If we study the Gospel accounts of the various healings performed by Jesus, we find that the majority of the people were healed, not through “gifts of healings,” but through their faith. Let us consider the differences between those two types of healings by looking at examples of both. We will first study the story of the crippled man at the pool of Bethesda, healed not by his faith, but through a “gift of healing” through Jesus.
Now there is in Jerusalem by the sheep gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew Bethesda, having five porticoes. In these lay a multitude of those who were sick, blind, lame, and withered, (waiting for the moving of the waters; for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool and stirred up the water; whoever then first, after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was made well from whatever disease with which he was afflicted.) A man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him, “Do you wish to get well?” The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming, another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, pick up your pallet and walk.” Immediately the man became well, and picked up his pallet and began to walk (John 5:2-9).
How do we know this man was healed, not by his faith, but through a “gift of healing”? There are several indications.
First, notice that this man hadn’t been seeking Jesus. Rather, Jesus found him sitting by the pool. If the man had been seeking Jesus, it would have been an indication of faith on his part.
Second, Jesus did not tell the man that his faith had healed him, as He often did when He healed other people.
Third, when the healed man was later questioned by the Jews as to who had told him to “arise and walk,” he responded that he didn’t even know who the Man was. So it definitely wasn’t his faith in Jesus that effected his healing. This was a clear case of someone who was healed through a “gift of healing,” manifested as the Spirit willed.
Notice also that even though there was a multitude of sick people waiting for the stirring of the waters, Jesus healed only one individual and left the remainder of the multitude sick. Why? Again, I don’t know. But again, this incident does not prove that it is God’s will for some to remain sick. Any and all of those sick people could have been healed through faith in Jesus. In fact, this could be the reason why this one man was supernaturally healed—to draw those sick people’s attention to Jesus, the One who could and would heal them if they would only believe.
Many times, “gifts of healings” fall under the category of “signs and wonders,” that is, miracles designed to draw attention to Jesus. That is why New Testament evangelists like Philip were equipped with various “gifts of healings,” because the miracles they performed drew attention to the gospel they were preaching (see Acts 8:5-8).
Sick Christians shouldn’t wait around for someone with “gifts of healings” to come by and heal them because that person and gift may never come. Healing is available through faith in Jesus, and, although not everyone will be healed through gifts of healings, everyone can be healed through his or her faith. Gifts of healings are placed in the church primarily so that unbelievers might be healed and so that attention might be drawn to the gospel. This is not to say that Christians won’t ever be healed through gifts of healings. God, however, expects His children to receive healing by faith.