Jesus The Truth | Timothy "TA" Ateek

Timothy "TA" Ateek // Oct 17, 2023

What does it mean to have a saving faith? For Nicodemus, it meant following all the rules and checking the boxes, but this week Timothy “TA” Ateek walks us through John 3:1-15 to show us how Jesus is the Truth Teller when it comes to our salvation — it’s not something we earn, but a free gift we’re miraculously given!

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What's up, Porch? How are we doing tonight? It's so good to see you. Welcome. I'm glad you made it. If this is your first time ever with us on a Tuesday, thank you for trusting us with your Tuesday evening. We have a QR code on the screen. We would love to connect with you and help this place feel like home very quickly. I also want to say "Hello" to all of our Porch.Live locations that are watching with us tonight. I'm looking at you, Porch.Live Cincinnati, Porch.Live Des Moines, and for the first time ever, Porch.Live Fresno. Thank you for joining us. I hope all is well with you guys.

Tonight, we are continuing our series that we are calling Glory. We have been walking through the gospel of John. The best way for me to start is by sharing with you what happened on my sixth date with my wife Kathryn. After five dates, we reached the sixth date, and I realized it was time for us to have a clarifying conversation in our relationship that some people know as the DTR, which stands for defining the relationship.

The way I planned to have this clarifying conversation with Kathryn was I planned to do it at a concert, specifically a U2 concert. Some of you… That's good to hear, because if the next generation is like "You who?"…U2. All right, people? Go look them up. They'll change your life. But we went to this concert, and I didn't know when I was going to do it. I just knew it was going to happen at some point in the concert, and I kind of wanted to let U2 lead the way.

So, we were in the concert. We were enjoying the concert, and in the middle of the concert, Kathryn said she needed to go to the bathroom. I said I would go with her. Not to the same restroom, obviously, but… We kind of did our separate things, and I finished first. (I'm giving you way too much information. All of this has been unnecessary up until this point. This is where it actually gets important.)

So, I am waiting on Kathryn to come out, and I'm standing in the breezeway, the tunnel that takes you back to your seats, and I'm listening to U2. U2 is playing this song that's called "Sunday Bloody Sunday." I realized in that moment, "This is it. This is when I'm going to have a DTR with Kathryn." You might be wondering if "Sunday Bloody Sunday" is a romantic song. It is not. It is about people dying, but I realized that, in this moment, there was going to be the birth of a new relationship. I don't know how to make that tie to "Sunday Bloody Sunday," but I realized we were going to have a conversation.

So, Kathryn came out of the bathroom, and we were about to go to our seats. U2 was playing "Sunday Bloody Sunday," and right there, I just stopped her and said, "Hey! I need to tell you something! I like you!" She said, "I like you too." I was like, "I like U2, but do you like me too?" This is what happened. I said, "I like you," and she said, "I like you too," and I just froze. I was like, "All right." We just went back to our seats and stood silently next to each other for about 20 minutes.

The reason I share that night with you is the real DTR in our relationship happened while watching the animated movie Chicken Little, but "U2 concert" sounds way sexier, so we'll just say that was the moment. My point in telling you all this is there came a time in our relationship when Kat and I were dating where we just needed to have a clarifying conversation, and when we clarified the status of the relationship, that clarity led to confidence because feelings were out on the table.

We knew where each other stood. We knew where we were heading. We knew what we both desired, and we both, honestly, knew where the relationship was going to end up. Clarity led to confidence. Yet I've been in other situations… For example, I've shared here at The Porch about the time when the girl didn't know if she wanted to keep dating me because she didn't know if she liked how I looked. Did I tell y'all that story? I told y'all about that, right?

Yeah. That was very unsettling. That lack of clarity led to a lot of confusion and concern. So clarity is a really good thing. The reason I tell you that is because, as we step back into the gospel of John, we are going to look at Jesus Christ having a DTR with a guy named Nicodemus. This passage in the Scriptures is so incredibly important, because what this passage does is it drives toward relational clarity with Jesus Christ.

