Nicodemus, Born Again?

Tonight is the second part of our series on Nicodemus! Who can tell me anything from last week? (Wait for something about shallow faith) Good answers. Let’s pick up where we left off, Nicodemus met with Jesus at night and gave Jesus a compliment about being from God, but what we did not see is Jesus’ response. Check out:
John 3:3-8   3In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” 4“How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!” 5Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 8The 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.”
Here some things that stick out, that we will be looking at:

  1. Born Again
  2. Kingdom of God
  3. Born of water and spirit

So, what does it mean to be Born Again? (give adequate time for students to think about the question) The phrase, born again, is the display of God giving eternal life to a person who is dead in sin. Let us take a look at some verses to explore this though even more. (Divide students into groups, depending on the number of students you have) had out the following verses for each group to look up, act out and recite to the group as a whole; BORN AGAIN:
Ephesians 2:4-5  4But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.
2 Corinthians 5:17  17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
Titus 3:5  5he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,
James 1:18 18He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all he created.
1 Peter 1:3    3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
These verses give us a look into salvation that only comes from God through Jesus, this “new birth represents the gift of God that brings us life out of death! When Jesus tells Nicodemus You must be born again, this birth is a second chance! Wayne Grudem explains it like this; Regeneration is a secret act of God in which He imparts new spiritual life to us This is sometimes called being born again(using language from John 3:3-8)[1]. Jesus then goes on to say that Nicodemus cannot see the Kingdom of God unless he is born again. What is the Kingdom of God? (again give students adequate time to answer) Nicodemus being a Jew anticipated the Kingdom of God and like all good Jews believed that doing the right things (observing laws and religious rituals) would work their way into the kingdom of God. For brevity when we say the Kingdom of God we are referring to; the Kingdom of salvation, the spiritual realm where those who have been born again by divine power through faith now live under the rulership of God.[2]
Born of Water & Spirit
What does it mean to be born of water and spirit? (give students adequate time to answer) Some would hear this and think there are two aspects of being born again; one being born of water and the second as being born of spirit. DO NOT LOOK AT IT THIS WAY.  Born of the water and Spirit parallels the phrase “born again” in verse three.[3] Some scholars believe that Nicodemus would not have understood our understanding of Christian Baptism because it did not exist yet.[4] Jesus new Nicodemus would have understood both water and spirit symbolically through the Old Testament to spiritual cleanliness. Have students read the following verses out loud;
Numbers 19:17-19  17 “For the unclean person, put some ashes from the burned purification offering into a jar and pour fresh water over them. 18 Then a man who is ceremonially clean is to take some hyssop, dip it in the water and sprinkle the tent and all the furnishings and the people who were there. He must also sprinkle anyone who has touched a human bone or a grave or someone who has been killed or someone who has died a natural death. 19 The man who is clean is to sprinkle the unclean person on the third and seventh days, and on the seventh day he is to purify him. The person being cleansed must wash his clothes and bathe with water, and that evening he will be clean.
Isaiah 4:4 4 The Lord will wash away the filth of the women of Zion; he will cleanse the bloodstains from Jerusalem by a spirit of judgment and a spirit of fire.
Joel 2:28-29  28 “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. 29 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.
Ezekiel 36:24-27  24 ” ‘For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.
John MacArthur says of Ezekiel 36:24-27; It was surely the passage that Jesus was had in mind, showing regeneration to be an Old Testament truth with which Nicodemus would have been acquainted.[5] Jesus’ statement was very clear, without being born of water and spirit which is acted out only by the Holy Spirit, no one can enter the Kingdom of God.
What is Baptism? Denfinition:
Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is an act of obedience symbolizing the believer’s faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Saviour, the believer’s death to sin, the burial of the old life, and the resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus. It is a testimony to his faith in the final resurrection of the dead. Being a church ordinance, it is prerequisite to the privileges of church membership and to the Lord’s Supper.[6]
For our definition we will use this simple definition: Baptism = outward expression of inward transformation. (SHOW CLIP OF Oh’ Brother Where Art Thou Baptism Scene)
Oh’ Brother where art thou? Clip

Was this a picture of being born again? If Baptism is an Outward Expression of an Inward Transformation something must be different! The Holy Spirit washes us clean and we become a NEW CREATION!
In closing, if you are here tonight and have ever made the decision to follow Christ with your whole being yet have never outwardly expressed that decision I invite you to come forward during the closing song and speak with a counselor and know that you know you have been born again.

[1] Grudem, Wayne Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, Zondervan 1994) 699
[2] MacArthur, John The MacArthur New Testament Commentary (Chicago, Moody Publishers 2006) 102
[3] Ibid, 104.
[4] Carson, D.A. The Gospel According to John (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans 1991) 191-196
[5] MacArthur, John The MacArthur New Testament Commentary (Chicago, Moody Publishers 2006) 105
[6] Baptist Faith and Message Baptistm and the Lord’s Supper; available from;  Internet; accessed 06 April 2010.

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