1. WITNESSING WITH POWER
a. Describe the experience of the early church after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. Acts 2:16, 17; 4:33.
“[In the time of the early apostles], hundreds proclaimed the message: ‘The kingdom of God is at hand.’ They could not be restrained or intimidated by threatenings. The Lord spoke through them; and, wherever they went, the sick were healed, and the poor had the gospel preached unto them.
“So mightily can God work when men give themselves up to the control of His Spirit.”—Testimonies, vol. 8, p. 20.
b. What prophecy will have a more complete fulfillment in these last days? Isaiah 60:3–5.
“When God’s people so fully separate themselves from evil that He can let the light of heaven rest upon them in rich measure, and shine forth from them to the world, then there will be fulfilled more fully than it has ever been fulfilled in the past the prophecy of Isaiah, [Isaiah 60:3–5 quoted].”—In Heavenly Places, p. 313.
“Let Christians put away all dissension and give themselves to God for the saving of the lost. Let them ask in faith for the promised blessing, and it will come. The outpouring of the Spirit in the days of the apostles was “the former rain,” and glorious was the result. But the latter rain will be more abundant.”—Testimonies, vol. 8, p. 21.
2. THE TIMES OF REFRESHING
a. What reassuring promise of revival and refreshing does Hosea give under the figure of the early and latter rains? Hosea 6:1–3.
b. What are the conditions of receiving the “times of refreshing” promised—the full outpouring of the Holy Spirit in latter-rain power? Acts 3:19–21.
“The great work of the gospel is not to close with less manifestation of the power of God than marked its opening. 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 . . . [Acts 3: 19, 20 quoted].”—The Great Controversy, pp. 611, 612.
“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.”—Early Writings, p. 71.
c. In order to receive the power of the Holy Spirit without measure, what work must be done for us and by us? Isaiah 43:25; 44:22.
“We may claim the blessed assurance, ‘I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions’ (Isaiah 44:22). Thy ‘sins, which are many, are forgiven’ (Luke 7:47). O, how precious, how refreshing, is the sunlight of God’s love! The sinner may look upon his sin-stained life, and say, ‘Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died.’ ‘When sin abounded, grace did much more abound’ (Romans 8:34; 5:20). Christ the Restorer plants a new principle of life in the soul, and that plant grows and produces fruit. The grace of Christ purifies while it pardons, and fits men for a holy heaven. We are to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ until we reach the full stature of men and women in Christ.”—The Review and Herald, July 14, 1891.
3. THE GARMENTS OF SALVATION
a. While we may feel unworthy, what assurance can we have that the Lord will accept us when we come to Him in repentance? Isaiah 61:10.
“Do not listen to the enemy’s suggestion to stay away from Christ until you have made yourself better; until you are good enough to come to God. If you wait until then, you will never come. When Satan points to your filthy garments, repeat the promise of Jesus, ‘Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out’ (John 6:37). . . .
“In the beautiful parabolic prophecy of Zechariah, the high priest Joshua, standing clothed in filthy garments before the angel of the Lord, represents the sinner. And the word is spoken by the Lord, ‘Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him He said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment. . . . So they set a fair miter upon his head, and clothed him with garments’ (Zechariah 3:4, 5). Even so God will clothe you with ‘the garments of salvation,’ and cover you with ‘the robe of righteousness’ (Isaiah 61:10).”—Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 205, 206.
b. What is soon to occur under the “latter-rain” power of the Holy Spirit? Isaiah 61:11; Joel 2:23, 28–31.
“We must not wait for the latter rain. It is coming upon all who will recognize and appropriate the dew and showers of grace that fall upon us. When we gather up the fragments of light, when we appreciate the sure mercies of God, who loves to have us trust Him, then every promise will be fulfilled. [Isaiah 61:11 quoted.] . . .
“The time of test is just upon us, for the loud cry of the third angel has already begun in the revelation of the righteousness of Christ, the sin-pardoning Redeemer. This is the beginning of the light of the angel whose glory shall fill the whole earth.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 7, p. 984.
