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!