One of the weaknesses I feel I see in how American Christians approach non-Christians, is how our view of them (and of ourselves, from when we were also non-Christians) is more influenced by secular psychology than by the Bible.
What do we learn from the Bible's passages about divine mercy, pertinent to bigger issues in Christian doctrine?
God's mercies save from sickness, sin, and eternal damnation.
Christ exercised mercy by healing the sick, and thus saving them from their dreadful diseases. His mercy cured many cases of blindness (Mt. 9:27-30) and by extension all the other illnesses He healed. He delivered people from demon-possession (Mt. 21:21-28, 17:14-18, Mk. 5:19), and God the Father in mercy healed a woman of infertility (Lk. 1:58). In contrast, unbelief toward Christ prevented Him from extending His healing mercies, in at least one scenario (Mt. 13:57-58).
The Lord shows mercy, and gives His kind gifts, by His own free, unfettered choice, and according to His own principles. He can never owe men or nations His kindness because of their good works (Ro. 9:14-18), a principle illustrated by God’s choice of the nation of Isaac over the nation of Ishmael (9:6-8) and the ordination of the line of unborn Jacob over the line of unborn Esau (9:10-13, Mal. 1:1-3). God revealed the backside of His passing glory to Moses (Ex. 33), not because Moses earned it, but as a marvelous favor.
God shows mercy to the repentant, regardless of who they are, and hardens the unrepentant, regardless of who they are (Ro. 9:18, see Peter’s words in Acts 10:34-35). Peter realized God's mercy-principles at work when he met the Roman centurion Cornelius. God sent the Gospel to Cornelius because Cornelius was devout, God-fearing, and God received his alms (Acts 10:1-5). In other words, Cornelius was seeking the Lord diligently, and God did not let him down (as He promised Israel in Jeremiah 29:12-13).
Does God give saving mercy to non-Jews on different grounds from how He gives it to Jews? Does God show pure saving mercy to Gentiles, but then require a mixture of mercy and good works from the Jews? No, Paul says God combined (aorist tense, mingled, mixed) Gentiles and Jews together in an equal state of disobedience, so that He might show mercy to them all (Rom. 11:30-32).
God’s saving motive toward us all was rich mercy and great love (Eph. 2:4), enacted through the death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ. Salvation is entirely by God’s mercy, not at all by legal performance (Titus 3:5). The new birth is the experiential expression of God's mercy in the soul (1 Pe. 1:3).
God’s mercy and kindness are said to be conditional, in many verses.
God’s mercy cannot be merited by legal obedience. Everyone sins, and as a result everyone forfeits deserving any good thing from God. In that sense of legal holiness, God’s mercies must always be free on His part. There is not a righteous man on the earth who always does right, and never sins (Ecclesiastes 7:20). So, given that the legal standard of merit is perfection (one must continually keep all the commandments, Gal. 3:10), mercy can never be earned.
God’s mercies and loving kindness precede any human meeting of any divine conditions.
God is showing mercy to the entire world, every day, even though the world does not know Him. This is called God’s prevenient grace. It is the grace that comes in before.
It is true that God is manifesting righteous punishments, also (Rom. 1:18). But, as long as a person is still living on this side of eternity, that person is still receiving some measure of the mercy of God. God does not completely withhold mercy until we comply with His will. God is already showing varying kinds and degrees of mercy to each person, every day.
But some of God’s mercies are tied to conditions, in various Bible verses. God shows His mercy to those who fear Him, that is, to those who trust, worship, and obey Him, from generation to generation. Luke 1:50. Mary reaffirmed what the Lord said centuries before.
The Lord delights in those who fear Him (Ps. 147:11). The Lord shows His lovingkindness to those who love Him and keep His commandments (Ex. 20:6), which Christ reiterated in John 14:15-21. God loves those disciples who love and obey Christ, and He reveals Himself on a deeper level to such people (14:21).
