Let's take a look at another traveler that we meet in our journey through Believe:879. It's Nicodemus. And one thing you have to say about this guy: he heard the truth straight from the mouth of Jesus. Here's a profile of a fascinating man that we see in these pages.
As a rabbi and respected teacher of Israel, Nicodemus knew Old Testament Scripture very well. A Pharisee and member of the Sanhedrin, he was influential and intelligent. It would seem Nicodemus had a solid grasp on his relationship with God, that is, until he met Jesus. A late night conversation turned into a monumental conversion. The words of Jesus, "You must be born again," must've thundered in his ears. Those words led to action by a wise man who knew he had met God in the flesh.
That's a quick look at Nicodemus. You'll find more in-depth information and many more resources for this series on the web at believe879.com.
Would you open your Bibles this morning to John chapter three? John chapter three.
As you do so, I'm going to begin with a creation story---not the creation story, an alternative one. On the first day, God created the cow. God said, "You must go to the field with the farmer all day long, suffer under the hot sun, have calves, and give milk to support the farmer. I will give you a lifespan of 60 years." The cow said, "That's kind of a tough life you want me to have for 60 years. Let me have 20 years and I'll give back the other 40." God agreed. On the second day, God created the dog. And He said, "Sit all day by the door of your house and bark at anyone who comes in or walks past. I will give you a lifespan of 20 years." The dog said, "Well, that's too long to be barking. How about if you give me ten years and I'll give you back the other ten?" So, sigh, God agreed. On the third day, God created the monkey and God said, "Entertain people. Do monkey tricks, make them laugh, I'll give you a 20-year lifespan." The monkey said, "How boring to do monkey tricks for 20 years. Um, the dog gave you back ten, that's what I'd like to do, okay?" God agreed again. On the fourth day, God created man. God said, "Eat, sleep, play, enjoy. Do nothing. Just enjoy, enjoy, enjoy and I'll give you 20 years." And man said, "What? Only 20 years? Um, tell you what, I'll take my 20 and the 40 the cow gave back and the ten the dog gave back and the ten the monkey gave back. That makes eighty, okay?" "Okay," God said, "You've got a deal." So that is why for the first 20 years, we eat, sleep, play, enjoy, and do nothing. And for the next 40 years, we slave in the sun to support our family. For the next ten years, we do monkey tricks to entertain our grandchildren. And for the last ten years, we sit in front of the house and bark at everybody.
Which leads me to a question: how happy are you with your life? A New York study group discovered that most Americans admit to not being happy with their present life. Can you imagine having a whole new life, a brand new life, a do-over? A fresh start? Well, that takes us to John chapter three. The most famous chapter in the Bible. Everybody who's anybody knows John 3:16, the most famous verse in Scripture. But the conversation that spawned that verse is a conversation between Nicodemus and Jesus and it happened at night. That's why the name of my message, tongue-in-cheek, is "Nick at Nite!" Nicodemus comes to Jesus at night. Now, when I gave my life to Christ, I had not ever heard of the term born again. That's because I'd never read John three, the term had not been popularized and politicized, but I did know that after I prayed to receive Christ, I felt something I had never felt before. I couldn't put it into words. It was like, it was like a burden had been lifted and carried away.
About a week after that, a friend who did not know of my conversion walked up to me, got right in my face, and said, "Heitzig, have you been born again?" And I said, "Where did you get that?" He said, "Get what?" I said, "That phrase. You just said, 'born again.'" He said, "Jesus said you must be born again, have you?" And I said, "Dude, that's perfect." That is the perfect description of what happened to me. That's what it felt like. I felt like I'd been born again. I had never read that verse; I had never heard that phrase. But when I did hear it for the first time, I thought, "That captures perfectly the transformation that has occurred in my life. I've been given a whole new life." But try explaining that to your parents---I tried. They said, "What happened to you?" I said, "I've been born again!" It didn't go over that well. Because they just thought, "Oh, does that mean you're a Protestant now?"
When I think of the story of Nicodemus, I think of a friend of mine, you've heard him before, Marty Goetz, who's come and played on many occasions. You know when he sings that one song about his own transformation? He says, "Hallelujah to Ye'shua from a Jew who never knew Ya." I think of Nicodemus. He didn't know the Lord yet, but he was on a journey there. Now, we're going to look at the first eight verses of John chapter three today. Part of this conversation, really the dialogue part of the conversation. Next week, we'll look at the discourse, where Jesus does most all of the talking. But there's three different levels of this conversation; three different conditions.
