The Work Of The Holy Spirit
7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. 8 And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 of sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; 11 of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. 12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. 14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. 15 All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore, I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.
Here’s some brief background to put these texts into context. Jesus has just announced that He will be leaving His disciples and they are now disturbed and no doubt disappointed. They are extremely unsettled and so our Savior takes this time to assure them that they will not be left alone.
There’s no doubt the Holy Spirit is the most misunderstood and maybe even the most ignored member of the Trinity. I recognize that we cannot possibly cover everything the Bible says about Him in one message, so we’re going to ponder the promises that Jesus gives us in our text. We’ll look into the passages that will help us understand and engage with the Holy Spirit. After learning about the person of the Holy Spirit, we’ll conclude with ways we can live in the power of the Spirit.
I want to draw your attention to the word “Helper” that is used to describe the Holy Spirit in all four of these passages in…
16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever. 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.
Notice the entire Trinity is involved here… Jesus asks the Father who gives another Helper, the Spirit of Truth. That in the unity of the Godhead there are three persons - the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit - equal in every divine perfection and executing distinct but harmonious offices in the great work of redemption.
The word “another” means, “one of the same kind or quality.” The idea is that of “sameness.” Jesus is saying the Holy Spirit will be like Himself and will take His place.
The Helper will be us forever. In the Old Testament the Spirit is mentioned many times and came upon people to enable them to accomplish God-given tasks and then would depart. That’s why David prayed in Psalm 51:11: “Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.” We don’t have to worry about that now because the Holy Spirit comes in at conversion and stays forever. In John 14:18, Jesus says, “I will not leave you as orphans.”
He is the Spirit of truth. Those who don’t know Christ cannot receive the Holy Spirit.
Believers “know” Him… meaning He is personal, not just a mystical force like in Star Wars or an impersonal power. He’s not a power to experience but a “Being” to know.
The Holy Spirit dwells within a believer. I read a quote from devotion, “He has always been a God who is close and present but only since Jesus returned to heaven has He taken up residence inside of us. And that makes Him closer than ever.”
26 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.
Notice the Trinity is mentioned here again. The Father sends the Holy Spirit in the name of Jesus. One of the roles of the Holy Spirit is to teach believers. He brings new truth to the disciples and also helps them remember all that Jesus has said in the past. That’s why the Holy Spirit was so involved in the inspiration of the Scriptures. We’re taught and reminded as we study the Word of God.
2 Peter 1:21 (ESV)
21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.
Here we see the Trinity at work again… Jesus will send the Helper who comes from the Father.
He is the Spirit of truth…we all need the truth in a world filled with lies and error, don’t we?
The Holy Spirit helps the believer discern between what is true and what is not!
The Holy Spirit will guide you and I… He will give that extra on the spot sense of discernment we need to make both big and small decisions. And as we develop a greater sensitivity to His guidance, we will worry less as each day goes by. After all, we do know and admit, that God knows best. And that is why He has sent us His Spirit as a gift. (The Helper)
Fourth: Verse, still in regards to the Holy Spirit as our Helper. From our opening verse…
7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.
The word “nevertheless” is used as a contrast to what the disciples are feeling. Jesus then says something to get their attention: “I tell you the truth…” Jesus always told the truth, it’s as if He’s saying, “Listen up guys”. This is really important. “it is to your advantage that I go away”
There was no way the disciples were thinking that it was a good thing that Jesus was about to leave them. How could it be to their advantage that Jesus was going away? Of what benefit would it be for Jesus to be gone from them?
Jesus tells them why His departure would be profitable for them, “for if I do not go away, the “Helper” there’s that word again, will not come to you. But if I go, I will send Him to you.” Three times Jesus uses the word, “go” to help the disciples understand that He was about to leave them. But it would be to their advantage because the Helper could then arrive. His going is essential to the Spirit’s coming.
Now, let me be quick to say that that the Holy Spirit will never be taken from us, but it’s worth asking ourselves what is it that we’re doing in our own power. What I mean is, did you notice a change in your life when you received the Helper? (The Holy Spirit) You should, I should. We should have been made new, the old has gone. Now… if you are still the same person, then it should be obvious that you were never made new. Again, the changes in the believer’s life will not happen all at once, but there should be an evidence of change. Slowly, and slowly, the Helper gets rid of everything that is not pleasing to our Father. Being pruned…being conformed into His likeness.
The Bible says there at least two ways we can short-circuit the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives.
We can grieve the Holy Spirit…
30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.
To “grieve” means, “to make sad or sorry.” We can grieve Him by holding on to gross stuff in our lives.
We can quench the Holy Spirit…
1 Thessalonians 5:19
Do not quench the Spirit.
