Radical: Chapter 3, The Importance of Relying God’s Power

We’re studying David Platt’s Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream chapter by chapter.

Platt criticizes an implicit assumption within the “American dream” —

The dangerous assumption we unknowingly accept in the American dream is that our greatest asset is our own ability. … The gospel beckons us to die to ourselves and to believe in God and to trust in his power. In the gospel, God confronts us with our utter inability to accomplish anything of value apart from him. …

While the goal of the American dream is to make much of us, the goal of the gospel is to make much of God. (pp. 46-47)

Platt then criticizes the modern approach to church (called by many the “attractional” approach).

But what is strangely lacking in the picture of performances, personalities, programs, and professionals is desperation for the power of God. God’s power is at best an add-on to our strategies. … We can so easily deceive ourselves, mistaking the presence of physical bodies in a crowd for the existence of spiritual life in a community.

Platt then describes how church growth in Acts was driven by the power of the Spirit, not marketing and programming.

I cannot help but long to be a part of this kind of scene in the church today. A scene where we refuse to operate in a mind-set dominated by an American dream that depends on what we can achieve without our own abilities. … 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 a a part of that dream. (p 53)

Platt then begins to address the Holy Spirit.

This is the great promise of God in prayer. We ask God gifts in prayer, and he gives us the Giver. We ask God for supply, and he gives us the Source. We ask God for money, and he doesn’t give us cash; instead, so to speak, he gives us the bank!  (p. 58)

He concludes the chapter,

Our great need is to fall before an almighty Father day and night and to plead for him to show his radical power in and through us, enabling us to accomplish for his glory what we could never imagine in our own strength. And when we do this, we will discover that were created for a purpose much greater than ourselves, the kind of purpose that can only be accomplished in the power of his Spirit. (p. 60)


About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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15 Responses to Radical: Chapter 3, The Importance of Relying God’s Power

  1. Price says:

    You’re kidding me right ? You’re gonna suggest to the men of the churches of Christ to allow the Holy Spirit to take over church… Jay, you’re forgetting He doesn’t exist anymore…Remember, I Cor 13…We’re perfect now…We don’t need the Holy Spirit…we have a book. He doesn’t do anything anymore any way.. Why ask Him to get involved… He just sits there inside us and does nothing…

    We have the Bible now… there’s no one that needs to see God move in their life…Just read. There’s no sickness and suffering…keep reading… It’s all about what going to happen on the other side anyway… read.

    Sorry. That’s just one of the biggest lies ever told that God isn’t being God today… But, sooooo many people believe it…right up until He shows up… Then they know what they’ve been told is a lie… Yes, let God take over… If He doesn’t build it…it won’t matter anyway…

  2. Chris Guin says:

    I don’t think this particular language is especially useful, or really gets at the problem. Too frequently evangelicals rely on language like “God’s power, not mine” or “seeking God’s will” to justify passivity and an utter lack of faith. The language of humility is used as a coverup for disempowerment.

    I believe that God shows us in the Bible that he frequently acts by empowering us – think of Jesus sending out the 72, or Jesus’s constant use of the phrase “your faith has.” God gives us power, and that makes us extraordinarily uncomfortable – the accompanying responsibility is great, and because of our lack of faith, it increases our sense of vulnerability. We’re afraid it’s not true, and don’t want that to be confirmed by our failures.

    I may not be arguing against what this particular author is actually saying, but I feel like we need to run away from language like “it’s God, not me.” I think God wants it to be us both.

  3. laymond says:

    Price, I doubt that Mr. Platt is suggesting we are endwelled by the person of the “Holy Ghost” when he believes no such indivigual person existes.

    If I understand what is said on his church page.

    “There is one and only one living and true God. He is an intelligent, spiritual, and personal Being, the Creator, Redeemer, Preserver, and Ruler of the universe. God is infinite in holiness and all other perfections. God is all powerful and all knowing; and His perfect knowledge extends to all things, past, present, and future, including the future decisions of His free creatures. To Him we owe the highest love, reverence, and obedience. The eternal triune God reveals Himself to us as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, with distinct personal attributes, but without division of nature, essence, or being.”

    I don’t know of any man within the Church of Christ that believes God does not play a large part in our lives, If any believes that, Why pray? there are many I must admit, who believe as I do, there is no person named the “Holy Ghost” that indwells our body. If this was so, why pray “our Father who is in Heaven” ?

  4. Doug says:


    I must say that I was amazed to find out that there were people in the CofC with beliefs about the Holy Spirit such as you stated above. If you haven’t already read it, you need to spend some time reading Watchman Nee’s “The Spiritual Man”. I would guess that you think that your process of sanctification is all your doing regardless of what is written in 2nd Thessalonians 2:13. When I read statements like yours I begin to understand the mess the CofC has made of itself. It is trying to do things on its’ own mind, will and emotion instead of letting the Spirit (i.e., God) guide it. The mess is therefore very predictable as is the unhappiness of its’ members. If I determine that yours is a dominant thoought in my congregaton, I might not make it as a CofC’er and that’s a fact.


