Saturday, September 4, 2021

Ministering to the Whole Person

Here's another great quote from Chuck Swindoll's fantastic book The Church Awakening:

This is one reason I find the prosperity gospel movement so heretical. Nowhere in the New Testament do you find God promising health, wealth, and prosperity to those who have enough faith. That way of thinking is the direct result of consumerism-Christianity.... Even the life of Jesus -- One who had complete faith -- was a life of struggle that ended with crucifixion!

I'd call that a strong warning! Yet on the preceding page Chuck makes it clear that his church ministers to the whole person.

As you know, this past week in my Advanced Greek Grammar class we were in the little book of 3 John. Here's a verse from that letter that struck me in a fresh way:

I pray that you might enjoy good health, and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.

Such a holistic way of looking at life! John's prayer takes in both the physical and the spiritual. It's a great verse by which to measure our prayer lives, isn't it? Do we reflect this breadth in our petitions for others? Sometimes our prayers never go beyond the latest health problems. And yet shouldn't we express a concern for each other's souls? John knows that we are whole persons, and that the physical and the spiritual go hand in glove. Of course, if we are to choose between them, I think it's clear where John places the emphasis: the soul. Verse 4 makes this plain:

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. 

This will always be the deepest concern of any true Christian. There is an urgency when it comes to our spiritual health. That said, God is also concerned about our physical bodies. My favorite passage on missions -- Matt. 9:35-38 -- makes this plain. Here we read that Jesus, the Model Missionary, did three things: He taught, he preached, and he healed. His was a holistic ministry. That's one reason Becky and I opened a health clinic years ago in Southern Ethiopia. Here the sick could come and receive outstanding health care while at the same time learning about the One who loved them and died for them. 

Solomon the evangelist sharing the love of Jesus with every person who set foot in our clinic.

Many came to receive healing for their bodies and left healed in their souls. Praise God! When we do missions Jesus' way, the body will not be ignored, and neither will the soul ... and God will be glorified. 


As Chief Physician, Jesus Christ has diagnosed us all with a terminal illness. It's called sin. But praise be to God, he's also established a hospital for sinners.