A God Kind of Healing Service

A God Kind of Healing Service

June 5th, 1983 @ 7:30 PM

Luke 17:12-19

And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.
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Dr. W. A. Criswell

Luke 17:12-19

6-5-83    7:30 p.m.


This is the pastor bringing the message entitled A God Kind Of Healing.  I have been a pastor now almost fifty-five years, and for fifty-five years, I have wanted to have some kind of a healing service, a God kind of healing service.  And this is the first time that it has come to my heart how to do it, and we are going to praise God together tonight.

            As a background text, we are going to read in the Gospel of Luke chapter 17, Luke chapter 17.  We begin reading at verse 12 and read through verse 19.  And in the pew rack in front of you, you will find a Bible, and share it with your neighbor and let us all of us read it out loud together.  And then on radio where you are, if you can put your hand on a Bible, turn to Luke 17, Luke chapter 17, and read it with us, verses 12 through 19, all of us out loud together:

And as He entered into a certain village, there met Him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:

And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.  And when He saw them, He said unto them, Go show yourselves unto the priests.

And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.  And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God.

And he fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.

And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed?  but where are the nine?

Are there not found that returned glory to God, save this stranger.  And He said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.

[Luke 17:12-19]

Most evident—and you will see it further as we read God’s Word—most evident, sickness is a matter of prayer.  It’s a matter for the Lord.  It’s a matter before God.

You go to the church, to the synagogue, to the temple, and you show yourselves to the minister of God.  And as they went on their way, they were healed [Luke 17:14].  And then just one, of course, came back to praise God with a loud voice, that God had delivered him; a God kind of healing [Luke 17:15-16].

            In Exodus 15:26, the Lord said to His people:

If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in His sight, and will give ear to His commandments, and keep all His statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that healeth thee—ani Yahweh ropheka.

“I am Jehovah (Yahweh), your healer,” ropheka, rapha, to heal, ropheka, your healer.

It’s a remarkable thing how God judges us from heaven.  “If you will diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord, and do that which is right in His sight, and give ear to His commandments, and keep all of His statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians” [Exodus 15:26].  Many, many times, the diseases and the illnesses and the sicknesses that we bear are brought upon us by our wayward derelictions.

            I went with the chaplain of Parkland Hospital one time, and I stood there in a large room, all of them waiting for the largess of the community of Dallas, seeking to treat the violent spread of venereal disease.  All of them there, all of them, afflicted with that dreaded, awful, indescribable affliction.  “If you do what I say, and if you listen to My voice and keep My word, I will not lay upon you these diseases” [Exodus 15:26].

            I have been reading about AIDS, an affliction of the homosexual.  It is an awesome visitation from God, a judgment from the Lord, from what I can read, a disease peculiar to the practicing homosexual.

We had in our family a dear friend, a wonderful interior decorator.  And he was out there at the parsonage.  And he couldn’t stand except as he laid his weight on the back of a chair.  And with great difficulty, he spoke.  He was afflicted with emphysema.  He was a chain, cigarette smoker and soon thereafter died.

            I went to Chicago with Dr. Edwin Rippy and with Bryan Adams.  Bryan Adams was one of the finest men who ever lived in Dallas and one of the most capable.  Dr. Edwin Rippy, at that time, was the president of the Dallas Independent School District Board of Trustees.  And Bryan Adams, as you know, was the treasurer.  He was the financial officer in the public school system of the City of Dallas.  Nothing would do those men but that I go to the hotel with them and eat dinner with them.

            Bryan Adams was a chain smoker, incessantly.  And a few days after I returned, Dr. Edwin Rippy—whom I met in Baylor Hospital—Dr. Edwin Rippy said to me, “Did you know that our friend Bryan Adams has a tremendous cancer in his lungs, caused by smoking?”

            I said, “No.  I didn’t realize he was so sick.”

            I met Dr. Edwin Rippy just a few days later.  He said to me, as I met him in the hospital, he said, “Pastor, did you know that Bryan Adams has just died?”

