Faithlife Sermons

Born of God, Part 3

John  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  33:01
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John 3:1-21 records for us Jesus’ interaction with Nicodemus.
What is needed to enter the kingdom of God?
The Old Testament made it clear that only the righteous can enter heaven.
Psalm 15:1–2 NIV
Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent? Who may live on your holy mountain? The one whose walk is blameless, who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from their heart;
The scriptures also make it clear that no one is righteous.
Ecclesiastes 7:20 NIV
Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous, no one who does what is right and never sins.
Therefore Nicodemus’ question.
Jesus pointed out that was was needed was a supernatural birth. Being born from above. Being born of God the Spirit.
Nicodemus was perplexed. He was taught, and had taught his whole life that being a Jew—a descendant of Abraham, and keeping the law of Moses life was what was needed. Yet in his heart, he knew no one could keep the law perfectly. No one was truly righteous. He knew something more was needed. However, when Jesus spoke of being born from above, being born of the Spirit of God, he did not get it.
Jesus expected him to get it because God had already spoken of this in the scriptures that Nicodemus had. Passages like Ezekiel 36:26.
Ezekiel 36:26 NIV
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
That is why Jesus said in John 3:11, 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. The ‘we’ there is God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. The three that are one God spoke the truth in the scriptures. There is none righteous. All need a new heart, which is something only God can give.
Jesus goes on from this to say,
John 3:12 NIV
I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?
Nicodemus came seeking more about the kingdom of heaven. Jesus told him that he would never see it if he was not born from above here on earth. Nicodemus was not understanding what Jesus was talking about. So, Jesus said, if you do not believe what happens here on earth, how can you believe what I would share about heaven?
He goes on to say,
John 3:13 NIV
No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.
Here I believe Jesus is trying to show Nicodemus that He is greater than Moses. Nicodemus grew up learning about Moses and the Law. He taught about Moses and the Law. Moses and the Law were thought to be everything.
However, Moses never ascended to heaven. Moses was only a messenger. Now, one has come from heaven, Jesus! One of favorite ways Jesus referred to himself was as the Son of Man. This goes back to what Daniel wrote about the coming Messiah. He was one like a Son of Man.
Daniel 7:13–14 NIV
“In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.
This Messiah who was going to establish the kingdom, the Son of Man, was Jesus. He had come from heaven, and was greater than Moses. He could share more than Moses. Moses could communicate the Law, which shows all men their just condemnation. But now the Son of Man, Jesus, comes from heaven full of grace and truth to share this new life for those who will be born from above!
Remember, Nicodemus knew the scriptures. He would have caught all of these references Jesus was making. He was looking for the kingdom, and now Jesus is telling him that he is the one come from heaven to establish the kingdom.
But the question is still on the table… how can one enter the kingdom? How is one born from above, that is, born of the Spirit?
Jesus tries to help Nicodemus understand.
John 3:14–15 NIV
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.”
Nicodemus wanted to know how this born from above worked. How was one born of the Spirit. To help him understand, Jesus took something he knew. He spoke to him of something that happened with Moses.
We can still read about it ourselves. Turn to Numbers 21:4-9.
Numbers 21:4–9 NIV
They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!” Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived.
Recap the story...
You know, the idea of just looking at the serpent on the cross and living must have sounded pretty hokey.
This reminds me of what happened when I was in Papua New Guinea.
{Joseph bitten by the snake.}
M: Joseph, I have good news, and bad news, and good news.
J: What’s the good news?
M: Good news is I know this kind of snake.
J: Okay. What is the bad news.
M: Bad news is it is deadly. You are going to die.
J: What’s the good news?
M: Good news. I have a zapper. If I zap you with this, you will live.
J: What? How does it work?
M: I don’t know.
J: What do you mean you don’t know? Does it work?
M: It does work. I just really don’t know how. But I am told it works. missionaries around the world are using this. I have used it on a centipede bite, and it worked.
J: What?! Really?
M: I just zap around the bite a few times, and the pain is less. I mean, there is a little pain from the zapping, but nothing compared to the centipede bite.
J: But this is a snake! This is deadly. Can’t you get me antivenom.
M: I could, but you would be dead by the time I got it. Just let me zap you. Trust me, you will live!
Just look at the Snake on the cross and you will live.
what do you mean how? God said to look at the cross and you will live.
How does it work? Does it draw out the poison?
No, it doesn’t draw out the poison.
does it neutralize the poison?
Well, it neutralizes the effect of the poison. You won’t die, you will live?
I don’t get it.
Look! Believe God when he says you will live. Just trust him.
Read Numbers 21:1-9. Do you remember the context of this passage? Take time this week to read through Exodus and Numbers. Where was Israel when God sent the serpents? Why were they still in the wilderness instead of in the promised land after leaving Egypt? Exodus tells of how God delivered Israel from Egypt. It also tells of His power in delivering them through the sea. He gave them water when they needed it. He gave them food daily. He gave them meat. He led them faithfully. He revealed Himself to them dramatically at Mt. Sinai. He gave them the law. He gave them the covenant, and they ratified it. He gave them the tabernacle. He led them to the promised land. He promised to give it to them. He provided for them physically, and protected them from their enemies. Numbers 21:1-3 tells of how He gave them victory over the enemy that had captured some of them. Even though they rebelled time and again, complained over and over, He was still faithful, and caring for them. However, he also disciplined. Hence, the serpents.
Was God “just” in sending the serpents? Was he gracious and merciful in not just wiping out the nation and starting over with Moses?
Are you and I like the Israelites? How have you complained over the past few days? How have you not recognized God’s daily provision? How have you grumbled about what has been provided instead of being thankful? How have you not trusted His promises?
We have the poison of sin coursing through us just like the Israelites. We have the poison of sin killing us. Thankfully, there is a cure. It is not trying to be better. It is looking to Jesus. It is trusting that He took that punishment of death for us. He took the poison of our sin, and died on the cross. He rose again to give healing and life to those who will simply trust Him!
Do you trust Him? Do you believe He saves you and sends the Spirit to give you a new heart—a heart to love the Lord?
Read 2 Timothy 3:1-5. We are in the last days when people will be as described here. They will speak of being Christians. They have some of the facts down. But they are really trusting that they have ‘something good going with the man upstairs.’ This reveals that they trust what the are doing to be what they call ‘Christian’. However, it has not the power of the changed life which the Spirit gives. That power comes through faith in Jesus being our savior. It comes through faith in Jesus, alone. Look to Jesus!
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