I. Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
A. Aramaic, but Greek to Nicodemus.
− How man born when he is old?
− Enter second time into mother’s womb?
− Concept foreign in US “Christian” culture, even more in others
− Idea that in order to live, you must die, is foolishness to most.
B. My close encounter with the living Christ
− Radical, eye-opening, life changing, heart transforming
− Was adrift in a sea of self. Searched the world for contentment.
− Justified sin as my right in pursuit of happiness.
− Denied any power above own strong-willed abilities
− Confidence in myself, bursting with pride.
− Strived, nearly achieved rationalizing life, death w/o God.
− Still empty. God shaped hole, not filled by family, fun, fame.
− No amount of money, accomplishments, relationships satisfy.
C. Stand today, thanking God all grace
− Reached down into my wallow of sin, pulled me out.
− After years of plowing ground, precise time, reached out and said, “This is what you’ve been looking for.”
− Filled that hole in my heart.
D. Since then, walked with Lord.
− Not perfect walk, stumbled, struggled. Not without sin.
− Peace beyond understanding. Forgiven. Eternal life.
− But how did I get here? Not a single traumatic event
− 30 year journey according to God’s perfect purpose
− However, was a radical, supernatural event.
− A little journey through the Bible.
II. Ro 3:21-23 - all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
A. It all starts here. What is sin?
− Conjunction “and”, sin equated to falling short of glory of God
− The Bible is direct what is an abomination to God.
− Jesus guideline: “love with mind, heart, soul, and neighbor”
B. My intent not to convict anyone of their sin.
− HS more than capable of that
− But our culture tends to compare ourselves to the Jones’.
− No axe-murderers, Saddam, Hitlers, drug-cartels, slave trade.
− Generally nice people, particularly compared to those around
− “Doing pretty well compared to my neighbor.” Wrong person.
− Neighbor may be going to hell. Lots of nice people be there.
− Not between you and neighbor or pastor. Between you / God.
C. However, human reasoning…
− God is just, won’t send to hell, if reasonably good.
− Some believe, can please God with kindness and good deeds.
− Mistaken premise that man can please God, earn something.
− Ignore fact that ability to do any good comes only from God.
− But God spoke universe into creation.
− Tiny sandcastle vs planet earth?
− Isaiah - We are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags.
D. The Bible clearly tells us how filthy all men are as sinners.
− Ps 143:2 “Do not enter into judgment with Your servant, For in Your sight no one living is righteous.”
− In sin, addiction, attitude, think somehow clean selves,
− Think somehow “get right with God.”
− Mud-covered children in God’s house. No way clean selves.
− God told Jeremiah (and my son),
III. Ro 6:23 - Wages of sin is death, but gift of God is eternal life.
A. So where does this all leave us?
− “Wages” is what God owes us for sin. It is what we deserve.
− Death can mean spiritual death, a life apart from God.
− Also specifically means eternal separation from God in hell
− Unbelievers suffer conscious torment forever
− This is the wage we earned and deserve because of our sin.
B. Have you ever felt that God was distant - detached from you?
− Certainly you have, as have I, we all have felt that way
− Why? Our wrongdoing created gulf between us & God
− God is a righteous Judge, wrongdoing must be paid for!
− I don’t want to live in hell. Want heaven!
− Want heaven on earth now and heaven above when I die.
− Want kingdom of God.
IV. Jn 3:3 - unless one is born again, cannot see kingdom of God.
A. Jesus with Nic again,
− telling him bluntly what is required
− to achieve eternal life in heaven & peace of God on earth
− Like Nic, you may have no idea what means to be born again.
− May think know from what heard on television,
− But unless experienced the event, difficult to fully describe.
− However, can find Jesus’ meaning if continue study of Bible.
B. First need - understand what Jesus means by kingdom of God.
− Past, present, and future application.
− If don’t understand, interpretation of Scripture will be muddled and understanding unclear.
− Past - Jesus earth as Man, kingdom present on earth (Lk 10:9).
− Miracles / signs are sneak preview of kingdom in future state.
− Present - that presently not external but internal (Jn 17:21).
− Future - When Jesus returns, will see not only internal manifestations of kingdom, but external aspects as well (Is 11:6).
C. Now that we understand the kingdom, how become born again?
V. Jn 14:6 - I am the way, truth, the life. No one comes to Father
A. Pretty bold of Jesus.
− Doesn’t he know there are many ways God/heaven?
