Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3 (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 to see, enter or participate in the kingdom of God. Those who have been born again have been delivered from the kingdom of darkness and transferred to the kingdom of God (Colossians 1:3).
Paul wrote to the Romans that the kingdom of God is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17). Those who have been born again have been born by the Holy Spirit (John 3:8) and have the Holy Spirit living within them (Romans 8:9). Thus they have access to righteousness, peace and joy; attributes of the kingdom (2 Corinthians 5:21; John 16:33; John 15:11).
Jesus told the multitudes, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:3; Luke 6:20 ESV) Those who are poor in spirit are those who realize that their entire need is met in God alone (Psalms 16:2). They understand that apart from Christ they are destitute and bankrupt (John 15:5). God has chosen those humble and contrite of spirit to be a part of his kingdom (Isaiah 57:15; 66:2; Psalms 34:18). James wrote, “Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him?” (James 2:5 ESV) Paul also wrote that God has chosen the weak to confound the mighty (1 Corinthians 1:27-28).
It would seem that this “poor in spirit, humble and contrite spirit” is what Jesus had in mind when he said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3-4 ESV) A child like spirit, innocent and trusting, has a place in the kingdom of God (Luke 18:15).
In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:10-12 ESV) When exhorting the disciples to continue in the faith, Paul told them that “we must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22) Similarly, Jesus told his disciples that those who forsake all for the kingdom of God receive the kingdom now and in the future (Luke 18:29-30).
Those who do the will of the Father will enter into the kingdom of God; not those who only confess that he is Lord (Matthew 7:21). Jesus said that the ones who do the will of his Father are those who are nearest kin to him (Matthew 12:50) and that if we love him we will keep his commandments (John 14:15 ESV). God’s will is laid out in his word, his commandments; the Bible. Therefore, James exhorts us to “be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (James 1:22).
Peter said that those who practice such qualities as virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection and love will never fall (2 Peter 1:3-10). He said, “For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:11 ESV) Peter’s list appears to be character traits of those who inherit the kingdom of God.
Jesus said that when the Son of Man comes he will separate people into two categories; sheep and goats. The difference in the two groups is that the sheep are those who have tended to the needs of “the least of these” whom Jesus called his brothers. The goats are those who have neglected to tend to those needs. The King will say to the sheep, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” (Matthew 25:34 ESV)
It seems the kingdom of God is a “three-phase” inheritance for the saints of God; those who have been born again and bow to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. 1. Their inheritance was secured before they existed (Matthew 25:34). 2. They enjoy the benefits of the kingdom now (Romans 14:17). 3. They will fully inherit the kingdom of God at a later date (Daniel 7:18, 22, 27).
That’s why we praise him!