25 March 2013
Mirror, mirror on the wall who is the fairest of them all? Those famous words spoken by the wicked Queen. What was the answer every time by the Mirror? “The mirror always replies: "My Queen, you are the fairest in that land.” The same answer that we seek for ourselves from time to time! See….I think the greatest hurdle to overcome is the hurdle of self. A desire to be known, respected, getting what we want, our purposes, ambitions and desire for our identity in life to be known; especially in ministry. As Paul Tripp calls it in his marriage seminars that battle from within….the battle between the kingdom of self-versus the kingdom of God. Think about the greatest battle we face! Is it not the battle of our own desires and wants over what God wants in our life. Everyone one of us at some point in time battle with this….maybe even right now! Everyone one of us wants to be recognized or popular among our peers and family.
Let’s face it! We are naturally born to love self over everyone and everything else that’s what makes the Christian life so hard at times. Those wars that wage against our soul as James so boldly proclaimed in his letter. It was told that the late great F B Meyers ministered in London at the same time that Charles Spurgeon was preaching in the great Metropolitan Tabernacle. As a young man, though dynamic and gifted, Meyer would stand on the steps of his church Sunday after Sunday and watch the carriages flow by to Spurgeon’s church. That was very difficult for him, but he did it. Another story comes from the end of Meyer’s life, when he was preaching in Northfield at the invitation of D L Moody. G Campbell Morgan was preaching there the same time. Great crowds came to hear Morgan, but very small crowds came to hear Meyer. The latter was not in his prime, and Morgan was in full bloom of his preaching power. Meyer came back to his cottage one day feeling very sad, and he began to pray. Later he was heard saying to people, “Have you heard Campbell Morgan preach? Did you hear that message this morning? My God is upon that MAN!” SEE...It’s not about us! It’s not about Meyers, Spurgeon….it’s all about Him! “He must become greater; I must become less.” That’s the proper response! God gets the credit and the glory. Remember what Paul said to the church in Corinth? Is Christ divided? We come to a passage of scripture that throws the kingdom of self and that kind of thinking into the garbage where it belongs. I think this conversation that we see John have with his friend’s summarizes for us the underlining theme of the Christian life in one sentence (v30) “He must increase, but I must decrease.”
What exactly is John trying to tell his friends [who were very upset and concerned for their mentor John, as they thought Jesus was trying to outdo him]? Why were they upset and concerned? (v22-v25). But this is exactly what John was hoping for or desired as he started this ministry as a spokesman for the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world”. Remember John’s ministry was to make of Christ and to make Him known among the people. That’s why John explains to his friends this ministry he had was given to him from Heaven and that he was excited and happy to see people where going to Jesus instead. Look how john explains the reason for this to his dear friends (v25-v29) John explains that ministry is a gift from God and to be used for His glory. John explains that he knew his role as bridegroom [best man]and he wasn't the groom [the Christ]. John explains that this course of events was fulfilling his joy. Albert Barnes said this about John remarks to his friends “I sustain to the Messiah the relation which a groomsman does to the groom. The chief honor and the chief joy is not mine, but his. It is to be expected, therefore, that the people will come to him, and that his success will be great. The relation of Christ to the church is often compared with the marriage relation, denoting the tenderness of the union, and his great love for his people.” John Calvin said in his commentary “He means that he has obtained the fulfillment of all his desires, and that he has nothing further to wish, when he sees Christ reigning, and men listening to him as he deserves. Whoever shall have such affections that, laying aside all regard to himself, he shall extol Christ and be satisfied with seeing Christ honored, will be faithful and successful in ruling the Church; but, whoever shall swerve from that end in the slightest degree will be a base adulterer, and will do nothing else than corrupt the spouse of Christ.” What a great response that leads to this humble and bold statement in (v30) “He must increase, but I must decrease.” “must” indicates of speaks of a divine necessity. See it was God’s will that John give or lead the way to Jesus. There was no longer any reason for the crowds to hang around John since the King of kings and Lord of lords was here.This was the purpose of John’s ministry and it’s the same purpose for the church as well. Whether its street preaching, missions work, pastoral or serving and singing in the choir! Everything we do…should steer or guide sinners to the arms of Christ and His overflowing grace found in the gospel. Everything we do here and in our homes [in our lives] should reflect the character of Christ. See in reality what John is saying is that Christ “must” be supreme in our lives. People must be able to see Christ in your life! Not you…but more of Him. What does that look like?
