Jack Graham - Christmas: New Birth, New Life
Freshly fallen snow, the smell of pine trees and smoke in a nearby fireplace. Just the beauty of this place reminds me that Christmas is here. I love being in Colorado and I'm getting really excited about Christmas, already playing the Christmas music and looking forward to the presents that we'll be giving our eight grandchildren, enjoying the great food, preaching services at Christmas Eve candlelight services. But you know what I'm really excited about? Is the opportunity to celebrate the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. And not only His birth, but our new birth in Him. And that's what this show is about. The new birth, the new life that only Jesus can give. Three great friends, Hebron Road are joining us for singing great Christmas classics.
And we're gonna be talking about God's salvation, His path of redemption for the world. We all long for Christmas where the peace lasts and we pray for peace on Earth. We want the joy of Christmas to remain. We want Christmas to be not just one day, but all year long. And that can happen when we experience this life in Jesus Christ. We can expect something better, something bigger, something more bright and dynamic. Something that is real, not just a holiday, but a life that we have in the Lord. We want something for our soul deep within and for eternity. And that's what we're gonna be talking about, this new birth, this new life in Jesus Christ. So let's celebrate that holy night when God became one of us, that joy filled night when the angels danced with the stars. So gather your family and gather your friends and let's celebrate together.
The story of the Bible begins in darkness, utter darkness and chaos. For the Scripture says, "In the beginning there was darkness over the face of the deep, utter darkness". But then God spoke. There was light, sun and moon and stars. It was the dawn of creation and life begins. He then made the man and the woman in His own image and placed them in a perfect place, a garden called Eden. And they lived, walked and talked with God just as God had created them. But then evil snaked into the garden, and the serpent, the devil, tempted the man and the woman and they sinned, both of them. And then there was darkness in the soul, darkness in the heart, and that means death. But then God gave a promise. He took a man by the name of Abraham years later outside into the night and he showed him all the stars and then gave him a promise. A promise that of his nation, of his life there would be a blessing to all the nations. And that his seed would be multiplied like the stars in the heaven.
What a promise it was. And it happened that night. You know, there's so many powerful night scenes in the Bible. For example, Jacob one night wrestled with God all night long and he prevailed and received the blessing of God. Then, of course, there was that night of the Passover when the the death angel passed over the children of Israel's home when they covered the doorpost of their houses with the blood of a lamb, predicting the Savior who would come one day. And then there's the story of Jonah, that powerful tale of a whale. When Jonah spent three days and three nights in the belly of a fish, and God delivered him and made him a great prophet and there was a revival in Nineveh. And then there was Daniel, a story that I love. He spent the night with lions and was delivered by God. But then came that night of all nights when Jesus was born. It was a holy and humble night. And it's a miraculous story, isn't it?
The Bible tells us a virgin conceives, and the Son of God is delivered. And on that night, that beautiful, wonderful night, the heavens exploded in shepherd's fields and angels worshiped and danced on the stars and announced the birth of the Savior into the world. And they said, "Glory to God in the highest. God is praised because Jesus is born". What's happening that night is that heaven is coming to Earth. A Child is born as Isaiah promised, a Son is now given. The Bible says the people who walked in darkness have now seen a great light. That light is the light of Jesus. God is now with us. Emmanuel has come and He is born without privilege, born without prestige or political power. He has no status or social standing. There's no social media. But God is speaking to the world. God is made flesh, the Word is made flesh and now dwells among us.
And on that night, Jesus' birth turns BC into AD, and he turns the darkness into light, the night into light. His name, Jesus, is the most recognized name in history, and even beyond history, His name is above all other names. His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. And it all happened that night in Bethlehem. What a night. Now I want you to fast forward with me three decades from Bethlehem. Jesus is now a young man in his early thirties. And the God, man who came to earth, Jesus, God's only Son, He came to Earth so that we could go to heaven. And by now His name and His fame has spread far and wide across Israel. Everyone it seemed knew who Jesus was. He was preaching and teaching and performing miracles and lives were being changed. And clearly God was upon Him because He is the one and only Savior, the beloved Son of God.
