From the Back Row – Dr. David Platt

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Plenty has been said, written and celebrated today in response to the election of Dr. David Platt to the Presidency of the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. I invite and urge you to read those here:

Why I’m Glad David Platt Is the New IMB President

David Platt Is the New President of the IMB (and that’s a good thing!)

DAVID PLATT ELECTED AS PRESIDENT OF INTERNATIONAL MISSION BOARD

10 Things That We Owe Dr. David Platt

I will here only give a few personal reflections.

He looked tired and his brow was furrowed, but around him was one greatest joys and purposes God has given him – his family. For whatever reason, my wife and I had ended up on a middle row in the balcony – the last row where people were seated. The occasion was the alumni gathering of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary on the last afternoon of the Southern Baptist Convention in 2012. Part way through the proceedings, a family came and sat just a few chairs down from us – on the back row. That furrowed brow was the brow of Dr. David Platt, three time graduate and former dean of the chapel of this school. He was also at the center of recent convention scuttle in regards to comments he had made about the so-called “Sinner’s Prayer.” Still, in amongst our greater NOBTS family – something only that family of those comfortable in pulpits with coats and without ties and plates full of fried or boiled crustaceans may understand – he sat, as did we, at home in a room where many of us have cried out in angst before finals and in joy before an infinitely holy God and where Dr. Platt had so adequately filled the pulpit dozens of times.

Dr. Platt would most likely not remember me, though we have many mutual friends, since we have never had a long discussion. Still, each time I have met him – three in particular – he has been kind, congenial and humble. I have been around David since he came to speak to our BSU (BCM) at William Carey while he was an M.Div. student at NOBTS. The first time I heard him speak, I had never heard of him. For various reasons, I was anxious and aggravated with our campus ministry. This guy got up to speak, and for the first several minutes gave what amounted to a universalistic spiel; my blood was boiling. He then stopped and asked, “Who in here agrees with what I am saying?” Crickets. He then said, “Then why haven’t you said anything!?” He then launched in to the best message on the exclusivity of Christ and the mission of God that I had heard to date. So, I’ve been listening to him ever since, from the few dozen folding chairs in college, to the padded pews of the seminary chapel with a couple of hundred students, to the arena seating of large conferences with thousands. When the barely premature announcement of his election by the trustees of the International Mission Board broke, I was first moved to tears.

My response has been immediately to pray – to pray for all of us that would foolishly put our hope in any man. David will not reach the nations with the Gospel. Jesus will. The IMB has been led by more than one capable leader in love with missions and the spread of the Gospel in the last one hundred and sixty years. So, I pray for those of us who are fond of David Platt – let us not become enraptured in our affection for David so half as much as we are engulfed in the overwhelming Spirit of the God who wills His name to be known among the nations. However, there is something that feels special about this moment, so let us not waste it. If you have your Bible, and I hope you do, I invite you to turn to the passages of Matthew 24: 14, 28:19 – 20 and Revelation 5:9, pray and prepare to continue to take part in the task.

I also pray for David – for his humility, his faithfulness to his wife and beautiful family, and to the mission he so urgently involves us in.

There is an old obligatory Baptist joke that muses, “The Holy Spirit moves the most on the back three rows” – in the case of Dr. David Platt, may it be so. May the one on the back row move to the front for the glory and the fame of the God he serves.

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