So often I hear the name of Jesus being used almost in the same way as magicians use abracadabra. The so-called ‘faith healer’ will walk up to a person in front of a crowd of spectators and say the magic words expecting there to be a miracle right in front of our eyes. Without any follow-up results from medical inspection, the crowd is mesmerized as the person throws their cane away. If I sound cynical, it is because in most instances with this kind of thing, I am. I am cynical because Benn Hinn is never found in a hospital until it is his own heart giving away. I am cynical because television hosts are willing to take people’s money and make promises without anyone even being able to check if the promises are fulfilled. The list goes on, but what makes me most cynical is that ‘name it and claim it healers’ are ignoring one of the most important biblical concepts that flavors Scripture. They are missing the absolute sovereignty of God that becomes evident in three little words, “if you will.”
When the leper came to Jesus in Matthew 8, he had no doubt of Jesus’ power. Perhaps, if I am generous, I might also afford the benefit of the doubt to faith healers that they sincerely believe that God’s power is great and that they are a vessel for it. The problem for me, apart from what has already been stated, is that so often it seems that these people place God under obligation. In the use of Jesus’ name, the claim is that you are healed – unless of course your faith is not strong enough. What these people completely overlook is a fact that the leper in front of Jesus, completely understood. Matthew tells us that the leper’s words to Jesus were, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” (8:2). The message we most often get from faith healers is that God can make you clean and if you don’t get healed you have a faith problem. The message we get from the leper who was actually healed, is that God can make you clean if he wills. Authentic healing and cleansing are a result of the will of God.
This tells us two important truths.
1. While God’s power is sometime manifest through human means, the presumption of naming and claiming bypasses the reality of God’s sovereign will.
2. While some people would cringe at a prayer using the words, “if you will,” the reality is that God’s free divine will is the ONLY way prayers are ever answered regardless of the actual answer.
Whether we are talking about healing, getting a new job, or even salvation, we are all lepers reliant on the sovereign will of God. Particularly when it comes to the matter of salvation, there are ongoing debates in the church about the actions of human and divine will. Preaching on this text, Charles Spurgeon made a profound statement. He said, “In the work of salvation, certain preachers are continually insisting upon the freedom of the human will; truly with these I raise no quarrel; but I would have them equally insist upon the freedom of the divine will.” What Spurgeon was noting was that we can say what we like about the freedom of human will, but ultimately the Divine will of the omnipotent God will have its way. He is God and we are not.
No, I am not part of the ‘Word of Faith’ or ‘Name It and Claim It’ movement. I am part of the “If you will” movement. My confidence for cleansing comes not in a human’s ability to harness or receive the power of God. My confidence is in the God who wills. Having confidence in the will of God also allows me to know that my confidence is in the God who knows best and will always do what is right no matter the result. Therefore, “Lord, if you will, you can……”