The Death Knell on Legalism
The account is more than a story. There is obviously the story of Nicodemus here. It is theology; it is doctrine. It is doctrine passed to the teacher in Israel—definite article. To some level, the consummate theologian in Judaism and what is being taught here is that salvation is not for those who manage to achieve it on their own. The kingdom of salvation has a door, but the door has no handle on the outside. It can only be open from the inside. The new birth is something you receive not something you do. He is saying to Nicodemus, ‘you’ve been trying your entire life,’ like the Apostle Paul in his testimony in Philippians 3, ‘you’ve been trying all your life to get into the kingdom of God, and you can’t get in because it’s not something you do.’ This is the absolute final death knell on legalism.