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Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
February 10, 2008
The Necessity of Spiritual Birth
What does it mean to be “born again?” This phrase has been perverted over the years to mean something different from what Jesus meant by it when He said it to Nicodemus in John 3. Some of the odd uses of the phrase I found include:
“Quadzilla – Born Again, The Road to Resurrection.” What was the article about? The increased popularity of sports quads which are off-road motor vehicles.
MacWord magazine had an article titled, “Born Again Macs,” that explained a new and improved product line.
Alfred Lawson wrote a novel with the title, “Born Again.” He is the founder of the University of Lawsonomy. I did not get the impression that his thesis was anything close that of Jesus.
“Born Again Bacteria” was an article in a science magazine about bacteria spores encased in Amber being “brought back to life” after supposedly being dead for “25 million years.” At least the article understood the radical nature of “born again” even if showed the absurdity of evolutionary dating and the hardiness of bacteria spores.
“Born again Bears” is a company that will take your old furs and make them into heirloom quality Teddy Bears.
A real estate add for houses in Cincinnati spoke of the value of older houses that were “born again” through being retrofitted.
There was also an article by a woman that recommitted herself to her political/social beliefs and referred to herself as a “Born Again Feminist.” I have seen an ad for the “Born Again Beads” company which recycles jewelry, and another for T-shirts with “Born Again Pagan” printed on them.
I am glad to say that there were also many articles from different churches and individuals that sought to explain what Jesus said in John 3.
Webster’s 1989 Edition Dictionary defines “Born Again” as an adjective “of one taking a new, different, and more religious course, e.g., a born-again Christian.” At least that is better than it being a synonym for “recycling” or a renewed enthusiasm for something. Yet, the dictionary definition also misses the point of what Jesus says. Turn to John 3 and let’s find out what Jesus meant.
Let me remind you briefly of the context of this passage. Jesus has been baptized and started His public ministry. He has been tempted by Satan in the wilderness. He has chosen His first disciples and turned the water into wine at the wedding in Cana of Galilee. Jesus has cleansed the Temple of the merchants and money changers and publicly proclaimed His deity when He called the Temple “His Father’s house.” He has also demonstrated His deity by doing many miracles which proved His authority over disease, nature, demons, sin and even death.
We pick up the story in John 3:1. “Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; 2 this man came to Him by night, and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God [as] a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”
Nicodemus shows respect by addressing Jesus as “Rabbi,” which means, “teacher.” This alone would have required a great humility on the part of Nicodemus who was a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin (the Jewish ruling body). The Pharisees were an extremely devout and proud group. They were meticulous at trying to keep the Law of Moses with a sincere desire to honor God by doing so. However, the Law was not designed to save a person, but to teach them their sinfulness and need of God’s mercy and grace (Romans 7:7; Galatians 3:24). The tragedy is that in the very effort to try and keep the Law, they perverted it through their own traditions. Because of their self-righteousness they generally thought other people as less holy and therefore of less value than themselves. This was particularly true of the Pharisees schooled in Jerusalem towards people from other areas. Nicodemus addresses Jesus with great respect because he has seen some of Jesus’ signs resulting in him believing Jesus is from God.
We are not told why Nicodemus came at night, but it is likely that it was at least in part to avoid being seen by the Jewish religious leaders and other Pharisees, for opposition to Jesus was already rising. It is also possible that Nicodemus simply wanted to have a quiet conversation with Jesus without being interrupted. Either way, we find Nicodemus coming to Jesus with something very important on his mind.
You Must Be Born Again (John 3:3-9)
Jesus does not even let Nicodemus state his first question before going to the heart of the reason Nicodemus had come which was the nature of the kingdom of God. 3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
What did Jesus mean by this? Nicodemus was a religious leader and a teacher of the law of Moses, but unless something radical happened to him he would not be part of the kingdom of God. Jesus statement was very similar to a common Jewish simile of being as a new born. This simile was used to describe a number of occasions. When a bridegroom was married he was seen as one who was newly born to a new life with his wife. A king was seen as taking on a new life when ascending the throne. In both cases, the old life was set aside in order to embrace their new life and its responsibilities.
The simile was also used of repentant proselytes who were entering into a new relationship with God and man as if they were newly born. Their past was forgiven and their nearest relationships were now with those that had also repented instead of blood ties. This is very close to Webster’s definition and common usage today of being “born again.” But Jesus does not say that they will become like a new born, He says they must be born again which is much more radical. That is why Nicodemus does not understand..
