Further Study: Reformation: The Willingness to Grow and Change

“Let no man present the idea that man has little or nothing to do in the great future_studywork of overcoming; for God does nothing for man without his cooperation. Neither say that after you have done all you can on your part, Jesus will help you. Christ has said, ‘Without Me ye can do nothing’ (John 15:5) . From first to last man is to be a laborer together with God. Unless the Holy Spirit works upon the human heart, at every step we shall stumble and fall. Man’s efforts alone are nothing but worthlessness; but cooperation with Christ means a victory. . . . Never leave the impression on the mind that there is little or nothing to do on the part of man; but rather teach man to cooperate with God, that he may be successful in overcoming.”-Ellen G. White, Selected Messages, book 1, p. 381.

“All true obedience comes from the heart. It was heart work with Christ. And if we consent, He will so identify Himself with our thoughts and aims, so blend our hearts and minds into conformity to His will, that when obeying Him we shall be but carrying out our own impulses. The will, refined and sanctified, will find its highest delight in doing His service. When we know God as it is our privilege to know Him, our life will be a life of continual obedience. Through an appreciation of the character of Christ, through communion with God, sin will become hateful to us.”-Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 668.

Discussion Questions:

  • Growth comes in the Christian life as we claim God’s promises by faith, believing that He will do just what He says. What are the promises made to us here? (1 John 1:7-9Phil. 4:13James 1:5-8Rom. 8:31-39). How can you learn to believe them for yourself? More importantly, what choices can you make that will help these promises to become more real in your life?
  • Dwell more on this idea of working out your own salvation with “fear and trembling.” In class, talk about what that means, especially in terms of salvation by faith alone. What should we fear, what should cause us to tremble?
  • When was the last time, like Peter, that you made a promise to God that you, however sincere at the time you made it, utterly failed to follow through on it? What did you learn from that mistake? What principles can we find in the Bible that will enable us to have the victories that we are promised?


Further Study: Reformation: The Willingness to Grow and Change — 9 Comments

  1. This week's lessons have been looking at the reformation the original disciples had and a few other things along that line. To me one of the best examples of reformation was with a second generation disciple, John Mark. Even though he wasn't one of the original disciples he most likely saw Jesus at least one time in his early life and was the nephew of Barnabas (Acts 12:12; Col 4:10). During his life he changed from a wimpy, scared kid into a real worker for the Lord. The transition is found in the following verses, Acts 12:25; Acts 13:13; Acts 15:37-38; Col 4:10; 2 Tim 4:11).

    For us I think what is important here is that Barnabas, his uncle, didn't give up on him like Paul did. He saw potential and patiently worked with him for years nurturing and training him to be the useful disciple he knew he could be. With the Holy Spirit working in his life he grew and became someone that even Paul years later thought was, "useful to me for ministry" (2 Tim. 4:11 NKJV).

    A second thing to consider seems to be that his reformation took time just as it did with the original disciples of Jesus. Rarely will a lasting dramatic transformation take place over night as the explanation of the parable of the soils suggest (Mat 13:20-21).

    • Lasting and dramatic change may occur "overnight". We have the example of Paul on the road to Damascus. And we have the illustration of the germination of the seed in Mark 4:26-29, commented on beautifully in Christ's Object Lessons, page 65, paragraph 2. As I see it, the new birth is always dramatic, just as the physical births of my children were to me.
      "Rarely"? Too true. "When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8) But thank God, at the end, there will be a remnant. (Revelation 12:17)

      • John, thank you for the reference to Christ's Object Lessons. I also was sure someone somewhere would bring up Paul's conversion as an example of an overnight conversion experience, however, I think as we study that experience we will soon discover that it didn't happen "overnight".

        When Paul was struck blind on the road to Damascus he was, "trembling and astonished" (Acts 9:6 NKJV) and "was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank" (Acts 9:9 NKJV). So traumatic was that experience that it deeply disturbed him enough that he wouldn't eat or drink for three days. During that time he was trying to make sense of his experience which was contrary to everything he believed. To me his complete conversion happened in stages and at Damascus it concerned the one simple fact that Jesus was the Messiah who he was persecuting because of unbelief.