God shows saving mercy to the ignorant (1 Tim. 1:13). Paul’s testimony shows that God’s mercy is not disconnected from human conditions. God was merciful to Paul, in spite of his blasphemy, persecution, and violence, because God knew Paul was spiritually blind.
This reminds us of Christ’s cross-prayer for God to be merciful, which was predicated on human ignorance (Luke 23:34). God’s mercy to Nineveh was conditioned on the people’s ignorance (very likely referring to their young children, Jonah 4:11).
Repentant faith is God’s condition for saving mercy. The olive tree in Romans 11 symbolizes the blessings of the Abrahamic covenant. Paul says, using this illustration, that God broke off the Jews from the tree because of their unbelief toward Christ (Rom. 11:20). Belief was God’s condition; the Jews failed to meet it; as a result, God broke them off. But then, Paul says that God would and could easily “graft” Jews back in, if they did not persist in unbelief (i.e., if they repent, 11:23). Again, let a person meet God’s condition of repentance, and God shows saving kindness (11:22).
So, God’s merciful kindness here is conditional upon repentance and belief. The prodigal son did not receive the joyful fatherly embrace, the family ring, or the celebration, until he repented. Once he repented, on condition of that repentance, all those good things happened. Conversely, God hardens (the opposite of mercy, Romans 9:18) those who know the truth and reject it. Hardening is God’s punishment on the knowledgeably defiant.
God did not harden an innocent man. Pharaoh already knew about the Lord through nature (Rom. 1:19-20), and through Moses’ miracles, so he was without excuse. That knowledge is why God hardened/punished him. God did not unconditionally harden Pharaoh. Similarly, the Lord hardened the Palestinian Jews toward Christ, because they had already refused to believe in Him in spite of all His miracles (John 12:37-38). It was for this reason that the Lord blinded their eyes and deadened their hearts (12:39-40).
God's mercies cannot be earned, because we're never good enough to deserve them. But some of God's mercies hinge on people meeting God-ordained conditions.
 A divine condition is not meritorious. God saying, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved”, does not make belief a meritorious act. It also isn’t meritorious to keep a commandment in order to receive a blessing (such as Ephesians 6:1-3), since no one keeps the commandments perfectly. Even God’s rewards for godly choices come wrapped up in a great deal of blood-bought generosity.
 Paul makes clear in 1:16 that God's mercy refers to his salvation, not his appointment to the apostolic ministry. He wouldn't even have been in the ministry, if he hadn't received God's saving mercy first.
God shows mercy, love, compassion, and kindness to particular individuals.
God showed kindness to Joseph, and He manifested His kindness by causing others to look upon him with favor. Gen. 39:21.
This story shows that the Lord doesn’t only spread kindness around in an undifferentiated way, like snowflakes from the sky, but at times He bestows kindness on specific individuals. It also shows God’s ability to influence human attitudes. Other people involved with this story regarded Joseph with favor because God influenced them to do so. Moses does not describe the means by which God achieved this. It may be that God spiritually enabled them to see and value Joseph’s true goodness, and, out of pity and conscience, they treated him well. The human heart is not immune to God’s influence.
Joseph's story also illustrates God’s liberty in showing different types of kindness and mercy. God did something for Joseph that He didn’t do for others.
God rewards faithfulness with mercy. Joseph was a God-fearing young man, and he continued to walk with God in spite of the horrible things that were done to him. In response God led him to a great victory over his foes. Joseph was not a case-study of unconditional divine kindness. God didn't owe Joseph kindness, but He rewarded Joseph for his faith and fidelity.
God showed mercy and kindness to David.
David felt great faith in the Lord’s mercy, and opted to fall into the Lord’s hands rather than man’s (2 Sam. 24:14). David felt no hesitation in doing this, so clearly, he had great faith in God’s mercy and kindness. He declares the Lord’s great mercies, and in light of that truth he calls on Him for revival (Ps. 119:156).