He questions Jesus further in verse 4. Nicodemus ^said to Him, “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?”
Nicodemus would have understood it if Jesus had spoken of entering the Kingdom first and becoming as a new born as a result. Nicodemus’ question is an expression of what he sees as an impossibility. The feasibility of a person actually becoming something new was equal to an old man re-entering his mother’s womb to be born a second time.
Jesus’ explains his statement in verses 5-8, but the explanation causes Nicodemus to continue to wonder. Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. “Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
Jesus again stresses the absolute necessity of being born again, but this time He gives a fuller explanation. A person is not able to enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of both water and the Spirit. Nicodemus would have understood what being “born of water” meant, but the idea of being born by the Spirit was hard for him to grasp.
There were several Jewish rites that used water for cleansing from sin (Leviticus 11:32; 14:8,9; 15:13, 17:15; Numbers 19:12, etc.). Psalm 51:2 expresses the desire of the repentant man to be cleansed saying, “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin.” Ezekiel 36:25, 26 expresses both the ceremonial cleansing with water and the promise of a new heart. “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26 “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. Nicodemus would have known these passages. There was also the common practice of baptizing proselytes as a sign of their repentance from paganism. John’s baptism was the same as this except it was also for Jews as a sign of their repentance from sin to righteousness.
Jesus’ reference to being born of water is related to this baptism of repentance. The baptism is simply a ceremonial expression of the individuals professed change of heart and mind from sinfulness to righteousness. This was what John was doing and why he said in John 1:26 & 31 that he came baptizing in water. It was preparation for the coming Messiah who would baptize with the Spirit. The water baptism was only a shadow of the reality of needing to be baptized by the Spirit. Both were needed, but the later is the critical element.
Many have missed Jesus’ point and have substituted ceremonial baptism for repentance. That is an act of the flesh, and even if well intentioned, it is not sufficient for salvation. That is not what Jesus meant by “born again.” Millions, if not billions, have been ceremonial baptized in water, but without repentance. Such baptism only results in wet sinners. But even repentance is not enough for entering the kingdom of God. The person must also be born of the Spirit. Ezekiel 36:27 states this, but even a teacher like Nicodemus failed to understand it.
Jesus gave further explanation of the nature of the Spirit’s work in verse 8. The word for “Spirit,” pneuma (pneuma), is also the word for “wind.” Jesus uses the commonality of the two meaning to show Nicodemus the nature of the Spirit. Man does not control the wind. It goes where it wants. He is only aware of its presence by what it does. He can hear it. He can feel it. He can see it moving things. Man does not control the Spirit. The Spirit moves as He desires. Man can only sense the result of the Spirit’s work.
This would have been a great shock for Nicodemus. He was brought up in a system that believed that a person could and should save himself by obedience to the Mosaic Law and the traditions of the Elders. Many people today have the same fundamental belief system that somehow they can earn their way to heaven and gain God’s favor by keeping some set of laws and regulations. That was not true in the Old Testament. It was not true for Nicodemus. It is not true now.
How Can One Be Born Again? (John 3:10-15)
Nicodemus is still confused, but he is a true seeker of God. In verse 9, Nicodemus answered and said to Him, “How can these things be?” This is a fundamental question and the answer to it reveals the very nature of salvation. How can a person be born of the Spirit?
Jesus answers Nicodemus with both a rebuke and another illustration to help him understand. John 3:10-13 Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not understand these things? 11 “Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak that which we know, and bear witness of that which we have seen; and you do not receive our witness. 12 “If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how shall you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 “And no one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven, [even] the Son of Man.
Since Nicodemus was a teacher in Israel it was reasonable for Jesus to have expected him to understand these things.
Jesus widens the rebuke in verse 11 to include all the teachers of Israel who were not receiving the witness of Jesus and John the Baptist. Jesus and John were speaking about what they knew and bearing witness to what they had seen. Though some, like Nicodemus, had drawn the conclusion that Jesus was from God, they would not yet receive their testimony beyond that.
