I know that Someone loves you. God loves each one of us this morning and He has promised to be with us and to share with us just the blessings that we need today. You know that God wants us to be happy. Is that not wonderful?
You go to some religions and you find that their gods have to be appeased. You have to go through some kind of a ritual. You have to give something to get their love, lay on beds of nails or do some kind of a penance or do something to win that Gods love. But, you know, the Bible says that God is the One Who did something to win our love, and He loves us this morning. He wants to be with us.
Before opening the Word why do we not invite Him into our hearts and ask Him to show us His love this morning as we study His Word? Bow your heads with me, will you?
Gracious Father, as we open Your Word, we do so reverently. We pray that Your Holy Spirit will show us more of Jesus love and that we in turn will learn to love You. And that we will show that love by keeping Your commandments and obeying You. We will show that we trust You. I pray as we read Your Word this morning, that Your Holy Spirit will touch each heart so that we might be made ready to be in heaven with You when You come again. We pray these things in Jesus name. Amen.
Nicodemus was raised in a good Bible-believing home. Raised in a Bible-believing home at a time when the church was being rocked with liberalism. In fact, it seemed that liberal people were in charge of the church, people who were so liberal that they did not believe much of the Bible that they had then--the Old Testament.
They believed certain parts of it, but other parts of it they decided were not fully inspired. But being raised in that kind of environment his family avoided both the pitfall of leaving the church and the pitfall of becoming affected by its sin. Rather the sins of the church seemed to make them even more committed to the Lord. They had an experience somewhat like we are told we need in the last days in Testimonies for the Church, Volume 5,136. We are told that when the religion of Christ is most held in contempt and when His law is most despised, then should our zeal be the warmest and our courage and firmness the most unflinching.
You know, for most people it is just the opposite, is it not? We are told that it is when Gods law is the most despised that we should uphold it the most. Is that not right? "To stand in defense of truth and righteousness when the majority forsake us. To fight the battles of the Lord when champions are few, this will be our test. At this time we must gather warmth from the coldness of others; courage from their cowardice; and loyalty from their treason." That is somewhat the experience that Nicodemus and his family had.
They committed themselves to serving God at a time when most people, most church leaders and most church members were lax and were reasoning away the truths of Gods Word. They realized that God expected them to do their best to serve Him and to cooperate with Him in His work on earth.
So Nicodemus did all he could to cooperate with God. He became educated, highly educated. He developed a character of integrity, and he devoted his energies and his time and his interest to the church. As a result, God seemed to bless him. He prospered in so many ways. He prospered financially. He rapidly advanced in church leadership. He was respected by the people.
Nicodemus stood for honesty and obedience to God even in the face of derision and opposition. Look with me over here at John 7:45, 53. It says, a little story here of some officers of the court that the priests had sent to arrest Jesus but they came back without him and they wondered why. And the officers told the chief priest and Pharisees who asked them why they had brought Him, they said, "No man ever spoke like this Man."
Then the Pharisees answered them scoffingly: "Are you also deceived?" Boy, that gets a lot of people turned around. A little scoffing, you know. "Have any of the rulers of the Pharisees believed in Him. But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed. Nicodemus, he who came to Jesus by night being one of them, said to them, Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?" Now listen what they answered. They answered scoffingly and mockingly at him, too, and said, "Are you also a Galilian?" Those were sort of the lowest people in the minds of the people from Jerusalem, anyway. "Search and look, for no prophet has ever risen out of Galilee. And everyone went to his own house."
Do you think he was climbing the ladder of success when he stood for Jesus? No, he was digging his own grave politically. Did this make him popular? Not very. They made fun of him. Now, of course, this particular story was after Nicodemus visit to Jesus, but he displayed the same unpopular stand even before he came to Jesus. I read from The Desire of Ages, 168. It says, "In a counsel 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 warning. Considering Jesus in the temple Nicodemus had anxiously studied the prophecies relating to the Messiah and the more he searched, the stronger was his conviction that this was One Who was to come and that is the reason he went and saw Jesus by night."
Thus in every observable way, Nicodemus was a man of God. He was honest. He put integrity above popularity. He searched the Scriptures. He was obedient to the Word in every way he knew how. He accepted the ministry of Jesus. Thus how surprised Nicodemus was when laying aside his office, he came to talk with Jesus by night and how did Jesus answer him?
