One of the foundations of Christianity includes laying on of hands. There were six key foundational concepts recorded in the book of Hebrews. We see these foundations defined in Hebrews 6:1-2.
1 Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.
There are two primary reasons and purposes for this process. One of those is the laying on of hands for receiving the Holy Spirit as seen in Acts 19:1-6 and Acts 8:17-18.
The second reason for laying on of hands is for the purpose of healing and that is what we see mentioned in this section of scripture.
While Paul was in Malta having been shipwrecked with several hundred others, they met up with some of the locals. The scriptures tell us that they met with the chief man of that area, a man by the name of Publius.
As it turned out the father of Publius was quite ill with dysentery and a fever. Upon hearing of this Paul went to the man and prayed for him, laying his hands on him. We see the action and reaction of this event in verses 8-10, which says,
8 It happened that the father of Publius lay sick with fever and dysentery. And Paul visited him and prayed, and putting his hands on him healed him. 9 And when this had taken place, the rest of the people on the island who had diseases also came and were cured. 10 They also honored us greatly, and when we were about to sail, they put on board whatever we needed.
When Paul laid hands on the sick man The Lord healed him. The power of The Lord was with Paul to do these healings for Paul had faith that The Lord could and would do this. It was nothing that Paul himself did. The power to heal came from The Lord.
And on seeing this all who were sick in the village came to Paul and he prayed and laid hands on the, so that they too were healed.
Is it any wonder that the people supplied everything they needed when they left the island as they saw and recognised the power of God at work in these healings. I am also certain that Paul preached the gospel of Jesus Christ to the people of Malta. He almost certainly would have exercised the authority of the great commission where these signs were given to support the truth.
And this commission was also supported in another way down to this day.
Anointing With Oil
The practice of anointing with oil to heal the sick was given to the church elders so that the people of The Lord did not have to suffer illnesses unnecessarily. It was given so that those who are suffering an illness could seek healing through the anointing of oil along with prayer and the laying on of hands by the elders.
The process is described in James 5:14-15.
Is any 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; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up
The power to help the sick through the laying on of hands was given to the elders of the church. The scripture here says that when the sick come to the elders for prayer they will be saved and The Lord will raise them up.
He does not promise miracle healings through this process, although it is possible and has happened. But the promise is the person will be saved from the sickness and they will be raised up. They will come good and will be able to resume their lives.
And what is the key to this process? The prayer of faith! Faith is the key to all of the gifts and promises of The Lord. Anything and everything is possible to the person who has faith in The Lord, including the healing of the sick.
But like all the things of The Lord, there is a process that must be followed. It is not a free for all, do as you want and The Lord will work. We have a definite instruction and process for the operation of this healing through laying on of hands. The process in a nutshell is:
- Call on the elders of the church
- The elders anoint the person with oil
- The elders pray for the person, and it is a good idea if the person prays or has already also asked The Lord,for their healing
- The Lord does the healing work requested in His time and His way.
Does this mean we don't need doctors and that we should just rely on faith? No! The knowledge The Lord has given to doctors is of great benefit. The Lord made the point that ALL authority that exists on this earth exists by His will and His authority. As Paul wrote in Romans 13:1,
For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.
Now whether it is the governing authorities appointed by God to keep good order, or whether it is medical authorities given knowledge and insight to fix the broken bodies of people, ALL authority, knowledge and insight proceeds from God.
Besides, even Jesus made the point of saying in Matthew 9:12 about physicians and healing,
But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.
If Jesus did not intend people to use the medical authorities and resources given by God's authority, would Jesus have even made such a statement? Although he is speaking of a different matter the point still remains. If you are sick, do not reject the doctor but use the medical authority appointed by God.
And likewise, especially when all else seems hopeless, do not forget to come to The Lord by going to the elders of the church to have hands laid on you and be anointed with oil with the prayer of faith for healing.
The Lord has given us this gift for our benefit. We are the more foolish if we don't use ALL of the gifts He has given us.
(Photo sourced from stock.xchng taken by Alfonso Romero)
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