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Published by 1kwyoung, 2019-06-10 09:34:07

New 612019 Born from Above Layout Book_Neat

Born from


The Story of Nicodemus

How the “spiritually dead” come to life!


Keith W. Young

Born from Above
Copyright © 2019 by Keith W. Young. All rights reserved.

Table of Contents
Born from Above!

Introduction: You must be born from above ….................. 2
Chapter 1: Who was Nicodemus?....................................... 6

Chapter 2: Religious but lost .............................................. 17
Chapter 3: Born of water and the Spirit.............................. 32
Chapter 4: Are you a teacher of Israel?................................ 45
Chapter 5: Whoever believes in Him should not perish....... 47

Chapter 6: For God so loved the world................................ 55
Chapter 7: Men loved darkness rather than light................. 62
Chapter 8: Nicodemus is born from above.......................... 69
Chapter 9: The walking dead…………..……………........ 75

Chapter 10: Warning: Everyone has a religion.................. 81
Chapter 11: The virtues of those in the kingdom of God..... 62
Chapter 12: The narrow road…………............................. 105

Epilogue: Everyone who believes is born of God ………...109

You must be born from above!

“Now there was a man of the Pharisees,
named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; this man came to Jesus by
night and said to Him, ‘Rabbi, we know that You have come from

God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do
unless God is with him.’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Truly,
truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the
kingdom of God.’
“ Nicodemus said to Him, ‘How can a man be born when

he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb
and be born, can he?’ Jesus answered, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you,
unless one is born of water and 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. Do not be amazed that I said to

you; you must be born again. The wind blows where it wishes, and
you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and
where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.’

“ Nicodemus said to Him, ‘How can these things be?’Jesus

answered and said to him, ‘Are you the teacher of Israel and do

not understand these things? Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of
what we know and testify of what we have seen, and you do not
accept our testimony. If I told you earthly things and you do not
believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one
has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the
Son of Man. As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even

– 8 –

so, must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes
will in Him have eternal life.’
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only
begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but

have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to
judge the world, but that the world might be saved through
Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not
believe has been judged already because he has not believed in the

name of the only begotten Son of God. This is the judgment
that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness
rather than the Light, for their deeds, were evil. For everyone who
does evil hates the Light and does not come to the Light for fear
that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth

comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having
been wrought in God” (John 3:1-21).

– 9 –

Chapter One
Who was Nicodemus?

“Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus,
a ruler of the Jews” – John 3:1.

Who was Nicodemus? He appears in the Bible only three
times in the Gospel of John. The first appearance is when
Nicodemus had a private meeting with Jesus of Nazareth at night

in John, Chapter 3. Nicodemus sought Jesus to learn more about
His teachings and ministry.
Nicodemus had many questions. Was Jesus a false

teacher, a prophet from God, or even the Messiah? How could
Jesus preach as He did and perform real miracles if He were not
from God? Why did Jesus challenge Nicodemus’ beliefs and
religion? Why was Jesus condemning him and the other religious
leaders, telling the people the Pharisees were leading men and

women to hell?
In Matthew 23:15, Jesus said, “Woe to you scribes and
Pharisees, hypocrites; because you go round about the sea and the

land to make one proselyte; and when he is made, you make him
the child of hell twofold more than yourselves.”

He was an eyewitness
During Jesus’ three-year ministry, the Jewish people were

flocking to Jesus. Nicodemus was an eyewitness to Jesus’
miracles and listened carefully to many of His sermons. Though
Nicodemus had many questions for Jesus at their meeting, Jesus
did not address these questions. Instead, He knew Nicodemus’

– 10 –

heart and thoughts. Jesus presented God’s plan of salvation to

Nicodemus, generating light and cutting through the darkness of
that night.

Nicodemus comes to Jesus’ defense

The second appearance of Nicodemus took place when the
Apostle John mentions Nicodemus coming to Jesus’ defense,
trying to save His life in John 7. This event took place about a
year before the Romans executed Jesus on a cross at Golgotha.

The Chief Priests and Pharisees sent temple guards to
arrest Jesus. The leaders wanted Him dead. They hated Jesus.
They saw Him as a threat to their religious system and way of life.
The temple guards came back empty-handed,

however. The Pharisees asked the guards why they didn’t bring
Jesus to them? The guards replied, “No one ever spoke the way
this man does.” The Pharisees asked if they also had been
deceived. Then they asked if any of the rulers or any Pharisee

believed in him?
Nicodemus then spoke up. He reminded his fellow
Pharisees the law required the leaders to hear the accused before
they could judge and sentence him or her to death. They quickly
brushed aside Nicodemus’ concerns for the law. They could not

carry out their plot immediately against Jesus because of God’s
timing and plan.

He provided Jesus with a royal burial
Nicodemus’ final appearance in the Bible is at the crucifixion
of Jesus in John 19. Joseph of Arimathea brought a linen shroud

– 11 –

and asked Pilate for Jesus’ body. Nicodemus helped his friend,

Joseph, take Jesus' body down from the cross.
They both prepared the body and anointed Jesus with aloes
and myrrh. At significant risk to their safety and reputations, they
defied the Sanhedrin and Pharisees by treating Jesus' body with

dignity. They honored Him in death. They placed Jesus’ body into
Joseph of Arimathea’s unused tomb. Three days later, Nicodemus
and Joseph were witnesses to the empty tomb. The large stone
was moved away. They heard the life-giving words, “Jesus is


He was a separated one
Nicodemus was a prominent, respected teacher and a

Pharisee. The Pharisees were a "separatist" political party, and
a religious group made up of scribes, sages, and businessmen.
The word, Pharisee, comes from the Hebrew word
“parush.” It means "one who is separated." The Pharisees

believed it was vital for them to keep separate, holy, and
unpolluted from the “godless” world. They did not engage or
socialize with Gentiles and irreligious Jews.
Nicodemus was an elder, ruler, and a counselor to the chief
priest. He was one of Israel’s most educated and outstanding

Bible teachers. His name in Greek means “victor over the
He was a member of the Sanhedrin, the main ruling body

and civil and criminal authority of the Jews in Palestine. The
Sanhedrin was Israel’s Supreme Court. The members included
the high priest, chief priests, elders, and scribes. The Pharisees

– 12 –

with the scribes, lawyers, rabbis, and Sadducees were all part of

Israel’s religious system.
As a Pharisee, Nicodemus also was very influential in the
community since he was one of the wealthiest men in
Jerusalem. He was very successful in business.

