Life is too short to waste reading bad books or getting distracted by bad doctrine. One of my aims in keeping this blog is to promote good books that help us understand our position in Christ, that unpackage the goodness of God revealed to us through Jesus. To that end I can highly recommend Destined to Reign by Joseph Prince.
Destined to Reign is a distillation of 10 year’s worth of preaching by Prince at New Creation Church in Singapore. The cover may give you the impression that this is some kind of self-improvement book, but it isn’t. This is a book celebrating our Great King and all that He has done on our behalf.
In this book Joseph Prince takes aim at the mixing of law and grace that has continued since the time of the Galatians. He says, “even though the law is holy, just and good, it has no power to make you holy, just and good” (p.16). The purpose of the law is to reveal our need for a Savior. When we mix law with grace we lose the benefits of both. He notes that the 10 commandments were kept hidden under the mercy seat inside the Ark of the Covenant. They were not for public viewing, yet today we put them on posters and hang them in our churches and Sunday Schools.
This practice of mixing law with grace gives rise to what he calls “schizophrenic Christianity”. A schizophrenic Christian is one who says:
“Sometimes God is angry with me, sometimes He is happy with me. Sometimes He blesses me, sometimes He curses me. Sometimes God cares for me, sometimes He leaves me. Today, He prospers me, but tomorrow, He may give me poverty to humble me. Today, He heals me, but tomorrow He may give me a disease to teach me a lesson. Today, He forgives all my sins. Tomorrow I am responsible for my sins.” (p.37)
In other words, God is good, but only sometimes. People who think like this are living between two covenants. They are not rightly dividing the word of truth. They are living as if the cross did not make any difference.
The main clause of the new covenant, according to Prince, is found in Hebrews 8:12: “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” Christians are perfectly forgiven. There is no sin the Christian is not forgiven of. Yet many Christians live as if this were not true. They give or work because they think they need to strive to remain forgiven. This is tantamount to saying that the blood payment of Jesus was not enough.
Like Paul, Joseph Prince is strongly opposed to mixing grace with human effort. He says there is nothing we can do to qualify ourselves.
“This is the true ministry of any new covenant Bible teacher or preacher – he seeks to unveil Jesus to you and qualify you by the blood of Jesus. He does not come to unveil your faults or bring your sins to remembrance to disqualify you from entering God’s presence and enjoying His blessings. That is what an old covenant preacher does.” (195)
Some books convey just one great revelation, but Destined to Reign covers everything from forgiveness to faith and healing and communion. Inevitably there is some repetition, but the lessons of grace probably need to be repeated. Many good questions are raised in the book. For example, “Is God judging America?” Answer: No. America and its sins have already been judged at the cross.
Although this book covers a lot of ground, mostly it is about Jesus and how we can find Jesus on every page in the Bible. Studying Jesus’ comments made on the road to Emmaus, the author reasons that we don’t read the Bible to find out what to do and what not to do. We study the Bible to see all the things said in the scriptures concerning Jesus. A great strength of Destined to Reign is how it reveals Jesus and the new covenant in the elements of the old covenant – the five burnt offerings, the Ark of the Covenant, etc. You will never look at Leviticus the same way.
If you have ever studied business at university you will know that the definitive economics text was written by Paul Samuelson and the definitive introduction to marketing was written by Philip Kotler. In years to come I believe people will view Destined to Reign by Joseph Prince in a similarly authoritative fashion. It will be recognized as a classic introduction to the subject of grace. I highly recommend it.
I also recommend the Destined to Reign Devotional which presents the main book in daily bite-sized chunks. I actually bought the Devotional book first and each morning I fight the temptation to read more than the current day’s reading. You can also access these devotions online for free here.