Nicodemus and the Transforming Power of the Gospel

Christ on the Cross, Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640)
Christ on the Cross, Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) | Source
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Introduction

What is the Gospel? This may seem a stupid question since the Gospel has been around for 2000 years, but if ever the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ was in need of clarification, it is today.

What the Gospel Is Not

It is not the 'prosperity gospel' preached by many of today's so-called TV evangelists. The misuse of this media is an embarrassment to Christianity.

It is not the 'power of positive thinking gospel' preached by the most successful 'TV evangelist' in the USA.

It is not the 'say this prayer after me gospel' preached by easy fix preachers, who are only interested in counting decisions and adding to the Church membership roll.

It is not the 'works gospel' preached by those who control their flock by insisting church attendance and good works are sufficient for salvation.

It is not the 'social gospel' advocated by liberal preachers, who have substituted the Gospel of Salvation for a message of social reform. Having an insatiable appetite to champion worthy or minority causes at the expense of the spiritual needs of mankind.

It is not the 'politically correct gospel' preached by compromising preachers with ear tickling sermons, which are inoffensive and totally ineffective.

It is not the 'there is no need to be born again gospel' taught by those who believe Jesus spoke metaphorically when He told Nicodemus he must be born again.

Can you imagine the Apostles preaching any of the aforementioned 'gospels'?

What Is the Gospel?

  • 1Co 1:23 KJV But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling-block, and unto the Greeks foolishness;

The Gospel is the good news of the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ, and his finished work of Salvation.

A Quote from the Summarised Bible

1 Corinthians 1:23 'The plain preaching of a crucified Jesus is more powerful than all the oratory and philosophy of an unbelieving world. All the boasted science of the world cannot do for souls what ‘Christ crucified’ does. All one needs, or can desire, they may have in Him (1Co 1:30-31). He is made wisdom to the foolish, righteousness to the guilty, sanctification to the corrupt, and redemption to those who are in bonds.'

  • Rom 5:8 KJV But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

'Man' not only sins; 'man' is a sinner! Therefore, 'man' needs the Saviour only God could provide.

  • Eph 2:8 KJV For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

If sinners could be reconciled to God by any of the false gospels mentioned above, then Christ need not have died on the Cross.

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Nicodemus Was an Example of the Transforming Power of the Gospel

The lifechanging experience of Nicodemus may enlighten and encourage those seeking to know the Lord.

Nicodemus and his Discourse with Jesus by Night

  • Joh 3:1-2 KJV There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: 2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.

Why did Nicodemus meet 'Jesus by night'? Perhaps because crowds constantly thronged Jesus by day and Nicodemus being a member of the Sanhedrin was also occupied at that time. It was common practice for Jewish teachers to study together in the evening.

In my opinion, Nicodemus was afraid to be seen publicly in conversation with Jesus. It is interesting John mentioned Nicodemus three times in his Gospel and on each occasion he described him as the one who came to 'Jesus by night', thereby implying secrecy. As a religious leader, he may have feared his reputation would be diminished if found in the company of the Galilean, he would also have suffered ridicule and retribution from the Pharisees. Even today ridicule can be off-putting for those seeking to know more about Jesus. What family, friends, and associates might think, has been an obstacle for many.

  • Joh 3:3-7 KJV Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. 4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? 5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into 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 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

Although Nicodemus was a religious leader, he did not realise his need to be spiritually reborn; in fact, he could not comprehend the concept. Jesus explained by being born again he would enter the spiritual Kingdom of God and understand spiritual matters his natural mind could not assimilate.

  • Joh 3:8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

Jesus compared a natural phenomenon to a spiritual. The wind is incomprehensible, yet acceptable to the natural mind because of its effect. Likewise the spiritual birth is extraordinary, but conceivable only to those born again.

A Quote from Albert Barnes' Notes on the Bible

John 3:8 'Where it listeth - Where it wills or pleases. So is every one ... - Everyone that is born of the Spirit is, in some respects, like the effects of the wind. You see it not, you cannot discern its laws, but you see its effects, and you know therefore that it does exist and operate. Nicodemus objection was, that he could not see this change, or perceive how it could be. Jesus tells him that he should not reject a doctrine merely because he could not understand it. Neither could the wind be seen, but its effects were well known, and no one doubted the existence or the power of the agent. Compare Ecc 11:5.'

