A Book Review: “Radical” by David Platt
Dismantling notions of complacency and safety in the Christian walk, Platt vigorously pushes the believer to take risks and live truly faith-filled lives. Putting this book down will be hard and even harder will be not initiating marked changes in your daily life as a result of reading it.
Do you want to live life in a way that leaves a mark on those around you? Many studies have shown that most people are forgotten in this world after about two to three generations. If that isn’t an alarming enough statistic, realizing that it includes one’s own family members, then perhaps reading the book (Radical) will help you to join me in living out a life legacy that’s worth remembering.
The book is focused on taking back your life of genuine faith from the lies of the “American Dream.” Though I am a lifetime entrepreneur who is committed to helping people with their dreams, I have grown to realize that the American Dream, as we know it, is a scam that’s been ripping off the complacent and safe.
Summary of Radical Insights:
Though below you will see a plethora of top insights from David Platt’s book, I did my best to keep this list manageable, and actually removed about 50% of the powerful insights that stood out to me. I encourage you to read the full book!
• Pg. 7- … I could not help but think that somewhere along the way we had missed what is radical about our faith and replaced it with what is comfortable. We were settling for a Christianity that revolves around catering to ourselves when the central message for Christianity is actually about abandoning ourselves.
• Pg. 13- A Jesus who wants us to be balanced, who wants us to avoid dangerous extremes, and who, for that matter, wants us to avoid danger altogether. A Jesus who brings us comfort and prosperity as we live out our Christian spin on the American dream. But do you and I realize what we are doing at this point? We are molding Jesus in our image. He is beginning to look a lot like us because, after all, that is whom we are most comfortable with. And the danger now is that when we gather in our church buildings to sing and lift up our hands in worship, we may not actually be worshipping the Jesus of the Bible. Instead we may be worshiping ourselves.
• Pg. 14 – While Christians choose to spend their lives fulfilling the American dream instead of giving their lives to proclaiming the kingdom of God, literally billions in need of the gospel remain in the dark.
• Pg. 19 – But I want to know him. I want to experience him. I want to be part of a people who delight in him like the brothers and sisters in underground Asia who have nothing but him. And I want to be part of a people who are risking it all for him.
• Pg. 27 – We actually stripped away the entertainment value and invited people to come together simply to study God’s word for hours at a time. We called it Secret Church. We set a date- one Friday night- when we would gather from six o’clock in the evening until midnight, and for six hours we would do nothing but study the Word and pray. We would interrupt the six-hour Bible study periodically to pray for our brothers and sisters around the world who are forced to gather secretly. We would also pray for ourselves, that we would learn to love the Word as they do.
• Pg. 28- Yet in the American dream, where self reigns as king (or queen), we have a dangerous tendency to misunderstand, minimize, and even manipulate the gospel in order to accommodate our assumptions and our desires. As a result, we desperately need to explore how much of our understanding of the gospel is American and how much is biblical.
• Pg. 32 – In the gospel God reveals the depth of our need for him. He shows us that there is absolutely nothing we can do to come to him. We can’t manufacture salvation. We can’t program it. We can’t produce it. We can’t even initiate it. God has to open our eyes, set us free, overcome our evil, and appease his wrath. He has to come to us.
• Pg. 37- I invite you to consider with me a proper response to this gospel. Surely more than praying a prayer is involved. Surely more than religious attendance is warranted. Surely this gospel evokes unconditional surrender of all that we are and all that we have to all that He is.
• Pg. 39- Jesus is no longer one to be accepted or invited in but one who is infinitely worthy of our immediate and total surrender. We realize that we are saved not just to be forgiven of our sins or to be assured of our eternity in heaven, but we are saved to know God. So we yearn for him. We want him so much that we abandon everything else to experience him. This is the only proper response to the revelation of God in the gospel.
• Pg. 45- The question for us, then, is whether we trust his power. – …the challenge for us is to live in such a way that we are radically dependent on and desperate for the power that only God can provide.
• Pg. 47- While the goal of the American dream is to make much of us, the goal of the gospel is to make much of God.
• Pg. 53- A scene where we no longer settle for what we can do in our own power. A scene where the church radically trusts in God’s great power to provide unlikely people with unlimited, unforeseen, uninhibited resources to make his name known as great. I want to be part of that dream.
• Pg. 56- He stands ready to allocate his power to all who are radically dependent on him and radically devoted to making much of him.
• Pg. 74- Every Saved person this side of heaven owes the gospel to every lost person this side of hell.
• Pg. 81- God is committed to providing abundant resources in support of those who are living according to his purpose.
