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A Man in the Night

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
April 21, 2022 4:00 am

A Man in the Night

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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April 21, 2022 4:00 am

How can a religious person who’s well-versed in Scripture still be without hope and without God? That was the case for a Jewish leader who questioned Jesus under the cover of nighttime. Hear Christ’s striking response, on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.


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May seem surprising, religious person who is well-versed in Scripture can still be without hope and without God. But today unTruth for Life will meet a Jewish leader, a Pharisee named Nicodemus, who discreetly came to Jesus asking him questions we hear Jesus striking responses will Alister bag is teaching from the first 15 verses of John chapter 3 Calvin writes there is nothing in the world, deserving of God's favor, he nevertheless shows he is favorable to the whole lost world when he calls all without exception to faith in Christ, which is entry into life when in Mark chapter 2 the people grumble concerning Jesus going to the home of Levi, who was a newly professed followers of Jesus, but a tax collector of the last of the religious establishment said this is ridiculous.

What is he going into the house of someone like this for and Jesus says I didn't come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. And when we read the gospel records that we realize is my good friend Sinclair Ferguson says the pulse beat of God's heart has an evangelistic rhythm of my purpose in these studies is largely twofold. One, in order that some who is yet do not believe in Jesus make him actually to believe in him, and at the same time to enable those of us who profess to follow Jesus to understand how Jesus dealt with people and how we in turn may be better enabled to live out our Christian lives in the context of our day.

John sets it up. Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews that gives us all the credentials that we need the end of chapter 2, John has described some who believed in Jesus and Fido says that when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs he was doing so. There was a kind of superficial belief that was called out on the strength of the evidence that Jesus would be provided, but says John Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man and therefore when this religious man appears under cover of darkness.

Jesus knows what is in him. Nicodemus has presumably seen and often had enough of Jesus to recognize that I see describes in. He is a teacher come from God that sees opening gambit rabbi. We know that you're a teacher come from God. And here's how we know because no one could be doing the signs that you're doing unless God is with him. Well that's pretty good, but it's a far cry from proclaiming that Jesus is the promised one signs are sufficient to begin the conversation when I wonder by what mysterious constraints did Nicodemus find his way to Jesus in the night. What other factors behind his arrival, about which we know nothing I we assume, as most of our Bible teachers have taught us through the years that he came to Jesus by night, for fear of being associated with him for fear of what his friends and his colleagues might say will be no surprise in that, but we know that he came in so he came to Jesus by night and said to him, therefore, presumably, it was dark, but the real darkness was a moral darkness. The real darkness spiritual darkness his own night was blacker than the night in which he came, and Jesus knew what this is making perfectly play is that even upright, sincere religious individuals are by nature without a whole and without God in the world that the description in Ephesians 2 is a description of both the religious and the irreligious without God devoid of spiritual life born and transgression unable to rectify their predicament and without hope. In other words, such an individual is not in need of information but is in need of regeneration. Such an individual is not in need of renovation, but rather of transformation, a radical change as spiritual conversion, something so unbelievably transformative that the best analogy that one can come up with is the analogy of physical birth and all that is contained and entertained in that amazing miracle that happens all the time. The opening gambit rabbi pretty obvious you're a teacher sent from God.

Nobody would be doing the signs that you're doing. If God were not with while we move from an opening gambit to a striking response, striking response. Whatever expectation Nicodemus shared with his friends and colleagues about the kingdom of God and is a good Jew. He was very focused on the kingdom of God. Surely this really knocked him back just a little bit. Jesus answered them, truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God right so in the Jewish mind the kingdom of God was all going to come together at the end of the age, the end of the age entry into the kingdom would be guaranteed to every good Jew, Jesus is not talking now about a kingdom that is out there at the end of the age story about the present reality of the kingdom.

Remember in Mark's gospel. Marcus opened his gospel with the words of Jesus. The time is now fulfilled. The kingdom of God is at hand. Or is it near. Repent and believe the good news John in a very similar way in this incident is driving home the same reality and that this entry into this kingdom is possible only as a result of being born again or born from above. Verse four tells us that Nicodemus responds in a quite surprisingly actually, how can a man be born when he exalts a strange question for such an intelligent man.

He knows you can be born one euro can he enter the second time into his mother's womb and be born. Of course he can't wonder really why is asking it in this way is he simply saying that he can see how given his age and stage is not possible for them to turn over a new leaf was ever Nicodemus is saying here is too clever to think for a moment that Jesus is suggesting some form of physical reconfiguration.