The first one is curiosity. There's a spiritual curiosity that drives Nicodemus to even meet with Jesus. Followed by the second level, eternal necessity. Jesus tells him what he needs more than anything else in life. And then finally, Jesus will close with an illustration. I'm calling that observable activity. We'll explain as we go, but let's look at the first, the curiosity, the spiritual curiosity. Verse one: "There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 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.'"
There's three words that describe Nicodemus. He was religious, he was rich, and he was a ruler. Let me explain. Nicodemus is a Greek name, though he was a Jewish man, that was not all that uncommon. His name means ruler or victor over the people. One who rules over the people. The Talmud tells us that Nicodemus was one of four of the richest men in the city of Jerusalem. Later on, we'll see that he pays for the myrrh and the aloes to bring to the tomb of Jesus to bury Him. He was a wealthy man. He was a Pharisee. And history also tells us that it was Nicodemus' son who later on will negotiate with the Romans the terms of Jewish surrender in 70 A.D. before the destruction of that city. A very, very famous man.
Now spiritually, verse one, he was a Pharisee. And that's that ultra-orthodox group of Jewish people; there were only six thousand at the time of Christ, very strict, very serious about keeping the Law. In fact, they belonged to what they called the haburah, the Brotherhood. And the Brotherhood of the Pharisees was entered into by a solemn pledge with three witnesses observing. It was a pledge to keep all of the Law all of one's life.
Now, when we hear the term the Law, you think and I think of the first five books of Moses, of the Bible, the Torah. Keeping the Torah---the Law. But to a Pharisee, they had added more regulations and rituals called the Oral Law. Here's an example: in the Bible, the Old Testament, there's only about three paragraphs that talk about the Sabbath day law, laws for the Sabbath day, Saturday. What to do, what not to do. Only three paragraphs. But there was something called the Mishna that was added. This was the codified scribal law. Twenty-four chapters of the Mishna are devoted to laws of keeping the Sabbath. Then there was something called the Talmud. Now, these are rabbinical commentaries on the Mishna. It came later on, and the longest of the two Talmud's was the Babylonian Talmud: 156 folio-sized double pages of regulations on keeping the Sabbath. So it wasn't enough to just say, don't work on the Sabbath, don't carry a burden on the Sabbath; they needed that specified. I'll give you just a short example. You can't carry a burden on the Sabbath, but they would say, what is a burden? And so the rabbi said, "food equal in weight to a dried fig, enough wine for mixing in a goblet, enough milk for one swallow, enough honey to put on a wound, enough oil to anoint a small member, enough water to moisten an eye salve, enough paper to write a customs house notice upon, or enough ink to write two letters of the alphabet." If you did that, you were bearing a burden and you were breaking the Sabbath law. And they would have endless discussions and arguments: can you lift a lamp on the Sabbath, is that a burden, is that work? Can you carry a child on the Sabbath? Is that work? Could you wear artificial teeth on the Sabbath? Would that be bearing a burden? They would write about this stuff. There's even a whole discussion in the Jewish writings about what you do if your hen lays an egg on the Sabbath. What do you do? You can't eat it. That's eating something that produced work on the Sabbath. So the only solution they really came up with is, you can sell it to a Gentile. Number one, you get money from it and number two, he doesn't count anyway.
One person said, "You could eat the egg that was laid by the hen on the Sabbath if you intend to kill the chicken the next day because it broke the law of breaking the Sabbath." I mean, it was ridiculous. That was the Pharisee group. They were sworn to keep the Law, the written Law, and the oral law that had been codified. That's Nicodemus religiously. He was a Pharisee. Politically, there's a phrase in verse one: "he was a ruler of the Jews." Archōn is the Greek word; it designates a special class of the 70-member ruling counsel known as the Sanhedrin. This guy was a big dog in Jerusalem. One of the chief leaders of the nation. A third thing that describes him is he was a teacher. Verse ten, Jesus said, "Aren't you the teacher in Israel?" Notice it says the teacher, not a teacher. In other words, you are in that special class. Now, history tells us that Nicodemus was one of the most famous sought after lecturers on the Law in Jerusalem.
