Jesus Christ as Good News

October 4th, 2010 / 17 Comments

Writing a short chapter that argues Jesus Christ answers or solves the problems of life proves difficult. Very difficult!

The major difficulty is deciding what we should leave out.  There is so much more we could say. But in a short and accessible book, we don’t have space to include everything important.

I found two issues in particular pushed me to think differently as I and my co-author, Bob Luhn, put this chapter together.

First, we chose the phrase “God’s Loving Leadership” instead of “the Kingdom of God.” This was Bob’s suggestion, and I really like it!

I’m convinced that too many people do not think of love when they hear the word “kingdom.” And yet I think Jesus understood the Kingdom of God primarily in terms of love. I plan to use the phrase “God’s Loving Leadership” often in the future.

The second issue that pushed me to think differently was atonement. I admit this is a tricky area to talk about well.  Many atonement theories imply that God is not really loving after all. We want to avoid talking about Jesus’ death, for instance, in a way that implicitly undermines God’s love.

I look forward to hearing your comments and suggestions on this key chapter. We have already changed in significant ways our previous chapters after getting feedback from blog readers.

Thanks for helping us!

God’s Loving Leadership Becomes Reality

The best news you will ever hear is God loves you and all creation. God loves you despite your problems, addictions, sinful habits, bad choices, and destructive behavior. God created you and everything else. And God loves you, us, everyone, and every creature!

Because God loves us all, God works to overcome our problems. Overcoming problems is part of what love does. God empowers us to cooperate with this overcoming work.

The Center of the Good News

Jesus of Nazareth is the heart of the good news of God’s love and the center of overcoming our problems. Many call him “Jesus Christ,” and those deciding to follow him often call themselves “Christians” or “Jesus followers.” The labels are not as important as his love and our responses to God’s call in our lives.

We earlier explored stories Jesus told to explain God’s love. What Jesus said and did are also central for understanding the best news we will ever hear. In Jesus, we understand God’s love best.

Jesus was clear about his purpose: “I came so that you can live an excellent life.” Following him is the way to a right relationship with God and the way to deal with our problems (John 10:10; 14:6).

Jesus Christ is the focal point of God’s loving work. He is God’s chosen one, and many call him “the Messiah.” He expressed love consistently in his life, words, death, and – perhaps most surprising – his resurrection from the dead.

Jesus is the center of the good news of God’s love.

Jesus is the Way to Excellent Life

It would take many books to tell Jesus’ full story. But we want to tell some highlights here. These should be enough to explain why decided to follow Jesus. We tell them to encourage you to be a Jesus follower too.

Since the beginning of history, God has been present and expressing love to everyone, all the time. But many people remained confused. They lived in darkness. Many did not understand the depth and extent and nature of God’s love.

Then … Jesus entered history.

Jesus’ coming was like a light emerging in darkness. He was born in a humble place – Bethlehem — and few people initially knew of his birth. Today, many know. We celebrate Christmas in remembrance of his humble beginning in Bethlehem.

History provides little information about Jesus’ childhood and early life. But in the years that followed his thirtieth birthday, he provided the best representation of God we have ever witnessed.

Jesus loved everyone. He healed the sick and helped the poor. He did amazing miracles to help those in need. He fed the hungry. He loved his enemies. Jesus freed people imprisoned by their own sinful habits, released them from the grip of evil ones, or healed them from sin (Luke 4:14-44).

Jesus was a savior.

Jesus loved so consistently and did such amazing things that his followers believed he was both human and divine. He said things to encourage this belief. For instance, Jesus said, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). (By “Father,” he meant God.) He also said, “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father” (John 14:9).

Followers of Jesus’ way saw the connection between Jesus, God, and the life of love. Paul, for instance, advises followers to “imitate God, as those who are loved, and live lives of love, in the way Jesus loved” (Ephesians 5:1). When we imitate God, we love like Jesus. And when we imitate Jesus, we love like God.

Jesus invited those he met to follow him. In fact, when he began his public life of loving service, he said to his listeners, “follow me” (Mark 1:17). People have been following Jesus’ way of love ever since.