Promoted Orthodox Judaism plus added traditions
Nicodemus and his fellow Pharisees promoted what
they believed to be Orthodox Judaism. They believed in the

strict letter of the law and Scriptures.
They were an elite group of students and teachers of the
law. Many Jewish leaders considered them the supreme
authorities on Scripture as well as tradition.

The Pharisees were legalists, zealots for religious purity
and rituals. They piously invented and introduced new
doctrines, rules, laws, and traditions apart from Scriptures, as
they tried to keep the Mosaic law.

They believed they were saved, pure and undefiled by
their good works and sacrifices. Unfortunately, their work-
based religious principles were in direct contrast to Jesus’
teachings on how to get into the kingdom of God.

They regularly opposed Jesus of Nazareth, who
denounced them as false teachers and hypocrites. They were
more concerned about their legalistic rules than they were with
administering and keeping God’s law.

The Pharisees were expecting the Messiah to appear
soon and deliver them from the Romans. They believed that
God allowed the oppressive Romans to punish and rule over

– 13 –

them since the Jews refused to uphold the Torah’s laws and

The Pharisees and Rabbis believed they projected the
heavenly values on earth. They were holy, and not like the
others. They thought they achieved sainthood through the study

of the Torah and keeping the Mosaic law.
The Pharisees were so proud; they even developed a
tradition whereby people dedicated material possessions to God
by giving those possessions to them.

– 14 –

Jesus gets the Pharisees’ full attention

When Jesus began preaching, the people who listened to
His sermons recognized a difference between His teaching and
those of the Jewish religious teachers.
Jesus taught as one having authority and not like their

“experts in the law.” Jesus’ power was evident in His healing of
the sick and raising the dead. He also cast out demons from many
of the Israelites.
The Pharisees quickly took notice of Jesus. Many

religious leaders shadowed Jesus to view His healings and to listen
to His teachings. Some even attended His baptism, and others
were present when He spoke in front of the large crowds at the

Early in Jesus’ ministry, the Pharisees were careful to not
speak critically of Jesus. The Pharisees, however, became jealous
of the crowds following Jesus. They began to challenge Jesus’
teachings. Some even claimed He was distorting the Mosaic law,

teaching lies and doing the miracles by the power of Satan.

Annulling the word of God for tradition

The Pharisees followed and watched Jesus to see where
they could discredit Him and His ministry.
The Bible says in Matthew 15:1-9, “Then some Pharisees
and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, ‘Why do Your

disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash

their hands when they eat bread.’ And He answered and said to
them, ‘Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of

– 15 –

God for the sake of your tradition?’ For God said, ‘Honor your

father and mother,’ and, ‘He who speaks evil of father or mother
is to be put to death.’ But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or
mother, whatever I have that would help you has been given to
God, he is not to honor his father or his mother.’ And by this, you

invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition. You
hypocrites rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you:

‘This people honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far
away from Me. But in vain do they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’”

Jesus condemned Nicodemus and his fellow Pharisees
The Pharisees were corrupt and lost in their religious, man-

made system. They were more concerned about the external
ceremony, rituals, and human traditions than they were of their
internal morality and souls.
They concealed and justified their inward corruption by

their wrong interpretations of Scripture. Jesus said the Pharisees
were whitewashed on the outside. However, they were full of dead
men’s bones on the inside. They were purveyors of false religion
and led men and women to hell.

Jesus confronted the Pharisees’ righteousness and taught in
public with authority, “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law
or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I
say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter

or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is
accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these
commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called

– 16 –

least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and

teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of

heaven. For I say to you that unless your righteousness
surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the
kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:17-20).

Jesus also pointed out that the Pharisees thought they were
honoring the prophets in their actions, but they supported killing
the true prophets, who disagreed with them. They also wanted to
kill Jesus, one they did not recognize as the Messiah and Son of


The Woes of the Pharisees
Jesus exposed the Pharisees’ beliefs and teachings. He

illustrated their hypocrisy and lies in Luke 11:37-54, Now when
He had spoken, a Pharisee asked Him to have lunch with him; and
He went in and reclined at the table. When the Pharisee saw it, he
was surprised that He had not first ceremonially washed before

the meal. But the Lord said to him, ‘Now you Pharisees clean the
outside of the cup and the platter; but inside of you, you are full of
robbery and wickedness. You foolish ones, did not He who made
the outside make the inside also? But give that which is within as
charity, and then all things are clean for you.’

‘ But woe to you Pharisees! For you pay tithe of mint and rue
and every kind of garden herb, and yet disregard justice and the
love of God, but these are the things you should have done without

neglecting the others. Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the
chief seats in the synagogues and the respectful greetings in the

market places. Woe to you! For you are like concealed tombs, and

– 17 –

the people who walk over them are unaware of it.’

“One of the lawyers said to Him in reply, ‘Teacher, when You

say this, You insult us too.’ But He said, ‘Woe to you lawyers as
well! For you weigh men down with burdens hard to bear, while
you yourselves will not even touch the burdens with one of your

fingers. Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets,
and it was your fathers who killed them. So, you are witnesses and
approve the deeds of your fathers; because it was they who killed
them, and you build their tombs.'

“For this reason also the wisdom of God said, ‘I will send to
them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill
and some they will persecute, so that the blood of all the prophets,
shed since the foundation of the world, may be charged against

this generation, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah,
who was killed between the altar and the house of God; yes, I tell
you, it shall be charged against this generation. Woe to
you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge; you

yourselves did not enter, and you hindered those who were
“When He left there, the scribes and the Pharisees began to be
very hostile and to question Him closely on many
subjects, plotting against Him to catch Him in something He

might say.”
Jesus said the Pharisees taught about God but did not love
God. They did not enter the kingdom of God themselves, nor did

they let others enter. They converted others to their dead religion.
They taught the law, but they did not practice parts of the law.
They presented the appearance of being clean, yet they were dirty

– 18 –

inside. They were full of sin, greed, and self-indulgence.