1. RECOGNIZING THAT I DESPERATELY NEED HIM FOR EVERY BREATH.
As Jesus said “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” John 15:4-5
2. TO COUNT IT A BLESSING TO SUFFER FOR HIS NAME SAKE
1 Peter 4:13-16 “but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people's matters. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.
3.TOTAL COMMITMENT AND SURRENDER OF MY LIFE IN DAILY OBEDIENCE
In Luke 14:26-27 Jesus said "If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”
4. A LIFE COMPLETELY SATISFIED IN CHRIST ALONE
Matt 13:44-46 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”
5. SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINE TO MAKE MUCH OF HIM DAILY AND LESS OF ME.
Eph 6:6-7 “not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men,
We all know the song “Give me Jesus” by Fernando Ortega
“…..In the morning, when I rise, give me Jesus….
You can have all this world,
But give me Jesus……”
See it’s all about Him! John knew this, but his friends didn't that’s why he needed to explain to them the importance of Christ over self. I don’t need to be famous, write a best seller or to be known by people. I want a person to know Him and love that is found in the gospel. Our lives must consistently reflex more of Him and less of us, but you can't do that effectively if you're constantly battling to be number one. If your neighbor, family member, co-worker, friend came over and you asked what does my life reflex most, Jesus or this present world? What would they say? I think you truly know the answer to that question! So let’s start today……a fresh slate or palate by making much of Him and less of me and you. There is no other way we should want to live for Christ today and forever. William Carey lay dying, he turned to his friend and said these words “when I am gone, don’t talk about William Carey; talk about William Carey’s Saviour, I desire that Christ alone might be magnified.” Remember what the apostle Paul said to the church at Philippi? “according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Phil 1:20-21. This is exactly what John is trying to convey to his friends and us this morning. He must become greater; I must become less. Mirror, mirror on the wall who is the fairest of them all? What is the mirror going to say to you?
18 March 2013
Jesus said “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” Matt 12:30. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is a powerful thing…especially in a world that is tainted with sin and self. It will either cause your heart to move towards him or away from Him. As one preacher said “true gospel preaching always changes the heart, it either awakens it or hardens it.” See we live in a culture that is very hostile and wants nothing to do with Jesus! And sadly all that does is leave a person empty and void of His Spirit. What I think is worse is that we are seeing a trend inside the church that in reality they are equally as lost. WHAT DO I MEAN? It’s a person who thinks they are in right standing with God or I believe in Jesus and I’m ok. It’s that outward confession but no inward heart change. Mike Spencer calls it “a spirituality that has Jesus on the cover but not in the book.” Matt Chandler in his book “the Explicit Gospel” had this to say “this explains why we see a lot of people who know objective spiritual truth but in the end have failed to apply them in such a way that their lives demonstrate real change. They’re hearing, but not hearing." The sad reality is that this leads to the famous words spoken by Jesus “depart from me” See the gospel is much more than intellectual understanding and saying “I believe”
“Belief” in the gospel as we see here in this passage is speaking to the inner core of mankind……it reaching the depth of your soul and being with the unsolicited truth of the gospel message. SO THE QUESTION AS WE COME TO THIS PASSAGE! What does it mean to believe in Jesus? Again the first thing we need to understand is that belief is more than a head knowledge as we see demonstrated by Nicodemus and much if the church at large today. Genuine belief in Christ is a complete transformation as to why Jesus said “you MUST be born again” by the power and regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. J.C Ryle put it this way “when a person, feeling his desperate need to reason of sin, flees to Jesus Christ, and trusts in Him, leans on Him, and commits his soul entirely to Him as His Saviour and Redeemer, he is said, in the language of the text, to ‘believe on Him’.
LET ME ASK YOU!
- Do you truly hate your sin?
- Do you truly desire to flee to Christ for forgiveness?