− Is he Condemning Hindu’s, Muslims, Buddhists? Well, yes.
− Contention - exclusivity. “You’re too narrow,” “I don’t mind you believing what you believe, but don’t say it’s the only way.”
− We don’t say this, but Jesus.
− “Narrow is the way which leads to life eternal, and broad is the path that leads to destruction,”
− For those seeking the way to heaven, seeking for truth, seeking for life, Jesus tells us it is all about him.
− NO ONE comes to the Father, NO ONE born again, NO ONE enters the Kingdom of God or heaven except through Jesus.
B. How did Jesus earn such a prestigious position?
− Remember Ro 6:23. sin=DEATH. Wages HAD to be paid.
− God perfectly just.
− Like a just judge, cannot let the convicted killer walk free.
− He must sentence him.
− All humanity must pay price
− Eternal death in hell, separation from God.
C. But God in his mercy and compassion had a better plan.
− God himself came down to earth in human form, that of Jesus.
− Lived perfectly sinless life, only man ever NOT deserve death,
− Willingly died, nailed to cross, to pay that debt for our sin.
D. Now you know why Jesus and the cross are so important.
− His life and death reconciled us with God.
− Only because of his free gift that we have access to God
− We are able to enter into the kingdom of God.
− No Jesus, no peace for man. No Jesus, no eternal life.
− With Jesus, we have forgiveness.
− Through Jesus, we can enter into God’s presence.
− Through Jesus can be born again.
E. No amount of work, penance, good behavior can earn peace with God and eternal life.
− All other religions same premise - must do something
− Struggling and striving somehow earn "Good Favor" of God!
− Tibetan "prayer wheel;" alms to poor; certain foods;
− Prayer, reincarnations - all attempts by man to reach God!
− However, Jesus is God’s attempt to reach out to mankind!
− Jesus taught very opposite.
F. All guilty of wrong and that our wrong separates us from God!
− Said nobody can earn way into Heaven!
− Other religions called "DO" religions!
− Problem: Nobody knows how many good things to do!
− Christianity = no one can ever do enough to earn heaven!
− Christianity can be called the "DONE" religion!
− Jesus has "DONE" what we could never do!
− Perfect sinless life, went to the cross to pay ultimate sacrifice
− Remember before He died? "It is finished!!"
− Agape love, voluntarily offered to be "perfect sacrifice"
− Our substitute, paying penalty we deserve, so we wouldn’t
VI. Ro 10:8-11 - confess with mouth, believe in heart will be saved
A. Difference “Law righteousness” and “faith righteous”
− Paul’s point is that you are saved by faith, not by works.
− But not faith that saves, but sacrifice of Jesus and HIS merit.
− Faith is just the instrument by which we lay hold of salvation.
− Until a person acknowledges own unrighteousness in light of divine and perfect righteousness, he will see no need for a Savior
− Will not see the need to be liberated from sin.
− Will not see his need for God’s own righteousness.
B. If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus…
− Not talking about confessing sins, important but
− Acknowledge Jesus is both Son of God and Lord of universe.
− Word “confess” here full of emotion and conviction.
− Deep, personal, abiding conviction that,
− Jesus is your own sovereign, ruling Lord, in whom alone you trust for salvation and submit.
− Requires brokenness. Broken from rebellion and self-reliance.
− This is God centered humility.
C. believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead
− Your inward conviction must match your outward confession.
− Why believe in your heart? Why not believe in your mind?
− Lord is after our heart first. “You shall love the Lord with all your heart and mind and strength and soul”.
− My mind can be swayed easily.
− Convinced about something, until get new set facts
− Change my mind. Opinion one day, flip-flop next.
− But if something in my heart, don’t change my mind daily.
− My heart doesn’t change so easily.
− So Lord says, “I want you to believe in Me with your heart—not simply rationally, but emotionally and intimately.”
D. Again reminded, centrality of Christ’s death and resurrection.
− Not enough to believe Jesus lived, good man, or was God.
− Requires acceptance of free gift, redemption unearned by us,
− Bought at price of cross, sealed by his victory over death.
VII. 2 Co 5:14-17 - Died for all, who live should live no longer
A. When we are born again, we are “justified.”
− Theological term accepted God’s forgiveness,
− Based on perfect sacrifice.
− Imputes HIS righteousness to our account.
− We are viewed as just, perfectly acceptable.
− However, just begins process of “sanctification,”
B. Sanctification - set apart, for his use, his purpose and glory.
− Gal 2:20 -
− It is grace that provides for our justification.