They rejoiced in His death and flourished
Unfortunately, after Jesus’ crucifixion, the Pharisees
celebrated His death and became even more powerful. After the

Siege of Jerusalem (AD 70), Pharisaic beliefs became the
foundational, liturgical and ritualistic basis for Rabbinic Judaism.
All mainstream forms of Judaism today come from Rabbinic
Judaism and the Pharisees.

– 19 –

Chapter Two
Religious but lost

“This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, ‘Rabbi,
we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one
can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.’
“ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you,

unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’
“ Nicodemus said to Him, ‘How can a man be born when
he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb
and be born, can he’” (John 3:2-4)?

As a premier religious leader and teacher in Israel,
Nicodemus visited with Jesus one night to inquire about His
teachings. The Apostle John placed this meeting shortly after

Jesus cleansed the temple and around the time of the Passover
feast in Jerusalem. This eight-day festival drew tens of thousands
of pilgrims to the Temple.
During the Passover week, many religious leaders observed

Jesus overturning the money changers’ tables in the temple
courtyard. In Matthew 21:12-14, the Bible says, “And Jesus
entered the temple and drove out all those who were buying and
selling in the temple and overturned the tables of the money

changers and the seats of those who were selling doves. And He
said to them; It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of

prayer; but you are making it a robbers’ den.’ And the blind
and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them.”

– 20 –

Jesus created excitement and pandemonium in the large

crowds as He healed many people during this time. John 2:23-25
states, “Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during
the feast, many believed in His name, observing His signs which

He was doing. But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself
to them, for He knew all men, and because He did not need anyone
to testify concerning man, for He Himself knew what was in man.”
Many people “believed in His name” because of the miracles
He performed. In Hebrew, Yeshua, means "God saves." Were

they convinced He was a prophet and a teacher sent from God?
Some did proclaim He was the Messiah.
Jesus knew their thoughts and actions. He knew most men
and women would soon reject Him. They were not looking for

a king that the Roman soldiers would execute on a cross. He
knew they could not imagine He would die for their sins and be
raised from the dead to bring salvation to many Jews and
Gentiles. The Israelites did not want a suffering servant or

sacrificial lamb. They wanted a strong, warrior king who would
defeat their enemies and reign on earth like King David.

What Nicodemus knew about Jesus

Nicodemus observed Jesus in the synagogue teaching and
performing miracles. Nicodemus realized Jesus was a teacher
with exceptional insights and wisdom from God. He was different
from all the others. Nicodemus and the other contemporary

religious leaders had never performed a “true” miracle.
Unlike the other Pharisees, Nicodemus believed Jesus had to
be a teacher or prophet sent by God. He could not overlook the

– 21 –

weight of the evidence of Jesus’ healings and His teachings. The

other Pharisees, however, tried to explain away Jesus’ miracles.
They said He was just another false prophet in the line of many
who were leading people astray.
Nicodemus, however, is convinced that Jesus is on a divine

mission since He possesses divine authority by which He speaks
and heals.
Though many considered Nicodemus the leading teacher and
scripture expert in Israel, he could not explain how Jesus could

perform authentic miracles, proclaim the Holy Scriptures like no
other, and claim to be equal to God.

Sought a private audience

Nicodemus sought a private audience at night with Jesus to
ask questions and share his thoughts in an unhurried
way. Nicodemus did not want others listening in and judging or
embarrassing him.

He also feared to associate with Jesus during the day. He did
not want his friends and enemies to see him talking with Jesus. If
the chief priests and elders found him conspiring with Jesus,
Nicodemus could lose his position in the Sanhedrin and the

The Pharisees and members of the Sanhedrin refused to meet
with Jesus. They hated and despised Him because He condemned
and rebuked them openly to the crowds.

– 22 –

Empty on the inside

Though the Jewish society valued wealth and equated it with
God’s blessings, Nicodemus must have known he was religious on
the outside, but empty on the inside. Jesus was teaching daily in
the temple, and one of His messages may have convicted

His fear, doubt, and apprehension were the real reasons for
this meeting. As the teacher of Israel, who does he meet with if he
questions his relationship with God? He does not want to expose

his sin, lack of faith, doubts, and fears to others. If a religious
leader like Nicodemus is not good enough to enter the kingdom of
God, then who is able?

While others slept
The Bible says in John 3:2: “This man came to Jesus by
night … While others were enjoying the evening or even

sleeping, Jesus welcomed Nicodemus to sit down and talk.
Nicodemus had a desperate inquiry and a plea for truth. He
did not understand why Jesus was condemning him and the
other Pharisees and Sadducees, while at the same time, Jesus
was healing the people, miracles only God could do.

Nicodemus saw the blind receive their sight; the lame walk;
the lepers cleansed; the deaf hear; the dead raised, and the poor
had the gospel preached to them.

Nicodemus knew the Scriptures. He meditated on them day
and night. The Messianic writings of Isaiah must have flooded his
mind. Could Jesus be the Messiah?

– 23 –

Isaiah wrote several passages that pointed to Jesus. In Isaiah

29:18-19, the prophet wrote: “On that day the deaf will hear words
of a book, and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the
blind will see. The afflicted also will increase their gladness in
the LORD, and the needy of mankind will rejoice in the Holy One

of Israel.”
In Isaiah 61:1, the Bible says: “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is
upon me because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to
the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,

to proclaim liberty to captives, and freedom to prisoners.”
These Scriptures identified the Messiah as Jesus, because of
His unique works and healings. What was astounding?
Nicodemus was sitting across from the Messiah at this meeting,

but he did not know it. Though Nicodemus had studied the Torah
for decades, prayed hourly, observed Jesus’ miracles, and heard
His sermons and teachings, he and the other Pharisees were
spiritually blind to the fact that Jesus was the Son of God.

Nicodemus and the Pharisees did not understand the truth that
Jesus, the Messiah, came as the “Lamb of God” to offer salvation
to all men and women. His redemptive work on the cross was
about to bring the promised salvation to His people.