Jesus provides the best example of how we should live.

Jesus announces God’s loving leadership.

The message Jesus delivered focused often on God’s loving leadership.  He called this leadership, “the kingdom of God.”

Jesus’ first recorded words of public ministry sum up his message: “The kingdom of God is at hand; change your way of life and believe this good news!” (Mark 1:15) Those who believed found their lives transformed. God’s loving leadership became a reality for them.

Jesus told his listeners to make God’s loving leadership top priority (Matthew 6:10, 33). The kingdom of God is more desirable than anything else. It is like a treasure in a field for which someone sells everything to buy the field to get the treasure.

God’s loving leadership is also like a beautiful and expensive pearl for which a person sells all possessions to buy (Matthew 13:44-46). Allowing God’s loving leadership guide our lives is worth giving up everything. Whoever loses his life for God’s sake will gain an excellent life in exchange.

To illustrate the kingdom of God, Jesus said it is like a little mustard seed growing into a huge plant. It becomes fruitful in unexpected ways. God’s love changes lives, heals, liberates, and empowers us to turn from sin and evil. We are not the same when we follow God’s loving leadership. We are transformed.

Jesus taught that we should cooperate with God’s loving leadership wherever we find it. It ought to be the focus of our individual lives, our communities, and larger societies.

We should not exclude any part of ourselves or existence from God’s loving leadership.

Jesus heals us from sin.

An angel told Jesus’ mother the objective of his life. “He will save the people from their sins,” the angel said. Saving people from sin is part of what it means to heal them and provide an excellent life.

Critics sometimes criticized Jesus for being a friend to sinners. He ate with sinful people, walked with them, and spent time in their homes. He cared more about being helpful than about having a good reputation. He entered the messiest and bleakest situations to help people with problems.

On one occasion, Jesus’ critics brought him a woman for judgment. The woman was found having sex with someone to whom she was not married. Instead of condemning her, Jesus had compassion. He forgave her and said, “Go and sin no more.”

Another man, Zaccheus, robbed people by charging extra taxes. Just about everyone hated him. Jesus, however, chose to be his friend. He ate dinner with Zaccheus. Because of this friendship, Zaccheus changed his behavior. He began a new life of generosity and repayment.

Jesus not only saved from sin those he met long ago. He continues to save from sin today. He calls everyone to leave sinful ways and enjoy the excellent life that comes from living in love. He heals from sin those who ask.

At the end of his life, Jesus’ critics nailed him to a tree. He was punished for no good reason. A true criminal hang beside him. The criminal asked Jesus to forgive him, in the name of God. Jesus did immediately. God always forgives those who ask.

God forgives sins today. God will forgive your sins and ours. God forgives even the worst things we have ever done.

Nothing we have done is too big or too bad for God to forgive.

We find that asking God to forgive us brings a sense of peace that surpasses complete understanding. When we say, “God, I’m sorry for what I’ve done,” or “I’m sorry for causing so many problems,” a heavy burden lifts from our shoulders. We feel release.

The best word we know to describe this feeling is “joy.” We feel joyful!

God not only forgives. God makes it possible for us to live a very different life. We can be healed from the destruction of sins we committed. God begins healing the pain others inflicted on us too.

The excellent life Jesus provides involves becoming free from the devastating effects of our own sin. We can be free from bondage to evil habits. Bad habits destroy us and others in the world. God gets us out of the mess we have created for ourselves.

God calls and empowers us to live a life free from the chains of sin!

God suffers with us and transforms our lives.

We not only benefit from Jesus’ life. We also benefit from his death. And we benefit from the good news that God raised Jesus from the dead (Romans 5:8).

This news is shocking. But it’s true. Even death cannot stop God’s love!

Despite loving everyone consistently, Jesus was betrayed. One of his followers – Judas – assisted those who wanted Jesus dead. After an absurd trial, he was condemned to death.

Jesus was killed like a common criminal of his day – soldiers nailed him to a wooden cross.  He suffered and died there. It was tragic.

