The evangelists of scripture, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, are anonymous names of men who wrote salvation history. They introduced characters who never walked this earth, but whose names are significant.
In the Book of John, we find the story of Nicodemus. Now, Nicodemus is not mentioned in any other part of the Bible, or in any historical records of the time; so we see Nicodemus was not introduced for some historical purpose. The word means ‘conqueror of the people; all victorious’.
Nicodemus was a Pharisee, a very learned member of the Sanhedrin – which was the supreme council of Jews in New Testament times, having religious, civil, and criminal jurisdiction. In this case, Nicodemus desires to interpret scripture and pass judgment on his findings. Tradition has it that Nicodemus was the third richest man of his day; so we see he was not only learned, but very, very rich. Observing all the rules of the rabbinical order, Nicodemus sought Jesus at night, as he did not want to be seen in the company of one who – according to scripture – had no education by standards known to man. Coming to Jesus by night, and recognizing him as a teacher, Nicodemus said: “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God, for no one can do these signs unless God is with him.”
Jesus then answered in the form of a dialogue, saying: “Truly, truly I say to you, unless you are born from above you cannot enter the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus then said, “How can a man who is old, enter his mother’s womb for a second time and be born? To this Jesus replied, “You, a teacher of Israel, and you do not understand? I tell you, unless you are born from above, you cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh, is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit, is spirit; and flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom.” So we see that an entirely different birth must take place. That birth comes from above. The word is “anothen” and means “from the beginning; the top.” This same word, anothen, is used for the seamless robe John speaks of as having been woven from the top.
And when Pilate said: “Do you not know that I have the power to crucify you and the power to set you free?” Jesus replied: “You have no power over me were it not given to you from above.” Here the word anothen is translated “above.” Through the Gospel of John the word anothen is brought into play, as he distinguishes that which is spirit from that which is flesh.
When reading the 3rd chapter of John, start with the 1st verse, and go through to the 21st. Jump to the 31st, and continue to the 36th. Then go back to the 22nd, and on to the 30th. Do this and you will find a flow in the dialogue that is completely broken as it is now recorded. It is as though the pages were dislocated before publication. The words belonging to Jesus flow from verse 10 through 21, then continue at verse 31 through 36. As it is now written, words have been put into the mouth of John the Baptist that do not belong there.
Nicodemus was introduced when the evangelist was seeking a greater understanding of the meaning of Jesus, God’s image which must be implanted in the individual. There is an interval between the implanting of God’s Word and its eruption. And when that eruption takes place, everything recorded of Jesus unfolds in a first-person, present tense experience, making that individual the son of God by nature, to be used as an agent to implant the idea that men may become sons of God by grace. That which is implanted, contains within itself the entire plan of redemption, which takes a period of thirty years to erupt into the individual’s birth from above.
Let us now turn to the Book of Luke, where it is recorded that: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore, the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.” And Paul tells us that the power of the Most High is Christ Jesus. Anyone who is twice born can be used as an agent for the creative power of the Most High. There may be no awareness of it on the surface level, but a supernatural impregnation must take place; and it takes 30 years for the child – the symbol of spiritual birth – to occur.
You entered this world of sin and death for the impregnation and ultimate departure from it. While you are here, you may own all of the treasures, have its people worship and adore you – if that is your desire. But when you leave it, you will simply assume a new body in a terrestrial world like this one, to continue your same journey of slavery. This you will do over and over again, until your supernatural impregnation and your spiritual birth. Then you will depart this world and enter an entirely different one; for after the implantation, a metamorphosis takes place within you. Just like a caterpillar who clings to a leaf and cannot move beyond it, that which comes out of you when you are born from above, is greater than the painted butterfly. In that new body, you move into an entirely different world.
Now, in the 3rd chapter of John, the words put into the mouth of John the Baptist in the 22nd verse, are really a dialogue between Jehovah and Nicodemus, the victorious one. Experiencing that which he could not find in a book, Nicodemus was seeking a fuller understanding of the meaning of the word ‘Jehovah’ or ‘Jesus,’ which can only come through revelation.
Now, if Nicodemus was a part of secular history, he would be mentioned elsewhere; but the Bible is not written about physical history, but about the supernatural history of salvation. There was no little boy called Jesus who was born of a woman called Mary. As you walk the earth and answer to your physical name, you conceive of the spirit and are supernaturally born.
Nicodemus personifies the Catholics, Protestants, and Jews, of today – those who keep alive any belief in an outside God. Believing that because of his social, educational, or financial background he should not be seen with certain people, Nicodemus sought one who could remove his blindness, because he was so eager to understand. His statement: “Rabbi, we perceive that you have been sent from God, for no one can do these signs unless God is with him,” is followed by these words which are seemingly not related to any sign: “Unless you are born from above, you cannot enter the kingdom of God.’ Then Jesus uses this phrase: “As the wind blows where it will and you hear the sound of it but cannot tell whence it comes or whither it goes, so it is with everyone who is born of the spirit.” This is true, for the vision comes so suddenly, just like the wind, as it is a spiritual experience. And if you conceived the word 30 years ago, your birth from above could come tonight.
