Saturday, June 26, 2010

Platt: "Give up everything you have, carry a cross, and hate your family"...sounds a lot different than "Admit, believe, confess, and pray a prayer after me."

“At the end of Luke 9, we find a story about three men who approached Jesus, eager to follow him. In surprising fashion, though, Jesus seems to have tried to talk them out of doing so.  The first guy said, "I will follow you wherever you go."  Jesus responded, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head."  In other words, Jesus told this man that he could expect homelessness on the journey ahead. Followers of Christ are not guaranteed that even their basic need of shelter will be met.
“The second man told Jesus that his father had just died. The man wanted to go back, bury his father, and then follow Jesus.  Jesus replied, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God."
“I remember distinctly the moment when my own dad died unexpectedly of a heart attack. Amid the immense heaviness of the days that followed and the deep desire of my heart to honor my dad at his funeral, I cannot imagine hearing these words from Jesus: "Don't even go to your dad's funeral.There aremore important things to do."
“A third man approached Jesus and told him that he wanted to follow him, but before he did, he wanted to say good-bye to his family.  Jesus wouldn't let him. He told the man, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God." Plainly put, a relationship with Jesus requires total, superior, and exclusive devotion.
Become homeless.  Let someone else bury your dad.  Don't even say good-bye to your familyIs it surprising that, from all we can tell in Luke 9, Jesus was successful in persuading these men not to follow him?
“…Jesus was not using a gimmick to get more followers. He was simply and boldly making it clear from the start that if you follow him, you abandon everything—your needs, your desires, even your family.
The events of Luke 9 were not isolated incidents in the life of Jesus, either. On another occasion, when surrounded by a crowd of eager followers, Jesus turned to themand remarked, "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple." Imagine hearing those words from an obscure Jewish teacher in the first century. He just lost most of us at hello.
“But then he continued: "Anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple." Now this is taking it to another level. Pick up an instrument of torture and follow me. This is getting plain weird… and kind of creepy. Imagine a leader coming on the scene today and inviting all who would come after him to pick up an electric chair and become his disciple. Any takers?
“As if this were not enough, Jesus finished his seeker-sensitive plea with a pull-at-your-heartstrings conclusion. "Any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple." Give up everything you have, carry a cross, and hate your family. This sounds a lot different than "Admit, believe, confess, and pray a prayer after me."
“And that's still not all. Consider Mark 10, another time a potential follower showed up. Here was a guy who was young, rich, intelligent, and influential. He was a prime prospect, to say the least. Not only that, but he was eager and ready to go. He came running up to Jesus, bowed at his feet, and said, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?"
“If we were in Jesus' shoes, we probably would be thinking this is our chance. A simple "Pray this prayer, sign this card, bow your head, and repeat after me," and this guy is in. Then think about what a guy like this with all his influence and prestige can do. We can get him on the circuit. He can start sharing his testimony, signing books, raising money for the cause. This one is a no brainer—we have to get him in.
“Unfortunately, Jesus didn't have the personal evangelism books we have today that tell us how to draw the net and close the sale. Instead Jesus told him one thing: "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."
“What was he thinking? Jesus had committed the classic blunder of letting the big fish get away. The cost was too high.  Yet the kind of abandonment Jesus asked of the rich young man is at the core of Jesus' invitation throughout the Gospels. Even his simple call in Matthew 4 to his disciples—"Follow me"—contained radical implications for their lives. Jesus was calling them to abandon their comforts, all that was familiar to them and natural for them.
“He was calling them to abandon their careers. They were reorienting their entire life's work around discipleship to Jesus. Their plans and dreams were now being swallowed up in his.
Jesus was calling them to abandon their possessions. "Drop your nets and your trades as successful fishermen," he was saying in effect.  Jesus was calling them to abandon their family and their friends. When James and John left their father, we see Jesus' words in Luke 14 coming alive.
“Ultimately, Jesus was calling them to abandon themselves. They were leaving certainty for uncertainty, safety for danger, self-preservation for self-denunciation. In a world that prizes promoting oneself, they were following a teacher who told them to crucify themselves. And history tells us the result. Almost all of them would lose their lives because they responded to his invitation.” – David Platt, “Radical” pp. 7-12


Terry Rayburn said...


