What is your passion that drives you to tears? For me its my family and the thought that my own sin would somehow rub off on my kids or wife and cause them to be hurt or to somehow lead them away from God. I really have a desire to be a good Daddy to my sons. To protect them and guide them into manhood with wisdom, and grace, and truth, and love, understanding, presence, and encouragement- to come alongside them and pour my life into them- to be the kind of Dady that God not only intends from fathers, but to be the kind of Daddy that God is for His children.
I also am burdened knowing that there are kids throughout the world who either don’t have parents or have parents who don’t support and care for them- kids without people in their lives who love them. It just breaks my heart- that many kids are not shown love, but are the victims of evil perpetrated against them by the ones who are supposed to be their protector, to be the one’s who champion them the most, who are their greatest supporter-
and instead they’re abandoned, neglected, abused, defeated, at very young ages, hopeless, not understanding the deep deep love that God has for them because it had never been modeled to them at all.
I read the the story of Bill- A guy whose father beat him up in his formative years. He said that he routinely watched his mother being dragged around the house by her hair. And if he or his sisters ever tried to intervene, they were also screamed at, slapped in the face, punched, thrown to the ground, and sometimes kicked while they lay on the floor. Bill was physically abused but maybe even worse He was emotionally abused. One day as little boy, he brought home a report card with straight A’s and handed it proudly to his father, only to hear him say, “I’m sure you won’t get straight A’s next time. You’ll screw up eventually, and some day I expect to have to bail you out of Jail for being a screw up.”
Brothers and sisters, this may be the worst kind of evil
How can this be made right?
How can any human being whose been defiled or has been the defiler be whole again?
How can we possibly put a stop to this evil in the world?
What is the solution?
This morning we’re going to discover from the words of Jesus the solution to our problem.
What is our primary problem according to Christ? What is the cause of all victimization, selfishness, injustice, cruelty, hunger, poverty, greed, depression, war, fathers and mothers abusing their kids, bigotry, pride, prejudice, boredom, hopelessness, and purposelessness? Our problem is that apart from Christ we are dead spiritually. We are spirtitually dead outside of Christ.
Ephesians God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ- by grace you have been saved-
If spiritual deadness is our primary problem, what will be the solution?
I must say this morning, especially since we are sitting in a church that the solution is NOT REligion?
In fact Jesus himself hated Religion and saw it as a big part of the problem.
The solution for our spiritual deadness is not religion, but the solution is REbirth- an actual Rebirthing of my heart, your heart, and all of our hearts.
In a nutshell, Jesus taught that for real true goodness to overcome evil, for justice to overcome injustice, for life to overcome death- a radical change in our vary being needs to take place right here- heart change comes first.
It is heart change that gonna make things right,
It’s heart change that’s gonna make things whole,
It’s heart change that’s gonna put a stop to evil flowing out of people hearts.
It’s heart change the will save Bill and his Dad
It is only the Reborn heart that will ultimately usher into our lives and out of our lives real love, real joy, real peace, real hope, real goodness that is sourced in the Living God. And it is only after this radical Rebirth of the heart that our real life begins.
How are you and I going to make a difference? Jesus said: By REbirth!
Maybe you’re thinking
Why should I listen to Jesus?” “isn’t listening to Jesus simply getting religion?”
And Rebirth- What does that mean?
Let me say briefly why Jesus is worth listening to and then we’ll uncover what He means by REbirth.
Now, I assume that you all have heard about Jesus,
But let me give you brief summary of His life.
Jesus was born in an obscure rural town, to an unwed teenage mother.
He grew up to follow in his dad’s footsteps becoming a blue collar worker who swung a hammer for a living as a carpenter and probably had callouses on his hands and knees from his work.
When he was about 30 he went into the ministry to become a preacher who taught people about the Kingdom of God.
He healed people of debilitating and disgusting diseases,
He came alonside and encouraged the broken hearted.
He loved the poor and fed them.
He hung out with the outcasts and misfits- the marginalized and and fringe members of society- the drunks, and thieves, and tax collectors, the prostitutes, the obvious sinners
He upset the status quo by influencing people without title or authority and apart from the establishment.
He upset the organized religious folks so much that He ended up being killed by one of the most gruesome forms of execution known to man-crucifixion on a Roman cross.
Jesus didn’t write any bestselling books, He wasn’t the CEO of a corporation, he died homeless man.
And yet to this day more books have been written, songs sung to him, than anyone in history
Time itself is measured around his life.
