3 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 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.” 3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” [ESV]
What happens in the new birth is not about getting another religion – or even a better religion; it’s about getting a new life. What happens in the new birth is not about merely recognizing and affirming the supernatural power of Jesus, but experiencing that supernatural power personally in yourself.
In verse 3, Jesus tells Nicodemus and us that our eternal lives depend on being born again: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” The word “cannot” refers to our spiritual inability.
Being born again isn’t optional or superficial. It isn’t something you just “add-on” to your existing religious practices.
As one author says, the new birth is not like cosmetics that morticians use to make corpses look more life-like. The new birth is the creation of authentic spiritual life, not the imitation of life.
Religious zeal can imitate spiritual life. High moral standards can imitate spiritual life. Good works and virtuous integrity can imitate spiritual life… but compared to true spiritual life… all of these are like the morticians’ cosmetics on a corpse.
That’s why Jesus said, “You must be born again!”
He didn’t say, “You need to be more religious.” He didn’t say, “You need to be more upright and virtuous in your morality.” He didn’t say, “Teach Sunday school” or “Pastor a church” or “Give more money.”
You can do all of those things and still be absolutely spiritually dead and lost! That’s why you must be born again.
In the rest of John chapter 3 we’re going to learn from Jesus what the new life is and how God brings it about through the miracle of regeneration.
Until next time,