Recently I began reading David’s Platte’s latest book Follow Me. While David’s theology is never 100% correct, his ideas, though radical and actually more in line with conservative churches that it is mainline protestant beliefs.
In the 1st chapter of his new book he speaks of the dying practice of personal evangelism. Over the last several months we have been studying about talking the message unto others, so we ought to be quite aware of the growing problem among “Christians” today. We have exchanged “go and preach” for “come and teach.” We changed the role of the church from a active, living organism, to a spectatorship. Something that caught me off guard in his discussion was what he believed was a leading cause of the plague of the 21st century church. He considered the sinner’s prayer to be a part of the problem.
Concerning the sinner’s prayer he stated that there is not a single passage in the bible that teaches us what is included in the prayer. He stated that there is not even a passage that alludes the fact that the prayer ought to be said. I am certain most who are reading this article would say “Amen” to such a realization. However, his point was not to show how baptism is the preferred means of making disciples. In fact, he never once mentioned baptism in the entire chapter. He merely explained how “accepting” Jesus is a far cry from Jesus’ commands concerning following him. “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me (Matt. 16:24).”
In this first chapter he explained how denial of self is not the same as saying “I was wrong.” He explains how “inviting Jesus in your life” is not the same things as living as though Jesus was in your life. He explained how taking up a cross had nothing to do with wearing a nice piece of jewelry (or as more modern youth are doing, tattooing it on themselves). Taking up a cross meant to carry the load of the cross. The cross was not some church bake sale. The cross was not some McDonald’s ministry. The cross was a person’s means of execution. The cross meant death. Platte spoke of how self denial and self death meant to live a live marked by Jesus. It meant living a life of self sacrifice. If that means moving to where the church is weak (like Iowa, NYC, or Timbuktu that than is what you do). If that means giving until it hurts, that is what you do. It means casting aside your wants, your needs, your hopes, your dreams, and every other thing that begins with “my.” To take up your cross and follow Jesus meant to take up the work of Christ as your chief work.
Now, I entitled this lesson as “Are the tides changing.” I called it this because David Platte is an influential preacher in the denominational world. I called it that because he is currently not alone among denominational preachers that feel that the sinner’s prayer may be causing more issues in the church. If they are becoming discontent with the direction of “churchdom” then it may very well just mean that the fields are whitening for harvest. We can and should be using this as an opportunity to teach others the truth of the gospel.
You see, there is a practice mentioned in the scriptures that new converts are supposed to do that the very practice there of speaks of taking up one’s cross and self denial. What is that practice? Baptism.
Baptism encourages us to not only deny self, put deny him for good. We are to be buried with Christ in baptism (Rom. 6:4). What do we do when we are buried with him. That old self is not merely suppressed. That old self is not merely set aside until he/she is more convenient to pick up. That old self is not cast off until we have “grown up” some. That old self is buried. None of us would dream of burying our loved one Monday and going back and digging up our loved one on Tuesday. We know that once they are buried that it. It’s over. They are gone. In a like fashion, we are to bury our former selves. Why? So that we can rise up a new creature (Rom 6:4). What is really interesting about Rom. 6 is that Paul goes on to say that not only do we put the old man away, permanently, but he says that we are to become enslaved to righteousness (Rom. 6:18) or as Jesus said, “Follow me.”
This is not to say that we can’t make the same mistake as those professing the sinner’s prayer. If we fail to impress upon new converts the need of self sacrifice then the church ends up in the same condition. The truth is, sometimes we are in such a hurry to get the person wet, we fail to convert them to Christ. Brethren, let us go and make real disciples of Christ, by being real disciples of Christ.~WTK
Grinnell church of Christ
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Are the Tides Changing?
Volume 4 Issue 15 March 17, 2013