            There are many things that we bring on ourselves by not listening to the voice of God.  Your physical frame, the house in which you live, your body, God says, is His holy temple [1 Corinthians 6:19-20].  The Spirit of the Lord lives in that temple, yours!  And He says we are to keep it strong and well for Him.

            I am, Ani, Yahweh , Jehovah; ropheka, your healer.  And oft times, in the idiocy of what we do, we’re not well.  We don’t eat right.  We don’t sleep right.  We take pills to pep us up, and the same night take pills that we might be quiet.  We don’t do things that are right and consequently we are afflicted.

I was interested to hear Dr. Jimmy Howell introduced as Dr. John Bagwell a minute ago.  Dr. Jimmy Howell, one of the sweetest men in all this earth, in these years past—I’m talking about over thirty years, Jimmy Howell and I and Dave Wicker and Alan Terrell used to play handball over at the “Y.”  So Jimmy Howell, Dr. Howell, said to me, “Pastor, you have a type of a skin that can easily pick up—easily pick up infection.  “And when you walk all over the floor of this Y, where all the men shower in a common shower, big room,” why, he says, “you’re going to pick up athlete’s feet, athlete’s feet or other things.”  So he said, he said, “Now, you go buy you a pair of sandals.  And then when you take a shower, why, you keep your feet off of the floor.  Then you won’t be afflicted.”  Well, I went to the little counter there in the Y, and I said, “I’d like to buy a pair of those thongs or sandals, whatever they are.”

            And they said, “They cost you thirty-nine cents.”

            I said, “Thirty-nine cents?”

            “Yeah, thirty-nine cents.”

            Well, I said, “I’m not going to blow away thirty-nine cents.”

            So I just kept on showering there in my bare feet.  It wasn’t long until little colonies of warts begin to appear all over the bottom of my feet.  And they begin to spread.  So I went to Jimmy Howell.

            I said, “You look.”

And Jimmy Howell looked at them, and he says, “Well, you’ve picked up a virus; warts.”  He says, “I can’t understand that.”  He says, “You wear sandals when you take a shower.  I can’t understand that.”

            I said, “Dr. Jimmy, I don’t wear those sandals, they cost thirty-nine cents.  I’m not going to blow thirty-nine cents for sandals.”

            See, that’s idiocy.  That’s craziness.  That’s inanity!  We ought to know better.  “I am the Lord thy God that healeth thee” [Exodus 15:26].  But God expects me to use my cerebral hemispheres and help Him that I stay well.

            The one hundred and third Psalm, one of the most beautiful in the world:

Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless His holy name.

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits:

Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases

[Psalm 103:1-3]


And there’s that rapha again; “who healeth,” Ani Yaweh ropheka.

            “I am the Lord, your healer” [Exodus 15:26].  God heals.  He alone heals.  The doctor diagnoses, the surgeon operates, the pharmacist fills prescriptions; but only God heals.  God has healed.  God does heal.  God can heal.  When we think of divine healing––what a tragedy, we think of a fast-talking, slick-dressed evangelist called a faith healer.  He dramatically—from here on these are just things that I have seen—he dramatically lays hands on the sick.  Sometimes, he shakes vigorously to exorcise the demons.  Then in a moment, they say, “The Lord has healed me,” and they dance, and the audience applauds.  Then many of them ask people to lay their hands on the TV, and they pray for them, they say, wherever they’re located, for those who are laying their hands on the TV––and always accompanied by a lengthy appeal for money.  And the miracles claimed and acclaimed by these slick-talking, nattily-dressed faith healers are astounding!  They are to me.

            For example, one of them said to me, “In one service I have seen four blind men with their eyes opened.”  Healed, they could see in one service.  I had another faith healer say to me that in one day, “I saw two dead corpses raised from the dead,” in one day—two of them.  I had several of them say to me that in a service over which they presided, they watched a man whose right leg was four inches shorter than the left leg.  And before our very eyes, they saw that right leg move out, four full inches, congruent with the left one.  I talked to these men, and I tell them, “I am astonished because the medical profession says there has never been yet a verifiable, miraculous healing like you say.”  And these men swear to me they’ve seen it with their own eyes.

