“LIFT UP JESUS!” John 3:9-15
INTRO – We have come into this place today to lift up Jesus! Have a pastor friend of mine who is in a very large church in another state. Person came to him and told him that they were leaving his church. Asked why. “We’re tired of this ‘Jesus-ism.’ Every time we come, all you do is preach about Jesus.” Pastor told him that he was sorry to see them go and wished they would reconsider. But then told them, “But you need to know that every time I preach, I will be preaching about Jesus. So maybe you need to go ahead and find another church.”
Every time, we meet together for worship, we will be lifting up Jesus. We will be worshipping Him, proclaiming Him, trusting Him, and obeying Him.
In a recent Christianity Today survey (March, 06), 50% of Americans say they have had at least 1 religious or spiritual transformation. 35% of those transformed said they were not “born again.”
I want to make abundantly clear to you today that to be born again IS to be spiritually transformed. Paul said in Romans 12:2 – “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (NKJV) The only way to be “transformed by the renewing of your mind” is to be born again and receive the “mind of Christ.” 1 Cor. 2:16 tells us that “we have the mind of Christ.”
To be born again means that we have been transformed, and that we are being transformed. 2 Cor. 3:18 – “we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
To be born again means that we have been transformed, that we are being transformed, and that one day, we will be completely transformed. Phil. 3:20-21 – “…our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.”
Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus that we have been studying for the past few weeks focuses on the absolute importance of being born again and all that means. We must remember that unless we are born again – eternally transformed by the divine work of the Holy Spirit – we cannot see the Kingdom of God. We must remember that unless we are born again - born from above, born anew, born of God, born of the Spirit, born through the Word of God – we cannot enter the Kingdom of God.
As we lift up Jesus today, there are some things I would like for us to consider:
I. LIFTING UP JESUS IS SPIRITUAL IN NATURE – v. 9-12
Nicodemus – Pharisee, member of the Jewish ruling council. Jesus called him, “Israel’s teacher.” KJV – “Art thou a master of Israel…” He was schooled and highly educated. Knew OT through and through.
But he just was not getting it. He did not comprehend Jesus’ teaching about the new birth, even though the OT uses similar language in some beautiful verses from Ezekiel 36:26 – “I will give you a new heart with new and right desires, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony heart of sin and give you a new, obedient heart.” (NLT) Here we have proof that a person may have a comprehensive knowledge of the Scriptures and still be lacking in spiritual insight. 1 Cor. 2:14 – “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” The AMP version puts it this way: “But the natural, nonspiritual man does not accept or welcome or admit into his heart the gifts and teachings and revelations of the Spirit of God, for they are folly (meaningless nonsense) to him; and he is incapable of knowing them [of progressively recognizing, understanding, and becoming better acquainted with them] because they are spiritually discerned and estimated and appreciated.”