Jesus chided Nicodemus again in verse 12, but this was also a warning. If Nicodemus would not believe the earthly things that he could experience for himself, either personally or by observation, how would he be able to accept and believe the heavenly things Jesus would reveal? The doctrine of regeneration is in the Old Testament and had already been proclaimed by John the Baptist and Jesus. Nicodemus could see its evidence in the lives of individuals changed by the Spirit. The question Nicodemus should have been asking is, “how could the wicked human heart be changed?” Jeremiah 17:9 and other passages point out the human heart is desperately wicked. The system of the Pharisees could not change the heart. Any true change would require the circumcised heart that would be given by God as described in Deuteronomy 30:6. This occurs after repentance and results in obedience. The doctrine of regeneration was something “earthly” that Nicodemus should have understood by his own study and experience. But if he did not understand that, how would he understand the heavenly revelation of God’s plan of salvation that Jesus was now going to tell him about?
Jesus also pointed out that the only one that could reveal the heavenly things was the one who had been there. Since there was no one, not even Moses, that had ascended to heaven, it would be someone that came from heaven. Only the Son of Man fits the description. Nicodemus would have understood this to be a messianic term. Jesus is not a son of man, but the Son of Man. It designates and describes Him as one who is unique among all men.
Jesus continues in verses 14 & 15 to give Nicodemus not only the answer to his question about the means of the new birth, but He also gives him revelation of heavenly things, God’s plan of salvation through Jesus’ sacrifice.
John 3:14,15 “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; 15 that whoever believes may in Him have eternal life.”
This reference is from the story in Numbers 21:4-9 that
occurred during Israel’s 40 years of wandering in the desert after being freed from Egypt. Nicodemus was certainly familiar with it.
Numbers 21:4 Then they set out from Mount Hor by the way of the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; and the people became impatient because of the journey. 5 And the people spoke against God and Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this miserable food.” 6 And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. 7 So the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, because we have spoken against the Lord and you; intercede with the Lord, that He may remove the serpents from us.” And Moses interceded for the people. 8 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery [serpent,] and set it on a standard; and it shall come about, that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, he shall live.” 9 And Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on the standard; and it came about, that if a serpent bit any man, when he looked to the bronze serpent, he lived.
That generation had seen miracle after miracle both in the land of Egypt as God brought the ten plagues and in their journey in the wilderness. They were living on the daily miracle of manna to keep them fed, yet they still did not believe or trust God, so they complained against Him. This time God sent fiery serpents among them as chastisement. We do not know why they are described as “fiery,” but it could be due to the hot, searing pain of their venom after you were bit. The text says many died because of them. When they finally acknowledged their sin and cried out for mercy, God did not remove the snakes, but He did make a provision for their healing. They would have to go and look upon the bronze serpent Moses had placed on a standard. If they believed what God revealed through Moses and went and looked at the serpent, they would live. If they did not, they would die.
What Jesus says here is one of the most clear statements of the nature of saving faith given anywhere in Scripture. True faith is always in an object and results in action in keeping with the belief.
Imagine that you lived among the ancient Israelites and you were just bitten by one of these fiery serpents. You know that unless something radical happens, you are going to die like so many others. You hear about what God told Moses to do and that the bronze serpent on the standard is now set up. What will you do? You could doubt the report and stay where you are, in which case you will die. You could agree the report is probably true, but do nothing because you think it is too late for you anyway. This is intellectual assent without personal application. You will also die. You could agree the report is true and even claim in a loud voice, “I believe God, so I claim my healing.” This is intellectual assent with a profession of faith. But if you stay where you are, your professed faith is worthless and you will still die. The only way to live is to believe the report and follow the instructions given. Regardless of however weak and stumbling your faith might be, regardless of whatever doubts might fill your mind, if you go to where the serpent is set up and look upon it, you will be healed. You will live!
Jesus uses this story to illustrate to Nicodemus how to be born again and reveal the heavenly mystery. The basis of the new birth would be faith in the Son of Man who would be lifted up in the same way the Bronze Serpent was in the wilderness. This could only point to the cross of crucifixion to come. This is the first revelation Jesus gave concerning His coming to be a sacrifice for man’s sin. The bronze serpent in the wilderness was the type and the Son of Man would be the fulfillment. Those that would believe in the Son of Man would have eternal life. Those that do not will die in their sins.
Jesus gives further explanation in verses 16-21.
