How is it possible to start again? How can there be a real change of new life that would happen inside of me? How could I ever see real change? This makeover you talk about Jesus sounds so extreme. How is it possible?
How can these things be? Welcome to Connect with Skip weekend edition. One of the fun things families can do when they go to Disneyland is to visit the Bippity Bobbity Boutique. Here little girls can have their fantasy of being a Disney princess come true as they have their hair done up in special princes do, have their nails and makeup done in princess fashion, and for the parents who really want to go all out they could even walk out in their favorite princess dress. It's all sparkles and fashion and fun with that special Disney touch, but even such a marvelous makeover as that doesn't begin to compare with what God does in our souls.
Stay with us as we learn more about what exactly all of that looks like with Skip Heitzig, but first let's find out more about this month's Connect with Skip resource offer. Life is hard and then we die. That is a harsh but accurate philosophy. Listen to this gentle encouragement, but God.
That's right. In the most difficult circumstances, God can intervene as he did for Joseph, Job, and through the resurrection of Jesus. Here's Skip Heitzig. In fact, there may not be two more hopeful words than these two words, but God, because they point us to the great interrupter, the one who can powerfully and graciously interrupt our lives with his plans and change our lives forever. We want to help you understand some of the Bible's most profound but God moments so you can have more hope for change in your own life. Pastor Skip's 10 message teaching series, But God is our thanks when you give $35 or more today to help connect more people to the only one who can radically change a life.
Get your But God CD collection today when you give online securely at connectwithskip.com slash offer or call 800-922-1888. If you'll turn in your Bibles to John chapter three, we'll join Skip Heitzig as he begins our study with a reminder of one of the great constants in life. Change is a part of life. We're always changing. We are aging right now as I speak.
We don't notice it because it's incremental, but I guarantee you if somebody who knows you sees you sporadically and they haven't seen you for a while and they catch up with you, they notice it. We're always changing. We might change locations. We might change jobs. Did you know the average American worker by age 40 will have had eight different jobs? Change is a part of life and part of the change is brought to us by technology.
Example, it'll help put it in perspective. Up until the 1800s, we human beings traveled no faster than about 20-25 miles an hour on horse, horseback. In the 1800s, the locomotive, the train was invented and so suddenly we were going 50 miles an hour.
I know that doesn't sound like much. Some of you haven't gone 50 miles an hour on a freeway for years, but 50 miles an hour, it was wow and then 75 and then a hundred and then the jet aircraft was developed and people could travel across the world at 500 miles an hour and just a few years after that in 1979, the Concorde jet was invented. It put us at 1,200 miles per hour and now astronauts will orbit the earth at 16,000 miles an hour. All of that change in a little period of time, but that's outward change. That's technological change. What about personal change? Do people want change personally?
Well that depends. A lot of polls have been conducted about this and people have been asked if you could change one thing about your life, what would it be? Almost invariably, the answer has been appearance, body type, age. Rarely will you ever hear somebody answer saying I want the inside of me changed.
I want my character different, my disposition, my personality. It's typically outward stuff. Knowing this, ABC capitalized on it pretty well in a show called Extreme Makeover. They assembled what they called the extreme team, cosmetic surgeons, cosmetic dentists, stylists, wardrobe specialists, the budget to go along with it, making someone into the most beautiful them possible. But what about the soul? What about that part of you that nobody sees, the part of you that will live forever? The soul. I want to talk to you today about the soul.
I call this message Extreme Makeover soul edition because that's the most important part of us. It was Jesus who said what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his own soul? And what will a man give in exchange for his soul? That's really the conversation we're dealing with between Nicodemus and Jesus. Nicodemus comes to Jesus by night in John chapter 3. Jesus cuts right to the chase and talks about inward change, the soul change. Jesus' own words, you must be born again, Nicodemus. If ever I felt sorry for a phrase, I feel sorry for the phrase born again. Everybody from Oprah to every social scientist to politician in the last 20 years has I think ruined the phrase born again. R. Kent Hughes says it best, the term born again has been pirated, emptied of meaning, dragged through the gutter and then given back to us minus its power. Let's find out exactly what it is.
We saw that last week but let's read further. Nicodemus is a grown man. He has lived his whole life with the outward stuff, religion, hard work, sincerity and Jesus comes to him and says, you need a do-over.
You got to start from scratch and you have to be born again. Now the first part of John chapter 3 is a dialogue. They're having a conversation. The second part is the discourse. In verse 9, the second question of Nicodemus is what launches Jesus into the discourse. Nicodemus says how can these things be?
