Summary: How do I enter into the kingdom of heaven?
INTRO: Several years ago one of the astronauts who walked on the moon was interviewed and asked, "What did you think about as you stood on the moon and looked back at the earth?" The astronaut replied, "I remembered how the spacecraft was built by the lowest bidder."
We as Christians can rejoice that the work of salvation did not go to the "lowest bidder" but was performed by an infinite God. There will never be a deficiency in his work. Our salvation is as sure as the architect of that salvation, Almighty God.
We’ve been going through a series on the kingdom of heaven. Let me review for those who’ve missed.
: Kingdom is like a mustard seed; principle: it starts small but grows big.
: Kingdom is like yeast; principle: it changes what it’s put into.
: Kingdom is advancing and desperate people lay hold of it.
: Kingdom is as near as a Christian, we should be like rivers of living water to a thirsty world. : Kingdom people are like little children. Jesus instructs us that we need to become as little children in order to see the kingdom of heaven.
This far we’ve looked at: what is the kingdom of heaven, where is the kingdom of heaven, who are the kingdom people?
Today we’ll look at: how do I enter into the kingdom of heaven?
TITLE: The Kingdom of Heaven – Part 4
TEXT: John 3:1-8
I. Background. Nicodemus was a Pharisee as well as a member of the Jewish ruling council.
A. He came to Jesus by night. I’ve heard it preached it was because he was scared, he didn’t want to be seen with Jesus.
1. William Barclay: The rabbis declared the best time to study the law was at night when a man was undisturbed.
-Throughout the day Jesus was surrounded by crowds of people. Nicodemus came by night because he wanted undisturbed time with Jesus.
2. Nicodemus was a Pharisee, which meant he lived by the strictest possible religious rules. Not all the Pharisees were hypocrites.
-Nicodemus was deeply sincere in his quest for truth. He was a man of high moral character, deep religious hunger, and yet profound spiritual blindness.
B. Nicodemus is drawn to the Lord because of the miracles that were taking place.
1. He deduced that Jesus must be from God because of the miraculous.
2. Jesus then cuts right to the heart of the matter.
-He knows this man and what his most desperate need is and that is entrance into the kingdom of heaven.
II. The Lord tells us how.
A. You must be born again. "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.
1. The word translated again also means from above. Jesus was describing a spiritual birth while Nicodemus thought about a physical birth.
B. The Lord goes on to say, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.
1. To be born of water is to be born physically.
-What happens when a baby is going to be born? The mother’s water breaks, the embryonic membrane gives way.
2. Many think what Jesus is referring to here is water baptism. Jesus was not teaching that new birth comes through water baptism.
-In the New Testament baptism is connected with death, not birth; and no amount of physical water can effect a spiritual change in a person.
Point: The Lord’s basically telling us you first must be physically born and spiritually born in order to see the kingdom of heaven.
-But it must not be made an essential for salvation; otherwise, none of the Old Testament saints were ever saved, nor was the thief on the cross.
3. Ephesians 2:8-9, "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."
-Sadly many use water baptism as a way to work your way to heaven.
TS: You might be sitting there thinking, OK, I’ve been physically born, how do I get spiritually born?
C. Gospel of John. John gives us some further insight a few chapters back.
1. John 1:12-13, "Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God."
a. John points out a couple important points. We must receive him.