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. The New Birth - Part 2 The necessity

THE NEW BIRTH (PART 2)

THE NECESSITY OF THE NEW BIRTH

John 3:1-7 (ESV) 1 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.’

Introduction

Last week we began this critical study on the subject of the New Birth, and can I reminded you that if you are ‘born once’ you ‘die twice’ and if you are ‘born twice’ you ‘die once’. Last week we looked at the man Nicodemus who is a representative man, of all men who need to be born again. I showed you the link between John 2 and 3 as we saw many people wanting to join Christ in chapter 2, but Christ would not enjoin Himself to them, because He did not need man’s opinion or witness about the nature of man, as He knew what was in the heart of all men. And in John 3 we are immediately introduced to a man like that. Nicodemus at face value was a man that we would think was okay and did not need to be born again. He was a religious man, he was a very gifted man, he was a man of honesty and integrity, he made super claims about Christ, yet he was a man in a dilemma as he was nothing but a natural man. In spite of all he was, Christ says to him that unless he is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God. To see the kingdom of God and to enter the kingdom of God go hand in hand. So, let’s march on in this text, and I want to introduce you to two more issues today.

Point 1.  The answer to the question never asked.

 

Nicodemus, never asked Christ any question at the outset. He simply makes some statements about Jesus. But we know that Jesus knows what is in the heart of man, and Christ can read between the lines, as He knows what this man is thinking. So, what is the question he is asking and yet not asking? I hate putting thoughts into a man’s mind, just like our cricket commentators do. I remember watching cricket one day when one of the commentators made the following statement: “what Jacques Kallis is thinking now is as follows”, and then he told us what Jacques was thinking. Now it is impossible to clearly represent somebody else’s thinking.

 

But let’s speculate a bit on this man’s thinking. This man has just made some bold statements about Christ, but somehow, I believe he is asking: “is there more to you”, “is there something we don’t know,” “how do we figure you out” or simply “who are you really?” Now, just think if Jesus said to him: “I am God” that “in me lives the fullness of the deity”. How do you think he would have responded? He would not have understood it. The only reason you and I understand it, is if we are born again. So, Christ answers the question Nicodemus does not ask at least in a verbal sense in a very interesting way. He simply says: John 3:3 (ESV) 3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

 

Now, this is critical. Without re-birth, without being born again, nobody will ever understand these things, and nobody will ever be able to believe in Christ or receive Christ as Lord and Saviour. What is more important to Nicodemus from Christ’s perspective than the statements he makes about Jesus is the condition of his soul. You, Nicodemus believe all these things about me, but what I am telling you is that you must be born again. Christ could give him all the answers for his questions and doubt but unless a man is born again he cannot see the answer, and he will never take advantage of the answer. Nicodemus’ need was not simply to know who Jesus is in his own view or in the view of Christ, but to be born again.

 

Point 2. The central issue at stake.

 

This brings us to the central issue here.

What is this man missing? He has the law of God, he seems to have an earnest passion for the law of God, and he seems to be a thinking man, a fair-minded man and an honest man. But Jesus gets down to the core issue; ‘You must be born again to see the Kingdom of God’. Christ once again demonstrates His omniscience and His authority.  He is dealing with Nicodemus in the way that Nicodemus needs to be dealt with, not in the way that Nicodemus wants.  He is not dealing with the felt needs of Nicodemus. He is dealing with the real need of Nicodemus. In this statement in verse 3 that we will return to in the next sermon Jesus makes some things plain about the new birth.

It is mandatory because without it you will not see the Kingdom of God.

It is every man’s need because without it no one will see the Kingdom of God.

It is God’s work as you are born of God. He says to Nicodemus he must be born again, but He doesn’t tell him how to do it, why, because out of himself Nicodemus can’t do it. God must do it; God has to give the new birth.

 

You see, for us and for Nicodemus we might think that the Rebirth is an intellectual issue. Or we think it is stuff that you must do, like a sinner’s prayer or inviting Jesus into your heart. All you need to do is to figure some stuff out and be saved, but what Christ is saying to Nicodemus is that He is not ready for an answer, and that even if an answer is given to him, he will not understand it unless he is first of all, born again.

 

Unless someone is born again he cannot see and will not enter the Kingdom of God. This very statement by Jesus makes this sermon critical and we need to pay careful attention to all that is said.

