The Church's Vision: "We Glorify God . . ." - Radical

The Church’s Vision: “We Glorify God . . .”

Churches often put their time, resources, and efforts into many doing good things, all the while failing to ask what their primary focus should be. Thankfully, God hasn’t left us in the dark when it comes to the church’s mission. In this sermon from Matthew 28:16–20, David Platt begins a three-part sermon series unpacking the vision, mission, and goal of the church. In this sermon we’ll see why glorifying God has to be the starting point for all that we do.

If you have a Bible—and I trust you do—I invite you to open to Matthew 28. I’m excited about today and the next couple of weeks as we think about who God has called us to be as a church. Here’s the plan for the rest of this “40 Days of Prayer” emphasis: To recap, we started the first week with Dale showing us how, more than anything else, we want to walk with God, helping every member of our church to walk with and enjoy the relationship with God for which we’ve been created. And not just in the church, but how we want to help more and more people outside the church to also walk with and enjoy God. Then over the last couple of weeks we’ve looked at how walking with God inevitably means working for justice in the world around us, particularly in light of racialization and abortion.

Now for the next three weeks, Lord willing, I want to unpack a new vision statement for us as a church. I say “new,” but don’t think “out of the blue.” It’s a statement that is totally built on who this church has been and what this church has done for the last 50 years—far before I or even Lon got here. I was meeting this morning with pastor Allan Gardner and his wife Pam. Allan was pastor here before Lon—from 1970-1980. He has now spent the last 38 years literally doing ministry all over the world. This conversation reminded me that there’s nothing we’re talking about this morning that is new.

When someone asks, “What is McLean Bible Church all about?” it’s good for us to know, “Here’s what we’re about. Here’s what we as a church are giving our lives to.” So for the next three weeks that’s what we’re going to dive into. Then we’ll close out this 40-day emphasis with each campus focusing on how they’re doing these thing in their particular location.

Whenever we talk about a vision or mission statement, I love how the church approaches it. If we were a company, or any organization or institution, we’d have to get together and decide, “What’s our vision going to be? How are we going to define our mission?” Then we would put together a process for coming up with the right vision and mission. One of the things I love about the church is we don’t have to go through that kind of process. We don’t have to come up with anything, because our vision and mission was defined for us a long time ago—about 2,000 years ago—and it has not changed. So our job is not to come up with a vision or a mission statement for the church. That job has already been done by our King. Our responsibility is to be faithful to the vision and mission He has given to us.

For the next few weeks, we’re going to stay right here in Matthew 28 and I want you to see how these words from Jesus outline His vision, mission and goal for us as a church. So think: vision, mission, goal. That’s how we’re going to split up the next three weeks.

I want to emphasize that I didn’t make any of this up. If you were looking for an uber-creative, innovative pastor, you got the wrong guy. You’re stuck with me now. Well, I don’t know, maybe you could do something about that I’m just not that guy. While I’m being clear, I don’t think you’re that good either. This vision-mission-goal didn’t come out of focus groups or any ones of us. So we’re going straight to the Source. We’re going to let Jesus define our vision, our mission and our goal. We’re going to let Jesus define who He’s called us to be, what He’s called us to do together as a church.

I realize many of you may not be members of McLean Bible Church at this point. One of my hopes for you is that over the next fews months, as we dive into this and then the series we’re going to walk through after this, you might desire to be a part of this vision, this mission, this goal.

At the same time, I also know that there are many of you here who are not even followers of Christ right now. You’re exploring what it means to follow Jesus. If that’s the case, we are so glad you’re here. One of my prayers is that over the course of the next couple months you might, even today, decide to follow Jesus. I pray that you will see in Him a vision, a mission and a goal for your life that is greater than anyone or anything in this world has to offer.

With that, let’s listen to Jesus’ words in Matthew 28:16–20, then let’s dive into our vision as a community of people who are following this King.

