Sunday School Lesson April 9, 2017 God’s Saving Love In Christ
To follow along, visit your local Christian bookstore, and ask for the Bible Expositor and Illuminator
Time: A.D. 27 – Place: Jerusalem
Golden Text: “For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16)
I. Teaching About God’s Saving Love John 3:1-8; II. Application of God’s Saving Love – John 3:9-16
I. Teaching About God’s Saving Love
John 3:1 – There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: Nicodemus was the ruler of the Jews, he was a Pharisee and a teacher, and a member of the Sanhedrin who came to Jesus during the night. Recognizing Jesus’s greatness, Nicodemus asked to be instructed more fully by Him. Although he did not immediately understand Jesus’ words about the necessity of regeneration, he eventually did comprehend and became a disciple of Jesus. He argued that Jesus is given a fair hearing before the Sanhedrin. when they had sentenced Him to death by the cross. Nicodemus also aided Joseph of Arimathea in burying the body of Jesus. Nicodemus came to Jesus at night, if could have been he was fearful of those who would condemn him for seeking out Jesus, or perhaps he wanted to be certain he could have uninterrupted time with Him. Nicodemus addressed Jesus politely and respectful by calling Him “Rabbi”, He knew Jesus was from God but did not see Him as Messiah.
John 3:2 – The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God with him. The Pharisees were adamantly opposed to Jesus, but Nicodemus had second thoughts about Him. He may have wondered whether Jesus was indeed the Messiah, but he acknowledges that he was aware that Jesus were performing miracles, reverencing Him as Rabbi, and understood no one could perform miracles unless God was with Him.
John 3:3 – Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Jesus revealed to Nicodemus that the kingdom is personal, it’s not national, ethnic, and its entrance requirements are repentance and spiritual rebirth. The Greek word translated again can mean either “from above”, or “anew”. The new birth of regeneration is the act by which God imparts spiritual life to the one who trusts Jesus Christ, who is willing to allow Jesus to be not only their Saviour but their Lord. Without this spiritual birth, a person can’t perceive spiritual things nor can he or she enter the kingdom of God. When one has been regenerated in his or her spirit they no longer think or act the same, progressively they take off the garments of the world and replace them with the garments of righteousness according to what defines as righteousness by God’s standards.
John 3:4 – Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Nicodemus was confused about the word “being born again”, he understood once a person was born they couldn’t reenter the second time, but to make sure he wasn’t assuming, he inquired of Jesus to explain the rebirth. Jesus is still answering questions that we don’t understand, but we have to make the inquiry. There is nothing wrong with asking Jesus nor the Father questions, it’s the manner or behavior we ask them. Reading and studying the Word of God will rise questions we don’t understand, as well as things that happen in everyday life we don’t understand. God has given us the privilege to come before Him to ask questions, to receive the information we need. Since Nicodemus was thinking only on the human level and not spiritually, he recognized it was humanly impossible to reenter the womb so he asked for clarification. Jesus explained that He was not talking about physical birth but about spiritual birth. Many receive the gift of salvation but don’t experience the gift in their heart this is why many can profess Christianity and live completely opposite of the instructions of God. When the heart has been regenerated then every aspect of a persons’ being will a line with the Word of God.
John 3:5 – Jesus answered. Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. “Of water and of the Spirit” could be referring to the contrast between physical birth (water) and spiritual birth (Spirit) or being regenerated by the Spirit and demonstrating that rebirth by Christian baptism. The water could also represent the cleansing action of God’s Holy Spirit. Jesus is explaining the importance of a spiritual birth; we don’t enter into the kingdom by living a better life, but by being spiritually reborn of the Spirit of God. The reason why many can continue to live according to the world’s standard is because they received emotional salvation and not spiritual salvation. Spiritual salvation brings about a change in our appetites, we no longer desire the things the world has to offer as entertainment and pleasures. True salvation brings about an awareness when our actions or behavior is opposite of what the Bible describes as a Christian. What went for Nicodemus also goes for everyone that is professing to be a Christian. When the heart has been spiritually changed we see through the Spirit of God and not our physical sight. Our desires are for the things of God and not the world’s desire.