• Pg. 82- They believe they were created for more than a Christian spin on the American dream. They believe the purpose of their lives is deeper than having a nice job, raising a decent family, living a comfortable life, and tacking church attendance onto the end of it. They believe Jesus has called them to a much higher plane and given them a much greater dream. – …they don’t want to settle for anything less than radical abandonment to that purpose.
• Pg. 88- He would intentionally shun titles, labels, plaudits, and popularity in his plan to turn the course of history upside down. All he wanted was a few men who would think as he did, love as he did, see as he did, teach as he did, and serve as he did. All he needed was to revolutionize the hearts of a few, and they would impact the world.
• Pg. 92- The plan of Christ is not dependent on having the right programs or hiring the right professionals but on building and being the right people- a community of people-who realize that we are all enabled and equipped to carry out the purpose of God for our lives.
• Pg. 93- Jesus reminds me that disciples are not mass-produced. Disciples of Jesus-genuine, committed, self-sacrificing followers of Christ- are not made overnight. Making disciples is not an easy process. It is trying. It is messy. It is slow, tedious, even painful at times. It is all these things because it’s relational. Jesus has not given us an effortless step-by-step formula for impacting nations for his glory.
• Pg. 96- Disciple making is not about a program or an event but about a relationship. As we share the gospel, we impart life, and this is the essence of making disciples. Sharing the life of Christ.
• Pg. 100- When we take responsibility for helping others grow in Christ, it automatically takes our own relationship with Christ to a new level.
• Pg. 103- Exciting things happen when the people of God believe the Word of God is worth spending their lives to teach others. – In a culture where bigger is always better and flashy is always more effective, Jesus beckons each of us to plainly, humbly, and quietly focus our lives on people.
• Pg. 107- We all have blind spots-areas of our lives that need to be uncovered so we can see correctly and adjust our lives accordingly. But they are hard to identify.
• Pg. 111- …if our lives do not reflect radical compassion for the poor, there is reason to question just how effective we will be in declaring the glory of Christ to the ends of the earth. More pointedly, if our lives do not reflect radical compassion for the poor, there is reason to wonder if Christ in us at all.
• Pg. 120- Are we willing to ask God if he wants us to sell everything we have and give the money to the poor? Are we willing to ask and wait for an answer instead of providing one of our own or justifying our ideas of why he would never tell us to do this?
• Pg. 121- Jesus never intended to be one voice among many counseling us on how to lead our lives and use our money. He always intends to be the voice that guides whatever decisions we make in our lives and with our money.
• Pg. 127- The reality is that most everything in our lives in the American culture would be classified as a luxury, not a necessity. – The point we can learn from this event in Wesley’s life is that our perspective on our possessions radically changes when we open our eyes to the needs of the world around us. – Why not begin operating under the idea that God has given us excess, not so we could have more, but so we could give more? Now we’re getting radical.
• Pg. 130 – What would happen, I thought, if we stopped asking how much we could spare and started asking how much it was going to take? – What would happen if together we stopped giving our scraps to the poor and started giving surplus? What if we started giving not just what we are able to give but beyond what we are able to give? What if, like the widow in Luke 21 who gave all she had, we began to give what it hurt us to give? What if we gave like this, not just because of the critical need around us, but because this kind of giving is actually what the heart of Christ in both demands and desires?
• Pg. 136- The lesson I learned is that the war against materialism in our hearts is exactly that: a war. It is a constant battle to resist the temptation to have more luxuries, to acquire more stuff, and to live more comfortably. It requires strong and steady resolve to live out the gospel in the middle of an American dream that identifies success as moving up the ladder, getting the bigger house, purchasing the nicer car, buying the better clothes, eating the finer food, and acquiring more things.
• Pg. 138- The way we use our money is a barometer of our present spiritual condition. – It is easy for the numbers and statistics regarding the poor and needy to seem cold and distant. The idea of billions in poverty or twenty six thousand children dying for starvation or preventable disease before we lay our heads on our pillows tonight seems hard to imagine.
• Pg. 143- If people are dying and going to hell without ever even knowing there is a gospel, then we clearly have no time to waste on the American dream.
• Pg. 149- …people are not ultimately condemned for not believing in Jesus. They are ultimately condemned for rejecting God.
• Pg. 157- If more than a billion people today are headed to a Christless eternity and have not even heard the gospel, then we don’t have time to waste our lives on the American dream.
• Pg. 165- Are we willing, as the first disciples were, to be the first to go into danger and possibly even to die there in order that those who come behind us might experience the fruit of our sacrifice?
• Pg. 167- The danger in our lives will always increase in proportion to the depth of our relationship with Christ. Maybe this is why we sit back and settle for a casual relationship with Christ and routine religion in the church. It is safe there, and the world likes us there. The world likes us when we are pursuing everything they are pursuing, even if we do put a Christian label on it. As long as Christianity looks like the American dream, we will have few problems in this world.
