Victoria Fellowship Church
International & Interdenominational
Bible Study Worksheet – July 12, 2015
Theme: Responses to the Word
Main Texts: John 3:1-15; 19:38-42
Key Verse: John 3:3 – Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” (NIV)
Last Sunday we commenced our studies on the theme “Responses to the Word” with the topic “Consider What You Hear”. We noted that:
- We only get the benefit of what we hear when we act on it
- Responding to the Gospel message to get saved requires God’s grace
- When we act on what God tells us, we open the door for Him to tell us more
- When we repeatedly fail to act on what He tells us, our hearts could become calloused – no longer sensitive to His word, and we could wonder why He no longer speaks to us
- A calloused heart could result from blindly holding on to denominational doctrines which may be unbiblical
- A church can become calloused by holding on to norms and policies that are unbiblical
This Sunday we will look at a character in the Gospels – Nicodemus. We will see how he, along with several of his co-Pharisees and Jewish leaders, heard Jesus, and how he personally went beyond just hearing; he acted on what he heard. We will see how his decision eventually informed his subsequent views in the council, and his later open demonstration of his faith.
It is not explicitly recorded that Nicodemus had listened to Jesus Christ preach somewhere before that his historic night visit to Jesus, recorded in John 3. However, John recorded certain key events before the visit. These were that
(a) John The Baptist had preached repentance and heralded Jesus’ coming (John 1:15-27),
(b) Jesus had been baptised (John 1:28-34),
(c) Jesus had called his disciples (John 1:35-51),
(d) Jesus had turned water into wine at Cana (John 2:1-11), and
(e) Jesus had driven traders out of the temple courts (John 2:12-25).
It seems likely that Nicodemus was among the Jews that took Jesus to task when Jesus drove the traders out of the temple. What he had seen and heard made such an impression on him that he decided to do something about it – go to Jesus secretly to find out what these things should mean for him, personally. The things God allows us to witness and hear are part of His message to us. Have you ever been gripped by observations and words spoken, not necessarily targeting you, to the point of resolving to take an important personal decision?
Nicodemus was not only a Pharisee, he was also “a member of the Jewish ruling council”. Imagine the personal struggles he would have been through before taking the step to go and speak with Jesus. This Jesus had a running battle with these Jewish leaders throughout His earthly ministry, culminating in His being handed over to be crucified. Considering that Nicodemus eventually joined in taking care of Jesus’ body afterwards (John 19:38-42), he certainly remained a disciple. We do not know what his discipleship did to his standing as a Pharisee and as a member of the Jewish ruling council, but it is fair to suggest that he faced personal challenges as a result of his decision. Read John 7:40-53. What thoughts of personal challenges could keep us from acting on what God tells us and how might we possibly resolve the inner conflicts?
The response of Jesus Christ to Nicodemus’ inquiry was not the easiest to understand – not even for a well-learned Pharisee: “You must be born again”. “You must be born of water and of the Spirit”. One of the reasons many reject the Gospel today is that they think it does not make sense: How can God have a Son? How can the death of one man atone for the sins of the whole world? In helping Nicodemus understand, Jesus compared the working of the Holy Spirit to the way the wind blows: “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8 NIV) What role does our intellect play in our response, or lack of it, to God’s word?
1. In your local Church, it is possible that there are some who listen to messages and teachings but have never taken a step to receive Christ. What are the possible reasons?
2. Nicodemus did not quit the Jewish ruling council despite his apparent secret faith in Jesus Christ. What were his options and why did he remain in the council?
Father, grant me the courage and resolve to act on whatever I hear You speak to me, either directly or by observation of happenings around me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.