Art thou a master of Israel, etc. - Hast thou taken upon thee to guide the blind into the way of truth; and yet knowest not that truth thyself? Dost thou command proselytes to be baptized with water, as an emblem of a new birth; and art thou unacquainted with the cause, necessity, nature, and effects of that new birth? How many masters are there still in Israel who are in this respect deplorably ignorant; and, strange to tell, publish their ignorance and folly in the sight of the sun, by writing and speaking against the thing itself! It is strange that such people cannot keep their own secret.
"But water baptism is this new birth." No. Jesus tells you, a man must be born of water and the Spirit; and the water, and its effects upon the body, differ as much from this Spirit, which it is intended to represent, and the effects produced in the soul, as real fire does from painted flame.
"But I am taught to believe that this baptism is regeneration." Then you are taught to believe a falsity. The Church of England, in which perhaps you are a teacher or a member, asks the following questions, and returns the subjoined answers.
"A. Two only, as generally necessary to salvation, that is to say, baptism and the supper of the Lord."
"Q. How many parts are there in a sacrament?"
"A. Two. The outward visible sign, and the inward spiritual grace."
"Q. What is the outward visible sign, or form, in baptism?"
"A. Water, wherein the person is baptized, In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."
"Q. What is the inward and spiritual grace?"
"A. A death unto sin, and a new birth unto righteousness; for being by nature born in sin, and the children of wrath, we are hereby made the children of grace."
Now, I ask, Whereby are such persons made the children of grace? Not by the water, but by the death unto sin, and the new birth unto righteousness: i.e. through the agency of the Holy Ghost, sin is destroyed, and the soul filled with holiness.
A master of Israel - A “teacher” of Israel; the same word that in the second verse is translated “teacher.” As such a teacher he ought to have understood this doctrine. It was not new,” but was clearly taught in the Old Testament. See particularly Psalm 51:10, Psalm 51:16-17; Ezekiel 11:19; Ezekiel 36:26. It may seem surprising that a man whose business it was to teach the people should be a stranger to so plain and important a doctrine; but when worldly-minded men are placed in offices of religion when they seek those offices for the sake of ease or reputation, it is no wonder that they are strangers to the plain truths of the Bible; and there have been many, and there are still, who are in the ministry itself, to whom the plainest doctrines of the gospel are obscure. No man can understand the Bible fully unless he is a humble Christian, and the easiest way to comprehend the truths of religion is to give the heart to God and live to his glory. A child thus may have more real knowledge of the way of salvation than many who are pretended masters and teachers of Israel, John 7:17; Matthew 11:25; Psalm 8:2, compared with Matthew 21:16.
Of Israel - Of the Jews; of the Jewish nation.
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 »
17 (John 1:12, 13; 3:5-8). Grace Not Inherited—The old nature, born of blood and the will of the flesh, cannot inherit the kingdom of God. The old ways, the hereditary tendencies, the former habits, must be given up; for grace is not inherited. The new birth consists in having new motives, new tastes, new tendencies. Those who are begotten unto a new life by the Holy Spirit, have become partakers of the divine nature, and in all their habits and practices they will give evidence of their relationship to Christ. When men who claim to be Christians retain all their natural defects of character and disposition, in what does their position differ from that of the worldling? They do not appreciate the truth as a sanctifier, a refiner. They have not been born again (The Review and Herald, April 12, 1892). 6BC 1101.1
(1 John 2:6; Revelation 3:14-17.) Pure Religion an Imitation of Christ—Pure religion is an imitation of Christ. A religion that is built on self-confidence and selfishness is worthless. The true Christian is a follower of Christ. This following means walking in the light. The heart must be opened to receive the heavenly guest. As long as the heart is closed against His entrance, there can be in it no abiding peace. No sunshine can flood the chambers of the soul temple, breaking through the mist and cloud. 6BC 1101.2
God makes no compromise with sin. A genuine conversion changes hereditary and cultivated tendencies to wrong. The religion of God is a firm fabric, composed of innumerable threads, and woven together with tact and skill. Only the wisdom which comes from God can make this fabric complete. There are a great many kinds of cloth which at first have a fine appearance, but they cannot endure the test. They wash out. The colors are not fast. Under the heat of summer they fade away and are lost. The cloth cannot endure rough handling. 6BC 1101.3Read in context »