This is just another rehashed legalistic confusion of the gospel, making it "another gospel".

It confuses "discipleship" with salvation "by grace through faith".

I'm not familiar with Platt, but in the Statement of Faith of his own church he describes the gospel pretty well here.

He completely turns that true gospel on its head with all the nonsense of "give up everything you have, carry a cross, and hate your family", which are words of discipleship given for those who have already believed on the Lord Jesus Christ and been saved.

Jesus' words to the rich young ruler were only a theoretical way (not an actual way -- absurd) to "eternal life" by works, not the gospel.

"Admit, believe, confess, and pray..." are indeed closer to the truth of the gospel under the New Covenant.

I'm of course not talking about declaring someone "saved" merely because they "prayed this prayer after me".

Platt is confusing the gospel here, not just by an immediate set of "works", but a whole future life of "works" in advance.

But this kind of "radical" call does sell books sometimes, and makes its readers "twice the son of confusion" (to paraphrase the Scripture) as its author.

All this comes from trying to clarify the "gospel" from the four Gospels (MacArthur has made that same mistake) instead of from the Epistles.

The four Gospels are narratives which took place during and under the Mosaic Covenant.

Only after the cross is the New Covenant gospel clarified, and it contains zero "works" as a condition.

I'm not talking Zane Hodges so-called "free grace", here. Of course, "works" or "fruit" will inevitably follow, but they are not conditions for initial salvation.

Chad Richard Bresson said...


What does "cannot be my disciple" mean?


Terry Rayburn said...

1. First, whatever it means it can't mean "cannot be born again", "cannot be saved", "cannot be a child of God", "cannot be a Christian, Saint, or member of the Body of Christ".

Why? Because it involves *doing* something, *works*, which would make it "no longer grace" (Rom. 11:6 "But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace."

2. "Cannot be my disciple" goes to the meaning of the word "disciple" itself, which can be understood on many levels.

The two clearest elements of discipleship are "following" and "learning of".

Although there are obviously spiritual implications in being a disciple of Christ, it is not co-incidental with true born-again faith.

Examples: (1) Judas was a disciple of Jesus; (2) In John 6:66 "many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more."; (3) Jesus Himself, in John 8:31, said, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed." -- in other words my true disciples, my real disciples.", at least indicating that there may be untrue disciples, which would include those not even saved.

3. Therefore, one can be a "disciple" of Bob Dylan, studying his life and lyrics, and fulfilling the two main elements of discipleship, "following" and "learning of".

4. All that to say, discipleship (even "true discipleship") is not the Gospel.

The Gospel in the New Covenant is the Good News that Jesus Christ died on the cross for sins, was buried, and rose again on the third day, and that whoever believes in Him as Savior and Lord has eternal life and is saved and forgiven (having previously been regenerated in my theology, but that's a separate issue).

5. To mix the demands of "true discipleship" with the simple grace-through-faith of the gospel is to teach "another gospel, which is not another".

I believe, but can't prove, that this is why the word "disciple" is never used in the New Covenant epistles. Instead we are called "Christians", "the Church" or "Saints".

Nor is the word "disciple" used in any preaching of the Gospel in the book of Acts, that we know of (although the term is used in other contexts).

6. Discipleship is, of course, the natural *result* of a person being born again and justified by faith in Jesus Christ.

But even then, the *quality* of the discipleship of a truly born-again believer in no way affects his eternal life and forgiveness of his sins. That too, would contradict the Gospel.

On the other hand, NO discipleship on the part of a professing "believer" is a good indicator that he is simply not a believer at all and is unregenerate.

7. Sorry for the long comment. Yours was so succinct :)

Chad Richard Bresson said...


1. What's the *substantive* difference between Luke 14:33 and John 12:25?

2. What does "disciple" mean in Matthew 28:18?

Chad Richard Bresson said...

One other question,

3. What is the relationship of repentance to salvation?

Terry Rayburn said...

