John 3:1-3;   16-18




I want to begin by getting acquainted with Nicodemus.

He was a religious man.



He knew the Old Testament Scriptures;

Kept the Law of Moses;



Observed all the feast days;

Was self-denying, self-righteous and zealous.



He was one of the best men in Israel;

A clean moral man;



A pillar in the synagogue;

A salt of the earth kind of man;



A man who would later stand up for Jesus;

A man who would help take the body of Jesus off the cross, help prepare it  

for burial,



And help lay it in a tomb.

Nicodemus had risen to prominence among the Jews.



He was a ruler of the Jews;

A member of the Sanhedrin;


A member of the strict sect called Pharisees.

This good and important man went to Jesus one night.



They had an important conversation.

Nicodemus said, “Rabbi, we THINK that thou art a teacher come from God.”



No! He didn't!

I deliberately misquoted him.



“Rabbi, we KNOW [we know] that thou art a teacher come from God.”

How did they KNOW?



What made them so sure?

Nicodemus told us.



“No man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. “

No man can heal the blind without God.



No man can make the dumb speak without God.

No man can raise the dead without God.



No man can take 5 loaves and 2 fishes and feed 5000 without God.

No man can curse a fig tree and make it die from the roots up without God.



The Pharisees knew this.

The miracles of Jesus caught their attention.



Most of the Pharisees set themselves against Jesus.

But they never doubted His miracles.


They knew Jesus was no ordinary man;

Knew He came from God.



Let's look at Jesus' response.

Did He brag about His miracles?



No! Jesus never bragged about anything.

Did He discuss walking on water;



Turning water into wine, calming the sea, healing lepers?

No! Jesus could have discussed these miracles.



But He wanted to discuss a. greater miracle;

A miracle Nicodemus knew nothing about;



A miracle we all need to happen to us.

What is this great miracle?



Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he     

cannot see the kingdom of God.”

This great miracle is the new birth.



The person who is born again is saved.

That person can see and understand the things of God.



But the person who is not born again is lost.

And that person cannot see and cannot understand the things of God.





It doesn't matter:

          How religious we are;

          How many churches we've joined;


          How many offices we've held;

          Or anything like that.



Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

Nicodemus was religious from the top of his head to the tip of his toes.



And yet, the loving Jesus told this great religious man he could not see the    

kingdom of God unless he was born again.

That startled Nicodemus.



He had never heard about a miracle like this.

It's not an easy saying.



He wanted to know more;

Wanted to be sure he would see the kingdom of God.



He had a question about this miracle.




“How can a man be born when he is old?”

“Can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born again?”



Nicodemus was thinking about a miraculous second physical birth.

He was famous for his religious education, but he had never heard of a         

miracle called a spiritual birth.




Talk to a lost person about spiritual things and you may as well speak a        

foreign language.

The person who is not spiritual cannot understand spiritual things.



Spiritual things must be spiritually discerned.

So Nicodemus didn't understand this miracle that Jesus was talking about.



He asked, “How?”

“How can a. man be born when he is old?”



Here's the answer.

“Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born of water and of the       

Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”



This miracle birth requires two things:

Water and the Holy Spirit.



We know about the Holy Spirit.

But what is this water?



There are at least three opinions.

One group says this water is the water of birth.



This is a natural assumption.

But there's no Scripture for it.



So I'm just going to pass over it.

A second group says this water is the water of baptism.




They remind us that Jesus said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be     


“But he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:16).



Don't get careless with this verse.

Jesus DID say, if we believe and are baptized, we will be saved.



But He DIDN"T say, if we aren't baptized we will be damned.

He said if we don't believe, we will be damned.



It's the failure to believe in Jesus that brings damnation not the failure to be    


A third group says this water is the Word of God.



I'm in this group.

We are saved by faith.



But where does that faith come from?

Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.



It takes two things to save us: Faith that comes from the Word of God and the       

Holy Spirit.

Peter said, “We are born again (we are born again) not of corruptible seed,   

but of incorruptible, by the Word of God which liveth and abideth       forever” (I Pet. 1:23).



So we are born again by the Word of God.

Paul told the Corinthians, “I have begotten you (that's the new birth ---- I      

have begotten you) through the gospel” (I Cor. 4:15).


So we are begotten (born of) the gospel.

But what is the gospel?



The gospel is that part of the Word of God that tells us about the death,        

burial, resurrection and second coming of Jesus.

Paul said, “I have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase”

 (l Cor. 3:6-8).



Just about everyone will tell you that Paul went to Corinth and preached (or  

planted) the Word of God.

