Date: 22 June, 2014
Text: John 3:14-18
Nicodemus is seen twice in the New Testament. The first time he comes to Jesus, he comes with great fear of what others will think. He comes by night. The second time he comes and helps take the body of Jesus from the cross in broad daylight without concern for what others would think.
The change that we see in Nicodemus is because of the Gospel he received when he first came to Jesus by night. Nicodemus was no longer just religious. He had a relationship with God by faith.
note: There are a lot of religious people who have no TRUE relationship with Jesus. Their lives have never been changed by the Gospel.
Nicodemus even though he was fearful was bold enough to come to the right place to get the truth about eternal life. He came to Jesus Christ, the great teacher come from God.
1 ¶ There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:
2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, 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.
exp. Jesus speaks to Nicodemus about being born again by being born spiritually. We are all physically born on our birthdate. But, we ought to have a spiritual birthdate as well when God gave us eternal life by His Spirit. As our physical conception was through a physical seed, so our spiritual conception is through a spiritual seed. That seed is the Gospel or Good Tidings or Good News. We must receive that seed by faith into our heart and let it bring forth the fruit of eternal life.
note: salvation isn't church attendance, or church rituals, baptism, or good works. (If it was through those things, then I have a question? Why did Jesus have to die?
Salvation is one way and that is through the Gospel seed. The angels spoke about this at the birth of Jesus.
Luke 2:10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
exp. The good news (GOSPEL) is always associated with the Savior, Jesus Christ.
We are going to have a simple Gospel message this morning. If you don't understand the Gospel, you can not be saved from Hell and on your way to Heaven. So, what is the Gospel?
I. The picture of the Gospel.
exp. Illustrations are like windows. They let light in. They illumine. Jesus uses an illustration to illumine the Gospel.
14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:
question: How is the Gospel like the story of the serpent? Well let's read the story and see.
A. The people had a need because of their disobedience.
4 ¶ And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way.
5 And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread.
6 And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.
question: Why did poisonous snakes come into the camp of Israel? God sent them to punish his disobedient, griping, complaining, unbelieving people.
question: Do we have a punishment for our disobedience? yes - the punishment is death.
ill. Garden of Eden - Genesis 2:17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
ill. Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death;
app. If there was no sin today, we could all go to Heaven and we would all have a right relationship with our creator designer. The problem is we have all sinned.
Romans 3:10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
ill. If I said to taught in my religion that the only way to go to heaven is by riding a one horned, two headed, pink and purple poka dotted hippopotamous. Would anyone be able to go to Heaven? No, because even though I say that, there is no such thing as a on horned, two headed, pink and purple poka dotted hippopotamous.
exp. Many religious leaders say, "Good people go to Heaven."What is the problem? There is no such animal. We've all disobeyed God and God has put punishment upon us.
B. The people wanted a way of repentance to appease God's wrath.
7 Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD, and against thee; pray unto the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people.
exp. They prayed to God to provide a way for them to be spared from his wrath. There were many who were truly repentant.
ill. Jesus said in Luke 13:5 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. exp. "perish" means Be damned, go to Hell "Repent" means to change your mind. It is to agree with God about your sin and your right to be punished.
question: Please don't answer out loud. But, is a lie a big deal? Most people defend their lies with the words, "I only tell white lies, that help people." Does that statement agree with God?
ill. Re 21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
question: Are men's lustful looks at women a big deal? Again our world says that is normal and that everyone does it? Adultery is bad thing but not lusting. Does that agree with God?
Matthew 5:28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
app. If these people had not pled with God for his mercy they would not have received it. Repentance is key to man's ability to receive the Gospel.
C. God put a promise by faith up in the air for dying men to be saved.
8 And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.
9 And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.
exp. They had to know they were bitten and dying. With that knowledge they could despair or respond by faith and run to the brazen serpent anticipating God's salvation.
question: If I was Moses and I had just revealed the truth about the bronze serpent to the people, how would I know someone believed what God had revealed? When they ran to look at the bronze serpent.
app. If you don't believe that your sin is going to be judged by eternal death in the fires of Hell, I have very little hope this morning that you will be running to the cross.BUT THAT IS THE PICTURE OF THE GOSPEL AS SEEN IN THE BRAZEN SERPENT.
song: "Look and live, my brother live, look to Jesus now and live. Tis recorded in God's Word halelujah, it is only that you look and live."
II. The promise of the Gospel.
15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
exp. A promise from man can be broken. A promise from can not.
Numbers 23:19 God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?
ill. When seeking to lead children to faith in Jesus, after they prayed to accept Christ, I would ask them, "Are you saved?" They would say, "Yes." I would ask "Why?" And I would show them again that God had promised and they had obeyed the condition of His promise.
ill. Imagine that I was giving away the opportunity to fly to the moon. I said, "All you have to do to get a reservation is to come shake my hand." Someone who had seen you listen to me asks you, "Do you have ticket?" You say, "I hope so." They say, "Well don't you know so." You say, "Nobody can know." What is that person going to think? You must not know that all you have to do is shake his hand. Because if you had shaken his hand, you'd know that you have your reservation.
exp. I often ask people, "Are you born again? saved? on your way to Heaven?" And they say, "No one can know that." Isn't that interesting? God has promised salvation to those who accept Jesus by faith, "Why don't they know whether or not they have done it?" BECAUSE THEY HAVE NOT LISTENED TO GOD'S WORD AND BELIEVED THE PROMISE.