So here's a guy from the who's who of Jerusalem paying a visit on Jesus. Now it says that he came, in verse two, "at night." Why did he come at night? I don't know how much speculation people write about why he came at night. People say, "Well, he came out of fear," "He didn't want to be seen." Maybe. Or "he came because there was secret sin in his life and so he came at night." Maybe. But it doesn't say why. It just says he came at night and I wouldn't make a huge deal out of it. I tend to think he came at night just for some quality alone time. The rabbis used to say the best time to study and discuss the Torah is at night. You're undistracted. Jesus had crowds of people around him by day; Nicodemus had a busy schedule to keep religiously during the day. So he came at night for just some quality, undisturbed time for an interview. And really, the important thing isn't that he came to Jesus at night. The important thing is that he came at all. He came. And so instead of making a big deal and castigating him for coming at night---he came!
You know, it's funny how some people want to get down on those who would come to Jesus for what they call "the wrong motivation." You're coming out of fear or you're coming because you had a divorce or you're coming because you're in physical pain or you're at the end of your rope. So? Who cares why a person comes? We're just glad that they do come. And, it just happens to be that when you're in a time of pain or distress or loneliness, you're aware of your need at that time, more than any other time. You always had the need; you just weren't aware of it then. But now you are. Now you know that you need someone greater than yourself and that's when many people come to Christ. We're just glad that they come.
Notice that Nicodemus calls Jesus "rabbi." That's a term of politeness. In fact, it's a term of equality. He's saying, "I recognize You as somebody on my level." Rabbi. Now, he was wrong about that, of course. Jesus was far more than a rabbi; He certainly was not an equal with Nicodemus---He was far greater. Nicodemus doesn't know that yet. So he says, "Rabbi" and notice the plural pronoun. "We know," not I know, "we know." Now, who's we? He doesn't have a mouse in his pocket, who's he talking about? He's probably not representing the whole council of the 70 elders, the Sanhedrin, but he's speaking about himself and perhaps a few others like Joseph of Arimathea, who would be sympathetic with Jesus because of the signs and perhaps, perhaps, this would be the Messiah.
So he says, and it's again very, very polite, "We know that You are a teacher come from God. For nobody can do these signs that You do unless God is with him." Well, that's where he's wrong. Jesus wasn't a teacher come from God. Moses would be a teacher come from God, Jeremiah, Isaiah. Those would be teachers come from God. Jesus was far more than a teacher come from God---He was God who had come to teach. But again, he didn't know that yet. But this illustrates how a lot of people deal with Jesus. They will recognize Him like this, but their answer as to describe Him falls far short of His true identity. "Jesus, He's a good person. I believe He was a good person. He was a good teacher. He was a great example." True. But He was far more than that. He was and is God. And Nicodemus will be leading toward that in this conversation before it's over.
Now, what is on his mind? Why does he come to Jesus? He's thinking like all Pharisees thought about the kingdom. He's spiritually curious. Remember, Jesus had been in Jerusalem all week at Passover doing signs and miracles. Everybody knew about Him. Nicodemus heard about them, maybe even saw a couple, maybe even heard Jesus teach and he was attracted by it. Imagine yourself as a concert piano player. You've been trained by Juilliard School of music. You have musical degrees. You're a Ph.D. in music and you can play. You've been trained to play so beautifully after years and years of hard work. So when you play, people come to watch you. But one day, a country bumpkin blows into town who has never had a single lesson in his life. He just played his Grandpa's piano in the Ozarks somewhere. And he comes to town and he starts playing piano and you listen to this and you recognize this person is genius. I don't know where he learned to play like that, but when he plays, I am moved to tears and everybody who hears him is moved emotionally. That's sort of what it was like for Nicodemus. This schooled, cultured, leader of the Jews watching and listening to Jesus. He had never heard truth like that. He had never seen anything like this. It was like water was poured on his parched soul and he wanted to know more. And so he came. Curiosity brought him.
Brings a lot of people. Brought me. I was channel-surfing one afternoon when I watched Billy Graham on television and afterwards prayed to receive Christ. But I remember watching that and I was just curious. I thought, "Huh. Look at all those people in that stadium. I wonder why so many are coming to this thing." Curious. And then when people left their seats and walked down onto the field to pray to receive Christ, I thought, "I wonder why they're doing that. And I wonder what they expect to see." And I was curious and that drew me in. It draws Nicodemus in. So that's the first stage; the first level. Spiritual curiosity.
