What are true believers? True believers live by faith… faith in Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior of all mankind. They stake their faith and their lives on the truth of the gospel. Their feet are staunchly planted in the kingdom. They are true, loyal, committed to Jesus. They are not fooled by wrong doctrine nor are they deceived by false teachers. Nothing and no one can lead them away from their Lord.

True believers live by the light of Christ. His light dwells within them and lights their path before them. He is the light of their world. Many claim to be true believers. Yet they are torn between the ways of darkness and the ways of light. They have not believed the truth. They have not made a commitment to follow Jesus wholeheartedly.

“If anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” – John 11:10

We read in Scripture of a man named Nicodemus who secretly comes to see Jesus one night, under the cover of darkness. This Pharisee, learned teacher and member of the Sanhedrin, desires an audience with the One who awes with signs and wonders. His arrival at night puts into question his underlying motives.

Does this man have the light within him? Is he friend or foe? Seeker or skeptic? Secret believer or investigative spy?

“Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs You are doing if God were not with him.” – John 3:2

Nicodemus first sets the stage by acknowledging Jesus’ divine connection. What is his motive? Is he seeking the truth about the potential Messiah so as to believe? Or is he trying to challenge His claims? Is Nicodemus a secret disciple of Jesus? Or has he come on behalf of the Jewish leaders to discredit Him and disprove His miracles?

“Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” – John 3:3

Jesus, ever astute in seeing the true character of people, responds with this curious statement. Nicodemus is perplexed. What can this mean? As a lifelong adherent of the Jewish faith, he is perhaps amazed at such words. For he is a child of Abraham… one of the chosen race promised salvation.

“How can someone be born when they are old?… Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” – John 3:4

Nicodemus speaks of the natural impossibility of being born again. Yet Jesus is sharing of a supernatural event… a spiritual rebirth. For He knows that this man needs to be born again to see God’s kingdom.

“Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.” – John 3:5-6

All mankind is born through a natural birth. Yet not all are reborn spiritually. A spiritual life needs a spiritual birth. Not all have the new life of the Spirit. For the Spirit in a person is God’s presence within them. It is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, that comes to live and reign in all who truly believe.

“You should not be surprised at My saying, ‘You must be born again’… You are Israel’s teacher… and do you not understand these things?” – John 7, 10

Jesus is surprised that this lettered scholar and teacher of the law has not heard of the Spirit life. This appears to be a foreign concept to him. Surely he knows the prophet Ezekiel’s writings… where God promises to give His people a new heart and a new Spirit to follow in His ways? (Ezekiel 36:26)

“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” – John 3:17-18

Jesus explains to Nicodemus the true and only path to salvation. The path that God so lovingly gave to the world. The path to eternal life. The path followed by all true believers in Christ (John 3:16).

Jesus sees the heart of Nicodemus. He sees a man who has come as a friend and a seeker. He desires to open this man’s eyes to the truth… to save him from condemnation. Jesus longs for Nicodemus to be born again into God’s eternal kingdom.

“Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders… He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night.” – John 19:38-39

We meet Nicodemus again, after the Lord’s crucifixion. He comes alongside Joseph of Arimathea, fellow member of the Sanhedrin, to prepare Jesus’ body for burial. Perhaps Nicodemus, like Joseph, has become a secret believer and disciple of Jesus. He may have come to believe the truth about the True Messiah.

“This is the verdict: Light has come into the world… whoever lives by the truth comes into the light.” – John 3:19, 21

True believers move from darkness into the light of Christ. Although the Bible does not say, perhaps this happened to Nicodemus following his personal encounter with Jesus. A change of heart… a step of faith… a move from unbelief to belief. A wholehearted commitment to the Son of God, sealing the true salvation of Nicodemus for all eternity.