My hope for you is that every person here tonight would leave with great clarity on where you stand with Jesus, because when you have clarity on where you stand, it can lead to confidence in your relationship with Jesus. The relationship can really heat up because you know where you stand, you know how each other feels, and you know where you're going. A question we ask around here at The Porch often is, "If you were to die tonight, on a scale of 1 to 10, how sure are you that you would go to heaven when you die?"

I just want you to think really quickly. What would your answer be, 1 to 10? Just put a number in your mind. Have that number in your mind. What I hope is that many of you right now are picturing the number 10, but I would imagine that many people here are seeing something different, whether it's a 9 or a 7.2 or a 3. I want you to be a 10. I want you to have complete confidence in where you stand with Jesus Christ, but the only way for you to have that confidence is you need clarity on where your relationship stands.

Now, some of you have been walking with Jesus for a long time, so you're like, "This is where we're going tonight? All we're talking about is how to be sure you're going to heaven?" Here's what I need you to do. I need you to hang on, because we will go down a little bit of a theological rabbit hole. So, if that's kind of your thing, you can buckle up for that.

My greatest hope here is if you, personally, have great confidence in your relationship with Jesus, if you already have that clarity, you might get equipped in some way with an urgency to go out and help others find that same clarity that would lead to the same type of confidence you yourself have.

So, here we go. John, chapter 3, is where we are going to be. If you have a Bible, join me there. This is a truly famous passage in the Scriptures where Jesus has a very, very important conversation with a guy named Nicodemus. As we look at this passage, we're just going to identify three things you need in order to be saved. It's going to give you the clarity you need on your relationship with Jesus Christ so, hopefully, you can move forward in confidence.

  1. You need more than religion to be saved. Look with me at the passage, John, chapter 3. Let me read you verses 1 and 2 because it sets the scene for us. "Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, 'Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.'" This is a very important meeting. It's happening at night. A guy named Nicodemus comes to Jesus.

Here's what you need to know. The name Nicodemus means conqueror of the people, so even just by his name we get the idea that this guy is a leader in the nation of Israel. But not only that. What we found out in the first verse is that Nicodemus is a Pharisee. The word Pharisee literally means separated one. Nicodemus, as a Pharisee, is really separated from the rest of society in the sense that he is a professional rule follower.

He is part of a religious group that spends all of their time seeking to follow God's 613 rules that are expressed in the Old Testament. But here's what you need to know about Nicodemus and the Pharisees: they were so all in on following God's rules that they created rules outside of God's rules just to make sure they did a good job of following God's rules. What do I mean by that? Well, for example, when it came to the rule of following and observing the Sabbath, the Pharisees, according to one source, had 24 chapters on how to observe the Sabbath.

So, that's Nicodemus. But not only that. What does it say about him? It says at the end of verse 1 that he is a ruler of the Jews. What that means is Nicodemus is probably part of a group of people known as the Sanhedrin, which was 70 members who were, in a sense, Israel's supreme court. Not only that. In verse 10, Jesus refers to Nicodemus as the teacher of Israel.

So, when you put all of these things together, what do we know about Nicodemus? We know Nicodemus is an authority. He is a religious authority in Israel. He is the guy who people would be podcasting. He is the guy who people would be quoting and reposting. Nicodemus was a guy everyone looked to as the definition of a person of God.

So, who would Nicodemus be today? If Nicodemus walked into The Porch, what would he look like? Well, this would be a guy who, in Christian circles, would be referred to as a stud or a MOG (man of God). This is a guy who would be at church every single Sunday. Like, if he takes a road trip with his friends, he's like, "Guys, I've got to be back either late Saturday night or early Sunday morning because I'm at church. I'm not going to stream it. I'm going to be there for it."

He's at The Porch every single Tuesday night. This is a guy who reads his Bible every single day. This is a guy who memorizes Scripture every single week. This is a guy who sometimes just dates Jesus. This is a guy that when he takes a girl out, he's super intense…I mean, intentional, because that's how Christian guys are. Trying to be intentional, they just get intense. They look a girl in the eyes on the first date and are like, "So tell me your story," and then they end the first date by saying, "I want to pursue you." It just gets really weird really fast.

But that's Nicodemus. If he's going to cuss, he's going to say things like, "What the French toast?" or "Son of a biscuit." There's that purity of heart, that if something goes wrong, that's what comes out of his mouth. This is who Nicodemus would be today. And he's having a conversation with Jesus. You look at a guy like Nicodemus and who I just described, and it's like, "Yeah. That's the poster child of what Christianity must look like."

Yet look at what Jesus says to him in verse 3. "Jesus answered him, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.'" What an interesting statement for Jesus to say to this very well-respected religious figure. Here's what you need to know: Nicodemus would have been viewed as an authority on the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God, to Jews, was this idea of at the end of time this eternal resurrection life.

Jews believed they were an automatic shoo-in to the kingdom of God unless they were especially evil or had rejected God. So, if anyone knew about the kingdom of God, it would have been Nicodemus. The nation of Israel would have looked to Nicodemus for teaching on the kingdom of God. Jesus looks at Nicodemus in the eyes, and he is basically making the point, "Not even you can make it into the kingdom of God unless you're born again."

What is Jesus communicating to him? Jesus is having a DTR with him. He's saying, "Look. I want you to know where we stand. I want you to be clear on your status, because the worst thing that could happen is you move forward with a misplaced confidence." Jesus is, in a sense, telling him, "I don't want you to think you're saved when you're actually not." His point is "You need a lot more than religion to be saved."

Do you know what Nicodemus shows us? What he's showing us is it is possible to be an unsaved Christian. Now, some of you think I just spoke carelessly, so let me clarify quickly. What I mean when I say it's possible to be an unsaved Christian is I'm talking about people in this room who consider themselves Christians because they are religious, but in reality, they are not saved because they don't actually have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.

Now look. My goal tonight isn't to make truly saved people really, really nervous. My goal is just to have a clarifying conversation with a few of you. I just want to make sure you're not an unsaved Christian, so here's what I want you to do. I want you to put yourself in that place late at night when you're lying in bed, and you've finally put your phone down, and on a rare occasion, you can't sleep because you are wondering about your eternal destiny. I don't know if you've ever had that night. That's an important night for you to have.

In that moment, if you're wondering if you would go to heaven if you were to die, are you asking the question, "Have I done enough?" or the question, "Have I been good enough?" If you've ever asked that question, "Have I done enough?" let me answer it for you: no. In fact, you can never do enough. If you're asking the question, "Have I been good enough?" let me answer it for you: no. No, you haven't. And you know what? You can never be good enough for God. That's clarity right there. Welcome to The Porch. Aren't you glad you came? You're not good enough, and you haven't done enough.

This is where we can actually go somewhere, because the great news is that while you could never do enough for God, God has done everything for you. Even though you could never be good enough for God, the great news is God has been good enough for you in the person of Jesus Christ. When we could do nothing, God did everything. He sent Jesus Christ into the world to live the life that we couldn't, the perfect life that God required. He died a perfect death so that imperfect people could be made right through his resurrection with a perfect God.

If you're here tonight, and you're wrestling with those questions, "Have I done enough?" or "Am I good enough?" I want you to see the fact that Nicodemus, this religious figure, came to visit Jesus at night. I love what one commentator pointed out. There's symbolism there. He is coming to Jesus from darkness. A guy who believes he's living in and knows the light is coming to the Light of the World in darkness. His heart has never embraced the truth.

I tell you that just to say it's possible to be religious and living in darkness. It's possible to say you're a Christian and think you're a Christian and not be a Christian. I'll just say my tendency is to be a rule follower. My tendency is to figure out if I'm good with God based on how I am living. It's so easy to find yourself in this place where you're like, "You know what? I'm not looking at porn, I'm not getting wasted, I'm not sleeping around, and I go to The Porch sometimes, so I think I'm good."

You just need to make sure that God is in heaven looking at you, saying, "Yeah, you're good," because the reality is I believe God is saying no one is good. The reason I believe that is because Romans, chapter 3, actually says that. So, we have to start with the reality that you will need way more than religion to be saved.

  1. You need a miracle to be saved. Where do I get that from? Look with me back at the text, verse 3. Look again at what Jesus said. "Jesus answered him, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.'" That word again in the original language of the Bible, which is Greek, can be translated from above, so I think it can carry both meanings. What Jesus is communicating to this professional rule follower is, "No one can be saved unless they have a second birth and are actually born from above."

Every person who's going to be saved has to have two births: a physical birth and then a spiritual birth. Look at how Nicodemus responds. Verse 4: "Nicodemus said to him, 'How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?'" This isn't Nicodemus genuinely wondering, like, "How does that work? How do you fit up in there to come back out?" That's not what is happening here.

This is Nicodemus, a guy who thinks he knows everything, and he is responding kind of sarcastically. Like, "What are you even talking about? Are you talking crazy? Like, 'Oh, you're going to climb back up in your mom, and then you're going to come back out.'" But what I want you to see is his logic. Nicodemus is consumed with what man needs to do for God to be saved. Even in his sarcastic response, who is all the responsibility on? It's on the man.

"How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?" All of the emphasis would be on the guy doing the work. The point is that's impossible. Just like it's impossible for a man to climb back up into his mother's womb and be born again, it is impossible for you to be saved without being born from above, without a spiritual birth. You need a miracle.

Jesus goes on in verse 5, and he says the same thing he said in verse 3. He says, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God." He's saying the same thing with new wording. Some people think he's talking about baptism here. I don't think he is. See, water in the Old Testament was symbolic for cleansing, and spirit was symbolic of new life.

What Jesus is saying is "Unless you're cleansed by God, and unless you're given new life by God, you can't enter the kingdom of God." So then in verse 6, he says, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." His point is, "Look. You have to have two births. You need to be born of the flesh, as a human being, but then you have to be born of the Spirit. The Spirit of God actually has to do a miraculous work in you."

So, here's the theological rabbit hole. Here's a big theological word that's important for you to know. What Jesus is unpacking here is known as the theological idea of regeneration of the Spirit of God. What does regeneration mean? Well, let me just read to you how two scholars have defined regeneration. For those of you who like the theological rabbit hole, this is your moment, and if you're not into that, try to hang in there anyway, because this is so important.

Wayne Grudem, who has written the standard text on what is known as systematic theology… Some of y'all are like, "You are giving me so much stuff I don't want to know right now." But here's what Wayne Grudem says about regeneration: "Regeneration is a secret act of God in which he imparts new spiritual life to us." Bruce Demarest puts it this way: "Regeneration is that work of the Spirit at conversion that renews the heart and life (the inner self), thus restoring the person's intellectual, volitional, moral, emotional, and relational capacities to know, love, and serve God."

So, do you understand what's happening here? When Jesus says, "You have to be born again," he really is saying a miracle has to happen. God has to do something miraculous through his Spirit in your life. So, you're not a Christian simply because you heard the gospel, evaluated the gospel, and decided to choose God. That's part of it.

The way God works is you come to a place like this, you hear the gospel, and you respond to the gospel, but as you're hearing the gospel and responding to the gospel (which is what you should do), a miracle is taking place in your heart. The Spirit of God is awakening your mind and your heart to embrace the truth and receive Jesus. This is the idea of regeneration. So, if you're a Christian, you need to know you are actually a walking miracle, and God gets the credit for you.

Some of you are like, "I don't know what I think about what you're saying." Well, think about physical birth. If you were to walk up to me afterward and ask me, "Hey, where were you born?" would it be weird to you if I was like, "You know what? I chose to be born in Dallas." Wouldn't you be like, "Really?" No, I don't take credit for where I was born. Carla Ateek gets the credit for that. I was born in Medical City right down the street. I did not choose Medical City. That is the place my mom chose to give birth to me.

The reason you have to understand it's a miracle is that the story of every Christian is not that you were a bad person and now have become a good person; the story is you were a dead person, and now you are an alive person. You are alive because when you were dead, God did a miracle so you could go from death to life. So, you need a miracle. Do you know what the good news is? God loves doing miracles, and he's doing a miracle in some of your hearts tonight.

Some of you just heard me talk about you needing more than religion to be saved, and you're like, "He's talking about me, tonight." Do you know what's happening? A miracle is happening. Regeneration is happening. God is calling you to himself tonight. Tonight, you're going to walk out of this place, and you're going to be able to say, "I showed up dead, and I left alive. This was a great Tuesday night."

Now I want you to see what Jesus says in verses 7 and 8. Again, I'm not trying to cause unnecessary concern, yet I am trying to fight for clarity. I'm trying to prompt a DTR between you and Jesus, because Jesus says something very important here in verses 7 and 8 that has everything to do with you needing a miracle to be saved.

In verse 7 he says, "Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.' The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit." He's saying, "Think about the wind. You can't see the wind, yet you can hear it and see its effects. You can look at the trees and say, 'There is wind. I can't see it, but I know it is at work.'"

Jesus' point is when a miracle takes place, you can't see the Spirit. You can't even completely understand how the Spirit is working, yet you know it when a miracle has taken place because something changes. The reason that is important is if God has done a miracle in your life, if he has given you new life, then there should be some signs of life.

I remember when one of our kids was born, he came out of the womb, they put him on Kat, and he was lying there making no sound. He looked lifeless. It was deafening silence in the delivery room. Then they prompted him, and he began to cry, and it was the best sound we could have heard. Why? Because there were signs of life. We knew he was alive.

I tell you that just to say there are going to be times in the Christian life where you struggle. There are going to be times, absolutely, where you have doubts. There are going to be times where you might even look lifeless, and you're going to come to The Porch, and you just need to be spurred on and stimulated to go and walk closer with Jesus so there are more signs of life.

My point in telling you this is if you consider yourself a Christian because you prayed a prayer once or raised your hand somewhere or got baptized when you were an infant, but you consistently look spiritually dead…meaning, there's no real desire to know Jesus, no real love or appreciation for Jesus, no real desire to learn the ways of Jesus and live life with Jesus…then it is at least worth evaluating if a miracle has ever taken place.

I remember getting a note from a guy who trusted Christ. Here's what he said: "I was overcome by a world of joy. I found my Lord and Savior. For the first time in my life, I have clarity and I'm at peace. God broke chains that were keeping me a prisoner to my past. These were chains that I thought were too strong for me or anyone else. Man, I was wrong. I will live the rest of my life serving our Lord and Savior in all that I do. I want to plant the seed in others, just like you and countless others did for me. A fire is burning in my heart for the first time."

Do you know what he's articulating? He's articulating, "Hey, a miracle has happened in my life." Please don't hear me say that you won't struggle as a Christian. You will. "In this world you will have trouble." Here's the other thing I want you to hear: You will never have to beg God to make you alive. Never. If you're begging God to make you alive, you probably already are alive, and you should take joy in that.

  1. You need a biblical faith in Jesus to be saved. The key here is you need a biblical faith in Jesus to be saved. Where do I get that from? Look with me at verses 9-13.

"Nicodemus said to him, 'How can these things be?' Jesus answered him, 'Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.'"

This is so powerful. Don't miss what's happening here. Nicodemus is like, "I don't know what you're talking about," and Jesus is like, "Really? You're the one teaching the country about the kingdom of God." Jesus is saying, "Let me just tell you what is happening here." He says, "I am the only one," because there was this belief in Judaism that some bygone saints had ascended into heaven and received special insights into God's ways and plans.

Jesus is like, "Look. I just want to be clear. I am the only one who started out there and came down here. People might leave here to go there, but I'm the only one who started out there and came down to here." He refers to himself as the Son of Man. Do you know why that's important? That's actually a reference to the Old Testament (Daniel, chapter 7), and it's a reference to kingship. So, when Jesus refers to himself as the Son of Man, he's referring to himself as the King of God's kingdom.

They're talking about how to get into the kingdom of God. Nicodemus would have been an authority on the kingdom of God, and Jesus is basically saying, "Look. Dude, the King of the kingdom is standing here telling you the truth, and you're like, 'Nah, I don't know. We'll see.'" He's like, "Something is off here. You're not getting it."

He's saying, "Look. If you don't understand the elementary things I'm telling you, that you have to be born again to enter the kingdom, then how in the world is your mind going to comprehend truly heavenly things?" He's saying, "Look. I came from heaven. I know the Spirit of God because the Spirit of God and I are one. I know the Spirit of God has come to give new life to people. I was there in heaven. I'm one with God. I know what's happening. Yet you, Nicodemus, are standing here, saying, 'Yeah, I don't get it.'"

That just goes back to the first point that a miracle has to take place. I shared with you guys earlier this year that I want to become the GOAT in the 42-year-old age bracket of tennis in Richardson, Texas, and it's a long journey for me. When I got back into tennis at the age of 40, I started taking lessons from this person. I was two lessons in. I barely knew what I was doing, but I then began to try to teach my 9-year-old how to play tennis.

So, we were in the front yard, and he started holding the racket with his pointer finger along the racket. I was like, "Hey, dude, you're not holding the racket right." He was like, "Yes, I am!" That's what he said. He was like, "I'm holding it right!" I was like, "Dude, no, you're not." He was like, "Yes, I am. I'm holding it right." I was like, "No, dude. You're running your pointer finger along the racket." He was like, "No, I'm not."

I was like, "Dude, I watched you do it." He was like, "No, I didn't." I was like, "Okay." So then he hit another ball, and he did it again. I was like, "Hey, hey, hey! Look! Look at your grip." He looked down, and he went, "Oh." I was like, "Have you ever read the story of Nicodemus?" Not really. I didn't do that, but he became a Christian right then, and it was a really powerful moment.

It's the same thing with Nicodemus. It's like, "Hey, dude, if you won't even accept what I'm teaching you about how to hold a tennis racket… It doesn't get any more elementary than that. If you won't accept that, how in the world are we going to begin to be able to talk about forehands or backhands or spin or anything like that?"

It's the same thing with Nicodemus here. He's like, "Look. If you won't understand, at the base level, that religion will not get you there and a miracle has to take place, then you're just not going to get it." A miracle has to happen. Eyes have to be opened. So, what has to happen is you have to come to a place where you realize that Jesus Christ is the King of the kingdom.

What Jesus is saying is, "Look. I'm telling you the truth." When I talk about having a biblical faith in Jesus, I'm talking about coming to a place where you trust what Jesus has said and embrace it. You accept it. For example, Jesus declares in John 10:30, "I and the Father are one." That is Jesus declaring that he is, in fact, God. In John 14:6, Jesus says, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." Do you believe that?

John 3:3: "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." Do you believe that? A biblical faith doesn't sit there and say, "Well, you know what? That's good for you, and that might be true for you, and I might believe something different, but in the end, we all end up at the same place." No. You either believe that Jesus is the King of the kingdom (which means he is the holder of truth and if he says it, it's right) or not.

A biblical faith sees Jesus as the truth. If Jesus is the truth, then to reject any of him is to reject all of him. Do you hear what I'm saying? To reject any of Jesus is to reject all of him. To only accept Jesus as Savior but refuse to acknowledge him as King is to reject Jesus. To know Jesus as a way but not the way is to reject Jesus. To know Jesus as a good man or a prophet but not God himself is to reject Jesus. Do you know the true Jesus?

Then look at how Jesus finishes in verses 14 and 15. This is so interesting. "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life." Here's what Jesus is doing here. He's reaching back into the Old Testament in the book of Numbers that I'm sure all of y'all are reading in your quiet times right now. Numbers 21. It's a story about the nation of Israel being disobedient to God and God punishing them for their disobedience.

It's this interesting story where God sends some snakes to bite them, and because of the venom, people of the nation of Israel die. You might hear that and think, "Well, that's super harsh. That's why I can't believe in God." No, you have to understand. It's not harsh; it's just. If God is holy, holy, holy, like we just sang that he is, if he is perfect and right and true, then to turn a blind eye and let people have their way would be unjust. He executes justice.

At the same time, he provides a means of salvation. Moses erects this staff with a snake on it, and God says, "If you look at the staff, you will live." It's "Look and live." Look and live. So, God in his kindness makes provision for the venom that people are experiencing. That is our story. Every single one of us has been bitten with the venom of sin. The venom of sin courses through our veins, and God has provided Jesus as the means for new life.

His Spirit is the one who accomplishes that new life. Our responsibility is to look and live. What does it mean to look to Jesus? It's to come to a place… A biblical faith is coming to a place where you are desperate for Jesus to save you through his death, burial, and resurrection. It's like this. Several years ago, I went skydiving. We were doing it as skit characters for this deal here at Watermark.

I was skydiving with David Penuel, a guy on staff. We were dressed up as characters. We were wearing mullets, and we had taped on Fu Manchus. I was about to jump out of the plane, and right before I jumped, David Penuel asked the instructors, "Hey, have you ever had to use the emergency parachute?" The guy was like, "Yes." I was like, "Oh, geez! Oh, man! I can't do this."

Here's the reality. The parachute of your good works has failed. The parachute of you trying to earn your way into heaven has failed. The parachute of you just being a good person has failed. Some of y'all are freefalling right now, and you think it's enjoyable. You just need to know that at the same time you're enjoying the freefall, that freefall is a crash course toward death.

Every single one of us desperately needs Jesus. To know Jesus is to know him as the only one who can save you, and without him you are without hope. A biblical faith is a faith that says, "Jesus, I want to live. Without you I can't, and without you I won't." So, here's what I want to do. I just want to end by talking to four different groups of people in this room.

Some of y'all are here tonight, and a miracle is taking place in your life. For the first time, you've realized that religion will not cut it. You came in here, and the DTR has been cleared that you don't have a relationship with Jesus Christ, and you want to begin a relationship with him. The right response is to look to Jesus and live. It is to receive him as a free gift tonight.

Some of you here came into this place, and you thought you were a Christian, and tonight you realized that you are an unsaved Christian, because the reality is you are looking to what you've done or how good you are to make you right with God. If that's you, if you've realized you are an unsaved Christian, it's the same response: Receive Jesus. Look to Jesus and live.

Some of you here came tonight, and when you think about, on a scale of 1 to 10, how sure you are you'd go to heaven if you were to die, you always say, "Nine," because it feels too prideful to say, "Ten," and something is a little bit nervous in you, yet your faith is genuine. You've known that Jesus is your only way to a right relationship with God. If that's you, my hope is that you can just rest and you can experience the joy of knowing that God has done a miracle in your life. Enjoy it. Be thankful for it, and walk in confidence of where your relationship is.

Then some of you are here, and you walked in, and you're like, "I'm a 10 out of 10." Your faith has been strong for a long time. Well, let me just ask you… When was the last time you said "Thank you" for the miracle God has accomplished in your life? Even just sitting down front during worship, I was thinking, "God, have I really embraced this talk?" So I just sat there, and I was like, "God, thank you that I couldn't earn it. Thank you for the miracle you have done in my life. Jesus, I am desperate without you." Let's pray together.

Lord, I pray that you would have your way in this room tonight, that every person here would respond in some way, God.

For the people in the room who want to put their trust in Jesus right now, here's what I want to encourage you to do. In the quietness of your own heart, you can say, "Lord Jesus, would you come into my life tonight?" Just say, "Jesus, I receive you. I receive all of you tonight." Say, "Jesus, thank you that you died on the cross for me. Thank you that you rose from the dead for me. Would you come into my life? Would you forgive me of my sins, and would you begin to lead me in a new life?"

Then, for everyone else in the room, would you just respond? Respond with gratitude. Praise God for the miracle he has done in your life. Praise God for your salvation. We're going to respond with worship. There are going to be people down front. If you need to talk to someone, pray with someone, or get more clarity, there will be a team down front. If, after we finish, you would benefit from some extended worship, you can go up to the Chapel and do that.

If you want to take your next step with the church, whether it's through membership or finding a place to plug in, community, you can go over to the Loft and go to our Next Steps. If you don't have a Bible, you can go out to the welcome desk. We'd love to give you a copy of the Word of God. This is a time for everyone to feel the freedom to just respond. My hope is that you would have clarity in this moment and that clarity would lead to confidence.