The Descent from the Cross

The Descent from the Cross, Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640)
The Descent from the Cross, Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) | Source

The Born Again Nicodemus

Nicodemus and Evidence of Transformation

  • Joh 1:11-13 KJV He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

John began his Gospel by explaining that although Christ was rejected by the Jews, many received and believed in Him and were born of God, (prior to the Day of Pentecost).

Nicodemus and his Defence of Jesus

  • Joh 7:50-52 KJV Nicodemus saith unto them, (he that came to Jesus by night, being one of them,) 51 Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth? 52 They answered and said unto him, Art thou also of Galilee? Search, and look: for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet.

A Quote from the Popular New Testament

John 7:50-52 'Nicodemus has so far overcome his fear that he defends Jesus against the glaring injustice of his fellow-rulers, undeterred by the expression of their scorn just uttered. He appeals to the law, all knowledge of which they have proudly arrogated to themselves, and shows that of this very law they are themselves transgressors.'

Nicodemus displayed evidence of his conversion by being unashamed of his Lord when he defended Him before the Sanhedrin...Romans 9:33.

Nicodemus and the Descent of Jesus from the Cross

  • Joh 19:39-40 And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pound weight. 40 Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.

Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea attended to Jesus at His descent from the Cross. Joseph provided the tomb, while Nicodemus the myrrh and aloes. Ironically, both were members of the Sanhedrin; nevertheless, they were instrumental in fulfilling Messianic prophecy.

Old Testament Prophecy
New Testament Fulfillment
Psalm 45:7-8 KJV Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. 8 All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made thee glad.
John 19:39 KJV And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. Hebrews 1:8-9    But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. 9 Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.
Isaiah 53:9 KJV And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
Matthew 27:57-60 KJV When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus' disciple: 58 He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered. 59 And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.
 
 

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So What Must I Do to Become a Christian?

We need to understand that our sin separates us from fellowship with God, however, He loved us so much He gave His Son to be a sacrifice for our sin.

The crucial part of God's great plan of redemption was that Jesus shed His blood and died on the cross for us.

If we place our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and repent (turn from our sin); He will restore us to our Heavenly Father.

By asking the Lord’s forgiveness, and repenting of our sin, the Holy Spirit resurrects and baptises us spiritually into the body of Christ. Consequently, we become a child of God. Jesus gives us the assurance we are reconciled and by faith He will lead and always be with us.

Nicodemus was never the same again. What about you?

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Has this Hub challenged you to search the Scriptures?

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Conclusion

  • Joh 20:31 YLT and these have been written that ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing ye may have life in his name.'

Considering Nicodemus was mentioned only three times in the New Testament, the outcome of his conversation with Jesus has played an essential role in the preaching of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Unbelievers often ridicule Christians because they fail to understand that faith in Christ is not mental transcendence but spiritual transformation.

What do you think?

A Sermon of S M Lockridge a Tribute to His Preaching

Alexander Gibb

© 2011 Alexander Gibb

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Comments 30 comments

mattmilamii profile image

mattmilamii 5 years ago from Chicago - Be A Blessing... Become A Hand Of God

Dear searchinsany,

For far too long man has put forward his own agenda and program, calling it the gospel. As Jesus told Joseph and Mary when they found Him in the temple, it's the Father's Business that we should be concern with. The story of Christ's birth, sinless life, death, and resurrection along with the implication to mankind is the "gospel", plain and simple; and it's time to tell it like it is.

"Blessings"


searchinsany profile image

searchinsany 5 years ago from UK Author

mattmilamii

I wish I had written that!

Your comment is the perfect conclusion to my Hub and I couldn't have put it better myself.

Thank you


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago

Awesome! You laid it down with power. I agree with you wholeheartedly. The Gospel is none of those things in your first section. Brilliantly conceived and executed! Thank you.


searchinsany profile image

searchinsany 5 years ago from UK Author

James A Watkins

Thank you for your comment, it is greatly appreciated.


PAMITCHRUS 4 years ago

Yep salvation is of God and God only.. who can control the wind ?? Salvation is not of chance, nor by choice, but by commandment of God who has commanded all men to repent.. Now we're not foolish enough to think that this will come to pass in this age.. That time is not yet this time..:0)..


searchinsany profile image

searchinsany 4 years ago from UK Author

PAMITCHRUS

Thank you for your comment.


CJ Sledgehammer 4 years ago

I do not know how it is possible, but I must have missed this succulent Hub nugget.

Your words are dripping with the sweetness of truth and basting in the rich aroma of wisdom. In fact, if possible, I would relish eating the delicious Hub nugget you have placed before me.

