David Platt is denouncing faith healing as the primary Christian ministry, arguing human beings’ “ultimate” need is spiritual — not physical.
Platt, lead teaching pastor at McLean Bible Church in Virginia, made his case Wednesday while speaking at The Gospel Coalition’s annual conference in Indianapolis.
He centered his message on Mark 2:1-12. In the New Testament passage, it’s recorded Jesus healed a paralytic man who was lowered into a home from the roof. While the story highlights “two urgent needs,” Platt said, the concerns are not equal.
“This man’s spiritual need was ultimate. More important than even his physical paralysis was his spiritual malice,” the pastor explained. “This man was a sinner, which meant that his ultimate need was not healing from God, but holiness before God.”
“This,” Platt continued, “is the ultimate need in all of our lives. Our ultimate need is never physical. Our ultimate need is always spiritual.”
The former International Mission Board president described faith healing purely for healing’s sake as a “false gospel,” but one he’s nevertheless heard preached around the world.
Platt argued it is watering down the Gospel message to suggest Jesus’ promise of salvation will free people of their physical maladies. “The Gospel,” he explained, “is much, much better news than that.”
“Our ultimate need is not to be rid of our maladies, but to be reconciled to our maker and this is what Jesus has come to do,” he contended.
Meeting earthly needs
That doesn’t, however, mean believers shouldn’t prioritize the care of those in our communities who have physical needs to be met.
Platt said it’s incumbent upon Christians to make the “power of Jesus’ love evident in a world of physical need,” emphasizing the importance of looking after those around us enduring “earthly suffering.”
The Virginia minister shared an antidote of his own, recalling a woman from his own church named Marisa, who was recently baptized.
Suffering with cerebral palsy, Marisa is bound to a motorized wheelchair. Every Sunday, Platt shared, she rolls straight down the middle aisle and stops right in front of him, where she listens to him preach.
Marisa, before she came to McLean Bible Church, was used to being isolated, in a corner all alone. She had attended churches whose leaders “had not thought through how to care for children or adults with special needs,” according to Platt.
“But this time,” he continued, “she found a family of brothers and sisters who welcomed her. And as they cared for her special needs, they brought her to the one who can meet her greatest need.”
There is ultimate healing
While physical healing is not — or shouldn’t be — our primary concern, it still is one of God’s promises to us.
Platt encouraged those attending the conference in Indianapolis that the Gospel removes every trace of sin from our lives, and as a result, physical healing will ultimately follow.
“For all who trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins, you can know cancer will not have the last word,” Platt said. “Tumors will not have the last word. Alzheimer’s will not have the last word. Parkinson’s will not have the last word.”
“Pain will not have the last word,” he continued. “Heart attacks, hospital rooms, and hospice care will not have the last word. Death itself will not have the last word because it has been defeated by the Son of Man. His name is Jesus and He will have the last word.”