The Sign Gifts – Healing

God’s Spiritual Gifts to Believers at the Beginning of the Church Age

1 Corinthians 12:1-11


I.                     Introduction


A.      Spiritual gifts have a two-fold purpose within the church: 


1.        To glorify God, the giver of the gifts - 1 Peter 4:10-11. (The proper use of spiritual gifts never draw attention to self, but—as the Holy Ghost Who gave them—points to Christ!) 

2.        To enable believers to edify one other in the church - Ephesians 4:11-15


B.       Sign gifts were given to win the Jews to Christ (1Cor 1:22; 14:21-25) – remember, that on the Day of Pentecost – 3,000 JEWS were saved

C.       These gifts of the Spirit were passing gifts and, by the time of the writing of 1 Corinthians, these particular gifts were already passing off the scene.  Men, like the Apostle Paul, with the gifts of miracles, healings, prophecy (foretelling), and tongues with interpretation were already losing the ability to perform these particular gifts.  We will deal with this, a little more in-depth in another message.

D.      These passing gifts were to be replaced by “that which is perfect” in chapter 13 of 1 Corinthians. 


II.                   Review – the Gift List


A.       Three groups of Gifts


Sign Gifts

Service Gifts

Servant Gifts




1 Corinthians
12:1-10, 28

Romans 12:3-8

Ephesians 4:8-11

Word of wisdom

Word of knowledge



Working of miracles


Discerning of spirits


Interpretation of tongues


Prophecy – Preaching

Ministry (helps)




Ruling (governing)



All done in Love…








All other servants are of their own will

For Reaching the Jews Only
(1Cor 1:22)

For All People to Reacch All People

For the Church to do the Work of the Ministry


B.       The Gift of Faith


1.        This gift in believers is to be differentiated from the essence of faith itself. 

2.        The added gift of faith is the ability to trust that God will work specifically for you as you pray about something…


a.        To move a mountain

b.       To fight and defeat an enemy

c.        To give you an ability (like Sampson prayed for the strength to push apart two support pillars in a Philistine Coliseum)


3.        The supernatural gift of faith is the extraordinary capacity to believe God to do something specifically for you – i.e., work miracles on your behalf. 


a.        In the first century, they had faith that God would do something for them – no limits: raise the dead, heal, protect them

b.       Since then, we are to obey God, and trust His promises to take care of us – nothing more. We cannot command God! He commands us!


III.     Message - The Gifts of Healing


A.      We will spend more time with some of the gifts and this will be one of them because of the misuse and abuse by the Charismatic Movement.  It is of interest that the word “gifts” is plural, indicating that there was more than one particular type of healing addressed here.  Not only were sicknesses healed, but also deformities were rectified.  The blind had their sight restored.  The lame were made to walk.  Etc.


1.        The first reference to a person receiving healing in the Bible was Moses (Exodus 4:6-7) (It was given as a “sign” to Israel to verify Moses was sent by God. Thereafter, signs given to the Jews [1 Cor. 1:22].  Healing was an “apostolic sign” to Israel to authenticate that the messenger was sent by God [Mark 16:17-20; 2 Cor 12:12; Heb. 2:4]).

2.        Sometimes they healed simply by overshadowing the sick with their shadows, as by Peter - Acts 5:15-16  (Notice that they healed EVERY ONE, without exception!)

3.        Sometimes, by sending a handkerchief - Acts 19:11-12

4.        Sometimes they healed by laying hands on them, as the father of Publius, and others, were healed by Paul - Acts 28:8-9 (Once again, all were healed!)

5.        Sometimes by anointing with oil by the elders of the church  James 5:14-15 (Though we still claim and use this method in the church, it was written to the “to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad” or, precisely, to the Jew and would still come under the sign gifts.  This healing was also a guaranteed healing and is used in the context of sin and chastening.  When the believer sinned and God chastised him through physical sickness, his getting right with the Lord and the calling of the elders to anoint him raised him up and his sins were forgiven.  I have no problem with exercising James 5 and have seen the Lord work in the lives of those who have called, but this is not a guarantee of healing in our day!  God has a will in our lives)


B.       Healings did NOT always occur


1.        When writing to young Timothy in the Pastoral Epistles, Paul said, “Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.” (1Timothy 5:23)  The word infirmity is also used as disease and sickness in other places. 

