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The King of Kings => The Desire of Ages => Topic started by: JimB on February 05, 2016, 06:14:01 AM

Title: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: JimB on February 05, 2016, 06:14:01 AM
Chapter 17—Nicodemus

Listen to  Nicodemus 


   



Nicodemus held a high position of trust in the Jewish nation. He was highly educated, and possessed talents of no ordinary character, and he was an honored member of the national council. With others, he had been stirred by the teaching of Jesus. Though rich, learned, and honored, he had been strangely attracted by the humble Nazarene. The lessons that had fallen from the Saviour’s lips had greatly impressed him, and he desired to learn more of these wonderful truths.

Christ’s exercise of authority in the cleansing of the temple had roused the determined hatred of the priests and rulers. They feared the power of this stranger. Such boldness on the part of an obscure Galilean was not to be tolerated. They were bent on putting an end to His work. But not all were agreed in this purpose. There were some that feared to oppose One who was so evidently moved upon by the Spirit of God. They remembered how prophets had been slain for rebuking the sins of the leaders in Israel. They knew that the bondage of the Jews to a heathen nation was the result of their stubbornness in rejecting reproofs from God. They feared that in plotting against Jesus the priests and rulers were following in the steps of their fathers, and would bring fresh calamities upon the nation. Nicodemus shared these feelings. In a council of the Sanhedrin, when the course to be pursued toward Jesus was considered, Nicodemus advised caution and moderation. He urged that if Jesus was really invested with authority from God, it would be perilous to reject His warnings. The priests dared not disregard this counsel, and for the time they took no open measures against the Saviour.

Since hearing Jesus, Nicodemus had anxiously studied the prophecies relating to the Messiah; and the more he searched, the stronger was his conviction that this was the One who was to come. With many others in Israel he had been greatly distressed by the profanation of the temple. He was a witness of the scene when Jesus drove out the buyers and the sellers; he beheld the wonderful manifestation of divine power; he saw the Saviour receiving the poor and healing the sick; he saw their looks of joy, and heard their words of praise; and he could not doubt that Jesus of Nazareth was the Sent of God.

He greatly desired an interview with Jesus, but shrank from seeking Him openly. It would be too humiliating for a ruler of the Jews to acknowledge himself in sympathy with a teacher as yet so little known. And should his visit come to the knowledge of the Sanhedrin, it would draw upon him their scorn and denunciation. He resolved upon a secret interview, excusing this on the ground that if he were to go openly, others might follow his example. Learning by special inquiry the Saviour’s place of retirement in the Mount of Olives, he waited until the city was hushed in slumber, and then sought Him.

In the presence of Christ, Nicodemus felt a strange timidity, which he endeavored to conceal under an air of composure and dignity. “Rabbi,” he said, “we know that Thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that Thou doest, except God be with him.” By speaking of Christ’s rare gifts as a teacher, and also of His wonderful power to perform miracles, he hoped to pave the way for his interview. His words were designed to express and to invite confidence; but they really expressed unbelief. He did not acknowledge Jesus to be the Messiah, but only a teacher sent from God.

Instead of recognizing this salutation, Jesus bent His eyes upon the speaker, as if reading his very soul. In His infinite wisdom He saw before Him a seeker after truth. He knew the object of this visit, and with a desire to deepen the conviction already resting upon His listener’s mind, He came directly to the point, saying solemnly, yet kindly, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3, margin.

Nicodemus had come to the Lord thinking to enter into a discussion with Him, but Jesus laid bare the foundation principles of truth. He said to Nicodemus, It is not theoretical knowledge you need so much as spiritual regeneration. You need not to have your curiosity satisfied, but to have a new heart. You must receive a new life from above before you can appreciate heavenly things. Until this change takes place, making all things new, it will result in no saving good for you to discuss with Me My authority or My mission.

Nicodemus had heard the preaching of John the Baptist concerning repentance and baptism, and pointing the people to One who should baptize with the Holy Spirit. He himself had felt that there was a lack of spirituality among the Jews, that, to a great degree, they were controlled by bigotry and worldly ambition. He had hoped for a better state of things at the Messiah’s coming. Yet the heart-searching message of the Baptist had failed to work in him conviction of sin. He was a strict Pharisee, and prided himself on his good works. He was widely esteemed for his benevolence and his liberality in sustaining the temple service, and he felt secure of the favor of God. He was startled at the thought of a kingdom too pure for him to see in his present state.

The figure of the new birth, which Jesus had used, was not wholly unfamiliar to Nicodemus. Converts from heathenism to the faith of Israel were often compared to children just born. Therefore he must have perceived that the words of Christ were not to be taken in a literal sense. But by virtue of his birth as an Israelite he regarded himself as sure of a place in the kingdom of God. He felt that he needed no change. Hence his surprise at the Saviour’s words. He was irritated by their close application to himself. The pride of the Pharisee was struggling against the honest desire of the seeker after truth. He wondered that Christ should speak to him as He did, not respecting his position as ruler in Israel.

Surprised out of his self-possession, he answered Christ in words full of irony, “How can a man be born when he is old?” Like many others when cutting truth is brought home to the conscience, he revealed the fact that the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God. There is in him nothing that responds to spiritual things; for spiritual things are spiritually discerned.

But the Saviour did not meet argument with argument. Raising His hand with solemn, quiet dignity, He pressed the truth home with greater assurance, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus knew that Christ here referred to water baptism and the renewing of the heart by the Spirit of God. He was convinced that he was in the presence of the One whom John the Baptist had foretold.

Jesus continued: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” By nature the heart is evil, and “who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one.” Job 14:4. No human invention can find a remedy for the sinning soul. “The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” “Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.” Romans 8:7; Matthew 15:19. The fountain of the heart must be purified before the streams can become pure. He who is trying to reach heaven by his own works in keeping the law is attempting an impossibility. There is no safety for one who has merely a legal religion, a form of godliness. The Christian’s life is not a modification or improvement of the old, but a transformation of nature. There is a death to self and sin, and a new life altogether. This change can be brought about only by the effectual working of the Holy Spirit.

Nicodemus was still perplexed, and Jesus used the wind to illustrate His meaning: “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is everyone that is born of the Spirit.”

The wind is heard among the branches of the trees, rustling the leaves and flowers; yet it is invisible, and no man knows whence it comes or whither it goes. So with the work of the Holy Spirit upon the heart. It can no more be explained than can the movements of the wind. A person may not be able to tell the exact time or place, or to trace all the circumstances in the process of conversion; but this does not prove him to be unconverted. By an agency as unseen as the wind, Christ is constantly working upon the heart. Little by little, perhaps unconsciously to the receiver, impressions are made that tend to draw the soul to Christ. These may be received through meditating upon Him, through reading the Scriptures, or through hearing the word from the living preacher. Suddenly, as the Spirit comes with more direct appeal, the soul gladly surrenders itself to Jesus. By many this is called sudden conversion; but it is the result of long wooing by the Spirit of God,—a patient, protracted process.

While the wind is itself invisible, it produces effects that are seen and felt. So the work of the Spirit upon the soul will reveal itself in every act of him who has felt its saving power. When the Spirit of God takes possession of the heart, it transforms the life. Sinful thoughts are put away, evil deeds are renounced; love, humility, and peace take the place of anger, envy, and strife. Joy takes the place of sadness, and the countenance reflects the light of heaven. No one sees the hand that lifts the burden, or beholds the light descend from the courts above. The blessing comes when by faith the soul surrenders itself to God. Then that power which no human eye can see creates a new being in the image of God.

It is impossible for finite minds to comprehend the work of redemption. Its mystery exceeds human knowledge; yet he who passes from death to life realizes that it is a divine reality. The beginning of redemption we may know here through a personal experience. Its results reach through the eternal ages.

While Jesus was speaking, some gleams of truth penetrated the ruler’s mind. The softening, subduing influence of the Holy Spirit impressed his heart. Yet he did not fully understand the Saviour’s words. He was not so much impressed by the necessity of the new birth as by the manner of its accomplishment. He said wonderingly, “How can these things be?”

“Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?” Jesus asked. Surely one entrusted with the religious instruction of the people should not be ignorant of truths so important. His words conveyed the lesson that instead of feeling irritated over the plain words of truth, Nicodemus should have had a very humble opinion of himself, because of his spiritual ignorance. Yet Christ spoke with such solemn dignity, and both look and tone expressed such earnest love, that Nicodemus was not offended as he realized his humiliating condition.

But as Jesus explained that His mission on earth 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?” If Nicodemus could not receive Christ’s teaching, illustrating the work of grace upon the heart, how could he comprehend the nature of His glorious heavenly kingdom? Not discerning the nature of Christ’s work on earth, he could not understand His work in heaven.

The Jews whom Jesus had driven from the temple claimed to be children of Abraham, but they fled from the Saviour’s presence because they could not endure the glory of God which was manifested in Him. Thus they gave evidence that they were not fitted by the grace of God to participate in the sacred services of the temple. They were zealous to maintain an appearance of holiness, but they neglected holiness of heart. While they were sticklers for the letter of the law, they were constantly violating its spirit. Their great need was that very change which Christ had been explaining to Nicodemus,—a new moral birth, a cleansing from sin, and a renewing of knowledge and holiness.

There was no excuse for the blindness of Israel in regard to the work of regeneration. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Isaiah had written, “We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” David had prayed, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” And 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.” Isaiah 64:6; Psalm 51:10; Ezekiel 36:26, 27.

Nicodemus had read these scriptures with a clouded mind; but he now began to comprehend their meaning. He saw that the most rigid obedience to the mere letter of the law as applied to the outward life could entitle no man to enter the kingdom of heaven. In the estimation of men, his life had been just and honorable; but in the presence of Christ he felt that his heart was unclean, and his life unholy.

Nicodemus was being drawn to Christ. As the Saviour explained to him concerning the new birth, he longed to have this change wrought in himself. By what means 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.”

Here was ground with which Nicodemus was familiar. The symbol of the uplifted serpent made plain to him 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. Then the word was sounded throughout the encampment that all who would look upon the serpent should live. The people well knew that in itself the serpent had no power to help them. It 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. Many of the Israelites regarded the sacrificial service as having in itself virtue to set them free from sin. God desired to teach them that it had no more value than that serpent of brass. It was to lead their minds to the Saviour. Whether for the healing of their wounds or the pardon of their sins, they could do nothing for themselves but show their faith in the Gift of God. They were to look and live.

Those who had been bitten by the serpents might have delayed to look. They might have questioned how there could be efficacy in that brazen symbol. They might have demanded a scientific explanation. But no explanation was given. They must accept the word of God to them through Moses. To refuse to look was to perish.

Not through controversy and discussion is the soul enlightened. We must look and live. Nicodemus received the lesson, and carried it with him. He searched the Scriptures in a new way, not for the discussion of a theory, but in order to receive life for the soul. He began to see the kingdom of heaven as he submitted himself to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

There are thousands today who need to learn the same truth that was taught to Nicodemus by the uplifted serpent. They depend on their obedience to the law of God to commend them to His favor. When they are bidden to look to Jesus, and believe that He saves them solely through His grace, they exclaim, “How can these things be?”

Like Nicodemus, we must be willing to enter into life in the same way as the chief of sinners. Than Christ, “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 upon Christ, and appropriate His merits, the remedy for sin. And 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.

How, then, are we to be saved? “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness,” so the Son of man has been lifted up, and everyone who has been deceived and bitten by the serpent may look and live. “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 the will of 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.

In the interview with Nicodemus, Jesus unfolded the plan of salvation, and His mission to the world. 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, to the mind that was most receptive, and to 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.

But Jesus was acquainted with the soil into which He cast the seed. The words spoken at night to one listener in the lonely mountain were not lost. For a time Nicodemus did not publicly acknowledge Christ, but he watched His life, and pondered His teachings. In the Sanhedrin council he repeatedly thwarted the schemes of the priests to destroy Him. When at last Jesus was lifted up on the cross, Nicodemus remembered the teaching upon Olivet: “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.

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 was scorned and persecuted by those who had paid him reverence in other days. 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.

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.
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Richard Myers on February 05, 2016, 07:01:57 AM
This chapter is one of the most beneficial teaching aids given to the world. If prayerfully studied, it will address the great deception that has today come into Christian churches.

Nicodemus was in a Laodicean condition when he sought out Christ under cover of darkness. He thought he was rich and increased with goods, but did not understand he was "wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked." Jesus in the beginning of his meeting with Nicodemus told him he was not converted. This shocked this leader in Israel. Pastors, priests, elders, bishops, deacons, conference presidents, and leaders in professing Christians churches today are in a similar condition and will be equally shocked to find out they also need to be converted. The blind have been burying the blind for many years. This is why there are so many perplexities in the churches. So it was when a prophet in our day wrote: "The new birth is a rare experience in this age of the world. This is the reason why there are so many perplexities in the churches. Many, so many, who assume the name of Christ are unsanctified and unholy. They have been baptized, but they were buried alive. Self did not die, and therefore they did not rise to newness of life in Christ."  12MR 51. Notice the word "rare". What does this mean?

The great deception that has come upon modern day Israel is that one is converted when he is not. What it means to be a Christian and how to obtain that experience is answered in this chapter based on the third chapter of John. "Nicodemus had come to the Lord thinking to enter into a discussion with Him, but Jesus laid bare the foundation principles of truth. He said to Nicodemus, It is not theoretical knowledge you need so much as spiritual regeneration. You need not to have your curiosity satisfied, but to have a new heart. You must receive a new life from above before you can appreciate heavenly things. Until this change takes place, making all things new, it will result in no saving good for you to discuss with Me My authority or My mission."

So it is today. It does no good to enter into discussion about many things until one is converted, for spiritual things are spiritually discerned. Our effort as Bible instructors is to lead the flock of God to understand what it means to be "born again" and how it is that the sinner may have this experience. "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."
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: JimB on May 05, 2016, 05:08:57 AM
By an agency as unseen as the wind, Christ is constantly working upon the heart. Little by little, perhaps unconsciously to the receiver, impressions are made that tend to draw the soul to Christ. These may be received through meditating upon Him, through reading the Scriptures, or through hearing the word from the living preacher. Suddenly, as the Spirit comes with more direct appeal, the soul gladly surrenders itself to Jesus. By many this is called sudden conversion; but it is the result of long wooing by the Spirit of God,—a patient, protracted process.

I realize that this is not major point of this chapter but I find this part interesting. There are a lot of people who believe that Paul's conversion was sudden experience. This would seem to indicate differently. If I also remember correctly as it's been a while since I've read "Life Sketches of Paul" I believe that we are told there were many nights that he didn't get much sleep worried and fighting with his conscience (my words not hers). Granted this process may be shorter or longer than others but I'm not convinced that the conversion of the Ethiopian nor the their on the cross was a "spur of the moment" thing.
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Richard Myers on May 05, 2016, 07:30:28 AM
Jim, you have brought up a very important truth. You are right about the conversion of Saul the persecutor. It is true of all who are converted, it is the end of a long protracted process of revealing the character of God. "By an agency as unseen as the wind, Christ is constantly working upon the heart. Little by little, perhaps unconsciously to the receiver, impressions are made that tend to draw the soul to Christ. These may be received through meditating upon Him, through reading the Scriptures, or through hearing the word from the living preacher. Suddenly, as the Spirit comes with more direct appeal, the soul gladly surrenders itself to Jesus. By many this is called sudden conversion; but it is the result of long wooing by the Spirit of God,--a patient, protracted process.

Paul speaks of his conversion in Romans chapter seven. We know from Scripture that something very revealing happened in Saul's life when he witnessed the death of Stephen whom he was responsible for murdering. Stephen was a witness of the character of Christ. The grace shown to Saul was the beginning of a stronger work by the Holy Spirit in his conversion. Having seen the character of Christ in Stephen, Saul had a standard by which to measure his own life. He finally saw who he was apart from Christ and cried out "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" Romans 7:24. 

It is by beholding we become changed. We must learn of God. It takes time to develop faith in Him, to trust Him with all we are and all we have. It is not a blind faith, but an intelligent faith that allows the sinner to make a full surrender of self to Christ.

