In the Image
“Are you a child of God, or are you just religious?”
“There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and [of] the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” John 3:1-7
“What an amazing conversation!” On one side we have a religious ruler and teacher of Israel named Nicodemus. On the other side we have the greatest teacher that ever walked in this world, Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The amazing thing is not only the conversation itself, but the person to whom Jesus directs His words, Nicodemus. It would be one thing to speak these words to a vile wicked sinner who does not even know God, whose only desire in life is to pursue the pleasures of sin, but to speak these words to Nicodemus! Here was a man born of the seed of Abraham and duly circumcised (a covenant child). He was a pious man who devoted his life to his religion. He most likely couldn’t remember the first time he attended synagogue, the first time he prayed, the first time he read the Word of God or any number of spiritual activities that had become the focus of his life. Not only was Nicodemus a very religious man, he also was knowledgeable, a spiritual teacher and leader of the Jews, one who sought to help others. Stop and think about it! Jesus was telling one of the most devout religious people in the world that he would neither see nor enter the kingdom of God unless he was born again.
If someone else said these words to Nicodemus, he would probably have just laughed it off and gone on his merry way, but this wasn’t just someone else speaking to him, it was God Himself. Nicodemus already accepted Jesus as a teacher who came from God; how terrifying then these words must have been to him. Here was a divinely sent teacher telling him that with all that he had achieved and become, with all that he knew and all those he had taught, he was still outside the kingdom of God. Religious, yes, but lost!
There are many in this world that are just like Nicodemus. I’ve asked many pastors in the last couple of years how a person becomes a child of God. This is a very simple question with a simple answer that anyone who teaches the Word of God should know. Yet, I was amazed at the answers I received. I asked one pastor, “when did you become a child of God?” His answer was, “I was born of covenant parents and baptized as an infant.” (Yet the Bible teaches that genealogy and baptism have nothing to do with salvation.) I asked another pastor about being born again and he told me that his born again experience was when he was two years old (quite young to believe in your heart and profess with your mouth). He said his Sunday school teacher would stand each child on a chair next to a light switch and have them turn the light on as they quoted the verse that says, “God is light”. He said when his turn came something more than just the light went on, and this was his “born again experience”. (God does not turn something on inside of us; He sends His own Spirit to dwell in us.) Another told me that he was always a child of God even before creation, yet he could not tell me when he had been a child of wrath as the Word of God declares all saints once were (Ephesians 2:1-3). A pastor’s wife told a friend of mine that she became a child of God while in her mother’s womb (again, when she did not even know the Gospel nor was capable of believing in the heart and confessing with the mouth).
I was not only amazed at the answers I received from these pastors, but also saddened. If these men, who are supposed to be shepherds of the flock, do not have a clue as to how a person can become a child of God, what hope is there for those who sit under their ministry? Many of today’s spiritual leaders are committing spiritual malpractice of the worst kind, simply because they do not understand God’s plan of salvation which requires that a person be born again in order to see and enter the kingdom of heaven.
Some day these spiritual leaders will have to give an account to God for all the souls under their care that they have misled, and I am afraid that day will not be a pleasant one for them. Matthew 23 records some of the strongest rebukes that the Lord Jesus ever spoke. One important point to notice in this chapter is that those who are being rebuked are not the common people, not sinners who have no knowledge of God, but rather they are the religious leaders who should have known God. In verses 13 & 15 we read:
“But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in [yourselves], neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.” Matthew 23:13
“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.” Matthew 23:15
Dear friend, regardless of whether you are a religious leader or not, perhaps you have a lot in common with Nicodemus. It could be that you also cannot remember the first time you went to church, the first time you prayed or read the Word of God. Maybe you are very active in religion and spiritual things like Nicodemus was, maybe you are even a teacher. Perhaps you’ve been a good church member all your life. You may even claim to be born of covenant parents and baptized. Yet, if you have never been born again you will never see, nor enter the kingdom of God. Be not dismayed, there is still hope for you. Being born again is a spiritual birth that takes place in a person when, having heard the Gospel, he repents and believes, and in faith calls on the name of the Lord to be saved (Rom. 10:9-13). The Lord Jesus summed it up to Nicodemus in John 3:16.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
Friend, if you have never been born again, all the church membership and religious activity in the world will not help you in the day of judgement. In fact, it will further condemn you before God (Rom. 4:4) God’s Word declares, “Now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2). Don’t count on the luxury of tomorrow. Repent and believe the Gospel. Call on the name of the Lord now, while there is still time to be saved.
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New Life Bible Chapel
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Steve (616) 604-0462
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