1. We are to give careful attention to growing in the knowledge of Christ (2 Peter 3:18). 2. Searching the Scriptures is the key to accomplishing this growth (John 5:39). 3. As Jesus taught and preached He revealed His will on many important subjects. 4. In this lesson we are studying His teaching on "the new birth" (John 3:1-7).
I. (vs.1-2) JESUS WAS APPROACHED BY A MAN NAMED NICODEMUS
A. In vs.1 Nicodemus is identified as: 1. a Pharisee (several of their major beliefs are mentioned in Acts 23:8) 2. "a ruler of the Jews" (he later spoke up on behalf of Jesus -- John 7:50-51). B. According to vs.2, when Nicodemus approached Jesus,: 1. he did so by night 2. he showed respect for Jesus by calling Him "Rabbi" 3. he recognized Jesus as a teacher from God because of the miracles He had performed (see John 2:23).
II. (vs.3-7) JESUS TALKED TO NICODEMUS ABOUT BEING BORN AGAIN
A. It might seem odd to us that Jesus began immediately to talk to Nicodemus about the new birth, but we must remember that: 1. Jesus had announced that the kingdom was "at hand" (Matthew 4:17) 2. Jesus "knew what was in man" (John 2:24-25). B. (vs.3) Jesus stated that a person must be born again in order to "see the kingdom of God." 1. To be a part of the Jewish kingdom, a person simply had to be born into a Jewish family. 2. Jesus informed Nicodemus that another birth is required for entering God's kingdom. 3. In addition to being a ruler of the Jews, Nicodemus was "a master of Israel" (vs.10). 4. If he needed to hear this information, we need to hear it as well. C. (vs.4) Nicodemus was confused about the Lord's statement. 1. He apparently thought that Jesus was talking about a second physical birth. 2. A second physical birth would be impossible, especially if his mother was no longer living. 3. (vs.6) Jesus showed that the new birth must not be confused with the physical birth. D. (vs.5) Jesus explained the new birth to Nicodemus. 1. The new birth consists of being born of water and the Spirit (not 2 births, but 1 birth consisting of 2 elements). 2. (John 3:22) Other people understood what is involved in being born again. 3. Additional passages which explain the new birth: a. We learn from John 1:12-13 that we must be "born of God" to become His children. b. See 1 Peter 1:22-23 1) These statements were made to people who had been born again. 2) They had been born again by the Word of God. 3) When they were born again their souls were purified. 4) This was accomplished when they obeyed the truth (see 3:21). c. See Titus 3:3-7 1) These verses do not specifically mention the new birth, but they do mention "the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit" (being born of water and the Spirit). 2) The conduct of people before they are born again is described in vs.3. 3) The new birth allows us to escape the punishment that this kind of conduct deserves. 4) It is when we are born again that we are justified by God's grace. E. (vs.7) Jesus told Nicodemus not to marvel because of His requirement to be born again.