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Jesus Unfiltered - Believe - Jesus - Explains His Message, Part 2

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram
The Truth Network Radio
December 7, 2023 5:00 am

Jesus Unfiltered - Believe - Jesus - Explains His Message, Part 2

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram

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December 7, 2023 5:00 am

Whether you are a Christian or just an interested seeker, this message is an important opportunity for you. Join Chip as he considers the meaning and implications of the number 316.

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What does it mean to be born again? How do you know if you have a personal relationship with God? Can you ever be certain that your sins are forgiven forever and ever?

Well, that's today. Stay with me. Well, we're a little over halfway through our series, Jesus Unfiltered Volume 1 Believe. And last time, Chip highlighted one of the more familiar verses in the Bible, John 3.16. For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, so that whosoever believes in him should not die but have everlasting life. And unlike most of Jesus' ministry, these words weren't spoken to big crowds, but in an intimate one-on-one conversation with a religious scholar named Nicodemus.

But why? And what does this private chat tell us about God? Well, let's find out as we join Chip with the remainder of his talk, Jesus Explains His Message from John chapter 3. Jesus goes directly to the heart of the matter.

Nicodemus doesn't need more knowledge. Nicodemus, you'll not enter the kingdom of God unless you're born again. Now, if you're a Jew and you hear the phrase, the kingdom of God, it's where the presence of God is, their expectation.

God, the Messiah, the King would come, overthrow Rome, put them in power and solve all their problems. That was one aspect. But they also knew the kingdom of God is when the presence of God is here and you become a son of God, and the phrase was used interchangeably with eternal life. And so basically he says to the smartest guy and the teacher of Israel, unless you have a spiritual birth, you can't enter. You mean my good works can't get me in? My religion can't get me in? My going to the temple can't get me in? My tithing can't get me in?

My fasting can't get me in? All the good work? Jesus said, you need to be born again. So what's born again?

The phrase has dual meaning. The word literally means born a second time, and the word also means to be born from above. So it's to be born a second time from above. Well, I don't know about you, but if you were a really smart guy and it's been a long time since you were born and some radical teacher who does all these miracles says you need to be born a second time, what's Nicodemus go? Illogical, right? How am I going to re-enter my mother's womb?

That's definitely not going to work. What do you mean? Does Jesus change the conversation?

What's he do? I tell you the truth, unless you're born of water and the Spirit, you cannot enter the kingdom of God. So the question ought to be, what's he mean water and the Spirit? By the way, you can read some commentaries on this, and it always interests me that people take all this theology out of the New Testament and read in a lot to this. This is an honest guy asking an honest question.

The answer's pretty simple. So you women who've had a baby, when something breaks, you know the baby is really coming, and it's when your water breaks, right? Okay, because little babies are inside the womb in this amniotic fluid, and Jesus is saying, look, you need to be born of water. There's a physical birth, and just as nothing is alive, there's no power, there's no life until there's a physical birth, you need a spiritual birth. You need an encounter with God.

You need regenerated Nicodemus. It's not religion. It's not your good works. It's not all your knowledge.

It's not what you know. Just as a baby is born and things change, and they were in the womb, I don't know how it works. You know the umbilical cord, and they can live in water. Guess what?

They can live on air now. Just as there's a physical birth, you need a spiritual birth. Now in the context, John the Baptist is in the scene, because water does have one symbolic thing that I think we can say historically, is that thousands of people are going out into here this wild man. I mean, he was really, I mean, if you were Nicodemus, this is an Old Testament prophet. He's like crazy. And yet you can tell God's working. And the water meant what? Repent.

People were going to him to say, my life is messed up. I'm not the kind of dad. I'm not the kind of mom. I do have greed. I covet in my heart. I do sleep around.

I do cheat. Stuff that comes out of my mouth. I have unresolved anger issues. All the stuff that we have, multitudes were coming out, and John said, you have to repent, and the word is metanoia. Have a change of mind. And they were coming to be baptized to say, I want that old life and that old junk. I want it washed away, and I want to walk with God now. And that was preparation. So you're prepared and realize now what you need is the Spirit of God with the power to do that. And so Jesus is saying, Nicodemus, the prostitute, the tax collectors, the people who see their need, they're going and they're being dipped in water. But guess what? The religious rulers didn't go there.

The Pharisees didn't go there. Well, why? That's like admitting you have need. I mean, we're the rulers. We're the descendants of Abraham. We teach the Word of God. We fast.

