613. I had 613 rules to keep. Think about it. Do you even know how many that is? And I knew every one of them.
And I kept them. Mostly. So now I'm sitting across from Jesus and he says, Nicodemus, it's not about the rules. I'm paraphrasing him, but that's basically what he said. You have to see this from my perspective.
I mean, the day before, I'm seeing this guy turn the temple upside down. A place, mind you, that I've spent my entire life trying to preserve. So you can understand why I would want to have a talk with him.
In some place secluded at night. I mean, how would you feel if someone says to you, someone you trusted, they come to you and they say that something you've devoted your whole life to completely misses the point. Like a fool.
That's exactly how you'd feel. So I said to him, only one law seems too good to be true. Because it did. All I had to do was believe he was the Messiah, that he was the one that had been promised. He glossed over it like it was something simple. And then he starts talking about light and dark and evil deeds and truth. And I was thinking, wait, can you go back to the part where you take the really complicated and make it uncomplicated? My whole life is in all those details.
Actually, no. My whole religion is in those details. All the complications of the law, making sure every T was crossed. Because I thought that's what would save me. 613 rules. But I was wrong. It was love that saved me. For God so loved. That, that was the moment that changed everything. Amen.
Amen. Well, listen, I wanted to use that just to introduce what we're going to be talking about here today. And so if you have your Bibles, John chapter number three, John chapter number number three, here today, last week, we kicked off a brand new teaching series on Sunday, called altered and called altered on how, you know, if you look up the definition of altered, it's in the sermon series graphic, it's a change or calls to change in composition or, or character.
In other words, something that is altered, it gets changed, Pastor Bailey reference getting altercations and stuff like on your outfits and stuff, it's going to be changed and you're getting something that will will improve. And so what we're looking at in this series is some encounters that Jesus had with different people through the Gospel of John, through the Gospel of John last week. And we looked at the the skeptic Nathaniel who asked, Hey, could anything good come out of Nazareth?
And that was the question that that he asked. And each week of this series is going to be seven weeks, we're going to look at a different encounter with Jesus that that involved many different people. So last week was a person that was skeptical. And this person Nicodemus, someone that's curious, and we'll read his account, we gave you a modern day look at what that's like. But we'll read his account from john chapter three here in a moment. But throughout this, we're going to look at different encounters with different people, and how they approach Jesus and how their life was, was altered and changed as a result of that, that relationship. And so john chapter number three this morning, we'll dive right into it. Here today, it says this verse number one, there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.
Now, let me give you a little bit of backstory. In fact, this will make sense to you. If you look back just a few verses into chapter number two, it's not going to be up on the screen. But if you notice this in verse number 23 of chapter two, you'll see now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles, which he did. And so what was happening here is everywhere Jesus went, there was followers. So he had crowds of people, multitudes of people everywhere Jesus went, there was a group of people that would be around him. And many of them what was happening was as Jesus would do different, different miracles, they would follow him, and they would just follow him because of the miracle, because of what he did.
In other words, they wanted to see all these cool and marvelous things and stuff like this. And so that's what some of the people in the crowd was was there for and why they continue to follow him where he was. So Jesus said, verse 24 of chapter two, but Jesus did not commit himself unto them because he knew all men and needed not that any should testify of man, for he knew what was in in man. In other words, what was happening here, and this is so true about Jesus, I want you to know, because this will make sense when Nicodemus shows up to Jesus at night, what's going to make this sensible to you is that Jesus knows every single one of us, he knows everything about you.
And for some of you, that might be scary, right? That might you to really think, does Jesus know everything about me, the things that you know, my spouse doesn't know, the things that my parents does not know, the things that you know, my kids and my children don't know the things that my Bible fellowship teacher doesn't know, or my small group leader doesn't know, or my pastor doesn't know, all these different things, I want you to know that here's the thing, you cannot fool Jesus, you can't. And, and so many people in this day, we're trying to fool him. And they were trying to fool him in different ways. And they would try to fool him in ways such as religion, or being in the crowd there, as they watch Jesus, you know, doing all these special miracles. But here's the point is every miracle that Jesus did, although they were supernatural, and they were incredible, and I think they're pretty awesome.
But every miracle that he did pointed to something it pointed in a direction to Jesus as the Savior of the world. And so after that, here comes Nicodemus. And Nicodemus, you know, is a ruler of the Jews that we learn here in verse number one, he's a Pharisee and a ruler of the Jews. Here's what I want you to understand about that Nicodemus was a part of what they called the Sanhedrin.