Look with me over here in John 3:3, "Jesus answered Nicodemus and said to him. Most assuredly I say to you unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." Now what Jesus was really saying is, Unless you are born again, you cannot see the kingdom of God and Nicodemus understood that. It really kind of hurt him. It surprised him and shocked him, dismayed him. Jesus in effect told him that he could not go to heaven the way he was because he was not born again--whatever that meant!
He could not go to heaven. If he should die that night, Jesus told him, if he should die right then, if something should happen, he would be lost. He would not be in heaven. Now that was more than a little disconcerting to Nicodemus who thought he was doing everything the Bible had told him to do.
For all of Nicodemus' accomplishments Jesus told him that he was not converted. But if he had not been converted, what was conversion? He had certainly dedicated himself to God. He seemingly had accepted Jesus and even put his neck on the block for Him. He was strictly honest. If Nicodemus was not converted, what was conversion?
There was another man, probably a friend of Nicodemus actually who was also dedicated to the service of God and like Nicodemus was honest and had integrity to all outward appearance. He also had been blessed, it appeared, of the Lord as he dedicated himself and talents to His service. He also kept all of Gods ten commandments and everything he knew the Bible asked him to do, and he served God faithfully.
But he went even farther than Nicodemus. He came to Jesus in the daylight in front of everyone and knelt down before Him as his Master and worshiped I-Jim and offered to become Jesus disciple. How disappointed he also was when Jesus told him that He could not use him because he was not converted. Look with me over here in Mark 10:19 at his story. "Jesus said, You know the commandments, do not steal, do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not bear false witness, do not defraud, honor your father and your mother. And the man answered and said to Him, Teacher, all these things I have observed all my life, from my youth up. Then Jesus looking at him loved him and said, One thing you are lacking. Go your way and sell whatever you have and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, take up your cross and follow Me."
How disappointed this man was to think that he was not fit as he was to follow Jesus. He, too, was not converted. God showed him how he could be converted.
Another man also educated, dedicated and respected by the people desired to follow Jesus. But he went farther than either Nicodemus or the rich young ruler. In fact, this young man devoted his whole life to follow the Lord. He did give up all that he had. He did not stop shod, he gave everything. He gave up his future aspirations. He followed the humble Nazarene wherever He went on foot. He was dusty. He slept out below the stars and he ate His food. He spent day and night with Jesus.
I read about him in The Desire of Ages, 717, that Judas loved the Great Teacher. Now here was a man who was full of integrity to all outward appearance. He came to Jesus and he desired to be His disciple, and Jesus invited him and allowed him to be His disciple. And Judas loved Jesus. He desired to be with Him. He felt the desire to be changed in character and life, and he hoped to experience this through connecting himself with Jesus.
So Jesus gave him a place among the twelve. He trusted him to do the work of an evangelist. He endowed him with power to heal the sick and to cast out devils. But Judas was also not converted.
Then there was another man who also left his employment. He also joined Jesus. He also preached. He was even one of Jesus three closest disciples. He was on the Mount of Transfiguration and personally saw Moses and Elijah. He walked on the water with Jesus. He was present when Jesus raised the dead. But over in Luke 22:3 1, 32, what did Jesus tell him? He told him also that he was not ready to go to heaven even after being with Jesus for three years.
Reading from the Old King James, it says, "The Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold Satan hath desired to have you that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not. And when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren."
Four men, all in the true church, all dedicated to the Lord, all believing that they were on their way to heaven and all lost. Not a one of them converted. Thank the Lord that two out of the four made a change in their lives and became converted. But at the time when they thought they were saved, they were all unconverted. And none of them knew it. Not a one of them knew it. Each, in fact, thought that he was absolutely saved and absolutely on the road to heaven. Boy, there can be really danger in someone thinking they are saved, could there not? In the Bible when people thought they were saved usually they were lost. These man all thought they were saved. The Bible says they were all lost.
Thus it will be with the church in the last days. Over in Revelation 3:17 notice what the church thinks about itself: It says, "Because you say lam rich, have become wealthy and have need of nothing." And so the church believes that it is in need of nothing. That means the church believes that it is saved. It is O.K. It is doing the work of God. It is filling all of Gods requirements.
Like these four men, the church comes before the Lord. But Jesus says, You are wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked and you do not know it What is wrong with the church in the last days? Is it the wrong church? No, that is not what the Bible says. Is it not active? No, it is active. Does it not make a profession? No, it makes a profession. Does it lack confidence in itself? No, it has full confidence in itself.