  5. John says:

    Thank you, Doug. When I read statements such as Laymond’s I’m at a loss at what to say. What can one say that will open eyes of those who actually believe, inspite of their boast of being God’s knowlegable people, that God is over there and we are over here. Sad.

    Laymond, existence itself is of the power of God. So, how can the power of God be where God is not? Just roll that thought around when you lay down to sleep tonight.

  6. laymond says:

    “I don’t know of any man within the Church of Christ that believes God does not play a large part in our lives,”

    Evidently Doug, and John didn’t understand what I said., so I doubt it would do any good to re-state it.

  7. Doug says:


    Let me try to interpet what you said in that sentace you wrote above. You tell me if I got it wrong.

    I take it that what you mean is this: God plays a large part in your life but that part comes through reading of the bible. Here’s my issue with that. You and the many other men you mentioned have read that bible and have determined the “things” you need to do for God to play a part in your life. Sometimes those “things” are in conflict with each other or are not universally accepted. Now, who’s causing the conflict and lack of acceptance, you or God? You and other men like you obviously need a mentor, a Holy mentor and that mentor can only be the Holy Spirit. You have accepted Christ and been baptized and that mentor is with you…in fact He is in you but yet you let your mnid, will and emotion, your soul-life, lead you. That is not what God intended. He intends that you walk by the Spirit.

  8. Adam says:

    To Chris –

    I think you are right on with your critique. It is far too easy to go to either extreme – all God, or all me. Neither path is what Jesus taught.

    It is neither all me, nor all God, but rather God through us. That is what he chose. Maybe he could have chose differently, but that is what he did through Jesus.

    Believing it’s all God leads to paralysis, believing it’s all us leads the Constantinian heresy and confusion of church and the power structures of this world and the metrics of worldly success.

    Said a little differently, I thank God for what he provides through those that he provides it. To try to separate the two is to deny either the flesh or the spirit of Christ.

  9. Alabama John says:

    This is like Gods “interventions” today.

    It has always bothered me when we pray so hard for God to heal someone (if it be thy will) of some terrible disease the doctor has found and when at the next test it is gone. What we say is that it was a mistaken diagnoses since it couldn’t of been a miraculous healing as those have ceased.

    Why not give God the credit and praise?

  10. Kirk Hunt says:

    I tend to agree with Adam’s position on this topic (see his reply to Chris above). I personally do not sit around waiting for God to provide me with instructions and/or guidance. Nor do I inform God, in prayer, what I have decided to do and ask Him to just bless it for me. Rather, it’s a combination. I move in accordance with His Word and trust in the Spirit to produce His fruit through me somehow, some way. A way in which I don’t understand.

    I think the idea here is that Christians, especially free and self-reliant Americans, do not tend to FULLY rely on God’s power until all of our earthly resources have been exhausted. It’s at that moment when we finally turn to God and cast ourselves fully upon Him. It’s just natural for mankind to take control of situations themselves. Making God my first option is something that I daily have to work at. And I have found much joy and peace in the times where I have succeeded in doing so. It still remains a struggle for me though.

  11. Doug says:

    The Spirit’s work in man may be rarely seen and understood in the present. I know that I have had issues in my life that I have tried to resolve on my own (mind, will and emotional control) with only partial sucess. Only the strengthening of my Human Spirit’s bond with the Holy Spirit produced sucess and that sucess was quietly acheived without my direct attention to the issues at hand. I was just doing those spiritual disciplines and exercises that produce a better spiritual bond. It was in hindsight that I realized that the issue was resolved and gone. I see things such as this as the work of the Spirit.

  12. laymond says:

    Doug, why do you think I mentioned prayer, do you actually think I pray to a book? don’t be so obtuse.

  13. Doug says:


    I took your comment on prayer to mean that you have no need of the Holy Spirit when praying as you have direct access to God the Father. I agree with that although the scriptures also tell us that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us so I see the prayer path to the Father being our Spirit through the Holy Spirit to God. Incidently, prayer is only one of many spiritual disciplines that a Christian should be exercising if they desire a healthy Spiritual Life. If that’s obtuse… so be it.

  14. Alabama John says:

    Four are involved in prayer. We do pray to the Father, Holy Spirit intercedes and in Jesus name.
    Oh ya, the fourth: US!

  15. Jay Guin says:


    Platt is building a case. He is getting to the point that we should trust God’s empowerment and strength so much that we make risky, hard decisions to follow Jesus and live as the Bible commands — even going to the mission field, becoming foster parents, adopting an orphan, or otherwise making radical life decisions to obey God in ways that are unthinkable to many of us.

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