Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” John 3:3-5 (ESV)
In John 3:3-5, Jesus was saying to Nicodemus that a person must be born of water (into this world, flesh) and be born again (or from above) by the Holy Spirit. Upon repentance of sin (Acts 2:38; 3:19) and belief on Jesus (John 3:16) the Holy Spirit brings a new birth and with it a new creation or creature (2 Corinthians 5:17). A person must have this born again experience or they will not be allowed to see, enter or participate in the kingdom of God.
This new birth has a lasting effect. In his gospel, John used a present tense verb when he said, “. . . whosoever believes.” It could easily read “whosoever continues to believe.” (John 3:16) This would make sense in the light of Jesus’ statement, “No one who puts his hand to plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62) A person must be as trusting and believing as a little child or they will not inherit the kingdom of God (Matthew 18:3-4; Mark 10:14-15; Luke 18:16-17)
Paul wrote, “. . . if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9 ESV) The confession of Jesus as Lord is not just a confession of his overall Lordship, the demons believe in one God (James 2:9), it is a confession that Jesus is Lord of your life. According to Jesus not everyone who calls him Lord will enter the kingdom of God (or kingdom of heaven), but those who do the will of his Father (Matthew 7:21). So, a person may confess him to be Lord of their life but if they do not do his will their claim as no validity.
Jesus went on to say that some of those who profess him to be Lord will perform signs and wonders in his name, yet he addressed them as workers of lawlessness (Matthew 7:22-23). In other words they will look religious, but their actions are for self-glorification. The scribes and Pharisees of Jesus day are a prime example of this (Matthew 23:13-33). They looked religious on the outside, but were more concerned about their status than the kingdom of heaven (John 11:48). Jesus said, “For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:20 ESV)
In his epistles Paul gave a list of several types of people who would not enter the kingdom of God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 reads, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10 ESV) Paul wrote to the Galatians, “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19-21 ESV) And to the Ephesians he wrote, “For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous ( that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” (Ephesians 5:5 ESV)
If those who are not born again will not inherit the kingdom of God and the list of people in Paul’s epistles will not inherit the kingdom of God, then we must conclude that those who practice the things listed in Paul’s epistles are not born again. Jesus said that at the close of the age, “The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 13:41-42 ESV) Paul’s warning is clear “do not be deceived.” (1 Corinthians 6:9)
Paul told the Corinthians that flesh and blood (meaning the mortal human body) cannot inherit the kingdom of God, but it would take the mortal body being changed to immortal. This change will happen in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye at the last trumpet “. . . then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:50-55).
That’s why we praise him!