Some accounts of healing in the ministry of Jesus mention the faith, while others do not refer to faith. So, do you need faith to receive healing? Do you have to have faith?
This article examines and answers this question to help you understand when faith is needed to receive from God and when it is not.
For an in-depth study of this principle, I have a video series studying the individual cases of healing in the ministry of Jesus. In it, I examine in-depth when faith is needed for healing and when not.
Do You Need Faith to Receive from God?
Those wanting divine healing divide into two groups on how healing occurs. Some believe we need faith, others claim we do not. Other strongly oppose any mention of faith in connection to healing. This has caused confusion in the church.
The debate about whether faith is necessary to receiving healing or not has become a dividing line. Some people think they can ‘choose’ which method they would like to be healed by, since both are shown in Scripture.
Don’t Ignore Verses
Both methods are in the Bible and if we want to receive healing, we must understand that both are true and how they work together. If we ignore some passages, we will not have a complete understanding of the Biblical teaching on Divine Healing and how it occurs.
Don’t ignore Bible passages which do not fit in with your personal ideas or you are likely to miss out on the benefits for your life that those passages bring and you could find yourself unable to receive healing as a result.
Rather, look at how all of these passages fit together to understand why the Bible shows the two different sides, how they work together and which applies to you.
Both Are Correct
Firstly, accept that both methods are part of the Word of God and are true. Correct Bible interpretation looks at how both fit together.
The Bible shows why some are healed without needing faith and others are healed by faith. The question is: what qualifies a person for either option.
Do I need faith or not?
It is not simply a matter of saying, ‘I don’t want to use faith to be healed, so I expect God to heal me the ‘non-faith route’. Instead, we need to see if we qualify for the non-faith route and what determines whether we need faith for our healing.
The Bible shows a qualifying factor for being healed without faith, and what determines whether faith is necessary. This Biblical factor determines which approach to healing is needed in a particular situation and solves the questions people have about whether they need faith or not to receive.
We cannot fulfil the requirements for the faith route, but expect God to heal us through the non-faith route. If we qualify for one route, then we need to receive by the principles of that path, whether it fits with our personal idea of how we expect God to heal us or not.
Can we chose which we prefer?
Some choose the scriptures where faith was NOT mentioned in the healing and use them to try to ‘disprove’ that faith is a necessary factor in healing. Other hold strongly to the scriptures where faith IS pointed out as the determining factor in the healing and teach that we need faith in order to be healed.
Since the Bible shows both, we should not pick and choose the bits we want to listen to or the bits that only prove ‘our doctrine’.
Nor should we set one scripture against another, trying to prove that because we can find a scripture which says ‘one thing’ we can ‘write off’ a scripture that says something else.
That is not how we should approach Bible interpretation, but unfortunately we often do, and doctrinal debates arise between Christians with each siding in with some scriptures and denying what the other verses say.
What not to do
There have been times when I have been trying to help a person receive healing and I point out a particular scripture which shows faith as a factor in receiving healing. They jump in quickly to point out a scripture which they feel contradicts the one I have used, where the person received healing and faith is not mentioned.
Some take scriptures like the woman with the issue of blood, who’s faith made her whole, while others prefer scriptures where like the man by the pool who’s healin didn’t involve any faith.
People feel they can pick the verses they prefer and expect healing to work in their lives according to their choice.
If they do not like the idea of faith and believing God for healing, then they choose ‘the non-faith’ healings in the Bible, while those who believe that faith is the route, side in with those verses on the subject.
Some feel that because the Bible shows both possible routes to healing, that it gives them a Biblical basis to ignore the scriptures on faith, when in reality it does not.
Can we pick which Bible healing passages we expect our healing to follow after?
In order to study this, take a look at the tables below.
These tables are put together based upon one specific factor: who made the initial approach. In other words, did the sick person go to Jesus for healing or did Jesus go to the sick person?
This may seem like a very simple distinction, but you will notice a pattern emerges in the scriptures when you make this specific division.
By splitting the healing passages in Jesus’ ministry based upon this factor, you will notice that ALL of the people healed ‘by faith’ are in one of the groups.