  But even as a sinner, man was in a different position from that of Satan. Lucifer in heaven had sinned in the light of God's glory. To him as to no other created being was given a revelation of God's love. Understanding the character of God, knowing His goodness, Satan chose to follow his own selfish, independent will. This choice was final. There was no more that God could do to save him. But man was deceived; his mind was darkened by Satan's sophistry. The height and depth of the love of God he did not know. For him there was hope in a knowledge of God's love. By beholding His character he might be drawn back to God. 
     Through Jesus, God's mercy was manifested to men; but mercy does not set aside justice. The law reveals the attributes of God's character, and not a jot or tittle of it could be changed to meet man in his fallen condition. God did not change His law, but He sacrificed Himself, in Christ, for man's redemption. "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself." 2 Corinthians 5:19. DA 762.} 

We have two topics that cover this in detail. One is entitled The Conversion of Paul (http://remnant-online.com/smf/index.php/topic,7837.msg82593.html#msg82593). The other is Romans 7 and 8. (http://remnant-online.com/smf/index.php/topic,742.0.html) 
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Pastor Sean Brizendine on May 05, 2016, 07:43:37 AM
As I reflect upon the comments you have both made today (Jim and Richard), I am thankful that God is working upon us even when we may be unaware of it--but how He longs for recognition, even as a mother longs for that smile that shows intelligence has dawned! Jesus longs--thirsts--for recognition in our lives--not for His benefit, but that we may partake of His joy, abide in Him, and experience the life that we have been alien to because of sin.

I appreciate how directly the gospel is presented in this chapter. As I read the following paragraph, I thought of our own Seventh-day Adventist Church as well:

"There was no excuse for the blindness of Israel in regard to the work of regeneration. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Isaiah had written, “We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” David had prayed, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” And 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.” Isaiah 64:6; Psalm 51:10; Ezekiel 36:26, 27. " {DA 174.1}

While we are without excuse, as we have even more light than did the Jews, I truly believe God wants these truths to shine out in ever brighter luster as the increase of darkness in the world (and even in the church) make it necessary! We need a revelation of the true everlasting gospel!

The more I read the Spirit of Prophecy, the more recurring I see this gospel theme woven throughout, like a golden cord--inviting us to a full surrender, to experience the new birth--by a supernatural agency apart from ourselves that must regenerate us, adopting us into the family above.

I love how a similar statement emerges from Patriarchs and Prophets, page 372, paragraph 2:

"The same law that was engraved upon the tables of stone is written by the Holy Spirit upon the tables of the heart. Instead of going about to establish our own righteousness we accept the righteousness of Christ. His blood atones for our sins. His obedience is accepted for us. Then the heart renewed by the Holy Spirit will bring forth “the fruits of the Spirit.” Through the grace of Christ we shall live in obedience to the law of God written upon our hearts. Having the Spirit of Christ, we shall walk even as He walked. Through the prophet He declared of Himself, “I delight to do Thy will, O My God: yea, Thy law is within My heart.” Psalm 40:8." {PP 372.2}

God desires to bring us into harmony with His law--not by us trying to obey in our unregenerate nature apart from Christ, but by us being born again (beholding His loveliness in Jesus, seeing our sinfulness, and experiencing a full surrender to His gift of repentance), and then "the heart renewed by the Holy Spirit will bring forth 'the fruits of the Spirit.'"--all of them--so that "not one will be missing" {DA 676.4}. It is simple enough for a child to understand, but profound enough for the wisest in this world's wisdom to miss it--for these truths are "spiritually discerned." (1 Corinthians 2:14).

How different might the history of Israel (and Nicodemus) been had that ruler of the Jews readily accepted the light (and shared it) as soon as it shone upon him? We may never know until we get to heaven the fatal risks of delay in yielding fully to the Holy Spirit's knock and voice. But we praise God He is patient with us.
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: JimB on July 31, 2016, 07:14:27 AM
Like Nicodemus, we must be willing to enter into life in the same way as the chief of sinners. Than Christ, “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 upon Christ, and appropriate His merits, the remedy for sin. And 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.

Maybe this is old news to most here but I know for years in my life I did not understand this. I thought repentance was something that came from with inside myself. Yes, it's something we must do but we cannot rightly do it without the aid of the Holy Spirit. Without the aid of the Holy Spirit we can be sorry for the consequences of sins or be sorry for being caught but this is not true repentance. Repentance is a good a thing and I believe if we understood the nature of man an our fallen nature it would not be hard to understand that true repentance cannot come from a poisoned fountain.
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Richard Myers on July 31, 2016, 08:38:57 PM
Amen, Jim!  How important to understand what true repentance is and how we come to the point of truly being sorry for our sins. There is a direct connection between true repentance and salvation.

24:46   And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: 
 24:47   And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 

Jesus is giving us our marching orders. And, it is to preach "repentance and remission of sins" in His name. Remission of sins comes when one is brought to repentance. Repentance comes from seeing what our sins have done to Christ. "Godly sorrow worketh repentance unto salvation."

And, "the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance."  And, is it not the goodness of God, His grace that when accepted into the heart brings about salvation? It is by grace that we are saved. How important that we understand what it is that Christ has given us to do!

I was impressed almost 30 years ago to include this chapter in my efforts to bring about revival and reformation in the church. If one were to prayerfully study this chapter, most would have their eyes opened to what it means to be a converted Christian.....and how it is that one is converted. Many today will argue against the truth that the heart is holy when converted. They reject the truth that the heart must be purified if one is to be baptized and brought into the church.

Jesus continued: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” By nature the heart is evil, and “who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one.” Job 14:4. No human invention can find a remedy for the sinning soul. “The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” “Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.” Romans 8:7; Matthew 15:19. The fountain of the heart must be purified before the streams can become pure. He who is trying to reach heaven by his own works in keeping the law is attempting an impossibility. There is no safety for one who has merely a legal religion, a form of godliness. The Christian’s life is not a modification or improvement of the old, but a transformation of nature. There is a death to self and sin, and a new life altogether. This change can be brought about only by the effectual working of the Holy Spirit.

Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Pastor Sean Brizendine on August 01, 2016, 01:24:10 PM
I appreciated this chapter when I read it yesterday! What a blessing to see Jesus and how clearly He presented the steps in experiencing true conversion.

I appreciated the statements both of you brought out, Jim and Richard.

We can do no good thing apart from Jesus, but when the heart is made new because Jesus abides there by His Spirit, we are to trust and believe that His power is sufficient to give holiness at the beginning as well as all through the Christian walk. We are to follow the words of Scripture:

"As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him" (Colossians 2:6).
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Richard Myers on October 26, 2016, 05:46:21 AM
As I was reading this morning, I was reminded of what I was impressed with almost 30 years ago when I was called into ministry to preach the 3 angels message. There were some chapters from the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy I was to instruct our people to study. This chapter along with John chapter three were among those inspired presentations. It is with this in mind that the only comment I will make this morning is to repeat the last paragraph from this chapter, Nicodemus.

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.


Chapter 17—Nicodemus



Listen to  Nicodemus  (http://remnant-online.com/Audio/DA17.mp3)

Nicodemus held a high position of trust in the Jewish nation. He was highly educated, and possessed talents of no ordinary character, and he was an honored member of the national council. With others, he had been stirred by the teaching of Jesus. Though rich, learned, and honored, he had been strangely attracted by the humble Nazarene. The lessons that had fallen from the Saviour’s lips had greatly impressed him, and he desired to learn more of these wonderful truths.

Christ’s exercise of authority in the cleansing of the temple had roused the determined hatred of the priests and rulers. They feared the power of this stranger. Such boldness on the part of an obscure Galilean was not to be tolerated. They were bent on putting an end to His work. But not all were agreed in this purpose. There were some that feared to oppose One who was so evidently moved upon by the Spirit of God. They remembered how prophets had been slain for rebuking the sins of the leaders in Israel. They knew that the bondage of the Jews to a heathen nation was the result of their stubbornness in rejecting reproofs from God. They feared that in plotting against Jesus the priests and rulers were following in the steps of their fathers, and would bring fresh calamities upon the nation. Nicodemus shared these feelings. In a council of the Sanhedrin, when the course to be pursued toward Jesus was considered, Nicodemus advised caution and moderation. He urged that if Jesus was really invested with authority from God, it would be perilous to reject His warnings. The priests dared not disregard this counsel, and for the time they took no open measures against the Saviour.

Since hearing Jesus, Nicodemus had anxiously studied the prophecies relating to the Messiah; and the more he searched, the stronger was his conviction that this was the One who was to come. With many others in Israel he had been greatly distressed by the profanation of the temple. He was a witness of the scene when Jesus drove out the buyers and the sellers; he beheld the wonderful manifestation of divine power; he saw the Saviour receiving the poor and healing the sick; he saw their looks of joy, and heard their words of praise; and he could not doubt that Jesus of Nazareth was the Sent of God.

He greatly desired an interview with Jesus, but shrank from seeking Him openly. It would be too humiliating for a ruler of the Jews to acknowledge himself in sympathy with a teacher as yet so little known. And should his visit come to the knowledge of the Sanhedrin, it would draw upon him their scorn and denunciation. He resolved upon a secret interview, excusing this on the ground that if he were to go openly, others might follow his example. Learning by special inquiry the Saviour’s place of retirement in the Mount of Olives, he waited until the city was hushed in slumber, and then sought Him.

In the presence of Christ, Nicodemus felt a strange timidity, which he endeavored to conceal under an air of composure and dignity. “Rabbi,” he said, “we know that Thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that Thou doest, except God be with him.” By speaking of Christ’s rare gifts as a teacher, and also of His wonderful power to perform miracles, he hoped to pave the way for his interview. His words were designed to express and to invite confidence; but they really expressed unbelief. He did not acknowledge Jesus to be the Messiah, but only a teacher sent from God.

Instead of recognizing this salutation, Jesus bent His eyes upon the speaker, as if reading his very soul. In His infinite wisdom He saw before Him a seeker after truth. He knew the object of this visit, and with a desire to deepen the conviction already resting upon His listener’s mind, He came directly to the point, saying solemnly, yet kindly, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3, margin.

Nicodemus had come to the Lord thinking to enter into a discussion with Him, but Jesus laid bare the foundation principles of truth. He said to Nicodemus, It is not theoretical knowledge you need so much as spiritual regeneration. You need not to have your curiosity satisfied, but to have a new heart. You must receive a new life from above before you can appreciate heavenly things. Until this change takes place, making all things new, it will result in no saving good for you to discuss with Me My authority or My mission.

Nicodemus had heard the preaching of John the Baptist concerning repentance and baptism, and pointing the people to One who should baptize with the Holy Spirit. He himself had felt that there was a lack of spirituality among the Jews, that, to a great degree, they were controlled by bigotry and worldly ambition. He had hoped for a better state of things at the Messiah’s coming. Yet the heart-searching message of the Baptist had failed to work in him conviction of sin. He was a strict Pharisee, and prided himself on his good works. He was widely esteemed for his benevolence and his liberality in sustaining the temple service, and he felt secure of the favor of God. He was startled at the thought of a kingdom too pure for him to see in his present state.

The figure of the new birth, which Jesus had used, was not wholly unfamiliar to Nicodemus. Converts from heathenism to the faith of Israel were often compared to children just born. Therefore he must have perceived that the words of Christ were not to be taken in a literal sense. But by virtue of his birth as an Israelite he regarded himself as sure of a place in the kingdom of God. He felt that he needed no change. Hence his surprise at the Saviour’s words. He was irritated by their close application to himself. The pride of the Pharisee was struggling against the honest desire of the seeker after truth. He wondered that Christ should speak to him as He did, not respecting his position as ruler in Israel.

Surprised out of his self-possession, he answered Christ in words full of irony, “How can a man be born when he is old?” Like many others when cutting truth is brought home to the conscience, he revealed the fact that the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God. There is in him nothing that responds to spiritual things; for spiritual things are spiritually discerned.

But the Saviour did not meet argument with argument. Raising His hand with solemn, quiet dignity, He pressed the truth home with greater assurance, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus knew that Christ here referred to water baptism and the renewing of the heart by the Spirit of God. He was convinced that he was in the presence of the One whom John the Baptist had foretold.

Jesus continued: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” By nature the heart is evil, and “who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one.” Job 14:4. No human invention can find a remedy for the sinning soul. “The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” “Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.” Romans 8:7; Matthew 15:19. The fountain of the heart must be purified before the streams can become pure. He who is trying to reach heaven by his own works in keeping the law is attempting an impossibility. There is no safety for one who has merely a legal religion, a form of godliness. The Christian’s life is not a modification or improvement of the old, but a transformation of nature. There is a death to self and sin, and a new life altogether. This change can be brought about only by the effectual working of the Holy Spirit.

Nicodemus was still perplexed, and Jesus used the wind to illustrate His meaning: “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is everyone that is born of the Spirit.”

The wind is heard among the branches of the trees, rustling the leaves and flowers; yet it is invisible, and no man knows whence it comes or whither it goes. So with the work of the Holy Spirit upon the heart. It can no more be explained than can the movements of the wind. A person may not be able to tell the exact time or place, or to trace all the circumstances in the process of conversion; but this does not prove him to be unconverted. By an agency as unseen as the wind, Christ is constantly working upon the heart. Little by little, perhaps unconsciously to the receiver, impressions are made that tend to draw the soul to Christ. These may be received through meditating upon Him, through reading the Scriptures, or through hearing the word from the living preacher. Suddenly, as the Spirit comes with more direct appeal, the soul gladly surrenders itself to Jesus. By many this is called sudden conversion; but it is the result of long wooing by the Spirit of God,—a patient, protracted process.

While the wind is itself invisible, it produces effects that are seen and felt. So the work of the Spirit upon the soul will reveal itself in every act of him who has felt its saving power. When the Spirit of God takes possession of the heart, it transforms the life. Sinful thoughts are put away, evil deeds are renounced; love, humility, and peace take the place of anger, envy, and strife. Joy takes the place of sadness, and the countenance reflects the light of heaven. No one sees the hand that lifts the burden, or beholds the light descend from the courts above. The blessing comes when by faith the soul surrenders itself to God. Then that power which no human eye can see creates a new being in the image of God.

It is impossible for finite minds to comprehend the work of redemption. Its mystery exceeds human knowledge; yet he who passes from death to life realizes that it is a divine reality. The beginning of redemption we may know here through a personal experience. Its results reach through the eternal ages.

While Jesus was speaking, some gleams of truth penetrated the ruler’s mind. The softening, subduing influence of the Holy Spirit impressed his heart. Yet he did not fully understand the Saviour’s words. He was not so much impressed by the necessity of the new birth as by the manner of its accomplishment. He said wonderingly, “How can these things be?”

“Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?” Jesus asked. Surely one entrusted with the religious instruction of the people should not be ignorant of truths so important. His words conveyed the lesson that instead of feeling irritated over the plain words of truth, Nicodemus should have had a very humble opinion of himself, because of his spiritual ignorance. Yet Christ spoke with such solemn dignity, and both look and tone expressed such earnest love, that Nicodemus was not offended as he realized his humiliating condition.

But as Jesus explained that His mission on earth 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?” If Nicodemus could not receive Christ’s teaching, illustrating the work of grace upon the heart, how could he comprehend the nature of His glorious heavenly kingdom? Not discerning the nature of Christ’s work on earth, he could not understand His work in heaven.

The Jews whom Jesus had driven from the temple claimed to be children of Abraham, but they fled from the Saviour’s presence because they could not endure the glory of God which was manifested in Him. Thus they gave evidence that they were not fitted by the grace of God to participate in the sacred services of the temple. They were zealous to maintain an appearance of holiness, but they neglected holiness of heart. While they were sticklers for the letter of the law, they were constantly violating its spirit. Their great need was that very change which Christ had been explaining to Nicodemus,—a new moral birth, a cleansing from sin, and a renewing of knowledge and holiness.

There was no excuse for the blindness of Israel in regard to the work of regeneration. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Isaiah had written, “We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” David had prayed, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” And 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.” Isaiah 64:6; Psalm 51:10; Ezekiel 36:26, 27.

Nicodemus had read these scriptures with a clouded mind; but he now began to comprehend their meaning. He saw that the most rigid obedience to the mere letter of the law as applied to the outward life could entitle no man to enter the kingdom of heaven. In the estimation of men, his life had been just and honorable; but in the presence of Christ he felt that his heart was unclean, and his life unholy.

Nicodemus was being drawn to Christ. As the Saviour explained to him concerning the new birth, he longed to have this change wrought in himself. By what means 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.”