Mercy is the divine condition on which David approaches the Lord. If the Lord was harsh and unkind, David would not feel such confidence in approaching the throne of grace. God pledged His lovingkindness to David and his descendants (2 Sam. 22:51). Solomon recognized that he was an undeserving inheritor of God’s goodness to his father.
God shows mercy, love, compassion, and kindness to entire nations.
God showed great mercy and kindness to the people of Israel. Ps. 106:7. The apostle Paul recites the Lord’s many good gifts to Israel, such as national adoption by God, the Lord’s glory, the covenants, the law, the temple worship, numerous glorious promises, and, greatest of all, the Messiah (Rom. 9:3-5). Israel is the centerpiece demonstration of God showing mercy, kindness, and love on a national scale.
But God also shows mercy and compassion toward Gentile nations who repent. The Lord told Jeremiah He would reverse judgment toward repentant Gentile nations (Jer. 18:7-8). A great example of this was the Lord’s dealing with pagan Nineveh. The Lord sent Jonah to Nineveh because the Lord did not desire the death of the wicked (Ezk. 18:32), which Jonah knew and feared would be the case (Jonah 4:1-2). Nineveh shocked the world by repenting en masse, and in response the Lord spared the city. The Lord gave Jericho a week to repent and surrender (Jos. 6:1-5).
God even shows measures of mercy to nations who do not repent! The Lord promised to sustain the earth, and never again destroy everyone with a flood (Gen. 9:12-16). This mercy encompasses the earth throughout time, in spite of our sins. Christ says in Matthew 5:43-48 that the Lord loves His enemies, and sends them sunshine and rain for their crops and herds. Christ holds up this aspect of God the Father as the disciple’s perfect example of love.
God shows mercies and kindnesses to all without exception.
David says that the Lord’s mercies are over everything he has created. Ps. 145:9. This includes the unrepentant. The apostle Paul speaks of this.
Paul chastises the hypocrite who criticizes others but commits the same sins. God is impartial in His judgments, so that sort of unjust judging will not stand with the Lord (2:1-2). In verse 3, Paul says that this two-faced judgmentalism shows contempt toward God’s kindness, tolerance, and patience.
God could lawfully strike down any person for their sins. But in most ways, on most days, God freely and gladly refrains from doing this. As one of the psalmists said, if God punished every iniquity and never forgave sin, who would survive (Ps. 130:3-4)? But God doesn't relate to people in that way. We should thank God that He is so amazingly kind and forbearing.
Since everyone is a sinner, we know by implication from Romans 2:3 that God is showing kindness, tolerance, and patience toward the entire human race, or else we would all be dead as in Noah's day. Every day that God does not judge a stubborn sinner, God is showing mercy, kindness, and love to that person. So, God is merciful to everyone.
It is very important to note that God’s motive for showing patience, kindness, and forbearance to the hypocrite is to lead that person to salvation (4b). God already knows from eternity past who will or won't comply, but He does it for the unrepentant anyway, to glorify His own mercy. The knowledge needed for repentance is provided for everyone, since God has made His existence and nature clearly known through nature and conscience (Romans 1:18-20). God, by His omnipotence, can get the Gospel to anyone who calls upon Him, or get that person to the Gospel.
In the unfolding plan of redemption, God still distinctly loves the Jews, because of His lovingkindness to their founding fathers. This is spite of their unrepentance toward Christ (Ro. 11:28). God is no anti-semite, and He has not "replaced" the Jews with the Christian Church.
Paul says in Titus 3:4 that the appearance of Christ the Savior was the manifestation of God’s goodness and loving kindness to all. The ones to whom God revealed this were those whose works cannot merit salvation (v.5). Since no one’s legal works merit salvation, then this divine kindness was to everyone without exception. Paul says elsewhere that God is everyone’s Savior, including unbelievers (1 Tim. 4:10). There is a distinction of salvation experience (“especially”), but not a difference of innate God’s Saviorhood.
God is merciful to all!
