The Signs of the Times


September 26, 1892

“Ye Must be Born Again”


“There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; the same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God; for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.” This man was a ruler, and held in high esteem by the people, and he thought it was a condescension for him to admit as much as he had to Christ. Thinking himself righteous, he was astonished at the answer of Jesus, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” ST September 26, 1892, par. 1

The blindness of Israel in discerning spiritual things closed their senses to the mission and work of Christ. This change represented as a new birth they would have to experience before they could take in the meaning of what constituted the kingdom of God. Their whole conception had been perverted. All they could see was a temporal kingdom, established in Jerusalem, and they would not change these ideas, because they wanted this kind of a kingdom. Jesus had lessons of highest importance to give to the ruler in Israel, and the lesson which Christ gave to him is of the highest consequence to every soul. It is neither profound learning nor high positions nor professions that give character to the man. The question to be answered is, Is the man quickened into spiritual life? Is he a new man in character? In proportion as the spirit and life of Christ are in us, in that proportion is man enlightened and can discern spiritual things. There is greater indulgence in sin than many dream of, and he who commits sin will seek for all kinds of excuses to palliate sin. ST September 26, 1892, par. 2

Churches are represented as having faith in Christ for salvation; but do they have faith in Christ? Christ has said: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.” This vital union with Christ is represented by the union of the vine and the branch. Jesus says: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away; and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches; he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing.” “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.” Here is represented the same vital connection with Jesus Christ as is represented by eating his flesh and drinking his blood. ST September 26, 1892, par. 3

Christ overcame every temptation of the enemy, because in him divinity and humanity were combined; but there is no safety for any soul who has merely a legal religion, a form of godliness, a round of ceremonial exactions. To attend services on the Sabbath, to pray occasionally or regularly, makes no one a Christian. The important thing is to become united to Christ, to believe in Christ as a personal Saviour, to live by faith in the Son of God. The question to ask the soul is, “Am I a partaker of the divine nature, represented as being born again? Has a new moral taste been created? If not, the soul is in deadly peril. He who is born of God is a new man. “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” The old imperious will is gone. The pride is cleansed from the soul. Selfishness is uprooted. The quick, passionate temper no longer masters the man; for Jesus Christ has brought the thoughts into captivity to himself. Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let no arrogancy come out of your mouth; for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed. “Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” ST September 26, 1892, par. 4

“Every man's work shall be made manifest; for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.” Why, then, do not men exercise themselves unto godliness? Why do they bear thorn berries? it is because they are not grafted into the tame olive tree. They are not converted. Their works testify of them that they do not abide in Christ. They do not, as is represented by Christ, eat his flesh and drink his blood. If they did, they would through faith have a vital connection with Christ, and work the works of God. The character is transformed, not by a slight change in some customs and practices, but by a work divine; for the Lord says, “A new heart will I give thee.” This is a death to self and sin, and a new life altogether. “I live,” said Paul; “yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.” Has the dry branch been grafted into the living vine stock? Then has the graft taken connection with the vine fiber by fiber? Is it one with the parent stock? If it is, then will it bear the fruit of the vine. If we are one with Christ, we shall be Christlike. This is the great power of God. And yet we are commanded: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good-pleasure.” The great privileges of the Christian have been opened before us. He who daily depends upon Christ will work out Christ in spirit, in words, in actions. He may be compelled to rebuke sin, to reprove, to exhort, to rebuke with all long-suffering and doctrine. On special occasions his spirit may be stirred within him to expose sin and wickedness; but in it all he has the Spirit of Christ. It is a work that must be done. We may live a life of close connection with Jesus, of oneness with Christ. The mind should be kept in a prayerful frame, looking to Jesus moment by moment, asking at every step, “Is this the way of the Lord?” This is the way Enoch walked with God. We are to be learners of one another, and doers of the word of God. ST September 26, 1892, par. 5

Let those who believe in Jesus show their saving faith in a well-ordered life and a godly conversation. “I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come.” That means you and me. “And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” ST September 26, 1892, par. 6