To “quench” means, “to put out a fire.” When we ignore the Holy Spirit by continuously, compromising our morals and biblical convictions, the fire of the Holy Spirit can be reduced. We become out of touch with our “Helper”.
One of the best ways to make sure we’re not grieving or quenching the Holy Spirit is to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. When we mess up, own it. When we sin, confess it. When we’ve wronged someone, make it right. The Holy Spirit, (Helper) is there to help!
We have just learned of the importance of… receiving this Special Gift. Without the Holy Spirit, we are still lost. Without the in dwelling of the Helper, we would still be blind, and not knowing the truth of who we are, and who God is! So… by receiving this Gift, how should one live?
25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
As we yield to the Spirit, we will experience His power and people should and will notice. I like what Francis Chan Wrote…
“I don’t want my life to be explainable without the Holy Spirit. I want people to look at my life and know that I couldn’t be doing this by my own power.” (Francis Chan)
Here then are some ways we can keep in step with the Spirit.
It’s important to distinguish between the gift of the Spirit which happens at salvation, the gifts of the Spirit, which have to do with service, and the graces of the Spirit, which relate to Christian character. Building Christian character must take precedence over displaying other special abilities.
Go with the Gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit. It’s fascinating to me that Jesus held his disciples back from witnessing until they had the Holy Spirit. We see this in Luke 24:48-49:
48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with Power from on high.”
How does this verse apply to you and I? Without the gift of the Holy Spirit, we cannot know God, because we do not know the truth about God, because of His Son. Without the Spirit, we cannot change our lives in a way that will be pleasing to our God, hence it will be impossible to know His will in our lives without the gift of the Helper!
If you’re saved, you have all of the Holy Spirit. But here’s a question: “Does the Holy Spirit have all of you?” Have you been living in your own might and do you think you’re always right? Have you been saved by grace but now you’re trying to do everything in your own grit or through you own wit? What I mean is, are you now taking credit for the new you? Paul addressed this in Galatians 3:3…
3 Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?
Don’t take credit for something that is impossible for you and I to do. Forgiveness, salvation, a new life, and most importantly, the gift of the Holy Spirit, is all from God!!!
If You are not saved? You are in a very dangerous position. There will be a final exam one day and you will fail. You have to cry out to Jesus Christ. Pray to be forgiven Listen to what the Holy Spirit is doing right now according to…
8 And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 of sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; 11 of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. 12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.
The Holy Spirit never speaks on His own. Like Christ, this person of the Trinity submits to the authority of the Father. Everything He communicates to us is directly from the Father. When you think about it, this makes perfect sense. After all, where does the Holy Spirit reside? In you and me. Since the Holy Spirit has direct access to our minds, emotions, and conscience, He is the perfect candidate for communicating Gods will to us.
1 Timothy 2:3-6
3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.
Again…if you are saved, follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit, stop fighting, give Him your all, because it leads to righteousness. If You are not, cry out to God. Pray to be forgiven, and be saved. And receive the special Gift that will be with you forever.
“The Work Of The Holy Spirit”
“Where Is My Peace?”
Psalm 42:1-5 Yearning for God in the Midst of Distresses
To the Chief Musician. A Contemplation of the sons of Korah.
42 As the deer pants for the water brooks, So, pants my soul for You, O God.
2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?
3 My tears have been my food day and night, while they continually say to me,
“Where is your God?” 4 When I remember these things, I pour out my soul within me.
For I used to go with the multitude; I went with them to the house of God,
With the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept a pilgrim feast. 5 Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him. For the help of His countenance.
God’s highest priority for our lives is to develop an intimate and growing relationship with Him. He made us to thirst for Him, as we thirst for water and to seek Him as we seek relief from a parched throat.
Let me read to you a devotional from Our Daily Bread:
May 7, 1992. During the Thirty Years' War in the 17th century, German pastor Paul Gerhardt and his family were forced to flee from their home. One night as they stayed in a small village inn, homeless and afraid, his wife broke down and cried openly in despair. To comfort her, Gerhardt reminded her of Scripture promises about God's provision and keeping. Then, going out to the garden to be alone, he too broke down and wept. He felt he had come to his darkest hour. Soon afterward, Gerhardt felt the burden lifted and sensed anew the Lord's presence. Taking his pen, he wrote this hymn:
"Give to the winds thy fears; hope, and be undismayed"
"God hears thy sighs and counts thy tears; God shall lift up thy head"
"Through waves and clouds and storms He gently clears the way"
"Wait thou His time, so shall the night soon end in joyous day." (Powerpoint Hymn)
Have you ever been where Gerhardt and his wife were at that point in their lives? Everything seems so good and then your life seemingly falls apart. The mountain top experiences of life are great. You know what I mean, as that saying goes, “I’m On Top Of The World” We can feel Gods presence so real when we are on top of the mountain. Let’s be honest here, when we reach the valleys in life we may question if God is even there with us.