- Do you truly trust that He is able and enough to cover your sin and guilt?
- Do you truly lean on Him for everything?
- Do you truly commit yourself to Him?
- Do you truly love Him?
I say that! Because He is either everything to you or He is nothing to you! Have you truly been born again and can you say truthfully that He is your Lord? Is this J C Ryle describing your life? Because God displays His love towards fallen humanity in this passage of scripture (v16) “for God so loved” is speaking of His pity and compassion with which God regards mankind. It’s a love unquestionably distinct and separate from the special love with which God regards His saints. Eph 1:3-6 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.” As born again children of God your special and have received a love that only comes from a personal relationship with Him. It’s a love that the world hasn’t embraced because they fail to embrace the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. See the love God has for fallen humanity is a benevolence love for all people....“the world” is the whole human race [colour, creed, young and old] both saints and sinners without exception.
HOW DID HE DEMONSTRATE THAT LOVE?
“He gave” the gift of Christ is the result of God’s to the world, and not the cause. J.C Ryle said “to say that God loves us because Christ died for us, is wretched theology indeed. But to say that Christ came into this world in consequence of the love of God, is scriptural truth.” Christ is a gift to a lost and sinful world! A priceless gift that is unspeakable and scandalous! Scandalous mercy and grace. As Paul wrote “Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!” 2 Cor 9:15. We need to understand that God’s loves the entire world, but God will save none in the world who refuse to believe in His only begotten Son. Jesus is speaking to Nicodemus with clarity and warning …….Jesus is not speaking about universal salvation for the whole world.
- Is His death sufficient for all sin? Absolutely
- Is His death open for everyone? Absolutely
- Is His death going to save everyone? NO
Jesus said “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.” Matt 7:13. Nicodemus [World] you have a problem and I’ve come in the fullness of time to solve your problem but I have conditions. WHAT ARE THOSE CONDITIONS?
THE FIRST CONDITION IS YOU MUST GENUINELY BELIEVE AND THE RESULTS OF THAT GENUINE BELIEF IN CHRIST COMES SECURITY AND BLESSING! (v18a)
“Whoever believes in him is not condemned” This equivalent to saying “he is pardoned, acquitted, justified, cleared, from all guilt, delivered from the curse of the broken law, no longer counted a sinner, but reckoned perfectly righteous in the sight of God. Now that’s scandalous mercy and grace to sinners like us who believe. He has removed all my guilty stain and clothed me with the righteousness of Christ….a gift that can never be paid back by sinners like us. Eternally secure under His sovereign arms. "Believing in the Son of God" not a mere intellectual to the gospel but a faith and trust by committing to the Lord Jesus Christ. This surpassing love is full of forgiveness no matter what you have done. His forgiveness is everlasting and it eternally purifies the Heart
THE SECOND CONDITION IS THE RESULTS OF UNBELIEF OR SURFACE OUTWARD CONFESSION (v18b-21)
“Condemned already” which means your sins are still upon your head and the wrath of God still abides upon you.This is the absolute opposite to the grace to those who truly believe
- You’re not pardoned from your sin
- You’re not under His righteous of Christ’s protection
- You’re not justified by the blood of Jesus
- You’re not cleared of your debt
- You’re not born again
Too know that many people [family members, friends, co-workers]will face this condemnation for there…
- Self righteousness
- People who are Haters of God
THIS IS VERY SOBERING AND FRIGHTFUL ALL AT THE SAME TIME. It’s a fearful thing to fall in the hands of angry God! DO WE REALIZE AS A CHURCH BODY WHAT JESUS IS SAYING! He or she is still dead and guilty before a holy God. He or she is one step from entering into the place that has been prepared for Satan and his fallen angels. All because of their rebellious state of unbelief and self-righteousness. Sadly unbelief or the idea I know just enough…. leads to eternal judgement and separation, feeling the wrath of God for all eternity. UNLESS YOU HAVEN’T HEARD HELL IS FILLED WITH SINNERS NOT SIN! Real people who are feeling the heavy of their sin and the judgement thereof for all eternity all because they never embraced the One who died for all mankind’s sin…..Jesus Christ
Why? Jesus explains why……(v19-v21) They love darkness rather than light! “Light” represents Christ and the illumination of the gospel message. “Darkness” is a picture of moral darkness, sin, ignorance, superstition and irreligion. See! Men cannot come to Christ, nor receive His gospel without parting from the things they love the most! THERE SIN. Remember what Jesus said "No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” Matt 6:24. We see the same thing explained by Jesus here to Nicodemus in these verses (v19-v20). They love darkness! They love their moral decay because they are comfortable inn there sin and do not want to be exposed to the Light. They don’t want hear the gospel and definitely don’t want Jesus in there life. WHY? “there deeds are evil” describes there habit of life, wicked, and naturally haters of God. And the end result of this lifestyle is unconverted people whose heart is not right and honest before a holy God. Again they detest, hate the light [Jesus and the gospel truth]. As J C Ryle said “We may depend on it, men will never come to Jesus, and stay with Jesus, and live for Jesus, unless they really know why they are to come, and what is their need. Those whom the Spirit draws to Jesus are those whom the Spirit has convinced of sin. Without a thorough conviction of sin, men may seem to come to Jesus and follow Him for a season, but they will soon fall away and return to the world.”
