Pastor David Platt of McLean Bible Church in Virginia told his congregation Sunday that it's crucial more Christians move away from practicing “a false, superficial picture of Christianity” and begin to “embrace a biblical picture of Christianity."
Believers can do this, he said, "by not shrinking back in fear when faced with challenges that might come when spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ to remote places in the world."
During part five of his sermon series, titled "Following Jesus: Faith That Changes Lives in a World of Urgent Need," Platt shared a list of challenges that missionaries often encounter.
The challenges, he said, consist of but are not limited to: “natural challenges, geographic challenges, political challenges, conflicts, wars, developmental challenges, economic instability, illiteracy, lack of access to clean water or medicine, social challenges, slavery, trafficking, violence, crime, ethnic tension, refuge relocation, linguistic challenges and persecution.”
“We’ve said before that unreached people are unreached for a reason. They are hard to reach. They are difficult to reach and, in some cases, dangerous to reach,” Platt explained in his sermon.
“Some of you might look at this list [of challenges faced by missionaries] and be like, ‘OK, you officially talked me out of it.’ … If that’s you, I would just ask the follow-up question, ‘What kind of Christianity have you bought into? Who told you that following Jesus would lead to greater comfort and ease in this world?’ Because that didn’t come from this Book,” said Platt while holding up his Bible. “That came from a very skewed version of this Book that’s being sold all across our culture.”
Platt said that many Christians need God to point them to the reality that “the ultimate need of every single person in the world is to be forgiven for their sins.” However, he said, in order to be reconciled to God, a person needs to first hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Platt emphasized the importance of Christians not being afraid of difficulties that they might face while spreading the Gospel to remote places because, he said, “there are 3 billion people in the world who have never heard the Word of God, and they won’t have their sins forgiven if they never hear the Gospel.”
“God made a way for humans to be forgiven for all their sin, to be reconciled to Him, to eternal life, through faith in Jesus, by what He did on the cross, His resurrection from the grave,” he maintained. “We have been commanded to show God’s love in a world of earthly suffering, and ultimately, we have been commanded to proclaim God’s Gospel to keep people from eternal suffering — to keep people from Hell.”
“Somebody has to go and tell them. If no one goes and tells them, they will spend eternity separated from Him. Do you see what’s at stake here? Do we see the need?” Platt asked rhetorically.
Platt said he is convinced that one of the primary reasons more Christians are not praying, giving to others and going to meet the spiritual needs of those who have never been exposed to the Holy Scriptures is because they are not “opening their eyes to the reality of the unreached.”
“So many Christians can spend years in church and never even hear about unreached people in the world, or maybe [they] just hear and think about them every once in a while, but then go on with business as usual,” Platt said while following up with a prayer for God to "open the eyes of the audience to see the urgent spiritual needs in the world."
To start somewhere, Platt said Christians can begin by meeting the spiritual needs of the community where they live. He stressed, however, that the work of spreading the Gospel shouldn't stop there.
“If we turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to people in urgent need around us, our faith is worthless. It's in vain. It’s as good as dead,” he said. “This is what I mean by surely God is calling somebody to go to the unreached and maybe many [people] to go. It starts with a willingness to open our eyes and not turn away and just go back to business as usual.”
Over 7,000 languages are spoken across the world today, and approximately half of them still have little or no Scripture exposure, Platt added, and many of the remote places in the world will not welcome missionaries or anyone in to speak about Jesus Christ.
“At some point, these challenges will have to be overcome in order to reach the nations with the Gospel,” he concluded.