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Jesus Saves

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JESUS PROVIDES NEW BIRTH 

Scripture: John 3:1–18

Memory verse: John 3:3
"Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again."

Lead—In

Show a collection of pictures of babies you have put together from magazines. Point out that a baby’s life is just starting—he has his entire life ahead of him to make decisions. Some of his choices will result in good, some in sorrow. His most important choice will be whether or not to serve God during his life. This will decide what his eternity will be like.

Ask if anyone has ever heard an adult say, “If I could live my life over, I would change some things.” Explain that no one can ever go back and become a baby again, but a person’s life can change dramatically for the good.

Ask if anyone knows someone whose life has been so changed that people say, “He is like a new person.” That has happened to many people since Jesus came. No matter what kind of sin people have been in, Jesus made a way for them to have a new life. Tell the students this lesson will describe how a person can be born again—not as a baby, but as a new creation in God.

Hearing God’s Word

Ask: “What do we mean when we say someone is born again? Is this the same as being saved?” (Allow discussion.)

We get the term born again from Jesus himself. The Scripture verses for this week’s study include these words of Jesus. Let us find out about this term in the same way as the man who asked Jesus about it. (If you wish, the students may take turns reading verses from the Scripture text. Otherwise, open your Bible to the passage.)

Nicodemus—A Pharisee

This portion of Scripture is about a man named Nicodemus. Although Nicodemus is mentioned briefly in a few other places in the Gospel of John, he is most often remembered for this one event in his life.

Ask: “Who was Nicodemus?” (Allow responses.)

Nicodemus was “a member of the Jewish ruling council.” Jesus referred to him as “Israel’s teacher.” Today these sound like political terms, but in those days the church and the government were closely related.

Nicodemus was more of a religious leader than a political leader. He was a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin, the high court of the Jews that governed both the legal and spiritual matters of the Jewish people.

Pharisees Reject Jesus’ Teachings

Pharisees believed that a person must obey detailed laws and ceremonies to get to heaven.

Most Pharisees were probably well-known by their loud, proud prayers and their self-righteous attitude. They would not even associate with people who were not Pharisees. They also thought Jesus was an impostor—that it was impossible for Him to be the Son of God as He claimed. Most Pharisees thought Jesus’ ministry was false.

Ask: “Was Jesus teaching the doctrine of the Pharisees to the people? Was He teaching the people that they should pretend to be holy and follow ceremonies and regulations?” (Allow discussion.)

Jesus was teaching the people to believe in Him with their hearts—not pretend to be righteous by obeying rules and ceremonies! Jesus was teaching that ceremonies had no meaning or value without true repentance (sincere sorrow for sin) in the people’s hearts. Jesus’ teaching upset the Pharisees. They were also upset that so many people were following Jesus.

Nicodemus Goes to Jesus

Nicodemus was a Pharisee, a Jewish leader, but something was different about him. Nicodemus knew Jesus was no ordinary man. He was fascinated by Jesus. He wanted to talk with Jesus. As a Pharisee, it was awkward for him to come to Jesus, especially to ask for advice.

Imagine a man like Nicodemus coming to Jesus for instructions! Nicodemus chose to come to Jesus anyway. Now that we know some of Nicodemus’ background, it is not surprising that he visited Jesus at night. If he had come in the daytime, he probably would have been spotted by his fellow Pharisees. He would have become an outcast to them.

Ask: “What did Nicodemus say when he began to speak to Jesus?” (Allow discussion.)

Surprisingly, Nicodemus’ first recorded words were, “Rabbi (Teacher), we know you are a teacher who has come from God. No one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him” (John 3:2). The miracles were what had interested Nicodemus in Jesus. (Review last week’s study. Point out how God used Jesus’ miracles specifically in this case to bring glory to himself.)

You must be Born Again

Here is where Jesus introduced the term born again. “If you are not born again,” He said, “you cannot get into heaven.”

This was a difficult concept for Nicodemus to understand. (Ask a student to read John 3:4.) To people who have heard the term born again and know what it means, Nicodemus’ question may sound ridiculous. Nicodemus had not heard the term before. He did not understand what it meant.

