Nicodemus - Creation and Evolution

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P. Rüst (2009), message Flüehli, Schwarzenburg (Switzerland), somewhat extended,
without pictures, 7 p. (68 kB):

or with pictures, 8 p. (265 kB):

Translated from the German original,
P. Rüst (2009), "Nikodemus"
Predigt Flüehli, Schwarzenburg (Schweiz).



1. The Pharisee Nicodemus
2. God's kingdom isn't a matter of earthly institutions
3. Spiritual dimension of faith and new birth
4. Baptism of water and of the Spirit:
-- purification for the new life
5. The Word of God became flesh
6. Jesus crucified in the flesh, risen bodily
7. God's holiness, justice, and judgment
8. Freedom and responsibility - faith and judgment
9. Nicodemus, a sincere thinker

...a man of the Pharisees
named Nicodemus,
a ruler of the Jews...

came to Jesus by night
and said to him,
"Rabbi, we know
that you are a teacher
come from God..."

- John reports "signs", which convinced many in Israel that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. Most of the Pharisee scribes however rejected him despite this evidence, remaining in unbelief. For this reason, the account of Nicodemus the Pharisee visiting Jesus by night is of particular relevance. Step by step, Jesus guided him in his understanding and faith.

Do not marvel that I said to you,
"You must be born again."

- The entire Jewish leadership and Nicodemus had completely missed God's objective by forcing God's kingdom into the framework of their earthly institutions. They would have to be born again (from above) - into a new, spiritual life. Those of today's churches which take their own institutions to be indispensable for salvation have the same problem.

- This new birth occurs invisibly, through God's Spirit alone, remaining hidden to the natural man. Thus, someone born of the Spirit cannot be directly recognized and assessed by others; it is the consequences of having received the Holy Spirit that can be seen in his life.

- A birth "of water and of the Spirit" is required, where water doesn't point to baptism, but to the Old Testament purification of the sinner. Spirit baptism is God's immediate response to the confession of accepting Jesus, coinciding with conversion. Therefore, infant baptism, baptismal regeneration, and charismatic particularities like a separate "Spirit baptism" are not supported by the bible.

- Nicodemus saw Jesus as a prophet sent from God. But Jesus told him that he is more, having come from heaven as incarnated Son of God and returning there soon. Therefore the witness of Jesus, both about earthly and heavenly realities, is dependable, for he knows what he is talking about.

- Furthermore, the Jewish understanding of the Messiah failed to see that he is the suffering servant of God in Isaiah 53. This is the second aspect of his incarnation: he came into the deepest lowness of the earth and humanity, in order to die on the cross as the effective atoning sacrifice. This "lifting up" was already hinted at by the brass serpent Moses "lifted up" for the salvation of sinners.

- As God is absolutely holy and just, a substitutionary sacrifice is the only way the sinner is spared condemnation. Animal sacrifices in themselves could not effect justification; but they pointed to the atoning sacrifice of the sinless Son of God. God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

For God so loved the world,
that he gave his only Son,
that whoever believes in him
should not perish but have eternal life

- It is unbelievable that there should be anyone who would reject this unheard-of love of God. It is because they are spiritually blinded, too self-centered to see their plight. Yet God doesn't force them. He created humans as genuine persons, not puppets. Man is free to decide against God, but bears the responsibility for such a decision, which renders him "condemned already".

- Jesus severely indicted the Pharisees for selfishness, hypocrisy, and abuse of power. But he talked in great detail with the Pharisee Nicodemus, who was sincerely looking for truth and justice, even taking risks in turn. This conversation teaches us much about the triune God, human nature, and God's long-term plan of salvation for Israel and the world.

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples,
which are not written in this book;
but these are written
so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,
and that by believing you may have life in his name.

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