Radical – David Platt

It turns out I read the David Platt books in the wrong order! But I don’t think it makes too much difference, this way I saved the best till last. Have recently finished Radical (which I think is his first book). On the surface this was a very simple book to read and understand, in practice though I think it will be much more challenging. Each chapter has one main lesson contributing to the discussion of radical obedience to Jesus and abandonment of the American Dream.

  1. Someone worth losing everything for. This is what radical abandonment to Jesus really means: giving up everything. We no longer live for ourselves, but every decision, action, thought is anchored on the commands of Jesus. However, this is good because we know that Jesus loves us and wants the best for us in the long term.
  2. Too hungry for words: discovering the truth and beauty of the gospel. In this chapter Platt outlines the uncompromising importance of Bible reading. Not just reading but obedience to what we read there. He parallels the underground church in countries where it is illegal to read the Bible, with the American/Western church where there is freedom to do so and we usually don’t.
  3. Beginning at the End of Ourselves. This chapter was really important to me about how we cannot follow after Jesus in our own strength. But we need reliance upon God’s power. I liked it when he said: ‘This is how God works. He puts His people in positions where they are desperate for His power and then He shows His provision in ways that display His greatness’ (p. 48). One of the ways we can practically live this out is by turning to Him in prayer, another way is to take up challenges that are too big for us and outside our comfort zone.
  4. The great why of God, this chapter outlines God’s global purposes. He sums up the purposes of God as 1) to demonstrate His grace, 2) to demonstrate His glory. Usually the western church has emphasised the former and neglected the later. As the Church we need to be actively seeking to enjoy His grace and extend His glory into the world. ‘The message of biblical Christianity is: God loves me so that I might make Him, His ways, His salvation, His glory and His greatness, known among all nations’. Platt, explains why this doesn’t make God selfish.
  5. The Multiplying Community. This chapter explains how all of us (in the Church) can join together to fulfil God’s purpose (His grace and glory among the nations). One of the things I liked in this chapter is how as believers, we need to go from just ‘receiving’ at church to learn how to give to others. In terms of preaching, this means going from ‘what can I get out of this?’, to ‘How can I listen to His Word so that I am equipped to teach this Word to others?’. We might need to take pen and paper to the church sermons. Another aspect he explored in this chapter is the difference from Discipling or Disinfecting Christians. ‘Disinfecting Christians from the world involves isolating followers of Christ in a spiritual safe-deposit box called the Church building and teaching them to be good. In this strategy, success in the Church is defined by how big a building you have to house all the Christians and the goal is to gather as many people as possible….whereas…discipling Christians involves propelling them into the world to risk their lives for the sake of others.
  6. How much is enough? I think this chapter was the longest, and dealt with the issue of money. I really liked this chapter and ended up reading it in three sittings as I had to stop and process my own relationship with wealth and material possessions. (I think I want to do a separate blog post on where I’m at in this).
  7. There is no plan B. This chapter dealt with the urgency and necessity of going to make disciples. It did a neat circle of various passages in Romans, which ended with the passage in R10, that explains that people won’t be saved unless they believe, they won’t believe unless they hear and they won’t hear unless people go to them. I have already written some things about this when I studied Systematic Theology have had them here, and here:
  8. Living when dying is gain. This chapter was about the risk and reward of the radical life. And essentially asked the question: ‘do we believe that the reward found in Jesus is worth the risk of following Him?’ (p. 162). It challenges the notion that the safest place to be is in God’s will. Actually more often that not God seems to call His people to the dangerous places. It ends with some examples (including the Jim Elliot missionary that I’ve been reading about!)
  9. Platt closes his book by inviting the reader to take up a year radical experiment.
  • To pray for the entire world (using the tool Operation World) which I found in the App Store after reading the last David Platt book. Check it out.
  • To read through the entire bible (I use the Navigator discipleship reading plan)
  • Sacrifice your money for a specific purpose (He suggests capping you monthly income ‘sacrificially’ and anything additional give away to causes: gospel entered, church focused, specific and tangible needs, trustworthy.)
  • Spend your time in another context (take 1 week to visit/serve and reach a community that are unlike what you are used to. This in turn will propel your life in the ‘normal’).
  • Commit your life to a multiplying community (aka a Church, we can’t live out the radical life alone, we need each other).

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