Reformation Pt. 2 – The Pattern

In the last blog I talked about the characteristics of the work of God. To summarize it in a few words, it is the process of conversion to Christ and subsequent action in His service to bring others to conversion. The work is the work of salvation according to God’s great plan of redemption.

John 6:28-35 to believe on Christ the Bread of life

Jeremiah 51:10 and Isaiah 46:13 to bring forth righteousness in those who believe

The reason I am exploring this topic is because I am laying a foundational understanding of the work of God, in order to understand the pattern we are to look for as we study the reformations throughout history. If you have not read the previous blog, I encourage you to do so.

Click here to read it. Reformation Pt. 1 – The Work of God

We are told that the Holy Spirit is the key helper in this process.

John 14:26 “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”

There is a pattern in the work of the Holy Spirit.

John 16:7-8 “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. 8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:”

Step 1: SIN

Step 2: RIGHTEOUSNESS

Step 3: JUDGMENT

So, what does this mean? How is this the pattern of the work of God through the Holy Spirit?

Just think practically for a moment about the process of true conversion. It goes something like this…

In order for someone to be converted to Christ, they first must know their need of Christ. Then they must have a knowledge of His character and what He expects of them. When they know what God asks of them, then they will realize that they fall short of that high and perfect standard. They realize their sinfulness. They then ask forgiveness, lean upon Christ’s covering of righteousness, and make efforts to live right. As they continue to study, learn, and practice right living, they gain discernment. This discernment is also called good judgment. As they go through the ups and downs of this process of trial, failing and victory, they gain a character that will stand in the judgment, and will obtain the gift of eternal life.

Is this really how conversion is supposed to go, according to the Bible? Let’s look at an example and see if it shows this pattern. This is well known from the Beatitudes, Matthew 5:3-12.

3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

 

6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

 

10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”

 

Verses 3-5 seem to be a grouping related to the first step in the work of the Holy Spirit.

  • poor in spirit (Meaning: Greek word G4434 beggar, Isaiah 66:2 lowly, contrite, humble or not proud)
  • mourn (Meaning: G3966 to grieve, this is likely to sorrow for sin)
  • meek (Meaning: G4239 mild, humble, Psalm 25:9 teachable, Matthew 11:29 as Christ)

These verses are echoed in James 4. Read and see if you think it sounds similar. Do you see the first step in the work… SIN … represented there? Perhaps there is mourning over the filthiness of sin, which we so easily fall into? Our response should be to humble ourselves before God and seek to be cleaned and purified from our sins.

James 4:7-10 “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. 9 Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.”

Verses 6-9 seem to be a grouping related to the second step in the work of the Holy Spirit. They all relate to righteousness and living according to righteousness …or right doing. Once we seek the forgiveness of God from our sins, we have to make efforts to live right and obey.

  • hunger and thirst for righteousness (Meaning: desire, know our need)
  • merciful (Meaning: G1655 compassionate, a prominent character trait of Christ our perfect example of righteousness)
  • pure in heart (Meaning: G2513 clean in G2588 thoughts, feelings, mind, righteousness, another prominent character trait of Christ)
  • peacemaker (Meaning: G1518 peaceable, another prominent character trait of Christ)

Verses 10-12 seem to be a grouping related to the third step in the work of the Holy Spirit. Judgment can mean to have good judgment or discernment, or it can mean that we are prepared to meet God in the judgment.

  • persecuted for righteousness’ sake (Meaning: word sake is G1752, on account of righteousness or right doing, wrongfully judged by men, but can stand in God’s judgement)

When we are persecuted for our efforts to be righteous or to live in obedience to God’s law, men are acting out upon the way they have judged God’s faithful people. It is a wrong judgment, however, because God says that men who obey and live according to righteousness are blessed and will receive a reward in heaven. They are judged of God and are able to have victory in the judgment.

I want to end with a few very good quotes, which help to tie all of this together practically for our lives.

“The first step in reconciliation to God is the conviction of sin. ‘Sin is the transgression of the law.’ ‘By the law is the knowledge of sin.’ 1 John 3:4; Romans 3:20. In order to see his guilt, the sinner must test his character by God’s great standard of righteousness. It is a mirror which shows the perfection of a righteous character and enables him to discern the defects in his own.

“The law reveals to man his sins, but it provides no remedy. While it promises life to the obedient, it declares that death is the portion of the transgressor. The gospel of Christ alone can free him from the condemnation or the defilement of sin. He must exercise repentance toward God, whose law has been transgressed; and faith in Christ, his atoning sacrifice. Thus he obtains ‘remission of sins that are past’ and becomes a partaker of the divine nature. He is a child of God, having received the spirit of adoption, whereby he cries: ‘Abba, Father!'”

