Amazing Grace Baptist Church, Hamburg
We have been studying about the theme of new birth in Jesus Christ as presented in John 3. In this chapter, we have already looked at the nature and necessity of the new birth. Today’s lesson on John 3:14-36 focuses on the basis and some argument concerning the new birth.
The Basis for the New Birth (3:14-21)
From John 3:14-21, two things constitute the basis for the new birth in Jesus Christ. These are the necessity of the death of Jesus and the requirement of faith in Jesus.
1. Jesus, the Messiah, had to die (verses 14-17)
Jesus refers Nicodemus to the Old Testament, Numbers 21, the account of the brass serpent. The serpents were biting the Jews and killing them, and the strange solution to the problem was found when Moses made a serpent of brass! Looking to the serpent in faith brought healing. In like manner, Jesus was made sin for us, for it was sin that was killing us. As we look to Jesus by faith, we are saved. He experienced our judgment when He was lifted up on the cross. Jesus had to die before humankind could live! Jesus’ death brings life.
2. One must believe in Jesus (verses 18-21)
Faith in Jesus the Messiah is the only means of salvation. God’s command to Moses in Numbers 21 was not that he kill the snakes, make a salve for the wounds, or try to protect the Jews from being bitten. It was that he lifts up the brass serpent and tell the people to look by faith.
Refusal to look meant condemnation. On the other hand, looking in faith meant salvation. John goes back to the symbolism of light and life in John 1:4-13 which are darkness and death. Unbelievers do not only live in darkness, but they love the darkness. They refuse to come to the light where their sins will be exposed and can be forgiven.
The activity of God’s Spirit that regenerates sinful people comes about through faith in Jesus (John 3:10–21). Without faith there is no regeneration, and without regeneration a person does not have eternal life. Regeneration occurs at the moment a person exercises faith in Jesus. At that point, his sins are forgiven and he is born again by the power of the Holy Spirit. The new birth is a decisive, unrepeatable and irrevocable act of God.
The Confusion about the New Birth (3:22-36)
John 3: 25 points out that some argument developed between some of John’s disciples and a certain Jew over the matter of ceremonial washing. It is possible that this Jew was Nicodemus who was still searching for the truth. Like many people today, Nicodemus was confused about baptism and religious ceremonies.
Perhaps he thought “born of water” meant baptism or some Jewish purification rite. Note how John the Baptist pointed this Jew to Jesus. If baptism were necessary for salvation, then this is the place for the Bible to say so, but nothing like that is said. Instead, the emphasis is on believing (verse 36).
It is evident that Nicodemus came “out of the dark” and finally became a born-again believer. Here in John 3, we see Nicodemus in the darkness of confusion. In John 7:45-53, we see him willing to give Jesus a fair hearing. In John 19:38-42, we see Nicodemus openly identifying himself with the Messiah.
Today’s lesson has focused on the need for the new birth in Jesus Christ. Using Jesus’ dialogue with Nicodemus, it has come to light that being born again demands that we believe that Jesus came to die on the cross for us. This basis constitutes the content of John 3:14-16 that has been used to explain the Good News in its simplest form.
1. State two basis for the new birth in Jesus Christ.
2. How does Moses’ lifting up of the brass serpent in Number 21 relate to the death of Jesus Christ?
3. With reference to the life of Nicodemus, how can unbelievers come out of darkness.
4. How does John the Baptist point the Jews to Jesus in John 3:25?
5. The new birth is a decisive, unrepeatable and irrevocable act of God (John 3:36). Explain.