Here was ground with which Nicodemus was familiar. The symbol of the uplifted serpent made plain to him 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. Then the word was sounded throughout the encampment that all who would look upon the serpent should live. The people well knew that in itself the serpent had no power to help them. It 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. Many of the Israelites regarded the sacrificial service as having in itself virtue to set them free from sin. God desired to teach them that it had no more value than that serpent of brass. It was to lead their minds to the Saviour. Whether for the healing of their wounds or the pardon of their sins, they could do nothing for themselves but show their faith in the Gift of God. They were to look and live.

Those who had been bitten by the serpents might have delayed to look. They might have questioned how there could be efficacy in that brazen symbol. They might have demanded a scientific explanation. But no explanation was given. They must accept the word of God to them through Moses. To refuse to look was to perish.

Not through controversy and discussion is the soul enlightened. We must look and live. Nicodemus received the lesson, and carried it with him. He searched the Scriptures in a new way, not for the discussion of a theory, but in order to receive life for the soul. He began to see the kingdom of heaven as he submitted himself to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

There are thousands today who need to learn the same truth that was taught to Nicodemus by the uplifted serpent. They depend on their obedience to the law of God to commend them to His favor. When they are bidden to look to Jesus, and believe that He saves them solely through His grace, they exclaim, “How can these things be?”

Like Nicodemus, we must be willing to enter into life in the same way as the chief of sinners. Than Christ, “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 upon Christ, and appropriate His merits, the remedy for sin. And 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.

How, then, are we to be saved? “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness,” so the Son of man has been lifted up, and everyone who has been deceived and bitten by the serpent may look and live. “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 the will of 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.

In the interview with Nicodemus, Jesus unfolded the plan of salvation, and His mission to the world. 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, to the mind that was most receptive, and to 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.

But Jesus was acquainted with the soil into which He cast the seed. The words spoken at night to one listener in the lonely mountain were not lost. For a time Nicodemus did not publicly acknowledge Christ, but he watched His life, and pondered His teachings. In the Sanhedrin council he repeatedly thwarted the schemes of the priests to destroy Him. When at last Jesus was lifted up on the cross, Nicodemus remembered the teaching upon Olivet: “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.

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 was scorned and persecuted by those who had paid him reverence in other days. 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.

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.

Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Pastor Sean Brizendine on October 26, 2016, 01:38:40 PM
Amen, Richard! I am so thankful to be one of the millions that has been so blessed by these truths laid out so clearly that reveal the everlasting gospel in such clarity. The heart is evil by nature, we need a Savior who gives us a new heart and mind, and only through continually looking to Christ and being filled with all of the fruits of the Spirit so that not one is missing is it possible to remain in a converted state. We are in need of Jesus continually. I am so thankful that we have been given not only the Bible but the Spirit of Prophecy! God is so good to us! I was so blessed by this chapter today as I turned many of the key paragraphs into songs so that it is easier to memorize them and internalize these truths to share with others! What a wonderful thought this is:

Nicodemus had come to the Lord thinking to enter into a discussion with Him, but Jesus laid bare the foundation principles of truth. He said to Nicodemus, It is not theoretical knowledge you need so much as spiritual regeneration. You need not to have your curiosity satisfied, but to have a new heart. You must receive a new life from above before you can appreciate heavenly things. Until this change takes place, making all things new, it will result in no saving good for you to discuss with Me My authority or My mission.

There are many in such a condition as was Nicodemus. They like to study about the Bible, but they do not consent to having the heart fully purified, by surrendering entirely to Christ. Unless the entire surrender takes place, there can be no new birth. May we look and live, and find this lesson for ourselves daily; unless we remain in an abiding relationship with Jesus which means that we do not allow our minds to wander away from Him, we cannot resist one temptation to sin. By His transforming grace, we may become perfect at conversion, which is to be continually growing through abiding in Him. Like the corn plant that is perfect at the first stage of its germination, it can only remain perfect (at each successive stage of growth) as long as it continues to receive what is provided for it (rain, sunshine, nutrients from the soil), and actively grows! So we are to continue to grow by receiving Christ in His matchless love to abide continually in the heart through faith--and He will finish what He has begun in us as long as we behold Him and surrender to Him all that He reveals to us by His Holy Spirit! What a joy it is to respond to Christ fully continually!
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Richard Myers on October 28, 2016, 05:47:33 AM
Amen, Pastor Sean. It is  "by His transforming grace, we may become perfect at conversion." First the blade then the ear, then the full corn in the ear. perfect at each stage of development. Morally perfect, not perfect in understanding. The heart has been purified and the motives are perfect as long as we abide in Christ and He in us.

How do we receive His transforming grace? Jesus would not leave Nicodemus in such a sad state without telling him what he must do in order to be converted. Most professing Christians have no idea what they must do in order to be converted, even though Jesus said "I am the Manna which came down from heaven." And again, "man does not live by bread alone, but by every Word which proceeds out of the mouth of God." What did He tell Nicodemus that he would know what he must do in order to be healed from the disease of sin to which every human has been in bondage? All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. None have come into this world born of the flesh and escaped the bondage to sin. We are aligned with Satan at enmity with God until we are born of the Spirit. Then the everlasting gospel has been fulfilled in the life of the repentant sinner. He is given enmity towards Satan and sin and is a partaker of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4).
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Pastor Sean Brizendine on January 21, 2017, 06:39:57 AM
There is so much in this chapter that our people need--and that I need to continue to experience by abiding in Christ! What a wonderful revelation of the love of God in Christ, and we see how lovingly, patiently, kindly, and clearly Christ dealt with Nicodemus' mind, for he needed to experience true conversion! What a gift!

Here was ground with which Nicodemus was familiar. The symbol of the uplifted serpent made plain to him 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. Then the word was sounded throughout the encampment that all who would look upon the serpent should live. The people well knew that in itself the serpent had no power to help them. It 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. Many of the Israelites regarded the sacrificial service as having in itself virtue to set them free from sin. God desired to teach them that it had no more value than that serpent of brass. It was to lead their minds to the Saviour. Whether for the healing of their wounds or the pardon of their sins, they could do nothing for themselves but show their faith in the Gift of God. They were to look and live.

We need Jesus continually. To "look and live" is to learn to spend that "thoughtful hour" with Jesus and realize our continual need of Him in our hearts by the presence of the Holy Spirit. Unless we are vitally connected to Christ by living, saving faith, we have no life in us. Like Nicodemus, we must individually humble the heart before God and accept the salvation offered us, for there is no other way to heaven than Christ! Praise God it is so! Praise God that all can learn of Him today and, by beholding, be changed into His lovely character! This is the essential message for our time, and it is as we come to reflect the divine likeness that we are a part of vindicating God's name before the universe in which the great controversy has raged over whether it is possible to keep the law of God or not. We clearly see that it is possible--by the power of grace:

How, then, are we to be saved? “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness,” so the Son of man has been lifted up, and everyone who has been deceived and bitten by the serpent may look and live. “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 the will of 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.

What a miracle! This is the greatest miracle God can perform, and He is willing to do it today in you and me anew! We need this experience continually! It is not just at the beginning of the Christian journey, but every step heavenward that we must have a heart renewed by divine grace, for apart from Christ we can do no good thing!
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Richard Myers on January 21, 2017, 07:11:26 AM
Yes, Pastor Sean, this chapter if prayerfully studied will help the church to find revival and reformation. It reveals our problem and the solution. Nicodemus was a Laodicean, he thought he was rich and increased with goods, but did not know he was miserable and wretched, and poor, blind, and naked. Jesus revealed the plan of salvation to him.

Like many others when cutting truth is brought home to the conscience, he revealed the fact that the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God. There is in him nothing that responds to spiritual things; for spiritual things are spiritually discerned.

But the Saviour did not meet argument with argument. Raising His hand with solemn, quiet dignity, He pressed the truth home with greater assurance, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”

Today, we see the same opposition to the truth, to the true gospel of grace and our continual need of Jesus. The following statement is given to us that we might understand the gospel and our need of Jesus continually to be in a saved condition.

    “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” By nature the heart is evil, and “who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one.” Job 14:4. No human invention can find a remedy for the sinning soul. “The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” “Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.” Romans 8:7; Matthew 15:19. The fountain of the heart must be purified before the streams can become pure. He who is trying to reach heaven by his own works in keeping the law is attempting an impossibility. There is no safety for one who has merely a legal religion, a form of godliness. The Christian’s life is not a modification or improvement of the old, but a transformation of nature. There is a death to self and sin, and a new life altogether. This change can be brought about only by the effectual working of the Holy Spirit.

Many think they have life when their hearts are not pure, but carnal. Some think that the carnal heart is all we shall have until Jesus returns, thus excusing sin. But, Jesus reveals the great deception for what it is, a great lie. We come into this world with a carnal heart, in need of a Savior to cleanse it. We must be born again of the Spirit before the heart can be cleansed from sin. We must become partakers of God's divine nature through the Spirit before we have life.
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Pastor Sean Brizendine on April 18, 2017, 05:15:20 AM
God has not left Himself without witness to the power of grace, and to the supernatural work that He alone can do in the soul that beholds Him and surrenders entirely to Him in order to experience conversion, or regeneration. We are in need of a revival and a reformation in our church as concerns understanding the new birth so that those who have accepted a false gospel that allows for known sin in the life while thinking one has eternal life will be seen for what it is: a fatal deception. May we realize our continual need of Jesus and rejoice that we are counted worthy to not only understand but to live the great truth of the new birth! What a miracle!

There was no excuse for the blindness of Israel in regard to the work of regeneration. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Isaiah had written, “We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” David had prayed, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” And 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.” Isaiah 64:6; Psalm 51:10; Ezekiel 36:26, 27.

God will give us a new heart and mind at conversion--making us partakers of the divine nature--so that the flesh will no longer dominate the higher powers of our being. We shall be enabled to overcome through abiding in Christ, and the witness that this is our experience moment-by-moment is that the Holy Spirit reveals Himself in the life with all of the fruits of His Spirit, without one missing!

Galatians 5
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

And as we have this experience, He guides us also to live in obedience to every known statute, so that we will continue to grow in grace as we abide in Him!

Proverbs 4:18 But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Richard Myers on April 18, 2017, 06:52:39 AM
Amen, Pastor Sean! Such a simple but profound truth! Conversion bring forth a radical transformation of nature! Yes, nature. It is not hard truth to understand. We retain our fallen nature, but when the Spirit takes possession of the heart, we become partakers of God's divine nature. And, then the fallen nature is "kept under". It cannot act out as long as we are fully surrendered to Jesus. The mind under the control of Christ has power over the passions and appetites of the flesh. "I keep under my body, and bring [it] into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway." 1 Cor.  9:27. Paul could only do this when fully surrendered to Jesus and thus filled with the Holy Spirit.
 
Some may wonder, as we read day after day from this beautiful revelation of our Savior, why it is that this one chapter, Nicodemus, is kept at the top of our page. It is because when God called me into ministry He instructed me as to what it was I was to teach. This was very precise. One of the subjects I was to present to the church was this one chapter from The Desire of Ages. It was very clear why I was to do this. Here is the explanation. The church remains in a Laodicean condition. What is that condition. It is just what Nicodemus was when he entered the garden that night to talk with Jesus. It is a lost condition, but not a hopeless one, for Jesus explained to Nicodemus the plan of salvation.

     In the interview with Nicodemus, Jesus unfolded the plan of salvation, and His mission to the world. 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, to the mind that was most receptive, and to 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.

Do you welcome the light? If so, will you spend a thoughtful hour a day contemplating the light of the love of God for a people lost in their understanding of the plan of salvation? Will you be like Nicodemus and not let pride stand in the way of God's pleading for your heart?

If so, learn the lesson as did Nicodemus that night in the garden:

     Not through controversy and discussion is the soul enlightened. We must look and live. Nicodemus received the lesson, and carried it with him. He searched the Scriptures in a new way, not for the discussion of a theory, but in order to receive life for the soul. He began to see the kingdom of heaven as he submitted himself to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

There are thousands today who need to learn the same truth that was taught to Nicodemus by the uplifted serpent. They depend on their obedience to the law of God to commend them to His favor. When they are bidden to look to Jesus, and believe that He saves them solely through His grace, they exclaim, “How can these things be?”

Like Nicodemus, we must be willing to enter into life in the same way as the chief of sinners. Than Christ, “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 upon Christ, and appropriate His merits, the remedy for sin. And 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.

How, then, are we to be saved? “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness,” so the Son of man has been lifted up, and everyone who has been deceived and bitten by the serpent may look and live. “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 the will of 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.
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: JimB on July 14, 2017, 05:19:00 AM
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 was scorned and persecuted by those who had paid him reverence in other days. 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.

This is an encouragement to me. We just don't know when the seeds planted will germinate and make root. Sometimes others plant and we harvest and sometimes we plant and others harvest. But look at Nicodemus now! He is courageous and faithful. At a time when it was dangerous to be a Christian he comes boldly to the front lines of the war. Like the hold hymn says he.. "stood like the brave, with his face to the foe", risking and loosing much but I'm sure he could like apostle Paul declared...

Philippians 3:7-9

7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Richard Myers on July 14, 2017, 06:33:05 AM
Amen, Jim!  This is the result of the grace of God he allowed into His heart. It began that night when Jesus refused to allow him to think he was going to heaven the way he was. Nicodemus wanted to discuss "other things", but Jesus pointedly told him he was a Laodicean, thinking he was "rich and increased with goods," not knowing he was "miserable, wretched, poor, and blind, and naked." Jesus spoke words Nicodemus could not misunderstand. He was in a lost condition. He was humiliated. But, Jesus spoke in such a manner that He got through to Nicodemus. He knew Jesus loved him, and he realized what was being said was true.

As you point out Jim, Jesus knew the heart of Nicodemus. He knew it was not surrendered to God, but He also knew Nicodemus was seeking truth. He knew it was fertile ground. As it was in that day, so it is today. This chapter will benefit all of Christianity, for the great majority are unconverted. Many will be eternally lost, others if they will yield to the Holy Spirit, if they will learn of Jesus, they will be converted.

There is temptation to point out so much truth presented in the chapter, but to not get to the bottom is to not understand the great need of the church today.

Instead of recognizing this salutation, Jesus bent His eyes upon the speaker, as if reading his very soul. In His infinite wisdom He saw before Him a seeker after truth. He knew the object of this visit, and with a desire to deepen the conviction already resting upon His listener’s mind, He came directly to the point, saying solemnly, yet kindly, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3, margin.

Nicodemus had come to the Lord thinking to enter into a discussion with Him, but Jesus laid bare the foundation principles of truth. He said to Nicodemus, It is not theoretical knowledge you need so much as spiritual regeneration. You need not to have your curiosity satisfied, but to have a new heart. You must receive a new life from above before you can appreciate heavenly things. Until this change takes place, making all things new, it will result in no saving good for you to discuss with Me My authority or My mission.

Nicodemus had heard the preaching of John the Baptist concerning repentance and baptism, and pointing the people to One who should baptize with the Holy Spirit. He himself had felt that there was a lack of spirituality among the Jews, that, to a great degree, they were controlled by bigotry and worldly ambition. He had hoped for a better state of things at the Messiah’s coming. Yet the heart-searching message of the Baptist had failed to work in him conviction of sin. He was a strict Pharisee, and prided himself on his good works. He was widely esteemed for his benevolence and his liberality in sustaining the temple service, and he felt secure of the favor of God. He was startled at the thought of a kingdom too pure for him to see in his present state.

The figure of the new birth, which Jesus had used, was not wholly unfamiliar to Nicodemus. Converts from heathenism to the faith of Israel were often compared to children just born. Therefore he must have perceived that the words of Christ were not to be taken in a literal sense. But by virtue of his birth as an Israelite he regarded himself as sure of a place in the kingdom of God. He felt that he needed no change. Hence his surprise at the Saviour’s words. He was irritated by their close application to himself. The pride of the Pharisee was struggling against the honest desire of the seeker after truth. He wondered that Christ should speak to him as He did, not respecting his position as ruler in Israel.

Surprised out of his self-possession, he answered Christ in words full of irony, “How can a man be born when he is old?” Like many others when cutting truth is brought home to the conscience, he revealed the fact that the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God. There is in him nothing that responds to spiritual things; for spiritual things are spiritually discerned.

But the Saviour did not meet argument with argument. Raising His hand with solemn, quiet dignity, He pressed the truth home with greater assurance, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus knew that Christ here referred to water baptism and the renewing of the heart by the Spirit of God. He was convinced that he was in the presence of the One whom John the Baptist had foretold.