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

One commentator said Matthew 28:16–20 is the climax and major focal point, not only of Matthew’s Gospel, but of the entire New Testament. He went on to say it’s not an exaggeration to say that, in its broadest sense, it is the focal point of all Scripture, Old Testament as well as New. Now, whether or not it can truly be said that this is the focal point of the entire Bible may be up for debate but at the very least it’s a reminder of how significant these words are that we just read. I’m guessing that many of you who may have been followers of Christ for a long time may be very familiar with this passage we call the Great Commission. You may be dangerously over-familiar with it, to the point where maybe you’ve lost sight of its wonder. If that’s the case, I want to help you recapture that wonder.

Today I want us to camp on out one verse—28:18—when Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” That is the verse that this entire passage hinges on. When you get to verse 19, Jesus says, “Go therefore….” meaning that all He’s telling them to go and do in verse 19 is 100% based on what He has just said in verse 18. So why go and make disciples? Why give your life to this? Why give the church totally to that mission? Jesus says, “It’s because I have all authority in heaven and on earth.” Don’t miss this. Everything the church is and everything the church does starts with a vision of the authority, supremacy and glory of God in Jesus.

Matthew 28:16–20 teaches us about vision

So what’s vision? Vision is what your eyes are fixed on. Vision is how you see the world; the lens through which you look at everything. I was talking with Todd Peters, the campus pastor at Prince William who is our resident Navy SEAL and who has trained Navy SEALs all around the world. He was telling me how they do vision training with SEALs to help them be able to see at night. I thought, that’s what we’re doing as a church. We’re doing vision training in a world that’s really dark. How do we see?

Here’s where I get concerned. Sometimes I hear churches, even pastors, specifically talking about vision for the church, saying things like, “Well, our vision is to have this many thousand people.” “Our vision is to have this many campuses.” Or “Our vision is to do this or that.” When we say things like that, we show that it’s possible for the church to lose our pursuit of Christ, replacing it with pursuit of success—however we may define that—in the church.

But here’s the dangerous thing. We can have 20,000 people, but not have Christ. We can have crowds at a hundred campuses, but not have Christ. We can have all kinds of things that will get us on all kinds of lists of successful churches in our culture, but not have Christ. We should not want any of that. We should want Jesus. I think of Paul in Philippians 1 and 3, “I want to know Christ. For to me to live is Christ. He’s my life. My eyes are fixed on Him. I want to know Him, enjoy Him, love Him, exalt Him.” And this is not just individually—it’s what we want as a church.

What is the vision of McLean Bible Church? Where are our eyes fixed? Our eyes are gazing upon God, in all of His glory, revealed in Jesus, the One Who has all authority in heaven and on earth. We worship Him and we want to walk with Him. We don’t want to just go through church; we want to walk with God. We want to enjoy God and know God and love God. We want to glorify God in our lives and see God glorified all over Washington. We want to see God glorified all over the world. This vision is what drives us as a church.

That seems pretty basic, but I believe this is very different from how much of our church culture is driven. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard the term “consumer Christianity,” but it’s a label given to a mentality in American church culture that says if you want the church to be successful, then make church as comfortable as possible for the consumer (i.e., the Christian). Build places and programs where people can conveniently come. Give them a nice latte when they walk in the door. Provide state-of-the-art entertainment for their children while you treat them to a smooth service that leaves them feeling good when they drive away in a timely fashion. Variations of that vision, engineered for the savvy Christian consumer, have been multiplied across the landscape of our country. And they work! Crowds come and their vision is realized.

But what happens when our vision changes? What happens when our gaze is not fixed on making sure crowds feel comfortable, but on making sure God receives glory? Suddenly our priorities start to transform. More than we want to appeal to people’s self-centered preferences, we want to awe people with God-centered praise.

More than we want men and children and women to be impressed by the services we can manufacture, we want them to be amazed by the God they cannot fathom. And the last thing we want to do is raise up people who are casual in worship—as they sit back and enjoy lattes. No, we want to raise up people who are captivated, awed and mesmerized by the greatness of God in such a way that we will gladly lose, not just our lattes, but our very lives making His glory known in the world.