God’s Great Love (John 3:16-17) (See: The Love of God)
There are many wonderful verses in the Bible, but few come close to describing God’s plan of salvation for man as succinctly as John 3:16 (NASB) “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”
The little conjunction, “for,” gives us the cause for God’s plan of redemption which is God’s great love. That love is magnified by the little adverb, “so.” It is not just that God loved the world, but that He “so” loved the world that He gave. The tense of the verb, “love” here takes into account all the actions of God’s love and view’s them as one, great, central fact. Jesus reaches back into eternity and the near past when He became a man. He looks as well to the near future when He would die at Calvary and also forward to the Millennium and eternity in Heaven. All of this is taken up as one great thought and presented as fact.
How can someone be born again? Through the unbounded, overflowing love of God that always has and always will be. We would not know love in any sense except for God. Our love for Him only exists because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). The greatest question for secular philosophers to wrestle with is not the origin of evil, but the existence of love and moral good. They are reflections of the God who created us and cannot be explained apart from Him.
The object of God’s love is the world. John’s use of the term here (kosmoV /cosmos) is in reference to mankind and not to either the world’s system or the creation as a whole. It corresponds to “whoever believes” in the next phrase of the verse. This is a great contrast to what Nicodemus would have been taught as a Pharisee. They thought God loved only those Jews who were keeping the law and their system of traditions. Here we find that God loves the world which includes sinners. Paul expresses this in Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” While we were enemies with God, He loved us and made provision for our salvation. Jesus said that He did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance (Luke 5:32).
It is easy to love someone that loves you, but the object of God’s love is all mankind which includes those that hate Him. This is agaph (agape) love, the love that chooses and gives of itself sacrificially for the best interest of the other.
The sacrifice God has made in the demonstration of His love is even more astounding than the fact He loves even sinners. The nature of true love is to give of itself, and the greatness of that love is demonstrated by the value of what is given. God gave the most valuable and treasured object that exists, His only begotten Son.
The term, “only begotten Son,” is a messianic reference to the second person of the trinity (Isaiah 9:6). He is unique with equality in all aspects with the Father except the Father is the Head of the Son (1 Corinthians 11:3) for He is greater (John 14:28). The Son matches the Father as the Creator (Colossians 1:16), being eternal (Colossians 1:17), omniscient (John 2:24; 16:30;), omnipotent (Matthew 28:18); and the object of worship (Matthew 28:9; Hebrews 1:6; Revelation 5:8). Jesus’ claim is to be one with the Father (John 10:30) who reveals the Father (John 14:9). The only begotten Son is the eternal living Word who has become human flesh (John 1:1,14).
Though we cannot comprehend this fully, the gift God gave as the demonstration of His love was the second person of the triune Godhead. There is nothing more precious or valuable.
The sense of the Son being given is in keeping with verse 14. The gift was given for the ultimate purpose of being “lifted up” as a sacrifice for sin on a cross. There could not be any greater demonstration of true love than this.
The purpose of this sacrifice was so that God could give man the offer “that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” The benefit is eternal life. It is the same statement as in verse 15 except for the addition of explaining the negative future that would be missed.
“Perish” here is not annihilation, for the word never means that. It is the opposite of eternal life which is eternal death. It is used here as a negative contrast to the positive gift of eternal life. Those who believe will have eternal life, and those that do not will perish.
The offer in verse 16 is made in the same manner as in verse 15. It is a universal offer made to “whosoever believes.” It is not God’s sovereign election that keeps a person from salvation, but man’s sinful nature that refuses to believe and repent from his own self-righteousness and so he rejects the loving offer that God has made to him that grants salvation from sin based upon God’s own sacrificial gift. The offer is made to all. What have you done with it? What will you do with it?
I must emphasize that this idea of belief is in keeping with the previous two verses. It is not an intellectual assent, but a belief that results in an active faith that trust Jesus and His sacrificial death as the payment for sin. It is a belief that understands who Jesus is as the Son of God and because of that seeks to follow Him. It is pretty silly to say that you believe that Jesus is God in human flesh and not also want to do what He says, for that only proves that you think yourself smarter than God. Tragically there are many people that do live in that manner. They profess one thing, but their lives demonstrate a belief opposite of their claim. They say they believe in God and Jesus, but they live as practical atheists.
Nicodemus would have been astonished by what Jesus said in verse 16. He would have continued in amazement by what Jesus says in verse 17. “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him.”
