Derek Prince - What's The Purpose Of Laying Hands On People
Now in this session we’re going on to the fourth of these foundation doctrines which is laying on of hands. For a title for this message I have rendered it ‘Transmitting God’s Power.’ Many of us would probably be a little surprised to find that laying on of hands is amongst the foundation doctrines because very little is said about it currently in most congregations. But if you pause and consider, it’s extremely logical. It has to be there, because laying on of hands or transmitting God’s power and authority is the thing that brings continuity to the body of Christ. It brings continuity between a senior minister and a junior minister and it brings continuity between one generation and the next.
So the essential function of this ministry of laying on of hands is to provide continuity in the body of Christ. In some traditions this continuity they claim to have preserved from the days of the apostle Peter until now. I’m not considering that claim but I’m just pointing out that the reasoning behind it, is logical. We need a way to continue from generation to generation, from ministry to ministry and this way has been provided in the Scripture by this ordinance I would call it, of laying on of hands. It’s interesting, we find it in the first book of the Bible and really it extends from then on through the whole history of God’s people. It is an essential element in the history of God’s people. I would say there are certain spiritual purposes which it embraces. First of all, let’s notice the fact that, to put your hand on somebody is a natural, human reaction.
A mother has a sick baby, who has a fever, almost without reasoning she’ll put her hand on the forehead of the child. Or, two men meet who haven’t seen one another for a long time and in one way or another they’ll lay their hands on their shoulders or they’ll shake hands but they’ll make contact with their hands. The hand is one of the main ways that human beings make contact with one another. In the spiritual context I suggest that there are certain purposes which are accomplished.
First of all, to transmit. In the Bible we find the laying on of hands used to transmit blessings, authority, wisdom, the Holy Spirit, a spiritual gift or a ministry. Let me just give you that list once more. It’s used to transmit blessing, authority, wisdom, the Holy Spirit, a spiritual gift or a ministry. And secondly, it’s used to commission. It is the biblical way of commissioning a person for a place of service in the body of Christ. And as such, it recognizes God’s appointment. We need to understand that things in the church are not settled by votes. God is not subject to votes. A lot of churches vote for deacons or vote for pastors or vote for somebody. That really is not scriptural. It’s God who makes the appointments. Jesus said to His apostles: You have not chosen me, I have chosen you.
I believe that’s true of every valid function and ministry and appointment in the church. It’s not man who made the choice but God because Jesus Christ is head over all things to the church which is His body. I don’t believe that appointments that are not made on the authority of Jesus really have any validity. But, I believe the appointment is not to make a person a certain thing but to recognize what God has decided that person should be. I believe if you are in a meeting in a church to discuss deacons your purpose should not be to decide who you would like to have as a deacon. Your purpose should be to decide whom God has chosen as a deacon. It’s a very different attitude. We are somewhat corrupted by democracy which has very little place in the Bible or in the church. I won’t go any further into that because it’s rather controversial and I don’t have time to get involved in controversy.
Secondly, apart from recognizing laying on of hands is used to set apart for a certain task or ministry.
Thirdly, it’s used to endorse or to give authority.
And fourthly, it’s used to equip; that is, to transmit the spiritual gift or the spiritual authority or whatever else is needed by the person to carry out his God-appointed task. So let me just give that list again because it’s important. The function of laying on of hands in commissioning people is used to recognize but not appoint the persons of God’s choice. It’s used to set apart a person to a certain task or ministry. It’s used to endorse a person with authority. And, it’s used to equip him with all the spiritual authority or gifts that that person will need.