Temple Baptist Church - 7-22-2012
A. This morning, we have read one of the most profound portions of scripture found in the Bible: a story well known to all who have been in church for very long. It is the story of a religious man who came to Christ with some questions that needed to be answered. These questions revolved around the doctrine of salvation so they are pertinent to today’s society also.
B. There is so much unnecessary confusion in our county concerning salvation. The southeastern United States has been blessed to have produced some of the greatest preachers who have ever walked in “shoe leather!” Great men of God who uncompromisingly preached the unsearchable riches of this blessed old King James Bible. Preaching God’s Word as it is to men as they are. Great men producing great churches and universities where God’s Word was championed and taught.
C. Satan has certainly done his job well over the past couple of hundred years. In our county, the terminology of salvation is evident but the reality of salvation is strangely missing. “Saved” people live in almost every home but the churches are emptying at an alarming rate. Not just the mainstream denominations but also within the fundamental churches. As one old preacher said, “Something done gone wrong in da fields!” while preaching on the parable of the Wheat and the Tares.
D. Not everyone who claims to be saved is going to heaven: they, in one of these areas, have “missed the boat” when it comes to salvation. In our text, we find the “except” of the New Birth. “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” The word “except” means that there are no exceptions to the rule but there are so many who have heard, memorized, and believe the bible who are not saved. The New Birth is a requirement for salvation and one cannot get to heaven any other way.
E. Nicodemus was:
1. A religious man – “Pharisee” - Nicodemus was a “church going man” who was sincere in what he was doing. Many people live like the devil all week and go hypocritically to church on Sunday morning but this man was sincere in his worship. Sincerity and faithfulness to church will not get a man to heaven when he dies.
2. A good man - “Pharisee” - The Pharisees lived impeccable lives as they made clean the outward man and adhered closely to the law. I have heard people say, “If any one makes it to heaven, he or she will.” They are saying that this or that individual was good enough to make it. Nicodemus’ goodness was not enough to get him to heaven.
3. A respected man – “a ruler of the Jews” - As far as I can discern from scripture, he was a highly respected man of great notoriety in Jerusalem. Being a well-respected individual among peers does not make one fit for heaven.
4. An honest man – “came to Jesus” - I am reminded of the rich, young ruler who ran and fell at Jesus’ feet and said, “Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” He came to Christ for salvation and went away lost. Many come to church to be saved and go away lost. Nicodemus was honest in his approach but his honesty could not get him to heaven.
5. A biblically knowledgeable man – “we know that thou art a teacher come from God” – Nicodemus was well versed in scripture (A master of Israel), knowing both the Law and the prophecies concerning Messiah. Knowledge of the bible does not save anyone either. If it did, Satan would have eternal life because he quoted enough of it.
6. A lost man! – “I said unto thee, YE must be born again” A good man by all of man’s standards was a hell bound sinner in the sight of God. God limits His use of the word “must” in the bible as He is infamous for “reasoning” with man. “Come now, let us reason together, saith the Lord!” There are some areas in which God does not reason and salvation is one of them: “Ye MUST be born again!” No exceptions; no alternative routes; it is the New Birth or there is no salvation. “Neither is there salvation in any other!”
The New Birth is a divine imperative, an absolute necessity, and an inescapable essential. You cannot go to heaven without it! Why?
1. Because there are no substitutes for the New Birth.
a. No Baptism. There is no cleansing power in the water nor is there merit with God. Baptism is an important part of our public confession of the work of the gospel in our hearts. Only the blood of Christ can take away sin!
b. No Church Membership. There is no reconciliation in a church letter nor is there peace with God. Church attendance is also an important part of our public confession of Christ but, unfortunately, lost people often are more faithful in attendance than the saved. Church membership will not save.
c. No Good Works. There is no reconciliation in works as, at their best, they are filthy rags in the sight of God.
d. What can wash away my sin, nothing but the blood of Jesus!
2. Because there is no satisfaction apart from the New Birth.
a. Religion leaves man guilty. Religion brings guilt while salvation brings about peace.
b. Religion leaves man empty. Religion drives man to achieve while salvation brings satisfaction and fulfillment.
c. Religion leaves man lost. Religion is manmade and cannot inherit the kingdom of God while salvation reconciles man to God and fits him for heaven.
3. Because there is no salvation without the New Birth.
a. God’s holiness demands it. By nature, Man is totally depraved while God is impeccably holy and cannot look upon the sinfulness of man. Man can only be reconciled to God through propitiation and mediation.
b. Man’s nature requires it. By nature, man is alienated from God. Sin and worldliness bring enmity. Man is sinful and cannot approach unto God without justification which comes only through salvation.
c. Christ’s cross provides it. It was upon the cross that Jesus Christ paid for the sins of the world an through the preaching of the cross that sinners are saved. Their faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.
d. The Christian knows it! We that are saved realized our helpless and hopelessness without Christ and brought our “bankrupt” souls to Christ by faith. People who claim a measure of self-worth have no concept of who Christ is and what it takes to be saved. It is not reformation or moral goodness, it is a work of God in our hearts and we understand it.
What is the New Birth?
1. It Involves Recognition
a. Who you are – A helpless, hopeless sinner and a deserving one! There is not righteous and that includes you and me. We are sinners by birth and choice. We are hell bound and hell deserving.
b. What you need – As a sinner, you need to be saved. You need to be cleansed of all of your sin. Since there is no other way to Heaven, we must come God’s way or not come at all. God does not have a different standard for different people.
c. Who He is – Lord! Years ago, “Lordship Salvation” became the battleground of the fundamental Baptists. There was much misinformation and deception involved and the debate became much like the political arena of our day. Nobody was listening to what anybody was saying. Bowing to the Lord Jesus Christ is a recognition of who He is, not a recognition of who we are! He has always been Lord and there will never be a time when He is not. We have always been sinners and will continue to be until He takes us home.
2. It Involves Repentance
a. What we have done – sinned against a holy God
b. What God says about what we have done – it is wicked and unacceptable in the sight of God
c. Godly sorrow and a desire for change – heartfelt sorrow is a rarity in our day. There was a day when sinners came weeping to Christ and wanted not only to be saved but also a change in life. Most today want to go to heaven while continuing on their merry little way: living in sin.
3. It Involves Resolve
a. To believe the gospel – the death, burial, and resurrection are essential to salvation. We are not saved simply through praying a sinner’s prayer. We are saved through believing the gospel.
b. To come to Christ – Our Lord said, “Come unto me!” We turn to Jesus Christ for salvation and Jesus Christ alone.
c. To trust – God said it and I believe it.
4. It Involves Rest – In my hand no price I bring; simply to thy cross I cling! Salvation is a finished work and that work is in Christ.