Posted on September 2nd, 2014 by Eric Parker
“But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the face of the Lord. He went down to Joppa and, finding a ship bound for Tarshish, he paid the fare and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshis, away from the face of the Lord.”
Many of us think of idolatry as something ancient and mystical, something that involves a carved image and maybe a ritual of some sort. Very few of us, however, attempt to see beyond those outward expressions to the heart behind them. When we do, we see that many of us carry the same sort of idolatrous heart as those we read about in the ancient times of the Bible. Some idolatrous tendencies are easier to recognize, like sex, money and power. But others come through the very culture that we have been reared in, making them difficult to identify because they are woven into the very way we perceive the world.
In his book, Counterfeit Gods, Tim Keller has done well in showing us the universality of idolatry, not just in biblical times, but today. He helps us see the possible idolatry in Jonah’s heart that stemmed from Jonah’s culture. He comments on Jonah 1:3 saying,
In deliberate contradiction of the charge to go east to Ninevah, Jonah arose and instead went to Tarshish, a town on the western rim of the known world. He did the very opposite of what God wanted him to do. Why? Jonah’s internal motives are not fully revealed until chapter 4, but at this point, the text gives us several clues as to why he would so flagrantly disobey a direct divine command.
Jonah would have been afraid of failure. God was summoning a lone Hebrew prophet to walk into the most powerful city in the world and call it to get down on its knees before his God. The only possible outcome seemed to be mockery or death, with the second as likely as the first. Preachers want to go where they will be persuasive.
He would have been just as afraid, however, of the possibility of the mission’s success, small as that might have been. Assyria was a cruel and violent empire. The empire was already demanding tribute from Israel, a kind of international protecting money. Jonah was being called to warn Nineveh of God’s wrath, to give them a chance to survive and continue to be a threat to Israel. As a patriotic Israelite, Jonah wanted no part of such a mission.
So why did he run? The answer is, again, idolatry, but of a very complex kind. Jonah had a personal idol. He wanted ministry success more than he wanted to obey God. Also, Jonah was shaped by a cultural idol. He put the national interests of Israel over obedience to God and the spiritual good of the Ninevites. Finally, Jonah had a religious idol, simple moral self-righteousness. He felt superior to the wicked, pagan Ninevites. He didn’t want to see them saved. Jonah’s cultural and personal idols had melded into a toxic compound that was completely hidden from him. It led him to rebel against the very God he was so proud of serving.
Tim Keller, Counterfeit Gods, 135-136
Posted on September 1st, 2014 by Jonathan
In Ephesians, Paul tells us that “even when we were dead in our trespasses, [God] made us alive together with Christ” (Eph 2:5). Going from death to life is at the core of every conversion story, and in the sense that there is certainly no such thing as a boring resurrection, no one has a boring testimony. Still, some transformations are more dramatic than others. And while it can easily seem that God’s grace is more profound in the saving of a Paul-former-Saul than it is in the saving of a scripturally-reared-Timothy (2 Tim 3:15), this is not the case. Boring testimonies are boring because God’s graciously made them that way (so they aren’t really boring at all).
In the video below, David Platt describes the amazing grace of such a testimony as he gives glory to God for a family and church that led him to Christ as a child.
Posted on August 28th, 2014 by David Burnette
Precept Ministries International just posted an article titled “Marks of a Disciple” based on a sermon by David Platt. You can get the full article here. Here’s an excerpt that includes 5 questions to act on as you think about how to grow as a disciple of Christ:
From the very beginning, Jesus told His disciples in Matthew 4:19, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Every follower should be a fisher . . . not fishing for men all over the lake, but spreading the gospel all over the world. At the end of Matthew, Jesus tells his disciples, “Go therefore and make disciples” (Matt 28:19). Then in Acts 1:8 he tells them that they will receive power from the Holy Spirit, not just so that they can go to Bible studies and worship and be a kind person, but so that they would be witnesses—to testify about him “to the end of the earth.”
