McLean Bible Church Pastor David Platt denounced faith healing as a “false gospel” in a speech at an evangelical conference, explaining that the real Gospel is about Jesus Christ forgiving sins.
Preaching on Mark 2:1-12, which recorded the gospel story of Jesus healing a paralytic who was lowered from a roof into a home, Platt explained that while the passage showed “two urgent needs” that Jesus addressed, the two needs were not equal.
“This man’s spiritual need was ultimate. More important than even his physical paralysis was his spiritual malice,” stated Platt, noting that while the passage does not say if the paralysis came from sin, it was evident that “this man was a sinner, which meant that his ultimate need was not healing from God, but holiness before God.”
“And this is the ultimate need in all of our lives. Our ultimate need is never physical. Our ultimate need is always spiritual.”
The Virginia pastor believes the Gospel of Jesus Christ is “not the gospel that is being preached in many places around the world.”
“As I travel around the world, there are so many places where a false gospel is being proclaimed, that if you believe in Jesus, you will be healed of all of your diseases now,” he explained Wednesday at The Gospel Coalition’s National Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana, which had as its theme “Conversations with Jesus.”
“That if you trust in Jesus, you’ll be free of your sicknesses today. It is not the Gospel, because the Gospel is much, much better news than that.”
Platt argued 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.”
“The Gospel is not going to Africa and saying ‘trust in Jesus and your HIV/AIDS will be gone. The Gospel is not going to America and saying ‘trust in Jesus and your cancer will be gone,’” he continued.
“The Gospel is going anywhere and everywhere in the world and saying ‘trust in Jesus and your sins will be gone.’”
Platt said people require a savior who does not just have power “over disease and demons,” but more importantly “someone with power over sin and death.”
“For all who trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins, you can know cancer will not have the last word. Tumors will not have the last word. Alzheimer’s will not have the last word. Parkinson’s will not have the last word,” declared Platt.
“Pain will not have the last word. 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.”
“The Good News of the Kingdom is not that Jesus will heal you of all your sicknesses now. The Good News of the Kingdom is Jesus will forgive you of all of your sins forever.”
The former head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board also talked about the importance of making the “power of Jesus’ love evident in a world of physical need,” to care for those who endure “earthly suffering.”
Platt mentioned a wheelchair-bound person named Marisa who was recently baptized at his church.
“Marisa has cerebral palsy, spends her life in a wheelchair. Every Sunday, she wheels that motorized chair to the middle aisle right in front of me,” he explained.
“Before she came to our church, she was used to being put in a corner by herself. Even at churches who had not thought through how to care for children or adults with special needs. But this time, 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.”
Platt’s remarks came on the final day of the conference, which featured other notable speakers including DesiringGod.org founder and pastor John Piper, author and Presbyterian pastor Timothy Keller, and Christ Covenant Church Senior Pastor Kevin DeYoung.
During his remarks on Tuesday, DeYoung told conference attendees that the key point of Jesus’ earthly ministry was to proclaim the Good News and not to “transform social structures.”
While the Gospels show Jesus’ ministry centered on three things: preaching, casting out demons, and healing the sick, said DeYoung, they were not considered equally important by Jesus.
“There is not a single example of Jesus going into a town with the purpose of healing or casting out demons. He never ventures out on a healing or an exorcism tour,” stated DeYoung. “The reason He came out to public ministry was to preach.”