When everything in life is going well, its easy to praise God, correct! You have that mountain top feeling, I have peace, I am calm, I have God with me, I have nothing to worry about.
So…what about the times, when we have to go down into the valleys of life, when things are not peaceful, instead of calmness, I’m restless, can we still say, “God is with me”, Or does it now turn into question, “Is God with me?” Its easy to lift up our hands in praise when things are going well. But what those times when instead of lifting up our hands…we need to be hands and knees down on the floor in prayer. Is God still there with us as well? Of course He is!!!
So…let us look through these verses today and see, “Where Is My Peace?”
Notice the subscription “The Sons of Korah” – This was a musical family in Israel. Korah was a priest who led a rebellion against Aaron and Moses. As a result, Korah faced God’s wrath. The psalmist is in exile from the Temple. As stated in verse 4, He had worshipped there many times and desired to once again return to the Holy place. He is not just suffering from a craving to go to the Temple. He is in great anguish over the fact that he is separated from the Lord’s house.
“My tears have been my food day and night”.
Have you ever been to this point? To a place where there is discouragement and anguish every- where you turn? Have you been to a place where you think you have reached rock bottom and then the bottom falls out? We live in a world that is full of trouble. Things are bad and seem to only be getting worse. But I would like to share some good news today, even in the midst of the greatest storm of life, you can possess the ultimate peace.
33 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
Let us look back at our previews verses, I would like to pose a few questions, the first is this:
ARE YOU LOOKING FOR HELP? v3-4. YOU MAY HAVE TO ENDURE A TIME OF MISERY, v3
3 My tears have been my food day and night, while they continually say to me,
“Where is your God?” 4 When I remember these things, I pour out my soul within me.
For I used to go with the multitude; I went with them to the house of God, With the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept a pilgrim feast.
“For I used to go with the multitude; I went with them to the house of God”, Basically the psalmist was saying, “I used to go with my brothers and sisters, to the house of God”, (Church)
Remember, the psalmist was in exile for going against Moses and Aaron. (Against God) So, he had to face Gods wrath, and this was the result. Being away from God has a result of emptiness, loneliness, restless, you name it. No God, no peace!
The psalmist was in pure agony. There seemed to be no relief in sight. He didn’t just have spurts of trouble his was a constant pain. You may be facing a time of misery in your own life. Let’s examine some of the things we know, that we can go through in this life, that we seem to be in the same anguish as this psalmist. For example:
1) Your household may be in turmoil. Your marriage may be falling apart and on the brink of divorce. Your children may be going through some challenges, rebelling against you.
2) Your financial situation may be in dire straits, you may not know how you are ever going to make ends meet.
3) You may be unemployed and willing to work, yet you cannot find employment. Discouragement may have set in to the point where you don’t even feel like trying anymore.
4) Health problems may have come in your life or someone in your family. You have received some bad news from the doctor and you aren’t sure if you can face the pain that is coming.
These are just a few of the troubles that we are familiar with, and are all common. You may be in a valley and it seems that no one could possibly comprehend the agony in your life. You may be at a place that you are ready to throw your hands up and quit. Usually when there is a time of misery, there is also a time of uncertainty, doubts, that comes with it.
When we face a time of uncertainty, the most common question is mentioned in v3 “Where is your God?” This question was asked to the psalmist.
Many in our day are asking us the same question. People hear us talk of that wonderful day when Christ shall return to take us home to Glory. We tell our friends and family about how great our God is, and then they see us downcast… troubled. Then this question gets asked, “where is your God?” The lost world will see a Christian suffer and say, “where is your God?” If He is so great why are you going through this time in your life? We may not have all the answers to life’s questions, but we do know of One answer and His name is Jesus!
Troubles and trials will always come with an element of uncertainty. We are in the middle of them and we do not know what the outcome is. We do not know how long they will last or what the end result will be? THIS IS WHERE FAITH MATTERS THE MOST! Not only are lost people confused as to why Christians suffer, many times we will ask the same questions. Lord, why me? The answer to this “why me” question is found in…
1 Peter 1:6-9
6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 8 whom having not seen, you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.
We may face times of uncertainty...We may still ask the question of “Lord, Why Me"...We may feel all alone... it is in these times that we must remember, though we may be uncertain, and things are out of control… GOD IS NOT, HE IS IN CONTROL!!!
1 Peter 5:10 (NIV)
10 And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.
After being reminded of all these great truths, when times of uncertainty comes, do you seek help? Do you still hold on to HOPE? There is no question about it, troubles and hardships will come. In these times we must cling to our blessed hope. Jesus Christ.