This was a he was a Jewish leader, think like the Supreme Court or Parliament, that's what he was, he would go to bat for the Jewish people there in Rome, and he would represent Israel to Rome, he was a Pharisee. And once you when you were a Pharisee, you would have to keep all the different walls. And there were 613 laws that was referenced in the video. It's a ton of laws, right. And and so he would keep all of those.
And here's what they felt this ruler of the Jews, this religious leader, this Pharisee, they felt that in keeping of the rules, and keeping the law, in other words, being religious, that they would inherit the kingdom of God, that if we could keep all of these rules to the very best that we possibly can, then we will be accepted by God, we will be accepted by God, we will be forgiven by God, we will everything we're looking for in God, we would have because we have kept the law, the 613 different commandments that have been given. And if we keep all of those, then we will be accepted. Now, I want you to understand this, I know, this when we read that, and we think, wow, that's so ancient, and it's so old to think this way.
No, we would never do that. But I'll tell you this, I've been in church my whole life. There's a lot of people today that's sitting in our churches every single week. And here's what they're trusting in to get acceptance by God to get entrance into the kingdom of God. Here's what they're trusting in.
I'm a good person. We're trusting in our parents and their faith. We're trusting in and us attending church every single time the doors are open. We're trusting in us being in Sunday school, learning all the verses, doing all the good things, not talking the way that the world talks, not participating in the way that the world or the things that the world participates. And what we've what we have in our churches today is a lot of religion. And here's the thing is I want you to think about it in your life is like sometimes we all lend ourselves to that in some way, right?
We lead from a point of guilt and these different things. And that's what Nicodemus was. Nicodemus, if he lived today, he'd be the most faithful person at Union Grove Baptist Church. He'd be in a Bible Fellowship class. He would serve. He would have his trunk decorated today.
I don't know. Right? And he would all these different things. He would be that guy. He would be the one that would memorize the scripture. He'd be serving at the rescue mission, everything.
He'd be the guy that would be well respected in this community. And everything that you think of somebody that is who Nicodemus was. But even for Nicodemus, he was missing something.
Even him in the midst of doing all the right things and and dotting all the I's and crossing the T's. He still was missing something. So verse number two of chapter three, the same came to Jesus by night. Now there's a lot of speculation of why it came at night. I tend to lend, you know, some people say it's because Jesus had multitudes and he wanted a one on one interaction.
Could have been that. I think it's because Nicodemus didn't want to be seen. And I think Nicodemus was thinking, man, I'm trusting in all these things. If I need to show up to meet with Jesus privately, then everyone else is going to think that there's a problem, right? Everybody else, if they see me going to Jesus in the middle of the day and having an interaction or setting up an appointment with him, everybody's going to think, wow, has Nicodemus gone off the deep end? Isn't that how we think from time to time? It's like somebody goes to a pastor and everybody else is like, oh my goodness, Susie went off the deep end again. And it's like, that's how he's probably thinking. So I think that's why he showed up at night of your name, Susie, I apologize. Okay.
That's first name that came to me. I don't understand that. And so he comes to Jesus by night and he said in him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God. Isn't it amazing that he said that phrase, we know.
In other words, we're certain. We get it. You're a teacher that came from God. You're not from here. You're from the heavenly realm.
Here's why. For no man can do these miracles that thou doest except God be with them. In other words, remember chapter two, all these miracles that he was seeing. Nicodemus was there. Nicodemus was a part of this. Nicodemus was out there. He was in the crowd and he was seeing all of these miracles. And so he knew because he's smart and he's religious and he's well educated. He's successful.
Everything that you could imagine him being, he is that. And he's sitting out there and here's the thing. Nicodemus is sitting there and he's saying, hey, Jesus, I get it.
You are a teacher come from God because no man can do these miracles. And then verse number three, I love the way Jesus, how this verse starts. Jesus answered and said, by the way, did Nicodemus ask a question?
No. And that's how Jesus a lot of times responds to us. And here Jesus answered Nicodemus right before he didn't even ask anything.
And he probably came to him with a lot of questions. And Jesus answered and he said unto him, verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus is probably confused. So Nicodemus says, verse number four, Nicodemus saith unto him, how can a man be born when he is old?
