Work Of The Holy Spirit In Conversion

Ellen G. White

At infinite cost provision has been made for men to reach perfection of Christian character. Those who have been impressed by the Holy Scriptures as the voice of God, and desire to follow its teachings, are to be daily learning, daily receiving spiritual fervor and power, which have been provided for every true believer in the gift of the Holy Spirit. {ST March 8, 1910, par. 1}

The Holy Spirit is a free, working, independent agency. The God of heaven uses His Spirit as it pleases Him; and human minds, human judgment, and human methods can no more set boundaries to its working, or prescribe the channel through which it shall operate, than they can say to the wind, “I bid you to blow in a certain direction, and to conduct yourself in such and such a manner.” As the wind moves in its force, bending and breaking the lofty trees in its path, so the Holy Spirit influences human hearts, and no finite man can circumscribe its work. {ST March 8, 1910, par. 2}

Born from Above

When Nicodemus, a great teacher in Israel, sought the Master in that night interview on the Mount of Olives, Jesus laid before him the conditions of conversion, saying, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he can not see the kingdom of God.” {ST March 8, 1910, par. 3}

In astonishment Nicodemus said, “How can a man be born when he is old?” Here the Jewish ruler showed his unbelief; but Jesus answered, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he can not enter into the kingdom of God.” “Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” {ST March 8, 1910, par. 4}

Perplexed and wondering, Nicodemus said, “How can these things be?” Jesus said, “Art thou a master in Israel, and knowest not these things?” A teacher, a man among wise men, a man who supposed that he was able to comprehend the science of religion, and yet stumbling at the doctrine of conversion! {ST March 8, 1910, par. 5}

Nicodemus was not willing to admit the truth, because he could not understand all that was connected with the operation of the power of God; and yet he accepted the facts of nature, altho he could not explain or even comprehend them. Like other men of all ages, he was looking to forms and precise ceremonies as more essential to religion than the deep movings of the Spirit of God. {ST March 8, 1910, par. 6}

Jesus continued, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” By nature the heart is evil, and “who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one.” No human invention can find a remedy for the sinning soul. “The carnal mind .. is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” “Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.” The fountain of the heart must be purified before the streams can become pure. There is no safety for one who has merely a legal religion, a form of godliness. The Christian’s life is not a modification or improvement of the old life, but a transformation of the nature. There is a death to sin and self, and a new life altogether. This change can be brought about only by the effectual working of the Holy Spirit. {ST March 8, 1910, par. 7}

An Invisible Worker

Jesus pointed out to Nicodemus that, altho he could not see the wind, yet he could discern its action. The operating agency was not revealed to view; men could not tell whence it came or whither it went. They could not define by what law it was governed; but they could see the effects produced by its action. So this teacher in Israel might never be able to explain the process of conversion, but he would be able to discern its effects. No human reasoning, no skill of the most learned men, can define the operations of the Holy Spirit upon human minds and characters; yet they can see the effects upon the life and actions. {ST March 8, 1910, par. 8}

The Spirit of God is manifested in different ways upon different individuals. One, under the movings of this power, will tremble before the Word of God. His convictions are so deep that a tumult of feeling seems to rage in his heart, and his whole being is prostrated under the convicting power of the truth. {ST March 8, 1910, par. 9}

When the Lord speaks forgiveness to such a repenting soul, he is full of ardor, full of love to God, full of earnestness and energy, and the life-giving Spirit which he has received can not be repressed. Christ is in him, a well of water springing up unto everlasting life. His feelings of love are as deep and ardent as were his distress and agony. His soul is like the fountain of the great deep broken up, and he pours forth his thanksgiving and praise, his gratitude and joy, until the heavenly harps are tuned to notes of rejoicing with him. He has a story to tell, but not in any precise, common, methodical way. He is a soul ransomed through the merits of Jesus Christ, and his whole being is thrilled with the realization of the salvation of God. {ST March 8, 1910, par. 10}

Others are brought to Christ in a more gentle way. Men who have been dead in trespasses and sins, become convicted and converted under the operations of the Spirit. The thoughtless and wayward become serious. The hardened repent of their sins, and the faithless believe. The gambler, the drunkard, the licentious, become steady, sober, and pure. The rebellious and obstinate become meek and Christlike. {ST March 8, 1910, par. 11}

When we see these changes in the character, we may be assured that the converting power of God has transformed the entire man. We saw not the Holy Spirit, but we saw the evidence of its working in the changed character of those who were hardened and obdurate sinners. {ST March 8, 1910, par. 12}

The Holy Spirit moves upon the inner self until it becomes conscious of the divine power of God, and every spiritual faculty is quickened to decided action. A deep and thorough work is wrought in the soul, which the world can not see. Those who know not what it is to have an experience in the things of God, who know not what it is to be justified by faith, who have not the witness of the Spirit that they are accepted of Jesus Christ, are in need of being born again. {ST March 8, 1910, par. 13}

Only by Experience

What can the world know of Christian experience? Verily, nothing! “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you.” The great Teacher explained this instruction by saying, “It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” Those who not only hear but do the words of Christ, make manifest in their character the internal operations of the Holy Spirit. The result is demonstrated in the outward conduct. {ST March 8, 1910, par. 14}

If one who daily communes with God errs from the path, if he turns for a moment from looking steadfastly to Jesus, it is not because he sins wilfully; for when he sees his mistake, he fastens his eyes again upon Jesus; and the fact that he has erred does not make him less dear to the heart of God. When reproved for his mistake, he learns a lesson from the words of his Saviour, turns the mistake into a victory, and takes heed that he be not again deceived. {ST March 8, 1910, par. 15}

The Christian can not serve the world, or yield to the claims of any power, relation, or society that will make him deny Christ, dishonor God, or prove disloyal to His holy law. The Christian is to surrender himself unreservedly to God as His purchased possession. {ST March 8, 1910, par. 16}

The life of the Christian is hid with Christ in God; and God acknowledges those who are His, declaring, “Ye are My witnesses.” They testify that divine power is influencing their hearts and shaping their conduct. Their works give evidence that the Spirit is moving upon the inward man, so that those who are associated with them are convinced that they are making Christ their pattern. Those who truly love God have the internal evidence that they are beloved of God. They have communion with Christ, and their hearts are warmed with fervent love toward Him. God claims them for Himself, and will impart to them special favors, enabling them to be complete in Christ, more than conquerors through Him who has loved them. {ST March 8, 1910, par. 17}