“Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” (John 3:3-7).

In our message today, we’ve read in John 3 the story of a religious man named Nicodemus who came to Jesus by night because he was amazed by the miracles that the Lord was doing and he was thinking that He came from God.

For Nicodemus, nobody can perform such miracles, like healing the sick and raising the dead, if God is not with Him. The Lord did not entertain his curiosity. Instead, he told Nicodemus that except he is born again, he cannot see and enter the Kingdom of God.

Nicodemus might be shocked that his religious position and title was short of the Kingdom of God. The Lord is not intimidated by our religious position. In fact, He is more concerned with the status of our souls. He did not answer the query of Nicodemus, but went straight to the need of his soul. “You must be born again,” was the Lord’s demand for Nicodemus.

The term Born Again had been used or misused by a lot of people. Some use them as a name to identify their group. But the term Born Again is not a group’s name. It is rather a matter of relationship.

It is about being born into a family, the family of God. What the Lord Jesus emphasized to Nicodemus was the need for him to be born into the family of God, without which, he cannot see and enter the Kingdom of God.

Many people are religious but there is no guarantee of going to heaven when they die. I am not saying that religion is bad. As a matter of fact, it reminds and challenges people to live a good life. The bad thing with religion is that it is man’s way of connecting to God through many requirements that honestly, man cannot fulfill.

Religion is taken from Latin word religio which means to bind together or to reconcile. So people invented different kinds of religion with different ways of reconciling to God. The problem is that man has sinned against God and as the Bible declares, he is separated from God. How can man reconcile with God when everything he does fall short of God’s glory?

The Prophet Isaiah wrote, “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” (Isaiah 59:2). Paul also wrote, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23).

But how can a man be born again? That was the same question that Nicodemus asked the Lord. “Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?” (John 3:4).

Nicodemus was puzzled by the Lord’s answer because it is truly impossible for a man as old as he was to go back into his mother’s womb and be born again. For sure, his mother may no longer be around.

Nicodemus was right to conclude that it is about giving birth again but of course, it is not a physical birth because that can't happen and the Lord did not have the physical birth in mind. He was talking about a spiritual birth! To be born spiritually in God’s family.

This is what the Apostle John said, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God..” (John 1:12-13).

To be born again means to be born into the family of God. It happens when a person receives Jesus as his personal Savior and Lord.

The Lord told Nicodemus that he must be born of water and the Spirit. The water and the Spirit are the two important tools that are needed in order that a man will be born again.

The water is the word of God, as the Apostle Peter said, “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.” (1 Peter 1:23). And the Spirit is of course the Holy Spirit because He is the one that convicts people of sin. Without the Word of God and the Holy Spirit, man will not be brought into a real conversion. The word of God tells us the truth and the Holy Spirit convicts us of the truth.

There is a saying, “That if you are born once, you will die twice. But if you are born twice, you will die but once.” This means that if you are only born physically, you will die physically and eternally. But if you are born physically into your earthly family and spiritually into God’s family by accepting Christ as your Saviour, you will only die physically but not eternally. That is why to be born again is a must.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.” (2 Cor. 5:18-19). This is God’s way to reconcile man to Himself. It is by Jesus Christ His Son, not by our own doings.

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast,” (Eph. 2:8-9)

Friends, you don’t need religion to go to heaven. You need to be born again. Jesus said, “You must be born again.” That is not an option. That is a necessity if you want to be with God forever. You need to be reconciled with God through the Lord Jesus Christ. Accept Him today as your Savior.*

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Pastor Pedro Etabag is the regional director of Lifeword-Asia Pacific and senior pastor of Tangub Missionary Baptist Church in Bacolod City.