Can he enter the second time into his mother's womb and be born? Now I want you to understand something. You know, I used to kind of chuckle at this verse a little bit because I was thinking, you know, like what kind of a dumb question is that?
How stupid can Nicodemus be asking that? I want you to understand something that for us, I've been around the church my entire life since I was a baby. I've heard the phrase born again a thousand times.
I know what it means, that kind of thing. For him, this was completely foreign, completely brand new. Think about the very first time you could have ever heard, if somebody says you need to be born again and you've never heard that before, you're going to be a little bit confused because you're going to associate that with your physical birth. You're going to associate that with your physical birth. So Nicodemus, of course, is like, okay, Jesus, I don't really get where you're going because this doesn't make a whole lot of sense. I'm an older man and this is going to be really awkward for me to go back to my mom and say, here's what I got to do. And I don't understand this, so you need to kind of help explain this to me.
What in the world are you talking about? Verse number five, Jesus answered again. Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born of water and of the spirit, he cannot enter to the kingdom of God. I believe that's a direct from where Ezekiel was talking in Ezekiel chapter 37. Ezekiel says that there is coming a Messiah that's going to cleanse you and completely wash away the sins of the world. And that's what Jesus is saying because he's saying, I am him.
I am that Messiah that has come to take away the sins of the world. Verse number six, that which is born of the flesh is flesh. And that which is born of the spirit is spirit. In other words, Jesus is saying to Nicodemus, hey, Jews begot Jews, right? Israelites begot Israelites. Therefore the spirit begots the spirit.
And you get that. If you're born of the flesh, it's what you're going to get. But the spirit produces the spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, ye must be born again. And then Jesus goes and he always is using, remember, he's the greatest teacher ever, the master communicator.
And he's always using these illustrations. And he says in verse number eight, the wind bloweth where it listeth. And now here is the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh. Whither it goeth, so is everyone that is born of the spirit.
So Jesus says that, hey, Nicodemus, think of it this way. The wind, right? Like, you know, perhaps there was wind on this day, I don't know, or at this night when they were gathering. And Jesus says, hey, you know, the wind, we see it, we feel it, we experience it, right? You ever been on the golf course and you see somebody who's really serious about golf and they pick up a piece of grass, right? And they throw it up. I'm always like, like, that's going to help your shot at all. Like, just hit the ball, right?
And, uh, maybe I should try it because I'm terrible regardless. But you know, they care about the wind. We can see it and we can experience it and all these different things. And Jesus says, hey, but you don't know where it comes from. And that's kind of what's happening here is the spirit.
It's a part of you and you're born in the spirit, but you don't know where it's from. And Nicodemus is just confused. Nicodemus, verse number nine, he answered and said in him, how can these things behave? Right? Very, let's get to the point. Jesus, I get it. You're giving me all these different illustrations. You've told me to go back into my mother's womb, you know, under her belly and be born again. Now you're talking about the wind. I'm confused.
Hey, you got to level with me. What in the world are you talking about? Verse number 10, Jesus answered and said unto him, aren't thou a master of Israel?
And no, it's not these things. In other words, he puts the pressure back on him. He's like, aren't you Israel's teacher? Aren't you a ruler of the Jews? Don't you know all of these things and what the law points to?
Like, don't you understand Nicodemus? I mean, you're the one who teaches these things. You're the one who is religious.
You're the one who gets all of this. Don't you understand that the law cannot save you, but only point you to the one who can. Verse number 11, verily, verily, I say unto thee, we speak that we do know and testify that we have seen and you receive not our witness. If I have told you earthly things and you believe not, how shall you believe if I tell you of heavenly things? And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, and the son of man which is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the son of man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have eternal life.
For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life. And in here, in this encounter with Nicodemus, Jesus, he begins to tell him that, listen, your relationship with Jesus, I am the Messiah, and I am come down from heaven, down to earth, because you, in your own sin, the law cannot reconcile you to the Father. The law, keeping of these 613 laws, being a good person, attending church, being born into a Christian family, all the things that we put so much stock into, what Jesus is saying is none of those things can inherit the future kingdom of God.
