For God So Loved the World
(John 3:1-18)

Rev. Jim Bogle, given February 17, 2007

Turn with me to John 3.

Christ is speaking to Nicodemus, a Pharisee and a ruler of the Jews!  He has come to Jesus by night seeking to know more about Christ. He didn’t want to be seen talking to Jesus in the light of day — as is sometimes true of many professing Christians. They would rather share their faith inside the church, rather than outside the church.

And so Nicodemus comes to Jesus by night! There are many Christians today that come to Christ by night. Nicodemus’s companions, his friends, Christ’s accusers, would not understand his motives for talking to Jesus.

You see there was a little group of Pharisees that happened to be in leadership positions among their peers, and they hated Jesus. In fact, they murmured, “saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.”

And so Nicodemus comes to Jesus by night, and said,

John 3:2

…Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.

Nicodemus, from his heart, was seeking truth!

Jeremiah 29:13

And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

Nicodemus was willing to come to Jesus and to ask him the hard questions. God is not afraid of your questions this morning.

Matthew 7:7

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:

Malachi 3:10

Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.

God’s not afraid of questions and he’s not afraid of you putting him to the test!

But God will not be mocked:

Galatians 6:7-8

7: Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

8: For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

If you have questions of God, and you seek him diligently, and you seek him with all of your heart, he will respond.

Nicodemus had questions, and so he came to Christ, and in a round-about way, asked, “Who are you?” Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Nicodemus didn’t understand Christ’s response to him. “I must be born again? How is it possible for me to enter my mother’s womb and be born again?”

Christ was speaking to Nicodemus of spiritual rebirth, but Nicodemus was not able to discern or understand this spiritual talk.

Paul told the church at Corinth!

1 Corinthians 2:12-14

12: Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.

13: Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

14: But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

Nicodemus couldn’t understand Christ, because he had not the spirit of God in him.

Thus Nicodemus’s response was the natural response of the human heart to a spiritual truth.

God explains…

John 3:5-11

5: …Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into 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: Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

8: The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

Just think of this for a moment. Can we see the wind? NO! Neither can we see the Holy Spirit.

But can we see the effects of the wind? YES — as it sweeps across a golden wheat field, or through the trees, or across the snow capped mountain peak, or as it pushes the sail boat through the sea. And you can feel the effects of the wind as it brushes by your face and through your hair.

So it is also possible to see the effects of the Holy Spirit, and even to feel His presence in the human heart when that heart is born again, even though we don’t see the Spirit himself.

9: Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?

10: Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?

11: Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness.

Ezekiel prophesied long ago about a valley of dead bones that at the commandment of God rose up, re-organized, re-fleshed, and stood strong like a mighty army ready to move, but there was only one problem with this great army. What was it???

Ezekiel 37:1-14

1: The hand of the LORD was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones,

2: And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry.

These bones had been dead in the valley for some time. Christ came into this world at the lowest spiritual time of His People the Israelites. They were dead in trespasses and sins. Not just the publican and the sinners, but the scribes, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, all of the rulers of the Sanhedrin were like dead men's bones.

Nicodemus should remember this prophecy of Ezekiel.

Jesus tells Nicodemus, “You must be born again.” And then He speaks to him about this mighty wind that would one day very soon sweep across the Nation of Israel.

3: And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live?  And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest.

4: Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD.

5: Thus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live:

6: And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.

7: So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone.

8: And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them.

God, today, has restored the nation of Israel as a people! They have been brought back together out of the valley of death. Yet today, there is no breath in them, for they have not yet acknowledged Christ as their Lord and Savior.

9: Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.

10: So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army.

11: Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts.

12: Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.

13: And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves,

14: And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the LORD.

Here is a well known prophecy of Ezekiel that every member of the Sanhedrin, every Jewish teacher and rabbi would be extremely familiar with. But when Christ began to share this wonderful truth of being born again, Nicodemus was completely baffled. “How can these things be?”

John 3:10-13

10: Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?

11: Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness.

12: If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?

13: And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.

Albert Barnes writes, “This is a very remarkable expression. Jesus, the Son of man, was then bodily on earth conversing with Nicodemus; yet he declares that he is at the same time in heaven. This can be understood only as referring to the fact that he had two natures; his divine nature was in heaven, while his human nature was on earth.”

John 10:27-30

27: My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:

28: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

29: My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.

30: I and my Father are one.

John 14:9

Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?

There is only one way for any human heart to understand, even minutely, the truth of God, and that is by being born again of the Spirit.

1 Corinthians 2:14

But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

John 3:14-16

14: And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:

15: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

16: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

This marvelous truth, Nicodemus, hears with his own ears, but now he must take the truth and apply it to his heart.

Romans 10:9

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

John 3:17-18

17: For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

18: He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Salvation is not by the law, Nicodemus.

Salvation is not by the keeping of rituals and ceremonies.

Nicodemus - Salvation comes when one believes in the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, with all of his heart.

And we understand the truth of salvation, and receive Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are commissioned by Christ to go and tell others.

2 Corinthians 6:1-2

1: We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.

2: (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)