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Nicodemus

Posted by adventbiblestudy on December 8, 2008


KJV John 3:1-12

1. There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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?

5. 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.

6. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

7. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

8. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

9. Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?

10. Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?

11. Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness.

12. If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?

Nicodemus was a member of the popular church of his day. Not only a member but a leader within the church. Nicodemus heard and believed the words of Christ. He wanted to follow after Christ, but chose to meet with the Savior under the cover of darkness. A war was waging within the heart of Nicodemus between the position and respect he desired and the calling of the Spirit of Truth. For a time Nicodemus preferred to live in both worlds. This may have been by design as seen by the service Nicodemus was later able to provide for Jesus. In this acted parable, Nicodemus illustrates one detail describing the condition of the world before Christ’s second coming. When the first advent of Christ occurred, church leaders knew that Christ was coming. They prayed and preached that His coming was near. They pointed out the signs that could not be overlooked. Church leaders had the event and the timing correct but they completely missed the concept. There is no need to waste time examining what the Pharisees were looking for or where they went wrong. The point is, the majority of the people relied on them to properly interpret the scriptures and they completely failed.

How does this relate to the condition of the world today? Many Christian leaders are predicting the second coming of Christ is near. In our day there are many different interpretations concerning the second coming. There were a number of accepted interpretations concerning the first coming? The Bible mentions two factions with different views, the Pharisees and Sadducees. There may have been other factions during the first advent not mentioned in the Bible. In the present time there are more interpretations than the average person is able to account for however only one can be accurate. How can we determine which one is the accurate explanation?

During the first advent there were limited copies of the Old Testament scriptures. People relied on the priest to accurately read the scriptures to them. They did not have the advantage of comparing scripture with scripture. They had to rely more heavily on their own memory and the interpretations given by the priests. During the first advent the majority of people may have had an excuse for missing the details. What is your excuse? Today Bibles are readily available. Not only do we have the support found in the New Testament but we have the opportunity to study with a concordance or computer Bible program. With these advantages comes responsibility. Most people do not live up to this responsibility by studying the Bible in a manner that will allow the Spirit to lead them to the truth. “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.” KJV John 16:13-14.

Let us look at the literal interpretation of John 16:13. This verse clearly points out the Spirit will guide YOU into all truth. It does not say the Spirit will guide another person to you who will one day appear to give you a quick, condensed version of the truth. The Bible does not say the truth will be given to a chosen few to guide the world. The Bible does not teach a few people will develop a personal relationship with God and teach others the truth while making a tidy profit on book sales and appearances. The Bible makes it clear the Spirit will guide you. Also notice God used the word, guide. The meaning of the word guide is, “one who shows the way by leading, directing or advising.” The word guide contains no mystical meaning some people expect to find. They expect that one day the truth will be revealed to them in a dream or other encounter. They confuse the power of the Spirit with the mission of the Spirit. We need not comment on the power of the Spirit. No one can comprehend the full power of the Spirit, it is beyond our comprehension. On the other hand the mission of the Spirit is explained in scripture. As we study the mission of the Spirit we will increase the desire for a close personal relationship. The Spirit was sent by Christ and referred to as the Comforter. “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:” KJV John 15:26. The Spirit was sent to this world to fill the presence Christ once occupied, to continue the mission of Christ. We will also see Christ and the Spirit are one with the Father.

John 3:3-7

3. 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.

4. 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?

5. 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.

6. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

7. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

Either Nicodemus had no connection with the Holy Spirit or he feared giving Christ an incorrect answer, which would leave the wrong impression. Nicodemus gave an answer based only on the literal meaning of the text. Christ spoke about being born again in a figurative form. Nicodemus interpreted being born again as entering into his mother’s womb for a second time, which is physically impossible. Nicodemus could only see a literal interpretation, he had no spiritual insight. A sad state for a church leader. This has been repeated throughout church history. Leaders and members often pride themselves on having the talent to memorize a few text, quoting them over and over again, no matter what the subject may be and supplying an interpretation based on their own thoughts or twisting the text to suit the subject. They do this to impress others, much like Nicodemus who implemented a futile attempt to impress Jesus by repeating the statement and interpreting it in his own words. They have no experience studying scripture in a spiritual manner to uncover the deeper meaning intended. These teachers are easily identified by their method of teaching. Like Nicodemus, they repeat the text, questioning it only in literal terms.

