By Bobby Blakey on October 14, 2015
By Bobby Blakey on October 14, 2015
This is a rush transcript.
[00:00:01] Who's got one of these here tonight? Anybody got one of these? He got a Bible. Let's open it up to John 3. And tonight, we are going to look at the most famous verse in the world. Right.
[00:00:13] What is the most famous verse in the world? Let me hear it. What is it?
[00:00:16] John 3:16. Right. Thanks to Tim Tebow. You made John 316 famous. Not really. But he put it under his eyes on the black markings before a football game.
[00:00:27] And I think like a million people looked it up on Google. It's the most famous verse.
[00:00:34] But what is the context and what conversation does Jesus say? The most famous verse. So tonight we're going to put that famous verse and we're going to hopefully get past a little bit of how it's become cliche. And we're gonna see that Jesus did not just come to save the world for God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son. Well, here's the good news. When Jesus came to save the world, he came to save you. He didn't just come to save everybody know. He came to save individuals here among us. One thing we're gonna see about Jesus Christ is. Yeah. He's the Lord of heaven, like we're singing about. He's the one who's going to reign forever.
[00:01:15] And yet, at the same time, he is intimately concerned with your soul. Like, Jesus is the kind of celebrity, if you will, the kind of one who everyone wanted to talk to. And yet he made time to talk to people one at a time. And so even in the public ministry of Jesus, he has one on one conversations with individuals and more than anybody else. John goes out of his way to give us these conversations where Jesus one on one addresses someone's soul and tells them how they could be saved.
[00:01:55] And we think these conversations are so exciting, so encouraging could even lead people today to salvation. That's why we're here on a Wednesday night. Doing church right now is because we're gonna look at a religious man named Nicodemus in the conversation that Jesus has with him. And then if you come back next week, we'll look at a sinner, a woman who was an outcast, the woman at the well and Jesus going out of his way to have these conversations because he wants to save individual souls.
[00:02:26] And so let's just go back into Chapter two and get the context for this conversation that we're going to see a conversation between Jesus and academia's. That's the context of the foe's most famous verse in the Bible. I'll start with me in chapter two, verse 23. This is where we left off. If you were here on Sunday now, when Jesus was in Jerusalem at the Passover feast, just stealing the show, driving everybody out of the temple and getting a crowd of people interested in him. While many believed in his name.
[00:02:56] When they saw the signs that he was doing, there was all kinds of people who wanted to sign up to jump on the Jesus bandwagon. But Jesus verse 24 on his part. He did not entrust himself to them.
[00:03:09] Because Jesus, he knows all people and he doesn't need you, needed no one to bear witness about men. Nobody needs to tell him what man is like for he himself knew what was in man.
[00:03:20] And we got down to the bottom of that. I mean, what is in man is a sinful nature, a heart that is twisted and warped and wicked so much that it says in song 51, verse five that all of us were born in iniquity and didn't sin.
[00:03:36] Did our mother conceive us like we came into the world broken? And if you just ended right there, you would feel hopeless. You would feel like, well, how can anyone then be saved? And it's like that's just there to set up then a conversation that Jesus is going to have with Nicodemus. And yes, we were all born in sin the first time. But here's the good news of tonight. You can be born again. That's what Jesus says. And here's how the conversation happened. There was a man of the Pharisees. This is chapter three. Verse one, a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus. He was a ruler of the Jews.
[00:04:16] And 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 and less God is with him.
[00:04:30] Now, this is a pretty lofty title when it says that this man named Nicodemus was a ruler of the Jews. Later on and down in the verse 10, if you want to, just skip down there with your eyes. Chapter three, verse 10. Jesus is going to say, are you the teacher of Israel? So, I mean, this was not a nobody that was coming to Jesus. This guy Nicodemus, he was a leader among the leaders of the people of Israel, among the religious group that led the Jewish people.
[00:05:02] He might have been one of, if not the top guy in this group.
[00:05:07] I mean, clearly, he had a reputation as a teacher here. He's called a ruler of the Jews. And he comes to Jesus in a very gentlemanly display of acknowledging. I get it. You are from God. And he doesn't go so far as to call him God, but he at least acknowledges that he is someone special from God. And it says there in verse two, if you look at it, this man came to Jesus by night. Now, that could mean a lot or it could mean very little. It could just be pointing out that it was dark outside when he came. But it could be trying to imply that he came at night because he didn't want everybody to see that he was coming to Jesus, because that would have required people realizing that even the teacher of Israel needs to talk to Jesus. And so he might be coming without the other Pharisees knowing that he's coming without wanting anybody who follows him to know that he's going to Jesus to find out what it's really all about. And so he says, I know that you're from God. And verse three is the key verse here where Jesus answered him. Even though it doesn't seem like he really even asked a question, this is Jesus answering the question of his heart. This is Jesus knowing what's inside of Nicodemus and getting straight to the point, Jesus answered him. Truly, truly, I say to you. And remember, whenever Jesus says truly, truly, I say to you, that means he's about to say something that you're probably not going to believe. But he wants you to. That's why he lets you know that it's true. And he says, truly, truly. I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
[00:06:48] This is an important statement.