Jesus was dead nearly three days. He lay lifeless in a cold tomb. But God raised him from the dead. Jesus was resurrected!

God validated Jesus’ life and words of love by giving him life again. Jesus was vindicated in the face of his critics and enemies. God gave him the divine stamp of approval.

Jesus’ followers still consider his death and resurrection important. His death reminds us that, in an important sense, we must also die. Jesus’ followers must go through a spiritual death to their sinful ways so God can resurrect them to live life to the fullest. Jesus’ resurrection gives us hope that love – not death or evil – will have the last word.

Christians use various descriptions for how Jesus’ death benefits us. Some say he gave his life as a ransom for us (verse). Jesus took our sins upon himself so that we can be right with God (2 Corinthians 5:21). His death reconciled creation to its Creator (Ephesians 2:16). All of these descriptions and others proclaim the truth that Jesus died “for our sake” (Romans). We benefit.

Jesus’ suffering on the cross reveals that God feels pain and cares deeply. In Jesus, God experiences the kind of suffering we experience. God is the fellow-suffer who understands our problems and pain. God empathizes with us.

But God also overcomes suffering. The resurrection of Jesus gives us hope that our own problems and the widespread problems of life can be overcome. Overcoming problems is something that begins now and continues after we die.

God has already overcome some of our problems. We believe others will be overcome in the future.

Jesus’ followers remember his death and resurrection today by eating bread and drinking from a cup together. Just before he died, Jesus ate this simple meal with his followers.  He said the bread and wine they consumed were his broken body and shed blood. He asked his followers to remember him every time they ate and drank together.

Christians celebrate today by eating this same simple meal. They call it “Eucharist,” “communion,” or “the Lord’s supper.” The shared meal becomes a powerful event for God to overcome some of our problems.

We not only benefit from Jesus’ past death, we also benefit from God’s presence with us here and now.

Jesus invites us to respond to God.

From the beginning of his public ministry, Jesus called his listeners to respond to his message of love. Today, God calls you and me to respond.

We must choose to follow Jesus. We must choose to live a life of love.

What Jesus said long ago applies to us: “Ask and you will receive. Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be open” (Matthew 7:7). God gives good gifts to those who ask (Matthew 7:11).  These gifts involve living an excellent life. As we seek God’s loving leadership, these good gifts will be given to us.

We – the authors of the book you are now reading – have asked for that excellent life. And we have received it. We have decided to follow Jesus. We asked forgiveness for our sins, and we enjoy living lives transformed from bad to good. God’s loving leadership brings us joy!

God invites you, us, and everyone to cooperate with God’s work to transform our lives and the world in which we live. We must play a role in God’s work to overcome our problems and give us new life. We must ask for and accept God’s loving leadership.

When we say “Yes” to God’s invitation, our lives have genuine meaning and real purpose. Saying “Yes” doesn’t mean we now know the answers to every question. But living in God’s loving leadership provides a way to make sense of life. It gives life real meaning.

God invites us to a life free from the ruin of our sins. That life makes it possible to live in harmony with others – as much harmony depends on us.

The excellent life God provides helps us escape the problems that arise when we act selfishly. We can live for the common good, not our own selfish desires. This is life in community, enjoying mutual affection, and expressing brotherly and sisterly love.

An Excellent Life Continues after We Die

Like most people, followers of Jesus believe we continue existing after our hearts stop beating. In some way or another, we go on having personal experiences after our bodies die.

The good news is that God not only guides us to live an excellent life now.  God also offers us a good life after our bodies die! Our personal experiences after death can be even more excellent than when our bodies were alive. The word most people use to describe this good afterlife is “heaven.”

Earlier we read Jesus’ words that “God loved the world so much that he gave his only son.” Whoever believes in the son will not die spiritually. That person can enjoy an excellent life (John 3:1-16).

This excellent life entails a good quality of living that begins now. But we can continue to enjoy a good life in the afterlife. God cares about lives here and now. But God also makes possible an excellent life after our bodies stop working.

We have seen that choosing sin causes huge problems. Choosing other than love causes destruction. It results in spiritual death.

