We have been in a series of the topic “The Jigsaw Puzzle” for the past weeks. Dealing with the complications of the interesting problems that life presents us, and how does the gospel work to solve those problems, in particular how do we translate the biblical doctrines we need to know so we can use them in our everyday life? This is the purpose of this series. We started this series in Matthew 5, with the sermon on the mount, and we believe we found a pattern there that we can use to look at these biblical doctrines, and find ourselves. We need to be aware of the need we have in our lives. At any moment of time, especially with spiritual needs, for unless we become aware of the need, we’re not going to move. Movement happens once we become aware of a need. We have to move from the need, otherwise the need never gets solved, ..does it? That’s the second piece of this pattern. We then get to a place where we have to make a decision. That decision first is that we’re going to forsake a life of sin, and follow a life of righteousness, ..that’s where God heals us first. He forgives us in this way, and that’s where we have to make a decision to invest in it, where we give up part of ourselves, so the Lord can have and use it. Along the way, there will be alternatives to this way at the crossroads we’ll come to, and the ways that will seem attractive ..but we have to forsake those alternatives. Finally we come to a place where we will dedicate ourselves in this heavenly way. That is a life of service. So we see ourselves in this pattern, finding ourselves aware of our need and moving under that need. Is there anybody here that recognizes that you have some kind of spiritual need? If you can’t answer the question with “Yes, I’m a child of God,” then you have a need! The next question is, “Are you willing to move ?” And at some point “are you willing to make a decision to make this your life’s journey, or life’s way?” A decision to forsake your old life? And that’s a point we’re going to be discussing this morning. The biblical doctrine of the new birth. What it does and doesn’t mean, ..and how we can apply it.
TEXT: JOHN 3:1-7
1 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.
2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou are a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.
3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?
5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into 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 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
Born again, or born from above, is easily translated as a new birth, …a spiritual birth! Se we began here with the biblical doctrine of the new birth. This chapter is an account of the beginning of Jesus ministry, and the doctrine of “the new birth.” Jesus was speaking to a man, “Nicodemus,” who was a member of the high council of the religious leaders of that community. He was a knowledgeable, learned, educated man, politically important and connected, but he had an interest in what Jesus was teaching, while also having a fear. Which is why he came to Jesus at night, because of the threat from the government order. This is the encounter that we began with and is the beginning of the new birth’s doctrine. Jesus speaks to this man, who you would think would have a better understanding of this doctrine. This writing is vital to the doctrine of “the new birth.” We need to pay very particular attention to what is going on here. So Nicodemus comes to Jesus, and says, we know that thou are a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus replies, “unless you’re born from above, you cannot even see the kingdom of God, (” Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” verse 3). So Jesus goes right to the heart of the matter, further than even from where Nicodemus starts, about recognizing Jesus with His miracles so He must be from God. But Jesus goes right past that, instead dealing with Nicodemus’s soul. Jesus starts explaining to him, that which would help Nicodemus to understand Who He is! Jesus tells Nicodemus essentially, that unless he has the new birth, he cannot even began to understand Who He (Jesus) is! So Nicodemus engages with “How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?”
So Nicodemus doesn’t get or comprehend this. Can you comprehend it? Nicodemus has no idea what Jesus is talking about! And yet Nicodemus is a learned, studied, educated, knowledgeable, and religious man of the word of God! But Jesus tells him, “you don’t even understand how to began if you’re asking how to enter a second time into your mother’s womb!” So Jesus begins to explain to him the new birth, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit .” Verse 8, “the wind bloweth where it listeth, and tho hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. Jesus expounds ..”And so it is for everyone that is born from above…you can’t see it, but there is an evidence of a new birth!” One of the first questions to ask ourselves is, “Do you have the evidence of a new birth in your life? It’s as when you see the leaves move, but you cannot see the wind, but yet you can see the evidence of something happening! So the first point is, a new birth is a spiritual event, and there’s going to be evidence of it! Example: I can go to an altar of prayer because I’ve been convicted of my life, but that mere fact, does not mean I have a new birth! That might make me accepted in a religious system, but it does not mean that I have a new birth, simply because I went to an altar! That is not evidence of it! The wind blows, but that is not evidence of wind. When the leaves move, ‘that’ would be the evidence! You can see evidence! And you will ‘see’ evidence of a new birth! So this morning the Lord is asking us, “Do I have evidence that you have been born from above?” Not that you have a religious form or ritual, ..but do I see evidence that something has “blown? ” That’s the first question we have to ask ourselves. Though we believe Nicodemus is an honest man, we can also conclude he didn’t “get it all,” right here of the gospel plan. Later we find in the book of John, that Nicodemus has to challenge his peers (of the reality of who Jesus is), and then we see Nicodemus later, when Jesus has died, he has become a “follower” of Jesus. He has a progression of when he didn’t understand the new birth while talking to Jesus, but now later he becomes a follower of Christ. Somewhere in there Nicodemus got a new birth, ..and there was evidence of it! But before that happened Nicodemus was convicted that he had a need in his life! Ephesians 2:1 “And you had he made alive that were dead in trespasses and sin.” I believe that Nicodemus understood he was dead in trespasses and sin, even though he understood the bible! Because he hadn’t been born again! Being born again, is not an experience that only certain religious people talk about, but is what Jesus talked about in the beginning of His public ministry in the book of John. So born again, or born from above, is a necessary beginning for a Christian. It’s not a “new thing,” or subject that people have talked about in the last 50 years. Hard to know, where that notion came from, but this is a biblical doctrine, that you must be born again! We must have a new birth from above! So you can ask yourself this question, “Have I been born again, ..have I had a new birth?
If you’re here this morning, you recognize you have a need, that’s why you’re here! When Nicodemus had a need, he found his way to Christ, but he hadn’t been born again! Just finding ourselves in need, is not the ending ..but the beginning of it! If you are seeing your need, are you willing to move under the knowledge you are a sinner, and not a Christian? There must be someone here, that recognizes your need that you must be born from above! The question is, are you moving under that awareness? Or are we going to go away with the knowledge of the need not being met? If you’re hungry, what are you going to do? Find food and eat to satisfy your hunger! . If you’re thirsty ..you’ll find something to drink! Not too many of us are going to say, “I’m just going to ignore these basic needs, because I’m okay with that!” If you have a need for clothing, shelter, companionship, health, or help of any kind , you’re going to look for it! So if you have a need of a new birth, why would you go on, without that need being satisfied? Is it less important to you than your most basic human needs? Your need is to be born from above! You can have many excuses to say you’re not ready for whatever reason, but are those excuses ones you make with your human physical needs? You satisfy and move on those needs. But if we have a need to be born from above, are we going to move on ‘that’ decision? What would be the reasons or excuses to not move? Attitudes, unforgiveness? Will you leave with that unforgiveness, and etc.?
The Jigsaw Puzzle, Part 4