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Enter the Kingdom

John 3:5-12

The Lord Jesus Christ is talking to Nicodemus here.  Verse 10 tells us that he was a master of Israel.  This is the equivalent of Rabbi.  We looked at this last week.  The definite article “the” is used with both words here:  The teacher of the Israel.  He was the well known or the authorized or the accepted teacher of the Israel of God.  You didn’t have to tell him the story of Moses; he knew a lot of the OT by heart, I’m sure.  Nicodemus was the master of Israel, he knew the Scriptures, the OT.  Jesus is saying, “You know the OT yet you don’t understand?” 

Jesus was not talking to someone who was ignorant of the Word of God.  The Lord was trying to teach Nicodemus about heavenly things.  He was taking him from where he was, which was in earthly things and trying to help him comprehend heavenly things.  And he said in verse 12, “If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you [of] heavenly things?”

In [John 3:6] the Lord says, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”  This should have been the key to what Jesus was trying to teach him.

Here in verse 5, it says, “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and [of] the Spirit, he cannot enter [emphasize] into the kingdom of God.”  To refresh our thoughts, last week we were studying seeing the Kingdom of God, verse 5 is talking about entering.  You cannot enter, except ye be born of water and spirit.

The word water and the word spirit; this is a compound prepositional phrase.  A preposition is a word that is used with a noun or pronoun to make it so that it can be used as an adjective or adverb.  Both the water and spirit are covered by one preposition; the word water and the word spirit can both be taken literally, or can both be spiritualized; not one of each.  

“Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and [of] the Spirit, he cannot enter [emphasize] into the kingdom of God.”  I’ve heard it taught that this is talking about baptism and the Holy Spirit, but I don’t think that’s correct; I’ve taught this.  There’s no definite article “the” before the word “spirit” here.  It simply says “born of water and spirit”.  This isn’t talking about water baptism.  I think verse 6 is explaining what verse 5 is teaching, verse 6 says, “That which is born of flesh is flesh and that which is born of spirit is spirit.”  “That which is born of flesh…” That’s the key to understanding what Jesus is trying to teach.

There are those that teach that if you’re not baptized, you’re not saved.  That’s called baptismal regeneration.  The Church of Christ and others teach that baptism is necessary for being saved; if you’re not baptized, you can’t see the Kingdom of God.  [expound Acts 16:32 and tie into last week and seeing.]

This portion of Scripture here in John chapter 3 is dealing with entering.  There’s a difference between seeing and entering.  There are those who are qualified to enter the game and those who can see the game.  Anyone with a ticket, which can be obtained simply by asking, can see the game.  You have to qualify to enter the game.  Maybe that’s a bad analogy.  [I used to race; you could see by asking, you had to qualify to enter, and there were different rewards based on how well you ran the race.]

[Galatians 4]  Paul is talking to those in Galatia; talking to that church, and churches in general, and he says, [Galatians 4:29].  Here is a reference to those who are born in the flesh and those born in spirit.  [Again, no article.]  What he is talking about is two different covenants that are basically an allegory, or a story that describes another story.  [Galatians 4:21-31]

I believe that being born out of water and out of spirit is an allegory and it is tied to the covenants that were given to Abraham through his two sons.  This is why Nicodemus should have appreciated this; Nicodemus appreciated the fact that there were two covenants.  In the OT, the picture of Isaac and Ishmael is a picture of law and grace.

Isaac and Ishmael were both the seed of Abraham.  When it talks about Ishmael being the seed of the Jerusalem that now is, it’s in reference to the law.  The “Jerusalem that now is” is referring to the Jerusalem in Palestine:  The Promised Land, the land flowing with milk and honey…  That’s in verse 25.

Verse 26 is talking about the Jerusalem which is above.  The Jerusalem which is above is a place that we enter into, in that coming kingdom of glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.  This is talking about the promise that was given to Isaac.

Here in this passage, we’re talking about law and grace.  People say, “I’m not under the law, I’m under grace.”  And that’s what it says in Romans 6:14.  (For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.)  Even though we’re not under the law, we’re not above it.  [Emphasize:  Even though we’re not under the law, we’re not above it.]  Why?  Because we’re under grace.  To be obedient, we have to abide by the law that God has given us.  Not for salvation, but for obedience.

But the law isn’t enough.  The simple fact is this:  The blessings of being under grace are much greater than the blessings of being under the law.  Under the law, you did have a  blessing from God.  Half the tribe of Manasseh and Reuben and Gad, and even the descendents of Esau had a portion given to them.  But, it wasn’t the best place; it was the where the law was given; out in the wilderness.

The passage here in Galatians says, “Cast out the bondwoman and her son; the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman”.  The freewoman is a type or a picture of those in the land of Canaan; the land flowing with milk and honey.  The picture of the bondwoman is a type of the Jerusalem that now is.

