You Must Be Born Again:
(Read John 3:1-10)
The third chapter of John's Gospel gives the account of the conversion of Nicodemus. He was an old, religious and moral man yet he had to learn the need of new birth. The doctrine of new birth is explained here. Nicodemus came to Jesus by night. May be he wanted to meet with Jesus personally. He knew that Jesus was a teacher who came from God because no one could do these miracles unless God is with him. Nicodemus was a Pharisee and a member of Jewish religious court, Sanhedrin. He was also an influential teacher, wealthy and old (John 19:39). In spite of all his learning, he failed to understand that Jesus is the Messiah. He was curious to know Jesus but not committed. Only the Holy Spirit can enlighten our spiritual understanding (1 Cor 1:14). Jesus told Nicodemus that “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (3:3). Nicodemus did not understand the nature of the kingdom of God. Christ explained to him the difference between physical birth and spiritual birth. Apart from the work of God's Spirit, the natural man can never understand spiritual things (1 Cor 1:18). Becoming a Christian is a supernatural work of God's grace. Those who trust Christ become new creation in Him ( 2 Cot 5:17). God gives them a new desire, a new attitude and the divine power to obey him. Understanding is not a prerequisite for salvation but faith in Christ. Faith is more than mental assent of some biblical facts but active trust in the promises of God. Baptism is a sign of salvation and not essential for salvation. Otherwise none of the Old Testament saints, including the thief on the cross could be saved.
Why we must be born again?
Read John 3:11-15.
The natural man is spiritually dead and at enmity with God (Rom 3:23). “Human heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9). Regeneration is the the supernatural work of God. When we get saved the Holy Spirit takes residence in us. Thus we become new creation in Christ (2 Cor 5:17). All three Persons in God-head are involved in our salvation. We are born again because of the mercy of God the Father (1 Peter 1:3). Christ gives us eternal life (John 10:28). It is the very life of Christ (John 14:6). The Holy Spirit imparts this life to live a godly life (Gal 5:25,; 2 Pet 1:3). To illustrate regeneration, Christ uses two examples. The wind and the brazen serpent. Wind is not visible yet we feel its effect. Likewise when a person get saved he will be changed. Jesus was lifted up on the cross like the brazen serpent was lifted up in the wilderness. God is the one who provided the brazen serpent for deliverance of Israel (Num 21:8-9). When Jesus was lifted up on the cross, he took God's judgment for us so that those who look to him will receive eternal life (John 3:36) All those who looked to the brazen serpent found deliverance. Regeneration is entirely of God. The brazen serpent is a picture of Jesus Christ who died on the cross for us. He took our judgment of sin on him (1 Pet 2:24). Those who look to Jesus in faith will receive eternal life. Have you received eternal life?
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son. This verse speaks of the extent of God’s love. Out of His great love, God sent His son to save sinners. He loved the whole world. It is the greatest love the world has ever known. While we were yet rebellious God sent his Son to save us. It is the sacrificial love. This is the most expensive love. God gave His only begotten Son. There is no greater love than God's love. Whosoever believes in Christ should not perish but have eternal life. There is no greater love like the love of a dying Savior. It is also an exclusive love. Those who believe in Christ will be saved. It is the undeserving love in that while we were still sinners he loved us (Rom 5:8). Also it is the disciplining love (Heb 12:6). Though it is the providential love, many people do not realize it (Mat 5:45). The best way to see God's great love is to see Jesus who died on the cross for us (3:16). God did not send His Son to condemn the world but to save the world through Christ. God's purpose of sending his Son into the world was redemption and not judgment. Those who reject Christ are already under judgment (John 3:36). People do not believe in Christ because they do not want their sin to be exposed (John 3:20). This is not an intellectual problem but a moral and spiritual problem. Those who believe in Christ will receive eternal life. Eternal life is defined as knowing God and His Son and experiencing His life (John 17:3). When we put our faith in Christ we share the intimacy of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. When Christ returns, we will experience the fullness of it (2 Pet 1:11). Have you experienced God's undeserving love in your life? (Rom 5:8). Ask God to give an insight to see God's great love in the face of Jesus Christ. Pray that God would renew your mind to see his great love and appreciate his great salvation. Have you entered into the blessings of eternal life?
The testimony of John the Baptist:
(Read John 3:22-36)
John the baptist came to bear witness of Jesus. John rejoiced over Jesus' popularity. His desire was that Jesus must increase and he must decrease. John found joy and satisfaction when Christ was glorified. John acknowledged that Jesus came from heaven. John baptized people with water but Jesus baptizes believers with the Holy Spirit. Only Jesus gives eternal life. Eternal life speaks of the quality of divine life we receive from God. The relationship with Jesus is described in terms of a marriage (3:39). Jesus is the perfect bridegroom and we are the unworthy bride (2 Cor 11:2). He took upon him the wrath we deserve in order to give us eternal life. There is no neutrality in this relationship. Either we are with Christ or against Christ. The basis of our salvation is God's grace and Christ's death on the cross. Christ endured the judgement of God we deserve. Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone and in Christ alone. God desires that all should be saved and come to the knowledge of truth (2 Tim 2:4). Bible does not teach limited atonement (2 Cor 5:21). God's wrath is, his settled attitude towards sin. Disobedience results in wrath but faith in Christ results in salvation. God does not want anyone to perish in their sin (2 Pet 3:9).This is God's eternal nature. What a gracious God!