You see, these trials that we go through will reveal who we really are and who God really is. What I mean is… are you holding on to God, because He is holding on to you. Or, are you just holding on to God…only when the good things are happening to you? Sadly, these are the truths that we live in. many will abandon Christ when things are not going well. Scripture is full of these types of people. Sadly…they are still around today!
Often, many of us are like the apostles after Jesus ascended. We are just gazing in the clouds looking for His return. Acts 1:11...
11 who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”
You see…We don’t have to wait for Him to return just to receive peace. He is ever present with us. He said he will never leave or forsake us! We don’t have to wait for the next life to have hope, to have peace, or to find peace. We can have hope, we can have peace in this life.
10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
So… “Where Is My Peace?” You can have it, in the here and now. You can have joy, hope, peace, in your Savior now. We don’t have to wait for the afterlife to receive all His promises, we receive all of those in the here and now.
Let’s go back to the psalmist story:
5 Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him. For the help of His countenance.
Psalm 42:5 (ESV)
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation.
In the midst of the psalmist’s troubles he finds hope. He reminds himself of who belongs to. If you will notice at this point nothing has changed. He is still in exile from the temple he is still in the middle of the storm. But at this point he finds Hope! We can find this same hope. This involves a spiritual assessment. We must follow the example of the psalmist and search ourselves to find the hope that is within. We too can say “Why are you cast down o my soul” What is heavy in your heart right now, that you feel that there is no hope? We can have peace, we can have hope, even in the valley. Even when things are falling apart., When we are in the midst of despair and discouragement we can say just like the old song “It is well with my soul”
It is well with my soul, because it belongs to Christ!
There is sweet assurance that we can experience in the middle of the valley. We can endure the valley if we will put our hope in Jesus. So many people look to everything other than Jesus when they are in the valley. Nothing in this world can give you the hope, joy and peace that comes only from our Savior Jesus Christ!
The road is too rough.
" I said, "Dear Lord, there are stones that hurt me so."
And He said, "Dear child, I understand, I walked it long ago."
"But there's a cool green path," I said; "Let me walk there for a time."
"No child," He gently answered me, "The green path does not climb."
"My burden," I said, "Is far too great, How can I bear it so?"
"My child," He said, "I remember the weight; I carried My cross, you know."
But I said, "I wish there were friends with me. Who would make my way their own."
"Oh, yes," He said, "Gethsemane was hard to bear alone." And so, I climb the stony path,
Content at last to know, That, where my Master had not gone, I would not need to go.
Olga J. Weiss
You see…Jesus has done it all, Jesus paid it all, just so you and I can have an abundant life. A life of joy, peace, and assurance that we are not in the valleys alone. He is there with us.
The trouble that you are facing may be difficult now, your heart may be heavy and don’t know what to do… but it may be an opportunity for God to work a miracle in your life. He may use this time to teach you, to strengthen you… He may use this time to purify you, He may use this time to prune you so that you become more fruitful and He may use this time to teach others through you. You can be His testimony of what He has done in your life while in the valleys.
Here is another Daily Bread story:
Not long after arriving in New Hebrides as a pioneer missionary, John G. Paton and his wife rejoiced in the coming of a baby son to gladden their home. But the joy was short-lived. Soon death took both his wife and child, and Dr. Paton had to dig their graves and bury his loved ones with his own hands. In writing of this experience, he testified, "If it had not been for Jesus and the fellowship and grace He afforded me, I am certain I would have gone mad or died of grief beside their lonely graves." Marvelously strengthened from above, the bereaved servant of God found that the promises of the Word were able to sustain him through the heartache and sorrow of his tragic loss. - Our Daily Bread, August 6, 1992
Whatever you may face in this life, remember that God is in control. Jesus cares when you are hurting, and that is where you can find your peace. Let me close with this last verse…
33 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
So… “Where Is My Peace?” It’s in Jesus
A New Birth
3 Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council.2 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.”
3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”4 “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!”5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 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.”9 “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked. 10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? 11 Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the One who came from heaven—the Son of Man.
It was Jesus who first declared that spiritual rebirth was an absolute necessity for entering the kingdom of God. He declared to Nicodemus, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” The word “unless”, in Jesus teaching signals a necessary condition for seeing and entering the kingdom of God. “A New Birth”, is an essential part of Christianity. Without it, entrance into God’s kingdom is impossible.
What would you say if I were to ask you this afternoon, “Give one good reason why you should go to Heaven?” There would be a variety of answers. Some would say “I hope so.” Some would say, “I am trying,” or “I am doing the best I can!” Some would say, “Yes, because I have been baptized.” Others would say, “Yes, because I am a church member.” Or, I am not that bad, the good things I’ve done outweighs the bad. But according to what we have read, none of them would be right.