We do all the stuff. To go be baptized would say, I have need. My life is messed up. I covet in my heart.

I may be squeaky clean on the outside, but I lust on the inside. And so he's saying to him, Nicodemus, you need a spiritual birth. And part of his spiritual birth is you've got to repent and realize you have a need. And Nicodemus, how can this be? And you know, Jesus, you know, the illustration. Look, Nicodemus, you can't see the wind, right?

Right. When the wind blows, though, I mean, if you go outside and you see a tree doing this, can you say, oh, I see the wind? Or what can you say? I know the wind is blowing because I see its effects.

And he's using a little play on words. The word in Greek for wind, pneuma. The word in Greek for spirit is pneuma. I'll go over that again. You got it?

Pneuma, pneuma. And so what he was saying to him is that when the Spirit of God gives birth in your life, you can't see it or understand how it all works. It's not your little formula. It's not your self-effort. It's not your performance.

It's not your religion. There's power. There'll be an effect. You'll love. You'll care.

There'll be change. Well, Nicodemus hears that and goes, you know, I'm still not quite getting it. And so now Jesus is going to give him something that was very helpful for him and at least a little confusing for us.

He said, OK, look, just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up so that whoever believes in him can have eternal life. I want you to turn to Numbers Chapter 21, because the story about the serpent is pretty simple. It's only about four verses. And again, I didn't I never opened the Bible till I was like 18. And so Numbers is like, where's that at? Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers. It's the fourth book of the Bible.

OK. The story is the children of Israel. They've come through the Red Sea.

God has miraculously delivered. There's a cloud by day, a fire by night. When it moves, they move. There's roughly two million, maybe two point five million people along with their animals. It's very organized. There's the tent of meeting in the north, south, east and west.

The different tribes are all organized. And they are just after all the miracle, miracle, miracle. They just get a very bad attitude and they rebel. And so you pick up the story in Numbers Chapter 21, beginning at verse four. They, the children of Israel, traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way and they spoke against God and against Moses and said, why have you brought us out from Egypt to die in the desert? There is no bread.

There is no water. And we detest this miserable food, the manna. Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them and they bit the people and many Israelites died. Sin always has consequences. God is forgiving.

He's merciful. When I sin, when you sin, there's always consequences. The people came to Moses and said, we sinned. We spoke against the Lord and against you.

Pray the Lord that he'll take away these snakes from us. So Moses prayed for the people. And as he prayed, God said, here's the solution. And candidly, I'm just going to tell you, to me, it's really odd. I mean, I think this is a really odd solution.

Now, knowing God's plan and how so many things are prefigured in the Old Testament to help us understand the new. But so this is the solution. There's two million people in rebellion. There's a bunch of snakes. A lot of them have been bitten.

There's no antidote. It takes a while to die from a snake bite. And God says to Moses, make a snake and put it up on a pole.

And anyone who is bitten can look at it and live. So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on the pole. And then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived.

Now, let me give you the parallels. God commanded Moses to put this snake on a pole. It symbolized God is going to save his people that are dying. The cure was a faith.

They didn't do anything. They just believed that if you looked, and if you did look at it, you would be healed. It was lifted up on a standard, and the standard would be a pole, and then they would make the snake, and then there would be a cross to hold it, so it would be literally like the prefigure of a cross. And every single person's destiny would be dictated by whether they believed in the statement and went and looked or not. Now, that's sort of an obscure Old Testament story, but now imagine yourself with this brilliant intellect, knowing all the Old Testament, and he says, just as Moses lifted this bronze snake, and people came and just looked, and they were healed, so Jesus, the Son of Man, must be lifted up. And he gets it, crucified, so whoever would look to him shouldn't perish but have eternal life. Translation, Nicodemus being born from above can never happen by good works or religiosity. You must believe that my death on the cross will pay or cover for the sin of all people of all time. If you believe and trust in that, you will have life.

If you reject that offer, you will die. And so Nicodemus, in fact, we learn later he becomes a secret disciple. He was a little fearful and he doesn't go public until after the resurrection, but he gets it. He really understands that his religion and his good works and I'm good enough and I'm better than most people, and I think as long as you're sincere, everyone's okay.

All that stuff that's still going around today. And then finally, we hear John the Baptist's endorsement that makes this radical statement that says, whoever believes in the Son of God has present tense, eternal life. Now as you turn to the back page, let me summarize because we still haven't really touched on, so what does it mean to believe?

