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January 21, 2022 1:00 am
No amount of effort will take you an inch in heaven’s direction. It takes a work of God to bring you to eternal life. Jesus told Nicodemus, a religious leader, that you must be “born again” to see the kingdom of God. In this message, you’ll look at the first of three characteristics of regeneration. God does a miracle within you so that you are reborn as a member of the heavenly family.Click here to listen (Duration 25:02)
Looking to Jesus takes the work of God to implant eternal life. All the effort we could ever expand take us an inch in heaven's direction.
Jesus told us what we need is the miracle of the new birth, and that's our topic on today's church in Chicago this is Sir Jane make cross the finish line in a series on how you can be sure that you will spend eternity with God. The loser is the new birth. Jesus told Dimas about same new birth.
We can experience today. The answer is a resounding yes.
After all, Jesus did say that unless you are born again, you will not see the kingdom of God and you and I can see the kingdom of God and more accurately. You and I will see the kingdom of God because we have been born again, but there's so much misunderstanding as to what it means to be born again. That's why this message is so critical to the many who are listening today, would you consider helping us get this ministry into the minds and the hearts of more people.
Could you consider becoming an endurance partner that someone who stands with us regularly with their prayers and their gifts course you need more info.
Here's what you can do. Go to RTW offer.com. Click on the endurance partner button or call us at 1-888-218-9337 of course I'll be giving you this contact info at the end of the message as well. But what we need to do is to listen carefully to the words of Jesus.
You must be born again. Perhaps one of the greatest errors people ever commit when it comes to their relationship with God is that they think of it in terms of religion rather than a relationship is all of us know religion can become boring and very overbearing and religion is not the way to God.
It is relationship a special relationship God's way. Nobody illustrates that better than Nicodemus and I want you to take your Bibles and turn to the third chapter of the Gospel of John is one of the most well-known stories in all the Bible Nicodemus who came to Jesus by night. Who was this Nicodemus will.
He was a high-ranking official of the Jews. The Bible says he was a ruler of the Jews, a man of the Pharisees. Also on the Sanhedrin get a position there which meant he was on the highest Jewish court, and as a Pharisee. He was a meticulous keeper of the law. We are talking about strictness and exactness.
It would be enough to drive most of us silly hats how desirous they were of doing things right. We have a negative view of them because of some things that Jesus said of them, but they were probably the best people that the word in those days. Very probably native made good neighbors, as long as you would not have walked on their that's the kind of people they were and he comes to Jesus by night, why does he come by night, very, probably because he was afraid to come during the daytime when he would be seen in the Gospel of John plays out.
There is a light darkness motif very beautifully. For example right here in this context.
Jesus says later in verse 19. This is the judgment that the light has come into the world, and men law dark is rather than light, for their deeds were evil.
So Jesus talks about people who are in darkness, and Nicodemus came in the darkness, which was symbolic really of his own heart, but come he did and were glad that he came. He began by saying rabbi we know that you have come from God as a teacher for no one can do these signs except God be with him give Nicodemus some credit. He was recognizing Christ to have, from God. Jesus really does not respond directly to what he is saying but plunges right into the heart of the matter. I love that just cuts out for all the underbrush and gets to the root of it and says Nicodemus verse three.
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.
The Greek text actually means born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God. What does it mean to be born again. Well, it means that God does a miracle by which he imparts into costs.
The very nature of God does mean that we participate with God in his nature in the sense that we become one with God, but it does mean that God does a miracle within us so that we actually are reborn as members now of the heavenly family you're born into your earthly family and that makes you a member of the human race, and you are born again to become a member of the heavenly family to better understand member Adam and Eve in the garden when they disobeyed God. God said in the day that you eat of this tree, the fruit of the tree you will surely die. Now they didn't die did they. They ate of the fruit of the tree and later on they walked around in the sun was still shining, and they were able to talk together and they even left the garden so they didn't die. Oh yes, they died in the day that you eat there.
All of you shall die. They died spiritually, their relationship with God was broken. They went into the night of sin, it would be as if you had a lamp that was burning, and then suddenly somebody pulled the plug and the switch was turned off and the light went out.