[00:06:50] Everybody here must be born again or you will not see the kingdom of God. You will not go to heaven when you die. You can not have a relationship with God and less Jesus says you are born again. And literally here, you could also translate it born from above. If you want to write that down. OK. So let's let's start taking notes here. I have to be born again. That's our that's it's not point one. Let's just get start stuff. Write it down if you are taking notes here tonight. And what this is saying is that you personally as an individual. That's the way Nicodemus took it. Like Jesus was talking straight to him. And you have to be born again. And that means born from above. Or you could write down the cross reference of chapter one, verse 13, where it says, we aren't born of the will of man, but of God. You have to be born from above by God.
[00:07:47] That's the statement.
[00:07:50] Now, Nicodemus, he's the ruler of the religion of his day, and if you know anything about the Pharisees, if you know anything about the Jewish culture at that time, it was a system of works.
[00:08:04] And we're living in the New Testament where New Covenant people here. All right. We believe you put your faith in Jesus. You get in a relationship with God. The old covenant, they had this thing called the law. I don't know. Maybe you've read the law. It's the first five books of the Bible. And there are hundreds of laws in there that the people were supposed to do. And the Pharisees were so righteous that they added even more laws on top of the laws given to them in the Bible that they would do to prove that they were right with God. These were people who would have considered themselves good. They were doing good things. And by doing these good things, they were earning favor with God. That's what they would have thought.
[00:08:48] And he goes right at that with his first statement. You cannot you are incapable of being good enough to get into the kingdom of God. There is no such thing as a good person.
[00:09:01] Jesus goes right after that. You're not going to get there, Nicodemus, before even a question is asked. Jesus answered him. You cannot get there.
[00:09:11] Nicodemus might have been the most apparently externally righteous man in the nation of Israel, and I think maybe that's why John tells us about this conversation, because let's go right to the top, the best guy that we can find. And Jesus says right away to him. You can't get there.
[00:09:29] Now, Nicodemus fires back with this in verse four. Look at it, this is John three, verse four, Nicodemus said to him. How can a man be born when he is old?
[00:09:40] Questioning what Jesus just said. Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?
[00:09:49] And that's an awkward picture if you ever want to think about something like that. Just picture an old guy, probably, you know, nice sized white beard coming off of his chin trying to get back into his mother's womb. That's not something you want to keep in your brain for very long.
[00:10:06] So I don't think that Nicodemus is legitimate, Lee, throwing that out in a physical sense. I think what he's doing here is he's raising a question here of what do you mean by born again? Clearly, there's a lack of clarity in Nicodemus, his mind, and maybe some of you are even like, well, what does that mean to be born again? I don't really get it. Well, Nicodemus didn't get it either. In fact, I think there's even this implication here of like, well, I'm old.
[00:10:35] See, I'm set in my ways. See, I've been doing the law keep in these commands, living this external kind of a way for a really long time. I might be about to die. I'm set. You can't really change who I am at this point. That's what I think Nicodemus is getting to.
[00:10:57] He's getting to the fundamental question that every one of us have to figure out in life is how do people change?
[00:11:04] That's what he's talking about.
[00:11:06] Can I change somebody like me who's so far down the path of legalism, of self-righteousness, of trying to be a good person? Can somebody like me actually unlearn all the things I've learned in my life and done for all of these years?
[00:11:24] So let's let's start with religion. This is something I want you to write down. This is before we get to point number one, this is going to be up here on the screen. Let's give a definition here of religion. What religion is what you do to change yourself, to get to God in heaven?
[00:11:41] Religion is all the things that we might do, trying to make ourselves better people, trying to get on some kind of path of moral improvement. Maybe self-help is a way that we would talk about it. Rehab recovery here was Jesse even saying, you know, I knew some of the things in my life were really bad and I kind of toned those things down. And so on the outside, we start to improve ourselves. Nicodemus was a master of this. He had so improved himself to the point where if you had seen him from the outside, you would have had a hard time accusing him of anything because he seemed like he had changed himself to match up with God's standard.
[00:12:25] And Jesus says, no, you actually can't even do that. There is no man who can jump across the Ghent Grand Canyon, so to speak. There is no man tall enough to measure up to the perfect standard of God who reigns in holiness and splendor above and heaven. You can not get to the kingdom. And I think Nicodemus is like, well, how do I change then? How could I change? I've been trying to do it my whole life. What are you saying about me?
[00:12:56] Jesus now, Jesus is going gonna take this to the next level.
[00:13:00] Look at verse five and he's going to answer him and he's going to now put another layer of meaning on what it means to be born again. And he says, truly, truly. I say to you because again, he's not expecting Nicodemus to believe him. So he puts that prefix on it there. Unless one is born now, look how he describes it of water and the spirit. So if you want to go back to your definition of born again, it means of water and the spirit. You cannot enter the kingdom of gods. Now we're getting another layer of meaning here. That which is born of the flesh is flesh. That's talking about our physical birth and that which is born of the spirit is spirit. So not only do we need to have a physical birth, but a spiritual birth. And he says, do not Marville, don't be blown away by the fact that I said to you, you must be born again. Let me give you an analogy. The wind blows where it wishes you hear its sound. You do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the spirit. Nobody here has ever seen wind, but we've seen the effects of wind.