What is the problem? Well, the problem is the same as the problem with Nicodemus and the rich young ruler and Judas and Peter. It is not converted. Which leads to the question, What is conversion? Maybe we should look at that answer after looking at all these people who thought they were converted and were not.
Look with me at Romans 7. Now, Paul in the book of Romans talks about conversion over and over. We could look at Romans 6 or we could look at Romans 7 and 8. Let us look here at Romans 7:1-6. He likens this to something that is very interesting to a marriage relationship. You see, all of us are married to self. Something has to die, though, before we can be married to Christ.
"Or do you not know, brethren, for I speak to those who know the law that the Law has dominion over a man as long as he lives? For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband die, she is released from the law of her husband. So then, if while her husband lives she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress. But if her husband die, she is freed from the law so that she is no adulteress though she is married to another man. Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law to the body of Christ that you may be married to another, even to Him who was raised from the dead that we should bear fruit to God. For when we were in the flesh, the passions of sin were aroused by the law working our members to bear fruit to death. But now we have been delivered from the law having died to what we were held by so that we should serve in a newness of the spirit and not in the oldness of the letter."
Now, many people use this text to try to do away with the ten commandments. They say, Those people who try to keep the ten commandments cannot be married to Christ. That is what some people say, but, of course, as you read Romans 6, 7 and 8 in context over and over again, he is not talking about that. He is talking about the law of sin and how when we try to keep the ten commandments with our own power, with our own strength, the law of sin prevents us from keeping the law of the ten commandments.
So, we have to die to self and we have to die to even ourselves trying to keep the ten commandments in our own strength, and we have to marry Someone else, marry Jesus. That is his whole argument all through Chapter 6 and 7. Let us look back here at Romans 6 just real briefly. What does he say? Romans 6:6, "Knowing that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with that we no longer should be slaves of sin."
Well, the rest of Romans 6 goes along with that, "For the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life." Romans 7:2 1, "I find in a law that evil is present with me, the one who wants to do good." Verse 23: "For I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 0 wretched man that I am, who will deliver me from this body of death?"
Romans 8:2 "For the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death." Now, Paul does seem to associate the ten commandments with the hereditary law of sin because the ten commandments is what points out the sinfulness of our nature. The ten commandments points out sin and we come under that law when we break it.
Paul says in Romans 8:3, 4 "For what the law could not do" (and this, now, is not speaking of the law of sin but it is speaking of the law of the ten commandments written on stone.) What that "could not do in that it was weak through the flesh God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh on account of sin He condemned sin in the flesh that the righteous requirement of the law (again the ten commandments) might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit."
You see, Nicodemus was trying as hard as he could to keep the law. He was married to the law, and he was married to self. He was doing the best he could to keep it. So was the rich young ruler and so was Judas and so was Peter. But did it work? Did any of them become converted through trying as hard as they could to keep the law in their own strength? Did it make any of them ready for heaven?
It might have been a first step. If they were humble enough it showed them how weak they were and how unable they were. It was the first step for Paul in Romans 7, he said, I find the law came and showed me how bad I was. So it was a first step. But it was not enough to get him to heaven. He had to come to the place where he crucified self and where he was humble. Where he realized that however much he might try to do what was right; however much he might try to do what is good; however many efforts he might put forth; he was still lost. He was still a sinner. He still needed something above and beyond himself. He had to be broken on the Rock.
All thought to keep the law. But none of them were broken to self. They were trying to keep it in their own strength. They were not divested of self or pride. They sought for daily improvements in their lives, but these efforts were futile in the long run. They made temporary advancement for a short period of time. They could maybe control their thoughts and for a short period of time they could maybe have the right motive.
For a short period of time. For a long period of time they could fool people. For even a longer period of time they could fool themselves. But these efforts at improving self were all futile. Like the alcoholic who goes on a water binge. He goes and drinks a lot of water for a while. Sooner or later he is back where he was, and when he gets back, he is worse that he was before.
It seemed that the more they sought to do good, the worse they became eventually and in the long run. It has interested me over the years to see young people raised in the Adventist Church who have been raised to do what is right, to obey the Bible, to obey God, to keep their bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit. I see many of these people fall, and when they fall, they go farther into sin faster than almost anybody else.
I have seen this happen time and time again. Those who have the greatest privilege become the greatest sinners. Those who have the greatest knowledge become the worst in transgressing that knowledge. So, it seems that the more people try, the worse they become. They make temporary advancement and then they find that they fall, and they are worse than they were before and then they become totally discouraged. Then they give up, and then they go all the way into sin eventually.
