Beware of False Teachers

J. Wilfred Johnson
Sabbath School Lesson Nov. 9, 1985

Transcribed Mar. 16, 2014

Note: This meeting is actually a small Sabbath School lesson given by Mr. Johnson at the College Heights Church Alberta, Canada. There are other groups meeting in the sanctuary at the same time as well as individuals talking among themselves. All of this background noise makes it nearly impossible to hear individuals addressing Mr. Johnson with their comments or questions.

(Wilfred) We have a rather pertinent, significant, important, lesson today and I wish we had two or three hours for it because there are so many things that I would like to interact with you about but we will try to bring it down to reasonable portions.

Bewaring of false teachers; back there in the time of the early church Peter was aware that the surrounding influences in the country at that time would affect these young Christians drawing them away from the truths that Jesus had brought to them. There would be a great danger of misunderstanding, misinterpreting and becoming doubtful about certain truths and so on. Now all of this history is good and it is for our admonition as our superintendent just mentioned and unless we can apply these experiences of the early church to our own situation today we are not really getting a great deal of practical use out of studying the history. Right? The important thing to us is where do we relate to these experiences today? Does Peter's admonition apply to us in this closing hour of this earth's history? Do we have any dangers? Can we rigidly remain loyal to the specific fundamental teachings of the church and doggedly hang on to those things, refusing to take a look at anything that might come along. Is this a safe course to take or does God have a plan for his people in whom He is expecting them to grow and develop and to learn and to expand in understanding? Which is it?

(A man in the group) I think it is a combination of both.

(Wilfred) A combination of both. In other words we must hold on to the fundamentals of truth that have been established and anything that may come along from then on in must not destroy that foundation but it may build upon it and expand upon it. Is that the idea? Well I think you have it dead on.

Our author gives us certain identifying marks by which you can tell, supposedly, whether a teacher is a genuine teacher or a false one. That is whether he is teaching genuine truth or false truth. Now these are not in your quarterly but they are in the teachers quarterly and I'm going to just enumerate them for you to give a little bit to think about. The pattern established by false prophets and teachers in the past history of the church can identify some characteristics to look for.

First, false prophets are more interested in popularity than in telling the truth. Their policy is to tell people what they want to hear rather than what they need to hear. And in case you are interested in references, Jeremiah 6:14, and Ezekiel 13:16. The aim of the false teacher is popularity, that's one.

Number two; false prophets are interested in personal gain. I'm reading this so you can't blame me for bringing these up. And the texts given are Mica 3:11, I Timothy 6:5, and Titus 1:11. They regard other people as dupes to be exploited for their own covetous needs.

Number three. False prophets often are dissolute in their own personal lives. That means they have no moral restraint, they are licentious and indulgent. Isaiah 28:7, Jeremiah 23:14, 32. And their lives seduce to evil rather than attract to good. That's three.

Number four; the false prophet leads people further away from God rather than closer to him. Deuteronomy 13:1-5, and chapter 18:20. Now those are the four given here and he points out that these are still valid today. I have added a fifth one, I don't know whether I should have done it or not I am no smarter than the one who wrote the lesson. But it has been my observation that the false prophets that are floating around in society, publishing in newspapers, and what not, their messages are always of a trivial nature or an irrelevant nature. For instance, some Hollywood star is going to go down with cancer. That's a prophecy. Some ruler of some country is going to die and somebody else is going to take his place. Now you say, well, that's not trivial. When I use the word trivial I mean it's trivial with relation to God's program. What kind of a message is that for God's people? How is that going to help them or not help them? Well, take it or leave it. These particular characteristics are not the ones that are really dangerous to us because those of us who are established in the church will recognize these items. So I would like to move into another area here that I think is important to us. We have been so warned against hersies and false teachings coming into our church and so on we have experiences in the past in which it has happened that I am wondering if we have not been prehaps a little inclined to move too far in the area of caution and may have possibly missed something that God has for us and it passes us by because we hold back and are not willing to take a good square look at what God is saying. Let me read here from
Testimonies to Ministers page 110; I should have first read you a few statements concerning the fact that we may expect additional light to come to this people that it will continue to unfold until the end. I'll read some of those if time permits here. But she says with reference to searching the sciptures to check whether something is true or false, this is what she says; "We are to counsel together, and to be subject one to another; but at the same time we are to exercise the ability God has given us, in order to learn what is truth. Each one of us must look to God for divine enlightenment. We must individually develop a character that will stand the test in the day of God. We must not become set in our ideas, and think that no one should interfere with our opinions."

