In John 3, Jesus is approached under the cover of night by a leader among the Jews, a Pharisee named Nicodemus. Just as a reminder, the Pharisees were people who were highly respected within the Jewish community. Nicodemus would have been a man of stature in his community.
The Pharisees were devout in their lifestyle, their love for the word of God, their study of God’s word. For a man like Nicodemus, he would have had the first five books of the Bible memorized. He was an expert in the law of God.
He would have always been at church, always at Sunday school, always at the Sunday night study, always at the potluck. A stand up guy.
And he comes to Jesus and says to him “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God” (John 3:1) and as Nicodemus talks to Jesus, he talks about the signs Jesus has done. Nicodemus says in verse 2: “no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.”
With a guy like Nicodemus, it would be easy to never question his salvation. Clearly he was walking with God.
Nicodemus receives Jesus command to be born again with confusion. Again, Nicodemus is a teacher. He knows God’s word. He’s very moral. And Jesus stops him dead in his tracks: Unless one is born again, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
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?”
Nicodemus is either totally dumbfounded by what Jesus says or he’s giving a bit of a sarcastic response, but he responds to Jesus referring only to the physical process of birth.
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.
Again, we’ll talk about this more next week, but regeneration, being born again is a work of the Holy Spirit and Jesus touches upon that in these verses.
It is a Spiritual rebirth. And it’s because regeneration is spiritual that it necessitates a life that is changed and transformed by the gospel. Because it’s not us who change ourselves. It’s the Spirit in us.
The gospel is meant to change your life.
We just assume that a person who goes to church is a Chrisitan. You’re not if you haven’t been born again. Not if you haven’t truly turned from sin and turned to Jesus.
So I ask again: what do you actually believe? Have you trusted in Jesus as your Lord and savior? Have you confessed him to be the Lord? Have you turned away from sin? He didn’t die to keep us the same. Not when we’re given the Holy Spirit. We’re born again. We are a new creation. And that means a changed life. Has your life changed because of Jesus?
Has it really?
Or are you going through the motions? Saying the right things because you need to toe the company line but without really believing what you’re saying?
He makes us new.
The Bible says that if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17).
It’s not just about saying “well I don’t want to go to hell. Sure I’m a Christian.” It’s having an actual faith that Jesus is the way. That Jesus is your savior. It’s not about believing that you’re basically the key to your own salvation but Jesus is some formality.
It’s that there is no other way apart from Christ and falling at his feet in thankfulness for his mercy.
Have you surrendered your life to Christ? If he’s not your Lord is he really your savior? Is Jesus the Lord of your life?
Philippians 2:12 says to work out your salvation with fear and trembling. And that puts our focus on the cross, and what Jesus has done for us. Do you believe that you’re a sinner? It’s hard to accept Christ as your savior if you don’t believe you’re a sinner. It’s hard to trust in Jesus as your savior if you don’t believe you have anything to be saved from.
Too often in our culture, we like to emphasize the love of God without wanting to ever even talk about the justice of God. God is love. But he is also just. And there is a price to be paid for our sins. Do you believe that? Or do you find yourself thinking that you’re actually not that bad, that your sins really aren’t such a big deal, but you believe that there is a God and say you’re a Christian but you don’t belong to Christ?
Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
For a person who is walking in faith, let us thank God for the work of regeneration that he has done in your life. But for the person who knows in your heart of hearts that you don’t really believe. Stop trusting yourself and your own goodness for your salvation.
Have you been born again?
You don’t have to be a master of theology. You don’t have to figure it all out. You don’t have to have all of the answers before coming to Jesus. It’s about trusting in him. You can come to Jesus this moment. And trust in him. To say, “Lord, not my will but your will be done.”
The Bible says salvation is in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12).
And it also says all who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved (Romans 10:13). Coming to Jesus in faith. And when we do that, the grace and forgiveness that Jesus extends is sufficient.
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