Now, that’s a different way to approach church. It leads some to ask, “Well, what’s so wrong with the lattes?” Some of you are drinking them now, but are suddenly trying to hide them. Lattes aren’t the point, though. Don’t miss the bigger picture.

Someone might rightfully ask, “Isn’t it good to cater to people’s preferences, particularly people who don’t know God? Don’t we want to be sensitive to those who are seeking after God?” That’s a great question. Without doubt we want to see as many people in our communities as possible come to Christ.

But then I think about what the Bible says. Read Romans 3, where the Bible makes it very clear that there is no one who seeks God. In our hearts, we are running away from God. But the Bible tells us that God is seeking worshipers (John 4) and that Jesus came to seek the lost (Luke 19). So it’s clear that Jesus has been seeking sinners for thousands of years. He’s pretty good at it—far better than any attractions or allurements we could ever assemble.

So if we really long to see people come to Christ in the church, then what shall we do? Let’s make our community together as God-centered as possible. Let’s do everything we can to put the wonders of God’s glory, holiness, majesty, justice, kindness, wrath, grace—and all the glorious attributes of God we saw last fall—on display in the church every single week in everything we do. We want to show people the most biblical, holistic, clear, comprehensive, captivating vision of God we possibly can. And when we do, we can trust Him to do the seeking.

I was thinking about a friend of mine this week who’s now planting a church in Utah. I remember the first time I ever met him, he was totally addicted to drugs. When I met him, he could hardly even concentrate on our conversation. One day his mom dragged him to worship. He came into this gathering of God’s people, where we were singing songs about His greatness. We were opening His Word to hear God’s voice.

Remember what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 14 about what happens when an unbeliever comes into a worship gathering in the church? He says he will be convinced by all that he’s hearing that he is a sinner. The secrets of his heart will be laid bare, so he will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you.” Isn’t that what we long for? People to come into this gathering every week and think, “That wasn’t normal. God is among those people.”

Well, this drug addict had a 1 Corinthians 14 moment that day. He was captivated by the greatness of God in the church. He started crying out for the grace of God in his life. My friend was saved from his sins—not ultimately because he was seeking after God, but because he realized this great God was seeking after Him. This is what we want to show the world. We want to show people how God’s grace is totally greater and different than everything this world has to offer.

Think about all the triviality that surrounds us every single day. I looked at my newsfeed this week, where there was so much drivel on top of even more evil and wickedness. We’re inundated with it all the time—on our phones, on line, on TV, in conversations. I think in the middle of it all, people are longing for something that’s real and good and right, for something that really matters. Don’t we want to have at least an hour or two aweek when we come aside together and see the One Who’s real and right and altogether good, where we gaze on the One Whose greatness and glory puts all the pettiness into perspective. Don’t we want to come somewhere eachweek, not to see more of the same that we can get anywhere else?

In a world of wickedness and evil, don’t our souls long to see the God Whose righteousness and justice will inevitably reign? In a world where people inevitably let us down, don’t we long to see the God Whose love will never, ever let us down? In a world of turmoil and uncertainty, don’t we long to see the God Whose sovereign hand is sure? In a world where we are so tempted every day to run after temporary pleasures, don’t we need to see the eternal treasure that is found in God, Whose pleasures will never ever, ever fade?

Church, this is why we want God. Our vision is fixed on God. We want to glorify God more than we want to appease or entertain or center on ourselves. Even while we were singing this morning, I sat down and began to write some thoughts. We live in a world where everything shouts, “Self is god! Self is god! Self is god!” If we’re not careful, we’ll create a whole church culture where we gather together every Sunday and we say the same thing: “Self is god. Self is god. Self is god.”

I heard on the radio this morning as I was coming in a supposedly Christian teaching that was promising prosperity in this world if you follow God. I thought, “He has just made God a means to an end. God is the way to get more stuff for us. He’s created a whole church culture that revolves around us, around the worldly things we want, around the comforts we cling to, around the songs we prefer, the sermons that suit our tastes.” Somewhere, at some point, we desperately need to hear, “You’re not God. You’re not God. You’re not God. It’s not about you—it’s about Him.”

