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Platt: ‘Millions upon millions’ need Jesus
Tim Ellsworth, Baptist Press
June 16, 2011

Platt: ‘Millions upon millions’ need Jesus

Platt: ‘Millions upon millions’ need Jesus
Tim Ellsworth, Baptist Press
June 16, 2011

PHOENIX — Pastors are responsible to lead their churches to

engage the world’s unreached people groups with the gospel, David Platt said in

the convention sermon at the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) annual meeting

June 15.

Platt, pastor of The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Ala., noted that

people groups by the thousands worldwide are unreached for Christ. “This is not

a problem for the International Mission Board to address,” Platt said. “This is

a problem for every local church in this convention to address.”

Platt emphasized that he was not advocating the neglect of local ministries and

missions but added that “at the same time, global mission is tragically

neglected.”

He pointed to an example from northern Yemen, which has a population of about 8

million people but only about 20-30 Christians.

“That is a problem,” Platt said. “Masses of people groups. Millions upon

millions upon millions of people who do not have access to the gospel.”

Preaching from Matthew 24:14, Platt said Christians are often confused about

their message, their mission and their motive. Christians’ message, Platt said,

is that God is King and that He rules over all.

“Our God is sovereign over all nature,” Platt said. “The wind blows at His

bidding. The sun radiates with heat from His hands. Every single night, our God

brings out the stars one by one and He calls them each by name.”

In addition to being sovereign over nature, Platt said God is sovereign over

nations and holds the rulers of the world in His hands. The good news, he

continued, is not just that God is King but that the King has come in the

person of Jesus Christ — and all who believe in Him and trust in His name will

be both children of God and heirs of God’s Kingdom forever.

But the church, Platt said, is guilty of minimizing and maligning that good

news.

“We have reduced Jesus the King to a poor, puny savior who is just begging for

people to accept him into their heart or invite him into their life, phrases

that are never used in the Word of God,” he said. “We have reduced the gospel

of the Kingdom to a shrink-wrapped presentation that if we can get people to

say and pray the right things back to us, we will pronounce them fit for heaven

and free to live their life on earth however they desire.

Photo by Bill Bangham

David Platt, pastor of The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, gives the convention sermon “calling every pastor” to lead churches to reach unreached people groups with the gospel. About 6,750 people groups around the world are unreached, he said June 15 during the Southern Baptist Convention in Phoenix, Ariz.

“Not true,” he continued. “Our King is not a savior who is begging for anyone’s

casual approval. Our King is a sovereign who deserves everyone’s eternal

praise.”

Platt took aim at author/pastor Rob Bell and others who have questioned the

reality of hell, warning Southern Baptists to “be very cautious when anyone

says, ‘Did God really say this? Would God really do that?’

“This is the question that ushered sin into the world in Genesis 3,” Platt

said. “Our ways are subject to His judgment, and He has appointed a day when

every man and woman will die and face judgment.”

The message of good news, that God offers eternal life to those who trust in

Christ regardless of their station in life, works anywhere in the world, Platt

said, and Christians’ mission is to proclaim that news throughout the whole

world, to all of the 11,627 people groups that the IMB has identified, more

than half of which remain classified as “unreached.”

“When we say ‘unreached,’ we’re not just talking about lostness. We’re talking

about access,” Platt said. “Unreached means that you don’t even have access to

hear the gospel. There’s no church, no Christian, no Bible available around

you.”

If Christians and churches are not intentionally going after those unreached

groups with the gospel, Platt said they are disobeying the Great Commission —

because God’s command was not a general one to make disciples among as many

people as possible, but to make disciples among every single people group.

The motivation for Christians to pursue such a mission, Platt said, is their desire

that God be praised and to complete the task He has given them.

“What drives passion for unreached peoples is not guilt. It’s glory,” Platt

said. “Glory for a King, for a King who deserves the praise of every people

group on the planet.”

Platt said that pursuing that goal will come with a cost, because Satan is

opposed to God’s people reaching the world with the gospel. Some people will

hate Christians for their message, and some may even kill them. But Platt

reminded Southern Baptists that the reward is worth the sacrifice and

challenged them to be bold and intentional in their efforts.

“Let’s do it all with our eyes fixed on the sky, where one day the Son of Man

is going to come in clouds of glory and power, and His angels are going to gather

the elect from the four winds, from every tribe, tongue, people and nation,”

Platt said. “We will see His face, and we will see our King, and we will reign

with Him forever and ever and ever and ever.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Ellsworth is director of news and media relations at Union

University in Jackson, Tenn.)