Billions of people have worshipped Him as God and many lives have been radically transformed by His life
Why such influnece? It is not merely because He was a dynamic leader, or a loyal friend, or a gifted speaker, or a briliant teacher, or because of his insights into the human psyche, or because of his unparalled kindness, or because of the many miraculous signs and wonders he performed,
but His influence and the reason we should listen to him is due to the fact that HE claimed to be God come in human form, lived a life consistent with that claim, and then he rose from the dead to prove that He indeed was who He claimed to be- The Son of the Living God.
Transition: And so this morning If you have a bible turn to John 3…we’ll be looking at a conversation that Jesus had with a man named Nicodemus where we’ll discover the key to real authentic spiritual life
Ruler of the Jews = Sanhedrin- 70 men
Ruled over all of Israel
Pharisees- like the conservative religious
Saducees- like the liberal religious
Obeyed the Hebrew Law/Torah with precision- down to the letter of the law but they often forgot the Spirit of it- and so they were spiritually dead. They were the blind leading the blind
This was obvious to jesus and it made him so upset that on a few occasions He called the Pharisees names like- Brood of vipers, and whitewashed tombs- because they looked nice and perty on the outside, but were dead inside.
My prayer for us all would be that God would reveal to us the places in our life where religiosity and hypocricy live, where we don’t quite get God’s grace, and that we would detest the religiosity in us and not allow it or the religiosity in others to keep us from knowing and experiencing God.
that he would begin to convict us of our repugnant self-righteousness and cause us to repent of it.
That this congrgation, the church universal, and each of us here today would not be spiritually dead Pharisees
But that our hearts would be changed our our movement as the people of God would be a vibrant, resiliant, adaptable movement of connection, innovation, and freedom . A movement that is unconventional and untrapped by dead tradition, not living in spiritual deadness but living in renewal, reconciliation, and Rebirth following the paradigm of the unconventional religion detesting Lord Jesus Christ.
Came to Jesus by Night- Why?
Passover and over two million Jews- lots of stuff to do during the day
He didn’t want people to think He was representing the Sanhedrin
And really, When Nicodemus came does not matter as much as the fact that he came
You see- Nicodemus was a man who even in the midst of this complex, binding and trapping system of religiosity, genuinely wanted to know the truth of God and He sensed that God was with Christ because of the kind of man that Jesus was and the miracles that he performed.
He’s being drawn to Jesus by the Father
Jesus said: No man cometh unto me except the Father draws him
Nicodemus was being drawn- He was intrigued by Jesus but not converted yet- I think we see a converted man later in the gospel narrative- and you may be here today not committed to following Jesus but are drawn to His character and to His teachings, your drawn to his freedom, and his passion.
And to Nicodemus and to you…
Jesus knew Nicodemus’ heart and didn’t seem to care about what he said with his lips- He knew why Nicodemus was there, to ask Jesus how he could get into the Kingdom of God. He wanted to know how to get to God. Jesus answered the question of his heart.
Is this the question of your heart?
don’t you want to know what God really requires? Do you want to know what it takes to see and experience the Kingdom of the living God.
Common conception of Jews- that their racial identity as descendant of Abraham assured them Heaven. Do you think by coming to church regularly that you are assured of heaven?
What is your conception? What is your religiosity? Do you think you are right with God because of some external reason?
Jesus says, “You must be born again to see the Kingdom?
Jesus didn’t say, “you are so close Nicodemus” if you just say a hundred more hail Marys,pay more penance, if you just give more money, or go to the temple more. if you just keep the commandments better, then your stack of legalism will be heavy enough to tip the scales in your favor.
A common misconception in our culture is that being a descent person- ahveing more so-called good works on the scale obligates God to favor you.
And so, God is calling us to is a level of repentance that is not just sorry for wrongdoing- the Pharisees did this- “Look how much I’ve repented”
But god is calling us to a repentance that is a repentance for the reasons for your right doing
The problem is not just your sins but your damnbale good works- because you don’t see your need. You don’t really think you need Rebirth.
He said “Nicodemus, you are absolutely nowhere…you msut be born again
Not reformation or getting religion- but Rebirth, Recreation- New Heart- theologians call this regeneration.
If any man is in Christ He is a new creation. The old has gone and the new has come. That which was spiritually dead was made alive with new life.
To see the Kingdom is to be born into God’s family.
John 3:4 4Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?”
