You Must Be Born Again (John 3:1-21)

Jesus is the One who gives us eternal life! This testimony is given to us by a Pharisee named Nicodemus. The Pharisees were a Jewish religious group that emphasized a strict adherence to the Law of Moses and the Oral traditions passed down through “the elders” (see Matt 15:1). Nicodemus tells Jesus, “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” (3:2). Jesus didn’t want Nicodemus to just see Him as a teacher from God, but as the One through Whom you may receive eternal life. Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (3:3). Nicodemus didn’t understand and Jesus told him: “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” (3:16). Nicodemus testifies that Jesus is the Son of God who has been sent to give eternal life to all who believe.

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God’s Purpose: “For God So Loved the World

God is love” (1 John 4:8) and He created humans to have a personal relationship with Him. This relationship is one of love–one where God shows His love to people and where people show their love to Him. Augustine said it well, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” Our relationship is not primarily about rituals and rules. Unlike most religions it is not based on fear. God created us, loves us and made us for a relationship with Himself. With this being true, why then are so many separated from God?

Man’s Problem: “Perish

God’s great creation has been broken. Who broke it?  We did. The ground was cursed when Adam and Eve sinned (rebelled) against God (Gen 3:17). As a result of Adam and Eve’s sin, death came into the world and every person inherits Adam’s sinful nature (Rom 5:12). Sin is failing to do that which is pleasing to God and doing what God has forbidden. We are separated from God because of sin. We are sinners who sin and in our sin we disobey God. Jesus said “Whoever does not believe is judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only son of God” (3:18). Jesus also said, “This is the judgment that Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil” (3:19). 

We inherit a sinful nature (Flesh – Eph 2:3). We live in a sinful world (World – 1 John 2:15). We have an enemy (devil – Eph 6:12). Paul tells us that “the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Cor 4:4). James 1:15 says, “Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.” Death is the punishment for sin. The Bible says that if anyone dies physically while spiritually separated from God, he/she will spend eternity in a place called hell. We all deserve judgment and condemnation.

God’s Solution: “That He Gave His only Son

God loves us, He made us for a relationship with Himself. God knows that our sin separates us from Him and has given us His Son to remove our sin so that we can be reconciled. Jesus was born of the virgin. He lived a sinless life. He died a sacrificial death. He was raised from the dead and has ascended into heaven. We all deserve judgment and condemnation “but God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved” (Eph 2:5). In Romans 5:8, Paul told the church in Rome that “God demonstrates His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” How are we born again?

Man’s Response: “Whoever Believes in Him

God provides a way to be forgiven of sin and be reconciled to Him. How does this happen? Jesus said it is for “Whoever believes in Him.” What does it mean to believe in Him? It is not enough to simply believe that Jesus exists. It is not enough to believe that Jesus died on the cross. To believe in Jesus means that you “confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead” (Rom 10:9). To believe in Christ means He is your Lord and Savior and that His death removed your sins and that you now receive the Holy Spirit and begin a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. To believe means committing everything to Him. It means you trust Him. A major component of salvation is repentance. Repentance is a change of mind that results in a change of action. We confess that we are sinners and turn away from our sin. What happens when we believe?

God’s Promise: “Shall Have Eternal Life

God’s promise is that those who believe in Jesus shall have eternal life. Eternal life means living forever as a child of God (via adoption). In John 1:12-13, John wrote: “to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (1:12-13). John wrote: “And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son” (1 John 5:11). We are told that eternal life is: inherited and received (Matt 19:29; Mark 10:30), comes through belief in the Son (John 3:36), and is given by Jesus (John 10:28). Here are some relevant verses about eternal life:

  • And this is eternal life, that they know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3).
  • Whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life” (John 5:24) .
  • But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life” (Romans 6:22).

“[God’s] ultimate purpose is the salvation of those in the world who believe in Him. Whoever believes in Him experiences new birth (3:3, 5), has eternal life (3:15, 16), is saved (3:17); the alternative is to perish (cf. also 10:28), to lose one’s life (12:25), to be doomed to destruction. There is no third option.”

D.A. Carson

Nicodemus testifies to us that at first he saw the signs and believed that Jesus was just a teacher from God. After talking with Jesus, Nicodemus has come to believe that Jesus is the One who gives us eternal life. This testimony reminds us of John’s purpose for writing: “these [signs] have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31). Are you born again?

Published by First Baptist Church of Scott City, MO

Bringing the love of Christ to a hurting world.

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