3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Jesus took up Nicodemus’ words (“no one can do these signs”) and offered the alternative that unless a person is born again, he “cannot see” the kingdom of God. Nicodemus’ finite understanding is set in complete contrast to Jesus’ understanding of how to become right with God.
3 Jesus answered and said to him,
Jesus now talked to a theological professor about spiritual birth. Jesus told Nicodemus that he needed spiritual birth even though he was a religious leader. Nicodemus had reached a point of positive volition but not salvation. When he went positive like this, the Holy Spirit would bring him to the knowledge necessary to become a believer. The Spirit would bring him to a point of conviction.
“Most assuredly [verily, verily],
This is one of the 25 times that Jesus used the term amen, amen or verily, verily. Any time a word is doubled, as it is here, it throws great significance and extraordinary importance on what is about to be said. It is the affirmation of a truthful statement: “I am telling you the truth.” The idea carries an emphasis on what is about to be said. This is why these words are translated as “most assuredly.” “Verily, verily” occur 25 times in the gospel of John.
I say to you [singular],
No doubt Nicodemus was rocked by Jesus exposing his stark spiritual need. He needed to understand the importance and significance of his eternal state.
unless one is born again [from above],
“Born again” means born from above—that is, from heaven. Jesus indicated three times in this passage that spiritual birth is required for salvation (Jn 3:3, 5, 7). Nicodemus needed more than law keeping for his soul to be saved.
“Unless” indicates that there is no way to go to heaven except a person is born spiritually. All of Nicodemus’ religion was not good enough to make him acceptable to God.
he cannot [has no ability to] see the kingdom of God.”
The “kingdom of God” is the Messiah’s future kingdom on earth for Israel. A person who is not born again “cannot see the kingdom of God.” This is the kingdom of those who are born again. It is for those who will experience everlasting life in eternity.
Spurious faith is not acceptable to God.
The old spiritual says, “Everybody talkin’ about heaven ain’t goin’ there.” Many in the local church have never been born again. Self-deception can be a deadly thing when it comes to the issue of eternal life. Jesus was very clear about what was necessary to go to heaven. Religion will not do it; only a spiritual birth will.
Being born again is not renovation. It is not accomplished by resolutions or re-information. It has nothing to do with educating ourselves into being better people. Regeneration is a supernatural work of God whereby He imparts eternal life through the convicting work of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is the Agent of regeneration. Regeneration mightily changes the individual and creates a new realm of power in the person who is born again.