Saturday, August 19, 2006

Jesus Teaches Nicodemus

Let's continue with the third chapter of John from the perspective of someone reading it for the first time. After witnessing with people, I will encourage them to read their bible, especially starting with the book of John. This chapter especially supports the need for salvation through Christ alone.

1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, "Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him."

3 In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again."
This is a great passage to quote. Try something this week. Everytime you meet someone who says they are a Christian. Ask them if they are "born again". Many people have a real aversion to saying they are born again. Ask them what they do with John 3:2 where Jesus makes it clear that you will not see the kingdom of God unless you are born again.

4 "How can a man be born when he is old?" Nicodemus asked. "Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born!"

5 Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.' 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."

9 "How can this be?" Nicodemus asked.

10 "You are Israel's teacher," said Jesus, "and do you not understand these things? 11 I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. 14Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.
Another example of Jesus referring to a story in the Old Testament that pointed towards him. If you go back to Numbers 21:8-9, Moses put a snake on a pole and anyone who kept their eyes on it would live. Jesus would be put up on a pole and anyone who puts their faith in Him alone will be saved as well. Jesus speaks in parables and symbols, but usually right afterward He explains what he is talking about. And, as you read the whole story, you can look back and understand exactly what He was referring to.

16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.
3:16 is probably the most famous verse in the Bible, even for people who have never read the Bible. But, you will rarely hear people continue to 3:18. I hear all the time that I am condemning people by pointing out their sin to them using the Law. 3:18 clearly states that they are condemned already.

19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God."
This section nicely sums it up. This is the verdict. Christ has come to save the world, but people would rather live in their sin than come to belief in the savior. It has nothing to do with evolution, or the Crusades, or their suffering, or any other excuse they come up with to obscure the Truth. People need to be shown their personal sin, need to be made to see how much their sin offends a perfect, Holy, God. And they need to understand that they justifiably deserve to be punished for that sin. Only then will the grace of a merciful, loving God make sense, and then all the other objections will melt away. Living by the truth, they will see plainly what God has done for them.

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