The second is eternal necessity. You'll notice in verse three, Jesus answered and said to him, "Most assuredly." Or "Verily, verily," if you've got the Old King Jimmy. Literally it's "Amen, Amen." "I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." Notice Jesus wastes no time with formalities. You know, Nicodemus comes, he's polite, calls him rabbi, "We know that you're a teacher come from God. You do all these miracles." Jesus didn't say, "Oh, you like those miracles? They were pretty good, huh? And I've heard a lot of good things about you too, Nicodemus." It just says right off the bat, "Assuredly I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." It sounds like He's not even talking in the same conversation. What is what Nicodemus saying have anything to do with the kingdom of God? It's because Jesus is answering the question Nicodemus never asked with his mouth, but was in his heart. And it actually makes perfect sense when you read it in the context of what we read last week, because it is all in the same context.
Jesus knew the thoughts and the hearts of all men. He didn't need anybody to testify of man. He knew what was in them. So here comes Nicodemus. Jesus knows what is in him. He's thinking about the kingdom. And he comes and says some nice things and Jesus just says, "Nicodemus, I know you might have come here for a teaching, but what you really need and what your heart is crying for is a do-over." Unless a man is born again. By the way, whenever Jesus wanted to get your attention, and as if to say, "Now listen very carefully to the next few words," He would say, "Most assuredly." It's like grabbing a guy's face and going, "Look at my baby blues. Listen to these words." Very important. It was important because Nicodemus' destiny will hang on how he listens to what Jesus says and how he responds to it. Everything will stem from this.
Born again. What does that mean exactly? First of all, push aside all of the cultural baggage that comes with that term that we've collected the last twenty or thirty years. I remember the first time that phrase fell on these ears. That sounded so fresh, pregnant with possibility. "Wow! Born again! Like a whole new life! Like a whole new chance! Like a second chance." But it has become cliché, hasn't it, in our culture? It is seen today as another Protestant sect. You know, you've got Presbyterians, you've got Baptists, you've got Catholics, you've got this group, you've got that group, you've got that other group, oh, and then you have the born-again group. I've heard people say that to me as I'm sharing with them, they go, "Oh! I get it! You're one of those born-again Christians!" As if there is any other kind of Christian. There is only one kind of Christian and that is a born-again Christian. For Jesus says, "You'll never make it to heaven unless you're born again." It is absolutely an essential; a prerequisite.
The Greek construction of the two words born again is gennēthē anōthen and it could either mean to be born from above or to be born a second time. That's how Nicodemus took it: the second time. Because he says in the very next verse, "How is this gonna work? Can a man go back into his mother's womb and be born?" Now, why does Jesus speak of this second birth? Here's why. Listen carefully. Nicodemus, the ruler of the Jews. Nicodemus, the Pharisee. Nicodemus, the Jewish religious guy. And all of his other fellow Jews believed the only thing necessary for entrance into the kingdom of God was their first birth. If you were born Jewish, born a descendant of Abraham, moreover if you kept the Law with all of your heart, guaranteed entrance into the kingdom. When Jesus said, "You've gotta do it all over again. You've gotta start all over again," it was like a crushing blow to all of his legalism, all of his religion, all of his good works, all of his sincerity. He's saying it's not enough. You need to be born again to enter into the kingdom of heaven.
It's a new birth because it's the entrance into new life. The only reason you live is because of a birth. You had a birth. To have new life, you need a new birth. And the reason we need a new birth is because we were all born dead, spiritually. D.O.A. Dead on arrival. Ephesians chapter two, verse one: "And you has He made alive [that's the new birth] who were dead in trespasses and sins." And not like The Princess Bride dead, not mostly dead, all dead. By the way, you may not know this but if in Judaism, 2,000 years ago, if you were a member of another faith and you proselytized, that is you became Jewish, they called you "reborn." And here's the quote the rabbi said: "A proselyte who embraces Judaism is like a newborn child." So here's Nicodemus, the ruler of the Jews, who knew that, who thought his birth physically was enough to guarantee him entrance into the kingdom, finds out it's not. Here's a guy who thinks he has reserved seats on the fifty-yard line of heaven and Jesus says, "You are not even in the game." And it was like a crushing blow to him.