Demons knew Jesus was the Holy One of God
Why could not Nicodemus and the other religious leaders of
Israel recognize Jesus as the “Holy One of God,” while a demon

who possessed a man acknowledged Jesus?
In Luke 4: 33- 37, it says, “In the synagogue, there was a
man possessed by the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out

– 24 –

with a loud voice, ‘Let us alone! What business do we have with

each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I

know who You are—the Holy One of God!’ But Jesus rebuked
him, saying, ‘Be quiet and come out of him!’ And when the demon
had thrown him down in the midst of the people, he came out of

him without doing him any harm. And amazement came upon
them all, and they began talking with one another saying, ‘What
is this message? For with authority and power, He commands the
unclean spirits, and they come out.’ And the report about Him was

spreading into every locality in the surrounding district.”
The demons or fallen angels knew Jesus to be the Son of
God. Before their fall, they were once in His presence in heaven –
worshipping Him. The Bible says when God the Father again

brings the firstborn into the world, “He says, ‘And let all the angels
of God worship Him’” (Hebrews 1:6).

Jesus is more excellent than Nicodemus ever envisioned

At this late-evening meeting with Jesus, Nicodemus opened
the conversation and said, “Rabbi, we know that You have come
from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You
do unless God is with him” (John 3:2).

Nicodemus called Jesus, “Rabbi,” which exhibits great
respect. It is the same title many Jews used to address Nicodemus.
Nicodemus was correct in his assessment that Jesus is a
“teacher come from God,” and God is “with Him.” It is a true

statement that Jesus is a “teacher come from God.” He did come
down from heaven to earth. And God the Father is “with Him.”

– 25 –

Jesus, however, was much greater than Nicodemus ever

envisioned. He is God, the second person, and godhead in the
“Trinity.” He is the Messiah. Nicodemus realized He displayed
the power of God in His teachings and working of signs.
If other Pharisees had heard Nicodemus’ complementary

statements about Jesus, they would have immediately tried to
remove him from the Sanhedrin. Nicodemus, like a few other
Israelites, assumed Jesus had to be a teacher and a prophet from
God. However, Jesus did not fit into their view of how the coming

Messiah would look and act.
Nicodemus and other religious leaders expected the Messiah
to be a “Savior and Champion.” He would soon show up on the
scene to deliver the Jews from the Romans’ occupation. The

Messiah would then establish His kingdom and reign on earth.
Nicodemus saw Jesus alienating most religious leaders and
not taking any steps to establish a kingdom on earth. Jesus spoke
about God’s love and peace for mankind, and not about fighting

and overthrowing the tyrannical Roman government. Nicodemus
did not know what to think about Jesus.
Isaiah 19:20 states: “It will become a sign and a witness to
the LORD of hosts in the land of Egypt; for they will cry to the

LORD because of oppressors, and He will send them a Savior and
a Champion, and He will deliver them.”
Nicodemus had evaluated the facts and concluded that Jesus
was not the deliverer. Since there had not been a prophet in

Jerusalem since Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, all of whom
lived at the end of the 70-year Babylonian exile in 539
BC, Nicodemus surmised that God had sent Jesus, another great

– 26 –

teacher, and prophet. He knew Jesus taught the Mosaic law and

truths like no other, and His miracles were not counterfeit.
Nicodemus did not comprehend that Jesus was more than
a profit, however. Jesus’ miracles were His credentials as Messiah
and the Son of God.

Jesus knew Nicodemus’ thoughts
Nicodemus believed he came that night to learn more about

Jesus’ message and His relationship to God. However, in truth,
Nicodemus was questioning his relationship with God.
Jesus listened to Nicodemus’ opening statement. He
ignored it. He did not even address Nicodemus’ complimentary
words. Jesus knew why Nicodemus came. He knew Nicodemus’

heart and thoughts.

How do I get into the kingdom of God?

Jesus addressed the question Nicodemus did not ask:
“How do I get into the kingdom of God?” Nicodemus had
superficial faith. He was religious but lost. He was dead
As a Pharisee, Nicodemus was a legalist. He had reached

the highpoint of Judaism, and he was not in the kingdom of God!
Nicodemus knew it, and his heart was probably full of fear. He
had no peace. He had no assurance or forgiveness.

He asked in his heart, “What can I do? I’ve done
everything I know to do. I’ve kept every traditional Mosaic law
and ritual I know to keep. I have done good works. I am better
than other people.”

– 27 –

Moreover, Jesus told Nicodemus he could not do anything

to enter the kingdom of God. Nobody enters the kingdom who is
not “born from above” by a spiritual transformation and
regeneration that only the Holy Spirit provides – a new birth.
Nicodemus’ apostate brand of Judaism did not know

anything about rebirth. Most leaders like Nicodemus believed to
be born a Jew was to be born into the kingdom of God. They
believed the Gentiles, however, were born “lost” and destined to
eternal punishment and separation from God.

Jesus knew Nicodemus relied on his works and his
religious position to presume he was in good standing with
God. Nicodemus’ sin and false religious beliefs, however,
separated him from God.

Jesus declared to Nicodemus that his system of religion
did not and could not save anyone. It led men and women to hell.
Jesus told Nicodemus he needed a new spiritual birth, an act of
God whereby He gives eternal life to the believer to become a

child of God.

God’s plan of salvation
Jesus presented God’s plan of salvation to

Nicodemus. “Jesus answered and said to Nicodemus, ‘Truly,
truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the
kingdom of God’” (John 3:3).

As a master teacher, Jesus spoke in the third person to
encourage a spiritual discussion with Nicodemus. Jesus said,
"unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Jesus used an allegory to teach Nicodemus eternal truth.

– 28 –

Nicodemus took the illustration of the new birth to ask how he

could enter again into his mother's womb and be born again?
Nicodemus’ thoughts reverted to his works-belief system. He was
thinking about something he might be able to achieve.

The Greek word “anōthen,” used to decide “born” can
emphasize two distinct meanings - “born again” or literally “born

from above.” Both are perfect translations.
The New International Version reads: “In reply, Jesus
declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God
unless he is born again.”
When the word “anōthen” has to do with position, it

means from above.” For example, John 3:31 reads: “The one who
comes from above is above all…” John 19:11 says: “You would
have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.”

