Jesus Presents His Gospel
“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you--unless, of course, you fail the test? And I trust that you will discover that we have not failed the test.” (2 Corinthians 13:5-6)
Text: John Chapter 3
- Friends, this series will have a different method attached to it. Usually when I teach, I do so from a position of confidence that I understand the material and I'm therefore trying to help YOU understand it too. But this time, I don't think I completely get it all and I wonder if we can read the material and allow the Holy Spirit to teach us all.
- Beginning with looking again at John 3, I’d like to explore the New Testament teachings about Salvation. Why? Listen to this quote from the book The Gospel According to Jesus by John MacArthur….
- Here is why I’d like us all to “survey” salvation teachings...
- Salvation, by its very nature, is supernatural. It happens by grace through faith and is a work of the Spirit: "He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior" (Titus 3:5-6). In the King James Version, the word "rebirth" in verse 5 is the word "regeneration."
- So if salvation is supernatural and is a work of the Spirit (it is)....and if salvation means we enter a new Kingdom, one of light instead of darkness (it does)....and if salvation means we've been broken to the point where we acknowledge our sin, repent, and submit to Christ as Lord (it has too)....then why do "saved" folks act the way they do? Have you ever asked yourself that question?! Here are some of my questions for the Holy Spirit (not about our church necessarily...just in general):
- How can a "saved" man leave his family for another woman? How can a "saved" woman walk in continual rebellion against her husband? In other words, why can't two "saved" people get along and stay married?
- How can a "saved" people physically or verbally abuse each other?
- How can "saved" folks consume so much "entertainment" that is hurtful to God?
- Why is there so much hand-shaking with the world by “saved” folks?
- How can "saved" folks treat the local church with so much contempt?
- How can "saved" folks take evangelism or prayer or Bible reading or standing up for righteousness so casually?
- And if all of this happens because of 1) trauma in the past of a truly saved person, or 2) lack of moral knowledge (our normal reasons), where is the "washing of rebirth" (regeneration) and the "renewal of the Spirit"? Have old things truly passed away and become new (2 Cor 5:17) or are we misunderstanding that Scripture?
- I think I understand the concept of sanctification (being continually set apart)...that it is a life-long process by the Spirit. And I believe I "get" what God's grace and mercy means. But should His willingness to extend grace mean we should abuse it (Romans 6)? And how can the truly saved (a Holy Spirit indwelt person) do that over and over and over?
- Is it possible that "asking Jesus to come into your heart" without truly and totally submitting to Him as Lord is part of the problem? (There is an entire segment of the Body of Christ that believes that salvation DOES NOT require a willingness to obey Christ…just believe the facts about Christ. Wow. But “Jesus is Lord” can only be uttered by one with the Spirit!)
- Is it possible that the prosperity Gospel has dumbed down the "counting the cost" required to truly follow Christ? Is it possible that people are "getting saved" by walking aisles and signing cards but not truly being transformed and reborn by the Spirit? Is it even possible that some folks who think they are saved...aren't...because they never fully submitted everything to Christ until death by the Spirit? And what is the church's role in ensuring that people know what it really, really, really means to follow Jesus?
- I’m honestly asking these questions of the Holy Spirit. Let’s go on a journey together and try to figure this out….
Jesus Presents His Gospel Pt 1: John 3:1-21
- According to Jesus, TRUE Salvation is a Spiritual rebirth!
- The enormity (and the difficulty) of this “gospel presentation” is immense. Far from making salvation easy, it seems like Jesus is giving Nicodemus an impossible task.
- Even though He was talking to a “religious” person well versed in the Scriptures who thought his good works were enough to save him, Jesus was in affect saying, “all you thought you knew and all you thought you were are nothing; you must start over.”
- This is SO much more than signing a card or walking an isle. This is a complete and total transformation (by the Spirit) of a person whereby they are translated from the Kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of light. In other words, you cannot just “decide” to enter His Kingdom; you must be Born into it! This means nothing less than a shift in thinking, a change in nature, and a new understanding of divine revelation!
- Nicodemus was shocked at what salvation required!
- If we give Nicodemus credit for common sense, he understood a man wasn’t going to go into his mother’s womb again. He was saying “I don’t know if I can start over.” What Jesus was asking for seemed like too much!
- Calling a religious man like Nicodemus to a spiritual rebirth meant:
- It was something he could not “do” on his own! He couldn’t just go fast more or pray more or read more or give more!
- He had to forsake everything he stood for! He had to accept this his righteousness was nothing in the sight of God!
- He had to acknowledge his own insufficiency and turn from everything he was committed to!
- Nicodemus (a self-righteous Pharisee) needed to be purified (water) by the Spirit! (1 Cor 12:13; Titus 3:5) This is our difficulty today; who wants to acknowledge that they are no good?
- Without a Spiritual rebirth by faith, there is eternal condemnation!
- And this rebirth seems to be demonstrated by a love of the light and a hatred of the darkness (vv19-21)
- Here is a interesting point to consider: Jesus seems to indicate that Nicodemus’ real problem was unbelief (vv11-12). His lack of understanding was due to his lack of belief.
- Faith comes before full understanding because the things of God are “spiritually discerned.” (1 Cor 2:14)
- Can anyone be saved without admitting total guilt before God and being regenerated by the Spirit?
- How many people claim to be saved but either don’t truly believe or won’t truly commit?
- Shouldn’t something a dramatic and spectacular as being “born again” produce more joy, obedience, and faith in us?