John 3:1 Now 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 him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? …7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born anew.’ 8 The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with every one who is born of the Spirit.” …16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
What is the general theme of the passage?
It’s like Nicodemus and Jesus are having a conversation about two different things. Nicodemus wants Jesus to know he knows the corporate “we” position: “we” recognize your position with God because of the signs you do. It’s an odd conversation because Jesus responds to Nicodemus as if he’s answering a question about the Kingdom of God rather than replying to a statement about faith. Jesus has answered that unasked question to help Nicodemus figure out his “personal” position with God, even if it means going back to square one and learning about love, faith and relationship with God, as if you’re a new born baby.
What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?
Jesus answers questions of faith our hearts don’t know enough to ask. Jesus has Kingdom answers for our unasked questions that will remind us that new birth is the reality of our faith and our continued growth.
What does it say about people?
We’re confused about our faith and what to expect from it. Our hearts and minds fool us into depending on what “we” know as the basis of our faith rather than our personal relationship with Jesus.
Is there truth here for me?
Keeping the conversation with Jesus going will answer the Kingdom questions I don’t know enough to ask…yet! I have physical senses that let me feel and hear the wind and I have Spiritual senses [born of the Spirit] so I can understand the difference between a comfortable breeze and a brewing storm in life and in faith — “so it is with every one who is born of the Spirit.”
Check out this resource on John 3:16. I feel safe in guaranteeing you will never “breeze” through that verse casually again after investing your time in John Piper’s four labs on John 3:16
3 John ESV
1 The elder to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth.
2 Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.
3 For I rejoiced greatly when the brothers came and testified to your truth, as indeed you are walking in the truth.
4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.
5 Beloved, it is a faithful thing you do in all your efforts for these brothers, strangers as they are,
6 who testified to your love You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God.
To the beloved Gaius
whom I love in truth,
I pray that all may go well with you
in good health as it goes well with your soul.
You are walking in the truth.
I rejoiced greatly when the brothers came and testified to your truth;
to hear that my children are walking in the truth…
I have no greater joy.
It is a faithful thing you do
for these brothers, strangers as they are,
who testified to your love.
In a manner worthy of God
send them on their journey.
1 John 4
16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.
17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus.
18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
19 We love because he first loved us. NIV
God is love
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us
Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them
In this world we are like Jesus
This is how love is made complete among us
so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment
The one who fears is not made perfect in love
because fear has to do with punishment
But perfect love drives out fear
There is no fear in love
We love, because he first loved us.
I John 3
16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
17 But if any one has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?
18 Little children, let us not love in word or speech but in deed and in truth.
19 By this we shall know that we are of the truth, and reassure our hearts before him
20 whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. RSV
He laid down his life for us.
By this we know love.
We ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
Loving in deed and in truth
reassures our hearts before Him,
we are of the truth.
God is greater than our hearts
whenever our hearts condemn us!
John 13:34 So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. 35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” NLT
1 John 3:23 And this is his commandment: We must believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as he commanded us. 24 Those who obey God’s commandments remain in fellowship with him, and he with them. And we know he lives in us because the Spirit he gave us lives in us. NLT
1. Simulation: a model used to teach something
2. Imitation: clearly and accurately duplicating something
3. Participation: physically expressing your agreement with something
John 1:6 God sent a man, John the Baptist, 7 to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. 8 John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. 9 , who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. NLT
I don’t think there has ever been a time when I have more clearly seen the “Light.” I really can’t even understand it myself. As odd as it is to write these words in the midst of grief over my husbands death, I feel the power of love, life, and thankfulness and light more completely than ever before.
This is my important testimony to you: The Light that has broken through the darkness of grief reminds me the “birth that comes from God” does so much more than overcome the darkness of death. You can depend on Jesus’s promise to give light to every circumstance of life…even death…so you can be comforted to continue.
