But God has hidden the message of salvation in plain sight, one that is foolish to the natural ear Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1. The question: How to be born again? Let’s take a close look at the context of John 3:16
That’s your solution to Heaven. It’s designed to sound foolish. Nicodemus is stumbling in the very same way that men stumble today. He is overlooking what had been provided while seeking something greater. To the question, how can these things happen? How can you be born again? Jesus gives him the answer anyway. And what follows in chapter 3 at this point includes what is easily the best-known verse of the New Testament, John 3:16. As eloquent as it is at expressing the essence of the Gospel, I want to ask you to consider the whole of Jesus’ answer and avoid focusing on that one verse just because I think it is so familiar it tends to dull our thinking or our attention to some of what is being said around it. It certainly does not diminish its value. I am saying it is part of a larger narrative. This is to the question of how to be born again. Let’s look at the whole of His answer: Continue reading
In contrast to the Pharisaical teaching that said men could affect their own rebirth through certain works, Jesus says it only happens by God through His Spirit. Nicodemus is hearing Jesus’ words, and I believe he understands what Jesus is saying at some level, about salvation but yet he’s amazed by it.
He must have been asking himself whoever heard of such a thing? More than that, whoever seen such a thing? In verse 7 Jesus tells him not to marvel at this concept.
John 3:7-8 (NKJV)
7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
Nicodemus is amazed at the prospect that the Spirit of God is out among men every day moving them, granting rebirth yet it’s undetected up to this point by Israel’s religious leaders. How can that be? In Pharisaical thinking, rebirth is a process of works, just like the sacraments of Catholic theology. Therefore it must be tangible, it has to be something men could see and understand. Continue reading
Continuing our study on the manner of salvation, let’s look at the conversation that now emerges between Christ and Nicodemus, the Pharisee.
John 3:2-3 (NKJV)
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 and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
He comes to Jesus, we’re told, by night, and that tells us all by itself he was probably hoping for a private moment, something that is out of the sight of some of his contemporaries, the watchful eyes of his fellow Pharisees. It suggests something about his heart. His desire for secrecy may be the first indication that he is not your normal, ordinary Pharisee. His perspective might be going somewhere different than the average Pharisee. His interest in Jesus is very personal and presumably, it’s very sincere. The name Nicodemus literally means “victory over people” or “victory for the people,” you could say. I think it is ironic, in fact, it’s prophetically ironic when you consider Jesus delivers the victory for the common man over the tyranny of men like the Pharisees. Continue reading
We enter into one of the most intriguing and unique sections of John’s Gospel. The manner of salvation. We start with Nicodemus.
John chooses to relate a number of encounters between Jesus and various men and women who he is going to portray in the course of the Gospel.
A blind man…among others
Each person John highlights along this path, each one of them is touched by Christ’s
words, by His miracles, and at the end of it, they all come to faith in Christ. That’s one of the unifying qualities of all these people. They are all individuals who come to faith in Christ. They begin each encounter in ignorance, they leave each encounter transformed by Christ. Therefore, each of these interactions serves to highlight a dimension of the salvation found in Christ. Between these encounters, along the way, we are going to see moments where John records various miracles and moments of dialogue between Jesus and three different groups who are following Jesus. These are different than the vignettes I just described. These three groups are: manner of salvation Continue reading