Walking With the Master - Nicodemus, part 2

Faith Church March 10, 2007 John 3:

 

Introduction:

1.  Last week, we started a NEW series: Walking with the Master

- this is being done in connection with our Worship Service study: Reaching New Heights in Our Love for Our Savior – John 18-21

2.  Our ABF study will focus on specific situations Jesus faced, and what we can learn from Him – after all, He is the PERFECT MODEL for us as we seek to reach out to others.

- our schedule looks something like this:

  • Mar. 11             John 3 – Nicodemus [Part 2 – finish that today]
  • Mar. 18            John 4 – Woman at the Well
  • Mar. 25            John 8 – Woman Taken in Adultery
  • Apr. 1                        John 9 – Blind Man
  • Apr. 8                        Luke 19 –  Zaccheus OR Matthew 19 -Rich Young Ruler [Easter]

3.  We’re doing this series (along with Worship Service series) because we want to challenge one another to ‘reach new heights’ . . . in our love for the Lord which should lead to ‘reaching new heights’ . . . in our love for people

> …no matter what their background is (spiritual or pagan)

> …no matter what their life style is – NOTE: Next week – John 4 (Samaritan woman), and the following week John 8 (Adulterous Woman)

Note: You might say, that is OBVIOUS, of course we love everybody . . . no matter where they are from or no what their lifestyle is!

4.  My response to that:  FALSE! – theoretically, we all know what we SHOULD be doing, but that doesn’t mean we all think (or even act that way) 100% of the time!

Note: “Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart” 1 Sam. 16:7

>  by God’s grace, that can be different . . . and with a right view of God and Who He is (that will affect our view of ourselves, and therefore our view of people)

Example: Isaiah 6 – he saw the Lord, high and lifted up . . . holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory . . .  THEN . . .”Woe is me, for I am undone, I am a man of unclean lips and I dwell with people of unclean lips” . . .  THEN . . . ‘Here am I send me!”

5.  But there is one thing certain:  The more you love Jesus (and have the right view of Him – like we are studying in our Worship Services), the more you will love people . . . and if you don’t love people, you really don’t love Jesus

  • 1 John 4:20 If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.

6.  Please open your bible again to John 3 [summarize 3:1-3, READ John 3:4-21]]

7.  Remember to keep a few details in mind as we study this passage today:  [Quick Review]

Author:  John (The Beloved Apostle) – also wrote 1,2,3 John and Revelation!

His Audience is . . . the World at large and presenting Christ as . . . the Son of God

Context:  (John 2) – Christ performing miracles and knows the heart of man!

  • John 2:23 Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name, observing His signs which He was doing. 24 But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men.

- remember MacArthur’s comment (very good one!)

“The ministry of our Lord provides a stark contrast to the contemporary evangelical confusion. Christ was not interested in shallow responses or quick pseudo-conversions.  He refused to compromise the truth or give anyone false hope.  Instead of making it easy for people to believe, Jesus turned away more prospects than He received.” – MacArthur, John 1-11, p. 98

- a good example of that is in Matthew 19 (Rich Young Ruler)

Point:  As Jesus begins His public ministry, He models to us what ‘outreach’ to others looks like!

- He was NOT a respecter of persons

- Last week, we learned the lesson to . . .

  I.  Be Prepared When People Inquire About Spiritual Things (John 3:1-3)

- When they do (whether we go to them, or they come to us – like those ‘divine appointments’ we seem to get sometimes!), we need to keep in mind . . .

*  It’s about their HEART, not their RELIGIOUS HISTORY . . . POSITION! . . . the TIMING or MOTIVE . . . nor what they WANT to hear!

- Remember:  The consequences of NOT being born again are eternal and severe:  “. . . he cannot see the kingdom of God!”

- Good news:  Truth can change a person’s life!

- today our focus is on the rest of John 3:4-21

- here is another lesson we can learn from Christ and how He related to people!

 II.  Be Prepared to Offer Insight About Spiritual Things (John 3:4–8)

- there are a few implications to this lesson we need to learn from the Lord

A.  Implies that we know the Word of God (He certainly did . . . He was the LIVING WORD)

* You don’t not have to be an expert – in fact, it’s not WHAT you know, but what you DO with what you know!