James 1:17 say: “Every good and perfect gift is from above…”
Jesus used the word with both meanings: “born again” or
“born from above” to make Nicodemus realize he needed a new
spiritual birth from God above.
Complete regeneration – a work of God only

Jesus used the analogy of birth to show those seeking to
enter the kingdom of God and receive salvation and eternal
life, must be born from above first. It is a work of regeneration by

God only. Being “born from above” is the doctrine of
regeneration. It is the heart of understanding salvation.
Regeneration ensues when the Holy Spirit draws a person
to Himself and gives a new heart and new spirit to that person. It

– 29 –

enables the “spiritually dead” person to believe, repent, and come

to Christ in faith.
When Jesus interrupted Nicodemus with the phrase, “you
must be born again,” he had to be disarmed and disoriented. Can
you imagine Nicodemus’ reaction to Jesus telling him that he

was not in the kingdom of God?
Jesus declared the kingdom of heaven doors are open for
those who abandon all human effort as a means of salvation, who
stop trying to earn their way into the kingdom. Those who are

elected are born from above by the power and will of God.
The kingdom of God is the state of salvation. It is the
people ruled by God who have eternal life and who are on their
way to heaven.

Being “born from above” is not something that Nicodemus
could do to be spiritually reborn. He also did not have anything to
do with his physical birth. Both were out of his control.

Jesus told Nicodemus that his natural birth as a Jew also
would not save him. Satan had deceived Nicodemus. He thought
he and his fellow Pharisees held the keys to the kingdom. They
saw themselves as the guardian of the Law of Moses. They
believed they were the faithful remnant of Judaism. They were the

“gatekeepers” of the kingdom, governing it by the rules. Jesus
destroyed those lies.
Being “born from above” is an act of recreation by
God. This new birth brings about a new nature and a new life. It

is a work of God. It is a miracle that comes down from heaven.

– 30 –

It is impossible

Nicodemus understood Jesus was referring to both natural
childbirth and spiritual rebirth. Therefore, he concluded it was
impossible for a man to enter the womb again and to be born

“Born again” would bring about that conclusion. What
does it mean to be born a second time—to be regenerated? And
who prompts the regenerating – God or man?

Nicodemus answered back in the third person, “How can
a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus used Jesus’
analogy. “He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s
womb and be born, can he” (John 3:4)?
Nicodemus did not immediately ask why Jesus brought up

the topic of being born again. He knows Jesus just read his
mind. He understands that Jesus plainly said, “You can’t get in
the kingdom by your works, just as you cannot bring about your

As a great educator and leading Rabbi, Nicodemus used
many analogies, illustrations, and parables in his teachings too.
He recognized Jesus was not speaking of literal rebirth.
Nicodemus presses the impossible meaning of the words to try to

draw forth the actual message. He wanted to know how he could
start all over and go back to the beginning.
Jesus said the new birth is something Nicodemus could not
do anything about and control. So, Nicodemus decided it was

humanly impossible. Jesus’ choice of words forced Nicodemus
in that direction.
Jesus did not tell Nicodemus how to be born again. Jesus

– 31 –

did not tell Nicodemus what to do, since he could do nothing to

earn salvation.
Jesus provided the word of God to Nicodemus. But how
would the word of God change his religious views and faith? In
Romans 10:16, the Apostle Paul wrote, “However, they did not

all heed the good news; for Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed
our report?’ So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the

word of Christ.”
Nicodemus thought religion, ceremony, ritual, morality,

and human goodness were several pathways to gain salvation.
That’s why Jesus told Nicodemus that he must be born from
above. God must do the work of the new creation in
Nicodemus’ heart and soul.

Nicodemus understood God created every child in the
womb, and He has a plan for every life. King David wrote in
Psalm 139: 13-17: “For You formed my inward parts; You wove
me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am

fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And
my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You
when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths
of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And

in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for
me, when as yet there was not one of them. How precious also
are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them!”

Starting all over again
Jesus told Nicodemus that entrance to God’s kingdom was
not a matter of adding something to all his efforts, not doing

– 32 –

another religious devotion, but starting all over again by the power

of God.
Jesus was highlighting the act of the Holy Spirit – born
from above — awakening the spiritually dead to spiritual,
everlasting life. The work of God gives men and women the

spiritual ability to respond to God and faith.
God’s word regenerates men and women when they
respond by faith and repentance to His call. Regeneration is
spiritual work. It is a secret, hidden work of the Holy Spirit in the

spirits of men and women that result in saving faith. It is the first
work of God within a person. Christians are elected, regenerated,
and converted by God.
Regeneration of the individual is required to enter the

kingdom. God rules the people in His kingdom. They have eternal
life, and they are on their way to heaven. The only way to enter the
kingdom of God is by being born again. Apart from that, no one
comes into the kingdom of God.

Unlike others, Nicodemus sought Jesus to find the truth.
Nicodemus is an example of someone who humbled himself to
seek the truth of God, and he had an encounter with God, Jesus

In Titus 3:5, the scripture says, “He saved us, not on the
basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according
to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the
Holy Spirit.”

God gives eternal life. A person cannot live in His kingdom
unless he or she is a partaker of God’s divine nature and a new
creation in Christ. The analogy is a new birth.

– 33 –

Jesus said the kingdom of heaven is opened only to those

people who experience the divine miracle of regeneration. Many
“religious” people will populate hell. Why? They have trusted in
their religion to save them, rather than believing and having faith
in Jesus Christ alone.

– 34 –

Chapter Three

Born of water and the spirit

“Jesus answered, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is
born of water and 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.’ Do not be amazed that I said to you,

‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and
you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from
and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit”
– John 3:5-8.

Jesus confronted Nicodemus with a difficult challenge, the
need for God’s internal cleansing. Nicodemus, the Pharisees,
and the religious leaders based their religion on external purity

and performances. Jesus conveyed to Nicodemus that his
external religion of good works would not save him. Jesus told
Nicodemus he must be born again. He was not “clean on the
inside” and not fit to enter the kingdom of God.