You might think that Nicodemus is being sarcastic here, but I don’t think so. He knows Jesus is from God and so He knows that Jesus isn’t actually talking about physical rebirth. He’s basically saying “I don’t think spiritual rebirth is possible” “I’m too far entrenched in my tradition and religion” I’m having a hard time thinking out of the box” “I don’t see how I can get back to the beginning” I have been keeping the law and being a good person” Jesus can you please expand on this for me”
John 3:5-8 5Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of (H)water and the Spirit he cannot enter into (I)the kingdom of God. 6“(J)That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7“Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’
Jesus expands and says the we must be “born of water and the Spirit”
Different possibilities for water.
Word of God- Ephesians 5:26 “washing of the water by the word”
Physical birth- Why?
That which is born of the flesh is natural and that which is born of the Spirit is spiritual.
In other words, being born of water and the Spirit means you must have two birthdays- a physical birth and a spiritual birth.
Two days ago was my son Brendan’s birthday. We celebrated it by going to Chuckey Cheese. We bought him a hotwheels razor scooter, had friends over for a party. And in the midst of it all I was constantly praying and hoping that Brendan would also have a second birthday.
I had my second birthday as a sophomore in high school- I had grown up nominally Roman Catholic although my dad was primarily an atheist and named me after and atheist. Without going into the whole story, one day I was confronted with the teaching of Jesus that you must be born again to see the Kingdom and the way to be born again was through believing Jesus- And I trusted Him- I wanted to see the Kingdom. I was Reborn
And the Rebirth is like the like our Physical birth in that:
It provides life- 1 John 5:11-12 God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life
It happens only once- you can only be physically born one time. The same is true spiritually. You Rebirth is a once and for all experience that ca not be undone.
1 John 5:13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life
It is a new start- No baby is born with a past, only a future- So it is with Rebirth- you get a new fresh start with a whole new life.
And actually in the new birth- All of your sins…past, present and future are forgiven by God.
Another thing we have to understand about Rebirth is that it is impossible for a man to cause himself to be Reborn by the Spirit because the Rebirth is a miraculous change our natures from natural to supernatural
Think of it this way…
You’re not going to see a cow flying or climbing to the tops of trees. Why? Its against its nature.
You’re not going to see a person walking a Fish with leash out of water. Why? Because it is against it nature.
Jesus is saying you are not going to see an unregenerate person in the Kingdom. It’s against their nature. You’re first birth provided you with a physical, fleshly, natural nature and so you need a Rebirth by the Spirit of God to provide you with a new spiritual nature.
Think of it this way:
If you were not born Chinese you’re not Chinese
You might be able to dress Chinese, talk chinese, duplicate mannerisms,plastic surgery to look Chinese
But Unless you have Chinese parents you are not Chinese
In other words.. you can’t become a resident of the kingdom except by the miracle of Rebirth.
The imperfect and sinful nature of humankind cannot reside in the Kingdom of the infinitely perfect andholty God without being REborn.
We might go through all the motions of looking like we are connected to God i.e religion and morality but we are still spiritually dead.
Jesus said that our primary problem is our spiritual deadness. It is spiritual deadness that is the source of every sort of evil and injustice in the world and unless you are born again you will remain spiritual dead unable to see the Kingdom, and ultimately part of the problem and not the solution.
I told you a story a few minutes ago about a guy named Bill who was severely abused by His own Dad. But the story doesn’t end there. Both Bill and his father were born again by the Spirit of God and were given new lives in Jesus Christ, who died on the cross to redeem sinners from from sin and death and evil, and to pave the way for their story of their lives marked by reconciliation, forgiveness, and life rather than abuse, hatred, and death.
Wes Stafford Story
I asked the question: What is your passion that drives you to tears?
Do you have a passion like that in your life. Maybe it’s your love for your family, or the plight of abused children, or it’s the malnutrition and starvation of millions, or it’s a hundred other social injustices that can cause our hearts to break.
However, God want’s us to first and formost to be born again and to have a passion to see other people get born again- because this is the uiltimate solution to our problem. He wants us to have a Reborn heart that when it sees others become Reborn it can not hold back the tears of joy because of the tremendous change for the Good that just took place their heart. A life and death moment.
And at the end of the day there is nothing that should move us to tears than when a heart has been genuinely born again and someone has come to life in Jesus.
Some of you may be thinking: How can I be born again? What must I do?
And you question itself reveals your spiritual deadness but may also indicate that the Father is drawing you to Jesus this morning. And the Holy Spirit is convisting your heart of your need for the Savior. The wind is blowing.
Will you believe Jesus today when He says that you need to be Reborn to see the Kingdom.
Will you come to Him by faith, not by your works and repent of of your religion, your idolatry, your sin and bow down at the foot of the cross for the salvation of your soul?
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
I am desperate for you I am lost without you