[John 3:1 -8]
“Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; this man came to Him by night, and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God [as] a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus *said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and 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. “Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this is the last session of the Message of the Cross.
I thank you for having listened to the messages carefully. The 23 sermons of the message of the cross are the most basic and the essence for Christians.
I hope you will fully understand the messages you heard and have firm faith, so that you will be able to clearly preach the providence of the salvation of cross to all people.
Also, I urge you to guide the newcomers to listen to the “Message of the Cross” and have a sound understanding of the contents of this sermon series.
By fully understanding these 23 sermons, you can confidently believe in Jesus Christ and lead an enjoyable Christian life experiencing the works of the Holy Spirit.
I pray in the name of the Lord that the evidence of the Word of God will be living and active so that you will be filled with life and grace.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today’s passage is the scene where Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews, came to Jesus and had a conversation on spiritual matters. Nicodemus was a ruler, and being a Pharisee, he was also a teacher who knew the Law very well.
Jesus often harshly rebuked the Pharisees. They thought they were serving God very well, but in fact their hearts were not following the truth, and they were far away from God.
They didn’t believe Jesus’ teachings, but rather they opposed and tried to kill Him. The rulers of the Jews including the Pharisees agreed to put those who believed in Jesus out of the synagogue. This means they would ostracize these people.
But Nicodemus was different from other Pharisees. He knew God’s word and kept His law, but was not satisfied by just pretending to be holy on the outside. He had a thirst for the truth.
When he had heard about Jesus, he had a deep hope that Jesus would be able to quench his thirst and came to Him at night. He came at night because He did not yet have the faith to come to Jesus boldly in front of other people during the day time.
If we see the later records about him, we can see that he finally received salvation. For example, In John 7:50-51, we can see he spoke up for Jesus in front of angry Pharisees.
It says, “Nicodemus said to them (he who came to Him before, being one of them), “Our Law does not judge a man, unless it first hears from him and knows what he is doing, does it?”
Since the words and deeds of Jesus were not unrighteous, Nicodemus was trying to point out the mistakes of the Pharisees who were trying to harm Jesus. It was not something that was easy to do.
It is comparable to a government official speaking up in an Islamic country that strictly prohibits Christianity, or in a Hindu country that prohibits publicly speaking up for Christianity. Nicodemus might have lost his position and even his life, but he still spoke up for Jesus.
Also, after Jesus died on the cross, John 19:39 says, “And Nicodemus came also, who had first come to Him by night; bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds [weight].”
Even after Jesus died, Nicodemus, being in the position of a sinner, still came to serve Him. Looking at his deeds, we can infer that he had received salvation.
Today’s passage is the scene where Nicodemus met with Jesus before he knew the truth, and talked to Him for the first time. He said, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God [as] a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”
Because Nicodemus had good heart, he did not want to doubt or argue about what Jesus was doing, but rather he confessed his faith first. He confessed that Jesus came from God.
Jesus knew the thirst in his heart and answered something that Nicodemus had not yet asked. He said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
We cannot enter the kingdom of heaven just because we have knowledge and wealth. Neither can we receive salvation just by just knowing the word of God and attending church for a long period of time.
Although we attend church and give titles to the church, it is of no use. We cannot enter the heavenly kingdom unless we are born again. But Nicodemus could not understand what Jesus was saying.
He said, “Born again? How can a grown-up man be born again?” Nicodemus could not even imagine it.
When you came to church for the first time and heard that you have to be born again, you probably didn’t understand what it meant.
You also may also feel it is difficult to understand not only these spiritual words well, but the spiritual meaning of other words as well, until your spiritual eyes and ears are opened.
But if you constantly try to learn and understand and if you ask for God’s grace, at a certain point of time God’s grace will fall on you.