“A work must be done for the people, or many will not be prepared to receive the light of the angel sent down from heaven to lighten the whole earth with his glory. Do not think that you will be found as vessels unto honor in the time of the latter rain, to receive the glory of God, if you are lifting up your souls unto vanity, speaking perverse things, in secret cherishing roots of bitterness.”—Manuscript Releases, vol. 1, p. 175.
4. PREPARING FOR the RAIN
a. How must we prepare our hearts to participate in the latter rain? Joel 2:12–14; Hosea 10:12.
“God leads His people on, step by step. He brings them up to different points calculated to manifest what is in the heart. Some endure at one point but fall off at the next. . . . Some are willing to receive one point; but when God brings them to another testing point, they shrink from it and stand back, because they find that it strikes directly at some cherished idol. Here they have opportunity to see what is in their hearts that shuts out Jesus. They prize something higher than the truth, and their hearts are not prepared to receive Jesus. Individuals are tested and proved a length of time to see if they will sacrifice their idols and heed the counsel of the True Witness. If any will not be purified through obeying the truth, and overcome their selfishness, their pride, and evil passions, the angels of God have the charge: ‘They are joined to their idols, let them alone,’ and they pass on to their work, leaving these with their sinful traits unsubdued, to the control of evil angels. 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.
b. Besides deep searching of heart and genuine repentance, what other duties do we have with regard to the latter rain? Matthew 5:6; Zechariah 10:1.
“Why do we not hunger and thirst for the gift of the Spirit, since this is the means by which we are to receive power? Why do we not talk of it, pray for it, preach concerning it?”—Ibid., vol. 8, p. 22.
“Only those who are living up to the light they have, will receive greater light. Unless we are daily advancing in the exemplification of the active Christian virtues, we shall not recognize the manifestations of the Holy Spirit in the latter rain.”—The Faith I Live By, p. 333.
“When we have entire, wholehearted consecration to the service of Christ, God will recognize the fact by an outpouring of His Spirit without measure; but this will not be while the largest portion of the church are not laborers together with God.”—The Review and Herald, July 21, 1896.
5. STRIVING FOR GOD’S SEAL OF APPROVAL
a. What is to be the intensive focus of every follower of Christ—and why is this so necessary? Revelation 3:5; 7:1–4, 13, 14; 2 Corinthians 7:1.
“The seal of the living God will be placed upon those only who bear a likeness to Christ in character.”—The Review and Herald, May 21, 1895.
“When we become children of God, our names are written in the Lamb’s book of life, and they remain there until the time of the investigative judgment. Then the name of every individual will be called, and his record examined by Him who declares, ‘I know thy works.’ If in that day it shall appear that all our wicked deeds have not been fully repented of, our names will be blotted from the book of life, and our sins will stand against us. If the professed believer becomes self-confident, if in word or spirit he breaks the least precept of God’s holy law, he misrepresents Jesus, and in the judgment the awful words will be spoken, ‘Blot out his name from the book of life; he is a worker of iniquity.’ But the Father pities the self-distrustful, God-fearing soul, harassed though he may be with doubts and temptations. Jesus pleads for him, and confesses his name before the Father and His holy angels.”—The Signs of the Times, August 6, 1885.
“But those who are waiting to behold a magical change in their characters without determined effort on their part to overcome sin will be disappointed. We have no reason to fear while looking to Jesus, no reason to doubt but that He is able to save to the uttermost all that come unto Him; but we may constantly fear lest our old nature will again obtain the supremacy, that the enemy shall devise some snare whereby we shall again become his captives. . . . As wax takes the impression of the seal, so the soul is to take the impression of the Spirit of God and retain the image of Christ.”—Selected Messages, bk1, pp. 336, 337.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. What results can we expect to see under the power of the latter rain?
2. Who only will receive the seal of God?
3. What prevents us from receiving the latter rain?
4. What do we need to overcome in order to receive the latter rain?
5. What should we fear with regard to overcoming sin?