The New Life Mission

Sermons

Subject 3 : The Gospel of the Water and the Spirit

[3-14] (John 3:1-5) We Must Be Born Again By Believing in The Gospel of The Water and the Spirit

(John 3:1-5)
“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 are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Most assuredly, 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? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?’ Jesus answered, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.’”
 
 
As we know by now there are Christians who think they can be cleansed from their sins if they offer many prayers of repentance, so that’s all they do. Some Christians give lots of offerings, thinking that they will be loved by God for doing this. While others devote their whole lives planting new churches, convinced that by doing this God will approve of them. 
There are also Christians who think that God will be pleased if they do a lot of missionary work, so they are faithful to this task. Determined to spread the love of Christ to every nation even if they have to sacrifice themselves, so they willingly go and work anywhere no matter how inhospitable that might be. Such Christians are trying very hard to devote their lives to God. Leading such works-oriented lives of faith they become full of expectations hoping one day, they too, will be born again. They think that God would eventually bless them to be born again, since they are dedicating their lives in the spreading of the gospel. But the reality is, it is absolutely wrong to think like this. 
These misguided Christians are leading such fleshly lives of faith trying to be saved from their sins and to be born again. They are full of their own convictions, convinced that if they attend church regularly, make lots of offerings, and serve God diligently and faithfully, they would somehow receive His blessings to be born again. They think to themselves, “If I am faithful to the Lord, He will work in my life and bless me to be born again one day. Without even realizing this, I will become a born-again person in no time!” They may have such thoughts, but the reality is, this is not how the Lord blesses anyone to be born again. 
There is nothing they can do about this, since the Lord is saying that His thoughts are different from theirs. Unlike what people may think, God gave clear guidance that to be born again one must believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit without fail. He said that people can be born again only by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. God made it abundantly clear that no one can be born again by any fleshly means of his own, but only by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
As our Lord said in John 3:1-5, if we wish to be born again, we must be born again of water and the Spirit. This means that we cannot be born again by offering God anything else in this world but only to believe from our hearts in the gospel of the water and the Spirit He announced. No matter how much devout people devote themselves to God and how hard they work and try their best, this cannot enable them to be saved from their sins. By one’s own carnal efforts, no soul can be born again and freed from all their sins. Many Christians mistakenly think, “No one knows how to be born again. Only God knows, just as the Lord said, ‘Wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit’ (John 3:8).” 
But they only think like this because they do not know the gospel Truth of the water and the Spirit the Lord spoke of. Sure God knows all about us. God also knows clearly that people can be born again from all their sins if they meet and believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. God Himself planned that people would be born again only in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. However, there are still many people who do not know the Truth that one is born again by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and as a result, they are living in ignorance and great misunderstanding. Countless Christians are trapped in delusion. They think to themselves, “As long as I continue to carry on with my life of faith, I will somehow be born again one day.” But this is akin to counting on luck. Moreover, when today’s Christians hear the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit, many of them reject it out of hand, thinking, “This is way too different from what I’ve learned so far.” 
But, if they really pay attention to the gospel of the water and the Spirit and grasp it’s Truth of salvation by casting away their thoughts, then they will become overjoyed, saying, “Wow! All my sins have indeed disappeared! I have now been truly saved from all my sins!” Sadly, not that many people have come to understand the gospel of the water and the Spirit right away reaching salvation when they first encounter it. Consequently, most people end up turning to something else other than the gospel of the water and the Spirit seeking for confirmation of their salvation from sins. Some people say that they were born again while praying, while others say that the Lord appeared to them in a dream and told them that they were saved. This is because of the tendency for people to have a different take on the meaning of being born again and being regenerated. Sometimes when I ask people if they have been born again and regenerated, often times they respond, “Yes, I have been born again and regenerated. But nevertheless, I still have sin in my heart.” But this is an absurd claim, reflecting their ignorance of the true Word of God. 
Does it make any sense when people say that while they have been saved from their sins, they at the same time still retain their sins? If one has received the remission of sins once and for all by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, then such a person has been regenerated. This word “regeneration” means being washed clean and renewed by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and, being born again means the same thing. When we say that we have been saved from our sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, this is another way of saying that although we had been sinful in God’s sight in the past, now we no longer have anything to do with any of our sins. It means that even though we had lived as sinners in the past, we have now received the remission of sins by hearing and believing in the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit preached to us by its witnesses. 
That we have been regenerated means the same thing: although we had been sinners in the past, we have now become new men and women, as we have been washed clean from our sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit.” In other words, even though we had been sinners from the day we were born from our mothers’ wombs, now that we have found the gospel of the water and the Spirit, heard it with our ears and came to know and believed in it with our hearts, we have received the remission of sins to be born again. Even though we remain the same when it comes to our bodies and our appearances, but in our hearts we were able to be born again by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. 
Who stirs up and moves the winds blowing in this world? It is God. Who controls the jet streams in the atmosphere, forms weather systems, changes the flow of the air, has command over the tidal moves, enlivens everything, and makes this planet earth so full of life? It is none other than Jesus Christ our God. That’s why we must be born again by hearing the gospel Truth of the water and the Spirit with our ears and believing in it with our hearts. For this to come about, we must believe wholeheartedly in the Truth of salvation that has come by the gospel of the water and the Spirit. 
The Truth God has given us to save us from all our sins it not anything else but the gospel of the water and the Spirit. It is a fallacious belief for you to say that you have received the Holy Spirit just by praying even though your sins remain intact in your heart. The Holy Spirit is the hallowed Spirit of God, and therefore He can come into only the hearts of those who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. The Holy Spirit comes into our hearts only if we believe that Jesus Christ accepted all our sins once and for all when He was baptized by John the Baptist, and that He bore the condemnation of all our sins when He gave up His body to be crucified and shed His life blood. It is when our hearts are washed clean from all our sins by believing in this Truth that the Holy Spirit can enter into our hearts as the believers. The gospel of the water and the Spirit is what makes our hearts sinless, and it is only when we are truly saved by believing in this gospel that we receive the gift of the Spirit of God into our hearts. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth who dwells only in the hearts of those who have obtained the washing away of their sins. 
Genesis 1:2 says, “The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” That the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the water means that the Holy Spirit could not come into our hearts when we were sinners because our hearts were without form and filled with the darkness of our sins that defiled us. But when we met and believed in the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit, the Holy Spirit could come into our hearts and dwell in us, just as light came into being when God commanded it to be. 
 