It is discouraging. They finally have no strength in themselves but, they are not willing to admit it because they still have pride. But those who humble self and came to Jesus just as they are saying, Lord, I just look good on the outside but inside I am full of sin and pride and selfishness. I need Your help. These all found their lack supplied. They were not just improved people on the outside. They did not just have the outside polished up. But these people became new on the inside.
I read in The Desire of Ages, 172, "The Christians life is nota modification or improvement of the old." It is not just the old life polished up, not just the old life fitted up so that it looks good to others or to ourselves. I have found that it is easier to fool ourselves and others, but often if we are really good we can fool both.
So "the Christian's life is not a modification or improvement of the old. But 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." Somewhere, somehow a miracle must happen in the life. There is no other way. A miracle that goes beyond New Years resolutions, that goes beyond just determining what is good and what is right, that goes beyond education, that goes beyond instruction, that goes beyond knowledge. Something has to happen. A miracle has to happen that is above and beyond ourselves.
It must happen in the lives of our young people or they can never go to heaven. Oh, I feel so sorry for our young people because they have a disadvantage. They have a great advantage, too. They have the advantage of being raised to know the truth, but they have the disadvantage to being in danger of thinking that since they are raised to know the truth, they are therefore converted.
So there is an advantage and a disadvantage. Knowing the truth and being raised in a home that teaches the truth and practices the truth does not convert anyone. How many of our young people are raised and grow up thinking they are converted who have never had an experience. They are not in control of their passions and of their emotions. They are not in control of their pride and or their selves. They think that this is the way people are but they go to church on Sabbath, but it is not only our young people. How many of us are the same way?
We go to church on Sabbath. We pay our tithe and offerings and we read the Scriptures but we are not really in control of our emotions and our passions, our feelings. We are good people but are we converted people? Like Nicodemus and the rich young ruler and others, we are respected people and members of the true church, but are we converted people?
Conversion is receiving the Spirit of Jesus in our lives so that the old man, the inner man of sin, not the outer man but the inner man of sin that man of sin is what we are. Our feelings, our emotions, our thoughts, our ambitions. The inner man of sin is put away. Conversion is when Jesus comes in the life, and He wants to come into the life.
Look what it says over here in Revelation 3:20, it says, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock." I died for you. I have a place in heaven for you. "And if anyone will hear my voice and open the door, I will come in and dine with him and he with me."
Conversion is not far away from any one of us. Jesus right now is standing at the heart door of each one of us asking to come in. he wants to make those changes. I want to say those changes are not hocus, pocus change. And they do not happen instantaneously, usually, but the change can come. A real change can come.
When Jesus comes into the heart, he brings certain items with Him. We find this is verse 18, this is when Jesus comes in. He is a merchant man. He comes in and He gives us something. He says, "I counsel you to buy of Me gold refined in the fire." You see, there is something we must do when Jesus comes in. We have to buy something. To buy means that you give something in exchange for something else. We use dollar bills here to buy things with. In England they use the pound and shilling.
Over in Holland they use the gilder and in Germany they use the mark and in some countries they use cows and shells. To buy means that you have to give something in exchange for something. Jesus is not interested in dollars and pounds or gilders or marks or lyres or francs or cows or shells. But He is interested in something.
As we find over in Isaiah 55 He says, "Buy of Me not with money but buy." The only thing that God is interested in is our old ugly self, full of sin. That is all He is interested in. That is the only money He will accept. It is not worth anything to us, but it is worth everything to Him because He can take it and change it. He can convert it and make it something that is worthwhile, that is worth living throughout eternity.
And so He says, "Buy of Me gold refined in the fire that you may be rich and white raiment that you may be clothed and that the shame of your nakedness may not appear and anoint your eyes with eyesalve that you may see." So the Bible invites us to buy three things. Or we buy one and He gives us a couple, I guess.
Now gold represents the love and the faith of Jesus. These are the two things that each Christian must possess. Do you have that gold in your life? Gold that has been tried in the fire? That love that holds up to trials and temptations and disappointment? That love that manifests itself towards God and towards others?
Look with me at I John 4:7-11. This is what Jesus is trying to get the rich young ruler to have with true love toward one another and true love to God. He said, "Beloved let us love one another for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another."