Your satisfaction is not found in centering on yourself. That’s the lie this world perpetrates week in and week out, day in and day out, moment in and moment out. Your satisfaction is not found in centering on yourself. The deepest satisfaction for your soul is found in centering on God. God is not a means to an end—He is the end. God is the end of all we want and all we need. So why would we want anything else?

Matthew 28:16–20 teaches us Jesus has all authority

When I look at Matthew 28, I read “All authority…” In the 27 chapters leading up to this, Matthew has painted a portrait of the authority of Jesus. We don’t have time to look at all he’s written, but he has shown at least six massive domains over which Jesus possesses absolute authority.

1. Jesus has authority over nature. He can raise His hand and calm the seas (Matthew 8:23–27). Jesus has authority to walk on water (Matthew 14:22–32). In the same chapter, Jesus has authority to cause five loaves of bread and two fish to multiply and feed over 5,000 people. The rain that is falling today is not falling accidentally. It’s falling by appointment. Jesus is causing it to fall. He has authority over the rain.

2. Jesus has authority over nations. On Christmas Eve we saw this in Matthew 2:1–12, as wise men from the nations come and bow down. As a side note, I was proud to hear that a 12-year-old girl who was in that Christmas Eve service promptly went home and moved the wise men from the nativity scene to a totally different part of the house. They’re still pretty far off, but they’re on the way, just not there yet. We would love to see biblically accurate nativity scenes all across our homes. But those wise men are just setting the stage for a whole book. Not just Jewish people, but people from all nations are coming to Jesus, confessing Him as Lord. We’ll talk about that more a couple weeks from now.

3. Jesus has authority over disease. He speaks and the blind see (Matthew 9:27–31). In the same chapter, He speaks and the lame walk. In Matthew 8:1–4, lepers are healed. When Jesus speaks, disease is gone. I’ve got to tell you, I was having a conversation with a brother after the first service. He and I had prayed a few months ago for his wife, as she has had massive physical problems and struggles that have led to emotional and spiritual issues. He said, “I just want you to know that my wife is healed.” I’m not saying that in God’s sovereignty that’s the way it always plays out. We all realize that. But we do know this: Jesus has authority over disease. It doesn’t have authority over Him; He has authority over it.

4. Jesus has authority over demons. Jesus speaks and demons flee (Matthew 8:28–34). Demons do whatever Jesus tells them to do, because Jesus has authority over them.

5. Jesus has authority over sin. Matthew 4 shows His authority to resist sin and temptation. In Matthew 9:1–8, Jesus has authority to forgive sin against God, which—as He tells the crowd around the paralytic man—is a greater authority even than telling that man to get up off his mat and walk.

6. Jesus has authority over death. Jesus has authority to tell dead people to come to life (Matthew 9:18–26). Jesus has authority to bring Himself back to life. There’s the whole picture that leads up to this passage in Matthew 28. I happened to be in Matthew 27 yesterday in my Bible reading and noticed verse 66, which has to be one of the most humorous verses in the Bible. It says, So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard.” I just thought, “Good luck with that! Jesus has authority over death! You can’t keep Him in a tomb.” The first 15 verses of Matthew 28 tell us how Jesus rose from the dead—that’s authority. Nobody in this room has the authority—when we die, when we’ve been dead for three days—to say, “I’m coming back to life right now.”

Jesus is Lord. He’s Lord over nature, nations, disease, demons, sin and death. So what does that mean for the church? In the words that have been asked by Lon for years in this church, “So what?” So here’s what this means. Let’s look at two things we should never miss.

1. Matthew 28:16–20 teaches us to submit our lives to His authority over all.

If Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth, this means we are to submit our lives to His authority over all. “All authority in heaven on earth has been given to me,” He said. Jesus has it all. This means He’s not just Lord over nature, nations, disease, demons, sin and death. If Jesus is Lord over all, then that means He’s Lord over you and me. Sometimes I’ll hear people say they’ve decided to make Jesus Lord of their life. I think I know what they’re trying to say, but whenever I hear that, I can’t help but think, “You didn’t really have a choice in the matter.”

