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Are you born again?

Gospel according to John  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Are you born again?

¿Haz nacido de nuevo?

Introducción

1976, according to Newsweek magazine was the year of the evangelicals.
Both presidential candidates (Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter) claimed to be born again christians.
One-third of the population claimed to be born again christians.
Then in 1979 you see the birth of what was known s the religious right.
This voting block consisted of conservative republicans.
Moral, upstanding, church going people.
One of the major parties in this country saw this group of people as very dependable in terms of their vote.
In our most recent election, we saw much talk about evangelicals/christians/born again people having a duty to vote for a particular candidate.
In fact, many evangelicals made claims that this candidate was truly a born again christian.
It seems that to be a Christian in the United States boils down to carrying the American flag in one hand and possibly a bible in the other.
What does it truly mean to be born again? What is a Christian?
Can an unrepentant serial adulterer be a Christian?
Can a person who supports abortion be considered to have experienced salvation?
Can a person who demeans people of other races, cultures, or economic status be truly considered a Christian?
Can a person who discriminates others on the basis of the color of their skin be considered a believer in the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
In our journey through the Gospel according to John we come upon one of the most important chapters in the Bible. We consider:
The necessity of the new birth
La necesidad del nuevo nacimiento
The necessity of the death of Jesus
La necesidad de la muerte de Jesús

