Pastoral Perspectives

Can partaking of Holy Communion bring about Healing?

There are many religious people today who are misled into thinking that it is God’s will to heal every illness, disease and injury. Since the days of the early church, the devil has attempted to distort the understanding of some church practices. That was exactly what he did with the Corinthian believers and Paul had to write to correct the errors (See 1 Corinthians 11: 17-21). Christ’ instruction on the Holy Communion had been made complicated simply to mislead believers.

            I am not here to discuss issues such as the frequency for conducting communion and the type of elements to be used, whether it has to be wine and bread and not grape juice and wafer. In some parts of the world, even in Singapore, it is now a common phenomenon and practice for some preachers to teach and administer the Holy Communion primarily for healing purposes.

            The right question to ask is: “What is the purpose for the Holy Communion?”  In my opinion, there is nothing wrong to pray and desire healing for the sick. But to teach and make Christians believe they could obtain healing by participating in the Holy Communion is misleading. In 1 Corinthians 11, we are told that the bread represents the body of Christ that is broken for us and the blood is shed for the forgiveness of sins. And when we partake of it, it is to remember what Christ has done for us on the cross and to look to his coming again. And in 1 Corinthians 15:3, we are told that Christ died for our sins according to Scriptures, not for our healing. And nowhere does it teach that his blood paid for our healing.

There are various views on the Holy Communion.

  • The Roman Catholic views that the bread and wine literally changes to the body and blood of Christ. The recipient partakes of Christ, who is being sacrificed in the Mass to atone for sins.
  • Lutherans see it as a spiritual view. The bread and wine contain the body and blood of Christ but do not literally change. The recipient receives forgiveness of sins and confirmation of one’s faith.
  • Reformed view- Christ is not literally present in the elements but there is a spiritual presence of Christ. Recipient receives grace through partaking of them.
  • Most of the Evangelical church holds to the memorial view – That Christ is not physically or spiritually present. The recipient commemorates death of Christ by partaking of it.

            One theologian gave the following reasons why he believes it is wrong to administer Holy Communion primarily for healing:

1.      There is no single biblical reference to support the practice. Even 1 Corinthians 11: 17-34 which the exponents of this practice usually quote to support their practices say nothing about receiving healing through the Holy Communion.

2.      Jesus never practiced or commanded it. There is no single place in the Bible where Christians have been commanded to partake in the Holy Communion for healing purposes.

3.      It is against Christ’s purpose for the Holy Communion. Jesus’ purpose is very clear in I Corinthians 11: 23-26: “Do this in remembrance of me!” I am sure that if Christ had wanted us to do it for healing he would have communicated the same to us in a very clear way.

4.      The apostles and Christians of the early Church never practiced it. We heard of the many miracles of healing that the Lord performed through his apostles in the Church but none of the healing was received through the administering of the Holy Communion though the practice was frequent in those days [Acts 2: 42-47; 19: 11-12]. The mother in-law of Peter was sick and Paul had a thorn in his flesh, yet neither Jesus Christ nor his apostles administered the Holy Communion to heal the sick (Matthew 8: 14-17; 2 Corinthians 12: 1-10.)

5.      Instead of bringing about healing, the Bible makes it clear that careless participation in the Holy Communion could lead to sickness, weakness and physical death (1 Corinthians 11: 28-30).

            If we believe communion heals absolutely then those who partake would never physically die. Jesus could work through any means to heal and perhaps through the Holy Communion, but this must be left to His prerogatives ALONE. Therefore beware! To administer the Holy Communion for healing purposes is not biblical.

Pastor Cheng Huat

September 1, 2013