Summary: God has purposed us from the very beginning.
“In him was life, and that life was the light of men. (John 3: 4).
We’ve been talking about God’s plan and purpose for the universe and His plan and purpose for you and me as individuals. We discussed how God has purposed us from the very beginning. He knew us before we were ever born and knew exactly when we would be here.
There was something else God purposed from the beginning; that the Light of the world should, at a specific moment in time, come to this earth and live among men and die on their behalf.
This Light was with God in the very beginning when He spoke the universe into existence. As a matter of fact, the Apostle John called this Light the Word; as if it were the Light itself that spoke things into existence. John said that the Word was present at the beginning when all things were made and that there wasn’t anything made that the Word didn’t participate in.
Jesus is the one John called the Word and the Light. Jesus is called a lot of things in John’s book. He’s called “The lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” He’s also called God’s “one and only son.”
When you’re watching football on TV, do you ever see some guy holding a cardboard sign that says, JOHN 3:16? Holding a cardboard sign with JOHN 3:16 painted on it at a football game may sound a little wacky, but that guy was doing it for a reason. He’s trying, in his way, to tell people that God sent his “one and only son” to save the world.
Here’s John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
That’s God’s plan for all man, including you and me; that we have eternal life. God has a unique purpose for each of us, something He wants us to do. But without this first part of God’s plan we can’t fulfill any of the rest of His purpose for us.
The term “born again” has been used so much that it has become a part of the common language. People refer to Christians as born-agains, most times in a derogatory sense. It has become a tag by which the world identifies practicing Christians. We have even made a distinction between “Christians” and “born-again Christians.”
A lot of folks, if asked, “Are you a Christian?” would say, “Sure I’m a Christian. I go to church, I’m an American, I give to the Red Cross and just last year I spent a weekend helping build a house with Habitat for Humanity.”
But if those same folks were asked, “Are you a born-again Christian?” They would start a nervous back-pedal.
Being born-again smacks of religious fanaticism. Born-agains seem to be different from everyone else, a little out there; not quite accepted by polite society.
They might ask, “Is this whole born-again thing really necessary? I believe in God, I mean I believe He’s up there somewhere, looking down on us occasionally. I go to church … well, I don’t go that much, but I belong to one. I try to do good things and help people. You know - leave the world a little bit better than I found it. I vote Republican. Isn’t that enough? I mean how much can really be expected of me? I don’t really know why I shouldn’t go to Heaven; I’m doing all the right things, right?”
It’s funny. The reasoning above sounds kind of 21st century doesn’t it? Sounds like the kind of thing you would hear in your neighborhood from your friends or coworkers, maybe even something you might have said.
Well, the reasoning isn’t as 21st century as you might think. It’s been around for a long time.
Two thousand years ago a man named Nicodemus came to visit Jesus (he came at night so his friends wouldn’t see him talking to Jesus). He said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.”
Jesus answered him by saying, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”
That’s where the term “born-again” comes from.
Like most folks, Nicodemus, didn’t understand. “How can a man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?”
But that’s not the kind of birth Jesus was talking about. Jesus explained. “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.”