And ever since that time. As Jesus said, men loved darkness rather than light, and people stumble around it says in the book of Proverbs that the wicked stumble and they do not know what it is that they are stumbling over they try this path in this path and dispatch and they always and with a sense of futility and unreality. Now Nicodemus was a man who had theology but he didn't have God. He had religion but he didn't have reality. He was still in the night of existence. Now what regeneration does and that's another word that is used in the New Testament for the new birth what the new birth does is it it flips the switch back on and we are in contact with God. Once again we are cleansed and we become a member of God's family and again God becomes real. That's why Jesus said you must be born again in order to see the kingdom of heaven and Nicodemus didn't understand. He was a ruler of Israel should've understood that amazing sometimes what even religious people misunderstand the only thing he can think of is obstetrics and he says in verse four. How can a man be born when he is old, he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born, can he is thinking how can I be born again and then Jesus responds and says in verse five. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. What does Jesus mean we can understand that unless one is born of the spirit. I think that would be clear to us, but all will Jesus use that word water, and there are some people who just love that word water because wherever it is they like to read into it. Baptism will I want you to know today that I'm positive that Jesus did not have baptism in mind when you use the word water. First of all, the word water when it is used just by itself, without any other references never refers to baptism, the New Testament may talk about water to be baptized, but never just using the word water. Secondly, Nicodemus would never have understood this to be baptism because that ordinance had not even yet been instituted really by Christ. I would Nicodemus have understood this well is a ruler of the Jews in a meticulous scholar pouring over those Old Testament scrolls, he would've thought of Ezekiel chapter 36 it says there I will sprinkle clean water upon you. I will cleanse you and I will put within you a new heart there you have the new birth in the Old Testament the water you see is another way off talking about the Holy Spirit.
That's why you could translate this unless one is born of water, namely, or even the spirit he shall not enter into the kingdom of God. When God is a miracle in our hearts. It is a miracle of cleansing and it is a miracle of change. So Jesus said to him, unless you are born of water. Unless you are cleansed and transformed.
You will not enter into the kingdom of God.
Well my friends today. That's my introduction what we'd like to do now is to look at three characteristics of this wonderful miracle of God, but some of you have experienced in some of you still need to experience and let's look at its characteristics. First of all I want you to know that it is a miracle. It is a work of the father is the work of the father. The father is the getting children. Now when you are born physically, you have the ovum and the sperm that unite together and that creates life in the very same way. The father when he begets us uses two agents really. First of all, there is the Holy Spirit who is the father as God is looked at as one in three persons. The Holy Spirit, a member of the Godhead and then he also uses the word.
The truth of God and that ignites in the human heart and together that produces the miracle of the new birth civil why do you bring the word of God into it in first Peter chapter 1 verse 23.
This is what the text says you have been born again, not by corruptible seed, but of it in corrupt double seed by the word of God which lives and abides forever. God speaks God has spoken through his word, he takes the word of God and the spirit of God, and those together produce the miracle of God, of the new birth. The Bible says that we are begotten of God. God does the work of begetting it is a work of the father. In fact, if I would like to explain this just a little bit more.
I would want you to emphasize that it is the work of the father alone is a miracle that God does independently of any human agency independently of any help from us is a miracle. John by God unassisted by human beings civil where you find that in the Bible. Let me remind you that in the Scripture.
There are three different illustrations actually what happens when a person is born again, let me give them to you. One is the Bible says that the act of being born again causes us to be new creatures.
We are a new creation. Second Corinthians 517 says if any man be in Christ he is a new creation says in Ephesians chapter 2 we have been created for good works, God exercises his creative activity when he saved you may ask you when God decided to create the world that he say you know this is a big project putting those stars. I can't do this alone. I'm going to have to find some human assistance, something that I have to build some ladders or something.
How can they expect me to do this alone will know know we've just been in the way. In fact, if we had been there. It's because he would've created us. How did God do what he did X hello out of nothing. He spoke the word and they came into existence. Now you just stop to think about it. Where was your new nature before you were saved, it wasn't in existence, God created within you and new nature. He implanted that new nature within you, and he did it by speaking a word and doing a miracle.
It is the miracle of creation and just as no one helped him create the worlds. No one helped him create the new nature implanted in the life of every believer.
Here's another illustration light. How would you like to say to someone who is in a cave without a flashlight. What's your problem.
Just make some lights over the weekend make light of the Bible says that everything was dark and God said, let there be light and there was light. Created out of nothing there. It was listen to what the apostle Paul says in second Corinthians 4 take this slowly, but let it be absorbed into your soul. He said the God who said to let the light shine out of darkness, has shone in your heart to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of Jesus Christ in the face of Christ.
The same God who created physical light and took all the darkness from the universe by a single word is the same God who created moral and spiritual light within us created as a miracle of God without any human assistance well some of you need another illustration because you're not believing me resurrection is in Ephesians 2 that when we were dead. God raised us up as God made any human assistance when he does resurrections did Jesus come to the tomb of Lazarus and say no look Lazarus, I want to raise you from the dead. But don't think that I can do this on my own you at least minimal lady.
I expect you to wiggle your toe minimally if you can do more do it now.
