quoting from John chapter 3, “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:3-6, KJV, Tyndale 1987). Nicodemus was a ruler of the Jews and had secretly come to inquire about the nature of Jesus’ ministry. the answer he received was confusing to him. the country was steeped into a religion of outward disciplines, and anything that dared oppose the ancient teaching was worthy of death. Jesus came unexpectedly, thereby deterring many devout Jews. i want to discuss the kingdom of God and the revelation that became new to me recently.
i cannot recall how the inspiration for this thought came to be. i may have heard it preached, and the Spirit quickened my observation. i could have been studying the Word, and it leaped from the pages. preparing for Bible study or a Kid’s Church lesson, i could have noticed this passage in a new light. this is one of the many reasons i love the Word of God so much! there is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9), the words have always been there, but the Spirit teaches and guides. “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14:26). the more you study, the more ideas and concepts appear that apply to your life and connect the entirety of the scriptures. not necessarily something new, but something fresh!
i have studied and taught from the preceding passage on many occasions. the usual method of exposition pertains to the personal salvation of the individual. to establish the Acts 2:38 message, the point is shown that you may not see or enter the kingdom of God without being born of the water and the Spirit. today, many people proclaim to have been “born this way” i like how my Pastor preaches it, “well, you need to be born again” (Kinsey, 2022)! these scriptures attest to the new birth experience.
the new thought placed within my spirit does not contradict the above study but adds to it beyond self-preservation. Jesus manifested Himself at a point of oppression in Israel’s history. under the arduous leadership of the Roman Empire, the chosen people longed for their deliverer, the heir to the throne of David. Jesus defied all expectations when His arrival did not include a military victory or overthrown tyrants. the Jewish majority expected a king and a relief from the maltreatment they observed all around them. perhaps if they had sat down and listened, they would have heard the words spoken to Nicodemus, “that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6). to continue on the lesson of that night, Jesus added an essential fact about their current state, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God” (John 3:16-21). throughout the chronicled history of the nation, as often as they cried for deliverance, they loved darkness more, and when they don’t get their way, they seek to return to Egypt (Numbers 14:4).
the aggregate reasoning behind the coming of the Messiah was to enact a new covenant and seal believers with the holy Spirit of promise (Ephesians 1:13). believing in the gospel message spontaneously enacts a response to repentance followed by the washing away of our sins. upon this obedience to the good news, we become eligible to receive a Gift from our Father. He loving desires to bestow to us the Gift of His Spirit. this is the born-again moment. this is when we can see the kingdom of God. the compassion and mercy of Christ that we have experienced at that moment are available to everyone. this is the beginning of your new life, but it isn’t over yet. “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” (Philippians 1:6). the work continues in you as you learn and grow in Christ. the closer you become to the Master, the more eager you are to reach a lost world and reconcile souls to the Creator. the ministry of Jesus continues in you; can you see the kingdom of God?
Nicodemus’ lesson added the entering into the kingdom. you could take this meaning as the sold-out state of entering all the way into the will and purpose of God. the Strong’s definition of enter is “enter” (1525), so you could also take the literal meaning of entering at the gates of Heaven. there is some debate about the overall meaning of the entire chapter, but for this study, i prefer the latter. when we genuinely SEE the kingdom, we are eligible to ENTER the kingdom of God. everyone is invited. the only prerequisites are being born of the water and the Spirit.
the acts of obedience, baptism, and receiving the Spirit are two of the most argued points in modern Christianity. the enemy laughs and rejoices as we debate ideals that are outlined in the Word of God. this isn’t necessary, and that isn’t for us today. a counsel of men decided that they had a better way. what does the Word of God say?! traditions of men are what kept the Israelites from their promise. they had grown accustomed to a life of slavery. it was all they knew. on top of all of their disagreements with leadership, they chose to ignore the obvious signs that secured their release from their oppressors. when we can SEE the kingdom, squabbling over doctrinal facts becomes insignificant, for we walk together in His will, and our experience outweighs the opinion of the third-year seminary student.
together with Jesus, we are the kingdom of God. can you SEE it? if not, you may need to practice living out His will and denying the flesh. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6). the born-again believer is born of the water and the Spirit. it is our spirit that will one day ENTER into Heaven. what could be a better way to prepare for the final destination being prepared for us than to spread the kingdom of God while we wait? there is no greater calling. to those in the talent parable of Matthew 25, the Lord observed the investments they had made with His capital and esteemed them with “Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Matthew 25:23). i choose to be a good steward of the Master’s resources, which includes studying “to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). i pray we are obedient unto the seeing and one day secure an entering!