Teaching Sermons For Pastors and Laymen

29 September 2005

Don’t Be Late!

John 3:14-3:21

 


We will find in John 3:14-21 three reasons for why we believe in Jesus.  

 

And these three reasons are the three points for today’s Bible lesson.  

 

When we believe in Jesus, He becomes our:

I. SIN (14-15)
II. SALVATION (16-17)
III. SEPARATION (18-21)


INTRODUCTION:

Have you ever found something hard to believe? 


There were two gentlemen who were traveling on a plane and were seated next to each other.

 

One turned to the other and asked, “What do you do?”

 

The gentleman replied: "I am a minister."

 

"Oh," said the first man, “I don’t believe in that religious stuff.  It’s for kids, you know, ‘Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so...’”

 

The minister politely laughed and asked the other man what he did for a living.

 

"I am an astronomer," said the first man.

 

"Oh, that stuff," said the minister. “I thought it was just for kids, you know, ‘Twinkle, twinkle little star...’”

Well, we have all met skeptics at one time or another.


I remember one time talking to a neighbor who was coming to grips with the fact that Easter was all about Jesus coming back from the dead.


He was realizing that this Christian holiday was asking him to believe in something more than a celebration of life.


He was being asked to believe in the impossible.


It was hard to believe.


And then he wanted to know if I really believed it.

When I said, “yes” he discovered that there was more to this Christianity thing than he originally thought.

Sometimes, we find more substance than what we initially thought.

I am willing to wager that there are some former skeptics here today that are now true believers.


As you explored for the truth, you discovered that there was more to Christianity than you initially thought.


The setting of today’s text revolves around a skeptic of sorts.

The story of Nicodemus is our setting.

Nicodemus, a Pharisee, has come to Jesus at night.


He is on a mission—a personal one it seems.


He has come to Jesus in an attempt to figure Him out.


He has come to the conclusion that Jesus cannot do what He does unless He has come from God.


It is a good conclusion, yet in the conversation with Jesus, Nicodemus found that…

Believing in Jesus can be very difficult.

Ironically, it is difficult only because Jesus made it simple.


He said, “You must be born again.”


“You need to be born of the Spirit.”


For Nicodemus, who thought because He was Jewish and was publicly dedicated to following the Ten Commandments, he was in.


His whole worldview was being turned upside down.


This was difficult to believe.

As we gather today, we are here to proclaim that…

WE BELIEVE IN JESUS.

And I want you to know why.


I want you to know why we believe in Jesus.


So…

We will find in John 3:14-21 three conclusions to why we believe in Jesus.

OUR STUDY:

The first reason for why we believe in Jesus is that Jesus becomes our SIN (14-15).

 

Listen to verses 14 and 15:

(14) Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, (15) that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.

The incident referred to in these verses is found in Numbers 21.

 

Let me give you the background for the story.


The Israelites had been complaining against God, grumbling about the journey and their apparent lack of food and water.


They did not like the manna God gave them day after day.

And so God had enough, and He sent fiery serpents among them, and many of those who were bitten died.


But God provided a salvation for this disobedient people, so that they might survive the divine judgment.


He instructed Moses to make a serpent of bronze and to set it on a pole, so that anyone who was bitten by one of the serpents could merely look up at the serpent and be healed.


And this is precisely what happened.


All who were bitten and looked up were healed.


The interesting aspect of this story is that…

Serpents are symbolic of sin.

After all, it was the serpent that lied to Eve in the garden.

The serpent is the perfect symbol of sin.

You know, when God looks at our world, he sees what we often try to ignore.


He sees the hurt, shame, misery and the meaninglessness of life.


He watches the murder, violence, hatred, bitterness, anger, and greed.


He observes child abuse, famine, death, tears, and fear of every kind.


And as He watches, He notes that the anguish we have in life is self-caused.


We have ruined the gift He has given.


Most of the agony we suffer is directly related to the choices we have made.


This destruction of His perfect design is sin and it is ugly to God.

All sin is ugly to God.


But the great thing for us is that His reaction is not one of anger, hatred, or ruthless justice.

Instead, it is love.


He reaches out to us and takes on Himself the just result of sin—death.