No one decides to make Jesus Lord. Jesus is Lord regardless of what anybody decides. Regardless of what you decide, Jesus has died on the cross. He has risen from the grave. He is Lord. Philippians 2:9–11 makes it clear: “God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth. Every tongue [will] confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” That pretty much covers it.

One day, every knee is going to bow and every tongue is going to confess that Jesus is Lord. That is a guarantee. The most wicked person who despises Jesus will one day bow and call Him Lord. The most cruel Communist dictator who outlaws faith in Jesus will one day bow and call Jesus Lord. Every world leader—from Kim Jong Un in North Korea to Modi in India to President Netanyahu in Israel to President Trump in the United States—every one of them will one day bow and call Jesus Lord. And so will every one of you within the sound of my voice.

The question is not whether or not you or I will make Jesus Lord. The question is will you submit to His Lordship now, or will you submit to His Lordship when it is too late? When you think about it, this is the essence of what it means to be a Christian. This is why I regret the way that term is used culturally here and all around the world to refer to all kinds of people. For that matter, words like Protestant, evangelical—any number of labels—are often used as more of a social, cultural or even political identifier than anything else. We need to cut through what it biblically means to be a follower of Christ. According to the Bible, it means that you submit your life to the absolute authority of Jesus. That’s what it means to be a Christian according to Christ.

So for those of you who are exploring Christianity, this is the essence, right? We have all sinned against a holy God. You don’t have to look far in the world—you don’t have to look far in each of our hearts—to know that all is not right. We have turned aside from God’s ways to our ways; we are guilty of sin, each one of us, before a holy God.

No matter how much good we try to do, we cannot overcome or erase our guilt. But the good news is God has done it for us. God so loves sinners like you and me that He sent His Son Jesus, God in the flesh, to live the life none of us could live—a life of no sin. Then, though He had no sin for which to die, He chose to die on a cross as a substitute for us. He paid the penalty for our sins. But He didn’t stay dead long. Three days later He arose from the grave. Jesus is not dead. He is alive. The Bible says in Romans 10:9 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.”

Now, notice what that verse did not say. It did not say, “If you believe in your head that Jesus died and rose from the dead, you will be saved.” There are a lot of people who believe in Jesus like that—but they’re not Christians. You know how I know that? Because the devil himself believes that Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead. The devil believes that and he is not a Christian. I fear that multitudes of attenders and members of churches today only have that level of belief in Jesus—and they are not Christians. They believe in their heads that Jesus died on the cross and rose from the grave enough to pay Him homage with somewhat regular church attendance. But their lives look just like the rest of the world, loving all the same things the world loves, living for all the same things the world lives for.

What is means to be a Christian

That’s not what it means to be a Christian. Not according to Christ. Jesus said in Luke 9:23, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross (die to himself) daily and follow me.” Jesus is saying, “To follow Me as Savior of your life is to follow Me as Lord over your life, as the One Who has all authority in your life.” To be a follower of Christ means that you submit your life to His Lordship. Your plans for your life are submitted to Him. Your possessions belong to Him. He is Lord over all, which means He’s Lord over your time. He’s Lord over your money. He determines how you spend your money, not you. He determines how you spend your time, not you.

He’s Lord over your relationships. He is Lord over who you date, who you marry, how you live as a spouse, how you parent. He’s Lord over your life at home. He’s Lord over your life at work. He’s Lord over your play, your recreation. He’s Lord over your thoughts. He’s Lord over your desires. He’s Lord over your decisions, your conversations, your budget, your ambitions. These are things we don’t talk about in “consumer Christianity.” No, we dilute what it means to follow Christ in order to draw as many people as possible into the church. We practically say, “Become a Christian and you can keep your life as you know it” but that is not true.