1. I'm not sure there is a substantive difference. Perhaps that the Lk passage seems to be a "condition" for discipleship, and the Jn passage seems to show what a "disciple" is like.

The more relevant question regarding the Luke passage ("whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.") is: where IS such a person?

If someone says to me that he has *truly* forsaken or renounced or given up (varying translations) ALL that he has, I will declare him to be (a) a liar, or (b) self-deceived and delusional.

This is a [deliberately] high standard Jesus used for illustration of the stupidity of self-righteousness. Much like his expansion of moral law (such as looking on a woman with lust as adultery, or hating someone as murder).

If salvation were *conditioned* on that standard, no one would be saved, in my opinion, and certainly no one would have any sane right to have "assurance" of their salvation.

It's like, "Be holy for I am holy" (1 Pt 1:16) or "be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Mt 5:48).

Of course, we are "holy" and "perfect" in one sense, but we had nothing to do with it, as "discipleship" goes.

2. As to your second question, the word "disciple" does not appear in Mt 28:18.

Maybe you were referring to Matt 28:19 :)

Regarding this "great commission" I would refer you to my previous comment where I pointed out

"Discipleship is, of course, the natural *result* of a person being born again and justified by faith in Jesus Christ."

Thus the parallel passage in Mark 16:15 "...Go into all the world and preach the gospel..."

Simply put, preaching the Gospel results in disciples.

But discipleship is not the Gospel.

By it's very nature ("following" and "learning of") discipleship is a life-long [ad]venture, not a prerequisite for salvation.

3. Your Socratic method of asking questions to teach is working. I'm learning even more reasons why discipleship is not the Gospel nor a prerequisite for it :)

I do prefer straightforward teaching to the Socratic method, though, if you have any thoughts to expand on Platt.

4. What I would prefer, of course, is for you to say,

"Hey, I was just quoting Platt to get something going here.

"The glorious Gospel of the glorious New Covenant is unilateral and unconditional and free!

"Whoever is thirsty let him come and drink of the water without cost!

"By grace are you saved through faith, not of works, lest any man should boast!

"Come! Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved!

"And THEN you can be a disciple like us!

"I agree completely with you, Terry!"


Chad Richard Bresson said...

I know, I know... socratic may be wearing thin a bit... but, humor me... :-)

1. What is the imperative in Matthew 28:19?

2. In order for someone to be "saved", does one need to "repent"? "Have faith"?

Terry Rayburn said...

Off to work now.

Will return to humor you for as long as you like :)

This is important. Thanks.

Darby Livingston said...

I appreciate Terry's reluctance to jump on the "radical" bandwagon. As a visitor to the SBC, Chad, I'm sure you heard Tom Rainer relate his conversation with David Platt concerning air conditioned homes. If one isolated the texts that Platt brings up here from the rest of Scripture, then no one is a disciple, even those we know are disciples. I'm looking forward to reading you guys' continuing discussion in hopes I learn something.

Terry Rayburn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Terry Rayburn said...


Okay, back in the blogging saddle...

1. The imperative of Matt. 28:19 is threefold: (1) make disciples, (2) baptize them, and (3) teach them to observe my commands

I suspect (though I don't know...darn Socrates) what you hope to achieve is to equate number (1), "make disciples", with the Gospel.

But nothing could be farther from the truth.

Disciples result *from* the preaching of the Gospel.

First of all, *we* can't of course, *make* disciples. Only God can.

But the imperative is there, nonetheless. So *how* do we "make disciples", biblically?

Do we rent a "church" and have clowns and balloons to attract people into a building where we can give them our weekly 3-points-and-a-song?

Not biblically. The church gathering is primarily for those who are already disciples.

Do we advertise in the paper, "Anyone who would like to 'follow' and 'learn of' Jesus Christ, come to the Discipleship Lectures this Tuesday night."?

No, I'm being silly.

What we do essentially is tell lost sinners the Good News that Jesus Christ died for sins, was buried and rose again the third day, and that if they will believe in Him, their sins will be forgiven, and they will be saved, and He will never leave them nor forsake them.