III. The plan of the Gospel.
A. This plan was formed in love.
16 For God so loved the world,
exp. I'm glad it doesn't just say, "loved" but that is says, "so loved."
ill. "So loved" is way above and beyond. It is commendable.
Sapper James McDermott....
Sapper James McDermott, from the Corps of Royal Engineers, has been awarded a Mention in Despatches for demonstrating gallantry in braving enemy fire to go to the aid of British and Afghan colleagues.
Last July, Sapper McDermott and his search team were with members of the Afghan National Civil Order Police (ANCOP) on a planned search near a checkpoint in Pan Kalay after discovering digging had taken place there.
On recalling the incident, Sapper McDermott said:
Insurgents had been digging tunnels, putting improvised explosive devices in them and then blowing them up along this particular route, so there had been lots of casualties there. Our job was to go to this place where it kept happening and find the devices.
After searching around the compounds, the team came under fire from around 10 enemy positions. During the attack, a British commander was hit by an enemy bullet in the foot, and an ANCOP soldier got shot in the leg.
While under direct attack, Sapper McDermott ran to his commander to give him first aid. Then, with the help of another team member, Sapper McDermott managed to get his commander to safety before running 30 metres, while still under fire, to treat his Afghan colleague and bring him to safety.
Sapper McDermott acted without any hesitation or thought for his own personal safety, and it’s these actions which have led to him being awarded a Mention in Despatches.
app. Our Father without regard for His own interests put our interests ahead of his own.
B. This plan involved ultimate sacrifice.
that he gave his only begotten Son,
exp. Jesus is sharing this story. He knew what it cost the Father to send the Son.
ill. When we left for Scotland one of the hardest things for me was knowing the cost to my mom and dad to send us. I was taking their grandkids to another country. What do you think it was like for Jesus to say these words knowing the sacrifice behind them?
ill. Christine was able to donate her liver. (Her grand daughter Ali had received a transplant and she wanted to meet someone else's needs.) She saved the life of a 61-year-old New York man. About a year after Christine’s death, Molly received a thank you card from the liver transplant recipient.
“He expressed how grateful he was, that he had been waiting and waiting and knew that his time was short,” says Molly. “It gave me goose bumps to read those words, because it was all the same things that we had experienced and felt with Ali’s transplant.”
app. The words, "That he gave his only begotten son" don't begin to describe the sacrifice that God the Father made so that we can have life.
C. This plan would be for any and all men.
that whosoever believeth in him
exp. Jesus didn't come for the rich/poor/black/white/tall/short/male/female/child/adult/educated/uneducated etc. He came for the "WHOSOEVER."
note: The best way to read that is with a blank for your name. "That ____________________ believeth in me" The condition that fills the blank with your name is faith.
app. The only thing keeping people out of Heaven is their unbelief.
Acts 16:31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
D. This plan that would give salvation and take away damnation.
should not perish, but have everlasting life.
exp. Perish is not purgatory (no such thing.) Perish is hell. Everlasting life is not temporary. It is eternal.
app. Again I say this morning, I know for sure that when I die I am going to Heaven. Why, because I have accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior. He has ALREADY given me everlasting life. I have received Jesus Christ into my heart.
I John 5: 11 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.
13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
app. Do you know for sure that if you died today, you would go to Heaven and not to Hell? I don't mean hope, I mean KNOW because the God who cannot lie has promised.
IV. The purpose of the Gospel.
17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
exp. The judgments recorded in the book of revelation are coming. God is going to let his wrath lose on this earth. (Interestingly the Bible speaks of scorpions with stingin in their tails etc. God has often used men to bring his judgment. He could do so again. I read yesterday that some fear robotic warriors of the future. I've seen some of them.) It will happen but not yet. Hell is real. But, hell does not come until after death.
note: Between us and the end times and us and Hell is a loving God who EXTENDED GREAT MERCY BY SENDING THE SAVIOR AND NOT THE JUDGE.
app. Don't trip over God's mercy and fall into Hell. You can only get their by passing right past the loving pierced hand of the Lord reaching out to you. He doesn't want to condemn you but he will. He desires to save you and He can.
V. The problem of the Gospel.
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.
exp. The problem of the Gospel is that there are many who will refuse to believe it and accept it. They will not be damned they are damned. God's judgment is passed upon them already. They are like a prisoner on death row being offered a pardon.
app. Friend, how can you look at the cross and turn away from the loving eyes of a Saviour who suffered that for you? He again offers you life for His death.
conclusion: There is no doubt in my mind that Nicodemus was a changed man when we read about his coming to the cross. He no longer cared about His religion. He cared about His Lord.
How about you this morning?
Have you ever repented and looked in faith at Jesus? The bronze serpent pictured salvation.
Have you received the promise of the Gospel? God who cannot lie says it is by faith.
God's plan with the Gospel is for WHOSOEVER WILL TRUST IN HIM.
He didn't come to condemn but to save.
The problem of the Gospel is that so many men will refuse to receive His pardon.
1 ¶ There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:
2 The same came to Jesus
Won't you come to Him today?