The following is from the Introduction to my new book INSURGENCE: Reclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom.
Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and
the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
Mark 1:14–15 NASB
The book you hold in your hands contains a revolutionary message. One that has shaken nations, toppled kingdoms, altered lives, and set countless people free.
That message radically changed my own life. And it’s still challenging me, stretching me, probing me, transforming me, and (on occasion) scaring me, even as I pen these words.
I’ve been a Christian for over thirty-five years. Throughout that time, I’ve heard countless sermons, read countless books, and traveled the world. Based on my experience and observation, the message I will be presenting in this book is rarely preached today.
I wish I had heard it when I first became a believer. It would have spared me so many problems. Unfortunately, the revolutionary message I will share with you has been replaced by two “lesser” messages. The sober confession of one young man sums up the fruit of one of these:
When I first got saved, I really wanted to please God. So I sat under convicting preaching and read convicting books. I did everything I was told. I worked very hard at trying to serve God and did my best to build His kingdom. But I eventually burned out. And looking back, I didn’t see much impact from my efforts. Later my eyes were opened that my main motivation I was operating from was guilt and fear. Fear of having God upset with me because I wasn’t doing enough for Him. Guilt (which I called “conviction”) because I didn’t measure up, despite my best efforts.
Another confession from a young woman describes the fruit of the other lesser message:
When I received Jesus, I rejoiced that I was forgiven of all my sins. I was told that my personal life didn’t matter much to God because He loves me despite what I do. I’m under grace, and God is primarily interested in justice and helping the poor. For years, my life was focused on raising my children, sending them to college when they grow up, and someday having grandchildren. I went to church once a week, read my Bible, and prayed. I was hungry for justice in the world and supported several causes that promoted it. Looking back, I discovered that Jesus was really just a supplement to my already busy life. Christ wasn’t the reason why I breathed. I was living for other things, even good things like raising a family and working for justice, but they weren’t my Lord Jesus.
Interestingly, the New Testament takes dead aim at these two lesser messages and the fruit they produce. In fact, most of Paul’s letters—which make up the majority of the New Testament—were provoked because the churches he planted embraced one of these two messages.
Sadly, countless Christians today have never been exposed to any other message. Especially the groundbreaking message that we find all throughout the New Testament and that I will seek to unveil in these pages.
This book is divided up into six parts:
Part I Three Different Gospels
Part II Unveiling the King’s Beauty
Part III The Gospel of the Kingdom
Part IV Entering and Enjoying the Kingdom
Part V Our Glorious Liberty
Part VI Advancing the Kingdom
Each part builds on the previous one. And they all contain short chapters for ease of reading. Also, some of the questions that will arise in your mind while reading will be answered later in the book.
God’s Eternal Purpose
For the last two decades, my main focus, burden, and passion has been God’s eternal purpose. It is the thread that runs through all my work.
As I have argued in detail elsewhere, the eternal purpose of God is the grand narrative of the entire Bible.1
The kingdom of God is at the heart of God’s eternal purpose. In fact, in recent years, I’ve come to realize that the kingdom of God is just another term for the eternal purpose. In this respect, John Bright was correct when he wrote,
The concept of the Kingdom of God involves, in a real sense, the total message of the Bible. . . . The Bible is one book. Had we to give that book a title, we might with justice call it “The Book of the Coming Kingdom of God.” That is, indeed, its central theme.2
The kingdom of God explains and sums up the meaning and purpose of Jesus. The kingdom points to the universal glory, fullness, and rule of
Jesus Christ and the exercise of God’s image and authority through human beings—the central features of the eternal purpose.
I want to make clear at the outset that I’m not writing this book for scholars or theologians. Yet I believe scholars and theologians will benefit from it.
I’m instead writing so that a teenager in high school who is familiar with the basics of the Bible will be able to understand and gain value from it.
My hope in writing this book is that its message will deliver you from every other version of the gospel except the gospel of the kingdom—a gospel that has been virtually lost to us today.
When properly understood and received, I am convinced that the gospel of the kingdom will capture your heart and ruin you for the Lord Jesus Christ and the insurgence He launched on the day of His resurrection.
It’s that powerful.
A Warning Before You Read Further
If you dare to read this entire book, you may be infuriated by some of the things I write. And you will probably become defensive over certain parts of it. (So make sure no one is around if you decide to fling the book across the room. Neither I nor the publisher are responsible if you take out an eye! If you’re reading the book on your Kindle or Nook, it may be even more dangerous, given that those devices weigh more than a paperback.)
All humor aside, this book is not your typical “Christian” work. Some of the statements I make are admittedly extreme. But they are no less extreme than those made by Jesus and Paul.
Given the explosive content of the book, I interrupt some of the chapters with heartfelt prayers. I encourage you to read those prayers and not skip over them.
So yes, you may get agitated while reading. But holster your weapons and consider whether or not your anger is directed at what I’ve said or
what Jesus or Paul said.
To be candid, I’m writing to strike at your heart. Consequently, if you have a spiritual pulse, I believe you’ll be deeply challenged and stirred.
And you’ll take action.
Being forewarned is being forearmed.