“We’re fooling ourselves if we think we can live our lives and lead our churches to go and reach the lost in the highways and hedges and continue with business as usual,” said David Platt, president of the International Mission Board (IMB), as he delivered the flagship sermon of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s (BSC) annual meeting Nov. 15 in Greensboro, N.C.
Photo by Steve Cooke
David Platt, president of the International Mission Board, delivers the flagship sermon of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s annual meeting Nov. 15 in Greensboro, N.C.
As he taught on multiple themes from 1 Corinthians 15, Platt addressed a central concern for Christians. “Compelling the lost to come to life is costly,” he said. “It involves sacrifice.”
A single question framed the sermon: Why must Christians go into dangerous places for the spread of the gospel?
Platt answered with three points. First, he said death is coming.
“None of us in this room is guaranteed tomorrow, so let us not waste today,” said Platt. “We don’t invest our lives in temporary trinkets. We invest our lives in eternal treasure. We don’t spend our lives on fleeting pleasures and foolish pursuits. We spend our lives on what’s going to matter forever.”
Platt shifted his attention to non-Christians as he continued, “They’re not guaranteed tomorrow either. … What lies ahead in eternity for those who don’t know Christ?”
Briefly touching on a notorious debate about the nature of hell, Platt repeated a common question about whether the Bible’s wording on the doctrine is metaphorical.
“Is that language literal, like literal fire and sulfur, or are those just symbols?” he asked before continuing. “Well, let’s assume for a moment that maybe they’re symbols. I’m not saying they are, but what if they were? What are they symbols for – a winter retreat, summer vacation? … These are not symbols for a nice place to be. … The whole point of a symbols is to express in words that which cannot be expressed in words – a terrifying place to be!”
The second point in Platt’s sermon emphasized the importance of Jesus’ bodily resurrection. Drawing directly from the passage, he said, “If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, brother or sister, you’ve staked your entire life for eternity on the decomposed corpse of a Jewish carpenter from 2,000 years ago. …
“Biblical Christianity is not a nice, decent, cozy Christian spin on the American dream as we wait for heaven. Biblical Christianity is about laying down your life and your rights for the spread of the gospel. It’s about embracing suffering. It’s about going to hard places, needy places – dangerous, difficult places. It’s about forsaking possessions and pleasures. It’s about sacrificing comforts. It’s about taking risks in faith, and all off that only makes sense if Christianity is true.”
Concluding with the third point, Platt called attention to the trajectory of history as it moves toward Christ’s ultimate reign.
“Here is the beauty: Every time you or I go to somebody in the community around us, proclaim this gospel and people bow the knee to King Jesus, His kingdom is coming. …
“We know where all history is headed. It’s headed toward the day when every nation, tribe, tongue and people will gather around the throne of our King and give Him glory. We want our lives, our ministries, to count. So let’s live to see more people bowed around the throne on that day.”
In Platt’s introductory remarks to the message, he thanked messengers for the generosity of their churches. North Carolina Baptists gave more than $14.6 million to international missions the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for 2016, leading the 42 state conventions in missions giving.
“Thank you for the way you lead your churches and the way you personally give to the Cooperative Program and to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering,” Platt said. “Thank you specifically for the way you have given over the last year as we’ve walked through some challenging days in the IMB.
“It’s in light of your giving that I’m happy to announce to you tonight that after years of spending millions more dollars than we have received, the IMB just last week approved a balanced budget for 2017, and I’m pleased to announce to you that … next year we’ll not only have a balanced budget but we will increase the number of Southern Baptist missionaries spreading the gospel around the world,” he said as the crowd applauded.
“Thank you for clapping,” Platt said, “but I’m the one clapping for you.”