Let’s go to John chapter three where we will see a few elementary principles about what it means to be a true Christian. Do you know what the third chapter is about? It begins with a Pharisee named Nicodemus. Nicodemus was a member of the religious ruling class of that day. He came to Jesus and Jesus talked to him about being born again, which was a concept Nicodemus was not familiar with.
John 3:1 There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.
Nicodemus is a compound word: “Nico” and “demus.” “Nico” means “to conquer or to rule.” “Demus” means “the people.” Our English words “democracy and democratic” are derived from it. So the Bible says that he was a ruler of the Jews, which explains the role of the Pharisees quite well. The Pharisees were the religious rulers over the people. They had taken God’s place over them; they were in His stead, you might say.
The people were ruled by man instead of God. That’s why the Lord said in the book of Revelation, “You have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate!” (Revelation 2:15). “Nico” = ruler and “laitans” the laity or the people in the church. They were ruling the people and God said, “I hate that.” He doesn’t want His people ruled by man.
John 3:2-3 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 and said to him, Most assuredly, I say unto you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.
“Born again” is more correctly translated “born from above”; in other words, born of God. To be born of God requires the elimination of the corrupted nature of man. Your flesh nature is a fallen nature, hence the need to be born of God. One of the major problems I have with denominational churches is that they teach their people they have been born again when they have been forgiven for their sins. If you’re forgiven of your sins, you’re forgiven. It doesn’t mean your nature is changed. “Well, I’m a Christian now. Christ is my Savior.” True, but if you are aware of your self-life at all, you will realize you still have your old nature, too. Your nature hasn’t really changed very much.
Jesus is talking about something beyond being forgiven. He’s talking about being born again, born from above, born of God. It’s time for our thinking to align itself with the Scriptures. That’s the reason I say that every Christian is not necessarily a member of the Body of Christ. If you read the Scriptures and understand what the Body of Christ really is, you will realize that many Christians are not there. It doesn’t mean they are not Christians, but to be a part of the many-membered Christ requires much more than forgiveness. One must be born again. Paul tells us in his writings that we must be baptized into the Body of Christ. That’s not water baptism; nor is it necessarily the receiving of the Holy Spirit. The Body of Christ is the channel through which the Lord continues to function in the world, and that cannot be said of all Christians. Many Christians are just doing their own thing. They want to be forgiven of their sins and told they are going to go to heaven and then live like they want to live.
Jesus is saying to Nicodemus, “Nicodemus, I know that you are of the Pharisees. You are a member of the predominant ruling class of the Jewish religion. But you’ve got to be born again.” You can be very religious. You can be part of the most widely known and famous denomination, but you need to be born again. And until you are, you’re not going to see the Kingdom of God. Religion cannot open your eyes. Only being born from above will open your eyes so you can see begin seeing the Kingdom of God.
There are so many preachers today with their charts showing what God has done and will do. Here is the Ante-deluvian Age, here’s the period of Moses bringing the people out of Egypt and through the land of Canaan. Then you have the kings and the prophets. Next there are the 400 silent years between the two testaments. After that you have the Gospels and their speculation of eschatology. They have it all laid out on a timeline chart. It just isn’t like that! God doesn’t live on a timeline. He lives in eternity. There is no past, present and future in God’s world at all. Until we get off that timeline and we learn how to think like God thinks, we’re not going to see the realities of the Kingdom. Religion stays on a timeline. It’s historical. It talks about the past, the future; what God did and what they think He is going to do, but it doesn’t open the eyes of the people to the Kingdom of God. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the Kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. Matthew 23:13. They had shut up the Kingdom of Heaven against men! How did they do that? Well, they instructed the people in their interpretation of what God did in the past and what He was going to do in the future. They shut out the present. They ministered a false teaching of the Messiah. When the Messiah appeared He didn’t fit their mold. He didn’t fit into their religious teachings and they hated Him. Jesus stood in their midst and they rejected Him. That is the way it is today. The reality of Christ is rejected by the majority of the religious world. Many Christians would rather have their religious concepts than the reality of Christ. As Jesus said, “No one having drunk old wine immediately desires new; for he says the old is better.” Luke 5:39.
John 3:4 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?
Nicodemus asked, “How can a man be born when he’s old?” The religious nature of man has to have everything on a natural plane. It cannot understand spiritual things. “What do you mean – born again? I’m an old man here already. How can I be born again?” He didn’t understand that Jesus was talking about a change of nature. “Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” No, that’s impossible! And that is not the kind of birth Jesus is talking about. Also, the idea that being born again is a one-time experience is wrong. Your born-again experience is expandable. You must be born into each new spiritual realm. Let’s read it.
John 3:5 Jesus answered, Most assuredly, I say unto you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God.
So in verse 3 Jesus says unless you’re born again you cannot see the Kingdom of God. Then in verse 5 He says unless you’re born again you can’t enter the Kingdom of God. Therefore, you must be born again to see the Kingdom and that born-again experience must be expanded so you may actually enter it. Seeing the Kingdom is one thing and entering in is another. Moreover, after you get in the Kingdom, you will find there are many level or realms of the Kingdom, and you will need to birthed into each one. It’s an expansion. Your salvation is always expandable. There’s always more to be had. If you’re fortunate enough to enter into the fullness of all that God is, He will expand and there will be more to be entered. Regardless of where you are in your spiritual relationship with God, there is always more.
Copyright © 2005 by Henry DuBose