Born Again. Background Passage Gospel of John, Chapter 3. Lesson Passages Gospel of John, Chapter 3:1-21. Lesson for September 21-22, 2013

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1 Born Again Background Passage Gospel of John, Chapter 3 Lesson Passages Gospel of John, Chapter 3:1-21 Lesson for September 21-22, 2013 Dr. James Patterson [TEACHERS: This lesson needs to be strongly evangelistic! Be crystal clear on the Gospel, salvation, etc. Do not assume your class understands these truths.] INTRODUCTION Roger, Samantha asked. Are you saved? I suppose so. When I was a kid, my Sunday School teacher called for a show of hands for all of the students who wanted to go to Heaven. My best friend, Ralph, raised his hand, and so I raised mine, too. Then, we said some stuff and went on to lunch. Well, how come you never go to church? And why do you spend so much time in that awful bar? I don t need a church to tell me how to live my life. All they want is my money, anyway. Having a little fun is not going to keep me out of Heaven. If it does, then there is something wrong with the system, Roger explained. I m on the right track. Some people think getting saved means saying "the sinner's prayer" and then continuing to live life the same way they always have. However, there is much more to it than that. Becoming saved is a confession of belief in the Lord Jesus Christ and His Word. It is also a rejection of a lifestyle of sin, and taking on a new lifestyle, based on a relationship with Jesus Christ. If we truly believe, we begin reading and obeying God's Word. We ask the Lord to help us walk uprightly. We depart from iniquity and become vessels fit for the Master's use. The Bible says that we are to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. Now, this does not mean to work for our salvation because we can never be good enough to earn it. We are saved by grace, as a gift, through faith. But, even though we have believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, our flesh

2 remains what it always was--flesh. Even as a Christian, this carnal impulse will try to rise up, but the fear and respect of the Lord will cause us to depart from evil and not embrace it. We fear to offend Him by disobeying His Word. Just as fear keeps us from getting too close to the edge of a cliff or from putting our hand in fire, the fear of the Lord will cause us to depart from repeated wickedness. Further, if you are a true believer, your life will demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit. There will be ample evidence of love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Saving faith will also manifest itself in good works. Of course, good works do not save, but a saving faith will cause good works. However, if no changes occur in a person's life, we have reason to be concerned that true conversion never took place to begin with. A person can say, "I really, really want to go to law school." But if they skip high school classes, don't do their homework, and go to sleep in class, do they really, really want a career in law? Their actions betray their confession. It is no different in confessing Jesus. People say, "I believe Jesus is Lord," yet they habitually use bad language; watch pornography several times per week; lie, as a force of habit; never feel convicted of sin; and are generally uninterested in the things of God. Is Jesus their Lord? I think not. In Review: John Although the writer of this Gospel is not named, Biblical scholars overwhelmingly believe he is John, the son of Zebedee. This book was written after Matthew, Mark, and Luke probably between 80 and 90 A.D., while John was living in Ephesus. John clearly states his purpose in writing--to convince his readers that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God (20:31). Eternal salvation is contingent upon their acceptance of His Divine Atonement. Summary of Prior Chapters In the first part of Chapter One, John established the fact that Jesus was present in the beginning and that all things were created through Him (the Word). Later in the chapter and continuing in Chapter Two, John described some of the early events of Jesus life and ministry, including His first miracle, turning water into wine.

3 Soon after the wedding in Cana (where the first miracle occurred), Jesus travelled to Jerusalem and quickly ran afoul of the Jewish leaders by driving the money changers from the Temple. The leadership wondered upon what authority He did such things. The ruling council determined to get what they considered a loose cannon under control. LESSON PASSAGE 1 John 3:1-3 1 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 and said to him, Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Verse 1 It seems likely that Nicodemus approached Jesus with a sincere interest. He was a member of the Pharisees, an influential Jewish group that stringently obeyed the Law of Moses and even added a complex set of traditions (hundreds of interpretations and applications) to ensure that no one broke the law unwittingly. There were around 6,000 Pharisees in Jesus day. Most of them displayed a privileged self-righteousness. In time, many of them expressed outright hostility toward Jesus, who if left unchecked, might jeopardize their entrenched position. In addition to the exalted status of Pharisee, Nicodemus was a member of the Sanhedrin. Only 70 in number, the Sanhedrin took responsibility for handling almost all internal matters of the Jews. Verse 2 Nicodemus came at night when there would be fewer distractions. It is also possible that the darkness afforded Nicodemus some anonymity from those who might be upset to learn of such a visit. Nicodemus admitted that he and some of his colleagues had come to the conclusion that God s power was evident in the miraculous things that Jesus had done. In short, he was impressed by the miracles but unswayed by the possibility that these signs might point to Jesus as the Jewish Messiah. Verse 3 Jesus used Nicodemus affirmation to show the limits of human understanding. The Pharisees taught that being right with God depended on self-righteousness. In their view, people were saved through their own efforts to keep the law perfectly. Remember, Nicodemus was a very religious person. Jesus, however, deflated this view of works-based salvation. He explained that unless people are born again they can t be right with God. No matter how morally upright or mentally bright people might be, the best human effort could not, and cannot, save them from sin.

