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Born of God, Part 5 - How would you respond?

John  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  38:06
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Two questions for today...
How do you respond to:
How could you believe in and follow the God of the Bible? He is so angry, and full of wrath. I could never believe in, or follow a God like that.
I think that our study in John 3, will help us to come up with an answer for someone who thinks this way.
A second question also needs to be considered;
How can you be so certain that you are saved?
Many people today struggle day to day. Some from their own thoughts, others because this is what they are taught. Many think that you cannot be certain you are saved until you face him as your judge. Is that true?
What does Jesus, the judge have to say about that? We will see one of several verses in John that deal with that question today.
Today we are continuing our study in John chapter 3, verses 1 to 21. This is the record of the conversation between Nicodemus and Jesus.
Nicodemus was a Pharisee, a man who held a high regard for the scriptures. He studied, knew and taught the scriptures. He taught how God had made a covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, also known as Israel, and their descendants. God had promised to bless them, and make them a great nation.
Later, through Moses, God made a covenant with the nation of Israel, reminding them of the covenant with Abraham, and giving them further directions. He gave them the law, and told them if they obeyed, they would enjoy their time in the land He was giving to them. However, if they disobeyed, they would be punished. They would be carried away by other nations, until the land had its Sabbath rests which they had not followed.
The nation of Israel did disobey. Many times over. Time and again, God in His patience, in His mercy and grace, delivered them from their enemies. Yet, the day finally came when they received their just punishment, and God allowed them to be carried away from the land as He forewarned.
However, in His grace and mercy, He also restored them to the land, as He foretold in Deuteronomy, and through the prophet Jeremiah.
During all of these years with the prophets, God was patient, and kept warning Israel. He also kept forewarning them of the punishment that was coming!
And, in the midst of the warnings, and during the time of the punishment, God kept telling them of the great future ahead. He told them of the everlasting kingdom that was coming. The eternal kingdom. The kingdom which would be ruled by one of David’s descendants.
He told them of how their enemies would be punished, and destroyed by the Lord for how they had treated Israel.
As Nicodemus studied these prophecies, he would have seen the coming kingdom, and known that it would be an everlasting, and righteous kingdom. He wanted to be a part of that kingdom.
However he knew that all men, himself included were like sheep that go astray. There is no one who is righteous in His sight. And as Malachi the prophet foretold,
Malachi 3:2 NIV
But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap.
So, the burning question in his heart was, how can I enter this kingdom, this everlasting, righteous kingdom of God?
Jesus knew his question without him asking and told him,
John 3:3 NIV
Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
Nicodemus wanted to know, what is this being born from again, or more literally, from above?
Jesus told him,
John 3:6–8 NIV
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.”
Being born again, or from above, is to be born of the Spirit.
Well, how is one born of the Spirit?
Jesus told Nicodemus that this was nothing new. God had spoken of these things before through the prophets. He spoke of the Spirit coming and giving life. But to help him understand, he told him of Moses lifting up a serpent in the wilderness.
When Israel had rebelled against God, He punished them by sending serpents. When the people saw this, and cried out for mercy, God did not withhold it. He in mercy gave them a way to live. A way to have life. All they had to to was have faith. They just needed faith that God would heal them as He promised if they looked to a bronze serpent. Those who did believe and look were healed. They lived!
In the same way, Jesus went on to say,
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.”
Eternal life. This was a concept that Nicodemus would have know. This was also introduced in the Old Testament.
Daniel 12:2 NIV
Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.
This spoke of the time when God would establish his everlasting kingdom, and how many would be resurrected to everlasting life, and others to everlasting shame and contempt.
To rise to eternal life was to rise and enter the kingdom of God.
So, to summarize the conversation thus far:
How to enter the kingdom of God:
Be born of the Spirit
How to be born of the Spirit?
Believe
Being born of the Spirit, is something God the Spirit does. You cannot make it happen. You cannot earn it. You cannot bring it about by some ritual, or achievement. The Spirit is like the wind. It goes where it will. It does what it will.
So, what does it take? Simply believe.
Just like God said he would give life where there was no hope for those bitten by the serpents. Just believe, and look to the serpent. For everyone who believed, those who looked, they were healed.
In the same way, everyone who believes, who looks to Jesus, they will be given this eternal life. The Spirit will give them new birth into eternal life.
And, not only is this for Israel,
John 3:16 NIV
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.
This is for everyone in the whole world!!
Everyone who believes will not perish, but have the promised eternal life!