See the gospel regenerates the heart by the Spirit by giving the born gain sinner…
- A new heart to trust
- A new heart that is committed to Christ as Lord
- A new heart with a brand new nature
- A new heart that produces fruit of Christ righteousness
- A new heart of obedience
This is the belief that Jesus is speaking of! Not intellectual but a complete transformation. That’s the gospel according to Jesus, that’s the gospel that being told to Nicodemus and needs to told to the world
FRUITS OF GENUINE BELIEF IN CHRIST….
Brings about genuine salvation “For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” Rom 10:9-10
A continued work of the Holy Spirit “….and no one can say "Jesus is Lord" except in the Holy Spirit.” 1 Cor 12:3
A walking in newness of life “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” Rom 6:4
Following and pursuing holiness and goodness “Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.” 2 Cor 7:1
A life that preservers in faith the Risen Lord “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel,” Phil 1:27
LET ME ASK YOU THIS MORNING! Where do you fit in this passage of scripture? Is it under the Sovereign protection of the sinless spotless Lamb of God? Or is outside His protection in the dark where the wrath of God still abides upon your life? Just as Jesus explained to Nicodemus his spiritual bankruptcy and the urgency to the embrace the gospel truth ……It’s just as important today, because the day is drawing near and time is passing and death is approaching. What will you do with what you have heard this morning? I ask that question because your eternal soul depends on it!
12 March 2013
Ever since Adam and Eve's sinned in the garden there disobedience has plunged the entire human race into sin and bondage…..even before you were born! This puts us into a considerable amount of trouble with a holy and just God. What’s worse is that the lord of lies [Satan] hasn't ceased to promote that lie by saying “don’t worry be happy…..you can come to God on our own terms, in your own way.” This is lie that has not ceased since the beginning with first created humans…..Adam and Eve. People today are still failing and embracing this lie which comes from the depths of Hell. All who follow on this broad road only leads to one place! DESTRUCTION. In 2 Cor 4:3-4 Paul said “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.”
MANKIND HAS A SERIOUS PROBLEM……What do I mean by that?Nicodemus has just been confronted with the biggest problem in humanity. There is nothing that you can do in order to enter the Kingdom of God apart from the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. THAT’S A HUGE PROBLEM IN OUR CULTURE AND SOCIETY! Why? People don’t believe they need saving or that there is a Kingdom of God …they only believe in a kingdom of self as Eve did when she bit into the fruit.
