Pastor David Platt challenged young Christians to avoid "casual, comfortable, cultural Christianity" that turns a blind eye to the unreached, warning that getting caught up in the American dream will result in a wasted life.
"Be finished and done with a form of Christianity that says, ‘Pray a prayer, go to church, live it up in the world, go to some conferences and coast your way to Heaven.’ That’s not Christianity because it’s not following Christ,” Platt, pastor of McLean Bible Church in Virginia and head of the evangelistic outreach ministry Radical, told thousands of young adults gathered at the Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta for Passion 2022 on Jan. 2.
To follow Jesus is to "let His worldwide plan of ransom rescue dictate everything you think, desire and do, dictate your plans, dreams, how you’re going to live, what degree you’re going to get and how you’re going to make and spend money for the spread of God’s great love in Jesus among the nations," the pastor stressed.
“You will waste your life if you get caught up in this American dream. Don’t do it. Lift your eyes above the distractions,” he urged. “Look at the destiny of this world. The train of history is headed towards people of every nation, tribe and tongue, enjoying and praising Jesus. Jump on that train.”
Platt spoke on the first day of the Passion Conference, an annual event that seeks to equip the next generation of Christians to live boldly for the Gospel. Other speakers at this year's two-day event included Sadie Robertson Huff, Levi Lusko, Tim Tebow and founder Louie Giglio.
Platt's message was focused on the urgency of sharing the Gospel, as there are approximately 3.2 billion people around the world who have yet to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ.
“God desires for people from all nations to hear and receive the Good News of His great love in Jesus,” the Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream author stressed. “That’s the truth. ... This is God’s passion for people.”
Platt, who previously served as president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board, shared a series of Scripture verses to emphasize the importance of spreading the Gospel. This includes the Great Commission, outlined in Matthew 28:19.
In that verse, Jesus commands His disciples: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always to the end of the age."
Platt explained that Jesus died to save all of humanity, not leaving out any nation, language or people group.
“Jesus was slain and He shed His blood to ransom, to rescue people for God, from where? Every tribe, every language, every people, every nation. God desires for people from all the nations to hear and receive the Good News of His great love. His great rescue in Jesus," the pastor declared.
“Are you convinced that God desires and decrees for people from all nations to hear and receive, not just receive, but rejoice in the Good News of His great love in Jesus?” Platt asked, adding: “That’s the picture in God’s Word.”
The United States, the speaker contended, is "quite possibly" the place in the world with the most access to Gospel. Yet, many around the world "don’t have access to someone who can tell them about Jesus, they don’t have followers of Jesus or churches proclaiming the Good News of God’s great love,” Platt explained.
He exhibited a Radical Stratus map displaying the color-coded places on the world globe that have and haven’t been reached with the Gospel.
“This is why we don’t say, ‘Well, I don’t know why we talk about unreached people around the world when there are unreached people on my campus, there are unreached people in my neighborhood,’” Platt explained. “You say, ‘How do you know?’ Because they're on your campus. They’re in your neighborhood. They have access to the Gospel. You’re it."
“We’re talking about people who don’t have anyone near them to tell them about Jesus,” he continued.
There are many people living in unreached areas on the map that will live and die without hearing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, according to Platt.
“The Bible is clear. If you never hear this Good News, then you can’t believe it, and if you don’t believe it, you can’t experience God’s love and salvation from sin,” he emphasized. “In other words, unreached people who are born and live and die without ever hearing the Gospel experience eternal suffering in Hell when they die.”
Though it can be difficult to grasp the concept of a good God allowing the unreached to go to Hell, Platt pointed out that the Bible is "crystal clear that people cannot be saved from their sins by Jesus if they don’t believe in Jesus, and they can’t believe in Jesus if they never hear about Jesus."
Platt asked his audience — since they have heard the Gospel and know “the Rescuer who has laid down His life for people from every tribe and nation” — do they want to spread the Gospel? And what price will they pay to do so?
“How are you going to spend your life?" he asked. "Based on this picture of God’s Word and this picture in the world, I want to plead with you tonight to refuse to settle for a casual, comfortable, cultural Christianity. I want to plead with you to refuse to do what millions of Christians and leaders of churches are doing in our country, to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to 3.2 billion people and thousands of people groups who have never heard the Gospel.”
Platt urged the crowd to avoid a Christianity that does not include evangelizing to the unreached.
“The purpose of your life in this world is to make the good news of God’s great love in Jesus known throughout this world. And you are not living if you’re not living for this,” he said.
As his sermon came to a close, Platt reminded the audience that they are not the rescuers, but they are the rescued because every follower is saved by Jesus. He also addressed those who might think they are too broken to offer anything to the world.
“I want to encourage you, as you walk through what seems like a never-ending process of healing in Jesus’ hands … you have so much to offer to those who have no idea who Jesus is,” Platt preached. “You have the greatest news in the world for those who are hurting that this healing process is not neverending, that your healing will one day be whole.”
“As a result of His ultimate rescue, God’s glory shines in this broken world not only through strengths but also through scars, ” he concluded. “Live for this. If necessary, die for this — for people from all nations to hear and receive the Good News of God’s great love in Jesus.”
Leah Klett contributed to this report.