Now, there's a lot of people today who think the same thing. "Well I'm a churchgoer, I've been a churchgoer all my life, I believe in God, and I mean well and I'm sincere and I'm politically conservative. I must be going to heaven." You must be born again. Now, look at verse five and six. He presses it further after the question and Nicodemus asks about the method of the new birth. Verse four: "Nicodemus said to him, 'How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?' Jesus answered, 'Most assuredly [or dude, listen up]---Most assuredly I say to you, unless one is born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.'" I'm not going to bore you but I found six different interpretations of what it means to be born of water and of the Spirit. Six different views on what that means. Let me tell you what it doesn't mean. It has nothing to do with Jesus teaching baptismal regeneration. That you have to be baptized by water in order to be saved. It could not mean that, and why could it not mean that? For a very simple reason. Because Nicodemus would not have understood it. Baptism didn't exist yet. So Nicodemus couldn't go, "Oh, I get it." He wouldn't have gotten it.
Here's a second reason it couldn't mean baptism. If it meant baptism, then why didn't Jesus go places baptizing people? The Bible specifically says He baptized no one. Well, He'd be baptizing everyone if that was a prerequisite. It could mean one of two things, "being born of water and of the Spirit." It could simply mean spiritual cleansing because those two terms, being born of the water, or the use of the water, and the Spirit, were an Old Testament description of being spiritually cleansed. I'm going to give you just one example of that, there are several. Ezekiel 36, God promises His people: "I will sprinkle clean water on you and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, you will no longer worship idols and I will give you a new heart and a new and right desire and I will put a new Spirit within you. I will take out your stony heart of sin and give you a new and obedient heart. And I will put My Spirit in you so that you will obey My laws and do whatever I command." That's Ezekiel 36. It could be that Jesus had that passage in mind. Certainly Nicodemus would have understood that passage. He was familiar with it. So it could mean, number one, spiritual cleansing.
Here's another possible way to look at it. When Jesus spoke of being born of water and of Spirit, He could simply be talking about physical birth followed by spiritual birth. And that is because the ancient peoples used to refer to anybody being born, physical birth, as being born of water. You'll find some references to that in ancient literature. You know what it's like when a woman is carrying a child and the fetus, the baby is enclosed in a sack of amniotic fluid and when the baby is about to be born, she breaks her what? Her water. Her water breaks and the baby is born. The baby is born of water. So it could simply be saying this: Just as the first birth was necessary for physical life, so too the second birth is necessary for spiritual life. And that would make sense out of the very next verse. When He said, verse six, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, born of water, and that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit." So it means one of those two things, I believe.
Let's bring this to the third level and the close, and that is the observable activity. Now, Jesus ends this dialogue part, almost. Nicodemus has one more question; we'll get to that next time. But He's giving an example of what He's been talking about and He uses the wind as an example. Verse seven: "Do not marvel that I said to you, you must be born again." You know why Jesus said that? I think it's because Nicodemus was doing this. And his eyebrows were up like, "What?! This is impossible what you're saying! For me to start all over again after all that I've invested in my belief system." "Don't marvel that I said to you, you must be born again. The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it but you cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone born of the Spirit."
"Nicodemus, it's like the wind." And I just sort of picture that as they were talking in the evening, a gust of wind blew through where they were standing. And it was a perfect example. You don't see the wind, you don't know exactly where that came from or where it's going, but though you can't see it, you can certainly feel it. And you can see the effects of the wind. You know what that's like, living in New Mexico. Around spring time, the wind comes up. You can't see it unless it brings the earth with it, the dust that blows with it. But you might be inside, you're all dussied up, and you walk outside, you come back in, you're looking like this, and we know because of the effect that is unmistakable. It is plainly observable that the wind has affected you. And so what Jesus is saying is, "You know, Nicodemus, there are some things that are real that you can't see. And just because you can't see them doesn't mean they're not real. They are real. So it is with a physical birth, or a spiritual birth." You can't see it. If you were to take a new believer at the moment they came to Christ and x-ray them, you wouldn't see any difference than when they were an unbeliever. You can't see it. But you can certainly see the changes that will occur in life.
