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From Heaven With Love

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    Nicodemus Begins to See the Light

    While Jesus was speaking, some gleams of truth penetrated the ruler's mind. Yet he did not fully understand the Saviour's words. He said wonderingly, “How can these things be?”HLv 108.4

    “Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?” Jesus asked. Instead of feeling irritated over the plain words of truth, Nicodemus should have had a humble opinion of himself, because of his spiritual ignorance. Yet Christ spoke with such solemn dignity and earnest love, that Nicodemus was not offended.HLv 109.1

    But as Jesus explained that His mission was to establish a spiritual instead of a temporal kingdom, His hearer was troubled. Seeing this, Jesus added, “If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?” Not discerning the nature of Christ's work on earth, Nicodemus could not understand His work in heaven.HLv 109.2

    The Jews whom Jesus had driven from the temple were zealous to maintain an appearance of holiness, but neglected holiness of heart. Sticklers for the letter of the law, they were constantly violating its spirit. Their great need was that change which Christ had been explaining to Nicodemus—a new moral birth, a cleansing from sin, and a renewing of holiness.HLv 109.3

    There was no excuse for the blindness of Israel in regard to the work of regeneration. David had prayed, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” Through Ezekiel the promise had been given, “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes.” Psalm 51:10; Ezekiel 36:26, 27.HLv 109.4

    Nicodemus now began to comprehend the meaning of these scriptures. He saw that the most rigid outward obedience to the mere letter of the law could entitle no man to enter the kingdom of heaven.HLv 109.5

    Nicodemus was being drawn to Christ. As the Saviour explained to him the new birth, he longed to have this change in himself. How could it be accomplished? Jesus answered the unspoken question: “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”HLv 109.6

    The symbol of the uplifted serpent made plain to Nicodemus the Saviour's mission. When the people of Israel were dying from the sting of the fiery serpents, God directed Moses to make a serpent of brass and place it on high in the midst of the congregation. All who would look should live. The serpent was a symbol of Christ. As the image made in the likeness of the destroying serpents was lifted up for their healing, so One made “in the likeness of sinful flesh” was to be their Redeemer. Romans 8:3. God desired to lead the Israelites to the Saviour. Whether for healing of wounds or pardon of sins, they could do nothing for themselves but show their faith in the Gift of God. They were to look and live.HLv 110.1

    Those who had been bitten by the serpents might have demanded a scientific explanation. But no explanation was given. To refuse to look was to perish. Nicodemus received the lesson and carried it with him. He searched the Scriptures in a new way, not for discussion but to receive life for the soul. He submitted to the leading of the Holy Spirit.HLv 110.2

    Thousands today need to learn the same truth taught to Nicodemus by the uplifted serpent. “There is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” Acts 4:12. Through faith we receive the grace of God; but faith is not our Saviour. It earns nothing. It is the hand by which we lay hold on Christ, the remedy for sin. We cannot even repent without the aid of the Spirit of God. The Scripture says of Christ, “Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.” Acts 5:31. Repentance comes from Christ as truly as does pardon.HLv 110.3

    How, then, are we to be saved? “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” John 1:29. The light shining from the cross reveals the love of God. His love is drawing us to Himself. If we do not resist this drawing, we shall be led to the foot of the cross in repentance for the sins that have crucified the Saviour. Then the Spirit of God through faith produces a new life in the soul. The thoughts and desires are brought into obedience to Christ. The heart, the mind, are created anew in the image of Him who works in us to subdue all things to Himself. Then the law of God is written in the mind and heart, and we can say with Christ, “I delight to do Thy will, O my God.” Psalm 40:8.HLv 110.4

    In the interview with Nicodemus, Jesus unfolded the plan of salvation. In none of His subsequent discourses did He explain so fully, step by step, the work necessary to be done in the hearts of all who would inherit the kingdom of heaven. At the very beginning of His ministry He opened the truth to a member of the Sanhedrin, an appointed teacher of the people. But the leaders of Israel did not welcome the light. Nicodemus hid the truth in his heart, and for three years there was little apparent fruit.HLv 111.1

    But the words spoken at night in the lonely mountain were not lost. In the Sanhedrin council Nicodemus repeatedly thwarted schemes to destroy Jesus. When at last He was lifted up on the cross, Nicodemus remembered: “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” The light from that secret interview illumined the cross upon Calvary, and Nicodemus saw in Jesus the world's Redeemer.HLv 111.2

    After the Lord's ascension, when the disciples were scattered by persecution, Nicodemus came boldly to the front. He employed his wealth in sustaining the infant church that the Jews had expected to be blotted out at the death of Christ. In the time of peril he who had been so cautious and questioning was firm as a rock, encouraging the faith of the disciples and furnishing means to carry forward the work of the gospel. He became poor in this world's goods; yet he faltered not in the faith which had its beginning in that night conference with Jesus.HLv 111.3

    Nicodemus related to John the story of that interview, and by his pen it was recorded for the instruction of millions. The truths there taught are as important today as they were on that solemn night in the shadowy mountain, when the Jewish ruler came to learn the way of life from the lowly Teacher of Galilee.HLv 112.1

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