[00:14:08] We've seen that wind has changed things right in front of us, moving them to different places, blowing leaves across. Maybe you've even been in such bad wind that it's literally pushed your car sideways when you were driving on the road before. You can't see it, but you know the effects of it. You feel the power of it changes things around it. That's what it's like to be born again, Jesus says. He says you're not going to see it, but things will change. It's like the wind. There will be such obvious results happening from something that's invisible.
[00:14:44] And Nicodemus, he's still not track. And look at verse nine here. He says, how can these things be? Which is just a great phrase if you ever want to just borrow that phrase from Nicodemus. All right. Next time somebody says we're out of milk in the refrigerator, just get down on your knees and shout.
[00:15:01] How can these things be? It has power. When you say it like that. Trust me.
[00:15:11] But I think what he's actually looking for here is he's looking for well, OK. So what's the mechanism where the wind shows up? How do I make the invisible spiritual reality happen in my life? Teach me what's the seven steps? What's the three things I'm supposed to do? That's how Nicodemus, his brain works, will tell me what to do and I'll do it so then I can feel good about myself. That's how he's been. He's been a person always trying to be good and never getting there. So tell me, what are the things that I do?
[00:15:38] And Jesus now rebukes him, he says, are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things. He's expecting maybe he wasn't expecting him to understand born again. But what's he breaks it down to? Water and the spirit. He's expecting the teacher of Israel, someone who knows the Old Testament and teaches it. He's expecting him to pick up the reference that Jesus is dropping here. And he's disappointed with Nicodemus that he doesn't pick up on what he's describing when he says you have to be born of water and the spirit, go to a zoo, kill 36 turn. This is important. This is page seven hundred and twenty four. Everybody grab your Bible and go to the Old Testament passage.
[00:16:20] It was a famous passage in the Old Testament. And it's the passage that I believe Jesus is referring to here to Nicodemus that he's expecting him to understand.
[00:16:32] And the fact that he doesn't gets the first kind of tone of rebuke from Jesus. You don't know this. And you're the teacher of Israel.
[00:16:40] And so this is one of the passages that promised the new covenant, along with Jeremiah, 31 and Ezekiel, 36. These are the two main chapters in the Old Testament that prophesied that there would come a day when people like us wouldn't have to keep the old covenant law of the Old Testament. You and I aren't study the video case and trying to figure out whether we should eat shellfish or not or all kinds of different things that are going on in the old covenant. We've got a new covenant way to relate to God through Jesus Christ.
[00:17:12] And here's the prophecy of it as equal 36. Look with me at verse 25 says I will sprinkle clean water on you. And I think that's symbolic because here's what we're talking about. You shall be clean from all your uncleanness and from your idols. I will cleanse you.
[00:17:31] So something that's gonna happen to this person who gets born again is they're going to get cleansed. It's like they're going to be washed. See? And really, this was symbolized in the baptism that was taking place that was popular at the time through John the Baptist, and that later Jesus and his disciples were going to do when you got baptized, that was the symbol that this cleansing of your old life of sin had had taken place. And so there's part of this new life. This new covenant is. Well, first thing, the water is a cleansing from sin. So let's start breaking this down. Or born again. Born of water and the spirit. The water is a cleansing from sin. That's what the water represents. I'm going to take you from these idols, the things that you were filling in your heart to fill that void that you thought would satisfy you, the gods you worshiped before you came to God. The uncleanness, all the filthy things that you did in your sin that were wrong in God's eyes.
[00:18:32] Well, you need to be cleansed and washed from all of that. And then verse 26 says this.
[00:18:38] I view a new heart and a new spirit I will put within you. Here's what I'm going to do. I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh. You've got a dead heart inside of you. And I'm going to give you a heart of flesh. We learned if you were here on Sunday, we learned that the Bible says that your heart is deceitful above all things. It's desperately sick. You can't even understand how evil your own heart is. It's like the sewer underneath the city. It's a cesspool of wickedness. It's just rotting and stinking. And out of your heart comes all the evil that you say, think or do.
[00:19:18] That's what Jesus said. That's what the Old Testament teaches.
[00:19:22] And now it's we're gonna take this dead, gross, sinful heart out of you and we're going to do a heart transplant. We're going to give you a new heart that will start beating into you the life of God. In fact, you're going to have so much of the life of God. It says in verse twenty seven, I will put my spirit within you and I will cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. Literally, the Holy Spirit of the living God will come inside of you now and into well, you and He will cause you force you, make you one who now obeys God and walks in his ways.
[00:20:04] So we're going to the water is the cleansing from sin.
[00:20:07] And then the spirit is this new art, this new life that's going to be put inside of you. And from that point on, we will be able to see that you have a new life because the spirit, it says, look at it again, you got to see these versus they're powerful. The words here. The spirit is the one who causes you to walk in his statues.
[00:20:29] The spirit is the one who is careful to make you obey his rules. See, there's a new engine now there's a new power.
[00:20:37] We go from someone who can not be up to God's standard, to someone who must live out God's standard.
[00:20:44] And the difference is the spirit of the living. God is now inside of you. That's what it means to be born again. That's what it means to be born of water and the spirit.
[00:20:54] That you will live a new life, whether you like it or not. You cannot go back to the old you, the Holy Spirit and the new art will not let it happen. Can I get any men from anybody on this? Because this is what the Bible teaches.
[00:21:10] And we got people in this room who have never been born again. And we've got people in this room who are claiming to be born again and yet still defining themselves by their old life of sin. And you need to stop tonight, say.