He never even asked. He said it Lazarus has to be raised. I can depend on Lazarus I can even enlist the help of the disciples.
Lazarus come forth.
Lo and behold, he staggers out of the tomb, he's alive, and there is a miracle of God. And when you were born again when you were re-created in your new nature was given to you by God. It is because God said there needs to be a miracle. Let the miracle happen. And it happened it was a miracle wholly and totally God that are some things we can do. Yes, we can do some things but one thing we can do these kinds of miracles, and the new birth is a miracle. Now you say go Pastor Luther, is it really though, as great a miracle is putting all the stars up there. I'm a nap's power.
Billions of them isn't as great a miracle is speaking and suddenly you have all of his light going on in the universe are raising the dead. I want you to know today that when God saved you. He did an eager miracle you know the physical miracles he had to overcome the barriers that existed but that was no trouble because they were miracles of power when he saved us. It was not only a miracle of power.
It was a miracle of love and grace because he had to overcome the barrier. The tremendous moral and spiritual barrier that would allow him to save us.
So what are you talking about that message that I preached last week. I hope that you get a copy of it. If you were here because it is on justification by faith until God declared us to be as righteous as Jesus Christ. He could not have done this miracle within us, so we had to overcome all of the legal barriers and the entanglements.
That's why the new birth is a miracle of love and grace not just of power will of power to it's the greatest miracle that God ever performed is to save you remember Beverly Shea singing in Haringey Arena 1954 Billy was in Haringey I think 96 nights in a row. Back then, but Deb Shea sang the song that we should get Keith to sing some time it took a miracle to put the stars in place.
It took a miracle to hang the world in the space but when he saved my soul: and and and made me whole. It took a miracle of love and grace. That's a greater miracle now just remembering the difference between what we can do and God can do.
I should remind you that when he finished singing your member.
There was that angry English woman who met him in the lobby and said Mr. Shea. What do you mean by saying that took America to put the stars in place well I need to tell you there are some wonderful things that America can do in America has done some of those wonderful things, but so far America has not been able to put the stars in place are some things that God can do, and the new birth can only be done by God before I leave this point.
Let me emphasize something else.
Did you know that this is the only religion in the world that has something like this. No other religion has this remember I told you at the Parliament of world religions 100 booths from all over the world.
Of all the different religions and I went from booth to booth looking for a Savior and not one of them said we have a Savior. Not one Google renews aplenty all kinds of profits. The tell you how to live better. But while all the other religions of the world have profits who try to take good men and make them better. Only Christianity has a Savior who takes a dead man and makes them alive. Only Christ can flip the switch back on within the human heart. Would you remember it that to be born again is a work work of God. Secondly, we are born not only the work of God. It is also the will of God. The will of God. Now I'm going to tease you little bit and stretch your theological horizons and and some of you may feel uncomfortable about what I'm going to say but I'm going to say it. I always say you know that if you disagree with me that's fine you can come up later and apologize for having I need to ask a question, did you choose to be born physically.
Did your parents say well now you know really we can bring this child in the world unless we ask him first.
No choice was made for you by your mom and dad did you choose to be born again or could it be that it was the father who chose to beget you will. My friend, this is Pastor Luther, you had better listen to running to win next time to find out an answer to that question, and a lot of other questions also will be answered were so glad for the many people who stand with us here at running to win helping us get the gospel of Jesus Christ to 20 different countries in three different languages I'm holding in my hands a letter written to us. I have been an active church member for over 50 years and even though I work in my church. I have fallen into such a low that I recently told a fellow staff member that I can no longer see the light at the end of the tunnel.
And then this listener goes on to say that they listen to the ministry of running to win. And in that message. I assured them that they are still loved even in the darkest hour. Thank you so is this listener is not finished with me yet. I thank God for you and your ministry well. Would you consider becoming an endurance partner that someone who stands with us regularly with their prayers and their gifts. While I hope that you have a pencil handy you can write this down. You can go to RTW offer.com. Click on the endurance partner button or you can call us at 1-888-218-9337 thank you to the many of you who stand with us you are a part of the testimonies that we receive. You can go to RTW offer.com. Click on the endurance partner button or as I've mentioned, if you prefer you can call us at 1-888-218-9337 you can pick up that phone and you can call right now 1-888-218-9337 you can write to us at running to win 1635 N. LaSalle Boulevard Chicago, IL 60614 oh great joy awaits those who are new birth begin their own race track of the Christian life after the finish line of this life, lies an eternal future.
Next time I'm running to win why the new birth is a miracle. Only God can perform running to win is all about helping you understand God's roadmap for your race of life. Thanks for listening for Dr. Erwin lutes are this is Dave McAllister running to win is sponsored by the Moody Church