“There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of 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. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:1-8)
Many people confuse John, chapter 3, and being born again of water with baptism of water. Therefore, they claim that a person must be baptized of water in order to be saved and go to heaven. However, this is not what the text says. Nicodemus mentioned to Jesus about the first birth. This means coming out of our mother’s womb, but wanted to know what the second birth entailed. Jesus explained that even though a person is born through water (birth canal), it is necessary to be born again through the Holy Spirit. Our bodies have a spirit but to be led into all truth, we must receive the Holy Spirit. Think of the Spirit of God as our guide in this life. This is why Jesus said we must be born again in the Spirit to see and to enter the kingdom of God. When God’s presence comes into our lives, Jesus is able to know us personally and spiritually. No longer are we led by the flesh, but by God also.
“And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:20,21)
But where is the kingdom of God? Is it in heaven? How about paradise? Neither actually. Jesus said that people will look for the kingdom of God when in reality it is within us. God in us means that God is doing a work in us. We are different as God is leading us in life. This is kingdom work on earth as it is in heaven. It is also how a person is saved. If there is fruit from God’s kingdom in our lives, then that means our faith is alive and active. For a surety, “by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8,9) Our faith in Jesus saves a person, not water baptism. This is why the thief on the cross went to paradise, having never been water baptized. But what if a person wants to be water baptized or has been, is that fine? Yes, of course. Water baptism refers to a person’s willingness to commit their lives to follow Jesus. However, many people have done this without water baptism and are saved. Amen.