When in doubt, just be born again.
SEPTEMBER 8, 2020
Zach Van Dyke:
When in doubt, just be born again. Let’s talk about it on Key Life.
You’re listening to Key Life. We’re here to communicate the freeing truth that God’s not mad at his children. Steve Brown invited Zach Van Dyke to do the teaching this week. Zach’s the teaching pastor at Summit Church here in Orlando, Florida. If you’re a struggling believer, you’ve come to the right place.
Zach Van Dyke:
Thanks Matthew. And thank you all for joining again this week as Steve is taking a little bit of a break, but don’t worry. Our fearless leader will be back on Friday with Pete to do Q & A, so if you have questions. He’s got answers. So I encourage you to send your questions into Key Life and then tune in on Fridays to hear him and Pete, tackle them Well, I’m wrapping up this week, a series that I started back in July, a three parter called When In Doubt. And in this series, we’re looking at 1 John, a letter that was written by the only disciple who lived in into old age. So, you know, most of the other disciples were martyred at a pretty young age. So John’s really the only one who was there with Jesus who lives to be, you know, 80, maybe even 90 years old. And so in his letter to the church, in his gospel account of the life of Jesus and also in Revelation, We’re getting a man who’s kind of been through a lot of this Christian life and he’s writing us to encourage us. He’s writing us because he desperately wants us to know Jesus, because he knows Jesus has changed his life. And as we look at the end of this letter to the church, I really see John is pleading with us, saying listen, everything else I’ve said in this letter. Mostly. I just want you to know Jesus, because if you know, Jesus it’ll change everything, John’s been through a lot. He suffered a lot. He’s, he’s probably suffering as he writes the letter. We know he was exiled to an island because of his faith. And, uh, so at the end of his life, he’s probably lonely. He’s probably worried about the church. He. He, you know, he doesn’t know, uh, what, what lies ahead for the church, other than the vision he had about revelation, which probably kept him up at night, um, until he got to the end of the vision, right? But you know, I think John wants so desperately for us younger believers to know that God is trustworthy. And that in fact, you and I can have a relationship with that God, that is everlasting. One of the things that I find so compelling about the letter is how clear it is to John, that it’s not just about getting us saved, it’s about the fellowship that’s on the other side of salvation. About the restoration of relationship with our creator, about the restoration of our relationship with each other. I mean, early on in the letter he talks about walking in the light as God is in the light and how that frees us to truly be known by each other. That if we really believe that God sees us as we really are and still loves us and accepts us, then that frees us to tell the truth about ourselves with each other. And that, that really is the, that is one of the most joyful things about being a Christian. I know many of you grow up in Christian environments and in churches where it’s not safe, where you feel like if I reveal the truth about myself, I’m going to be kicked out. People are going to reject me. So that should not be the case. This church should be the safest place for us to get together and say, we’re a mess. I mean, Steve often says we’re just beggars telling other beggars where we found bread. We’re not, we’re not, we’re not around each other to kind of build each other up and say, Hey, look how great I am. Look at how much I’m achieving. Look at how obedient I am. No, we’re, we’re here to say, look at how amazing his love for us is. And that’s really, kind of what John wants to leave us with, I believe in this letter to the church. One thing that John says over and over again throughout the gospel of John and in this letter is about being born of God and how important that is, how you and I, we have to be born again, essentially. He says everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God. Now for those of you who didn’t grow up in the church, that might seem real odd. Because for those of us who did, it’s a very familiar, you know, phrase for us. And, you know, lots of us walked the aisle several times. Many of us have been to retreats where we’ve been manipulated and, and rededicating our life to Jesus again and again, and again and again and again, and, um, you know, accepting what Jesus did for us. And so for us, that idea of being born again, like we probably don’t even think about it. But I know for those of you who have never had any exposure to the church, that’s real strange, right? In fact, the first time that idea was introduced was in the gospel of John in John chapter three, there’s this very well known exchange that takes place between Jesus and this highly religious man. There’s a man by the name of Nicodemus. And he was a Pharisee, which meant he knew the Old Testament Bible better than you do. better than anyone else did. He spent his whole life studying it and learning it and trying to teach other people what it means and how to obey it. And we also know that he was, he had, he was very successful. He had achieved a lot. He had a lot of wealth. He