The Bottom LineTranscript from the Radio Series : Who Do You Choose To Serve?
1 After dark one night a Jewish religious leader named Nicodemus, a member of the sect of the Pharisees, came for an interview with Jesus. “Sir,” he said, “we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miracles are proof enough of this.” John 3:1 (The Living Bible)
Let’s take a moment to gather and get an insight into who Nicodemus was and why He came to see The Lord Jesus. When He said “Your miracles are proof enough of this”, He was giving a blanket reference to the Isaiah 53: which says
1 But, oh, how few believe it! Who will listen? To whom will God reveal his saving power? 2 In God’s eyes he was like a tender green shoot, sprouting from a root in dry and sterile ground. But in our eyes there was no attractiveness at all, nothing to make us want him. 3 We despised him and rejected him—a man of sorrows, acquainted with bitterest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way when he went by. He was despised, and we didn’t care.
The Lord Jesus confirms this with His own Words in latter in John 12:
37 But despite all the miracles he had done, most of the people would not believe he was the Messiah. 38 This is exactly what Isaiah the prophet had predicted: “Lord, who will believe us? Who will accept God’s mighty miracles as proof?” 39 But they couldn’t believe, for as Isaiah also said: 40 “God has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts so that they can neither see nor understand nor turn to me to heal them.” 41 Isaiah was referring to Jesus when he made this prediction, for he had seen a vision of the Messiah’s glory. 42 However, even many of the Jewish leaders believed him to be the Messiah but wouldn’t admit it to anyone because of their fear that the Pharisees would excommunicate them from the synagogue; 43 for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.
But before Nicodemus could even ask a question, the Lord Jesus; heads up gave him the direct answer to his question that he had not even asked as yet.
John 3:3 (The Living Bible) 3 Jesus replied, “With all the earnestness I possess I tell you this: Unless you are born again, you can never get into the Kingdom of God.”
Right there, heads up the bottom line, he got the answer. The problem was Nicodemus could not understand. How many of us are like this. We today know there is a God, and we accept that The Lord Jesus must be His son because He came to this earth, preformed miracles, died and was raised from the dead. But now we just want to cut right to the chase and get the 30 or 60 second sound bite answer to all of our major questions. Why? Because then we, in our own minds can fill in all the other blanks. We can extract from our own knowledge and doctrinal belief base what we wish, and in our own minds form a position or make a life choice without a whole lot of time, effort or energy expended and then justify and live this position.
Okay so what happens next?
John 3:4 (The Living Bible) 4 “Born again!” exclaimed Nicodemus. “What do you mean? How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?”
The problem was that Nicodemus did not understand what the answer meant, so he immediately, using earthly understanding, wisdom and reasoning began to try to debate with the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. But lovingly the Lord replied
John 3:5–8 (The Living Bible) 5 Jesus replied, “What I am telling you so earnestly is this: Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God. 6 Men can only reproduce human life, but the Holy Spirit gives new life from heaven; 7 so don’t be surprised at my statement that you must be born again! 8 Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it will go next, so it is with the Spirit. We do not know on whom he will next bestow this life from heaven.”
But Nicodemus was confused and did not understand. The Lord exhorted him and filled in the blanks:
John 3:10–21 (The Living Bible) 10 Jesus replied, “You, a respected Jewish teacher, and yet you don’t understand these things? I am telling you what I know and have seen—and yet you won’t believe me. 12 But if you don’t even believe me when I tell you about such things as these that happen here among men, how can you possibly believe if I tell you what is going on in heaven? 13 For only I, the Messiah, have come to earth and will return to heaven again. 14 And as Moses in the wilderness lifted up the bronze image of a serpent on a pole, even so I must be lifted up upon a pole, 15 so that anyone who believes in me will have eternal life. 16 For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son so that anyone who believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 God did not send his Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it. 18 “There is no eternal doom awaiting those who trust him to save them. But those who don’t trust him have already been tried and condemned for not believing in the only Son of God. 19 Their sentence is based on this fact: that the Light from heaven came into the world, but they loved the darkness more than the Light, for their deeds were evil. 20 They hated the heavenly Light because they wanted to sin in the darkness. They stayed away from that Light for fear their sins would be exposed and they would be punished. 21 But those doing right come gladly to the Light to let everyone see that they are doing what God wants them to.”
In Nicodemus’ defense, he was seeking God. He did know that the Lord Jesus was from the Father, and we find out as well that He was the only one recorded as opposing the ruling council at the Lord’s earthly trial. He also helped Joseph of Arimathea to prepare and bury the Lord Jesus’ body after the grueling crucifixion on the cross. So this is not a beat up on Nicodemus day, in any way.
This meeting shows one of the ways we allow ourselves to be misled. If you love the Lord and know that He is the Son of the Father, know that He is God and that He died for yours and my sins. If in your heart you have accepted Him as Lord and Savior, then yes you have eternal life. Praise God! Thank you Lord!!!
