How can these things be? - Nicodemus was still unwilling to admit the doctrine unless he understood it; and we have here an instance of a man of rank stumbling at one of the plainest doctrines of religion, and unwilling to admit a truth because he could not understand “how” it could be, when he daily admitted the truth of facts in other things which he could as little comprehend. And we may learn:
1.that people will often admit facts on other subjects, and be greatly perplexed by similar facts in religion.
2.that no small part of people‘s difficulties are because they cannot understand how or why a thing is.
3.that people of rank and learning are as likely to be perplexed by these things as those in the obscurest and humblest walks of life.
4.that this is one reason why such men, particularly, so often reject the truths of the gospel.
5.that this is a very unwise treatment of truth, and a way which they do not apply to other things.
If the wind cools and refreshes me in summer if it prostrates the oak or lashes the sea into foam - if it destroys my house or my grain, it matters little how it does this; and so of the Spirit. If it renews my heart, humbles my pride, subdues my sin, and comforts my soul, it is a matter of little importance how it does all this. Sufficient for me is it to know that it is done, and to taste the blessings which flow from the renewing. and sanctifying grace of God.
How can these things be? - Our Lord had very plainly told him how these things could be, and illustrated the new birth by one of the most proper similes that could be chosen; but so intent was this great man an making every thing submit to the testimony of his senses that he appears unwilling to believe any thing, unless he can comprehend it. This is the case with many - they profess to believe because they comprehend; but they are impostors who speak thus: there is not a man in the universe that can fully comprehend one operation, either of God or his instrument nature; and yet they must believe, and do believe, though they never did nor ever can fully comprehend, or account for, the objects of their faith.
O what an assurance is this, that the love of God may abide in the hearts of all who believe in Him! O what salvation is provided; for He is able to save unto the uttermost all that come unto God by Him. In wonder we exclaim, How can these things be? But Jesus will be satisfied with nothing less than this. Those who are partakers of His sufferings here, of His humiliation, enduring for His name's sake, are to have the love of God bestowed upon them as it was upon the Son. One who knows, has said, “The Father himself loveth you.” One who has had an experimental knowledge of the length, and breadth, and height, and depth of that love, has declared unto us this amazing fact. This love is ours through faith in the Son of God, therefore a connection with Christ means everything to us. We are to be one with Him as He is one with the Father, and then we are beloved by the infinite God as members of the body of Christ, as branches of the living Vine. We are to be attached to the parent stock, and to receive nourishment from the Vine. Christ is our glorified Head, and the divine love flowing from the heart of God, rests in Christ, and is communicated to those who have been united to Him. This divine love entering the soul inspires it with gratitude, frees it from its spiritual feebleness, from pride, vanity, and selfishness, and from all that would deform the Christian character. FE 178.1Read in context »
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. “Except a man be born again,” the Saviour has said, “he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3. The religion that comes from God is the only religion that can lead to God. 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. This is true worship. 9T 156.1
God requires of His people continual advancement. We need to learn that indulged appetite is the greatest hindrance to mental improvement and soul sanctification. With all our profession of health reform, many of us eat improperly. Indulgence of appetite is the greatest cause of physical and mental debility, and lies largely at the foundation of feebleness and premature death. Let the individual who is seeking to possess purity of spirit bear in mind that in Christ there is power to control the appetite. 9T 156.2Read in context »
“If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17. SC 57.1
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. Christ said to Nicodemus, “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 everyone that is born of the Spirit.” John 3:8. 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. SC 57.2Read in context »
The same divine mind that is working upon the things of nature is speaking to the hearts of men and creating an inexpressible craving for something they have not. The things of the world cannot satisfy their longing. The Spirit of God is pleading with them to seek for those things that alone can give peace and rest—the grace of Christ, the joy of holiness. Through influences seen and unseen, our Saviour is constantly at work to attract the minds of men from the unsatisfying pleasures of sin to the infinite blessings that may be theirs in Him. To all these souls, who are vainly seeking to drink from the broken cisterns of this world, the divine message is addressed, “Let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” Revelation 22:17. SC 28.1
