Summary: Looking at and answering the questions asked by Nicodemus (John 3: 1-21), the Rich Young Ruler (Luke 18:18 ) and Paul's jailer (Acts 16:30)) and that is 'What Must I Do To Be Saved?'
This is the very familiar account of Nicodemus coming one evening to speak to Jesus which results in that very famous discourse about the need to be ‘born again’ and culminating with John 3:16 ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.’
And Nicodemus was a very wealthy, highly respected Pharisee. More than likely a member of the Sanhedrin and a very prominent one at that, Jesus refers to him as ‘…the teacher of Israel’. And Nicodemus came to see Jesus to find out 1 thing. Ok, he starts his questioning with flattery ‘Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.’ but Jesus, the Son of God, who knows the mind and heart of man, knew what was on Nicodemus’ mind, He knew why he came and gets right to the point ‘Truly, truly I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God’.
And it’s the same question the rich young ruler came to ask Him in Luke 18:18 ‘What must I do to inherit the Kingdom of God?’ And the same question the jailer in Acts 16:30 asks Paul ‘What must I do to be saved?’
The words may be different but they are all seeking the same thing. To see or inherit the Kingdom of God we first must be saved, it’s what Jesus went on to say in v16-17 ‘For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him’. Which, then, naturally leads to the jailers question ‘What must I do to be saved?’ And what I want to do this morning is look into and hopefully answer that question.
But the 1st thing we must realize is that we need to be saved. Like these 3 men we must examine ourselves and our lives both past and present and realize that it falls far short of the standards God has set and as such, on our own merits we will not and cannot see, inherit or enter the Kingdom of God! That’s why Nicodemus came! He was a Pharisee, the teacher of Israel. There is no doubt he knew the Old Testament and what God required of His people. There is no doubt also that Nicodemus would have done all that he could possibly do to keep all the laws and commands of God plus the added extras passed down through traditions.
But still, unlike the other Pharisees who Jesus describes as ‘hypocrites’; a ‘brood of vipers’; ‘the blind leading the blind’ and as ‘white-washed tombs’, Nicodemus was truly seeking God! He could see that his life didn’t measure up to the holy standards of God and that he needed help! And so he comes to Jesus, a man he knows comes from a poor family, has no education, no training in the things of the law, but from His life, His actions and His teachings he knows that this Jesus has come from God.
Maybe not the Messiah but certainly a prophet from whom no one has heard for 400 years or so. And he comes with this question on his heart ‘What must I do to see the Kingdom of God? To see God? To spend my eternity there, in heaven, with the God of my fathers?’
And the rich young ruler was the same! He knew the law and by the confession of his own mouth he says he’s kept it from his youth, yet he too knew that his works weren’t enough for him to inherit the Kingdom of God, to enter heaven. And so he came to Jesus to ask the most important question a man can ask ‘What must I do to inherit the Kingdom of God? What must I do to be saved?’ And it’s here, with salvation we must always begin. Because salvation is just the start of things and not the end. People have spent years praying for the salvation of various family members and while it is a great time of rejoicing when a person is saved, it is not the end! The prayers shouldn’t stop! For it is now and only now can a person begin to know God. It is now and only now can a person begin to grow in Christ and mature.