Now, this is a perfect example of why I have no business posting a response on an empty stomach!!! :0)

God's blessings to a good friend - C.J. Sledgehammer


searchinsany profile image

searchinsany 4 years ago from UK Author

C J

Thank you for your comment.

In my opinion the secret of a wholesome and satisfying meal is to keep the menu simple.

'...we preach Christ crucified...'


SwordofManticorE profile image

SwordofManticorE 4 years ago from Burlington

Jesus lived a life of poverty, so that we believers could be wealthy.

He died so we all could live. Positive thinking works for me quit well. It protects me from illnesses, and anger. Ever since I quit concerning myself with "what if", He has provided me with much. Everthing has a source, and that source is God. Christ said it Himself, As you believe, so shall it be. If you believe that you require little, so shall it be. If you believe that you desire good things, so shall it be. Do not attempt to destroy the faith in those who have positive thinking with this hub, because positive thinking is love, and love comes from God. Positive thinking by Christians makes the Kingdom of God visible to the unbelievers.


searchinsany profile image

searchinsany 4 years ago from UK Author

SwordofManticorE

Thank you for your comment.

I understand where you are coming from, I was not saying that positive thinking is a bad thing; I have used it myself over the years.

The point I was making is that it should not be preached instead of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

I also listed the 'social' gospel, but that doesn't mean helping others in difficulty or hardship is a bad thing.

In my opinion these should never be used as a substitute for the Gospel Message.

Our salvation and reconciliation to God is totally dependent on what Christ has done for us and not on anything we can do to win His favour.


SwordofManticorE profile image

SwordofManticorE 4 years ago from Burlington

I agree to most of what you said, but if Christ taught prosperity, why can't we?


searchinsany profile image

searchinsany 4 years ago from UK Author

SwordofManticorE

Once again, there is nothing wrong with wealth and prosperity; it is how it is used. It is not money that is the root of all evil; it is the love of it.

Having said that, when I watch the TV 'evangelists' who preach the 'prosperity' gospel I just can't imagine Jesus or the Apostles doing that; are you saying there is evidence in the Scriptures of Jesus preaching in this way?

In my opinion, the Gospel is the good news of the Lord Jesus Christ, the revelation of who He is, and what He has done for sinners.


SwordofManticorE profile image

SwordofManticorE 4 years ago from Burlington

I believe there is nothing wrong in desiring good things. Money does not bring happiness, God's love does. I do not follow these TV evangelicals who preach what they call "The prosperity Gosple" as there is only one gosple, and that is the Good News of salvation.


searchinsany profile image

searchinsany 4 years ago from UK Author

SwordofManticorE

I agree.

Please don't hesitate to comment on any of my Hubs, it is important to get feedback and I have taken on board the points you have raised.


Edward Wilcock profile image

Edward Wilcock 2 years ago

The Gospel Truth. The greatest sinner on Earth is your God. To offer

the option to 'his children' to do bad things is an abomination. God is

therefore the Instigator of ALL sin on Earth. TO HELL with religious

imagination and symbolism and emerge from your Ivory Tower and

absorb THE TRUTH with your own eyes. Start with the shocking

child sexual abuse by your Priests whi have been reprieved without

incarceration to walk the streets free men and those who were no

defrocked, to still practice their 'profession' No doubt youg innocent

minds have been poisioned. Then there is the Fraud at THE VATICAN

BANK - was run by a Catholic Cardinal - where Church Funds were

moved to off-shore accounts to evade taxation. He has also been

reprieved. These happened in God's Backyard - THE VATICAN.

If a normal mortal had commited such sins, they would have been put

away e.g. Stuart Hall - and rightly so. Church Protectionism for High-

Ranking Priests is the PITS. I do not follow the Bible but I know that

God punished sinners severely, even by death. Do you believe the

contents of the Story Book. RSVP Wishing you peace of mind.

Sincerely Edward Wilcock (86) edwil83@gmail.com

reprieved.


searchinsany profile image

searchinsany 2 years ago from UK Author

Edward Wilcock

I have been a Christian for over 40 years, and I do not recognise the God you describe. In fact, I find it interesting that you should visit my Hub, considering you are so opposed to God. However, I am glad you read it.

In my opinion, God could have created robots to obey His every command. Instead, He created Adam with freewill, to share the beauty of planet Earth.

Adam exercised his freewill by going his own way; we witness daily the evil consequences of his decision.

