Paul says we Christians are running a race. Here's what I'm looking at on my run toward Christ.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

You Must Be Born Again

Unbeknowst to my dad but knowst to you, he is my guest blogger for the day.  Take a few moments to read what he has to say about John chapter 3:1-21 today.

Jesus: The Giver of Eternal Life
You Must Be Born From Above
John 3:1-21

The theme of our messages from now until Easter is: Jesus: The Giver of Eternal Life.  As we think about the story of Jesus and his death on the cross and his resurrection from the dead, there is one reason why all this happened. Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead so that people can have everlasting life.
Today we are going to look at a very familiar passage to all Evangelical Christians. It is the story of an encounter of Jesus and a man named Nicodemus. In these verses of the Bible two very important statements are made. The first important statement is when Jesus tell Nicodemus that “You must be born again to enter the Kingdom of heaven.” The second important statement is probably the most famous verse in all the Bible, John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believieth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
Let's read these verses and see what God has to say to each of us today.
John 3:1-21.
The first thing this passage says to each of us:
  1. It is not enough to be devout or religious: You must be born again to go to heaven.
    There was a man named Nicodemus who came to see Jesus. What do we know about his man? He was a Pharisee. The Pharisees were the strictest group among the nation of Israel. They were committed to obeying every word of the Law of God. They looked back at the history of their nation and saw a continuous cycle of obeying God, drifting away from the Lord, God sending punishment to bring them back and then a return to the Lord.
    The Pharisee decided enough of that. We want to obey God all the time, we want to obey every commandment of the law. Some even thought if they could keep every commandment of God for a few days, then the Messiah would come. Nicodemus was a member that group of dedicated Jews.
    Nicodemus was also a member of the Ruling Council of the Jews, that was the Sanhedrin, the 70 Elders of the nation. This group would be something like all the Bishops of the Methodist Church, or the members of the Southern Baptist Executive Committee or the Catholic College of Cardinals. Nicodemus was a very religious man and man committed to his faith.
    But I believe Nicodemus felt something was missing from his life. All his religious activity did not fill that empty space in his heart. Then Nicodemus heard about Jesus and listened to the things Jesus said. He heard about the miracles that Jesus had done and believed Jesus must be a prophet from God.
    Nicodemus came to Jesus at night. What is significant about his coming at night? Perhaps Nicodemus did not want his fellow Pharisees or fellow members of the Sanhedrin knowing that he was going to talk to Jesus. He thought that they would be critical of him for talking to Jesus.
    Sometimes people do not come to Jesus because they worry about what other people would say or think. My friends may think I am a religious nut.
    My family may reject me if I change religions. My son Patrick preached a sermon in Minnesota recently titled: "Embrace the Shame of Following Jesus.” Patrick said, if you follow Jesus completely some people will not like you, they will persecute you. Patrick leads a Slavic church, a church where the people speak Russian and his church is for the second generation who speak English. Most of his members' parents were from somewhere in the old USSR. Patrick said he asked them, “How many of you know someone who was persecuted for being a Christian? Every one of them raised their hand. It was not just being ridiculed or mocked that they talked about. They had parents or grandparents or uncles or aunts who went to jail or were put in a mental hospitals because they were Christians.
    Maybe Nicodemus feared what people would say if he went to see Jesus, so he went at night.
    Jesus does not engage in small talk with him, he says, I tell you the Truth. That was a formula for saying something very important. Verily, verily. In the King James Version. Aman, Aman in the Greek New Testament.
    “ No one can see the Kingdom of God, unless He is born again. Or born from above.” In the King James Version, “Ye must be born again!” If you want to go to heaven.
    Being religious will not get you to heaven. Reading the Bible will not save you. Praying daily is not enough to take you to heaven. Getting baptized, going to church every Sunday; none of those things will make you right with God. You must be born again, or born from above. You must have a supernatural transformation that happens when you trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord.

