What does “Born Again” Really Mean? Part 2 John 3:1-18
Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews;
Nicodemus - Pharisee and Jewish Ruler
Religious – Followed all the ordinances
Intelligent – Minimum requirement for
Scholar – Pharisees memorized the Pentateuch (1 st 5 Books of the Bible)
Teacher / Honorable man
How would you describe a Pharisee?
Thinks he is good, self-righteous
When did Nicodemus come to Jesus?
Why do you think he came at night?
Notice he went personally and did not send an assistant.
How did Nicodemus regard Jesus?
- Like most of us he believed Jesus from God.
- He seemed to be seeking answer to questions deep inside.
Although Nicodemus was a learned teacher, he came to Jesus to be taught. No matter how intelligent and well educated you are, you must come to Jesus with an open mind and heart so that He can teach you the truth about God.
Jesus answered and said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."
John 3:1-2 Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews;  this man came to Him by night , and said to Him, "Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him .
What is Jesus answer to Nicodemus’ unsaid question?
Note the uncommon stress .. truly truly.. used only with crucial truth.
Jesus directly answers the real question.. the one behind that which was spoken. How can one get to heaven?
Note Jesus’ answer He stressed absolute words, one can never get into the kingdom unless Born Again.
The Phrase – Born Again
The phrase “Born Again” is so often used, abused, misused today.
MANY CONSIDER BEING BORN AGAIN A 20TH CENTURY FAD, BUT JESUS SAID IT ALMOST 2000 YEARS AGO. IT IS NOT A NEW THING.
Is being “born again” joining a religion or organization?
Is being “born again” an option or absolute condition ?
If we are not born again can we enter heaven?
Note that even if Nicodemus had all those exemplary characteristics he was not qualified to go to heaven.
1 st Principle -The Necessity of Regeneration
IT IS NOT OPTIONAL SINCE IT IS AN ABSOLUTE CONDITION, IT IS CRITICAL THAT WE UNDERSTAND WHAT IT MEANS. - Did Nicodemus understand? What did Nicodemus understand the words of Jesus to mean? - Look at the question of Nicodemus? He was looking at the answer of Jesus from a completely different perspective. Physical (Nicodemus) versus Spiritual (Jesus) - Can a man cause himself to be born again? How? - He did not know?
2 nd Principle -The Futility of Religion or Position - Jesus did not praise him for being a Pharisee. - The fact that he belonged to the Jewish race (the chosen people) did not matter either. - Jesus did not ask him to perform any ritual. If Jesus asked him to go to church ; What would Nicodemus’ question be? - Where? To pray, what to pray for. All this he could do !!! Jesus was not demanding some superficial, easy-to-do formula or prayer, Jesus called for nothing short of a complete overhaul, a regeneration. This is something man cannot do on his own. He cannot earn it either.
Nicodemus was really asking… “ How can I start over? I have been in my religion for too long? “ Tumanda na ako dito,” I cannot go back and re-learn it again! v. 5 – Note how serious this was for Jesus. He repeated it a second time.
(although Jesus Himself was not baptizing, but His disciples were)
What does Jesus demand in v.5?
Born of water and Spirit.
What does it mean to be born of water and Spirit?
Some people say it is baptism; that is unlikely.
That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
WHAT JESUS WAS IN EFFECT SAYING WAS THAT NICODEMUS NEEDED TO BE SPIRITUALLY PURIFIED AND SPIRITUALLY REBORN . THIS IS VERIFIED ELABORATED BY JESUS IN V.6 What two births are contrasted? - We have already been born ONCE from our physical parents. - We need to be born of the Spirit to be born again. - Where does spiritual birth comes from?
Do not marvel that I said to you, “You must be born again.”
Jesus repeats the absolute condition. Did He consider it crucial?
There are no options.
We need to be spiritually purified – reborn.
Faith in Jesus Christ + 0 (Nothing) = Salvation Resulting to good works
Faith in Jesus Christ + Good Works = Salvation
What did Jesus imply in verse 10?
Nicodemus SHOULD HAVE KNOWN since he taught Scriptures.
The gospel in Old and New Testament is the same.
v.12 – Nicodemus did not believe
v.13 – He did not recognize Jesus whom the Scriptures spoke about
All his religiosity, intelligence, scholarship were of no help whatsoever.
v. 13 – What was Jesus credential?
Jesus been to heaven. We have not been to heaven therefore we must trust Him with regards to heavenly matters.
Unbelief Locks the Door to Salvation
John 3:14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; v. 14 - Jesus graciously explains the new birth to Nicodemus. Again Jesus uses the Old Testament. - What is the comparison that Jesus makes? - We cannot understand because we do not know the Old Testament. Nicodemus understood because he knew the Old Testament.
Background: Israelites in the midst of wandering in desert. Same people who have seen the great miracles – Egyptian plagues/Passover parting of Red Sea.
Then they set out from Mount Hor by the way of the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; and the people became impatient because of the journey. 5 And the people spoke against God and Moses, "Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this miserable food." 6 And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died.