You who in heart long for something better than this world can give, recognize this longing as the voice of God to your soul. Ask Him to give you repentance, to reveal Christ to you in His infinite love, in His perfect purity. In the Saviour's life the principles of God's law—love to God and man—were perfectly exemplified. Benevolence, unselfish love, was the life of His soul. It is as we behold Him, as the light from our Saviour falls upon us, that we see the sinfulness of our own hearts. SC 28.2
We may have flattered ourselves, as did Nicodemus, that our life has been upright, that our moral character is correct, and think that we need not humble the heart before God, like the common sinner: but when the light from Christ shines into our souls, we shall see how impure we are; we shall discern the selfishness of motive, the enmity against God, that has defiled every act of life. Then we shall know that our own righteousness is indeed as filthy rags, and that the blood of Christ alone can cleanse us from the defilement of sin, and renew our hearts in His own likeness. SC 28.3Read in context »
This is the very education that every student needs. When this is obtained, if they are converted, the frivolous life they have heretofore lived will change. The universe of heaven will look upon characters that have been transformed. The frivolous, common level will be forsaken, and their feet will be placed upon the first round of the ladder, which is Christ Jesus. They will mount step by step, one round after another, heavenward. Christ will be revealed in their spirit, in their words, in their actions. FE 459.1
“Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” Will teachers and students study this representation, and see if they are in that class who, through the abundant grace given, are obtaining an experience which is in harmony with the real, genuine experience which every child of God must have if he enters the higher grade. FE 459.2
When Nicodemus came to Jesus, Christ laid before him the conditions of divine life, teaching him the very alphabet of conversion. Nicodemus asked, “How can these things be?” “Art thou a master of Israel,” Christ answered, “and knowest not these things?” This question might be addressed to many who are holding positions of responsibility as teachers, but who have neglected the work essential for them to do before they were qualified to be teachers. If Christ's words were received into the soul, there would be a much higher intelligence, and a much deeper spiritual knowledge of what constitutes one a disciple and a sincere follower of Christ. When the test and trial comes to every soul, there will be apostasies. Traitors, heady, highminded and self-sufficient men will turn away from the truth, making shipwreck of their faith. Why?—Because they did not dig deep, and make their foundation sure. They were not riveted to the eternal Rock. When the words of the Lord, through His chosen messengers, are brought to them, they murmur and think the way is made too strait. Like those who were thought to be the disciples of Christ, but who were displeased by His words, and walked no more with Him, they will turn away from Christ. FE 459.3Read in context »
But instead of men being sent from Battle Creek, as God has directed in the pointed testimonies that have been given, thousands of dollars have been devoted to enlarging the institutions and increasing the facilities in Battle Creek. And the call comes from Battle Creek for more conveniences and more workers. But there must be a change. 8T 149.1
We are encouraged as we see the work that is being done in Chicago and a few other places. Years ago the large responsibilities centering in Battle Creek should have been distributed. You may look with satisfaction at the widespreading growth of the sanitarium at Battle Creek, but God does not look upon it with the same approval that you do. If institutions had been built up in other places, if men had been given responsibilities to bear, there would have been far more strength, far more efficiency in our work, and we should have moved more nearly in accordance with the mind and will of God than we have. As it is, a few men are carrying heavy responsibilities. A few wield an influence that has a controlling power in the management of the work far and near, while there are many who carry no burdens. 8T 149.2
Many of those carrying heavy responsibilities need to be converted. Christ says to them as He said to Nicodemus: “Ye must be born again.” “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:7, 3. Many are controlled by an unchristian spirit. They have not yet learned in the school of Christ His meekness and lowliness, and unless they change, they will yield to Satan's temptations. Year after year they carry sacred responsibilities, yet prove themselves incapable of distinguishing between the sacred and the common. How long shall such men continue to wield a controlling influence? How long shall their word be permitted to exalt or to cast down, to condemn or to lift up? How long shall they hold such power that no one dare make a change in their methods? 8T 149.3Read in context »