Hervey Bay Presbyterian Church

A new birth – born from above

Study Five: A new birth – born from above

Read John 3:1-21

  1. What do verses 1 and 10 teach us about Nicodemus?

 

From our first study we understand that “light” brings life, knowledge, faith, and the ability to accept.

2.  Read John 1:24-25.  What we learn here from what Christ “knows”?  What does it tell us about Him and his meeting with Nicodemus?

 

3.  According to John 3:2 Nicodemus had some “knowledge” about Christ.  Would you say it was a saving knowledge.  Why/Why not?

 

4.  Is it fair to say that many people today believe like Nicodemus?  Why/why not?

 

5.  Nicodemus came to Jesus at night.  What (symbolical) meaning could this reference carry?

 

6.  The reply of Jesus in verse 3 implied that the light about Christ has not been shining in the heart of Nicodemus.  Why can we say this (think of light)?

 

7.  Read verse 3, 5 and 7.  In all these verses Jesus talks about being “born again”.  In your own words explain what our Lord meant.

 

8.  Look carefully at those verse again.  Does our Lord give a command to be born again, or does He make a statement?

 

9.  Compare the expression “see the kingdom of God” with “enter the kingdom of God”.  When is it true that one will not see  or remain outside of the kingdom?

 

The reference to “born of water and the Spirit” can be somewhat difficult.  Some take it that water refers to baptism.  This is problematic, because the Bible does not teach that the water of baptism has more than symbolical meaning – water does not wash away sins.

Some take the water as referring to Ezekiel 36:25-27, where the water sprinkled to cleanse refer to the work of the Holy Spirit.  In John 3:5 it would then mean that the new life is the work of the Holy Spirit – which is true. Paul in Titus 3:5 says, “But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit …”

In John 15:3 Jesus says to his disciples, “You are already clean because of the word I have spoken.”  Peter connects the new birth to the work of the Spirit through the Word.

So we can conclude that the new birth is the work of the Holy Spirit.  What we do know is that the Spirit inspired the writers of the Word, and that the Gospel of Christ comes to us through the Word.  Paul in Romans 10 emphasises the fact that faith comes from hearing the message of the Gospel.

The new birth is from above, the work of the Holy Spirt, it comes to us through the inspired Gospel of Christ – without these graces we remain in darkness and will not be able to see or enter the Kingdom of God.

10.  Read John 3:10-13.  Look for concepts we came across in the Prologue (John 1:18 – go back to the table on page 5) carrying the same meaning.  Can you find them again in these verses?

  1. “not ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
  2. “what we ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
  3. “what we have ……………………………………………………………………………………………………….
  4. “do not ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

11.  Read John 3:15.  What does the expression “lifted up” mean?

 

12.  In verse 9 Nicodemus asked, “How can this be(come possible)”.  Verse 15 and 16 the answer.  Explain these verses in your own words. (Also read Numbers 21:4-9)

 

13.  John 3:18 makes a statement, and verse 19-20 gives an explanation.  How do you understand these verses?

 

 

John 3:27 states, “A man can receive only what is given him from heaven.” The Belgic Confession (one of the confessional statements of the reformed churches worldwide) states:

all the light in us is turned to darkness,  as the Scripture teaches us:  “The light shines in the darkness,  and the darkness did not overcome it.”  Here John calls the human race “darkness.”  Therefore we reject everything taught to the contrary concerning human free will since humans are nothing but the slaves of sin and cannot do a thing  unless it is given them from heaven.  For who can boast of being able to do anything good by oneself, since Christ says,  “No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me”?  Who can glory in their own will  when they understand that “the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God”?

Summary

  • The darkness of our fallen sinful nature make it impossible for us to understand and believe
  • We are born outside of the kingdom of God and can’t enter it on our own
  • Jesus Christ, as the Lamb who take away the sin of the world, and the Holy Spirit who gives new birth is the only way to be able to see, to know, to believe and to enter the kingdom
  • He who hears and believes do so because God loved the world
  • “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son iwll not see life, for God’s wrath remains in him.” (John 3:36)
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