Jesus comes back to very early. Truly I say to you, unless one is born of water and the spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said this to look at that verse seven, you shouldn't be surprised that I said this, you shouldn't be surprised, but verse 10 Jesus is saying. I actually I'm surprised I'm surprised you the teacher of Israel you don't understand these things you should be asking questions like this, you shouldn't be marveling but I marveling that you've come here under cover of darkness. Knowing all that you know about the Old Testament and you're here asking me these questions in the darkness of the night. It was quite interesting is that the Jesus would chide this man Nicodemus and chided him as he does. As the teacher of Israel and and legitimately so because he hasn't put the pieces of the puzzle together.

What pieces of the puzzle. Well, you can turn here if you're still with me to Ezekiel chapter 36 under versus 25 to 27 God's word through his prophet. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleanness and from all your idols I will cleanse you and I will give you a new heart and a new spirit I will put within you and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh, and I will put my spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes, and be careful to obey my rules. Now Nicodemus would have known these words from Ezekiel, he would have known the words of the psalmist.

The psalmist prayer in Psalm 51. Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me see what Jesus is doing is this that the prophesied cleansing of the Old Testament and the renewing of heart by the Spirit is that to which Jesus roof errors as the basis of entry into the kingdom. So don't stumble over what he saying here about water and the spirit I think is fairly straightforward. The expedience of cleansing from the old life symbolized by water and the regenerating power of the spirit symbolized by wind are the pictures that Jesus is employing in pointing out to Nicodemus the absolute necessity of being changed by God.

This UC is at the very heart of this were talking actually about conversion with joy about being saved.

Were talking about our radical God ordained eye opening heart changing encounter Jesus as well were on about.

And if we have started to become sufficiently satisfied with the vaguest of interest on the part of our friends and our cronies that we have moved away from what the Gospels teach and have begun to grade some random gospel of our all receipt.

It's not enough for us simply to layout Jesus on the smorgasbord of religious options. We do not have that option because of who Jesus is and because of what he's done is not preyed on the part of the Christian to say that Jesus is the only way is logic on the part of the Christian there is no one else who can save because no one else is qualified to see if he has every right to say to a religious Jew like this. I'm surprised that you as a religious leader you have not put the pieces of the puzzle together. So he goes on to say to them. Listen, if you don't get what I'm telling about how to enter the kingdom down here.

Are you ever going to grasp the ideas that are related to the consummation of the kingdom. That's the best I can do it it it is is enough.

I'm telling you the way of entry into the kingdom now, and you don't get a way of entry into the kingdom. Now, there's really no point in me telling about what is going to mean when the kingdom is consummated in the reality of a new heaven and of a new air so he makes clear the absolute necessity of the new birth. He makes clear for Nicodemus, the supreme tragedy of Jewish unbelief. Still, he says, and still you do not understand these things.

You do not believe when Paul writes in second Corinthians. Remember, he says so poignantly since we have such a whole. We are very bold are we not like Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not minor gaze of the outcome of always being brought to an end, but their minds were hardened. Listen to this for to this day when they read the old covenant that same veil remains on lifted because only through Christ. Is it taken away. Do you believe that that are devoutly committed Jewish religious friends begin and end their day with the Shema hero, Israel, the Lord your God, the Lord is one, and the said to the children and they talk about it when they walk along the road and when you lie down and when they get up, and every time they do. There is a veil over their eyes that prevents them, and only in Jesus is the veil taken away. And here is a religious leader confronted by Jesus himself. Rabbi Rabbi teacher teach me the absolute necessity of new birth, the supreme tragedy of Jewish unbelief and the complete sufficiency of Christ's death. UC Jesus is actually preaching the gospel to earnestly that's what he's doing.

Jesus is preaching the gospel from the Old Testament.

No one is ascended into heaven except he says except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man here regarding in the Son of Man I should ring a bell for him, the Son of Man, you mean Daniel seven Son of Man is exactly what I mean. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, there's another bell Jesus logic choosing things arbitrarily is not just talking big bits of the Bible. Item no. Please ringing is ringing as bowel foreign he said come on now you know the Torah your you're the you're the leader of Israel, for goodness sake and what is he to what is he reminding them of always reminding them of the scene is recorded in Numbers chapter 21 he was a writer you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness.

