Sermon Manuscript

Entering the Salvation of God
John 3:1-20

Accepted into Life

Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him."

3 Jesus answered him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." 4 Nicodemus said to him, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?"

5 Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.' 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit."

9 Nicodemus said to him, "How can these things be?" 10 Jesus answered him, "Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? 11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God."

Prop: We are saved through faith in Jesus. There is no exception. No accolade, no status, no resume brings us into God’s kingdom. He is the savior and our trust is in him alone.

Nicodemus comes with a question, but Jesus doesn’t answer it. He takes the conversation in a different direction. Nicodemus is trying to figure out who Jesus is, but Jesus begins to talk about seeing the kingdom of God, that is being a part of it. Being a part of God’s kingdom and work is very important. It would have been important to Nicodemus. God’s kingdom is where God is. Can't see it then you have no part in it or with God!

Jesus says that you can't even see the kingdom of God unless a person is born again. Nicodemus doesn’t understand. Nicodemus was an important person. He was a member of the Pharisees. He was a ruler of the Jews. He is a leader of the nation. In v10 it refers to him as “the teacher.” so he was an extremely important person. He doesn’t quite understand who Jesus is. He comes at night, under cloak of darkness, probably so others won't see, or know.

Told that to see the kingdom he has to be born again. That is born from above.

How do you think people enter into the kingdom of God? Meaningless without heart change.

What does it mean to be born again… Regeneration of the world.

"I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Mat 19:28 NIV)

Does anybody want to see the world made right? All evil abolished. Know any people that are mean and don’t do what is right. It’d be great for them to be stopped. Wouldn’t your neighborhood be great if they did what is right. So we want to see the world renewed, everything submitting perfectly to Jesus' rule. We want to see that in the world, and it also has to take place in our hearts and minds.

So how are we born again? Do we go back into our mommies tummy. No, that is just a physical birth. Jesus talks about being “born of water and spirit.” He is talking about a spiritual renewal. Some people try and figure out what the difference is between water and spirit, as though it is two parts. Many people think that being born of water and spirit refers to the same thing. In the Old Testament the spirit is often conveyed by water. Water cleanses and nourishes and that is what God’s spirit does. We have to be born again to the Spirit.

Jesus authority to teach. Why should we believe what he says? Nicodemus doesn’t understand what Jesus is saying but he is trying to figure it out because he has seen him do things he cannot understand. (v). He has already affirmed Jesus is from God, so he ought to listen to him. And as he is perplexed about how a person can be born again, Jesus helps him understand how it will happen. How can we experience rebirth. It has to do with a work that Jesus will do.

He compares his work to what Moses did (Num 21). In the Exodus the people rebelled against God by complaining about not having food and water, and God brought judgment in the form of venomous serpents and many people died. But whenever God brings judgment he also brings a way out. The people repented and asked Moses to pray for them. Moses did so and God told him to make a bronze snake and lift it on a staff, and he said if anyone looks at it they will be saved. That means if they got bitten by a snake and looked to this serpent they would live. So Jesus is giving a comparison. If you look to him like people looked to Moses you can be saved. But there is also a difference in this verse:

14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness,
so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. (Joh 3:1 ESV)

What he says is at stake, or what is the benefit is finding eternal life. It's similar in that there has to be a faith that looks, but it is different in that those who looked to the snake lived for a while.  Jesus comes so that death might be utterly destroyed.

He then makes clear his point.
16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (Joh 3:1 ESV)

It is by believing in Jesus that we escape death. This also makes clear that our natural position or trajectory in life is that we are destined to perish. This is what every person has to wrestle with. We have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. This is why many people don’t like Christianity. Saying, “I am basically good. I don’t do evil. I’m not perfect but I'm not that bad.”

Ill: Interstate, everyone on. Have to get off…?

And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. (Joh 3:1 ESV)

People love darkness. Ever feel that in your life. You want to do something that you know you shouldn’t. Take your brother's toys. See some money laying on the floor and you want to take it. Find some candy and you take it and run and hide in the basement and eat it. Maybe you see something on the internet and you go and look when no one else is around. You do what’s right when others are around but as soon as they are gone you act a different way. That is living in the darkness. It may be professing Jesus at church and then when others are around you try and hide like Nicodemus does.