"Limited" atonement is the Reformed/Calvinist doctrine that Christ died for the elect only, and no one else. In spite of the mountains of (in my opinion) meretricious arguments raised up in its favor, I have never believed it to be Scriptural, and here's a brief sum-up as to why:
Language miracles occur three times in Acts, probably four if the Samaritans (Acts 8) experienced the same thing as the 120, Cornelius, and the disciples of John, which seems likely. They were miracles of speaking (Acts 2:4), not of hearing. The speakers spoke praise to God in real languages (Acts 2:8-11). Gift-language is a mode of prophecy (Acts 2:4, 17).
Tongues are a sign. In each case in Acts, they signified something beyond themselves. The first sign signified Jesus’ ascension to God’s throne (Acts 2:33). The second sign signified God’s acceptance of Samaritans (compare John 4:9 to Acts 8:14-16), and also signified their own unique apostolic authority to the new converts (Acts 8:18). The third sign signified Gentile salvation to the Jewish church (Acts 11:18). The fourth sign signified Paul’s true apostleship (compare Acts 8:18 to 19:6).
It is not quite true that “Pentecost happened only once”, as some teach. Yes, obviously the original event was never precisely repeated, as there are too many differing variables in each case. But on the other hand, Peter’s point about why they should baptize Cornelius rests on the sameness between Pentecost and Caesarea (Acts 10:47, 11:17).
The book of Acts also describes many other true stories in which people believed in Christ, were water-baptized, and there is no evidence they all (or ever) spoke in tongues. Converts are always water-baptized, but there’s no evidence they all spoke in tongues. There were only twelve original apostles, plus Paul and Barnabas, and they couldn’t be everywhere to lay hands on every new believer. That would have been physically impossible.
None of the epistles teach that a one-time tongues manifestation is always how the Spirit’s filling shows itself, and Acts doesn’t teach this either. The promise was of the Spirit Himself (Acts 2:39), not of His gifts, which He distributes as He pleases (1 Cor. 12:11). God gave tongues in Acts as a sign for distinct historical needs and circumstances unique to those moments, and they were tied to God’s unfolding plan of world redemption.
The local, congregational gift of tongues seems to be different from the language miracles in Acts, even though the word glossa is used in both books. Acts tongues required no interpretation (Acts 2:8), but the church gift of tongues did (1 Cor. 14:11). The unbelievers in Acts 2 all knew the languages, but the hypothetical visitors in 1 Cor. 14:23 would think the speakers were insane.
In three out of four cases in Acts, tongues were a sign to believers. Paul says the tongues in 1st Corinthians 14 were a sign to unbelievers (14:22). In Acts, the female disciples publicly prayed in tongues, but 1 Cor. 14:34 says they should not speak in the church. Because of these differences, it seems correct to speak of the sign of tongues in Acts, and the NT gift of tongues in 1 Corinthians, and that they were different.
Let’s summarize what 1 Corinthians 12-14 says about the gift of tongues.
The power to pray in tongues, and to interpret them, comes from the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:10), as He wills (11). This means the gift cannot be taught or learned. The gift of tongues does not signify membership in Christ’s body (11:12-16), hence, it does not signify salvation. God does not give tongues to every Christian (11:30). It is a less important gift than prophecy (11:31, 14:1).
Someday, tongues will completely stop. Right now, we only see the Lord Jesus Christ in the mirror of Scripture, dimly, due to our feebleness of mind (13:12; see 2 Cor. 3:18 and Jas. 1:23 for “mirror” as a metaphor for Scripture). So, God supplements our weakness with spiritual gifts. But, when the day comes we see Christ face-to-face (1 Jn. 3:2), all these intermediary modes of knowledge will be dropped. We won’t need them, because we will be able to talk to Christ in person
“Face to face” means “in person”, 2 Jn. 12, 3 Jn. 14. The "perfect" in 1 Cor. 13 is clearly not the Scripture, since we have the completed Bible but we still only see dimly.
