I’ve been posting about the Biblical definition of being born again. It’s quite different than how we use the term in this generation. In this post I want to look at how Jesus describes it to a believing Pharisee who met with Him.
In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”
In answering his statement of faith, Jesus tells Nicodemus that he must be born again. In the book of John, the gospel that was written to the church, that’s a ground shaking statement. Telling a believer that he needs to be born again is something unheard of in our generation.
According to Jesus Christ Himself, believers must be born again. Obeying the law isn’t enough. Trying your best to be good isn’t enough. The Good News is not “believe in Jesus and follow the law.” It’s all about becoming a new person.
The Lord tells Nicodemus and us that unless we experience the process of this new birth, we will not see the Kingdom of God. At this point it’s important that you understand what Christ is saying in this passage. He’s not saying that you must be born again in order to be saved. That’s how we describe it.
The Greek language has two words that translate to the word see in English. They are blepo and eidon. Blepo means to look at with your eyes. That’s what we normally think of when we hear that word.
That’s not the word in this verse. Instead it’s the word eidon, which literally means to know by seeing. In other words – to experience something. Christ was telling this Pharisee that unless he is born again, he will never experience the kingdom of God.
You can sit back and watch things happen in the Kingdom of God. But if you want to be a part of what’s going on, experiencing the manifestation of the kingdom, then you need to be born of God.
At this point Nicodemus was thinking merely in the physical. He asked about how you could return to your mother’s womb. In later years he probably looked back on this and laughed. Jesus explained it further.
Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.”
The Lord wasn’t talking about physical birth, but entering the kingdom. That’s the definition of being born again – being given access to the Kingdom of God.
Then again, that brings us to another sloppy definition of the modern church – exactly what is the Kingdom of God? Listen to how Jesus described the Kingdom to the Pharisees that opposed Him.
“Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.”
The Kingdom of God is about producing its fruit. It’s not just reciting a prayer, then sitting back and doing nothing. Paul gives us even more insight.
…strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said.
Paul and Barnabas, as they were encouraging the disciples, told them that in order to enter the kingdom, hardships would have to be overcome. When was the last time you heard that preached on a Sunday morning? Well, you’re reading it today. It’s hard! You must be born again!
Question: How does the church react to the thought of hardships these days?
© Nick Zaccardi 2016