Grace >

May 12, 2019 | Thad Key, Senior Pastor

Grace > Religion

John 2:23-3:15


 John 2:23-3:15

Grace is greater than religion because it gives you a living relationship with God through a new birth.

Grace is Greater than Religion Because… 

Grace is Supernatural Not Artificial (2:23-3:3) 

Religion can cause you to superficially “believe” in Jesus for a moment but not supernaturally believe in Jesus for a lifetime (2:23; Jn. 6:60-71; 7:1-9; 12:37-43).

Though many believed in Jesus, in contrast Jesus did not believe in them because he discerns the superficial faith of religion from the supernatural faith of grace (2:24-25; Jn. 8:32-38).

Nicodemus is the ultimate religious man Israel has to offer but his religious “best” was artificial and left him spiritually dead (3:1-2).

Religion blinds you so you “cannot see” the eternal life of God’s kingdom (3:3; Jn. 18:36).

Being “born again” from above (heaven) is an inner, spiritual birth of transforming life which makes you a new creation in Jesus (3:3; 2 Cor. 5:17).

“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh not of the will of man, but of God.”-John 1:12-13

Greater Grace…

1) Transcends Religion

You can believe in the supernatural in Jesus’ life and ministry while not experiencing the supernatural life of Jesus in yourself. 

“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!”-2 Corinthians 13:5

2) Gives Hope

“He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead...”-1 Peter 1:3

Jesus sees beyond your religious facade and offers you the living hope of eternal life.

Grace is Greater than Religion Because…

Grace Gives You Spiritual Life (3:4-8)

You “cannot enter the kingdom of God” unless you are spiritually resurrected from spiritual death into a new spiritual life (3:5; Jn. 1:12-13).

The new birth is a spiritual heart transplant where God the Holy Spirit removes your lifeless heart and replaces it with a living heart for God (Ezek. 36:26-37).

Religion is “born of the flesh” because it is an attempt to use your religious obedience in your flesh to please God (3:6).

“It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.”-Jesus in John 6:3

Religious people “marvel” at Jesus’ teaching that people “must be born again” because it is a blunt reminder that they are incapable of giving themselves life (3:7).

The saving “wind” of the Holy Spirit produces the new birth and is not something you manipulate into happening but is evidenced in changed lives (3:8).

Greater Grace is…

1) Implanted by God’s Word 

The new birth begins with being born with the water of the word of God as we “have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God” (1 Pet. 1:23; Jms. 1:18). 

If you realize you need the new life the new birth brings, get into a daily time in Scripture so the word gets on the inside of you (Rms. 10:17).

2) Given by God’s Spirit

“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”-Luke 11:13

Rather than the outward shell of religion, Jesus wants to give you the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19-20).

Grace is Greater than Religion Because… 

Reveals Your Greatest Need (3:9-15)

Jesus asks if you really “understand these things” by grasping the significance of the new birth for your own spiritual condition (3:10; Mk. 4:13; Lk. 18:34; Jn. 12:16).

If you refuse to “receive” the “testimony,” the teachings, of Jesus you are refusing to “believe” in Jesus (3:11-12; Jn. 6:60-71).

“How can you believe heavenly things?” is Jesus blunt response that people are incapable of believing his teachings without the new birth (3:12; Eph. 2:8-9).

Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness to stop the wrath of God through giving new life just as Jesus was “lifted up” at the cross so that all who look to him will live (3:14-15; Num. 21:4-9)

“Whoever believes” means no one is outside of receiving God’s saving grace through the new birth (3:15; Acts 2:21; Rms. 10:13).

Greater Grace...

1) Leads to Faith in Jesus

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”-Ephesians 2:8-9

To receive saving grace in your life, you must reject religion to believe in Jesus (Phil 3:3-11). 

2) Receiving Jesus’ Testimony

“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”-John 6:68-69

Jesus’ teachings give life, faith, and confidence in who Jesus is. 

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