Many are satisfied with being under the law.  If you fall from grace, where do you fall?  When you fall from grace, you fall under the law.  When you fall under the law, what has dominion over you?  Sin.  If you’re under the law, sin has dominion over you.  If you’re obedient unto righteousness, what has dominion over you?  Grace.  [don’t read:  Romans 6:14-18]

[Romans 5:21]  How does grace reign?  Through righteousness.  Can you be disobedient and be righteous?  No.  [Romans 6:16; emphasize and repeat, “obedience that leads to righteousness”.]  If we’re obedient, what are we obedient to?  The law, the commandments, and doing what the Father wants us to do.  You must be born of water; that’s the law; you’ve got to have it.  What does the law have to do with the children of Israel that came out of Egypt?  It brought them all the way across the desert, across the wilderness, and it prepared them to live by faith.

The law is a schoolmaster.  The law is a disciplinarian.  You might be familiar with John Newton.  He wrote the song, “Amazing Grace”, and some others, and he would be considered a great Christian.  When he was young, he was a little troublemaker.  He grew into a god­less and aban­doned man.  He was once flogged as a de­sert­er from the Na­vy, and for 15 months lived, half starved and ill-treated, as a slave in Africa.  A chance reading of Thom­as à Kemp­is, who wrote, “An Imitation of Christ”, sowed the seed of his con­ver­sion.  Of course, it was ac­cel­er­at­ed by a night spent steer­ing a wa­ter­logged ship in the face of ap­par­ent death.

“Stories of Great Christians” relates this story about him:  When he was young, his mother had taught him Latin and how to read, but he was sent away to school and was having trouble.  One of his teachers asked him, “Why aren’t you learning your numbers?”  He replied, “You’re making me forget them!”

The teacher said, “I’m not here to make you forget, I’m here to make you learn”.  [Pop!  Pop!  On his knuckles.]

That’s the law.  The law is living under the hickory stick, so to speak.  When you graduate from the hickory stick to grace, what a relief!  Discipline and the law says that we can cross through the Jordan on dry ground to the land flowing with milk and honey, but it’s a land we have to take or to possess!  We have to possess the land by defeating our enemies.  Why do you think we have spiritual warfare today?  Is it just to have something to do from one Sunday to the next, out there fighting the devil?  No.

If we don’t war a good warfare, we’ll not enter into our inheritance.  Did you know that?  If we don’t war a good warfare, we’ll not enter into the Kingdom of God and rule and reign.  Reuben, Manasseh and Gad had to fight so their brothers could enter in, and they didn’t get the blessings that their brothers got.  Sometimes, God’s children have to fight “just because”.  That’s terrible, but that’s just the way it is, there are no blessings for a lot of God’s children.

If you live under the law, then the law will have dominion over you, and if you serve sin, you’ll perish in the wilderness just like Moses and all those over 20 did when they left Egypt.  If grace reigns, you’re not under or above the law; it takes obedience for grace to reign.  [1 Timothy 1:8-9]  Those who are obedient are living where?  Under grace.  The Law isn’t written for the obedient.

How many of you carry a big book of traffic laws in the car with you?  As you roll up to a stop sign, you pull out that book and look up what you’re supposed to do?  You don’t do that, do you?  You’re obedient.  The law’s not written for the obedient, they’re simply obedient and abide by it.

Who was the law written for?  (Don’t read, but it’s in verse 9.)  The lawless, the disobedient, the ungodly, liars, and you can go on.  The law was written so that we may have epignosis of sin.  [Knowledge upon knowledge.]  Let me tell you, if you put yourself under the law, sin is in dominion of your life, and you’re a servant of sin.  We need to serve grace!

Isaac and Ishmael in Galatians is an allegory.  That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit,” is an allegory in John 3.  Nicodemus knew the story of Isaac and Ishmael and knew what it meant; it had to do with inheritance.  The Pharisees were looking for the wrong inheritance.  Our inheritance has to do with entering in.

Isaac and Ishmael aren’t joint heirs; their inheritance was not equal.  It’s interesting to see what Ishmael got.  [Genesis 21:13-14; don’t read yet]  Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”  [Genesis 21:13-14; emphasis on “he is thy seed”.]  That was Ishmael’s inheritance:  A loaf of bread and a bottle of water.  Compare that to Isaac’s inheritance:  There is no comparison!

If you want to live under the law, then you’ll be satisfied with a loaf of bread and a bottle of water.  The Lord had plans for Ishmael.  He had 12 sons just like Jacob.  They both got an inheritance from Abraham, but compare bread and water to what Isaac got; he got everything!  What did Abraham have?  He had camels, sheep, cattle, gold, silver, servants…  Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”  As a type, in comparison between Isaac and Ishmael, why would anyone choose anything less than the blessing of entering into the Kingdom of the Heavens?

