In The Laying On of Hands – Part 1, we discussed the fact that there are several distinct purposes for which the laying on of hands was used in the New Testament. The number one reason was healing. There are more scripture references concerning healing in connection with the laying on of hands than concerning anything else.
As I said in the previous chapter, we can’t stop practicing the New Testament doctrine of laying on of hands just because some people fall into a ditch on one side or the other. We need to study the New Testament carefully to see how Jesus and the apostles practiced this doctrine.
Every Christian should practice the doctrine of laying on of hands on the sick, because Jesus said we should (Mark 16:18)!
The Example of Jesus and the Apostles
Jesus Christ Himself freely employed laying on of hands in healing people. In
Mark 6, we see Jesus in His hometown of Nazareth:
5 And he could there do no mighty work, save that HE LAID HIS HANDS UPON A FEW SICK FOLK, AND HEALED THEM.
Notice this text is speaking of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself—the Son of God. It doesn’t say He wouldn’t do mighty works in Nazareth; it says He couldn’t. It seems, therefore, that the laying on of hands will work when nothing else will! The few who were healed that day were healed by the laying on of Jesus’ hands.
There are several accounts of Jesus’ laying hands on people in the New Testament. Matthew 8:15 says that when Jesus entered Peter’s house, He found Peter’s mother-in-law sick with a fever. “And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered unto them.” Let’s look at a few more examples.
22 And he [Jesus] cometh to Bethsaida; and they bring a blind man unto him, AND BESOUGHT HIM TO TOUCH HIM.
23 And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when he had spit on his eyes, AND PUT HIS HANDS UPON HIM, he asked him if he saw ought.
24 And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking.
25 After that HE PUT HIS HANDS AGAIN UPON HIS EYES, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly.
Praise God, the blind man was healed by the laying on of Jesus’ hands. Some will say, “Jesus prayed for that blind man twice.” I do not know that He prayed for him at all, for the Bible does not say He prayed. The Bible says He laid hands on him twice! Therefore, it is scripturally correct to lay your hands a second time on a sick person, if necessary. It is good to know what Jesus did in certain circumstances. Then we will know what to do.
32 And they bring unto him [Jesus] one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech;
and they beseech him to PUT HIS HAND UPON HIM.
33 And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue. . . .
35 And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain.
In the case of the deaf man, the scriptures do not say that the people asked Jesus to heal the man, although it is implied. It says they asked Him to put His hands on him.
In these two cases, notice that groups of people brought the blind man and the deaf man to Jesus. These people, as well as the sick themselves, believed in the laying on of hands. The multitudes expected healing through the laying on of hands—and they got the desired results!
I’ve had people tell me, “I had hands laid on me for healing, and I didn’t recover.”
I always ask them, “Well, did you expect to recover?” They usually answer, “No. I just thought I’d try it out and see if anything would happen.”
People who are just “trying it out” are not going to get healed, because they’re not in faith.
You see, if you don’t expect to be healed or delivered through the laying on of hands, then having hands laid upon you will be in vain. If you want the laying on of hands to work for you, you’ve got to believe in it. Without faith, the laying on of hands is a mere ritual, and nothing happens.
Mark chapter 5 tells us that Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue in Galilee, also believed in the laying on of hands.
22 And, behold, there cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and when he saw him [Jesus], he fell at his feet,
23 And besought him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and LAY THY HANDS ON HER, that she may be healed; and she shall live.
You see Jarius believed in the laying on of hands. He didn’t say, “Come and pray fro her.” He didn’t even say, “Come and heal her.” He said, “. . . come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed . . .” (v. 23). Jairus believed his daughter would be healed when hands were laid on her, and he made a confession of his faith.
We know from Scripture that Jesus was on his way to Jairus’ house when some people came from Jairus’ house and said, “. . . Thy daughter is dead: why troublest thou the Master any further? As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe” (vv. 35,36). The child had died before Jesus reached Jairus’ house, but Jesus still went to the house. Verse 41 says Jesus “. . . took the damsel by the hand. . . .” In other words, Jesus touched her. He took her by the hand, and she was raised from the dead healed (v. 42)!