None of them. There's not anything that you can do, Nicodemus. In fact, because you couldn't do anything, the son of man, Jesus himself, he actually had to come from heaven, down to earth, to rescue you, and if you believe in him, you will not perish but have everlasting life. For a few moments, I want to talk about this idea of new birth, and I know that this is a very familiar passage of scripture, so for a lot of you, if you've been around church, you're thinking, I know this, and I've heard numerous sermons, if you're newer to church, this might be a brand new sermon to you, it might be a brand new idea to you, and I hope that this will encourage you, but I ask that everybody open up their heart to what the Lord may have for you. Here's the thing that Jesus is saying in a nutshell, that entrance into the kingdom of God requires a new birth. Entrance into the kingdom of God requires a new birth. And here, Nicodemus learned a few things about this new birth. He learned what Jesus was talking about. The first thing that he learned is this, the new birth is an invitation for everybody. It's an invitation for everybody. Now, the reason why I want to point that out is because if anybody, like for some of us, and I've been in church my entire life, and for some of you, that might be your experience as well, sometimes we think that salvation is only for the really, really bad folks.
Right? We kind of come to church and we get nervous when people show up in our churches that are broken. We get nervous when people come, you know, from the streets into our church, right, because we sometimes think that, you know, salvation's for the really, keep them out, keep them away, and all these kind of things, and sometimes we think salvation is for the really bad folks, that because we're good, or we were born into a successful family, or we were born into the church, and we know how to act, and we know how to do things, and we know all this, that just because we're not a drug addict or an alcoholic, or we're not sexually immoral, and we're not wicked, and all these kind of things, we think salvation is not as much for us, it's for the really, really bad. And I'll tell you this, salvation is for the really, really bad. But here's what this passage of the scripture completely turns on its head, it is, salvation is not only for the really, really bad, and the ones who are just, you see on the news, and the people that you're like, hey kids, stay away from that person, right? It's not just for them.
Here's what it is too, and here's what we learn from the story. The new birth is also for the religious. The new birth, as much as we think it's for all these people, and you have a list that we think, you know, these people are really bad, they really need the gospel, right? It's not just for them, it's also just as much and needed for those who are trying to work their own way to get into the kingdom of God. So it's just as for the bad people, but it's just as the ones who think that they are good.
And here's the point, is the scripture says none are good. The religious, the evil, all of them are in need of the new birth. Here's what I want you to do, and this will blow your mind, or here's what I want you to think about, is we think hell is gonna be full of a lot of really, really evil, evil, evil people.
And it is. But I'll tell you this, here's what would surprise a lot of us, hell is full of a lot of good, moral people as well. It's full of a lot of people who have trusted in the church, and trusted in their parents' faith, and trusted in their religion, and trusted in the good works, and trusted in all these things, and here's what I'll tell you, is all those things will damn somebody to hell just as much as you going out and ruining your life with drugs and alcohol. You see, salvation and the new birth is for all of us. You know what I'll tell you, some of you, you don't need to repent just of your evil wickedness, some of you need to repent of your religion.
Some of us, and I put my name there, we need to repent of our religion, not just our wickedness. Nicodemus learned this, the new birth is an invitation for everybody. Secondly, the new birth is the life of the spirit in you. If you look at verse number six, that which is born of the flesh is flesh. That which is born of the spirit is spirit. Now this idea of being reborn or given new life, it actually is a really interesting Greek word that we see a couple of times in the New Testament that means new birth.
It's the word palaeongenesia. And this word is where we get the word regeneration. So you see this several times in our New Testament scripture, you'll see this word, and here's what the word regeneration means.
It means new birth or renewed. And here's what Nicodemus learned that day, that the new birth is the life of the spirit in you. In other words, the flesh, his flesh, what he was born with could never reconcile him to the father.
What he was born with, the flesh, that is, remember that which is born of the flesh is flesh, that flesh could never reconcile us to the father. Even on your very best day in the flesh, still fall short of a relationship with God. And so what he's learning is, is because of that, there's nothing good in and of himself to reconcile him with the father. And so for you and me, here's what we have to understand. There's nothing good in you that could ever reconcile yourself to the father.
There's not good in me to reconcile myself to the father. What you have to do is get newborn, and when you get new birth in you, what happens is, is you are no longer born of the flesh, you are now, verse number six, now you have the spirit. You see, that's the difference, is the spirit in your life. You say, okay, what do you mean?
And some of you might be a little newer to this. Here's what I want you to understand. We're going to do a series on the spirit at some point because I think it'll help you understand because I've been in a Baptist church all my life. You start talking about the spirit, you get a little nervous, right? And so here's what I want you to understand about the spirit. When you trust Jesus as your savior, in other words, you stop trusting in religion, you stop trusting in your good works, you stop trusting in your family's background and upbringing and all these things, you stop trusting in what you learned in Sunday school, all this kind of stuff and all the things you did in the accolades, and you start trusting in the only one who can save your soul, what happens at the moment you trust in him, you get the spirit of God and dwelling in him.