Now, this I have not seen; I just read. I read that one faith healer avowed that he was able to make somebody see through a glass eye.  And another faith healer I read about, not to be out done, he said that he turned a glass eye into a real one, and they could see.  Faith healing has come into the most unthinkable contempt.  And I could easily understand why when I talk to them and when I watch them.

            I went out—for example, this is just an aside: I went out to California to listen to the most famous faith healer and to attend the church service; the most famous faith healer in the world; the greatest one that ever lived, Amy Semple MacPherson.  I went out there and attended her services and watched her.  I never saw a dramatic display of charlatanism in my life more certainly so than that.  And it brings reproach on the name of our Lord, and on the name of Christ, and on the name of God, and on the church, and everywhere else.  It is fake.  It is false.  It is manifestly, tragically so.

Now, what about this thing of God healing us?  Are we to present and to work and to preach as though God is glorified only in health, in wealth, in affluence, in human strength?  As though God is never glorified in illness, or in poverty, or in loss, or in weakness?  Are we to live as though we are never to face the judgment of age and of death?  Is there such a thing, tell me, as you read the Bible, and as you bow before the great God in heaven—is there such a thing as a plan of God for our lives that might not include health or wealth or strength?  Job, in his sickness and in his poverty, glorified God and was a demonstration, even for Satan, to behold and to observe [Job 1:13-22].  Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, cried in Lamentations 1:12:  “Is it nothing to you, all you that pass by?  Behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me, wherewith the Lord hath afflicted me.”  Fanny Crosby was blind.  She lived to be about ninety-five years old.  She was blind, but she wrote hundreds and hundreds of life-changing hymns.

            Here in the city of Dallas, in the Sheraton Hotel, I went to a Zondervan Publishing House presentation and listened to Joni Erickson, a paraplegic, and her testimony glorified God as she spoke of painting with a brush and writing her books, with a pen in her mouth.

            God’s people must be willing to remain ill for the glory of God.  Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians, the twelfth chapter beginning in verse 7; he speaks of the thorn in the flesh [2 Corinthians 12:7], and he asked God to remove it [2 Corinthians 12:8], and God said to him, “No, My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness” [2 Corinthians 12:9].  Then Paul avowed, “Most gladly therefore will I glory in my infirmities, in my necessities, in my distresses, in my weaknesses: for when I am weak, then am I strong” [2 Corinthians 12:9-10]. 

            Sometimes we glorify God more in our illnesses and in our weaknesses and in our infirmities and in our necessities, than we do in our strength and in our power and in our might and in our influence and in our health.  But God says to us we are always to be looking to Him for healing; we are to search the mind of God, always, in illness.  Any time any one of us is ill, God is saying something to us.  And we must listen to His voice.  God is speaking to us any time we are ever sick.  And we must search the mind of God and ask, “What is the meaning of this visitation from heaven?”

            James 5:13-16:  “Is any among you afflicted . . . 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: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and having committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.  Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that you may be healed.”  There are several profound things about this, written by James, the Lord’s brother, who is pastor of a church in Jerusalem.  On the face of it, the first thing I see is that illness is a matter concerning God, and concerning the church, and concerning prayer, and concerning the pastors.  That’s the reason I’ve always felt I needed to address this, not only as I go to the hospital in the years and years of my life to pray for the sick, or when I was a country preacher, I went from home to home and house to house, praying for the sick.  Not only that, but it is something to be addressed by the church.  It concerns God.  It concerns His people.  It concerns the pastors of the congregation.  There is something that is very patent here.  And that is, that there is something added to prayer.  He doesn’t say not only pray, but he adds something; pray and do something else, prayer and means: here anointing with oil [James 5:14].