 
How Can People Be Freed from Their Sins?
 
The answer to this question is found in what our Lord said to Nicodemus: “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). Nicodemus, being perplexed, asked Jesus, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” (John 3:4). Nicodemus had taken Jesus’ Word literally, thinking that being born again meant that one had to enter into his mother’s womb a second time and be born once more time. So he couldn’t understand what Jesus was saying. It would of course have been impossible for Nicodemus’ mother to give birth to him again when he was already much bigger than her. So the Lord rebuked him, saying, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things?” (John 3:10).
There actually are many learned clergymen in this world who are trying to lead others even as they themselves are ignorant of the gospel of the water and the Spirit. They are like Nicodemus, and many such people exist even in this present age. During the days of Jesus, Nicodemus was one of the 70 members of the Sanhedrin, which, in today’s terms would put him as a legislator. Religiously speaking, moreover, he was a Pharisee. 
So, in secular terms, Nicodemus was a member of the Sanhedrin, and in religious terms, he was also a Jewish leader. Nicodemus was therefore a man of learning, virtue and honor. However, he did not know the Truth of being born again of water and the Spirit. Even though he was erudite enough to teach the people of Israel in all things, he did not know how to be born again of water and the Spirit himself. There are many such people in Christian communities today. Even now, we see many people acting as the leaders of Christianity even though they do not know the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Some of them are famous revivalists, others are pastors, and still others head various missionary organizations. 
Yesterday I dropped by a Christian bookstore as I had some free time. While browsing through the many books at this bookstore I couldn’t find any books on the gospel of the water and the Spirit. What all of us must realize here is that being born again is not something that depends to any work or effort. We must know that it is only by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit that one’s heart obtains the washing away of sins. You, too, must be truly born again by understanding firstly, and then believing in the God-given gospel Word of the water and the Spirit.
To both Nicodemus and us alike, Jesus is saying, “I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?” (John 3:12). Even though people ought to know that they can be born again of water and the Spirit, many of them do not have this knowledge. The people in the days of Jesus did not believe even when He told them earthly things. Likewise, even though the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit have preached this gospel to many people, and they have taught them how to lead a spiritual life of faith after being born again, they still do not believe. 
Through the baptism He received from John the Baptist, our Lord bore all the sins of mankind once and for all on His own body; He then shed all His blood on the Cross and died; was buried and rose up from the dead again; and He has thereby saved us the believers from all our sins at once. Using the Old Testament, our Lord once again explained to Nicodemus about being born again, explaining, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:14-15). As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so did Jesus have to be lifted up; and God has made it possible for those who believe in this lifted Jesus to receive everlasting life. 
When our Lord said, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up,” He was speaking of the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Our Lord could be crucified to death because prior to this He had been baptized by John the Baptist. That’s why He was able to shoulder the sins of the world and cry out just before passing away on the Cross, “It is finished!” For our Lord to be crucified and lifted up, He had to first bear the sins of this world through the baptism He received from John the Baptist. Biblically speaking, Jesus could never die on this accursed Cross unless He first shouldered our sins as our sin sacrifice. It’s for this reason that our Lord was baptized by John the Baptist before being crucified, and having thus accepted all the sins of mankind, He was able to die in our place. So, as Jesus was crucified and shed His blood to be accursed for all the sins of mankind, He becomes absolutely indispensable to every human being. We can now be born again by believing in Him as our Savior. This is what our Lord is teaching us now with the Word He spoke to Nicodemus. 
 
