Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: A sermon dealing with the certainty of salvation.

John 3:1-7, 16

There was an old farmer and his wife who had turned in for the night and were just about to fall off to sleep when they heard the clock in the hallway begin to chime. They heard it chime nine o’clock, ten o’clock, eleven o’clock, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen. Finally, the wife turned to her husband and said,

"Just what time is it anyway?" The old farmer replied, "I don’t know, but it’s later than it’s ever been before."

I don’t know about you, but in the last decade with terrorism and war continuing that, perhaps all of us have that sense, realizing that no one knows exactly what time it is, but we are certainly closer to the Lord’s coming than we have ever been before.

After the bombing in Oklahoma city had taken place, a CNN report indicated that the rescue attempts were grinding to a halt; they were going to end the next day. One of the reporters, apparently trying to bolster the spirit of the nation, concluded his report that evening by quoting the poem "Invictus."

He came to that last line, and he said with great fervor: "I am the captain of my fate, master of my soul."

Isn’t that a foolish statement? Here he was standing right in front of a monument to the contrary! No one is captain of their fate! No one knows the days that we will have upon this earth!

So it is with a great sense of urgency that I ask you this question: Have you come to the place in your own spiritual life where you know for certain that if you were to die tonight, that you would go to heaven?

A Question of Uncertainty

As we come to this passage in John 3, we are going to read the story of a man named Nicodemus. Nicodemus was a man who, for almost all of his entire life, thought that he knew for certain that he was going to go to heaven when he died ... until Jesus arrived on the scene. We don’t know if Nicodemus had heard Jesus teach personally prior to this time or if he had just heard about His teachings.

Whatever was the case, as we read this passage, we can sense that there is a sudden doubt that has arrived on the frontier of Nicodemus’ heart and mind. There’s a question. He is no longer certain.

Joh 3:1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews;

Joh 3:2 this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, "Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him."

Joh 3:3 Jesus answered and said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God."

Now wait a minute, did we miss something there? "Jesus answered..." You see, Jesus is replying to a question that Nicodemus never asked, but because Jesus knows the hearts of all men and women, He knew the question that was on Nicodemus’ heart.

Joh 3:3 Jesus answered and said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God."

Joh 3:4 Nicodemus *said to Him, "How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?"

Joh 3:5 Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

Joh 3:6 "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

Joh 3:7 "Do not be amazed that I said to you, ’You must be born again.’

With those five little words ("You must be born again."), Jesus pulverized every single religious prop upon which Nicodemus had been leaning his entire life. So then, Nicodemus was left to wonder.

You see, Nicodemus, as a Pharisee for his entire life, had been banking on two different things to get him to heaven. First, he had been banking upon his religious heritage. He was a son of Abraham. He was a Jew of all Jews. He was one of God’s chosen people. By his religious heritage, he was going to enter the kingdom of God. He was going to enter into heaven.

Second, he was also banking upon his religious rule-keeping. The Pharisees were the self-appointed guardians of the law. They were the rule-keepers of all rule-keepers. In fact, they added a number of rules onto that original law of Moses, some six hundred different rules, that Nicodemus kept. Jesus called it "straining at a gnat." They strained to keep those rules. Nicodemus was the chief of all rule-keepers, even a ruler of the Sanhedrin ... the Jewish ruling body of only seven members.

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