Stories of Faith
Reverend Anthony R. Locke
February 28th, 2010
at the First Presbyterian Church of Tucker
John 3:1-15 English Standard Version
1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.
2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.”
3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
4 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?”
5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’
8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
9 Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?”
10 Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things?
11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony.
12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?
13 No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.
14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
In the first chapter of the Westminster Confession of Faith there is a paragraph, number 6, that lists some of the major themes of the Bible. It reads, “The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man’s salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture; unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men.
The Bible begins to reveal God’s glory, the story of man’s salvation, faith, and life itself. We hear these themes through poetry, wisdom literature, prophesy and history.
The thickest portions of our Bible are in the front. In the Old Testament historical literature God tells about His relationship with Israel. He is their God, they are His people.
We read about creation. I believe God wants us to understand that He made all things in 6 literal days. I don’t think we can conclude differently reading the Bible carefully.
The creation is an important Biblical theme that is carried through the whole Bible all the way to Revelation where God recreates the universe without sin and suffering. Believing in the creation account is necessary if we are to understand God’s self-revelation, His power and sovereign upholding of all things that He has made. In the resurrection Jesus is making all things new. The ramifications of the new creation in Christ are meaningless if God didn’t make the world and all that is in it as described in Genesis. This is God’s story. Let Him tell it.
Next, we read about humanity falling into sin which brings suffering, death, and misery upon the human condition. Sort of makes us feel foolish asking, “why do people suffer?” That question is answered in the first few chapters of our Bible.
We read about God’s promises to redeem through the seed of man, by the fruit of a woman. This Promised One would redeem the whole of creation as well as any person that followed after Abraham in faith.
Everything in the Old Testament looks forward to the Lamb of God taking away the sins of His people, and everything in the New Testament looks back to the glory of this salvation as explained within the Old Testament imagery.
The New Testament doctrine could be boring if you don’t see it through the lens of the Old Testament stories which are full of drama.
And we have to understand our place in that drama of redemption.
- Israel’s Messiah is our Messiah.
- The Apostle’s Lord and Savior, is our Lord and Savior.
- The Jewish family history is not owned by people living in Israel in the 21st Century.
- If you have faith then Abraham is your father.
- This is your story of victory, crisis, beginning and end.
- The Father promised a new creation and started it in the resurrection. When we are united to Christ, this book becomes our heritage, our inheritance, and our story.
- We are baptized into Christ through the new birth and we are born again of the Spirit into the family of this book.
By faith we are baptized into Christ who is the ultimate Israelite. His ancestry is traced back in the Gospels to David, Abraham and even to Adam. He sojourns in Egypt when Mary and Joseph flee the wrath of Herod. He is baptized like the Israelites who were baptized into the Red Sea. He is tempted, yet without sin. He prevails over the Evil One as our new family head, our Elder Brother. He blesses the people with teachings like Moses who explained the covenant and laws of God.
And Jesus never breaks any of the laws. He is the Second Adam. By His perfect obedience we enter the land of Canaan.
- Jesus is the Passover Lamb. His blood speaks better of that of Abel and the rest of the innocent blood that was spilled.
- Jesus is Jacob’s Ladder. He is the pathway for the Divine blessing to come down.
- Jesus is Joseph providing food in the midst of a famine.
- Jesus is the ark that carries us safely though the storms of God’s judgment.
- Jesus is our Joshua leading us into the promised land.
- Jesus is the great King with more wisdom than Solomon. As King He subdues our souls to love Him. He fights for us. He rules sovereign over all.
- Jesus is the great Prophet telling us about Almighty God, warning us of our disobedience, and bringing us the anointing of the Spirit.
- Jesus is the unprecedented High Priest who brings peace between us sinners and a holy God. He makes the sacrifice. He is the sacrifice.
- Jesus is the first born of many brethren. If you are a person of faith then you are now born of Spirit. Born anew into the Kingdom of our Lord.
Embrace this Gospel with arms of faith and a spirit of repentance. Trust in His promises, trust in His provision, trust in Christ this morning.
Do not marvel that you must be born again into a life of faith and obedience.
