Am I sick because I lack faith? In Bill Johnson’s 2004 book When Heaven Invades Earth he tells the story of a miracle wedding where a man is supposedly “healed” in the kitchen while bride and groom look on. After describing the scene, he makes the statement, “There wasn’t a great person involved, except for Jesus. All the rest of us simply made room for God, believing Him to be good 100 percent of the time… In the midst of this marriage celebration God invaded a home marked by hellish disease” (p.27).
Johnson then platforms a sinister doctrine by misapplying Matthew 16 to signify that believers have authority to wield and perform miracles on earth writing, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you shall bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven” (Matt 16:19). Johnson gives this verse as explanation for his healing power at the “miracle” wedding and purports that many Christians should be wielding power just as Jesus did. Make sure you’re reading clearly: Bill Johnson contends that many, if not all, Christians should wield healing power like Jesus.
Bill Johnson contends that many, if not all, Christians should wield healing power like Jesus.
It is essential to note that the context of this Matthew 16 statement by Jesus in no way represents “authority” as signs and wonders. In fact, the “keys of the kingdom” represent the authority to preach the Gospel of Christ (see v. 19) and thus to open the door of Heaven.
The concept “sick people need more faith” runs as a theme for Johnson in his book (pp. 45, 53, 75) stating that, “Sickness is to the body what sin is to the soul” (p.45). According to Johnson and his click of followers like Todd White and Heidi Baker sickness comes from lack of faith or demonic forces. But, does the Bible indicate that sickness is due to some lack of faith or hellish consequence?
The answer is clearly “no.” In fact, the Bible teaches that God is responsible for how people are created, even for those with deformities (Ex. 4:11). The man born blind in John 9 and Jesus’ personal friend Lazarus in John 11 are clear evidences that God personally ordains suffering and sickness for His purposed ends. The apostle Paul who suffered from his own “unhealed” thorn in the flesh urges, “Our trials are producing an eternal weight of glory…” (2 Cor 4:17-18). And remarkably, when one of Paul’s favorite young pupils was sick, he didn’t heal him but commended he, “drink a little wine for his stomach…” (1 Tim 5:23).
The reality is you won’t find anyone – including supposed faith healers – who don’t eventually become sick and die. In fact, most of earth’s greatest preachers and teachers suffered from disease and forms of trial throughout their life. Together, you and I could list name after name of famed men and women of God who endured gout, back pain, eye trouble, and various cancers. The apostle Paul, Charles Spurgeon, Amy Carmichael, Joni Eareckson Tada, Nick Vujicic, Mike Justice, and Lacie Habekott are just a few examples of those who’ve suffered a form of “health trial.” To say that some Christians are only sick due to their lack of faith is to slight the faith of earth’s greatest saints. Will we really accept that Nick Vujicic is lacking limbs due to his lack of faith?
Further, if illness is a signature of weak faith than what have we said about all those who serve people with disabilities? Is their ministry faithless? Are they wasting their time? For that matter, what about doctors, nurses, and international aid workers? Clearly, illness is part of the human condition due to original sin. Sometimes God heals based on prayer and His good will. At other times, his plan includes illness, and death, allowing true saints to shine amidst earth’s darkest circumstances.
As one would assume, Johnson’s false teaching on health bleeds over into His promise of riches and prosperity. In his book he says, “Is anyone starving in heaven? Of course not! This request is a practical application of how His dominion should be seen here on earth – abundant supply” (p.60).
Friends, only an egotistical first-world American who drives an Aston Martin would dare say such an insensitive thing. How do you tell Christian brothers starving in Kenya, or enduring martyrdom in the Middle East, that they simply “don’t have enough faith” in the Kingdom or else it would arrive in material abundance? Their very daily hope is built on a greater Kingdom to come, not in this life but the next, precisely as the apostle Paul promised (2 Cor. 4:17). For thousands of years, from slaves to paupers, it has been faith in the coming kingdom that brought hope during the current pain.
In a sermon to his people, Johnson promises:
No, two thousand years ago Jesus made a purchase. He does not decide not to heal people today. The decision two thousand years ago was to heal. Either the payment was sufficient for all sin or no sin. Either the payment was sufficient for all sickness or no sickness… The brushstrokes of God’s redemption was to wipe out the root of sin, the root of illness and the root of poverty.”
Remarkably in a correlating and more recent work, Johnson was forced to respond to questions surrounding failed healings at his church, including the death of his very own father:
We had to make a choice regarding what we were going to believe about God in the face of this contradiction. We had to come back to the truth that the problem was still on our end. The problem is never on God’s end. He is good, and He hasn’t changed… For clarification, when I say the problem is on our end, it doesn’t imply that God was disappointed with us or somehow at odds with us. It doesn’t imply that we had misheard what God had said, were being disobedient, or that what we did was entirely ineffective. It just means that the problem is part of the reality of living in a world that still does not express the will of God on earth.
Johnson’s statement sums up the quandary for all who claim health and wealth as related to faith. The empirical data all rests in direct contradiction. It never adds up. There are faithful people who get sick and wicked people who remain well. If any man purports to be a “healer” he must examine why his efforts have failed – either he is faithless or God, in fact, does not work this way.
The primary difference between the healing Johnson teaches and the healing ministry of Jesus is that Jesus nailed it 100% of the time. The Gospels continually develop the theme that Jesus healed when and how he chose, sometimes based on the faith of people, many times not based on faith at all. At times Jesus even healed despite the faith of people (Matt. 8:5-13, Mk. 1:23-26, Mk. 9:17-29, Lk. 17:11-19, Jn. 5:1-16), marking Christ’s miracle ministry as light years different from anything showcased by miracle-mystics of today.
 Bill Johnson, Releasing the Spirit of Prophecy, Destiny Image, 2014, p. 127