"When a point of doctrine that you do not understand comes to your attention, go to God on your knees, that you may understand what is truth and not be found as were the Jews fighting against God. While warning men to beware of accepting anything unless it is truth, we should also warn them not to imperil their souls by rejecting messages of light, but to press out of the darkness by earnest study of the word of God." That puts it pretty well doesn't? There are two or three other things I would like to share with you from this particlar chapter. It's a chapter in Testimonies to Ministers entitled "How shall we search the scriptures". Would youi like to hear a little of it or do you have some other things you would rather discuss? "We should come to the investigation of God's word with a contrite heart, a teachable and prayerful spirit." Listen now. "We are not to think, as did the Jews, that our own ideas and opinions are infallible; nor with the papists, that certain individuals are the sole guardians of truth and knowledge, that men have no right to search the Scriptures for themselves, but must accept the explanations given by the fathers of the church." She is giving those two extremes we shouldn't fall into. "We should not study the Bible for the purpose of sustaining our preconceived opinions, but with the single object of learning what God has said." And she speaks about investigating, some people were afraid of investigating truths for fear that you might distrub the equanimity of some of the folks. But she says; "Therefore they have felt that investigation should not be permitted, that it would tend to dissension and disunion. But if such is to be the result of investigation, the sooner it comes the better. If there are those whose faith in God's word will not stand the test of an investigation of the Scriptures, the sooner they are revealed the better; for then the way will be opened to show them their error. We cannot hold that a position once taken, an idea once advocated, is not, under any circumstances, to be relinquished." So she is openning the door there for the thought that some things that we have thought and held may possibly have to be modified.

(A man in the audiance) What is the reference for that?

(Wilfred) This
is Testimonies to Ministers 105.

There is but one who is infallible. Now we must be careful when we read these things, not to jump to conclusions on a narrow minded level. There are some teachings that have been established already, they are fundamental, they are correct, we don't move those pillars. She calls them pillars of the faith, the Sabbath, we're not going to change ths Sabbath, I don't care who comes and says what. There are people today who are trying to change it. The Sabbath is a memorial the the six-day creation, remember? And we have intelligent scientific minds in our denomination today who don't believe in the six-day creation and who don't believe that this earth is six thousand years old as Sister White has indicated in many places. What is happening, what's happening? Well we are facing the same tests that the church back there was facing, only on a larger scale. This is serious. after all what rational person today can believe that this world was brought into existence in six days, it just doesn't make sense. Everywhere you look there is evidence of evolution and growth, that's the way you and I got here. That's the way God does everything that we see. Only once in a while does He give us a little bit of evidence that He can over-rule the normal laws of nature. Just the same way I can over-rule the normal instincts and behaviors and habits that I do as a regular thing. For instance, my wife may know how I would behave under a certain circumstance because she knows me, she knows my habits. But I have a free choice and I can fool her, I can decide to over-rule my regular habit, right? So can God. Why there have been times when God has speeded up the healing process. Brother Slaybaugh, some people don't think that's even true anymore. I happen to know one of the persons that was involved with it. In fact two. God speeded up the healing process of Brother Slaybaugh, gave him a new eye in a few seconds of time, healed his jaws, corrected his brain damage, put his ear back on. Remember when somebody cut an ear off once and Jesus did that? But He did it here a few years ago down on the west coast of Oregon and it's on record. I didn't see it, but I learned about it. Now God doesn't normally do that. Jesus did it, I believe Jesus did it when He was here on Earth. And I  believe He did it when He created this world. This world was created as a special, unique, demonstrative creation to forever settle the question of who the creator really was.

(A man in the audience) Uninteligible

(Wilfred) Yes, we're saying God can't over-rule his laws, he's bound by them.

(Same man) Uninteligible

(Wilfred) But do you see that it is probably a problem for God to over-rule those laws, because you know what the result was when he came out in the open and created this world in six days, what happened to the Son of God as a result? What did he have to face up to? Did you never spot that? The Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world. You see he behaved in a manner that was not consistant with his normal character. But he had to do it because of the emergency of sin.

