The story of Jesus and Nicodemus (John 3.1-17) shows us the difference between a Biblical or spiritual world view and what most people think. It is the key story for people who want nothing to do with "Religion" but want to have an authentic experience of the divine - a spiritual life. As we examine our spiritual lives in Lent it is important that we enter this conversation and ask ourselves if we really believe in being born again and the Holy Spirit. This is different from knowing about the Holy Spirit and generally the result of a personal experience of being "Born Again" and experiencing the Holy Spirit in daily life.
1. Candidates for Christian Baptism are asked some very heavy questions
This question comes as part of the examination of the candidates / sponsors and is part of the Apostles Creed in the Baptism Service. It is after the questions about renouncing Satan and evil and after the questions about accepting, trusting and obeying Jesus as Lord and Saviour. Nicodemus could not answer this question about being Born Again and receiving the Holy Spirit.
· For him Baptism was water baptism and cleansing
· For him you had to earn a right relationship with God by keeping the Law of Moses
· Romans Reading explains the difference between salvation by works vs by grace through faith
· The Apostles Creed summarizes this Faith
· Nicodemus was highly educated but could not understand what Jesus meant by being ‘born again’
· Many Anglicans in our time have the same problem
· We need to examine our own faith to prepare for our renewal of Baptismal promises at Easter
2. Serious Baptism preparation is essential in our time
We were raised and live in a postmodern culture
· Post-Modern philosophy is seriously anti-Christian
· Followed the Enlightenment – rejected miraculous
· Kant – “Religion Within the Limits of Reason Alone”
· Post Modernism – rejects absolute truth
· Yes this is ‘nuts’ - very upsetting and confusing
· Postmodernism denies the truth and authority of the Bible – especially miracles, Resurrection, Atonement
· Affected universities and seminaries that train clergy
· Liberal – Conservative debates in Anglican Church
· Challenges us to re-gain the Biblical perspective of Jesus and know:
· Why we still have to renounce Satan?
· Why we need a saviour?
· What does it mean to be born again?
· Why we believe in God the Holy Spirit?
3. Why do we still have to renounce Satan?
· Biblical worldview includes the supernatural
· Cannot cut out or tone down without destroying the Bible
· Bad news is Satan still lives on this demon infested planet
· Not just a superstitious myth from pre-scientific culture
· Healing ministry includes releasing people from spiritual oppression
· Have to see this to really believe it – so give yourself time
· Power of Satan is limited by God – read Job
· Has no power except to deceive us into opening doorways
· Our sin opens a doorway and gives Satan power over us
· We have the power to renounce and cancel Satan’s power
· Why Jesus had to die
· In Baptism we make a choice about who we will serve
· Baptismal Covenant places us under divine protection
4. Why do we need a saviour?
a. We have a spiritual enemy (Satan) who tests us
b. We are human and fail to love God and others
c. Our sins make us guilty and separate us from God
d. Need a way to undo the damage
e. Jesus promised that if we repented in faith and asked for forgiveness He would cover our guilt with His shed blood
5. What does it mean to be born again?
a. In Baptism we die to our old self-centred way of life
b. Our emotional death cancels past guilt and shame
c. Are cleansed - Holy Spirit can come and live in us
d. Holy Spirit gives us spiritual energy of joy, healing
e. Holy Spirit teaches, guides and protects us – new life
6. Holy Spirit gives us a new spiritual life
a. A new way of seeing things – new perspective
b. Live in the physical world – aware of the spiritual world
c. W are to be signs of God’s love living in a physical world
d. This is the spiritual life we are given by the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is how we experience God in our daily lives