Summary: The 6th sermon in our series on the Baptist Faith and Message
Salvation: Out With the Old, In With the New (BFM pt. 6)
Text: John 3:1-10
By: Ken McKinley
This morning we are continuing with our study of the BFM and we are still on article four: Salvation. Sermon number six, but article four, and last time I told you all that we are going to spend a bit of time on this particular point of the BFM because it is so important that you all, and any who would name the Name of Christ, to understand. So let’s turn again to John chapter 3 and follow along with me as I read vss. 1 – 10 (read).
Now if you remember last time I said that what Nicodemus needed wasn’t a new religion, but a new life, he needed to be born again. Nicodemus was a Pharisee, he had plenty of religion, but he was spiritually dead. So Jesus told him that he needed to be born again, but Nicodemus, being that his eyes weren’t opened yet, was looking at things in the flesh. He said, “How can I be born when I’m already old?” So Jesus had to explain it to him. In vs. 6 Jesus said, “That which is born of flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” In other words; Jesus was telling Nicodemus that this new birth that he needed wasn’t a natural birth, but a supernatural birth. The flesh gives birth to one kind of life, and the Holy Spirit gives birth to another kind of life.
And last time we also looked at John 6:63 where Jesus said, “It is the Spirit Who gives life, the flesh profits nothing. The Words that I speak to you, they are spirit and they are life!” We also read from Romans where Paul said that it was the Gospel of Jesus Christ that was the power of God unto salvation. And I told you all that no one can be saved, no one can be born again WITHOUT hearing the Gospel. This is important because of what Jesus says to Nicodemus in John 3 verse 5 (read).
So what did Jesus mean when He said, “...Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” Well, some people believe that He was talking about baptism. They say, Jesus was telling Nicodemus that he had to be baptized in water. Many people have been taught that their baptism is what saved them and caused them to be born again. If this is true then Jesus contradicted Himself when He promised the thief on the cross that he would be with Jesus in Paradise that very day.
So I want to give ya’ll some reasons why I don’t believe that Jesus was talking about water baptism, and then I want to tell you what I believe He meant by the terms “water” and “Spirit.”
First of all: If Jesus was teaching that water baptism is essential to salvation, then why doesn’t He teach this later on in John chapter three? In vs. 15 He says, “Whoever believes…” In vs. 16 He says, “Whoever believes…” In vs. 18 He says, “Whoever believes…” So if water baptism was essential to ones salvation, why did Jesus leave it out in all of the rest of His conversation with Nicodemus?
Secondly: Jesus says to Nicodemus in vs. 10 “You are a teacher of Israel and you don’t understand these things?” It would make no sense for Jesus to reprimand Nicodemus in such a way if He were talking about Christian baptism… Christian baptism had not yet been introduced at this time, and even if it had been, how could a devout Jew know about it?
Thirdly: If baptism were a necessary requirement for salvation, then how many people throughout history that professed Christ, translated Scriptures, preached the Gospel, and served Him, did not go to heaven, but were lost because they did not get baptized?
Turn with me to 1st Corinthians 12:12 – 13 (read). Here we see, it’s not the pastor, the minister, the evangelist, or a priest who baptizes us into Christ. It’s the Holy Spirit. Water baptism is a profession of faith, an outward sign of what’s already taken place on the inside. It is a public confession that we are united to Christ. So what did Jesus mean when He said you must be born of water and of the Spirit? What is the “water” He’s talking about? Well turn with me to Ephesians 5:25 – 27 (read). We covered this when we went though the book of Ephesians – “The washing of water by the Word.” Remember Jesus said, “It’s the Spirit who gives life… the Words that I speak are spirit and life…” Paul was not ashamed of the Gospel, because it was the power of God unto salvation. Whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life… but how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? Paul said in 1st Corinthians chapter one, “I thank God that I baptized none of you except for Crispus, and Gaius, and the household of Stephanas. For Christ did not send me to baptize, but the preach the Gospel.”