[00:21:26] I don't care who you were before you were born again. You cannot be that person any more. It's impossible because you got born from the inside out. God did it to you. And if you say, well, that sin is so powerful, it's too powerful for me. I must go. Go back to my old self or what you are claiming is that the old you is more powerful than the living God. That's what you're saying. OK, so let's get this down for point number one. This is what we mean by salvation when we talk about salvation.
[00:22:00] We are saying what God does to change you. And when God saves you, you can't be unsaved. When God changes you. You can't go back to who you were before. Once he puts the spirit in the new Artane, he will cause you to walk in his ways. Now, let's get very specific. All right. Let's start to describe lifestyles of sin that seem very powerful, that seem to control people that once you've been born again, you can't live that way anymore. Go to the New Testament now. Go to First Corinthians, Chapter six.
[00:22:41] Turn with me.
[00:22:41] This is just one passage that gives us a great example. In fact, he gives us many different examples. And once you get cleansed from your old life and the new heart and the spirit are put within you, like you will go from the old you to the new you.
[00:22:59] And there's lots of passages we could go to right now. We don't have time to get into all of them here tonight. Okay. Right next to a Ziko 36. Here's some references you could write down. Titlist three, four to seven. Tidiest three, four to seven is a passage in the New Testament that says the exact same thing as is equal 36 in the Old Testament. Another passage that we love to tell people to memorize here at this church. It might be the most popular verse here at our church is Second Corinthians five 17. Anybody anybody know that verse? Anybody heard that mentioned before? If anyone in Christ is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone.
[00:23:38] Behold, the new has come. There it is.
[00:23:42] OK, now look at how it describes it here in First Corinthians, chapter six, verse nine. Let's see some of the old selves that might even be represented here tonight. Do you not know that the unrighteous people who are still living their old life of sin, they will not inherit the kingdom of God unless you're born again? You don't get into the kingdom of God and the kingdom of God is this awesome idea that involves both the life we have now, a spiritual element to the life we have now, but also the future coming kingdom of Jesus Christ, where he will reign on the Earth forever and ever, as we already sang about.
[00:24:17] And if you want to get into that kingdom, well, you can't be unrighteous. You can't be the old you. You have to be born again. Do not be deceived. And we have deceived people here tonight. Let's just lay it out. Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters, nor adulterers nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor reviles, nor swindlers, none of them will inherit the Kingdom of God. You cannot live those ways. Your life cannot be defined by a lifestyle of those sins and expect to have any part of life with God after death.
[00:24:59] The Bible's very clear about that. But and there's always a but there's always the good news that comment after it tears us up about our sin. It always heals us. Look what it says here in verse eleven. And such were some of you.
[00:25:14] Anybody want to say men to that right there?
[00:25:17] Such were some of you, but no, not anymore, you were washed that cleansing that water. Now, remember how it comes you from your sin. You were sanctified, you were set apart. You were justified, declared righteous.
[00:25:28] How in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. That's out and buy, though. What does it say? By the Who. Spirit who came and started living inside of you and told the old you to never come back, say.
[00:25:43] That's what happened.
[00:25:46] So let's just make it very clear that there's no such thing as a sexually immoral Christian. There's no such thing as a homosexual Christian. There's no such thing as an alcoholic Christian. There's no such thing as a greedy Christian. No. That's either who you still are in your old life or you've been born again. And now your life is defined by Christ. Now, I'm not saying those things won't tempt you.
[00:26:12] I'm not saying those things won't be stumbling blocks that you're going to have to fight against and you're going to have to memorize verses about. And you're going to have to say no to. And you're going to have to put that old self to death. And you're going to have to get brothers and sisters to come around you and encourage you. And you're gonna be praying, God, deliver me from temptation and lead.
[00:26:30] Lead me not to evil anymore. God. And you're gonna be getting in the word and you're gonna be fighting and it's gonna be everything to stop doing the old you. But if you have the spirit of the living God inside of you, you will walk in newness of life.
[00:26:44] OK. So who are you? You have to take your pick.
[00:26:51] Can't be the old you and the new you. At the same time, you are one or the other. Right now, before God say.
[00:26:59] There's no half way to salvation.
[00:27:05] Bible couldn't be more clear about this, but I find there couldn't be more confusion among people like us here at churches.
[00:27:13] And we got to have this just super clear.
[00:27:16] If God has changed me on the inside. See, religion is you trying to change yourself on the outside. Let's go back to our little religion definition here and let's put in parentheses here. That is on the outside. All right. That's that's what that's what you're doing when you try to change yourself and you and trust me, you can do a decent job of change in yourself on the outside. You can come into church. You can read your Bible. You can have intelligent things to say in our fellowship. Groups like people can put on a good show. Nicodemus might have looked like a pretty good man. If you had known him right. But here's what God does that's completely different. He saves you on the inside. That's where the real salvation takes place on the inside of you. And when someone has been changed on the inside.
[00:28:07] See, it's so powerful. It's like wind. It's like a force that's going to blow through that and person's entire life. And no force on this planet is going to be able to stop the power of God who is more powerful, God or you, the old you in your sin that you used to be enslaved to.
[00:28:27] Who's a more powerful lord to reign over your life? If you've been born again, you will see the power of God work in your life. It will happen.