When you become a Christian, you lose your life as you knew it. You find entirely new life in Him. So your dreams start to change. Your desires start to change. When Jesus is Lord over your heart, you begin to want what He wants. When Jesus is Lord over your relationships, you begin to love like He loves. When Jesus is Lord over your money, you begin to give like He gives. When Jesus is Lord over your life, you begin to live like He lives. Paul says in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” It’s not my life—it’s His life.

Now, all that may sound crazy and radical. You might even say, “But it’s just normal Christianity when you look at the Bible.” You might even think, “Wait, that sounds like a lot of sacrifice I don’t know if I can make.” And it would be sacrifice if you were letting go of that which fulfills in order to hold that which is empty, but that is not the case. When you let go of the things of this world to follow Christ, you’re not letting go of that which fulfills to gain that which is empty. Quite the opposite. How many possessions, pleasures, pursuits, people and comforts do we have to run after in this world until we realize none of them—even the best of them—can fully satisfy us? The things of this world will always leave us longing for more. But Jesus is different.

Jesus died on the cross and has risen from the grave so that when you come to Him as Lord, you are reconciled to God, to His love that will never ever, ever let you down. To peace that passes all understanding. To comfort that sustains, even in the most severe suffering. To strength that surpasses weakness. To hope that endures in the most difficult and dark days. That’s not sacrifice. That’s smart. So don’t believe this world—all this area around northern Virginia, all over Montgomery County, Maryland—that says, “Get this, because it will satisfy.” Then you hear the word in the church that says, “No, you need to let go of the things of this world in order to follow Christ,” and it sounds like sacrifice. No. That’s the life that makes sense.

Remember Matthew 13:44? Jesus says, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” I love that verse. I just picture the man who’s walking through a field, finds treasure that he realizes is worth more than everything else he has put together. Nobody else knows it’s there. It’s hidden. So he covers it back up, goes and sells everything he has. I can imagine people coming up to him, like they would come up to you in this culture iff you start changing the way you view possessions, and say, “You’re crazy. What are you doing? Why are you selling everything you have?”

Then he says, “I’m going to buy that field over there.” And they say, “You’re nuts. Why are you going to buy that field?” He just smiles and says, “I have a hunch.” He smiles—why? Because inside, he knows. And the text says, “in his joy..” He does this with gladness. It’s not like, “Oh, I’ve got to get rid of everything I have.” He’s doing it with joy. Why? He smiles, because inside he knows he’s found something that’s worth losing everything for.

Ladies and gentlemen, Jesus is Someone worth losing everything for. He is that good. He is that glorious. When we believe that, it changes the way we live regarding possessions, pleasures and pursuits in this world. We don’t submit to Jesus’ authority because we have to. We submit to Jesus’ authority because we want to, because we know He’s better and that He knows better than we do what is best for our lives. This is what it means to be a Christian.

Therefore, that’s what it means to be a church. It’s who we are as a church. We’re a people who submit our lives to His authority over who we are and all we have. We’re not just a group of people who believe about Jesus in our heads. We could be a crowd ten thousand strong of people with head knowledge, but do not have Jesus. No, we’re a people who gladly submit our lives to His authority.

2. Matthew 28:16–20 leads us to give our lives for His glory above all.

This leads to the second reality: Because we submit our lives to His authority over all, then it makes sense that we give our lives for His glory above all. We’re a people who know Jesus is Lord over all. We know Jesus is Lord over nature, nations, disease, demons, sin and death. He’s Lord over every one of our lives. And we know that Jesus has authority to give people eternal life. It’s only found in Him.

So what do we do? We give our lives so that others might know eternal life in Him, so that others might know His glory and grace and goodness. So that others might know Him. So that others might submit to Him as Lord and experience His love. This drives everything we do in our lives. It drives everything we do as the church together.

In light even of what we’ve talked about in the last couple weeks, why do we want to pursue multi-ethnic community and work against radicalization in our culture? Obviously, we do this for a host of reasons that we believe are good for us, but ultimately we do this because we know Jesus isn’t just Lord over this color of people or that color of people. Jesus is Lord over people of all colors. We want Jesus to be glorified by a diversity of people enjoying Him. That’s what drives us.