You will be able to understand the words that you used to find difficult, and those words will become both interesting and emotion filled. This is not the case only for new-believers but, all believers
As I stated earlier, in today’s passage, Nicodemus is a ruler of the Jews and a teacher so he knew the Law and the word of God very well. But he still could not understand when Jesus was speaking in terms of something that was spiritual.
It’s the same today. Church members who have attended for a long time, those who hold church titles, and even among the ministers, if they have not gained spiritual understanding, just as it was with Nicodemus, they cannot understand.
Even though they may have a doctorate in theology and ministry, and have a lot of knowledge about the Bible, they cannot understand without the spiritual meaning of the word.
They are not able to experience the works of God or raise the flock spiritually, so their churches are not able to grow.
That is why even the apostle Paul, who had such great knowledge said in 1 Corinthians 2:1-2, “And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.”
As said in 1 Corinthians 4:20, “For the kingdom of God does not consist in words, but in power,” we can realize the spiritual secrets and also accomplish God’s kingdom greatly only through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and the power of God.
In order to accomplish the kingdom of God more greatly and more clearly understand the will of God, we have to understand the secret of the cross more deeply and understand God’s word in our minds spiritually.
Coming back to the passage, Nicodemus, who did not understand what Jesus said, asked Him again. “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?”
And Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and 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. “Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
What Jesus is talking about is not about the flesh that will perish. It is spiritual in context.
He was saying that, for a man to enter into the heavenly kingdom, his spirit that is invisible, must be born again, not the visible body.
The first man Adam was created as a living spirit. But, his spirit died as a result of his fall in sin. Now, he was not a living spirit any more but a man of flesh.
As said ‘which is born of the flesh is flesh,’ descendants of Adam, who became a man of flesh, were born in the flesh as well. All mankind became men of flesh whose spirit was dead. Men of flesh cannot enter into heavenly kingdom. They have to fall into hell, the way of death.
For a man to enter into heavenly kingdom this dead spirit must be revived, and it is done by water and spirit.
Jesus said about these spiritual things, “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
We can hear the sound of wind but we cannot see it. We cannot find out where wind starts to blow and where it stops.
Just like the wind that we cannot see, we cannot understand spiritual things within the limit of our flesh.
Even with the development of science, we cannot understand everything in this world. We may say we know about winds with modern science today, but even a country like United States could not prevent the disaster of a recent hurricane.
In fact, as science and technology develop more, we can only more clearly realize that God the Creator is truly Almighty, and that men’s knowledge and ability have clear and definite limitations.
That is why many scientists try to prove that the word of God is true in a scientific way.
We cannot even understand the movement of the wind, so how can we understand the things of heaven that belong to the spiritual realm within our physical limits?
We can understand and experience the works of God only by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, then, what does it mean by being born again by water and spirit? Let us first look at the water.
Here, ‘water’ is the same water as said in John 4:14, “well of water springing up to eternal life.”
As said, “but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life,” by drinking this water of eternal life, men are born again.
Then, what is this ‘well of water springing up to eternal life’?
In the last session, I told you we do not have eternal life if we do not eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of Man.
To eat the flesh of the Son of Man is to keep God’s word in our heart and to drink His blood is to practice the word of God with faith.
Likewise, eating the flesh and drinking the blood of the Son of Man, namely the Word of God itself, becomes the water giving eternal life to men.
Water washes away the filth and stains and gives life to everything. Even spiritually, water, namely the Word of God, washes the stain of sins and gives us eternal life.
How dirty it is if you have envy, jealousy, hatred, and anger in your heart?
When we stand before God later, those who did not cast off the defilement of sins will be too ashamed to be able to lift up their faces.
But if the word of God comes into our heart, the filth of sins will be washed away.
For example, as explained in the last session, if we have spiritual love in our heart, hatred, envy and jealousy, and anger and seeking our won benefit are washed away.
When we wash away the sins and evil in our heart, we can be born again and receive salvation.
So, 1 Peter 3:21 also says, “And corresponding to that, baptism now saves you– not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience– through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,”
God’s word is the truth itself and Jesus Christ who is the Word that came to this earth in flesh.
