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Chuck Smith :: Sermon Notes for John 3:4

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A. When God first created man, He created him a three-dimensional
being. Spirit, mind and body, sort of an inferior trinity.
1. Man was essentially a spirit dwelling in a body, possessing a consciousness.
a. Plant life is one dimensional, body. It grows, and feeds on the nutrients in the soil, or in the atmosphere, and in some cases such as the Venus fly trap, on insects. Plants reproduce through the genetic codes within the seeds.
b. Animal life is two dimensional, body and consciousness. They feed on the plants, or on other animals. They are mobile, they again reproduce by the genetic code within the seed that is often fertilized by the male sperm. Because of the addition of the consciousness and mobility, the animal kingdom is a quantum leap superior to the plant kingdom.
c. Man was created spirit, soul, and body. He feeds on the plant and animal kingdoms. He reproduces through the genetic code that is in the seed and the sperm. It is in the dimension of the spirit that man can know God and fellowship with Him. Jesus said, "God is a Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth. Man because of the dimension of the spirit is a quantum leap superior to the animal kingdom.
d. It should be noted however that man whose spirit is dead is living in the animal plain of existence as is proved over and over again on the front pages of your newspapers every day.
B. When man was first created, he lived in an ideally pure environment in a strong healthy body with no inherited genetic defects. His spirit was alive and he thus lived in conscious fellowship with God.
1. There was just one question, did man live in fellowship with God because he loved God, or was it because there was no other alternative?
2. To determine the answer, God placed a tree in the middle of paradise that was extremely desirable because of its attractiveness, He then forbid man to eat of it on the threat of spiritual death, and the resultant loss of fellowship with God.
3. Man succumbed to the attractive alternative. He ate of the fruit, and his spirit died.
4. Man was now existing on the animal plain of existence, a two-dimensional life, body and consciousness.
5. Like the animals, his consciousness was primarily occupied with his body appetites. He was ruled by the lusts of his flesh.
6. There was no way man could resuscitate his spirit.
C. When Jesus said that unless a man was born again he could not see the kingdom of God, he was referring to the rebirth of the spirit of man.
1. Paul writing to the Corinthians said, The things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know [them], because they are spiritually discerned.
2. If these things sound like so much foolishness to you, it is because your spirit is dead, and you need to be born again.
D. Jesus was basically saying to Nicodemus, that you were born once by the flesh, but you need to be born again by the Spirit. Your body is alive, but your spirit is dead.
1. If any man wants to see the kingdom of heaven, he must have a spiritual birth.
2. Otherwise, you will never see it or understand it.
A. "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life."
1. Numbers 21 tells us the interesting story of the serpent that Moses lifted up in the wilderness.
2. The people had begun again to complain against God and against Moses accusing them of bringing them out of Egypt that they might die in the wilderness.
3. God in response to their complaints sent fiery serpents among the people and many died of the deadly bites.
4. They came and repented before Moses, who in turn prayed to God to deliver them from the plague of the fiery serpents.
5. God instructed Moses to make a likeness of a serpent and put it on a pole in the midst of the camp and whenever a person was bitten, if they looked upon that serpent on the pole, they would live.
6. So Moses made the serpent of brass and placed it on a pole in the middle of the camp, and it came to pass whenever a person was bitten by one of these serpents, when they would look on the brass serpent on the pole, they did not die.
7. This story is full of symbolism. Brass is a metal that in scripture is associated with judgment, and the serpent is a symbol of sin. Lifted on the pole is a symbol of being lifted on the cross.
8. The brass serpent lifted up on the pole is thus a symbol of our sins that were judged on the cross. There Jesus took upon Himself our sins, and there He died receiving the judgment of God for sin.
9. Thus, if you dying by the deadly bite of sin will look in faith to Jesus as He is lifted up on the cross for you, you will have a spiritual birth or be born again. The sin that brought death of the spirit will be forgiven, and you can now have new spiritual life with the subsequent fellowship with God. 10. The natural man whose spirit is dead is living at best at only two-thirds. Capacity, there is something missing and he is only aware of an emptiness, that he seeks to fill with things. We note in the world around us all the things man is doing to try to fill this inner void. 11. Man was created to worship and he will worship something, some of the things man worships are destroying him. Using the words of Jesus, man is perishing, but if he will believe that Jesus died for his sins, he will be born again and have eternal life. 12. You may object saying, "That is so simple, I do not understand how that works. How can my just looking in faith to Jesus, bring the forgiveness of my sins and eternal life?"
a. What if a person in Moses' day was dying from the bite of the fiery serpent, and a friend would drag his dying body to a spot where he could look at the serpent on the pole. As he was in convulsions, his friend was urging him to look at the serpent on the pole, but he objected that it was too simple, he did not understand how just looking was going to change anything. His friend insisted that though he did not understand the process, yet when he was dying he looked and was healed, and all around him people who were dying were being healed as they looked, yet he refused to look and died.
b. What would be your reaction? You would probably say, "Fool, you didn't need to understand the process, you only needed to look."
B. Jesus went on to explain, "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."
1. I think again of the Israelites wandering in the wilderness blaming God for their woes, murmuring and complaining against God for their misery. In reality, their misery was of their own doing. God had not failed them, they had failed God, but they want to blame God for it. It was the purpose of God to bring them into the fertile land that they might enjoy its benefits. They were the ones who turned back.
2. How typical that is of man today, living in the misery of sin which is of his own making, yet trying to blame God for his miseries.
3. How they misunderstood the love of God. The purpose of the fiery serpents was not to destroy them but to turn them back to God, so that God could help and bless them.
4. Without the assistance of God they could not have survived two weeks in that wilderness, yet God preserved them for forty years.
5. Many of you, as they have, turned your backs on God and are taking a dangerous path that is leading to your destruction. You cannot survive without the protecting hand of God, yet you are seeking to fault God for all your problems. In spite of your rebellion against Him, He still loves you more than you could ever know, and in love for you, He sent His Son to die on the cross for your sins that are in the process of destroying you.
6. The wonderful promise of God is that if you will believe in His Son, you will not perish but have everlasting life. Everlasting life is not just quantity, but a quality of life. Quantity without quality is hell.
7. That is how a man's spirit is born, and he is born again by believing in the provision that God has made in love for the forgiveness of his sins. Simple, but how very profound, simple enough for a child to understand and perceive, so profound that we cannot fully comprehend it, but must simply believe it.
Sermon Notes for John 3:1-15 ← Prior Section
Sermon Notes for John 3:16 Next Section →
Sermon Notes for Luke 1:5 ← Prior Book
Sermon Notes for Acts 1 Next Book →

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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