Calvary

By
J. Wilfred Johnson
Sabbath School Lesson Mar. 5, 1989

Transcribed Jan. 23, 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) Calvary, a most magnificent episode but at the same time a shocking and horrendous event. A glorious experience but thoroughly revolting and horrible to anyone whose heart is softened by the Spirit of God. Do you agree with that statement? Calvary is the supreme moment in God's plan of salvation. The depths of divine love, the depths of evil, and the decision every person must make concerning God's way of correcting a wrong.

The one who writes the comments to the lesson makes this statement; "Surely and steadily our studies through the quarterly have brought us to Calvary. It is inevitable that it should for Calvary is the point to which all theology must direct its steps. Calvary is the turning point of history, the dividing of the ages. We commonly measure time as either B.C. or A.D. meaning Before Christ and After Christ timing from his birth. However great as his birth was his death was even more significant. It was the climax of the life He had lived; the decisive battle in the great controversy with Satan and thus B.C. should really stand for Before Calvary rather than the birth of Christ."

Today I wonder if we can't take a somewhat broader look at the sufferings of Christ on Calvary and what they mean. I trust that you have gone through the details of the lesson so you will know some of the specifics that Christ endured. I hope you have placed yourself as much as your imagination would permit you into his position and felt the pangs that He felt. So with that in mind let me pursue this.

I see three different levels involved in this extreme condescension, humility, and suffering of Christ. Three levels and you may not agree with me completely on this but I'm going to share it with you anyway and you can meditate upon it. I'm going to start with the last episode and end with the first. The last stage in the condescension of Christ is the specific part in the lesson we are studying today, Calvary. This was the deepest point to which He had to go. Then follow the resurrection and the ascension and the glorification and He is now set down where?

(A man in the group) At the right hand of the Father.

(Wilfred) At the right hand of the Father. So Calvary is the deepest point. But that in my thinking is the third step in the condescension. In the first step was Bethlehem. Think of Bethlehem what do you see? A little baby in a manger, totally helpless, unconscious for all practical purposes sound asleep. The King of the universe, the creator of all things in heaven and earth, a baby sound asleep. Totally dependent, and I say totally reservedly, totally dependent upon his mother and his father for all things. Father, yes, Father, heavenly Father. Jesus could make no decisions for himself at that point. Could He? Do you see the condescension? Do you see the depth of humiliation to which the King of the universe put himself?

Well, I want to go back one more step and this one I think most of us, if not all of us have missed, at least we have glossed over it; I don't think we have really understood it so I'm going to share it briefly with you. I could say much more than I am going to say but I just want to give you an opportunity to think about it.

Back in the courts of heaven there is a building that is called a sanctuary, a temple, a place where God dwells, and around that temple there is a court and in that court there is an altar, an altar of sacrifice. How do I know that?

(A man in the group) Because the earthly sanctuary is formed after the heavenly sanctuary.

(Wilfred) Good for you brother. This my Brother and Sister is bordering on the distinctive message and doctrine that Seventh-day Adventist have been honored of God to receive. Let's not miss it. Moses was given in the mount instructions as to how to build a sanctuary in the wilderness after what?

(Same man) After the pattern in heaven.

(Wilfred) After the pattern in heaven and in that sanctuary you have replicas of all the things that are in the heavenly and they all have meanings and we can't take the whole period discussing that. I must hurry on to it. Some time before that little baby showed up something happened to the Great God of the Universe. The Son who created all things who lived in a glorious eternal body that was so brilliant that He had to put himself in a cloud when He came down to speak to Moses. And Moses could not stand to look at it but when He passed by and Moses asked the Lord to see his glory God condescended to let him get a glimpse but He had to shield Moses as He passed by, remember? And then as He removed his hand Moses caught a glimpse of the back part of God and it was so bright, so brilliant that it irradiated Moses to the extent that when he came down from the mountain his face shined so brightly that the people could not stand to look at him, he had to cover his face with a veil when he spoke to the people. That's in the Bible.

