Series: The Conversations of Jesus that Lead to discipleship
Intro: This is perhaps the most important chapter in John’s Gospel, for it deals with the subject of the new birth. Some religious groups have so confused this subject that many average church members, let alone religious leaders like Nicodemus, have no idea what it means to be born again.
We live in a day that men have stumbled over the simplicity of the Gospel. How could it be that in a nation so highly educated we have lost our way. As I watch primary returns it is a great litmus test on the state of the union. If we are indeed a nation of believers as we claim, it seems as we would vote with a heavenly perspective instead of an earthly one. All but one of the choices for president stand for the things that our God despises. I was reading some statistics from Barna Research this morning that sheds light on the tremendous job the church has set before them.
More than half of all adults (53%) believe that if a person is generally good, or does enough good things for others during their life, they will earn a place in Heaven. (2007)
Jesus was very clear about the means by which a man cannot inherit eternal life. So plain and so simple that men in their educated states are still tripping over it as in this passage. Rd passage
Dr. Norman Vincent Peale once had an interview with a very prominent businessman in New York City. The businessman came into his office and laid out before Dr. Peale a very tragic tale of years of confusion, frustration, tragedy, and misplaced values. Over a series of years his life had painted a very dark picture. He said to Dr. Peale, “what do you think I should do?
The minister said, “I have a solution for you. Its’ simple and you’re a very sophisticated and intelligent man. I doubt you would want to hear it.”
The man said, “ I think I would like to hear it.”
The minister said, “ I don’t believe you would. It’s too simple.”
Again the man responded by saying, “ I want you to tell me.”
Dr. Peale repeated, “ I really don’t think you want to hear it”
After a while the fellow became incensed and he pressed him and said, “look, tell me what your answer is.”
Dr. Peale said, “ What I think you really need to do is get down on your knees and tell God that you are a sinner and ask God to forgive you and change you.”
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is profoundly simple and simply profound. The Bible speaks of another conversation between a minister and businessman. in this conversation with Nicodemus, Jesus articulates the simple and profound truth of his gospel.
To discover and experience a personal and life changing relationship to a living God is so profound that it is like a birth. It’s like being born all over again. To actually complete your personality so that you will become the person God intended for you to become. When Jesus said, “ You must be born again,” what was he saying?
I. THIS NEW BIRTH IS A BEGINNING
A. There must be a beginning. Just as you have to have a physical birth to begin a physical life, you must have a spiritual birth to begin a spiritual life. You don’t become a Christian by accident. You don’t drift into it or wander into it. It doesn’t happen to you without your knowing about it. It doesn’t come about by a process of absorption or association; you cannot be reborn just by being around Christian people or attending church.
B. Neither do you become a Christian by inheritance. Tell about a long race where runner jumped in at the halfway point , finished toward the front but was stripped of glory
Just because you were born into a Christian family, just because your wife or husband or your brothers or sisters are believers, does not mean that you are a Christian.( Tell about hearing Franklin Graham in Tupelo about his rebellion) No, you must have a beginning.
C. . You don’t become a Christian just by having some kind of a good warm feeling about God, or an emotional experience. You become a Christian when you come to that time and place in your life when you are willing to personally and intelligently accept Jesus Christ into your life That’s the beginning. Satan has deceived many into building upon other foundations other than Jesus Christ
D. Spiritual birth is experienced in different ways. Some people’s spiritual birth is very dramatic and emotional. They weep many tears. They tremble and experience and inward ecstasy. I think that’s the way Saul of Tarsus had his beginning. But other people’s beginning is very matter-of –fact, very simple. They don’t hear an audible voice. They just make a simple decision. Some people have their spiritual beginning when they are very young. Others begin as adults. Usually when a person begins with Christ as an adult, the change is more dramatic and more difficult.
For some it is difficult to say the exact moment they began with Christ. The late Ruth Graham has said repeatedly that she does not know for sure the first time that she trusted Christ. G. Campbell Morgan, one of the greatest biblical expositors who ever lived said, “ We cannot tell the first time the sun came up, but we knew that it had come up. To be born again means that I am able to say “ I have had a beginning. My relationship to God is personal
II. TO BE BORN AGAIN IS TO EXPERIENCE AN INWARD CHANGE.
A. The Bible says that you and I have a basic problem and that problem is sin. Romans 3:23 “ For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God”. We are sinners, not just because we do bad things or because we commit individual acts of sin , but because the Bible says it is our nature. It is our nature to be selfish and sinful. We are born with that nature, and therefore we commit individual acts of sin.
(vs7 rd.)When Jesus told Nicodemus that he had to be born again, he was telling him that what he needed was an inward, radical revolutionary change that had to do with that sinful nature. A little reformation is good, but it is not enough. Many good people will miss heaven because they missed the radical change that comes in a man’s life. The change that can’t be imitated. It’s a want to change. That change is published to the world as we follow the Lord in Believers’ baptism
Baptism is like a wedding ring: they both symbolize transactions. A wedding ring symbolizes marriage, just as baptism symbolizes salvation. Wearing a wedding ring does not make you married any more than being baptized makes you saved. To extend the parallel, if a person, especially a woman, does not wear a wedding ring you can almost always assume that the person is not married. (ladies your husband will look now)
So it was in New Testament times. If a person was not baptized, you could probably assume that he or she was not a believer. On this we must be clear: baptism is a symbol of salvation and only a symbol. But, like a wedding ring, it is such an effective symbol that it should never be taken for granted.
Our nature will experience a radical change when we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior. ( tell about baptism in colorodo during sem. Ext classes)
B. When a person by faith accepts Jesus Christ, a beautiful thing happens: a change takes place on the inside. Things you once loved, you begin to despise.things you once despised, you begin to love. Scripture says, “…II Corinthians 5:17
17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
…………… God gives you new values, new priorities, new goals..
III. THIS NEW BIRTH IS A MIRACLE
I’ve heard people say, “ I would like to experience the miracles like God did in opening the Red Sea”. To that we can reply, “ Did you not experience a personal miracle when He came in?” It’s greater than any other. That miracle………………
A. It’s not something you do for yourself: it’s something God does for you. Nicodemus said, vs 4 Rd/ “ I don’t understand how this happens.” Jesus said, Vs 5………..It’s a miracle
B. Being born again doesn’t mean our struggles are over. In fact, the opposite is true. We need to disciple new believers and teach them we will have even greater struggles because the Holy Spirit comes in to do battle with our old sinful nature. But because of the miracle of the new birth, we are promised a new life.
The good news is that you can be born again. You don’t have to live the same old frustrating sinful life. You can have a new life, a new beginning. You can experience change. You can have a miracle in your life if you will come to Jesus Christ just as you are and trust Him. Will you do it?
( tell about Construction worker who got saved and the ridicule he got at work. How he hit his finger with the hammer and said a choice word upon which they laughed even harder