  1. Being Born Again is something that happens through the power of the Holy Spirit.
    Nicodemus asks Jesus as question. How can a man be born again, can he enter a second time in his mother's womb and be born? Nicodemus was thinking in purely literal terms. Each one of us was born some time ago when we came out of the womb of our mother. My son Matthew's wife Christine is pregnant and the baby should be born in May. They are very excited, but each of us has only one physical birth. Once we are out of our mother's womb, we can't go back. We are not like marsupials like kangaroo's. Those babies go back and forth, not into their mother's wombs but into their mother's pouch. Up till they are about a year old a joey kangaroo can jump back into mama's pouch. But not so for humans.
    Jesus said you must be born of water and of the Spirit. “ Flesh gives birth to flesh but the Spirit gives birth to the Spirit. “ It takes the power of the Holy Spirit to do the work in a person's life when they are born from above.
    What did Jesus mean by being born of Water and of the Spirit. Some Bible Scholars think that refers to physical birth and spiritual birth. Inside the mother's womb the baby is carried in a sack of amniotic fluid. Sometime during the birth process the water breaks. Shortly after that the baby is born.
    So John was talking about physical birth and spiritual birth.
    Others believe Jesus was referring to baptism. When you come to believe in Jesus you are baptized. Yet we do not believe in baptismal regeneration, the idea that baptism saves you. Yet Jesus tells those who believe in him to be baptized.
    One writer thinks Jesus might be referring to John the Baptist’s baptism. Thousands came to be baptized by John, but the Pharisees would not do that. They would not do what Gentiles did before they converted to Judaism. Maybe Jesus was telling Nicodemus you must repent of your sins as those did whom John baptized and then the Spirit will give you a new birth.
    But the main idea Jesus was saying being born again has to happen by the power of the Holy Spirit.
    The world for Spirit in Greek is Pneuma, which is also the word for breath and wind. A pneumatic tool uses the power of air. Jesus said the Wind blows where it pleases but you cannot see the wind. Last week we had 90 mile per hour wind around here. You cannot see the wind but you can see things flying through the air. You cannot see the wind but you can see what it does.
    How can you tell if a person has been born from above, or born again? You cannot see the Holy Spirit inside of a person. But there will be changes in life that you can clearly see. They will have a desire to please the Lord with their life. They will have a hunger to worship God and be with other Christians. The Bible which had once been a boring book to them suddenly comes alive.
    Now no new Christian suddenly becomes perfect, but you should be able to tell something is different about them if they have really been born again.
The third thing we see.
It took the death of Jesus on the cross to make it possible for you to be born again.
Nicodemus still had questions. How can these things be? Jesus said to him. “You are a teacher in Israel, yet you do not understand these things!”
Jesus said I speak about what I know. I know about heaven because I came down from heaven. Why should we believe what Jesus says about heaven or hell? He came from heaven, he descended into hell after he was crucified. He has been there, he knows what those places are like.
Before I visited my daughter in Australia, I read books about Australia. I had a picture of what it would be like in my mind. When when I got there it was different from what I imagined. Now I know what Australia is like, at least the part near Adelaide, because I have been there. Believe what Jesus says about heaven or hell, he knows he has been there.
Then Jesus says, “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so shall the son of man be lifted up.” What was Jesus talking about? He was referring to a story from Numbers 21:4-8, Turn in your Bibles and read this. 
When the children of Israel were wandering in the wilderness they often grumbled and complained. They did not have the faith to go into the promised land and so God let them wander for 40 years. This time they complained about the food and water. God go so tired of their complaining and lack of faith God sent poisonous snakes to bite them and some died.
We should be glad God does not do today what he did then. If you whine and complain too much he sends snakes to bite you. I think in that way as a parent I am like the Lord. I hate whining and complaining, We do not like the food. We do not like our drinks. Wah, wah, wah! I would tell my kids just eat what I give you and shut up, kid or else you get dog food to eat.
After the snakes came the people cried out to Moses. “ Pray to God to take the snakes away. Moses prayed to God. God did not immediately take the snakes away. Instead God told Moses to make a bronze snake and put it on the pole in the center of their camp. If any one was bitten by a poisonous snake, then if they looked at the bronze snake on the pole they would be healed and not die.
I can imagine someone saying, that is stupid, give me anti venom, looking at a snake on a pole will not save me, I will not do it. If that is what they did, then they died.
Jesus said to Nicodemus, just like the snake was lifted up in the wilderness so must the Son of Man be lifted up. When a lost sinner looks up to Jesus on the cross and believes that He is the Savior of the world, then he will live. The curse of sin is removed, the penalty of sin is taken away, you life instead of dying for eternity. Some people say that is stupid. How can believing on Jesus save my soul?  I will not do it. Okay then do what you will but if you do not look to Jesus on his cross you will die and go to hell.
Jesus came to give us eternal life, but it cost him his life, he died on the cross to save your soul.
Finally one more thing from this passage:
  1. Your eternal salvation depends on what you will do with Jesus.  It was in this story that John records this most famous verse in all the Bible. John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” KJV

Why did Jesus come? God sent him here. He came willingly. Being Equal with God, he became like a servant, he was born in a stable, he was willing to die for sinners, even to die on a cross. At the Comedy Cafe, Grace Matus was interview by Kayla Biegler. Grace said she thought Jesus had to go to the earth and die for us, but Kayla told her Jesus did not do that because he had to, he did that willingly because he loves us..
And God said, “Whoever will believe in Jesus, that this is why he came, should not perish but can have eternal life.
God did not send Jesus to condemn the world, God sent Jesus to save the world. Whoever will believe in Jesus will not be condemned. But if you reject Jesus you are already condemned. Either you accept God's way of salvation or you reject it.
Why then would not every one accept God's gift of eternal life? Well everyone should accept this free gift. But as Jesus said, God is light and people love darkness more than the light. When we come to the light people can see our evil deeds. The closer you get to Jesus the more you see your sin and it does not look pretty. But the purpose of getting into the light and seeing your sins, is not to shame you, it is to show you where you need to repent. I may look pretty good compared to some criminal in a jail somewhere, but compared to Jesus, I look pretty bad, But God will forgive me if I repent and forsake my sins and trust in Jesus for my salvation.
Have you been born from above? Have you ever been born again...If not trust in Jesus today and you will receive God's gift of eternal life.
Maybe you say, not today Pastor. Do not delay, you have no promise of tomorrow. The devil's strategy is not to make you deny the truth of the Gospel. NO his greatest strategy is to tell you, that is a good thing to do, but not now just wait. When you wait in put it off, soon the sense of urgency is gone. After a while you forget how important it is to be saved...
Do not fall for that trap. Trust in Jesus today and be saved.
Christian are you living for him who died for you. Jesus gave his life for you and me. We than should give our whole life to please the Lord. Is God pleased by how you lived this last week? If so, great. If not, pray, "Lord help me do better. I want to please you, because you gave your life for me."                                                                                                                                       
Maybe you have heard this story many times. The question is what are you going to do about it? Will you trust Jesus as your Savior today?

No comments:

Post a Comment