Have you folks who have children ever run into that situation? Where you had to do something you normally did not want to do but because of the emergency of the disobedience of the child you had to resort to a certain behavior on their part and it put you in a bad light. Has that ever happened to you? 

You see, the rest of the universe there is no question has been here a long, long time. We can prove it. We can prove it in so far as we can get evidences to sustain it. But Sister White says that in the last days Satan is going to influence us in a manner that will cause us to have to reject the evidences of our senses. We cannot trust the evidences of our senses. When I first became an Adventist I couldn't believe in the six-day creation because the evidences were all against it. Now their not all against it today we have some pretty strong evidences against evolution of this world, there are some. But as a general pattern this world was created to function and evolve and move ahead according to the normal laws of nature as all of the rest of the universe is doing. And when our scientists look at it they see these things and they have scientific
evidence that this world is older than six thousand years and you have to come out and say and acknowledge that you believe that God over-ruled his normal way of behavior in the creation of this world, it was a special creation and that is why He created the Sabbath to be a memorial of it. You don't make a memorial of something that has been done many times before and that is going to be done many times again do you? You make a memorial of something that happens once so you won't forget it and that's the Sabbath. Don't ever give it up. Don't ever give up the plain statements of truth.

(Same woman) Most of the false teachings that have come into our church if you follow the logical sequence down to the bottom line they destroy the Sabbath.

(Wilfred) Yes.

(Same woman) On the top line you see a lot of truth. And if you follow their pattern on down through the logical sequence of their teaching it destroys the Sabbath.

(Wilfred) Yes. Now let me read a few statements if I may. In Testimonies to Ministers page 107; she says, "No one should claim that he has all the light there is for God's people." That's not the best one to read first. "The Lord will not tolerate this. He has said, "I have set before thee an open door and no man can shut it." Even if all our leading men for instance should refuse light and truth that door will still remain open. The Lord will raise up men who will give the people the message for this time." Do you realize what she is saying? She's saying not to discourage our faith and confidence in our leadership. Don't get that idea she's pretty well balanced all the way through there. But she is saying in case God should bring some special message to his people and the leadership should refuse to accept it that doesn't make it right or wrong. Do you understand that?

Now just let me read something else here. Well, while I'm on this, this is page 106, "All should be careful about presenting new views of Scripture before they have given these points thorough study, and are fully prepared to sustain them from the Bible. Introduce nothing that will cause dissension," Now if you stop there you won't get the idea because that's not what she says. But listen now. "Introduce nothing that will cause dissension without clear evidence that in it God is giving a special message for this time." Got that?

Now let me read another one. This one is from the Great Controversy page 609. "Different periods in the history of the church have each been marked by the development of some special truth, adapted to the necessities of God's people at that time." Isn't that something? "Every new truth has made its way against hatred and opposition; those who were blessed with its light were tempted and tried. The Lord gives a special truth for the people in an emergency." I don't know whether you've looked around the world recently, Have you been following the news? Have you been following the progress in the Adventist Church and the problems and all the rest of it? THIS IS AN EMERGENCY. WE ARE IN AN EMERGENCY TODAY! If we ever were in one. God is waiting with longing desire for the culmination of his plan of salvation to see the reflection of the image of his perfect character in his people. He's been waiting a long time and until He sees that He cannot come to claim them as his own. That's in the books. Now how long is it going to be delayed see? Well, I'm trying to point out to you that things are closing in on us and God's people are not prepared for what is coming. If I had those two or three hours I mentioned I could show you, I've got it all here.

But here's another one, Christ's Object Lessons page 127. "In every age there is a new development of truth, a message of God to the people of that generation." What's the truth for this generation that the last one didn't have? I don't know whether you get my point or not but here it is. "The old truths are all essential; new truth is not independent of the old, but an unfolding of it. ... It is the light which shines in the fresh unfolding of truth that glorifies the old." In other words, if there is new light coming to God's people in an emergency it will not destroy the old it will shine upon the old and glorify it. That's what it says.

(Another man) It's a good thing to maintain a balance in these things there is a danger to be overcome by the Papacy's Fossilized message, the other side of the coin is I can remember being down at the general conference in Texas in 1980 where there was a group of people standing around in front of a meeting place with what they considered to be the message for this generation that was that the Holy Spirit is the female aspect of the Godhead.