Now…if you are one of those people who doesn’t believe in God, or a place called heaven or hell, then you would have nothing to worry about in the here and now. You will just be surprised when you do stand before God one day, and He sends you to hell.
Since we are in church, and we all know each other, we are called believers/Christians, correct. So, how did we become believers/Christians? Is it by our choosing? Or, my whole family are Christians, therefore I am one. I do recall Jesus saying, “you did not choose Me, I chose you” (John 15:16) So… from our text, lets let Jesus explain, in His own words, how can we get to heaven?
The question, “Are you going to Heaven? And, if so, why?” It is without a doubt “the” most important question your mind can ever entertain. The reason that this is such an important question is obvious, there is only one alternative to heaven. That is hell, the place the Bible calls outer darkness, where there shall be weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, where "the smoke of their torment ascends up forever, and they have no rest day or night." And there is nothing in between. It is Heaven or it is Hell. God says in His Word that all men and women must appear before Him. Then they shall be divided as a shepherd would divide the sheep from the goats, one into everlasting punishment, and the other into everlasting glory.
In this text, a man approaches Jesus late one night. His name is Nicodemus and he comes to Jesus under the cover of darkness to ask that question. In verse we read, “Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council”.
In order to understand this story, we need to notice three things about this man named Nicodemus.
First… besides his name, the text reveals that he was a “Pharisee.” If you know anything about the Scriptures you probably have a negative view of the Pharisees. You may think that all Pharisees were legalistic hypocrites, but that is not true at all. In the days of Jesus the Pharisees were a very much respected group, known for their knowledge of the Old Testament and their keeping of the law. The Pharisees were the theological conservatives of their day, compared to our time, they would be seminarians/ with a doctorate degree. This was such a demanding life that only a few thousand were ever willing to make the commitment.
Secondly, note also that Nicodemus was not only a Pharisee, but he was also one of the most important religious teachers of his day. He is also called a “ruler of the Jews.” As mentioned in chapter 7 of the book of John. We can also conclude with some confidence that Nicodemus was also a member of the Sanhedrin, the highest Jewish legal court in the land. This was a select group of seventy men who served as the highest Jewish court in the land, much like our present day Supreme Court Justices. So…Nicodemus was no ordinary man.
Third, it is also important to note that in verse 10, that Jesus refers to him as “the teacher of Israel.” 10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? The meaning seems to be that Nicodemus was probably the most popular religious teacher of Judaism at the time.
This man was a very important- well educated man. One thing that I like about this story is that,
As smart, and as religious Nicodemus was, he still did not have all the answers when it comes to spiritual matters. If you want one word that would describe Nicodemus, it would be this, He was good! He was very good! But he still had this nagging question that his religion could not seem to answer. So, he comes to Jesus to ask his question. I can imagine Nicodemus watching from the shadows as Jesus did His work - preaching and teaching and healing. And as he watched, Nicodemus saw something in Jesus that all his religious rule keeping hadn’t been able to provide. He saw LIFE! It was as if God was pouring out life through Jesus. So, he comes to Jesus to ask his questions, because he senses that Jesus has the truth from God.
Not to add anything in this story, but sometimes I wonder if Nicodemus wanted to know…with all the good works he has done, as obedient as he was in his standards, if he really wanted to know, if he could go to heaven?
Basically asking… “Jesus, is my goodness, good enough to get me into Heaven? Is my goodness good enough to make me acceptable to a Holy God? Is my goodness good enough to get me in?” Let’s be honest here, we all, at one point, maybe even now, still have that question in mind. Am I really saved? Am I really going to heaven?
When it comes to getting into Heaven, it doesn’t matter how many good works we are able to perform. It doesn’t matter how much money we give to Christian causes, how many church services we attend, how many quiet times we have, how many underprivileged kids we support who are in need.
No one gets to Heaven by being a “good person”! Nicodemus had devoted his life to being good, trying to live up to the standards his religion said he had to meet in order to please God and to win a place in Heaven. And he did it relatively well, better than most. He was a very good person. And he comes to Jesus pointing at his goodness asking, “Is it good enough?” And Jesus says, with compassion: “NO... No one can get to heaven by being good because no one can ever be good enough!
10 As it is written:
“There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”
Ok, lets go Old Testament since Nicodemus is an Old testament teacher.
1 The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, and their ways are vile;
there is no one who does good.2 God looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. 3 Everyone has turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.
With that being said, we all really, need “A New Birth”. But…is that something that we can do on our own? Do we have that power to be “born again”. Can we, in our strength, by our choosing, go to heaven? Lets continue, and seek the answer from the Lord.
Three things About Being Born Again: Lets imagine, we’re Nicodemus, and we’re asking Jesus this question. Let’s basically put ourselves in Nicodemus shoes.
