In August, our friend David Platt, the 36-year-old pastor of The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, was elected to become the next president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board (IMB). The IMB has 4,800 missionaries spread out across the world. It is no surprise that we got emails like this one: “Pastor John, my name is Jake and I work for a missions organization in Dallas. Could you please address the great ramifications of David Platt becoming the next president of the IMB?”
When I heard that David had been chosen to lead that great peacemaking army — I like those two metaphors together — one of the largest mission forces in the world, I actually trembled and came to tears. I went over to my prayer bench and spoke to the Lord about it.
Slain for All Peoples
There are a few things that weigh more heavily on my heart than the reality of six thousand unreached people groups in the world — groups that, according to Revelation 5:9, Christ was “slain” — that is the word —“slain” to reach:
Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth. (Revelation 5:9–10)
“The ultimate goal is passion for the supremacy of God in the hearts of people from every people group. The glory of God is the goal.”
So your blood, Lord Jesus, the blood of the Son of God — God’s blood, think of that, God’s blood — was poured out to gather a ransomed people from every Muslim and Hindu and Buddhist and Confucian and Sikh and Jew and Atheist and Animist people in the world. Nothing, nothing can be more important than what the Son of God died to achieve — reaching all the peoples of the world with the saving news of Christ’s death and resurrection so that God-worshipping, Christ-exalting, Bible-honoring, people-evangelizing, mission-advancing, justice-pursuing, society-changing communities of believers can be established through faith in the Redeemer.
God’s Glory as the Goal
That is the greatest possible work of the church in this age. And I say greatest work of the church, not ultimate goal of the church. The ultimate goal, of course, is passion for the supremacy of God in the hearts of people from every people group. The glory of God is the goal. And God is glorified when people are satisfied in him. But they cannot be satisfied in him if they don’t know him, if they don’t know what he has done to rescue them, if they don’t know the promises of pleasures forevermore at his right hand (see Psalm 16:11).
World missions — evangelizing the unreached peoples of the world — is the great work of the church. Everyone who is passionate about Christ-exalting social justice and Christ-exalting healthcare and Christ-exalting poverty relief and Christ-exalting deliverance from sex trafficking and Christ-exalting racial harmony and Christ-exalting peacemaking and Christ-exalting dignity for women and Christ-exalting family structures and Christ-exalting elimination of government corruption should be utterly passionate about world evangelization, because there can be no Christ-exalting anything without the knowledge of the exalted Christ.
Four Responses to David Platt’s Appointment
The question was, “What do you think about his appointment?” I said all of that so I could give four responses to that question.
1. David Platt passionately believes in the Great Commission.
David Platt believes everything I just said better than I do. He really believes in the Great Commission — that the evangelizing of the world into people discipling peoples discipling churches is the great work of the church, and not because all these other works are unimportant. They are certainly not unimportant. But this is the great work of the church precisely because without the existence of Christians, there can be no Christian good works of any kind in a people group. David Platt inhales the lostness of the world and exhales a passion to reach, and I love it. It is just good news.
2. David Platt brings courage to the engagement of hostile peoples.
He knows that most of the peoples who are left to reach are the ones that don’t want us to come and who will kill us if we try. And he does not think that should stop us, nor will it stop us. We will not finish the Great Commission without martyrs, and we know that from the Bible (see Revelation 6:11). And we know it from the news. David brings the realism and the courage to handle that volatile situation.
3. David Platt has a big vision of God.
David Platt has a vision of God and his saving work big enough to sustain the enormous price that will be paid, and the radical obedience that will be required, in the final era of frontier missions. This is no time for wimpy, silly, weak views of God. This is a time for massive God. And David knows him.
4. David Platt’s soul loves the word of God.
The ear of David Platt’s soul is tuned to the word of God, not the word of this world. He marches to the beat of heaven’s drum, not earth’s siren song of comfort and security.
“David Platt inhales the lostness of the world and exhales a passion to reach.”
Based on those four things and more, I believe God is going to make the Southern Baptist missionary troops not only a force to be reckoned with in the heavenly places of demonic opposition, but also a massive inspiration to many other mission agencies and missionaries and pastors. And I count myself one ready to receive.
This is going to be my prayer — that David Platt’s decision and the IMB’s decision (and I am sure his wife’s decision) will have global, God-glorifying, mission-completing impact of historic scope, all out of proportion to his limitations. May it be, indeed, an endtime move of the Spirit to hasten the day of God.