Indeed He will change them by His Spirit and His Word, and they may dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

If they *heed* that Good News, and believe in Him, they will become "disciples indeed". And it's "disciples indeed" that Jesus is referring to in Matt. 28:19.

2. Your second question is an easy one.

"Yes", they must repent and have faith.

I assume (though I don't know...darn Soc...oh, forget it) that you want to corner me into saying that repentance and faith are equivalent to discipleship.

Or to quote Platt, that repentance and faith are equivalent to "give up everything you have, carry a cross, and hate your family".

But again, nothing could be farther from the truth.

The newly born-again believer doesn't even know what that means. Even if it was preached to him as "the gospel" (a travesty in itself), he still can hardly *begin* to know what it means.

Indeed many or most of those who have been believers for *years!* don't really know what it means.

The newly born-again believer invariably knows two things, however: (1) I have sinned and I know that's not right, and deserves punishment, and (2) This Jesus they're telling me about died for my sins, and I believe in Him as my Savior and Lord, and I want to follow and learn of Him.

And in those two things is the answer to "what are repentance and faith".

Whereas the sinner formerly denied or even affirmed his sins, he has now "repented" (changed his mind) and sees his sins as bad, deserving of punishment, and in need of forgiveness.

Whereas the sinner formerly paid no attention to Jesus Christ, or denied Him, or even hated Him, he has now "repented" (changed his mind) and believes in Him (faith) as his Lord and Savior.

3. It's not complicated.

It's only when discipleship (e.g., "give up everything you have, carry a cross, and hate your family") is confused with the Gospel that the Gospel is confused and complicated.

Then sinners are confused, at best!

At worst they enter into a life of "discipleship righteousness" such as Martin Luther did before believing the true New Covenant Gospel of salvation entirely by grace.

Many such are with us today, claiming that they live by "The Ten Commandments" or "The Sermon On The Mount". I'm not saying they are innocent victims. They may well have rejected the true Gospel. But sadly they've accepted the "discipleship gospel".

(correction edit on paragraph under "2." beginning with "indeed")

Terry Rayburn said...


I appreciate your appreciation, but for the record, I'm sure you would agree that it's the true Gospel of grace and justification by faith alone that is really "radical".

Most all religions are based on some kind of discipleship "Do, do, do" to earn their "god's" love and favor.

[True] Christianity *alone* is based completely on the Grace of "It is finished! -- let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost" through the death, burial and resurrection of the Man Who is God.

Joseph G. Krygier said...

When I think of the conversation we had at our Think Tank about what some Christian speakers charge for a fee and then I think about how many indigenous pastors we could support and train in our Philippines work for that amount of money, $10,000, on a yearly basis, I shudder.
It causes me to consider not even wanting to buy any of their books. They certainly don't need the money no matter how good the teaching may be.

Chad said...


This is coming several months later, but I must respectively object to some of your assumptions. You begin your comments by saying that you are not familiar with Platt (which I assume means you have not read the book) and then proceed to continue on several comments tearing down his theology of the gospel based on a short article about his book.

You indicated yourself that repentance and transformation creates disciples. They must also be discipled. Jesus Christ said make disciples, teaching them to observe all that he commanded. (Matthew 28:19-20) Would Platt be wrong in telling professing disciples that Jesus commanded us to pick up our cross and follow him? Be holy as I am holy was a command as well. The difference is striving for the goal and achieving.

Perfection and holiness are not prerequisites of salvation, but the the pursuit is indication of the regenerated heart.

Philippians 3:12-
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.

Romans 6:1-2-
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?

James 2
18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! 20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.

James is not calling for works based salvation and neither is David Platt. You said, "I'm not familiar with Platt, but in the Statement of Faith of his own church he describes the gospel pretty well..."

I encourage you to investigate the book futher, and then draw conclusions. I am not trying to make a sales pitch for the book, but I do happen to agree that the lack of depth of understanding of the indicators of a regenerate heart and the drive for "salvation numbers" has left the American church extremely dead and confused.

Chad Richard Bresson said...

Thanks for this reminder, Chad. At some point I plan a "defense of Platt" post. In our evangelicalism today, "discipleship" has eclipsed the gospel. But I don't think that's happening here.