I mean, it's the theme. If you went through a little bit later in your little gospel of John, or you can take your Bible and every time the word believe or faith, circle, circle, circle, circle, circle, circle, circle, circle, I'll tell you something you'll learn, is that belief happens by the Spirit of God, and Jesus actually is completely astounded that this smart, wise, religious guy doesn't get it. And if you will, just on the side in your notes, write down Ezekiel 36 verses 25 to 27. I won't take you there right now, but God had promised that when the Messiah comes and this new covenant occurs, he says, I will sprinkle clean water on you and you will be clean. And I'll remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will take my spirit and I will put my spirit inside of you. And those of you that have my spirit will from the inside out have a desire to obey my laws and decrees. In other words, that's the new covenant. That's what the Messiah is going to do.

That's what was promised. But just like us, you know, when you get locked into, you know, I'm supposed to read the Bible some, I should be a little bit better moral person, but I'm better than most people. And, you know, it's a multicultural pluralistic society in whom I should say what's right or what's really wrong. So I'll try and be sort of a really good person and I'll try and be sort of spiritual. And I guess I'll be okay because... And Jesus cuts through all that. I mean, if being good could ever get you right with God, here's the big question. How good do you really need to be?

How good is good enough? I think in preparation for this message, I had one of these knocks at my door yesterday. A young man in a tie, early 30s, delightful guy with his watchtower information, wanted to talk to me about how I could have life. And we had a great conversation. And we did. And we did. And you know what?

I treated him with such dignity and I wanted him to have a great experience with the Christian. And I said, you know, we could probably argue about this, this, this and this. And you're probably going to say these three or four things. Here's what I want to tell you. You're hoping to be one of the 144,000. And you're hoping someday, some way you can do enough good that you're going to get in and God will forgive you.

Are you ready for this? I know without a doubt that I currently have eternal life. If I died tomorrow, I would be ushered in the presence of God. Because what God has saved me by is not what I do. He saved me by His grace. And because I have His grace, see, I don't do good things to get God's favor.

I already have His favor. His Son lives inside me by the Spirit of God. And I do good things because that's the life of Christ in me. And He kind of looked at me.

And then I said, are you ready for this? This is the testimony that God has given us, eternal life. And this life is in His Son. He that has the Son has life.

He that does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I've written unto you that you might know. And the word is know for sure that you have eternal life. I said I know for sure. And what I know about every ism, every cult, every religion that's based on some sort of works, they never know.

Because you can't. You're listening to Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. We'll return you to today's message in just a second. But let me quickly ask, are you surrounded by people who encourage, support and challenge you in your walk with Jesus? If not, keep listening after this message as Chip explains why other believers are vital for our faith and highlights some resources we have to help you get into authentic community today.

Stick around to learn more. But with that, let's rejoin Chip for the remainder of his talk. But if God demands absolute perfection, no amount of good gets there. He's that holy.

He's that pure. And so we need to ask the final question. What does it mean to believe so that you have eternal life? On the back I've summarized our teaching so you could go back and ponder it and maybe share it with a friend. What does John chapter 3 mean to you and me?

Right? Now we're to the application. I would really ask, I have no idea where you're at in your journey. But I would ask you right now before I go on that however you talk to God, however you whisper in your mind, say, oh God, if there's something here that you want me to understand that I don't, will you please open my mind and open my heart?

Number one, being good and moral does not merit or earn eternal life. It's as radical as it gets. I live in a day.

You live in a day. If you're sincere, it doesn't matter what you believe. I can sincerely believe diesel will work in my car. It doesn't. Sincerity is never the test.

I'm a good person. Based on what? By whose measurement?

By whose standard? It's always relative. Second, spiritual life demands a spiritual birth. Babies don't come into the world until they come out of the womb and they breathe life and they move and they cry and there's life. Just as a physical birth demands life, physical life, a physical birth, you have to have an encounter with God that is a spiritual birth from the inside out. That's what Nicodemus didn't have. And he was more moral, I'll guarantee, than anybody in this room and more religious than anybody in this room. And that's why I think Jesus chose him. Third, God loves you and wants to give you eternal life as a free gift.