Jesus tells us, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” Jesus tells us exactly how we are to be reborn, by the Spirit. Being born of the Spirit will allow you to see the word in a spiritual sense, allowing you to experience the deeper meaning God has placed upon His words while creating a deeper relationship with God.

This text is an example of the state of the church in the last days. Teachers will offer simple explanations to text and circumstances surrounding the second return of Christ. Because people have not made an earnest attempt to study the Bible, they will accept these simplified commentaries as truth. Like Nicodemus, these teachers may have a desire to follow Jesus but they make hollow attempts to fulfill that desire. Satan will convince them it is too hard, it takes too much time, I really don’t have to try. A key misconception is, God accepts me as I am.” They feel they are saved because they believe and feel no need to change. This class of people are born of the flesh, refusing the guidance of the Spirit.

Night represents the darkness in which the popular church is enshrouded. “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him.” KJV John 9:4, 1 Thessalonians 5:7, John 11:10.

God’s church will not be effected by this state of darkness accepted throughout the world. The Bible assures us, “The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. KJV Romans 13:12, 1 Thessalonians 5:5.

KJV 1 John 5:3-10

3. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. 4. For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. 5. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? 6. This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. 7. For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. 8. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one. 9. If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. 10. He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.

God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit cannot be separated. Accepting the Spirit is the same as accepting Jesus as God. This also indicates the Spirit will live as Jesus lived. The Spirit will use the example Jesus established during His life on earth to teach. We are always to accept the word of God over the words of men. This is another way of telling us to test the words of men. This is a very important factor.

KJV 1 John 4:4-8

4. Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. 5. They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. 6. We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error. 7. Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. 8. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

The world speaks about the world and the world hears them. Some preachers realize how easy it is to captivate an audience with the simple concept of giving them what they want. If the world wants to complain about the condition of the world, you will find a number of people willing to follow. It is customary for people to honor you as an expert on a subject area you both agree on. If the world has problems and you point them out, it is not very difficult to appear like an expert.

This is why God’s word contains love. It takes more to make a suitable impression than point out problems. It takes more than words to solve a problem, it takes action. It is not difficult to look at someone’s life and tell them how to change or what they need to do to solve a problem. It takes so much more to get involved, to actually help the same person make it through a situation. It may take time, money and physical labor. Any of these coupled with love can make a lasting impression on a life. Is our connection with God expressed in words or actions?

John 3:8

8. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

Jesus offers Nicodemus a second chance in the form of a simple parable with a spiritual meaning as obvious as the first. When we look at the physical characteristics of the text we see a connection between the wind and the Spirit. We cannot see the wind but we can see the effects. This is a commonly accepted interpretation of this text. A literal interpretation may be, “The wind blows where it will, you hear the sound of it but you cannot tell where it has been or where it is going. So is everyone that is born of the Spirit.” A person that is reborn has the same effect. The changes taking place in a person’s life may take place at such a rate that no one can remember what the person was like, how they changed or what other changes are may take place.

But there is a spiritual meaning to the text. The spiritual meaning explains the power of the Spirit and the connection between Christ, the act of being born again and the new hope supplied by the Spirit.

KJV John 14:16-17

16. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;

17. Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

Jesus prayed, asking His Father to send the Comforter, the Spirit of truth to guide the church. Jesus had full knowledge of the scriptures and knew He was about to die. Before He faced His death He prayed to ensure the Spirit would be sent to take His place. We are promised that the Spirit will stay with us forever. This shows the concern Christ has for His followers. It also shows the respect the Son has for the Father and the connection between Christ and the Spirit.

Christ also tells us the Spirit will not be received by the world, because the world will not see Him or know Him. This has been the condition of the world since the earliest generations and will continue through the last days. People will either accept the Spirit or reject His calling. Why would people reject the Spirit? Is it possible to accept the Spirit on your own terms? Jesus answers this by telling us the Spirit will dwell within us. The literal meaning of the word dwell means, to live with. Dwelling has a much deeper spiritual meaning as seen in the following text.