And Apollos followed him and preached (or watered with) the Word of God.



Paul said Christ, “loved the church and gave himself for it that he might        

sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word” (Eph.   

5:25, 26).

The Word is water that washes.



Jesus said, “Ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you”    

(Jn. 15:3).

I believe the Word of God is the Water and the Holy Spirit is the power that  

produces a miracle called the new birth.



Jesus continued explaining this miracle to Nicodemus by saying, “That which         

is born of the flesh is flesh;”

“And that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”



“Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.”

There are two ways to be born:



Born of the flesh which is the physical birth.

And born of the Spirit which is the spiritual birth.


The water of birth is necessary for a physical birth.

And the water of the Word is necessary for a spiritual birth.



When we stand before God, the question will not be “Are you a Pharisee, a  

liberal, a Methodist, or a Baptist?”

It will be “Are you born again?”



The question will not be “Did you serve in the Sanhedrin, on the Administrative

 Council, or in the choir?”

It will be “Are you born again?”



As far as the thief on the cross is concerned, the question was not “Did you

get baptized with water?”

It was “Did you get born again?”



He was born again without being baptized with water;

Born again by hearing the words that were spoken around the cross.



I want to talk about the Holy Spirit.

Jesus gave Nicodemus an example of the Holy Spirit.



“The wind bloweth where it willeth, and thou hearest the sound of it, but       

canst not tell from where it cometh, and where it goeth; so is every one         

that is born of the Spirit.”

The Holy Spirit is like the wind.



We cannot tell where the wind comes from.

And we cannot tell where the wind is going (It swirls, goes up, goes down,   

zigzags, etc.).




But we can know when the wind is blowing.

We can hear the wind;



Feel it.

See it’s effect on the crops, shrubs, trees, etc.



We can see plants bending over in the wind;

Trees that have been uprooted by the wind.



In like manner, we cannot tell where the Holy Spirit comes from.

We cannot tell who the Holy Spirit will visit next.



But we can hear the Holy Spirit speak to our heart;

Know when the Holy Spirit is moving;



Feel the presence of the Holy Spirit;

See the effect of the Holy Spirit on people;



See people bending over like the grass in the wind when they pray;

See fruit that is produced by lives that have been uprooted and changed.



Nicodemus was still bewildered;

Still asking, “How?”



“How can these things be?”

Jesus asked, “Art thou a teacher of Israel and knowest not these things?”



We've already noted that Nicodemus was a member of the great Sanhedrin;

That was a select group of seventy-one men;


Men who were thought to be outstanding religious scholars;

Men who were the Jewish think tank;



The religious brain trust.

But Nicodemus still didn't understand the miracle birth.



So Jesus gave him another example of this miracle.

“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of   

Man be lifted up.”



“That whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have eternal life.”

Jesus was saying, “Moses recorded a miracle that’s an example of how        

people are saved.”



The children of Israel were bitten by snakes in the wilderness.

They were dying by the hundreds.



God told Moses to make a snake out of brass;

To lift it up on a pole.



He said everyone who looks at that brass snake will be healed.

They won't have to suck the poison from the snake bites.



They won't have to take an antidote for the poison.

All they will have to do is believe my words,



Look at that brass snake,

And be healed.




I can remember the first time I heard about this miracle.

I didn’t like it.



I was uncomfortable with the fact that a snake on a pole was used to   

symbolize Jesus.

It contradicted my entire view of Jesus as gentle, good, kind and loving.



I don't like snakes.

Every snake looks long and poisonous to me.



I kill every snake I can.

If you meet me driving down the road and a snake starts crawling across the

road, look out because I'm going to try to run over him.



I may throw on my brakes and try to slide across him.

I may back up and try to get him a second time.



But it's no accident that Jesus used this miracle as an illustration.

When God told Moses to put that brass snake on a pole, the Israelites were  

suffering from snake bites.



They were infected with poison from the snakes.

They were dying by the hundreds.



We're like those Israelites.

We've been bitten by a poisonous snake.



We're infected with poison from a snake.

Someone may say, “I haven't been bitten by a poisonous snake.”



Yes you have!

You've been bitten by that same poisonous snake that bit Adam and Eve in   

the Garden of Eden.



The Bible says that old serpent is called the Devil and Satan (Rev. 12:9).

Satan infected Adam and Eve with a poison.



That poison was passed on to us.

We inherited it.



We call it the Sin Nature, the Adamic Nature, etc.

In my opinion, one of the tragedies in our society is these drug babies;



Babies whose mothers are addicted to drugs;

And they pass their drug addiction on to their children.