Last night in the services, I tweaked my back a little bit doing some stuff and so these chairs kind of messed me up now and then so I was sitting on the floor over there and I can't remember which song it was. But you know sometimes as you're worshipping and sort of a thought will come to your mind and then it will kind of explode and then it will be like, wow. And I just looked at all the people in this room and I thought, God loves us. What do you think? I mean, he loves us. But it was more, I mean God so loved the world and that sort of gets to be, I know, I mean what do I do to people I love? I love Teresa.

You know what? I like to be with Teresa. I like to buy stuff Teresa. I like to drink coffee with Teresa. I like to go on walks with Teresa.

I have kids, I love them. I like to call them. I like to text them. I like to get together. I like to go on vacation. I have friends that I love. I want to hang out with them.

The more stuff I have that I can help them in, I love them. And I thought, that's what God's like to us. So the religion, we get involved in religion because down deep we don't believe God loves us. We think he's hard to please. We think he's down on us. We feel guilty. We think his job is that, you know, if anything is fun or good or exciting he's probably against that.

And Jesus started it at a wedding so he could know, I love you. What if the all-knowing, all-powerful, omniscient, eternal, absolutely pure and holy being that created all that there is and will be, what if he has a personal affection for you and his desire is for you to receive his son for the payment of your sin, to allow his spirit to come live inside of you, that he wants to give you a better marriage, that he wants to give you direction for your life, that he wants to meet your needs. Now, the pathway will often not be what you think and it will require faith and you'll have to own your stuff. But what if, who else could you trust?

Oh yeah, you could trust you. I'll run my life. I know what's best for me.

No one's going to tell me what to do. See, people do not come into the light if our deeds are dark, if we don't recognize we need help. I just want to tell you, not someday, not some way, not if you do this, not if you start doing that, not if you come to church regularly, blah, blah, blah. He wants to give you eternal life. See, when that happens, you'll want to be with other Christians.

You'll want to read his word. I mean, I can't imagine saying, I love trees with all my heart, we get married, I say, you know, I like California. She says, I like West Virginia. Great, you live there, I'll live here.

I mean, where she is, I want to be with her. If you don't want to be with Jesus, if you have no desire to love people, if you have no desire for his word, I would just say, it's between you and God, examine yourself. Have I prayed a prayer or do I have eternal life? Four, eternal life begins the moment you receive Christ as your Savior and Lord. See, today's the day of salvation, moments from now, moments from now. It's not something that's going to happen after you die. You can have the encounter that Jesus wanted for Nicodemus.

You can be washing the water, admit, oh God, I'm not perfect, I'm actually messed up in some areas, and I need you. And I receive the life of Christ and his death on the cross as sole payment for my sin. And I'm asking you to come into my life and be my Savior and the Lord and the CEO.

He'll do it. The Scripture says, like newborn babes long for the pure milk of God's word, that by it you may grow in respect to salvation. Babies need love and encouragement, and life is hard early. We're a family. Number five, we must receive Christ by faith to begin that lifelong journey.

I mean, some of you, something's boiling inside going, okay, tell me how. Here's how. Jesus came, and he came to his own, and those who were his own rejected him. But as many as received him, he gave the right or the authority to become children of God, as many as believed on his name. So what's it mean to receive Christ? Jesus will come back to a church and talk to them in Revelation chapter three. And I remember the first time I heard this, I'd never opened the Bible, I'd never heard of Jesus, I'd never heard of a personal relationship, and there was a room about like this with six or eight hundred athletes, and a man said, Jesus said this, behold, I stand at the door of your heart and knock. If anyone hears my voice and will open the door, I will come in and live with you. And literally, it's ancient eastern picture, and eat with you. In other words, you're mine, we're going to do life together. And the thing about this door is there's no handle, there's no handle on the outside. He can't open it for you. And the eternal God of the universe says, if you will open the door of your heart and turn from your sin and invite Christ and believe on him, the Spirit of the living God will come permanently to live in you, seal you with the Spirit, give you spiritual gifts, direct your life, make you a part of the family, and transform you little by little by little by little.

The two, three, and four years from now, people will be astounded. Why are you so kind? Why are you so other centered now? What happened to that addiction you had? You know, you used to be like a workaholic crazy person.

What happened to you? Because Christ will live his life out through you. Finally, you can receive Christ today by placing your trust in his death and resurrection as the sole basis for forgiveness of your sins to become a member of God's family. Today may be the clearest and most powerful time that the Spirit of the living God will ever bring you to a point where you understand what you need to do.

