Join us as we dive into the verses in John chapter 3 which reveal how we need to be completely reborn by the power of God’s Spirit into the person that HE wants us to be!!!
October 1, 2023
by Ben Caldwell
I’d like to share a passage of scripture with you today that helps us understand what God has in mind for us all.
“Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council.”
John 3:1 NIV
-Jesus has just cleared the temple, his reputation is getting out.
-This man named Nicodemus who is a religious leader among the Jews, comes to Jesus at night to find out more.
-Nicodemus is a Pharisee, which means he has committed his life to living according to the laws of the Old Testament.
-People often think of the Pharisees as bad guys, because they seem like they are out to get Jesus.
Why is that?
-Whenever Jesus sees the spiritual leaders doing something they shouldn't be doing, he calls them on the carpet.
-Jesus takes it easy on people who are far from God and holds spiritual leaders to a higher level of accountability.
-Nicodemus sees the value in what Jesus says and does.
-He sincerely wants to follow God.
-He is intrigued by what he sees in Jesus.
Let’s take a look:
“Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.” Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.””
John 3:1-3 NIV
-Nicodemus just wants a private conversation with Jesus.
-Nicodemus is talking about how everyone says Jesus is a good teacher, amazed at the powerful things Jesus can do.
-Jesus is talking about Nicodemus being born again.
Let me share with you about the Pharisees.
-These are people who love God.
-They wanted to live life in a way that would be right with God.
-The Pharisees taught the first five books of the Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) were God’s perfect law.
-They believed that in every situation that came up, every scenario a person might face had a right way for it to be handled.
Here’s where they went wrong.
-They started defining everything and telling people: here’s how every situation ought to be handled.
-Instead of letting God speak to people about the in’s and out’s of their lives, the Pharisees began teaching people how everything ought to be handled.
Take the command, “Thou shalt remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.”
-The Bible tells us to remember a day of rest and keep it holy, set aside for God.
-It’s one of the ten commandments.
-So the Pharisees asked themselves what is rest.
-They defined rest based on what they thought was work.
-Once everything was defined. You didn’t have to consult God anymore.
-You could just ask a Pharisee, and he would tell you what to do.
But Jesus seems to jump right to the heart of Nicodemus’ issues: “You need God, Nicodemus. You need to be born again.” But Nic doesn’t understand what Jesus is saying. Look at verse 4:
““How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.””
John 3:4-8 NIV
Nicodemus doesn’t understand, “What? Am I supposed to get into a womb and be born a second time? I’m not following you.”
Jesus explains that there are two different kinds of births.
-The first one is physical birth: there is birth by water… which is placenta.
-The second kind of birth is being “born by the Spirit.”
What is that?
-God gives us a kind of life that can only be experienced through the power of HIS Holy Spirit.
Then in verse 8, Jesus says, “We see the effects of the wind, but we don’t actually see the wind. Jesus is telling us and Nicodemus…
-You can’t see the wind, but you can see its effects.
-We can’t see the Holy Spirit of God… but we can feel its effects, giving you new life… giving you hope and joy… making you whole.
-At least those people who have come to Jesus can experience this.
“How can this be?” Nicodemus asked. “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.”
John 3:9-13 NIV
Nicodemus is blown way by this conversation…
-Jesus says, “I’m telling you about things that you have seen and heard… like the wind. But you don’t believe me.
-I mean, you know about the wind. What part of this don’t you understand?
-If you can’t understand this, then you won’t get the eternal things about heaven that I could also tell you.
-You may not understand all there is to know about spirituality, but you know that spirituality exists.
-So you shouldn’t be surprised by the idea of a spiritual birth.
-Jesus says, “No one has ever gone into Heaven, except the one who came from heaven… which is ME (Jesus)
-Jesus’s favorite way to talk about himself is to call himself the “Son of Man.”
“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.””