 
God’s Blessed Word
 
The Word Jesus spoke to Nicodemus is equally a huge blessing to all of us now. Because Nicodemus was well-versed in the Old Testament, Jesus said to him, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:14-15). With this blessed Word, the Lord is making it known to Nicodemus that He would bear the sins of the world by being baptized by John the Baptist, be crucified to death, and thereby become the Savior. 
After leaving the land of Egypt, the people of Israel faced numerous difficulties while wandering in the wilderness, and they blamed Moses and the Lord God for their troubles. So God sent fiery serpents amongst them for their insolence, to bite them and kill them. Those who were bitten by the fiery serpents became all swollen, foaming in their mouths and dying in excruciating pain. Seeing the people of Israel suffering and dying from the fiery serpents’ venom, Moses, their leader, prayed to God earnestly. He prayed, “Lord, please save the people of Israel!” God then said to him, “I am punishing them personally for their insolence!” Still, Moses begged God, “Even so, Lord, please save these people!” God said to Moses, “Put a bronze serpent on a pole and lift it high. Tell the people of Israel that whoever looks up at this bronze serpent will be saved.” 
Moses relayed this instruction to the people of Israel. And whoever obeyed and looked up at the bronze serpent on the pole was indeed healed from the poison and saved. Like this, just as the bronze serpent was lifted up high, so was our Lord this after being baptized by John the Baptist; lifted up high on the Cross and bore the curses of all our sins in our place. Bitten by sins venom, we were all inexorably destined to be put to death and cursed, but to save such people like us, the Lord was crucified to death. And just as the people looked up at the bronze serpent nailed on a Cross in the Old Testament were saved, so has God given the blessing of being born again to all those who believe in the righteous work of God that Jesus achieved by being baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River, and who believe in the crucified Lord as their Savior. God the Father made our Lord bear all the curses of all the sins of this world, and He also made Him shed His blood to death. 
By being baptized by John the Baptist, dying on the Cross, and rising from the dead, Jesus has given more than enough grace for every sinner to be saved from the condemnation of sins. The Lord told Nicodemus that no one has ascended to heaven but He who came from heaven, the Son of Man. With the gospel of the water and the Spirit, our Lord has opened up the way to receive the remission of sins and everlasting life. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). By bearing all the sins of mankind and being crucified, our Lord has opened the Door of Heaven for the first time, so that all who believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior may enter into the Kingdom of Heaven by this faith. The Lord has saved us perfectly from all our sins once and for all through the gospel Truth of the water and the Spirit.
Jesus said, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up” (John 3:14). What reason was there for our Lord to be crucified? Did He sin like us? Was He weak like us? Did He have flaws like us? No, of course not! Yet despite this, our Lord still had to be crucified and be nailed on the accursed tree. This was all done to deliver you and me from our sins and to save us. It was to save not just you and me but also everyone in this world that Jesus Himself bore all the sins of all the people in this world once and for all through the baptism He received from John the Baptist; it is because Jesus took upon our sins like this that He was able to be crucified to deliver mankind from the judgment; and that is how the Lord has blessed us to be born again wholly at once through the gospel of the water and the Spirit (1 John 5:3-7). 
Anyone can receive the remission of sins and be born again of water and the Spirit only when they truly believe in the work of the baptism of Jesus and His blood on the Cross. God blesses only those who truly believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit to receive the washing away of their sins once and for all, and to become God’s own children once and for all. It’s only by faith, by believing in the baptism Jesus received from John the Baptist and the blood He shed on the Cross as it is recorded in the Word that we can be born again. 
The water here refers to the baptism that Jesus Christ received from John the Baptist, and the Spirit refers to the fact that Jesus is God Himself. God Himself came to this earth incarnated in the flesh of man, accepted all the sins of mankind once and for all by being baptized by John the Baptist, bore the condemnation of all these sins by being crucified, and has thereby saved those who believe from their sins and judgment. This is the work of the Holy Spirit. We had all been sinners, but the Lord has saved us by being baptized by John the Baptist and by shedding His blood on the Cross while shouldering the sins of mankind. It is our Lord who has saved us through the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Jesus said that only those who are born again of the gospel of the water and the Spirit can see the Kingdom of Heaven and enter it. 
Being born again of water and the Spirit is possible only if we believe that Jesus has blotted out our sins with the baptism He received and the blood He shed on the Cross. Jesus is the Son of God Almighty, and He is also God Himself and the Savior who created us and the heavens and the earth. Having come to this earth incarnated in the flesh of man, He gave up His body on the Cross to bear the curses of mankind in their place, was buried and rose from the dead again in three days, and through this has thereby made it possible for whoever believes in Him to enter the Kingdom of God. That is why our Lord testified that He had become the High Priest of the Kingdom of Heaven.
 
