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the True Light:reboot m.23  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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The Gospel of Jesus Christ redefines how you understand life-giving truth.

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Introduction

Open your Bibles if you would to John chapter 20. We are jumping back into our “the True Light” series…I’m calling it a “reboot” since we paused on this intensive study of John’s Gospel as the Holy Spirit led us to deal with some in-house, family issues for the purpose of examination on what it means to be a Biblical church.
Now we are jumping back into to this Gospel account of Jesus and as we “reboot” ourselves to get back into that mode, I want to remind those of you who were here for those teachings, and inform those who were not, the purpose of John’s Gospel account. Why did John write these things down and why does it matter for us a Christians 2000 years removed from its authorship?
John tells us in chapter 20...
John 20:30–31 ESV
30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
Understanding John’s purpose, here is the truth I want to drive home to you today as we open God’s Word...

The Gospel of Jesus Christ redefines how you understand life-giving truth.

Signs and miracles make up a great deal of all four of the Gospels, put John deals with them emphatically…because John’s primary concern is that those who read this historical, Holy Spirit inspired truth…they would experience radical, supernatural transformation in there lives. John writes this gospel “so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and by believing you may have life in his name.” This is John’s thesis statement or purpose statement for this entire recording of Jesus’ life.
Signs and miracles make up a great deal of all four of the Gospels, put John deals with them emphatically…because John’s primary concern is that those who read this historical, Holy Spirit inspired truth…they would experience radical, supernatural transformation in there lives. John writes this gospel “so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and by believing you may have life in his name.” This is John’s thesis statement or purpose statement for this entire recording of Jesus’ life.
And as we will get to in a moment we will again see how signs attract, yet without faith they have no life-giving value.
Before we get to our main text I want to continue to remind you of John’s purpose as stated at the end of his Gospel, but I also want you remind you how he launches us into this great theme from the beginning.
Turn with me know to John chapter 1. The real key to understanding John’s Gospel is found at the beginning and the end. We started at the end so lets key in on the verse at the beginning in which all other teaching will flow from.
John 1:16 ESV
16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.
John
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones says this about v.16:
[This] particular theme…is what is meant by being Christian. This…is the greatest need of the hour, that we should all realize what a Christian really is and is meant to be, and there is no better definition than this [verse]. It involves believing certain things…But Christianity is primarily life receiving of his fullness, and if we forget that, we miss the greatness and the glory and the splendor of it all. Our danger always, even as Christian people is to be reducing this life—eternal life—to something merely a point of view, a teaching, a philosophy, a theology, or whatever. WE MUST NEVER DO THAT. Its essence is that it is a life, and that means receiving of his fullness. This is the greatest thing in the world, the greatest thing that any of us can ever realize.
John 1:16 ESV
16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ redefines how you understand life-giving truth.

With our focus on this truth of the gospel let us know turn to John chapter two starting in verse 23 and see how this Gospel redefinition is fleshed out.
John 2:23–3:8 ESV
23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. 24 But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people 25 and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man. 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.”

Exposition

The Gospel of Jesus Christ redefines how you understand life-giving truth.

There are three specific ways in which this text brings forth how Jesus redefines what we believe to be life-giving truth.
There are three specific ways in which this text brings forth how Jesus redefines what we believe to be life-giving truth.
1. Jesus Redefines Man’s Condition ():  While in Jerusalem for the Passover Feast, the Apostle John says that “many” of the Jews who encountered Jesus “believed" in Him because of the “signs” they witnessed. Now we encounter a Pharisee (a ruler of Israel; a teacher of Israel) who comes believing too because of signs, and though his motivation is pure because he knows this new unknown teacher is “from God” , yet even still knowing this his belief and understanding is incorrect and flawed in a different way than those whom Jesus did not entrust Himself too. Let’s get a closer look...
John 2:23–3:3 ESV
23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. 24 But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people 25 and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man. 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.”
John

The Gospel of Jesus Christ redefines how you understand life-giving truth.