First, Jesus Tells Nicodemus the Necessity of Being Born Again (3:3)
3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
We would have to say that Nicodemus is the “cream of the Jewish crop.” He is a Jew, a Pharisee, a member of the Sanhedrin, and a highly respected teacher of the Old Testament Scriptures. Can you imagine being Nicodemus and being told by Jesus that all of this is not enough to get you into Heaven? Yet that is precisely what Jesus tells him! With one sentence Jesus sweeps away everything that Nicodemus stood for, and demands that he be re-made by the power of God. Jesus is turning this man’s world upside down.
Nicodemus has never heard such a thing before, all his life he has understood that one gets to Heaven by keeping God’s law. This means that everything that Nicodemus has done in his life to this point means absolutely nothing. Jesus tells this remarkably good man, "If you want to get to Heaven, if you want a relationship with God that begins now and lasts forever then you must go about it in a totally different way, you will have to be born again...” In other words, Jesus is saying, “You can’t do it, Nicodemus, but God can! He can transform you from the inside out and make you good enough! And he wants to do that for you.
To understand we need to focus first, on the key phrase “born again.” The Greek adverb (anothen) translated here as “again” has a double meaning, it can either mean “again” or “above.”
(ANOTHEN) Greek adverb, translated as “again” or “above”. ( POWERPOINT )
In this case, both meanings apply, Jesus is telling Nicodemus that the only way to find what he is looking for is to be born again from above. Not only does Jesus tell Nicodemus About the Necessity of Being Born Again but ….
Secondly, Jesus Tells Nicodemus the Non-Negotiables of Being Born Again (3:4-7)
4 “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!”5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’
Nicodemus’ Response is given in verse four. “Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”
Nicodemus’ response is a little surprising, in that Jesus quite obviously was not referring to a second physical birth. After all, if we have no control or power over our physical birth, on how we were born, how can we possibly get, be born again?
Nicodemus is plainly asking, “is it possible to enter a second time into my mother’s womb to be born again?” or is Nicodemus now starting to understand…wistful thinking, “Is it really possible for a man to begin again?” Another chance, starting over, a chance for a new life, if it were only possible! Yet that is exactly what Jesus is saying!
In our day and age the term “born again” has been nearly stripped of its true meaning, the words have been tossed about, so but that they can mean anything or nothing. In our day, being born again is mans decision, and not Gods. That’s why its good to go straight to Jesus and get the answer that we need.
Verse five which says, “5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit”. has often been misinterpreted. To quote one of the old commentaries on this subject, “Certainly Jesus was not saying that baptism was necessary to salvation. Baptism is an outward thing and conversion is an inner thing of the heart. A man … can be baptized many times but that water will not wash away a single sin nor admit him to heaven. If baptism is necessary to salvation, no one was saved before John the Baptist because baptism was not mentioned in the Old Testament….
Please don’t get me wrong, am I minimizing the importance of baptism? Not at all, I am simply saying that baptism has nothing to do with salvation. But baptism has everything to do with your obedience.
So what did Jesus mean by being “born of water and of the Spirit?” Throughout the New Testament, the term “water” is used to indicate the Word of God. For example…
13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
How is anyone saved? Understand this if you are saved, review your salvation. How did you get saved? Was it not because the word of God got a hold of you?
1 Peter 1:23-25
23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. 24 For, “All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall,25 but the word of the Lord endures forever.” And this is the word that was preached to you.
In verse seven Jesus says to Nicodemus…
7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’
Being Born Again Is Not An Option!!!
We need to also note the use of the strong word “must.” Jesus is not saying that being born again is just a good idea for some people. It is not just something Jesus is recommending, it is an imperative. Jesus Not Only Tells Nicodemus the Non-Negotiables of Being Born Again but …..
Thirdly, Jesus tells Nicodemus the nature of being born again, is a mystery (3:8-13)
8 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.”9 “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked. 10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? 11 Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the One who came from heaven—the Son of Man.
In verse eight Jesus gives Nicodemus an example of the mystery of the new birth by comparing it to the wind. “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” We accept all kinds of earthly mysteries by faith, and we believe it, If we are able to believe things we don’t completely understand on earth, why are we not willing to accept heavenly truths by faith? Especially when it comes from the words of God.
Nicodemus asks once again in verse nine, “How can these things be?” Jesus counters by saying it is not a question of understanding but a question of belief. In verse ten Jesus said to Nicodemus, 10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? 11 Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the One who came from heaven—the Son of Man.
Jesus tells Nicodemus that He (that is Jesus) alone can convey what Heaven is like, for He alone has been to Heaven and returned. Jesus, is “The Way, The Truth, And The Life, no comes to the Father except through Me.” Believe Me Nicodemus, I’ve been there! Believe Me church, that is Jesus, I’ve been there!