The Jews of that time were looking for a conquering Messiah that would throw off the yoke of Rome and restore Israel to its former glory that existed during the time of King David and King Solomon. Now Jesus says that the purpose of the His coming was exactly opposite of that expectation. He did not come to condemn the Gentiles, but to save everyone that would believe. Jesus came to bring salvation.
God’s Judgement (vs. 18-21)
While Jesus gives hope for eternity in verses 14-17, He gives warning in verse 18. There is a judgement to come, but it will not be based on any human division such as nationality, language or people group. It will be based instead upon the individual’s response to Jesus Christ. Do you believe in Him or not? John 3:18,19 (NASB) “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
For those who believe there is no judgement. As Paul said in Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Jesus was judged in their place and they stand before God clothed in the righteousness of Christ.
Those who do not believe are already judged. Jesus does not remove hope of salvation by pronouncing this judgement, but rather he brings out the seriousness of refusing to believe what God has said. The offer is to “whosoever will,” so why is it that people do not believe? Jesus explains in verse 19.
19 “And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.
Judgement comes because the light causes a separation between itself and darkness. Those who do evil deeds do not want those deeds exposed, so they hate the light and will not come into it. The very fact that they do not want their deeds to be known condemns them by their own guilty conscience. Their efforts to hide their deeds are foolish, for they are not hidden from God. Revelation 20:13 tells us that God’s condemnation of them at the Great White Throne judgement will be based on those very deeds.
I have heard people accuse God of not being fair because some are saved and others are not. We don’t want God to be fair. We want Him to be loving, merciful and gracious as is demonstrated here, otherwise all would be condemned without hope. Those that are judged by God are condemned because they have sinned against Him and they refuse to come to the light of the world, Jesus Christ, and believe in Him. They refuse to come because they love their sin, and so they reject God’s offer of forgiveness in Jesus Christ.
Coming to the Light (John 3:21)
Jesus concludes His message to Nicodemus in verse 21. “But he who practices the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”
Those who believe do so because they have a different heart. They desire to come to the light because they strive to practice the truth and they want to see God working in them. They want God to be glorified by their deeds. A person must be humble in order to do these things. They must believe that life is not about their own glory, but God’s. They must see themselves as God’s servants and submit to His will and commands. That cannot be done unless there is a change in the human heart. God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:5).
This was the answer to Nicodemus’ question. “How could these things be?” How could a person be born of water and the Spirit? In humility they repent from their sins, that is, they turn from them agreeing with God that they were wrong. That is the “born of water.” It is something that any person can do. It is a “fleshy” thing that even the unsaved can do as a response to their guilt.
The person must then seek the light by practicing the truth. This is not a fleshy thing, but arises as the result of believing God. Out of His great love God has sent the Son of Man who was lifted up on their behalf and offers eternal life to all who believe. They must trust God’s grace and mercy and have faith that He will keep His promises. Jesus said, “All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out” (John 6:37). Practicing the truth is the result of that belief and trust in God.
Are you under God’s judgement or have you received His mercy and grace by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ? There is no fence sitting with God. You either have the Son and have the life, or you don’t (1 John 5:12). If you are currently under His judgement, then remember that His offer is to “whosoever will.” Repent from your sin and start out in faith to seek Him. Hebrews 11:6 states “And without faith it is impossible to please [Him], for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and [that] He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” You will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and soul (Deuteronomy 4:29). You can trust Him that as you do seek Him that He will give you greater faith to believe and follow.
Today is the day of salvation, and you do not know if you will have tomorrow. We stand ready to help in anyway we can, but only you can humble yourself before God to repent and start to seek Him.
Sermon Notes – 2/10/2008 A.M.
The Necessity of Spiritual Birth – John 3:1-21
Odd uses of the phrase: “born again”
Webster’s definition: “taking a new, different, and more ________ course, e.g., a born-again Christian.”
Jesus has already had extensive ministry: _________, tempted, cleansed the Temple, ________________
Nicodemus (John 3:1-2)
Nicodemus shows respect to Jesus by addressing Him as “_________,” meaning “teacher.”
Nicodemus was a __________ who was a member of the Sanhedrin
__________were an extremely devout and proud group, meticulous at trying to keep the Law of Moses
Nicodemus came at __________. To avoid being seen? To talk without being interrupted?
You Must Be Born Again (John 3:3-9)
A phrase similar to a common Jewish simile of describing things as being as ______________.
