Reclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom.
If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.
The First Christian Sermon
He got up to preach. Peter had just received the promised gift of Jesus Christ. He remembered that Jesus said that he and the other disciples would be witnesses of what Christ had done.
“You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:48-49).
Jesus had told him that nearly two months ago.
Now it was time.
Peter got up to preach. He didn’t preach a message that made the people who heard him feel good. His sermon was not a promise of great prosperity for following God. Peter’s message was not about changing this world for the better.
1st Century Kingdom Message
Peter’s sermon was succinct and to the point.
“Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know—this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men” (Acts 2:22-23).
Peter would also preach clearly that Jesus Christ was risen from the dead and lives to all eternity. He also preached that forgiveness of sins is the free gift of Jesus Christ.
This was a radical message in the 1st Century. No one had heard anything like this before.
The result? “Those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls” (Acts 2:41).
21st Century Kingdom Message
This is a far cry from what is heard in most Christian churches today, especially in the so-called “Christian West.”
Which is the point of Frank Viola’s new book Insurgence – Reclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom.
The Church is losing members. It is also losing its message to the social Gospel and the political Gospel. At best, perhaps, the Church’s message today has been a “get out of hell free card” kind of message.
Viola’s book is a clarion call to the Church to reclaim the explosive, earthshaking Gospel of the Kingdom that Paul and the other apostles preached.
The Radical Christ
The Gospel they preached was that the Son of God became a human being in order to be our substitute under God’s Holy Law. Their message was that Jesus lived perfectly to be our righteousness by faith. The core of the Gospel of the Kingdom is that Jesus Christ died on the cross to forgive all the sins of all people of all time. And then three days later rose from the dead. Jesus conquered death! When we die having faith in Jesus we will rise again, just as he did. The Gospel of the Kingdom proclaims that Christ ascended into heaven with the promise that he will come back to take us who have faith in him to be with him forever in the new heavens and the new earth.
The Insurgent Message
Frank says that when this message is proclaimed it will transform individuals, communities, and cultures. It will turn hateful religious bigots into disciples and apostles (like Paul). (see page 85 in Insurgence).
This is what we Christians have been baptized for. Not to live forever in heaven (although we will certainly do that!), but to proclaim the life-changing Gospel of the Kingdom – the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
We can no longer substitute our own “feel good” gospel for the Gospel of the Kingdom. That divides the kingdom so that it cannot stand.
God is calling the Church back to the Gospel of the Kingdom.
Will you join the insurgency?
To find out more about Frank Viola’s Insurgence – Reclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom, go to the Insurgence website here.
Heavenly Father, you preserved the Gospel of Jesus Christ for us today. I pray that you will so fill me with your Holy Spirit that by reading your Word my life will be transformed, that I will be a messenger of the radical message of Jesus Christ and be a part of changing people’s lives. All glory goes to you! Thank you for saving me! In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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