It ultimately becomes a matter of belief, Jesus is asking, “Nicodemus are you ready to place your faith and trust in Me!” Did Nicodemus ever get saved? I think he did! Why?
Nicodemus stood up for Jesus before the Sanhedrin, its like their Supreme Court.
45 Then the officers came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, “Why have you not brought Him?” 46 The officers answered, “No man ever spoke like this Man!” 47 Then the Pharisees answered them, “Are you also deceived? 48 Have any of the rulers or the Pharisees believed in Him? 49 But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed.” 50 Nicodemus (he who came to Jesus by night, being one of them) said to them, 51 “Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?”
And Nicodemus helped Joseph of Arimathaea, bury the body of Jesus after the crucifixion…
38 After this, Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took the body of Jesus. 39 And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds. 40 Then they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in strips of linen with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury. 41 Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. 42 So there they laid Jesus, because of the Jews’ Preparation Day, for the tomb was nearby.
You see, anyone who has been called by God, chosen by God as gift to His Son, been born again…a new creation, that new life in Jesus will never be the same again. That is why Jesus explicitly commands, “you must be born again”. If you are not, then you are still dead in your sins, and are in need of the Savior! Cry out for Jesus if you’re not sure. Cry out to God to save through His Son. If you are here today, then you have heard Him speak, you have seen the words of God in our powerpoint. Cry out to your Savior!!!
Let me close with one final thought, “Wouldn’t be terrible to wake up one morning, to find yourself standing before Jesus and find out that you had missed heaven by eighteen inches?” Perhaps you can say, “How is it possible to miss Heaven by eighteen inches?” Well it is possible to miss Heaven by eighteen inches because that is the approximate distance from the head to the heart. What does it mean to have a ‘heart” knowledge rather just a “head” knowledge of Jesus? To have a heart knowledge is to have a saving relationship, a heart of gratitude, rather than simply having religion. Having a head knowledge about Jesus will not save you. You can know all facts and still not be saved. You can know all there is to know about Jesus and still not know the real Him at all. It would a sad time for a claiming Christian to stand before Jesus and instead of a welcome Jesus says those scary words, “away from Me, I never knew you”.
Just with those scary words from Jesus, is enough to convince me that being saved, being born again, is all of Gods work. Man has no claim in the matter outside of being obedient.
28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.
The Lord Jesus Is My Master
20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
Well…it is 2018, a new year, a new beginning. 2017 has been a good year…for the Fil-am Church, and also as an individual. Sure, we all had our share of good times…and not so good times. We’ve all gone through some sins that we wished we never did. Went through some trials that tried our faith. Let’s face it, we have faced challenges, trials, made some mistakes along the way, but they all came with a fruitful lesson. We learn from all of them. Which will make us stronger, and wiser to face any future events.
It would be good to evaluate what our desires are for the year. What are the priorities that we have or will establish for ourselves in this new year?
Priority has as its root the word, prior. It is that which comes before anything else, or is ahead of anything else. It takes precedence. As John MacArthur says, “It is then what is supreme, what is essential, what is foundational, what is preeminent, what is antecedent to everything that follows. So, when you talk about priority, you're really saying what in my life comes before anything else? What is before anything else and everything else?
Therefore, the question remains what am I going to make as the focus or priority of my life? Christ told us in Matthew 6:33 to “... seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness...” Will our priorities be eternal or based on the temporary things of this world?
At times, we tend to focus on the wrong things. Especially when thing are going well in life. We tend to push God aside, and turn only to Him when we need to.
Jesus tells us that we cannot have a divided allegiance. This just doesn’t work. Christ points this out saying in scripture… “I have been crucified with Christ, I no longer Live, but Christ lives in me”. Which brings us to the topic of this message, “The Lord Jesus Is My Master”.
24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
After saying this, Christ, then, addresses the result of placing the material as the priority of one’s life instead of Christ. And not just material stuff, sin can also be your master.
16 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?
So… it is clear, that we can be slaves to whatever holds us captive. Material things, money, hobbies, lifestyle, sin, all of these can be our master. Distraction is the nemesis of focus. We are constantly tempted to pull away from a consistent focus on Christ. As a result, we often find ourselves being tossed to and fro by the concerns of life.
When our focus is taken off Christ, we move Christ off the throne of our hearts and make idols of things we desire and ultimately make idols of ourselves. We need to realize that the heart is bent on keeping the focus on self and what we want or desire rather than Christ or His will. We find ourselves placing our trust in self and what we want rather than in Christ and what He wants. Remember what Jesus said, “if you love Me, keep my commands”. (John 14:15)
“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other...”