Used of __________, becoming _________, and repentant ____________
Jesus says you must be “_______________,” not you must “become like a new born.”
Nicodemus sees this as something that is _______________
Jesus’ reference is to the baptism of _________ which both He and John performed. (That is the near context)
Ceremonial water baptism without repentance just makes ________________.
pneuma (pneuma) = “Spirit” or “wind.” Both go where they ______ & are known only by their ________
You ____________ your way to heaven or gain God’s favor by keeping some set of laws and regulations.
How Can One Be Born Again? (John 3:10-15)
Nicodemus, and other teachers of the Law, should have understood and believed the _________ of Jesus
Only someone who has come from ____________ could explain its mysteries
Only the Son of Man, Jesus, fits the ___________ . (“Son of Man” is a ____________ title)
___________________- the story of the fiery serpents and the Bronze serpent being lifted up by Moses
Healing only occurred if they ________ God and ________ His command to look upon the bronze serpent
Professed belief without corresponding action leaves you _______
Those who believe in the Son of Man would have ______________, all others will ______ in their sins.
God’s Great Love (John 3:16-17)
The conjunction, “for,” gives us the _________ for God’s plan of redemption which is His great _______
The adverb, “so,” magnifies the _____________ of that love – God gave
The verb tense of “love” views all the actions of God’s love as one, great, central __________
The object of God’s love is the world, (kosmoV /cosmos), refers to all mankind – even ________(Romans 5:8)
agaph (agape) love chooses and gives of itself sacrificially for the other’s ______________
The greatness of God’s love is demonstrated by what was given, His _____________________.
“Only begotten Son” is a ______________ reference (Isaiah 9:6,7)
The Son is also the __________, eternal, omniscient, ___________ and the object of ____________.
The benefit is _____________. “Perish” is a contrast to _______________, not annihilation.
The offer is ____________ for it is to “whoever believes in Him.”
__________ is not intellectual assent, but an active ________ that _______resulting in practical obedience
Jesus came to save the world, not to ____________
God’s Judgement (John 3:18-21)
Those who believe are not __________ (Romans 8:1). Those who do not believe are already __________
People will not believe and come to the light because they love their _________ & prefer ____________
We do not want God to be _________. We want Him to be loving, ___________ and gracious.
Those who believe practice the __________ and come to the ____________
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Write down all the verses mentioned in the sermon and look them up later. 2) Count how many times “Nicodemus” and “believe” are used in the sermon. Talk with your parents about the meaning of John 3:16 and what it means to “believe in Jesus.”
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. What does “born again” mean in popular usage? What is the context of John 3? Who was Nicodemus? What were some of the beliefs and practices of the Pharisees? What did he want to know from Jesus? Why did he come to Jesus by night? How did he treat Jesus? Why was this surprising? How was “born again” similar to a common Jewish simile; How was it different? Why was Nicodemus confused by this? What did Jesus mean “born of water?” What did Jesus mean “born of the Spirit?” Why should Nicodemus have understood it? What O.T. references are there to it? What was the “earthly” things Jesus had talked about? What “heavenly things” was Jesus going to reveal? Who is the Son of Man? Numbers 21:4-9 tells the story of the Bronze Serpent. How did it save people? What did a person have to do? How does this relate to the Son of Man being lifted up? What does it mean to “believe” in Jesus? Do you “believe” in Jesus? What fruit of repentance and walk of faith gives evidence of that belief? Does God love you? How do you know? What is the context of John 3:16? What does verse 16 correspond to the verses preceding it? What is great about God’s love? What is the object of God’s love? What is the sacrifice of God’s love? What is the significance of “only begotten son?” What is the offer of God’s love? What is the condition of that offer? Can you earn your way to heaven? Could this condition be considered “work”? Do you meet that condition? Why did God send Jesus (vs. 17)? How does that differ from what Nicodemus and the other Jews were expecting from the Messiah? God condemns some men and not others – what is the basis for this difference? What factor(s) does God judge man upon? What is the nature of those who are judged? How is that nature demonstrated? What is the nature of those that are not judged? How is that nature demonstrated? What nature does your life demonstrate? Verse 14 demonstrates the nature of belief called for verses 15 & 16. Write out what it means “to believe” in your own words. If you do not meet the conditions for salvation, what needs to change so that you can be saved?
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