Here we see the natural fate of man, but God in his love acts to provide a way out. He does the greatest thing imaginable. He sends his Son. His Son takes away our sins. God’s love changes everything for us. We now have the ability to avert death. We do that by believing Jesus.

Sometimes it can be confusing. Have I been born again. There is a sense in which God does a work in us. But there is also a sense in which we are called to act and respond. We are called to believe. To trust. Also called to do what God says, do what is true: Doing the truth...

21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God." (Joh 3:1 ESV)

We live in the light, obey the light, love the light, and we do what God calls us to do. This in an incredible change. It means no longer thinking the way you used to think. It means no longer doing the things you used to do.  It means no longer talking the way you used to talk.

Jesus wants to bring all of our thinking, all of our acting, all of our doing, all of our dreaming in line with what he calls us to. So if before I was only thinking, doing, saying, dreaming about what I wanted in life and then there is a change and I now think, act, live, talk, dream, eat in a way that pleases God, then that would be a huge change. You might think I was a different person, right?

*Have you ever gone through a big change where you used to like something and now you don't?* Kids with Thomas the train. Legos.

Believe: have faith. Having faith can be a very ambiguous term. That means it’s hard to define. People may say I believe I'm going to win the lottery. I believe I can fly… Trust can be a better word.  Trust has an object.  I trust that chair to hold me up.  If I really trust that chair to hold me up then I will sit in it.

The amazing story of Charles Blondin, a famous French tightrope walker, is a wonderful illustration of what true faith is.
Blondin's greatest fame came on September 14, 1860, when he became the first person to cross a tightrope stretched 1,100 feet (over a quarter of a mile) across the mighty Niagara Falls. People from both Canada and America came from miles away to see this great feat.
He walked across, 160 feet above the falls, several times... each time with a different daring feat - once in a sack, on stilts, on a bicycle, in the dark, and blindfolded. One time he even carried a stove and cooked an omelet in the middle of the rope!
A large crowd gathered and the buzz of excitement ran along both sides of the river bank. The crowd “Oohed and Aahed!” as Blondin carefully walked across - one dangerous step after another - pushing a wheelbarrow holding a sack of potatoes.
Then at one point, he asked for the participation of a volunteer. Upon reaching the other side, the crowd's applause was louder than the roar of the falls!
Blondin suddenly stopped and addressed his audience: "Do you believe I can carry a person across in this wheelbarrow?"
The crowd enthusiastically yelled, "Yes! You are the greatest tightrope walker in the world. We believe!"
"Okay," said Blondin, "Who wants to get into the wheelbarrow."
Did those people really believe he could do it? Not enough to bet their life on it. Truly following Jesus puts you at risk. If you want to be safe you are going to have a hard time following Jesus. Because he is going to call you to do hard things, things that don't make sense in the eyes of the world. Have to remember he is the one come from heaven, knows all things, and saves us!
We can also talk about faith as an allegiance. If you have faith in someone then you follow them. You are committed to them. Faith is used to talk about the allegiance that soldiers would have of their commanders. It is complete devotion. This is what it means to follow Jesus. It is not being in the shadows. It is not doing it just sometimes. It is fully and completely.

What are some of the things you have had to turn from?

Conclusion

Have you trusted in Christ.  Have you put all of your weight on him.  Have you turned from the world.

I want to provide a time for you to think and consider and I want to ask you to respond. This is the most important question you will ever answer. Are you looking to Jesus for your salvation. I often hear people say well I prayed on this date, or I'm going to church more. That is not the same thing as trusting Jesus.  It is saying I believe in Christ I have life and I am committed to follow and believe in him.  It is deciding to walk a certain path.

If you have trusted in Christ I want you to focus on following him. It means getting in his word and doing what he commands.

If you have strayed from the path, I want to give you a chance to respond, too. Jesus call it to whoever will believe.

Discussion Questions

What does it mean to be born again? How is a person born again?
How does a person experience salvation? What does it mean to believe in Jesus?
Have you trusted in Jesus as your Lord and Savior? Why or why not? What led you to do that?