The world has a single eye with only one focus. They give it everything they got. They run after it. The focus of most people is, make as much money as you can, enjoy life as much as you can. Keep as much as you can for yourself. Please don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with saving money for a rainy day, as they say. But that cannot be the main focus in life.
For example, I read this from a devotional, a testimony from Frank Sinatra’s daughter…
Tina, recalls her father’s unceasing drive to succeed and make money even when his health was at risk. He refused to stop giving concerts. ‘I’ve just got to earn more money’ he said. His performances sad to say were becoming more and more uneven. At one show he forgot the lyrics to “Second-Time Around”, a ballad he had sung a thousand times. His adoring audience finished it for him. He wanted to retire at the top of his game and I always thought he would know when this time came but pushing eighty, he lost track of when it was time to quit. After seeing one too many of these fiascos, I told him ‘Pa you can stop now, you don’t have to stay on the road.’ With a stricken expression on his face he said ‘no, I’ve got to earn more money.’
These are lusts of the flesh, and are all sin! Anything that takes the focus foo Christ is sin. These things are your master! So…who should it be? The lusts of the flesh, which can only bring a temporary fulfillment. Or, Jesus…Whom will be with you now and forever?
The believer is to have a single eye; but the focus is to be a heavenly focus not an earthly…
Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
Remember the do not worry verses? “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat, drink, clothes, where you will live”. God has already promised to provide all these things, and His only command is to seek His kingdom first!!! Put Jesus First. He will take care of the rest. We can only find contentment and the “peace that passes understanding” when we turn from our own desires, denying self, to seeking that which God desires in our lives. That means to trust God with everything in our lives. PUT JESUS FIRST!!!
Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. 9 Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’
Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.
Remember what I said earlier? At times we tend to push Jesus aside when things are going well, and turn only to Him when we need to. “Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ No matter what your need is, God knows. And He will answer in His own way and in His own time. Therefore, focus on Him. “The Lord Jesus Is My Master”.
We just really need to tune our head, clear our mindset that our God is knows all things. He is in control of all things. There may be times in this coming year, when faced with difficulties or struggles, you and I might be tempted to focus our thoughts too much on our circumstances. When that happens, there is a tendency to become bitter or to begin questioning God.
Keep in mind 2017 is done. We had a whole year of life lessons learned from the Lord that we can use to be equipped for 2018. Eyes fixed on Jesus last year, we made it this far. Eyes fixed on Jesus still, from this day on to eternity.
There are no accidents with God. Tony Evans tells this story. (Pastor/writer) “Our God is sovereign”. That means there’s no such thing as luck. Anything that happens to you, good or bad, must pass through His fingers first. There are no accidents with God. I like the story of the cowboy who applied for health insurance. The agent routinely asked him, ‘Have you ever had any accidents?’ The cowboy replied, ‘Well no, I’ve not had any accidents. I was bitten by a rattlesnake once, and a horse did kick me in the ribs. That laid me up for a while, but I haven’t had any accidents.’ The agent said, ‘Wait a minute. I’m confused. A rattlesnake bit you, and a horse kicked you, Weren’t those accidents?’ ‘No, they did that on purpose.”
We do not expect to understand fully the purpose for our trials until our Lord calls us home to be with Him. But we do know that He loves us too much to harm us, and that He is far more concerned with our welfare than we are. God's choices are always right.
“The more you focus on yourself, the more distracted you will be from the proper path. The more you know Him and commune with Him, the more the Spirit will make you like Him. The more you are like Him, the better you will understand His utter sufficiency for all of life’s difficulties. And that is the only way to know real satisfaction.” - John MacArthur
There are practical steps on how we can keep our fixed on Jesus.
One…Know that He is your Master, your Lord, Your Savior. If you have come to that reality, if you have accepted that in your heart, then you will never focus on anything else.
Two…Commit to reading Gods words daily. Having a good prayer life is a good way to talk to God. But that will only be you speaking. By reading Gods words, you will actually hear Him speak.
2 Peter 1:3-4
3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
In the Bible alone, God has given us all things that are necessary for the proper understanding of who God is, who we are, how God has acted in the past, and what God expects from us, here and now.
Third…know the power of sin, and the temptations around you and keep yourselves from falling into that trap. It’s a hard battle, I know. But one that can be defeated.
12 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Paul encourages us to imagine that we actually bring our bodies to God each day. Lay them on the altar before His presence, and ask Him to use this “sacrifice” for His glory. You see…God does not ask us to sin less, but to depend on His Spirit to be transformed into the people who loves to please God through willing obedience.
12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Commit your life to Jesus and allow Him to rearrange your priorities. “God is a jealous God, Who’s name is jealous”. Jesus…CANNOT, be second in the believers life.
Pastor Richard Santos
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