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The Greatest Gift
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
He who believes in Him is not condemned, but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also you have received, and wherein you stand,
By which also you are saved, if you keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless you have believed in vain.
For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures,
And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures
1 Corinthians 15
That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved.Royalty Free
High Resolution Images
Jesus and Nicodemus by James Tissot
Jesus answered and said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."
While Jesus was in Jerusalem one of the rulers of the Jews, a man named Nicodemus, came to see him. He came in the night, perhaps because he was afraid to be seen coming in the daytime. He said to Jesus, Master, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no man can do these wonderful things that you do unless God is with him.
Jesus said to Nicodemus, I say to you in truth, that unless a man is born anew he cannot see the kingdom of God.
Nicodemus did not know that this meant that to be saved we must have new hearts given to us by the Lord. He said, How can a man be born twice? How can one be born again after he has grown up?
Christ Instructing Nicodemus, Crijn Hendricksz 1604
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Jesus and Nicodemus
Life of Jesus Picture CD
Jesus said, You're not listening. Let me say it again. Unless a person submits to this original creation – the 'wind-hovering-over-the-water' creation, the invisible moving the visible, a baptism into a new life – it's not possible to enter God's kingdom. When you look at a baby, it's just that, a body you can look at and touch. But the person who takes shape within is formed by something you can't see and touch – the Spirit – and becomes a living spirit.
So don't be so surprised when I tell you that you have to be 'born from above'. You know well enough how the wind blows this way and that. You hear it rustling through the trees, but you have no idea where it comes from or where it's headed next. That's the way it is with everyone 'born from above' by the wind of God, the Spirit of God.
Nicodemus asked, What do you mean by this? How does this happen?
Jesus was telling us three things here,
1. There are two realms – the physical and the spiritual.
2. The spiritual realm cannot be seen or felt from our physical senses alone.
3. Before we can enter this spiritual realm, a change must take place in us that is so fundamental and far reaching that it is best described as a new birth.
Jesus continued, "If I tell you things that are plain as the hand before your face and you don't believe me, what use is there in telling you of things you can't see, the things of God?
No one has ever gone up into the presence of God except the One who came down from that Presence, the Son of Man. In the same way that Moses lifted the serpent in the desert so people could have something to see and then believe, it is necessary for the Son of Man to be lifted up, and everyone who looks up to him, trusting and expectant, will gain a real life, eternal life."
Nicodemus Visiting Jesus
Henry Ossawa Tanner, 1899
The Greatest Gift
Laura Sotka, 2009
This is how much God loved the world. He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why. So that no one need be destroyed. By believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn't go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted. Anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person's failure to believe in the Son of God when introduced to Him.
God's light streamed into the world, but men and women everywhere ran for the darkness. They went for the darkness because they loved their sin. Everyone who makes a practice of doing evil, addicted to denial and illusion, hates God's light and won't come near it, fearing it's painful exposure. But anyone living in truth and reality welcomes His light because they know they are sinners in need of a Savior.
Commentary by site-owner:
We ALL sin. Right-living will not save us. Only the blood of Jesus can wash away our sins to the utmost. So much so that today, that part of us that lives on after we die is born again. No wonder the Bible says TODAY is the day of Salvation!
Jesus only hints at the Gospel of Grace here as He had not yet died and resurrected. It is not until after Jesus dies and is resurrected, and confronts Saul on the road to Damascus that the full Gospel of Grace to the Gentiles is revealed.
Take Paul's Gospel – that Christ died for our sins, was buried and rose again, and bring that into John 3, and we have the full power of the Gospel of Salvation. This is where we must recognize that these basic truths come from Paul as revealed to him through Jesus after the Resurrection. Nicodemus couldn't understand "the Son of Man being lifted up" any more than the Jews of the Old Testament could understand Isaiah 53, "he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter and opened not his mouth." Isaiah 53 is only made clear from the mystery of Paul's Gospel of Grace, that this was God's plan of Salvation from the beginning of time for the whole world, "Whosoever would believe."
That's The Gospel. That Jesus Christ is the Son of God, He died for your sins and was resurrected. Believe The Gospel for Salvation. If you really believe, ask Him to come into your heart, confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and He will save you. Then, like any good relationship, desire Him in your life, read His Word and He will reveal Himself to you more and more each day.
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