The necessity and nature of new birth in Jesus Christ, By Rev. John Kwasi Fosu

Amazing Grace Baptist Church, Hamburg
Bible study material on John 3:1-13

Introduction
John 3 is one of the most important chapters in John’s Gospel because it deals with the subject of the new birth. In Jesus’ time, some religious groups such as Pharisees had become so confused with this subject. In this light, many people and for that matter, religious leaders like Nicodemus, had no idea about what it means to be born again. This lesson teaches us about the necessity and nature of the new birth.

1. The Need for the New Birth (3:1-5)
An examination of the dialogue between Jesus and Nicodemus identifies two main importance of the new birth.

a. The new birth is necessary to see (experience) the kingdom of God (verse 3)
Nicodemus was a moral, religious man, one of the chief teachers (rulers) of the Jews, yet he did not understand the truth about the new birth. Spiritual truths cannot be grasped by the carnal mind of sinful person (1 Corinthians 2:10-14). Nicodemus came “by night,” a symbol of the unsaved person. The unsaved person is “in the dark” spiritually (Ephesians 4:18 and 2 Corinthians 4:3-6). Being religious and moral does not make a person fit for the kingdom of heaven. One must be born again, that is, born from above.

Nicodemus confused the spiritual and the physical (see verse 4). He thought in terms of physical birth, while Jesus was talking about a spiritual birth. All of us are born in sin. Our “first birth” makes us children of Adam and this means we are children of wrath and of disobedience (Ephesians 2:1-3). No amount of education, religion or discipline can change the old nature. We must receive a new nature from God.

b. The new birth is necessary in order to enter the kingdom of God (verse 5)
By “the kingdom of God,” Jesus did not mean an earthly political kingdom. It is a heavenly kingdom. Paul described the kingdom of God in Romans 14:17. Entrance into the kingdom of God requires repentance and spiritual rebirth. When a sinner trusts Jesus, he or she enters God’s kingdom and family. Like most of his Jewish friends, Nicodemus thought that being born a Jew, and living according to the Law, would satisfy God (see Matthew 3:7-12 and John 8:33-39). Ever since Adam’s sin in Genesis 3, all humankind have been born outside paradise. Only by being born again can we enter the kingdom of God.

2. The Nature of the New Birth (3:6-13)

a. The new birth is a spiritual birth (verses 6-7)
That which is born of the old nature will always be of old nature and is under the wrath of God. That which is born of the Spirit (the new nature discussed in 2 Peter 1:4) is Spirit and is eternal. You cannot produce a spiritual birth with physical means. This is why “born of water” in verse 5 cannot mean baptism, for baptism would mean applying a physical substance (water) to the physical being. This action could never bring about a spiritual birth. (Read John 1:11-13 and 6:63.)

“Born of water” does not refer to water baptism, for in the Bible baptism speaks of death, not birth (Romans 6:1). If baptism is essential for salvation, then nobody in the Old Testament was ever saved, for there was no baptism under the Law. The great saints named in Hebrews 11 were all saved by faith. Salvation is not of works (Ephesians 2:8-10), and baptism is a human work. Jesus came to save, yet He did not baptize (John 4:2). If baptism is necessary for eternal life, why did Paul rejoice because he had not baptized more people (1 Corinthians 1:13-17)?

The new birth can only be produced by spiritual means through the Spirit of God (John 3:6 and 6:63) and the Word of God (1 Peter 1:23; James 1:18). The “water” in verse 5 refers to physical birth (every baby is “born of water”), the thing Nicodemus mentioned in verse 4. A person is born again when the Spirit of God uses the Word of God to produce faith and impart the new nature when the person believes. The Spirit usually uses a believer to give the Word to another person (see 1 Corinthians 4:15), but only the Spirit can impart life.

b. It is a mysterious birth (verses 8-10)

No one can explain the wind, and no one can explain the working of the Spirit. Both the Spirit and the believer are like the wind. Nicodemus, instructed in the Law, should have known the truth of the renewing work of the Spirit (Ezekiel 37).

c. It is a real birth (verses 11-13)

Many things are mysterious yet real. Jesus assured Nicodemus that the new birth is not a fantasy, but a reality. If a person will believe Jesus’ words and receive Him, he or she will discover how real and wonderful the new birth is.

Conclusion
This lesson has sought to explain the need and nature of the new birth in Jesus by studying Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus in John 1:1-13. The passage shows that New Birth is necessary in order to see and enter the kingdom of God. Contrary to natural birth, the new birth in Jesus Christ is spiritual, mysterious and real.