[00:28:39] That's what Jesus is saying.
[00:28:42] The spirit will cause you to walk in those ways eventually we're going to get two chapters in John. Thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen.
[00:28:51] All about what the spirit does. And the more we see that the spirit is doing in our life, the less we're gonna see it would be possible for a Christian person to still live their old way. So if you think that you're a Christian and you're still living the old way, you need to rethink your life here tonight.
[00:29:10] And if you're a Christian person here tonight, and I know we've got some of you here because I'm talking to you and we're talking about this sin and you keep thinking this sin has power over you, you need to be done with those thoughts here tonight.
[00:29:25] Because it says here, no.
[00:29:26] That used to be you. Yes. But you were washed. You were sanctified. You were justified, declared righteous once and for all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. And then it's all happened because of the power of the spirit of God who came in and gave you a new life from the inside out.
[00:29:41] We call it being born again in the world mocks us for it. But for us, it's the power of God to salvation. That's what it is. Go back as Nicodemus. He's lost.
[00:29:53] And this can even be kind of frustrating because what I'm describing is something that you can't do and people don't like it when we talk about things you can't do here at church. I know all we've got all these self-righteous people here tonight. Just give me something. I can do something. You guys are here. You're like, give me a to do list right now, pastor. Right. You just each in four. Give me five days to go home and feel better for myself. Now, here's what I'm telling you. Salvation. You can't do it.
[00:30:18] Let's close in prayer.
[00:30:23] That's what I'm saying. I mean, it's it's mysterious, it's frustrating. Like, you would never choose to stop doing your sin on your own. You would you wouldn't ever we can argue about if you have the will to choose it or not, but you just won't do it. All right.
[00:30:39] You would keep on choosing yourself every single time at the end of the day. It would always be about you. God has to save you. You can't save yourself. And Nicodemus is not tracking with this concept. And so Jesus is now going to rebuke him and break it down into even more simple steps here.
[00:31:03] So look at what Jesus says. It will go back to verse 10 where we start with the review. This is John three. Verse 10. Jesus answered him. Are you the teacher of Israel? And yet you do not understand these things. There's a little tone of a rebuke in that question. Truly, truly. I say to you. Let me hit you with another one. You're not going to believe we speak of what we know. We bear witness to what we have seen. But you do not receive our testimony.
[00:31:26] If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe how well you believe Nicodemus, if I start telling you heavenly things, no one has descended into heaven.
[00:31:36] No one works their way into heaven.
[00:31:39] Nicodemus except you descended from heaven, the son of man. That's a title that Jesus loved to use to refer to himself. Jesus talked about him self in the third person, mostly with the title The Son of Man. Now, let me throw out another thing I would expect you to know, Nicodemus, verse 14. And here's the setup for the most famous verse.
[00:31:58] And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the son of man be lifted up that whoever believes in him, the son of man Jesus referring to himself. They may have eternal life for God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whoever. And that means any one of us as individuals. Whoever believes in him, no matter what you're saying, was in the past that defined you.
[00:32:27] Anybody can be say whoever believes in him should not perish, but have. What does it say? They're eternal life.
[00:32:37] And now all of a sudden this whoever is not just referring to anybody out there in the world, no one, no matter what kind of person you were saying, no matter how you were born the first time, we got a lot. That's a big deal right now. A lot of people claiming, well, I was born this way. Well, it doesn't matter how you were born the first time, because Jesus says you can be born again.
[00:33:00] Anyone who believes in Jesus will be born again. They will have eternal life.
[00:33:07] And so, yeah, God has to save you. You can't do anything about it. But here's what the response of salvation looks like. We're saved by grace. It's something that God does to us. It's his good gift to us. We can't do works. We can earn it. It's by grace. Saved by grace.
[00:33:23] Through what faith? Well, that's what we're defining now here. OK, well, if you want me to break it down into something that is a human part of the response to God's work of salvation. Well, here's what it looks like they believe in. This son of man is going to be lifted up. But that's news to Nicodemus that hasn't happened yet. And so Jesus gives him a picture of what it's going to look like. Hey, remember Moses lifting up the serpent? Remember that? Well, maybe we don't. OK. So hopefully Nicodemus was tracking with this one. I think he must have been because he didn't rebuke him about it. Go to numbers 21.
[00:34:00] Even deeper into the Old Testament because he's referring to Moses lifting up a serpent. And it's really actually one of the great stories, especially for kids. And we really got into this when we were here at our Good Friday service last year. Was anybody here on Good Friday when we got into this? Yes, I remember. I remember some of the looks on your faces because, look, let's just get into the story and we'll see what happens here.
[00:34:25] This is the best kids' ministry story you could ever tell your children. Read this with me. Numbers 21, verse four from Mount. Or they set out, by the way, to the Red Sea. This is on page one hundred and twenty nine. If you got one of our Bibles here, you don't want to miss this story. People of Israel, they've left. They've left Egypt. They're out in the wilderness walking around. And we start to get typical road trip refrain here. Are we there yet? Let's see what happens here. And a verse for and the people became water. What happens there? Impatient. Oh, yes. Trips taken a while. They became impatient on the way and the people spoke against God. This is called complaining and against Moses.
[00:35:08] Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness where there is no food and no water. And we load this worthless food?