And you get him and now we're born of the spirit and now because of who is in us, that's the only way that we can inherit the kingdom of God. In other words, what Nicodemus was learning is that his root was the flesh, religion. The root has to change. If he wants entrance into the kingdom of heaven, the root has to change. The heart has to change. That's why behavior modification and fixing everything on the outside will never change your life. It won't. The only thing that can change your life and grant you access into the kingdom of heaven is the inside.
It's the heart that has to change. Think of it this way, think of a tree. You know, apple trees cannot produce oranges, right?
They can't because the root is going to produce an apple tree. I always think about my family when I come from this. It won't take you long to spend time with my son to know that he is from me. Okay? And I don't know why you're laughing right now. But you spend a few moments with him and you will realize.
And then you spend when he's on his bad days, you'll know, hey, Abby had a part of this too. I'm kidding. But here's what I'll tell you. My son, I showed you a picture of us as kids. We are as me as a kid. We look just like, just like he hates that.
But we do. And then here's what I'll tell you. It doesn't take if you're new to our church and you think, am I yelling the whole time? No, this is my normal sounding voice. And here's what I'll tell you.
Spend time with my family. You'll realize, wow, Josh, his dad is really loud. And Josh, yes, he's loud. And then you get around my son and you're thinking, wow, he's really, really loud. And my point is there's things about us. There's things about me that point to the fact that I came from my mom and dad, right? And there's things about me and my son that point to, he has my DNA. In other words, he has my DNA in him. The root is he's in Evans, right? Because it's in him. Here's the thing about salvation and being born again, what Nicodemus was learning, the root has to change.
The root has to change. That's why so many people in churches get really frustrated with themselves when they try to just work on the outside and they always continue feeling empty afterwards. You say, man, I come to church every single week and I'm there. I even tried a Bible fellowship class. I tried serving and all this stuff. And still in the midst of all of that, I've tried it all and I'm still feeling empty and unfulfilled.
You say, why is that? Because the root hasn't changed. You see, when you change at the root, at the heart of who you are, you are regenerated and you are born again. You are given new life. You're given new life.
And here's what's awesome about the new life. You have the ability, not because of you, but because of the spirit that is now born inside of you, you have the ability to act like Jesus. You know those people that you can't forgive? Spirit, you can forgive them. I hate talking to church people when they're like, man, I can never forgive that person.
I'm like, wait a second. Do you not realize what is inside of you? That's the power, the power to forgive, to reconcile, to treat people differently when somebody hurts you, to treat them kindly back. That is the power of the spirit.
And that's what Nicodemus is learning. He's saying that is new birth inside of us. It's the indwelling spirit of God. We are a child of God and our life will radically change.
Our life will radically change. The third thing he notices the new birth is received by faith. It's received by faith. I think it's interesting in verse number four, when Jesus tells him to be born again, his first instinct was, what do I have to do?
Isn't that interesting? You get great news and your first thing is what I have to do, right? Somebody calls me on the phone and says, you've won a free cruise. I'm like, sign me up. What do I have to do to get this free cruise? Abby always tells me, hang up the phone.
Don't give him anything. I'm like, this sounds great. I'm the most gullible person. When I become a senior citizen, all these phone calls are going to, they're going to love me.
All the spam risks. I'll answer it. Here's the thing.
It's his first instinct was what do I have to do? What is required of me? Here's what I want you to do and what I want you to understand and what Nicodemus learned. The new birth is only received by faith. In other words, the new birth is all about grace. Get this, you contribute nothing.
Isn't that good? You contribute absolutely nothing. It is all by Christ. He did everything for you to be saved.
That's why Nicodemus was, his mind was blown. I can imagine his eyes were huge because he's thinking, wait a second, everything I have spent my whole life doing and living for, it means absolutely nothing and it can't help me in any way. It can't give me a relationship with the father. It can't reconcile my life to a holy, righteous God. It can't give me entrance into the kingdom of heaven.
None of it. And Jesus is saying that the only thing you have to do is believe. Is believe on Jesus and what Jesus has done for you.
