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Enter the Kingdom
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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:
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
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
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 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
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
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.
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.
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
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.