Tuesday, September 21, 2010

We're Not in Kansas Anymore!- Radical Read Along Chapter 2

I'm linking up today with Marla's Radical Read-Along.  Won't you join us?

Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream

And I thought my mind was swirling after Chapter 1?!?

Chapter 2 was going along swimmingly at first, actually.  David Platt's exposition of the gospel was, in my opinion, completely biblically sound.  He summarizes on page 36:
"This is the gospel.  The just and loving Creator of the universe has looked on hopelessly sinful people and sent His son, God in the flesh, to bear His wrath against sin on the cross and to show His power over sin in the Resurrection so that all who trust in Him will be reconciled to God forever."
But the section entitled Radical Revelation to be Radically Received made me feel like wide-eyed Dorothy who had just been plopped in Oz.  Honestly, one of the first things that popped into my head as I read that section was "We're not in Kansas anymore!"  Platt rips apart the notion that for salvation, all one needs to do is pray and accept Jesus as Saviour.
"Accept him?  Do we really think Jesus needs our acceptance?  Don't we need Him?"(pg. 37)
Wait, it's not that simple?  Every evangelical church or ministry I have ever encountered has preached this!  I dare say that while the Bible does not use terms, as Platt accurately points out, such as "sinner's prayer" and "asking Jesus into your heart," it does proclaim a simple road to salvation. 

"That if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved."  Romans 10: 9
"And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 18: 3
 Now, I hate to argue with the words of a Bible scholar and a man who is clearly smarter and more experienced than me.  I fully accept that I could be wrong.  My objective in writing this here is to hash this out in community.  But I wonder if Platt has combined two steps of the Christian's journey into one; calling salvation what I would call salvation and discipleship.  Platt writes on page 38-39: 
"Biblical proclamation of the gospel beckons us to a much different response and leads us down a much different road.  Here the gospel demands and enables us to turn from our sin, to take up our own cross, to die to ourselves, and to follow Jesus.  And salvation now consists of a deep wrestling in our souls with the sinfulness of our hearts, the depth of our depravity and the desperation of our need for His grace."
Yes, we are called to all these things!  But isn't this "wrestling" sanctification?  And how would one like a "little child" be capable of this kind of wrestling?  My understanding is this- after we turn from our sin (salvation), by the Holy Spirit's power we take up our cross, die to ourselves and follow Jesus.  Then God brings the rest through a process of sanctification, in which we work out our salvation. 
"Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose."  Philippians 2:12-13
God is not in us before but after salvation.  Am I right?

Maybe I am missing the point.  I'm probably just splitting hairs.  In the end, I agree with Platt's assertion that "Jesus is infinitely worthy of our immediate and total surrender." (p. 39)  And for that reason, this quarrel is not one that would cause me to reject the entire premise of the book.  But I would love to talk this out together.

What do you all think?  Were you surprised by the same things I was?  Did you end up accepting Platt's assertions about salvation or rejecting them?  What were your reasons?  Am I missing the forest for the trees? 


Melissa, Multi-Tasking Mama said...

I don't want to leave a book in your comment section but here are a few of my thoughts:
1. You are not splitting hairs as much as you might be missing that you and Platt are really on the same page...just viewing things in a slightly different way. Platt clarifues at the end of 37 and beginning of 38 that Jesus was speaking {regarding those that think they are saved and aren't} and referring to us- the righteous religious people of His day.
2. Another important point Platt made that helped me with this chapter is that "the gift of grace involves the gift of a new heart". You get one, you get the other. That new heart is going to hunger for Jesus.

I don't have all the answers, for sure, but those are the points that come to mind in response to your concerns...and the exact same verse Philippians 2:12 came to my mind except highlighting the part that says "continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling".

At least we are thinking, and exploring and seeking...right?

Renee said...

I think I had the same thinking as you. Now, I don't feel so alone.

alittlebitograce said...

i *think* what platt was getting at is that many christians in our culture don't go beyond the initial acceptance of Christ. i have read many accounts of those who have come to Christ and immediately demonstrated a dramatic change of heart. in our culture though, it is much more likely that the only visible change after salvation will be an added weekly commitment. actually turning from our sin has become much less common. i do agree that sanctification is a process, but there should be a difference between our lives and those around us. it was a wake-up call to see that my wiccan neighbour held higher standards for her tongue than did my elder's wife. this is not a message that should leave us unchanged.

Natalie said...

Thank you ladies! I appreciate your thoughtful comments.

SomeGirl said...

First let me say that I LOVE your new look!! So cute!

Second, I remember telling people chapter 2 shook my faith... made me question things I had heard and wrestle with what I believed. At the same time I felt a STRONG pull toward Galatians where Paul asks (paraphrased version) Are you so foolish that what you began with the spirit you are now trying to finish by yourself?? (totally paraphrased!) I loved the eye-opening work of Radical, but started to lean dangerously toward a works based salvation... (I may have already shared this with you). Anyway, I got to chapter 9 and stopped (lost my reading mojo). It's definitely worth the read!

Leigh said...

I get where you're coming from and agree with the comments above. If you have not grasped your sinfulness, accepted that there's nothing you can do about it, and realized your need for Christ's grace, then you will probably remain a nominal Christian. This is true for the people who pray the prayer and go merrily on their way, likely because they followed the steps without understanding the heart behind them. Sanctification means we still wrestle with our sinful bent, maintain dependence on God, and thank God for the grace that sets us free. I loved Platt's distinctions in this passage. Good stuff!

Sandee said...

Your point about salvation is what hit me too. It made me ponder..about my children. Has it made the message of salvation so complex that I cannot explain it to my children? (and yet we are told to come as little children.)

I thought my children were saved, having personally, at different times led them to asking Jesus into their heart.....and now have been focusing on discipling with them. This brought me to question...am I discipling an unbeliever...and how do you explain "total surrender", dieing to self, and picking up your cross to little children?

Natalie said...

Thanks for sharing your experience with Radical- I had not heard it before. I'm looking forward to wrestling some more :)

Anonymous said...

I totally get where you are coming from...I came from similar churches. Pray this prayer...check this box...raise your head and look at me if you prayed...etc. I am sick to my stomach knowing that so many in churches honestly think they have salvation when they don't. The narrow road sermon on the mount section hit me. He wasn't teaching that sermon to the non-religious of the day...they were the "highly spiritual". Even the demons believe their is a God... Believing and surrendered your life to him are so different.

In Phil. 2:12-13 that you mentioned...the part right before you highlights says..."continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling." That is one of the verses that first made me realize salvation isn't a one time prayer...it's a continual act of surrender. I know it's all so complicated. I take comfort in knowing that God has called his elect before this world was formed.

Natalie said...

Thank you for your comment, Jennifer! I still see salvation as a moment and the "working it out" as the process of surrender, sanctification and discipleship. It, of course, must be true belief and repentance but when one comes to that moment, s/he is saved, I believe. Then the rest is what makes up our daily walk with the Lord.

I appreciate your voice in this discussion!!!

Anonymous said...

No problem! Thanks for your thoughts as well. It will be wonderful to get to heaven and understand everything!

Anonymous said...

No problem! Thanks for your thoughts as well. It will be wonderful to get to heaven and understand everything!

Yaya Yarns said...

Oh this was an awesome chapter! I want to share this book with everyone I know!! Since I am playing catchup I will blog the rest. Just letting you know I am coming along behind you and loving it!!!


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