– The Great Controversy, p. 467 par. 3-4 {GC 467.3-467.4}

 

“To the repentant sinner, hungering and thirsting for righteousness, the Holy Spirit reveals the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world. ‘He shall receive of Mine, and shall show it unto you,’ Christ said. ‘He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.’ John 16:14; 14:26.

“The Spirit is given as a regenerating agency, to make effectual the salvation wrought by the death of our Redeemer. The Spirit is constantly seeking to draw the attention of men to the great offering that was made on the cross of Calvary, to unfold to the world the love of God, and to open to the convicted soul the precious things of the Scriptures.

“Having brought conviction of sin, and presented before the mind the standard of righteousness, the Holy Spirit withdraws the affections from the things of this earth and fills the soul with a desire for holiness. ‘He will guide you into all truth’ (John 16:13), the Saviour declared. If men are willing to be molded, there will be brought about a sanctification of the whole being. The Spirit will take the things of God and stamp them on the soul. By His power the way of life will be made so plain that none need err therein.

“From the beginning, God has been working by His Holy Spirit through human instrumentalities for the accomplishment of His purpose in behalf of the fallen race. This was manifest in the lives of the patriarchs. To the church in the wilderness also, in the time of Moses, God gave His ‘good Spirit to instruct them.’ Nehemiah 9:20. And in the days of the apostles He wrought mightily for His church through the agency of the Holy Spirit. The same power that sustained the patriarchs, that gave Caleb and Joshua faith and courage, and that made the work of the apostolic church effective, has upheld God’s faithful children in every succeeding age. It was through the power of the Holy Spirit that during the Dark Ages the Waldensian Christians helped to prepare the way for the Reformation. It was the same power that made successful the efforts of the noble men and women who pioneered the way for the establishment of modern missions and for the translation of the Bible into the languages and dialects of all nations and peoples.

“And today God is still using His church to make known His purpose in the earth. Today the heralds of the cross are going from city to city, and from land to land, preparing the way for the second advent of Christ. The standard of God’s law is being exalted. The Spirit of the Almighty is moving upon men’s hearts, and those who respond to its influence become witnesses for God and His truth. In many places consecrated men and women may be seen communicating to others the light that has made plain to them the way of salvation through Christ. And as they continue to let their light shine, as did those who were baptized with the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, they receive more and still more of the Spirit’s power. Thus the earth is to be lightened with the glory of God.”

– Acts of the Apostles, p. 52-53 {AA 52.3 – 53.2}

 

“The long-suffering of God is wonderful. Long does justice wait while mercy pleads with the sinner. But ‘righteousness and judgment are the establishment of His throne.’ Psalm 97:2, margin. ‘The Lord is slow to anger;’ but He is ‘great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked: the Lord hath His way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of His feet.’ Nahum 1:3.

“The world has become bold in transgression of God’s law. Because of His long forbearance, men have trampled upon His authority. They have strengthened one another in oppression and cruelty toward His heritage, saying, ‘How doth God know? and is there knowledge in the Most High?’ Psalm 73:11. But there is a line beyond which they cannot pass. The time is near when they will have reached the prescribed limit. Even now they have almost exceeded the bounds of the long-suffering of God, the limits of His grace, the limits of His mercy. The Lord will interpose to vindicate His own honor, to deliver His people, and to repress the swellings of unrighteousness.”

– Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 177 par. 4-5 {COL 177.4-177.5}

 

Righteousness is right doing, and it is by their deeds that all will be judged. Our characters are revealed by what we do. The works show whether the faith is genuine.”

– Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 312 par. 2 {COL 312.2}

 

“In this time of prevailing iniquity we may know that the last great crisis is at hand. When the defiance of God’s law is almost universal, when His people are oppressed and afflicted by their fellow men, the Lord will interpose.”

– Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 178 par. 3 {COL 178.3}

 

Click here to read part three. Reformation Pt. 3 – Laodicean Remedy

 

References

Bible, King James Version

Quotes taken from the Ellen G. White Writings, Comprehensive Research Edition 2008 CD

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2 thoughts on “Reformation Pt. 2 – The Pattern

  1. Pingback: Reformation Pt. 1 – The Work of God |

  2. Pingback: Reformation Pt. 3 – Laodicean Remedy |

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