What We Teach about Anointing the Sick

This article covers what we teach about anointing the sick for divine healing.

We teach that God promises to heal His people according to His Word. Christians who are seriously ill should call on the elders of the church to anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord as an act of faith and intercessory prayer.

When God delivered Israel from Egyptian slavery, He performed many miracles to demonstrate His limitless, supernatural power. He sent devastating plagues on Egypt, parted the Red Sea, and destroyed Pharaoh’s army. Despite these miracles, Israel repeatedly lacked faith and grumbled about their circumstances, but God always met their needs.

At the waters of Marah, God also promised to heal Israel if they would carefully obey Him. In Exodus 15:26, He said to them, “If you will listen carefully to the voice of the LORD your God, and do what is right in His sight, and listen to His commandments, and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have put on the Egyptians; for I, the LORD, am your healer” (NASB).

There are always conditions associated with God’s promises, and one of them is that God only answers the prayers of those who repent and obey Him. For example, the Bible says that David was a man after God’s own heart, and he testified that God had faithfully answered his prayers. In Psalm 103:2-3, David wrote, “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases.”

Throughout Israel’s history, God sent many prophets who performed powerful miracles. Elijah resurrected the son of the widow in Zarephath, while Elisha healed Naaman of leprosy and resurrected son of the Shunammite woman.

They were able to accomplish great miracles through faith. Hebrews 11:6 says, “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”

So, faith is the second general condition for all of God’s promises. Jesus often complained that the Israelites lacked faith, so He did no miracles for them. But several Gentiles displayed great faith, and He answered their prayers for healing.

God promises to heal Christians today as He did in ancient times. James 5:14-15 says, “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. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.”

God expects the elders of the church to minister to the sick just as Jesus did. In ancient times, people used olive oil as an ointment to promote healing, but anointing someone with oil also symbolizes the anointing of the Holy Spirit with supernatural power. James implies that the person has a serious illness because the prayer of faith will save the individual; God will “raise him up” indicating that he is bedridden.

The Bible also promises that God will forgive the sick person if he committed sins. God will sometimes use sickness as a punishment, but sickness is often merely the result of accidents, germs, or advancing age. The important point is that God will not forgive or heal those who stubbornly continue to sin, but if they humbly repent, God will answer their prayers.

God promises what He will do but does not specify how or when He will do it. God will heal according to His will and wisdom. He may heal quickly or slowly. He may heal by a miracle or by providential means. In some cases, God may not heal until the resurrection of the dead, but He will keep His promises.

So, throughout the Bible, God promises to heal His people according to the conditions given in His Word. Therefore, Christians who are seriously ill should call on the elders of the church to anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord as an act of faith and intercessory prayer.




Scriptures are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.


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