I love the Phillips translation. How on earth can things like this happen? How is it possible to start again? How can there be a real change of new life that would happen inside of me?
How could I ever see real change? This makeover you talk about Jesus sounds so extreme. How is it possible?
How can these things be? So verse 10 down to verse 21 is the answer to the question. It tells us how a man can be born again. Here is then the anatomy of the new birth if you will. The mechanical view of what it is to be born again. It comes to us in four stages.
First of all the source. The source of new life. That's from heaven. Not from earth. Not from man-made systems of religion.
It comes from heaven. Nicodemus verse 9 answered and said to him how can these things be? Jesus answered and said are you the teacher, not a teacher, as if to say the illustrious teacher, are you the teacher of Israel and do not know these things?
Can you hear the sarcasm in that? Most assuredly I say to you we speak what we know and testify what we have seen and you do not receive our witness. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?
No one has ascended to heaven but he who came down from heaven that is the son of man who is in heaven. Now this is a pretty simple message. It's a simple straightforward message.
I don't want to complicate it. It's simply this. New life is possible because Jesus Christ who is life brought it down from heaven. That's the source of new life. The source of the new birth that comes from heaven and that's the message of Christianity. What's impossible for man to reach for, God has brought down to us.
See we have a problem. We are creatures of time and space. We're in a box and the box has walls called time and space.
We're in the time-space continuum. Being natural creatures we can't escape into the supernatural. No, people will try and every time somebody comes along and says I found a way to escape the natural and transcend into the supernatural. Every time somebody says that a new religion is born.
That's what religion is. It's man's attempt from earth to reach into heaven and so the Buddhist will say that if you work and think yourself into nirvana you'll find God. And the new age proponent will say if you gain a Christ consciousness and a higher self you'll see God. And the Hindu will say by the transmigration of the soul, reincarnation and eventually the absorption into Brahman you will see God. But it won't work. You can never from earth reach out and find God.
The natural can't peak or appear or go into the supernatural. So we're in the box. We're stuck. Well if we can't get out of the box what has to happen?
God has to come inside the box. Did that ever happen? It happened once. Only once. It's called the incarnation. It's when God in the person of Christ stepped out of eternity onto earth in time and space and showed us exactly what God is life and brought new life and made it possible. So Nicodemus you've been trying so hard to reach out through your religion and your works to find God and you can't reach far enough man.
You can't do it. I've always loved the story of the cosmonaut who came back from outer space and he said I have traveled to space and I did not see God. Well he didn't go far enough.
Somebody heard him and said if you just stepped out of your space suit you'd have seen God like that. So here's the deal. Either we take what Jesus said or we're stuck because no man has ascended into heaven. We can't get up there to see what's up there and bring the plan back. God through Christ had to step down from heaven to us.
But you know what? Most people would rather spend their time reaching up from earth rather than accepting and taking what has been handed down from heaven. And that's why they're so frustrated.
They're so frustrated because it never works. There's an old legend about a man who was walking and he got lost and got off the path and got stranded fell into a bog of quicksand and was drowning in the quicksand and he cried out for help. And finally Confucius walked by and noticed him and said, hmm Confucius say it is evident that men should stay out of such places. And he walked off leaving the man still struggling. After a few more minutes Buddha walked by and stroked his chin and he said let this man's suffering be an example for the rest of mankind.
And he walked away. Later on Muhammad walked by and saw the man struggling and said inshallah which is if God wills whatever is the will of Allah and he walked by. But then finally Jesus walked by put out his hand and said grab a hold I'll save you. Now that is Christianity it's God bursting into our world reaching down from heaven to save mankind. So the source is from heaven.
That's the source of new life. Let's look at the force of new life and that is the atoning death of Christ. Verse 14 as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness even so must the son of man be lifted up that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life. I'm not going to dwell too much on that verse even though that's the verse. Next week for communion I'll zero in on just that verse.
But for the sake of context we read on verse 17 for God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world but that the world through him might be saved. So Jesus brings the new life down from heaven to the earth but the question is so how does it work? What is the power behind it? What is the force behind it? Here it is.
Ready? Death. Death. New life will operate on the basis of death. Somebody has to die enabling others to live.
First death must occur. Now that's a New Testament theme all the way throughout the New Testament. We read that we live because Christ died. I think it could be summed up by a lot of different verses.
I've chosen one tucked away in 1 Peter succinctly put this way. Christ died for sins once for all the righteous for the unrighteous to bring us to God. So here is Jesus predicting his death to Nicodemus. You might say it's a veiled prediction but it will be uncovered as time goes on as Moses lifted up the serpent the son of man must be lifted up. He's predicting his death and it's his death that will enable life. So it's interesting the example Jesus uses with Nicodemus is Numbers 21 the whole wilderness serpent thing. Now Nicodemus hearing this would have perked up.