I. The necessity of the new birth

I. La necesidad del nuevo nacimiento

A man comes to Jesus at night. It is not just any man. The bible describes him as:
“A member of the Jewish ruling council” (3:1)
A “teacher” in Israel (3:10)
In other words, this man was not an ordinary peasant living in Jerusalem. He was a man who knew the scriptures. He was most likely a Pharisee.
This means he was a member of the most strict sect in judaism.
Pharisees considered themselves to be the “pure ones”. They strived to keep the laws of Moses.
He comes to Jesus at night.
We are not told why he comes to Jesus at night.
It is possible that he did not want to raise any suspicion amongst the rest of the ruling council. It was particularly dangerous to be following the teacher from Galilee.
It is also possible that he wanted a time where Jesus was not being overpowered by the multitudes. He may have wanted some personal, 1:1 time with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Other commentators take the fact that he came at “night” as a sign of Nicodemus’ spiritual darkness. He was certainly in the dark for he did not have the good news of the gospel.
Nicodemus comes to Jesus because he has witnessed the signs he has performed.
John 3:2 NIV
He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”
John 3:
John 3:2 NVI
Éste fue de noche a visitar a Jesús. —Rabí—le dijo—, sabemos que eres un maestro que ha venido de parte de Dios, porque nadie podría hacer las señales que tú haces si Dios no estuviera con él.
To Nicodemus, it was inconceivable to think that these miracles were being performed by a false teacher.
Surely, he was performing these signs because God was with him.
Let us not forget how in we were told of many who were following Jesus because of the signs he was performing.
However, Jesus did not entrust himself to them because he knew their faith was not genuine.
Jesus could see their hearts and discern their false faith.
Jesus it not flattered by Nicodemus’ words. Jesus immediately goes to the most important issue facing Nicodemus:
John 3:3 NIV
Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
John 3:3 NVI
—De veras te aseguro que quien no nazca de nuevo no puede ver el reino de Dios—dijo Jesús.
Two things are stated.
The kingdom of God is real. There is truly a kingdom where God rules. There is a place called heaven. Eternity is real.
In order to enter that kingdom there is a prerequisite. You simply cannot enter the kingdom of God without being qualified to enter. You must be “born again”.
Nicodemus does not understand what Jesus is speaking about.
It is clear that Nicodemus does not understand based on his response “how can someone be born again when they are old”.
Nicodemus is thinking of this new birth in terms of a second physical birth.
It is truly impossible to enter our mother’s womb to be born once again.
Jesus does not leave Nicodemus in the darkness regarding this most important message.
Jesus goes on to explain to Nicodemus what it means to be born again.
John 3:5–7 NIV
Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’
John 3:5–7 NVI
—Yo te aseguro que quien no nazca de agua y del Espíritu, no puede entrar en el reino de Dios—respondió Jesús—. Lo que nace del cuerpo es cuerpo; lo que nace del Espíritu es espíritu. No te sorprendas de que te haya dicho: “Tienen que nacer de nuevo.”
John 3:5
To be born again is to be born of water and the Spirit.
This does not mean to be baptized. Many people wrongly believe that because they were baptized as infants, baptized as young children, or baptized as adults that they are saved. Water baptism does not save a single soul.
In reality, to be born of water and the Spirit is speaking of the same thing. To be born of water and the Spirit speaks about a spiritual cleansing that God performs one a person that has believed.
To be born of water and the Spirit is the moment when God, by the power of the Holy Spirit, cleanses us from our sin. He wipes away all our sins.
It is as if God washes us thoroughly. We are washed by the power of the Holy Spirit. We are made clean in the sight of God.
We are all born once. We all have a fleshly birth. This is our first birth. However, if we are to enter the kingdom of God we must be born of the Spirit. God must do this work in our lives.
To be washed, to be born again does not simply mean to change our behavior. It does not mean to fulfill a religious duty of coming to church on Sundays.
There are many people who were faithful church goers, faithful religious people who will face an eternity in hell, separated from God.
The new birth is beautiflly illustrated in .
Ephesians 4:22–28 NIV
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.
Ephesians 4:22–28 NVI
Con respecto a la vida que antes llevaban, se les enseñó que debían quitarse el ropaje de la vieja naturaleza, la cual está corrompida por los deseos engañosos; ser renovados en la actitud de su mente; y ponerse el ropaje de la nueva naturaleza, creada a imagen de Dios, en verdadera justicia y santidad. Por lo tanto, dejando la mentira, hable cada uno a su prójimo con la verdad, porque todos somos miembros de un mismo cuerpo. «Si se enojan, no pequen.» No permitan que el enojo les dure hasta la puesta del sol, ni den cabida al diablo. El que robaba, que no robe más, sino que trabaje honradamente con las manos para tener qué compartir con los necesitados.
The new birth simply put is the new life we are given in Jesus Christ.
A life of service to God, a life of love and faithfulness to God. A life of obedience to God as revealed in his Word.
A life devoted to the worship of God.
How is the new birth accomplished? It’s simply a mystery!
John 3:8 NIV
The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
John 3:8 NVI
El viento sopla por donde quiere, y lo oyes silbar, aunque ignoras de dónde viene y a dónde va. Lo mismo pasa con todo el que nace del Espíritu.
We cannot produce the new birth in people.
We cannot make someone to be born again.
In fact, we cannot determine when someone will be born again.
It is like the wind. We cannot control it, we cannot make the wind to pass here or there. The wind moves wherever it wishes. All we see is the effects of the wind.
So too…the Spirit of God moves upon people according to the plan of God.
God is the one who does the miracle of the new birth in a rebellious sinner.
It is God who grants faith, it is God who changes our heart of stone, it is God who saves, it is God who gives us the new birth. We are simply called to repent and believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Nicodemus still cannot understand. He is certainly a teacher in Israel. He has been taught all his life that the jews are the chosen people of God.
He has believed a lie which promises the kingdom of God to all those who obey God’s law.
The problem is that there is no one that can perfectly obey the law of God.
He is living in slavery to not only the law of Moses but to many manmade commandments of men.
It is for this reason that the the jews, particularly the pharisees hated Jesus because he was calling them to repentance. Jesus was calling those who considered themselves to be pure to repentance.