Jesus continued: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” By nature the heart is evil, and “who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one.” Job 14:4. No human invention can find a remedy for the sinning soul. “The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” “Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.” Romans 8:7; Matthew 15:19. The fountain of the heart must be purified before the streams can become pure. He who is trying to reach heaven by his own works in keeping the law is attempting an impossibility. There is no safety for one who has merely a legal religion, a form of godliness. The Christian’s life is not a modification or improvement of the old, but a transformation of nature. There is a death to self and sin, and a new life altogether. This change can be brought about only by the effectual working of the Holy Spirit.

Nicodemus was still perplexed, and Jesus used the wind to illustrate His meaning: “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is everyone that is born of the Spirit.”

The wind is heard among the branches of the trees, rustling the leaves and flowers; yet it is invisible, and no man knows whence it comes or whither it goes. So with the work of the Holy Spirit upon the heart. It can no more be explained than can the movements of the wind. A person may not be able to tell the exact time or place, or to trace all the circumstances in the process of conversion; but this does not prove him to be unconverted. By an agency as unseen as the wind, Christ is constantly working upon the heart. Little by little, perhaps unconsciously to the receiver, impressions are made that tend to draw the soul to Christ. These may be received through meditating upon Him, through reading the Scriptures, or through hearing the word from the living preacher. Suddenly, as the Spirit comes with more direct appeal, the soul gladly surrenders itself to Jesus. By many this is called sudden conversion; but it is the result of long wooing by the Spirit of God,—a patient, protracted process.

While the wind is itself invisible, it produces effects that are seen and felt. So the work of the Spirit upon the soul will reveal itself in every act of him who has felt its saving power. When the Spirit of God takes possession of the heart, it transforms the life. Sinful thoughts are put away, evil deeds are renounced; love, humility, and peace take the place of anger, envy, and strife. Joy takes the place of sadness, and the countenance reflects the light of heaven. No one sees the hand that lifts the burden, or beholds the light descend from the courts above. The blessing comes when by faith the soul surrenders itself to God. Then that power which no human eye can see creates a new being in the image of God.

There is no excuse for the church today to not understand we must a new heart cleansed from sin.

There was no excuse for the blindness of Israel in regard to the work of regeneration. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Isaiah had written, “We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” David had prayed, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” And 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.” Isaiah 64:6; Psalm 51:10; Ezekiel 36:26, 27.

Now that Nicodemus understands his lost condition, knowing he needs a "new heart" cleansed from sin, what must he do in order to be converted? It is the great question to be answered today.

How, then, are we to be saved? “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness,” so the Son of man has been lifted up, and everyone who has been deceived and bitten by the serpent may look and live. “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 the will of 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.

Yet, so many refuse to look that they may live.     It is such a simple gospel that we have been given. It would be good if we were to spend a thoughtful hour a day contemplating the life of Christ. Then we would know our Savior and would gladly give Him all that we have and all that we are. Then, would the whole heart be cleansed. This is what happens at conversion. Yes, many have been taught otherwise, and this is why so many remain in a Laodicean condition believing they are saved.
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Pastor Sean Brizendine on July 14, 2017, 08:38:28 AM
Amen, Richard! Our reading today gets to the bottom of the truth of the everlasting, unchanging gospel. We are evil by nature, we need a Savior, and we can only receive Him into the heart by beholding Him and making an entire surrender of the heart and mind--being willing to look and live so the Holy Spirit can create in us a new heart filled with ALL of the fruits of the Spirit. Such a wonderful, simple, and needed truth.

While the wind is itself invisible, it produces effects that are seen and felt. So the work of the Spirit upon the soul will reveal itself in every act of him who has felt its saving power. When the Spirit of God takes possession of the heart, it transforms the life. Sinful thoughts are put away, evil deeds are renounced; love, humility, and peace take the place of anger, envy, and strife. Joy takes the place of sadness, and the countenance reflects the light of heaven. No one sees the hand that lifts the burden, or beholds the light descend from the courts above. The blessing comes when by faith the soul surrenders itself to God. Then that power which no human eye can see creates a new being in the image of God.

Being transformed means ENTIRE transformation! Our countenances will reflect the light of heaven, we will no longer live by the works of the flesh (unless we default back to the fleshly experience of unbelief and sin against God), and will realize our continual need of Jesus to do the will of God!
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Dorine on July 15, 2017, 07:44:45 AM
Amen to each comment already mentioned. Such a wealth of gems are found in this chapter. The most profound insight for me was the seriousness of pride, self righteousness and a judgmental attitude. As a member of the remnant family I am in such danger of being in that condition. When this chapter is read with a humble, learning attitude the Holy Spirit strips you of all symptoms of self importance and reveals the true condition of our hearts. Once again I am brought to the foot of the cross to answer the invitation to "look and live". My heart is filled with sorrow knowing I killed my Saviour and gratitude for the love that is poured out on that cross for me a great sinner. The story of Nicodemus searches and convicts hearts if we are open to knowing who we really are.
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: JimB on July 15, 2017, 05:27:23 PM
The story of Nicodemus searches and convicts hearts if we are open to knowing who we really are.

Who we really are...hmmm.. a lot of people spend a lot of time and resources to avoid thinking about that topic. However, the true seeker who wishes to be right with God must come to a point where he or she is willing to recognize they need help and make a full surrender. How hard the natural inclinations fight against this. True freedom is the freedom to obey and to overcome.
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Pastor Sean Brizendine on October 09, 2017, 08:05:47 AM
I am so thankful that Jesus invites us to make a full-heart surrender and to be completely transformed. As we surrender to Him because we are attracted to Him by the loveliness of His character, we also, like Nicodemus, may come to read the Bible not to prove a point, but to have spiritual regeneration, that our souls may continually feed upon Jesus and have the experience of the "divine nature" (2 Peter 1:4) that keeps the flesh under (crucified with Christ) so His character is wrought out through us. The evidence of Christ's character being wrought out through us is that all of the fruits of the Spirit are seen in our lives--not one is missing! I need Jesus every moment to do any good thing! We have no power apart from Him, and let us cling to Jesus so the Holy Spirit can fill us!

"Not through controversy and discussion is the soul enlightened. We must look and live. Nicodemus received the lesson, and carried it with him. He searched the Scriptures in a new way, not for the discussion of a theory, but in order to receive life for the soul. He began to see the kingdom of heaven as he submitted himself to the leading of the Holy Spirit." {The Desire of Ages, page 175, paragraph 2}
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Richard Myers on October 09, 2017, 08:16:25 AM
Amen, Pastor Sean. Why we study the Bible has everything to do with what we learn.  Nicodemus did not appreciate heavenly things until he was converted. So it is with us today. We must be converted in order to have Spiritual discernment.

     Nicodemus had come to the Lord thinking to enter into a discussion with Him, but Jesus laid bare the foundation principles of truth. He said to Nicodemus, It is not theoretical knowledge you need so much as spiritual regeneration. You need not to have your curiosity satisfied, but to have a new heart. You must receive a new life from above before you can appreciate heavenly things. Until this change takes place, making all things new, it will result in no saving good for you to discuss with Me My authority or My mission.

Imagine how shocked was this Pharisee. But, there was another part of Nicodemus that was searching for truth, even as was in a selfish condition. One does not have to be converted to understand that is a benefit to understanding truth.
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Dorine on January 04, 2018, 07:03:35 AM
"Since hearing Jesus, Nicodemus had anxiously studied the prophecies relating to the Messiah; and the more he searched, the stronger was his conviction that this was the One who was to come. With many others in Israel he had been greatly distressed by the profanation of the temple He was a witness of the scene when Jesus drove out the buyers and the sellers; he beheld the wonderful manifestation of divine power; he saw the Saviour receiving the poor and healing the sick; he saw their looks of joy, and heard their words of praise; and he could not doubt that Jesus of Nazareth was the Sent of God."......But he struggled because....."He felt that he needed no change. Hence his surprise at the Saviour's words. He was irritated by their close application to himself. The pride of the Pharisee was struggling against the honest desire of the seeker after truth. He wondered that Christ should speak to him as He did, not respecting his position as ruler in Israel."



When our hearts are open to knowledge and truth the Holy Spirit convicts us and we are forced to make a decision for God, or for self and pride. Nicodemus because of what he studied and witnessed chose to accept Jesus knowing full well what that would mean to his position among the priests and rulers.

His story and experience gives me courage and commitment to stand for Jesus even if it goes against what others think and expect of me. By beholding we become changed just like Nicodemus.
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Richard Myers on January 04, 2018, 08:23:11 AM
Amen, Sister Dorine. It is a blessing to have you back with us!!

What wonderful truths for a church that Jesus has called Laodicean. Nicodemus was a Laodicean. He was  not hot nor cold. So....Jesus would not enter into conversation with him. He began with a pointed rebuke, in love. Can you imagine telling a general conference president he needed to born again? This is what Jesus did with Nicodemus.

It would not be right to tell him he did not have life, that he ought to know the truth because of his position in the nation, and not tell him how to be converted. This chapter is "present truth." It would be good for all to prayerfully study the chapter. If the church were to do this, there would be a revival that would hasten the soon coming of Jesus.

God help us to not reject truth when it comes, no matter what the loss is for us personally. Nicodemus was irritated when Jesus spoke to him in such a pointed manner. But, the Holy Spirit was able to use the truth that he saw in Jesus to soften his heart. Jesus spoke with love and Nicodemus was convinced he was in the presence of the One John the Baptist had foretold.

We are told clearly that our nature is evil. The carnal mind is enmity against God. That is our condition when we come into the world. The fountain of the heart must be and can be purified. This change is brought about by the working of the Holy Spirit. What important truth is presented to Nicodemus that we must know to answer that all important question, what must I do, to be saved?
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Pastor Sean Brizendine on January 04, 2018, 08:42:22 AM
May we come to Christ just as we are, so we may be truly converted by beholding Christ in His infinite loveliness!

Like Nicodemus, we must be willing to enter into life in the same way as the chief of sinners. Than Christ, “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 upon Christ, and appropriate His merits, the remedy for sin. And 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. {The Desire of Ages, page 175, paragraph 4}

How, then, are we to be saved? “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness,” so the Son of man has been lifted up, and everyone who has been deceived and bitten by the serpent may look and live. “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 the will of 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. {The Desire of Ages, page 175, paragraph 5}

When Christ changes our hearts, we are made partakers of the divine nature, and all of the fruits of the Spirit will Be Seen in our lives without one missing! Praise God for the miraculous converting power of grace appropriated by faith!!
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Richard Myers on January 04, 2018, 01:35:00 PM
Thank you, Pastor Sean. The most important question we can ask is answered so very simply in this chapter. It is a well kept secret that the mind gradually adapts itself to what it beholds. It is both an intellectual and a spiritual truth. We find it revealed in 2 Cor. 3:18. "But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, [even] as by the Spirit of the Lord."

Why is it still so much of a secret in the church? Why do we have so many false gospels being taught in the church? Also, notice that in this chapter we are told by Jesus that we are evil by nature when we come into the world. We come in need of a transformation of nature and character. In order to accomplish this, we each have been given a time of probation to learn of God's love for us. It would be well to spend a thoughtful hour a day contemplating this love, for beholding it we shall become transformed. What a wonderful God we serve, and what power He has to help us overcome our evil flesh!
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Richard Myers on April 01, 2018, 05:43:03 AM
No doubt some may wonder why this chapter remains always stickied. It is because the most important question that we can ask and answer is "what must I do to be saved?" In this chapter there is no need to add commentary. If one is seeking truth, and has asked for the Holy Spirit, it is impossible to read this chapter and not find the answer. It is repeated in simple terms over and over.

Nicodemus was being drawn to Christ. As the Saviour explained to him concerning the new birth, he longed to have this change wrought in himself. By what means 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.”

When called into the ministry, there were a number of things I was instructed to teach. One of them was to point our people to this chapter and John chapter three. Nicodemus, a ruler in Israel entered the garden a lost man, a Laodicean who thought himself rich and increased with goods. He left the garden no longer a Laodicean. He understood his humiliating condition and what he must do in order to be converted.

This is why we spend a thoughtful hour a day contemplating the life of Jesus. We love Him and want to maintain that experience which will bring honor and glory to the One who gave all that we might live. Each day finds us looking upon Jesus that we might be reminded of how much it cost for our salvation. We know that one day this forum will be the most popular of all we present here at the Remnant Online. We rejoice every time another Seventh-day Adventist joins with us in sharing what Jesus is revealing as they read along with us. This truly is the most exciting place to be.
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Dorine on April 01, 2018, 07:04:36 AM
"Not through controversy and discussion is the soul enlightened. We must look and live. Nicodemus received the lesson, and carried it with him. He searched the Scriptures in a new way, not for the discussion of a theory, but in order to receive life for the soul. He began to see the kingdom of heaven as he submitted himself to the leading of the Holy Spirit."

We learned in this chapter that it is not enough to have a desire to know truth. We must act upon that desire as Nicodemus finally did in searching the scriptures to know Jesus and come to the point of submission to the Holy Spirit. Something we are to do each day if we want to have that abiding connection with Jesus.
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Pastor Sean Brizendine on April 01, 2018, 08:02:31 AM
Amen, Richard, and Amen, Sister Dorine!

The important truth for this time is how to be converted. From that experience flows a receptivity to the distinctive present truth, but unless converted, any further light cannot be rightly appropriated. There are so many false ideas about what that means affecting so many. I was a victim of false gospels, having been influenced at one point in ways that made it very difficult to understand some of the plainest Scriptures (I grew up nondenominational, and I know that a "once-saved, always saved" theology makes it hard to realize that it is possible to lapse out of conversion, and there is need to know how to have a sustained conversion, which is abiding in Christ). I praise God that He sent His Son to speak the truth to us!

Jesus loves us too much to be silent. This chapter in The Desire of Ages (Chapter 17, "Nicodemus") is so clear that anyone who truly desires to be saved in God's appointed way can be enabled to see their incredible need coupled with the incredible grace of Jesus! What matchless loveliness of character we see in Jesus!!!

"The wind is heard among the branches of the trees, rustling the leaves and flowers; yet it is invisible, and no man knows whence it comes or whither it goes. So with the work of the Holy Spirit upon the heart. It can no more be explained than can the movements of the wind. A person may not be able to tell the exact time or place, or to trace all the circumstances in the process of conversion; but this does not prove him to be unconverted. By an agency as unseen as the wind, Christ is constantly working upon the heart. Little by little, perhaps unconsciously to the receiver, impressions are made that tend to draw the soul to Christ. These may be received through meditating upon Him, through reading the Scriptures, or through hearing the word from the living preacher. Suddenly, as the Spirit comes with more direct appeal, the soul gladly surrenders itself to Jesus. By many this is called sudden conversion; but it is the result of long wooing by the Spirit of God,—a patient, protracted process." {The Desire of Ages, page 172, paragraph 3}

It was a phenomenal blessing to be able to have my devotions this morning with others at the Philadelphia Central Seventh-day Adventist Church in Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania. As we read this chapter, this paragraph was dwelt upon with clarity and power. Souls were becoming aware of how they could be saved, and by spending this "thoughtful hour" with Christ, were being drawn to see their continual need of Jesus and of what it truly means to be converted--fully surrendered gladly because we behold Jesus' loveliness and see our need. God is faithful!
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: JimB on April 01, 2018, 08:06:10 AM
We must act upon that desire as Nicodetmus finally did in searching the scriptures to know Jesus and come to the point of submission to the Holy Spirit. Something we are to do each day if we want to have that abiding connection with Jesus.

Interesting thought Dorine, we are told that thousands will die outside of Christ while desiring to be a Christian. Why? Because they do not act and decide today that today is the day of salvation wholly submit to Christ.

But the Saviour did not meet argument with argument. Raising His hand with solemn, quiet dignity, He pressed the truth home with greater assurance, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus knew that Christ here referred to water baptism and the renewing of the heart by the Spirit of God. He was convinced that he was in the presence of the One whom John the Baptist had foretold.
While having conversations with those who disagree with the truth, this is a reminder to me that we need not answer every objection that they put forward. Just keep presenting the truth.
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: JimB on June 27, 2018, 05:21:12 AM
Since hearing Jesus, Nicodemus had anxiously studied the prophecies relating to the Messiah; and the more he searched, the stronger was his conviction that this was the One who was to come. With many others in Israel he had been greatly distressed by the profanation of the temple. He was a witness of the scene when Jesus drove out the buyers and the sellers; he beheld the wonderful manifestation of divine power; he saw the Saviour receiving the poor and healing the sick; he saw their looks of joy, and heard their words of praise; and he could not doubt that Jesus of Nazareth was the Sent of God.