He's on familiar turf now. He knows his Old Testament. He's a teacher of Israel so he was familiar with the story. It's an interesting story.
Let me just tell you to familiarize you and bring you up to speed on it. The children of Israel are wandering through the wilderness and they do what they do best they gripe and complain and bellyache and murmur about everything for years even when God miraculously gave them manna bread from heaven miraculously wherever they were they had bread. They woke up one day and this is what they said our soul hates this worthless bread. It was manna. Well you know you can only do so much with manna.
I mean you cook manna you have a banana bread and manna cotti and a few other dishes but you kind of exhausted the cookbook after a few days. But it kept coming and they complained. So God in judgment sent a bunch of venomous snakes that bit people and caused a fever burning and caused the death of thousands of them thousands of them were dying off. God in his mercy said Moses I'm going to tell you what to do that will save people from this death. You take a brass pole and a brass serpent put it together and lift it up lift it up in the wilderness and tell people to look at it if they look at it they'll be cured. Now just imagine you couldn't see that thing there's two million people plus in the wilderness that thing for some people was way off there so for anybody to look in that direction it would be a look of faith they would have to believe two things they'd have to believe number one that they're a sinner it was their sin that caused this condition they're experiencing. Number two they had to believe that it was going to work it was going to work now that would be counter-intuitive I mean imagine telling the logical mind okay you have a physical condition that's creating fever and death but if you just look over there at that thing you'll be cured it doesn't make sense it's not logical it's counter-intuitive but it was a look of faith and the best part of it all it worked it worked because God said it would work and that is the analogy it's very very similar to how people feel about the cross you mean to tell me they would say that just a simple look of my faith in Christ is enough to save me from hell and from eternal distress just that they would say how can these things be it just doesn't make sense see it's much easier for people to look to themselves that's why they do it so much they won't trust Christ they'll look to themselves well I'm religious will I do this will I work hard how arrogant it's much harder to admit I am a sinner and I need a savior than it is to look to faith in Christ did you notice a word in verse 14 if you didn't you will in a moment it's the word must remember I pointed that out to you last week in the first part of John 3 here it is again but notice it as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness even so must the son of man be lifted up must the cross was a divine imperative Jesus had to die why I don't know how many times I've why I don't know how many times I've been asked well why did Jesus Christ have to die two simple reasons two simple words number one justice must be served justice the bible says in the old testament without the shedding of blood there's no what remission of sin do you know why that is because sin is so bad even though we might not think so God thinks so it's so bad that only the shedding of blood innocent blood could ever atone for it and so for God to be just he has to punish sin and he's either going to require our blood or the blood of a substitute which he did through his son Jesus Christ here's the second word not and reason not just justice love love it was love that drove Jesus to the cross verse 16 for God so loved the world did you get that he didn't just love you he so loved you in other words a lot and the bible says something beautiful it says for the joy that was set before Jesus he endured the cross have you ever thought about that what would give anybody joy facing a cruel ignominious death what possible joy could there be here it is it's the joy of Jesus being able to look through the lens of history and see you and you and you and you and you and you one day call on Christ and be saved forever and he looked at that and said it's worth it that is worth it and that will push me and drive me on to do the father's will out of joy out of love so here's Nicodemus he's thinking the whole time how can these things be how how does the new birth happen here it is it comes by Jesus bringing it out of heaven to the earth and second by Jesus going to the cross to die being lifted up he'll say it again in chapter 12 of john if i be lifted up from the earth i will draw all men to myself he's speaking of the cross john even says so afterwards i've heard that verse so misquoted over the years worship leaders stand up and say jesus said if i be lifted up i'll draw all men so let's lift him higher it's almost a blasphemous thought because the idea of the text is lifting him up on a cross to die and that's what he is referring to here and that is the force of the new life well it's hard to understand sometimes why exactly Jesus was so willing to go through everything he did or why God has been so willing to be so patient with humanity all this time considering all we've done but as Skip pointed out it's all summed up for us in the world's most familiar verse for God so loved perhaps all we need to do is look at it again with fresh eyes and if you'd like a copy of today's teaching it's available for just four dollars plus shipping when you call us at 1-800-922-1888 or you can ask for one when you write us at pobox 95707 albuquerque new mexico 87199 we'll resume with our study of the extreme makeover soul division next time right here in connect with Skip weekend edition a presentation of connection communications make a connection connecting you to God's never-changing truth in ever-changing times
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