Sabbath, August 13, 2005
“Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God: for he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month.” Joel 2:23.
“It is true that in the time of the end, when God’s work in the earth is closing, the earnest efforts put forth by consecrated believers under the guidance of the Holy Spirit are to be accompanied by special tokens of divine favor. Under the figure of the early and the latter rain, that falls in Eastern lands at seedtime and harvest, the Hebrew prophets foretold the bestowal of spiritual grace in extraordinary measure upon God’s church. The outpouring of the Spirit in the days of the apostles was the beginning of the early, or former, rain, and glorious was the result. To the end of time the presence of the Spirit is to abide with the true church. “But near the close of earth’s harvest, a special bestowal of spiritual grace is promised to prepare the church for the coming of the Son of man. This outpouring of the Spirit is likened to the falling of the latter rain.” –The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 54, 55.
• To understand that God has prepared everything for the victory of His church.
• To be united with love, trusting God’s promise and prophecy for the future of the church, although in the present it has faults and mistakes.
• To prepare us for the blessing of the latter rain promised to the church.
THE PRESENT SITUATION
1. Referring to preparation, which condition of the church is presented by Jesus in some of His parables?
Matthew 13:24- 27 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?
Matthew 25:1-4 Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.
“The truth is a sanctifying power; but the church militant is not the church triumphant. There are tares among the wheat. ‘Wilt thou then that we … gather them up?’ was the question of the servant; but the master answered, ‘Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.’ (Matthew 13:28, 29). The gospel net draws not only good fi sh, but bad ones as well, and the Lord only knows who are His.” –Testimony Treasures, vol. 2, p. 362.
“The church militant is not the church triumphant, and earth is not heaven. The church is composed of erring, imperfect men and women, who are but learners in the school of Christ, to be trained, disciplined, educated, for this life and for the future, immortal life” –Last Day Events, p. 61.
2. What promise is given about the purification and victory of the church?
Ephesians 5:27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
Song of Solomon 6:10 Who is she that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners?
“Then the church which our Lord at His coming is to receive to Himself will be a ‘glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing.’ (Ephesians 5:27). Then she will look ‘forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners.’ (Song of Solomon 6:10).” –The Great Controversy, p. 425.
“At last the victory was gained. The army following the banner with the inscription, “The commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus,” was gloriously triumphant. The soldiers of Christ were close beside the gates of the city, and with joy the city received her King. The kingdom of peace and joy and everlasting righteousness was established. “Now the church is militant. Now we are confronted with a world in midnight darkness, almost wholly given over to idolatry. But the day is coming in which the battle will have been fought, the victory won. The will of God is to be done on earth, as it is done in heaven.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, p. 41, 42.
“He will purify His church, even as Christ purified the temple during His ministry on earth.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 525.
THE CHURCH HAS TO BE JUSTIFIED AND SANCTIFIED
3. What does every soul need to experience through conversion? What is also said about the church?
Ephesians 5:26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
4. According to the promise, which character should reach the remnant people?
Matthew 5:48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
1 Thessalonians 5:23 (first part) And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly???
“God has a church on earth who are lifting up the downtrodden law, and presenting to the world the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world. The church is the depositary of the wealth of the riches of the grace of Christ, and through the church eventually will be made manifest the final and full display of the love of God to the world that is to be lightened with its glory. The prayer of Christ that His church may be one as He was one with His Father will finally be answered.” –Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 50.
“Christ has made every provision that His church shall be a transformed body, illumined with the Light of the world, possessing the glory of Emmanuel.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 419.
5. When the church, as a body, will be purified, what special gift will God bestow upon it?
James 5:7, 8 Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.
Joel 2:23 Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God: for he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month.
