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You Must Be Born Again

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The Grass is greener on the other side...
Never throw stones in glass houses...
The glass is half full...
These sayings speak of - Green grass…glass houses, and a half full glass of water...
NOW - are THOSE things intended to be a part of the MEANING of those sayings?
NO -
“The grass is greener on the other side” : refers to - things always being better outside of your own life
“Never throw stones in glass houses”: refers to - check YOURSELF before you start judging others
“The glass is half-full”: refers to - The situation is looking up…let’s be optomistic
These sayings are extremely common today - and so when someone uses one of these sayings...
…we actually see THROUGH what they’re LITERALLY saying - and we UNDERSTAND what their words actually MEAN...
NOW - walk up to any 5 year old and say - “Did you know that the grass is greener on the other side?”
What are they going to think?
Today - we’re going to hear an OVERTLY common phrase that is tied to Christianity...
But back when these words were spoken...
They were COMPLETELY MISUNDERSTOOD....and we’ll see that as we move along...
John 3:1–15 ESV
1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” 9 Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” 10 Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? 11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
As we can see early on in this passage, those who were in ear-shot of anything that Christ said or did - those people were paying attention...
Here we see a man named Nicodemus - come to Jesus
And this man Nicodemus wasn’t your typical 1st Century man...
He was a ruler of the Jews…a member of the Sanhedrin...
A man of knowledge...
And yet he comes to Jesus and says...
John 3:1–2 ESV
1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.”
What we’re going to see here - starting in verse 2 is this...
SLIDE: The New Birth: A New Life Not a New Religion

