Professional golfer Paul Azinger was diagnosed with cancer
at age 33. He had just won a PGA championship and had ten tournament
victories to his credit.
He wrote, "A genuine feeling of fear came over me. I could die from cancer. Then another reality hit me even harder. Im going to die eventually anyway, whether from cancer or something else. Its just a question of when. Everything I had accomplished in golf became meaningless to me. All I wanted to do was live."
Then he remembered something that Larry Moody, who teaches a Bible study on the tour, had said to him. "Zinger, were not in the land of the living going to the land of the dying. Were in the land of the dying trying to get to the land of the living."
Golfer Paul Azinger recovered from chemotherapy and returned to the PGA tour. Hes done pretty well. But that bout with cancer deepened his perspective. He wrote, "Ive made a lot of money since Ive been on the tour, and Ive won a lot of tournaments, but that happiness is always temporary. The only way you will ever have true contentment is in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Im not saying that nothing ever bothers me and I dont have problems, but I feel like Ive found the answer to the six-foot hole."
If you were to die today, do you know for certain that you would go to heaven? ."
There are people today who will attend church services all across the world today that do not know how to answer that question.
There are those who answer Yes with their head but cannot answer with their heart.
Nicodemus was a religious man who paid very close attention to the religious laws of his day. He was a moral man. He had a good reputation. When confronted by the message of Jesus Christ he realized that all his religious efforts were totally non-effective in making him spiritually alive!
You can go to church, live a good life, even study the Bible but unless you allow Jesus to change your life you are missing the heart of the gospel and the message of the passion of Christ.
There is a glaring problem that some of us need to pay very close attention to. We need to understand what it means to be a Christ follower. You need to start allowing God to make the adjustments in your life that reflect the principles of Gods word.
I know that many of you have come to love Sunday mornings. You love the music and the atmosphere that you feel when you come into this place each week. People are friendly, the music makes you feel good, the preaching is helpful and sometimes thought provoking but there is something that is missing.
Some of you have prayed and some of you believe that Jesus Christ is your Savior. Today we are examining together this whole idea of being a Christ follower and what that means in your daily life.
Just who is this Jesus that we are following to the cross this spring? We are on a journey with Jesus through some of the major stories of His life. Lets take a closer look at Him today as He meets with a man at night.
Jesus was sought by a man
All you have to do is seek for God and you will find Him.
1 There was a man named Nicodemus, a Jewish religious leader who was a Pharisee. 2 After dark one evening, he came to speak with Jesus. Rabbi, he said, we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with you. John 3: 1-2 NLT
Nicodemus did not stumble across the life changing message of Jesus Christ by accident. He intentionally went looking for Jesus to learn more.
You and I can know as much about God as we want. We can know Him personally if we are willing to seek Him.
Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13 NKJV
We go after the things we really want. We will go to great lengths to achieve the things that are important to us. We will make sacrifices for things we want but will we make sacrifices to know God?
Are you willing to pursue God and desire Him above everything else? You can find Him when you really look for Him.
Jesus was sent by God
we all know that God has sent You to teach us. John 3:2b NLT
There are many people who would want to teach or believe that Jesus was just a good teacher but to experience the life changing message of Christ you have to come to understand what Nicodemus discovered. He was more than just a great teacher. He is more than just a man that had great teaching skills. He was more than a religious side show or a religious celebrity.
The crowds that followed Him around really didnt follow
Him at all. They turned out to watch the show. They were a crowd but
they werent committed.
There are many religious gurus that claim to be able to make you spiritual but there is only one Savior who can radically change your life and forgive your sins.
When you actually come to believe that Christ came from God as the Messiah you will be well on your way to becoming a Christfollower.
I mentioned it recently but let me say it again. Jesus Christ is the only way or path to God. You can not like that but that fact is the Bible says it plainly. In John 14 we find these words:
6 Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. John 14:6 NKJV
It is this out of date thinking that has driven men and women to endure hardships throughout the centuries to take the message of Jesus Christ around this world. When we lose the notion that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life there will be no point to cross cultural missions. No matter what some professor or author or even the President may say about all road leading to God, the fact is Jesus said we were to go and tell the story.
16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. Matthew 28:16-20 NIV
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywherein Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Acts 1:8 NLT
Jesus was more than a teacher. He is the Son of God and we are commissioned to go and tell His story.
Jesus offers spiritual new birth
3 Jesus replied, I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God. 4 What do you mean? exclaimed Nicodemus. How can an old man go back into his mothers womb and be born again? 5 Jesus replied, I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. John 3:3-5 NLT
Every person that is born is born naturally. We are all born the same way from a physical stand point. But there is something else we all share in common and that is the fact that we are all born sinners. We are all born with a sinful nature.
Many of us have watched the miracle of child birth. It
is hard to believe that those precious little children who are born
through the miracle of the human birth process could possibly be born
with sinful natures.
All you have to do is hang around for a few months and you will begin to notice that children are born with the ability to deceive and lie with incredible dexterity.