[00:35:19] Hey, wait a minute. I thought you said there was no food, but now you're hating on the food that there is. Which one is it? Does it sound like anybody's kids before? I mean, I'm I'm I'm gonna die if I don't have a snack right now.
[00:35:32] Oh, not that snack, mom at that snack.
[00:35:39] I mean, this is typical complaining, this is creepy. Children's stuff right here. God has delivered them out of Egypt, answering their prayers, delivering them from slavery. And where do they want to do about it? Complain. So the Lord, this is good guys, is good parenting right here. The Lord sent fiery serpents among the people.
[00:36:02] Now, I know we live in Orange County, right?
[00:36:05] I got a bunch of helicopter parents here tonight. But if you ever want to make an impact. When your kids are complaining, just throw a snake down on the dinner table. Get one of the nonlethal kind. And I didn't even do this. I'm tempted sometimes to do this at my house. I've never done it. I just painted the picture for my kids. Oh, yeah. You guys want to complain about lunch? What if I just threw a snake on the table? Right.
[00:36:34] No more complaining. All right. That's basically what the story is here, except it's actually very serious story. Read it with me.
[00:36:41] The fiery serpents among the people and they beat the people so that many people of Israel died. Gives you a glimpse of what God thinks about sin, what God thinks about complaining about the life that he's given you.
[00:36:55] And the people came to Moses and they said, we have sinned. See if you're having a hard time getting sorries out of your kids, the snakes might help because they got the point real quick. We have sinned. We've spoken against the Lord and against you. Please pray to the Lord and he take away the serpents from us. So Moses prayed for the people and the Lord said to Moses, make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole. And everyone who is bitten when he sees this serpent on a pole. He shall live. So Moses made a bronze serpent and he set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone. He will look at the bronze serpent and live.
[00:37:35] Can you imagine that all of a sudden fiery serpents are biting people and they're dying and then all of a sudden the snakes are common? I mean, where do they even come from? They just drop in from the sky. I don't know where they came from, but you're like, how fast can I run? Versus how fast can this snake run?
[00:37:51] And you get bit by a snake and you're told that if you go over here and you look at the serpent on a pole, you will live. Can you imagine the people running, crawling, doing whatever they could to get over there and to look at that serpent on the pole and live?
[00:38:09] And Jesus says, hey, just like the serpent was lifted up on that pole. So I will be lifted up that people might believe in me and live. What a powerful analogy. We've all seen the wages of sin is death. We are all going to die in our sins.
[00:38:27] But if we see Jesus dying there on the cross for our sins and we look to Jesus by faith, we put our trust in Jesus there on the cross. We will not die in our sins. We will live. That's what Jesus is saying. Hey, you want something you can do about it? Well, you can't save yourself. God's gonna save you. Here's what you can do. Confess your sin. Admit that you have spoken against God and beg for his forgiveness. Look to Jesus on the cross and you will live. That's what he says. That's the context of the most famous verse is not just. Yeah. Maybe I'll believe in Jesus. Maybe I'll think that it was true. No, it's. You've been bitten. You're about to die. The consequences of your sin are coming to pass. You will die and burn for ever unless you look on him and live. See.
[00:39:18] The sense of desperation that Jesus communicates to Nicodemus by referring to this old story that he would have been familiar with. You're bitten by saying you're going to die by the snake because of the consequences of your sin. You're going to die. But if you look, you will live. That's how you're supposed to put your faith in Jesus.
[00:39:37] That's how you get salvation. It's desperate. You're clawing your way, crawling to Jesus any way you can get to him, grabbing on to him.
[00:39:47] And saying by faith in Jesus, please, God, give me new life. Cleanse me from my old life of sin and make me born again as I trust in Jesus. Let's get it down like this for point number two. God saves you through faith in Jesus. This is how it takes place.
[00:40:05] This is the human response to God's work of salvation is we see Jesus on the cross and we transfer our trust from ourselves to him.
[00:40:16] That's what Jesus is describing. That's why Jesus came to be the serpent on the pole, to be the man who would die for your sin on the cross.
[00:40:27] And how could we doubt the love of Jesus when he has proven it with his own blood?
[00:40:33] Why would we not put our faith in him?
[00:40:35] He's offered life through his death. And so that meant every one of our children needs to know that story, not only because the snakes are a great way to connect with kids, but it helps them see the desperation that they should believe in Jesus. It's not just given the right answers. So you can get Bible books. No, it's transferring your trust.
[00:40:56] Admitting your sin and clinging to Jesus Christ for your salvation. Putting your faith in him now.
[00:41:03] Go back to John Chapter three and let's get the full context here of what?
[00:41:08] Because there's more I don't know if you noticed this, but verse 16 is not the end of the chapter. There's more after John 360. Maybe you've even read these forgotten verses before.
[00:41:20] But look what it goes on to say here. It says, God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world. Don't anybody want to say amen to that? Anybody glad that Jesus didn't come to condemn us?
[00:41:30] I'm glad now he came that the world might be safe. There is the possibility that opportunity the offer is on the table tonight that you could be saved, you could leave your old life behind to be born again to a new life here tonight, if you will. Look at Jesus on the cross and put your trust in him, you will live.
[00:41:51] That's why he came, that you might be saved.
[00:41:55] And whoever believes in him is not going to be condemned. Not tonight. Not ever.