The New Birth

Back to verse 2:
John 3:2 ESV
2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.”
Notice what Nicodemus says to Jesus -
He addresses Him as - Rabbi…(teacher)
… “WE KNOW…that you are a teacher from God…”
What’s Nicodemus doing here?
What he’s doing is he’s placing himself - along with the other members of the Sanhedrin...
…and he’s placing them on the side of - GOD...
And he’s saying - WE KNOW - teacher - we KNOW that you are from God...
… because we have KNOWLEDGE…and we are on God’s side...
…and we can recognize those on God’s side when we see them...
But how does Christ respond?
Does He respond by saying - Rabbi…let Me tell you what’s true...
John 3:3 ESV
3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
AGAIN - Nicodemus was a member of the Sanhedrin…a RULER of the Jews...
A man of authority...
Nicodemus EPITOMIZED all that was - RELIGION...
One of the MOST religious men - A teacher of ISRAEL...
AND he comes to Jesus and says - Teacher - WE KNOW…we know!!
And Jesus DOES NOT reply by saying - YES! You are correct, you know - if everyone BELIEVED like you, they would have eternal life and live in heaven forever!
NO - Jesus says - UNLESS - THIS is true about you, you CANNOT see the Kingdom of God!
Jesus LOOKED the Most religious man of his day - in his eyes and said - UNLESS you are BORN again..you CANNOT see the Kingdom of God...
YES - I AM from God - i AM God - and you DON’T KNOW what you’re talking about!
You MUST be born again!
Now think about this - WHAT did Nicodemus have going for him?
He was EXTREMELY well versed in Scripture...
A Jew
Fanatical about the law...
A member of the ruling body of the Jews
It’s as if he was the DEFINITION of - RELIGION!
By today’s standards...
Nicodemus probably would have been:
a Pastor/Elder
Had a Master of Divinity Degree
a PhD
A Lifetime in the Ministry
And yet Jesus looks at him and declares - You LACK something Nicodemus!
No - you don’t lack another DEGREE
No - you don’t lack more EXPERIENCE in ministry
No - you don’t lack a Publication
a #1 best seller
No - you don’t EVEN lack MORE willingness to GIVE...
- You LACK - LIFE!
The New Birth is a call to new life, not more religion
Jesus is saying - YOU MUST be born again if you want to see the Kingdom of God...
This is an ABSOLUTE condition placed on SALVATION!
WHICH means - this CONDITION that Jesus lays out to Nicodemus...
Is the SAME condition that applies to us today!
If a JEWISH rabbi in the 1st Century, who was actually conversing with God in the flesh...
If HE needed to be born again…we ALL need to be Born Again!
This SAYS SOMETHING ABOUT you and I...
Something EXTREMELY relevant for you and your family
and your co-workers, and your friends, your neighbors...
your kids teacher
the mailman
the school bus driver
your boss
your students
your loved ones
your spouse
the cashier at the store
your yoga instructor
your teammates
ALL people
When Jesus Christ said - YOU MUST BE BORN AGAIN...
He was pointing to the reality of - BY IMPLICATION, the deadness of mankind!
AND YET - people believe what?
People believe that they themselves can HANDLE getting to heaven!
What are some things that people believe will HELP them get to heaven?
Doing good works
giving money to charity
giving time to help a charity
giving money to the church
Going to church
going to bible study
teaching a bible study
buying lunch for a friend
buying Christmas presents for a family in need
giving up certain foods for a time period
giving up swearing
devoting time to help the church
giving away your old clothes to the poor
buying new clothes for the poor
feeding the poor
HOW ABOUT THIS...
How about not only DOING good works - how about AVOIDING BAD WORKS...
How about NEVER killing anyone
never raping anyone
never spitting in someone’s face
never cheating on your taxes
never stealing
PEOPLE everywhere believe that as long as they DON’T DO these things..
they’ll EARN heaven...
ALL of these things…people CONSIDER these things to be things that will help them get to heaven.
But what does the BIBLE say about this?
See In the beginning, SIN came into the world thru one man - ADAM
...and death spread to all men because ALL sinned...
And SIN - had and has an affect on us...It SEPARATES us from God...
Isaiah 59:2 ESV
2 but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.
Genesis 6:5 ESV
5 The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
Only....evil....continually...NOTHING BUT evil...is the state of mankind....apart from Christ.
But NOT only are we evil...
Ephesians 2:1–3 ESV
1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
Paul here speaking to the church....
You - CHRISTIANS....were DEAD in the trespasses and sins in which YOU ONCE WALKED....
DEAD like the rest of mankind!
Jump below:
Ephesians 2:1–2 ESV
1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—
Do you see the connection in verses 1-2?
slide:
VERSE 1- DEAD - - VERSE 2- WALKING
We were DEAD...as we WALKED!
JUMP BELOW:
Ephesians 2:1–3 ESV
1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
slide:
VERSE 1- DEAD - - VERSE 3- LIVING
We were DEAD while we LIVED...
There is a kind of LIVING - where DEATH reigns!
There is a kind of living - that is DEATH
that AS we walk...
as we breathe...
as we play with our kids...
as we go to the sporting event
as we walk through the mall
as we're amazed at the stars...
as we contemplate the memories of childhood
WE ARE BUT A CORPSE....and nothing more. DEAD…SPIRITUALLY DEAD
And so IF we’re Spiritually Dead....what could we POSSIBLY DO - to change our DEADNESS?
Can physically dead people - DO physical things?
THEREFORE - Jesus can stand before a RELIGIOUS professional in Nicodemus...
and say to him - YOU must be BORN AGAIN…if you want to see Heaven...
You NEED - LIFE
Your RELIGION doesn’t cut it!
Your GOOD WORKS don’t do anything for you...
**(Friend has Stage 4 cancer - goes and feeds the poor - will that result in being HEALED??)
Good deeds don’t heal CANCER!
So if Good Deeds can’t heal PHYSICAL ILLNESS...
Why do we think that Good Deeds will heal Spiritual Deadness???
Truth is - we NEED to be BORN AGAIN...
NOW - what actually happens in the New Birth…?
We’ll see...
SLIDE: The New Birth: The Washing of Regeneration