SEE WE NEED TO PUT OURSELVES IN THE SHOES OF NICODEMUS! Nicodemus was no ordinary man who was unlearned when it came to the sacred scrolls. Nicodemus was an elite leader among the Sandhedrin. Nicodemus was a man who was left stunned or speechless after his question “how can these things be?”. But one thing we can say about Nicodemus is that he was a changed man that night! What he was about to hear that night changed the way he looked at his ministry and Jesus of Nazareth. For example we will see in John chapter 7 Nicodemus saying something foreign to his peers. In John 7:50-51 it says “Nicodemus, who had gone to him before, and who was one of them, said to them, "Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?" The law required justice to be done, and gave every man the right to claim a fair and impartial trial, according to Lev 19:15-16; Exo 23:1-2; Deut 19:15-18. Their condemnation of Jesus was a violation of every rule of right. Nicodemus knew this and he went to bat for Jesus’s rights. We also see later after Jesus gave up His last breath……a man [Nicodemus] who feared by night, wasn’t ashamed to show his love and affection by day. In John 19:38-40 “After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took away his body.” Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight. So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews.
Nicodemus was no ordinary Pharisee! Who knew what was at stake, that’s why he was there seeking Jesus for answers. Look what Jesus says after Nicodemus’s question (v10) “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things? Jesus using the word “the” indicated that Nicodemus was someone of importance. Nicodemus was a renowned master-teacher in the Nation of Israel [the top dog] “the teacher” Nicodemus was an established religious authority. What we also see here in Jesus’s question is that it demonstrates the spiritual bankruptcy of the nation and Nicodemus [an educated religious man] who should have known better.
See! The problem of spiritual bankruptcy results in ignorance and religious blindness. Augustine said "Involuntary ignorance is not charged against you as a fault; but your fault is this---you neglect to inquire into the things you are ignorant of." Nicodemus you are spiritually bankrupt, so abandon everything you have learned when it comes to eternal things or value and listen to this one important truth “You must be born again!”. This is the heart problem which spreads globally! Nicodemus and the world at large are ignorant to the witness of the Lord Jesus Christ. Why? Because the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit 1 Cor 2:14 “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” Spiritually ignorant to the truth of the Gospel. Jesus knew his spiritual bankruptcy and he knows yours and mine…..that’s why Jesus didn’t stop there! (v11-v12)
Jesus says! We speak ..... We know.... We have seen.... You did not receive Our witness. This is speaking of Jesus and His Prophets and John the Baptist who was the forerunner for this new birth. Men who understood and testified to the truth of salvation. Nicodemus you are blinded by you ignorance, your religious speech-making has blinded you to what you thought was true and it only resulted in unbelief.
The same thing could be said to us!
- All your church attendance
- All your bible reading
- All your legalism
- All your tradition
- All your busyness
These things have left you empty because you have done this all in your own strength Nicodemus, church goer. The God you truly love is yourself and you’re ok with that……THIS WHY JESUS CAME!
- All your church attendance is good if your motivated by the love of Christ.
- All your bible reading is good if it’s motivated by knowing Him more intimately.
- All your legalism is bondage and rituals which means Jesus isn’t enough.
- All your tradition….doing for the sake of doing and keeping busy.
- All your busyness leads to a life that misses out on the blessing of Christ.
ALL THOSE THINGS WE DO ARE A DUTY, IF IT’S NOT ROOTED IN A PASSION TO KNOW HIM MORE INTIMATELY. I must do this, this and that in order to please and be accepted by God! That’s not the Gospel according to Jesus, that’s the gospel according to man. In Phil 3:1-11 Paul pens these words…….“Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you. Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh—though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
LOOK WHAT JESUS SAYS TO NICODEMUS! Here we see the precious gospel being proclaimed by the One who made the gospel possible for bankrupt sinners like Nicodemus and us. Jesus gives us the only solution or remedy to our spiritual sickness and He even uses the illustration of the time with Moses (13-v15) Nicodemus remember back when:
- Your people were complaining about their freedom
- Your people were bitter towards Moses
- Your people were blinded by unbelief
- Your people were speaking out against God
- Your people forgot all the promises of God
- Your people only saw the present and not future things
- Your people stop looking to God and His sovereign provision
The ones that He said
“I will make you a great nation, I will bless you” (Gen 12:2)
“I have heard their cries, I have heard their sorrows, their pains” (Exo 3:7)
“If you afflict them in any way, and they cry at all to Me, I will surely hear their cry;” (Exo 22:23)
“for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost." (Luke 19:10)
IF WE LOOK CLOSELY AT THESE VERSE THIS DESCRIBES US TODAY IN SOME WAY…..