Spiritual gifts are good things (14:1). Paul was entirely pro-tongues (14:5a), and he says he prayed in tongues a great deal (14:18). He didn’t want tongues forbidden, in spite of the possibility of fraud or abuses (14:39b). Tongues are a prayer (14:2).
No one naturally can understand a tongue; it’s content is a mystery (14:2,9). Not even the speaker understands his own prayer, since he needs to pray for the ability to interpret (13). This is why the language-prayer’s mind is “unfruitful” (14:14). He himself does not grow from praying in a tongue, because he doesn’t understand what he’s saying. The pray-er edifies no one (14:6) until it is understandable (14:6, 13). In fact, not only do tongues not edify, but a whole church all praying in tongues would sound like crazy people (14:23).
Our highest priority in the use of spiritual gifts should be to build up others (14:12). Exalting the gift of tongues, not caring about the health of Christ’s body, and praying audibly in uninterpreted tongues, is childish, carnal behavior (14:20). The gift of tongues wasn’t even given mainly for the church. God usually gives a gift of tongues as a miraculous sign to non-Christians (14:22), whereas prophecy is the gift for the church (14:22, 24-25).
If the gift of tongues manifests in the meeting, no more than a maximum of three people are allowed to pray out loud, and they have to pray one at a time (14:27). If the church doesn’t have anyone with the gift of interpretation, they must be silent (14:28). No one is allowed to claim they couldn’t control themselves, because the Holy Spirit never does that (14:32-33). The Spirit of God, who brought order to the world, does not cause disorder (14:40).
A great many, probably most, charismatic churches break many of the Lord’s rules about tongues. They exalt tongues to a high level of importance. People pray or sing in tongues (or what they call tongues), all at the same time. Women pray tongues in the meeting. People pray and sing without any interpretation. People try to teach others to speak in tongues. There is almost always a spirit of wildness in these meetings All these are sinful.
On the other hand, our non-charismatic churches need to be careful not to squash the Holy Spirit’s fire (1 Th. 5:19-20). The doctrinal errors, leadership scandals, and bizarre behavior we see in many charismatic churches are bad, but they don’t justify fear toward the Holy Spirit Himself. He isn’t false, or bizarre, or wild! Satan would like us to confusedly oppose the Holy Spirit in the name of opposing charismatic disorder.
We can’t determine Bible doctrine by anecdotes. One missionary tells a story about someone in another country coming to Christ because they heard a prayer in their own language. Another missionary tells a story about a demon-possessed person speaking uncontrollably in a tongue. The second story doesn’t prove there are no true tongue manifestations. The first story needs to be tested. Neither story proves anything, doctrinally speaking.
The most credible tongues testimony I’ve heard came from an older believer who listened to a man pray in an unknown language during a meeting. My friend somehow knew what the man was praying. Then, a second man came up to the believer, described what he heard in the prayer, and it was the same (intelligible) words that the first believer heard. So, in other words, God supplied the two brothers with verification. This was first-hand testimony to me, not a hand-me-down fable with questionable or unknown provenance, and related by a Christian man I personally know well.
In summary, I believe the book of Acts describes signs of tongues (intelligible languages), which God gave to verify what He was doing at key points in early church history. 1st Corinthians describes the gift of tongues (unintelligible languages), defines why God gives it, and limits its use. A true gift of language is neither extremely important, contrary to Pentecostalism; but if it's real, then it's a blessing.
 Phillip was not able to do this.
 If the speaker knew what he was saying, he wouldn’t need to pray to interpret.
This post will deal only with the gifts (plural, 1 Cor. 12:9) of healing, and will not go deeply into the total Biblical theology of sickness and healing. That is a valuable topic to study, and the small bits we will consider will shed some light on the gifts, but the complete subject would take too long to explore.
My guess as to why the word “gift” is plural here is due to a distinction between physical and mental, which is a common distinction found in Scripture. Demons were usually the cause of mental disorders in the Gospels, and casting them out was also called healing (Mt. 4:24). There is very little written about it in the NT epistles.
