Today I wanted to focus in on the question Nicodemus asked as a Jew in the first century and how similar it is to a question that we ask in the Western world in the 21st century. The similarity lies in his assumptions. He had some obvious assumptions in his question in verse 4. It all started with Nicodemus acknowledging that Jesus must be from God because of the miracles He is performing. Jesus quickly moves past this question to the heart of the matter because believing that Jesus exists and may have been sent from God is nice and all, but it is incomplete. Are you starting to see the similarities yet? But wait, there’s more, and it comes out in the verse.
Let’s read the verses again as a reminder and I will number Jesus’ two points in His reply in verses 5-6. #1 deals with the assumption and #2 deals with what is needed. I will add #1 & #2 to link the points in the verses that go together:
Note: A capital “S’ in the word Spirit always references the Holy Spirit in the Bible
Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.”
In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”a
4 “How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!”
5 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of #1: water and the #2: Spirit. 6 #1: Flesh gives birth to flesh, but #2: the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘Youc must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
So, what was Nicodemus’ assumption and how does it relate to our assumptions today? Nicodemus believed that he was good to go because he was born a Jew as God’s chosen people and he even went a step further by recognizing that God was with Jesus. Jesus replies that his assumptions are not only wrong, but incomplete for entrance into Heaven. Being “chosen” has always been a personal heart matter for one must be a Jew inwardly by circumcision of the heart not just the flesh. You see being born of “water” is the physical birth where a mother’s “water breaks” thus, “flesh gives birth to flesh”. However, only the Holy Spirit can change the heart by bringing about the spiritual birth necessary for salvation.
This relates to us in the 21st century Western civilization because we think to ourselves “I am good because I was born of the “water” by being born into a “Christian” home, or born of the “water” when I was baptized as a child. This is dangerously incomplete! Being “born of the Spirit” comes only by the Spirit of God in response to Jesus Christ personally by YOU and not by human activity done for you or by you. Yes, even if you were “baptized” as an adult or “made your confirmation” as a teenager if that outside human activity stands alone on the outside in the flesh and never inside by the Spirit.. Let me explain…
Baptism is a symbol, and a symbol by definition points beyond itself to something more, something of substance. I too was once like a 21st century Nicodemus thinking “I’m good” because of the things mentioned above; I did them all! The problem was that it was “all symbol and no substance”. How do I know? By looking at my lifestyle after the events living as a sinner with no conviction of my behavior and thus no change in it either.
However, when I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior in 1995 I was “born of the Spirit” in my spirit. It was amazing to feel fully loved by God and yet fully convicted of my sinful life. Then in 1996 when I got baptized, that symbol pointed to something of substance. I was not “re-baptized” because every event before hand may have been called baptism, but without my personal commitment by faith in Jesus Christ’s death on the cross for my sins, like Nicodemus, I lacked the substance. Jesus answers with more in John 3:16-18. Notice the two types of people that will stand before God:
16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
Please understand that this is not the incomplete belief that Jesus existed and came from God, but complete personal belief that Jesus came from God to die for YOU and paid the penalty for YOUR sins not just sins in general.
(1) Is your belief complete or are you like myself and Nicodemus trusting in something incomplete?
(2) Well, are you sure about question #1? Know how you can tell if you are sure? Answer question #3
(3) If you were to die today and stood before God and He said to you “why should I let you into heaven?” What would your answer be? If your answer is any of the following then your answer is incomplete according to the Bible:
– I am a good person
– I was baptized
– I believe in Jesus
All of the answers above are based on your works or activity and are incomplete. The answer must be based on God’s activity of Spiritual re-birth. Just like there are physical laws in the physical world there are spiritual laws in the spiritual world. Here are the 4 laws to a complete answer:
Law #1: God Loves you unconditionally, completely, no matter what you have done!
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Law #2: We are sinful and separated from God and His love.
ALL of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God! Sin is missing the mark; i.e., all of us are imperfect and that is why the foot of the cross in level.
Romans 3:22-23 “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…”
Law #3: Jesus Christ is God’s only provision for sin!
He Died In Our Place
“God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners,
Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
He Rose from the Dead
“Christ died for our sins… He was buried… He was raised on the third day,
according to the Scriptures… He appeared to Peter, then to the twelve.
After that He appeared to more than five hundred…” (1 Corinthians 15:3-6).
He Is the Only Way to God
“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life, no one comes to
the Father but through Me‘” (John 14:6).
Law #4: We must all individually receive Jesus Christ’s payment on the cross as Lord and Savior (This makes it complete)
We must individually receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord;
then we can know and experience God’s love and plan for our lives.
We Must Receive Christ
“As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children
of God, even to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12).
We Receive Christ Through Faith
“By grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves,
it is the gift of God; not as result of works that no one should boast” (Ephesians 2:8,9).
When We Receive Christ, We Experience a New Birth
(Read John 3:1-8.)
We Receive Christ Through Personal Invitation
[Christ speaking] “Behold, I stand at the door and knock;
if any one hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him” (Revelation 3:20).
Receiving Christ involves turning to God from self (repentance) and trusting
Christ to come into our lives to forgive our sins and to make us what He wants us to be.
Just to agree intellectually that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that He died on the cross
for our sins is not enough. Nor is it enough to have an emotional experience.
We receive Jesus Christ by faith, as an act of the will.
The following explains how you can receive Christ:
You Can Receive Christ Right Now by Faith Through Prayer. You use a Spiritual tool to open a Spiritual gift
Lord Jesus, I need You. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life and receive You as my Savior and Lord. Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life.
If you would like some more information see my personal letter by clicking this link: my letter to you
Please let me know if you have made this decision, or if you would like some more information @ firstname.lastname@example.org
Oh wait! Whatever happened to Nicodemus? He became born of the Spirit and his belief was true and complete:
John 19:38-39 – Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jews. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. 39 He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night.
Until He Returns, Peter P. Lackey Jr.