God has not saved you to dwell in a Christian bubble; God has saved you to spread the Christian gospel, both in the city where you live and to the ends of the earth. This is what we were created for, what we’ve been commissioned to do as a church. This is what we’re compelled to do as Christians, to be disciples who make disciples so that the grace and love of God are spread all over the world through us!
Some Questions to Act On
Let me ask you a question: How are you making disciples? You may be tempted to think, “I don’t know if I can really make disciples.” If that’s you, then I want to let you in on a secret: you can’t. But that’s the whole point. God has put His Holy Spirit in you, and He has equipped you and empowered you to do that which you could never do on your own. That’s the whole point of Christianity. God has not saved you to sit on the sidelines and to do what you’re capable of doing. He has saved you to live on the front lines and experience what He alone is capable of doing.
One of the ways we can grow as disciple-makers is by being intentional and consistent in how we pursue God and walk in obedience to his mission. The five questions below are designed to help you in that process. I want to challenge you to think about the following questions and spend some time answering them. Be specific in your answers.
To grow as a disciple maker in the coming days . . .
1. How will I fill my mind with truth?
How can you be intentional to read God’s Word? The life of the disciple is the life of a learner; we want to learn from Christ and we want His Word to fill our minds. This includes memorizing God’s Word and learning from others. And remember, the goal in filling our mind with truth is not just to gain information, but to experience transformation. We want to hear the truth of God’s Word, and at the same time we want to apply and experience the truth of God’s Word.
2. How will I fuel my affections for God?
Even as I’m encouraging you to ask these questions, I realize that if we’re not careful, even Bible reading (or other spiritual disciplines) can become mechanical and monotonous, which is not the point. Our goal is not just to know God; our goal is to love God. So what can you do to fuel affection, to stoke the fires of passion for God?
Worship is one of the avenues for fueling our affections for God. As a follower of Christ, I hope that you are a member of a local church body and that you are committed to prioritize weekly worship with your church—more than weekend sports or other weekend activities that would keep you from worship.
Prayer is monumental in fueling our affections for God. Designate a time and a place when you go into your room, shut the door, and pray to your Father, who is unseen. This one practice alone will utterly revolutionize your life.
Fasting is another way to fuel our affection for God. Commit to setting aside a meal once a week or once every few weeks, or maybe more as time progresses. When you fast, pray something like this: “More than I want food, I just want to feast on God in prayer and in His Word. More than food to satisfy my hunger, I want to be satisfied with Christ.”
Our giving can also fuel our affections for God. You might think, “What does giving have to do with affection for God?” According to Jesus, giving has everything to do with affection for God. Matthew 6:21 tells us that, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Instead of tithing being the ceiling of your giving, why not make tithing the floor of your giving, and give generously and sacrificially to His glory?
3. How will I share God’s love as a witness in the world?
Who has God put in your life (in your sphere of influence) who does not know Christ? Write down the names of three, five, or maybe even ten people you know who don’t know Christ. Pray for them this year, and work by God’s grace to see them come to Christ. What is going to be your plan for sharing Christ with them? Think of ways you can specifically and deliberately create opportunities to share the gospel with those people. It could be through an invitation to breakfast, lunch, dinner, or coffee. Is there some other activity or avenue you could explore, whether that’s something as involved as spending a day or weekend with them, or something as simple as writing a letter to them?
4. How will I spread God’s glory among all peoples?
We have been commanded to make disciples of all nations, and that is not just a command for extraordinary missionaries; that is a command for ordinary disciples. So how is your life going to play a part in the spread of God’s glory to the ends of the earth? Consider these three ways:
Pray: One of the ways we can spread God’s glory among all peoples is to pray. You and I have the opportunity to be a part of what God is doing around the world from our knees. You might use a resource like Operation World (OperationWorld.org) to pray for the nations of the world.
Give: We can also be a part of what God is doing through our giving. Though we may not always feel like it, we are the richest people to ever walk planet earth. How can we sacrifice to give to the needs of the world?
Go: In order to spread God’s glory among all peoples we need to go to the nations. Think through any and every way you might spend your life, lead your family, or leverage your work to go to the people groups of the world with the gospel. Our lives should be a blank check on the table . . . no strings attached.