Verse 12, these things are simple enough for a child to understand. The harder things of heaven and eternal bliss, or rewards, ruling over angels, the gulf fixed between heaven and hell, these things and more are beyond our ability to comprehend or imagine so God spoke very briefly of those things. But salvation is clearly explained.
Verse 13, 14 and 15 are the heart of the matter.
There is no other way to get to heaven but through the work of the Son of Man. No person born into humanity has the power to ascended or descended back and forth from heaven to earth, and from earth back to heaven again. Only Jesus can bring you God’s goodness from heaven. Only Jesus can take you out of this world back to God. He is the ladder.
Just like Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness to provide a place to fix our eyes that we might be made whole, so to has the Father lifted up His Only Begotten Son on a staff called the cross that we might be made whole.
Look to Jesus this morning and be saved!
- Look to Jesus and find your healing.
- Look to Jesus and find inclusion in God’s family,
- Discover the champion of love, the Merciful One,
- the Promised Seed of Israel’s race chosen before the Fall, hail Him who saves you by His grace and crown Him Lord of all.
Jesus is being lifted up before you this morning that He might draw you to Himself. He is worthy of your soul, your life, your all. Believe in Him without delay and you will be fully blessed.
Verse 15, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. Is there any doubt the plans of God for your life? His yearning to gather you as a mother hen gathers her precious little ones? Jesus desires all of us to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.
God wants you to be included in His story of salvation.
We didn’t read it, but the next verse is John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Do you have this life today?
Is Christ your life?
Is the Bible your necessary daily food?
Have you been born again?
When did you start making your profession of faith in Christ alone?
How long have you declared with all your heart that JESUS IS LORD!!!
I began making my profession of faith in Christ when I was at a five day club at the age of 5. I remember it like it was yesterday. The last day was a Friday. A teenage girl from across the street was asking our class if anyone wanted to pray the sinner’s prayer. I raised my hand that I would like to pray. So she took me to the side of my home and led me and three others in a very simple sinner’s prayer. I walked inside my house after the Five Day Club was over and glanced at a mirror at the smile I had on my face.
Was I born again at the age of five? I probably was, but Jesus knows for sure. What I do know is that it was then that I first began declaring Jesus as my Lord.
This last week Monday I was explaining to my oldest son Tyler why some countries have crosses on their national flags. I used the conversation to remind him of the work of Christ on the cross to pay for his sins. Ten minutes later while I was cleaning the dishes he turns around in his chair with a huge smile on his face and says, “Daddy, I just prayed and asked God to forgive me.”
As a covenant child you might not have a memory of praying a prayer of confession and repentance. Many Christians don’t remember the beginning moment they began trusting Jesus.
That’s o.k. The Bible doesn’t really make a big deal about when we first prayed a prayer. The Bible asks a better set of questions. Are you growing in faith? Are you growing in obedience? Are you being transformed by Christ? Are you looking to Jesus as your Savior?
If these things are true for you then the Spirit of God will give you a full assurance that you are born of God. If you are not growing spiritually, then you have doubts.
Let’s get rid of those doubts this morning. Starting today, let’s begin confessing through our lips and our life that Jesus is Lord.
The Bible is filled with people who are apart of God’s redemptive story. What is your story? Do you see yourself in this book? Are you born into God’s family? Are you part of His new creation that He began in the resurrection?
Maybe you have been churched your whole life but never repented and trusted Jesus to save you. Maybe you harbor self-reliance in your heart because of your own good works or religious activities that you hope will be enough to get you into heaven. This false security is no security at all, but rather religious pride. How would you know if you are good enough to see God? When is being good, good enough? When will you be as good as God? Never.
Stop trusting yourself. Jesus has done enough for you to be forgiven. Trust His redemptive work alone.
You don’t need to remain unsure today about your eternal destiny. John the Apostle says that the Bible was written that we might know that we have eternal life. God wants you to know.
Begin your life of faith right now. Say, “Lord, I believe! Help me to believe more.” Chose today to trust the work of Christ to make you ready to live in His heaven forever more. This will be the beginning of your faith story as your life is united with God’s story of redemption.
May God bless us all as we receive the necessary grace to be all that God desires for us to be in Christ Jesus. Amen.
 The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.