Jesus, who is the Word, resurrected and became the Savior, thenceforth all the words in both Old Testament and New Testament were fulfilled to be true.
By believing these words, and when we keep them in our minds and practice them, we become more righteous. Namely, the Word of God gives life to men and makes them righteous men.
Those who truly believe God’s Son, who is the Word, as their Savior will naturally believe and practice all the commandments in the 66 books of the Bible.
When God’s word is in you and washes your hearts, it is the evidence that you are saved. The water baptism is the symbolization of washing our heart with the word of God.
Next, let us look at the Spirit. This Spirit is the Holy Spirit of God who comes into the hearts of saved children of God and helps them gain complete salvation.
John 15:26 says, “When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, [that is] the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness of Me,” As said, since the Lord resurrected and ascended into heaven, God sent the Holy Spirit to His children who are saved.
Acts 2:38 says, “Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
As said, if you hear the gospel, repent, and accept Jesus as your Savior, you will receive forgiveness of you sins and the Holy Spirit comes into your heart. If you receive the Holy Spirit, your dead spirit revives and you gain spiritual faith with which you can truly believe.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, 1 John 5:5-8 says, “And who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? This is the one who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ; not with the water only, but with the water and with the blood. And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that bear witness, the Spirit and the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.”
Here, ‘Jesus Christ coming with the water and the blood’ means that the water, which is the Word, came to this earth in flesh and died shedding His precious blood. Because Jesus died on the cross for us, we receive salvation by that power of blood.
Therefore, the one who came with the water and the blood is Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, who came after Jesus’ ascension helps us believe this fact firmly.
It is said those who believe Jesus is the Son of God will overcome the world. It does not mean we fight against the people in this world. It means we fight and win the victory over worldly lusts and do not become stained with sins.
The Holy Spirit not only helps us believe in the Lord confidently, but also gives us strength to overcome this world by letting us realize about sin, righteousness, and the Judgment.
If we, in the work of the Holy Spirit, realize what sin is, that we have to accomplish righteousness, and that there is judgment, we will naturally follow the desires of the Holy Spirit. It means we will wash away the sins in our heart with water everyday.
Then, the untruths in our heart will be removed and our heart will change into a heart of truth. Finally, our heart will be filled with only truths just like when Adam was created as a living spirit. This is the process of giving birth to the spirit through the Spirit.
Only those who give birth to the spirit through the Holy Spirit in this way will be able to see the kingdom of God.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, Ephesians 2:8 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, [it is] the gift of God;”
Men can be born again by water and spirit and reach eternal life only by the love of God the Father. It is the gift that we received without any price.
Men can never be saved only with their own effort or ability. There is no other way of salvation but the way of cross.
Because Jesus perfected the way of salvation for us by taking the cross within the secret providence of God that had been hidden since before the time began, anyone who accepts this with faith can be born again and gain eternal life.
John 1:12 says, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, [even] to those who believe in His name,”
Also, Philippians 3:20 says, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” Those who believe in the Lord and are born again by the water and the Spirit enjoy the authority of God’s children.
The enemy devil cannot claim his authority of death over them any more. Now they become citizens of the heavenly kingdom and live within the protection and blessings of God both on this earth and in heaven.
This is the privilege for you who are saved.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, now we finish the “Message of the Cross” that has consisted of 23 sermons. These sermons will be your way of salvation, way to receive God’s love, and the way to be guided by the Holy Spirit.
It will also be the way to solve all your life problems and receive blessings.
I earnestly urge you to accept these messages with faith so that none of you will fall away from the way of salvation until the Lord comes back again.
Also, I hope you will be diligently spread this message and lead many souls to the heavenly kingdom.
I pray in the name of Jesus Christ that you and I will be able to praise the love and grace of God and live in eternal glory in the city of New Jerusalem, the most beautiful heavenly dwelling place.