1. Jesus Redefines Man’s Condition: What do I mean by this...within this passage the word man (anthropos) is used 4 times. What we see in this text are two types of man’s fallen condition.
In 2:23-25 we see many “believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing.”
Yet in v.24 the Apostle John tells us that Jesus “did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people.” Jesus knows the heart of man. v.25 tells us that he didn’t need anyone to shed light on man’s attraction because of the signs they witnessed, because “he himself knew what was in man.”
Lloyd-Jones says:
…in all these ways John shows the particular error, the particular fault in [man’s approach]...
Man’s condition is defined by this text as an attraction to “special signs.” Signs that intrigue.
In our culture today, we can relate to this in the way we get caught up in performers and actors and because of their giftedness we feel a connection to them and the characters they play or the songs that they sing as if they are speaking to us…but in all through their is no relationship.
These people (mankind in its desperate fallen state) is attracted to the star power of what Jesus can do…but there is no real depth of connection to the Person of Jesus.
Now Nicodemus on the other hand comes to Jesus a bit different. Look at how the Apostle sets up this encounter...
John 3:1-
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.”
Let me remind you the emphasis on “man” and the wonder of “signs” is continued and interconnected from the end of chapter to into the opening introduction of Nicodemus in chapter 3. The interconnectedness of man’s need for something missing, something broken, that one cannot seem to figure out on there own.
Lloyd-Jones says in his commentary on these verses specifically in John’s Gospel:
The thing that came to me and gripped me was this great question of life, the life of God in the soul [of man], this supreme need, this supreme glory of the Christian life...
Then Lloyd-Jones warns us (the modern reader):
There is nothing so fatal as to approach the Bible as just a textbook that you get to know; that is not its business. Its whole object is to bring you to him in whom is all this fullness of which we stand in need [of].
The story of Nicodemus has much to say to those of us who would call ourselves Christians and as we break this down I want you to see from the Biblical sense the similarities and the difficulties that become obstacles of people experiencing this fullness of Jesus and even receiving it more and more (v.16…grace upon grace).

The Gospel of Jesus Christ redefines how you understand life-giving truth.

Nicodemus is a different man than those at the end of chapter 2.
Nicodemus was a Pharisee as we read in v.1, a “ruler of the Jews.” Now Pharisees were the religious elite and in as we saw in Chapter 2 they were a group that were marked by great prejudices. They treated John the Baptist and Jesus as second-class, wanna bes that were stirring up confusion; threatening their authority.
But Nicodemus is different. He has no prejudice towards Jesus in fact, he addresses Jesus in v.2 as a fellow teacher. He calls Him “Rabbi” and says then says something I don’t think any other Pharisee would have admitted… 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.”
Now he came by the cover of night to speak with Jesus, not wanting his fellow Pharisees to know what he was doing, but Nicodemus recognized something special about Jesus. He knew that he was a teacher from God. The difference between him and those who believed because of the signs, was that Nicodemus understood the significance of miracles.
“…no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” In other words Nicodemus knew there was something special…of God about this new and unknown teacher. Nicodemus is not just interested in the spectacular, he see something deeper with Jesus.
In other words, he doesn’t just see Jesus as a phenomenon or a miracle worker; he says “You must be a teacher who has come from God.” He sees something below the surface about Jesus’ character and His person, because Jesus was a simple carpenter, but Nicodemus calls Him “Rabbi”—teacher, master, and by using that term he is revealing that he has sensed that there is something quite unusual and exceptional about Jesus.
Here Lloyd-Jones makes a sticky comment that should cling to us. He says:
People who do not recognize something of the uniqueness of our Lord are not Christians. Those who just put him into the same category as other great religious teachers have not started and have no hope of ever receiving this fullness [That John speaks of in 1:16].
Understand this: Nicodemus a “ruler of the Jews” a master teacher of Israel, a Pharisee, is clearly aware that our Lord has something that he doesn’t have. Nicodemus is convicted by the the fact that Jesus isn’t just working these miracles, but that he is able to do them because of some relationship to God that is special and unique.
Again Lloyd-Jones gives profound insight into the importance of understanding this. Lloyd-Jones says:
…this is one of the great keys to the spiritual life. It is one of the great keys to receiving this fullness and to growing in grace and in knowledge of [Jesus] and receiving his fullness, which puts us into the category of men and women who know something about heaven and earth and who have foretastes of the glory everlasting.
Nicodemus is not self-satisfied or complacent. He desires something greater. Now we find ourselves in that knot often, but a man of Nicodemus’ status…he was in a position of greatness among his people. He was one of the authorities; he is one of the masters of Israel. But he is sensitive to the Spirit, and when he sees what Jesus does through his miracles, he knows he is from God.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ redefines how you understand life-giving truth.

Look right at me…There is no hope in the Christan life unless we are aware of that. There is nothing that is more important to any one of us than this. Do we have a hunger and a thirst after righteousness like this?
But here is Nicodemus’ error…He comes to Jesus humble, understanding his need, understanding that he lacks something that Jesus obviously possesses, but he comes to him as an equal.
Let me frame it another way: Nicodemus comes to Jesus as a teacher; he says “Rabbi.” But he does not come to him as the Savior. He goes to him as someone ready to learn from him, but he does not go seeking repentance.
This is where you and I can relate. Nicodemus comes to Jesus with the feeling of the need for help, but he has never felt helpless. He can fix it, he just needs to learn whatever tool Jesus is using so he can add it to his tool belt.
Lean in… you see if we are to receive the fullness of Christ we must know that we are completely helpless and absolutely hopeless without Him. Are you tracking...
As long as you “feel in charge;” standing on your own two feet; you only need some help, you’re still in charge of yourself. “That’s a fatal problem.”
That’s why Jesus handles Nicodemus the way he does.
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.”
Nicodemus is a 5 star D-1 wide receiver, who is used to catching all the passes and looking good and having his name in the paper and what happens in this moment is what happens to us if we aren’t careful. He comes to Jesus, he goes out for a pass but before he receives the ball, and secures it he starts to run. He drops the ball. That’s what happens to you and I when we try to run out ahead of God, assuming we got the play down and we start thinking about the touchdown instead of the catch.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ redefines how you understand life-giving truth.