II. The necessity of the death of Jesus

II. La necesidad de la muerte de Jesús

Jesus makes it clear to Nicodemus that he testifies that which he knows.
John 3:13 NIV
No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.
John 3:13 NVI
Nadie ha subido jamás al cielo sino el que descendió del cielo, el Hijo del hombre.
Jesus is God. He came from heaven to earth. He was in the presence of God the father. He knows God’s plan of salvation. He has been sent forth by God to give his life for all who would believe.
Humanity needs salvation. We have fallen short of the glory of God. We have rebelled.
Jesus reminds Nicodemus of the tragedy that Israel experienced as they wandered through the dessert ().
The people of God had rebelled against him.
God sent forth venemous snakes that would bite the children of Israel. It was a mortal bite.
God had mercy upon his people and told Moses to make a snake out of bronze. Moses was commanded to lift up the snake upon a pole.
All who looked upon the bronze serpent were healed of the venemous bite. Those who did not look upon the bronze serpent would surely die.
God’s answer to man’s misery was to send his Son Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ would die upon the cross. He would also be lifted up.
He would die a shameful and painful death upon the cross.
He would be mocked, spat upon, ridiculed, he would be lifted high upon the cross…so that all who would believe “may have eternal life in him”.
There is no other way. There is no other savior. There is no other path to the kingdom of God.
God requires all of mankind to believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ. Look upon Jesus and you will be saved.
If you look upon Jesus you will be born again by the power of the Holy Spirit.
How can you know whether you have been born again?
It is really quite simple - do you see the effects of the wind/the Spirit upon your life?
After this encounter, was Nicodemus born again?
The only way to determine this is to see whether we show the effects of the Spirit of God in his life.
We encounter Nicodemus in . In this section we see many of his fellow pharisees reprimanding the temple guards for not brining Jesus under arrest.
The pharisees accuse them of having been deceived by Jesus.
Nicodemus speaks up and says:
John 7:50–51 NIV
Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus earlier and who was one of their own number, asked, “Does our law condemn a man without first hearing him to find out what he has been doing?”
John 7:50 NIV
Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus earlier and who was one of their own number, asked,
John 7:50–51 NVI
Nicodemo, que era uno de ellos y que antes había ido a ver a Jesús, les interpeló: —¿Acaso nuestra ley condena a un hombre sin antes escucharlo y averiguar lo que hace?
John
His words seem to indicate he sees Jesus being unjustly condemned. He sees an injustice being committed against the Lord Jesus. But it is not very clear whether he was truly trusted the Lord Jesus Christ.
Is this truly the end of Nicodemus? Do we know anything else of his faith journey?
The last time we encounter Nicodemus is in . Jesus has been crucified. His body has been taken down from the cross.
John 19:39 NIV
He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds.
John 19:38–39 NIV
Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds.
John 19:38–39 NVI
Después de esto, José de Arimatea le pidió a Pilato el cuerpo de Jesús. José era discípulo de Jesús, aunque en secreto por miedo a los judíos. Con el permiso de Pilato, fue y retiró el cuerpo. También Nicodemo, el que antes había visitado a Jesús de noche, llegó con unos treinta y cuatro kilos de una mezcla de mirra y áloe.
Judas, who was one of the 12, has betrayed Jesus.
The other disciples have all fled, fearing for their lives.
Jesus body has now been removed from the cross, most likely to be buried in a common grave.
However, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus go to the Jewish leaders and ask for the body of our beloved Savior.
John 19:40 NIV
Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs.
John 19:40 NVI
Ambos tomaron el cuerpo de Jesús y, conforme a la costumbre judía de dar sepultura, lo envolvieron en vendas con las especias aromáticas.
Now Nicodemus is gently wrapping our Saviors body in the strips of linen.
The Savior of the world who had told him about the new birth is now dead.
He is gently holding his head, his arms, his feet. He is seeing first hand the effects of having been lifted up upon the cross.
Nicodemus could have faced ridicule, he could have lost prominence in the Jewish council.
But surely, Nicodemus could not contain himself. He had believed. Nicodemus shows every sign of having been born again, washed by water and the Spirit. Forgiven, redeemed, justified, saved, born again by the power of God.
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