Thursday, September 9, 2010

September 10, 2010

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16

Let me ask you a question. “What are you doing to try to make it to Heaven?”

If someone where to ask you, “How do I get to Heaven from Fredericksburg, VA, would you be able to give them directions?” “Do you know how to get there?”

This morning I want to answer that question. I want to show you how to get to Heaven from Fredericksburg, VA.

How are you with directions? I’m pretty good with directions, but then – I’m a man. Men always know where they are and where they are going and how to get there. We never get lost!

But just so you don’t have to take my word for it, let me rely on an even more reliable source. Someone like – JESUS!

In the Gospel of John, there is a story about a man named Nicodemus (great name isn’t it?) who came to Jesus wanting to know how to get to Heaven.

How about if we eavesdrop on this conversation and see what we can learn from Nicodemus and Jesus?

You’ve Got To Know Who To Ask, Vv. 1-2

Asking the wrong person doesn’t help much. Watch this:

Nicodemus didn’t make that mistake he came to the right person. He came to Jesus. If you need directions to Heaven Jesus would be your Guy!

So, how do you know who to ask? How did Nicodemus know where to go?

1) Jesus had authority – “we know you are a teacher come from God”

2) Jesus had authenticity – “For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him."

Nicodemus was drawn to Jesus because Jesus reflected the reality of God in His life.

Is there a person in your life whom you can trust to ask the "big" questions about life and death and eternity? How have they won your trust? Are they worthy of your trust?

Does that person's life demonstrate spiritual authority? Are they grounded in the Bible? Do they live by the truths and principles of Scripture? Do good things happen when they pray? Is there life-change happening in them and around them wherever they have influence?

That is the sort of person you could trust for directions to get you to Heaven.

Are you a person like that?

September 9, 2010

"In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again." "How can a man be born when he is old?" Nicodemus asked. "Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born!" Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.' The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit." John 3:3-8

A preacher was once preaching about Heaven and he was good! Passionately and eloquently he elaborated on the golden streets and the pearly gates and the angelic choir and the crystal sea and the river of life and the throne of God and the eternal bliss! He was on a roll and he had the congregation in a frenzy. (Of course, if you can't get people excited about Heaven you're not much of a preacher).

At the conclusion of this stem-winder he asked for a show of hands for everyone who wanted to go to Heaven. Well, every hand in the place shot high in the air - except for one. The preacher was momentarily thrown by this but figured the man must not have heard the question. So he repeated in louder and engendered the same response - all hands except this one fellow.

The preacher was curious now so he called this guy out, "Sir, I see you are the only one who doesn't want to go Heaven. Can you tell this congregation why that is?"

"Well, preacher," the man responded, "I definitely want to go to Heaven! But it sounded like you were trying to get a group together to go today and I can wait for later!"

That is what I have found about Heaven - everyone wants to go, they just don't want to go today! You can add me to that number!

It is like the Indian scout that came back to General Custer on that fateful day. He reported to the General, "I have 'em bad news and I have 'em some good news."

"Give me the bad news first," Instructed Custer.

"As far as I can see to east there are Indians. As far as I can see to the north there are Indians. I look to the west and all I can see is an Indian war party. When I looked to the south - nothing but Indian braves!"

"Wow, that IS bad news," moaned the General.

"What's the good news?"

"You won't have to go back through Nebraska!"

Heaven has some real good news and a little bit of bad news.

The good news is that it will be an amazingly beautiful place of peace and joy and fulfillment. There will be no more pain and suffering. There will be no sin or evil. We will get to see God and we will get to see Jesus and we can fellowship with all the great saints of the ages. We will get to be with loved ones and there will be no more good-byes. And that is just a short list!

The bad news is we have to go through death to get there.

But when Nicodemus came to Jesus to find out about Heaven Jesus didn't talk to him of death, He taught him about birth. A second birth. A spiritual rebirth that has to happen in order to be prepared for Heaven.

God's Kingdom is a spiritual Kingdom. Flesh and blood cannot enter it. Especially sinful flesh and blood.

You and I are born into this world as sinful fallen creatures by virtue of our human nature which was corrupted by Adam. So, we come into this world spiritually separated from God, Who is holy. Jesus is telling Nicodemus that the reason he can't understand these spiritual truths Jesus is teaching is because his spirit is dead and unresponsive to God. God is a Spirit.

That is why sin is wrong. Sin doesn't threaten God or lessen God. Sin saddens God because it keeps us separated from Him and He desires fellowship.

Being "born again" requires a decision to turn away from our sinful desires and turn to Christ. When you turn to Christ and trust Him to be your Savior the Spirit of God enters your spirit and brings it to life. Your spirit lives because it is connected to the One Who is the source of Life.

"Born of water" refers to your physical birth. But "born of the spirit" means a spiritual rebirth is required to bring you into His Kingdom. Once you are "born again" you can live in relationship with God and He can begin the process of transforming your heart and your mind into the image of Christ.

Don't die unless you have been born - again!