- the woman with the Issue of Blood. The Bible says, ‘she came…’ (Mark 5:27)
- With the man by the pool, Jesus saw him and started the process (John 5:6)
(Please note that we are not including cases where people were delivered from demons here. That is for another study. These are specifically healing related incidents. Although, a couple of these healings included a demonic influence, so as they pertain to healing, they are included here)
A) The following table lists cases where Jesus approached the sick person:
In each of these cases faith is not specifically mentioned as a factor in the person being healed.
|Man at the Pool||5:2-15|
|Man with Withered Hand||12:9-13||3:1-5||6:6-10|
|Man Born Blind||9:1-7|
|Woman with Spirit of Infirmity||13:10-17|
|Man with Dropsy||14:1-6|
B) The following table lists cases where the sick person, or their parent, approached Jesus:
- Notice how many of these SPECIFICALLY refer to faith in the healing
- (F) – indicates that faith is specifically mentioned as the determining factor in the healing
- Video studies are available for these individual cases. Click the link in the title to watch the study
- Learn how to approach God correctly
|Nobleman’s Son (F)||4:46-52|
|Centurion’s Servant (F)||8:5-13||7:1-10|
|Jairus’ Daughter (F)||9:18-19,
|Woman with Issue of Blood (F)||9:20-22||5:25-34||8:43-48|
|Two Blind Men (F)||9:27-31|
|Syrophoenician Daughter (F)||15:21-28||7:24-30|
|Lunatic Son (F)||17:14-21||9:14-29||9:37-42|
|Ten Lepers (F)||17:11-19|
|Blind men near Jericho /
Blind Bartimaeus (F)
C) Those healed by Intercession by a group on behalf of the sick person.
In this category, a third party or group interceded for the sick person. This third group shows another route which we are not examining in this article. However, it is worth noting. Here, the principles of intercession on behalf of another apply.
|Peter’s Wife’s Mother||8:14-15||1:29-31||4:38-39|
|Deaf with Speech Impediment||7:31-37|
|Blind Man at Bethsaida||8:22-|
Note that only a small number were healed through this route, so it is not a path the majority can use.
Who went to who?
This simple division between the various healings in the Gospels shows a very interesting pattern, and makes a distinction between the healings which were by faith and those where faith was not involved in the healing. It also helps us understand which category applies to us.
By studying healing in the Gospels from the point of view of ‘who initiated the healing, or who made the first approach,’ we can see when faith is required for healing and when it is not.
The healings that Jesus initiated (He went to the sick person) do not reference faith, while those where the sick person came to Jesus, do.
All of the people healed by their faith are in the one group, category (B). These approached Jesus for their healing.
This helps us understand that when we approach God to heal us, either directly, or by asking someone to pray for us, then according to the Bible, faith is necessary.
Don’t confuse them
We cannot be the ones making the initial approach, yet expect God to heal us as if He approached us. If we try to, we will find healing does not operate for us.
Should we just wait for God to approach us then?
Some who read this may say that it is easier to not approach God, but let Him approach, so that they do not need faith.
Since there are these two groups, should we just wait for God to do approach?
The catch is, there are no scriptures which promise that God will make the approach. There are no Biblical promises to assure you will receive healing by simply not approaching God and waiting for Him to make the approach. Therefore, this is not a sure way to healing.
It is random, so not all can get healed by waiting for God to approach them.
Faith assures results
The Word does promise that when you approach in faith, you will receive. The faith method, where you approach God, is a sure way to results.
Some are uncertain whether faith always works, however the Bible says it does. If you believe the Bible, then you believe that faith works. The Bible does not teach that faith only works some of the time.
Many who thought they were operating faith, but did not receive, were not operating in faith the way the Bible teaches to. Notice, I didn’t say that they did not have faith, but rather were not operating it within Biblical parameters.
We need to understand how the Bible teaches that faith works.
To study this particular point more, please see the accompanying article:
Think about it like this:
The Bible shows that Healing is Gods will for us.
Some have questioned this because they did not receive. However, just because you do not receive does not mean it is not God’s will. (Other articles on this site study this).
So healing is Gods will for you. However, as we have seen in this article, healing can come a few different ways.
The methods by which healing can occur are
- By your faith (promised in the Bible as a sure route)
- No faith, waiting for God to come to you (no promises to assure it will happen)
- Healed by the intercession of others (no promises to assure it will happen for you, it might, but not assurance it will happen in your case)
Faith works for everyone
While healing is Gods will for all, only one of these methods is an assured Biblical route that all can rely on. The Bible shows us that when we operate faith according to the Bible we will be healed. None of the people who approached Jesus in faith failed to receive.
