and not to our works.
Ephesians 2:8–9 NASB95
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;
9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

The Gifts of Healings

And this brings us to the gifts of healing.
“to another gifts of healings by the one Spirit.”
From all that we’ve learned about faith, it should be fairly obvious to you by now that banishing all doubt from our minds and forcing our will to produce the faith for God’s healing over someone, is not the gift of healing.
In fact, the phrase used by Paul is not the gift of healing, but the gifts of healings. Both words for gift and healing are in the plural form. Unfortunately, most English translations don’t render this plural. This is significant because Paul’s use of this dual plural is clearly intentional.
It seems that Paul did not have in mind a gift of healing where all manner of sicknesses is healed through the exercise of this gift. Rather Paul had in mind multiple gifts for multiple healings.

What was more likely in effect was a variety of healing gifts that different people in the church had by which they were able to pray and heal people with those specific diseases.
But this is not to say that one may be gifted in healing multiple kinds of diseases but rather that Paul had in mind a variety of gifts of healing. The sporadic mass healings we find in the NT were probably a special anointing given to Jesus and the Apostles for their specific ministry.
This is greatly significant for two reasons.

  • The common cessationist argument is that if someone has the gift of healing then they should go into cancer wards and hospitals and clear them out.
    This is a bad argument for several reasons. One, not even Jesus exercised this power to heal all people at all times.
    But the more important reason is that the gifts of healing mentioned here in 1 Corinthians are not talking about that kind of gift at all.
  • The second reason is that the last thing that someone should do when they identify a gift of healing that has been given to them is to go start a healing ministry or conduct a healing crusade.
    Even Paul with his apostolic anointing could not heal Epaphroditus (Philippians 2:25-30), Timothy (1 Timothy 5:23), Trophimus (2 Timothy 4:20), or himself.
    So, not even the apostles could exercise a gift of healing at will.

This is the same reason for which faith does not assure results in all circumstances. God is sovereign and our faith and gifts are anchored in his purposes, not ours.

Faith Healings

Now that we’ve reasonably considered faith and gifts of healing, we should consider the relation faith has to healings.
One of the greatest damages the modern charismatic movement has had on many Christians is their teaching that faith must bring healing all the time, and therefore, the lack of healing can always be traced back to a lack of faith.
But then, how do we reconcile verses like,
Matthew 9:2 ESV
2 And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.”
Matthew 9:28–29 ESV
28 When he entered the house, the blind men came to him, and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to him, “Yes, Lord.”
29 Then he touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith be it done to you.”
Matthew 15:28 ESV
28 Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.
Mark 9:23 ESV
23 And Jesus said to him, “ ‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.”
Mark 5:34 ESV
34 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
Luke 17:19 ESV
19 And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”
Mark 10:52 ESV
52 And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way.

In all these instances, do we not find that the cause for their healing is their faith? So, shouldn’t the lack of their healing indicate the lack of their faith?
No. Otherwise, we’d have to conclude Paul’s thorn in the flesh as a lack of faith.
In all these examples, there is no doubt that their faith made them well, but their faith in what? Their faith was not the banishing of all doubt that God would heal them. Rather, their faith was the banishing of all doubt that God was able to heal them if he so chose.
Mark 9:23–24 ESV
23 And Jesus said to him, “ ‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.”
24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”
Matthew 9:28 ESV
28 When he entered the house, the blind men came to him, and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to him, “Yes, Lord.”


Although faith cannot force healing, it must be recognized that God is pleased to heal many times through the faith of his people. In fact, it is recommended to use the prayer of faith as a means to obtain healing.
James 5:14–15 ESV
14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.
15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.
Here we find that the instrument of healing or the particular gift of healing is manifested as a prayer of faith.
James 5:16 ESV
16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
When it comes to these matters, oversimplification does not help. To say that all sickness is caused by demons is unbiblical. To say that no sickness is demonic is unbiblical. Therefore, to say that strong faith is the reason for all healing is unbiblical. Here, James suggests that repentance is what brings out healing in many cases.
Faith and healing never discount sovereignty. They are bound to it.
God’s pleasure in healing us through our prayers and faithful exercising of the gifts he gives us does not discount the fact that God is sovereign and free to will and to work for his good pleasure.
So, faith cannot be forced and healings cannot be claimed unanimously. Both faith and gifts of healing are tools, grace gifts given to us by the Holy Spirit, and when we use these gifts, the Spirit is pleased to energize and use them according to his perfect will.
Modern Charismatic agenda often forsakes the foundational aspects of our faith such as those who keep their lives will lose it, while those who lose their lives for Christ’s sake will save it (Matthew 16:25). They forget that God has called us to prepare for suffering for the sake of Christ, to live selflessly, and to care for the interests of others more than ourselves. The kind of Christian that can most utilize the gifts listed in this chapter, is the kind of Christian who has a deep-seated conviction and clarity of the Gospel.