− Grace also provides for continuous process of sanctification.
− James 4:6, “But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: ‘God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.’”
− Not walk in humility, not able to walk in fullness of grace
− Only other option is pride.
C. Options are to live by grace and dependence upon God, or to live by dependence upon self and other things.
− Bookstores, largest section, “self-help.”
− Misnomer. “Self-hinder.”
− Become hindered trying to help selves by listening to guidelines of world, rather than of the Word.
− We cannot help ourselves. We are a bankrupt resource.
− Flesh wants procedure, but Christ wants personal relationship.
− Not only born again by grace, but power that gives daily life.
− We should all strive to live day by day by grace.
D. 2 Peter 1:2-3
− explains how grace is multiplied in our lives.
− It is in the knowledge of God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
− More know God of all grace, more grace is multiplied in lives
− It’s a relationship, not a procedure
E. if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
− New creatures. Not about behaviors, what we can or can’t do.
− About identity, description of essential being. Matter of heart.
− Not find help for our struggles by talking about life once had.
− That is our old life before Christ.
− Was a life that God took and nailed to the cross with Christ.
− What I was, but here is what God is calling me to, making into.
− Yes, we must take up cross daily, continually, follow him.
− Life of self-sacrifice.
− Troubles abound when our thoughts return to ourselves.
− Old man is dead. Fact. Died with Christ.
− But must RECKON it dead.
− Must understand, not your own, bought at a price.
− Bondservant Christ.
F. Do not want to make light of anyone’s struggles.
− Not suggesting lack of faith or question your salvation.
− All struggle. Human eyes, all fall short of glory of God.
− Our state until we receive our new bodies in heaven.
− What I do want to do is encourage you.
− I want my message to be edifying.
− I want you to view your life through the message of the cross.
G. Here is where so many pastoral teachers get it wrong.
− The victorious Christian life is not about us. It’s about Christ!
− Not about peace, happiness, prosperity.
− About the peace of God living in me.
− Self-esteem isn’t our answer, it is Christ esteem.
− About our utter inability to live the life I want to live for Christ
− Without complete surrender and utter reliance upon Him,
− About His grace, His sacrifice.
− About HS power in my life, day-by-day, moment-by-moment
VIII. Why am I going through all this? You know all this.
A. First, because our sin nailed Christ to the cross.
− His death redeemed us, or paid the price for our sin,
− Reconciled us with God, and gave us eternal life.
− Message of the cross, our need for a redeemer, must remain central to all that we do and teach.
− Hear many messages how joy may be filled, how can live victorious life if just believe in Jesus.
− True, but without message of cross, incomplete.
− Man can do nothing of himself, in desperate need of a savior.
− It is because of this fallen state that the world is in turmoil.
B. Secondly, because 7 yrs ago close encounter with living Christ
− Like some can relate, did have a long path,
− extended period of preparation leading to salvation.
− But my ultimate born-again experience was not completely the product of a logical and cognitive process.
− MacArthur calls being born-again
− I was radically changed.
− Stood before a righteous God, utter despair at my sinfulness
− My inability to save self,
− arms stretched singing, Jesus take me now. You have all of me.
− HS entered my heart and at that moment
− I became a radically new creation. All things became new.
C. Thirdly, message of cross must remain central in thinking
− As we continue path of discipleship, sanctification.
− We grow as children of God through study, prayer, fellowship.
− But power comes from grace of Jesus earned by his sacrifice.
− Power comes from the living and very real HS in our lives.
− Must always keep the full gospel message at forefront
− Must view the world around us in light of the full gospel.
− Never underestimate the power of the gospel message.
− Must never lose sight of our sinfulness,
− Our need for redemption, God’s ultimate sacrifice.
− Is this humility that will enable live as bondservants of Christ
D. Maybe you are not sure of your salvation.
− Maybe you never had a radical experience like I described.
− May not be able to relate to whole thing of being born again.
− Not going to say not saved. Don’t know heart, mind of God.
− Do know entering into kingdom is radical supernatural event.
− More than acknowledgement that you believe in Jesus.
− In order to be born again, must first die. You must surrender.
− Must come to that utter realization that you are fallen in sin,
− Broken in spirit, and unable to reconcile yourself with God
− Only then can you come to the magnificent position, where your arms are stretched out, and you sing Jesus – I am fallen in sin, I am incapable, forgive me, take me now, You are my Lord.