Special Sabbath School Offering for the
INTERNATIONAL HEALTH ORGANIZATION
Let your gifts be given with abundance and joy!
Sabbath, November 7, 2015
“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.
1. Does being born into a respected family and having a good position in society guarantee one’s entrance into God’s kingdom? What is absolutely necessary to be able to enter that holy, wonderful place?
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.
Matthew 18:3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
“All who would enter the city of God must during their earthly life set forth Christ in their dealings. It is this that constitutes them the messengers of Christ, His witnesses. They are to bear a plain, decided testimony against all evil practices, pointing sinners to the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world. He gives to all who receive Him, power to become the sons of God. Regeneration is the only path by which we can enter the city of God. It is narrow, and the gate by which we enter is strait; but along it we are to lead men and women and children, teaching them that, in order to be saved, they must have a new heart and a new spirit. The old, hereditary traits of character must be overcome. The natural desires of the soul must be changed. All deception, all falsifying, all evilspeaking, must be put away. The new life, which makes men and women Christ like, is to be lived.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, p. 23.
New or spiritual birth
2. Would a new birth coming from the same parents have any positive result? Even if it were possible, what could be expected from such a new birth?
John 3:4, 6, first part Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? That which is born of the flesh is flesh.
“By nature the heart is evil, and ‘who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one.’ Job 14:4. No human invention can find a remedy for the sinning soul. ‘The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.’ ‘Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.’ Romans 8:7; Matthew 15:19.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 172.
3. What are the regenerating agents of a true new birth and new life? Do you desire this experience in your life?
John 3:5 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.
“It is by the renewing of the heart that the grace of God works to transform the life. No mere external change is sufficient to bring us into harmony with God. There are many who try to reform by correcting this bad habit or that bad habit, and they hope in this way to become Christians, but they are beginning in the wrong place. Our first work is with the heart….
“The Scriptures are the great agency in this transformation of character. Christ prayed, ‘Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy word is truth’ (John 17:17). If studied and obeyed, the Word of God works in the heart, subduing every unholy attribute. The Holy Spirit comes to convict of sin, and the faith that springs up in the heart works by love to Christ, conforming us, body, soul, and spirit, to His will.” –In Heavenly Places, p. 21.
4. What does the Holy Spirit do to bring a new creature into existence? How does one know if that experience has occurred in his life?
John 3:6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
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: 20That 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.
“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.” –Steps to Christ, p. 57.
“The converting power of God must be upon our hearts. We must study the life of Christ, and imitate the divine Pattern. We must dwell upon the perfection of His character, and be changed into His image. No one will enter the kingdom of God unless his will is brought into captivity to the will of Christ.” –Reflecting Christ, p. 22.
Invisible work and visible effects
5. Are we surprised by the message of the new birth presented by Jesus? Whom will one receive to be transformed and become a child of God?
John 3:7; 1:12 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again…. 1:12But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.
“When the Spirit of God takes possession of the heart, it transforms the life. Sinful thoughts are put away, evil deeds are renounced; love, humility, and peace take the place of anger, envy, and strife. Joy takes the place of sadness, and the countenance reflects the light of heaven. No one sees the hand that lifts the burden, or beholds the light descend from the courts above. The blessing comes when by faith the soul surrenders itself to God. Then that power which no human eye can see creates a new being in the image of God.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 173.
6. Is it possible to analyze how the new birth takes place? Like the movement of the wind, what can be noticed when this new birth occurs?
John 3:8 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.
“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.
Changes that occur when one is born of the Spirit
7. What great changes happen in a person’s nature and life when he is born of God and becomes His child?
1 John 3:9; 5:4, 18 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God…. 5:4For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith…. 18We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.
“In the heart renewed by divine grace, love is the principle of action. It modifies the character, governs the impulses, controls the passions, subdues enmity, and ennobles the affections. This love, cherished in the soul, sweetens the life and sheds a refining influence on all around.” –Steps to Christ, p. 59.
“In the new birth the heart is brought into harmony with God, as it is brought into accord with His law. When this mighty change has taken place in the sinner, he has passed from death unto life, from sin unto holiness, from transgression and rebellion to obedience and loyalty. The old life of alienation from God has ended; the new life of reconciliation, of faith and love, has begun. Then ‘the righteousness of the law’ will ‘be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.’ Romans 8:4. And the language of the soul will be: ‘O how love I Thy law! it is my meditation all the day.’ Psalm 119:97.” –The Great Controversy, p. 468.
For additional study
“So is the experience of every one who is born of the Spirit. The mind is an invisible agent of God to produce tangible results. Its influence is powerful, and governs the actions of men. If purified from all evil, it is the motive power of good. The regenerating Spirit of God, taking possession of the mind, transforms the life; wicked thoughts are put away, evil deeds are renounced, love, peace, and humility take the place of anger, envy, and strife. That power which no human eye can see, has created a new being in the image of God.” –The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 2, pp. 128, 129.