was pretty high up in the religious structure of the day. But he notices Jesus doing his thing and he sees this kind of renegade preacher man. And he’s talking about the scriptures in a way that he’s never heard and he’s loving people in a way that he’s never seen demonstrated, and it’s all intriguing to him, but he also knows that it’s messing up the establishment. And so if he wants to have a real conversation with Jesus, he’s going to have to do it under the cover of night. He has to do it when no one else will we’ll know that it’s happening. So he invites Jesus over to his house, but in the middle of the night and Jesus accommodates him and he shows up in the middle of the night and Nicodemus says to Jesus, Hey, I’ve been watching you. And I’m, I’m, I’m intrigued, maybe even impressed. You talk about things that, that I just have never heard expounded that way in the scriptures and the way you serve people and the way you love, like, it’s, it’s, it’s interesting. I would like to learn from you good teacher. And he know what Jesus, his response to him is? He doesn’t say, now that I have your attention, let me explain to you the scriptures. He looks at him this very well educated, very sophisticated, very wealthy, very religious man. And he says, Hey, you must be born again. Alright, that’s crazy, right? I mean, if you imagine the look on this, this man’s face when that’s the response that Jesus gives to him, it had to have been a look of just utter shock and like, I have invited a nutcase over for, for, for, for a conversation. I mean, he’s probably really glad that it was the middle of the night because this just seems crazy. I mean Nicodemus’ whole life was about religion and following the rules and being moral, he spent his whole life studying the Bible and teaching others what it says. And Jesus looks at him and says, Hey listen, if you really want to, if you really want to learn anything from me, if you really want even to, to, to understand me, you must be born again. So what is Jesus saying? He’s saying if you want to have a relationship with me at all, I can’t just be your teacher. I can’t just be a good example for you to follow. Now, if you, if you want to understand me even the slightest bit, it starts with being born again. We must all be born again. Every single one of us. Why is that? Why can’t we just look at Jesus as a teacher? Why can’t we just look at Jesus as a great moral example? Well, the reason is Jesus didn’t come to offer us a new system of self-improvement. Jesus, didn’t start a new religion. To be born again, it’s not just, Hey, you need to turn over a new leaf or you just need to change in this area of your life. You need to get some control over this struggle. It means you must have every part of your life made new. It’s a, it’s a revolution in every aspect of your being. You have to become something brand new. That’s what Jesus says. He says, listen, you’ve had teachers, you’ve had profits you’ve you you’ve had every kind of opportunity to learn the right stuff. It doesn’t work. It doesn’t work. The only thing that will work is to be made new and listen, Jesus oftentimes says, in order to understand him, in order to understand the kingdom that he comes to usher in, you and I have to become like little children. Why is that? What, what, what is it about children that he’s saying you and I need, I think it’s utter dependence. Our first sin, the very first sin, that caused all this pain and struggle and evil in the world, was that we stopped trusting him. I mean, that’s the lie that the serpent whispered into Adam and Eve’s heart that day. He said, listen, God is a withholding God, he’s not trustworthy. You think that he wants what’s good for you? You’re crazy. He’s a withholding God. See, he gave you this fruit and he says, don’t eat it, right? And he knows that if you eat it, you’ll be more than what he wants you to be. You’ll be like God. You shouldn’t trust him. He’s a cosmic killjoy. So Jesus, when he comes on the scene, he says, listen, the first thing that has to be reoriented in all of our lives is a deep trust in God. A childlike faith in God. So in order to understand anything, in order to begin to understand who he is, you and I must be born again. So to make the choice, to accept the testimony, to believe that Jesus is the Christ, you have to accept that you can’t just rely on self-help. You can’t just rely on a new religion. You have to be made new. It’s not just a fresh start. It’s a brand new start and it’s one that’s built on the reality that it’s all about grace.
And that was Pastor Zach Van Dyke, continuing with the series called When In Doubt. Today teaching us from 1 John and John 3 about being born again. More from Zach tomorrow. Hope to see you then. Well, like Zach said, our man Nicodemus had some really big questions. Maybe you’ve had some big questions too. Is the Bible true? Is God really there? Why don’t I feel a certain way? If you’re looking for Biblical answers to those questions, there’s a minibook we’d love to send you for free. It’s called Faith and Doubt: When Belief is Hard. Get your copy now while supplies last. Just call 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also request the minibook by emailing Steve@keylife.org. If you’re mailing us, send your request to
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