I have heard a lot of theories of the purpose of healing, whether God does it still or not, etc, and I think there is a lot of fallacy in both the charismatic and the cessationist camps when it comes to healing.
The problem is neither side addresses the question of “why”?
Let me begin this post by saying that I have been healed miraculously twice. Once when I was two years old from daily seizures and brain damage, and the second time when I was ten from being far-sighted. That one I remember clearly. One second I was wearing glasses, the man prayed for me, and everything went fuzzy; I took the glasses off and could see clearly. I have had 20-20 vision ever since.
So, there’s no argument in the world that would convince me that God just doesn’t miraculously heal people anymore. Experience outweighs logic no matter how illogical that sounds. If you did not believe God healed people and got cancer, but someone prayed over you, and you were healed, your beliefs would change pretty quickly no matter how much material you’ve read to the contrary. And much like the blind man in John 9:25, you would say, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don't know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!"
Anyway, I digress. Let’s get back to the question of why God heals. Why did God heal my eyesight? It’s only a temporary fix. 70 years from now my eyes will have served as maggot food for awhile. What good is a cripple who can walk just to die of cancer 20 years later? “For we are looking all the time not at the visible things but at the invisible. The visible things are transitory: it is the invisible things that are really permanent (2Cor 4:18). Physical healing falls into the category of visible things, so why bother?
I think Jesus answers the question best:
John 20:25,37-38 (NIV) Jesus answered, "I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father's name speak for me... Do not believe me unless I do what my Father does. But if I do it, even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father."
Physical healing is an ongoing reminder that Christ saves, and He saves completely. It is just as important that a believer of 50 years be reminded of this fact, as a sinner just coming to know the grace of God. Consider healing a physical sermon, a demonstration of the power and love of God.
Seriously, if we question if Jesus will heal us physically, then why do we believe he will heal us spiritually? “But he [was] wounded for our transgressions, [he was] bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace [was] upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” (Isa 53:5) This is repeated in 1 Peter 2:24 he himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.
Healing is part of the Gospel message. Jesus tells Nicodemus, “"I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?" (John 3:12). Physical healing is an earthly thing; if you can’t believe God will and does heal today, how can you believe he saves even unto eternal life?
On the other hand, what do charismatic healers benefit those who are healed if there is no accompaniment of repentance and solid Biblical teaching? What have you benefited those who were physically healed, if they continue to live in sin, and you do not hold them accountable? So, they can use their body again for another 40, 50, 60 years, what then, do you let them die and spend eternity in hell?
What was Jesus’ message to the man at the pool of Bethesda? "See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you" (John 5:14). Seeking healing for the sake of healing is worthless; having a healing ministry is worthless; casting out demons, worthless; if the soul is lost. Better to enter heaven blind, then to see the gates of hell on the way in. Better to crawl crippled to God’s feet as a friend, then to stand before him as an enemy.
My point in all of this is simple: God has called us to heal the sick. It’s biblically sound. You can’t read the Bible and come to another conclusion. However, many will come to Him in that day saying “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?” And He will say, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” And how much worse for those who can’t even say Lord, Lord we did miraculous things in your name.
All the same, God considers miracles for the sake of miracles “evil”, just as evil as not doing anything. Knowing the heart of God means knowing that He desires righteousness and repentance over signs and wonders. He desires that the lost would come to know Him and turn from their ways.
So, heal the sick, but do it with the heart of God.