Why does sickness exist? God did not create the world with sickness in it. He created it very good. Sickness exists because of sin. Our mortal bodies began failing because of Adam’s transgression (Gen. 3:19b). We inherit the horrible after-effects of Adam’s sin. In addition to the global problem of sin, God sometime inflicts sickness on us as discipline for our own individual sins (1 Cor. 11:30). Sometimes God uses illness to cause contact with people who need Christ (Gal. 4:13-14), sometimes as a test of faith in suffering (James 5:10-11), and sometimes as a preemptive check against pride (2 Cor. 12:7-10).
God also uses sickness to steer life’s circumstances, such as Paul being forced to leave his co-worker Trophimus sick in Miletus (2 Tim. 4:12). This is called “divine providence.” Sometimes sickness is self-inflicted due to foolish actions, such as people who smoke and develop cancer, commit immorality which infects them with dreadful diseases, or do acts of violence that lead to injury.
God in Moses’ Law promised the Jews good health as a blessing for obedience (Dt. 28:4), while sickness was His curse on rebellion (28:21-22). This was not a promise of absolute health, since even faithful people still aged and passed away. Some of the health blessing would have been the natural result of leading a godly life (e.g., not getting drunk, not committing crimes, contracting venereal disease), and some of it was direct divine intervention. Caleb’s exceptional health and strength in his elderly years appears to be an example of direct divine reward for his earlier faith (Josh. 14:11).
I don’t regard the healings of Christ and the apostles to be manifestations of the NT gift of healing, since they were operating before Pentecost. The Lord Jesus was first enabled to heal when the Spirit anointed Him at the Jordan. Christ later delegated healing power to the apostles (Mt. 10), and then even later to seventy others (Lk. 10). These were all signs of His Sonship, a truth which has timeless application. But their ministry was limited to the Jews (Mt. 10:5-6), a rule no longer in force.
The Gospels are a unique historical and theological bridge between Israel and the Church, so we cannot indiscriminately apply every example or rule in every Gospel story to the Church. For example, John 3:16 is a timeless promise, but, in contrast, Jesus’ command not to pack extra clothes is not (Lk. 10:4). Not being careful about applying Gospel material is a common mistake among preachers. I’m not saying we disregard the Gospels. But we must weigh Acts and the epistles together with the Gospels, in order to discern which principles and practices in the Gospels apply today and which ones do not.
Christ gave healing authority only to twelve disciples, not all. When He gave healing authority to the Seventy, no one else got it. The idea that God has granted healing authority to all believers is wrong. Christ even gave this power to an unsaved man (Judas Iscariot, Mt. 10:4), which no longer happens.
Christ died for your sins. There is no Biblical evidence that Christ by His cross made any provision for the miraculous healing of the body. For instance, He fulfilled Isaiah 53:4 by His three years of earthly ministry of healing, a long time before He died (Matt. 8:16-17). Isa. 53:5 says that His cross solves the problems of our transgressions, our iniquities, and our enmity with God, so the fourth parallel term (healed) also refers to sin. This is how Peter interpreted it (1 Pe. 2:24-25). The Bible promises forgiveness of sin to all, but not healing for all. God will meet our needs, but He might meet them in the midst of bodily infirmity.
The teaching that God wants to heal all believers of all illnesses is a devilish doctrine that has broken the spirits, emptied the pockets, and ruined the lives of thousands of Christians.
God’s ability to heal isn’t limited to the gift of healing. The believing prayer of any righteous believer is powerful (James 5:16). The faith of any Christian can move a mountain (Lk. 17:6). Any elder can anoint a sick believer (James 5:14-15). Anyone’s faith in the Lord’s promises will work mighty miracles (Gal. 3:2). It’s faith enough, when you ask, to believe Jesus can do it. You don’t need to believe He absolutely will, or “claim” anything (Mt. 8:1-3).
Unlike evangelist, prophet, pastor, and teacher, there is no ministry role called “healer.” No one in the NT was a healer. They were apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. God worked healings to confirm the message (Acts 14:3), not so much the man. Stay away from people who claim to have professional healing ministries. A godly man never takes credit for what God does through him, but gives all the glory to God (Acts 3:11-13).
There were Christians, such as Stephen and Philip (Acts 6:8, 8:4-8), through whom God worked healings consistently. Repetition and consistency seem to be the key marks. God could potentially work a healing through any believer, such as Ananias in Acts 9:17-18, but God did it through Stephen and Philip on a regular basis. In both their cases, the Holy Spirit worked healings in conjunction with their preaching. They were not apostles. If they are representatives of this gift, then we should expect the healing gift to especially show up in mission settings, which makes sense, since divine healing is a sign of Christ’s Messiahship.
The proof of a healing gift is obvious. If a Christian prays for sick people, and if the sick people on a regular basis get well (maybe instantly), without the aid of medicine, that is the gift. The proof of the pudding lies in the eating. But the gift is not controlled or caused by its users. They can’t just empty out hospital wards. Not even Christ could heal at His own will. When Christ healed, it was because God the Father was going on before, and Christ was following the Father’s will (John 5:19).
Any Christian can pray for any sick person, and, through faith and in accordance with God’s will, God could answer and heal. But some Christians seem to have a distinct power in prayer, where those for whom they pray become well very rapidly (sometimes instantly), apart from normal medical ministrations. Other Christians seem to have a distinct power for ministry to demon-oppressed people, which deals with mental healing. It all seems to happen through prayer. I would suggest these second types of Christians are gifted to heal, especially as part of lifting up Christ to the unbelieving world.
 Health-&-wealth preachers claim that Christians should claim these healing promises because we’re sons of Abraham. However, Galatians 3 says that sonship results in justification, the Holy Spirit, and everlasting life, not the material blessings of the Law.
 His eternal, divine nature could always heal, but His human nature could not unless enabled by the Father.
 I cannot tell from Scripture if the Seventy continued to have this power after Christ’s ascension.
 This fact undermines a classic cessationist retort, “If this gift is for today, let’s see them empty out a hospital ward, like Christ did!” But Christ didn’t have the NT spiritual gift of healing, and neither did the apostles. So, it’s consistent that the NT gift would operate at a lower level than the Messiah and His apostles. Also, the manifestation is not under the person’s control. You can’t just heal someone like tapping them on the head with a stick.
 An error taught by Vineyard founder John Wimber in his original book Power Evangelism.
 Judas could be used in this capacity by the Spirit of God because he belonged to God’s covenant nation, just as He worked through King Saul (1 Sam. 11:6).
 In my opinion, healing ministries are overrun by frauds, or, at best, exaggerators and wishful thinkers.
 Healing was God’s confirmation of the Gospel message to unsaved listeners, not merely that someone was an apostle. The apostles no longer exist, but the message still needs confirming.
For a brief time during my early Christian years, I participated in the Charismatic movement. The church I attended as a new Christian had been neglectful of the Holy Spirit, with a corresponding imbalanced emphasis on end-times, plus their own peculiar church distinctives.
Predestination perplexes Christians from across the denominational spectrum, even though the word itself doesn't appear very often in the New Testament. There is a positive approach we can take to it, however, rather than majoring in controversy. I think it's best to begin with truths on which all Christians agree.
First, we agree that God is all-powerful, and does whatever He wishes (Psalm 115:3). Human beings are not in charge, the Lord is king. Second, we agree that God is executing an eternal plan of His own devising (Ephesians 1:11). God learns nothing new, unlike how we learn. Third, we agree that whatever God chooses to do, it is always righteous. God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all (1 john 1:5). Fourth, we agree that God doesn't directly cause everything. He upholds all things (Hebrews 1:3). God causes no one to sin (James 1:13). He controls the circumstances in which temptations come, He already foreknows how we will respond to those temptations, and He chooses to permit us to be tempted and fall, but He Himself doesn't cause anyone to sin.
