Making the Good News of Jesus Your Own

If you are attracted to Jesus and want to appropriate his good news to your life, how do you do that? What steps must you take? What commitments must you make?

Sermon on the Mount, Carl Heinrich Bloch 1876

Carl Heinrich Bloch 1876

It is Less Complex than Many People Think

Many believers think that to follow Jesus and have eternal life a ritual must take place in which one makes a decision to accept Jesus as their personal savior. Otherwise they will go to hell. Some believers require a formulaic ‘sinners prayer’; they think if a person has not performed this ritual their relationship with Jesus is questionable.

There is nothing wrong with ‘accepting Jesus as personal savior’, but there are difficulties with the described requirements. To begin with, there is no ‘hell’ or punishment awaiting anyone—and the Bible does not teach that there is.

Secondly, one’s relationship to Jesus does not depend on a specific moment of decision. There are many who cannot pinpoint such a decision in their lives, and yet they are believers as much as anyone. It is disrespectful of the Father’s love to question a person’s relationship this way.

Another misconception is that one must meet behavioral requirements to be acceptable. The New Testament shows Jesus to be tremendously inclusive; he understands our messed up lives and is eager to remove our burdens. There are no barriers to overcome or rituals to perform.

If we want to follow Jesus he is there for us. In Matthew chapter 11 he gives this invitation,

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

What is the Good News Anyway?

There are several aspects of the good news of Jesus.

He relieves our fear and alienation. Many think God is angry, strict in his expectations, and ready to punish us at our slightest mistake. Jesus shares with us that this is not so; instead the Father loves us freely and accepts us as we are. There is no reason to fear him or feel alienated from him; any alienation we may feel is on our side, not on the Father’s side.

He relieves our burden of guilt feelings. Because we are imperfect, we feel guilty for our failures, but Jesus knows our limitations. He is concerned about our shortcomings but is not disappointed in us. We need not improve ourselves to come to him; rather, when we come to him we begin to improve. This is a very rewarding experience.

He provides eternal life. The most remarkable thing we learn from Jesus is that he provides eternal life for us—we can live forever in happiness. This does not apply only to a select number; this applies to all of us!

Does this sound like good news to you? It is! If you want to know more about the good news of Jesus you can find a series of articles on the good news beginning with What is the Good News of Jesus Anyway?

What Must I do to Receive this Good News?

Do you wonder what you must do and what conditions you must meet to make this good news yours? The answer is that you need do nothing and there are no conditions to meet. Read Jesus’ invitation above once more. Just come to him and learn of him. As you learn of him, you will begin to change for the better.

What Rules Must I Follow?

Jesus has only one rule: to love others as you love yourself. This is the only standard of behavior. You may feel that you cannot love some people, or perhaps even yourself; but as you begin to comprehend the Father’s unconditional love for you, you begin to love yourself more.

This will cause you to notice, and begin avoiding, behaviors that are bad for you because you are concerned for your own well-being. As you learn from Jesus, you will choose better behaviors for yourself, but only you can determine what those are. No one has the authority to give you rules to follow.

As you realize the Father’s love for you and begin to love yourself more, you will also grow in the capacity to love others as you now love yourself. You will not become perfect in this, but you will enjoy a life of greater harmony with the Father, yourself, and others.

Identifying with Jesus and Learning More

Now that you have heard the good news of Jesus, you will want to identify with him in a concrete way. We do this by baptism; baptism is a public statement that we have identified with Jesus.

If this is all new to you, you may want more information about Jesus and his good news. There are resources right in your community and you can find them with a little searching. But if you wish to contact me personally, feel free to email me at tchastain@cfl.rr.com.

In this series:

Making the Good News of Jesus Your Own
Choosing to Identify with Jesus
Does Behavior Matter?
Loving God and Others Makes Rules Obsolete
A Delightful Insight into Behavior
Growing as a Follower of Jesus
What is the Good News of Jesus Anyway?

Welcome to the Good News of Jesus!

Your observations and comments are welcome below.
If you enjoyed this or found it helpful, please sign up for updates in the column to the right (email, RSS, Facebook, or Twitter) so that you don’t miss future posts. Also consider sharing this post using the buttons below. Have a great day! ~Tim
This entry was posted in eternal life, Jesus, love, the Good News, the invitation. Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Making the Good News of Jesus Your Own

  1. Pingback: Choosing to Identify with Jesus | Jesus Without Baggage

  2. Amy Haiken says:

    Tim, this is so well written. I especially love the section “What Rules Must I Follow?
    Which says:
    Jesus has only one rule: to love others as you love yourself. This is the only standard of behavior. You may feel that you cannot love some people, or perhaps even yourself, right now, but as you begin to comprehend the Father’s unconditional love for you, you begin to love yourself more.
    I believe that there would be much less hatred and anguish in the world if every Christian (actually every person) followed this. This is the Christianity that I would love to see more of.