[00:41:59] Not on the day of judgment, no. Now, whoever does not believe is condemned already because. Because you've already got your sin and it's already going to work the wages of death. And here's really why people get condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only son of God. They have rejected the offer of Jesus Christ.
[00:42:19] And now we're gonna get really personal here.
[00:42:22] It says, and this is the judgment.
[00:42:24] Let me give you another metaphor here. Nicodemus, the light has come into the world. And the truth is, the people love the darkness rather than the light. And it wasn't because they couldn't believe the light. It wasn't because it was too hard to understand. No, their works were evil.
[00:42:39] That's really at the bottom of it. They didn't want the light.
[00:42:42] They wanted the evil for everyone who does wicked things, hates the light. And that does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.
[00:42:53] But whoever does what is true comes to the light so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in who?
[00:43:02] God, it says God's the one who's made them born again, who's put their spear, his spirit within them, given them a new heart. And now God is working in them to leave behind their evil and to step out into the light because they have nothing to hide anymore. There's no hypocrisy, there's no mask they have to put on when they come to a place like this, they can actually be themselves because they've been freed from the darkness, the evil that was their old life.
[00:43:33] See, this is what the Bible says whenever it talks about the internal change of salvation. It always says it will manifest itself in an external reality of our life.
[00:43:44] You will be able to see people who have been saved by God, who have been born again because they will shine the light. They will come out into the light. But others will stay back in the darkness because they love their old self and their sin in that way that they would define themself. They love that more than Christ.
[00:44:04] And so they cling to their sin.
[00:44:07] See, it makes it about you and what you want to do. Do you want to live for God in the light or do you want to hang on to your evil works of darkness and keep thinking of yourself in the old way?
[00:44:23] If you're born again, you'll put your faith in Jesus and if you have faith in Jesus, we'll see it as you step into the light.
[00:44:30] And you won't try to hide your hidden works of darkness. No, you'll start openly confessing to people your sins and you'll start asking people here in this room for help and for prayer and for encouragement because you believe in the power of God and you believe in the death of Jesus Christ. And you believe that you could really leave the darkness behind in your life.
[00:44:51] And you'll step into the light. Some of you will step into the light. We're praying tonight as you hear this word preached. Because you'll be sick of the old you.
[00:45:03] Boy, number three, let's get it down like this, your inside change that God does to you. You're inside. Change is seen on the outside.
[00:45:11] It shows up.
[00:45:14] Maybe you can hide it from the public here at church, but surely shows up at your home. Shirley shows up in your marriage. It surely shows up in your parenting. It surely shows up when you're by yourself in your own thoughts between you and God.
[00:45:31] Is it a new life that you have where you chose nothing to hide? Or are you still hanging on to those works of evil, the darkness that you still want in your life? That's the real question at the end of the day, is it? You're ready to leave it completely behind or not, Jesus puts it like this.
[00:45:51] He doesn't put it. He says the maybe is that you would get saved. But once you are saved, there is no maybe about it. Look at how he he says it, verse 21. Whoever does what is true comes to the light. And the reason you come to the light is that your works can be seen.
[00:46:08] And here's the one. God has carried out those works in you. It's God's work manifesting itself in your new life of good works.
[00:46:17] Like, there's nobody who God's done the work of new life in their soul that isn't coming out into the light.
[00:46:26] Now, if you're still back there in the darkness, it's because it God hasn't done his work in you.
[00:46:32] It's a concrete statement, this is the way it will always work out.
[00:46:38] Now, there's a very key phrase here when Jesus says he has to be lifted up just as the serpent was lifted up. That's a way that John writes and he refers to Jesus on the cross. Go to John Chapter 12, and I want you to see again another place in the Gospel of John, where this idea of believing in Jesus on the cross, looking to him and living is connected then to the light and the darkness in how we live. And in John Chapter twelve, you see this idea of Jesus prophesying about his own death. He told it to Nicodemus as an individual. He says it here to a to a crowd of people. And look, just jump straight to the punch line here. And John, 12, verse 32. And Jesus says. And I when I am lifted up from the earth and that's a special term in the gospel of John. And you should see Jesus lifted up on the cross. Right, hanging up there on that wood, nailed with his hands to the wood, his feet nailed to the wood. And you can kind of see everybody, he's a little bit higher than everybody else. You were a kind of a a lifted up position there. And he says, when I'm lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself. All different kinds of people, every kind of race, every kind of tribe, every kind of tongue. Homosexual people, thieves, drunkards, sexually immoral, greedy, good little two shoes, Christian people that were faking it the whole time.
[00:48:06] All of those people he's going to draw to himself. People like Nick Demus.
[00:48:11] And he said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die, calling crucifixion as the form of death.
[00:48:17] So the crowd answered him. We've heard from the law that the Christ remains forever. If you're the Messiah, if you're the one prophesied in the Old Testament, that kingdom reigns forever. How could the Christ die?
[00:48:29] How can the son of man be lifted up? Who is the son of man? If you're the son of man and you're going to reign forever, then how can you die? They don't understand.
[00:48:40] And Jesus, he doesn't really clarify it, forum no, there's always mystery in how God is working. But here's what he makes very clear. Verse 35.
[00:48:47] So Jesus said to them, the light is among you for a little while longer. Who knows how much longer you even have a chance to see the light.