Numbers 21:4-9 (cont’d)
So the people came to Moses and said,
"We have sinned, because we have spoken against the Lord and you; intercede with the Lord, that He may remove the serpents from us." And Moses interceded for the people. 8 Then the Lord said to Moses, "Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a standard; and it shall come about, that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, he shall live." 9 And Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on the standard; and it came about, that if a serpent bit any man, when he looked to the bronze serpent, he lived.
vv.4-5 - What are they doing? Grumbling, complaining, not satisfied with what God has given them, ungrateful, unbelief in God.
What was the first thing Nicodemus saw? - God’s Love. How He put up with them in patience and compassion throughout this time despite their continuous complaining.
v. 6 - God sent fiery serpents to bit them.
How were their lives spared?
v. 7 - They acknowledged their sin against God and Moses and pleaded to be saved. They acknowledged their helplessness by turning to God.
v. 8 – What was God’s solution to their situation? Was it logical ?
What was God really telling them ? Their way was useless. They needed to totally trust in Him and His way. To look at the fiery serpent on the pole would give them life.
Visualize the scene : slimy slithering snakes crawling all over the ungrateful, Israelites, people were dying all around. They had a choice to make within a few seconds. They could turn to their physicians or they could turn to God’s way: by looking at the fiery serpent made by Moses.
They had to put their lives in God’s hands; they had to trust in His way.
What did Nicodemus understand?
To be Born Again meant - to totally recognize your helplessness and to totally turn to God for the answer by relying on God’s way and no other.
Nicodemus probably did not understand this fully at his time so we never hear from him again after Jesus explained.
Jesus Explanation of being “Born Again”
Moses lifted Serpent Problem: How any bites? Consequence: Solution: Who made solution: Made Human Sense: Need Good Works: God’s Part: Man’s Part: If followed: Snake’s poison in them One Physical Death Look at Snake God No No Remove Poison Admit sin; Trust God’s solution Physically Live Jesus lifted on Cross Spiritual Poison Sin? One (Rom 6:23) Second Death Spiritual Believe in Jesus God No Way No (Eph 2:8-9) To forgive our sins Admit sin; Trust in God’s Solution Receive Eternal Life
And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up;
15 That whoever believes may in Him have eternal life. 16 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life . 17 "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him.
Summary of what Born Again Means – John 3:16
What does belief include?
Not just head knowledge but obedience to God’s Word.
A decision to forsake past life and move into the light.
Nicodemus said to them (he who came to Him before, being one of them), "Our Law does not judge a man, unless it first hears from him and knows what he is doing, does it?" They answered and said to him, "You are not also from Galilee, are you? Search, and see that no prophet arises out of Galilee."
What Happened to Nicodemus?
The leaders were claiming that Jesus was a deceiver and that the people were being misled.
Nicodemus stood up in the crowd and declared that the leaders were breaking their own Law and suggested that they all hear Christ and observe His works closely.
And after these things Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but a secret one, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate granted permission. He came therefore, and took away His body. 39 And Nicodemus came also, who had first come to Him by night; bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds weight. And so they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in linen wrappings with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews.
John 19:38-40 – Apparently the cross of Christ affected the life of Nicodemus because he finally connected what Jesus told him that night he went to see Him.
He may not have fully understood then but now he sees the connection. How the Son of Man must be lifted up just as the serpent was in the wilderness so that man may live. Jesus was the Son of Man that saves mankind from eternal death.
Nicodemus courageously stepped forward to proclaim that he now believed and risked his life for the sake of following Christ.
He honored the Lord by bringing spices that were very costly. Nicodemus took a stand for Jesus. From that point on, everyone knew that Nicodemus cared and loved Jesus. What a living example of courage for us today.
How do these principles that were so clear to Nicodemus apply to us today at this time?
as it is written, "There is none righteous, not even one; There is none who understands, There is none who seeks for God;
Romans 3: 23
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
What does it take to be Born Again? We too must realize that we are hopelessly lost before we can be saved.
For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.
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,
We too must depend entirely on God’s solution for our sin problem to be saved.
1 Peter 3:18
For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;
We need to put our faith in Jesus Christ ALONE.
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
What must you do to make a free gift yours? Accept Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross as full payment for all your sins, believing and trusting in Him alone as your personal savior and Lord.
Our Response? Believe in Him (Jesus the Son of God)
that whoever believes may in Him have eternal life.
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.
"He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
'Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with Me.
1 John 5:11-12
And the witness is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.
1 John 5:13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life. ___
Prayer Lord Jesus Christ, I need You. I confess that I am a sinner and I repent of all my sins against You. I believe that Your death and sacrifice on the cross paid for the forgiveness of all my sins. Thank You for Your unconditional love for me. Jesus, please come into my life and be my Savior and my Lord. I accept Your gift of eternal life. Make me the kind of new person You want me to be. Thank You for coming into my life. Amen