There was once a man who had done everything right. His family heritage was a good godly one. He had been taught the scriptures from his youth. He had studied hard, kept his nose clean, and eventually had risen to the top ranks of his religion. He enjoyed all the prestige of one who sat on the highest court of the Jews. None was more skilled in the law and it’s application. He meticulously kept the law the very best he could. He had the respect of his peers and of the community. He had achieved all the success one in his day could imagine. And, by all known standards, he was a very good man.
It was this man who came to inquire of Jesus, “Just who are you?” He acknowledged Jesus had come from God. No man could do what Jesus had clearly done of himself. Surely he must at a minimum be a prophet from God.
Jesus did not answer his questions. Instead, after asking some demeaning questions he announced to him “You MUST be born again!”
As you can imagine, Nicodemus was astonished. It made no sense. Born again? What was Jesus saying?
Your family history, your religious experience, your affluence, your social status, how much Bible you know, which church or synagogue you attend, and a thousand other things will not earn an entrance into God’s family. You must be born again! You must be recreated. There is nothing to start with. Compared to God’s holiness the best man alive doesn’t even begin to be good enough in any way to stand approved by the Holy God and his Christ.
Yet, today in many of our churches we are busy trying to reform each other, blinded by the absurd belief that just the right measure of moral improvement will make us acceptable to God. Don’t do that, but instead do this. Become an actor like us we advise. Play the part. Act religious and you’ll soon be religious… But Jesus said “You MUST be born again”.
You and I are completely helpless and hopeless to change ourselves into people who please God. That is His exclusive work of grace. He alone can make something out of nothing. Here, I’ll let you read Jesus’ instructions about how to be born again. And oh, this is very, very important, you MUST be born again or you will NEVER see the kingdom of God.
Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
9 Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” 10 Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? 11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” (John 3:7-21)