[00:48:57] You better walk while you have the light. Less darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going.
[00:49:08] While you have the light, believe in the light that you may become sons of light. Hey, you don't worry about how I'm gonna die and how that's all going to work out. Here's what you need to worry about. How much light do you have left? Because perhaps the window on your light is already closing. And if you don't get in the light and out of the darkness now, then you will be in the darkness forever and you don't know where you're going, Jesus says, implying you don't want to know. You don't want to go there. So believe in the light.
[00:49:43] Tonight, while you have the chance, while your eyes have been opened, while you see that God has to work in you and you put your trust in Jesus on that cross and he works out a new life where you go from the old you to the new you.
[00:49:58] Tonight is the night. To put your trust in him. While the light is still shining because you only have it for a while longer, I don't know what Nicodemus thought at the end of this conversation. It doesn't give us another response to Nicodemus in that moment.
[00:50:18] But I do know that in John, Chapter seven versus 50 and 51, we get a glimpse into the inner workings of the Pharisees who are talking about their hate for Jesus. And they want to arrest Jesus and they want to kill Jesus.
[00:50:32] And all of a sudden, Nicodemus stands up in the middle of the Pharisees and he says, hey, should we give a man a trial before we accuse him and condemn him to death? And in the midst of the people who are the enemies of Jesus, we see Nicodemus making a stand in the name of Jesus Christ.
[00:50:52] Sure, that cost him a lot in his reputation. He was stepping out of the darkness. He was in the light. Now, he was declaring, in fact, they say, hey, Nicodemus, you look it up. There's no prophet that comes from Galilee. What are you talking about, Nicodemus?
[00:51:06] They go right after.
[00:51:09] Well, in John, Chapter 19, the chapter where our Lord Jesus Christ is lifted up and he dies on the cross and he shows his blood for our salvation. And he says that if we look at him lifted up, we will live. Well, there's someone there who helps prepare for the burial of Jesus Christ. There's someone there looking at Jesus when he's lifted up. And guess what his name is.
[00:51:32] Nicodemus is there on the day Jesus dies. See anyone from a man who was trying to be good enough to get to God, to a man who got born again. A man who stood out into the light, who associated himself with Christ, who humbled himself to admitting that even the righteous Nicodemus needed to be washed from sin. And needed a new heart and the power of the spirit so that his name is listed as one of those who was there looking on Jesus when his body was lifted up and Nicodemus, he live. Then I got to tell you.
[00:52:12] That if Jesus has saved you here tonight. And that's an awesome work that he has done and we should worship the Lord here together. And if he hasn't saved you tonight. Tonight could be your night or from this one conversation with Jesus. You could be saved.
[00:52:31] You could be born again here tonight by putting your faith in Christ and stepping out into the light and confessing your sins, you might only have the light for a little while longer. What are you waiting for? Is your old life worth walking in darkness for ever?
[00:52:51] Why not start the new you to night by asking God to save you?
[00:52:56] We want to offer to everybody here a conversation. We want to start a new tradition here at our church that when church is done, we don't just take off and everybody race for their car and grab a donut on their way out. And we want to stick around and we want to talk about this. We're gonna do a couple more songs to worship Jesus, to praise him for our salvation. But then we're gonna break into little groups and we're gonna pray. And at that moment, if you want to have a conversation. So we believe in this thing called the salvation conversation like Jesus has with Nicodemus, which I believe leads to his salvation. And if you know tonight that you're not saved and you want to step into the light, you want God to make you born again, you want to look at Jesus and live, if you want that to be you, we're gonna give you a chance to talk to somebody here tonight. And I hope that you'll take it. I hope that you'll reach out and talk to that person. So let me close this in prayer. We'll sing a little bit and then we're gonna break all over and little groups pray for one another. And if you want to talk to somebody, you'll have your chance of salvation here tonight. Please pray with me. Gary, thank you so much for the power of the Holy Spirit coming to live inside of us that causes us to walk in new life for your power to save us and God, that by that we mean you make us born again.
[00:54:11] You take away our old heart that was just stinking in its sin and its wickedness.
[00:54:17] And you give us a new heart that's pumping the blood of Jesus Christ. It's his life now in us by faith. We see him there lifted up. We can see him by faith. Even tonight we see Jesus with the crown of thorns and the blood pouring down as his body hangs there on that tree. And we look at him tonight by faith and we live based on his death for our sin. We thank you for the new life that you've given to us by faith. That it's by your grace, it's something you do to us and we respond by putting our trust in Jesus. And then we step into the light and we're not afraid to confess our sin. We've got nothing to hide. We start to walk in a new path, out of the darkness and into the light, God, please draw people to yourself tonight. As Jesus said, he would draw all peoples to himself. God draw the the divorced people, the sexually immoral people, the people who have programed their brains so much with pornography.
[00:55:16] They think they'll never be able to think another way. God make them new in Jesus Christ.
[00:55:23] Not the people who have been angry and have been so bitter at others and so unforgiving that they think they could never stop feeling that way, that hatred towards others. God set them free from that sin. Tonight, give them a new life in Jesus Christ. We pray. Whatever the sin is, show you are more powerful live. Ty the name of Jesus and make people born again. God, we ask you to do that work here among us in Jesus name.
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