Questions
1. What does it mean to be born again?
2. Explain the statement that “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.”
3. Why is it necessary to be born again?
4. The new birth in Christ is mysterious and real. How far do you agree?

The Significance of Jesus Cleansing the Temple, Prepared by Rev. John Kwasi Fosu

AMAZING GRACE BAPTIST CHURCH, HAMBURG – BIBLE STUDY MATERIAL ON JOHN 2:13-25

Text: John 2:13-25

Introduction
John 2:13-25 records the first account of Jesus cleansing the Jewish temple in Jerusalem. In this occasion, Jesus found those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money-changers in the temple. Making a whip of cords, Jesus drove them all out of the temple including the sheep and oxen. Jesus also poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. He then told those who sold doves to take them away in order not to make his Father’s (God’s) house a house of trade.

Why did Jesus Clean the Temple? (John 2:13-16)
Some reasons that explain Jesus’ action include:

1. Jesus clearly cleansed the temple because those selling pigeons, sheep, and oxen were doing so as a business rather than as a spiritual service. God’s law demanded that God’s people bring animal offerings at the temple during Passover. Because many Jews came from long distances for this event, it became common for Jews to bring money and then buy animals when in Jerusalem. Sellers then began profiting from the system. This misuse of the temple system of worship was what angered Jesus.
2. Those doing business in the outer courts of the temple destroyed the only place where Gentiles could come and worship. This area (the court of the Gentiles) was made into a house of merchandise.
3. It is worthy of note that cleansing was part of the Passover celebration. And so removing every speck of anything leavened (made with yeast) from the home was a symbol, a picture, of cleansing from sin. Significantly, John began with a miracle of conversion (changing water into wine). Then he showed Jesus performing a work of cleansing (the cleansing of the temple). This always portrays how Jesus works in His people: conversion first, then cleansing.

Consumed by the Zeal of the Lord’s house (John 2:17-25)
The above action of Jesus proved who Jesus was as the Messiah. Jesus’ disciple associated this event with Psalm 69:9 understanding Jesus as the Messiah. Zeal has to do with passion, energy, and devotion. Thus, Jesus’ passion for the purity of the temple became clear.

Conclusion
Jesus cleansed the temple showing his rejection of the distortions of temple worship. He also made His public claim of his authority over those in the temple. Jesus ultimately proved His role as Messiah through His death and resurrection from the dead in this same area of Jerusalem.

Questions
1. To what extent can you relate the commercial activities in the temple to the selling of anointing oil in some contemporary churches?
2. Explain two reasons that justify Jesus’ actions of cleansing the temple.
3. Are there any thing in your personal life and in the life of the Church as temple(s) of Christ that you need to clean?
4. In what ways are you consumed by the zeal of the Lord’s house?

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF JESUS TURNING WATER INTO WINE, PREPARED BY REV. JOHN KWASI FOSU

Amazing Grace Baptist Church, Hamburg – Bible Studies Material on John 2:1-11

Memory verse: John 2:11

Introduction
There have been diverse commentaries on John 2:1-11 even as there exist different methods of biblical interpretation. This lesson demonstrates that a combination of historical-critical and allegorical interpretation of Jesus’ miraculous sign at the Cana Wedding is helpful in putting the story into the general purpose of John’s gospFIRST ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATIONel. Accordingly, the studies purposes to bring out three lessons from John 2:1-11 namely historical, doctrinal and practical.

1. The Historical Significance (2:1-12)
The words of John the Baptist in John 1:26 showed that Israel was ignorant of its own Messiah. This wedding feast is a picture of the nation of Israel. The wine had run out, the people’s supply was emptied, yet their Messiah stood there to help them. The six water-pots were used for ceremonial cleansing (see Mark 7:3). Normally the Jews used the water from the jars to purify themselves. But the water-pots were empty depicting the emptiness of Jewish ritual when true faith is absent.

The Jewish ceremonies could not help the spiritually poor nation. The people had external ceremonies, but they had nothing to satisfy them within. “They filled them to the brim.” This “filling to the brim” showed that nothing could be added to the water. When Jesus performed the miracle, all the water was changed to wine. It portrays the abundance of Jesus’ gracious work. This miracle illustrated the emptiness of the Jewish rituals versus what Jesus came to bring (4:13; 7:38-39). The water of ceremonial cleansing has become the wine of the Messianic age.

2. The Doctrinal Lessons – How the sinner is saved
From the introductory notes to John, we learned that out of the many miracles that Jesus performed, John selected seven to prove Jesus’ deity. These seven signs are given in a specific order forming a picture of salvation. The first three signs show how salvation comes to the sinner and so John 2:1-11(Water into wine) teaches that salvation is through the Word. Thus, this first miracle teaches us that salvation is through the Word of God. From this perspective, the symbolic meanings of the words and phrases embedded in the miracle story are worth reflecting on.