The New Birth

So Jesus tells Nicodemus that he must be Born Again…and Nicodemus responds...
John 3:4 ESV
4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”
Again - another example of Jesus speaking - using physical language..
And mankind only being able to understand Him in that way...
Which meant that Nicodemus was baffled as to what Jesus MEANT… (like the 5 year old - Grass is greener)
So - Jesus helps him...
John 3:5–6 ESV
5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
NOW - many religions out there read verse 5 here, and they do what Nicodemus did...
They MISUNDERSTAND what Jesus said - and they hear Jesus say - WATER here and they assume He means - physical water...
The problem with doing this - is found in these 2 verses...
SO - back to Grammar class real quick...
SLIDE:
…unless one is born of “water and the Spirit”...
Verse 5 - it says - Unless one is born of water and the Spirit...
Now - these 2 items (water / the Spirit) are connected here in v5 using a Conjunction… “and”
Unless one is born of “water and the Spirit”, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God...
And then in v6 we see this...
SLIDE:
That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit.
This verse is structured differently than v5...
In this verse - Christ is SEPARATING FLESH - from the SPIRIT...
HERE - “flesh” is contrasted with “Spirit” - how? - DISJUNCTIVELY...
We need to think through this thought pattern...
Jesus tells Nicodemus - you MUST be born again!
Nicodemus thinks - PHYSICAL birth! How can I be born again? physically?
Jesus then WANTS to - REORIENT Nicodemus’ thinking…because his thinking is - WRONG
Jesus says:
Unless one is born of “water and the Spirit”, he cannot enter the Kingdom...
That which is born of the FLESH (which is what YOU’RE thinking about Nico) is FLESH...
…and that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit...
Jesus is trying to get Nicodemus’ mind AWAY from thinking about physical birth!
AND so
Water appears WITH Spirit conjunctively in v5
and FLESH is contrasted with the Spirit DISjunctively in v6...
AND SO - water and flesh should NOT be equated!
John 3:5 ESV
5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
And so in THIS context here - the combination of [water and the Spirit] represents - “Being Born Again!”
It’s the combination that represents - Being Born Again
And it’s THIS PICTURE of life - that Jesus speaks of here - that is a direct contrast to the perspective that Nicodemus had of life involving physical existence....
And we see this throughout Scripture...
John 7:38–39 ESV
38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ ” 39 Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
Ephesians 5:26 ESV
26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,
This is speaking of Jesus cleansing the church (His bride)
Titus 3:5 ESV
5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,
We see this language all throughout Scripture...
Where the believer is BORN anew - of water and the Spirit...
That which is born of the Spirit is Spirit, cleansed by the washing of the water of the word...
And so the New Birth is the result of the Washing of Regeneration!
2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
And so it’s HOW this new creation - this NEW BIRTH comes to be - that Jesus addresses next in our text...
And what we’re going to see is this...
SLIDE: The New Birth: The Free Will of the Wind

