“The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
“How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.
“You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven — the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
(John 3:8-17 New International Version)
The way we see the world and how God sees it are two very different things. We see things three dimensionally (3D) as defined by length, width and height. All dimensions are equally real but are not always equally seen. The world is what it is but how we see it depends on our vision or perspective. God’s perspective of the world is material, spiritual and eternal. All the dimensions are real but not all are visible to you and me.
The material dimension of God’s kingdom is the only one visible to natural eyes. Everything in heaven and earth (the material universe) was created by God: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1). It all belongs to Him, i.e. it is within His dominion, His kingdom (Psalm 24:1). God governs the material universe via natural, physical laws which He set in place (Psalm 104:19; Isaiah 55:10). Nicodemus was confounded by Jesus’ statement that he must be born again because he was seeing or thinking only in a material or physical sense (vv.3-6).
The spiritual dimension of God’s kingdom is just as real as the material but can only be seen through spiritual eyes. “For the natural man is not able to take in the things of the Spirit of God: for they seem foolish to him, and he is not able to have knowledge of them, because such knowledge comes only through the Spirit” (1 Corinthians 2:14 Bible in Basic English). God created humans as body (material) and soul (spiritual) (Genesis 2:7). He also warned the first couple that breaking His rule would bring death to them (Genesis 2:17). Sovereign God gave human kind the freedom to choose life with Him or death apart from Him. And you know the rest of that story (Genesis 3:1-24). Question: Why didn’t Adam and Eve die when they sinned? Answer: They did – spiritually: “The soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezekiel 18:20). Their bodies also began to die: It is appointed unto men once to die (Hebrews 9:27). Sovereign God delayed death to give the first man and woman a second chance and to give all of us (their descendants) the opportunity to choose life with Him forever – The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9 New International Version). However, our present lifeless condition spiritually prevents our seeing/understanding the spiritual dimension of God’s kingdom in a world that is materially minded. If this all seems foolish to you, then you know how Nicodemus felt. And even more incredible is the eternal/heavenly dimension of God’s kingdom which Jesus speaks of next.
The eternal dimension of God’s kingdom is the one you definitely don’t want to miss. Jesus gently reprimanded Nicodemus for his lack of understanding new birth (vv.7-10). The Old Testament scriptures, which the learned teacher knew well, pointed to it:
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
(Psalm 51:10-12 New International Version)
Salvation, i.e. being born again, is when God creates in us a pure heart and restores or renews a steadfast spirit – a loyal and obedient spirit to Him – within me. And all this is accomplished by the Holy Spirit who comes to live within us as He did in Adam before He sinned. It is the presence of God’s Holy Spirit that makes our soul (spiritual man) come alive. That’s what it means to be born again and that is the dimension of God’s kingdom, His rule in our lives that is eternal (without end): But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him (Psalm 103:17, 19 NIV).
Just a few more things you should know. First, we cannot determine our own opportunity for new birth; the Holy Spirit alone determines that (John 1:12-13). So, when the wind blows on you (v.8), when opportunity knocks (Revelation 3:20) – you need to open the door to God. Second, God’s kingdom – in the eternal sense – is a heavenly thing (v.12) waiting to be accomplished on earth, and Jesus instructed that we should pray for it and seek it above all other things (Matthew 6:10, 33). Finally, entry into God’s kingdom and possession of eternal life is available to any and all who believes in him, i.e. Jesus, the Son of Man, and the Son of God (vv.14-16).
The message of Jesus to all is this: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” (Matthew 4:17 NIV)
Can you see it now?