Jesus becomes sin for us.


Listen to the testimony of Scripture:

”God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2Cor. 5:21)

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” (Gal. 3:13)

In the story in Numbers, no matter how horribly they were bitten, how many times they had been bitten or how sick they were, the opportunity for salvation was there.


In the very same way, even the most degraded and miserable sinner who looks to Christ will be saved.

This is why we sing a song like…

And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior’s blood?
Died he for me, who caused His pain?
For me, who him to death pursued?
Amazing love! how can it be
That thou (you), my God, shouldst (should) die for me?


Jesus became sin for us so that we might be right with God.

So…

As a result, new birth comes through the simple act of faith.

Just as the Israelites were instructed to gaze in faith at the serpent, so are we to gaze at Jesus on the cross in faith.


It does not have to be perfect faith.


You don’t have to work up your faith to some standard.


You just need to have it.


So look to Christ.


Look to Him who became sin for us.


Believe and know the salvation of God.

The second reason for why we believe in Jesus is that Jesus becomes our SALVATION (16-17).

 

Listen to what it says in verses 16 and 17.

(16) “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (17) For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

Verse 16 has been called the miniature gospel; it is the gospel in a nut-shell.


What I mean by this is that no verse condenses the whole gospel as cleanly and understandably as John 3:16.


This is the way God loved the world…He gave His Son…

This means that…

Salvation comes through Jesus alone.

For Nicodemus, he was being introduced to a whole new thought process.


Salvation was not a matter of birth.


Salvation was not even a matter of being good.


Salvation comes through the Messiah.


God loves us through the Messiah, His unique Son.

And…the verse also tells us who salvation is for.

Salvation is for the world.

There was a reason for why the Jews were God’s chosen people; it was so that the world might know God.


But salvation was to be for the Gentiles as well as the Jews.


This had been God’s purpose all along.


Salvation was for everybody.

 

Not only that, there’s something else in this verse…

Salvation came in time and space.

Jesus came in time and space.


It was a specific act in history.


God loved the world.


The tense of the verb is written like it is, to make sure that we understand that this happened at a definite point in time.


When Jesus came to earth, this was the proof that He cared for and loved the entire world.


It was the best gift that could ever be given.


And it was needed…

As George Bernard Shaw once said,

“The statistics about death are very impressive. One out of every one dies!”

Yes…

Salvation is needed.

A politician woke-up after an operation and found the curtains in his hospital room drawn.

 

"Why are the curtains closed?" he asked the nurse. "Is it night-time already?"

 

"No," the nurse replied. "But there’s a fire across the street, and we didn’t want you to wake and think the operation was unsuccessful."

While we may laugh at that, there are some awful consequences to dying if we do not believe.


There is eternal judgment and we perish.


The Bible speaks of hell over and over again so that we will be determined to avoid it.


II Thessalonians 1:9 speaks of separation from God.

 

It says, “They shall suffer the punishment of eternal destruction and exclusion from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.”


And Revelation 14:10 speaks of torment.

 

“He also shall drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured unmixed into the cup of his anger, and he shall be tormented with fire and sulphur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.”


And John tells us here that the separation from God is everlasting, irreversible, and most importantly, avoidable.


God has demonstrated His love for us, but it is a love that can be received or rejected.

The first two reasons for why we believe in Jesus is “He becomes sin for us” and “He becomes our salvation.”

And the third and final reason for why we believe in Jesus is that Jesus becomes our SEPARATION.

 

 Listen to John 3:18-21:

(18) “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. (19) This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. (20) Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. (21) But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”

Jesus becomes the dividing line.

The text here clearly tells us that Jesus did not come to judge the world, but at the same time, judgment does come.


Condemnation and judgment come passively; that is, it comes as the result of doing nothing.


For if we do not believe and take hold of the salvation that comes through Jesus, we are condemned.


If we reject God’s love and choose to love something of our own liking instead, we are condemned.


It is a decision that we will have to live with, for eternity.

One night, after he had gotten ready for bed, Beverly Dillard’s husband went out to the driveway to retrieve some work papers from his car.

 

Since it was dark, he figured no one would see him make the quick run in his underwear.