5. One final question: How will I make disciple makers among a few people?
Jesus, more than anyone else who has ever lived, was most passionate about the Father’s glory among all nations, yet He poured His life into a few people. So how can you do the same thing?
As a disciple-maker, you want to spend your life multiplying the gospel in such a way that you help equip, empower, and embolden the people around you to start making disciples as well.
Posted on August 27th, 2014 by David Burnette
This morning the trustees of the International Mission Board (IMB) of the Southern Baptist Convention elected Pastor David Platt to be the IMB’s 12th president. (For more on this announcement, see our previous post). So what does that mean for Radical, Secret Church, and related resources and events?
Here’s a nine-minute video in which Pastor David talks about the Lord’s leading in this ministry transition as well as the future of Radical:
Radical will continue to be the resource ministry for David Platt’s preaching and teaching. You’ll still be able to access sermons (both past and present), and we’ll continue to offer resources such as: a regularly updated blog, translation resources into 6+ languages, Secret Church events and resources, Multiply, etc. We’re also thinking through the potential for new resources, such as a regular podcast.
Please be in prayer for Pastor David, for the IMB, and for Radical as we seek to continue to serve the church in carrying out Christ’s mission.
Posted on August 27th, 2014 by David Burnette
We’re grateful to announce that the trustees of the International Mission Board (IMB) have just elected Pastor David Platt to be the IMB’s 12th president. As the missions entity of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), the IMB serves approximately 40,000 churches and over 4,800 international missionaries. David Platt will succeed Tom Elliff in this position.
Here’s a video announcement from the IMB along with a few excerpts of the news release from Baptist Press:
ROCKVILLE, Va.—David Platt, one of the most passionate and influential voices for missions among evangelicals, was elected president of the Southern Baptist International Mission Board Aug. 27 by board trustees, meeting at the IMB’s International Learning Center in Rockville, Virginia.
Platt, 36, pastor of The Church at Brook Hills, a Southern Baptist congregation in Birmingham, Alabama, will take office effective immediately as president of the 169-year-old organization, the largest denominational missionary-sending body among American evangelicals. More than 4,800 Southern Baptist international missionaries serve worldwide.
Platt succeeds former missionary, pastor and Southern Baptist Convention president Tom Elliff, 70, who has served as IMB president since March 2011. Elliff asked the agency’s trustees earlier this year to begin an active search for his successor. Elliff and his wife, Jeannie, plan to return to their home state, Oklahoma.
Pastor David on the Lord’s leading in this transition:
“This is not something I saw coming,” he said. “I love pastoring The Church at Brook Hills. I love shepherding this local church on mission for the glory of God among the nations and could picture myself doing that for decades to come. At the same time, God has been doing an unusual work in my heart and life. The only way I can describe it is that He’s been instilling in me a deeper, narrowing, Romans 15 kind of ambition, where [the Apostle] Paul said, ‘I want to see Christ preached where He has not been named.’ … He has given me a deeper desire to spend more of my time and energy and resources in the short life He has given me to seeing Christ preached where He’s not been named. The concept of unreached peoples — of nearly 2 billion people who have never heard the Gospel — is just totally intolerable.”
David Platt’s message to IMB missionaries overseas:
“I just [want] to say to you, more than anything, that the vision of the IMB remains the same: a multitude from every language, people, tribe and nation knowing and worshipping our Lord Jesus Christ.. If you don’t hear anything else, please hear me say that all I want to do is lock arms with you, with what you’re doing on the frontlines, with what’s going on back here in mobilizing churches, to go after that vision. … I’ve been so thankful over the years pastoring in the church to partner with so many of you in different parts of the world. I’m thinking about specific brothers and sisters that I’ve had the joy of serving alongside and many others that I look forward to serving alongside in different ways. And I just don’t believe that there is a means that God has blessed so greatly as He has the IMB and this coalition of 40,000 [Southern Baptist] churches working together for the spread of the Gospel to the nations.”