Jesus redefines man’s condition when he says this isn’t some you do…this is something I do for you.
2. Jesus Redefines Man’s Understanding of Salvation (): Many times Christians believe that the more they know about God the surer they are that they are saved. Often propagated by the false teaching of a one-time decision, made through confession or prayer.
Yet in Nicodemus’ case he was an authority of the Scriptures who humbly sought to understand what this new and unknown Teacher (who he professed was obviously “from God”) had that made Him different. Nicodemus' misunderstanding is a fatal misunderstanding of many “Christians” today.
John 3:
John 3:4–6 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?” 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.
It’s like this… you can say you believe the things of the Bible, and you can become a great church attender and servant, but none of that means that you are truly a Christian. You can be in a position just like Nicodemus, someone who THINKS that he can decide to just add this certain tool to the belt he’s already wearing and he’s good to go.
Listen…many people today are relying on a decision that they once made. You made a decision and that set you straight with God.
Look right at me… YOU CAN MAKE DECISIONS WITHOUT BEING REGENERATED, and if you are NOT REGENERATED…YOU ARE NOT A CHRISTIAN.
It is NOT something we do; it IS something that is DONE TO US.
It’s like the original creation story…something being made out of nothing. We were made, fashioned by God out of dust. We were not self-made…we were made by God!
Listen, you must be born again! Born from above; born of Spirit.
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.
It’s out of our hands!
Martyn Lloyd-Jones says this beautifully…are you listening? Don’t miss this…He says:
You cannot decide to be born again. There are people who give that impression. They say, “You decide for Christ, and you will be born again.” That is putting it the wrong way…It is impossible. If you could decide for Christ you would not NEED to be born again.
1 Cor
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.
Nicodemus is trying to be clever and debating Jesus when he says...
John 3:4
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?”
He’s thinking in fleshly terms. That’s his first mistake. This is not flesh, this is Spirit; it is a different realm. This is supernatural. Jesus tells him straight up:
John
John 3:6 ESV
6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ redefines how you understand life-giving truth.

Jesus redefines man’s condition.
Jesus redefines man’s understanding of salvation. And...
3. Jesus Redefines Man’s Path to Life (): Jesus’ teaching to Nicodemus reveals that our best efforts to be right with God apart from the Person and work of Christ is simply inadequate, and leads to death. True life begins not with belief of signs, and in the great teachings of Jesus, but only in submission to Him as Savior.
Look at what Jesus says to Nicodemus in vv.7-8.
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.”
Don’t marvel about this bro… “YOU MUST BE BORN AGAIN.”
v.8 assures us of the great mystery about regeneration. You can see the effects and the results, but yo do not understand how or why.
Look right at me… you and I are outside of your depth in trying to understand. It’s above our pay grade. It is beyond our finite minds. Here’s the good news… It’s not irrational; it’s supra-rational. It is divine!
Theologian Blaise Pascal came to see that it is “beyond the limits of reason…The supreme achievement of reason is to bring us to see that there is a limit to reason.” And here church, we have reached the limit and are beyond it.
…beyond the limits of reason
Lloyd-Jones says:
This is the realm of the mysterious, the supernatural, the divine, God acting. And we do not try to understand here; we just stand in amazement and astonishment. We realize that it would be utter folly for us to try and understand it all; that would be an assertion of something still in us. We cannot and we do not attempt to understand. We are outside the realm of intellect, and thank God we are.
Jesus says to be born again is wrapped up in the beautiful mystery of the regenerating power of the gospel.
John 3:8 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.”
This is the action of God not man. It doesn’t assume anything in us, except that we are lost, helpless, and hopeless. It is all HIS action. The Spirit operates like the wind. So you are not just taking ideas and making notes and grasping them and putting them into practice. No way!
Something possesses you, and you are aware of the fact that God has been dealing with your soul and that you are a new creation.
All you and I can realize is this: there is something that we do not have if we are not truly Christians. We realize our need of something, and there is only one thing we can do, and that is, as Nicodemus did, to go to Jesus and just wait and listen.
You must go to Him, but you cannot do more than that. You may even find that your reason for going to Him was wrong and that your whole approach was wrong. Don’t worry about that, He will make it right—He does that.
The next thing you know is that you are born again. How do you know? Because you begin to grow. That’s what follows knew birth in the Spirit, growth in the Spirit.
You cannot grow until you are born. You cannot continue on the journey until you started.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ redefines how you understand life-giving truth.

Have you been born again? Have you received the life of God in your soul?
There is no use taking another step until you are certain and sure of the answer to that important preliminary question. Because if you try to grow…he will stop you. And He will say to you...
John
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.”
Let’s pray.
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