1. A CONSTANT REMINDER TO WATCH
a. In what time period of the world’s history are we living? 1 John 2:18; Matthew 24:4–14, 33.
“The day of test and purification is just upon us. Signs of a most startling character appear, in floods, in hurricanes, in tornadoes, in cloudbursts, in casualties by land and by sea, that proclaim the approach of the end of all things. The judgments of God are falling on the world, that men may be awakened to the fact that Christ will come speedily.”—The Review and Herald, November 8, 1892.
b. To what signs does the apostle Paul point? 2 Timothy 3:1–5.
“Violence and crime of every description are filling our world, and Satan is using every means to make crime and debasing vice popular. . . . Minds are educated into familiarity with sin. The course pursued by the base and vile is kept before them [the youth] in the periodicals of the day, and everything which can excite curiosity and arouse the animal passions is brought before them in thrilling and exciting stories.”—Testimonies, vol. 3, pp. 471, 472.
2. CONDITIONS FOR THE RECEPTION OF THE LATTER RAIN
a. What special blessing has God promised for the last days? Joel 2:28, 29.
“Before the final visitation of God’s judgments upon the earth there will be among the people of the Lord such a revival of primitive godliness as has not been witnessed since apostolic times. The Spirit and power of God will be poured out upon His children.”—The Great Controversy, p. 464.
“The time has come when we must expect the Lord to do great things for us. Our efforts must not flag or weaken. We are to grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord. Before the work is closed up and the sealing of God’s people is finished, we shall receive the outpouring of the Spirit of God. Angels from heaven will be in our midst.”—Selected Messages, bk1, p. 111.
“If this prophecy of Joel met a partial fulfillment in the days of the apostles, we are living in a time when it is to be even more evidently manifest to the people of God. He will so bestow His Spirit upon His people that they will become a light amid the moral darkness; and great light will be reflected in all parts of the world.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 4, p. 1175.
b. What is required in order to receive the latter rain? 1 Peter 1:13–17; 2 Peter 1:2–8.
“The latter rain, ripening earth’s harvest, represents the spiritual grace that prepares the church for the coming of the Son of man. But unless the former rain has fallen, there will be no life; the green blade will not spring up. Unless the early showers have done their work, the latter rain can bring no seed to perfection.
“There is to be ‘first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.’ There must be a constant development of Christian virtue, a constant advancement in Christian experience. This we should seek with intensity of desire, that we may adorn the doctrine of Christ our Saviour.”—Testimonies to Ministers, p. 506.
“God can breathe new life into every soul that sincerely desires to serve Him. . . . May the Lord help His people to cleanse the soul temple from every defilement, and to maintain such a close connection with Him that they may be partakers of the latter rain when it shall be poured out.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 6, p. 1055.
3. PREPARATION UNDER THE FORMER RAIN
a. What should the former rain work in every believer? Acts 3:19, 20.
“Many have in a great measure failed to receive the former rain. They have not obtained all the benefits that God has thus provided for them. They expect that the lack will be supplied by the latter rain. When the richest abundance of grace shall be bestowed, they intend to open their hearts to receive it. They are making a terrible mistake. The work that God has begun in the human heart in giving His light and knowledge must be continually going forward. Every individual must realize his own necessity. The heart must be emptied of every defilement and cleansed for the indwelling of the Spirit. It was by the confession and forsaking of sin, by earnest prayer and consecration of themselves to God, that the early disciples prepared for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. The same work, only in greater degree, must be done now.”—Testimonies to Ministers, p. 507.
“Feeling our helplessness, we are to improve all the opportunities granted us to gain a fuller experience. As the plant takes root in the soil, so we are to take deep root in Christ. As the plant receives the sunshine, the dew, and the rain, we are to open our hearts to the Holy Spirit.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 67.
b. What earnest invitation does Jesus extend to us? Mark 13:33.
“I have no specific time of which to speak when the outpouring of the Holy Spirit will take place—when the mighty angel will come down from heaven, and unite with the third angel in closing up the work for this world; my message is that our only safety is in being ready for the heavenly refreshing, having our lamps trimmed and burning.”—Selected Messages, bk1, p. 192.
