Summary of the Sermon by Pastor Chandra Wong, at Bethany International Service, on Sunday, 20 January 2019.
As children of God, we are blessed to walk in the Spirit, walk in the light, by faith and in love.
Action & Reaction
Our lives are impacted by the decisions we make. They not only impact our life on earth but also on our eternal life in heaven.
“And there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.” (John 3:1)
During the time of Jesus, there were about four religious groups:
1. Sadducees: Aristocrats, Upper Class denied God’s involvement
2. Pharisees: Believed in the Kingdom of God but individuals also contributed to it
3. Elders: Respected heads of the Israelites tribes
4. Scribes: Scholars in Law, leaning toward the Pharisees.
John 3:1-8 - Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”
Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”
Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
The key phrase in this short conversation is to be born again. Jesus mentioned this four times – “That man needs to be born again. Unless he is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God. Unless a man is born again in water and spirit, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.” Jesus told Nicodemus that the right way and the true teaching is to be born again to see the Kingdom of God.
What is the real meaning of being born again?
To be born again means to be born of water and of spirit.
There are two understandings of being born of water:
1. One group believes it is the amniotic fluid of the mother’s womb.
2. Another group believes it is the spiritual aspect of the water baptism.
BORN OF THE WATER
Exodus 19:10-11 - Water has been the important element for Jewish. Since the time of Moses, water has been the ritual meaning to sanctify people before they can see God. Naaman was healed of leprosy when he dipped himself seven times in the Jordan River (2 Kings 5:14). In Jewish culture, if Gentiles want to convert to Judaism they need to perform circumcision, sacrifice, and be baptized in water. They practiced water baptism in the Old Testament.
John came baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming the baptism of repentance for the REMISSON OF SINS. (Mark 1:4)
In John 1:23-24, we see that they who were sent were from the Pharisees. The Pharisees knew what happened if they got baptized in the water.
What does it mean if we are baptized in water?
The new born baby has no past, only a future. It is the same when we are baptized in water, and we are born again (Romans 6:3-4). In 2 Corinthians 5:17, we are reminded that we are a NEW CREATION; OLD THINGS HAVE PASSED AWAY.
Just before Jesus ascended to heaven (Matthew 28:19), He reminded His disciples the importance of baptism.
BORN OF THE SPIRIT
Sins BRING US FURTHER than where WE WANT TO GO and it keeps us longer than WE WANT TO STAY! We can see this in the case of Lot. When Abraham was called by God, he was 75. He went to the place with his nephew, Lot. However, Abram lived in the land of Canaan, and Lot lived in the cities of the circuit and PITCHED HIS TENT TOWARD SODOM (Gen 13:12). Lot ended up living in Sodom as the temptation was too great.
We need the guidance of the Holy Spirit to walk with God.
And I will give you a NEW HEART, and I will put a NEW SPIRIT WITHIN you. And I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 36:26-27)
For all who are led by God’s Spirit are God’s children. (Romans 8:14)
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. (John 14:26)
Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God. (1 John 3:9)
We have the two keys – to be born of water and to be born of the spirit. Thus, we shall see the Kingdom of God.