Some receive through the other methods, but not all. The other two methods (God approaching you and being healed by others intercession) are not promised in the bible as ‘sure methods’ of healing through which all can receive.
Therefore if you rely on one of these two options, you are looking to a route that may or may not cause healing in your life.
Neglecting the faith route, and relying on the other two options may cause you to wonder if it is God’s will to heal you because there is no surety you will receive those ways. Howeve, healing is Gods will, but He only assures it through the one route. Neglect that way, and you may do without.
If you want to follow a sure path to healing, then you need to take the faith option. If you are willing to leave your healing up to a random method that may or may not happen in your particular case, then you can try to wait for it to happen. However, you must understand that this may mean you go without and remain sick.
It is far better to receive by faith, and be assured by Biblical promises that your faith will work and enable you to receive healing.
What the Bible shows us elsewhere
In order to help you see that the Bible teaches that faith is necessary when you approach God, let’s look at some other verses which teach this.
:14 Is anyone 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.
:15 And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.
Here in James 5, it specifically says that the sick person is to call the elders.
In other words this passage is specifically dealing with the category where the sick person makes the initial approach. It states that it is the prayer of faith that heals them.
:6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
‘for he who comes to God…’
Notice that here we are told, when you ‘come to God’ you ‘must’ believe. In other words, when you make the approach, faith is required. It is not optional.
:25 But I tell you truly, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a great famine throughout all the land;
:26 but to none of them was Elijah sent except to Zarephath, in the region of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow.
This is a very interesting passage, and can cause confusion unless you understand what we have been looking at in this article. Here’s a video teaching on this passage.
Jesus mentions there were many widows in the time of Elijah, but only one got it.
That is not because God would not provide for the others. He would have if they had approached Him by faith. However, Elijah going to her (at Gods instruction) only resulted in one receiving provision.
:26 shows that the prophet was ‘sent’ to the widow.
He was only sent to the one widow. This does not mean the other widows could not have gone to God themselves and trusted Him for his provision. However, in this widows case, God initiated the provision by sending the prophet to her.
Here we see that God sending a minister to you does not happen for everyone. Despite the fact that so many sit at home and wait for God to send someone to them, it does not happen for all.
A sure way to receive
God has made a way for all to receive, but it is not by sitting and waiting for Him to make the first approach. The way all can receive is by approaching Him in faith.
:21 Then Jesus went out from there and departed to the region of Tyre and Sidon.
:22 And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.”
:23 But He answered her not a word. And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, “Send her away, for she cries out after us.
:24 But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
:25 Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, help me!”
:26 But He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.”
:27 And she said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”
:28 Then Jesus answered and said to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.
Was there help for this woman?
Here Jesus says to this Gentile woman, ‘I was not sent to you, I have no specific sending to you’. (verse 24)
This could have put the lady off, and she could have gone home discouraged. However instead, she humbled herself and her faith rose up strong. She received her healing, and Jesus commented on her great faith.
Just because Jesus was not sent to her, did not mean she could not receive.
However she had to receive by faith. That was the only route available to her, and in her case, she did receive.
Many think that unless God specifically sends someone to them, then they are without hope. This is not true.
God has made His Word available to all. All can believe and act on His Word to receive without having to wait for God to send someone to them.
We have asked the question, ‘Do you need faith to be healed?’
What we have seen is that some are healed without faith, however this required God initiating the healing.
God does send ministers to some sick people, and initiate the healing in their lives. This occurs through what we call the Gifts of Healings or other manifestations of the Holy Spirit. These are for God to initiate.
However, healing does not come to everyone this way and many who try to rely on this method end up not getting healed. This is because God expects us to walk in faith.
Come to Him
He wants the majority to approach Him, by faith, in order to receive their healing.
I encourage you to develop and use your faith. Instead of waiting for God to approach you, you approach Him in faith to receive.
Find out how faith works and put yours into practice to receive healing.
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More Bible study articles and videos available in the Bible Study Centre on a range of subjects including healing, the Holy Spirit, the Character of God, overcoming impossible situations and more.