Listen, I want you to know something that the gospel and what we believe in the gospel. It does not say do. It says done. It does not say do, it says done. You see, the new birth is not trusting in something that you can do, but rather trusting in what Jesus has already done for you. That's what it is. That's what salvation is.
Stop trying to put all the pressure on you and the work on you when the work has already been done. All we're supposed to do is believe in what Jesus has done for us. Titus chapter 3 verse 5, not by works of righteousness, which we have done, but according to his mercy saved us by the washing of regeneration.
That's that new birth and renewing of the Holy Ghost. Romans 10, 9, I love this verse, that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and look what he says, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised them from the dead, thou shalt be saved. You see Paul here, he gives us the simple strategy and the simple formula for accepting Jesus. All we have to do is confess. That word confess in Romans 10, 9, it just means you have to agree with him. You say, what do I have to agree about?
I have so many questions about the Bible, that's okay, here's the thing. What you have to agree for in salvation, you have to agree that you cannot save yourself. You have to agree that there's nothing in you to reconcile yourself to him. And second, you got to agree that he is the only way for you to be saved.
He's not a way, he's the only way, he's the only way. And then he says, you got to believe. You say, wait a second, isn't there a verse in scripture where the devils believe and tremble? Yeah, they understand that there is a God, but the word belief here in Romans 10, verse 9 in Greek, here's what it literally means, you have to be convinced. That's the difference between saving faith and what the demons believe. Saving faith is convinced at the heart that there is nothing that I can do to inherit eternal life, and the only way I can inherit eternal life is by trusting and believing and being convinced at the inner core of who I am, that Jesus is the Messiah come to take away the sins of the world.
That's what Nicodemus learned. So I ask you this, or a couple questions as we kind of wrap this thing up. Why must we be born again?
Say pastor, I was born in the church, kind of like Nicodemus, like I'm a really good person, I'm great, I go to a Christian school maybe, like all these different things, and I'm a pretty good person. But here's what I want you to know about this story. If we need new birth, it's a reminder that our first birth, something's wrong with our first birth. If Jesus is saying you need new birth, then he's saying that something's wrong with the first birth.
Right? And here's what I want you to understand. You say, what is wrong with the first birth? We were born into sin. Genesis chapter 3, when Adam and Eve sinned, the sin that they committed now passed upon every single one of us. That means that the pastor standing up here today, sinner. That means that the person on your right, sinner. Person on your left, sinner. Bible fellowship teachers, sinners. Deacons, really bad sinners. Just kidding.
Right? Pastoral staff, sinners. Every single one of us. That means all of us were born into the same family, and we all had sin attached to our name, and because of our sin, it completely destroyed any chance that we could ever have to be reconciled to God. Don't believe me?
Think you're pretty good? Look at what the Bible says about you. Genesis chapter 6, verse 5. Every thought in our heart is evil continually. Jeremiah 17, 9 says this about your heart and my heart.
The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Matthew 15, 9. Jesus said that out of your heart proceed evil thoughts. John chapter 3, verse 20. It says that we in our own flesh love darkness. Romans chapter 1, Paul says that our minds have been blinded. Romans chapter 2 says that we judge other people and we're doing the same things that we judge them for. In other words, we are hypocritical.
There's none good, no, not one. Ephesians chapter 2 says you are dead in your sins. Let me remind you that you are not just drowning in some sea of your sin. You are completely submerged at the bottom of the sea with no breath in your life.
Completely dead. That's who we were before Jesus. Aren't you glad you came to church to hear that encouraging sermon?
Right? But that's not where it ends. That's just where it begins.
That's not the end of the story, that's the beginning of the story. And I'll tell you this, to get new birth and to be born again, you have to start where Jesus started. And that's what Jesus was doing here in John chapter 3. He was starting from the very beginning.
That's where he began and that's where we have to begin. And let me ask you this, how could we, knowing all of that, how could we possibly think that we could stand before a holy righteous God with that type of sin and brokenness in our heart? There's no way.
There's no way. And that's why Jesus said he had to come from heaven to earth to save you. So you say, how can we be born again? And I know most of you know this, but I want to just remind you because some of you, you might have just lost sight. Man, I was singing that song just as I am and man, I sing down front. I can't sing worth a lick and I love to sing.
And so when I sing, sometimes it's just, it's amazing to me when you really read those words and you're not just singing because of repetition and stuff. And we're singing things like, you know, I come broken, you know, that's who we are. I come broken to be mended, you know, I need reconciliation. And here what we find is when we come to Jesus laying it all out there, here's our brokenness, here's our sin.
