78. How do you enter the Kingdom of God?

A Jewish religious leader called Nicodemus, a Pharisee, asked this question of Jesus in secret one night. Jesus’ reply gives us the answer: ‘I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.’ ‘What do you mean?’ exclaimed Nicodemus. ‘How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?’ Jesus replied, ‘I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.’ ‘How are these things possible?’ Nicodemus asked. Jesus replied, ‘You are a respected Jewish teacher, and yet you don’t understand these things? I assure you, we tell you what we know and have seen, and yet you won’t believe our testimony. But if you don’t believe me when I tell you about earthly things, how can you possibly believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ever gone to heaven and returned. But the Son of Man has come down from heaven. And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life. For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light, and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.’ (John 3:3-21).

To be born again we need to repent of our sin or self-centred way of living, and ask Jesus Christ into our heart/spirit so we are born again spiritually. The Holy Spirit comes into our heart/spirit and makes us a new person. In 2 Corinthians 5 verses 17 – 21 we read: ‘This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, ‘Come back to God!’ For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.’

The disciples experienced this new birth, or being born again, in the upper room after the resurrection of Jesus. This is recorded in John 20 v 19 – 22: ‘Jesus breathed on the disciples and said ‘receive the Holy Spirit.’ ’

A person can become a Muslim by saying the shahadah or creed that states: ‘There is no God but Allâh and Muhammed is the messenger of Allâh.’ Sincerity of intent is required for this confession to be accepted by Allâh. This confession makes a person a member of the ummah, the community or brotherhood of Islâm.