What happened to that glorious Christ in that glorious body sometime before that little baby showed up? Do you know? Have you ever thought about it? Oh, Jesus has given us quite a number of things relative to it; in fact the last message He gave to his disciples at the final supper gives us a clue. Well I can't take time to give you all the references and the evidences for what I'm going to say. But the great divine Son of God relinquished his former body and blood. That body and that blood which was eternal in which He had life in himself He laid it down, He shed that blood. I wonder if you get the significance that I am trying to show you? The heavenly sanctuary, what took place in the court of the heavenly sanctuary? Oh, sometime and the Bible gives us a clue as to when but I'll not go into it today. Sometime that Great Son of God voluntarily shed his eternal life-blood, that blood which gave him life in himself and relinquished that eternal life body so that He could assume the form of a little baby in a human body. Doesn't it say, "A body has thou prepared for me, Lo in the volume of the book it is written of me, I come." Where did Christ get his eternal life? I know that's a loaded question. What did He say? What did He say himself? As the Father has life in himself so has He given the Son to have life in himself. What does it say relative to the position and authority that Christ held in the Kingdom prior to his advent on earth? What does it say about that? What did He do with that authority? Before He came into this world?

(Another man) He gave back the scepter to the Father.

(Wilfred) That's right, He gave back the scepter into the Father's hand. I want to tell you something, don't think that sanctuary up in heaven is there for nothing. This is the real sanctuary dwelling place of God representing the true tabernacle, and I have already told you what the true tabernacle is. What is it? Oh, we are dull of hearing. What is the true temple? Listen Brother and Sister; let's get into the messages that God gave to this remnant church through his servant Sister Ellen G. White. Don't let the present attack on her authenticity shake your faith. God has told us that this was going to happen, get back in those books and find what it says. What does it say? Christ is the true temple, that's one.

(Same man) Our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.

(Wilfred) That's right. The temple of God is to be built up of those who are redeemed from the earth. Now how does that fit together? Have you never read in that same Spirit of Prophecy that there is to be a wedding? Have you not read in the Bible that Christ is the head of his church and we are the members in particular? Have you not read where Paul says, Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother and cleave unto his wife and they twain shall be one flesh. He says I know this is a great mystery but I'm speaking about Christ and his Church. And the marriage of the Lamb to the New Jerusalem, his Church, takes place before the close of probation which is now and it's about to take place Brother and Sister and we ought to know it. There is a tremendous message that God has committed to his people and we have been so dull, we've been too busy with everything else to read what He says to us. He is calling us today to be willing to share these sufferings of Christ. What for? Because only through sharing the sufferings of Christ will God's people be made holy and purified and refined. And not until they are holy and purified and refined will Jesus come to accept them. Why do we keep asking the Lord to come quickly? Why do we keep asking him to send us the latter rain when we refuse to do the things that are prerequisite to receiving that latter rain. Why do we do this? I'll tell you why. Because we are ignorant, we have not read what God has told us. What has He told us? Some of you know?

(Another man) Search the scriptures.

(Wilfred) All right. Search the scriptures. What do we find in there?

(Same man) The way of life.

(Wilfred) The way of life. What else are we asked to do?

(Another man) Be perfect even as your Father in heaven is perfect.

(Wilfred) Be perfect even as your Father in heaven is perfect. Can you become perfect? Can you do something to make yourself perfect? I see heads nodding positively and some shaking negatively and both answers are true. God has given us one thing that is ours independently that He honors and respects and will never force. What is it?

(Another man) Our choice.

(Wilfred) And what does He ask us to do with it? What decision with it does He ask us to make? If you love me keep my commandments. Can you keep his commandments? Yes and no. The only thing you have to keep them with is to make a decision to function in that direction. Can you refuse to kill somebody? He says thou shalt not kill. Can you refuse to kill? Why yes you can! He says thou shalt not steal. Can you refuse to steal? Yes you can. But you cannot make yourself love those commandments. You cannot make them the delight of your heart. You cannot change your heart. So there are two things involved, and I did not intend to get on to this today but here I am. It's important because the latter rain of the Spirit which comes to make the final change and transform the heart, that's in several places in the Spirit of Prophecy, will not come to a single soul, that's also in the Spirit of Prophecy, until we have cleansed our own soul temples from all defilement. That's also in the Spirit of Prophecy. And if the Holy Spirit in the latter rain that transforms our nature and makes us reflect the perfect image of Jesus Christ cannot come to us until we have cleansed our own soul temples what is the most important thing for us to be doing today? And don't call me a legalist. To make a free choice to surrender to God's will in every detail that we are aware of, have we done it? Listen, I know we haven't done it. How do I know that? Because the latter rain has not come to cleanse the soul temple. Has your soul temple been throughly cleansed? Are you perfectly pure, are you radiating the full character of Jesus Christ right now? Are you? Well you say, Johnson we'll never know that for sure. And I agree we won't. But I definitely know that I am not reflecting the character of Jesus fully. Do you know whether you are or not? So you see there is a third condescension that Jesus made which really was the first one. He relinquished his life in himself, He returned the scepter to the Father, and He condescended to go to sleep. Oh you say, Brother Johnson I can't go that one because God can't die and can't go to sleep. All right, I'll agree with you but you see here we are in the mystery of the dual nature of the Son of God. And I don't have the time really to give you the full explanation of this but I sure would like to give you enough so you can think straight on it.