The same is true in the afterlife. Choosing other than love causes “wailing and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 25:29-30). The life of disobedience to God’s loving leadership leads to a dark existence — both now and later. Christians often call this miserable experience “hell.”

Our hope for a good life here and now is God’s loving leadership. Our hope for a better society and planet is God’s loving leadership. Our hope for a good life after our bodies die – heaven — is also God’s loving leadership.

God’s love is our hope here and now and forever!

Add comment


Todd Holden

Will you addressing within this chapter the thinking that Jesus’ death was a mistake and unnecessary? If I am remembering correctly this was brought up by John Sanders in his book, “The God Who Risks.”

Paul Willis

This book will be one more outstretched hand to every first time guest that enters the Generations Church family. This book is a sharp tool, one that should be used by every laborer in the harvest field. It will empower workers to plunge their hands into the soil of the harvest field. The prophet Joel tells us to “Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe.” Like the sickle of Joel, this book is our faith simply expressed. It will no doubt serve as a sharp tool that allows the faithful to get dirty and real while sharing their faith in the harvest field.

Sharelle Seward

I have found this hard to discuss with my friends that are non believers.  I agree that an important aspect of this is the understanding of God as love.  I feel like once people can grasp this concept and understand that God loves us unconditionally, they are one step closer to seeing God in the bigger picture and God’s work in our lives.

Erika Schaub

I thought this chapter was really good.  I liked the emphasis on Jesus being God’s ultimate way of showing love.  But i’m curious about the God of the Old Testament as well.  Does the Old Testament not show God’s love as well?  And what are the differences and similarities between God’s love in the OT and the NT?  My other question from this chapter was in “God suffers with us and transforms our live” – why did you say Jesus was dead NEARLY three days?

Jan Wilton

I agree with the words, God’s Loving Leadership. As you stated using Kingdom of God has as completely different connotation. Kingdom brings to the mind a ruler or monarch. I like the word leadership. With leadership comes the team feeling. We are a team with God as the leader. As a part of the team our opinions are important, they count. Lovingly leading the team. I like that.

Lisah Malika

I enjoyed this chapter very much. It was clear and to the point; a very easy read. It communicates the Gospel in a way that is understandable to all types of people.

I think it interesting that both you and Bob Luhn felt the need to redefine the phrase”kingdom of God.” I understand why you redefined it, but I am not certain that it was necessary. The phrase Kingdom of God does not have a negative connotation. When we read the story of Christ in its entirety we can easily understand that because Christ depicts a God of love His kingdom will also be loving. Also, when I tried inserting God’s loving leadership in specific scriptural verses it just sounded odd.

James Shepherd

This was a really Good chapter/article, and it communicates the Gospel message in a simple way to understand. This is part of what makes this Good chapter. At first I did not understand why you and Bob would feel the need to change the phrase “Kingdom of God” for “God’s Loving Leadership.” This is probably because I already understood the “Kingdom of God” in the way both you and Bob wanted it to come across. I can understand why making this change is important.  I think it is important to educate people on this, because it is an issue that affects the Church as a whole. Thanks for this article!

Angela Monroe

While I found this article interesting, I did not think it necessarily explained how Jesus brings good news. It invites readers into a relationship with God, one in which lives are transformed, which is wonderful. Still, there does not seem to be a need for Jesus. I understand this book is for new believers, which is probably why it does not go into depth about this subject, but I wish it would have explained more about why Jesus matters and what makes his life “good news.” What made him different from any other man? And why does that matter?

Ryan O’Neill

If I understand correctly, you are saying that by following Jesus and his leadership and discipleship, it not only sets us up for a good life now, but also life after death. This life after death aspect, more specifically what happens after we die, is a topic of interest for me. You said that “we go on having personal experiences after our bodes die.” I am curious, in this are you saying that we continue to exist in a somewhat personal way, continuing to work towards salvation, or perfecting our faith? Or are you saying that we instantly go to heaven, in which case it would be a less personal and more communal experience? Either way, I appreciated this blog and thought the content was an easy way to understand the leadership of Christ. So thanks!