Jesus addressed Nicodemus’ confusion and mystery of
regeneration or being “born from above” by saying, “Truly,
truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit
he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”

Jesus was not referring to literal water when he said, “born
of water.” Nicodemus knew that “water and spirit” often
referred symbolically in the Old Testament to spiritual renewal
and cleansing. “Reborn from above” is synonymous with being

– 35 –

“born of water and spirit.” Both “water” and “spirit” refer to
one’s spiritual rebirth. For example, Isaiah 44:3 declares, “For
I will pour out water on the thirsty land and streams on the dry
ground; I will pour out My Spirit on your offspring And My

blessing on your descendants.”

A new heart and a new spirit
Ezekiel 36:24-27, states: “For I will take you from the

nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your

land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will
be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from

all your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put
a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone

from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My
Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and
you will be careful to observe My ordinances.”

Regeneration was not a new concept to Nicodemus.
The Book of Ezekiel and other passages in the Hebrew Bible
showed it was an Old Testament truth. Jesus was referring
to the spiritual washing or purification of the soul, carried out

by the Holy Spirit through the Word of God at the moment
of salvation.
To be "born of water" is to be cleansed of all sin and
impurity through the power of God and self-denial. To be

"born of the Spirit" is for men and women to experience
eternal life, a new spiritual life, and peace with God.

– 36 –

Baptism by the Holy Spirit
Some scholars believe the “water” of which Jesus spoke
also related to baptism.

The Pharisees were concerned to know why John was
baptizing Jews in the Jordan River. Both the ministries of John
and Jesus emphasized water baptism. The Holy Spirit’s
baptism is what John said distinguished Jesus Christ’s ministry
from his own.

John’s baptism was one of repentance to prepare for the
coming of the Lord. By being baptized by John, a person
testified that he or she was repenting of sins and renouncing
Judaism and the law as the means of salvation. John told the

people that the Savior; the Messiah was coming. They needed
to believe in the “One” coming after him. It was Jesus.
In Acts 19:4, Paul wrote: "John baptized with the baptism
of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was

coming after him, that is, in Jesus."
The unbelieving and unrepentant Pharisees refused
baptism. “However, the Pharisees and the experts in religious
law rejected God’s purpose for themselves, because they had

not been baptized by John” (Luke 7:30).
Jesus honored John’s ministry by being baptized by
him. However, if a Pharisee or anyone else desired to enter
God’s kingdom, they must do so through the means God had

appointed—identification with Jesus.

– 37 –

Work of His Spirit
A person must be spiritually born of God by the power of

the Holy Spirit. Jesus described the sovereign, saving work of
God through His Spirit.
Jesus said spiritual cleansing is a work of God. John 3:6
states, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that
which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”

God created man with a body, soul, and spirit. When Adam
ate the forbidden apple and sinned against God, his spirit
died (Eph 2:1-5). Later, his physical body died too.

He transferred sin’s curse to his children at their birth and
all mankind. This sin nature and death are woven in mankind’s
character because of Adam’s and Eve’s fall from grace.
Just as human nature can only bring about human nature,
only the Holy Spirit can effect spiritual transformation. Even if

a physical rebirth were possible, it would still result in
sinful flesh. Therefore, only the Holy Spirit can create the
spiritual birth needed for entrance into God’s kingdom.

An Old Testament passage foretold the Lord would one
day write the law on the hearts of His people, a new covenant.
The Holy Spirit would internally work in man to bring about
salvation and access to God.

– 38 –

In Jeremiah 31:31–34, the prophet wrote, “Behold, days
are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new
covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah,
not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day

I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt,
My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to
them,” declares the Lord. “But this is the covenant which I will
make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the

Lord, “I will put My law within them, and on their heart, I will
write it; and will be their God, and they shall be My people.
They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man
his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me,

from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the
Lord, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will
remember no more.”

Salvation is by grace
Although Jesus’ words were founded on Old Testament
truth and revelation, His teachings ran contrary to everything
Nicodemus had learned and taught. For his entire life,

Nicodemus believed that salvation came through his external
merit and works. Now, he found it difficult to change his whole
belief system and admit he had been wrong and deceived.
He could not understand the true meaning of the Holy

Scriptures without the Spirit of the Lord’s guidance.

– 39 –

In Ephesians 2:8, Paul wrote what Jesus was teaching
Nicodemus, “For by grace you have been saved through faith;
and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God — not as a result
of works, so that no one may boast.”

Jesus’ teachings on the flesh and Spirit silenced
Nicodemus. Jesus continued, “Do not marvel that I said to
you, ‘You must be born again’” (John 3:7).
Nicodemus was speechless at being so wrong about how

God accepts a person into His kingdom. He could never enter
based on what he believed and taught others that a person is
justified by the works of the law and his righteous works.
Jesus had been accusing the Pharisees of being false

teachers, and Nicodemus had to face the reality that Jesus was
preaching the truth. In turn, the Pharisees were trying to
discredit Jesus and have Him killed.

The Unpardonable Sin by the Pharisees
In Matthew 12:22-37, Jesus accused several Pharisees of
committing the unpardonable sin when they attributed the

healing work of the Holy Spirit to Satan.
Matthew wrote, “Then they brought Him a demon-
possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed Him

so that he could both talk and see. All the people were
astonished and said, ‘Could this be the Son of

David?’ However, when the Pharisees heard this, they said, ‘It
is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this fellow

drives out demons.’ Jesus knew their thoughts and said to
them, ‘Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and

– 40 –

every city or household divided against itself will be ruined,
and every city or household divided against itself will not

stand. If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself.

How then can his kingdom stand? And if I drive out demons
by Beelzebul, by whom do your people drive them out? So
then, they will be your judges. But if it is by the Spirit of God
that I drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come
upon you.’

“Or again, how can anyone enter a strong man’s house and
carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man?

Then he can plunder his house. Whoever is not with me is
against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. And

so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but

the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone
who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven,
but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be

forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.
“Make a tree good, and its fruit will be good or make a tree
bad, and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its
fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say

anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full

of. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up
in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored

up in him. But I tell you that everyone will have to give
account on the day of judgment for every empty word they

have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by
your words, you will be condemned.”

