Summary: (PowerPoint slides are available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org) Understanding the significance of born again, born of water and born of spirit.
Journeying with John - It’s a Blast (JWJ-13)
Born from Above
Professional golfer Paul Azinger was diagnosed with cancer at age 33. He had just won a PGA championship and had ten tournament victories to his credit.
He wrote these words, "A genuine feeling of fear came over me. I could die from cancer. Then another reality hit me even harder. I’m going to die eventually anyway, whether from cancer or something else. It’s just a question of when. Everything I had accomplished in golf became meaningless to me. All I wanted to do was live."
Then he remembered something that Larry Moody, who teaches a Bible study on the tour, had said to him. "Zinger, we’re not in the land of the living going to the land of the dying. We’re in the land of the dying trying to get to the land of the living."
Golfer Paul Azinger recovered from chemotherapy and returned to the PGA tour. He’s done pretty well. But that bout with cancer deepened his perspective. He wrote, "I’ve made a lot of money since I’ve been on the tour, and I’ve won a lot of tournaments, but that happiness is always temporary. The only way you will ever have true contentment is in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I’m not saying that nothing ever bothers me and I don’t have problems, but I feel like I’ve found the answer to the six-foot hole."
This morning I want to talk with you about what is probably the most important passage in all of Scripture. And just in case you need a little more motivation than that to give your attention to our discussion this morning, I am sure I do not need to remind you, but this is the most important book in all the world. As a matter off act, I would suggest to you that it is the most important book in all of eternity. So we are looking this morning at the most important passage in the most important book in all eternity.
Please open your Bibles with me to the book of John - we are studying our way through this incredible gospel - and we come this morning to the third chapter. John chapter 3.
While you are turning there, listen to this if you can. More than 75% of our nation describe themselves as Christians. Three out of four people that you bump into in the street will tell you that they are Christians - and would go to heaven one day when they die.
The problem is that not everybody who calls themselves Christian is Christian. Not everybody who says they are going to heaven is going to heaven.
There are four equally wrong, yet commonly held perceptions, about getting to heaven. They are . . .
i. Religious People Go to Heaven
“All religions are true and honorable and ultimately lead to the same destination, heaven.”
ii. Good People Go to Heaven
“If I am good and do my best to be an honest person then God will let me in to heaven.”
iii. Church People Go to Heaven
“As long as I go to church - albeit infrequently - God will let me in to heaven.”
iv. Sincere People Go to Heaven
“As long as I am committed to church and tithe and mean it then God will let me in to heaven.”
Jesus cuts right through that in our passage. Listen, if you would, to the Word of God.
John 3:1-8 - Read - Pray.
Would you read verse 3 and 5 with me again please - let’s read it out loud.
John 3:3, 5
My heart is very excited about this passage - and I realize that all eternity hangs in the balance. I have spent many, many hours studying these verses - I want to be sure to clearly and unambiguously unpack them for us.
By the way, this passage is not hard to understand. People often fail to understand biblical passage not because of the difficulties in the passage, but because of the prejudices in their thinking. So I want to give you simple Bible on this.
This passage demands our attention for two reasons. The first is that Jesus starts off saying, “Truly, truly” - that is Bible for, ‘Listen up ya’all - this is very important.” The second is Jesus’ strong and unequivocal statement that, "unless a man is born from above he cannot enter the Kingdom of heaven.” Now I don’t know about you but if that is what Jesus said, I want to make very sure I have got ‘born from above’ checked off my list of life things to do in life.
Jesus did not say that unless we know about being born again, or how to be born again, or unless we go to church with others who are born again - but unless we ourselves experience being born again we cannot enter the Kingdom of God.