Down in verse 20 it says, "If someone says, I love God and hates his brother, he is a liar. For he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?" So, dear friend, as we look inside of our hearts, do we have the gold that represents and is a part of the conversion process? Do we truly have love for our brothers and sisters, for our children, our spouses, our fellow church members, our neighbors and our enemy?
Do we have that love that God has. Look with me what is says in Matthew 5:44 in the Sermon on the Mount as Jesus introduced this love to the world, He says, "I say to you love your enemies. Bless those who curse you. Do good to those who hate you and pray for those who despitefully use you and persecute you so that you may be the son of your Father in heaven." This is conversion.
When we are converted, we become the sons of God. But there is no conversion without the gold that Jesus comes to give, and we cannot have the gold unless we give something for it. We have to give Him ourselves, our sinful selves. "For He makes the sun to rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?" Even the tax collectors and the heathen and all the unconverted to that. That is no sign of conversion. If you greet your brother only, what do you do more than others? Everyone who is not converted does that. "Therefore, you should be perfect in love just as your Father in heaven is perfect."
And so this morning, Jesus stands at the heart door knocking, saying, If anyone will let me come in, I will come in and I will sell you some gold if you will buy if from Me and all it takes is your pride, all it takes is your sinful self. Give me yourself and I will give you the gold in return.
We cannot manufacture that love. It does not come from a human loom. It is manufactured in heaven, but it is bestowed and given to us. It is offered to us if we will give something in exchange. This love is not a mere courtesy. It is not a mere politeness as good as these things are. But rather this love is a new heart that Jesus wants to give. It is a love that never gets impatient.
Everyone in the world has some kind of love. I mean the members of the Mafia love one another. You can find the worst criminal who may love even his wife or his children. Well, that is a little part of God that that criminal still has. But he is not converted. When we are really converted, then is when we overcome jealousy, envy, impatience. If we are still impatient, if we are still envious, if we still get hurt feelings then we are like Nicodemus.
We may be good people but we are not converted. If we are offended easily, then we are like Nicodemus. We may be good church members, but somehow Jesus is not in our hearts yet. We have not yet caught a glimpse of what Jesus went through for us and we are still carrying around and protecting self for fear that self might get hurt.
Do you rejoice over others misfortunes? Then we are still harboring some of the spirit of Satan. But Jesus offers to come in and give us the gold of His own life, His own character, His own love. But that gold must be tried in the fire. God is not giving us fools gold that disappoints us when we go to the market, you know. What He offers us is the real thing that can stand the test of fire and trial.
It is gold that has been tried in the fire that Jesus offers us. But Jesus not only offers us gold, he offers us something else. What else does it say that He offers us here in Revelation 3:18? It says, "I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire that you may be rich and white garments that you may be clothed."
Now we find in Revelation 19:7, 8 that this white garment represents our characters. Now love is a part of our character, but this white garment represents obedience. This is the keeping of the law. We cannot really keep the law unless we have love, of course, and we need the love first. We have to have the gold in order to have the white garment. But here we find in verses 7 and 8, "Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His wife has made herself ready. And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints." That is the keeping of the law.
Now you know that Nicodemus thought he was clothed with righteousness because he was keeping the law. The rich young ruler thought he was clothed with righteousness because he was keeping the law. But Jesus said they were both lacking. Neither were righteous and neither kept the law, because neither had the love that the law is based upon.
Before we can have the white garment of righteousness, we must have the gold of Jesus love. Do you want to be righteous? Truly righteous? That means we will obey the law. But to obey the law we must have the love of Jesus in our hearts. Look with me over here in I John 3:4-7. What is righteousness? It says in verse 4: "Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness and sin is lawlessness."
It does not matter how much love a person may think they have if they are breaking the Sabbath knowingly; or they are committing adultery; or if they are stealing. They are not righteous. They do not have any righteousness and they are naked. They may think they are Christians but if they are committing lawlessness and breaking the law of God, they are still yet in their sins.
Verse 5 says, "You know that He was manifested to take away our sins and in Him there is no sin. Whoever abides in Him does not sin." We just learned that sin is breaking the law. Those who abide in Jesus do not sin. "Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him." Jesus is not abiding in their heart. He is still at the door knocking. "Little children let no one deceive you."
This is a great deception in the world today. There are millions of Christian preachers and teachers today who are teaching people they can be righteous without obeying God. What blasphemy! Here it says, "Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous." Let us not forget.