(Wilfred) Yes, I've heard that.

(Same man) Well I don't know if that is a relative truth or not for this time.

(Wilfred) Well what I'm trying to do, and maybe I'm not doing a very good job of it. I'm trying to point out to you folks that there is a danger of going to far on either side of this question. Our lesson is concerning heresies. Well we must recognize heresies, we must avoid them. But in our caution to avoid heresy we must be careful not to miss what God may be doing in bringing additional light to his people to help them through the emergency. Listen, which one of you is prepared to stand through the time of trouble after probation closes and the High Priest has laid his robes down and there is no mediator functioning actively and she tells us what we have to be to stand there. Which one of you is prepared to do it now?

Have you read what Sister White says about preparation? The urgency of our need for preparation to stand before a Holy God without an intercessor, without fault, in order to prove to the universe that Satan's accusation against God was wrong. Satan said, God you are unfair, your law is unfair, nobody can keep it, especially human beings in a sinful nature. And Jesus came to prove that it could be done, that's why He took the sinful nature of man and some of our folks don't believe that either. But He took the sinful nature of man and proved it. Sister White says in Christ's Object Lessons that by partaking of the divine nature humanity in its sinful state is capable of keeping God's law perfectly. Jesus proved it and the Bible says He is going to have a hundred and forty four thousand who will follow him all the way and in their mouth will be no guile just as it said of Jesus and that requires preparation and that's the emergency of this hour Brothers and Sisters. That's the emergency. Sister White says that God is going to raise up messengers in this closing hour who like John the Baptist will call God's people, the disobedient, to the wisdom of the just, to proclaim God's law and make ready a people prepared for the Lord. SDA Bible Commentary, her comments on Malachi 4. Do you believe it? Are you prepared to take a square look at the message when it shows up? Are you prepared to listen to it? Many of our people don't believe it is possible to become perfect. Well, I can understand that, I think it is impossible too. But with God all things are possible. And if God doesn't succeed in getting one hundred and forty four thousand volunteers, however many you think that is, but Sister White says one hundred and forty four thousand in number, and that's really good enough for me, He'll be lucky if He gets that many. One hundred and forty four thousand in number unless He gets a group of people who can stand before a Holy God without fault and everybody in the universe agrees that they are without fault including Lucifer and He can lay down his priestly robes so that they know there is no mediator and they are standing before a holy God without one and He points to them and He says, one of the first things I learned when I became an Adventist is that Jesus points and says. "Here they are! Here are they that keep the Commandments of God and have the faith and the testimony of Jesus." You don't have to do it, see? You don't have to be perfect in yourself to get to heaven. Your ticket to heaven is a gift Jesus paid the price He bought them all and He offers you one. Salvation from eternal death is by faith without the works of the law. You could be saved right now and if God takes your life at this point and He sees that you can't be of any further value to him in this world or whatever you can be in. But before God can close off this world's history He has to prove his point because the hour of HIS judgment is come, He's on trial. And He needs a hundred and forty four thousand witnesses to take the stand and declare him to be innocent. And the way they declare it is by the way they live, they prove that it is possible, that God's law is just, fair, righteous and that man can keep it in the strength given him from God. And Jesus used, she said, in his own behalf no power that is not freely available to us; therefore we have the same chance. Well, there is much more to that, much more.

She says here, Christ's Object Lessons page 78, "For His church in every generation God has a special truth and a special work. At the outset its advocates are few. By the great men of the world and by a world-conforming church, they are opposed and despised."

