Last Updated on May 6, 2023 by Scriptures for Today
To determine the Basics of Being a Christian, we are looking at one of the most familiar passages in the New Testament. Normally we break this passage into two separate pictures.
- Verses 1-10 – we must be born again
- Verses 14-17 – God’s love for the world.
Today, we want to keep everything in the scriptural picture we are examining. There are three basic truths we must understand if we are to become what God wants us to be. Read John 3:1-17
1 Now 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 him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 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, “Truly, truly, 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 its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” 9 Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” 10 Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? 11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. 16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. John 3:1-17
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Basic Truth No. 1: Being Religious Is Not Enough to Get a Person to Heaven
Look at the story of Nicodemus.
- He was a Pharisee, the supreme religious order of the day. To be a Pharisee one had to be trained in the Old Testament and committed to its keeping.
- The word Pharisee literally means separated. They were separated to maintain observance of the Law. They knew the Law and emphasized its keeping almost to a fault. It is recorded that on at least one occasion the Pharisees chose to die rather than to fight on the Sabbath Day.
- Nicodemus was a member of the Sanhedrin. There were 70 men of the various religious orders that composed the Supreme Court of the Jews. This good, educated religious man needed something else. Note verses 2-3.
What does it mean to be born again? To be born again is a miraculous experience. Our old, sinful, unsatisfied self is changed. (See Paul’s statement in 2 Corinthians 5:17). Being religious can be a tragedy. The only way to heaven is by being born again.
Basic Truth No. 2: Becoming a Christian is Simple
We have an aversion to simple things. Sometimes the church contributes to the problem of religious complexity. The tendency is to equate being religious with keeping the Law and rituals. Nicodemus did all of these things. Yet, Jesus said he needed something else.
Jesus equates the simplicity of being born again with a story from Numbers 21. Deliverance was provided for all who had the faith to accept it. Those who looked in faith lived. Those who did not died. Jesus told a seeking Nicodemus that deliverance was provided for him.
Eternal life is irrefutably tied to our dependence upon Jesus.
Basic Truth No. 3: God Paid a High Price So We Can Be Saved
He sent Jesus to die for the forgiveness form our sins (John 3:16)
- He came to pay the price for our sins.
- The sacrifice for sins had been made when the high priest went into the holy of holies with a perfect lamb.
- The perfect Lamb for our forgiveness is the only begotten Son of God.
- Jesus is our High Priest (Hebrews 9:11-14; 10:16-22).
Do not stop at verse 16. It is important to include verse 17. Many people misunderstand Christianity. They think it takes the joy out of life. Jesus did not come to take joy from life but to give us a reason to enjoy living (John 10:10).
Nicodemus was a good man, but there was an emptiness in his life. Jesus told him how that void in his life could be filled. There are people listening today who are good people but need to be born again. Will you receive what Jesus wants to give you today?
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