Some might try to argue that since this healing took place during Jesus’ earthly ministry, it has no application for us today. Yes, Jesus laid hands on sick people, but He exhorted all believers to lay hands on the sick too! In Mark 16:18
Jesus said, “. . . they [believers] shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.”
Who shall lay hands on the sick? It’s not just the preachers or those called to the ministry. The answer is in Mark 16:15-18, where Jesus declared The Great Commission:
15 And he said unto them, Go YE into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
17 And these signs shall follow THEM THAT BELIEVE; In my name shall they cast out devils;
they shall speak with new tongues;
18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; THEY SHALL LAY HANDS ON THE SICK, AND THEY SHALL RECOVER.
Notice that verse 18 says that the sick shall recover. Yet some folks think it says, “Lay hands on the sick, and they’ll get worse,” or “Lay hands on the sick, and if it’s the will of God, they’ll recover. If not, they’ll die.” No! Let’s be as definite as Scripture is about it. Let’s just say what the Bible says: “Believers
shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover!”
People still preach repentance and water baptism. No one objects to that. Well, why not preach all of The Great Commission? Why stop with just part of it? Why not preach the laying on of hands? Laying on of hands is part of The Great Commission too!
The disciples obviously took Jesus seriously. Acts 5:12 says, “And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people. .
The Apostle Paul and the Laying On of
In Acts 28:8 and 9 we find the Apostle Paul shipwrecked on an island. The father of the ruler of the island was ill, so Paul went to his house “. . . and prayed, and laid his hands on him, and healed him” (v. 8). The man was healed by the laying on of hands. Then the Bible tells us that the islanders brought their sick to Paul, and he ministered to them. Obviously, Paul ministered by the laying on of hands.
11 And God wrought special miracles BY THE HANDS OF PAUL:
12 So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them.
Not only were the sick healed, but the demon- oppressed were delivered as cloths Paul had laid his hands on were laid upon their bodies. These cloths were anointed with the same power Paul was anointed with. When we talk about anointed cloths, however, we do not mean cloths anointed with oil.
God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul (v. 11). Paul laid his hands upon the cloths. God uses men’s hands. He works through men’s hands.
Some will say, “The apostles could do that, but it is not for us today.” It seems to me that intelligent people should have caught on to that worn-out lie by now. Jesus didn’t say these signs would follow just the apostles. He said these signs would follow those who believe!
The Whole Doctrine of Christ
When I found out the truth about divine healing through the laying on of
hands, I knew that I didn’t have to run around looking for someone special to lay hands on me. It doesn’t make me any difference who lays hands on me for healing, because I know what the Bible says. I know that if anyone who believes in healing through the laying on of hands lays hands on me, I’ll be healed! You see, my faith is not in the person praying for me; my faith is in the Word of God!
To say that any believer cannot lay hands on the sick today is to say that one of the other fundamental principles of the doctrine of Christ has been done away with. And if laying on of hands for healing has been done away with, no one would have a right to believe in the doctrine of repentance or any of the fundamental principles of the doctrine of Christ.
For example, the doctrine of baptisms includes water baptism. If you attended a church service where people were baptized in water upon the profession of their faith, you would probably never doubt the efficacy of that ceremony because you read about this ordinance in the Word (Heb. 6:1,2). Well, the doctrine of laying on of hands is just as holy and sacred as the other fundamental principles of the doctrine of Christ!
I’m not going to take anything away from the doctrine of Christ. I believe all of it. I am a follower of Christ. I am a stickler for the doctrine of Christ. And one of the doctrines of Christ is laying on of hands.
‘These Signs Shall Follow’
As I said before, Jesus did not say these signs shall follow just the apostles, the preachers, or the teachers. He said, “. . . these signs shall follow them that believe . . .” (Mark 16:17).