Derek Hun

“He cared more about being helpful than about having a good reputation.”

When I read this quote I do not see how the two can be confused. Being helpful should always imply a having good reputation. I suppose the confusion or misinterpretation of helping those who need it, the way Jesus did, would suggest a life of misled efforts. Why help the poor or feed the hungry when you could be doing so much more in the world? Many people probably correlate these kinds of good deeds as insignificant or elementary, believing that anyone could do such things. But I do not think a task everyone can do would mean it is insignificant. That is the power of Jesus’ ministry and God’s love, anyone has access to its redeeming power.

Oscar D.

It was very insightful to substitute the phrase “God’s Loving Leadership” in for “Kingdom of God.” Though I particularly like the phrase Kingdom of God more than the other, but for the purpose of portraying the image of God’s love, God’s Loving Leadership was sufficient of me. “God’s love changes lives, heals, liberates, and empowers us to turn from sin and evil. We are not the same when we follow God’s loving leadership. We are transformed.” God’s Loving Leadership is so abundant in this life, that it overflows onto the after.


I think that one of the best interpretations of Jesus’ love solving problems, is that it saves regardless of the circumstances. Jesus’ love saves us from selfishness, and leads us into joy and an ability to love others. It seems that often, Americans transplant their standards of well-being when judging, for example, the poverty of others. The reality, however is that the love of Jesus does not try to save us from worldy problems. Yes, it cares about it, but perhaps any worldy solution is merely a byproduct of the primary goal. The beauty is that love lifts us up regardless of our circumstances. I’ve spent a good deal of time being totally out-joyed and out-loved by Filipinos living in what we could call slums.

Rebekah Luplow

I really appreciated this chapter about God’s love expressed through Christ. It’s an excellent way to sum up the Gospel in an easy to read and straightforward way and I can imagine nonbelievers reading this and becoming more curious about Christ. Something that this post brought to mind was how since the beginning of time, God has always been a missional God. In Genesis, we see how God created humans to be in relationship with him. God has always been seeking humanity out and I understand his mission to us in light of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. Thinking through this topic that you have discussed really reminds me how amazing God’s love is and how powerful the Good News is for all of humanity!

Amina Chinnell- Mateen

I find that this post clearly lays out what it is you are trying to say so that someone perhaps who didn’t quite fully understand the Gospel. Although what gets me is your use of the phrase “Gods loving leadership” in replace of The Kingdom of God. I see no negative using the Kingdom of God and I think it’s fine on it’s own. My fear with using the ladder is not that it’s not something I don’t affirm but that is doesn’t quite first well with Scripture to simply insert it. And also isn’t there ways in the OT that Gods love is actually shown and depicted?

Danie Parker

I, personally, believe that Jesus Christ’s death upon the cross was for reconciliation. When Christ died for us we were given the ability to be reconciled back to God and to join Him in His good works. I think that this understanding is a rather good one in light that it asks for participation from the created by the creator. Also I rather like the phrase that you use instead of the “Kingdom of God” it’s “God’s loving leadership”. I’m pretty sure the meaning of what is said remains the same, but the understanding of the phrase changes.

Rachel Ball

Right away I want to look at the “kingdom” vs ” God’s loving leadership.” While it is your book, and I recognize why you chose to make the switch, I might add a few of my own thoughts on the matter. While they are somewhat interchangeable, Kingdom hold so much more for me than the phrase “God’s loving leadership.” In the way you are using “God’s loving leadership,” it works. However, Kingdom means much more than just that. Kingdom is each other just as much as it is God and us. Kingdom includes me and my brothers and sisters in Christ as well as Christ.

I guess I need to understand how Kingdom was being used initially before it was replaced. The word holds more meaning to me than just “God’s loving leadership.”


Are our pastors telling us the truth?

Are Christian pastors honest with their congregations regarding the evidence for the Resurrection? Is there really a “mountain of evidence” for the Resurrection as our pastors claim or is the belief in the Resurrection based on nothing more than assumptions, second century hearsay, superstitions, and giant leaps of faith?

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