– 41 –

Jesus cautioned the Jewish people in Jerusalem not to
follow the Pharisees and their work-based, false religion. It
would lead them to hell.
Jesus said, “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in

Moses’ seat. So, you must be careful to do everything they tell
you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what
they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put
them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not

willing to lift a finger to move them.
“Everything they do is done for people to see: They make
their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments
long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most

important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted with
respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.
“But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one
Teacher, and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on

earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and He is in
heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one
Instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your
servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and

those who humble themselves will be exalted” (Matthew 23: 1-

Satan had deceived the Pharisees

Jesus revealed to Nicodemus that the Pharisees were the
ones Satan misled. They were the blind guides who promoted
false teachings on salvation and the entrance to God’s
kingdom. Jesus publicly attacked them, “Woe to you, scribes

– 42 –

and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and
land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you
make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves” (Matthew

Born of the Spirit
Jesus explained to Nicodemus how to be “born from above”
by the Holy Spirit’s efforts. Jesus gave Nicodemus an example

from nature. “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear
the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and
where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit”
(John 3:8).

The saving work of God through Jesus and the Holy Spirit
is like the wind. Human beings cannot control the wind. It
blows where God directs and wishes. Though its general
direction is known, where it comes from and where it is

going cannot be figured out precisely. Nevertheless, men and
women can observe the wind’s effects. The wind, however, is
invisible, uncontrollable and unpredictable.
The Holy Spirit’s saving work is like the wind. No man

controls the Spirit’s life-giving work. No man can manipulate
or direct the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit brings about the
new birth, the effects are evident in a person’s life. He or she
will bear the fruit of the Spirit. That is how believers know it is

the work of God’s Spirit.
Good works or self-righteousness cannot save anyone.
Salvation is the supreme work of God, accomplished by the
Holy Spirit.

– 43 –

No one can predict the Holy Spirit’s work of regeneration
in the human heart. The Holy Spirit dispenses His influences
where, and when, on whom, and in what measure and degree
He pleases. The Holy Spirit works mysteriously and in secretly

hidden ways.
In John 5:21-23, Jesus said, “For just as the Father raises
the dead and gives them life, even so, the Son also gives life to

whom He wishes. For not even the Father judges anyone,
but He has given all judgment to the Son so that all will honor
the Son even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor
the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.”
God raises the dead and gives eternal life to whom He

wishes. God decides who He saves. It is by the will of the Son
and by the power of the Holy Spirit.
In Galatians 5: 18-24, Paul wrote, “But if you are led
by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the

flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity,
sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of
anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness,
orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you

before, that those who do such things will not inherit the
kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,
patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-
control; against such things, there is no law. And those who

belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions
and desires.”

– 44 –

God’s awakening
God awakens the spiritual life within us, bringing us
from spiritual death to spiritual life. It is a new life by the work
of the Holy Spirit. We cannot have regeneration without

saving faith (Eph 2:1-10). It is the work of God that gives a
person the spiritual ability to respond to God and faith. God
already has decided to whom He will give life; He gives that
life sovereignly. John 6:44 says, “No man comes unto Me

unless the Father draws Him.”
Repentance and faith come by hearing the gospel of
Christ. “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be
saved.” No one can call on the Lord and be saved if he or she

have not heard the word of God.
1 Peter 1:23, Peter wrote, “You’ve been born again
not of seed which is perishable, but imperishable by the living
and enduring word of God.”

God’s Word plays a distinct part in salvation. The
Father places His imperishable seed, the “Word,” within a
person, and he or she becomes a child of God. The Bible says
in John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word

was with God, and the Word was God.”
The Word of God changes a man’s and a woman’s
heart. True repentance and salvation can occur only upon
hearing the Word of God, and the Holy Spirit’s work of

In Romans 10:17, Paul wrote, “So faith comes from
hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.”

– 45 –

God sovereignly draws His elect to Christ. God saves
the elect, and the elect responds by faith and repentance to His

Spiritual bankruptcy
Jesus confronted Nicodemus with the most challenging
self-examination. By telling him he must be born again, Jesus
challenged Nicodemus to admit his spiritual bankruptcy and

abandon everything he was trusting for his salvation.
In 1 Corinthians 2:14, Paul wrote, “The person without
the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit

of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot
understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
The solution to the spiritual deadness and inability to
respond only comes when God gives a person new life within.
“But God being rich in mercy, because of the great love with

which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses,
made us alive together with Christ – by grace, you have been
saved” (Ephesians 2:4-5).

Paul also wrote, “When you were dead in your sins and
in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you
alive with Christ” (Colossians 2:13).
God provides a person with a new birth first to enable
him or her to believe. The Scriptures describe God’s work of

salvation as the “washing of the new birth and the renewing of
the Holy Spirit.
Paul wrote in Titus 3:3-7, “For we too were once

foolish, disobedient, misled, enslaved to various passions and

– 46 –

desires, spending our lives in evil and envy, hateful and hating
one another. But when the kindness of God our Savior
appeared and His love for mankind, He saved us not by works
of righteousness that we have done but based on His mercy,

through the washing of the new birth and the renewing of the
Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us in full measure through
Jesus Christ our Savior. And so, since we have been justified
by His grace, we become heirs with the confident expectation

of eternal life.”

Work-based religion leads to spiritual darkness and death
Like most men and women today, Nicodemus followed a

religion and form of worship that led to spiritual darkness and
death. Nicodemus was seeking light in that darkness.
He found Jesus to be the pure light that night. Jesus’
divine teaching and insights about Nicodemus were

challenging to understand and accept, but they would change
his life for eternity.

– 47 –

Chapter Four

Are you the teacher of Israel, and do

not know these things?

“ Nicodemus said to Him, ‘How can these things be?’ Jesus

answered and said to him, ‘Are you the teacher of Israel and do

not understand these things? Truly, truly, I say to you, we
speak of what we know and testify of what we have seen,

and you do not accept our testimony. If I told you earthly
things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you
heavenly things’” (John 3:9-12)?

Nicodemus was perplexed by Jesus’ teachings on being
“born again” and regeneration by God alone. Nicodemus
answered and said to Him, “How can these things be?”
Nicodemus could not comprehend how Jesus’ words
could be right. He does not understand the spiritual rebirth of

man by the Holy Spirit, though God revealed it throughout the
pages of the Old Testament.
Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Are you the teacher of

Israel and do not understand these things” (John
3:9)? Jesus confronted Nicodemus. How did you become the
teacher of Israel, a tutor, and one who sits in Moses’ chair if
you did not understand these things?

