John 3:3. Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”
While I was reading John Chapter 3 this fall, I kept going back to the verse where Jesus tells Nicodemus the Pharisee, “you must be born again.” Nicodemus was perplexed by these words. Even as a believer I had to ask myself what exactly was Jesus saying here? I’ve been exploring that for awhile now. So, finally, here is a brief recap and summary.
God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move on the ground.” – Genesis 1:26
God created man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. – Genesis 2:7
God said to the first man and woman, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” – Genesis 2:16-17
About 5 minutes later, Adam and Eve rebelled against God’s command and ate the forbidden fruit (Genesis 3:6). In that instant they became separated from God (spiritual death). They hid from God when he called them (Genesis 3:8). They tried to cover their sin by their own works, by the flimsy fig leaf coverings (Genesis 3:7). They tried to cast blame away from themselves. Eve accused the snake, and Adam had the audacity to accuse not only Eve but God himself for making her! (Genesis 3:12-13).
It did not take long for the first man and woman to make a royal mess out of everything. But right there, in the very beginning, God had already laid out the plan for redemption. He said to the serpent, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” (Genesis 3:15) Notice God left Adam out of this scenario. He mentions Eve’s seed, not Adam’s. So the one who will crush the serpent will not follow the human line of being sired by a human father. Eve’s seed that crushes the serpent will have a different father.
We inherit our sin nature from Adam. We are born spiritually separated from God (spiritually dead) just as Adam and Eve were after the fall. We are born with a sin nature because of that separation from God. We can’t stop sinning, we do it every day of our lives in thought, word, or deed, and we can’t possibly atone for it by our own power because we keep digging our own grave a little deeper every day.
However — before God kicked Adam and Eve out of the garden, he made clothes for them out of animal skins (Genesis 3:21). What does this mean? It means that God took innocent animal life, shed its blood and its life, to cover the sin and shame of man. God is showing us in the very beginning his plan for salvation through sacrifice. He is pointing us toward the cross of Calvary. All the laws for sacrifice in the Books of Moses are pointing toward the cross.
Christ is the only way to get out of the prison of sin, death, and hell. There’s no point even trying to discuss any other religions or philosophies because they all, in some way or another, are about achieving salvation, nirvana, enlightenment, whatever, through our own works, by our own power. But that’s not possible. Just look where trying to fix things on our own power has got us. Look at the sick world we are living in today! We are not evolving into a higher species, we are not enlightened. We are getting worse every day and there’s no safe spaces left on the planet, if there ever were any in the first place.
Jesus Christ came into this world born of a woman, the Virgin Mary, and sired not from Adam’s seed but by the power of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:18, Luke 1:35). We may never fully understand how that happened, but somehow the second person of the Godhead came to earth as a human being. Fully God, because he IS God, and fully human because he is the son of Mary. He didn’t have any sin because he wasn’t born of man’s seed but rather by the power of the Holy Spirit.
For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 1 Corinthians 15:22.
So what happened on the cross? Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sins. He could do that because He was God and only God is big enough to handle the job. Remember Psalm 49 one more time:
No man can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for him—the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough—that he should live on forever and not see decay. (v 7-9)
But God will redeem my life from the grave; he will surely take me to himself. (v 15)
Jesus redeemed our life from the grave! He came to do what we could never do for ourselves. And he did it. On the cross his blood was poured out as the sacrifice that would wash away our sins. He could carry the weight of our sin because He is God. He could die because he is human. Christ’s blood covers our sin. So if we call on Christ as our savior then when God looks at us he sees not our sin, but the righteousness of Christ.
We were dead in sin, but in Jesus we have NEW LIFE. We are a new creature. We are born again! In the beginning, Adam died spiritually instantly and then awhile later his body died as well. When we give our lives to Christ, our spirits are made alive again instantly because in that instant we are restored to a right relationship with God. And then one day our bodies, which are decaying now, will be made alive again forevermore. Jesus could die because he was human. The grave could not hold him because the wages of sin is death (as we saw with Adam and Eve) but Jesus never sinned. And now because He paid the price we could never afford to, we are free from bondage to sin and death. We are alive with Christ. He is the firstfruits of the resurrection and we will be like him.
Paul sums it up in 1 Corinthians 15:20-26: But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. Then the end will come when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
So when Jesus was talking with Nicodemus that night and said, “you must be born again,” he was talking of the new birth of our dead spirits and the eventual resurrection of our dead bodies into eternal ones that will be like his — eternal, incorruptible, free from all stain. The broken relationship with God has been restored in Christ. Jesus endured the agonizing pain, humiliation and suffering of the cross because he wants us to be restored to him. God himself loves us so fully and completely that he holds nothing back from us. He gave everything he had to give in order to save us — he gave us Himself.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16
If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. …For everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved. – Romans 10:9-13
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.”
The entire Bible, all 66 books of the Old and New covenants, are about how we got separated from God and what God has done to set things to rights. All I’ve put here is just a smattering of everything the Bible has to say. I encourage you, if you haven’t already, to pick up the Bible and read it from cover to cover and hear the whole story for yourself. Don’t rely on anybody else to tell you what it says.
We are living in scary times. But don’t be afraid! Jesus has won the victory over sin and death. What can any man or group or government do to us? If we are His, then we have a glorious, joyous, happy and free eternity in our future.
If you haven’t yet given your life to Christ, don’t delay! None of us are guaranteed that we will live out the rest of today, let alone see tomorrow. Don’t leave this planet without making your decision for Christ. We are already in hell. He is our only way out. The Lord Jesus Christ loves you more than you could ever imagine and He gave you Everything. He gave you Himself. All you have to do is accept Him.
“I have loved you with an everlasting love.” – Jeremiah 31:3
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” – Isaiah 43:1