Terry Rayburn said...

Chad (not Bresson),

You wrote, "the pursuit is indication of the regenerated heart."

I agree 100%. This is a foundation of my understanding of the New Covenant.

In fact, if you can find one statement of mine in my comments that disagrees with that, I will pay you $1000 (just kidding, sorta, to make my point).

You are fighting a straw man windmill, if I may mix my metaphors.

One thing is for sure: if you can't see that Platt is confusing the gospel of [initial] salvation with a call for discipleship of the already-saved, you are not reading what Brother Bresson quoted.

The book may have some good stuff in it, but I have no interest in reading someone who says:

"Jesus finished his seeker-sensitive plea with a pull-at-your-heartstrings conclusion. "Any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple." Give up everything you have, carry a cross, and hate your family. This sounds a lot different than "Admit, believe, confess, and pray a prayer after me."

Apples and oranges (and I'm not advocating the idea that one is automatically saved if they "pray the prayer").

He simply exhibits the [common] misunderstanding and confusion of the gospel and discipleship.

And I believe you share that confusion (not surprising since it is so widely taught).

D Crawford said...

Hello, there. I'm new to this blog. I happened across it and have been enjoying it so I thought I'd go ahead and comment. I know this will be long. I apologize in advance.


First off, I must say that I really respect your heart for the gospel and your passion for defending biblical truth. It is truly admirable. And I agree with what you've been saying. One must be extremely careful not to confuse the gospel with anything else, including discipleship. They are not the same. Salvation is not by works but by grace.

That being said, I don't think your accusations against Platt are warranted. It is always difficult to do a text justice when it is taken out of context. This is true when dealing with scipture, and it is no less true when it comes to other texts. I think you may be jumping to (untrue) conclusions on the basis of this excerpt. Perhaps I may be wrong, but let me offer my understanding of his intent.

Much of his book is an indictment on the American Church culture for ceasing to produce mature believers who have a robust faith and a deep, rich knowledge of the scriptures; instead, many churches are producting a shallow counterfeit of the faith presented to us in scripture. While I suppose he could be guilty of painting with too broad a brush, I found much of it to be appropriate and accurate. His book is not a tract for non-believers, nor is it written as an answer to the question "what is the gospel?" It is written, it seems, to those who already profess faith. The text helps the reader to probe the content of their faith, and force them to consider whether Christ is at the center of their life or if He has been relegated to the periphery. This accounts for the mention of "pray a prayer after me." It is a challenge to the nominal Christian attitude. He is challenging the mentality that exists in many households that praying a prayer once and maybe coming to Church each week is all that being a Christian entails. Instead, he is urging them to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which they have been called (Gal 4:1). And not in terms of a checklist of behaviors, but in terms of understanding the true value of Christ and the gospel. If God has really done for us what the scriptures say He has, shouldn't we be willing to give our whole selves in return. Haven't we been bought with a price (1 Cor 6:20)? Shouldn't we present our bodies as a living sacrifice to God (Rom 12:1)? And if we aren't willing, why not? It reminds me much of Deitrich Bonhoeffer's book "Cost of Discipleship" and his discussion of cheap grace versus costly grace. It is not about trying to replace the gospel with moralism, but about trying to help people understand the beauty and the gravity of what God has done for us so that we worship him in loving response. In the first 3 chapters of his book he tries to help his readers understand that Christ is worth giving their whole selves up to; that biblical literacy is important and that if they hunger after God they should hunger to know his word; and that they should not rely on worldy tactics, tools, and weapons (or theirselves) but should ultimately rely on the power of God for their well-being and for advancing the Kingdom. He is not trying to replace the gospel, but trying to help Christians understand what should happen once they have accepted the gospel. And in this particluar passage he criticizes the mentality that has sought to portray Christianity as easy and costless in order to maximize numbers, when the reality is that while Christianity is of grace it impacts our lives greatly in many ways (or at least it should).

D Crawford said...

Let me conclude with a quote from Bonhoeffer:

"[Grace] is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son. “Ye were bought at a price,” and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear ...a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us."