Our Savior draws people to Himself through the revelation of His character. Although He was not rich nor came from nobility and apparently according to scripture there wasn't anything physically that would draw your attention and yet people flocked to Christ why? Here is what she said about Nicodemus two paragraphs earlier.

Though rich, learned, and honored, he had been strangely attracted by the humble Nazarene. The lessons that had fallen from the Saviour’s lips had greatly impressed him, and he desired to learn more of these wonderful truths.

Nicodemus recognized there was something different about this Christ and desired to know more. He was "strangely" attracted to Jesus. Yet even today it is still the same Jesus told us that if we lift Him up like the serpent was in the wilderness people of every kindred, nation, and tribe will be drawn to Him. Paul said to the Corinthians that he was determined to preach only Christ and Him crucified. Why because it will draw and convert those who are longing for a better way and desire something different.
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Pastor Sean Brizendine on June 27, 2018, 05:41:05 AM
Amen, Jim! I love how God clearly reveals to us how we are to be saved, and what steps are to be taken in order for us to be converted. John 3:1-17, in which Nicodemus is clearly brought to see His need of being born again, reveals to us that through beholding Christ uplifted on the cross, beholding His matchless loveliness of character, we are drawn to Him. As we respond to the drawing of the Holy Spirit and surrender the whole heart to Him, the Holy Spirit creates a new being in the image of God--filled with all of the fruits of the Spirit so that not one is missing. Before conversion we live in the fallen nature and are controlled by selfishness; after conversion we are adopted into the heavenly family, made partakers of the divine nature, and can, by continual union and communion with Christ, resist the clamors of the fallen nature by constantly looking unto Jesus!

"How, then, are we to be saved? 'As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness,' so the Son of man has been lifted up, and everyone who has been deceived and bitten by the serpent may look and live. '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 the will of 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." {The Desire of Ages, page 175, paragraph 5}

I love how the paragraph above from The Desire of Ages beautifully connects with a paragraph from another beautiful book on how to be saved--Steps to Christ. Notice this from page 27, paragraph 2 of that book:

"The sinner may resist this love, may refuse to be drawn to Christ; but if he does not resist he will be drawn to Jesus; a knowledge of the plan of salvation will lead him to the foot of the cross in repentance for his sins, which have caused the sufferings of God's dear Son."

I choose to look and live, to respond and not resist the Holy Spirit's gracious drawing and leading! Let us go forth to bring, with utmost grace and tenderness, one more soul to the foot of the cross, that they too may have their hearts renewed by grace, so one more be adopted into the heavenly family! Let us like Jesus be sensitive, through the Holy Spirit's leading, to notice those souls who are seekers for truth, so that we may cooperate with God in helping them understand what it means to be saved (converted, fully surrendered). This is why we are still here on earth after conversion--to glorify God and save souls through copartnership with Christ!
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Richard Myers on June 27, 2018, 09:27:48 PM
Amen and amen! It is impossible to not understand the power of grace when we prayerfully read this wonderful chapter.

 When the Spirit of God takes possession of the heart, it transforms the life. Sinful thoughts are put away, evil deeds are renounced; love, humility, and peace take the place of anger, envy, and strife. Joy takes the place of sadness, and the countenance reflects the light of heaven. No one sees the hand that lifts the burden, or beholds the light descend from the courts above. The blessing comes when by faith the soul surrenders itself to God. Then that power which no human eye can see creates a new being in the image of God.

It is impossible for finite minds to comprehend the work of redemption. Its mystery exceeds human knowledge; yet he who passes from death to life realizes that it is a divine reality. The beginning of redemption we may know here through a personal experience. Its results reach through the eternal ages.
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Pastor Sean Brizendine on September 22, 2018, 02:26:28 AM
If I was to ask you "How are you saved?" What would you answer? And more pressing, "Are you experiencing salvation even now?" We need to know where our souls are with God. We are living in the most solemn time in earth's history. Christ is completing His final work of judgment in behalf of those who have professed His name, and He is about to come as King in glory with all His holy angels. But He tarries. Jesus sees how many have been left to wander at random as multiple gospels and different opinions cause confusion. He waits for you and me to clearly understand and reveal the gospel of His grace in our lives. Our great need of understanding the gospel is seen in how clearly Christ presented it to Nicodemus.

"How, then, are we to be saved? 'As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness,' so the Son of man has been lifted up, and everyone who has been deceived and bitten by the serpent may look and live. '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 the will of 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." {The Desire of Ages, page 175, paragraph 5}

Amen! This is present truth for this time! We need a conversion every day, and the evidence of this conversion is that we gladly follow the law written in mind and heart as all of the fruits of the Spirit are seen in our lives without one missing! May you not only understand the gospel as a theory, but live it through a beautiful experience of beholding the loveliness of Jesus morning by morning by spending a thoughtful hour contemplating the life of Christ, especially the closing scenes! This is our great need, and from it flows every other capacity for doing good, for by beholding Jesus we are changed and the Holy Spirit comes to live in us by the miracle of conversion, which is the fruit of understanding the gospel!


Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Richard Myers on September 22, 2018, 05:36:31 AM
Amen, Pastor Sean!  The most important question that must be answered by all who profess to love God is "what must I do to be saved?" Here we see the question and the answer. This is why this chapter is always "stickied" and kept at the top of this forum. When I was called into the ministry it was made plain that this question and answer and this chapter was the burden God put on my heart to share with the church and the world.

But this morning God impressed me to point out that there is a natural bent to reject this message of love. We come into this world in fallen flesh. Jesus points this out in his opening remarks to Nicodemus. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit. We must be born again of the Spirit in order to be fit for heaven. Yet, we hear it being taught by conservatives in the church that this is not true. That when we come into the world we are in a neutral position. Don't believe it. Believe Christ. We must be born again. In our fallen nature we are evil and need to be reconciled with God in order to do any good thing for the right reason. Our hearts must be cleansed from sin before we can love with all the heart.

This sets the stage to answer why it is that this message of love from God can  be rejected. Not only rejected, but with hatred toward those who present it. The chapter opens with a revelation of this animus towards Christ.

Christ’s exercise of authority in the cleansing of the temple had roused the determined hatred of the priests and rulers. They feared the power of this stranger. Such boldness on the part of an obscure Galilean was not to be tolerated. They were bent on putting an end to His work.

When the truth was revealed by Jesus, it came from one who was not part of the power structure that controlled the religion of that day. Thus, the leaders feared the power that Christ revealed when he presented the truth that had been perverted by the leadership. In other words, they were losing their power because they were presenting not the truth, but lies.

How do we feel when we are shown to be wrong? If we don't want to know we are wrong, then what does that say about our love of the truth and our love for God? What Jesus stirred up was not something new in Israel. It was a perverse nation thathad  been rejecting light for many years. And, when God sent prophets to correct the situation, it often led to violence towards those presenting the truth.

    They remembered how prophets had been slain for rebuking the sins of the leaders in Israel.

Has human nature changed? Has fallen flesh become gentle and kind? No, it is only the laws of the land that help to keep the violence down. But, we know from Bible prophecy that the "beast" is about to speak as a dragon and those who love God supremely will be hurt and killed. And when the number of dead is reached, then probation will close and those living saints will go through a time of trouble such as never was. It will be the "religious" ones that persecute God's children.

But, with Israel it was God's chosen nation that was persecuting those who God had sent with a message to correct the error (lies) that had been coming out of the mouths of the leaders in the nation. The gospel message of salvation by grace had been perverted. Why did Nicodemus come to Jesus under cover of darkness? Because he feared the leadership of the church if they discovered his visit with Jesus.

    And should his visit come to the knowledge of the Sanhedrin, it would draw upon him their scorn and denunciation.

We see clearly the risk that is present when God sends messengers to correct false doctrine in His church or even in other churches. But, is there a risk when the false doctrine takes hold in the organization? Did Israel suffer on account of having perverted God's truth? Yes, they did very much so.

     They knew that the bondage of the Jews to a heathen nation was the result of their stubbornness in rejecting reproofs from God. They feared that in plotting against Jesus the priests and rulers were following in the steps of their fathers, and would bring fresh calamities upon the nation.

Has God changed? Does His church today suffer from rejecting reproofs? Yes, it does. There have been great calamities within our church because reproof was rejected. We remember the loss of the Review and Herald when they rejected reproof. We recall the loss of the Battle Creek Sanitarium when Kellogg and other leaders rejected reproof from God's prophet. The greatest loss suffered by God's church today happened when the message sent in 1888 was rejected by the leadership of God's church. Jesus was ready to come and the latter rain had begun to fall. The rejection of the latter rain led to modern day "Israel" wandering in the desert for 130 years. And, the continued rejection of truth has created the greatest crisis in the church's history. Three divisions within the church are in rebellion against, God, His Word, and His church.

The Spirit of God had sent light through Waggoner and Jones in 1888, what happened to them? How were they treated by church leadership? Their message was rejected, but that was not good enough. Their characters were attacked. They were turned away from God and lost their salvation. Church leadership played a part in the destruction of these two men.

The Lord has raised up Brother Jones and Brother Waggoner to proclaim a message to the world to prepare a people to stand in the day of God. The world is suffering the need of additional light to come to them upon the Scriptures,—additional proclamation of the principles of purity, lowliness, faith, and the righteousness of Christ. This is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth. Many will be moved and humbled. After a time they will drink of the waters of life. Jesus proclaimed Himself the bread of life: “I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” John 6:51.

Jesus knew every soul that believed not, for Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who believed not and who would betray him. Many of the disciples walked away from Christ and no more believed on Him. We need not be surprised if the same experience should be realized in our day. If they went away from Christ at His words spoken to them, there will be those who claim to believe the third angel’s message—even men who have been long in the faith—who will be offended at His words that shall come through His delegated human agents.

If the light had been plainly, decidedly acted upon, those men who have followed their own finite wisdom would have decided to come over on the Lord’s side or have been separated from the cause of work of God. Oh, what shall I say? What can I say? Such men are bringing in false theories and principles and converting Elder Olsen to voice their unjust plans and methods, which are bringing the curse of God upon our institutions.  1888 1815.

And so it is today. The curse of God is upon many of our institutions, for they are not walking in the light God has so graciously sent. And how shall the messengers of God be treated today? And how shall they respond? Not as Job did to those who persecuted him. Not as did Waggoner and Jones, but, as did John the Baptist, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Abel, Ellen White, and our best example our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. In all ages Satan has persecuted the people of God. He has tortured them and put them to death, but in dying they became conquerors. They bore witness to the power of One mightier than Satan. Wicked men may torture and kill the body, but they cannot touch the life that is hid with Christ in God. They can incarcerate men and women in prison walls, but they cannot bind the spirit. Through trial and persecution the glory—the character—of God is revealed in His chosen ones. The believers in Christ, hated and persecuted by the world, are educated and disciplined in the school of Christ. On earth they walk in narrow paths; they are purified in the furnace of affliction.

They follow Christ through sore conflicts; they endure self-denial and experience bitter disappointments; but thus they learn the guilt and woe of sin, and they look upon it with abhorrence. Being partakers of Christ’s sufferings, they can look beyond the gloom to the glory, saying, “I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18.



Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Dorine on December 18, 2018, 06:10:32 AM
Amen Pastor Sean and Richard. You have spoken all that my heart embraces this morning. What could I add? It's a great blessing to read these chapters each day. Nothing has been withheld from us that is vital to our salvation. BUT......

"Like Nicodemus, we must be willing to enter into life in the same way as the chief of sinners. Than Christ, "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 upon Christ, and appropriate His merits, the remedy for sin. And 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.
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Beacon on March 14, 2019, 10:01:35 PM
"Like Nicodemus, we must be willing to enter into life in the same way as the chief of sinners. Than Christ, “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 upon Christ, and appropriate His merits, the remedy for sin. And 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."

How amazing and precious is this account of Nicodemus as he encounters Jesus. With great wisdom that comes only from a living connection with His heavenly Father Jesus drew him closer and closer until by the power of the Holy Spirit Nicodemus sees his true spiritual state.

"How, then, are we to be saved? “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness,” so the Son of man has been lifted up, and everyone who has been deceived and bitten by the serpent may look and live. “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 the will of 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. "[/b]
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Pastor Sean Brizendine on March 15, 2019, 06:12:49 AM
Amen, Brother Beacon!

Afresh this morning my heart has been moved and blessed by Jesus' divine grace that changes me! Grace is God's unmerited favor to change sinners into saints, to recreate us into His image! And to contemplate the reality that it is by looking to Jesus constantly with the eye of faith, I desire to ever abide in Him so He will produce all of the fruits of the Spirit without one missing in my life and the lives of all who are converted and abiding in Him by grace through faith!

"There are thousands today who need to learn the same truth that was taught to Nicodemus by the uplifted serpent. They depend on their obedience to the law of God to commend them to His favor. When they are bidden to look to Jesus, and believe that He saves them solely through His grace, they exclaim, 'How can these things be?'" {The Desire of Ages, page 175, paragraph 3}

While the question may be asked "How?" the answer is always the same--we need Jesus continually! Apart from Him I perish and wither, but abiding in Him I enjoy love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance that become even more abundant each step of the way heavenward! What incredible love we find in Jesus! Let us praise Him continually!


Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Dorine on March 15, 2019, 09:20:00 AM
"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 was scorned and persecuted by those who had paid him reverence in other days. 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."


Having the knowledge of truth does not bring about the dramatic change that we see in Nicodemus. If we do not come to an understanding and acceptance of how we are saved we will never find rest and peace and most sadly a home in heaven. We may think we are serving the Lord when in reality we are self deceived. I love how Jesus interacts with Nicodemus. So patient, gentle and loving. So many lessons for us to learn from.
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Beacon on June 09, 2019, 05:23:14 PM
While the wind is itself invisible, it produces effects that are seen and felt. So the work of the Spirit upon the soul will reveal itself in every act of him who has felt its saving power. When the Spirit of God takes possession of the heart, it transforms the life. Sinful thoughts are put away, evil deeds are renounced; love, humility, and peace take the place of anger, envy, and strife. Joy takes the place of sadness, and the countenance reflects the light of heaven. No one sees the hand that lifts the burden, or beholds the light descend from the courts above. The blessing comes when by faith the soul surrenders itself to God. Then that power which no human eye can see creates a new being in the image of God.

As we look at the condition of the Laodicean church, the church of our generation, as describe in the book of Revelation chapter 3: 14-22 we can readily see how we also must have a " Total Transformation" of the same character as did Nicodemus , Then we will be able to hear the wonderful words of Jesus...." Well Done" thou good and faithful servant".

The most important question is....Are You - Am I---WILLING TO SURRENDER ALL TO JESUS AND PLEAD FOR THE TRANSFORMATIONAL POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. Jesus does not force anyone!! He stands and knocks at the door of our heart, there is no door handle on the outside of that door. WE MUST OPEN THE DOOR---ONLY THEN CAN HE COME IN AND TRANSFORM US INTO HIS IMAGE.  If you have not invited Him to come into your life and take total charge I plead with you today not to delay!
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Pastor Sean Brizendine on June 10, 2019, 04:51:53 AM
Amen, Brother Beacon!

We need the greatest miracle God longs to perform to be wrought in us each day--true conversion, when the heart and mind are renewed by divine grace to reveal all of the fruits of the Spirit without one missing and we gladly obey the law of God with an affectionate obedience, even as the fallen nature is kept continually dead by the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit. We need this experience continually by Jesus abiding in us always!

"Jesus continued: 'That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.' By nature the heart is evil, and 'who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one.' Job 14:4. No human invention can find a remedy for the sinning soul. 'The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.' 'Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.' Romans 8:7; Matthew 15:19. The fountain of the heart must be purified before the streams can become pure. He who is trying to reach heaven by his own works in keeping the law is attempting an impossibility. There is no safety for one who has merely a legal religion, a form of godliness. The Christian’s life is not a modification or improvement of the old, but a transformation of nature. There is a death to self and sin, and a new life altogether. This change can be brought about only by the effectual working of the Holy Spirit." {The Desire of Ages, page 172, paragraph 1}

Let us yield to the miracle of God's transforming grace by beholding the Lamb of God by a living faith surrender!!
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Richard Myers on June 10, 2019, 09:44:37 AM
Amen! And it is the Holy Spirit that convicts of sin. It is interesting to note that Nicodemus did not hear the Holy Spirit speaking to Him in regards to his sin? He had heard John preacning repentance, but he did not think he needed anything. He was indeed rich and increased with goods. He was in a Laodicean condition. He did not know he was wretched and miserable, and poor, blind, and naked. Amazing that so many in the church today do not understand what Jesus is saying to the church in the third chapter of Revelation to the Laodicean Church. We have been deceived about what it means to be in a Laodicean condition. Did Nicodemus have eternal life when he went to see Jesus? Of course not. Then neither do we when we are not fully surrendered to Christ and filled witrh the Holy Spirit.

