The Pastor's Study: David Platt's "Follow Me"
2014-03-04
A few year's ago I was introduced to David Platt by some well-meaning and enthused college students.  They were so excited I would have thought that they had discovered the third letter to the Corinthians.  They were studying "Radical" by Platt and like many others, their lives were being changed - well, at least their daily thought life about the meaning of discipleship was being challenged.  Being challenged doesn't always translate into change.  Whenever I hear about a new author and I see a frenzy of Christian consumerism I become wary - probably mostly out of envy.  Some of my wariness is because of what I see in Christian marketing and also because I have been through many revival cycles in my 33 years of being a follower of Jesus.  You sort of grow a bit cynical and tired when the latest and greatest author has written yet another book about the greatest man to ever walk this earth.  So when I received an advanced copy of David Platt's new book, "Follow Me" I began to read with wariness and a highlighter pen ready to find his theological error so that I could stop all of the nonsense with these radical Christian college kids.  

Chapter 1 - I put the highlighter down and was once again captured by the pure and simple Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I was worried that the book was going to be a guilt trip at first in that Platt immediately begins with the Christian- scaring-Christians passage of Matthew 7 when Jesus declares that many religious people will not make it into the Kingdom even though they talked and even acted like Christians during their short stay here on earth.  But then Platt reminded me that Matthew 7 does not consist of his words but rather Jesus' words.  Platt doesn't try to scare the reader into being a Christian.  Rather, he pleads with Christians to return to the Scriptures, to return to the Gospel, and to return to the words of Jesus and to follow Jesus.  Platt takes Jesus literally and has often been accused by Christians for taking him so literally.  Yes, there are certainly times where Platt, like any man misses the point of a text in order to bolster his own ideas.  But for the most part, "Follow Me" is spot on, refreshing, and challenging.  

As I continued to read "Follow Me" it became very clear to me that David Platt has a gift to communicate the controversial truth of the Gospel.  He does not back away from Jesus' radical teachings.  He takes Jesus literally.  So should every true Christian.  "Follow Me" reminded me of how tame the modern day church has made the Gospel and how shallow they have made the deep water of Jesus' words.  "Follow Me" is refreshing because David Platt takes Jesus at his word and boldly declares that following Jesus means being saved from something (our sin) while also being saved to something (godly living and mission).  

I was personally encouraged because of the lack of depth and seriousness I see in a lot of preaching, in many churches, and in many books.  We are quick to talk about how to have good relationships or be a nice guy to our neighbor, but we tend to ignore the sacrificial nature of following Jesus.  

Throughout the book, Platt shares his many experiences of evangelism and mission that he has had around the world.  He has had opportunities that many people will never have.  It might become easy to be discouraged as you read about one experience after the next - he often sounds like the Apostle Paul.  You might think to yourself that you could never do the things Platt has done just because of resources.  And this might be true.  The fact of the matter is that most Christians will never experience what Platt has experienced around the world.  This is why a book like "Follow Me" is so valuable.  Platt is sharing the wealth of opportunity to help strengthen, equip and encourage the saints to do what God has called them to do.  

If I have one criticism of a book I have never read, Radical (also by Platt), it would not be the book itself but the response by the readers.  God has not called us to mimic the experiences or call of another.  Jesus has called disciples everywhere to follow him wherever God might lead them.  This might be to Africa, India, or the Bronx, or Farmville, USA.  You might be called to minister to middle-class suburbanites, or inner city gang members.  No matter what your call, you are called to follow Jesus who radically calls you to trust in His finished work and to radically trust Him on mission.  

"Follow Me" is theologically, practically, and Biblically spot on.  Platt handles the Scriptures well and without apology.  His greatest argument is not new but is worth a reminder - if Jesus did really rise from the dead, if he really did conquer death, then we can't just accept what Jesus said and call ourselves Christians.  Platt does away quickly with the mentality of asking Jesus into your heart and calling it a day.  We can't just accept the words of Christ, we must orient everything in our lives around what Jesus said and follow him.  We must take Jesus literally and that means something radical.  If you want to be challenged, exhorted, and assured of salvation, give "Follow Me" a read.  It's worth your time.  
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