Sabbath, October 3, 2009
“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.” Acts 3:19.
We must be born again
1. What great, longing desire does the Lord have for every one of us? Therefore, what is His personal invitation to every person on earth?
Ezekiel 18:32 For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.
Isaiah 55:7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
(See Ezekiel 33:11.)
“God does not deal with us as finite men deal with one another. His thoughts are thoughts of mercy, love, and tenderest compassion. He says, ‘Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.’ ‘I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins.’ Isaiah 55:7; 44:22.” –Steps to Christ, p. 53.
2. With what clear picture did Jesus present the need of conversion, or turning to the Lord, so as to able to enter His kingdom?
John 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
(See Matthew 18:3.)
“He may conjecture and imagine, but without the eye of faith he cannot see the treasure. Christ gave His life to secure for us this inestimable treasure; but without regeneration through faith in His blood, there is no remission of sins, no treasure for any perishing soul.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 112, 113.
“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….” –The Desire of Ages, p. 171.
God’s work in us
3. What type of work is the new birth, and who brings it about? How is this transformation accomplished?
John 1:13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
John 3:5-8 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.
(See 1 John 4:7.)
“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, p. 172.
“The power of Christ alone can work the transformation in heart and mind that all must experience who would partake with Him of the new life in the kingdom of heaven…. In order to serve Him aright, we must be born of the divine Spirit. This will lead to watchfulness. It will purify the heart and renew the mind, and give us a new capacity for knowing and loving God. It will give us willing obedience to all His requirements.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, p. 156.
4. What happens to our “old man”? What amazing changes are produced in our nature when we receive the new divine heart?
Romans 6:6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
Ephesians 4:22-24 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
Ezekiel 36:26 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.
(See 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15.)
“The apostle admonishes his brethren, in the name and by the authority of the Lord Jesus, that after having professed the gospel they should not conduct themselves as did the Gentiles, but should show by their daily deportment that they had been truly converted….
“Once they were corrupt, degraded, enslaved by lustful passions; they were drugged by worldly opiates, blinded, bewildered, and betrayed by Satan’s devices. Now that they had been taught the truth as it is in Jesus, there must be a decided change in their life and character.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, pp. 171, 172.
5. After such a powerful transformation takes place, what miraculous results will be seen in one’s life?
Romans 6:12, 13 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.
Ezekiel 11:19, 20 And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh: That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.
Galatians 5:22, 23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
(See 1 John 2:29; 3:9; 4:7; 5:1, 2, 4.)
“The man who loves God meditates on the law of God day and night. He is instant in season and out of season. He bears the fruit of a branch vitally connected with the Vine. As he has opportunity, he does good; and everywhere, at all times and in all places, he finds opportunity to work for God. He is one of the Lord’s evergreen trees; and he carries fragrance with him wherever he goes. A wholesome atmosphere surrounds his soul. The beauty of his well-ordered life and godly conversation inspires faith and hope and courage in others. This is Christianity in practice.” –(Review and Herald, August 24, 1897) My Life Today, p. 50.
6. Therefore, what is the meaning of conversion, that complete turnaround of nature and life?
1 Thessalonians 1:9 For they themselves show of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.
(See Ephesians 5:8.)
“To walk in the light means advancement and progress in spiritual attainments. Paul declared, ‘Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect; but … forgetting those things which are behind,’ constantly beholding the Pattern, I reach ‘forth unto those things which are before.’ To walk in the light means to ‘walk uprightly,’ to walk ‘in the way of the Lord,’ to ‘walk by faith,’ to ‘walk in the Spirit,’ to ‘walk in the truth,’ to ‘walk in love, to ‘walk in the newness of life.’ It is ‘perfecting holiness in the fear of God.’” –Sons and Daughters of God, p. 200.
An inexplicable work
7. Can we explain or even understand this divine work of regeneration which is done by the Holy Spirit in us?
John 3:7, 8 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.
“A person may not be able to tell the exact time or place, or trace all the chain of circumstances in the process of conversion; but this does not prove him to be unconverted…. Like the wind, which is invisible, yet the effects of which are plainly seen and felt, is the Spirit of God in its work upon the human heart. That regenerating power, which no human eye can see, begets a new life in the soul; it creates a new being in the image of God. While the work of the Spirit is silent and imperceptible, its effects are manifest. If the heart has been renewed by the Spirit of God, the life will bear witness to the fact. While we cannot do anything to change our hearts or to bring ourselves into harmony with God; while we must not trust at all to ourselves or our good works, our lives will reveal whether the grace of God is dwelling within us. A change will be seen in the character, the habits, the pursuits. The contrast will be clear and decided between what they have been and what they are. The character is revealed, not by occasional good deeds and occasional misdeeds, but by the tendency of the habitual words and acts.” –Steps to Christ, pp. 57, 58.
Totally by faith in Jesus
8. What is man’s part in the powerful experience of the new birth?
John 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.
John 3:16 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.
(See Galatians 3:26.)
“Divine sonship is not something that we gain of ourselves. Only to those who receive Christ as their Saviour is given the power to become sons and daughters of God. The sinner cannot, by any power of his own, rid himself of sin. For the accomplishment of this result, he must look to a higher Power. John exclaimed, ‘Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.’ Christ alone has power to cleanse the heart. He who is seeking for forgiveness and acceptance can say only, ‘Nothing in my hand I bring; Simply to Thy cross I cling.’ But the promise of sonship is made to all who ‘believe on His name. Everyone who comes to Jesus in faith will receive pardon.’” –Sons and Daughters of God, p. 12.