She says in Review and Herald July 26, 1892, "Those who think that they will never have to give up a cherished view, never have occasion to change an opinion, will be disappointed. As long as we hold to our own ideas and opinions with determined persistency, we cannot have the unity for which Christ prayed." So there has got to be give and take Brothers and Sisters. Don't be too stubborn about what you see and believe, keep an open mind maybe God has something more for you. I think of some of the embarrassing mistakes I've made in the past, it mortifies me but I am thankful that God permitted me to make them because what other way can you be humbled and without humility you don't qualify for God's Kingdom but God wants you to volunteer, He's calling for his people to volunteer, He says, I need you as my witnesses, are you willing to let me make you perfect? If so, He says, if you love me then keep my commandments and all you have to keep the commandment with is your decision, that's all you have that is totally yours. You decide to keep God's commandments and she says, when you do your best He makes up for the deficiency. But if you are willing to stay with him, He will pray the Father, it says right there in that same passage, John 14, I'll pray the Father and He is going to send you another comforter. And Adventists have an expansion of that text whereby the latter rain is coming since 1844 in the time of the latter rain and He went into the most holy apartment for the cleansing of the sanctuary where the Holy Spirit comes in abundance to change the heart. As you obey the heart changes and comes into line and into tune, into at-one-ment with the character of God so that you will love to do the right thing you won't have to push against it like you do before the transformation takes place. If you had to use your willpower to stay keeping God's commandments indefinitely without a change of heart you couldn't do it. You just couldn't, some day you would just go out and have a fling, you'd break. But God changes the heart, gradually sometimes, suddenly sometimes in some areas and when He is finished with you and the sanctuary is cleansed, and incidentally you are the new sanctuary, the true temple of God in which He comes to dwell. The Bible says that.

When that sanctuary is cleansed it will not be hard to keep God's law because you'll love it. I don't have any trouble eating chocolates I love them. But I have trouble eating mustard I hate it. Well I don't bother trying to eat mustard because I don't think it is any good for you anyway. I don't think I need it so I don't eat it. I use to hate olives but they are good for you. When I became an Adventist they put olives in the sandwiches they used to have at the evening entertainment. I don't think they should have done that either but they did. Anyway, I said if that's good food I'm going to eat it. I made a decision to over-rule my feelings and do the thing that's right. Do you know what God did? Yes, I know what He did, I love olives today. You put a dish of olives on the table and nobody's looking, well, that's the point.

Listen Brother and Sister, that's the final atonement, that's what happens at the final atonement the cleansing of the soul temple, the heart. If you do what God says that's going to happen to you and you will love his law to such an extent that nobody can make you break it, you'll die for Jesus before you'll give in and that's the kind of people He's looking for.

Now while talking about heresies there is every wind of doctrine in the world today. You recognize that don't you? I listen to some of these preachers on Sunday morning and I get many of these things out of their sermons, I think many of these people are good Christian people and God's going to save them, they are going to be in the Kingdom. But they are not prepared to be one of his final witnesses. What's going to happen to all these people? Well, the Bible tells that too. They are going to be laid in the grave. Isaiah 57 first two verses, 1 "The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart: and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come. 2 "He shall enter into peace: they shall rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness." and in Revelation 14:13  "And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours, and their works do follow them." The Lord is going to put them in the grave, put them to sleep and the next thing they know they're in the Kingdom. But God is looking for people in this church who have the message of the sanctuary, which some of our scholars are trying to dispose of, those who have that message and understand that the works since 1844 involves the cleansing of the soul temple from all defilement that they can stand without fault before a God, but in order to do it God has to pour out the totality of his Spirit on his people. Oh, I wish I could take the time to show you what that sacrifice really means, it's terrific. But God's going to do it He's going to give all, he's going to give everything to make it possible for you to live without sin. That's how precious it is to him to preserve his universe and his government, He loves you. He wants you to have a universe free from sin and you can be a prime witness for him in bringing the final testimony before the world and the universe that God's law can be kept. Do you follow what I'm trying to say?

Now the admonition is "Go and study it". I learned these things back in the 1930's when I first became an Adventist. That's when I learned it. I didn't think much of them at that time I hoped I wouldn't live in that day and here we are. Maybe we won't make it yet, maybe the next generation is coming, but I don't believe it, if Sister White is a true prophet we are going to be through with this thing very soon. Do you know what the Lord's going to do and I could show you that too. He's going to bring his sword upon his people He's going to spew them with his sword which is truth. And the truth that's coming upon God's people is going to shake them, divide them, separate those who are going through and those who are not. And through it all we must have love for one another and love the brethren. That's the test. Hereby shall all men know that you are my disciples if you have love one to another. You may think entirely different from what I think on a specific doctrine or point but we still love each other, if we don't we are not God's disciples. I don't agree with my wife on everything she thinks and she doesn't agree with me but that doesn't separate us. A trial and shaking is coming upon God's people and it centers around your confidence in the gift of prophecy to this remnant church, that's the point that will separate the sheep from the goats. It's in the books.

May God help us to understand this important subject for this hour.

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