The word "predestine" appears six times in the New Testament. The Romans, the Jews, Pontius Pilate, and Herod did that which God beforehand predestined them to do (Acts 4:27-28). God predestined those whom He foreknew to be conformed to the image of His son (Romans 8:29). Those whom He predestined He then called, justified, and glorified (Romans 8:30). God predestined that the hidden wisdom which He later revealed to the apostles (which we have in the form of the New Testament) would be to our glory (1 Cor. 2:7). God predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Christ (Eph. 1:5). We inherited an eternal inheritance through Christ, and to this we were predestined (Eph. 1:11).
What truths do we learn from these six short references?
1. Predestination includes sin. God ordained the murderers of Jesus to kill Him, exactly when, where, and how they did. They did it for their own reasons, out of their own hearts, but God used them (unknowingly to themselves) for His own higher purpose.
God does not just predestine the good actions of good people, but also predestines the bad actions of of wicked people, so that His plan comes to pass. This reminds us of Genesis 50, where Joseph said that his brothers selling him into slavery, which they did freely out of their own bad hearts, was at the same time a manifestation of God's higher plan.
2. God is King and Judge of the universe at the same time. This means He, as King, ordains many human actions administratively that He, as Judge, hates morally. This duality of roles is unique to God. I can't think of any human role which comes near to it.
3. God from eternity foreknew specific people. God knows everything because He is omniscient, but God did not foreknow everyone in the Romans 8:29 sense. Everyone will not be conformed to the image of Christ. This tells us that "foreknow" has a much narrower meaning than simply God being cognizant of something. Jeremiah 1:3 says that God "knowing" an individual in this way is parallel to God consecrating that person to something. God "knew" Jeremiah while he was still in the womb, and appointed him to be a prophet.
4. Those whom God foreknew will infallibly be resurrected unto glory (conformed to the image of His Son). Christ is the first-born from among the dead, so He is the first-born of many brothers yet to be resurrected. They are predestined to that outcome, which means their wills are not the final determining factor. This is why a true Christian can never be lost, not even if he (insanely) should wish to be. Eternal security is based on the eternal predestination of God.
5. God only calls (converts), justifies, and glorifies the predestined ones. He doesn't call, justify, or glorify anyone else. God calls people with the Gospel outwardly, to their ears, but Paul was talking about the Holy Spirit's converting call to the heart.
6. God decided from eternity past that He would keep some of His wisdom hidden until the New Testament era, and only then reveal it to Paul and the other apostles. The apostles' wills, virtue, and piety had nothing to do with when God revealed His hidden wisdom. God gave Paul special knowledge about the Church, for instance, that was unknown in the Old Testament era (see Ephesians 3).
7. God predestined certain specific people to become adopted as His sons through Christ. This is both our soul-status of adoption (1 John 3:1) and the as-yet-future experience of our bodies being raised to glory ((Romans 8:23). The word "adoption" refers to both blessings. The status of adoption is ours now, through faith, and resurrection in glory is our future inheritance.
There are two more redemptive facts about predestination which need to be kept in mind.
One is that, if God did not predestine to eternal life, everyone without exception would hate Him into a condemned eternity. The human race is evil. We hate God by our very nature. We don't change into sinners somewhere along the way. We are born in sin, in the womb. We come forth from the womb speaking lies. Predestination is God intervening in individual lives, so as to bring about conversion and salvation.
Second, God has not predestined everyone. Even though He makes it clear to the world that He is willing that they should come to Him, and that He would receive them if they did come, they do not. So the world's rejection of God logically precedes predestination, in the God/man relationship. God didn't from eternity foresee innocent people and predestine them to be evil. He foresaw evil people, and intervened to predestine some of them to come to Him.