John 3:1-11 Why I H8 Religion
Theologian Karl Barth was lecturing to a group of students at Princeton. One student asked the German theologian "sir, don’t you think that god has revealed himself in other religions and not only in Christianity?" Barth’s answer stunned the crowd. With a modest thunder he answered, "No, god has not revealed himself in any religion, including Christianity. He has revealed himself in his son."
Here we have a deeply religious man visiting Jesus yet his heart has been stirred his own religious convictions is not enough he sees in Jesus something more, notice his questions, he firstly recognize, the fact he has come to speak with Jesus (1-2) he sees Jesus as a teacher come from God (v2) the miraculous signs. Jesus steps right to the heart of the matter (3). “You must be born again” reaffirms (5-8).
1. Religion teaches if I obey ( the gospel teaches god loves you)
V1 now there was a Pharisee a member of the Jewish ruling council.
If you obey, this that and the other then God will love you... If your obedient to Gods laws and ways then God will love you that’s where religion takes us. If you think and act like this then you are merely religious.
The truth of the matter is that god does love full stop! (God demonstrates his love whilst we were yet sinners). If we are continual striving for obedience to make God love us then we have not understood the work of redemption and we are going to lack any assurance and be the most miserable of people (have you noticed how miserable religious people are?) .
God is not some harsh task master, but a loving father. - And because god unconditionally loves you, you can reciprocate that love that god has for you with obedience to his ways, even though you make mistakes you know his love is consistent.
• So as we fall in love with Jesus, our hearts change and we want to keep his commandments. Paul calls this the “obedience of faith” (Romans 1:5) .
• Tim keller puts it this way: "religion is — I obey so I can be accepted. The gospel is — I am accepted so I can obey."
2. Religion teaches two types of people ( the gospel teaches we are all sinners)
(3) Tell you the truth no one can enter the kingdom of god unless he is born again
Religious people, always teach there are two types of people the good and the bad - it’s like the old gangster films or the westerns where you have the good guys and the bad guys . The bad people are always others - the finger always gets pointed at others.
Instead the gospel teaches that were all bad – we have all sinned – there is no distinction – and this is a real problem for religious people because they don’t seem themselves as bad in fact they consider themselves as good people, decent people, respectable, pillars of the community, they fail to see their sin.
Think about it, it was the religious people who rejected Jesus and crucified him - they wouldn’t accept his way they failed to address their need and still today religious people fail to see there need and reject the gospel – because they are good religious people.....
3. Religion teaches good works are enough . ( the gospel teaches its all about grace)
Often when I ask people the question, “if you were to die tonight and you were to stand before God in heaven and he asked you why I should let you into heaven? What would you say?” The overwhelming majority said, because of my good works.
Reader’s digest recently asked the great fighter Muhammad Ali what his faith meant to him. Ali replied: "[it] means [a] ticket to heaven. One day we’re all going to die, and god’s going to judge us, [our] good and bad deeds. [if the] bad outweighs the good, you go to hell; if the good outweighs the bad, you go to heaven. Source: sermon central staff. Citation: face to face with Muhammad Ali. Interview by Howard Bingham, reader's digest, December 2001
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of god--not by works, so that no one can boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9) God also says, to him who is thirsty I will give to them without cost......
• When our family go out to restaurants or a cafe or pub lunch, Danielle will often ask me to go and get some water, but she doesn’t mean bottled water she means get some tap water because it’s free. I always feel embarrassed asking for this water... Because they really want to sell water to you...but its free and so is our salvation we simply have to ask....
But God says "I will give to drink without cost"...... We don’t need to be embarrassed about coming to God we don’t need to have anything in our pockets ( like good works, Christian upbringing, baptised, church member) to pay for the water of life because God’s water of life is also free to all who thirst , God gives us the opportunity to drink “I will give” god has given us all the opportunity through Jesus Christ. The price has been paid in full on the cross ... He cried out it is finished there is no more we need to do - the gospel teaches its all about grace and not works.......