- this is why we emphasize progressive sanctification (growing) and themes like . . .

> Reaching New Heights . . . in Our Commitment to the Word of God!

- it’s simple: * YOU CAN’T SHARE WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW!

> again, I’m emphasizing the BASICS (the simplicity of the Gospel, your life/testimony)

> but once you got those, it’s time to REACH NEW HEIGHTS . . . in the Prayer, in the Word, in our love for our Savior . . . and as we WALK WITH THE MASTER

. . . . or should we say . . . as He walks with us since He promised He would never leave us nor forsake us!

. . . and it was Jesus who gave us our commission [review Matthew 28:19-20]

– to all the world, and preach the Gospel to EVERY CREATURE (not just the ones you are most comfortable with. . . but the Nicodemus(es) of the world . . . the woman at the well, or the one taken in adultery type of people of the world!

FACE IT:  2 Cor. is a directional-setting verse and a life’s-purpose verse:

* We are His ambassadors for Christ!

  • 2 Corinthians 5:20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

- We represent HIM – therefore, if we are to give glory to God (the right opinion) then we have to model what it means to reach out to ALL SORTS OF PEOPLE . . .

… and as we study the Word and be better prepared to answer their questions

IMPORTANT POINT:  You’ll never have all the answers!

> . . . it’s about what you do with the knowledge you have, and are you going to grow?

- even when you share the truth with others (as Jesus did) . . .

B. Sometimes, at first, people don’t understand.

- verse 4 = Nicodemus’ response regarding physical birth indicated that he had no idea what Jesus meant and was skeptical about he was hearing.

“Far from minimizing the demands of the gospel, Jesus confronted Nicodemus with the most difficult challenge He could make. Now wonder Christ would later say to His disciples, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!” (Mark 10:24). By calling him to be born again, Jesus challenged the most religious Jew to admit his spiritual bankruptcy and abandon everything he was trusting in for salvation.”MacArthur, John 1-11, p. 104

- this is similar to what Paul would write about his life:

  • Philippians 3:8 More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, 9 and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith,

C.  Use biblical examples and real life situations!

- in the life of Christ, there was exposure to biblical truth and reality (He used both)

1:  (3:5) born of water and the Spirit.

- Jesus referred not to literal water here but to the need for "cleansing"

* ‘water’ and ‘spirit’ often refer symbolically in the O.T. to spiritual renewal and cleansing (cf. Num. 19:17-19; Isa 4:4; Joel 2:28-29)

[READ]“Thus, Jesus made reference to the spiritual washing or purification of the soul, accomplished by the Holy Spirit through the Word of God at the moment of salvation . . . and  required for belonging to His kingdom” – MacArthur, Study Bible.

  • Ephesians 5:26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,
  • Titus 3:5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit.

Point: You can’t do on your own – it’s a spiritual issue directly connected to the work of the Spirit!

2.  (3:8) the wind blows where it wishes.

- we certainly understand that analogy

- Jesus’ point was that just as the wind cannot be controlled or understood by human beings but its effects can be witnessed . . . it’s the same way with the Holy Spirit.

- . . . the Holy Spirit can’t be controlled by us nor can we fully understand Him

> but the evidence OR results of His work are OBVIOUS and cannot be denied!

- Where the Spirit is at work, you can’t deny the FRUIT of His work or His power to change someone’s life!

“. . . so is everyone who is born of the Spirit!”

Input: What examples can you give of how God changed your life?  (undeniable evidence!)

- later on in the passage, Jesus uses some other examples:

3.  (3:4-18) The serpent on the pole (cf. Numbers 21:4-9)

- this would have been familiar to Nicodemus

(summarize – Israel sinned/rebelled and God punished them – sent fiery serpents that bit them and many died – but it’s also an example of grace . . . Moses interceded for the people and God provided a remedy – make a brass serpent, lift it up on a pole – any stricken person who looked at the serpent would immediately be healed!)