“The third angel’s message is swelling into a loud cry, and you must not feel at liberty to neglect the present duty, and still entertain the idea that at some future time you will be the recipients of great blessing, when without any effort on your part a wonderful revival will take place. . . . Today you are to have your vessel purified, that it may be ready for the heavenly dew, ready for the showers of the latter rain; for the latter rain will come, and the blessing of God will fill every soul that is purified from every defilement. It is our work today to yield our souls to Christ, that we may be fitted for the time of refreshing from the presence of the Lord—fitted for the baptism of the Holy Spirit.”—Evangelism, pp. 701, 702.
4. THE TIME IS NOW!
a. What appeal is extended to us today? Hosea 10:12; Matthew 24:44; 1 John 3:3.
“The Lord is soon to come, and we must be prepared to meet Him in peace. Let us be determined to do all in our power to impart light to those around us. We are not to be sad, but cheerful, and we are to keep the Lord Jesus ever before us. He is soon coming, and we must be ready and waiting for His appearing. Oh, how glorious it will be to see Him and be welcomed as His redeemed ones!”—Testimonies, vol. 8, p. 253.
“The Lord is coming, and we must be ready! Every moment I want His grace—I want the robe of Christ’s righteousness. We must humble our souls before God as never before, come low to the foot of the cross, and He will put a word in our mouths to speak for Him, even praise unto our God. . . . Shall we not let Him abide in our hearts by faith? Shall we not consecrate ourselves to God without any reserve?”—The Review and Herald, March 4, 1890.
“Day by day we are to seek the enlightenment of the Spirit of God, that it may do its office work upon the soul and character. O, how much time has been wasted through giving attention to trifling things.”—Selected Messages, bk1, p. 192.
b. What can we learn from the early Christian church? Acts 1:14; 4:32.
“Notice that it was after the disciples had come into perfect unity, when they were no longer striving for the highest place, that the Spirit was poured out. They were of one accord. All differences had been put away. And the testimony borne of them after the Spirit had been given is the same. . . .
“So it may be now. Let Christians put away all dissension and give themselves to God for the saving of the lost. Let them ask in faith for the promised blessing, and it will come. The outpouring of the Spirit in the days of the apostles was ‘the former rain,’ and glorious was the result. But the latter rain will be more abundant. What is the promise to those living in these last days? ‘Turn you to the stronghold, ye prisoners of hope: even today do I declare that I will render double unto thee.’ ‘Ask ye of the Lord rain in the time of the latter rain; so the Lord shall make bright clouds, and give them showers of rain, to every one grass in the field.’ Zechariah 9:12; 10:1.”—Testimonies, vol. 8, pp. 20, 21.
5. GOD’S PEOPLE IN READINESS
a. What urgent challenge does Paul give us? Romans 13:11, 12.
“It is now that we must awake and make determined effort for symmetry of character. . . . We are in a most trying position, waiting, watching for our Lord’s appearing. The world is in darkness. ‘But ye, brethren,’ says Paul, ‘are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.’ It is ever God’s purpose to bring light out of darkness, joy out of sorrow, and rest out of weariness for the waiting, longing soul.”—Testimonies, vol. 5, pp. 215, 216.
b. What will distinguish the people of God in the last days? John 13:34, 35; 1 John 3:14.
“If Christ dwells in us, we shall reveal His unselfish love toward all with whom we have to do. As we see men and women in need of sympathy and help, we shall not ask, ‘Are they worthy?’ but ‘How can I benefit them?’. . .
“He who gave His life to redeem man sees in every human being a value that exceeds finite computation. By the mystery and glory of the cross we are to discern His estimate of the value of the soul.”—The Ministry of Healing, pp. 162, 163.
“The love of Christ, the love of our brethren, will testify to the world that we have been with Jesus and learned of Him. Then will the message of the third angel swell to a loud cry, and the whole earth will be lightened with the glory of the Lord.”—Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 401.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Why does God allow so many natural disasters to happen?
2. What is God’s purpose in pouring out His Spirit upon His people?
3. What does it mean to be receiving the former rain, and how does this prepare us to receive the latter rain?
4. How can we prepare to meet Jesus in peace?
5. What spiritual condition will reveal that we are ready for the latter rain?