- Lack of faith
- Spiritually Blindness because of Pride
WHAT DID THE LORD DO BECAUSE OF THEIR LACK OF FAITH AND BLINDNESS? He sent in venomous snakes to infest the camp……..And the bible says “many died”. It says in Numbers “Then the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died.” Number 21:6
- The spiritual blinded
- The proud
- The religious
- The self-righteous
But something amazing happens in (v7) of Numbers 21 “And the people came to Moses and said, "We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD and against you. Pray to the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us." So Moses prayed for the people. They saw [there true hearts where revealed to them and they began to repent and then look what happens next. But there is a cure, a solution to your problem. In order to live you must first look at the snake that is on the pole and some did(v8) Num 21:8 “And the 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."
NICODEMUS, HUMANITY, THE SINS OF THE WORLD HAS CURSED THIS GROUND, EVERY LIVING CREATURE IS TAINTED WITH SIN
- Mankind is fallen
- Mankind is dying due to sin
- Mankind has been bitten by the snake of this world
WHAT IS JESUS SAYING? You’re sick and you are going to die unless you look to the Cross of Calvary. Jesus is referring to the future death of himself. Jesus died for our wretchedness and our spiritual bankrupt state…….that’s the Gospel truth. Someone had to take your place, my place in order for us to see the Kingdom of God. WE NEED TO REMEMBER YOU MUST LOOK TO CHRIST “Lifted up” this is the first of three times we read this phrase in John’s gospel. This phrase has a double meaning which is referring to Jesus’s death and His resurrection and exaltation to glory in Heaven. This is why He came to show the Father’s love toward sinners like you and me. See it doesn't matter how much religion you have or know. What matters is that you have looked to the only begotten Son…….Jesus Christ! And that you pleaded with Him to save you from your spiritual bankruptcy.
Closing Story! ……Back in the days of the Great Depression, a Missouri man named John Griffith was the controller of a great railroad drawbridge across the Mississippi River. One day in the summer of 1937, he decided to take his eight-year-old son, Greg, with him to work. At noon, John Griffith put the bridge up to allow ships to pass and sat on the observation deck with his son to eat lunch. Time passed quickly. Suddenly he was startled by the shrieking of a train whistle in the distance. He quickly looked at his watch and noticed it was 1:07--the Memphis Express, with four hundred passengers on board, was roaring toward the raised bridge! He leaped from the observation deck and ran back to the control tower. Just before throwing the master lever he glanced down for any ships below. There a sight caught his eye that caused his heart to leap into his throat. Greg, his son, had slipped from the observation deck and had fallen into the massive gears that operate the bridge. His left leg was caught in the cogs of the two main gears! Desperately John's mind whirled to devise a rescue plan. But as soon as he thought of a possibility, he knew there was no way it could be done in time. Again, with alarming closeness, the train whistle shrieked in the air. He could hear the clicking of the locomotive wheels over the tracks. That was his son down there--yet there were four hundred passengers on the train. John knew what he had to do, so he buried his head in his left arm and pushed the master switch forward. The great massive bridge lowered into place just as the Memphis Express began to roar across the river. John Griffith sacrificed his son to save four hundred passengers on that train. Likewise, God sacrificed His son to save you and me.
Just as this father made a hard chose…..the same was required of the Godhead when Jesus came to this earth in humiliation to die for us because like those people on the train they need saving. And Jesus is the only one who can deliver us from the precipice of Hell. Jesus is the only one way you’ll ever see the Kingdom of God. We have a Saviour and His name is Jesus Christ who takes away the sins of the world but remember it only benefits those who put their faith and trust in Him.....otherwise the Judgement is at the door and Hell is open to those who feel they are not spiritually bankrupt. We have a problem and Jesus is the only solution…..look to Christ, and be saved by His sovereign grace. Your eternal life depends on it.
