Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. John 3:5.
The question is often asked, Why is there not more power in the church? Why not more vital godliness? The reason is, the requirements of God’s Word are not complied with in verity and in truth; God is not loved supremely, and our neighbor as ourselves. This covers the entire ground. Upon these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. Let these two requirements of God be obeyed explicitly, and there would be no discord in the church, no inharmonious notes in the family. With many the work is too superficial. Outward forms take the place of the inner work of grace…. The theory of the truth has converted the head, but the soul temple has not been cleansed from its idols.
When the commandment came home to the mind and heart of Paul, he says, “Sin revived and I died.” In these days of pretense there are many sham conversions. True conviction of sin, real heart sorrow because of wickedness, death to self, the daily overcoming of defects of character, and the new birth—these, represented as old things, Paul says had passed away, and all things had become new. Such a work many know nothing of. They grafted the truth into their natural hearts, and then went on as before, manifesting the same unhappy traits of character….
Make the tree good, and good fruit will be the result. The work of the Spirit of God upon the heart is essential to godliness. It must be received into the hearts of those who accept the truth, and create in them clean hearts, before one of them can keep His commandments and be doers of the Word….
The Bible is not studied as much as it should be; it is not made the rule of life. Were its precepts conscientiously followed and made the basis of character, there would be steadfastness of purpose that no business speculations or worldly pursuits could seriously influence. A character thus formed, and supported by the Word of God, will abide the day of trial, of difficulties and dangers. The conscience must be enlightened, and the life sanctified by the love of the truth received into the heart, before the influence will be saving upon the world.—The Review and Herald, August 28, 1879.