Nicodemus had heard the preaching of John the Baptist concerning repentance and baptism, and pointing the people to One who should baptize with the Holy Spirit. He himself had felt that there was a lack of spirituality among the Jews, that, to a great degree, they were controlled by bigotry and worldly ambition. He had hoped for a better state of things at the Messiah’s coming. Yet the heart-searching message of the Baptist had failed to work in him conviction of sin. He was a strict Pharisee, and prided himself on his good works. He was widely esteemed for his benevolence and his liberality in sustaining the temple service, and he felt secure of the favor of God. He was startled at the thought of a kingdom too pure for him to see in his present state.
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Richard Myers on September 02, 2019, 08:10:52 AM
Amen, why did he not understand?

The figure of the new birth, which Jesus had used, was not wholly unfamiliar to Nicodemus. Converts from heathenism to the faith of Israel were often compared to children just born. Therefore he must have perceived that the words of Christ were not to be taken in a literal sense. But by virtue of his birth as an Israelite he regarded himself as sure of a place in the kingdom of God. He felt that he needed no change. Hence his surprise at the Saviour’s words. He was irritated by their close application to himself. The pride of the Pharisee was struggling against the honest desire of the seeker after truth. He wondered that Christ should speak to him as He did, not respecting his position as ruler in Israel.

Surprised out of his self-possession, he answered Christ in words full of irony, “How can a man be born when he is old?” Like many others when cutting truth is brought home to the conscience, he revealed the fact that the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God. There is in him nothing that responds to spiritual things; for spiritual things are spiritually discerned.

He was irritated by the Words of Jesus. Spiritual things are spiritually discerned.

But, all was not hopeless. The Holy Spirit continues to open the mind to truth to those who are seeking truth. Nicodemus was seeking truth. Jesus did not give up, nor does He give up on us. He pressed the truth even further. He did so in love even though He knew Nicodemus was not happy and was rejecting what He had said. This chapter needs no commentary. It is simple and easy to understand, unless one is still fighting against Jesus and His truth. Many in the church are like Nicodemus. As Jesus continued, we find that the attitude of Nicodemus changes, and he even comes to understand the mission of Jesus. There is much to learn in this simple and important chapter.

Sorry to get ahead, but I have been reading two chapters a day and I could not help but post my thoughts our of order. I am running late and cannot post on today's chapter, but will try to do so tonight.   :)   Brother Beacon, did not have time to reply to your PM, but I did make the change you requested. God bless your day!
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Beacon on September 02, 2019, 06:09:45 PM
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I borrowed this quote from Pastor Sean which he posted several years ago because I share the same thoughts.

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"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 the will of 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.

What a miracle! This is the greatest miracle God can perform, and He is willing to do it today in you and me anew! We need this experience continually! It is not just at the beginning of the Christian journey, but every step heavenward that we must have a heart renewed by divine grace, for apart from Christ we can do no good thing!
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Dorine on September 03, 2019, 05:48:14 AM
While the wind is itself invisible, it produces effects that are seen and felt. So the work of the Spirit upon the soul will reveal itself in every act of him who has felt its saving power. When the Spirit of God takes possession of the heart, it transforms the life. Sinful thoughts are put away, evil deeds are renounced; love, humility, and peace take the place of anger, envy, and strife. Joy takes the place of sadness, and the countenance reflects the light of heaven. No one sees the hand that lifts the burden, or beholds the light descend from the courts above. The blessing comes when by faith the soul surrenders itself to God. Then that power which no human eye can see creates a new being in the image of God.

This chapter has touched my heart deeply this morning. I just want to linger in His presence and not be distracted by the things this day demands of me. It's wonderful to know that we do not leave the knowledge and experience behind but carry it with us through out the day. If we only had this chapter to read we would know the way of salvation. I love how the Holy Spirit reveals new depths of truths each time we go over the same material. Just like children repetition plants truth deep within our hearts. What is most important is what we do with that truth.
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Pastor Sean Brizendine on September 03, 2019, 09:07:58 AM
Amen, Brother Richard, Brother Beacon, and Sister Dorine!

As much as Jesus longs to have us experience conversion, He is doing all He can to bring us to where that also is OUR DESIRE as we behold the loveliness of His character. Christ's manner of interaction with Nicodemus in the night interview was such that the heart of this high-standing Jew was being drawn. May we remember that how we reflect Christ will either draw or repel souls from Christ. May we pray that we not only have the power of grace changing us, but be in such union and communion with Christ that He may speak through us to invite others to have the power of grace work the great miracle in them. And what is that miracle of conversion? A sinful soul goes from living in bondage to the works of the flesh by full surrender to Christ to receive a new heart and mind wherein the law of God is affectionately obeyed as all of the fruits of the Spirit are manifest in the life without one missing! Grace is so powerful to transform sinners into saints! This can only be brought about by the Holy Spirit, and hence we have a continual need to abide in Him to do any good thing!

"Nicodemus was being drawn to Christ. As the Saviour explained to him concerning the new birth, he longed to have this change wrought in himself. By what means 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.'" {The Desire of Ages, page 174, paragraph 3}

Looking upon Jesus we see two marvelous mysteries: God's infinite love for us, and the incredible hideousness of sin, that it would cause the death of Jesus. May we look upon sin with abhorrence and turn from it for its inherent baseness and we choose to yield unreservedly to Christ today!! What a joy it is that we have a Savior in Jesus!!!
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Beacon on November 27, 2019, 04:57:44 PM
"When the Spirit of God takes possession of the heart, it transforms the life. Sinful thoughts are put away, evil deeds are renounced; love, humility, and peace take the place of anger, envy, and strife. Joy takes the place of sadness, and the countenance reflects the light of heaven."

"No one sees the hand that lifts the burden, or beholds the light descend from the courts above. The blessing comes when by faith the soul surrenders itself to God. Then that power which no human eye can see creates a new being in the image of God."


Harry Anderson in his painting of Jesus knocking on the door of our hearts, painted it with such beauty and accuracy when he showed Jesus knocking on the door of our hearts and minds. That Door showed No Handle on the Outside!! Jesus never forces anyone!! ( and neither should we try compel anyone ) Only by Love does He stand at the door of our heart and knocks,  pleading with us to respond to His Great Offer of Salvation, paid in full by Him for each one of us, at such GREAT PRICE On The Cross of Calvary.
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Pastor Sean Brizendine on November 28, 2019, 07:19:16 AM
Amen, Brother Beacon! Jesus patiently draws us to Himself and it is when we finally surrender fully to all the wooing of His Spirit that our souls are truly converted, and all of the fruits of the Spirit without one missing are manifest in our lives because Christ is a continual abiding guest in the soul!

"The wind is heard among the branches of the trees, rustling the leaves and flowers; yet it is invisible, and no man knows whence it comes or whither it goes. So with the work of the Holy Spirit upon the heart. It can no more be explained than can the movements of the wind. A person may not be able to tell the exact time or place, or to trace all the circumstances in the process of conversion; but this does not prove him to be unconverted. By an agency as unseen as the wind, Christ is constantly working upon the heart. Little by little, perhaps unconsciously to the receiver, impressions are made that tend to draw the soul to Christ. These may be received through meditating upon Him, through reading the Scriptures, or through hearing the word from the living preacher. Suddenly, as the Spirit comes with more direct appeal, the soul gladly surrenders itself to Jesus. By many this is called sudden conversion; but it is the result of long wooing by the Spirit of God,—a patient, protracted process." {The Desire of Ages, page 172, paragraph 3}

Let us yield continually to Christ, and not resist His drawing us into an ever-deeper intimacy with Himself!
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Richard Myers on November 28, 2019, 01:06:14 PM
Amen Pastor Sean and Brother Beacon!  Conversion is the end of a long process of wooing by the Holy Spirit. Saul was converted on the road to Damascus, but the Holy Spirit had been working on his heart for a long time. As the Holy Spirit revealed more and more grace, he found it hard to"kick against the pricks" of the Spirit. Many in the church today have never been converted. They were "buried alive" and did not die to self. How can this be? Many who have been ordained were buried alive and do not know any more than did Nicodemus know about what it means to be converted. And, how to be converted. It is by grace we are saved (transformed) and the heart cleansed from sin. Grace surrounds us, but we must see it and take it into the heart.

There are thousands today who need to learn the same truth that was taught to Nicodemus by the uplifted serpent. They depend on their obedience to the law of God to commend them to His favor. When they are bidden to look to Jesus, and believe that He saves them solely through His grace, they exclaim, “How can these things be?”

We have so very much to be thankful for. America was truly blessed by God when she was a Protestant nation. But, that no longer is. Still, in America we celebrate today what we are thankful for. It is our Thanksgiving holiday. Let us give thanks to our Creator for giving us His Son! As we near the end, it is our privilege to be witnesses of the power of His grace to make saints out of sinners in a world soon to perish.
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Richard Myers on February 23, 2020, 08:11:38 AM
Once again, the Holy Spirit impressed me to share what I shared last time I read this chapter.

    When the Spirit of God takes possession of the heart, it transforms the life. Sinful thoughts are put away, evil deeds are renounced; love, humility, and peace take the place of anger, envy, and strife. Joy takes the place of sadness, and the countenance reflects the light of heaven. No one sees the hand that lifts the burden, or beholds the light descend from the courts above. The blessing comes when by faith the soul surrenders itself to God. Then that power which no human eye can see creates a new being in the image of God....

While Jesus was speaking, some gleams of truth penetrated the ruler’s mind. The softening, subduing influence of the Holy Spirit impressed his heart. Yet he did not fully understand the Saviour’s words. He was not so much impressed by the necessity of the new birth as by the manner of its accomplishment. He said wonderingly, “How can these things be?”

Many in the church today are not asking this question because they remain in a Laodicean condition. They think they are already "saved" and even when sinning they believe and have been taught they do not lose their "justification" (salvation). It does no good to tell them how to be saved when they are blind to their need. It is a terrible condition. Jesus gives the answer in the message to the Laodicean Church in Revelation chapter three.  He also gives us the answer in today's reading. It is by grace we are saved. It surrounds us as thick as the air we breathe.

If we do not take time to see this grace, to take into our hearts, then it benefits us nothing.

There was no excuse for the blindness of Israel in regard to the work of regeneration. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Isaiah had written, “We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” David had prayed, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” And 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.” Isaiah 64:6; Psalm 51:10; Ezekiel 36:26, 27.

Nicodemus had read these scriptures with a clouded mind; but he now began to comprehend their meaning. He saw that the most rigid obedience to the mere letter of the law as applied to the outward life could entitle no man to enter the kingdom of heaven. In the estimation of men, his life had been just and honorable; but in the presence of Christ he felt that his heart was unclean, and his life unholy.

Nicodemus was being drawn to Christ. As the Saviour explained to him concerning the new birth, he longed to have this change wrought in himself. By what means 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.”

Here was ground with which Nicodemus was familiar. The symbol of the uplifted serpent made plain to him 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. Then the word was sounded throughout the encampment that all who would look upon the serpent should live. The people well knew that in itself the serpent had no power to help them. It 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. Many of the Israelites regarded the sacrificial service as having in itself virtue to set them free from sin. God desired to teach them that it had no more value than that serpent of brass. It was to lead their minds to the Saviour. Whether for the healing of their wounds or the pardon of their sins, they could do nothing for themselves but show their faith in the Gift of God. They were to look and live.

And what do we see when we "look" upon Jesus hanging on the tree? We see grace, love we do not deserve. This is what causes the heart to broken so that the Holy Spirit can take possession of it. It would be well to spend a thoughtful hour a day contemplating this grace. By beholding this, we are transformed in our very nature. All of the fruits of the Spirit come into the life and stay there as long as we continue to abide in Christ and the Holy Spirit abides in our hearts. It is the miracle of all miracles!
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Dorine on February 23, 2020, 10:08:50 AM

Amen Richard. This is a theme I love to meditate on because it is through the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit in the reading of DA that I have come to understand this truth and experience freedom in Jesus. Each time spent in study and prayer opens new understandings of God's grace and love and brings me into a closer relationship with Jesus. Instead of judging others I want them to know this freedom too. This book is truly inspired of God.

The Christian’s life is not a modification or improvement of the old, but a transformation of nature. There is a death to self and sin, and a new life altogether. This change can be brought about only by the effectual working of the Holy Spirit.
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Beacon on February 23, 2020, 05:28:43 PM
"When the Spirit of God through faith produces a new life in the soul, the thoughts and desires are brought into obedience to the will of 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
.

We need to ask ourselves with an open honesty==="Have my thoughts and desires been brought into obedience to the will of Christ?"
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Pastor Sean Brizendine on February 24, 2020, 03:49:43 AM
Praise the Lord for what the Holy Spirit does to convert us!

"The wind is heard among the branches of the trees, rustling the leaves and flowers; yet it is invisible, and no man knows whence it comes or whither it goes. So with the work of the Holy Spirit upon the heart. It can no more be explained than can the movements of the wind. A person may not be able to tell the exact time or place, or to trace all the circumstances in the process of conversion; but this does not prove him to be unconverted. By an agency as unseen as the wind, Christ is constantly working upon the heart. Little by little, perhaps unconsciously to the receiver, impressions are made that tend to draw the soul to Christ. These may be received through meditating upon Him, through reading the Scriptures, or through hearing the word from the living preacher. Suddenly, as the Spirit comes with more direct appeal, the soul gladly surrenders itself to Jesus. By many this is called sudden conversion; but it is the result of long wooing by the Spirit of God,—a patient, protracted process." {The Desire of Ages, page 172, paragraph 3}

When we yield fully to Christ that is not the first time the Holy Spirit has been drawing us. All our lives God is seeking to reach us by agencies as genius as His love is infinite. Let us yield completely to Christ so He can abide in us and bring forth the evidence of His divine nature: all of the fruits of the Spirit without one missing in the life!
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Pastor Sean Brizendine on May 20, 2020, 04:49:29 AM
What do we need in life? We need salvation! Apart from this, all other things fade into insignificance when we consider that God intends that we would live with Him throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity! The devil is going about like a roaring lion seeking to confuse the gospel so people will either try to be saved by some work they can do apart from Christ (or in addition to Christ) or to lead them to the fatal deception that God can save them in their sins. Jesus came to transform our natures as we behold His infinite loveliness! The miracle of what His grace has power to do is what we all need to experience--daily--so the Holy Spirit can bring forth from hearts and minds surrendered completely to Him the evidence of His abiding in the soul: all of the fruits of the Spirit without one missing as the precious repentant child of God delights to obey God's law of love!!

"How, then, are we to be saved? 'As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness,' so the Son of man has been lifted up, and everyone who has been deceived and bitten by the serpent may look and live. '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 the will of 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." {The Desire of Ages, page 175, paragraph 5}

Only by the means God has provided can we be saved. God created us and He is also the one who has devised the genius way of saving us completely from our sin! As you behold Christ in His agony upon Calvary, as you contemplate the decision He made to go through with the sacrifice in Gethsemane, you begin to realize that by every sin Jesus is wounded afresh, that every sin is an infinite loss to the beauty of the universe, and all you want to do is come in penitence and humiliation on your knees, acknowledging your continual need of Jesus to do any good thing! Let us deeply feel how much we need Christ on a moment-by-moment basis to renew our heart with His divine nature and keep us in the center of His will!
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Beacon on May 20, 2020, 07:56:42 AM
"When the Spirit of God takes possession of the heart, it transforms the life. Sinful thoughts are put away, evil deeds are renounced; love, humility, and peace take the place of anger, envy, and strife. Joy takes the place of sadness, and the countenance reflects the light of heaven."

In reflecting upon the above quoted statement should we not ask ourselves "Does this reflect my current experience with Jesus? "   If the answer is " NO " Then perhaps we are still trying to do it by ourselves without surrendering fully in faith to Jesus.

