Editor’s Note: We know some people are going to be upset with our article about David Platt. Please understand that there is more here than meets the eye. This issue goes far beyond the scope of this article. There is a lot more at stake here than rejecting a “sinner’s prayer.”
Editors at Lighthouse Trails
On August 27th, the Southern Baptist Convention elected Reformed author and pastor David Platt as the organization’s new president of the SBC International Mission Board. Platt is the author of several books including Radical (a New York Times bestseller) and in his books and sermons puts an emphasis on “community,” relationship, and “discipleship” over having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. In fact, Platt takes his “theology” so far as to say that the sinner’s prayer (based on Romans 10:9-10*) and “inviting Jesus into your heart” is superstitious and unbiblical (see video clip below).
Platt’s de-emphasis on having a personal, one-on-one relationship with Jesus Christ and his emphasis on community, relationships, groups, disciples, leadership, etc. is a mixture of the “new” Christianity, emerging spirituality, and a works-based belief system. Southern Baptist Convention has been making some big slips into apostasy for a long time through its embracing of the Purpose Driven Life, contemplative spirituality (i.e., spiritual formation), and so forth, but electing Platt may be one of the more blatant things they have done to date. Platt says that the traditional way of presenting the Gospel is “damning.” And yet a brief look at the “sinner’s prayer” shows a very clear Gospel message. The sinner’s prayer is a way to take an unsaved person through Scripture to show that he or she is a sinner in need of salvation, which can happen only through repenting (changing direction and turning toward God), believing on Jesus Christ, and accepting Him as Lord and Savior. However, the multitude of leaders that have risen to the top of the evangelical church through big marketing plans of their publishers and a Christian media world that advertises and exalts them to a high stature are convincing millions that the pure simple Gospel is not enough—they need better and more complex ways to find the Lord and eternal life. With Rick Warren, it has to be purpose-driven; with Beth Moore and Richard Foster, it has to be through contemplative stillness; and now with David Platt, it has to be through “discipleship” (as well as spending time in global missions because anything less, such as local missions, is insignificant). Too bad if you are only six years old, want to receive the Lord into your heart because you realize you are a sinner in need of a Savior but you can’t even read yet. According to Platt’s plan of “salvation,” you’ll have to wait until you are old enough to get some “proper” discipleship that is presented by manipulating leaders who teach that coming to Christ is anything but simple.
We appreciate Canadian songwriter and singer Trevor Baker, who challenges teachers like Platt who suggest that the Gospel is much more complicated than acknowledging you are a wretched sinner and need to ask Jesus Christ to live inside your heart, surrendering your life to him. And with this complication comes the need for all these teachers because the Bible and the work of the Holy Spirit is not enough to get somebody saved and to disciple him or her. So folks, according to the SBC, all of you and all of your children and grandchildren who asked the Lord into your hearts (whether you were sincere or not) are superstitious and unbiblical. But there’s hope—David Platt, Rick Warren, Beth Moore, Bill Hybels, John Piper, and a slew of other “teachers” will teach you to be disciples—but not of Christ, mind you; rather of them. In other words, even though the Bible says that Christ IN you is the mystery of God (Colossians 1:27), they are suggesting that never mind having Christ in you—you can become Christlike through their “discipleship” methods and good works. Contrary to what they teach, discipleship comes AFTER one has become born again— it’s not a means to salvation.
How interesting that David Platt throws out the simple Gospel message through producing a blanket statement that a sinner’s prayer of repentance is bad; yet he is part of a conference called Verge (to suggest we are on the “verge” of some great happening) sharing a platform with emerging church leaders such as Alan Hirsch and Francis Chan and focusing on social justice and “missional” (i.e, the “new” emerging missiology); and in March 2014, Platt shared a platform with New Age sympathizer Leonard Sweet at the North Carolina Baptist Mission Conference. While Platt throws out the sinner’s prayer and the simplicity of the Gospel, one can only wonder if his “discipleship” methods will include exposing his disciples to people like Hirsch and Sweet.
When are Christians going to wake up and understand that the multitude of neo-Gospel leaders they are following are leading them through manipulation, brainwashing, and guilt-driven techniques and methods that will not bring their followers to Jesus Christ but rather to “another Jesus” and “another gospel” (2 Corinthians 11:4), offering them carnal devilish substitutes for the real thing—Jesus Christ! We, as believers, need to wake up to the magnitude of the apostasy that has crept into the church at large!
There is a common phrase within the “new” Christianity—Christ follower. When you study what new Christianity teachers mean by this, you see they are differentiating between “Christ in you” (a relationship with Him) and “following” Jesus (and performing certain disciplines or works to make one more “Christlike”). In actuality, they have made Jesus into a mere model or example who should be followed rather than entering into a personal relationship with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. A person who is truly born-again has Jesus Christ indwelling him. Jesus lives inside that person. And it is His life in him or her that gives the power to become progressively more like Him (sanctification), as Paul said in his address to Corinthian Christians: “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18). The believer draws his strength and power from Jesus Christ (who indwells him), and he realizes his salvation and any good thing in him is from Christ; as the Scripture says: “Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:9). In Christianity, the Spirit of Christ indwells us through faith. So Jesus becomes more than a model or example or someone to follow; He is a living presence in us.
The Bible is clear that once someone is saved (born again), he is to be discipled by trustworthy God-honoring, Bible-believing teachers and pastors. But the “Gospel” that Platt, Warren, and so many others are presenting is not the “whosoever” Gospel that invites anyone to come in and sup and commune with Jesus Christ and become one of His; rather it is a works-driven belief system that draws unaware victims in, then harnesses them to a yoke too great to bear. Jesus said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30)
The Southern Baptist Convention has done a great disservice to their Baptist members, and no doubt the effect will be felt throughout Christianity in these days when the world desperately needs the simple beautiful life-giving Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)
But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. (Romans 8:9-11)
Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you. (2 Corinthians 13:5)
To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:27)
If after reading this article, you are not sure what it means to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, consider watching the movie Sheffey about the itinerant preacher in the 1800s, Robert Sheffey. Here was a man who communed with the Lord, who supped with Him, and who knew Him personally.
Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:20)
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)
And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.(Revelation 22:17)
*Romans 10:9-10: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”