A. A thirsty crowd
Can this be a picture of lost people today? They are tasting the world’s pleasures but finding no personal satisfaction. Their worldly fulfillment eventually runs out. The Bible invites thirsty sinners to come to Jesus the Messiah for salvation and satisfaction (John 4:13-14, 7:37; Isaiah 55:1; Revelation 22:17).

B. Empty water pots
They represent the human heart, which is hard and empty. The Word of God compares the human being to a vessel (2 Corinthians 4:7; 2 Timothy 2:20-21). The sinner’s life may look lovely on the outside, but God sees it is as empty and useless unless He is able to work a divine miracle on the inside.

C. Filled with water
In the Bible, water for washing is an image of the Word of God (Ephesians 5:26 and John 15:3). All that the servants had to do was fill the empty water pots with water, which is like the servant of God filling the heart of the unbeliever with the Word. It is not our job to save souls, but it is our job to give people the Word and let Christ perform the miracle of salvation.

D. Water to wine
When the sinner’s heart has been filled with the Word, then Jesus can perform the miracle and bring joy. In Acts 8:26-40, Philip filled the Ethiopian with the Word, and when the man believed, the miracle of salvation took place. The Ethiopian went his way rejoicing. Note John 1:17 (The law was given through Moses). In the Old Testament, water was changed to blood (Exodus 7:19), which indicates judgment. But the Messiah turned water into wine, which speaks of grace and joy. Wine symbolizes the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18).

E. The third day
This foreshadows the Resurrection since Jesus the Messiah arose from the dead on the third day. It was the third day from “the next day” (1:43), which was the fourth of the days John wrote about in chapter 1. Perhaps John had Genesis 1 in mind when he wrote of this first week of “a new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

F. The beginning of miracles

Salvation is the beginning of miracles. After a person is saved, God performs one miracle after another for him. The miracles we experience bring glory to Jesus.

3. Practical Importance – How to serve the Messiah
All who would serve Jesus should heed Mary’s words: “Do whatever He tells you” (2:5). It must have seemed foolish for the servants to fill those water-pots, but God uses the foolish things to confound the mighty (1 Corinthians 1:27). If we want to see people saved, then we must obey Jesus and give them the Word of God. It is not entertainment or recreation that saves souls, but the preaching and teaching of the Word. If we do our part, Jesus will do the rest.

The servants knew where the wine came from, but the “important people” at the feast did not. When a person serves Jesus, he learns His secret (Amos 3:7). We are Jesus’ servants and His friends (3:29; 15:15) and He tells us what He is doing. It is better to be a humble servant of Jesus and share in His miracles than to sit at the head table of a great feast. We should use every opportunity to serve Jesus “in season and out of season.” Jesus brought glory to God at a wedding feast.

Conclusion
This lesson has thrown more light on the historical import of John 1:1-11 bringing our Israel’s timely need for Jesus’ gracious work. Doctrinally, this first miracle of John’s gospel has proved the uniqueness of Jesus as the Messiah. Practically, the study has drawn our attention to the need for obedience to Jesus. The study, therefore, confirms the purpose of John’s gospel that Jesus shows people what God is like.

Questions
1. How does the statement, “They filled them to the brim,” relates to the abundance of Jesus’ gracious work?
2. How do the water and wine symbolize the Word and Salvation respectfully?
3. Identify any spiritually thirsty crowd around you and show how you can invite them to Jesus for salvation and satisfaction?
4. With reference to John 2:5, what does it mean to “do whatever

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF JESUS TURNING WATER INTO WINE, PREPARED BY REV. JOHN KWASI FOSU

Amazing Grace Baptist Church, Hamburg – Bible Study Material on John 2:1-11

Memory verse: John 2:11

Introduction
There have been diverse commentaries on John 2:1-11 even asFIRST ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION there exist different methods of biblical interpretation. This lesson demonstrates that a combination of historical-critical and allegorical interpretation of Jesus’ miraculous sign at the Cana Wedding is helpful in putting the story into the general purpose of John’s gospel. Accordingly, the studies purposes to bring out three lessons from John 2:1-11 namely historical, doctrinal and practical.

1. The Historical Significance (2:1-12)
The words of John the Baptist in John 1:26 showed that Israel was ignorant of its own Messiah. This wedding feast is a picture of the nation of Israel. The wine had run out, the people’s supply was emptied, yet their Messiah stood there to help them. The six water-pots were used for ceremonial cleansing (see Mark 7:3). Normally the Jews used the water from the jars to purify themselves. But the water-pots were empty depicting the emptiness of Jewish ritual when true faith is absent.

