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Sermon #1136

The Example of Nicodemus

A Sermon on John 3:9


John 3:9 ESV KJV
Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” (ESV)

Sermon Description

Who is able to see and understand spiritual truths? According to Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones in his sermon “The Example by Nicodemus,” it is only those who have the Spirit. This is seen in Jesus’s encounter with Nicodemus in John 3:9. Jesus repeatedly refers to spiritual truths, such as the Holy Spirit’s power of salvation and the necessity of the new birth. But Nicodemus is unable to understand that Jesus is referring to spiritual truths and not simply physical ones. In this, the great error of humanity can be seen in the attempt to understand all things according to human reason and intellect. Yet the Bible shows the folly of this, for only those who are truly saved can perceive the nature of spiritual reality. Even then, it is by faith that they believe, not by their own intellect. This means that believers and unbelievers alike can never rely on their own abilities to understand God, the world, and themselves, but they must rely on the revelation of God and the illumination of the Holy Spirit to overcome the sinful blindness. For, as this sermon on Nicodemus points out, it is only by God’s grace that He can be known as Lord and Savior.

Sermon Breakdown

  1. The sermon examines John 3:9-13 and Jesus' conversation with Nicodemus.
  2. The central message of John's gospel is eternal life through Christ. This is the "fullness of his grace."
  3. The sermon focuses on the obstacles that prevent us from receiving the fullness of Christ's grace. The main obstacle is intellectual pride and reliance on human understanding.
  4. Jesus rebukes Nicodemus for not understanding "earthly things" like the wind, which represents spiritual things. If we can't grasp earthly illustrations, how can we understand "heavenly things"?
  5. "Heavenly things" refer to deep spiritual truths like the Trinity, God's glory, and the mystery of redemption. These transcend human understanding.
  6. No one has ascended to heaven except Christ, who descended from heaven. He alone has seen and known the Father. We must rely on Christ's testimony, not human understanding.
  7. We limit God's grace by trying to fit it into our limited understanding. God's grace is infinite and transcends our comprehension.
  8. True Christianity is about knowing God, not just believing facts about him or living morally. It is a relationship with the Father, Son, and Spirit.
  9. We should avoid limiting the possibilities of the Christian life. We can be filled with the fullness of God and comprehend the breadth and length and height of Christ's love, which surpasses knowledge.
  10. Dr. Lloyd-Jones appeals to the congregation to pursue a deeper knowledge of God and experience of "heavenly things." This will transform our lives and the church.

The Book of John

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh evangelical minister who preached and taught in the Reformed tradition. His principal ministry was at Westminster Chapel, in central London, from 1939-1968, where he delivered multi-year expositions on books of the bible such as Romans, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In addition to the MLJ Trust’s collection of 1,600 of these sermons in audio format, most of these great sermon series are available in book form (including a 14 volume collection of the Romans sermons), as are other series such as "Spiritual Depression", "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" and "Great Biblical Doctrines". He is considered by many evangelical leaders today to be an authority on biblical truth and the sufficiency of Scripture.