"No one sees the hand that lifts the burden, or beholds the light descend from the courts above. The blessing comes when by faith the soul surrenders itself to God. Then that power which no human eye can see creates a new being in the image of God."
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Richard Myers on May 20, 2020, 07:58:59 PM
Amen Brother Beacon! Why is that so many do not understand such a simple truth?

As Pastor Sean has pointed out: "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."

The Laodicean condition applies to the church in our day. Thus, so many have not an understanding of what it means to be converted. We are going to live in sinful flesh until Jesus comes when the faithful will received glorified bodies. But, sinful flesh is not an excuse for sin. What is sin? It is the transgression of God's law, to the degree we know it. Why is living in sinful flesh not an excuse for sin? Because God at great expense allowed His innocent Son to pay the price for our sins and if we will surrender all to Him, He will empower us to keep His law. He has promised to set us free from the law of sin and death to which we are bound by our sinful flesh and carnal mind. If we will learn of Him and love Him with all we are and all we have, then we will keep His law.  He will give us a new mind and a new heart with the law of God written on it.

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."

Our reading today reveals a leader in Israel who was in a Laodicean condition. He thought he was just fine the way he was, lost. He was blind to His condition. Such a dangerous situation! He was not fine, he was lost and thought himself saved. So it is today, many are like Nicodemus. They know not their condition. But, it is not hopeless. Jesus does not foresake those who are in this condition if they have not hardened their heart. There are many in a Laodicean condition that Jesus is speaking to just as He spoke to Nicodemus.

But Jesus was acquainted with the soil into which He cast the seed. The words spoken at night to one listener in the lonely mountain were not lost. For a time Nicodemus did not publicly acknowledge Christ, but he watched His life, and pondered His teachings. In the Sanhedrin council he repeatedly thwarted the schemes of the priests to destroy Him. When at last Jesus was lifted up on the cross, Nicodemus remembered the teaching upon Olivet: “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.



Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Pastor Sean Brizendine on August 15, 2020, 06:05:35 AM
Happy Sabbath!! We need to be converted daily, and abide in the converting, renewing grace of God on a moment-by-moment basis!

"Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit" (John 3:5-8).

"While the wind is itself invisible, it produces effects that are seen and felt. So the work of the Spirit upon the soul will reveal itself in every act of him who has felt its saving power. When the Spirit of God takes possession of the heart, it transforms the life. Sinful thoughts are put away, evil deeds are renounced; love, humility, and peace take the place of anger, envy, and strife. Joy takes the place of sadness, and the countenance reflects the light of heaven. No one sees the hand that lifts the burden, or beholds the light descend from the courts above. The blessing comes when by faith the soul surrenders itself to God. Then that power which no human eye can see creates a new being in the image of God." {The Desire of Ages, page 173, paragraph 1}

But how does the Spirit of God renew us? What motivates the heart to yield FULLY to Jesus? "And 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. For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved" (John 3:14-17).

By beholding the loveliness of Jesus, and meditating upon the infinite love of God the Father who gave His only begotten Son to the shameful death of Calvary, we are enabled to truly experience a renewing of the our hearts and minds by the supernatural agency of the Holy Spirit. Then all of the fruits of the Spirit will be seen in our lives without one missing as we live by faith upon Him, gladly living the principles of the law of God with affectionate obedience!
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Dorine on August 15, 2020, 06:29:45 AM
"How, then, are we to be saved? “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness,” so the Son of man has been lifted up, and everyone who has been deceived and bitten by the serpent may look and live. “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 the will of 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."

This story has become very precious to me. I never tire of reading it. Most importantly it has shown me that my life was much like Nicodemus'. I was a favored child. After all I was born into God's remnant family, raised in a strict but loving SDA home. Went to our SDA schools, cooperative, polite, friendly yet shy, very active in church leadership, faithful in tithes and offerings, gave bible studies, was a literature evangelist for two years.....you get the picture..... yet I was lost. It was an encounter with a loving Pastor that said I needed conversion that brought me to my knees. He perceived that I did not have a personal relationship with God because of fears and anxieties and attitudes when things went wrong in my life. Isn't God good! He uses many ways to reach our hearts. I needed a blunt but kind revelation of myself by someone who I knew really cared. This was the beginning of a journey of learning to surrender each day my life to Jesus and spending time getting to know Him.  ....so the Son of man has been lifted up, and everyone who has been deceived and bitten by the serpent may look and live." This includes us all.
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Beacon on August 15, 2020, 11:16:24 AM
"When the Spirit of God through faith produces a new life in the soul, the thoughts and desires are brought into obedience to the will of 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
.
We need to ask ourselves with an open honesty==="Have my thoughts and desires been brought into obedience to the will of Christ?"
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Beacon on November 10, 2020, 06:49:10 AM
"When the Spirit of God takes possession of the heart, it transforms the life. Sinful thoughts are put away, evil deeds are renounced; love, humility, and peace take the place of anger, envy, and strife. Joy takes the place of sadness, and the countenance reflects the light of heaven. No one sees the hand that lifts the burden, or beholds the light descend from the courts above...

The blessing comes when by faith the soul surrenders itself to God. Then that power which no human eye can see creates a new being in the image of God."


Joshua 24:15 says....
And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.



The question we must face today is..." Are we willing to surrender ourselves to God.? "
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Pastor Sean Brizendine on November 10, 2020, 07:13:37 AM
With God all things are possible! By complete surrender to Jesus on a moment-by-moment basis we can enjoy the experience in our souls whereby God supernaturally brings forth love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and temperance! By grace through faith we may be partakers of the divine nature by receiving the exceedingly great and precious promises of God's holy word! What a privilege! Let us go forth to bless others as we abide in Jesus!

"It is impossible for finite minds to comprehend the work of redemption. Its mystery exceeds human knowledge; yet he who passes from death to life realizes that it is a divine reality. The beginning of redemption we may know here through a personal experience. Its results reach through the eternal ages." {The Desire of Ages, page 173, paragraph 2}

While we may not fully realize the value of the gift offered us in Christ, let us CHOOSE HIM today and help others choose Jesus!!
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Richard Myers on November 10, 2020, 09:57:54 PM
What a joy to once again read this chapter! We leave this chapter stickied at the top continually, that others may realize the value we receive when we read it. Jesus presents the gospel of grace in simple terms that a child May understand. Not only then is the deception scene, but we also see how it is that we can be converted. It's not good enough to see our lost condition, but God does not leave it without wisdom and Grace to be converted. Jesus clearly reveals to Nicodemus what he must do in order to be transformed in nature. As Moses lifted the serpent in the wilderness even so must the son of man be lifted up that we might look and live.
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Dorine on November 11, 2020, 05:40:15 AM
"Since hearing Jesus, Nicodemus had anxiously studied the prophecies relating to the Messiah; and the more he searched, the stronger was his conviction that this was the One who was to come. With many others in Israel he had been greatly distressed by the profanation of the temple. He was a witness of the scene when Jesus drove out the buyers and the sellers; he beheld the wonderful manifestation of divine power; he saw the Saviour receiving the poor and healing the sick; he saw their looks of joy, and heard their words of praise; and he could not doubt that Jesus of Nazareth was the Sent of God."

If all the priests and rulers had done what Nicodemus had done in going to the scriptures in search of truth what a different story we would be reading. What a lesson for our church today and for us individually. When we go to scripture it should be with a teachable heart to know truth. If we search scripture to support our own thinking we will be led astray.  Christ has not left us in darkness. There is no reason to be confused or in error. In His mercy He patiently knocks on the hearts door, longingly waiting for the door to open.  Thank you Jesus for not giving up on me.
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Pastor Sean Brizendine on February 05, 2021, 06:13:13 AM
This is a good question, followed by a biblical answer:

"How, then, are we to be saved? 'As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness,' so the Son of man has been lifted up, and everyone who has been deceived and bitten by the serpent may look and live. '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 the will of 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." {The Desire of Ages, page 175, paragraph 5}

Are we willing to let God do the miracle in our hearts that must take place? We must look and live. Look away from self in our helpless unworthiness and believe that He does save the uttermost all who come unto God by Him! Let us continually pray that we will look to Jesus and live, turn resolutely from ALL sin that crucified Christ, and become like Him in mind and character so that all of the fruits of the Spirit will be seen in our lives without one missing as we go forth to obey the law of God from an intelligent appreciation of the loveliness of Jesus' character!
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Beacon on February 05, 2021, 06:23:21 AM
"When the Spirit of God takes possession of the heart, it transforms the life. Sinful thoughts are put away, evil deeds are renounced; love, humility, and peace take the place of anger, envy, and strife..

..Joy takes the place of sadness, and the countenance reflects the light of heaven..

..No one sees the hand that lifts the burden, or beholds the light descend from the courts above. The blessing comes when by faith the soul surrenders itself to God. Then that power which no human eye can see creates a new being in the image of God."

The invitation from Jesus is still available to all who are willing to come. God's Word says in Matthew 7:7...Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

Won't you come today without delay...Jesus allows U-Turns and will receive you with open arms rejoicing in your decision.
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Philip T on February 05, 2021, 07:12:31 AM
Not through controversy and discussion is the soul enlightened. We must look and live. Nicodemus received the lesson, and carried it with him. He searched the Scriptures in a new way, not for the discussion of a theory, but in order to receive life for the soul. He began to see the kingdom of heaven as he submitted himself to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

There are thousands today who need to learn the same truth that was taught to Nicodemus by the uplifted serpent. They depend on their obedience to the law of God to commend them to His favor. When they are bidden to look to Jesus, and believe that He saves them solely through His grace, they exclaim, “How can these things be?”


Studying the scripture is not enough, we need to study to show our selves approved unto God. Reading and studying just to know the scriptures to discuss them is not how change happens within us. We need to study scripture with an earnest heart, with prayer looking for spiritual life for our souls. This is a nugget of truth we should bury in our hearts and minds, and put to use when praying and studying God's word. It is something to pray for.
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Richard Myers on February 06, 2021, 07:46:15 AM
What a joy to read the thoughts as you all share your understanding of this most important chapter! God has a people who love Him with the whole heart and that people is growing in number even though we see them not with our human eyes. But, we do see a small group right here who are reading along with us.

Yesterday morning I was impressed with something I have not shared before.


While Jesus was speaking, some gleams of truth penetrated the ruler’s mind. The softening, subduing influence of the Holy Spirit impressed his heart. Yet he did not fully understand the Saviour’s words. He was not so much impressed by the necessity of the new birth as by the manner of its accomplishment. He said wonderingly, “How can these things be?”

“Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?” Jesus asked. Surely one entrusted with the religious instruction of the people should not be ignorant of truths so important. His words conveyed the lesson that instead of feeling irritated over the plain words of truth, Nicodemus should have had a very humble opinion of himself, because of his spiritual ignorance. Yet Christ spoke with such solemn dignity, and both look and tone expressed such earnest love, that Nicodemus was not offended as he realized his humiliating condition.

We see so very clearly that Jesus rebuked Nicodemus not just once, but continued to tell Him how far removed he was from heaven. What we do not see in what is written is the "look and tone expressed." We read here what that looked like, it revealed Jesus' earnest love for this proud leader. Because the Holy Spirit was working on his heart, and because he understood the love of Jesus for him, "Nicodemus was not offended" even though he realized his humiliating condition.

What is the lesson for us today?   As a Laodicean people, we are in need of strong rebuke. We find that strong rebuke in the third chapter of the Book of Revelation in Jesus speaking directly to His church today. But, He not only strongly rebukes His church, He also encourages us to be converted and how it is that we can "repent."  Let us add to these words the "look and tone" of His message to us as a people so we shall not be offended over our humiliating condition as a people. Does the message apply to us, as an individual? His look and tone if we could see and hear Him would reveal His "earnest love" for us. It is this love for us while yet sinners that is the grace that saves us. It would be well to behold that grace by spending a thoughtful hour a day contemplating the life of Jesus especially the closing scenes. For then it was that we see Him being beaten and hung on a tree. It is by contemplating these stripes He suffered  on my account that I am healed (Isaiah 53:5).  This is the message we have been given to take to the world, it is the first angel's message, the gospel of grace.
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Beacon on May 03, 2021, 04:46:02 AM
"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 the will of 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."
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Richard Myers on May 03, 2021, 06:11:37 AM
Amen dear brother Beacon! This is the gospel message, the power Grace to cleanse the heart and mind, this is perfection that God speaks of. We leave this chapter stickied, it is always near the top so that our people may understand what a Laodicean is, and how to be converted. Jesus rebuked Nicodemus strongly, but with love for him that could be seen. He did not leave Nicodemus without an understanding of what our part is. As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the son of man be lifted up. It is by beholding God's love, his grace, that we are transformed into his image, converted. 2nd Corinthians 3:18 tells us this. By beholding his glory, his character, we are changed into His Image, character. It Is by The Working of the spirit.

Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Dorine on May 03, 2021, 06:37:22 AM
"While the wind is itself invisible, it produces effects that are seen and felt. So the work of the Spirit upon the soul will reveal itself in every act of him who has felt its saving power. When the Spirit of God takes possession of the heart, it transforms the life. Sinful thoughts are put away, evil deeds are renounced; love, humility, and peace take the place of anger, envy, and strife. Joy takes the place of sadness, and the countenance reflects the light of heaven. No one sees the hand that lifts the burden, or beholds the light descend from the courts above. The blessing comes when by faith the soul surrenders itself to God. Then that power which no human eye can see creates a new being in the image of God."

And I can rest in the peace that comes from knowing Jesus and knowing that I can trust Him to work out His pleasure in my life. I can rejoice in the knowledge and experience He has given me and fearlessly share it with a world searching for a better way but doesn't know where to find it.
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Philip T on May 03, 2021, 06:45:45 AM
  [size=12pt]But Jesus was acquainted with the soil into which He cast the seed. The words spoken at night to one listener in the lonely mountain were not lost. For a time Nicodemus did not publicly acknowledge Christ, but he watched His life, and pondered His teachings. In the Sanhedrin council he repeatedly thwarted the schemes of the priests to destroy Him. When at last Jesus was lifted up on the cross, Nicodemus remembered the teaching upon Olivet: “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.

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 was scorned and persecuted by those who had paid him reverence in other days. 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.[/size]

What a lesson for us is found here, Jesus planted the seed in a fertile soil, it did not immediately draw forth fruit. The seed slowly grew, as Nicodemus studied God's word, and prayed. The Holy Spirit was at work.  Sanctification was happening in his life, and when he was needed, he had matured and he stepped boldly into the fray caring for Jesus body, then the church with his wealth and position, surrendering all to his Savior.  We plant seeds we do not see or think will mature, but with the continued wooing of the Holy Spirit they do.  As Jesus planted seed and it matured later so are we to be labors for God.
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Pastor Sean Brizendine on May 03, 2021, 08:25:56 AM
Praise the Lord for these posts all have shared!

The question so important to all of us may be asked:

"How, then, are we to be saved? 'As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness,' so the Son of man has been lifted up, and everyone who has been deceived and bitten by the serpent may look and live. '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 the will of 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." {The Desire of Ages, page 175, paragraph 5} 

As we surrender all to Jesus in true repentance for our sins leading to confession of our sins and allowing Christ's blood to cleanse us, He imbues us with all of the fruits of the Spirit and we gladly follow in the path that He has for our lives in obedience to His law of love. Only as we look and live and in humble, surrendered faith may we grow more like Jesus and remember that He will not fail the soul that surrenders fully to Him.
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Richard Myers on May 03, 2021, 08:38:44 AM
It is informative that Jesus was acquainted with the soil into which He cast the seed.

But Jesus was acquainted with the soil into which He cast the seed. The words spoken at night to one listener in the lonely mountain were not lost. For a time Nicodemus did not publicly acknowledge Christ, but he watched His life, and pondered His teachings. In the Sanhedrin council he repeatedly thwarted the schemes of the priests to destroy Him. When at last Jesus was lifted up on the cross, Nicodemus remembered the teaching upon Olivet: “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.

As we go about spreading seed, we need to be seeking those who like Nicodemus are seeking truth.
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Richard Myers on July 28, 2021, 10:21:48 PM
Amen!!  Let us accept the lesson presented in this important chapter. Nicodemus was in a Laodicean condition, thinking he was rich and increased with goods, not knowing he was miserable, wretched, poor, blind, and naked. Not only did Jesus rebuke his condition, but He revealed what would transform him and bring to him everlasting life. Compare this with the solution Jesus reveals after His rebuke to His church today (Rev. chapter 3).
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Pastor Sean Brizendine on July 29, 2021, 04:41:54 AM
God's plans are infinite, and as we behold Jesus, yield fully to Him, and become truly converted so all of the fruits of the Spirit will be manifest in our life, we experience a mystery that will reach throughout eternity--starting now!!

