I heard David Platt speak for the first time last night during worship at Collegiate Week Glorieta. At 29, Platt is a dynamic and powerful communicator, but it’s not because he’s “hip,” “relevant,” or “connected” – all descriptors that seem to demand fulfillment in order to be invited to speak to collegians these days. Rather, Platt is passionately biblical and powerfully Christ-centered in his approach. He’s the pastor at Brook Hills Church, and last night he backed the American church into a corner from which the only exit is a life devoted to mission.
“Let Everything that Has Breath” is a popular praise chorus made nearly meaningless by its empty repetition in collegiate worship services and “contemporary” churches these days. Its chorus is taken from Psalm 150.6. Platt suggested last night that the words “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord” are indeed the call of God upon all our lives. However, he posed an interesting question: What if the words were reversed? What if the words were:
Let everything that praises the Lord have breath?
Would you be alive today?
So began a dynamic, powerful message in which Platt probably quoted 5 entire Psalms from memory and used an additional 15-20 scriptural references without notes. In fact, his message contained more scripture than most preachers you might listen to, but he never opened his Bible (though he carried it the entire time). It was all committed to memory, and his delivery was undeterred by his lack of notes.
Beginning in Genesis and concluding in Revelation, Platt traced the purposes of God for all humanity: to extend His glory throughout the earth. In Genesis 1.26-31, he contrasted the creation of man with what had gone before. All creatures before verse 26 had been created according to “let there be… according to its kind,” but when God made man, He said, “Let us make… in our likeness.” There were two observations about this:
God created us to enjoy His glory in a relationship with Him. We were made by Him to share in and enjoy His glory as we bear His likeness.
God created us to extend His glory to the whole world. We were told to “fill the earth, multiply, subdue…”
Mankind seemed to miss the point as it chose to sin, and we see the mass of humanity after several generations gathered on the plains of Shinar in Genesis 11.1. Rather than going across the planet to extend the glory of God by bearing His image and demonstrating His character, man chose rather to stay and build their own name. It was there that God came down and enforced the scattering of man into the whole earth by confusing their languages.
In Genesis 12, you find God choosing one people from among all the nations – Abraham’s family (yet to be born) to be a people set apart to bless all nations. God told Abraham that “all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” So Abraham was given the original commission again – to spread the knowledge and glory of God across the planet to all peoples. To bear God’s image.
A bird’s eye view of the people of Israel show them consistently rejecting this responsibility to be a light to all nations, yet you can trace this eternal purpose of God throughout every page of the Old Testament.
- Genesis 28.14 – God reminded Jacob, Abraham’s great-grandson of His purpose to be a blessing to all nations (or people groups).
- Exodus 14.4 – Backed up against the Red Sea, God told Moses that what He would do to the Egyptians would be done so that that nation would know that He is God.
- Deuteronomy 4.5-6 – The 10 Commandments were given to share the wisdom of God to all nations.
- Joshua 5-6 – The walls come tumbling down in Jericho so that all nations would know that God was at work and fear Him alone. (No one was congratulating the trumpet players for a job well done.)
- 1 Kings 10.1-9 – Solomon was given wisdom so that the world would know the wisdom and glory of God. His wisdom drew the nations to Israel (think Queen Sheba) and brought honor to God.
- Daniel 3.29 – the result and purpose of the fiery furnace was to lead a pagan empire to worship the true God.
- Daniel 6.25-26 – the same with the lions’ den.
- Psalm 23 – we are led by paths of still waters “for His name’s sake!”
- Psalm 25.11 – It is His name and not our own that we are to honor and glorify.
- Isaiah 48.9-11; chapter 66
- Ezekiel 36.22-23 – for the sake of His name
- Matthew 24.14 – the end will not come until all nations have heard the Gospel preached to them. This is the culmination of the mission of God given to Adam and Eve and repeated to the Israelites. It is given again as a Great Commission (Matthew 28.18-20) to the church who receive salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.