John 3:6 – That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Flesh refers to the musculature of a human being, it cannot be made into spirit. A person must experience a spiritual rebirth. Spiritual rebirth is that of the Spirit of God indwelling our human bodies. Salvation is offered to everyone, but salvation doesn’t sanctify our spirit either our flesh. But when the Spirit of God indwells our human spirit our spirit is reborn of the Spirit of God. He then gives us His attributes and characteristics, He gives us Him to create in us of Himself. When His Spirit lives within us it enables us to dominate the influence of our flesh as well as demonic spirits. Flesh has a sinful nature, and the more we yield to its desires the more it will be in control. When a person experiences the rebirth, he or she is willingly submitting themselves to the Word of God and the Spirit of God. Because the Spirit of God is indwelling their spirit and they are feeding their human spirit with the Word of God that will make a change in their spirit creating them more in the image of God as they submit to the Word of God. To grow spiritually the individual must read and study the Word God, submit to its instructions, be fasting coupled with prayer on a consistent basis.
John 3:7 – Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. Nicodemus was familiar with the Word of God through the Old Testament, but he knew nothing about the Son of God or the rebirth. Rebirth is spiritual and its supernatural, salvation and faith ae inextricably linked. Faith is not what you see but what you receive without seeing or feeling it. Jesus made it clear that the second birth is spiritual accomplished by the Spirit of God. An example of rebirth is similar to when the Spirit of God over-showed Mary and she became pregnant with Jesus, when the Spirit of God come upon us and indwell in us we become spiritual beings as well as human being. Mary received the Word of God by faith through the spoken word of the angel, and we too must receive salvation by faith in our hearts.
John 3:8 – The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is everyone that is born of the Spirit. Jesus used the wind as an illustration of the work of the Holy Spirit. The Greek word translated Spirit also means “the wind”. As the wind blows, where it will, so the Holy Spirit sovereignty works. Likewise, no one knows the origin or destination of the wind, but everyone knows it’s there. The same is true of the Holy Spirit. Jesus explained that we couldn’t control the work of the Holy Spirit. He works in ways we can’t predict or understand. Those who look to Jesus in savings faith will be delivered from an eternity in hell because of God’s love in sending His own Son to save His people from their sins.
Lesson Outline – II. Application of God’s Saving Love
John 3:9 – Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be? Although Nicodemus was a teacher he didn’t have an idea of what the rebirth was and how to go about receiving it the Holy Spirit. With his natural mind, he couldn’t perceive what Jesus was talking about so he asked the question how can this be? Nicodemus was a highly respected teacher in Israel, his lack of understanding was a revelation of the high degree of spiritual darkness in the nations and among the people. He didn’t understand that no person can come to a right relationship with God on his own and in his own strength. Salvation is a mysterious thing and our inability to fully comprehend the idea of being born again is a reminder of our human limitation and the necessary of faith. The world attempts to refute the necessity of salvation by criticisms rooted in mankind’s fallen nature and warped understanding. Nicodemus was actually illustrating the very thing that Jesus was teaching. He did not understand because he didn’t believe, despite the fact that the testimony came from Jesus Himself as the One sent directly from the Father in Heaven. Nicodemus could have tried to figure out for himself, but he wanted to know the truth and not assume so he came to the One that would be able to give him understanding about the rebirth. Many are professing to be Christians and have no idea of what Christianity and the rebirth consist of if they did they would not be living opposite of the instructions of what a Christian lifestyle should be.
John 3:10 – Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master (teacher) of Israel, and knowest not these things? Jesus answered Nicodemus’s question, but first He rebuked him for being a teacher of the Hebrew Scriptures and not knowing about spiritual birth. The Old Testament teaches about the rebirth, it also teaches about the Son of God being born and as a teacher he wasn’t familiar with these scriptures (For I will pour water upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring – Isaiah 44:3). (A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my status, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them – Ezekiel 36:26-27). (For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace – Isaiah 9:6). Although these Scriptures were from the Old Testament prophets as a teacher Nicodemus didn’t comprehend them. We can take this example of many teacher today are like Nicodemus they have no clue about the rebirth and they teach against the Fruit of the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit because they have not experienced this rebirth themselves.
