Last week, I posted a blog that asked each of you this question: Have you been born again? It’s important because, as Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3, you have to be born again in order to make it to heaven.
Going back to that passage, I’d like to ask you another question: What difference does it make in my life right now if I’m born again? It’s a fair question. Does being born again only affect the believer after he or she dies by allowing that person to go to heaven? Or does being born again have an impact on our earthly lives once we are on our way to heaven?
I can see a couple of benefits from this passage. Other passages will have more, but there are a few that I can see in this passage. Let me list them in answer to your question about what difference it should make (since you DID ask me that question!).
First, it enables you to know what you ordinally would not be able to know. Nicodemus thought he knew a lot. And actually, he did. He was an Old Testament scholar; a member of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish ruling council. He was a very bright man. But somehow, he missed the clear teaching of Ezekiel 36:25-26. Look it up. It’s right there, plain as day. It’s what Jesus is talking about when he says, “You’ve got to be born again of water and spirit.” The bright mind missed the obvious point. “Are you the teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?” He should have known this. He should have known that Jesus wasn’t just “come from God” (v.2), but that he was God in human flesh. But he didn’t know this. He hadn’t yet been born again.
You can know a lot of things about the Bible and not know Jesus. You can explain passages and miss the point. I’m sure Nicodemus had an explanation for Ezekiel 36. He most likely had the passage memorized in Hebrew. But he didn’t know that it pointed to his need for the new birth. He should have known. He needed to be born again in order to know it.
Second, it enables you to see what you ordinally would not be able to see. “You’ll never see the kingdom of God, Nicodemus, unless you’re born again.” Before there’s spiritual life, there’s spiritual blindness. There are some things you’ll never see no matter how hard you look. If anybody most likely thought that he was an heir to the kingdom of God, it was Nicodemus. He was a wealthy, powerful, intelligent man. But for all his privileges, he was still blind. He needed to be born again so he could see. In verse 11, Jesus said, “I’ve seen the kingdom of God, and you don’t believe me when I tell you what I’ve seen.” Jesus was light and life himself from the portals of heaven itself. He’d seen all the things that he was talking about. Nicodemus hadn’t. Nicodemus needed Jesus to do a work in his soul through the powerful and gracious Spirit himself so that he could see what Jesus was telling him was true. He needed to be born again.
Third, it enables you to do what you ordinally would not be able to do. You can walk as long as and as far as you’d like, but you’ll never enter the kingdom of God unless you’ve been born again. How frightful to travel this earthly journey only to end up being bond and cast into the lake of fire when it’s all over. You can’t enter the kingdom of God unless you’ve been born again. You can’t enter anywhere. Instead you’ll be physically restricted and sent to a place where you simply don’t want to go. Nicodemus needed to be born again in order to enter eternal joy and endless pleasure. He couldn’t do that without first being born again.
By talking about knowing, seeing, and going somewhere, Jesus is saying the same thing over and over and over again. You must be born again. And these are great benefits to having been born again. Oh, the joy of knowing something that connects all the dots and puts all the pieces of the puzzle together. Oh, the wonder of seeing beauty that you’ve never seen before. Like a color-blind person being given a pair of enabling glasses that brings out color, color that’s always been there but that he’s never been able to enjoy. Oh, the pleasure of going where your heart most desperately longs to go so you can be with the One whom you were created to be with! And to be headed there now, in this life, on this earth. All of these benefits come from being born again.
Nicodemus needed to be born again. I do too. And you. Do you know Jesus? Can you see the beauty of eternal pleasures? Will you cross the divine threshold one day and enter the visible, heavenly kingdom of God? Have you been born again?