1. AN EXPERIENCE ESSENTIAL TO SALVATION
a. What has Christ promised for all who gain the victory over sin? Revelation 3:5.
b. Upon what must we set our affections in order to experience this victory? Colossians 3:1–3.
“Christ says of the overcomer, ‘I will not blot out his name out of the book of life.’ The names of all those who have once given themselves to God are written in the book of life, and their characters are now passing in review before Him. Angels of God are weighing moral worth. They are watching the development of character in those now living, to see if their names can be retained in the book of life. A probation is granted us in which to wash our robes of character and make them white in the blood of the Lamb. Who is doing this work? Who is separating from himself sin and selfishness? ‘Ye are dead,’ says the apostle Paul of the true followers of Christ, ‘and your life is hid with Christ in God.’ When we are alive to God, we are dead to self. May God help us to die to self. Whose names will not be blotted out of the book of life? Only the names of those who have loved God with all the powers of their being, and their neighbors as themselves.”—Historical Sketches, p. 138.
2. A WORK FOR THIS ERA
a. Name a crucial work being carried out by four mighty angels throughout the day of atonement. Revelation 7:1–4.
“Four mighty angels hold back the powers of this earth till the servants of God are sealed in their foreheads. The nations of the world are eager for conflict; but they are held in check by the angels. When this restraining power is removed, there will come a time of trouble and anguish.”—Maranatha, p. 257.
“A terrible conflict is before us. We are nearing the battle of the great day of God Almighty. That which has been held in control is to be let loose. The angel of mercy is folding her wings, preparing to step down from the throne and leave the world to the control of Satan. The principalities and powers of earth are in bitter revolt against the God of heaven. They are filled with hatred against those who serve Him, and soon, very soon, will be fought the last great battle between good and evil. The earth is to be the battlefield—the scene of the final contest and the final victory.
“While their hands were loosening, and the four winds were about to blow, the merciful eye of Jesus gazed on the remnant that were not sealed, and He raised His hands to the Father and pleaded with Him that He had spilled His blood for them. Then another angel was commissioned to fly swiftly to the four angels and bid them hold until the servants of God were sealed with the seal of the living God in their foreheads.”—My Life Today, p. 308.
b. What determines the outcome of the coming conflict for each of us? Romans 8:6. What are the evidences of a carnal heart or mind? 1 Corinthians 3:3, 4.
“As yet the four winds are held until the servants of God shall be sealed in their foreheads. Then the powers of earth will marshal their forces for the last great battle. How carefully we should improve the little remaining period of our probation!
“Minds that have been given up to loose thought need to change. . . . The thoughts must be centered upon God. Now is the time to put forth earnest effort to overcome the natural tendencies of the carnal heart.”—Maranatha, p. 243.
3. A SOLEMN TASK
a. Explain how the sealing work involves the third angel of Revelation 14. What shows the solemn importance of being fully sanctified? Revelation 14:9–12; 1 Thessalonians 5:23, 24.
“I . . . saw the third angel. Said my accompanying angel, ‘Fearful is his work. Awful is his mission. He is the angel that is to select the wheat from the tares, and seal, or bind, the wheat for the heavenly garner. These things should engross the whole mind, the whole attention.’ ”—Early Writings, p. 118.
“Many do not realize what they must be in order to live in the sight of the Lord without a high priest in the sanctuary through the time of trouble. Those who receive the seal of the living God and are protected in the time of trouble must reflect the image of Jesus fully.
“I saw that many were neglecting the preparation so needful and were looking to the time of ‘refreshing’ and the ‘latter rain’ to fit them to stand in the day of the Lord and to live in His sight. Oh, how many I saw in the time of trouble without a shelter! They had neglected the needful preparation; therefore they could not receive the refreshing that all must have to fit them to live in the sight of a holy God. Those who refuse to be hewed by the prophets and fail to purify their souls in obeying the whole truth, and who are willing to believe that their condition is far better than it really is, will come up to the time of the falling of the plagues, and then see that they needed to be hewed and squared for the building. But there will be no time then to do it and no Mediator to plead their cause before the Father.”—Ibid., p.71.
b. What final blessing does God bestow especially to prepare the harvest of souls for His kingdom? Joel 2:23; Zechariah 10:1.