There's no food there's no water.

God sent fiery spirits serpents among the people and they bit the people so that many of the people of Israel died, God did that God does things like that because he cares so much in the people came to Moses and said, we have sinned an earlier goal, for we have spoken against the Lord and again shoot for each of the Lord that he take away the serpents from us.

So Moses prayed for the people and what of the Lord say Lord said to Moses, make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten when he sees it shall live.

So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole and if a serpent bit anyone he would look at the bronze serpent and live. They have grumbled in the complaint plague of poisonous snakes were sent to bring death to many of them as a judgment upon their sin bronze snake on the poor was the means God use to give new physical life to those who believe God's promise and look to the serpent as the old song looking Lord look and live differentiators all the time of the can be like that cannot possibly telling me that all I have to do is believe yes that's exactly right. Believe the people who were cleansed, believe the other sat around saying it can be that straightforward, and they die and so in a similar fashion, Jesus knows that he is going to be lifted up, and that all who look to him will become the recipients of spiritual life. That's over same to our friends look to Christ looked at him.

He's the Savior look in your live let me finish. There because if Jesus is driving home as I suggest to you the absolute necessity of new birth and the supreme tragedy of Jewish unbelief and all our unbelief and to complete sufficiency of his death, for Satan, and he is also driving home the personal responsibility of each one. To believe in Jesus so that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

People were not saved back in Numbers 21 on account of their being in proximity of the pole, but only when they arrested all their hopes upon that which was promised to those who looked that's why Calvin is so good when he says in his institutes around book 3. All that Christ has done for us is of no value to us, so long as we remain outside of Christ, a mere knowledge of these things is of no value at all because you see intellectual assent needs to be combined with volition needs to be combined with action and that's again but we need to be saying to our friends. That's what Jesus is saying to this religious you know all this stuff and yeah you get you missing when you believe so that whoever believes will have eternal life is make it clear for us as we stop that the message is for everyone who believes salvation is not given until the gospel the message of Christ dying in the place of the center is believe for God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in may not perish but have eternal life. God loves men and women so much that he will pursue them with this love in order to bring them to repentance and faith. We began by Gordon Sinkler at the heart of God beats with an evangelistic rhythm.

We then end with the question does my heart pulse with an evangelistic rhythm. The work of conversion, said Richard Braxton in his day is the first and greatest thing we must driver after this we must work with all our mind this misery of the unconverted is so great that it call it loudest for our compassion.

I confess I am frequently forced to neglect that which would lead to the further increase of knowledge in the godly because of the lamentable necessity of the unconverted who is able to talk of controversies organize unnecessary points while he sees a company of ignorant, miserable sinners before his eyes. Who is able to talk like that but once it's not unkind to say evangelical Christianity in contemporary America is well able to talk like so our response should be, in part, redirect us to go back to our friends, whether they are religious people coming under the cover of darkness or as tomorrow morning if anybody shows up irreligious people stuck in the noonday sun. Will you commit yourself to that much time do you have left on earth.

Remember when you used to sing as a teenager, lead me to some sold today teach me God just what to say. Friends of mine are lost in sin cannot find their way are you just concerned that we just concern to make America the way we really would like it to be for our grandchildren will worry about the unconverted once we get all the important things fixed.

Title VI I don't think you would be here if you felt that way spiritual darkness is not something that's overcome by simply requiring more Bible knowledge. We need a complete radical transformation. Listing the Truth for Life with Alister were in a series entitled an extraordinary encounter when were learning about how people with different backgrounds and different needs experienced Jesus if you'd like to dig deeper into the subject. We want to encourage you to request Nancy Guthrie's book titled saints and scoundrels in the story of Jesus in this book Nancy explores 10 people or groups of people who met Jesus. She gives us a more three-dimensional profile of each of them, including the apostle Peter high priest Caiaphas. The criminals who encounter Jesus even members of Jesus own family purpose in the book is to help us see them as real people who share our human frailties and then she points us to Jesus, to show how his grace extends so generously all of them to us as well. Be sure to request your copy of saints and scoundrels. When you make a donation of any amount or you can call us at 888-588-7884 Bob Lapine thanks for joining us tomorrow will learn what Jesus was interested not only in devoted religious people like Nicodemus also immoral outcasts.

The Bible teaching of Alister bag is furnished by Truth for Life where the Learning is for Living

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