 

And he probably would have made it, too—if not for the motion-sensor light, which illuminated him, just as he reached the car door.

We need to be very careful of the light, since light condemns because it exposes both sin and sinners.

Light reveals the righteousness of righteous men.


But for those who are unrighteous, they hate the light because it exposes their sins.


If you are not willing to be exposed for whom you are and what you have done, you are going to reject the light of Jesus.

 

Someone wrote this about the light of God’s word that reveals our sin and makes us admit, “I am a sinner.”

We are not stuck though.
We do not have to wait for wrath.
There is a way out of it.
For light is more powerful than darkness.
And love is stronger than hate.

 

I like how Max Lucado puts it…There are many reasons God saves you: to bring glory to himself, to appease his justice, to demonstrate his sovereignty.  But one of the sweetest reasons God saved you is because he is fond of you.  He likes having you around.  He thinks you are the best thing to come down the pike in quite a while… If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it. If he had a wallet, your photo would be in it.  He sends you flowers every spring and a sunrise every morning.  Whenever you want to talk, he’ll listen.  He can live anywhere in the universe, and he chose your heart.  And the Christmas gift he sent you in Bethlehem? Face it, friend. He’s crazy about you!

Now, how can we make application of this to our own personal lives?

We believe in Jesus!


Do you believe?

Do you believe in…

God in a baby?

Incredible—the sound of those words, isn’t it?


How could God become a baby?


Yet, every Christmas, we celebrate this tremendous truth.


For this is the way God has shown His love for the world.

Do you believe in…

God on a cross?

Incredible—the sound of it, isn’t it?


How could God go to a cross and die?


Yet, every Good Friday, we celebrate this tremendous truth.


For this is the way God has shown His love for the world.

Do you believe in…

Life after death?

Incredible—the sound of it, isn’t it?


How could anyone believe that someone lives after he dies?


Yet, every Easter, we celebrate this tremendous truth.


For this is the way God has shown His love for the world.

Do you believe?

Jesus is worth believing

The apostle Paul writes…

I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation. (II Corinthians 6:2b).

And on this day, this Paul [point to self], has been appointed by God to warn each one of you that do not believe…now is the acceptable time to believe in Jesus.


He is worth believing!

 Imagine for a moment…one of your children when they were small, playing in the road.

 

You see a fast moving car approaching.

 

You know you can’t reach them in time.

 

Running toward them you yell, "Get out of the road and come here!"

 

It is important at that moment that that child trust you and respond.

 

Are you trying to ruin their fun?

 

No, you are trying to save their life.

God knows that we are all in danger.


We’re in danger of spending eternity separated from him.


The Bible calls it the second death and it is racing toward all of humanity.


For that reason, God sent his Son to die on a cross, as a sacrifice for our sins.


He’s paid our penalty.


All He asks in return is that we believe in him.

 

Years ago, a young man who had quarreled with his father, left home.

 

He continued to keep in touch with his mother, and wanted very badly to come home for Christmas, but he was afraid his father would not allow him.

 

His mother wrote to him and urged him to come home, but he did not feel he could until he knew his father had forgiven him.

 

Finally, there was no time for any more letters.

 

His mother wrote and said she would talk with the father, and if he had forgiven him, she would tie a white rag on the tree which grew right alongside the railroad tracks near their home, which he could see before the train reached the station.

 

If there was no rag, it would be better if he went on.

So the young man started home.

 

As the train drew near his home; he was so nervous he said to his friend who was traveling with him, "I can’t bear to look. Sit in my place and look out the window. I’ll tell you what the tree looks like and you tell me whether there is a rag on it or not."

 

So his friend changed places with him and looked out the window.

 

After a bit the friend said, "Oh yes, I see the tree."

 

The son asked, "Is there a white rag tied to it?"

 

For a moment the friend did not say anything.

 

Then he turned, and in a very gentle voice said, "There is a white rag tied to every limb of that tree!"

That, in a sense, is what God is saying here in John.


God has removed the condemnation and made it possible to come freely and openly home to him.

 

So…

Don’t wait! Don’t be late!

Now is the time to come.

Now is the time to believe in Jesus.


 

 

 

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