WHAT DO JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES BELIEVE ABOUT PHYSICAL HEALING?
I have a sister who I rarely see who has been a Jehovah’s Witness for over thirty-five years. Last week, I was visiting another sister and my Jehovah’s Witness sister showed up, much to my surprise and delight. In a conversation with about ten of our family members, I said something about how I had been healed of Multiple Sclerosis, but this was received with a quick glare from my Jehovah’s Witness sister. My church family, my husband and I had been praying for a long time for my healing. I had taken a shot every day to keep the symptoms at bay, until God miraculously healed me. I stopped taking my shots, and not only have the daily symptoms gone away, but my physical abilities that the disease had robbed me of have now returned. I can now taste and smell, my short-term memory has improved, and I now have the ability to walk farther than ten feet without having to sit and rest. Why did my sister react when she heard about my healing? Someone told me that Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that healing is from Satan. Is this true? Has the Watchtower ever addressed this issue? I have plenty of Scripture from the Bible on healing, but what are they being told?
What you heard about Jehovah’s Witnesses is correct. They do not believe that God heals today, so when someone is healed, they attribute that healing to Satan. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Satan will do anything to keep people from leaving his system. Since anyone who is not in the Watchtower organization is regarded as being in “Satan’s system,” your sister likely believes that Satan healed you to deceive you into staying under his influence. This is also the reason she stared at you the way she did when you shared your story. Jehovah’s Witnesses are so concerned about healing happening today that they are specifically told by the Watchtower not to pray for healing, as you will read in the March 1, 2000 Watchtower article quoted below:
“God promises to heal mankind of all physical, mental, and emotional maladies during the Thousand-Year Reign of his Son over the earth (Revelation 20:1-3; 21:3-5). Sincere Christians eagerly await this promised future, with full faith in God’s power to make it a reality. While not expecting such miraculous healing now, they pray to God for his comfort and strength to cope with trials (Psalm 55:22). When they fall sick, they may also pray for God’s guidance in obtaining the best medical treatment within their economic means.
Some religions encourage the sick to pray to be healed now, pointing to the miraculous cures that Jesus and his apostles performed. But such miracles were done for a special purpose. They served to prove that Jesus Christ was the true Messiah … Back then, miraculous gifts were needed to strengthen the faith of the newly established Christian congregation. When the infant congregation got on its feet, as it were, and became mature, the miraculous gifts were ‘done away with.’ (1 Corinthians 13:8, 11)
At this crucial time, Jehovah God is directing his worshipers in the more important work of spiritual healing … This spiritual healing of repentant sinners is being accomplished through the preaching of the good news of God’s Kingdom (Matthew 24:14).” (The Watchtower, March 1, 2000, p. 4)
As you can see in the article quoted above, the Watchtower rejects the idea that God physically heals people today based on 1 Corinthians 13:8, 11. Let’s look at the passage in question:
“Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. When I was a child, I used to speak as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as I also have been fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13:8-12)
The first thing to notice is that nowhere in this passage is the subject of miracles even mentioned. One should not assert that just because a few of the gifts would be done away, that all the gifts would cease. Furthermore, the passage states that the specific gifts of “prophecy” and “knowledge” would be done away with at the same time that “tongues” would cease. Yet the Watchtower would be the first to admit that both “knowledge” and “prophecy” are important for today. Otherwise, why have the Watchtower worldwide door-to-door preaching ministry? Why would they publish books such as the 1995 Watchtower, Knowledge that Leads to Everlasting Life or the 1999 Pay Attention to Daniel’s Prophecy! books, if they really believe that the gifts of “prophecy” and “knowledge” ceased when the Christian congregation “got on its feet and became mature?”
So, what is this passage talking about? The passage states that when the “perfect comes,” the “partial” will be done away. We believe this “perfect” is referring to the “perfect” new heaven and new earth that God will establish (2 Peter 3:13). Only then would “prophecy” cease because it would be completely fulfilled. Only then would “knowledge” cease, because Hebrew 8:10-11 states that when the New Covenant is fulfilled, “they shall not teach everyone his fellow citizen, and everyone his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ For all shall know Me, From the least to the greatest of them.” God will “put” his “laws into their minds,” and will “write them upon their hearts.” So, at this point, there will be no need for the gifts of “knowledge” and teaching through a door-to-door preaching work.
Not only does the New Testament not support the idea that healing was done away with, it seems to indicate that Christians are supposed to pray for the healing of those who are sick (see James 5:16). This means that Jesus not only healed people during His earthly ministry, but also since then, while He has been in heaven. Not only are immature Christians to pray for healing, but John the Evangelist, an apostle in the faith also prayed for the good health of his friend Gaius, an elder in his church, at 3 John 2. This seems to indicate that, contrary to the Watchtower’s claims, a prayer for healing or continued good health is not just for immature believers, but for mature believers as well.
One other reference you may find helpful in understanding the Jehovah’s Witness view of healing is a book written by a former Jehovah’s Witness named Charles Trombley. Charles left the Watchtower when God miraculously healed his daughter, and his book is an amazing testimony of how this happened. The book is entitled Kicked Out of the Kingdom. Although we cannot recommend this book due to doctrinal content that we do not accept, it is a good story of how God rescued a family from the grips of the Watchtower through a miraculous healing. For the discerning Christian, the book can be a source of inspiration and encouragement.
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