Why do we pray and work against abortion? Obviously, for children and women and men, just like we talked about last week. We also do these things because we want God to be glorified as He deserves to be glorified as the authoritative, wonderful, loving Creator of life. We want people to know God as the One Who crafted and knit these children from the womb.

Why do we do everything we do as a church? Just put “why” in front of anything. Why do we pray? Jesus taught us to pray, “Hallowed be Your name.” We pray for the glory of God’s name. Why do we come together every Sunday for worship? Because we want to sing and shout and declare God’s glory in Metro-Washington. Why do we scatter every week from these buildings into our homes and neighborhoods and workplaces? Because we don’t want to just see His glory in a building—we want to spread His glory around the city.

Why do we not stop there? Why do we talk about it? Why do we send one another on mission around the world? Because we want the glory of our God to be known all over the planet. Why do we live, why do we sacrifice our money, why do we use our possessions differently than the world? Because our possessions are God’s to be used for His purposes and glory in a world of urgent spiritual and physical need around us. Why do we start micro sites and launch sites? Because we want more people to hear God’s Word and experience God’s worship.

As the church—as people who have submitted our lives to God’s authority over all—we give our lives for God’s glory above all. This is why, when somebody asks, “What’s the vision of McLean Bible Church?” I pray that the answer that springs from our lips and our hearts will start with, “We want to glorify God.” That’s where our eyes are focused. God is the object our gaze. We want to know Him. We want to love Him. We want to exalt God in Jesus. He’s our life. We live to glorify Him. Each of us exists and McLean Bible Church exists to glorify God.

So here’s what I want to do. When I found out that Pastor Allan was going to be here this morning with Pam—having been a shepherd whos led this church from 1970 to 1980—I thought, what a perfect thing in God’s providence that He ordained the Gardners would be here today. So I want to invite Allan and Pam to join me up here. We were talking earlier and I just praise God for the heritage of saints who pass the baton on and pass the baton on and pass the baton on. May we be faithful in our day to pass the baton on for the glory of God in this church. I want to ask Pastor Allan to lead us in prayer, that we would glorify God in our day

A prayer for Christ to be glorified

Allan Gardner:Our Heavenly Father, our hearts are blessed this morning. We are excited about the future. We thank You for the past, which has been a great testimony to Your grace and a great demonstration of what faith can do as You have taken this fellowship from four families to multiple campuses across this city, plus multiple ministries around the world. But the past is the past, and now our eyes are turned toward the future, which is Yours. Lord, we pray that the power of Your Holy Spirit will be evident upon the ministry, the life and the work of this fellowship.

We pray that it will be true that You will be glorified in the life and ministry, not only of Pastor Platt, but of all those who work with him, the congregation that gathers here and those who are representing this ministry in mission fields around the world. Father, in every situation, in every circumstance, in every opportunity, may the glory of God be manifested, may hearts and minds be turned to You, acknowledging the Lordship of Jesus Christ, not only over their own lives, but over this whole world.

And Lord, as has been mentioned this morning, we pray that the glory of God will be evident in this place, that as people come, they will be struck by the presence of a mighty, powerful God, Who is able to change, Who is able to bring new life out of death, Who is able to give assurance for the future and power for life and living now. So Father, we commend ourselves—as we stand here as part of this congregation today—to Your grace and we ask that in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, You will manifest Your glory in the days that lie ahead, in ways beyond what we have even dreamed. Lord, we ask that this testimony will continue to serve You for years to come, until the Lord Jesus sees fit to come and claim us and take us to Himself. So Father, hear us, glorify Your name in our lives and in our ministry, we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.



David Platt serves as a pastor in metro Washington, D.C. He is the founder of Radical.

David received his Ph.D. from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and is the author of Don’t Hold Back, Radical, Follow MeCounter CultureSomething Needs to ChangeBefore You Vote, as well as the multiple volumes of the Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary series.

Along with his wife and children, he lives in the Washington, D.C. metro area.


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