            You know it’s unusual.  In this thirty-eighth chapter of Isaiah, God said to Isaiah:  “You go to Hezekiah and you tell him I have seen his tears, and I have heard his prayers, and I have added fifteen years to his life” [Isaiah 38: 5].  That’s what God said.  But before that chapter is over, it says, “For Isaiah had said, ‘Let them take a lump of figs, and lay it for a plaster upon the boil, and he shall recover’” [Isaiah 38:21].  Prayer and means, God’s will and ways; He mediates that will.

            In Luke 10:33:  “But a certain Samaritan had compassion on that man who fell among the robbers.  And he went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine and took care of him” [Luke 10:33-34].  The best that he could, he prayed for him and took care of him and then used means, pouring in oil and wine.

            In Luke 5:31:  Dr. Luke, whom Paul calls the beloved physician [Colossians 4:14], quotes Jesus as saying, “They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick”—God heals.  God speaks in our illnesses.  Not only in this wonderful passage in James is there prayer and means [James 5:14], is there asking God, that’s always first, looking to God, and then the physician, and the surgeon, and the hospital, and the ministries that God has given us.

We never invented penicillin.  God did that.  God put that here in this earth when Cain and Abel stood on the soil [Genesis 4:1-2].  It’s just now that we have learned it was here.  God did that.  God puts healing in our bodies [Psalm 103:1-3].  One of the tragedies of a disease like AIDS is that it annihilates the purpose of God in our bodies to fight infection and disease.  God did that.

            God is our healer: ani Yahweh Ropheka, “I am Jehovah, your healer” [Exodus 15:26].  God does it.  And He uses these devout, able, educated, trained men with their many instruments and with their many, many discoveries in God’s wonderful world of healing—to help us.

            Do you notice another thing that it has to do with sin and salvation, this word of the pastor?  Confession and salvation, sin and salvation, James 5:15a: the prayer of faith shall save the sick.  That’s the word that Jesus used when He says in Luke 19:10: “For the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which is lost.”  Jesus is called sōter (Savior) from sōzō (to save).  Look at James 5:15, “His committed sin shall be forgiven.”  Look at James 5:16, “confess your faults, pray one for another, that you may be healed.”  This wonderful passage has to do with salvation and forgiveness [James 5:13-16].  Our healing is to bring us to God.  Would it always would; it’s to bring us to God in salvation, and many times it does.  I heard of a man in a ward, and in that ward, if a man was dying, they’d put a curtain around him.  And this nurse came to this man, an ungodly man, and put a curtain around him and left.  And the man cried to God saying, “O God, I’m going to die, I’m going to die, and I’m lost.  I’m not ready to meet God.  O God, have mercy upon my soul.  O Lord, save me!”  “And whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” [Romans 10:13], and God was merciful, and He came into that man’s heart and soul and life and saved him.

Well, the nurse came back and took the curtain away, and she said, “Oh sir, I’m so sorry.  And I beg your pardon, I have put this curtain around the wrong man.”

And he said, “Nurse, don’t apologize!  Praise God!  What you did brought me to Jesus, saved my soul.”  That ought to be the speaking of our Lord, that we might be saved [James 5:14].  That’s what the passage says; and then of course, that we might recommit our lives to the blessed Jesus [James 5:15].

            Job 42, this last chapter closes, “I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear; but now mine eye seeth Thee:  Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes” [Job 42:5-6].  Wrought Job into the dust of the ground; his illness, his afflictions humbled him, crushed him.  Lord, Lord!  Now the next verse, “And the Lord accepted Job” [Job 42:9], and the next one, “So the Lord blessed Job’s latter end more than at the beginning” [Job 42:12].

            Illness has a purpose: it’s God speaking to us.  And if we’ll listen to the voice of the Lord—if you’re lost, you’ll be saved.  If you’re a child of God and fall into illness it will bring you closer to the healing heart of the blessed Savior.

            Now, because I’m the one speaking—know more about my own life than I would anyone else’s—tonight we’re just going to take my own experience.   Bless God, so good to me and good to many of you.  So tonight, we’re going to remember our blessed Lord when He healed and cleansed the ten lepers, and just one of them came back to thank Him, just one, with a loud voice, glorifying God [Luke 17:12-15].  Well, tonight we’re going to be that one.  We’re going to thank the Lord and glorify the Lord, following my own experience.