“I am honored, humbled, overjoyed and overwhelmed to be in this role, and I just want you to hear from me from the beginning that I am committed to praying for you, to supporting you, to listening to you, to learning from you. … How can we most effectively work together to make disciples of all nations? … I love you, I’m praying for you, and I’m honored to serve alongside you in what is the greatest mission on this earth.”
For the entire article, go here.
Please be in prayer for the IMB and its missionaries, for SBC churches and members, and for Pastor David and his family as they make this transition in ministry. Also, please remember to pray for The Church at Brook Hills, as they too will enter into a time of pastoral transition.
Posted on August 26th, 2014 by Eric Parker
If people were emotionless, then the world would be motionless. This is the conclusion of pastor-theologian Jonathan Edwards during the height of his thinking during the 18th century. He writes,
The Author of the human nature has not only given affections to men, but has made them very much the spring of men’s actions. As the affections do not only necessarily belong to the human nature, but are a very great part of it; so (inasmuch as by regeneration, persons are renewed in the whole man, and sanctified throughout) holy affections do not only necessarily belong to true religion, but are very great part of that. And as true religion is of a practical nature, and God has so constituted the human nature, that the affections are very much the spring of men’s actions, this also shows, that true religion must consist very much in the affections.
Such is man’s nature, that he is very inactive, any otherwise than he is influenced by some affection, either love or hatred, desire, hope, fear or some other. These affections we see to be the springs that set men aging, in all the affairs of life, and engage them in all their pursuits: these are the things that put men forward, and carry them along, in all their worldly business; and especially are men excited and animated by these, in all affairs, wherein they are earnestly engaged, and which they pursue with vigor. We see the world of mankind to be exceedingly busy and active; and the affections of men are the springs of the motion: take away all love and hatred, all hope and fear, all anger, zeal and affectionate desire, and the world would be, in a great measure, motionless and dead; there would be no such thing as activity amongst mankind, or any earnest pursuit whatsoever. ‘Tis affection that engages the covetous man, and him that is greedy of worldly profits, in his pursuits; and it is by the affections, that the ambitious man is put forward in his pursuit of worldly glory; and ’tis the affections also that actuate the voluptuous man, in his pursuit of pleasure and sensual delights: the world continues, from age to age, in a continual commotion and agitation, in a pursuit of these things; but take way all affection , and the spring of all this motion would be gone, and the motion itself would cease. And as in worldly things, worldly affections are very much the spring of men’s motion and action; so in religious matters, the spring of their actions are very much religious affections: he that has doctrinal knowledge and speculation only, without affection, never is engaged in the business of religion.
The question you have to answer is this: what kind of emotion do you want moving the world?
Jonathan Edwards, Religious Affections in Readings in Christian Thought, ed. Hugh T. Kerr, 199-200
Posted on August 25th, 2014 by Jonathan
The following is from Secret Church 6: The Cross of Christ.
We should boast in the cross . . .
1. Because the cross confronts us with who we once were. (Eph 2:1-5)
- The cross reminds us of how horrible sin is.
- The cross reminds us how humbling grace is.
2. Because the cross comforts us with who we are now.
- We are alive to God. (Rm 6:8-14)
- Sacrifice: He died our death.
- We were dead; now we live!
- We have an advocate before God. (Rm 8:33-39; Heb 7:23-25)
- Propitiation: He endured our condemnation
- We were afraid; now we are friends!
- We have access to God. (Heb 4:14-16)
- Reconciliation: He suffered our separation
- We were cast out; now we are invited in!
- We are adopted by God. (Rm 8:15-17)
- Redemption: He suffered our separation.
- We were slaves; now we are now sons!
3. Because the cross teaches us what it means to be saved.
- The cross makes clear our justification. (Gal 2:15-20)
- Christ died for us.
- We are not working for righteousness, but from righteousness.
- The cross makes possible our sanctification. (1 Cor 1:18)
- Christ now lives in us.
- We are not in debt to Christ; we are indwelt by Christ.
- The cross makes certain our glorification. (Rm 8:28-30)
- Christ is coming back for us.