    Like

  3. joseph says:

    But Jesus Says To Fear GOD….
    “I will tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell.” (Luke 12:4,5)

    Like

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Good point, Joseph. In this article I meant punishment in the eternal fires of Hell. When Jesus mentioned hell in this passage, he used the word ‘Gehenna’ which referred to an image, common in those days, from Isaiah 66 that spoke of piles of Jewish bodies killed, thrown in the valley, and burned. It is a graphic way of speaking of total destruction in death.

      I plan to revise this article sometime this year, and I will make this more clear. Thanks!

      See the article Jesus and the Fires of Hell https://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/2013/03/18/jesus-and-the-fires-of-hell/.

      Like

    • Tony McGurk says:

      The way I understand this is to have a respectful fear of God. A fear of displeasing him is how I think of it, not a terrified kind of fear of him.

      Like

  4. kristen says:

    Hi, im really enjoying the positivity on your site. I have been struggling for a very long time with all this baggage keeping me from wanting to know Jesus, especially the thought that i only want to know him because i am afraid of hell. I dont want to base any of my beliefs on fear so that has always alienated me from christianity. You mention that the bible does not say that there is a hell or a punishment for anyone but that is different from what i have always been taught–that jesus is the only way to god/heaven and that non believers go to hell. Can you further explain the comment you made for me please? Thanks!

    Like

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Hi Kristen, I am glad you are enjoying the site. My entire purpose is to be helpful to those who are dealing with concerns about religious baggage. I went through this myself, having been raised in a very conservative church environment, and I too was taught that non-believers go to hell.

      However, I discovered that the Bible does not teach that. Rather people have put together a few statements from the Bible that do not have anything to do with each other and constructed a doctrine of eternal torture in a burning hell.

      I have written several posts about various aspects of this issue that can be found, along with other resources on the subject, at https://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/books-and-resources/hell/. This page is still in the process of development, but there is plenty there that should address your questions; and I am always readily available if you want further information or have additional questions.

      I hope you will continued to visit the blog and interact as you are inclined to do so. Have a great day! ~Tim

      Like

  5. Matt says:

    Tim, I’m pretty much all in with this, except for the baptism. The only place I know of to get baptized is in the “hellfire” churches. I was baptized in the Catholic church as a child, but that was just something they did to me, not my choice.

    Like

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Matt, I think being baptized as an infants is a legitimate baptism. The choice to accept that baptism is usually made at confirmation. If a person was not baptized as an infant and becomes a believer as an adult, I do recommend that they be baptized. This is not absolutely essential, but it is the almost universal sign of identifying with Jesus and the kingdom of God.

      I hope this addresses your question. I am sorry for the delay; I was away from my computer for a week.

      Like

  6. Robin says:

    This is very inspiring. I was raised Jewish and then attended Unity for about 11 years. Recently I have not attended church or synagogue. I have been exploring spirituality through meditation, reading and discussions. I read somewhere that prayer and charity is discouraged in the Gospel of Thomas. How do you feel about that Gospel?

    Like

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Hi Robin, I am glad you liked the post. You might be interested in my recent series expanding on aspects of the good news of Jesus. It begins with https://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/2015/05/04/what-is-the-good-news-of-jesus-anyway/.

      Regarding the Gospel of Thomas, I have read some of it and I have read a number of scholars here and there who wrote about it, but I have not done a significant study of the book itself. While scholars generally consider the Gnostic gospels to be late and inauthentic, it seems that many think there are SOME genuine sayings of Jesus in the Gospel of Thomas. I assume they are correct. I don’t know anything about the issue of prayer and charity in Thomas.

      At best, I think Thomas is worthy of a bit of interest, but it is not at all equal to the four gospels we have in the New Testament.

      Like

  7. Pingback: Does Behavior Matter? | Jesus Without Baggage

  8. Pingback: Loving God and Others Makes Rules Obsolete | Jesus Without Baggage

  9. Pingback: A Delightful Insight into Behavior | Jesus Without Baggage

  10. Pingback: Growing as a Follower of Jesus | Jesus Without Baggage

  11. Chet says:

    You would not believe the relief I am experiencing at finding this site. I have been struggling with all these issues and questions for so long. I was beginning to despair of finding a ‘place’ to express my thoughts and doubts about Jesus and Christianity without fear.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Hi Chet, I am glad you find this site comfortable and/or helpful. Many people who have questions and doubts about beliefs they have been taught have found support here and the freedom to express themselves without fear. I hope you continue to come here, and feel free to comment as you feel inclined!

      Like

  12. Jill says:

    Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s