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Sermon Based Curriculum


Sermon Date: Jan. 17, 2010

Sermon Title: Nice, But Not Enough

Sermon Text: John 3:1-21

Small Group Text: John 3:1-9

Introduction

Discussion

There are made up stories and the real story about how babies come to be. When you were a child, what were you told? How old were you when you learned the real story? Similarly, there are made up stories and the real story about how our spiritual life comes to be. Ultimately, both physical and spiritual births are miraculous. In both events, the newborn participates but has nothing to do with creating the birth experience. Jesus discusses this profound mystery with a man named Nicodemus who thought that he, himself, was responsible for creating his own spiritual life.

1. Read John 3:1-9. What can we learn about Nicodemus from these verses? (He was a Pharisee. He was a member of the ruling council. He was intrigued about the teachings of Jesus.)

2. The Pharisees were a group of Jews who thought they could achieve spiritual life by strictly obeying the laws of the Old Testament as well as their own rules, traditions, and teachings. Why would this idea make sense to them? (It gives people the sense that they can earn eternal life.) Is this typical of other religious teachings? (All other world religions and even some Christian denominations believe that we can “earn/merit our salvation.�)

3. As a Pharisee, it would seem that Nicodemus had the religious life all figured out. Why, then, was he seeking insight from Jesus? (For all of his good works, he still lacked certainty in the matter of how to have eternal life.)


4. The Greek word that Jesus uses for spiritual birth ( anothen ) can have several meanings – two of which are, born again (a second time) and born from above (from God) . Why do you think Nicodemus interpreted Jesus’ statement to be “born again” as entering “a second time into his mother’s womb?” (He, like many of us, had no concept of what it meant to be regenerated/renewed by the Spirit. Most people think strictly in terms of their physical existence.)

5. Throughout John’s New Testament writings, he makes reference to God’s people as being born of God. ( John 1:13, I John 3:9; 4:7; 5:1, 5:4; & 5:18) What is Jesus talking about if he is, indeed, saying that we must be “born from above?” (A spiritual re-birth brought about by the love, grace, and power of God. The Spirit of God working through the Word of God to bring about the Life of God.)

6. What point is Jesus making by comparing spiritual birth to the wind in verse 8? (The wind in Jesus’ day was a mysterious force but its effect was undeniable. So too, the power of God to bring new life is a mystery but it’s effect is undeniable.)

7. As the wind creates an effect, new life from above also creates an effect. What should be evident in a life “born from above”? (See Galatians 5:22-23.)

Application

1. What religious practices do many people count on to inherit eternal life? 2. Read Ephesians 2:8-9 & Titus 3:5. According to these Scriptures, what role do religious practices and behaviors play in helping us achieve a relationship with God and inherit eternal life? 3. If I cannot begin a relationship with God or earn eternal life by my own religious practices and behaviors, then how can I be “born from above?” Read John 3:16-17 – “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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. “

Sermon-Based Curriculum


Jan. 17 Curriculum w. notes