4. Religion deceives and entraps people. ( the gospel - sets you free). You are Israel’s teacher and you dont know these things (v10)
Jesus warned us that there are many wolves in shepherds clothing. And what he meant by that is that there are those who appear to be men and women of God but they are actually deceivers who will deceive and entrap many with a false sense of security and will actually take you down to the pit of hell.
• False prophets talk much about the love of God but nothing of his holiness.
• Much about people who are deprived but nothing about those who are depraved.
• Much about god’s universal fatherhood of every human being but nothing about his unique fatherhood only of those who are his children through faith in his son, Jesus Christ.
• Much about what god will give to us but nothing about obedience to him, much about health and happiness but nothing about holiness and sacrifice.
• Their message is a message of gaps and half truths and the greatest gap of which leaves out the truth that saves.
The other day a pastor shared with me of a funeral he went too recently, he shared with me how the vicar actually told everybody that the deceased and everybody present will go to heaven , it sounds wonderful but that short term comfort will end in long term pain - because it’s a lie – which comes from the father of lies who said you shall not die (genesis 3) .
Jesus clearly taught there is a heaven to gain but also there is a hell to turn away from and he continually attacked the hypocrisy lies of the religious who entrap others – in contrast the gospel sets you free! (John 3:16- 18)
5. Religion never leads to lasting joy or humility ( the gospel - leads to jesus)
Something missing with Nicodemus.... (1-3) yet he comes to Jesus at night he sin high office. He knows there’s more to this man Jesus in fact later on he becomes a secret believer, he supports Joseph Arimathea (another man from the council who becomes a disciple. (John 19:38-39) in taking the body of Jesus down from the cross.
In religion there is no lasting joy or humility
Because religion makes whole long lists of rules, do and don’ts . To live by and many of those that aren’t even in the bible, and if you obey them it fills you with pride and you become self righteous devoid of real humility.
It all becomes performance related ~ but if your honest you don’t even play by your own rules and you become a hypocrite...... And so you become miserable. Filled with doubts..... About your own standing before god?
Harry Emerson Fosdick - .some people have just enough religion to make themselves miserable. -
Religious people are often full of pride
Maybe you follow a long list of rules, I don’t drink smoke or swear, always say my prayers, watch suitable TV only, work in the church ....... I’m a really godly person... No you’re not you’re full of pride..... Pride is not a virtue its a vice. “Pride goes before a fall” remember God kicked pride out of heaven remember when Satan got to big for his boots... Pride goes before a fall......
Religion only ever leads to pride (I did it) and to misery (I can’t do it ). It never leads to the gospel of Jesus Christ it never leads to humility (I am a sinner) – and so it never leads to the redeemer Jesus - Jesus is our saviour and we are humbled by his grace towards us....... knowing Jesus is the way to joy because God loves me – God blesses me – God cares for me - so whether the good times or bad god will give us joy – blessed be your name........ Friends what we all need is a relationship with Jesus Christ ~ not a man made religion.
Jesus said to a deeply religious man; john 3:3 you must be born again do you posses that type of relationship do you know him? Are you born again? For many, religion today is all about hanging around the cross, but a relationship with Jesus Christ is all about hanging on the cross.
It’s at the cross where we begin when we come to Jesus as a sinner it’s at the cross where our debt was paid through the atoning sacrifice when we repent and believe in Christ as saviour and lord we are born again by the spirit of god our sins are all forgiven we are accepted and enter into a relationship with god this is true religion.
Have you died to self as yet have you been crucified, have you risen in christ as yet have you been born again . If you want to see the kingdom of god you must be born again.
6. The most serious of all religion will lead you to hell but the new birth will lead you to heaven
• Smoke alarm – SET OT OFF BEFORE THE CONGREGATION
• Religious people will never confront you with the reality of hell.
• Religious people cannot love PEOPLE enough to neglect the truth is either because they don’t believe it themselves or they don’t love you but the most loving man on the planet love incarnate Jesus Christ spoke about hell in fact than he ever did about heaven in fact 1 -11 time.
• And here Jesus refers about the imperative importance of being Born Again if we are ever to see the Kingdom of God. V3, v5,