Let us get it in order. We do not want to have gold without the garment. How many of you would like to go down the street holding some gold in your hand but be naked? If you have gold, you want to buy some clothes, right? We need both. We need the gold which represents Jesus love. But with that love we need to be clothed with obedience.
Jesus said, in fact, "If ye love me--do what?--keep my commandments." If you have love and do not do that, that gold is not doing too much if you cannot even buy yourself a suit of clothes to put on. God is not going to take naked people to heaven, he is only taking clothed people to heaven. But we have to have the gold to buy the clothes. And so Jesus said, "If you love me, keep my commandments."
Nicodemus tried to buy clothes with his own money. He did not have very good clothes. He thought he was keeping the law, but he did not have the love that the law was based upon. But there is one other thing we notice here that we also need in Revelation 3. It says, "I counsel you to buy of me gold refined in the fire that ye may be rich and white garments that you may be clothed that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed. And anoint your eyes with eyesalve that you may see."
So God tells us that after we have His love, and after we keep His commandments then He will give us the gift of discernment that we might discern truth. Did you ever realize that you will never be able to truly understand the Bible unless you first experience the love of Jesus and begin to keep His commandments? Did you ever realize that there is no other way to understand the Bible? You see, if we were trying to explain the Bible to someone who refuses to be converted, we might as well quit. We cannot do something that the Holy Spirit does not do, can we?
Do we have eyesalve to give to somebody? I do not have any eyesalve. The eyesalve comes from the Holy Spirit. I want to tell you, going to a school and getting a Ph.D. degree; maybe a Master of Divinity or Doctor of Divinity or any other kind of degree that someone may glory in. Or going to some seminar someplace. Or buying some books and reading them. It does not matter what books you buy, what seminars you attend or what schools you go to or how long you study. It does not matter how diligent you are in reading the Scriptures or even reading the Spirit of Prophecy along with them.
Unless the person has the gold of Jesus love in their hearts and has the garments of obedience, they will never come to a knowledge of the truth. They cannot do it. It cannot happen. That is what the Jews tried to do. Some of the Jews memorized the whole Old Testament. Can you imagine it? Now that is study.
Not only did they memorize the Old Testament, they went to school for years and years and learned what all the great wise men thought the Scriptures had said for ___________ a lot more of truth than they did. I mean, any simple person who knew that Jesus was the Messiah knew more truth than the greatest and most educated Pharisee in Jerusalem, did he not?
They did not even know the most basic thing of the Scriptures, you know, it has always amazed me how people can read the Bible, can get doctors degrees in the Bible, can study and write books on it and not even know that the seventh day is the Sabbath. Talk about something that is plain! They cannot even know that Jesus is coming again soon. Talk about something that is plain. They do not even know that there is a judgment in heaven. They do not even know that the dead are sleeping until they are raised again. Talk about things that are plain in the Scriptures.
But, you know, if we are going to really help people to see these plain things, we are going to have to teach them the love of Jesus, are we not? And then we are going to have to teach them to obey what the Bible says. Once they accept the love of Jesus in their hearts and once they start obeying the truth that they know, then God will give them the eyesalve from the Holy Spirit and they will be able to understand the Bible.
Look what Jesus said over in Matthew 13:11-13. The disciples had come to Jesus and said, Listen, why are You talking in parables? These people are never going to understand what You are saying. "And Jesus answered and said unto them, Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven but to them it has not been given."
That has always been a mysterious text. You mean God told these things and did not even intend these people to understand what He was saying? Yes, they did not have the eyesalve. "For whoever has," whoever has the gold that Jesus offers to give them, the gold of His love. Whoever has the garments of obedience, "to him more will be given." They will also be given the eyesalve to understand the parables, "and he will have abundance. But whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. Therefore I spake to them in parables because seeing they do not see."
In fact, they cannot see. Paul tells us in I Corinthians 2. "And hearing they do not hear nor do they understand." In the last days there are coming master deceptions in the world and, dear friend, there are coming master deceptions even in the church. Just as there were back in the early church. There are coming deceptions.
These deceptions cause people to be lost. The Bible says that Satan is going about and he is deceiving the whole world and he is deceiving them for a reason. Deceptions cause people to be lost. You know, I have been amazed at what simple things there are in the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy that people who claim to be keeping the Sabbath, who are keeping the Sabbath like Nicodemus and the rich young ruler and others (I am not here to judge their characters. Who knows, they may just be misunderstanding.) but somehow they cannot see the simplest things.