– 48 –

Jesus said it was inexcusable that a man in a position
like Nicodemus did not understand the distinct works of God
like regeneration.
One of God’s first distinctive work was election. It took

place in eternity past. Then, God wrote His elects’ names
down in the Lamb’s Book of Life. He chose those who would
be followers of God and Christ before the foundation of the
world. He predestined them to become His children.

In Ephesians 1:4-6, Paul wrote, “just as He chose us in
Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy
and blameless before Him. In love, He predestined us
to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according

to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of
His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.”
Theologians have a difficult time explaining the
dichotomy of election and that God gave men and women free

will to believe. God does wish all mankind would be saved
from eternal hell. God sent His only Son, Jesus, to the cross to
die for the sins of mankind. He was raised from the dead so all
men and women who believe could have eternal life and access

to the Father.
While the Lord knows whom He chose in eternity past,
believers do not have insight into His electing work. Instead,
all believers must pursue every person with the true gospel

while there is still time to repent.

– 49 –

Spiritual birth
Another unique work of God is spiritual birth. It is a
subsequent work of God to regenerate believers
spiritually. Regeneration takes place in time present. The Spirit

of God creates a new man and a new woman. The Spirit enables
them to become spiritually alive and see and understand the
Jesus told Nicodemus He was teaching him about

“earthly things” that were in scripture. He had not even
discussed “heavenly things” with Nicodemus yet, like Jesus’
death, burial, and resurrection. These things were beyond
man’s understanding.

Nicodemus reacted as if he had never heard about the
saving work of the Holy Spirit, “Unless one is born of water
and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”
Jesus questioned how Nicodemus, a renowned master-

teacher in the nation of Israel, did not recognize this teaching
on spiritual cleansing and transformation grounded precisely in
the Scriptures.
An example of transformation and new life is in Ezekiel

37:12-14; “Therefore, prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the
Lord GOD, Behold, I will open your graves and cause you to
come up out of your graves, my people; and I will bring you
into the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the LORD,

when I have opened your graves and caused you to come up

out of your graves, My people. I will put My Spirit within you,
and you will come to life, and I will place you on your own

– 50 –

land. Then you will know that I, the LORD, have spoken and
done it,” declares the LORD.’”
Giving a new life is the sovereign work of God. That is
His promise and plan for salvation.

Nicodemus studied the Old Testament. He knew some
facts about salvation, the Messiah, and about Christ. He,
however, had limited revelation and knowledge from the

In 1 Peter 1:10, the Bible says that the prophets wrote
about the coming of Christ, though they had limited
knowledge. Peter wrote: “As to this salvation, the prophets
who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made

careful searches and inquiries.”
In 2 Corinthians 3:14, the Apostle Paul said, “There
was a veil over the people who studied the Old Testament
which veil is removed in Christ.”

Nicodemus and the other Pharisees were painstaking
students of Scripture, and they never fully understood it. They
had a veil over their eyes and minds, hiding the truth. Jesus
rebuked the Pharisees and scribes for their Scripture

misinterpretations. He told them, “You are mistaken, not
understanding the Scripture” (Matthew 22:29).
Why could they not interpret the Bible correctly? They
had a veil on and were dead spiritually. They rejected Jesus and

His teachings. And if a person rejects Jesus Christ and God’s
plan, the Scriptures make no sense. They rejected the Messiah!
They did not understand the Scriptures because God had
blinded their eyes to the truth because of their unconfessed sin.

– 51 –

They rejected their God and bowed down to the
creature and their idols, rather than to the Creator. Their
objective was to persecute, punish and kill their Messiah, the
“Holy One of God.” They thought they were doing God’s

work by getting rid of this so-called “blasphemer and false

Jesus claimed to be equal with God

Jesus confronted the Jewish leaders and Pharisees when
they began to persecute Him. They believed Jesus had violated
the Sabbath by healing a man at a pool near the Temple’s Sheep
Gate. When confronted, Jesus rebuked them and claimed to be

equal to God. The conflict with the Pharisees intensified.
And then Jesus told them they could not honor the
Father without honoring the Son. The Pharisees and leaders
became even more enraged.

In John 5:19-24 it states, Therefore Jesus answered and
was saying to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do
nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father
doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also

does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows

Him all things that He Himself is doing, and the Father will
show Him greater works than these so that you will

marvel. For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them
life, even so, the Son also gives life to whom He wishes. For

not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all
judgment to the Son so that all will honor the Son even as they

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honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not
honor the Father who sent Him.’
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word,
and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not

come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.”

The Messiah revealed
Jesus told them He was the Messiah in unequivocal

terms. In John 5:25-32, Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to
you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the

voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For just
as the Father has life in Himself, even so, He gave to the Son
also to have life in Himself, and He gave Him authority
to execute judgment because He is the Son of Man.
“ Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in
which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice and will

come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of
life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of

“I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I
judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own
will, but the will of Him who sent Me. If I alone testify about
Myself, my testimony is not true. There is another who testifies
of Me, and I know that the testimony which He gives about Me

is true” (John 5:28-32).

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Searching for eternal life in the Scriptures
Nicodemus and the other Pharisees were seeking
eternal life. They were trying to get an answer to their question,
“How do I earn my way into the kingdom?” They are trying to

earn their way. They were still searching for an entrance into
the kingdom. They were on the outside, and God had closed
the door on them.
If they had accepted the Scriptures, they would have

embraced Jesus Christ. Jesus said they were unwilling to come
to Him so that they may have life.

John 5:30-44 states, “You have sent to John, and he has
testified to the truth. Not that I accept human testimony; but I

mention it that you may be saved. John was a lamp that burned

and gave light, and you chose for a time to enjoy His light. I
have testimony weightier than that of John. For the works that
the Father has given me to finish—the very works that I am

doing—testify that the Father has sent me. And the Father who
sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never

heard His voice nor seen His form, nor does His word dwell in

you, for you do not believe the one he sent. You study the
Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have
eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about
me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.
“I do not accept glory from human beings, but I know

you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your

hearts. I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not
accept me; but if someone else comes in His own name, you

will accept Him. How can you believe since you accept glory

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