September 23, 2018 – John 3

Lesson Date: September 23, 2018

Focal Scripture Passage: John 3:1-36

AIM: To lead students to describe what it means to be born again, and to respond to this truth by either receiving Christ as their Savior or committing to share the Good news of Jesus Christ with a lost friend.


Before class: Read the notes on John 3:1-36 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book. Enlist some students to read the statements described below in the “Introduction” step (substitute female names in female classes).


INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Ask the previously enlisted students to stand and read the following statements to the class:

  • My name is Sam. I usually attend church about twice a month. I believe in God and I pray sometimes, but I don’t really know what people are talking about when they say they have been “born again.”
  • My name is Bill. I grew up in a Christian home so I’ve just always been a Christian.
  • My name is Barry. I am a very religious person. I pray five times every day and read from our holy book. I attend services faithfully and obey the teachings of my religion.
  • My name is Robert. I believe religion is a very personal and private thing that you shouldn’t talk about. I’m definitely not one of those religious fanatics!
  • My name is Steve. I’ve never hurt anybody, I pay my bills, and I take good care of my family.       To me, that’s what being a Christian is all about, so I’m sure I’ll go to heaven when I die.
  • My name is Clint. I don’t believe anyone can know for certain they will go to heaven when they die. All we can do is live a good life and hope for the best.

Ask: “Have you ever heard anyone say something like any of these people?” Tell the class these people have very different views of salvation, representing some of the many popular views of what it means to be right with God. Thank the volunteers and tell them to be seated.

People have many different ideas about how to go to heaven. Everyone is certainly entitled to his or her own opinion, but opinions aren’t the same as truth. Tell the class today’s lesson on John 3 comes directly from the words of Jesus Christ. Opinions are fine, but today we will learn the truth about being “born again.”



