Speaker: Rev Rob Merrills
Scripture: John 3:1-7John 3:1-7 KJ21
There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.  The same came to Jesus by night and said unto Him, “Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God; for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, unless God be with him.”  Jesus answered and said unto him, “Verily, verily I say unto thee, unless a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.”  Nicodemus said unto Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”  Jesus answered, “Verily, verily I say unto thee, unless a man be born of water and of 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.  Marvel not that I said unto thee, ‘Ye must be born again.’
A man was going up to bed when his wife told him he had left the light on in the garden shed. She could see in it from the bedroom window. But he said that he hadn’t been in the shed that day. He took a look, and there were people in the shed stealing his things. He called the police, but they told him that no one was in his area, so on one was available to catch the thieves. He said okay, hung up, counted to thirty, and called the police again.
“Hello. I just called you a few seconds ago because there were people in my shed. Well, you don’t have to worry about them now; I just shot them all.” Within five minutes there were half a dozen cars in the area, an armed response unit – the works. Of course, they caught the burglars red-handed. One of the policemen said to the home owner, “I thought you said you shot them.” He replied, “I thought you said there were no cops available!” (#788 1002 Humorous Illustrations For Public Speaking).
The point of the caller was to improve the response time of the police officers. The point of this morning’s sermon is to improve your responsiveness to God Though Jesus Christ.
This morning, we’re looking at one of the most familiar passages in the New Testament. We are going to look at three ways God wants to cut our apron strings for us to be the type of Christians he wants us to be. Do you any of you really know what cutting the apron strings means?
The image of cutting the apron strings is of the little girl or boy who is so attached to his or her mother that he stands behind her and holds on to the strings of her apron in order to feel secure. If they are at the grocery store, you see the child holding on to her dress or the handle of her purse. To cut the apron strings is to leave them in a position that is more secure and one that also leaves the parent more comfortable. What this implies is that cutting the apron strings is a process of preparation. It’s not the punitive things I often hear from parents or the I’m going to do to you what my parents did to me at that age. In essence, cutting the apron strings implies training your child to be ready for the next stage and then giving them to find their way there. You will help them along the way but your “help” may look different throughout the process. What you used to do for him or her you don’t do it in the same way but you are still committed to their success. Take something simple like eating. When they are babies, you give them milk in bottles and they suck it. As they get a little bigger, they eat soft foods and you feed them. As they get bigger still, and they start to get teeth and can use their fingers, you provide finger foods and they begin the process of feeding themselves until they get to the point you put food on their plate and they do the rest…and best of all or worst of all …depending on how often they do it. They put all your food on their plate and eat it. Then they go back to their own home, leaving you hungry and broke – the same general place you were before you had your children.
God wants to cut our apron strings so that we will become productive, effective Christians.
I. Basic Truth #1 – Being Religious is Not Enough to Get a Person to Heaven.
A. Nicodemus. Nicodemus was a Pharisee, the supreme religious order of the day. To be a Pharisee one had to be trained in the Old Testament and committed to all observances. The Word Pharisee literally means separated. They were separated to maintain observance of the Law. They knew the Law and emphasized it’s keeping almost to a fault. Nicodemus was a member of the Sanhedrin. There were 70 men of the various religious orders that composed the Supreme Court of the Jews. Made up of Pharisees, Sadducees and scribes. The 70 were distinguished, almost bigger than life. However, this good, educated, religious man named Nicodemus needed something else.
B. Jesus told him he needed to be born again. To be born again is a miraculous experience. Our old, sinful, unsatisfied self is changed. Being religious can be a tragedy. The only way to heaven and the key to a meaningful life on earth is by being born again. 2 Cor. 5:17 says: Therefore if any man be in Christ he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. We get off track when we make the mistake of thinking our change has come from us. It has come from within us but it hasn’t come from us. The change didn’t come from us or we would done it a long time ago. It came from God. Relax. If the change didn’t come from you, then stop thinking you need to maintain the change, God will do that too. Just get out of his way and let him work. If you hire someone to clean your house you won’t sit there in their way and prevent them from working. You are going to go in another room and let them do what they were contracted to do. You cannot get to heaven or make lasting, kingdom change by being a religious person. You need to be a born-again person not a good person. Being a good person puts the emphasis on us. Being born-again places the emphasis on God’s work in your life in both the outcome and the motives.
II. Basic Truth #2 – Becoming a Christian is simple.
A. We have an aversion to simple things. Sometimes the church contributes to the problem of religious complexity. The tendency is to equate being religious with keeping the law and the rituals. Nicodemus did all of these things. Yet, Jesus said Nicodemus needed something else.
B. Jesus equates the simplicity of being born again with a story from Numbers 21. The character Israel has told God that if he delivered the Canaanites into the hands of the Israelites, he would destroy them and all of their cities. After their victory the people started complaining about God. Why do we have to be in this wilderness? Why don’t we have any real bread, this light bread won’t do? Why don’t we have any water? So God sent fiery serpents in their midst and the people were bitten and many of them died. God told Moses to make a fiery serpent made out of brass and put it on a pole. If a person was bitten and looked up and saw the brass serpent, he or she would live but if they didn’t or if they refused to then they would die. Deliverance was provided for all who had the faith to accept it. Those who looked up in faith lived. Those who did not – died. Jesus told a seeking Nicodemus that deliverance was provided for him.
C. Eternal life is tied to our dependency upon Jesus – Jesus is our brass serpent.
Romans 10:9-11 NLT
If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.  As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.”
Belief is made unto righteousness, and confession is made unto salvation. Whoever believes shall not be ashamed. Becoming a Christian is simple when it’s based on Jesus finished work on the cross and his resurrection from the dead.
III. Basic Truth #3 – Jesus Paid a High Price So We Can Be Saved.
A. He sent Jesus to die for the forgiveness from our sins (John 3:16).
1. He came to pay the price for our sins (wages of sin is death)
2. The sacrifice for sins had been made when the high priest went in to the holy of holies with a perfect lamb.
3. The perfect lamb for our forgiveness is the only begotten Son of God.
4. Jesus is our High Priest (See Hebrews 9:11-14 and 10:16-22).
B. Do not stop at John 3:16 but read verse 17 as well. Many people misunderstand Christianity. They think it takes the joy out of life. That is the enemy’s critique of Christianity. It won’t be any fun. Jesus did not come to take joy from life but to give us a reason to enjoy living. To take away is what the devil does. See John 10:10.
John 10:10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
Nicodemus was a good man, but there was an emptiness in his life. Jesus told him that void in his life could be filled. There are people listening today who are good people but need to be born again. Will you receive what Jesus wants to give to you today?
Being religious is not enough to get you into heaven, you need to be born again. Becoming a Christian is simple but you have to accept the gift that has already been given. Jesus paid a high price so we can be saved – a price we could not pay ourselves. Jesus cut the apron strings on Christianity.