Today, just as in the past, we have a tendency to be spiritually lazy. We really only want the bottom line. We want to know the results and then try to figure out the process by using our own wisdom, opinion and garden variety of miss match philosophy and homespun wisdom. That becomes “our theology” and then we move forward.
However, just as we read in 1st Cornithians 13: we can only see in part and understand in part, so what does this leave? It leaves total confusion, disarray and fierce human debates over the essentials, the doctrine and the definition of what is or who is truth. We splinter into various factions, calling ourselves denominations, and being called by others cults and then rebuke and revile each other over who is right and who is wrong. There are libraries of books written, radio programs and television shows that all claim they have the truth, yet very few agree. Regardless of whether or not you agree with what you are hearing in this message, these facts remain.
It is just mind blowing that He who is the Word, who came to this earth and declared that He is Truth, He who died for our sins and gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit of the Father to be with us and in us; can become such great confusion. But you see this is the work of the enemy and he, the enemy delights in it.
If we are born again by the Spirit, then each one of us have the Spirit of the Father with us to be our teacher, our counselor and our guide. We have the Spirit of the Father in us, the gift of eternal life, and His Word Declares that we will be taught by God, so why is confusion the order of the day?
Our God tells us directly that He is not the author of confusion. Getting two church leaders to agree on items of theology is as difficult today as it was when the Lord Jesus walked this earth.
Yet, 60 plus authors over the course of 2,000 years wrote what we have today known as scripture and there is no disagreement. How can this be?
His Word tells us if we will just listen.
2 Peter 1:16–21 (NASB95) 16 For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. 17 For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, “This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased”— 18 and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. 19 So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. 20 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, 21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.
What are we then missing today? If we have the Holy Spirit why do we have such disagreements? There is only one Truth. So why do we live and teach so many different truths?
The answer is very simple and very easy to understand, yet we willingly suffer the same calamity described by the Holy Spirit through Isaiah and then shown to us time and time again through all of Scripture.
Isaiah 6:8–10 (The Living Bible) 8 Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom shall I send as a messenger to my people? Who will go?” And I said, “Lord, I’ll go! Send me.” 9 And he said, “Yes, go. But tell my people this: ‘Though you hear my words repeatedly, you won’t understand them. Though you watch and watch as I perform my miracles, still you won’t know what they mean.’ 10 Dull their understanding, close their ears, and shut their eyes. I don’t want them to see or to hear or to understand, or to turn to me to heal them.”
This is not just our problem today, this has always existed with even the old testament prophets. They longed to see the Day of His Coming; yet did not. They longed to understand the things of God; yet much of it remained veiled. Why? Because the scriptures could not be understood except through the Word, who came and dwelt among us. One cannot read the old testament and understand it until our minds are open to do so and this did not happen until the Word came, lived among us and then died on the cross and put an end to the hold sin has on all.
No one understood it. Not God’s people, not the teachers of the law, not the religious leaders, not the prophets of old. They spoke as the Lord gave them on faith and knew that the words they spoke were from Him, but it does not all come together until after the work on the cross was completed. Until all that was written was fulfilled. Even the enemy had no idea what was going to happen. Yet today it is so obvious for any who have ears to hear and eyes to see. This is the mystery of the universe that was veiled until the veil was torn from top to bottom.
It is not by the wisdom of man this mystery can be understood. No, the Lord delights in showing the wisdom of man as foolishness, using it to show man’s folly. Today and in the past. Go and read Proverbs 3: and 1 Corinthians.
It was the Lord Jesus Christ’s own words and teachings that have opened the scripture that it may be understood, but not by our own wisdom or understanding, Proverbs 3:5-7, and certainly not by the bullet points or bottom line analogies of man. One cannot know His Word, until one truly knows Him. All the education, book reading and theological training one can accumulate in a lifetime means very little if it is not the Holy Spirit leading you and teaching you.
The starting point is the Word. The Word, the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ, are the basis and the final arbitrator for all the rest of scripture. The Word was from the beginning and only through Him, with heavenly wisdom and heavenly understanding which comes directly from the Holy Spirit of the Living God can we even begin to have our eyes open and the veil lifted. The Father does this for His Children.
Those who have a willing heart and ears to hear.
Those who are obedient, who humble themselves before him and obey His commands.
Those who reverence and fear Him as our Creator, God and Father.
It is not our sacrifice He desires it is our obedience. All of scripture confirms. If we sacrifice for Him then we expect something in return in proportion to what we give. But if we are obedient then we give of ourselves what we have because we love Him, He is our Creator, our Father and God of the entire Universe. If we give out of love and expect nothing in return, He will bless us abundantly beyond what we can even imagine in ways we cannot see or know. He will fulfill the promise of Jeremiah 33:
2 “Thus says the Lord who made the earth, the Lord who formed it to establish it, the Lord is His name, 3 ‘Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’
He and He alone will teach you. He and He alone will bless you. He and He alone will show you His Truth, His Love and bless you beyond measure.
WHO DO YOU CHOOSE TO SERVE?
All to His Glory!