Summary: This sermon describes the day Nicodemas came face to face with Grace.
FACE TO FACE WITH GRACE
John 3: 1-3; 7 1:14; 16-17
Intro: ILL- During a British conference on comparative religions, experts from around the world were discussing whether any one belief was unique to the Christian faith. The debate went on for some time until C. S. Lewis wandered into the room. "What’s the rumpus about?" he asked, & heard in reply that his colleagues were discussing Christianity’s unique contribution among the world’s religions. Lewis responded, "Oh, that’s easy. It’s grace." Only Christianity dares to make God’s love unconditional.
Do you remember the day you came face to face w/grace? It may have been in a camp-meeting; a foxhole; revival service; your home; in a kitchen by the old cook-stove, wherever & whenever it was, you cannot get away from the 1st time you came face to face w/grace. It didn’t come to while you were good; well behaved; or moral. It came to you when you were lost & undone, w/o God or His son; when you were dirty inside & out; when you were in the rags of your sin—Grace came to you & changed your life forever! I don’t EVER want forget that day when I came face to face w/Grace.
Nicodemas came face to face with grace one day…
I. Grace: The AWAKENING of his Need.
Looking at Nic no one would have imagined that he needed a change, including Nic himself. He’d had a heart for God ever since he could remember. For many years he had been a student of God’s Word. He had saturated his life w/the writings of Moses & the prophets. He had devoted his life to keeping God’s law & all the manmade laws that were attached to it. He was an outstanding religious scholar & well respected in His field. He seemed to have everything: position, wealth, influence; status, education, & respect---yet he was searching for something more. He was awakened to his need of something far greater that what he had attained. He was awakened to his own need of grace.
Are you searching for something? Maybe you’re religious in form, just like Nic was. You have a good reputation; you pay your bills & your taxes; drop some money now & then in the offering plate; read the Bible; maybe you dress like a Christian…but you know that there is something missing in your life. God is drawing you unto Himself…awakening you to your need of grace.
Nicodemus waited expectantly for a response from Jesus. Then the eyes of God looked at this intellectual, inquisitive, educated, wealthy, respected, religious, searching Pharisee, & He saw beyond the courtesy of his demeanor to the inward cry of heart. With compassionate gentleness, yet convicting truthfulness, Jesus pinned down his need when He declared in simplicity, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of unless a man is born again,” (John 3:3).
If you accept His offer of free grace your sins are forgiven; your guilt is atoned for; your past is removed; your future is secure; you have peace in your heart; a song on your lips; you are saved from hell; you are right w/God; you are going to Heaven…BUT…you must be born again.
ILL-John Newton was born in London to a godly mother & a father who did not serve the Lord. His mother died when he was six. Five years later he went to sea with his father who was a ship’s captain. He became a midshipman & led a wild life, rejecting the God of his mother. He renounced any need of religion & lived a sinful life. Eventually he became a slave trader, crossing the ocean several times as captain of slave ship, responsible for terrible human degradation among the captives he had crowded on board. But grace was always a factor in his life. He survived a deadly fever in Africa, & his ship survived a terrible storm which almost killed him.
Finally, dissatisfied with his life, he began reading the writings of Thomas a Kempis.
Somehow, the Holy Spirit began stirring inside his soul, awakening him to his need of grace & he gave his heart to Christ.
In an intense moment of inspiration, when he was thinking of the wonder of the grace of God which had him, he wrote the hymn, "Amazing grace, how sweet the sound."
II. Grace: The ANSWER to his Need.
What did Jesus mean by the term born again? In essence, Jesus was saying, “Nicodemus unless you have a completely new beginning, totally separated from the past. Unless you are born again you will not see the kingdom of God. Spiritual rebirth is the only answer to the unspoken, unconscious need of your heart.”
His expression of studied politeness must have been wiped from face as Jesus response pierced through: all the layers of morality and religiosity,