I mean, when people cannot even understand that we have to overcome sin, they cannot see anything. When people cannot see the simple plain gospel that Jesus came down, was tempted in all points like we are so that we can overcome sin, too. If they cannot see that simple, plain story of the gospel, they cannot see anything. They seem to be blind.
The reason they are blind is because they are unconverted. They do not yet have the gold of Jesus love, nor are they clothed with the garments of obedience. So they have no eyesalve in order to understand the Bible. The only way to not be deceived, dear friend, is to be converted. There is no other way. This, too, (the eyesalve) is a gift of God.
Oh, how many millions when Jesus comes are going to be disappointed because they believe, they thought they were saved. Because they are members of what they thought was the true church. Maybe they were actually members of the true church. Because they were active for the Lord, making a profession. Because they are basically good and moral. Because they had never done anything really wrong. And yet they are lost and do not know it.
If Jesus should talk to many of us today, would He not say, Unless we are born again, we cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. So, how can we invite Jesus into the heart. How can we give Him our old self? How can we have this change that will result in eternal life? How can we have not just an improvement of life, but actually a new life, a new being, a new existence?
Well, there are three ways. I would like you to write these down, at least to remember them. First, we have to spend time with Jesus every day. Now the Jews did that. Nevertheless that is the first step--not the last step--but it is the first step. We have to spend time with Jesus daily. Second we must surrender ourselves to the Lord. We must totally surrender to Him. Third we must unite our will with His will.
I read in The Desire of Ages, 172, again, . . . . 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 a long wooing by the Spirit of God,--a patient, protracted process."
And so we must first spend time with God, reading the Bible, meditating on His Word, coming to church and prayer meeting, spend time in praying. But then something else must happen eventually, and the sooner the better, as the Holy Spirit works with our hearts, we must come to the place where we do, what? Where we surrender ourselves.
You see, that is what the rich young ruler never did. Jesus told him to go and sell everything he had and give to the poor. And he said, Oh, is that required of me? Why do I need to do that? I am a good man. He never surrendered, did he? That is what Judas never did. He did everything except to surrender completely. He surrendered in many areas, but he never surrendered completely.
I read in The Desire of Ages, 717, "(Judas) loved the Great Teacher, and desired to be with Him. He felt a desire to be changed in character and life, and he hoped to experience this through connecting himself with Jesus. . . . But Judas did not come to the point of surrendering himself fully to Christ." What did Judas not do? He never surrendered completely. "He did not give up his worldly ambition or his love of money. While he accepted the position of a minister of Christ, he did not bring himself under the divine molding."
What did Judas not do? He did not surrender completely. He did not give up his way, his own will. He did not allow his life to be molded and shaped through trial and tribulation. You want to know how it is that God molds us? Look with me again over here in James 1. "My brethren, count it all joy," it says in verse 2, "when you fall into various trials, knowing this that it is a test of your faith that molds your life and character and produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." Judas did not allow that to happen.
Today Jesus wants to give you His love and faith but it must be tested by fire. He wants to give you His character of obedience and then He wants to give you spiritual discernment. This is true conversion. This is the experience that Nicodemus eventually developed and that Peter eventually had and that Jesus wants you and me to have.
But to receive these heavenly gifts we must surrender our sins, our pride. We must be broken on the Rock, as Jesus said once. If anyone will come after Me, he must be broken on the Rock, Jesus said. We must surrender our pride. We must gladly and willingly yield our plans, our life ambitions to Him.
If we give Him our life, He will take it and He will give us a new life. A new life that will bring peace and joy and happiness here and that will be qualified to live with Him throughout eternity. Look with me over at John 1:12, our closing text. Here Jesus said, "But as many as received Him to them gave He the right to become the children of God, even to those who believe on His name." The word there is a word that can be translated either power or right. It is sort of both. He gives us the power and the privilege of becoming children with Him.
Jesus is coming soon, is he not? May we each have the privilege of entering with Him into His glory when He comes because we have entered with Him into His life experience here. Because we have purchased the gold at the expense of self and then used that gold to clothe ourselves with obedience. Then we have been given the eyesalve of discernment to read and understand His Word and apply it to our lives.
May the Lord grant that each of us when Jesus comes will here that "Well done" spoken to us and that we will not be disappointed as Nicodemus was. Thankfully he still had time but in the end we will not have time. May we not be disappointed to hear Jesus say to us, You are not born again and only those who are born again can enter the kingdom of heaven.