02 04 03 01-10 - Don't Miss Out
Don’t Miss Out John 3:1-10
· How many of you enjoy missing out on something good?
o Missing the green light and having to wait at the red because the person driving in front of you was going too slow
o Missing a plane by five minutes because you hit the snooze alarm one time too many
o Missing out on a fun event b/c you didn’t even know about it
· If we think a bit—I’m sure we could all come up with plenty of times we regretted missing out on something just because of some silly reason
· @ Dad’s best softball game
o Championship— Airforce vs. Marines
o Dad was the pitcher
§ 21 batters—he struck out 19
§ 1 guy hit a pop fly to my dad
§ The other one hit a line drive to my dad and he threw him out at first base
§ In the bottom of the last inning—score 0-0, a man on second base—2 outs—my dad hit a long ball past the outfielders—the man on second scored and Dad pretty much single-handedly won that game
o I was nine years old—I missed seeing that
§ I was more engrossed with finding coke can tabs and climbing fences
§ And I missed out on what is probably still one of the greatest single sporting events of all time
· As good as that would have been—and as disappointing as it is that I missed it...there is something FAR greater and FAR more important that is possible to miss out on
o And with far greater ramifications than just simple regrets
o The grace of God!
· Explanation of Grace
o Every person ever born has a major defect—SIN
o That sin separates us from God so that
§ On earth—we don’t know Him and enjoy Him
§ At death—we are separated from Him forever in hell
o BUT...that’s not what God wants
§ know Him, enjoy Him, and live with Him forever
o So He took care of our sin problem by coming as Jesus Christ to die on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin
§ We did nothing to deserve that action
§ That is grace!
o He then offers to each person the gift of salvation
§ Forgiveness of sins
§ Allows us to know, enjoy, and live with Him forever
· It is possible to miss out on that gift as we see here today.
o Please make sure you DO NOT miss out on God’s grace
· How can a person miss out on God’s grace?
I. Trust in Religion (1)
1. A Pharisee
(1) Jesus’ time — temple was run by wealthy and corrupt priests
(2) Average Jew did not feel close to the temple worship system
(3) Pharisees were for the common man
(a) Well-respected by the people for religious dedication
(b) Their basic belief was:
i. We need to protect you from yourself
ii. It is too easy for people to break God’s laws
iii. So we will add all kinds of regulations that keep you from even getting close to breaking the Law
iv. Eventually those regulations became as important as God’s Word
b. Matthew 5:20 - For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.
2. A ruler of the Jews
(1) Made up of 71 religious leaders
(2) Influential Priests, family and tribal elders, and scribes (experts in law)
b. A spiritual Leader to the Jews — “The teacher of Israel” (v. 10)
c. As a Pharisee— Willing to stand up to the wealthy priests
3. Accepted Jesus as an equal
a. “You are a Rabbi” – on the same par with Nicodemus
b. A teacher from God – something special about you
4. Spiritual Insight
a. Had seen Jesus’ signs (2:23-25)
b. Probably had seen or at least heard about the temple cleansing
5. Bottom Line – this was a good man
a. But we will see in a minute that it was all for nothing if he was trusting in those things to get into God’s kingdom
1. I have met very religious people
a. @ One guy told me not too long ago, “I’ve forgotten more about religion than most people will ever know.” GOOD!
b. Because religion does nothing for us spiritually
2. Difference between Religion and Christianity is Do vs. Done
a. Religion says Do
b. Christianity says, “It’s been done” by Christ
a. Ephesians 2:8-9 - 8For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9not of works, lest anyone should boast.
b. 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 - 3Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. 4He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said. (NLT)
4. If you want to miss out on God’s grace, just put your trust in what YOU can do.
II. Refuse to be humble (3-4)
1. Nicodemus was trying to be accepted based on his own merits
2. Jesus cut straight to the heart of the matter
a. “If you want to be accepted by God, you must be born again”
3. Born Again
a. What is a birth? It is the beginning
b. So if you are born again it means what? Go back to the beginning
c. @ Marbles at the Fenton home—you’re trying to get your 4 marbles around the board and back to home. You can be one space away from home and someone lands on your space – sends you right back to the beginning. Horrible!
d. No one likes to lose the ground you’ve gained
4. The problem here
a. Nicodemus had spent a long time getting to where he was
(1) Education—politicking—networking—memorizing the OT and the Pharisaic additions
b. But he had to go back to the beginning
5. The response
a. He wasn’t so stupid to miss what Jesus was saying
b. He was saying that it was just as ridiculous
c. “I’ve gained so much – and you tell me it is worthless?!?!?”
d. “Look what I’ve done!”
1. @ Statistics about salvation more often for children than adults
a. (43%)— before age 13
b. (64%) —before age 18
c. (23%) —after age 21
2. Most adults come to Christ through a crisis or a real bad period
a. The situation has taken them back to the beginning
b. When you witness, don’t be surprised if people get angry.