KJV John 6:56

56. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.

KJV Ephesians 3:17

17. That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,

KJV Colossians 3:16

16. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

KJV 1 John 4:12

12. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.

There are many text that explain exactly what it means to have the Spirit dwelling in us. John 6:56 makes it clear that this is a spiritual dwelling, just as the flesh and blood are spiritual symbols. It is also clear that God, Jesus and the Spirit all dwell within us. They dwell within our hearts by faith, rooted and grounded in love. Some people may think the word faith means a belief in God is enough. “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” KJV James 2:19. The Bible makes it clear belief is not enough. Unless the word lives in us we are not able to see God. Love also indicates a need for growth. We also need love. We cannot learn about love from this world. The love the world has is distorted. The love God desires to put in our hearts can only be experienced through His word.

John 3:9-12

9. Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?

10. Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?

11. Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness.

12. If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?

We need to go back to verse 8 to see what Nicodemus was questioning. “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” Nicodemus confirms he has a lack of spiritual insight. He must have understood the statement about the wind, but did not want to comment on Jesus’ statement. This time Jesus vividly points out the facts surrounding this acted parable. Nicodemus is known as a teacher of the scriptures, but cannot answer the simplest spiritual questions. Jesus does not hesitate to point out why Nicodemus was unable to understand these statements. He does not listen to the testimonies given to him. For some reason Jesus did not give Nicodemus a detailed explanation of the two statements. But Jesus did send Nicodemus down the path of understanding.

KJV John 3:13-21

13. And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.

14. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:

15. That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

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.

17. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

18. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

19. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

20. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

21. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

Jesus explains that the serpent set up by Moses in Numbers 21 symbolized the method of His death. In the desert the Israelites were attacked by snakes. It did not take long to see that the venom these snakes carried was deadly. If bitten you were going to die. The people asked Moses to pray to God for deliverance. God had Moses make a brass serpent and place it high on a pole. Anyone bitten could look on the serpent and be saved. This serpent symbolized Christ on the cross.

Many people can quote the text but few people realize the words of John 3:16 were spoken to Nicodemus and part of an acted parable that teaches about the Spirit. What is the connection between John 3:16 and the other lessons taught? The meeting with Nicodemus contains twenty one verses. Most people consider only one of those verses to be of any importance. This is the lesson illustrated by the meeting between Christ and Nicodemus. Jesus gave Nicodemus important information on a number of subjects. In his own wisdom Nicodemus spoke on only one of these matters, being born again. Following is a list of the subjects covered during this short meeting.

The miracles Jesus performed

Being born again

Power of the Spirit

Testimony and witnessing

The crucifixion

Eternal life

Salvation

Being a light unto the world

There are at least eight subjects discussed in this acted parable. Most people recognize only one or two of them. This illustrates the fact most people miss 75 to 90% of what the Bible is saying

Like Nicodemus, we look at one detail within scripture we feel comfortable with and ignore the surrounding text. We are missing so much by fooling ourselves into thinking wisdom is so easily discovered. “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” KJV John 4:23-24.

Jesus goes on to explain there will be those that follow Him and those who will not. Some will be saved and others lost. Some will understand and others will not. In other words, Jesus is pointing out there is a choice to be made. Making any important decision requires you to gather all the facts before making a choice

KJV 2 Thessalonians 2:7-14

7. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. 8. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: 9. Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, 10. And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 12. That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 13. But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: 14. Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Thessalonians 2 tells us, the mystery of iniquity will supply a delusion, a lie that many will follow. Those that follow after this lie will be lost. The most disturbing facet of this study reveals just how easily people will be deceived. John 3:16 is one of the most used, most known, most commonly quoted text within the entire Bible. What about John 3:17-21? This is plain simple text explaining an important principle of the Bible that would be difficult to misunderstand. Yet, this text is seldom utilized. Verses 19, 20 and 21 explain the difference between the people accepting the light and those rejecting the light. Many of those using and quoting John 3:16 ignore John 3:19-21. This acted parable shows us the light people are rejecting. Is it by chance God has arranged this lesson in such an order? Or is there a clear message here for us to take note of?

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