…the beauty of Christian obedience
It seems rather obvious that the parenthetical subtitle for this section of the blog is an allusion to the story of the Good Samaritan in the gospel of Luke. Future posts will tease out the implications of that parable, but this section of the blog will be dedicated to the theme of missions. One of the people in our current day who has written widely and well on this topic is David Platt. David is a pastor and teacher in the southern United States. Recently, David was interviewed by a representative of The Gospel Coalition. Here are some excerpts from that interview.
TGC: David, in Radical Together, you write:
“If you and I want our lives to count for God’s purpose in the world, we need to begin with a commitment to God’s people in the church.”
Why is it so vital that the church be at the forefront of our efforts to fulfill the Great Commission?
David Platt: The local church is God’s chosen, called, and ordained agent for the accomplishment of the Great Commission. From the beginning of the book of Acts, we see God’s people, by God’s design, coming together in local churches that are devoted to God’s Word, to fellowship with one another, to worship, and to prayer (Acts 2:42). Through these local churches, the Lord began adding to their number daily those who were being saved (Acts 2:47). Out of 114 times that we ekklesia in the New Testament, at least 90 of them refer to specific local gatherings of believers.
Clearly, the New Testament precedent and pattern is the advancement of the gospel through followers of Christ who are joined together in local bodies. As a result, if we want to be a part of spreading the gospel to all peoples in global mission, biblically we need to begin with a commitment to God’s people in the local church.
TGC: In your chapter on “The Misunderstood Gospel,” you make some clarifications regarding the motivation for our obedience. You write:
Unleashing radical people into the world requires the gospel as our foundation and our motivation.
David Platt: That’s right. I don’t want any follower of Christ to be overwhelmed by guilt, constantly wondering:
- “When I am going to be radical enough?”
- “What do I need to do, how do I need to give, or where do I need to go in order to do enough for God?”
These are extremely unhealthy questions, for the reality with which the gospel confronts us is that we’ll never be able to do enough. No matter what we do, even if we sell all of our possessions, give to the poor, and move to the most dangerous country in the world, we cannot do enough to be accepted before God or approved by God.
The beauty of the gospel is that Christ alone is able to do enough. He alone is able to keep the law and commands of God, and He has done it. Indeed, He has been faithful enough, generous enough, compassionate enough, etc. As a result, the starting point of the radical life is deat
h to self, death to every attempt to do enough before God, and trust in Christ, the One who has lived the radical life on our behalf.
TGC: How does this beauty of the gospel translate into the beauty of Christian obedience?
David Platt: The beauty now is that when we trust in Christ to be our righteousness, we are now free to obey from a totally different position. In Christ, we have been declared “not guilty” before God. As a result, we no longer live from a position of guilt, but from a position of righteousness. And not only have we been declared righteous in Christ (as if this were not enough!), but He has given us His Spirit, and He lives in us to enable us at every single moment to live according to the commands which He has given us. As Christians, we now find ourselves free from guilt and driven by grace.
TGC: Why is it important that grace, not guilt be what motivates us?
David Platt: In addition to everything I’ve mentioned above, guilt is ultimately an unbearable burden and an unsustainable motivator. We may change our ways for a short time based on guilt, but real, true, radical life change will not happen until we trust in the gospel.
So my encouragement in Radical Together to anyone who struggles with a low-grade sense of guilt, wondering if they are ever doing enough, would be to realize that they can never do enough…and then to rejoice in the reality that Christ has done enough for them. Then, whenever they are confronted with sin or shortcomings, I would encourage them to trust in Christ, to rest in His righteousness, and to ask Him to produce the fruit of a radical gospel in their lives. This alone will sustain radical, life-changing, world-impacting obedience for the glory of God in all nations.