And so one night, a very respected, very religious man, a leader of the Jewish nation, a ruler of the Jews, came to Jesus with some questions. In one way, he is not only a religious man, but he's a representative man. His name is Nicodemus. And though he is a Jewish man, he has a Greek name. He is the original Nick at Night. And in one sense, he therefore represents all mankind, both Jews and non-Jews. He is Nicodemus. And this well respected man, if you saw Nicodemus walking down the street in that day, you would've no doubt bowed and said, "Hello, Dr. Nicodemus". Someone said he was a big cog in the synagogue. He was a highlight reel of religious commitment in Israel. But this man was not only representative of the whole world, in the sense that he was both a Greek in name and a Jew in person, but, and a respected man, but he is also a restless man it appears. Because he comes to Jesus by night. It's a night scene in the Bible. And we have to wonder why did he choose nighttime to talk with Jesus?
Now, there's a lot of speculation about that, of course. Some say Nicodemus came to Jesus at night because he was ashamed or afraid to meet with him during the day. After all, Jesus was a controversial figure at this time. He's a Galilean. What good thing can come out of Galilee? He was raised in Nazareth, born in Bethlehem. He's an itinerant preacher. He's performing all these miracles and he's teaching all these great truths. And many people are wondering, "Just who is this? Is He the Messiah"? And Nicodemus must have been wondering the same thing. And so I believe he came to Jesus because he was a restless man. He had questions, not that he was afraid to ask in the daytime, but he came at night as men often did after dinner to have conversations about important subjects, to talk about truth, to talk about politics, to talk about religion. And he wanted to know, just who are You, Jesus? Who are You? Are You who they say You are? Are You who You say You are?
And so Nicodemus then comes to Jesus by night, and here's what he says in John's Gospel, 3:2, "Rabbi or teacher, we know that you have come from God as a teacher, for no one can do these signs, these miracles that You do unless God is with Him". Now just think about this for a moment. At first, Nicodemus is approaching Jesus intellectually, kind of mind to mind. He says, "We know," and he's asking questions. He says kind of, "I'm asking for a friend. We know that You are a teacher who has come from God". And there's pride in this and you can feel it, you can see it, but yet there's restlessness here. There's a sincere desire to know who Jesus is. After all, how can you explain these miracles if this man is not from God?
Now, of course, Jesus was not a teacher who came just to talk about God. He is God who's come to teach. And ultimately we must get that right. And Nicodemus had to get that right. And so Jesus, hearing this question and this conversation, He responds and just cuts to the chase and says to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you must be born again to enter the Kingdom of God". Born again. Now, Nicodemus, clearly when you read this passage, doesn't understand what Jesus is talking about. He says, "How can an old man go back into his mother's womb and be born again"? He's thinking physically, but Jesus is talking about a spiritual birth. He's talking about a brand new life, a new birth. Jesus says, "Don't marvel that I say to you". He repeats it, "That you must be born again". Nicodemus came. He was interested in all the miracles. And Jesus, in effect, is saying to him, "Okay, Nicodemus, you're interested in miracles? Here's what needs to happen. You need to become a miracle and this is the miracle of the new birth".
And Jesus is saying to all of us today, regardless of our religious background or personal pedigree, you must be born again. You must. Every person in the Earth must be born again. In fact, Jesus was born so that we may be born again. He came to Earth so that we could go to heaven. And in this new birth, Jesus offers a brand new life. It is a birth into the forever family of God, into the Kingdom of God. It's a new beginning and it is a life without limits. It's a life that we receive from God that is liberated from the power of sin and death and judgment and hell. It is a life that is full and fulfilling, filled with purpose and hope and joy and what Jesus called abundant life. It is eternal life, a life that is filled with the presence of God, so that no matter what happens, we know that God will never leave us. His Spirit is in us. Emmanuel is in us.
So now the question is, how can I be born again? What does it mean to be born again? As Jesus continues the conversation with Nicodemus and with you and me, He gives us the answer in the famed John 3:16 passage. "For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him would not perish but have eternal life". Now, just for a moment, focus on that word in that text, whoever. Whoever believes in Him would not perish, but have everlasting eternal life. There was a man by the name of Richard Baxter, and he was a great man. He was a pilgrim actually. And he was reading this passage and later commented, he said, "You know, I would've assumed that if I inserted my name there, God so loved Richard Baxter, then that He must have meant some other Richard Baxter, someone else but me. But when it says, whoever believes, I know that includes me".