And believe me, it's a wrestling match, and there's implications. I get all that. Been there, done that. On behalf of God, I implore you, if you are not 100% sure that you have eternal life, that as we bow our head now, that you in your own words tell God, I want you. I turn from my sin. I ask you to come into my life.

I accept your forgiveness. I'd like to give you the same opportunity right now that I gave those in the room that heard this message for the first time. And I will tell you that many in that room had their entire lives and eternity changed.

They were forgiven, and the Spirit of God entered their life. If you would like to be born again, if you would like to have a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ, right now, wherever you're at, from your heart, express it in your own words or follow along as I pray, Dear God, I confess today that I fall short of being perfect, that I have sinned. I know I've done things wrong. And today I take you up on your offer that Jesus died upon the cross to pay for my sin, that he rose from the dead to prove that it is true. And I ask you right now, forgive me. I'm sorry for what I've done. I want to be your son.

I want to be your daughter. Lord God, thank you right now for forgiving my sins and coming into my life. Help me now to follow you with all my heart. In Jesus' name. If you're riding in your car or you're out on a run or you find yourself alone and you have prayed that, maybe out loud or maybe in your heart of hearts, the God of the universe has promised, call upon me and you will be saved. Christ paid the penalty for your sin.

He wants to have a personal relationship with you. I want to encourage you now that if you know a Christian that you have a relationship with, text them or call them right now. Tell them what you did. If you're not exactly sure who to call or what to do, get on our website at livingontheedge.org and we have some information there for brand new Christians that will help you in your journey. And then this weekend, find a Bible teaching church and go to it.

Yes, it'll be uncomfortable, you may feel a little weird, but you're a brand new spiritual baby and you need to let the family of God love you. Well, if you prayed with Chip, we do have a free resource we'd like to put in your hands that was uniquely created for new believers. This tool will help you understand what it means to trust in Jesus and what to do next. Request this free resource by calling 888-333-6003 or by visiting livingontheedge.org and then clicking the New Believers button.

That's livingontheedge.org or call 888-333-6003. Let us help you get started in your faith journey. Well, Chip's still here in studio with me and Chip, you've shared many times on the broadcast the eternal impact other believers have had on your Christian walk. Now, there's just something about being vulnerable with a fellow brother or sister and digging into God's Word together. So take a minute, if you would, before we close and talk about why community is so essential to our faith. I don't fully understand it, Dave, but I can tell you this, is that it's when we do life in community, that's where the action is, heart to heart, face to face, encouragement, accountability.

The problem is, even in a small group, you can sit around and talk about lots of things and never get to the heart of the matter where the real you shows up and meets real needs in the lives of others and vice versa. So to help you build meaningful community, we're offering three of our foundational small group study guides in packets of five. The first one is called The Real God and of all the series I've done, when people study who God really is and begin to dig in and share with one another, amazing things happen. The second one is called Your Divine Design. Imagine sitting with a group of people, sharing honestly, but learning you have a spiritual gift. This is how you discover it, this is how you deploy it, and this is how God wants to use you in the lives of others.

And the third is called Transformed. So many people, I discover, they're trying so hard to break addictions or habits or trying to live a holy life, but they're going about it all wrong. This series from Ephesians 4 will teach you in a group setting how God changes us from the inside out by the power of the Holy Spirit in the context of community.

You know, there's lots of things that only grow in certain environments and here's what I can tell you. Real life change, real love only happens in the context of authentic community. We want to help you experience that and be the Christian that God wants you to be so that you can help others become the Christians He wants them to be. So Dave, would you tell people a little bit more about these and how they can get these resources?

I'd be glad to. To order a five-pack of our small group study guides for The Real God, Your Divine Design, or Transformed, go to specialoffersatlivingontheedge.org or the Chip Ingram app. And in case you want to gift one of these study guides for Christmas, place your order by December 13th to receive it in time. To learn more about our in-community bundles, visit specialoffersatlivingontheedge.org or the Chip Ingram app. Well, before we go, I want to thank those of you who make this program possible through your generous financial support.

If you found this program helpful but haven't partnered with us before, there's never been a better time. When you give a gift to Living on the Edge from now till December 31st, it'll be matched dollar for dollar. And making a donation couldn't be easier. Just go to livingontheedge.org or call 888-333-6003. That's 888-333-6003 or go to livingontheedge.org. App listeners, tap donate. For Chip and everyone here, thank you in advance for your generosity. Well, until next time, this is Dave Druey saying thanks for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-07 05:24:16 / 2023-12-07 05:36:51 / 13

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