You Must Be Born Again

The Gospel of John series, #07: an exposition of John 3:1-21. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, December 5, 2010.

He was a very religious man.  An upstanding man with an impeccable reputation.  He was admired by all and considered a pillar of the community.  He was the kind of man every mother hoped her daughter would bring home.  Every father hoped his son would grow up to be.  Yet he was miserable.  Joyed seemed an allusive thing.  It seemed joy was always just beyond his grasp.  He had it all – wealth, position, fame but something was just not right.  There was that nagging feeling that there was more to life.  He was convinced there must be something else.  Then it happened.  He caught of glimpse of it.  Life full blown.  Life lived to the fullest.  Life abundant.  He found it in a most unexpected place.  He found it at the feet of an itinerant preacher.  An outcast with a reputation for hanging out with some pretty unsavory characters.  He was strangely drawn to this young miracle-working rabbi from Nazareth.  So one night he paid him a visit.  We read about it in the 3rd chapter of John’s Gospel.

Text: John 3:1-21

John the beloved is telling the story of Jesus’ life and ministry.  His purpose is evangelistic.  “There are many other things Jesus said and did but these are recorded that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that you might have life in his name” (John 20:30-31).  We’ve witnessed the testimony of John the Baptizer – “Behold the Lamb of God.”  We’ve watched as our Lord has initially gathered his first disciples.  We’ve seen that first miracle and witnessed his power and compassion.  We’ve just seen a powerful statement of his Lordship as he cleansed the temple.  We’ve witnessed his white-hot anger as he was consumed by zeal for His Father’s house.  No doubt he had become “the talk of the town.”  Due to the signs and wonders that accompanied his early ministry there was already talk of his being the Messiah.  In our text we learn he caught the attention of a highly placed, highly respected leader who wanted to know more.  As we listen in on their conversation we discover that…

Thesis: Life abundant and eternal is the result of the radical, gracious work of God in the heart of the individual.

This is one of the best known, most recognized chapters in all the Bible.
This is that “born again” passage.
It contains that verse that keeps popping up at sporting events – John 3:16.
But that term – “born again” has been used and abused to the point it is almost meaningless.
Some of you will remember 1976 was dubbed the “Year of the Evangelical.”
That’s because presidential candidate Jimmy Carter declared he was “born again.”

Since that time pornographer Larry Flint has claimed to be born again.  Though that did not get in the way of his publishing Hustler magazine.  I read this past week about a woman who after being “born again” found great freedom in “stripping for Jesus.”  Add to this theological confusion the fact that the term has come to be identified with turning over a new leaf or jump-starting a career.  Companies who’ve managed to remake themselves are described by Forbes magazine as being “born again.”  All of this is to say we need to come back to this text and walk slowly through it and discover what our Lord was saying to Nicodemus and in turn to us.

There are three great truths concerning biblical salvation I want to point out in our text.

  1. Mere external goodness is not enough.  (3:1-3)
  2. Our only hope is a radical transformation.  (3:3-8)
  3. That transformation demands that we abandon ourselves and trust in Christ alone.  (3:9-21)

Salvation without a code, without a system, and without a ritual.
It is about trust, reliance and commitment to the person of the Lord Jesus.

You can never be good enough.
You need a radical transformation.
That transformation demands that you abandon any hope of achieving it on your own and trust wholly in Christ alone.

Life abundant and eternal is the result of the radical, gracious work of God in the heart of the individual.

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