The preparation of people by Jesus for the coming Kingdom of God is twofold: those who are to enter it will be brought to a new birth; and those who are to be expelled from it will be cast into outer darkness and judgment. (059) Therefore, the ultimate issue is this new birth: what did Jesus say about how a person was to be born again? It is not a matter of what one church says, or what another one says. It is fundamentally a question of what Jesus said about it. Do you know what Jesus said about being born again? Our study today will deal with some of what He said. Consider it carefully as your eternal destiny hangs in the balance.
First, the fundamental passage of the New Testament on Jesus' teaching about the new birth is John's Gospel, chapter three. In this chapter there are several very critical facts that we need to keep in mind. The first of these critical facts is that Jesus made His comments to a man who was one of the most religious of men, one of the most highly educated in biblical content of men, and one of the most highly esteemed by others as having the religious answers to life's quandaries. Nicodemus, the man to whom Jesus addressed His words, was a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin. This was membership in today's religious equivalent to the College of Cardinals.
To this man, Jesus said, You must be born again. The importance of this is that Jesus completely set aside the man's entire religious life and training up to the time of the conversation. The significance of this is that Jesus completely set aside the argument that is well abused today that "God will keep His Church leadership from deep errors of heresy". There is no evidence in Scripture that God had made that kind of commitment beyond the original apostles at all. History and Scripture both show that God does not preserve Church leaders from deep error. People who are resting their eternal salvation on the teachings of men who fundamentally posit this heresy of God's protection are in serious danger of being rejected by God in the day of judgment. The point is this: each one of us will stand before God on our own. In that day, the critical issue will not be which church we belonged to, what doctrines we subscribed to, or what we rested our hope of eternal life on: what will matter is whether we were born again or not.
Now, there will be those who immediately object. They will say that God has given us the Church to give us the truth. But, the fact is that God has given us the Bible to give us the truth. If we refuse to accept His Book as His source of truth for us, and replace it with men, religious institutions, and the opinions of others, we will answer to Him for our refusal to let Him teach us. Nicodemus was a man who trusted in his religious traditions. He depended on God to make the truth clear. But this mixture of trust--in the traditions and in God--left him without being a partaker in the new birth.
If you have a Bible, you have God's truth. If you can read, you can discover it. If you don't have a Bible, you ought to buy one. Eternity is a long time to be wrong.