        As a pastor many years ago told me Paul's real conversion came afterward when he realized how much his lord had done for him. That is something that probably took place during his retreat to Arabia for up to three years (Gal 1:17-18) and then became solidified from that point on. I think the important thing for us to see about what happened on the road is that while at Damascus he, "confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ" (Acts 9:22 NKJV). To me that was his immediate conversion, from Judaism to Christianity as a religion. Sometime after that, his conversion concerned an attachment to Christ from the heart.

        When we get to Paul's letters written some 20 years later especially the ones to the Romans and the Galatians his discourse changes and becomes very theological, extremely deep, and deals with love and how a person is saved rather than simply on Jesus being the Messiah. The whole thing was a matter of understanding God which the Jews grossly misinterpreted. That whole subject would have been an extremely difficult thing for the Jew, even a well educated one, to accept and something that would have to be developed over time. In those books Paul declared that, "God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8 NKJV) and that salvation was not by works but was a "free gift" (Rom 5:15-18) obtained solely through faith (Eph 2:8) which was demonstrated in the experience of Abraham and David (Rom 4:1-8). He based that on what was thought to be a radical interpretation of Scripture which the Jews generally didn't accept. They didn't understand God or His covenant relationships in the Bible - to them it was all law and obedience to them rather than freely offered grace! But Paul eventually saw the truth of the matter and to me that is what converted him.

        In Christ's Object Lessons, chapter 3, "First the Blade, Then the Ear" which you referred to, Ellen White's main thought is that of growth which I think is demonstrated in Paul's life and what he was preaching, first the FACT that Jesus was the Messiah, then afterward the GRACE that was manifested in Christ toward us resulting in salvation. Personally I don't think Paul was fully converted until he fell in love with the one who died for him in spite of what he did as a persecutor of God's beloved church.

  2. I am glad i found this out so can also get a share in discussing the quarterlies every single day. God bless you. Amen.

  3. God is with us and has an amazing life for us that we can only partially experience if we totally surrender and decide to put our all into His will and way. I have come to be afraid of making promise as well as of wandering from total connection with God. I know I need Him. I tremble at the thought of any kind of life away from Him. I know I am nothing without Him, but endless possibilities open up before me when I live each moment in His presence. I know that God's promises are for me and for everyone. I can claim them and experience life to the full because of what Jesus did and is doing to make our relationship and life possible. He can make me everything He designed me to be!

  4. How can someone work out their salvation with fear and trembling and can this be taken literally? Fear of God is to respect and honor him, and the idea of an angry God who intends to hurt and punish people whenever they sin is wrong. God is love and he gave all for our salvation how can we be afraid of such love?
    How much do people have to do to be saved? Can people workout their salvation? Salvation is a free gift from God, yet we have to accept it nobody can be saved by their good works. Are people required to do something before God helps them? No, we are not required to do something before God helps us, but this does not mean we can't do anything, we should offer him our wills. Our will are a precious gift from God, and everyone has control over their wills. God will not force us into giving our wills to him. However we can chose to unite our wills to God's will, and when we are united nothing can hinder us from doing his will. Ellen G. White mentioned on today's quote: God does nothing without our cooperation. Cooperate with God and you will have done God's will, unite your will to God's and you will have worked out your salvation- Selected Messages, book 1, p. 381.

  5. [Moderators note: Please use full name.]

    God loves us the way we are...we have a role to play if we are to grow in the reformation.

  6. As we surrender our all daily to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, may we lay hold on the promise that His grace is sufficient for each of us. As He seek and we allow Him to do His will in our life only then can the transformational changes, that we talk about be visible and evident in our lives. As a result may we mirror His characteristic in our daily lives, so that others will be impacted and desire those changes as well . By His grace it's possible and in our lives daily May Jesus be glorified


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