We are all born with an inward nature that needs corrected. It is for this reason that Jesus Christ came and died. He provided the ability for frail and flawed humans to have the adjustment made that is necessary to correct our sin problem. Nicodemus found out what makes experiencing Jesus so important.
6 Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. 7 So dont be surprised when I say, You must be born again. 8 The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but cant tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you cant explain how people are born of the Spirit. 9 How are these things possible? Nicodemus asked. John 3:6-9 NLT
There are two really important words that you need to know are inseparable from the new birth offered by Jesus.
Repentance : The idea of repentance is all through the Bible. John the Baptist began his public ministry, as did Jesus, with a call to repentance. In the sermon on Pentecost, Peter commands repentance. In the sermon at the Beautiful gate of the Temple, Peter interchanges the phrase "turn again" at a similar place in his presentation. When Jesus sent forth messengers to proclaim His gospel, he commanded them to preach repentance (Luke 24:47; Mark 6:12).
The constant references to repentance in Peter's preaching to his fellow countrymen in the early part of the book of Acts may indicate an exceptional need for repentance amongst those who had recently been party to the crucifixion of Christ.
Repentance doesnt save you but it is the door that opens allowing you to become a follower of Christ. When we see ourselves for what we are and realize that we are opposing God and His will for our life it will produce a sorrow that leads to repentance.
Regeneration: Regeneration is a topic that is one of the key elements of the Christian faith. It is through regeneration, or rebirth, that an individual is able to become one with Christ. Galatians 3:28 states that There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.
By saying that we are all one, what is meant is that the individual identities that we are categorized in go away once we put faith is Jesus Christ. This is because Christ came to earth and lived a perfect life, then died for our sins and conquered death by rising from the dead so that we would not have to die for our transgressions, and spend an eternity in hell.
So what does it mean to put faith in Christ? Putting faith in Christ means that you trust him with your life, leaving your past ways of life behind, hence the term rebirth.
What happens when you are reborn? There are a number of things that happen when a person is reborn.
First, they receive forgiveness of their sins. Ephesians 1:4 states that God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. We are only seen as faultless when we are in Christ, or we put our faith in Christ and believe he died for our sins.
The second thing that happens to someone who experiences regeneration through Christ is that they become a new person. 2 Corinthians explains this concept by saying that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun. Because we have put our faith in Christ we have a new way of thinking, a new of acting, and a new way of viewing the world. Many times when someone has given their life to Christ, others around them well see a complete change in the person. This is because, as stated earlier, their life been renewed, and they view life through the eyes of Christ because that person and Christ has become one.
The third thing that happens to a person who undergoes
regeneration through Christ is that they become a part of the body of
Christ. No matter the individuals background, social class, economic
income, or race, once they give their life to Christ, they become a part
of the body of Christ, meaning they have the same identity as other
believers. The term regeneration is a theological term that means: new
birth. We are born again not in the natural sense of course but in
spiritual terms we move from death to life.
But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit. Titus 3:4-5
Jesus teaching of regeneration is even taught in Ezekiel when he declared, A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart our of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. Ez. 36:26
Have you been born again?
Jesus was symbolized
And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, do the Son of Man must be lifted up., so that everyone who believes in Him will have eternal life. John 3:14 NLT
The student of Jesus Christ will realize that His story is foretold in the Old Testament. Over and over those people that lived in Old Testament times were given clues to the coming of the Messiah.
Even as they sacrificed animals to atone for their sins and sinfulness it was pointing to one that would come and die once and for all.
Jesus was a sacrifice
What you and I are going to see in this series as we walk the dusty roads of the New Testament with Jesus Christ is that He was heading to the cross. Many of the things that happened in His three years of ministry were not significant in comparison to His work on the cross. He came to die. He came to die because we need a Savior to save us from our sins.
It was John the Baptist that cried out, Behold the lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world. Even that statement was rooted in the symbolism of the Old Testament.
In His conversation with Nicodemus Jesus said it this way:
"For God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son. . . John 3:16a NLT
The reason this is a big deal?
Jesus is the Savior
. . .so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him. John 3:16b-17 NLT
The fact is that Jesus Christ wants to change your life. He came and died so that you might be saved from your sins. I need you to hear this message as well.
He came to save you from your sins. He came to deliver you from your sins. He came to enable you to overcome your sins. I will never understand the idea that Jesus died so that we could still be sinners. What is the point of that?
He offers to change you. He stands ready to receive you and make a new person from the inside out but you have to follow Him. You dont just come to Him and get a free ticket to heaven you come to Christ and He makes all things new as you follow Him.
Video: Lets watch the story of someone from our community that illustrates a changed life.
Recognize that God loves you and has a plan for your life.
Recognize that sin separates you from God and others.
Recognize that Jesus Christ died and rose again for our sins.
You must repent and ask God for forgiveness.
Place your trust in Christ and receive Him as your Savior.