March 9

The problem: All humanity wants a say in its salvation and wants to earn it. Granted, a few may not care about it at all, but those wanting to reach a higher spiritual plane will work for it.

The complimentary issue: God has designated, like how the wind blows, when and where the Spirit will work. Salvation is not of works, and is not in our hands. This fact frustrates and even infuriates many of us.

What should our response be? Just tell everybody about Christ. I’m not worried about who will be saved and who won’t be (and I say that in contrast to the fact that I am concerned about people I pray for that they will get saved). I think we need to be more worried about whether we are spreading the Good News.

So, notice some of the key facts about John 3:

  1. Nicodemus is a self-righteous religious ruler.
  2. He comes to Jesus, and never asks any questions.
  3. Yet, Jesus dives right into his heart and upsets his belief system by telling him he needs to be born from above.
  4. He mistakes Jesus’ meaning to be “born again” (1 Greek word with 2 meanings).
  5. Jesus launches off that trajectory and tells him he must be born of the water and the Spirit (the washing and regeneration of the Holy Spirit).
  6. Nicodemus finds this incredulous! He’s never heard such a thing before. He’s been a keeper of the Law, the cream of the religious crop, and guaranteed a spot in Heaven by his belief system. Now Jesus says, “Nope, you ain’t going unless you’re born from above.”
  7. Jesus then tells him that faith is what guarantees eternal life—Look and live!

Now, what was Nicodemus’ hang up? Jesus told him that there is absolutely nothing he can do to be saved—that it is wholly of God. The faith to believe in Jesus as one’s Lord and Savior cannot be generated from within; it is only by the working of the Holy Spirit. So, remember the 3-orbed view of faith that the Reformers taught:

  1. Notitia: Knowledge—you have to know:
    1. Faith comes by hearing the Word—Romans 10
  2. Fiducia: Believe, trust Him:
    1. This is what Jesus told Nicodemus he must do
  • Assensus: Commit to Him:
    1. Faith in action (Faith without works is dead)

I fear we have reduced Christianity to what is known as “Easy Believism”, the idea that all you need to do is have a cursory belief in Jesus. Yet, Jesus never allows for that, nor does Paul, James, John, etc. Too many people go to church today all across our nation who say they are Christians but have not committed to Him, nor have they placed their salvation in His hands beyond a prayer. It’s sort of like that Doobie Brothers song, “Jesus is Just Alright” wherein the singers affirm He’s their bud, but that’s about it.

John revisits the light and dark imagery in this chapter. The Gospel is offensive because it attacks your god (sin). It is the light penetrating the darkness and screaming at the darkness to go away. And, as we know, Satan wants to keep us in the dark!

  • And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing (the lost), in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.—II. Corinthians 4:4

Waikoloa is a beautiful, sunny community that has the daily light of the sun shining on it. We wake up, drive off, and can see everything from goats on the side of the road to fallen lava rock. We see traffic slowing down up ahead, and we can see people crossing the crosswalks with their bright green flags.

But, each day people all around us are waking up in spiritual darkness, trying to move forward in life with no honest Gospel light, and they cannot see the obstacles that have been placed in front of them. Many will stumble continually until they give up hope, and maybe end their lives. Others will trudge on thinking things have to be better down the road, all the while trusting in a spurious version of hope. And of course, those following false gods will keep trusting them, hoping that they will earn their eternal reward.

Is it any wonder these people are running off the road? They’re hitting things, wiping out, and end up despondent and depressed. They need the confidence of the Gospel of Jesus Christ:

  • Peter 1:3-5 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
  1. Have you ever had the joy of sharing the Gospel with a lost person and then seeing that person’s eyes be opened to the wonderful truths of God’s grace? _____________________________________________
    1. It is neat to see one’s eyes opened to the light, to see that person embrace the truth and love it.
    2. It is also neat to see that person devour the Word of God and start reading it because it’s so refreshing, and spiritually feeds.
    3. This is the miracle of the Gospel, of the power of God, and of the cross. God had ordained the message and the means of salvation. We just need to be faithful to proclaim it and He promises to reward us for that faithfulness.
  2. Are you regularly praying for your lost neighbors (maybe even, family, friends, co-workers? ________________________________________________________
    1. If not, start a prayer list today, and keep at it each and every day.
  3. Ever hear the psychologically-promoted Gospel? You know, “Do you want purpose in your life? Jesus will give you purpose,” or “Jesus will make you happy,” or “Jesus will give you a better life,” or “make you better”, “give you money”, etc.
    1. This is a false Gospel that you will never find in the Bible. It’s often a Gospel designed to market Jesus better.
    2. We are to preach about sin and let the Light expose them so that they will be convicted.
    3. Evaluate the Gospel you preach. Ensure it matches the one the Bible teaches.
  4. Now, do you want confidence, assurance, and joy in your life? ________________________________________________________
    1. Then expose yourself to the Light of the Word daily! It will convict, it will also confirm your birth from above because you will live a graced life that only God can give you.
    2. If you love the Light, that’s the John 3:21 evidence of your salvation!