Christ assumed a dual nature; the divinity of Christ could not die. That eternal life in himself, that great eternal body whatever it was is eternal. And what happened to it? You have already told me, I think. But the Bible tells us what happens to the Spirit of life when you die. It returns to the Father who gave it. And where did Jesus get his eternal life in himself from?

(Several vioces) Unintelligible

(Wilfred) Then where did his life return when he relinquished it and shed it voluntarily in the court of the heavenly sanctuary, where did it go? Back to the Father. There were witnesses there to see what happened up there. But that's another story.

Then came the man Jesus, He was initiated by that same Spirit of eternal life. His own life Spirit initiated his new existence on earth. So that He was both divine and human and He was constantly receiving fresh anointings of his former Spirit of life. You say, Brother Johnson that was the Holy Spirit. Well, I can't take time to give you all the proofs, but the Spirit of Prophecy tells us plainly and Jesus in his own words tells us plainly that He, himself, and the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of his former existence are in fact somehow mysteriously identified. Now get this point, Sister White tells us that Jesus was both divine and human and the two natures were mysteriously blended. That's what she says. Now in the same sense that Jesus had the two natures the divine and the human in some way, and I am not explaining it I'm just calling it to your attention, there was a fusion of two personalities. Because the divine Christ could not go to sleep, that Spirit of life which was eternal could not die we are told that in the Spirit of Prophecy. Whether you understand it or whether you don't, believe it. And He assumed the human nature and the human personality so that He could die. Do you think that on the cross Jesus actually did go unconscience or did He stay conscience?

(A man in the group) Unintelligible

(Wilfred) I can't quite hear you.

(Same man) Unintelligible

(Wilfred) You are correct.

Now, was there a conscience Christ after Calvary before the resurrection?

(Same man) Unintelligible

(Wilfred) That depends on how you look at it. You see if divinity could not die He must be still living. I'm going to give you one statement in the Spirit of Prophecy that gives the key. There are others and I could give you some in the Bible that zero right in on it. She says the Holy Spirit is the soul of the life of Christ. Now you can take that as you will but when Jesus talked to his disciples He said, I am going to go away. But if you love me keep my commandments, and then I will do what? "Pray the Father." Notice He had to pray the Father. So where was this thing that He was going to get from the Father? It was with the Father. And what was He going to pray for? Another comforter and what does the Bible say a few verses down what that comforter was? The Holy Spirit, the Holy Ghost. What does Jesus in that very same passage identify it with? Ahh I bet you didn't notice that. He says, "I will not leave you comfortless." What does He say? "I will come to you." I am not explaining this Brothers and Sisters I am simply pointing it out that there is some relationship between the Holy Spirit and the life of Christ. The divine nature of Christ that did not die. There is some relationship there, it may be significant that in the conferences that were held around the time of creation and the time of Lucifer's rebellion there are only the two personalities mentioned, the Father and the Son. And the Spirit of God it speaks of it moving upon the face of the waters. The Bible talks about the Spirit of Christ, listen...

(Same man) unintelligible.

(Wilfred) That's right. It always existed. Now I am not trying to explain the Holy Trinity, don't get me wrong. And yet the Bible say, It was Romans 1:20 I think. 20 "For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made," Are you listening? "Even his eternal power and?" What's the next word?

(Another man) Godhead.

(Wilfred) "Godhead." So there is something in the created works of God that reveals things about the Godhead. Do you see that? Now, how much, I am not going to say. But the one thing I am going to say is that whatever it was that God gave, Jesus gave back to the Father in the form of his body and blood, his eternal life body and his eternal life blood in his last communication to his disciples He promised them that He was going to share it with them. Didn't He? He broke the bread and He said; "This is my" what?

(Same man) unintelligible

(Wilfred) Was He talking about his physical human body? Oh no, you know that, He's still living in that. This is my blood, the New Testament in my blood. And what are we to do with it? By the way, the blood is the symbol for what? The life. What are we to do with it? Eat it and drink it. It says in John 6 Except you eat my flesh and my blood you have no life in you. But He said, if you believe in me, you have what?

