BOOK REVIEWS

Something Needs to Change – David Platt

plattDavid Platt, Something Needs to Change, (Multnomah, 2019), 208 pp.

In an age where it has become in vogue for pastors to question the Christian faith, compromise the faith, or even abandon the faith – David Platt is a breath of fresh air. The fiery Washington D.C. pastor and author of Radical is back with another thought-provoking book, Something Needs to Change.

Pastor Platt invites readers on a life-changing journey to the rugged Himalayan trails where he encounters poverty, human trafficking, and a host of problems that lead to personal crisis and life change.

Platt is not content to hoard his life-changing journey; he wants to share it with others. He wants to challenge others and inspire them to something greater. According to Platt, then, something needs to change. A few highlights help summarize the general flow of the book. The author intends:

  • To integrate what we know in our minds with our hearts and feel genuine compassion for lost people (my words).
  • Challenge readers to engage their hearts with a broken world.
  • Motivate readers: “What we need is not an explanation of the Word and the world that puts more information in our heads; we need an experience with the Word in the world that penetrate the recesses of our hearts.”
  • Spur reader to take action: “We need to dare to come face to face with desperate need in the world around us and ask God to do a work deep within us that we could never manufacture, manipulate, or make happen on our own.”

The real beauty in this book is found in Platt’s insistence to steer clear from the social gospel. To be sure, the author never minimizes the massive human need for food, shelter, medicine, or education. He never skits the difficult subjects of poverty, human trafficking, or disease. These are all areas that followers of Christ must address when the opportunity arises. Yet, these physical needs are penultimate. The greatest need of every image bearer is the gospel. The greatest need of human beings is being in a reconciled relationship with a holy God. The greatest need of creatures is redemption.

The response to social justice alone makes this book a worthy read. Too many churches are neglecting the purpose of the church by drawing lines that maximize social justice and minimize the gospel. Something Needs to Change is the biblical antidote to the misplaced emphasis of the so-called social justice movement.

David Platt is to be commended for his heart and passion for the truth. But strong dogma never discourages maximum impact. Rather, strong dogma demands maximum impact – so that God might be glorified among the nations!

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review.

BOOK REVIEWS · Discipleship

RADICAL TOGETHER – David Platt (2011)

David Platt urged Christ-followers to jettison the American dream and opt for a life of service to the glory of God in his first book, Radical.  His follow-up work, Radical Together takes his proposal one step further by  challenging the Body of Christ to extend God’s grace to the world.  One central question drives the book: “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?”

Platt shows how six key ideas stoke the fire which results in a world ablaze with the glory of God.  Included are some highlights from each chapter to prompt thought, discussion, and action:

1. One of the worst enemies of Christians can be good things in the church

  • “The last thing you and I want to do is waste our lives on religious activity that is devoid of spiritual productivity – being active in the church but not advancing the kingdom of God.”
  • “We must be willing to sacrifice good things in the church in order to experience the great things of God.”
  • “A church is a community of individuals who have lost their lives to follow Christ.  Surely it flows from this that we would be willing to lose our programs and our preferences, to sacrifice our budgets and our buildings, to let go of our most cherished legacies and reputations if there is a better way to make his glory known in the world.”

2. The gospel that saves us from work saves us to work

  •  “True faith in Christ inevitably produces great work for Christ, not works fueled by the flesh in an attempt to earn our way to God, but works fueled by faith in a life that is abandoned to God.”
  • “Yes, the gospel saves us to work, but we must be careful to plant every challenge, every declaration, every decision, every action, every question, every confession, and every exhortation solidly in the soil of gospel grace.”
  • “Gospel-driven obedience produces gospel-filled joy.”

3. The Word does the work

  • “In our lives and in the church, we are never without revelation from God.  At all times you and I have his message to us in all its power, authority, clarity, and might.”
  • “God has designed us to depend on his Word to lead his people in ways that are utterly disproportionate to who we are.”
  • ” … Members of churches should desire and, in a sense, demand nothing less than continual feasts on God’s Word in the church.  This alone will satisfy, strengthen, and spread the church in the world.”

4. Building the right church depends on using all the wrong people

  • “God has given every follower of Christ natural avenues to spread the gospel and declare his glory.  Which means that the last thing leaders should do is pull people away from those avenues in order to participate in our activities.”
  • ” … Church leaders are intended by God not to plan events but to equip people.  Leaders do not exist to provide services; they exist to serve people.”

5. We are living – and longing – for the end of the world

  • “[Jesus] made it clear that his followers are to make disciples among every people group in the world.  The end of the age will not come when a certain number of people in one ethnic group come to Christ.  The end of the age will come when people from every single ethnic group have come to Christ.”
  • “Any Christian and any church desiring to obey the command of Christ in the world and longing to see the coming of Christ at the end of the world must possess a God-centered, gospel-driven tenacity that is ready to endure an intense spiritual battle.”

6. We are selfless followers of a self-centered God

  • “Let’s rise up together as selfless followers of a self-centered God, and let’s live – and die – as though we believe our highest prize is his global praise.”

Platt argues, “God has called us to lock arms with one another in single-minded, death-defying obedience to one objective: the declaration of his gospel for the demonstration of his glory to all nations.”  I’m always challenged when I read something by David Platt.  Something tells me I’m not alone.  But I’m confident that the author is not encouraged by platitudes and well received reviews.  What Platt is after is action – action that begins and ends in the church.

4 stars

BOOK REVIEWS · Discipleship

RADICAL – David Platt (2010)

Radical by David Platt is not for the faint at heart.  The author calls readers to a life of God-centered discipleship; a life that pursues Christ, worships Christ, and obeys the mandate of Christ.

Platt aggressively confronts the primary tenets of the so-called American dream and challenges readers to re-evaluate priorities in light of Christ’s call to discipleship: “Jesus has commanded each of us to make disciples and this is the means by which we will impact the world.”

Platt admits that making disciples is not easy: “We must live for them, love them, serve them, and lead them … In the process you will multiply the gospel to the ends of the earth.”

Additionally, the author argues that disciple making involves intentionality: It is a “command for us to be gospel-living, gospel-speaking people at every moment and in every context where we find ourselves … Disciple making is not about a program or an event but about a relationship.  As we share the gospel, we impart life, and this is the essence of making disciples – sharing the life of Christ.”

The author calls Christ-followers to commit to a one year radical experiment:

1. Pray for the entire world.

2. Read the Bible from cover to cover.

3. Sacrifice your money for a specific purpose.

4. Spend  your time in another context.

5. Commit your life to a multiplying community.

Radical is a cross between John Piper’s Desiring God, John MacArthur’s The Gospel According to Jesus, Walter Chantry’s Today’s Gospel, and The Cost of Discipleship by Bonhoeffer.  It is a serious book for serious followers of Christ.  Indeed, “Your life is free to be radical when you see death as reward.”

Platt continues a theme that Piper has stressed for years, namely – God is the Gospel: “This, we remember, is the great reward of the gospel: God himself.  When we risk our lives to run after Christ, we discover the safety that is found only in his sovereignty, the security that is found only in his love, and the satisfaction that is found only in his presence.  This is the eternally great reward, and we would be foolish to settle for anything less.”

One of my best friends from Belarus has summed up the essence of Platt’s work: “In the final analysis, the only the thing that matters is a relationship with God and relationship with people.”  Belarussian Christians are truly living radical Christian lives!

Radical is God-centered, Christ-saturated, biblical, thought-provoking, passionate, Great Commission-minded.

4.5 stars