- that’s the way faith operates . . . when the people looked by faith at the Lamb of God or ‘the serpent lifted up’, they were saved.

“The difference between perishing and living, and between condemnation and salvation, is faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus could well have come to this world as a Judge and destroyed every rebellious sinner; but in love, He came to this world as our Saviour, and He died for us on the cross! He became the “uplifted serpent.” The serpent in Moses’ day brought physical life to dying Jews; but Jesus Christ gives eternal life to anyone who trusts Him. He has salvation for a whole world!” – Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary

4.  (3:19-21) Light and darkness.

- you can refer to John 1:4-13 – this is a major images used in John’s gospel

Q: Why do people avoid “light of life”?  Answer: John 3:23 . . .

  • John 3:19 "This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.

Bottom  Line:  Light reveals our sinfulness . . . and if God is right and we are wrong, then we have to CHANGE!

- that’s why so many people want a ‘touchy’ / ‘feelie’ religion instead of the TRUTH!

- that psalmist made it clear:

  • Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
  • 1 John 1:5-10 – walking in the Light!

Q: So what the point?

A:  Share the truth . . . be prepared to share the truth in a variety of ways that illustrate the power of the Spirit to change a person’s life . . . like He did YOURS!

- there’s at least one more lesson to learn from John 3 . . .

III.  Be Prepared to Model Integrity About Spiritual Things ((John 3:9-11).

A.  Regarding what you know about the one who is listening!

- Jesus spoke the truth, as He often does, through a question to Nicodemus

- that question is a very revealing one, . . . and supports John 2:24 ‘. . . for He Himself knew what was in man.’

  • John 3:10 Jesus answered and said to him, "Are you the teacher of Israel and do not understand these things?”

“The use of the definite article "the" indicates that Nicodemus was a renowned master-teacher in the nation of Israel, an established religious authoritypar excellence. He enjoyed a high standing among the rabbis or teachers of his day. Jesus’ reply emphasized the spiritual bankruptcy of the nation at that time, since even one of the greatest of Jewish teachers did not recognize this teaching on spiritual cleansing and transformation based clearly in the O.T. (cf. v. 5). The net effect is to show that externals of religion may have a deadening effect on one’s spiritual perception.”– Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary

“Nicodemus serves as a clear example of the numbing effect that external, legalistic religion has on a person’s spiritual perception—even to the point of obscuring the revelation of God.” – MacArthur, John 1-11, p. 107

- while we don’t know the heart of man as Jesus did/does (He knows our thoughts, everyone of them – Ezek. 11:5)

> . . . we do know what the bible says about the heart of EVERY MAN

  • Jeremiah 17:9 "The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it?”

- let’s conclude our study with v. 11-21 – Jesus just lays it all on the table

- we are to be prepared to model integrity . . .

B.  Regarding the truth you know about God, man, and eternity, and the truth itself!

  • John 3:11 "Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know and testify of what we have seen, and you do not accept our testimony.

- ‘you’ is plural and refersthe "we" of verse 2 where Nicodemus was speaking as a representative of his nation Israel ("we know…").

- Jesus was communicating that Nicodemus’ unbelief was typical of the nation as a collective whole

- this similar to what John wrote in John 1:11-12

  • John 1:11 He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,

- Jesus states what is probably one of the most well-known verses in the bible:

  • John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

- v. 19 -21 reveal the reality about rejecting Jesus’ truth (review)

Point: * You’ll never share this with others unless you seem through the eyes of the Redeemer Who came to die for them!

- look at the INTEGRITY and truthfulness with which Jesus spoke!

Q: Are you doing that?

* Caution about being needlessly offensive . . . yet sharing the truth like Jesus did!

Conclusion:

The key word in these verses is "believe" – it’s used 7 times

Closing Verse:

  • Romans 10:14 How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?

IMPORTANT

1)  Review the “Seeking Individual Relationship” cards [GIVE OUT NEW ONES TO FOLKS WHO WERE NOT THERE LAST WEEK] – discuss how to use them; pray for those listed but DO SOMETHING to reach out to that person!

2)  Use Preparation for Easter Prayer sheet – spend some time praying for this week’s request!

Faith Church