- We are not living for this world; we are living for the world to come.
4. Because the cross shows us what it means to love. (1 Jn 3:16-18; Jn 13:35)
- In the church . . . we unite around the cross.
- Among the lost . . . we proclaim the cross.
- Toward the poor . . . we embody the cross.
5. Because the cross reminds us that our safety is not in this world.
- We do not fear suffering. (Matt 10:26-31)
- We are free to suffer. (Phil 1:29-30; Col 1:24)
6. Because the cross keeps us from wasting our lives in this world. (Phil 3:7-11)
- This world has nothing for us.
- Christ is everything to us.
7. Because the cross grips us with a vision of the world to come.
- Jesus has identified the ultimate problem. (Rev 5:1)
- We stand before a holy God hopeless.
- We stand before a holy God helpless.
- Jesus has paid the ultimate price. (Rev 5:5-6)
- He is a conquering Lion.
- He is a suffering Lamb.
- Jesus has fulfilled the ultimate purpose. (Rev 5:7)
- Jesus now deserves the ultimate praise. (Rev 5:8-14)
- Our song will be new.
- Our worship will be never-ending.
Posted on August 23rd, 2014 by David Burnette
God works “all things” for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28), but does that include affliction? Here’s Thomas Watson, the 17th century Puritan minister of St. Stephen’s Walbrook, on how “all things” applies to affliction, which he refers to as our “preacher and tutor”:
Luther said that he could never rightly understand some of the Psalms, till he was in affliction. Affliction teaches what sin is. In the word preached, we hear what a dreadful thing sin is, that it is both defiling and damning, but we fear it no more than a painted lion; therefore God lets loose affliction, and then we feel sin bitter in the fruit of it. A sick-bed often teaches more than a sermon. We can best see the ugly visage of sin in the glass of affliction. Affliction teaches us to know ourselves. In prosperity we are for the most part strangers to ourselves. God makes us know affliction, that we may better know ourselves. We see that corruption in our hearts in the time of affliction, which we would not believe was there.”
Thomas Watson, All Things for Good (originally titled A Divine Cordial in 1663),27-28
Posted on August 21st, 2014 by David Burnette
What does it mean to be part of an Unreached People Group (UPG)? How do unreached peoples stand before God? What is our obligation, as followers of Christ, to those who have no access to the gospel?
The following outline provides a good summary for these kinds of questions. The outline was taken from Pastor David Platt’s sermon titled “Our Obligation to the Unreached,” and is based on Paul’s teaching in Romans 1-3 about man’s inherent sinful condition. To access the sermon in its entirety, including the outline below, go here.
Who are the Unreached?
- A people group among whom there is no indigenous community of believing Christians able to engage the people group with church planting.
- Technically speaking, the percentage of evangelical Christians in this people group is less than two percent.
How Many People Are Unreached?
- Over 6,500 people groups are unreached . . .
Including at least two billion individual people
- Over 3,000 are also unengaged (meaning there is currently no evangelical church planting strategy under way to reach that people group) . . .
Including around 200 million individual people
What Does It Mean To Be Unreached?
- Practically . . .
You do not currently have access to the gospel.
Unless something changes, you will likely be born, live, and die without ever hearing the gospel.
- Biblically . . .
You have knowledge of God.
You have rejected God.
You stand condemned before God.
You have never heard the good news about how you can be saved by God.
Why Must We Go To The Unreached?
- Because their knowledge of God is only enough to damn them to hell.
- Because the gospel of God is powerful enough to save them forever.
- Because the plan of God warrants the sacrifices of His people.
- Because the Son of God deserves the praise of all peoples.
To learn more about unreached peoples, visit Joshua Project.
Posted on August 20th, 2014 by David Burnette
Have you ever read about Jesus’ miracles in Scripture and walked away thinking, “If only I had seen that, I would never again be ashamed of Christ?” Or maybe it’s one of God’s mighty works in the Old Testament–like Israel’s rescue from Egypt–and you think to yourself, “How could they experience that and still disobey?”