It is impossible for finite minds to comprehend the work of redemption. Its mystery exceeds human knowledge; yet he who passes from death to life realizes that it is a divine reality. The beginning of redemption we may know here through a personal experience. Its results reach through the eternal ages.

May your day be a foretaste of heaven by having Jesus constantly in your heart by a living faith surrender to His will!
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Dorine on July 29, 2021, 05:16:50 AM
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 was scorned and persecuted by those who had paid him reverence in other days. 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.

What an inspiring revelation of the amazing transformation that comes by beholding Christ. When we listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit without resisting and open the mind and heart to learn more; the power of God works in us to draw us into a relationship like Nicodemus had. It's a mystery we cannot explain but praise God we can experience it and like Nicodemus as long as we maintain that relationship with Jesus we will be as firm as a rock and our faith will not falter no matter what trial or persecution comes to us. 
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Beacon on July 29, 2021, 07:13:08 AM
"When at last Jesus was lifted up on the cross, Nicodemus remembered the teaching upon Olivet: “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."

The gospel seeds that we sow at this time may not seem to take hold. But the story of Nicodemus shows us that we should never give up praying for those who seems to show no interest after hearing the gospel story. So let us learn from these examples and keep praying that all those who have heard the gospel story will come to a FULL SURRENDER and become "ACTIVE" Laboring Laborer's in God's vast harvest field. Jesus said in..

Luke 10:2 King James Version
Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth laborers into his harvest.


The question is --- Are You / Am I willing to be an active "LABORING LABORER FOR JESUS" ?
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Richard Myers on July 29, 2021, 08:38:13 AM
Amen Brother Beacon!  It ought not be a mystery as to how we are saved, converted.  If we would look, we would live.  Another truth that is important and helps us along the way is understanding that conversion is a point in time, but it will not come without a response to the wooing of the Holy Spirit which is a patient protracted process. Yes, sanctification is also a protracted process, but it is after conversion which is a point in time. Yes, we need to die daily, but conversion is a point in time when the heart is fully surrendered to God. Then, being sanctified we will continue to learn of God's ways and develop a stronger character. This process after the conversion process is the work of a lifetime and is perfect at each stage. All of the fruits come at conversion and in the sanctification process the fruit becomes more abundant. That is, we become more patient, more loving, more kind. God allows the trials to grow in strength in the same manner that one lifting weights will grow stronger as the weights are increased.


     The wind is heard among the branches of the trees, rustling the leaves and flowers; yet it is invisible, and no man knows whence it comes or whither it goes. So with the work of the Holy Spirit upon the heart. It can no more be explained than can the movements of the wind. A person may not be able to tell the exact time or place, or to trace all the circumstances in the process of conversion; but this does not prove him to be unconverted. By an agency as unseen as the wind, Christ is constantly working upon the heart. Little by little, perhaps unconsciously to the receiver, impressions are made that tend to draw the soul to Christ. These may be received through meditating upon Him, through reading the Scriptures, or through hearing the word from the living preacher. Suddenly, as the Spirit comes with more direct appeal, the soul gladly surrenders itself to Jesus. By many this is called sudden conversion; but it is the result of long wooing by the Spirit of God,—a patient, protracted process. [/b]
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Philip T on July 29, 2021, 09:15:21 AM
     Nicodemus had come to the Lord thinking to enter into a discussion with Him, but Jesus laid bare the foundation principles of truth. He said to Nicodemus, It is not theoretical knowledge you need so much as spiritual regeneration. You need not to have your curiosity satisfied, but to have a new heart. You must receive a new life from above before you can appreciate heavenly things. Until this change takes place, making all things new, it will result in no saving good for you to discuss with Me My authority or My mission.

This is quite a paragraph to consider it is not knowledge of God alone that we need, we need spiritual transformation of the heart and mind, then we can turn knowledge to God's wisdom and walk the path of sanctification as we seen Nicodemus did growing until he came boldly to front for his Lord and Savior.  God has a plan for everyone of his followers, we need to allow the Holy Spirit to convict and surrender to Jesus through faith. That is the only way to the Kingdom of God.
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Richard Myers on July 29, 2021, 09:52:04 PM
It is interesting what you say, Brother Philip. Jesus would not enter into the subject that Nicodemus wanted. We need to be converted so that we can appreciate spiritual things. It is grace that we need to behold that transforms sinners into saints. We are saved by grace. As we learn of God, we see His unmerited favor and this is what renews the heart.  The requirement for heaven is to love the Lord our with the whole heart. We will love Him when we see Him who first loved us. What a God we serve!!
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Beacon on October 24, 2021, 02:19:34 AM
"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 the will of 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."[/size

We should never be discouraged in our work with Christ for the redemption of our family & friends, but let us remember that special sequence of... 1st. Planting the Seed. 2nd. Watering the Seed, 3.Weeding around the Seed. This is how Jesus worked and He is our number #1 example. So let us pray for wisdom as we work in the Lord's vineyard and be an example of love, and compassion for the lost. Let us not forget what Jesus has done and is doing for us. The true conversion of Nicodemus was a huge blessing to the early church after the ascension of Jesus   
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Dorine on October 24, 2021, 03:51:34 AM
"But Jesus was acquainted with the soil into which He cast the seed. The words spoken at night to one listener in the lonely mountain were not lost. For a time Nicodemus did not publicly acknowledge Christ, but he watched His life, and pondered His teachings. In the Sanhedrin council he repeatedly thwarted the schemes of the priests to destroy Him. When at last Jesus was lifted up on the cross, Nicodemus remembered the teaching upon Olivet: “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."

As we look and live as Nicodemus did our hearts will be ready to carry the same truth to all who will listen. We can not explain the details of how it happens. We just know it does because we have put it to the test. Hearts have been softened, convicted, repentant by the impressions of the Holy Spirit. God's transforming power is experienced by all who come to Jesus.  The new birth consists in having new motives, new tastes, new tendencies and in all their habits and practices, they will give evidence of their relationship to Christ.
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Pastor Sean Brizendine on October 24, 2021, 09:06:45 AM
Amen, Brother Beacon and Sister Dorine!!

Someone is drawing you to Himself. Who is it? It is Jesus! He yearns over you with a longing that is incomprehensible! His love does not grow cold and His efforts to win your heart do not cease! May we ever keep our hearts tender and receptive to Jesus' love so that the converting power of His grace may restore us into His image by making us partakers of the divine nature whereby all of the fruits of the Spirit will be seen in the life without one missing! We are to look to Him, surrender the whole heart, and allow Him to work in us to will and to do of His good pleasure!

"The wind is heard among the branches of the trees, rustling the leaves and flowers; yet it is invisible, and no man knows whence it comes or whither it goes. So with the work of the Holy Spirit upon the heart. It can no more be explained than can the movements of the wind. A person may not be able to tell the exact time or place, or to trace all the circumstances in the process of conversion; but this does not prove him to be unconverted. By an agency as unseen as the wind, Christ is constantly working upon the heart. Little by little, perhaps unconsciously to the receiver, impressions are made that tend to draw the soul to Christ. These may be received through meditating upon Him, through reading the Scriptures, or through hearing the word from the living preacher. Suddenly, as the Spirit comes with more direct appeal, the soul gladly surrenders itself to Jesus. By many this is called sudden conversion; but it is the result of long wooing by the Spirit of God,—a patient, protracted process." {The Desire of Ages, page 172, paragraph 3}

God sees that IT IS WORTH IT to draw us to Himself. He knows that He can provide a love that will satisfy the soul that can be found in no other source in the universe. Simply put, trying to find meaning and purpose in life without Jesus is IMPOSSIBLE! Look to Him and let Him do the greatest miracle in your life--making you a new creature who loves Jesus and loves others unselfishly!
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Beacon on January 18, 2022, 08:08:44 PM
"A person may not be able to tell the exact time or place, or to trace all the circumstances in the process of conversion; but this does not prove him to be unconverted."

"By an agency as unseen as the wind, Christ is constantly working upon the heart."

"Little by little, perhaps unconsciously to the receiver, impressions are made that tend to draw the soul to Christ."

"These may be received through meditating upon Him, through reading the Scriptures, or through hearing the word from the living preacher."

"Suddenly, as the Spirit comes with more direct appeal, the soul gladly surrenders itself to Jesus."

How thankful we should be that Jesus never gives up on us. Look at what happen to the thief on the cross next to Jesus when he cried out...." Lord, remember me when thou come into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, "Verily I say unto thee today, thou shalt be with me in paradise." Luke 23:42

May I invite you take or renew your stand with Jesus?

 Just as I am, without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bid’st me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God, I come! I come!
2
Just as I am, and waiting not
To rid my soul of one dark blot;
To Thee whose blood can cleanse each spot,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!
3
Just as I am, though tossed about
With many a conflict, many a doubt;
Fightings within, and fears without,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!
4
Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind;
Sight, riches, healing of the mind;
Yes, all I need, in Thee to find,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!
5
Just as I am, Thou wilt receive,
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
Because Thy promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!
6
Just as I am, Thy love unknown
Has broken every barrier down;
Now, to be Thine, yea, Thine alone,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

Lyrics:Charlotte Elliott (1789-1871)
Music:William Batchelder Bradbury (1816-1868)
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Dorine on January 19, 2022, 04:48:17 AM
Like Nicodemus, we must be willing to enter into life in the same way as the chief of sinners. Than Christ, “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 upon Christ, and appropriate His merits, the remedy for sin. And 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.
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Richard Myers on January 19, 2022, 07:55:21 AM
Amen my brother and sister!! It is not hard to understand what we must do in order to be saved (transformed). We must look and live. Grace is the very foundation of our faith. It surrounds us as thick as the air we breathe! We need to drink it in. "You must drink my blood and eat my flesh." We are saved by grace through faith.

How, then, are we to be saved? “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness,” so the Son of man has been lifted up, and everyone who has been deceived and bitten by the serpent may look and live. “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 the will of 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.

In the interview with Nicodemus, Jesus unfolded the plan of salvation, and His mission to the world. 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, to the mind that was most receptive, and to 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.

Amen! Nowhere did Jesus explain the gospel better than He did to Nicodemus. All have been born of the Spirit, but we must be born again of the Spirit by beholding the grace of God. We must return to the fountain to receive new stores of grace daily that we might remember the cost paid for our salvation. It would be well to spend a thoughtful hour a day contemplating the life of Christ, especially the closing scenes. Therefore, we have place this forum at the top of all others, and we keep this chapter stickied so all may understand how it is that sinful man can be transformed into the image of God (2 Cor. 3:18). By beholding Jesus uplifted we will be recreated in His image (character). It is the greatest of all miracles!!
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Pastor Sean Brizendine on January 19, 2022, 06:07:23 PM
Amen, Brother Beacon, Sister Dorine, and Brother Richard!

What a blessing that Jesus can totally transform the heart that is yielded to Him! There is nothing too hard for the Lord! By looking to the uplifted, crucified and risen Savior, surrendering the entire heart to Him to cleanse and purify, and walking in the way that He chooses for us, we can have rest and joy in the soul as the Holy Spirit will manifest through us all of the fruits of the Spirit without one missing! Thankfully, we can see how Jesus addressed Nicodemus in the interview Christ had with him at the beginning of His ministry, which John the evangelist would record for the blessing of millions!

"Jesus continued: 'That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.' By nature the heart is evil, and 'who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one.' Job 14:4. No human invention can find a remedy for the sinning soul. 'The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.' 'Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.' Romans 8:7; Matthew 15:19. The fountain of the heart must be purified before the streams can become pure. He who is trying to reach heaven by his own works in keeping the law is attempting an impossibility. There is no safety for one who has merely a legal religion, a form of godliness. The Christian’s life is not a modification or improvement of the old, but a transformation of nature. There is a death to self and sin, and a new life altogether. This change can be brought about only by the effectual working of the Holy Spirit." {The Desire of Ages, page 172, paragraph 1}

When we have Christ working in us, it means continual victory in true conversion! May you walk in the light of the loveliness of Jesus because of what He has done for you!! We love Him because He first loved us!
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Beacon on April 15, 2022, 08:11:02 PM
"The fountain of the heart must be purified before the streams can become pure."

"He who is trying to reach heaven by his own works in keeping the law is attempting an impossibility."

"There is "no safety" for one who has merely a legal religion, a form of godliness."

"The Christian’s life is not a modification or improvement of the old."

"It is a transformation of nature."

"There is a death to self and sin, and a new life altogether."

"This change can be brought about only by the effectual working of the Holy Spirit."

The question is...Are we seeking Jesus to help us experience this..

"Death to Sin & Self"?


========================

Thy Holy Spirit, Lord, alone
  Can meet our need today;
His might alone empow’ring us
  Can bring us neath Thy sway.
    Thy Spirit of pow’r with might,
Send in our midst, we pray,
And come upon each seeking soul;
  Baptize us with power today.
2
Thy Holy Spirit, Lord, alone
  Can grant us Thy desire;
His power alone can turn our heart
  And light the sacred fire.
3
Thy Holy Spirit, Lord, can give
  The gifts we seek to share;
His pow’r can signs and wonders work
  And stir up holy fear.
4
Thy Holy Spirit, Lord, can bring
  The show’r we need this hour;
And while we seek, Lord Jesus, come
  In motivating power.
5
Thy Spirit of pow’r with might,
  Send in our midst, we pray,
And like a rushing, mighty wind
  Sweep over our souls today.

Lyrics:Adapted from Fanny Jane Crosby (1820-1915) bio
Music:William James Kirkpatrick (1838-1921)
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Dorine on April 16, 2022, 05:45:14 AM
"Since hearing Jesus, Nicodemus had anxiously studied the prophecies relating to the Messiah; and the more he searched, the stronger was his conviction that this was the One who was to come. With many others in Israel he had been greatly distressed by the profanation of the temple. He was a witness of the scene when Jesus drove out the buyers and the sellers; he beheld the wonderful manifestation of divine power; he saw the Saviour receiving the poor and healing the sick; he saw their looks of joy, and heard their words of praise; and he could not doubt that Jesus of Nazareth was the Sent of God."

I was impressed this morning as I was reading this section that our leaders need our prayers more than ever. As pride and self glory multiplies there are those who are going to the scriptures for insight and wisdom and in time will stand up for righteousness. Nicodemus struggled with the fact that he needed to be born again but instead of hardening his heart against Jesus he accepted what Jesus had to say and secretly became a follower and later openly confessed Him. Our leaders carry great responsibilities and have pressures we know nothing of. Instead of being shocked and critical of the things we learn may our prayers for them be of sorrow and compassion praying that they will do as Nicodemus and let God soften their hearts and take their stand for Christ.
Title: Re: The Desire of Ages--17--Nicodemus
Post by: Richard Myers on April 16, 2022, 09:04:54 AM
Amen Sister Dorine!   Once again we come to this chapter that is always at the top of all other  topics.  Why? If you have spiritual eyesight, you will understand why. In a Laodicean Church, there are three most important needs. We need to understand our condition as a people and as an individual. We need to understand the church remains in a lost condition, not all, but many. The Comforter was sent to reveal sin, righteousness, and judgment. Few rightly understand as it applies to self first. Once convinced of sin and condemnation, we are to understand the covenant promise to give us a hatred for sin, a righteous moral character. And last how it is that we are to obtain this transformation of character. All of this is revealed in this chapter. It was given for Israel of Old and was rejected by most. So it is today, it is a message directly from Jesus for modern day Israel.

It would be well to spend a thoughtful hour a day contemplating what is in this chapter until these three points are understood. Then, it would be good to make it a habit to spend a thoughtful hour a day reading the rest of the chapters in this book, for by so doing you will be born of the Spirit which brings love, joy, and peace to all who will take time to behold the loveliness of Jesus.

"The fountain of the heart must be purified before the streams can become pure."

"The Christian’s life is not a modification or improvement of the old."

"It is a transformation of nature."

"There is a death to self and sin, and a new life altogether."

"This change can be brought about only by the effectual working of the Holy Spirit."

The question is...Are we seeking Jesus to help us experience this.."Death to Sin & Self"?

All is underlined in this chapter, so it is hard to pick a topic to share. I was impressed to encourage all who are reading or who will read in the future, to carefully study the whole chapter that you may be blessed as we who are posting regularly are blessed. Have a blessed Sabbath dear friends.