Death is necessary for life, Platt charges students at Spring 2019 convocation

On Jan. 22, David Platt gave a challenging message to students during spring convocation in which he addressed the paradoxical truth that in order to have life, the Christian must be willing to die.

“To live in the next world, you die in this world,” said Platt, pastor of McLean Bible Church in the metro-Washington, D.C. area.

Wedding the story of the church in South Korea and the truth spoken by Jesus in John 12:24-26, Platt noted that Christians are called to die to sin, to self and to the ways of the world.

Robert Thomas, missionary to China who had a heart for Koreans attempted to reach Korea by boat. However, foreigners were not welcome. On his second attempt to get to the country, his boat was attacked, and he was later captured and killed. Yet, while being attacked, he threw Bibles overboard to shore, shouting, “Jesus! Jesus!” to the people as he desperately wanted them to know Christ.

In 1884, Christian Koreans were granted freedom to share the gospel, allowing missionaries to also come to Korea. However, in 1900 there were less than one percent of Korean Christians. Growth began to happen in 1907 with the Pyongyang Revival, bringing an unprecedented growth in Christianity to the formerly closed-off country. During this Bible conference, starting with preachers who were overwhelmed with their sin, in turn the audience began confessing their sin to God and each other while praying fervently to God to do a work in them and their country.

Multiple consecutive nights of prayer, Bible study and confession continued, and Christianity began spreading into other towns and villages. The Korean church has grown from less than one percent to more than 10 million believers in 2000. Today, South Korea is the second largest sending country behind the United States, Platt noted, a country whose population is similar to California and Florida combined.

“In one century, South Korea went from having hardly any Christians to being a global center of Christianity,” said Platt, who noted that Pyongyang in North Korea at one point was referred to as “the Jerusalem of the East.” “How does that happen? John 12:24.”

Platt, who was deeply moved on his recent trip to South Korea, told of some of the missionaries to Korea who gave their lives for the cause of Christ and are honored at a cemetery preserved by the Korean church.

“Jesus died so that we might live,” said Platt. “This is the gospel that brings us together: the reality that death precedes life.” It was this realization that the Korean church had, he later explained.

Platt said he believes that the Lord can do this kind of work in North American churches and unreached countries around the globe. 

“I long for that not just to be the story of the church in South Korea; I long for that to be the story of the churches we lead,” said Platt.

Photos from convocation can be viewed here.

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