At one level, it’s natural to want to experience unique demonstrations of God’s power and grace. I mean, really, who wouldn’t want to be there when God split the Red Sea in two? And who wouldn’t pay to see Lazarus come stumbling out of the tomb covered with four-day-old grave cloths? Surely our struggle to trust God would get much easier if we could only see these things with our own eyes . . . right?
Diagnosing the Sin Problem
The idea that simply eye-witnessing a miracle would catapult us into a new level of trust and obedience misses the teaching of Scripture, not only on the role of miracles, but even more fundamentally on the nature of faith and the blinding effects of sin. To say, “If God would only show me____, then I would trust him,” implies that our unbelief is due to a lack of evidence. But that’s not how the Bible diagnoses man’s sin problem.
Paul tells us in Romans 1:18-32 that all men rebel against God because they prefer idols, not because they lack proof. In fact, it’s because we already have proof of God’s power and divine nature in creation that we are “without excuse” (20). God has made these things “plain,” yet we suppress the truth (18-19). Our “ignorance” flows from a hard heart. (Eph 4:18).
More Than Floating Furniture
Maybe you’ve heard an atheist claim that he would gladly believe in God if only God would perform some great miracle right before his eyes–like causing a table to levitate. God could do that, of course, but as Christians we should know better: it takes more than floating furniture to change the heart. People reject the light because they love the darkness (Jn 1:19). We need our eyes enlightened, even after we’re saved (Eph 1:18). It’s no wonder, then, that Scripture is overflowing with examples, both of godly saints and of rebellious sinners, who sinned blatantly after firsthand experience with God’s miraculous power.
Noah got drunk after being rescued from a worldwide flood (Gen 8:20-21). Abraham lied about his wife after God spoke to him directly (Gen 20:2). The children of Israel saw Mt. Sinai enveloped in smoke and darkness, and they responded by demanding that Aaron make them an idol in the form of a golden calf (Ex 32). The trend continues in the New Testament. Some Jews who watched Lazarus walk out of the tomb refused to submit to Jesus and instead headed straight for the chief priests and Pharisees (Jn 11:46). Nine out of ten lepers who were cleansed by Jesus didn’t even go back to thank him (Lk 17:11-19). And as for the disciples, they didn’t always fare much better. After distributing bread and fish to over five thousand people, they seemed clueless as to how Christ would feed a smaller crowd only a short time later (Matt 15:33). Talk about missing the point!
Perhaps Peter serves as the most striking example. This leading apostle was on hand for Jesus’ entire earthly ministry, including Christ’s transfiguration (Matt 17:1-8). He saw all the miracles and he even walked on water (briefly). Yet, on three different occasions during Jesus’ trial, this same Peter adamantly denied that he even knew the Lord of glory. Being an eyewitness did not ensure Peter’s faithfulness.
Believing and Seeing
None of these examples should be taken as a slight against miracles. One reason God performed miracles was to bear witness to the message of his salvation (Heb 2:4). Jesus pointed to his signs and wonders to convince John the Baptist that he was truly the Messiah (Matt 11:2-5). Likewise, God frequently reminds Israel of his mighty works of salvation in order to bolster their hope in him (Ps 105). Still, we’re mistaken to think that simply seeing supernatural events would cure our struggle to trust God.
Unbelief can only be overcome by the power of the Holy Spirit. Whether it’s witnessing a miracle, understanding the gospel, or simply grasping a truth from God’s Word, we are dependent on the Spirit to see truth rightly and to love the truth that we see. This is the same Spirit who empowered the fearful and doubting disciples—those who had watched Jesus’ perform miracles—to give their lives for him after Pentecost. He will continue his transforming work in us too as we are “beholding the glory of the Lord” (2 Cor 3:18).
So the next time you long for some supernatural proof of God’s presence, Christian, remind yourself that God has given you something greater than signs and wonders. You have his Spirit and his Word, yes “all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Pet 1:3). There is no need to look elsewhere in your struggle to trust and obey. Finally, hear the encouragement Christ gives to those who have never seen him with their physical eyes: “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (Jn 20:29).
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