            About three years ago—three years ago, I stayed awake on Saturday night, all night long.  I had a hurting down my left arm.  It wouldn’t go away.  It kept me awake all night long, and I preach here, as you know, at eight fifteen o’clock each Sunday morning, then at ten-fifty, then again at seven o’clock at night.  And all night long, I was awake.  So I finally called Dr. Bagwell, and Dr. Bagwell said meet me at Baylor, and I went to Baylor, and I had a heart attack.  That was why the hurting down my left arm all night long, I had a heart attack.  And God is my healer, ropheka, Ani Yahweh ropheka.  God healed me.  God raised me up.  I’ve had no approach or indication of any such [thing] since that day about three years ago.  God healed me.  God was good to me and merciful to me.

We’re going to sing an invitation hymn, and as we sing our invitation hymn, “Pastor, I know that my life is in God’s hands.  He could take my life away in a moment, my breath, the beating of my heart; all are in God’s grace, in His sovereign, elective purpose.  And I know that my soul depends upon God.  If I’m to be saved, He must save me [John 14:6; Acts 4:12].  If I go to heaven when I die, His hands must open the door [2 Timothy 4:18].  If my sins are to be forgiven, Jesus must forgive me [1 John 1:7; Revelation 1:5].  I can’t save myself.  Lord, I trust in Thee” [Ephesians 2:8].

And in keeping with God’s invitation, “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus is Lord, and believe in thine heart that He lives, thou shalt be saved” [Romans 10:9]: “In keeping with Gods invitation, I’m coming tonight, pastor, trusting Jesus, the great Physician [Luke 4:23], as my Savior, to keep me strong in my physical frame and to save my soul and forever” [John 3:16, 10:27-30].  Maybe a family coming together tonight, a couple or just one somebody you, “I want to be in the house of the Lord with the family of God, and I’m coming.”  “This is my wife and my children, we all are coming.”  As God shall press the appeal to your heart, while we sing this song, on the first note of the first stanza, come; and a thousandfold welcome.  While we sing.


Dr. W. A. Criswell

Luke 17:11-19


I.          Introduction

A.  Jehovah your Healer (Exodus

      1.  Many times diseases, illnesses are brought upon by our

B.  God alone heals (Psalm 103:1-3)

II.         When we
think of divine healing

A.  Fast-talking, slick-dressed evangelist called a “faith healer”

B.  Ask people to place hands on TV set, pray

C.  Always the lengthy appeal for money

D.  Miracles claimed and acclaimed

III.        God
healing us

A.  Are we to preach as though God is glorified only
in health, wealth, strength?

B.  Is there such a thing as a plan of God for us that
might not include health, wealth, strength? (Lamentations

1.  God’s people must be willing to remain ill for the
glory of God (2 Corinthians 12:7, 9-10)

C.  We must ask God the meaning of the visitation from
heaven (James 5:13-16)

      1.  Illness is a matter concerning God

      2.  Prayer and means (Isaiah 38:21, Luke 10:33, 5:31)

D.  Confession and salvation (James 5:15, Luke 19:10)

      1.   Our healing brings us to God (Romans 10:13, Job 42:12)

      2.  Purpose in our illness

 font-size:10.0pt’>(2 Corinthians 12:7, 9-10)

C.  We must ask God the meaning of the visitation from
heaven (James 5:13-16)

      1.  Illness is a matter concerning God

      2.  Prayer and means (Isaiah 38:21, Luke 10:33, 5:31)

D.  Confession and salvation (James 5:15, Luke 19:10)

      1.   Our healing brings us to God (Romans 10:13, Job 42:12)

      2.  Purpose in our illness

IV.        Thanking
and praising God for healing

A.  My heart attack

B.  My ear

C.  My eye

D.  I need God’s healing for myself; for someone I love