[Galatians 5:1]  The yoke of bondage is the law.  If you’re under law, you’re in bondage.  If you’re under grace, you’re free.  [Galatians 5:4]  If you fall from grace, you’re under law; you’re under bondage to sin.  If you’re under sin, you serve sin; if you serve sin, you will perish; you will lose your life for the age.  [Not salvation.]

What is the exhortation to us today?  We need to stay under grace; we need to go to the throne of grace; we need to stay obedient unto righteousness that grace may reign in our lives.

[Hebrews 4]  Hebrews 3 tells us in verse 17 tells us that the Lord was grieved for 40 years with those who had sinned, and their carcasses fell in the wilderness, and they entered no into his rest; they entered not in because (pause) they were not of faith; they were not persuaded; they entered not in because of their unbelief.

[Hebrews 4:1-2]  The gospel that was preached unto them that was not mixed with faith didn’t have to do with their salvation; all those who came out of Egypt were baptized in the cloud and in the Red Sea; they were all saved.  This gospel that was preached unto the saved has to do with what?  “Gospel” means “good news” and this is the good news of the land flowing with milk and honey; their inheritance.  The gospel is manifold; it has many aspects, and here, it is not mixed with faith.

The first act of faith by the children of Israel was crossing the Red Sea on dry ground.  The next act of faith was defeating Jericho.  There’s no record of faith in between (although there’s a lot of grumbling).  Not mixed with faith.  That’s why they didn’t enter in.  [Hebrews 4:3]  Want to know an interesting study?  Just do a study on the foundation of the world.  That is talking about Kingdom truths; that is talking about entering the Kingdom.

[Matthew 25]  This same phrase is found.  [Matthew 25:34]  That expression, “Foundation of the world”, has to do with entering the Kingdom; not just seeing, but entering!  These people entered in because they had ministered to the saints; “to the least of these my brethren.”  What you’ve done unto them, you’ve done it to me. 

Hebrews 6:10 says, “For God [is] not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.”  That reference to the foundation of the world is a reference to entering into the Kingdom; ruling and reigning.

[Hebrews 4:9; don’t read yet]  This is Joshua speaking about rest in verse 8 (the KJV says Jesus, but it’s a reference to Joshua, which is the OT equivalent); [Hebrews 4:9]  The people of God are saved.  The “rest” here is an interesting word:  It’s a Sabbath rest.  It’s a Greek word (Sabbatismos) that means the Sabbath rest or the Sabbath day or 7th day rest.  The Lord rested on the 7th day.  Well, what is the 7th day as far as we’re concerned?  It’s the millennial reign of Christ.  It’s the 7000th year and it’s when Christ will rule and reign.

Therefore it says in verse 11, [Hebrews 4:11].  “Now Nicodemus, you have to be born out of water (the law) and out of spirit”, and that has to do with the promise given to Isaac and his seed.  That has to do with being born of spirit; a sanctified spirit, a fervent spirit, that’s what’s being dealt with here.

[2 Peter 1:10; don’t read yet]  With this, we’ll close.  In Hebrews, it says, “Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest”, but we also have to fight a good warfare; we have to be victorious.  We cannot let our enemies defeat us.  [2 Peter 1:10-11; age-lasting; emphasize abundant entrance]  If you do these things, you’ll have an abundant entrance.  What things is he telling us to do?  What things must we do?  [2 Peter 1:5-7]

What is virtue?  It’s moral excellence.  You need to have faith and then add moral excellence.  That’s behaving ourselves; obedience; it’s doing the things that God has commanded us to do.

Add to moral excellence, knowledge.  Knowledge of the Word of God for our warfare.

Add to knowledge temperance.  What is temperance?  It’s self-control; control of the flesh.

Add to temperance, patience.  Patience is endurance.  You need to endure.  If you endure, what?  You will rule.  It says “suffer” in the KJV, but the word is “endure”.  If you endure with Him, you will rule; if you don’t endure, you won’t rule.

And to patience, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 

(Reading in verse 10)  If you do these things, you’ll not fall.  If you do these things, you’ll not stumble.  And an abundant entrance shall be ministered unto you in His coming Kingdom and glory.

May the Lord help us appreciate the value of entering into His coming Kingdom in glory.  And I hope you have a new appreciation of John 3:5.

A man born not of water and spirit cannot enter into the Kingdom.  It’s talking about law and grace.  They both apply.  We need to behave and we need to trust Him.  We can trust Him; He’s shown us that.

If we feed on his faithfulness, what do we get to do?  Dwell in the land; we can rule and reign in His coming Kingdom and not just see it.

Father, we thank you so much for your Word and guidance.  We thank you for your patience and longsuffering to help us come to the truth.  May we respond to Your teaching of both earthly and heavenly things and help us into the inheritance of Isaac.  Bless this word unto our hearts and bless us unto thine honor and glory.