  1. Review.
    • Remind the students that we are studying the Gospel of John. Be sure everyone has a quarterly or knows how to access it online.
    • Ask: “Why did John write this account of Jesus’ life?” (so his readers would believe that Jesus is the Son of God and have everlasting life by trusting in Him – John 20:31).
    • Ask: “What was last week’s lesson about?” (two things Jesus did to identify Himself as the Messiah and whether our behavior shows we are Christians).
    • Ask if any volunteer would be willing to recite last week’s memory verse (John 3:16-17).
  2. You Must Be Born Again.
    • Read John 3:1-2.
    • Tell the class what we know about Nicodemus, using the following outline:
      • Nicodemus was a Pharisee and a ruler of the Jews.
      • The Pharisees were one of the strictest sects of the Jews.
      • They were religious conservatives who made and followed many rules to try to be right with God.
      • Nicodemus was a member of the ruling council, the Sanhedrin. Jesus was later tried before this group.
    • Ask: “Why do you think Nicodemus came to Jesus at night?” (to preserve his reputation among the other Jewish leaders).
    • Ask: “What did Nicodemus say about Jesus in verse 2?” (He was a teacher who had come from God and did many miracles).
    • Ask a volunteer to read John 3:3-8.
    • Ask: “What did Jesus say to Nicodemus in verse 3?” (if you are not born again you cannot see the kingdom of God; in other words, you are not right with God).
    • Ask: “Why would that statement be offensive to a man like Nicodemus?” (because he was a religious leader and teacher who was supposedly close to God).
    • Ask: “Based on verse 4, do you think Nicodemus understood what Jesus meant?” (no, he thought Jesus was talking about a physical re-birth).
    • Ask: “How did Jesus explain the phrase ‘born again’ to Nicodemus in verses 5-6?” (He distinguished between physical and spiritual birth – born of water and born of the Spirit; the flesh can only give birth to more flesh, while the Spirit gives spiritual birth).
    • Ask: “According to verse 7, what did Jesus say Nicodemus must do?” (be born again).
    • Explain the meaning of verse 8 using the following notes:
      • We can’t control or direct the wind, but we see its effects.
      • In the same way, the Holy Spirit does His work in the lives of people, the result of which is evident for all to see.
    • Tell the class when a person is “born again,” he or she admits their sin and trusts Jesus Christ to save them from the penalty of their sin. Christians are born again, in that their old life of selfishness and sin dies and Jesus gives them new spiritual life.
    • Summarize: Jesus told Nicodemus – a very religious man – that he had to be born again to be right with God. The same is true for us today. Religion won’t save, but a personal relationship with Jesus Christ will.
  3. How Jesus Knew What He was Talking About.
    • Read John 3:9-13.
    • Tell the students Nicodemus was confused by what Jesus said.
    • Jesus told Nicodemus that He spoke the truth of what He knew and had seen.
    • Explain that as the only one who had come down from heaven, Jesus was the only person qualified to speak about God’s plan for saving humans. No one else had even ascended to heaven to learn God’s will.
    • Summarize: Since Jesus Christ was God who had come in human flesh, He knew what He was talking about when He said we must be born again.
  4. Jesus’ Mission on Earth.
    • Ask a volunteer to read John 3:14-21, one verse at a time. Use the following outline to help your students understand those verses.
    • Explain that verse 14 refers back to Numbers 21:5-9. Read those verses.
      • The Israelites had to believe God could save them and look to the bronze serpent to be saved from the deadly snakebites.
      • Similarly, we must believe salvation is available through Jesus and look to Him (trust Him and not our works) for salvation.
    • Verse 15:
      • Ask: “WHO will not perish?” (those who believe in Jesus).
      • Ask: “How long does new life in Christ last?” (eternally – it can NEVER be lost).
    • Verse 16:
      • Ask: “WHY did God give His Son?” (because of His love for us).
      • Ask: “What happens to those who believe in Jesus?” (they receive everlasting life).
      • Ask: “How long does that life last?” (forever).
    • Verse 17:
      • Ask: “Why did Jesus come to earth?” (to save people).
    • Verse 18:
      • Ask: “What does this verse say about those who believe in Jesus?” (they are not condemned).
      • Ask: “What does this verse say about those who don’t believe in Jesus?” (they are already condemned).
    • Verses 19-21:
      • Ask: “Why do people reject Jesus (the Light)?” (because they love the darkness because it hides their evil behavior).
    • Summarize: Jesus Christ came to earth on a rescue mission to save sinful man. The difference between those who are condemned and those who are not is faith (belief) in Jesus Christ.
  5. Jesus Must Increase but John the Baptist Must Decrease.
    • Read John 3:22-30.
    • Ask: “What did John the Baptist say about himself and about Jesus?” (he came to witness for Christ; John’s ministry would decrease but Jesus’ ministry would increase).
    • Ask a volunteer to read John 3:31-35.
    • Tell the students Jesus Christ is the Son of God who came down to earth. He spoke only the truth.
    • Summarize: The ministry of John the Baptist, Christ’s forerunner and messenger, was coming to an end. Jesus Christ is the Son of God who always speaks truth.


PERSONAL APPLICATION: Read John 3:36. Ask the six class members who read the statements at the beginning of the lesson to read them again. After each one is read, ask: “Based on what we learned today from Jesus, is that person born again? Will he [or she] go to heaven?” Allow a few moments for class responses.

Tell the students that according to Jesus Christ, one must believe in Him to be born again and go to heaven. Jesus made it clear: if you believe in Him you have everlasting life, but if you don’t you are under God’s wrath. Jesus plainly said, “Ye MUST be born again.”

Ask: “Have you been born again?” Read the verses printed on the back cover of the Sunday School Member Quarterly. Urge the students to confess their sins and ask Jesus to save them right now. Say: “If you’ve never done that, you are still under God’s wrath and you will not go to heaven when you die.”

Ask: “Do you know someone who is not born again? Will you try to tell that person how he or she can accept Jesus as Savior and be born again?” Lead a closing prayer.


CONCLUSION: Ask everyone to memorize John 3:18. Stress the fact that salvation is available only through Jesus Christ. Ask the students to tell someone this week how they can be born again and go to heaven when they die.

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