4 The phrase, born again, is a New Testament term for conversion. The phrase can also be interpreted as born from above. It denotes a decisive change that can t be accomplished through human effort. Just as we don t control our physical birth, neither do we accomplish our new birth on our own. God must regenerate us by His power to make alive what was dead. What a shock it must have been for Nicodemus to learn that near-perfect observance of religious rules was not enough to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. LESSON PASSAGE 2 John 3:4-9 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, Most assuredly, 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. 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit. 9 Nicodemus answered and said to Him, How can these things be? Verse 4 Like most people, Nicodemus had a hard time understanding what Jesus meant by being born again. He was a literalist and kept his focus on his understanding of the physical birth process. To his credit, thought, his questions to Jesus appeared to be genuine, not mocking. Verses 5-6 Jesus explained that the first birth was that of water (natural birth). The second birth was not a return to the mother s womb but a resurrection to a new life, accomplished by the Holy Spirit. Only the Spirit can give repentant sinners a new spirit. Consequently, the new birth cannot be received from one s parents or earned by good works. Living in the right nation or belonging to a particular church cannot create a new spirit in someone. Simply, we must be born again by the Spirit of God. Verses 7-9 Jesus then drew an analogy between the Holy Spirit and the wind. We can t see the wind; we don t know its origin or destination. However, we can see its effects, and we know that it is real. Likewise we can t control the Holy Spirit or see Him move physically, but we can certainly see the effects of His supernatural works in the hearts of men and women. Nicodemus was interested

5 in Jesus explanation, but this was far afield from what he had always thought to be true. LESSON PASSAGE 3 John 3: Jesus answered and said to him, Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things? 11 Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? Verse 10 Nicodemus represented the epitome of Jewish religious understanding. He was among the best, brightest, and most educated. Yet, Jesus questioned how such a highly regarded personage did not understand the transforming power of God s Spirit. Verses Jesus likely used the pronoun, we, in references to the three persons of the Trinity. Nicodemus represented the Jewish leaders inability to understand and teach God s truth. Most were unwilling to even listen. They were blinded by their own education. Not being able to comprehend even the most basic of truths, they would be hopeless to understand the more advanced mysteries. LESSON PASSAGE 4 John 3: No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in Him should not perish but 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 everlasting life. Verse 13 Jesus was ultimately qualified to speak about eternal truths because of His personal experience. For starters,1:1 - In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 All things were created through Him. If that was not credential enough, by this time in history, the Son of God had come from Heaven to Earth as the Son of Man.

6 Verses Jesus drew an example from the law to further illustrate His role in God s plan of redemption for mankind. Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness (Numbers 21:5-9) for a sinful and disobedient people. Israel was suffering from a plague of poisonous snakes. When anyone was bitten by a serpent, he had a choice: he could humble himself and by a simple act of faith look on the snake and live, or he could refuse to look on the serpent of brass and die. Just as the serpent in the wilderness was the only means for the healing of Israel at that point in time, so the death of Jesus Christ is the only means for the new birth for all time. The remedy then and now was to look by faith to the means of salvation that God provided. Verse 16 For many Christians, this single verse represents the core of the Bible. God cares for us with an everlasting love that we cannot fathom, except by faith. The word, so, in the above verse is very expressive. It gives you some concept of the magnitude of God s love. God gave His only Son, to be made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. In other words, Jesus Christ was made what God hates: sin so that we could be made into that which God loves: righteousness. We exchange our sins for Christ s righteousness. Everyone, from Nicodemus to you and me, who trusts in Jesus as Savior and Lord will not perish in their sins but will receive eternal life. LESSON PASSAGE 5 John 3: For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. 18 He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God. From The Message: This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger,

7 telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him This is the crisis we re in: God-light streamed into the world, but men and women everywhere ran for the darkness. They went for the darkness because they were not really interested in pleasing God. Everyone who makes a practice of doing evil, addicted to denial and illusion, hates God-light and won t come near it, fearing a painful exposure. But anyone working and living in truth and reality welcomes God-light so the work can be seen for the God-work it is. Jesus then let Nicodemus go away to think things over. The next time we hear about Nicodemus, he was defending Jesus on a procedural matter (7:45 52), but Nicodemus apparently didn t openly identify with Jesus until after the crucifixion, when he helped prepare His body for burial (19:39). LIFE APPLICATION: How will we apply the lessons learned in today s passages? We are often urged to be doers of the Word and not hearers, only. The Book of James, Chapter 2:26 tells us that 26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. If you are not in Christ, if you have been holding back for some reason, today is the day of your salvation. Confess your sins. Accept Christ as the only means for eternal salvation. Become born again. If you are in Christ a genuine believer witness to an unsaved friend. Get involved in a Godly project. Strive to become an excellent Christian role model. Always respond as a Christian, no matter the challenges that come your way. Seize the role of good and faithful servant, whether you are called on to plant seeds, water, or gather into harvest. CLOSING PRAYER: This is an example of a Sinners Prayer.

8 Dear God in Heaven, I come to you in the name of Jesus. I acknowledge to You that I am a sinner, and I am sorry for my sins and for the life that I have lived; I need Your forgiveness. I believe that Your only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, shed His precious blood on the cross at Calvary and died for my sins, and I am now willing to turn from my sin. You said in Your Holy Word, Romans 10:9, that if we confess the Lord our God and believe in our hearts that God raised Jesus from the dead, we shall be saved. Right now I confess Jesus as the Lord of my soul. With my heart, I believe that God raised Jesus from the dead. This very moment I accept Jesus Christ as my own personal Savior. According to His Word, right now I am saved. Thank you Jesus for your unlimited grace which has saved me from my sins. Lord Jesus transform my life so that I may bring glory and honor to You alone and not to myself. In Your Holy Name we pray, Amen TEACHERS: Encourage anyone in the class who prayed that prayer with you to see you or one of the class leaders after class and discuss their decision. Encourage them to join the church and be Baptized!

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