John 3:11 – Verily, verily I say unto thee, We speak that (what) we do know, and testify that (what) we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. Nicodemus and other teachers of the Bible new the Old Testament thoroughly but they didn’t understand what is said about the Messiah. Knowledge is not salvation, we should know the Bible, but even more important, we should understand the God it reveals and the salvation He offers. The possibility is that Jesus was speaking on the behalf of the Father and the Spirit is the fact that “ye” in John 3:11 is plural in the Greek text.. The Tribune God was speaking truth to the people of Israel, and they were all missing it, especially the leaders. Even today because there are leaders who do not know the truth and teach others of their misunderstanding of Scriptures lead other into doctrines contradictary to the Bible. This is why professing Christians should read the Bible for themselves, pray and ask for understanding, attend church, go to Bible Study and Sunday School this is where they can learn the truth.
John 3:12 – If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shalt ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? “Earthly thing” refer to things that occur on earth, like the new birth, the wind, and perhaps miracles. “Heavenly things” refers to events like Christ’s birth and His ascension, the coming of the Holy Spirit. Nicodemus may have believed in Jesus’ miracles but the majority of the Jewish council did not. Many professing Christians today don’t understand the Bible because it’s spiritual and those who have not been born of the Spirit it will be incomprehensible to them (But the natural man receive not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned – 1st Corinthians 2:14). The difference between the natural man and the spiritual man is primarily that the spiritual man has found his faith on God’s revelation. He can judge now both earthly and heavenly things. He can discern what is and what is not of the gospel and salvation and whether a man is truly preaching the truth of God. The natural person does not have the Spirit although they have received salvation through faith if the heart has not been regenerated the heart will not be changed therefore causing the individual’s behavior and character not to change. The key word in this scripture is to believe with the heart and not the intellect or the emotions. Jesus’ analogy to the spiritual birth had been the activity of the wind. Just as the swaying of the activity of wind. Just as the swaying of the treetops in the wind was the result of the wind’s presence, so a changed life was the result of rebirth. This was a simple earthly teaching and something not difficult to comprehend, but if Nicodemus could not grasp this relatively easy truth, how was he going to grasp deeper truth? Basic belief was the ingredient currently missing in his heart.
John 3:13 – And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. Jesus is informing Nicodemus the new birth is by the Son, by the cross, and by faith. He’s informing Nicodemus no one has ascended to heaven but the Son of God, and it is He that is speaking to him. In order to validate what He was teaching, Jesus first pointed out that His origin had been in heaven. The implication of His statement seems to be that no teacher had ever ascended into heaven and then returned to do his teaching. Jesus, on the other hand had come from heaven so He was eminently qualified to teach.
John 3:14 -And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up. Nicodemus was a follower of Moses. Jesus pointed out an incident of the life of Moses as an example for Nicodemus. He compared the lifting up of the Son of Man to what Moses had done in the days when the children of the Israelites journeyed from mount Hor by way of the Red Sea the souls of the people became impatient and they begin to speak against God and Moses. God sent fiery serpents and they bite the people. Moses prayed for the people, God instructed Moses to make a brass serpent and place it on a pole and those who had been bitten by the serpents as they looked to the brass serpent in faith they would live and not die. Jesus was also speaking about His death as He would be lifted up on the cross taking away the sting of sin from all those who place their faith in Him.
John 3:15 – That whosever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. “Believeth” means to continue to place faith in Jesus Christ. When a person trusts Christ, he or she is born again and receives eternal and spiritual life, a God kind of life. It’s to worship God in spirit and in truth, they can commune with God at anytime and anywhere. The truth is opposite of all that is false, God doesn’t want His people to live a carnal lifestyle then try to worship Him, the worship would not be truth. Serving Him is being submitted to His instructions, therefore bringing forth new life in the individual. Jesus assured Nicodemus what He telling Him was true. He challenged him to believe the heavenly truths about the kingdom of God and His love.
John 3:16 – For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. There is no greater evidence of God’s love for mankind than sending His own Son to die on the cross? His love reaches all people of the world, and it was the most precious gift He could give. God gave His one and only Son in order to satisfy the need for divine justice to punish sin. He took our place, making the necessary payment for that sin so that we could be assured of eternal life. The requirements on our part is only to believe, this is not just merely intellectual agreement that Jesus is divine and the Son of God, but it is placing our complete trust and confidence in Him and what He has done for us. After believing we must also submit ourselves to the written instructions of the Bible if we want to receive the promise. Every promise in the Bible is with an if, the “if” is on our behalf of following the instructions.