He blamed God for his fall, and since then it is common practice to blame God for the evil perpetrated by Adam's descendants. Therefore, your remarks do not come as a shock.

'Man' cannot comprehend the mind of God, I believe He is in control and has a great plan for mankind.

The evidence is in the sacrificial death of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, through faith in Christ we can be reconciled.

At the beginning of this article, I list examples of false gospels that cause me to be disillusioned with organised religion. Personally, I believe there is a difference between the visible church and the spiritual church.

Christianity is a spiritual experience not a religion.

I do not condone any of the actions described in the remainder of your comment.


SwordofManticorE profile image

SwordofManticorE 2 years ago from Burlington

@searchinsany, You do know that it was Adam's disobedience that brought the universal fall of all mankind, but do you not see that it was Christ's obedience that brought us the Gospel of reconciliation of all with God?


searchinsany profile image

searchinsany 2 years ago from UK Author

SwordofManticorE

Thank you for commenting, nice to hear from you again.

I think we may have similar views on this subject, but I would like to know what I wrote that prompted your comment.


SwordofManticorE profile image

SwordofManticorE 2 years ago from Burlington

It was what you did not write. I expected as usual to read... It is not the gospel truth that all mankind will go to heaven. I just wanted to poke you a bit to see what you believe on this subject.


searchinsany profile image

searchinsany 2 years ago from UK Author

SwordofManticorE

My Hub 'Did Jesus Really Teach Eternal Torment in Hell?' may help to explain my view.

http://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/Did-Jesus-...


SwordofManticorE profile image

SwordofManticorE 2 years ago from Burlington

This is a hub I wrote about Gehenna.

http://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/Gehenna


searchinsany profile image

searchinsany 2 years ago from UK Author

SwordofManticorE

We have a similar view on the topic.

However, I am confused by your statement 'When one attempts to interpret the words of Christ, it is important to remember that His words are both spirit and life (John 6:63), and should not be interpreted literally.'

I reached my conclusion by interpreting the Scriptures literally, and figuratively when appropriate.


SwordofManticorE profile image

SwordofManticorE 2 years ago from Burlington

So how many wolves have you seen lately dressed up in sheep's clothing?


searchinsany profile image

searchinsany 2 years ago from UK Author

SwordofManticorE

Jesus was speaking figuratively on that occasion.

Are you really suggesting that everything Jesus said cannot be taken literally?


Edward Wilcock profile image

Edward Wilcock 2 years ago

So what is the end product of your tome. Is it cost effective ? It makes no

sense to me. Wishing you peace of mind. Edward Wilcock (86)


SwordofManticorE profile image

SwordofManticorE 2 years ago from Burlington

Give me something you think He meant to be taken literally.


searchinsany profile image

searchinsany 2 years ago from UK Author

Edward Wilcock

The reason it makes no sense to you is explained by the Apostle Paul:

1Co 2:14-16 ISV A person who isn't spiritual doesn't accept the things of God's Spirit, for they are nonsense to him. He can't understand them because they are spiritually evaluated. 15 The spiritual person evaluates everything but is subject to no one else's evaluation. 16 For "Who has known the mind of the Lord so that he can advise him?" However, we have the mind of the Messiah.

Ask the Lord to reveal His will.

The end product:

A quote from my article:

'If we place our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and repent (turn from our sin); He will restore us to our Heavenly Father.

By asking the Lord’s forgiveness, and repenting of our sin, the Holy Spirit baptises us into the body of Christ, this is being spiritually ‘born again’. Consequently, we become a child of God.

Jesus gives us the assurance that we are forgiven and reconciled, and by faith, He will lead and direct us and always be with us.'

1Co 2:9 ISV  But as it is written, "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined the things that God has prepared for those who love him."

Ask The Lord to reveal His great plan of Redemption.

Is it cost effective? It is free, but it is not cheap! The Lord Jesus Christ paid the price on the Cross.


searchinsany profile image

searchinsany 2 years ago from UK Author

SwordofManticorE

Can you please explain the context of John 6:63, which you quoted in an earlier comment. Also provide other Scriptures to support your view?

I will in turn provide examples of Jesus speaking literally.


brian 7 weeks ago

Philippians 1:15: Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will:

Philippians 1:16: The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds:

Philippians 1:17: But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel.

Philippians 1:18: What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.

Philippians 1:19: For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,


searchinsany profile image

searchinsany 7 weeks ago from UK Author

Brian, thank you for your comment.

It would be interesting if you explain you understanding of the Scriptures you posted.

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