- Mark 16.15
- Luke 24.47-49
- Acts 1.8
- Romans 15 – Paul wants to preach the Gospel where it’s never been heard before. In fact, Platt stated urgently that we cannot “get” the New Testament apart from its connection to the Old in its direction to extend to glory of God to all peoples.
- Revelation 7.9-10 – The ultimate fulfillment of God’s purposes: worship of Him by people from all nations.
“For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.” (Habakkuk 2.14)
After a breathless review of these passages, Platt barked out, “Do you realize what this means? God has blessed you to impact the world for His glory! That is why we have breath!”
He started getting personal from there… He asked, “Do you want the whole world for His glory?” He said that most of us just want the whole world to make things happen for our own comfort and personal enjoyment.
He then began to address common excuses that he hears from church members and Christians:
Objection: I’m not called to foreign missions… Response: Missions is not a “program” for the optional few. We have no right to accept all the blessings and privileges of our faith in Christ and delegate all the responsibilities of our faith to a chosen few. As if we needed a “call” to obey that for which we were created!
In Acts 9, Paul understands that the very reason that he was given salvation was to preach to the nations. He explains this in Galatians 1.15-16. In Romans 1.14, he says that he is “obligated” or “in debt” to the nations. He urges us to understand that the Gospel is for “the salvation of all who believe” – not just us. When Paul uses the word “Gentile,” he is referring to the nations – those who are not Jews.
Because we now own the salvation of Christ, we now owe the salvation of Christ, Platt said.
Objection: I don’t have to go… I can give… Response: It’s usually a spiritual smokescreen because the majority of people with that attitude are not even tithing – much less strategically and purposely living on less in order that the world may know Jesus. Our budgets and priorities are bound up in our SUVs and air-conditioned houses and damn the rest of the world to a Christ-less eternity.
Platt related a conversation with a South African believer. Before he shared what the man said, he said that it had cost him $3500 to go to South Africa for two weeks. Some in his church had questioned the stewardship of that, asking if it wouldn’t be better just to send them the money so that they could use it on whatever they need.
The South African said, “A true brother doesn’t just send things but comes to be with you in your time of need.” In other words, by your going (or coming), you identify with others and invest what’s most precious to you: yourself. Isn’t that what God did? He didn’t send us a missions check… He sent us His Son!
Platt asked if our churches were really that materialistic that we honestly thought that money was the answer to the world’s problems? We must go ourselves.
Platt concluded by saying that people would try to shrug off his message as being “too idealistic.” Two things about extending God’s glory to all peoples:
- It is biblical. Thoroughly!
- Those who say it can’t be done should get out of the way of those who are doing it.
I must say, it’s been a while since I’ve heard a message so powerful and so convicting. I bought the CD and plan to ask permission to share it with our church.
Some things that Platt was not saying:
- You have to become a career missionary and move to Siberia.
- You have to sell your house today.
- You have to dress funny and learn another language.
Some things Platt was implying:
- You became a missionary the day you received Christ as your Savior. Live like it. Where you are. Now. Imagine your hometown as a place you’ve just moved to for the very purpose of extending the glory of Christ and making Him known. If you knew that was your very purpose for living there, how would you then live?
- Get a passport. You may not become a full-time missionary in another country, but you can prepare yourself to go and be a part of short-term trip or even an extended stay for a specific purpose. By getting a passport, you take the first step toward recognizing that it is your responsibility and privilege to bless the nations with the knowledge of God.
- Do research. Begin discovering the most unreached areas of the planet. Begin praying for people groups. Gather a small group to begin mobilizing and planning what you can do to spread the majestic beauty and precious joy of Christ to the nations.
- Find out if there are international students on your campus or internationals living in your community and begin to strategize about how to minister to them. International students that are studying in the U.S. can be reached for Christ and may become missionaries for Him when they return to their own countries.
- Fill in the blank. Dream a dream about how you can suddenly start fulfilling the purpose for which you were created.
After all, you’re still breathing aren’t you? Then start praising.