(1) You’re telling them everything they believed is wrong
(2) They too have to go back to the beginning
3. If you want to be accepted by God, you must:
a. Acknowledge all the good you have done is still not good enough
b. Humble yourself to accept the truth—nothing you can do will make you accepted by God
(1) It’s only what He does that makes you acceptable
(2) More of that next week
III. Ignore the Word of God (5)
1. “You must be born of water and the Spirit”
a. “Water” — God’s Ministry of Cleansing
(1) Remember that Jesus is speaking to a scholar of the Hebrew Scriptures
(2) He knew those Scriptures inside and out
(3) Ezekiel 36:25-27 - 25Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.
(a) A promise to the Jews that God would cleanse them
(b) The New Covenant
(c) IOW, to gain God’s acceptance—it would be God who would do all the work
i. Cleansing from filthiness (the water)
ii. Redirecting the heart (the Spirit)
2. The answer for Nicodemus had been in the Bible all the time!
a. Read, memorized, studied, taught—but had not applied it!
b. Had the Scriptures as a text book—but not as God’s Word to him!
1. Many people today are in the same boat
a. Churches right now reading Scripture—but still believing it’s their good works that get them to heaven
b. @ Catholic doctrine
(1) “There are seven sacraments in the Church: Baptism, Confirmation..., Eucharist, Penance, Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders, and Matrimony”
(2) “1129 - The Church affirms that for believers the sacraments of the New Covenant are necessary for salvation.”
c. @ Catholic Bible—1957 versions
(1) Ephesians 2:8-9—For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not from yourselves, for it is the gift of God; not as the outcome of works, lest anyone may boast.
(2) Titus 3:5—then not by reason of good works that we did ourselves, but according to his mercy, he saved us through the bath of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit.
(3) Acts 16:30-31—... “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved”
2. God’s Word is so clear
a. Even the New World Translation (JWs—who deny Jesus was God in the flesh) says at Acts 16:30-31—... “Sirs, what must I do to get saved?” They said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus and you will get saved.”
3. The sad part
a. Many good, religious people, who are doing what they have been told they must do to be accepted by God—are being led astray
b. Matthew 7:21-23 – 21Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ (ESV)
4. The Word of God is so clear!
a. John 14:6 - Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
b. Please don’t ignore God’s Word on this eternally important issue!
IV. Ignore the Work of God (6-10)
1. V 6a – Even if you COULD be physically reborn, that still would not help you spiritually
a. IOW—ever wish you could go back in time and fix some mistakes?
b. Being physically reborn with the intention of not sinning this time would still not be good enough b/c we are born as sinners
c. Again—nothing you or I can do will ever be good enough to allow us to be right with God
2. No—this work is a spiritual work! (6b)
a. Wind illustration
(1) 8a—wind cannot be controlled by will or wisdom of man
(2) 8b—you cannot see wind, but you can see its affects
(3) 8c—Man does not start or stop the wind
1. The Holy Spirit’s work in you cannot be controlled by man
a. You cannot tell God what He will or will not do in your life
(1) “You can control this part of my life, but not this part.”
2. You cannot see the Holy Spirit, but you can certainly see the affect
a. We like to be able to experience with our senses b/c it validates the truth of what we are experiencing
b. But the Holy Spirit does not need our validation
(1) He is still working whether you want to accept it or not
(2) He is still real ...
3. You cannot stop or start His work by anything you do
a. @ People who know they need to be saved—but say they will wait until they are ready
(1) They want to squeeze out all the “fun” of life and then when they are old and tired—then they’ll accept Him
b. At the risk of sounding like an emotional manipulator...
(1) You have no guarantee that you’ll have another day
(a) James 4:14 - You do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. (ISV)
(2) You have no guarantee that the Holy Spirit will still be working to draw you to Himself
(a) There are examples in the Bible of people whom God called—they rejected—consequences came—they rejected even more
i. Pharaoh—King Saul—people who called for Christ’s crucifixion
4. If God is drawing you to Himself—be so very thankful!!!!
a. John 6:44 - No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him
b. Don’t ignore God’s work...or you will miss God’s grace.
· Here’s the scary thing
o For Nicodemus—even though he was so close to the truth (He was THE teacher of Israel) — he was so far away from experiencing God’s grace!
o You could know the truth of salvation
§ You could explain how to get right with God
§ BUT be so very far away yourself
· Going to church—being good—knowing Bible truths
o Nothing wrong with these
o BUT they are not going to get you one day in heaven
· The good news?
o We see later in Jesus’ story that Nicodemus eventually did accept God’s grace
§ He did become a follower of Christ
o And you can too...
o John 3:16
· Please don’t miss out on God’s grace because you think you can do it all yourself.
o Will you accept God’s gift of salvation today?