From the blog of pastor Randall Easter
Nicodemus came to Jesus by night to discuss religious matters.
Nicodemus starts the conversation by stating, "we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him." Jesus quickly turns the conversation to the gospel and presses a glorious truth upon the heart of Nicodemus. Jesus tells him that he must be 'born from above' if he is to see or enter the kingdom of God. Most translations use the phrase 'born again,' but this misses the essence of what Jesus is saying. Re-birth is not something that is worked up from the bottom, but rather re-birth is that which is given from above. To understand that re-birth is a top down model leaves the sinner in submission to cry out for God to come down. The Greek word 'from above' is used in several other passages and gets translated 'from above' (Matt. 27:51; John 3:31; 19:11, 23; James 1:17; James 3:15, 17).
In order for a man to see or enter the kingdom of God he must be effectively regenerated from above. God the Holy Spirit must come down and grant a new heart and a right spirit in order that man by faith can believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ.
In today 21st century church much effort is placed upon getting man to do something in order that he could be saved. The church today tries to get man to repeat prayers, walk down isle's, raise hands, or some other gimmick to get man to open the door of his heart in order that Jesus can get in. However, Jesus mentions none of this in his presentation to Nicodemus. He simply presses upon him the glorious truth that salvation is a top down model. The result of such preaching presses man to cry out to God until He has mercy upon them. Jesus will go on to remind Nicodemus that just as the serpent was lifted up in the wilderness, so must the the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life.
Salvation comes from the throne room of heaven and moves upon the heart of a man and causes him to look up to the beauty of the Savior on the cross and believe that Jesus bore his sins that he might die to sin and live to righteousness.
So many people will refer to John 3:16 and some will even have an entire conference to talk about John 3:16, but the context of John 3:16 demands that we look at the whole chapter. The honest reader of Scripture cannot read over the statement that man must be born 'from above.' If God does not save there will be no saving. If God does not move there will be no moving. If God does not draw there will be no drawing. If God does not regenerate there will be no regeneration. We are then left with the statement of the prophet Jonah, "Salvation belongs to the Lord!"
What about you? Have you been born from above? Have you experienced genuine repentance? Have you been regenerated? Do you now hate the sin you used to love? Do you now love the righteousness you once hated? I will repeat what the Lord Jesus has said; "You must be born from above to enter the kingdom of God."