Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again’” (John 3:3-7)
We are blessed to be citizens of one of the greatest nations in history. We are free in this country to choose our religion, our academic and career pursuits, our mates, and so much more. As great as this nation may be, however, there is a greater kingdom of which we should desire to be citizens. It is a country which the patriarchs anticipated in faith (Hebrews 11:8-16; cf. Philippians 3:20). When Jesus promised to build this kingdom, He indicated that it would have a keyed entrance (Matthew 16:18-19). How one goes about entering this glorious institution is a question of serious debate in the religious community, but we want to see what its Founder had to say.
- Jesus told Nicodemus that one enters the kingdom of heaven by being born again. We must be born again to enter because “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 15:50). Paul was born with Roman citizenship (Acts 22:25-28), but he had to be born again to obtain his citizenship in the kingdom of heaven (Acts 22:16). One is born again of water and the Spirit “through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3). We undergo this new birth in connection with Christ’s glorious resurrection when we are buried with Him in baptism and begin a new life with Him (Romans 6:3-5).
- Jesus said that entering the kingdom requires that one become as a little child (Matthew 18:3-4). Little children do not see themselves as better than anyone else. They rely completely on others to give them everything that they need, knowing that they are unable to provide anything for themselves. Children can be content with the smallest of things. They are so innocent that they see no need to conceal anything. They forgive freely and completely.
- Jesus also said that one must obey God’s will to enter the kingdom (Matthew 7:21). Jesus Himself did not come to do His own will, but the Father’s (John 7:16; Hebrews 10:8-9). In order for us to follow this example, we must first learn what His will is for us (Ephesians 5:14-18), and this can only happen through careful study of God’s revelation. Among other things, it is God’s will that we “come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9), “abstain from sexual immorality” (1 Thessalonians 4:3), “[r]ejoice always” (1 Thessalonians 5:16), and “confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Philippians 2:11), and worship Him “in spirit and truth” (John 4:23-24).
If you wish to enter the kingdom of heaven, there is only one way—by doing the will of the Lord, by being born again, by becoming like little children, and by enduring tribulation that may come your way (Acts 14:23). Do not be like the rich young ruler, who allowed the love of this world to keep him out of God’s kingdom (Mark 10:17-25). It is the only place where the fullness of God’s blessings can be found.
Copyright © 2017 by Roby Ellis, in The Elizabethton Edifier, July 3, 2016.