Laying on of Hands
By: J.E. Gray
The Bible is like a wonderful gold mine that keeps yielding more and more treasures as we keep digging into it.
After, repenting from dead works, and engaging faith toward God, and experiencing a new birth of water and spirit, there should be some real signs of life.
Our subjects to this point have dealt with “salvation.” Now we can begin to think about “demonstration.” Paul wrote, “And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” (I Corinthians 2:4-5) In I Corinthians 4:19-20, Paul wrote that he, “… will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power. For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.”
There is definitely a demonstration of spiritual power in the life of a true child of God that has followed the simple plan of salvation. Jesus declared this in Acts 1:8, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me…” Yes, there is power involved in the life of a Christian. Without power we are no more than a spiritual paraletic, a mere church member.
Power is the operation of God working in us. According to Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth: to the Jew first, and also unto the Greek.” There is a demonstration of the power of God in the lives of his people (I Thessalonians 1:5), “For our gospel came not unto you in word only but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance: as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.”
But truly I am full of power by the spirit of the Lord, and of judgement, and of might… (Micah 3:8), “… endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us,” (II Corinthians 4:7).
The scriptural practice of laying on of hands was a common practice, and for various purposes. Some of these reasons we shall consider at this point.
Consecration of Offerings
“And he shall put his hands upon the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him” (Leviticus 1:4) “And the elders of the congregation shall lay their hands upon the head of the bullock before the Lord;…” (4:15), “and Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess… iniquities… and shall send him away… into the wilderness” (16:21).
Consecration of Men to Service of God
1. Levites – “And thou shalt bring the Levities before the Lord: and the children of Israel shall put their hands upon the Levites” (Numbers 8:10).
2. Joshua – (Numbers 27:18) “And the Lord said unto Moses, Take thee Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit, and lay thy hand upon him:” “…and give him a charge…” (v. 23) “and Joshua was full of the spirit of wisdom,…” (Deuteronomy 34:9).
3. The Seven – “Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business… and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.” (Acts 6:3,6). Among these were two notable men, Stephen, the first martyr and Phillip, the evangelist.
4. Missionaries sent forth. “As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away” “So they being sent of the Holy Ghost, departed…” (Acts 13:2-4).
5. Timothy – “Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of hands of the presbytery” (I Timothy 4:14)
Just a touch of the hand of the great physician, Jesus, cleansed the Leper, opened the eyes of the blind, unstopped deaf ears, heal crooked limbs, brushed fever from the brow and raised the dead.
My heart is thrilled, I am excited as I read through the pages of the Gospel writers as they relate one account after another of His mighty acts. I wait while the woman with the issue of blood (Mark 5:25) pressed through those who throng about Him. Then she touched Him! I watch while His holy hand touches the leper and cleanses him of that horrible disease! (Matthew 8:3). And when He touches the sightless eyes of him that was blind and “…he is restored…” (Mark 8:23).
The day was sad when Jesus walked into the city of Nain and stopped a funeral procession. When his strong hand touched the still hand of the widow’s dead son, life returned to his body and joy returned to their hearts, (Luke 7:11).
No other touch could ever do as much as a touch of the master’s hand. He put his hands on the deaf-mute and he heard and spoke, (Mark 7:34). “Now when the sun was setting, all they that had any sick with divers diseases brought them unto him: and he laid his hands on every one of them, and healed them” (Luke 4:40).
The miracles of Christ were his credentials. This was what proved him to be the Messiah (Isa. ch. 35). The miracles and healings in the early church were the thing that attracted the attention of the people and caused them to believe. “… these are written that ye might believe…” (John 20:31).
Our mighty Master said, “… He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also:…” These words of Jesus in John 14:12 proved to be very true. “And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people” (Acts 5:12).
As Peter and John went up to the temple for prayer they were detained by a helpless beggar by the gate. Peter said, “… such as I have, give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up:… the people ran together… wondering … Peter said…” Why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own powers or holiness we have made this man to walk?… faith in (Jesus) name hath made this man strong… yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all (Acts 3:1-16).
So greatly was Paul and Peter used of God in their ministry that when the shadow of Peter fell upon the sick as he walked down the street they were healed, and handkerchiefs and aprons were taken from the body of Paul to the sick and they were healed.
Paul, the prisoner, shipwrecked on the island of Melita found that God would work there. He went in to the home of the father of the chief, who was sick of a fever and a bloody flux and “… prayed, and laid his hands on him, and healed him” (Acts 28:8).
Laying on of hands is just one of the many ways of God working. A prayer will be answered from any distance, if we apply true faith. Please remember it will do no good at all to lay “empty hands on empty heads.”
Receiving the Holy Ghost
When Simon (the sorcer) saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hand the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, saying, “Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost” (Acts 8:18-19). His was a selfish request and was met by a blistering rebuke.
There was great joy in the city of Samaria because of the preaching of Phillip, the miracles, and the healings. Yet, the Holy Ghost had fallen upon none of them. Peter and John came from Jerusalem and laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.
It’s interesting to note the variety of settings in the Biblical records of the Holy Ghost being given. Acts 2 pictures 120 people sitting in an upper room in one accord. All 120 were filled at the same instant (suddenly).
In Acts ten, as the preacher’s voice rang out, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.
The record of Paul receiving the spirit shows Ananias “… putting his hands on him… unto thee… hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost” (Acts 9:17).
The persuasion of Paul evidently convinced the disciples of John the Baptist that their baptism was obsolete and that baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus is the “now” baptism. When they obeyed, Paul “… laid his hands upon them, (and) the Holy Ghost came on them” (Acts 19:6).
We are solemnly charged in I Timothy 5:22, “Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: Keep thyself pure.” Don’t be too quick to bless, or to condemn, lest we find ourselves trying to “play God.”
O, that we might have the God given ability and wisdom demonstrated in Aquilla and Priscilla. As they heard Apollos, an eloquent, fervent, mighty, and diligent man, “… they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly” (Acts 18:26).
(The above material was taken from the booklet Treasures of Truth.)
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