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    April 9, 2017

    ADULT SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON

    GODS SAVING LOVE IN CHRIST

    MINISTRY INVOCATION

    O God: We give thanks to You for the manifold blessings to us. You did not

    have to bless us but You did. We shall remain eternally grateful. Amen.

    WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW AND UNDERSTAND

    We will explore the story of Nicodemus, who learned from Jesus what it

    means to be born again, appreciate how Gods love offers salvation rather

    than condemnation, and seek to live as spiritually reborn people who know

    and respond to Gods love.

    THE APPLIED FULL GOSPEL DISTINCTIVE

    We believe in the indwelling of the Holy Ghost for all believers and that the

    Holy Ghost verifies and validates the Believer as part of the Body of Christ.

    Background Scripture

    Key Verse

    Lesson Scripture John 3:121 (NKJV)

    Christ Witnesses to Nicodemus

    3 There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 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. 3 Jesus answered and said to him, Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born

    again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. 4 Nicodemus said to Him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a

    second time into his mothers womb and be born? 5 Jesus answered, Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the

    Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and

    that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, You must be

    born again. 8 The 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. 9 Nicodemus answered and said to Him, How can these things be? 10 Jesus answered and said to him, Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know

    these things? 11 Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what

    We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness. 12 If I have told you earthly things and

    you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has

    ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is

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    in heaven. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son

    of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal

    life. 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever

    believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His

    Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. 18 He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is

    condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of

    God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men

    loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing

    evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But

    he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they

    have been done in God.

    COMMENTARY

    3:1 Nicodemus was an important man, a Pharisee and a ruler of the Jews.

    Johns description of him marks him not merely as a community leader but as

    one of the revered seventy, who along with the high priest composed the

    Sanhedrin, the equivalent of the Jewish Supreme Court. As the story

    progresses, it becomes clear to the reader that this leader of the Jews actually

    serves as a first-class example of why Jesus did not believe in human

    believing.

    3:2 Nicodemus came to Jesus at night. Although seasonal and day/night

    designations can properly be understood as time notations in this Gospel, they

    usually are more importantly also symbolic representations of the spiritual

    temperature of the people in the story. Light and darkness are conceived as

    opposing principles (1:45) with darkness in John illustrating the negative

    aspects such as the realm of Satan, error, evil, doubt, and unbelief. Some

    interpreters might suggest that Nicodemus came to Jesus at night to prevent

    detection or alternatively that (as an intense rabbi) he studied late into the

    night, but most commentators are agreed that the reference to night is a picture

    of a man who was in an uneasy state of unbelief or doubt.

    Nicodemuss initiation of the conversation with Jesus reminds us of a perfect

    example of Nicodemuss ironical misunderstanding of Jesus. Nicodemus,

    representing his learned group, began by addressing Jesus with the polite title

    Rabbi. In so doing, he graciously acknowledged Jesus as his equal, even

    though Jesus would be popularly recognized by council members as one of the

    ignorant, the working people of the land. Since Jesus had to work with his

    hands (a carpenter), He was expected to be unable to spend His time in the

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    minute study of the law and in the traditions of the elders. He was, therefore,

    not expected to know theology. The irony of John is evidenced, when

    Nicodemus in his evaluation concerning Jesus said, We know. By the time

    Nicodemus had finished with Jesus, however, it was his ignorance rather than

    Jesus that was clearly evident.

    To be fair to Nicodemus, we should note that he was in some ways quite

    accurate because, as he said, no one would be able to do the signs Jesus was

    doing if God were not with him. Signs were pointers to reality, and one of

    the important themes of this Gospel is the recurring call of Jesus for people to

    recognize the witness being given in the signs. Thus, Nicodemuss mere

    reliance on signs at this stage became an excellent example of the type of

    believing that is not really sufficient. Jesus understood the nature of genuine

    believing and knowing, and he recognized a faade or pseudo knowledge

    when he encountered it. Nicodemus did not realize what he was saying about

    knowing!

    The fact that the plural for signs is once again used together with the fact

    that there is a close connection with the earlier temple have led a number of

    scholars in suggesting that this is a displaced story from the last week of Jesus

    ministry.

    3:3 Jesus response to Nicodemus is a play on ability; namely, unless one is

    born from above, such a person is not able to see the kingdom of God. Jesus

    response begins with that familiar Johannine double amn (lit., truly, truly).

    It is a clear signal of an important affirmation by Jesus. The phrase kingdom

    of God is used only here and at verse 5 in the entire Johannine Gospel.

    Normally John did not use kingdom terminology because he seems to have

    preferred eternal life terminology. The use of kingdom at this point reminds

    the reader that John was not unfamiliar with the fact that Jesus employed such

    vocabulary in trying to explain the dynamic relationship humans can have

    with God.

    The story, however, is intriguing because it suggests a misunderstanding on

    the part of Nicodemus. When Jesus spoke to Nicodemus, He meant that this

    Pharisee should experience birth from God or birth from above.

    3:4 When Nicodemus heard Jesus assertion that he should have a birth

    experience, however, his imagination apparently went into high gear, and he

    interpreted Jesus birth statement as born again. A birth other than that like

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    his natural birth seems to have been beyond the thinking of Nicodemus. Birth

    for him apparently was limited to physical birth.

    Yet the concept of birth from above was hardly one that would have been

    readily discussed by Jews like Nicodemus. His questioning and puzzlement at

    the possibility of being born when one is old or of the reentry into a mothers

    womb (3:4) are quite understandable for one unfamiliar with the regeneration

    terminology of the New Testament age.

    3:58 Jesus responded to Nicodemuss twofold frustrated question by

    providing a more precise statement concerning this birth. He began once again

    with a double amn statement. Then he identified this birth from above as a

    birth of water and Spirit. These two words also should not be bifurcated as in

    some inadequate folk interpretations of the text where water is equated with

    the water of natural birth (either that of the sack in which the baby floats or

    the male fluid of the sex act). Water appears with Spirit conjunctively in 3:5,

    and flesh is contrasted with Spirit disjunctively in 3:6. Accordingly, water and

    flesh should not be equated. In this Johannine context, the combination of

    water and Spirit represents birth from above, a picture of life that involves a

    direct contrast to Nicodemuss perspective on life as involving physical

    existence. As indicated earlier, the linkage between water and Spirit would

    have been familiar to the Jews since both are related to the theme of life. For a

    people like the Jews, who lived on the edge of the desert, water was an

    indispensable requirement of life and even Christians viewed heaven as

    having a life-endued stream flowing from the throne of God. Concerning the

    life-giving Spirit, one onl

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