The Jewish ceremonies could not help the spiritually poor nation. The people had external ceremonies, but they had nothing to satisfy them within. “They filled them to the brim.” This “filling to the brim” showed that nothing could be added to the water. When Jesus performed the miracle, all the water was changed to wine. It portrays the abundance of Jesus’ gracious work. This miracle illustrated the emptiness of the Jewish rituals versus what Jesus came to bring (4:13; 7:38-39). The water of ceremonial cleansing has become the wine of the Messianic age.

2. The Doctrinal Lessons – How the sinner is saved
From the introductory notes to John, we learned that out of the many miracles that Jesus performed, John selected seven to prove Jesus’ deity. These seven signs are given in a specific order forming a picture of salvation. The first three signs show how salvation comes to the sinner and so John 2:1-11(Water into wine) teaches that salvation is through the Word. Thus, this first miracle teaches us that salvation is through the Word of God. From this perspective, the symbolic meanings of the words and phrases embedded in the miracle story are worth reflecting on.

A. A thirsty crowd
Can this be a picture of lost people today? They are tasting the world’s pleasures but finding no personal satisfaction. Their worldly fulfillment eventually runs out. The Bible invites thirsty sinners to come to Jesus the Messiah for salvation and satisfaction (John 4:13-14, 7:37; Isaiah 55:1; Revelation 22:17).

B. Empty water pots
They represent the human heart, which is hard and empty. The Word of God compares the human being to a vessel (2 Corinthians 4:7; 2 Timothy 2:20-21). The sinner’s life may look lovely on the outside, but God sees it is as empty and useless unless He is able to work a divine miracle on the inside.

C. Filled with water
In the Bible, water for washing is an image of the Word of God (Ephesians 5:26 and John 15:3). All that the servants had to do was fill the empty water pots with water, which is like the servant of God filling the heart of the unbeliever with the Word. It is not our job to save souls, but it is our job to give people the Word and let Christ perform the miracle of salvation.

D. Water to wine
When the sinner’s heart has been filled with the Word, then Jesus can perform the miracle and bring joy. In Acts 8:26-40, Philip filled the Ethiopian with the Word, and when the man believed, the miracle of salvation took place. The Ethiopian went his way rejoicing. Note John 1:17 (The law was given through Moses). In the Old Testament, water was changed to blood (Exodus 7:19), which indicates judgment. But the Messiah turned water into wine, which speaks of grace and joy. Wine symbolizes the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18).

E. The third day
This foreshadows the Resurrection since Jesus the Messiah arose from the dead on the third day. It was the third day from “the next day” (1:43), which was the fourth of the days John wrote about in chapter 1. Perhaps John had Genesis 1 in mind when he wrote of this first week of “a new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

F. The beginning of miracles

Salvation is the beginning of miracles. After a person is saved, God performs one miracle after another for him. The miracles we experience bring glory to Jesus.

3. Practical Importance – How to serve the Messiah
All who would serve Jesus should heed Mary’s words: “Do whatever He tells you” (2:5). It must have seemed foolish for the servants to fill those water-pots, but God uses the foolish things to confound the mighty (1 Corinthians 1:27). If we want to see people saved, then we must obey Jesus and give them the Word of God. It is not entertainment or recreation that saves souls, but the preaching and teaching of the Word. If we do our part, Jesus will do the rest.

The servants knew where the wine came from, but the “important people” at the feast did not. When a person serves Jesus, he learns His secret (Amos 3:7). We are Jesus’ servants and His friends (3:29; 15:15) and He tells us what He is doing. It is better to be a humble servant of Jesus and share in His miracles than to sit at the head table of a great feast. We should use every opportunity to serve Jesus “in season and out of season.” Jesus brought glory to God at a wedding feast.

Conclusion
This lesson has thrown more light on the historical import of John 1:1-11 bringing our Israel’s timely need for Jesus’ gracious work. Doctrinally, this first miracle of John’s gospel has proved the uniqueness of Jesus as the Messiah. Practically, the study has drawn our attention to the need for obedience to Jesus. The study, therefore, confirms the purpose of John’s gospel that Jesus shows people what God is like.

Questions
1. How does the statement, “They filled them to the brim,” relates to the abundance of Jesus’ gracious work?
2. How do the water and wine symbolize the Word and Salvation respectfully?
3. Identify any spiritually thirsty crowd around you and show how you can invite them to Jesus for their salvation and satisfaction?
4. With reference to John 2:5, what does it mean to “do whatever Jesus tells you?”