2.        Paul carried his own personal physician, Luke, with him. Colossians 4:14 Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you.

3.        We find several places in the New Testament where God’s men were sick and no elders called. 


a.        Philippians 2:25-27

b.       2 Timothy 4:20

c.        Paul himself - 2 Corinthians 12:9 


C.       Healing as a Sign - Healings was one of the sign gifts and, therefore, a passing gift.  It is also mentioned in Mark 16:17-20, where the word signs begin and end the passage.  All that were between these two words were sign gifts. 


1.        There are thirty-three total instances given of healings: 


a.        At least 19 times without touching;

b.       Approximately 11 times healing was by laying on of hands or touching;

c.        4, possibly 5 instances where people were healed by the faith of others;

d.       Nobody but Jesus and his Apostles healed, both in the Gospels and Acts;

e.        Deliverance from demon possession at least 5 times. No long exorcisms; just one simple command.


2.        Healing was a Sign Gift - Mark 16:17,18 

3.        Healings were the fulfilment of prophecy - Matthew 8:16,17  (The prophecy in Isaiah 53 was two-fold.  It spoke of physical sickness according to Matthew 8:16,17, and this prophecy was specifically concerning Jesus and was fulfilled BY Jesus in Matthew 8.  Furthermore, according to Matthew 8:16,17, this is a fulfillment of Isaiah 53:4, not verse 5!!  Verse 5 speaks of spiritual healing, while verse 4 speaks of physical healing.)

4.        Biblical healing had NO LIMITATIONS – they healed anybody of anything - Matthew 4:23 


a.        Matthew 9:35  

b.       Matthew 10:1 

c.        Acts 5:16  (Today’s “healers” always heal “unseen” problems and never ones such as leprosy, etc.  These healings always take place in their services, whereas biblical healings took place where the sick were in many instances.  Try hospitals, nursing homes, children’s hospitals, burn centers, cancer centers, etc. if  they want to manifest the true sign gift of healings.)


5.        Biblical healing was done for FREE – no charge, no offering, no asking for money - Matthew 10:8  (Every 'healer' today wants money, love offerings, donations, seed money, etc.) 

6.        Biblical healings ended with people getting saved – this was the reason for these sign gifts - Acts 3:7


a.        Acts 4:4 

b.       Acts 9:33-35

c.        Acts 9:40-42 


D.      Errors About Healings


1.        There is no recorded account of a special service announced ahead of time for the purpose of healing.   All healing was performed where ever a sick person was.  None of the healings were planned, scheduled, advertised beforehand or promoted.

2.        There is absolutely no Biblical record of anybody EVER falling over backward when they were healed.  The only time anybody ever fell over backward, was in the garden of Gethsemane when the soldiers came to arrest Jesus. (John 18:6) 

3.        There is no recorded healing after the book of Acts and the death of the Apostles.  This sign gift was for the Apostolic Age.

4.        There is no record of any of Paul's young preachers healing or being commanded to.  God’s men were to give attendance to pray and the Word of God.

5.        There was a need for Doctors - One of the most prominent members of Paul's group was a medical doctor.


a.        Colossians 4:14  Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you.

b.       2 Timothy 4:11  Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.


IV.    Conclusion


A.      Summary of the first set of sign gifts


1.        Word of Wisdom – a spiritual understanding about situations, and able to teach that awareness to others

2.        Word of Knowledge – knowing the mind of God and speaking it even though not written down in Scripture yet

3.        Faith – the ability to believe that God will do something specifically just because you ask for it

4.        Healing – the ability to heal anybody, anywhere, anyhow!!!


B.       Learn the difference, and live the reality – not the dream! God has not changed, but His ways of enabling His people have!

C.       Next time, the Gifts of Miracles


Craig Ledbetter

Bible Baptist Church

Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland