The Most Important Teaching of Jesus

July 16th, 2013 by Oleg Kostyuk

Nicodemus with Jesus in the night – Rembrandt

Nicodemus with Jesus in the night – Rembrandt

I was asked once, “What is the most important teaching of Jesus?” So, I decided to find that most important message that Jesus himself gave. I began with conducting a mini survey to find out what people thought was the most important message. And then, I turned to Christian writers who tried to find the answer to the same question. So, what do you think, the most important teaching of Jesus is? Trust me, it is not an easy question to answer, since, ALL words of Jesus are simply fascinating and life-transforming. However, there is one dialogue in the Gospel of John that usually gets overlooked. It is the dialogue between Jesus and Nicodemus in John chapter three. Many Christians are familiar with John 3:16 that states that God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone and anyone who believes in him will have everlasting life. But, what else do we know about this discussion between Nicodemus and Jesus?

Ellen White, a christian writer, wrote that “In the interview with Nicodemus, Jesus unfolded the plan of salvation, and His mission to the world. In none of His subsequent discourses did He explain so fully, step by step, the work necessary to be done in the hearts of all who would inherit the kingdom of heaven.” (Desire of Ages, p. 176) Well, I think, I found the most important message that Jesus presented while here on Earth. It is the conversation with Nicodemus. But, why is it Nicodemus who was privileged to hear the most important teaching of Jesus. Who was Nicodemus, anyway?

Nicodemus was a highly respected Jewish Pharisee (John 3:1) – one of the prominent members of the high council – who appears only in the Gospel of John.

Intrigued by the authority of Jesus and the miracles he was doing, Nicodemus went to see him secretly, at night, in a serious attempt to discover who Jesus really was. Jesus challenged him with the need to be born again, if he wished to be in the Kingdom of God (John 3:1-8). The Gospel does not give us Nicodemus’s response. Later, however, in opposition to his colleagues on the Jewish high council, he strongly argued that Jesus should be given a fair trial (John 7:50). And then, after Jesus was crucified, he bought seventy-five pounds of expensive perfumed ointment for his burial, took it to the tomb, and assisted Joseph of Arimathea in burying him (John 19:39-42). Thus, Nicodemus appears to be an example of a Jewish Pharisee who came to believe in Jesus and was willing to express that commitment publicly after Christ’s death.

But what was it that turned Nicodemus from a secret disciple into the one who publicly confessed Jesus right there at the cross, even though the disciples of Jesus ran away? It was that very conversation that Jesus had with Nicodemus. In fact, it was just one phrase that was repeated twice that made a difference in Nicodemus’ life and can make a difference in your life today. Jesus said to Nicodemus “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” let alone enter it (John 3:3). Then, Jesus repeated the same statement again with some clarification, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5).

Today the phrase “born again Christian” is a cliche. But what does it really mean? The answer to this question is presented by Jesus in this very chapter. You need to be born of water and of spirit. You can be born of water by baptism. That is a very straightforward process. You acknowledge before the community of believers that you are sinful and you want to live a different life from that time. But, does it mean that you are saved and the “ticket” to the kingdom of God is granted? Jesus says that you need to be born of water AND the Spirit. Now, we need to dig a little deeper. We learned that we can be baptized by the followers of Jesus, that means we will be born of water. John the Baptist was the one who baptized people in the Jordan river. Jesus’ disciples also baptized people, but Jesus never baptized anyone (John 4:1-2). Now, we are coming to the climax of the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus: Jesus is the one who baptizes with the Spirit (Mat. 3:11).

Now, you may ask the question that Nicodemus asked, “How can these things be?” (John 3:9). Jesus presents the answer in the same chapter, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:14–16). The baptism with the Spirit is the look unto Jesus who was hanging on the cross. For some people it would seem not to make any sense, and many Christians have found themselves confused by it throughout the past 2,000 years. “There are thousands today,” Elen white penned, “who need to learn the same truth that was taught to Nicodemus by the uplifted serpent. They depend on their obedience to the law of God to commend them to His favor. When they are bidden to look to Jesus, and believe that He saves them solely through His grace, they exclaim, “How can these things be?” (Desire of Ages 175) Nicodemus was born again. When Jesus was uplifted on the cross, Nicodemus was the one who boldly confessed Jesus Christ.

Nicodemus’ act is very significant. The day of Jesus’ crucifixion was the day when the Passover lamb was supposed to be eaten. According to Jewish law you could not eat the Passover meal if you were ceremonially unclean. In fact, religious leaders did not enter Pilate’s Praetorium (John 18:28), since, if you enter the place of the Gentiles you become ceremonially unclean. But nothing could compare with the touching of a dead body, it is the worst form of defilement according to the Jewish law. Despite that, Nicodemus is anointing the body of Jesus and puts him in the tomb. He does not care about human traditions and laws when it comes to his Savior.

We can have born again experiences every time we come to Golgotha and look at Jesus hanging on the cross. It can be done by meditating on the life and death of Jesus. Have you ever wondered why we have four Gospels, four accounts of Jesus’ life? The story of Jesus is so important that we need to read it over and over again. Ultimately, when we look at what Jesus has done for us, our heart will be overfilled with living waters that will flow into the world around us. Look at the cross, see Jesus, and rejoice in his love.

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2 Responses to “The Most Important Teaching of Jesus”

  1. On January 13, 2014 at 1:22 am Baptism responded with... #

    I think that there is more to being baptized by the holy spirit than just understanding and confessing Jesus’ grace and the cross. Baptism by the holy spirit isn’t something that we can achieve on our own through understanding or research, it is rather something that is given to us by God. When you are baptized by the holy spirit, you are filled with the holy ghost, your body feels as if it is on fire from the inside out and from the inside out all you can think of is God and his glory. It is an actual event and not just a thought and/or commitment to Jesus Christ our Lord like water baptism is. I think that many people are confused because they think that it comes from them and their acceptance and commitment and if they haven’t experienced being filled with the holy ghost they have trouble understanding what it means. You must repent in ALL your sins and forgive and love one another. You cannot deny some sins because of what other people may think about you, if you do then you will just have to pretend all your life that you are saved and everyone may believe you but God knows your heart a d knows the truth and you cannot hide anything from him, so if you do want to see the kingdom of heaven and have eternal life believe the only truth, forgive, repent and be baptized. May God have Mercy on our sinful souls, amen.

  2. On June 9, 2015 at 4:18 am Joseph responded with... #

    The Baptism of the Holy Spirit
    Written by Joseph Ho, 3rd June 2015

    The true acceptance as sons and daughters of God is through the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This baptism can only come through Jesus, for he is the baptizer by fire. He is the one who baptizes those who are destined to be God’s children. God promises through Joel 2:28 that in the end times he will pour out his spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams.

    Joel 2:28New International Version (NIV)
    The Day of the LORD
    28 “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.
    Acts 1:5New International Version (NIV)
    5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
    Acts 11:16New International Version (NIV)
    16 Then I remembered what the Lord had said: ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’
    Matthew 3:11New International Version (NIV)
    11 “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
    Everyone who is fully committed to be a Christian must be baptized in water for repentance. It is repentance before acceptance. So there will be no exception to this rule. Jesus himself was baptised by John.
    Mark 1:10New International Version (NIV)
    10 Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.
    Luke 3:16New International Version (NIV)
    16 John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
    When we get baptized in water, we are being born again by water, and when we get baptized by Jesus in the Holy Spirit, we will be born again in the Spirit.
    John 3:5New International Version (NIV)
    5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.
    Isaiah 30:15New International Version (NIV)
    15 This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says:
    “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength,
    but you would have none of it.

    So we need to be baptised in water and spirit else we are not born again. We cannot enter into the kingdom of God if we do not follow the specific instructions of Jesus. He himself did what he preaches to show the way. Those who are baptized in water but not baptized in the Spirit could not understand the scriptures since it remains closed to them. Without the Holy Spirit revelation of what scriptures mean, they could not understand its meaning. Thus, they can only use their own human intellect to get understanding, which leads to many untold perversion of the Gospel of Christ. The key to the gateway of the kingdom of God is through Jesus. He is the way, the truth and the life.

    Many are baptized in water but few are given the Holy Spirit by God because they were never granted or qualify as sons or daughters. They simply worship in vain seeking wealth and prosperity but not the will of God in their lives. So these people are not born again, they have no revelation as the Spirit is not their teacher; they worship with rules taught by men. Men who themselves do not possess the Holy Spirit which is of God. Without the Holy Spirit of God they will never know the will of God in their lives, for God was never their Father. Who gets the Holy Spirit? It is Jesus who justifies as he was the one who died for the remissions of our sins. So he is the way to the kingdom of God, no one comes to the father but through him and him alone decides.

    There are many great teachers, who teach about the Holy Spirit, but they have never encountered him nor do they know him. When you have the Holy Spirit you will begin to hear the voice of God. The Key to the Kingdom of God is the Holy Spirit.

    John 10:7-11New International Version (NIV)
    7 Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
    It is Jesus who is the only gate for those whom he acknowledges as his sheep. One special characteristic of his sheep is that they hear his voice.

    John 10:25-29King James Version (KJV)
    25 Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me.
    26 But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.
    27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
    28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
    29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.

    Those who are baptized in the Holy Spirit will hear the voice of God and they will obey and follow him. They bear the fruit of good works. Good works which were ordained for him to perform in the power of the Holy Spirit. This will be the same for all his believers and followers like master like slaves or disciples. These good works are not man made or programmed they are moved by the Holy Spirit in them to do those good works that glorify God.

    Acts 10:38New International Version (NIV)
    38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.

    If you have not been baptized in the Holy Spirit, what I write will make no sense to you. However, I have to write this so that you may know if you have the Holy Spirit in you. If not than seek, ask and knock until the Jesus gives it to you, else you will not enter into the kingdom of God. That is why the way is very narrow. Doing good works is not salvation through works; these good works are the fruits of your salvation. All Holy Spirit filled believers will progress to good works which have been ordained by God for them to accomplish on earth, just like what Jesus did, he was baptised in the Holy Spirit and went about doing good works. The proof of being Spirit filled is the good works done. No fruit no inheritance and those trees that do not bear fruit will be cut down by Jesus himself. This is the narrow way; it’s his way, no point to argue with God. We need to accept the terms and conditions of our salvation after all it is Jesus who paid the price and he will decide not men or preachers with wrong understanding. No one can change the mind of God by pleading with him, no one. Read your bible carefully, your eternal salvation depends on getting the truth.
    God promises to give the Holy Spirit to those who asked and seek him earnestly. Many thought that Ask Seek and Knock is for anything, it is only for the Holy Spirit that Jesus mentioned ask seek and knock, persevere until the Father send you the Holy Spirit.

    Luke 11:5-13New International Version (NIV)
    5 Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; 6 a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ 7 And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ 8 I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.
    9 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
    11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

    The Holy Spirit is the only guarantee that you will receive salvation unto eternal life. There is no other guarantee. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a tangible experience, you will feel power coming into your body and heat or warm is the usual encounter with the Holy One. Let no men deceive you of this.

    Ephesians 1:13-14New International Version (NIV)
    13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

    Once you have received the Holy Spirit, it will teach you all truths. You will not be confused by all the false doctrines or good intentions of many misguided teachers of the bible as the anointing shall guide you into all truths. All the supernatural acts of God will become real to you once you have the Holy Spirit in you. Only when you have the Holy Spirit will you enter into the kingdom of God and understand what is it. The Supernatural kingdom of God is real.

    1 John 2:27New International Version (NIV)
    27 As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.

    Without this anointing by the Holy Spirit, you will be forever learning never understanding. You will be blind and deaf, forever hearing never understanding what God is trying to say to you. The key into the Kingdom of God is the baptism in the Holy Spirit. When you are baptised in the Spirit you will receive the gift of the Spirit.

    1 Corinthians 12 New International Version (NIV)
    Concerning Spiritual Gifts
    12 Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. 3 Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.
    4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.
    7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

    Acts 15:8New International Version (NIV)
    8 God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us.

    Without the Holy Spirit, we cannot overcome sin. Without the Holy Spirit, men cannot hear from God. Men have no power over sin; only through the Holy Spirit can they overcome sin. But the Holy Spirit will convict us of sin and he will cause us to bear fruit and move us from glory to glory throughout our Christian life. So we will develop the fruit when we have the Spirit in us. This is called the sanctification of the Holy Spirit. Please make sure you get the Holy Spirit and not some other spirit. Only when you bear the fruit of the Spirit then there will be no law against you. Meaning the law of sin cannot touch you since you are now in Christ, the Holy Spirit of God. That is the true salvation works of Jesus Christ. He grants us the gift of life through grace. So those Christians who think they can still sin and be in Christ are deluded. The Holy Spirit will sanctify us through the purging of sins in our lives eventually depending on our willingness to give that sin up for him to burn the dross from our lives. We have to decide to give it up, without our commitment the sin will remain like a stain embedded into our soul for all eternity. We cannot get rid of the sin ourselves; it is the Holy Spirit’s job to cleanse us of this sin. No Holy Spirit means; no salvation nor righteousness.

    Galatians 5:19-23New International Version (NIV)
    19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
    22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

    You cannot bear the fruit of the Spirit without the baptism of the Holy Spirit by Jesus Christ. When you get baptised in water, the baptism of the Holy Spirit is not automatically included. It is not, so you need to seek it earnestly. This is truth, read your bible.

    Matthew 7:18-19New International Version (NIV)
    18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

    The above is truth, it is written in the bible and no man can change what Jesus said himself. If any man adds or subtract than he will be have curses and lose his salvation. That is why the way is a narrow one, without the Holy Spirit no one is guaranteed salvation; no one. The righteousness that comes from Jesus through grace is the Holy Spirit as only the Spirit of God is righteous. Those with the Holy Spirit are considered righteous and they all wear this white robe. The Holy Spirit is not a dove; it is this white robe, the robe of righteousness as mentioned by Isaiah. Without the Holy Spirit, you will not be considered righteous by God and you will not have your salvation guaranteed. Let no one deceive you on this matter, its life or death. The garment of salvation is the robe of righteousness which is the Holy Spirit of God. To God alone be the Glory shown to us by Jesus Christ.

    Isaiah 61:10New International Version (NIV)
    10 I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

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