(Same man) Life.

(Wilfred) So you have access to whatever that body and blood is. Now, would you like to know what that body and blood is? Listen carefully now, I'm going to read it from the Spirit of Prophecy it's in the Desire of Ages, well Brother Johnson I have read the Desire of Ages and I never came across that, well here it is. Page 386, She is commenting about Jesus' message to his disciples in John chapter 6. This is where she talks about the body and the blood, eating the flesh and drinking the blood and here is what she says; "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven. The giver of the manna was standing among them. It was Christ Himself who had led the Hebrews through the wilderness, and had daily fed them with the bread from heaven." Listen now. "That food," The manna, "Was a type of the real bread from heaven." Now listen. "The life-giving Spirit, flowing from the infinite fullness of God, is the true manna." To me that's says Brother and Sister that I must partake of the divine everlasting eternal life of the Son of God in order to have eternal life in myself. There is no other source of eternal life. I must absorb that life. And how do I receive that life? I've just read it. By receiving the Spirit of God. So then the Spirit of God is tied in with the life of Christ, is it not? In fact near the end of the Desire of Ages she says He gives us the life of His life, the breath of his breath. How plain could she get? Now listen, do you realize that in the outpouring of the latter rain God is going to deliver to you, according to the terms of the Everlasting Covenant and in response to the intercessory prayers of Jesus, that God would send you that Spirit. He is going to deliver to you that Spirit of eternal life that was the eternal life Spirit of Christ and Christ is going to become the head of the new body temple and you are going to become the members of that body and the marriage union is going to be consummated, read it in Early Writings, it's there. And you are going to share in your spiritual veins the eternal life-blood of the Son of God. As the Father has given him life in himself even so will He give you life in yourself, you will have eternal life by eating the body and drinking the blood of the Son of God as Jesus said in John
chapter 6. Don't ever doubt God's word. Don't ever doubt what God sent us through his messenger and servant to the remnant church. Oh yes, I know she is human, I know she made mistakes just the same as you and I do. But when it comes to the divine principles of truth that God revealed to her don't neglect to read them and to absorb them.

Now what is the lesson today, Oh I didn't get to the specifics but listen, It is only as you share the sufferings of Christ personally, that you will be able to realize in its fullness as far as you are capable what it was that Jesus really did for you. You are going to share these experiences of Christ in some way in your experience so that you will get a realization of what happened. Now it says that the cross is a revelation to our dull senses of the pain that entered the heart of God at the very inception of sin way back there at the beginning. And that pain continues and will continue until you and I quit sinning and until God has cleaned up the entire universe. He cannot do that or should I say, He will not do it by forcing your will. He is inviting you, why don't you come to God today and say, Lord I have held back from you for so long I have been afraid to face up to the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord, I don't think I can take it. I know you can't, nobody can, neither did Jesus think He could handle it when He got to Gethsemane, did you find that? Where did He go, to his heavenly Father. How many people supported him? Nobody. Where are you going to go when all hell caves in on you? You're going to taste it, oh, you'll never experience the totality of it, but you'll taste it. Why is God going to permit you to taste it? I had hoped to get into that today too but I didn't get there, the result is holiness Brother and Sister. Why? because the cross reveals through that pain the enormous love that God has for you, that He would endure that pain all down through these ages and continue to hang on until you quit sinning. Think of it, He's still hanging on there waiting for you to quit. Your incentive to quit sinning is love for Jesus. You already have your ticket to heaven, He gave it to you, it's a gift, you don't have to worry about keeping the commandments to get to heaven he's standing good for you. That's righteousness by faith, I hope you understand it, but don't miss the other half of it. Don't miss the other half. Do you think that you are going to continue to take advantage of that high priest and continue to cause him renewed suffering by continuing to sin forever? Oh no, God is going to permit you to touch the hot stove, that's what He is going to do. And you are going to burn your fingers because you are not smart enough to come around without it.

And so the great and terrible day of the Lord is upon us, oh can't you see it? The increase of natural catastrophes all around us, probation is closing she says.

Yes? Yes you have something to say brother?

(Another man) Is everybody going to have their...

(Wilfred) God will take you just as you are if you have faith in him. But He is looking for a group who will demonstrate that Satan is wrong in saying that his law could not be kept. And He is going to have what are called the hundred and forty four thousand who will go through and do it. You have the privilege of being one if you elect to do it. But it is for his sake not yours. Many will be laid to sleep.

May the Lord bless us as we continue to meditate upon these profound themes.  


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