How? By being born again, being born from above; being born of the Spirit!
How can we be born of the Spirit? No ritual makes the Spirit act. No achievement. No amount of trying to bring it on. No, the Spirit gives us new birth the moment we believe in Jesus.
Take a moment to look over those verses again. This is the greatest news in the world!
John 3:14–16 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.” 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.
Jesus said it twice in a row. Whoever believes, has eternal life! Whoever believes has the new life that the Spirit gives.
Now, let’s continue on, looking at the next verses.
John 3:17 NIV
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
As I already mentioned, Nicodemus wanted to get into the kingdom. But as he looked at the scriptures, he would have seen that when the Messiah would come to establish the kingdom, it was going to be a time of judgment and wrath. As we saw in Malachi, who can stand when he comes?
Other prophets like Joel described it this way,
Joel 1:15 NIV
Alas for that day! For the day of the Lord is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty.
Or as Malachi said elsewhere,
Malachi 4:1 NIV
“Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and the day that is coming will set them on fire,” says the Lord Almighty. “Not a root or a branch will be left to them.
Again, knowing that he and everyone else is not completely righteous, who could possibly stand and hope to be a part of the kingdom?
There is a day of judgment coming. However, Jesus was pointing out, that this was not the time of judgment. Instead...
John 3:17 NIV
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
When people think that God is a God of wrath, He is just so angry, there is no pleasing Him, we need to remember that the God they are claiming as being so hateful, is the one who Loved the World, and sent His Son first to save the world!
Let’s review the wrathful God of the Old Testament until the time of Jesus...
John 3:18 NIV
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.
There are only two groups of people in this verse. These are the only two groups into which all the people of the world fit.
What are they?
Those who believe, and those who do not believe.
What is the legal standing before God for these groups?
Those who believe are not condemned.
Those who do not believe are condemned.
This is what Jesus had to say about that second question.
I imagine that as Jesus was talking, Nicodemus was probably just like us.
He may have been thinking… can it really be that simple? Believe and have eternal life? But what about the bad things I have done? What if I sin again? Wouldn’t I then be condemned all over again? Wouldn’t I be unable to stand before him at his coming?
Jesus knows the thoughts of all men. And what Jesus says here addresses those thoughts.
It really is that simple. God loved the world gave the sacrifice for sins. God gave His one and only son as the sacrifice that satisfies his wrath against sin once and for all.
Hebrews 7:27 NIV
Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.
Hebrews 9:28 NIV
so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
Jesus’ sacrifice is sufficient! That is why he says, Do you trust me?
John 3:18 NIV
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.
If you believe in Jesus, you are not condemned. There is no further sacrifice for your sins necessary, nor available! Jesus sacrificed Himself ONCE FOR ALL TIME! That is what the Bible says. Anyone who says differently is contradicting Jesus. Who are you going to listen to?
Jesus says, believe in me and you are NOT CONDEMNED. What awesome news is that!
That is how Jesus addressed the questions Nicodemus had, and how He addresses even the questions people have today.
How could you believe in and follow the God of the Bible? He is so angry, and full of wrath. I could never believe in, or follow a God like that.
You really need to look into the Bible a little more. God is not just so angry and full of wrath. He is righteous. He is just and will judge. However, before that judgment comes, He loves us! How great is His love? His love is so great, He sent His son to take the punishment for us, so we would never have to! He does not want to condemn! He wants to save!
How can you be so certain that you are saved?
Jesus himself, the one who will judge, said, “whoever believes is NOT CONDEMNED.” Is there any wiggle room? Is there any way that the one who believes could be condemned? No. Jesus does not lie! Jesus said it. It’s true. Do you believe Jesus died for your sins, and rose again? He says if you do, you are not condemned!
That is how Jesus answered those questions.
Let’s trust Him, and learn to answer people’s questions as Jesus did.
Homework
Read John 3:1-21. Answer these questions in your own words: a) What is it to be born again (literally, born from above)? b) How is someone born of the Spirit?
Read John 3:16-18. How would you answer someone who says, “God is so angry and hateful. I could never want a God like that.”
Read 2 Timothy 4:1-7. Jesus was not sent to judge the world when he came. But He is coming again, and He will judge at that time. Why is that important to remember?
Read 1 Peter 4:1-5. In light of Jesus coming again, how should that effect the way we live? Why do people get offended by our moral standards?
Read Revelation 19:11-21, Revelation 20:11-15, and John 3:16-18. Knowing this is coming, and that God loves the world, not wanting any to perish, how we live?
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