In like manner, our parents passed their sin nature on to us.

And we passed it on to our children.



Some of the symptoms of our sin nature are: unbelief, rebellion, preoccupation,

lukewarmness, materialism, and pride.

All of us will die a physical death because of this snake bite.



And some of us will die the second death because of this snake bite.

Death is not a ceasing to exist.



It’s a separation

The first death (physical death) is the separation of the soul and spirit from   

our body.



And the second death (spiritual death) is the separation of the soul and spirit

from God.

That's the worst kind of death.



It happens when a lost person is cast into the Lake of Fire.

Jesus died both kinds of death.



He died a physical death when He gave up His spirit.

He said, “Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit.”



And He died a spiritual death on the cross when He said, “My God, My God,        

why hast thou forsaken me?”

I want to show you something here.



Moses made that brass snake on a pole in the image of the poisonous snakes         

that bit the Jews.

When Jesus was on the cross, He was filled with poison.



That poison is sin.

The Scriptures say our sin was laid on Jesus.



He bore our sin in His own body.

“He [God] hath made Him [Jesus[ to be sin for us, who knew no sin” (II Cor.        




“Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many” (Heb. 9:28).







“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever

 believeth in him should not perish, [from that poison, that sin] but have

everlasting life.”

Nicodemus might have thought that God loves the Jews only;



That the Messiah was for the Jews only.

But Jesus came with good news.



God loves all people.

The Messiah died to heal all people who will believe and look at the Christ    

on that pole.



Parker Jonathon sings baritone with the Kingsmen.

He tells about a note he found in the front of his father's Bible.



It says, “I am a nobody telling everybody about Somebody who can save    


All people can be saved.



We can all stand before the throne of God;

All hear the Angels sing;



All taste the fruit on the tree of life;

Walk those streets of gold;



Behold those pearly gates;

Meet Abraham, Moses, Paul, the Disciples;



Stand in the presence of Jesus;

And have eternal life.


But all of us won’t get that privilege.

God gave his only begotten Son that WHOSOEVER BELIEVETH in Him   

should not perish, but have everlasting life.



God loves the whole world.

But His miracle is just for believers.



When Moses told the Israelites in the wilderness to look at that brass snake,  

those who looked lived.

And those who refused to look died.



No matter how weak your faith is, if you will look to Jesus and believe,

You will receive this miracle and be born again.



But no matter how righteous you are, if you refuse to look to Jesus and        


You will be denied this miracle and you will die the second death.



Keep in mind that Jesus warned us about a sin that cannot be forgiven;

A sin called the unpardonable sin.



That sin is unbelief.

Ask those who say everybody will go to heaven about this.



Ask how can a person enter into heaven, if they have committed a sin that     

cannot be forgiven?

How can a person stand in the presence of a holy God who cannot look upon        

sin, if they have committed the unpardonable sin?





We cannot constantly blaspheme the Holy Spirit who speaks to our hearts    

about Jesus and still be saved.

Jesus said, “No man cometh to the Father, but by me” (Jn. 14:6).



This goes to the very sovereignty of God.

He has the final word.



And the blood of Jesus is the only sacrifice He will accept.

“Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin” (Heb. 9:22).



Our last verse reads, “He that believeth on him is not condemned:”

“But he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed        

in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”



Who did Jesus say is not condemned?

The believer is not condemned.



“There is now therefore no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus”

(Rom. 8:1).

Did Jesus say anyone is condemned?




He did.



The unbeliever is condemned.

When is the unbeliever condemned?



The unbeliever in under the condemnation of God right now.




Because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

In closing, Nicodemus had no doubt lived above reproach.



He was faithful to the God of his ancestors.

He discharged his religious duties well.



But he was caught by surprise when Jesus said, “Ye must be born again.”

There are people today who say, “I am a good person.”



God wants us to be good “a good person.”

But Jesus didn't say, “You must be a good person.”



We cannot be healed by right living, right doctrines, or joining the Church.

We cannot become a child of God through our own power or ability.



The new birth is not a religious theory;

Not a mental concept of God;



Not even a kindly disposition toward God.

What is the new birth?



It's a miracle.

A miracle that God performs in the souls of people who accept Christ.



“A new heart will I give you; and a new spirit will I put within you saith the    

Lord” (Ezek. 11:19).

Do you want this miracle to happen to you?



If you do, you have to hear the Word of God;

Let the Holy Spirit work in your heart;


Come to the Great Physician (Jesus);

And let Him heal that snake bite.



Let the Spirit of God reach into your heart with the Word of God;

And change you.