We can't fix it, but you can. And when we come there, you would think that a holy righteous God would look at us in condemnation and look at us and send our wicked souls to hell. But here's the thing, we're welcome, like the Psalm says, with open arms, just like we are, just like we are.
You say, man, why wouldn't anybody want to be a part of that? And Jesus gives us the way to trust him right here in John chapter three and one of the most famous ways ever. I want you to see something as we kind of close it. Verse number 14, Jesus references something that Nicodemus would have known because he knew the Torah and the Old Testament. He says, as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up.
Like, so he's getting, Nicodemus is like, okay, okay, got it. I know this story, Jesus. That's where I need to be.
I need to be there. And what he's referencing is in Numbers chapter 21. Numbers chapter 21, children of Israel, and remember, they would do well and then they'd backslide, do well, disobedience and all these kinds of things would set in. Numbers chapter 21, they were complaining because they were in the wilderness and they're complaining and so they're like, God brought us to the wilderness to kill us. This is it. God's leaving us right here.
It's over. So they go to, they go to Moses and all this kind of stuff, you know, and nothing's happening and here they are and they're complaining. So here's what God tells Moses. God says, you know, they're going to be punished for their disobedience and their lack of trust.
So here's what he did. He said, I'm going to send fiery serpents. How many of you hate snakes?
Could you imagine this? Like, I can't stand if a black snake is in my yard. I couldn't remind, I mean, you know, some people were like, when they come to my house, if I ever see a snake, they're like, oh man, don't kill it. It's a good snake. I'm like, oh, just let it, hey, I'll open the door for you.
Just go on in. Whatever. No, like, listen, the only good snake is a dead snake for me. I can't stand them.
Alright, we can disagree, agree to disagree. Some people are like, they kill everything else. It's like, I'll kill any rodent that comes to my house.
Okay. And so snakes, I can't stand them. And so here the children of Israel, they're complaining and God sends all these snakes and these snakes are biting them, killing people left and right. And there's nothing that they can do. And there's thousands of them.
They're everywhere. Like they're invading. I would not sleep. I would have not, not slept. It'd have been over.
Right. So they come run into Moses. Hey, save us. So here's what Moses went to God.
God, they, I think they want to repent and turn to you and trust in you. So God said this, he said, okay, why don't you make a bronze snake? And, and bronze in the Old Testament, it's always a signal of judgment.
It's always a reminder that God's going to judge the world. So he said, I want you to get this bronze snake. I want you to craft it. And I want you to put it up.
I want you to put it up on this pole and I want you to put it really high. And here's what's going to happen. If the people that look at that bronze snake as the way to save them, then they will be saved. And sure enough, the ones who looked at that, they knew, Hey, God's God's going to save us. And they were spared from the death of all those snakes. But the ones who didn't trust in that bronze snake, they would die. And what, what Jesus is saying here is he says, Hey Nicodemus, you remember the serpent story?
You've taught it. You remember that? He said, listen, that was just pointing to the eventual Messiah that would come and stay or lay up there on a tree. We have a cross right here and it's just pointing to the Messiah. That story in the Old Testament, it was just pointing to the children of Israel that one day a Messiah, a savior would come, not in the form of a serpent, but in the form of a savior to rescue them on a cross. And anyone who looks up at that cross and believes that he is the Messiah, the only one that can take away the sins of the world, that is where rescue happens. That is where salvation happens.
That is where new birth happens. You see the serpent in the Old Testament, that was a result of their sin. Jesus' death was a result of our sin.
And so what we have to do is to trust in him. Second Corinthians 5 21, for he hath made him to be sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. He lay up on a cross just so that you can become righteous. He gave up and just died the shame for us so that we could be accepted and forgiven and gain entrance into eternal life. He says, for God so loved the world, Nicodemus get it, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life. You see, if you look to him up on the cross dying in our place and believe on him, that's where healing can begin. That's how you can be born again. So you say, what happened to Nicodemus?
And we'll close it out with this. You know what's interesting about John chapter 3? We don't see that Nicodemus, all right, sign me up. I trust in you, Jesus.
You're my savior. It's not there in chapter 3. So you say, what happened? And remember, here's what's awesome about these stories is here, Nicodemus didn't know the whole, like he had to believe because it hadn't happened. Jesus hadn't died yet.