John 3:14-15 NIV
In the Old Testament (in Numbers 21) God performs a miracle. There are all these venomous snakes that bit the people and they were dying from the poison. God tells Moses to make a pole with a snake on it. And raise the pole up in the air. So Moses makes a bronze snake and puts it on a pole. When the people look at the snake on the pole, they were healed and didn’t die. Jesus is describing an Old Testament image, but he is hinting at how he will be raised up on a cross and die as payment for our sins. And anyone who looks to Him, anyone who has faith, trust, belief, confidence in him will be spiritually given new life. THEN IN JOHN 3:16, Jesus is still talking to Nicodemus. And Says:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
John 3:16 NIV
Let's just walk through this verse.
“For God so loved the world"
-Almighty God, the creator of heaven and earth loves us. He loves the whole world.
-He loves every person ever created so much "
“that He gave His one and only Son."
-Because He loves every person ever created so much.
"one and only Son"
-King James Version is translated "only begotten son."
-The Greek word means "only" "unique" "an only child"
-Points to the fact that Jesus is uniquely God's son in a way that the rest of us are not.
-When we talk about the trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we are talking about God's nature.
-He is all three and the three are all one.
-Jesus is uniquely God.
"That whosoever believes"
-tells us that anyone who trusts, anyone who puts their faith and confidence in Jesus, anyone who believes In Him won't die, but instead receives everlasting life.
“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.”
John 3:17-21 NIV
For this last bit of the discussion, Jesus uses legal, courtroom language, and the image of light and darkness. Imagine that you are a thief. And you want to break into a house. So you wait till it’s dark, and you break in. But in your heart, you know that you have done something wrong, you feel guilty. And you have a choice to make.
-Do you come clean?
-Do you confess that you have done wrong and change your life?
-Or do keep it to yourself?
Jesus says HE is the light.
If you love the darkness, then you will keep it to yourself, keeping it all under wraps so that you are free to do it again. -If you love HIM, you boldly walk into the light and acknowledge that God is at work in this situation changing who you are.
-If you remain in the darkness, then the verdict is: You are guilty and condemned.
-If you come into the light, confess, and change… then you will be rescued by Jesus.
If you don’t believe, you don’t believe…
-I’m not asking anyone to be disingenuous.
-Maybe you just haven’t met God yet. That’s ok.
-Don’t pretend that you believe this stuff is true.
-Jesus says you are reborn by confidently trusting what Jesus tells us and receiving the Holy Spirit.
-There is no sense in pretending.
When Jesus had this conversation with Nicodemus, He said…
-“You must be born again.”
-You must have a kind of rebirth through the power of God’s Holy Spirit.
-The very fabric of who you are will be changed by an encounter with all-mighty God.
-Romans 6:18 talks about how In Christ, “You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.”
-We will begin to no longer be slaves to the flesh (that is human desire).
-We will become slaves of God’s Holy Spirit.
In recent years pastors have talked about a problem that has developed in the church. For years, preachers like me would say “Come to Jesus. All you have to do is walk down that isle and pray a prayer and God will save you.” That message is well intended. Its based on Romans 10:13 which says “for everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” And that verse is true. It is the beginning of a relationship with God.
-There are other places where Jesus says…
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”
Matthew 16:24 NIV
-Or places like that say…
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Romans 12:1-2 NIV
-We want to shop the religious buffet!
-We want to take a little from this religious belief and a little from that one.
-The problem we face when we do that is… we are trying to stand in a puddle of Christianity.
Jesus is saying He wants us fully submerged in who HE is, completely reborn.
-The very fabric of our being must be made new through HIM.
-If you are really reborn IN HIM, you aren’t going to throw out your new nature based on some shallow preference.
Pastor Robert Madu says, “Nicodemus comes to Jesus thinking that Jesus is a teacher who could make his life better. Nicodemus is thinking ‘You are a teacher, and I am a teacher. And we are just two teachers shooting the breeze.’ But Jesus doesn’t see it that way. He reframes the conversation:
-“Nicodemus you are powerful and successful teacher BUT I am the savior.”
-If you want what I have, then you must be reborn by the Spirit of God.’”
Some of you have come in here prosperous and successful. You have done great stuff and you are willing to sit down at the spiritual buffet to pick and choose what you want. But the truth is..
-You need God.
-You need to be rescued by Him.
-You know something is missing in your life, and it has to change.
-Don’t just pick one thing here and another thing there.
-You need to be completely reborn by the power of God’s Spirit into the person that HE wants you to be!!!