“As God’s purchased possession, we are under contract to work as Christ worked in his divine service, not in accordance with our natural inclinations, but in harmony with the Spirit of God. But the lives of men, as the gospel finds them, are full of sin. By yielding to temptation, they have weakened their power to obey. Their hearts are ‘deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.’ They are dead in trespasses and sins, and in their own strength they can do no good.
“In order to serve God acceptably, we must be ‘born again.’ Our natural dispositions, which are in opposition to the Spirit of God, must be put away. We must be made new men and women in Christ Jesus. Our old, unrenewed lives must give place to a new life—a life full of love, of trust, of willing obedience. Think you that such a change is not necessary for entrance into the kingdom of God? Listen to the words of the Majesty of heaven: ‘Ye must be born again.’ ‘Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.’ Unless the change takes place, we cannot serve God aright. Our work will be defective; earthly plans will be brought in; strange fire, dishonoring to God, will be offered. Our lives will be unholy and unhappy, full of unrest and trouble.
“The change of heart represented by the new birth can be brought about only by the effectual working of the Holy Spirit. It alone can cleanse us from all impurity. If it is allowed to mold and fashion our hearts, we shall be able to discern the character of the kingdom of God, and realize the necessity of the change which must be made before we can obtain entrance to this kingdom. Pride and self-love resist the Spirit of God; every natural inclination of the soul opposes the change from self-importance and pride to the meekness and lowliness of Christ. But if we would travel in the pathway to eternal life, we must not listen to the whispering of self. In humility and contrition we must beseech our Heavenly Father, ‘Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.’ As we receive divine light, and co-operate with the heavenly intelligences, we are ‘born again,’ freed from the defilement of sin by the power of Christ.
“Christ came to our world because he saw that men had lost the image and nature of God. He saw that they had wandered far from the path of peace and purity, and that, if left to themselves, they would never find their way back. He came with a full and complete salvation, to change our stony hearts to hearts of flesh, to change our sinful natures into his similitude, that, by being partakers of the divine nature, we might be fitted for the heavenly courts. He is about to do for us ‘exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think.’ Look only to him; for he is your righteousness, your all-sufficient sacrifice. As by faith you accept his mercy, you will be cleansed and purified. As you believe in him,—the One who brings life to the soul,—you will rise to a new life, a life which finds its highest joy in service for the Master. Self will be cast out, and Christ will be enthroned in your heart.
“To all who, anxious for the salvation of their souls, come to Christ for aid, he says, as he said to Nicodemus, ‘Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’ He is knocking at the door of your heart, asking for admittance. He longs to renew your heart, filling it with a love for all that is pure and true. He longs to crucify self for you, raising you to newness of life in him. Nicodemus was converted as a result of his interview with Christ. How is it with you? Shall Christ knock at your heart in vain? Will you refuse him entrance? or will you welcome him as an honored guest? Do not refuse to admit him; for his love is of more value to you than the whole world. Its length, its breadth, its depth, its height, cannot be estimated. It will purify your heart and renew your mind, giving you a new capacity for knowing and loving God. Do not let self hinder you from hearing the call, ‘Ye must be born again.’ Fear not to make a full surrender of yourself to Christ. Place yourself, without reserve, under his control. Learn what it means to cease from sin; what it means to have a new heart, to bear the divine similitude. As you behold Christ, self will sink into insignificance, and you will be changed into his image, ‘from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.’ ”1
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“Into the daily life there come many perplexing problems that we can not solve. There are those who wish to adjust every difficulty, and to settle every question before they begin to work. Such will surely fail. In the end, the future will be just as indistinct, and the problems just as perplexing, as when they began to speculate about them. It is in following light given that we receive greater light. Those who go forward in faith will find the solution of the problems that perplex them. Light will shine on the pathway of the workers who go forward without questioning. God will go before them, giving them skill and understanding to do that which needs to be done. Having committed themselves to the work, and having asked wisdom from God, let them trust in him. They can not carry the burden of their responsibility alone. This Christ does not ask them to do. He will carry, not a part, but the whole of the weight of their burden; for he is a mighty Saviour.
“Move forward at the call of God. When he points out a work to be done, in his name and with full faith take up that work. You may not see the end from the beginning. Perplexities may surround you. Others may tell you of the lions in the way. But nevertheless go forward, saying, The Lord wants this work done, and I will act my part faithfully. I will not fail nor be discouraged.
“At times the arm of faith seems too short even to touch the Saviour’s garment, but there stands the promise, with God behind it: ‘Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity; and if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday: and the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of waters, whose waters fail not.’
“It is not our efforts that bring victory; it is seeing God behind the promise, and believing and trusting him. Grasp by faith the hand of infinite power. The Lord is faithful who has promised.
“Questions will arise that can not be settled by any amount of thinking. Do not spend time trying to settle them. Take up the work waiting to be done, trusting in God. His righteousness will go before you, and the questions that have troubled you will answer themselves.
“The voice of duty is the voice of God,—an inborn, heaven-sent guide. Whether it be pleasing or unpleasing, we are to do the duty that lies directly in our pathway. If the Lord would have us bear a message to Nineveh, it will not be pleasing to him for us to go to Joppa or Capernaum. God has reasons for sending us to the place to which our feet are directed. There may be souls pleading with God for light in the very place to which God calls you,—souls to whom you can make plain the way of salvation.”2