 

Jesus does not present New Birth as a nice option or something extra but unnecessary experience. It was also not intended in the long run to be a doctrine to be upheld by particular churches only. It is amazing to hear church members talk about religion and say something like this: You know, we are not those born-again types or we actually don’t believe in that born-again junk. Well it is in the Bible and Jesus presents the new birth as absolutely necessary.

 

If anyone is ever to see the Kingdom of God, if anyone is ever to enter the Kingdom of God, if anyone is ever to be His follower, all the credentials of Nicodemus that we saw last time means nothing if you are not born again. Nicodemus is a perfect illustration of why New Birth is a necessity because he is representative of those we read about in John 2:23-25, the ones that Jesus would not entrust Himself to. As those verses are critical, let me give it again with the link to chapter 3:1. John 2:23-3:1 (ESV) 23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. 24 But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people 25 and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man. 1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.”

 

3. So why is the New Birth necessary?

 

The New Birth is necessary because man lost something in the fall of Adam. What did man loose? He lost the ability to think God’s thoughts after Him. He lost the ability to be led to the true God through the efforts of his natural reasoning. Man lost the ability to think the truth as it pertains to God. Man’s whole person has been so affected by sin, that if he is left to the working of his own mind apart form a New Birth, apart from a revelation of God in Scripture, apart from the work of the Holy Spirit in His soul, he will be deceived by his own thinking and efforts and he will be led away from God. There is nothing a man can do that is capable of restoring him to right thinking.

 

A comfortable answer to Nicodemus would have been; ‘Dear brother Pharisee, member of the Sanhedrin, here are some more laws to follow. Let me give you more traditions to pass down to future generations.’ Christ is not recommending modifications, He is commanding re-design, re-birth. He is basically saying to Nicodemus, ‘start over’. Nicodemus is a religious man, but his religion hasn’t changed the fact that he has a fleshly mind that doesn’t think the truth as it pertains to God.  Nicodemus is an educated man, but his education even in the Scriptures cannot overcome his natural reasoning. Without a shadow of doubt Nicodemus has already been using his brain and yet he has fallen short in his understanding of Jesus, because his thinking is flawed and cannot lead to the truth. His very opening remarks are “Rabbi, we know…” What he knew would fit the prophets of old like Elijah who also performed signs, but standing before Nicodemus is his creator, his God and he cannot see it.

 

What does Jesus do? He completely ignores everything that Nicodemus says he knows and takes him immediately to something that Nicodemus admits that he cannot understand. I say to you today that all men will be led to the wrong conclusions about God and about His Christ, about heaven and hell, about what it means to serve God, and about eternity if they are left without the New Birth. If they are not born again they will never see the truth.

 

So that is the necessity of the new birth, you must be born again.

 

If you are not born again, the following sad scenario will play out one day. Matthew 7:21-23 (ESV) 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

 

Oh, how my heart will break if any person sitting under the Word of God here at Logos were to experience that one day. You see, Nicodemus was calling Jesus Rabbi, he claimed that God was surely with Jesus and that Jesus was from God and that He was a marvellous worker of signs. But sadly, crying Lord, Lord is not enough, as many who will cry that out on Judgment day, will not enter the Kingdom of heaven. The only prerequisite to enter the Kingdom of Heaven then, is to enter it now, and the only way you can enter it now is by being Born Again. Listen, if people who claim to have prophesied in His name, to have cast out demons in His name, to have done many might works in His name do not enter why will one enter who is religious, who is gifted, who is honest and has some integrity and knows some stuff about Jesus.

 

One of the things that makes me angry at even Christians, is the proclamations we make when certain people have died. I have sat through many funerals where the person being buried was so far from being born again as can be. They are often unbelievers, wicked and were of very little example to others, and what will we hear from the mouths of even some pastors: “Surely he is in a better place now…” Read the verses that we have dealt with again. So, if those who have prophesied, who cast out demons and did many great deeds are not going to make it, and if a man like Nicodemus at least at this stage in John 3 was not going to make it, how can we then make claims that atheists and godless people are in a better place? The message we are giving to our young people and children is this: “live like you want to, because when you die, you will be in a better place”. I say it again. Christ is clear. Unless you are born again, you will not see and you will not enter the Kingdom of God, not now, and not ever.

 

So, in closing this morning, I ask you. Are you born again? Well, the good question to ask is simply this. What does it mean to be born again? Let me simply tell you this as we close. There are many I believe that have been told that they are born again, who are not, and many who have been told that they are not born again who are. But let me keep you inquisitive to the theology of what it means to be born again.

 

Amen!

Soli Deo Gloria

Logos Community Church:- 27 August 2017