 
The Lord Is the Door of the Sheep
 
The Lord said that He is the door of the sheep. Who is then standing by the door of Heaven? Our Lord is standing there. Who opens this door? It is our Lord who opens it. Therefore, to enter through the door of Heaven, one must have faith in the baptism of Jesus and His blood on the Cross. Such a confession of faith is indispensable to all of us. Those who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit will enter through this Door, but those who do not believe in this heavenly gospel have not been born again, they will be cast into another place. Whoever denies the divinity of Jesus, His incarnation, or the baptism through which He bore all the sins of mankind will not be able to go through the door of Heaven. 
God blocks all such unbelievers who do not believe in the God-given gospel of the water and the Spirit from entering Heaven, those who do not believe that Jesus is God Himself, who do not believe that He took upon all their sins, and who do not believe that He bore all the condemnation of sins. In contrast, those who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit will be allowed to enter the Kingdom of Heaven to partake in all its glory and enjoy everlasting life, for they have received the remission of sins. None other than this is the power of the gospel of the water and the Spirit and God’s merciful salvation. 
Like the bronze serpent lifted up high on the pole, so was our Lord lifted up high on the Cross after bearing the sins of mankind by being baptized by John the Baptist. Having shouldered the sins of the world, He bore all our condemnation. This is the gospel Truth of the water and the Spirit. This is mankind’s salvation from their sins. This gospel power of the water and the Spirit is the only Truth through which mankind can receive the remission of sins from God by faith. Do you now understand what it means to be born again of water and the Spirit? What is the Truth of being born again? How can we be regenerated? How do we become new men and women? How can we be saved from our sins? How are we made sinless from our sinful and defiled state? How can we be transformed into the righteous from being sinners? The Truth of all these things is made possible only by believing in the gospel of the baptism of Jesus and His blood on the Cross. 
Tragically, countless people in this world are oblivious to this Truth, and in their ignorance, even Christians today, believe in Jesus just blindly. Nothing could be more lamentable than this. It’s heartbreaking to see so many Christians trying so hard to find their deliverance from sin, but all in vain, and in the end turning themselves into hypocrites. Just as Nicodemus in today’s Scripture reading did not know how to be born again of water and the Spirit, so do the theologians in this age, ministers, and Christians alike, do not know how to be born again of water and the Spirit. Nicodemus was a man of great knowledge and honor. Even so, he could not understand the Word of Jesus at all, and like him, countless number of Christian ministers today are also unable to understand the Word properly. Although in carnal terms these so-called leaders of Christianity may have impressive positions and titles, they are spiritually blind. 
Much of John chapter 3 is about the conversation Jesus had with Nicodemus, running from verse 1 to verse 21. Jesus was speaking like this to open the eyes of a spiritually blind man. The light bulb finally went on in Nicodemus’ head, and he realized, “Aha! I knew that Jesus was no ordinary man, but now I know for sure that He is the Son of God and the Savior of mankind. I know that He is the Messiah who came to save me by bearing my sins and being condemned in my place! I know it now!”
As the result of this conversation, Nicodemus’ spiritual eyes were opened and he came to have the true faith. That’s why when Jesus died on the Cross, Nicodemus willingly took care of His funeral even though he was a member of the Sanhedrin. He brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes to prepare the body of Jesus for burial. Because Nicodemus was saved from his sins when he heard and believed in the Word of Jesus, he was now born again of water and the Spirit and was standing at the entrance to the Kingdom of Heaven. 
My fellow believers, we are born again to reach our salvation only when we believe in the Truth of the baptism Jesus received from John the Baptist and the blood He shed on the Cross while shouldering the sins of the world. It is by our faith in the baptism of Jesus and His blood on the Cross that we are truly born again. Jesus has made it possible for all of us who believe in His baptism and blood to be born again, as He has done this for everyone in this world who also believes in this exact same Truth. Through what are we born again then? It is through our faith in the baptism Jesus received and the blood He shed on the Cross. When Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, all our sins were passed to Him. Jesus is God Himself and the Creator, and He has blessed us to be born again by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. 
 
