Born Again is not a Brand of Christianity. It’s not the trademark for a sect of ultra conservative or fundamental believers.
As I look again at these words in John 3, I am struck by the fact that Jesus is not trying to create a new denomination, He is explaining to a man of the word a fact about the Spiritual world.
You see, He is telling Nicodemus that the kingdom of God is not a physical place.
Until that time, if you asked anyone, well at least if you asked a Jew “What is the kingdom of God?” they would simply answer “Israel.” It was that simple and pretty obvious.
Then Jesus comes on the scene and starts taking about the ‘kingdom of God’ and sometimes interchanging it with the ‘kingdom of heaven.’
[Fun Fact: Jesus used the phrase ‘kingdom of God’ forty-three times plus twenty-nine times He spoke of the ‘kingdom of heaven,’ these later are all in Matthew’s gospel. Of course with four tellings of many of the events in Jesus’ life, I can see where some of these might be repeats, and some of the ‘heaven’ ones may be repetitions of the ‘God’ ones.]
Check out Jesus’ language here:
Jesus answered and said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." ... Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and 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. "Do not be amazed that I said to you, 'You must be born again.' - John 3:3, 5-7 NASB
The idea Jesus is trying to set up for Nic is that it is not physically possible for a man without the Spirit of God on the inside to even see – let alone enter the kingdom of God.
It’s not about the obtaining of a golden ticket, or getting your name on a church membership card. It is about becoming the right species of being.
You wouldn’t wonder even for a minute if I told you that you couldn’t live at the bottom of the sea unless you were born again as a mackerel. [Hey if you were born again again then you could be a holy mackerel – sorry – I couldn’t resist] You need gills – you need fins – you need an appetite for seaweed or krill. You would need to be a new creature.
And so it is with this idea of ‘born again.’
You need to be changed in order to survive in – or even see the kingdom of God, because it is not a physical kingdom. Only one who is born of the spirit can see it.
That’s why Paul says:
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. - 2 Corinthians 5:17 NASB
The good news is that it’s not complicated:
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who 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 NASB
Do you believe in – put your trust in – follow – obey – Jesus?
for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. - Romans 14:17 NASB
So – there you go – you have to be born again as spiritual being with spiritual breathing apparatus to follow this king.
Does any of that make sense?
I appreciate you.