Now let us turn to the other side of this principle, which is the law of identical harvest. We are told that whatever we desire, when we believe we already have received it, we will. This promise is based upon the premise that imagining creates reality. There is nothing you cannot become or have as an objective fact, if you believe you already have it. No restriction or condition has been placed upon the power of belief. If you will deny the evidence of your senses, suspend your reason, and persuade yourself that you are now the person you want to be, you will become it! Ask yourself how your friends would see you if you now embodied the idea you desire. Your true friends would rejoice, would they not? Then, if this statement in the Book of Mark is true, all you have to do is persist in believing your assumption is true, and it will harden into fact.
I do not care what the world will tell you, imagination creates its reality. All of these precepts must be accepted literally, for they are literally true. What person truly believes that he was born to be what he is today? He may have been born into a family of great wealth, and – being surrounded by it – he takes wealth for granted; but that is an assumption. He may even believe he is entitled to it; but if you checked into his family tree, you would discover that his father or grandfather had a vision which became his reality. And if he who was born into wealth does not know the principle that supports it, he can lose the money and never regain it again. But you who know that everything is based upon an assumption realize that no one can take anything from you that you really want!
Take everything I have, but leave me with the knowledge of how I received it in the first place and I will reproduce it again by the seed of contemplative thought. This is stated so clearly in the 11th chapter of the Book of Mark: “Whatever you desire, believe you have received it and you will.” These words are put into the mouth of one called Christ Jesus, who said, “I am the truth.” If Jesus Christ only speaks the truth, will you believe him? Live by his words! Accept on faith that which you do not understand, and apply that which you do. How would you feel if your desire were true? Catch the feeling and sustain it. Persist in your assumption and in a way that no one knows, it will become true for you! If you were given enough money to take care of all of your expenses this month, but did not know this principle, you would remain in need and have to be given to again. No individual or country is rich enough to give forever. Those who receive must be told how to become a giver.
I urge you to assume that you are important. That you are wanted. That you are contributing to the world; for as you do, you move to a higher level of yourself. The politician urges you to vote for him, claiming that if you do he will take care of you. He knows he is lying, but the average person, conditioned as he is, accepts these words and perpetuates the state. There is no prison strong enough to keep you behind bars when you know this principle.
In San Francisco, about ten years ago, I was teaching an audience of approximately one thousand, when a lady stood up and said: “My brother is in the army. I do not know what he did, but I do know that he has been court-marshaled and sentenced to six months of hard labor. Neville, if I believe you, can I not set my brother free?” I said: “Yes, but only to the degree that you are self-persuaded that he is free.” One week later this same lady stood up and told this story. “Believing you last week, when I returned home to my second floor apartment, I sat in my living room and imagined I heard the doorbell. Then I ran down the stairs, opened the front door and threw my arms around my brother. I rehearsed that scene over and over again until I could hear the doorbell ring, feel the banister in my right hand and my feet moving down the stairs. The doorknob became solidly real in my hand and I could see, touch, and feel my brother’s presence before I stopped imagining. “Last Wednesday evening, as I was dwelling upon my brother’s return, the doorbell rang and I instantly knew it was he. I ran down the stairs, opened the door and there was my brother. He told me that the army had reviewed his case and changed their judgment, setting him free with an honorable discharge.” This was a sign of the power of Christ operating in her. She believed the word and loved her brother deeply. Desiring her love to be free as the wind, she released it and in a way she could not rationally analyze, he whom she loved was set free.
You may think that was not right, but who is to say what is right and what is wrong? There are only two things that displease God. One is eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil by judging what is right and what is wrong, and the other is the lack of faith in yourself! If you do not believe that you are spirit, all imagination, you remain where you are and miss your goal in life. You must believe that you became the physical you, with all of your weaknesses and limitations. That you emptied yourself and took on the form of a slave, thereby becoming a slave to your passions and ambitions. But before you did this, you were one with God. Then you emptied yourself of your god-like qualities, and assumed the weakness of the flesh by becoming human.
Say to yourself and yourself alone, “If I do not believe that I am God I will die in my sins by missing my goals in life, so I must start believing now! And, because all things are possible to God, they are possible to me. I will begin by believing I am the person I want to be. I will believe my friends are what I would like them to be, and no longer eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.”
Try to think of every person as one who is destined to be a son of God by grace, one who is destined to have union with a son of God by nature. When one is born from above he is a son of God by nature. Night after night he then enters the spirit world where he plays the part of the stallion, planting the seed of God in all that are called by his Father. Thirty years later, that seed which carries in itself the pattern of redemption, erupts within the individual, and he is redeemed. First, by waking in the tomb of his own being, finding the symbol of his individual birth, and then discovering the Fatherhood of God. This is followed by his spiritual body being split from top to bottom and the dove descending and sealing the Word with the words, “You are my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.”
Now let us go into the silence.