• Pg. 174- God knows every detail of our lives, and when we step out in faith to follow him, he will show us that our greatest security is not found in the comforts we can manufacture in this world but in the faithful provision of the only one who knows our needs and the only one who is able to meet our needs in every way.
• Pg. 179- John Paton, Jim Elliot, and C.T. Studd all illustrate one fundamental truth: your life is free to be radical when you see death as reward. – If you and I ever hope to free our lives from worldly desires, worldly thinking, worldly pleasures, worldly dreams, worldly ideals, worldly values, worldly ambitions, and worldly acclaim, then we must focus our lives on another world. – If your life or my life is going to count on earth, we must start by concentration on heaven. For then, and only then, will you and I be free to take radical risk, knowing that what awaits us is radical reward.
• Pg. 185- I dare you over the next year to:
1. Pray for the entire world
2. Read through the entire Word
3. Sacrifice your money for a specific purpose
4. Spend your time in another context
5. Commit your life to a multiplying community
• Pg. 189- I was introduced to Operation World, an invaluable book by Patrick Johnstone that has revolutionized my prayer life more than any other book outside of the Bible. – …all the information in the book is available free online at – www.operationworld.org
• Pg. 190- So the first facet of the Radical Experiment is to pray for the entire world in one year. I’m daring you to intentionally, specifically, audaciously pray for God’s purpose to be accomplished around the world.
• Pg. 193- …think for a moment what would happen over a year as you intentionally pray for the entire world while you simultaneously read through the entire word. After a year of such intentional praying and studying, your life cannot help but look radically different. I know this because it is the very promise of God to conform our hearts to be like his through prayer and to transform our minds to be like his through his word.
• Pg. 194- What if you took the next year and set a cap on your lifestyle? What if you sought for the next year to minimize luxuries in your life? This might involve selling present luxuries or withholding the purchase of future luxuries or intentionally sacrificing resources you already have. I emphasize that this would be a one year commitment for you. I point that out because there are some expenses you could postpone for one year that you might not be able to postpone for ten years.
• Pg. 195- The key word here, gain, is sacrifice. The challenge is not just to give away excess stuff that you really don’t need anyway. That’s not sacrifice. Sacrifice is giving away what it hurts to give. Sacrifice is not giving according to your ability; it’s giving beyond your ability. – …give to someone or something you can personally serve alongside.
• Pg. 196- It is wise to spend on that which can promote long-term sustenance amid need instead of short-term satisfaction of need. This is the third component of the Radical Experiment. For one year, sacrifice your money-every possible dollar-in order to spend your life radically on specific, urgent spiritual and physical need in the world.
• Pg. 200- So, the fourth challenge in the Radical Experiment is to give some of your time in the next year to making the gospel known in a context outside your own city. I suggest you plan on dedicating at least 2 percent of your time to this task. That 2 percent works out to be about one week in the next year that you will travel and take the gospel to another context in the world, either domestically and internationally.
• Pg. 205- Jesus looked at his disciples and told them that some of them would lose their families because they followed him. But then he told them that they would receive more than they ever had before in brothers, sisters, and mothers, all together under their heavenly Father. – …one reason many of us have not taken radical steps in our giving, for example, may not be so much because we love our possessions as it is because we fear isolation.
• Pg. 206/207- So who are the band of disciples that you are going to join with for the next year of this Radical Experiment? Alongside whom will you go into the community and into other contexts? With whom will you share the life of Christ as you show them what it means to follow after him? To whom will you teach the word as God teaches you over the next year? How are you going to intentionally make disciples?
• Pg. 213- Think of all the possessions you have now that you would realize you do not need, and think of all the dire needs that would be met as a result of your sacrifice of them.
• Pg. 216- You can cling to short-term treasures that you cannot keep, or you can live for long-term treasures that you cannot lose. – You and I have an average of about seventy or eighty years on this earth. During these years we are bombarded with the temporary. Make money. Get stuff. Be comfortable. Live well. Have fun. In the middle of it all, we get blinded to the eternal. But it’s there. You and I stand on the porch of eternity. Both of us will soon stand before God to give an account for our stewardships of the time, the resources, the gifts, and ultimately the gospel he has entrusted to us.
So are you ready to live radically for God and walk in agreement with His dream for your life? If you have any questions about any of these insights or how to adapt them to your world, feel free to contact me or the author.
I help my coaching clients focus on important life lessons like these so they can achieve better balance both personally and professionally. If you’d like to find out more about my life coaching company, Live With Purpose Coaching, feel free to contact me at (717)798-3596. Visit www.livewithpurposecoaching.com for more resources.