“The great work of the gospel is not to close with less manifestation of the power of God than marked its opening. The prophecies which were fulfilled in the outpouring of the former rain at the opening of the gospel are again to be fulfilled in the latter rain at its close. Here are ‘the times of refreshing’ to which the apostle Peter looked forward when he said: ‘Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and He shall send Jesus.’ (Acts 3:19, 20).” –The Great Controversy, p. 611, 612.
“Not one of us will ever receive the seal of God while our characters have one spot or stain upon them. It is left with us to remedy the defects in our characters, to cleanse the soul temple of every defilement. Then the latter rain will fall upon us as the early rain fell upon the disciples on the Day of Pentecost.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 214.
6. What is requested, therefore, to everybody in order to receive the fulfillment of the great divine promise?
Hosea 6:1-3 Come, and let us return unto the Lord: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight. Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth.
“The third angel’s message is swelling into a loud cry, and you must not feel at liberty to neglect the present duty, and still entertain the idea that at some future time you will be the recipients of great blessing, when without any effort on your part a wonderful revival will take place. Today you are to give yourselves to God, that He may make of you vessels unto honor, and meet for His service. Today you are to give yourself to God, that you may be emptied of self, emptied of envy, jealousy, evil surmising, strife, everything that shall be dishonoring to God. Today you are to have your vessel purified that it may be ready for the heavenly dew, ready for the showers of the latter rain; for the latter rain will come, and the blessing of God will fi ll every soul that is purified from every defilement.” –Selected Messages, vol. 1, p. 190, 191.
PREPARATION FOR THE CHURCH AND INDIVIDUALS
7. Which heartily call is the Lord making to every believer in order to reach the needed preparation?
Acts 1:14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.
Joel 2:16, 17 Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet. Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God?
“God calls for a spiritual revival and a spiritual reformation. Unless this takes place, those who are lukewarm will continue to grow more abhorrent to the Lord, until He will refuse to acknowledge them as His children.
“A revival and a reformation must take place, under the ministration of the Holy Spirit. Revival and reformation are two different things. Revival signifies a renewal of spiritual life, a quickening of the powers of mind and heart, a resurrection from spiritual death. Reformation signifies a reorganization, a change in ideas and theories, habits and practices. Reformation will not bring forth the good fruit of righteousness unless it is connected with the revival of the Spirit. Revival and reformation are to do their appointed work, and in doing this work they must blend. ( The Review and Herald, February 25, 1902).” – Select Messages, vol 1, p. 128.
8. What victory is requested, in the divine work of preparation, so that we may be in condition to receive the latter rain?
Acts 3:19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.
Hebrews 12:1 (last part) … and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.
“I saw that many were neglecting the preparation so needful and were looking to the time of ‘refreshing’ and the ‘latter rain’ to fi t them to stand in the day of the Lord and to live in His sight. Oh, how many I saw in the time of trouble without a shelter! They had neglected the needful preparation; therefore they could not receive the refreshing that all must have to fit them to live in the sight of a holy God. Those who refuse to be hewed by the prophets and fail to purify their souls in obeying the whole truth, and who are willing to believe that their condition is far better than it really is, will come up to the time of the falling of the plagues, and then see that they needed to be hewed and squared for the building…I saw that none could share the ‘refreshing’ unless they obtain the victory over every besetment, over pride, selfishness, love of the world, and over every wrong word and action. We should, therefore, be drawing nearer and nearer to the Lord and be earnestly seeking that preparation necessary to enable us to stand in the battle in the day of the Lord. Let all remember that God is holy and that none but holy beings can ever dwell in His presence.” –Early Writings, p. 71.
FOR OUR THOUGHTS
• Consider the situation of our church and discuss in which aspects we are still lacking.
• Classify the experiences of individuals, and of the church, on justification, sanctification, and perfection, and explain the historic events by which it has been justified.
• Consider what is the most precious gift prepared for the church by God and think about the latter rain, which will be poured out for the remnant church in the near future.
• Discover the deep spiritual preparation requested from individuals, and from the church, to be able to receive the promise of the latter rain given by the Lord.