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Sunday School Blog

Sunday School Lesson

“Nicodemus and the New Birth”

April 30, 2017

John 3:1-21

Quick Facts:

John is one of the four Gospels.

Written by John, one of the disciples/Apostles of Christ. John also authored 1,2,3 John and Revelation.

The date for writing is commonly accepted as 90 AD

The purpose of the book … “Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:30-31).

Each of the Four Gospels focus on certain aspects of Christ:

Luke - “the Son of man”

Mark – "the suffering servant"

*John – the “Son of God”

Matthew – "Jesus, the King"

John wrote to present Jesus as God manifested in the flesh refuting those who believed Jesus, if God, could not be a man … and if a man, could not be God.

John was the only disciple to die of natural causes.

Pastor’s Notes:

New birth begins with the Spirit and results in transformation (John 3:1-10).

Nicodemus (3:1) was a Pharisee (a member of the religious leadership responsible for interpretation of Scripture and instruction from the Law of Moses). They added to the Law the “traditions of man,” making the law a burden. They also served as judges of the Law. He was also a “ruler of the Jews,” a moral and spiritual example.

NOTE – If a person could be saved by religion and personal righteousness then Nicodemus would have been saved. He strictly adhered to the Law and lived by strict moral code.

DISCUSS – What does it mean to “work for one’s salvation?”

Nicodemus granted to Jesus some credibility acknowledging that what He did (signs/miracles), indicated some Divine authority.

DISCUSS – While we do not live a certain way to be saved, our lives should evidence our Divine relationship.

Jesus (verse 3) made it clear that Nicodemus, while a religious man, needed a relationship with the Father.

DISCUSS – How do some believe religion/religious activities gain a relationship with God?

What did Jesus say that Nicodemus need to experience in order to go to heaven? “must be born again.”

How did Nicodemus interpret Jesus assertion of being “born again” (verse 4) – Nicodemus referenced the natural/physical birth.

Jesus responded to Nicodemus’ confusion … you must be “born of water” (natural birth) and born of the Spirit (spiritual birth – born again) to enter heaven. The natural birth (flesh) must be followed by a spiritual birth for a relationship with God.

QUESTION – Does this passage teach the necessity of Baptism for salvation?

Those who teach that these verses require baptism (water) for salvation fail to consider the context from which Jesus is speaking. The context is Jesus answering Nicodemus’ confusion about two natural (flesh) births.

Verse 7 Jesus reassures Nicodemus who was confused about being born naturally two times.

The born-again experience is a Sovereign work of the Spirit of God confirmed by outward manifestations of the inward experience.

Jesus in verses 9-10 question Nicodemus’ understanding of the miraculous and mysterious nature of God.

New birth comes through faith in God’s Son (John 3:11-15).

(11-12) If you deny what I do and reject who I am you will not understand what I am telling you.

Jesus tries their faith “the only One who has descended from heaven to earth is the Son of man” (Jesus).

An Old Testament (Numbers 21:4-9) example of New Testament faith (14-15).

Explain how faith was essential for the healing of those stung by the “fiery serpents”

Jesus is the gift from the God who loves the world (John 3:16-21).

“For God” … a holy and righteous God; a God Who must judge sin.

“loved” … God was moved by His very nature to do for man what man could not do for himself.

“gave” … an unconditional act of God’s goodness. (See Ephesians 2:8, 9).

“his only begotten Son” … unique Son (See Luke 1:34-35).

“whosoever” … anyone

“believes” … trust to the point of commitment; trusting Who Jesus is and what Jesus did.

“perish” … eternal separation from God in hell

“everlasting life” … both the quantity and the quality of life.

God didn’t send His Son to bring judgment, but deliverance (17).

DISCUSS THIS STATEMENT - What condemns a man is not his sin, but his rejection of the One Who died for his sin … The penalty of sin was paid in full on the cross …

QUESTION – Why would someone not want to be saved?

Man rejects salvation because of his unwillingness to turn from his sinful desires and selfish lusts (19-21).

Theological Theme: Salvation is a supernatural work of God.

Christological/Christ Connection: Salvation is not what man can do for himself but what has been done for him through God’s gracious gift of His Son, Jesus Christ.

Missional Application: Our ministry to the world is to proclaim God’s message of supernatural transformation (See 2 Corinthians 5:17-19).

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