NIV EPH 4:2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all…13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
No one would dispute our world is desperately in need of peace and unity, right? Maybe the problem is we’re not taking Scripture at it’s word. Let’s try that! It’s so much easier said than done, though, because peace and unity requires being…
– Humble: a modest or low estimate of one’s own importance.
– Gentle: showing a mild, kind, or tender temperament or character.
– Patient: tolerate delays, problems, suffering without being annoyed or anxious.
– Bearing: a determination of position
Those qualities are a difficult reminder of their specific purpose; to point us to the need of a position to attach them to – “bearing with one another in love.”
Of course, I believe those things are a necessary part of peace and unity. Of course, I want those qualities and the love to go with them. Unfortunately there’s another “of course.” Of course, peace and unity wouldn’t be nearly as hard if everyone would just agree with me.
More than ever before I realize that humility, gentleness, and patience are clearly elusive parts of love that sometimes slow my journey of faith. If that is truth, then the original meanings of peace and unity are worth exploring.
– Eirēnēs, translated peace means joining what’s been separated to make one again
– Henotēta, translated unity means oneness and/or in unison
My conclusion is this: The “unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” is like a two-way street all of us have to travel. Peace and unity are not dependent on which side of the road you’re on. “Humble, gentle, patient and bearing” are the necessary speed bumps of faith that slow us down so we pay attention to these absolute truths: “There is one body and one Spirit…one hope…one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all.” That one-ness can rejoin what has been separated and get us over all the speed bumps “until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”
Read Ephesians 4 as a word-for-word translation
Ephesians 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he[b] predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. [NIV]
[b] in his sight in love. 5 He
A period [.], called a full stop in British English, is one of the first punctuation marks we learn about when we begin reading and writing. It’s a [point] used at the end of a statement. Very rarely when we read are they of any notice because they’re so common. In this case it was the repositioning of that period that caused me to do a “full stop” and ask myself this question; whose love? His or ours?
The answer of course is both. The relationship between the Sovereign God and us is certainly meant to be one of love and that is the [point] of this footnote [b]. The first iteration was God’s choice: “in his sight[.] In love 5 he” makes it clear God was operating toward us in love. What intrigued me was reading that same sentence with the footnote in place; “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless “in his sight in love[.] 5 He”
There are two clear truths in this short passage: He chose us in love to be holy and blameless[.] AND He chose us to be holy and blameless in his sight in love[.] The human authors and editors of the Bible have been inspired to use that footnote to preserve the fullness of God’s absolute truth. Our heart’s response is to stand “in his sight in love” only because “In love” He has chosen us “to be holy and blameless in his sight[.] Full Stop
2 Peter 1:3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins. NIV
There are two words that are the mystery of God we all deal with in our feeble attempts to understand what is humanly unknowable. I call them flashpoint words – preordained and predestination. Neither of them is in this passage but as I read they are what came to my mind. The word “orchestrating” is how I deal with them as part of the natural system put into place during, and even before, the time of creation that includes “everything” I do know. God is in control. God is ever-present. God knows all things.
“Orchestrating” is more than those two flashpoint words. They are only a mysterious part of the music of the Sovereignty of God. Imagine God as the composer and conductor directing each of these parts of His symphony of faith. The music begins with the conductor. You want to see faith? Let me bring in goodness… Now in the flow of His personal arrangement for His creation each of those lovely parts is brought in to enhance the music of life. Faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness and mutual affection are added at just the right moment as the overall music swells to the beautiful conclusion that explains everything God pre-ordained and predestined as He composed His symphony – LOVE.
1 Peter 5:8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. NIV
Be alert and watchful, of sober mind and spirit. The devil is not an adversary content with luring you into sin but one who is intent on your complete destruction. All my children are united in this struggle at this time of suffering…but I am the God of all grace who has called you beyond death to eternal glory with me. I’ve given you faith to make you strong beyond your own ability to stand firm and resist. I myself will support and strengthen you and make it happen. Stay in toucha.
a A composite of ESV, NIV, NLT and NASB versions