“The sins of Israel must go to judgment beforehand. Every sin must be confessed at the sanctuary, then the work will move. It must be done now. . . .
“When the four angels let go, Christ will set up His kingdom. None receive the latter rain but those who are doing all they can. Christ would help us. All could be overcomers by the grace of God, through the blood of Jesus.”—Spalding and Magan Collection, 2a, pp. 2, 3.
4. CONDITIONS FOR THE LATTER RAIN
a. What is needed in order to receive the latter rain? Isaiah 43:25; 44:22.
“The names of some will be blotted out of the book of life. Whose shall it be? Let us each examine ourselves carefully to see if we are in the faith; let us be diligent to make sure work for eternity. Jesus says that He will confess the name of the overcomer before His Father, and before the holy angels.”—Historical Sketches, p. 139.
“Those that overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil, will be the favored ones who shall receive the seal of the living God. Those whose hands are not clean, whose hearts are not pure, will not have the seal of the living God. Those who are planning sin and acting it will be passed by. Only those who, in their attitude before God, are filling the position of those who are repenting and confessing their sins in the great anti-typical day of atonement, will be recognized and marked as worthy of God’s protection.”—Testimonies to Ministers, p. 445.
“No special work for God can be accomplished until self and selfishness are overcome.”—Historical Sketches, p. 139.
“Those who come up to every point, and stand every test, and overcome, be the price what it may, have heeded the counsel of the True Witness, and they will receive the latter rain, and thus be fitted for translation.”—Testimonies, vol. 1, p. 187.
“We want the deep movings of the Spirit of God in our hearts, that we may not only be able to secure for ourselves the white raiment, but that we may so influence others that their names may be entered in the book of life, never to be blotted out.”—Historical Sketches, p. 140.
b. What should we realize about the latter rain? Hosea 6:3; Acts 3:19.
“The prophecies which were fulfilled in the outpouring of the former rain at the opening of the gospel, are again to be fulfilled in the latter rain at its close. Here are ‘the times of refreshing’ to which the apostle Peter looked forward when he said, ‘Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out [in the investigative Judgment], when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and he shall send Jesus’ (Acts 3:19, 20).
“Servants of God, with their faces lighted up and shining with holy consecration, will hasten from place to place to proclaim the message from Heaven. By thousands of voices, all over the earth, the warning will be given.”—The Great Controversy, 1888 ed., pp. 611, 612. [Words in brackets in the original.]
5. ULTIMATE VICTORY
a. When Jesus completes His ministry in heaven, what encouraging declaration will He make in behalf of the overcomers? Revelation 22:11 (last part).
b. How may we realize the wonderful promises made to all who gain the victory through the blood of the Lamb? Revelation 22:14; Isaiah 26:2–4.
“Glorious will be the reward bestowed when the faithful workers gather about the throne of God and of the Lamb. . . .They will stand before the throne, accepted in the Beloved. All their sins have been blotted out, all their transgressions borne away. Now they can look upon the undimmed glory of the throne of God. They have been partakers with Christ in His sufferings, they have been workers together with Him in the plan of redemption, and they are partakers with Him in the joy of seeing souls saved in the kingdom of God, there to praise God through all eternity.
“My brother, my sister, I urge you to prepare for the coming of Christ in the clouds of heaven. Day by day cast the love of the world out of your hearts. Understand by experience what it means to have fellowship with Christ. Prepare for the judgment, that when Christ shall come, to be admired in all them that believe, you may be among those who will meet Him in peace. In that day the redeemed will shine forth in the glory of the Father and the Son. The angels, touching their golden harps, will welcome the King and His trophies of victory—those who have been washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb. A song of triumph will peal forth, filling all heaven. Christ has conquered. He enters the heavenly courts, accompanied by His redeemed ones, the witnesses that His mission of suffering and sacrifice has not been in vain.”—Testimonies, vol. 9, pp. 285, 286.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. With Christ’s help, why must we overcome our character defects?
2. Why has Jesus bidden four mighty angels to hold back the winds?
3. What do many people misunderstand about the latter rain or refreshing?
4. If our sins are blotted out, with what blessed task can God entrust us?
5. What can I do today to ensure I am one of the ultimate overcomers?