Why Do Christians Need Doctors?

Why Do Christians Need Doctors?

Question

If miracle healings are real and Christ is still alive, then why do we need doctors?

Answer

There are many good and reasonable answers to this. I will be brief and comment on only a few.

Every healing that happens is God's miracle. Honest doctors will tell you that they do not heal, they merely treat. The Bible and biblical history teach us that God is not only a God of miracles but also one that uses secondary causes (WCF, Chapter 5, Of Providence) in the execution of his eternal plan. Some of these secondary causes are devoted doctors and nurses, the medicines they prescribe, and the procedures they perform. God still heals and does miracles, so maybe what is really at issue here is the "gift of healings" and whether the "gift of miracles" still exists.

Although Christ is the God of miracles, he also had Luke the "beloved physician" on his staff (Col 4:14). We note that Paul several years after Christ's resurrection still calls Luke a doctor. Doctors still existed in apostolic times. Also notice how Jesus recognized the benefit of medicine when he told of the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30 ff).

Doctors are still needed. They assist healing, they manage pain, do procedures, give other treatments, all of which this author and many other people are very grateful for. Still, not all are healed. Jesus and the apostles did not heal everybody. Matthew records, "And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith" (Matt. 13:58). Regardless, the ultimate sickness is death. It is at an appointed time (Heb. 9:27), and very few have escaped it apart from Enoch (Gen. 5:24) and Elijah (2 Kings 2:11) and Lazarus, though only temporally.

Some are not healed immediately or at all so that God may be glorified (John 9:3). In addition, many conclude that Paul's "thorn in the flesh" in 2 Corinthians 12:7 may have been some sort of sickness or disease which gave glory to God, though it may also have been a harassing demon or the constant harassment of Jewish persecutors. However, while it's impossible to prove that Paul was actually sick in this text, few, if any, of God's greatest servants throughout history have been free from some kind of hindrance, weakness, or opposiition (Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible, p. 1887). So again, there is still a need for doctors.

A significant outpouring of the gift of miracles and healings appear to come for specific periods of time throughout the redemptive history: (1) the time of Moses and Joshua; (2) the time of Elijah and Elisha; (3) the time of Christ and the Apostles. God moved in tremendous ways during these ages; however, none of these periods lasted more than 100 years. Note that there are some isolated miracles not during these periods (2 Kings 19-20, Daniel 3), and I personally believe that isolated miracles of this sort are still possible today (see Miracles: Do miracles happen today?). This is significant as it reveals that God has chosen to move in different ways in redemptive history.

Our Lord has called us to pray for the sick (Jam. 5:14 ff). It should be noted that just prior to this, James teaches a lesson on patience in suffering (Jas. 5:7-12). It should also be stated here that olive oil (Jas. 5:14) had a common medicinal use in the ancient world (Mark 6:13; Luke 10:34). But the oil also had a symbolic use in reference to the healing power of God. So, all sickness is not healed in the same way, even in the New Testament, revealing again that God does things in different ways, even during the same historical age.

We can conclude that there is still a genuine need for competent doctors, nurses, etc. They are some of God's secondary causes in his healing process! Thank God he has given us doctors, medicine, and hospitals and that Christ is still alive and making intercession for us (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25).

For more on miracles, please see A Test Case: Miracles and Pastoral Healing in the Miracles Controversy.

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Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).