Jesus had not died on a tree. For you and me, we know the whole thing. And so it's a little bit easier for us to understand. Here, Nicodemus is like, so you're saying that we have to trust in you as the Messiah, that one day you are going to go and die on a tree and that's going to be what God uses to save us?
We got to believe in that? And I don't know how John chapter 3, I don't know if Nicodemus just right there prayed the sinner's prayer and accepted Christ as savior. I don't know that. But I want you to see in John chapter 19, John chapter 19 verses 38 and 39, here's what he says. And after this, Joseph of Arimathea is after Jesus had died, being a disciple of Jesus but secretly for fear of the Jews besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus and Pilate gave him leave, he came therefore and he took the body of Jesus. So this Joseph of Arimathea, he takes the body of Jesus after Jesus had been crucified. And look what it says in verse number 39. And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night. And he brought a mixture of myrrh and these spices.
Here's the point. Jesus talking to Nicodemus at night saying hey I have come from heaven to earth and I'm going to take away the sins of the world by dying on a cross for you Nicodemus. And I don't know if Nicodemus left there and said that sounds too good to be true. But can you imagine for a moment Nicodemus sitting in the crowd or standing in the crowd looking up at Jesus dying on a cross right in front of him and remembering this conversation.
Can you imagine that? He's like this is exactly what he told us that he was going to do. Jesus is who he says he is. He came to do what he said he was going to do. He is the Messiah.
And there he hung on the cross abandoned carrying all of our shame just like he predicted. I want to ask you are you born again? I'm not asking what family.
I don't care about who your parents are. I don't care about any of those things but I'll tell you this all the religion and every good thing in your life will always leave you short from entering into the kingdom of heaven. The only thing for you to gain entrance into the kingdom of heaven is by trusting in him. You see entrance into the kingdom of God it requires new birth. Have you been born again?
Nobody can answer that but yourself. Have you been born again? Would you bow your heads with me and while you're bowing your head would you stand with me? Nobody's looking around.
Nobody's looking around this is just between hey don't look around to see Ahu or whatever. No this is between you and God. Say pastor and I want you to be honest because listen it's not worth dying and going to hell for what's the person next to you thinks.
It's not. You need to be honest. Have you been born again? I've been in services over the years where people that you just assumed were born again and finally they get under conviction that they've been trusting in their own religion and trusting in their own good works and trusting in their family and trusting in their church attendance and trusting in these things and finally they say hey I'm giving up on all of that and I'm trusting in the only one who can save myself forever for all of eternity and you say I've seen it time and time again. You say pastor that's where I'm at today. Like I thought I thought that if I'm a good person that it'll gain it'll give me new life. I thought that if I if I trusted in the church or if I raised my family in church and I had us in Sunday school and in different things I thought that's what will give me I'm a good person and you say pastor I want you to be honest with me today. You say pastor I am not born again today.
I've never been born again by the power of Jesus in my life. I've just been trusting myself. If that's you today would you be honest before God and before myself today and slip up your hand? Thank you. I see that hand yes. Thank you for your honesty. I see it. You say anybody else? I appreciate the one who is honest saying hey I don't care what everybody else thinks about me. I want to get this thing settled today.
If that's you would you slip up your hand anywhere high enough for me to see it long enough for me to recognize it. Young person let me tell you this your parents being in church that will not save your soul. That will not. You have to make a decision on your own that you're going to stop trusting in your own self and start trusting in the only one that can save you. In a moment I'm going to pray and if if God spoke to you and and you say man I I don't know Jesus is my savior I have questions and Nicodemus showed up at night and you say I got questions and I can't live another moment.
I need to get this thing settled in my heart. Listen we're going to be down front and our church would love to rejoice with you and help you make that decision to follow Jesus. I'm going to pray and then if you feel led I pray God gives you the courage you can come down front. We would love to take somebody to show you how you can know for sure that you know Jesus Father speak in this invitation time. God I pray for those who know Jesus to like God what an opportunity for us to just come and say God thank you. Thank you that we didn't have to fix our life we have to you know have everything together all this kind of stuff. God thank you. We praise you. God I pray that you give the courage to those who don't know Jesus to make a decision to follow him for it's in your name. If God spoke to in any way or you need to make a decision now's the time the altar is open heads bowed hearts lifted in prayer.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-20 15:05:25 / 2023-11-20 15:25:19 / 20