Book Review Friday: Radical Together by David Platt

This post was previously published on March 15th, 2011.

 

In Radical Together: Unleashing the People of God for the Purpose of God, Dr. David Platt challenges the church to seriously examine the mission of God and how effectively each local church is carrying out this mission.  Just like Platt’s first book, Radical: Taking Your Faith Back from the American Dream, Radical Together presents a biblically grounded challenge that the church must address.

The core question raised by the book is: “How can we in the church best unleash the people of God in the Spirit of God with the Word of God for the glory of God in the world?” (ix).  Platt further expands this question with a very convicting statement: “I am convinced that in the church we can – unknowingly and unintentionally – actually prevent God’s people from accomplishing God’s purpose.  If we are not careful, our activities in the church can hinder the advancement of Christ’s kingdom” (ix).

In addressing this core question, Platt claims that Radical Together will “build upon biblical foundations in order to consider practical implications for how a right understanding of the church fuels radical obedience among Christians” (x).

Platt begins with the claim that “the worse enemy of Christians is good things in the church” (1).  Platt warns readers that “As Christians today, you and I can easily deceive ourselves into thinking that dedication to church programs automatically equals devotion to kingdom purposes.  We can fill our lives and our churches with good things requiring our resources, and good activities demanding our attention, that are not ultimately best for the enjoyment of the gospel in our churches and the spread of the gospel in our communities” (3).    The chapter goes on to challenge churches to put everything (staff, programs, procedures, plans, and facilities) on the table to truly see if it is effectively accomplishing the spread of the gospel to the church and the nations.  As Platt warns, we are prone to “exalt our work over God’s will, our dreams over God’s desires, and our plans over God’s priorities” (9).

Next, Platt addresses the challenge of “the misunderstood gospel,” which is “the gospel that saves us from work saves us to work” (21).  Platt explains this idea by saying, “true faith in Christ inevitably produces great work for Christ – not works fueled by the flesh in an attempt to earn your way to God, but works fueled by faith in a life that is abandoned to God” (27).  This is a picture of the gospel that does not merely save a person from his or her sin, but a gospel that sets them free to live for the fame and glory of the One from whom they have received such great grace!  Platt argues that many Christians today have not heard this gospel clearly presented.  He states that “when the gospel of God is clear in the church, Christians will work hard by the grace of God with great delight in the glory of God” (36).

“The Word does the work” (39) is Platt’s third challenge.  He says, “We don’t have to work to come up with a word from God; we simply have to trust the Word he has already given to us.  When we do, the Word of God will accomplish the work of God among the people of God” (40).  This chapter focuses on the work of God through the Word of God in the Church at Brook Hills.  Platt approaches this topic with humility pointing all the glory to God who works through him.  Brook Hills is not pictured as a model to be followed in step by step practice but as a picture of allowing the Word of God to lead the people of God.  Platt reminds us that “the Word is sufficient to hold the attention of God’s people and satisfying enough to capture their affection” (57).

“Building the right church depends on using all the wrong people” (58) is the fourth challenge that Platt seeks to address.  The core of this idea is that “the goal of the church is never for one person to be equipped and empowered to lead as many people as possible to Christ.  The goal is always for all of God’s people to be equipped and empowered to lead as many people as possible to Christ” (60).  The church has lost the biblical idea of making disciples and replaced it with business models and manufactured ways to do church.  This stands as a challenge to the church to focus on people rather than programs.  Platt says, “Who can fathom the potential of the church when we stop just programming ministry for people and we start propelling people into ministry?” (73)  Readers are reminded that “the plan of God is certainly not confined to large churches or gifted leaders.  The plan of God is for every single person counted among the people of God” (83).

The fifth challenge is “our unmistakable task,” which is “we are living – and longing – for the end of the world” (84).  Platt states that “if we were willing to take some risks, if we were willing to alter our lifestyles, and if we were willing to organize our churches around taking the gospel to people who have never heard the name of Christ, we could see every people group on the planet reached with the gospel.  And in the process, we could be a part of the end of the world” (88).  This challenge focuses on defining the unreached and the biblical call to engage all nations with the gospel.  Platt uses the example of the Brook Hills Baruti to talk about how local and global missions are not in conflict in a local church but serve as two sides of the same coin.  He also addresses the importance of short term mission trips in exciting in Christians a heart for the nations.  Christians have been given the great mercy of God in the gospel and are commanded to share it to people all over the world.  When this mission is accomplished, Jesus will return and the end will come.

The final challenge is that “we are selfless followers of a self-centered God” (110).  Platt explains this concept by saying, “we are selfless in that we have died to ourselves.  We have lost the right to determine the direction of our lives.  Our God is our Lord, our Master, and our King.  He holds our times in his hands, and he is free to spend our lives however he pleases.  And he is self-centered.  In his Word, God declares his own glory, and in the world, God displays his own glory.  God exalts God…Everything God does, even the salvation of his people, ultimately centers around God, for he is worthy of all praise from all peoples” (114).  Platt argues that the church should be seeker sensitive with God as the divine seeker.  Our lives and churches should exist to exalt God through spreading His gospel and engaging in His mission no matter what comforts we may have to forfeit in the process.  The mission of God can only be accomplished through a radical dependence on God through prayer as He works in and through His church to bring the nations to a saving knowledge of Himself.

Radical Together is another pointed challenge from scripture to the American church.  Platt once again presents biblical truths in a clear and challenging way to awaken hearts of Christians to the mission and purpose of God.  Platt reminds us that “God does not involve us in his grand, global purpose because he needs us.  He involves us in his grand, global purpose because he loves us” (135).  It is from a heart of humility, a love for God’s glory in the nations, and a passion for the gospel that David Platt presents another book that should be read by every church leader and believer.  God’s fame in the nations through the spread of the gospel is worth living radically!

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