By the way, this is a play on words in the Greek. The word for wind in that verse and spirit are the same identical word in Greek. It's pneuma. Pneuma. We'd spell it P-N-E-U-M-A. We get words like pneumatic tools or pneumatic drills or pneumatic tires from that. It means air, breath, wind, spirit. It's a play on words. The pneuma operates like the pneuma. The spirit operates like the wind. Very powerful activity; very observable activity. Here's the point. When a person has been born again, you can see the changes that have occurred in that person's life. You can see the fruit of the Spirit that starts coming from that person's life. My parents would have told you, "I don't quite understand what happened but I do know my son is different." And all of my friends would've said, "I don't get what he's saying, but he's not the same guy." Changes.
Go back to verse seven. There's a word that we failed to look at I want to close with. It's the word must. "Do not marvel that I said to you, you should be born again." No, it's "you must be born again." Please notice that. Our Lord is not leaving much wiggle room with that word. He doesn't say, "You know, Nicodemus. It's always been my opinion that one of the many options that will take you on the road, because all roads lead to God, would be that you get born again." Not at all. You must---you gotta do this, man. This is essential---that you are born again. The Amplified Bible renders it this way: "I assure you most solemnly I tell you, unless a man is born again he can't even see, know, be acquainted with, or experience the kingdom of God."
George Whitefield, an early colonial preacher, used to always preach on this text. He loved to preach about being born again and somebody said, "Why do you always preach on the new birth and being born again?" Whitefield said, "It's because Jesus said, 'You must be born again.'" It's a must. Who's He saying this to? Saying this to a pagan? A garden-variety unbeliever? No, He's saying this to a religious person who believed his religion would save him, believed his good works would save him, believed his status would save him. And He said, "You must be born again." There's a simple formula. You've heard it here before, but it sums all this up. If you are born once, you will die twice. If you are born twice, you will only die once. If you are born once physically, but not spiritually, then you will die physically and eternally. But if you are born twice, physically and spiritually born again, you will only die once. You might not even do that if the Lord comes back. But just by all that we have seen, every person born dies. So far that's the going record. You're going to die but that's it. You'll die, we'll bury you, your body will decay, your spirit will immediately be with the Lord. You will live forever until that resurrection; you will live forever and ever and ever. If you're born once, you'll die twice. If you're born twice, you'll only die once.
There was a businessman who had a large warehouse in a city. He wanted to sell it; it had been vacant for fifteen years. Doors busted out, windows broken, vandalized inside. There was a prospective buyer that the seller showed it to and the seller went out of his way in showing the property to say, "Now, I just want you to know. I'm going to fix this place up before you buy it. I'm going to put new doors on it, new windows, deck out the inside. Whatever you want." And the buyer said, "Look. When I buy this place, I don't want the building. I'm going to rip it down and build something new. All I want is not the building, but just the site." That's how it is when you come to Him. Everything that you've used in the past to say I'm saved because of this or that or this or that goes. You don't come to Christ and He reforms you. He transforms you. Total change. You're a new person. "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation, old things are passed away, behold all things become new." That's what He does. All He wants is the site and permission to build. And if you say, "This site is Yours and You have permission to build," you are in for the ride of your life. You are in the life of your life. The new birth will lead to a whole new kind of life. And you should know, on good authority from our Lord Jesus Christ, if you have not experienced the new birth, which means you recognize you're a sinner, you turn from that, you turn to Him, and He, by an act of sovereign grace, saves you, regenerates you, creates something new. If that hasn't happened in your life, understand: you will never, ever, ever, ever see heaven. That's pretty potent, isn't it? "You must be born again."
So, I remember when my friend put his finger in my face and said, "Heitzig, have you been born again?" I had been; I just didn't know what it was. Have you been? Do you know for sure? Would you like to make sure?
Let's pray together.
Heavenly Father, we close this service and we think of this divine imperative, this eternal imperative, this necessity. It's not an option. If we want to see heaven, it's not an option. If we don't want to see heaven, if we just want to go our own way and feel good about whatever we're into, then any religion will do, any belief system will do. But if we want to see the kingdom of heaven, we must all be born again, and that means we recognize that everything we have brought up to the table to this point, that we have relied on in terms of our religion or our own goodness or our works, is nothing. We need the entrance into new life called the new birth. So, Lord, I pray that anyone who is in doubt would end that doubt today and come to Christ. In Jesus' name, amen.