1. THE SINNER’S PART IN THE WORK OF SALVATION
a. In the work of salvation, what does God expect of the soul? For how long? Luke 13:24.
“Let no man present the idea that man has little or nothing to do in the great work of overcoming. . . . From first to last man is to be a laborer together with God.”—Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 381.
b. What is one’s part in working out his or her salvation? What should be evident in this? Philippians 2:12, 13.
“As God works in the heart, and man surrenders his will to God, and cooperates with God, he works out in the life what God works in by the Holy Spirit, and there is harmony between the purpose of the heart and the practice of the life. Every sin must be renounced as the hateful thing that crucified the Lord of life and glory, and the believer must have a progressive experience by continually doing the works of Christ. It is by continual surrender of the will, by continual obedience, that the blessing of justification is retained.”—Ibid., p. 397.
2. YIELDING TO THE HOLY SPIRIT
a. What is the sinner’s first step in his or her conversion? John 6:37.
“Christ came to manifest the love of God to the world, to draw the hearts of all men to Himself. He said, ‘And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me’ (John 12:32). The first step toward salvation is to respond to the drawing of the love of Christ.”—Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 323.
b. What wonderful invitation should lead to the first step toward salvation? Revelation 22:17.
“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).”—Steps to Christ, p. 28.
“The cry of Christ to the thirsty soul is still going forth, and it appeals to us with even greater power than it did to those who heard it in the temple on that last day of the feast. The fountain is open for all. The weary and exhausted are offered the refreshing draught of eternal life.”—The Signs of the Times, September 23, 1897.
“He who seeks to quench his thirst at the fountains of this world will drink only to thirst again. Everywhere men are unsatisfied. They long for something to supply the need of the soul. Only One can meet that want. The need of the world, ‘the Desire of all nations,’ is Christ. The divine grace which He alone can impart is as living water, purifying, refreshing, and invigorating the soul.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 187.
3. THE SINNER WORKING TOGETHER WITH GOD
a. What is the experience of the sincere soul when the Lord grants the gift of repentance? 1 John 1:9; Psalm 51:17.
“But in repenting of sin we need not go into a cell, as did Luther, imposing penances upon ourselves to expiate our iniquity, thinking by so doing to gain the favor of God. The question is asked: ‘Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?’ (Micah 6:7, 8). The psalmist says, ‘A broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise’ (Psalm 51:17). John writes, ‘If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins’ (1 John 1:9). The only reason that we have not remission of sin is that we have not acknowledged to Him whom we have wounded by our transgressions, whom we have pierced by our sins, that we are at fault, and in need of mercy. The confession that is the outpouring of the inmost soul will find its way to the heart of infinite pity; for the Lord is nigh unto him that is of a broken heart, and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.”—Selected Messages, bk. 2, p. 326.
“In order to obtain the righteousness of Christ, it is necessary for the sinner to know what that repentance is which works a radical change of mind and spirit and action.”—Ibid., p. 393.
b. If we exercise our faith correctly, how will it work within us? Galatians 5:6.
“When you respond to the drawing of Christ, and join yourself to Him, you manifest saving faith. To talk of religious things in a casual way, to pray for spiritual blessings without real soul hunger and living faith, avails little. . . . The faith which avails to bring us in vital contact with Christ expresses on our part supreme preference, perfect reliance, entire consecration. This faith works by love and purifies the soul. It works in the life of the follower of Christ true obedience to God’s commandments; for love to God and love to man will be the result of vital connection with Christ.” —Ibid., p. 334.
4. YIELDING ONE’S WILL TO THE WILL OF GOD
a. What kind of work is the Holy Spirit willing to do in the heart? How can He finish it? John 3:3, 5.
“Through faith the Holy Spirit works in the heart to create holiness therein; but this cannot be done unless the human agent will work with Christ. We can be fitted for heaven only through the work of the Holy Spirit upon the heart; for we must have Christ’s righteousness as our credentials if we would find access to the Father. In order that we may have the righteousness of Christ, we need daily to be transformed by the influence of the Spirit, to be a partaker of the divine nature. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to elevate the taste, to sanctify the heart, to ennoble the whole man.”—Selected Messages, bk. 2, p. 374.
b. In order to renew sanctity, and fit us for heaven, what does the Lord require? What should we love, and what should we hate? Proverbs 23:26.
“We are to surrender our hearts to God, that He may renew and sanctify us, and fit us for His heavenly court. We are not to wait for some special time, but today we are to give ourselves to Him, refusing to be the servants of sin. Do you imagine you can leave off sin a little at a time? Oh, leave the accursed thing at once! Hate the things that Christ hates, love the things that Christ loves. Has He not by His death and suffering made provision for your cleansing from sin?”—Ibid., p. 327.
“No repentance is genuine that does not work reformation. The righteousness of Christ is not a cloak to cover unconfessed and unforsaken sin; it is a principle of life that transforms the character and controls the conduct. Holiness is wholeness for God; it is the entire surrender of heart and life to the indwelling of the principles of heaven.”—The Desire of Ages, pp. 555, 556.
“[Jeremiah 29:13 quoted.] The whole heart must be yielded to God, or the change can never be wrought in us by which we are to be restored to His likeness. . . . The warfare against self is the greatest battle that was ever fought. The yielding of self, surrendering all to the will of God, requires a struggle; but the soul must submit to God before it can be renewed in holiness.”—Steps to Christ, p. 43.
5. OBEDIENCE—MAKING EFFORT
a. What condition is our title to heaven? What right do those who disregard the law of God forfeit? Jeremiah 23:6; 33:16; Matthew 5:48.
“[God] demands now as ever perfect righteousness as the only title to heaven. Christ is our hope and our refuge. His righteousness is imputed only to the obedient. Let us accept it through faith, that the Father shall find in us no sin. But those who have trampled on the holy law will have no right to claim that righteousness.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E.G. White Comments], vol. 6, p. 1072.
b. What is required of the converted soul, and what help may he or she expect? With whom does he or she work in harmony? Philippians 2:12 (last part).
“Effort and labor are required on the part of the receiver of God’s grace; for it is the fruit that makes manifest what is the character of the tree. Although the good works of man are of no more value without faith in Jesus than was the offering of Cain, yet covered with the merit of Christ, they testify [to] the worthiness of the doer to inherit eternal life.”—Selected Messages, bk. 1, pp. 381, 382.
“[T]he sinner must put forth an effort in harmony with the work done for him, and with unwearied entreaty he must supplicate the throne of grace, that the renovating power of God may come into his soul. Christ pardons none but the penitent, but whom He pardons He first makes penitent.”—Ibid., pp. 393, 394.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. What answer may be given to those who say it is only necessary to believe?
2. What brings the sinner to repentance?
3. What part is played by the exercise of faith when the soul is being brought to conversion?
4. What part is played by each of the two parties working together?
5. What enables true believers to be overcomers?