The second birth—or new birth—is not a physical one, as Nicodemus thought. Jesus referred to it as a birth because we are just starting out in our Christian life when we receive Him as our Saviour. We are reborn spiritually. People who live in sin are dead spiritually. When we invite Jesus into our lives, He gives us eternal life. We are spiritually alive.

This new birth is something only Jesus can give. A person has to decide for himself whether or not to receive spiritual life by accepting Jesus. If he ignores it, or chooses not to accept it at all, it is just the same as saying, “No, I do not want Jesus in my life.”

Ask Questions

You may not understand everything about being a Christian. Nicodemus did not either. In fact, he probably understood less about it than any of you. But he kept asking questions about the things he did not understand. This is just what we should do when we have questions. Nicodemus could ask Jesus in person. We can ask Jesus personally too through prayer. We can also ask Bible Study teachers and pastors when we are confused about something.

Salvation is God’s Gift

A little later in their conversation, Jesus explained to Nicodemus exactly why God gave us His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to give us this new birth. It is found in John 3:16. You may know this verse by memory. (Say the verse with the class.) Think about what that verse says. It is a beautiful message. It says God loves us so much He gave His only Son as a gift to bring us eternal life. We did not earn this gift—we never could. All we have to do is believe in Jesus, be sorry for our sins, and ask forgiveness. Then we are born again. We may not look any different on the outside, but our spirits have become brand new.

Traditions and Ceremonies Cannot Save Us

It does not take any special ceremony to accept Jesus. You can become a Christian wherever you are. Remember that Nicodemus and the other Pharisees believed ceremonies and keeping religious laws could get a person into heaven. Nicodemus found this belief was not true. Jesus said whosoever believed in Him would have eternal life.

You might have some confusion as Nicodemus did. Some of you may think coming to Bible Study and church will save you from punishment for your sins and get you into heaven. Maybe you think bowing your head and closing your eyes during prayer is enough. These are just meaningless ceremonies unless you ask Jesus into your life.

Nicodemus was probably embarrassed to go to Jesus because many of his friends were other Pharisees who did not believe in Jesus. You may feel embarrassed to come to Jesus because many of your friends are not Christians. Nicodemus went to Jesus anyway. He knew Jesus is far more important than what his friends thought. You can go to Jesus too if you choose to.

Accepting God’s Word

It appears Nicodemus accepted Jesus as his Saviour, because he later helped prepare Jesus’ body for burial. (Read John 19:38–40 with the students) Choosing to follow Jesus was the best decision—and the most important one—Nicodemus could have made. Accepting Jesus is the most important decision you could make also.

Stress to the students the need to be born again. Tell them they can read about it and hear about it and their parents may be Christians, but that will not do the students any good unless they do something about Jesus themselves. Only when they accept Jesus and live for Him can they be different on the inside and have eternal life in heaven.

Target Group

The Pulaar are a diverse group that speaks a variety of dialects. Their homeland ranges northward from southern Senegal and touches the Atlantic coastline in the St Louis, Senegal, area. They are primarily nomadic, but many are farmers. The urbanized Pulaar are merchants and skilled workers. My research was to be among the Fube-Jeeri Pulaar.

REMEMBER TO PRAY!

Pray for Fulbe Jeeri to Experience God's Love

1. Recognize that Jesus died for the Fulbe Jeeri tribe,
2. Understand that Jesus sacrificial death is an expression of God's love,
3. Accept the gift of God's love and be saved.

Prayer Promise

"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us" (1 John 3:16).

Remember: JESUS PROVIDES NEW BIRTH

Memory verse: John 3:3
"Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again."

1. Being born again is a spiritual experience.
2. Inviting Jesus into my heart initiates the new birth experience.
3. New birth is new life lived under the rule and reign of Jesus.

Pray for Fulbe Jeeri to accept Jesus as their Saviour.

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Study 7 | Will of God / Jesus is Lord | africaatts.org/go-teach

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