The famous preacher John Wesley saved the souls of others long before he became a Christian himself, according to David Platt in his beststeller “Follow Me”. Platt relates the story of Wesley as an illustration that a person can be intellectually aware of the existence of Jesus without actually committing his or her life to following Jesus. The difference between those two positions can be chilling in regard to a person’s destination in the afterlife in the opinion of the founder of Radical.
Wesley was raised in a Christian home and appeared to live an examplary Christian life. He graduated with honors from Oxford University and was even an ordained Church of England pastor. He did all the right things. A compassionate man he witnessed to prisoners in London and shared food with children and orphans in the slums of England’s largest city. In addition to all these good works he performed, he was an avid student of the Bible. He did the things a person normally associates with a devoted Christian including praying regularly. He even fasted forty days at a time which is more extreme than most of the modern diet programs of today.
Wesley further could be seen at worship services on Sunday and even other days. He also visited the United States before it was a country in the eighteenth century. The reason for his trek to the colonies was not as a sightseeing tour of the New World. He was a missionary to the Native Americans in what was then the British colony of Georgia.
Jack Hill said in his Bible study group that Wesley underwent a traumatic experience on the trip back to England. His ship encountered such a severe storm that many on board feared they would end up at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. Wesley was concerned himself for their safety. However, some Moravian missionaries were so serene as they praised God at a time they thought their earthly existences might be ending, that Wesley was profoundly affected. He was impressed that they could face death with such a serene attitude and absence of fear.
The future founder of the Methodist Church amazingly wrote in his journal after returning to England that he was not a Christian. His words were, “I who went to America to convert others was never myself converted to God.”
Platt uses the story of John Wesley to impart the fact that a person may intellectually believe in God and Jesus without actually being a follower of Jesus. The difference is whether or not a person commits himself/herself to following Christ by words and actions.
Platt, who was the youngest pastor of a megachurch when he accepted the position to lead Brook Hills Church of Birmingham, Alabama, went on to explain that a true disciple of Christ will pray for a diferent reason than those who only profess to be Christians. He said the purpose of prayer isn’t “primarily about bringing God a to do list.” Jesus told his disciples that God already knew what they needed before they asked for it. The purpose of the disciple, whether in ancient times or modern times, is to experience intimacy with God.
The new head of the International Mission Board quoted Jesus as instructing his disciples to “Go into your room., close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen.” Jesus also said, “Your Father (God), who sees what is done in secret will reward you.”
Platt is currently in a transitional phase of his life. He accepted appointment as president of the International Mission Board, but he will maintain his contact with the organization he founded known as Radical. His first New York Times bestselling book was entitled “Radical”. His “Follow Me” is also a New York Times bestseller.
Platt is married to high school sweetheart Heather. They have four children.
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