Whoever means anyone and everyone who will put their faith and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. It means you. It means me. And you can insert your name there, because Jesus died for you, and Jesus rose again that you might have eternal life. This is all because of the love of God. If you hear nothing else in this message today, hear this, God loves you. He has an everlasting love for you forever, and He loves you so much that He sent Jesus, His only Son, and He went to the cross and died on the cross and rose again on the third day. This is the good news of Jesus Christ, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The greatest story ever told, the greatest good news the world has ever heard, that Jesus is Savior and Lord. And because God loves you and demonstrates His love for you on the cross, then you can have eternal life.
And here's what you need to hear. You need to admit your need for Jesus. There's a lot of talk today, people looking in the mirror and saying things like, "I'm enough, I'm enough". But you know you're not enough. Your religion is not enough, your good deeds, these are not enough. Your church attendance, not enough. You don't need more religion. In fact, so many of us need to stop enduring religion and start enjoying salvation in Jesus Christ. So the question is, have you been born again? When you are born again, there's a new direction in your life. If anyone is in Christ, he's a brand new creation. Old things are passed away, everything becomes new. You are changed from the inside out. You have a new dynamic. I can fail and do fail so often, but the power of Christ in me enables me to live the Christian life. And you can know this same power, this presence in Christ.
So there's a new dynamic, there's a new direction, there's a new determination and focus in your life to honor God, to glorify God. And yes, there is a new destiny, because you can know that you're going to heaven. You can know today that you have eternal life. The question is, do you know this? Have you been born again? Has there been a time and a place in your life where you know for certain that if you were to die today that you would go to heaven? You could be born again in Jesus Christ. Again, Jesus was born and we celebrate His birth. He was born because you must be born again.
We're so very grateful at this Christmas season and always for the Lord Jesus Christ who came to Earth so that we could go to heaven. He was born so that we could be born again. And that's been the theme of our entire time together today, is how we can know this new life in Jesus Christ. Because Jesus lives, we can live also. And we not only celebrate it Christmas, but all year long what Christ has done for us. And our greatest desire, my greatest prayer and hope is that you would know Jesus personally. The reality of Jesus in your life, that you would experience His presence, because He is Emmanuel. He is the one who lives in us, and that God is for you and God is in you, and God is with you always. And the way that happens is what Jesus called the new birth. Have you been born again?
You say, "How does that happen"? Well, it happens when we realize our need to be saved, our need to know Jesus Christ. Sin has separated us from God. That's why Jesus came. He came to save us from our sins. And so we acknowledge our sins, and we've all sinned and broken God's commandments. We've all sinned in the way we think and in the way that we act. So we need to repent of our sin, and that means to turn away from our sin and then to trust in Jesus Christ, to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Savior of the world. The question is, is he your Savior? Have you personally received Him and believed Him? John 1:12 puts it this way. "He came into His own, but His own received Him not. But to as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to be called the children of God".
You become a child of God when you are born again. To be born again means then to acknowledge your sin, to turn from your sin, that's repentance, and then to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible says, "Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved". To be saved means that all your sins are forgiven. To be saved means that Jesus lives in you. His spirit is alive in you. He is with you. And then, not only to be saved from sin and Christ living in you, but you can know the hope of heaven. There are so many people who really don't know if they're going to heaven or not, but you can know this. "These things are written," the Bible says, "That you may know that you have eternal life".
Do you know that you're going to heaven? You can know today by believing and receiving the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible puts it this way, "As many as received Him to them gave you the right to be called the children of God, even to them who believe on His name". So there it is. Receive Christ by believing and trusting in Christ with all of your heart. And then one final thing, and that is to confess Him as your Lord and Savior. As many as received Him and believed Him and then confessed Him as Lord and savior. That means to openly follow Him. You can let us know right now. You can confess Christ by contacting us at PowerPoint right now. We want to pray for you and encourage you. So may God bless you, richly bless you with His grace and His peace at this Christmas season and all year long. God bless you and Merry Christmas.