 
Jesus Is God 
 
To each and every human being, Jesus is God Himself. It’s written in John 1:1-3, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” Who is this Word? He is Jesus Christ who has saved us from all our sins through His baptism and blood. It is Jesus who came to this earth incarnated in the flesh of man, received baptism, died on the Cross, rose from the dead, and by this salvation, has enabled us to be born again - by faith. 
The Bible says in 1 Peter 3:21 that the baptism of Jesus is the antitype that saves us. I heard that when one of our brothers preached this to someone, this person became furious immediately and rejected it angrily, claiming that this was not what the Bible was saying. But rather than getting angry like this, you should rather listen to the Word of God carefully, and if God’s Word is right, then you should believe in it. That is the wise thing to do. If you hear the Truth from the righteous who have been born again by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, you will begin to understand what the Bible is saying. Where, then, could you hear this gospel Truth of the water and the Spirit? It’s only in God’s Church where you can hear this Truth. Although we were sinners, Jesus has saved us from all our sins by being baptized by John the Baptist and shedding His blood. And whoever teaches this Truth is undoubtedly a precious servant of God. 
The Bible says that Jesus was lifted up on the Cross so “that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:15). What about you then? Have you really received the remission of sins and everlasting life by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit? Have you really been born again by believing in the righteousness of the Lord? It doesn’t matter who you are. As long as you believe that the Lord has saved sinners like you though the water and the Spirit, you will receive the remission of sins and be born again. Indeed, it’s to your own loss if you do not believe in the salvation that has come by the baptism of Jesus and His blood on the Cross. You will not see the powerful work of the gospel unfolding like dynamite in your life. It is only when we believe in the Word of God that has come by the gospel of the water and the Spirit for the remission of sins that we can enjoy all its blessings. From our Lord’s incarnation on this earth to His baptism, His death on the Cross, and His resurrection, all these things were the work of salvation that Jesus did on this earth. The undeniable Truth is that if we believe in this Jesus who came to us by the water and the Spirit, we will indeed be born again, reach our salvation, and live forever. That is what our Lord meant by “heavenly things” when He said to Nicodemus, “If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?” (John 3:12). 
The very gospel through which Jesus has saved us from the sins of the world is the gospel of the water and the Spirit. God has saved you and me from the sins of the world and delivered us from Satan through the water and the Spirit, and this is all Jesus’ work of salvation. It is the grace of God that has made it possible for us to be saved - only if we believe in the water and the blood as fulfilled by our Lord. So, there are two types of Grace that Jesus has given to mankind. One is His universal grace, and the other is His special grace. The universal grace of the Lord refers to the grace of God that is evident in the bounties of nature, from the sun to the air to everything else that sustains our lives on this earth. 
This is the grace that God has bestowed on everyone equally, to the righteous and sinners alike. In contrast, the special grace of God is the fact that Jesus has blotted out all our sins by coming to this earth incarnated in the flesh of man, received baptism from John the Baptist, and being crucified while shouldering the sins of the world. It is by believing in this special grace, the salvation that has come by the water and the Spirit, that we are born again and saved. Hallelujah! Praise be to the Lord!