04 March 2013
Born Again? THIS IS THE DAUNTING QUESTION THAT THE CHURCH NEEDS TO TAKE MORE SERIOUSLY TODAY. It’s so sad to see around our evangelical world, the gospel being undressed to 4 or 5 spiritual laws that person must do or jump through in order to be saved. For example, sign a confession card or say a prayer….and then poof welcome to the family of God. DO WE [the church] REALIZE THE DANGERS OF THIS SORT OF THINKING. THE ONLY THING IT LEADS TOO IS DESTRUCTION AND THE WRATH OF GOD. Ray Comfort said in his book “Hell’s Best Keep Secret” In the late seventies, God very graciously opened an itinerant ministry to me. As I began to travel, I found that I had access to church growth records, and found to my horror that something like 80 to 90% of those making a decision for Christ were falling away from the faith. That is, modern evangelism with its methods is creating something like 80 to 90 of what we commonly call backsliders for every hundred decisions for Christ. Let me make it more real for you. In 1991, in the first year of the decade of harvest, a major denomination in the U.S. was able to obtain 294,000 decisions for Christ. That is, in one year, this major denomination of 11,500 churches was able to obtain 294,000 decisions for Christ. Unfortunately, they could only find 14,000 in fellowship, which means they couldn’t account for 280,000 of their decisions, and this is normal, modern evangelical results, and something I discovered way back in the late seventies; it greatly concerned me. I began to study the book of Romans intently and, specifically, the gospel proclamation of men like Spurgeon, Wesley, Moody, Finney, Whitfield, Luther, and others that God used down through the ages, and I found they used a principle which is almost entirely neglected by modern evangelical methods. See what Ray saw then is continuing to be the trend today in most so-called evangelical churches around the North America. And sadly it leads to…..
- An outward conversion with no inward change
- A false profession that leads them done a path or road to destruction
- A another gospel [man centered and watered-down]
- Cheap grace and builds market driven ministries
- Emotionalism and subjectivism that bear no real fruit
Jesus said in Luke 6:43-45 "For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” We come to a meeting that provides a stark contrast to the contemporary evangelical confusion. A meeting that would display a refusal to compromise the truth or give anyone a false hope. We call this the unadulterated gospel truth….something that is desperately lacking in North American evangelical churches.
WE ARE ABOUT SEE HERE IN THIS PORTION OF JOHN’S LETTER....The true, up close and personal gospel of Jesus Christ! The gospel according to Jesus, not man. We come to a private conversation between two people! That was made available for us to read and understand. A man who was highly educated and very religious; versus the God who created everything for His glory who took on flesh.
WHAT BROUGHT ABOUT THIS CONVERSATION WITH JESUS? We see that Jesus’s ministry drew a stir in his heart by the opening remarks of this portion of scripture. (v1-v2). I’m sure like myself, there was something he heard which drew him closer to ask the tough question privately! Why? Most likely he cared about his own soul and where he will spend eternity. So he comes to Jesus in the dark [evening] most likely because of fear that his peers would see or find out. So he comes to Jesus and Jesus says “You must be born again Nicodemus” [add your name here] (v3) What is Jesus saying? You must be born again [born form above] by the regenerating [transforming] work of God. As Paul said in Romans 1:16 “……for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.”
Regeneration by definition is a sovereign work of God (Jn. 1:12-13; 3:3-8; Jas. 1:18; 1 Pet. 1:3) a radical work or total transformation (Ezek. 36:26-27; 1 Jn. 3:9) not just an addition...The SOURCE of regeneration is Christ (1 Pet 1:3; Eph 1:3, 2:4, 4:24; 2 Cor 5:17) The AGENT of regeneration is the Holy Spirit (Jn. 3:3-8; Titus 3:5) The INSTRUMENT of regeneration is the Word of God (Jas. 1:18; 1 Pet. 1:23, 25) which precedes and causes faith (Jn 6:63-65, 1 jn 5:1, Eph. 2:5; Col. 2:13). John Murray said regeneration is "God effects a change which is radical and all-pervasive, a change which cannot be explained in terms of any combination, permutation or accumulation of human resources, a change which is nothing less than a new creation by Him who calls the things that be not as though they were, who spoke and it was done, who commanded and it stood fast. This, in a word, is regeneration."