The New Birth

I borrowed this title here from John Piper - as I feel it hits the nail on the head...
John 3:7–8 ESV
7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
As we’ve seen so far, the NECESSITY of the New Birth actually points to the reality of our PROBLEM...
The reality of - Our Deadness!
We know this to be true...
Romans 8:7–8 ESV
7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
We know this to be true...
1 Corinthians 2:14 ESV
14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.
We CANNOT please God…without God...
We’re UNABLE to accept the things of God - WITHOUT God -
We’re DEAD...
And so GOD must do something.
What does He do?
He sends His Son - Christ - to RESCUE us...
To LIVE for our righteousness...
To DIE for our transgressions...
AND to Rise Again for our Justification!
But even before all that...
Romans 8:29–30 ESV
29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
Romans 9:11–12 ESV
11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— 12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.”
Ephesians 1:11 ESV
11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,
John 10:16 ESV
16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.
How can God say that He has other sheep - but just needs to call them to Himself?
Ephesians 1:3–5 ESV
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,
We have been chosen by God...
And so if we’ve experienced the NEW BIRTH…then we know…what?
John 6:44 ESV
44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.
If we are sitting in here a BELIEVER today - we know that GOD the Father DREW us (awakened us) to Jesus Christ!
And so IN God’s CHOOSING - we see - the Free Will of the Wind...
God is FREE to CHOOSE as He pleases...
FREE to draw WHOM He will!
And yet - the QUESTION for us remains - DO YOU BELIEVE?
BY FAITH ALONE in Christ alone…we become JUSTIFIED before God!
And to DENY Christ - to REJECT Christ is to REJECT Eternal Life!
Have you BEEN BORN AGAIN?!
Each of us is accountable before God - to answer that question.
Everyone - at some point, will answer that question...
And if we answer YES - it will be because we have put our FAITH in the PERSON AND WORK of Jesus Christ!
SLIDE: The New Birth: Comes by Faith in Jesus Christ

The New Birth

John 3:8–15 ESV
8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” 9 Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” 10 Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? 11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
This section of Scripture here is amazing...
Let’s look at what Christ is saying here to this man Nicodemus - who is completely confused about Salvation...
Nicodemus up to this point - has proven that he doesn’t GET IT!
But Jesus doesn’t just leave him in his IGNORANCE...
Up until verse 13, Jesus has been speaking about the NEW BIRTH like a TEACHER - describing the PROCESS of it...
it’s spiritual...
it happens by the work of the Spirit...
it comes like the wind...
and you can’t explain it.
AND UP TO THAT POINT…Nicodemus had not RECEIVED Christ’s testimony...
He HEARD His testimony but he DID NOT receive it...
John 1:12 ESV
12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,
Nicodemus HEARD what Jesus was saying but he had not RECEIVED it...
But then - Jesus SHIFTS gears…in v13...
In v13 He begins to explain the BASIS for the NEW BIRTH in what the Son of Man came to do...
Jesus now - begins to speak - NOT AS A TEACHER - but as THE SON OF MAN - who came FROM HEAVEN to make the NEW BIRTH possible...
John 3:13 ESV
13 No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.
Jesus now is describing who HE IS…in that HE came down from heaven…for a reason...
And then Jesus gives Nicodemus an analogy that he would have been familiar with...
John 3:14 ESV
14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
Let’s look at the story that Jesus points to here...
Numbers 21:4–9 ESV
4 From Mount Hor they set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom. And the people became impatient on the way. 5 And the people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food.” 6 Then the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. 7 And the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against you. Pray to the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. 8 And the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.” 9 So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live.
Notice a few things:
(1) The serpent on the pole is not preventative.
It is for bitten people (verse 8). The poison is in them, and without divine intervention they will die.
(2) The snakes in the camp are from the Lord.
He sent them (verse 6). The wrath of God is on this people for their sin of ingratitude and murmuring and rebellion.
(3) The means God chooses to rescue the people from his own curse is a picture of the curse itself. **
The snake on a pole is a picture of God’s curse on the people
So it is with Jesus!
2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV
21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Galatians 3:13 ESV
13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”—
The snake on a pole is a picture of God’s curse on the people
So it is with Jesus!
(4) All they have to do in order to be saved from God’s wrath is look at his provision hanging on a pole.
In pointing Nicodemus to the OT story of Moses and the serpent...
Jesus was DECLARING...
Jesus is the Son of Man
Jesus is the source of rescue
Jesus is portrayed as a curse
Jesus gives eternal life
Jesus crucified is the one we see
That we would LOOK and LIVE… by faith in Christ … have eternal life!
John 3:15 ESV
15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
SUMMARY
SLIDE:
The New Birth
A New Life Not a New Religion
The Washing of Regeneration
The Free Will of the Wind
Comes By Faith Alone in Jesus Christ
Let’s pray...

Have a Great Week

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