When I was a Baptist boy, I knew nothing about divine healing, for I had never heard it preached. I just knew what Mark 11:22-24 says about faith and prayer.
My body was almost totally paralyzed. I had a serious organic heart condition and an incurable blood disease. The doctors said I had to die, but I prayed the prayer of faith for myself and was healed. I came off that deathbed as a Baptist boy who preached faith and healing. I didn’t know anyone else who believed in divine healing, but it never bothered me.
I stood on the Word of God and said, “Come hell or high water, I’m standing on it. No one is going to move me off of it!”
One day back in 1935, a Presbyterian woman told me her Pentecostal mother- in-law was coming for a visit. “You’ll be interested in meeting Grandma,” she said, “because she believes like you do. She believes in divine healing.”
She told me how her 82-year-old mother-in-law got people healed while visiting them in their homes and laying hands on them. What a healing ministry this elderly Pentecostal woman had!
I never was so thrilled in my life to finally meet someone who had enough sense to believe the Bible! I knew she was arriving on a certain day, so I went over late that afternoon. After I was introduced, I said to this dear old lady, “Grandma, tell me your story.”
“Well,” she said, “we came out here to Texas many, many years ago (about
1865). My dad settled on some land that was forty miles from the nearest school, so I didn’t go to school. I didn’t get any education.
“I grew up, married a neighbor boy whose folks also owned a lot of land, and we had our family. I still didn’t know how to read or write, but I sent our children to school. They were all grown when some people came along and started what they called a brush arbor meeting. They put up some posts, strung some wires from post to post, and put brush on top of it. I got saved and baptized with the Holy Ghost during that meeting.
“When I got baptized with the Holy Ghost and spoke with other tongues, God taught me to read the Bible. I can read the Bible and never make a mistake, but it’s all I can read. I can’t read anything else.
“Then we moved to town. My husband and the boys would go out to work the farm in the daytime, and I’d be left alone. I got to asking the Lord, ‘Lord, is there something I can do?’ I couldn’t sing in the church, because I didn’t have a voice for music. I couldn’t teach a Sunday school class because they used a quarterly, and I couldn’t read the quarterly.
“One day I was at home praying and reading the Book of Mark in the Bible, and I read,
‘. . . these signs shall follow them that believe. . . . they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.’ And I thought, It doesn’t take any education to lay hands on folks.
“The Bible says believers will lay hands on the sick. So I just went through the neighborhood and inquired about any sick folk I could find. I would spend from nine in the morning until three in the afternoon every day visiting sick people and reading the Bible to them on the subject of healing. Usually they had never heard about it.
“After reading to them about three days, I would ask, ‘Now would you like for me to lay hands on you?’ You know, practically everybody I laid hands on got healed! The amazing thing about it is that most of the people I was laying hands
on were bedfast and given up to die by the doctors.”
Here was an elderly uneducated woman who wasn’t a minister of the Gospel
—she had never even taught a Sunday school class—but she was laying hands on the sick, and they were recovering!
Laying on of hands belongs to all of us. Remember now, this dear old lady was not a preacher; but she was a believer. God is the same God now as He was then. He hasn’t changed. And when He finds someone He can work with, God and man can do it again.
Who can lay hands on the sick? Believers can!
Laying on of hands can be done in two ways:
First, any believer can lay hands upon a fellow believer as a point of contact to release faith and expect that person to be healed.
There are some people—friends and neighbors, for example—you can pray for whom no one else could. It also is scriptural for husbands and wives to lay hands on each other and for parents to lay hands on their children when they are sick and expect them to be healed in the Name of Jesus.
Second, there is such a thing as a ministry of laying on of hands—a special anointing. As God wills, a person can be supernaturally anointed with healing power like Jesus or Paul was anointed.
When the person who has a ministry of laying on of hands lays hands on the sick in obedience to the spiritual Law of Contact and Transmission, his hands transmit God’s healing power into the body of the sick person, effecting a healing and a cure. I explain this method further in another chapter.