See! Regeneration is the communication of the new heart to sinners by the operation of the Holy Spirit through the Word...a Christ-generated act of instantaneously communicating spiritual life to a man convicted of sin. Paul Washer said “Since faith is infinitely beyond all the power of our unregenerated human nature, it is only God who can give the spiritual ears to hear and eyes to see the beauty of Christ in the gospel. God alone disarms the hostility of the sinner turning his heart of stone to a heart of flesh. It is God, the Holy Spirit, alone who gives illumination and understanding of His word that we might believe; It is God who raises us from the death of sin, who circumcises the heart; unplugs our ears; It is God alone who can give us a new sense, a spiritual capacity to behold the beauty and unsurpassed excellency of Jesus Christ.” John MacArthur said “From start to finish, salvation is wholly a monergistic work of God. Just as no man contributes to his physical birth, so also does no sinner contribute to his second, spiritual birth. The new birth, then, is something that happens to a man, not by a man. It is the power, work and grace of God that enables a dead sinner to repent and believe upon Christ. When that sinner is 'born again,' he is 'born from above,' and thus all glory for that salvation must necessarily be lavished upon God for His saving work.”
Jesus told Nicodemus what he must do, but this left him confused like many people today! (v4). So Jesus like any good steward of word should do explains further to what He means (v5-v8). After Jesus explains how…..Nicodemus is left with this one question (v9). I would like to leave with you with 5 simple truths from the word of God to help answer the daunting question that Nicodemus left Jesus with (v9) “How can these things be?”
1. APART FROM THE REGENERATING WORK OF CHRIST THROUGH THE SPIRIT NONE CAN ENTER HEAVEN.
John 3:3 “Jesus answered him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God."
2. REGENERATING IS THE SOLE WORK OF GOD ALONE
John 1:12- 13 “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, He gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
3. REGENERATION COMES THROUGH THE PROCLAMATION OF THE WORD OF GOD
1 Peter 1:23 “since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;”
4. REGENERATION IS ONLY MADE POSSIBLE THROUGH GOD’S MERCY ALONE
Titus 3:4-5 “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,
5. REGENERATION IS ALL FOR HIS GLORY AND YOUR GOOD
Eph 1:3-7 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ
SEE WHAT REGENERATION DOES, IS THAT IT PRODUCES…..
- A likeness to God…. Eph 4:24
- A likeness in Christ…. 2 Cor 3:18
- A knowledge of God…. Col 3:10
- A hatred of Sin….. 1 John 3:9
- A victory over the world…. 1 John 5:4
- A delight in God’s Law…. Rom 7:22
- A faith in Christ… 1 John 5:1
1 John 5:1 “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him.”
The blessed gospel transforms lives to be born again under His sovereign grace through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity. There is a lot we can learn about the gospel and the importance of speaking the truth in love even when it seems hostile to a generation of Nicodemus’s. Jesus never softened the gospel message to make it palatable for His listeners. Jesus wasn't interested in shallow responses or quick pseudo-conversions. Why? He knew what was in the heart of man. Jesus knew what was at stake when He meant “born again” In Matt 19:23-26 we read “Then Jesus said to His disciples, "Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, "Who then can be saved?" But Jesus looked at them and said to them, "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." To be born again we must look to the cross of Christ in repentance and faith!
- The only way you’ll see Heaven
- The only way you’ll see regeneration
- The only way you’ll see God
Let me close with the words of John Flavel “Man, by the apostasy, has become a most disordered and rebellious creature, opposing his Maker, as the First Cause—by self-dependence; as the Chief Good—by self- love; as the Highest Lord—by self-will; and as the Last End—by self-seeking. Thus he is quite disordered, and all his actions are irregular. But by regeneration the disordered soul is set right; this great change being, as the Scripture expresses it, the renovation of the soul after the image of God—in which self-dependence is removed by faith; self-love is removed by the love of God; self-will is removed by subjection and obedience to the will of God; and self-seeking is removed by self-denial. The darkened understanding is illuminated, the refractory will sweetly subdued, the rebellious appetite gradually conquered. Thus the soul which sin had universally depraved, is by grace restored.” Is the Sprit working in your life by replacing the things of self with the things of God? Are you being cleansed by the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit so that you will see God? Y0u must be born again? So let me ask you the question! Are you born again according Jesus?