3:16 The Numbers of Hope – Max Lucado

3:16: The Numbers of Hope by Max Lucado
Also by this author: You Are Never Alone: Trust in the Miracle of God's Presence and Power, Begin Again: A Journey of Restoration and Renewal Awaits You, Where'd My Giggle Go?
Published by Thomas Nelson on February 1, 2022
Genres: Non-Fiction, Christian Life
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*Now with brand-new content added, one of Max Lucado’s all-time bestselling books is updated for a new generation!*
Sometimes life appears to fall to pieces and can seem irreparable. We’ve all had our fair share of disappointments, loss, or hardships. But for every challenge there is a breathtaking promise: It’s going to be okay. How can we know? Because God so loved the world.
In 3:16, pastor and New York Times bestselling author Max Lucado encourages us to study closely the “Hope Diamond of the Bible”: John 3:16.
Max says of his favorite verse, “Every time I recall these words, they are fresh and as stunning as my first encounter with them. The mind-bending awareness of God’s limitless love, his incalculable sacrifice, and the priceless teaching at the core. How can we not review it again and again? I want this generation, and all who come after, to look closely at the key promise of God and choose the gift beyond all gifts.”
Throughout this updated and expanded edition of 3:16, Max will invite you to:
Stand in awe of how deep, wide, long, and high God’s love is for youUnderstand more fully the living hope you have through Jesus’ death and resurrectionRest in the assurance that salvation is a gift from God, not something you can earnIf you know nothing of the Bible, start here. John 3:16 invites you to know God’s love deeply and intimately. And once you accept God’s love, your life will never be the same.
If you know everything in the Bible, return here. Let John 3:16 become the banner of your life, so much so that the message of God’s unending and unbending love overflows from you to others.
Each copy of 3:16 also includes a 40-day devotional designed to help you draw closer to your loving Savior.

3:16: the Numbers of Hope might be the quintessential Max Lucado text. It’s should be no surprise that one of the most well-known Christian author’s book on the most well-known verse in the Bible is that author’s best-selling and most well-known text. Originally published in 2007, 3:16 is now updated, revised, and re-released for a new generation. Lucado’s folksy charm and compelling storytelling are unparalleled as he unpacks, line by line, John 3:16.

The book is divided into twelve chapters, each between 7-10 pages long. That makes this book easily-accessible as a daily devotional for a couple of weeks as you reflect on that section of the verse. The chapter breakdown is as follows:

1. Introduction – The most famous conversation in the Bible
2. No One Like Him – For God so loved the world
3. Hope for the Hard Heart – For God so loved the world
4. When You Get Booted Out – For God so loved the world
5. The Only One and Only – he gave his one and only son
6. The Heart He Offers – he gave his one and only son
7. Heaven’s “Whoever” Policy – whoever believes in him shall not perish
8. Believe and Receive – whoever believes in him shall not perish
9. God’s Gracious Grip – whoever believes in him shall not perish
10. Hell’s Supreme Surprise – whoever believes in him shall not perish
11. What Makes Heaven Heavenly – shall not perish but have eternal life
12. The Last Word on Life – shall not perish but have eternal life
13. Conclusion – The 3:16ed Life

After this, Lucado includes a 40-day devotional called Only Jesus: 40 Days with the Son. This section of the book is a series of two-page devotionals that, while interesting in their own right, seem added into 3:16 only to pad the book’s length to make it a more substantial book. This is also part of the original edition, but it still seems like an odd inclusion. However, I would say that this way you get two books in one.

3:16 is a straightforward, compassionate conversational explanation of the theology of evangelical Christianity. In 2022, that statement bears some explanation. Lucado has, by and large, stayed out of the political fray that has divided evangelicals. To the point that the term “evangelical” has become political, Max Lucado is not talking about political evangelicalism. This book is about theological evangelicalism. It has a focus on penal substitutionary atonement. It affirms the eternal conscious torment of hell, while genuinely lamenting it. It has a focus on heaven and the end of the sinful state. And it talks about the need for an individual response to God.

There might be some faults or flaws with evangelical theology (I say, writing as someone on the edge of theological evangelicalism), but Lucado’s purpose here isn’t to provide an apologetic or a defense, but a hopeful and wholesome explanation. And after the last several years of evangelicalism being politicized, it’s nice to go back to the theological basics, spoken with genuine love and compassion. This used to be the face of evangelicalism and, even if it was only a façade, it represented the hope of what evangelicalism could be.

In the end 3:16: The Numbers of Hope is Lucado at his Lucadoest. If you enjoy his conversational style and folky demeanor, you’ll be enchanted by what he has to say. I, for one, find myself listening even when I didn’t necessarily agree simply because of his irenic tone and obvious love and compassion for his audience. As Lucado gets older—and as his new books become repackaging of his old books—I’m very afraid that Lucado might be the last of the true evangelical prophets. Looking at the endorsements from this book, you have everyone from Franklin Graham to Tony Campolo. No other person I know has been able to bridge the gap between two so very different Christian ideologies. Max is a needed voice and will be desperately missed when he is gone.