Understanding the Spiritual
A Sermon on John 3:9-13
9Nicodemus responded and said to Him, “How can these things be?” 10Jesus answered and said to him, “You are the teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things? 11Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know and testify of what …
9Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be? 10Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? 11Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and …
In this sermon on John 3:9–13 titled “Understanding the Spiritual,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones focuses on Christ’s late-night conversation with Nicodemus, a Pharisee and religious teacher. Dr. Lloyd-Jones poses a question: What are the reasons to study the character of Christ? The answer, he says, is simple. First, a Christian needs to see how the Lord dealt with another soul. Secondly, a believer needs to read of Christ speaking of eternal destination. What does the Lord reveal about humanity’s eternal destination? A person cannot receive eternal life by themselves. Dr. Lloyd-Jones reminds that only God can accomplish this. This is why Nicodemus could not understand what Christ said to him. He was of his own flesh. Nicodemus tried to meet the Lord as an equal, but no one can. There can be no philosophical debate with Christ, Dr. Lloyd-Jones says. For who has really seen the heavenly things Christ spoke about? No one except the Son. This is where other religions fail, Dr. Lloyd-Jones says. Other religions seek to understand God through human eyes. In Christianity, God reaches down to the sinner, offers His own Son for atonement, and gives whoever believes eternal life.
- Our utter inability and impotence in understanding spiritual things. We are spiritually blind and lack understanding.
- We must realize we cannot see or understand on our own. We must become as little children.
- The first essential is realizing our total inability in spiritual matters. We cannot understand by our own intellect or logic.
- Nicodemus was spiritually blind despite being a religious leader and teacher. He lacked spiritual understanding.
- We are all born spiritually blind and cannot understand spiritual things on our own. We need spiritual discernment given by God.
- Nicodemus should have understood the need for spiritual rebirth from Scripture like Psalm 51 and Ezekiel 36. But he still did not understand.
- The phenomenon of conversion and being born again is common knowledge and seen throughout history, yet many still do not understand the need for it.
- There is something essentially different about religion and spiritual things versus other areas of life and knowledge. Spiritual understanding is a gift from God, not achieved by human intellect or effort alone.
- If we do not understand the "earthly things" about the new birth and conversion, how can we possibly understand "heavenly things" like the nature of God, sin, salvation, eternity, etc.
- We can know nothing about God, sin, salvation, eternity, etc. apart from divine revelation. We have not ascended to heaven or seen these things. We must listen to the One who has - Jesus.
- Jesus speaks with authority about heavenly things because He has seen them. He knows God directly and shares this knowledge. He is the only One who has seen God and can share Him with us.
- Jesus is the Son of God who came down from heaven. He alone can give us understanding of God, salvation, eternity, etc. We must listen to Him.
- We must stop questioning and arguing and simply listen to and believe in Jesus. He alone has the answers to life's most important questions.
- There is only one thing to do - realize our inability, look to Jesus, believe in Him, surrender to Him, and ask Him to save us, reconcile us to God, and give us eternal life.
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.