Christ Our Hope

J. Wilfred Johnson
Sabbath School Lesson Feb. 26, 1989

Transcribed Feb. 20, 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) I would like to call your attention first of all to the memory verse. Paul says, Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness that the Lord the righteous judge shall give me at that day and not to me only but unto all them that love his appearing. And I wonder how much we are loving his appearing today? And do we really understand what that means? And what is this crown of righteousness that he has given Paul the assurance that he will have? Paul was not just hoping for a crown of righteousness he said that crown is already laid up for me and the Lord is going to give it to me. Do you have that kind of assurance today? Do you know that the Lord has a crown of righteousness waiting for you? Are you certain or are you doubtful? And what does it mean, what is a crown? Is this crown of righteousness some sort of headdress that God is going to give to Paul so he can put it on and display the fact before all the universe that he is a righteous person, is that what it is? Did it occur to you that there is another meaning to the word "crown" than just a headdress? And I'm not depreciating the fact that symbolically the Lord is going to give us crowns, but they are called crowns of victory, which I suppose is the same thing. But there is another meaning to the word "crown". It is the climax, the top, that which is put on as the head dressing, the top of the mountain is the crown of the mountain. What is the top, the ultimate in righteousness? The crown of righteousness. The Lord has that laid up for the apostle Paul. Have you attained the title to the crown of righteousness as yet? Just what does it mean?

Galatians 5:5 Paul says; "For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith." Do we have to wait for it or can we have it? Do you feel at the present moment that you have righteousness by faith? Is it secure or is it something you are hoping for and waiting for that somehow the Lord is going to give it to you and when you get it you will have it? But you are not certain that you have it at the present time and what is righteousness by faith in any case? Oh, there's been a lot of discussion about that one. I wish we might have a couple of hours here we could have a lot of things to say about these things but I'm going to try to crystallize the most important things that come to my mind as I am speaking to you and trying to share with you the many things that I found in this lesson during the past month. What is the most important work that can be done in the world today? Have you any idea? The most important work that can be done today by God's people?

(A voice in the group) Unintelligible

(Wilfred) That's it, building character and it goes one step beyond that. Let me read it and I hope you will not mind my drawing fairly heavily from the sources today. I really appreciate the special blessing God placed upon his people by giving us a special messenger to help us understand his word. And in the 6th volume of the SDA Bible Commentary page 1109. And this is what God's testimony is through his messenger to his people. He says; "Everything good in men and women is the fruit of the working of the Holy Spirit." All right, if you have anything good in you where did you get it? The Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a very important aspect, it is a member of the Godhead, it is the power, the source of truth, whereby you and I can be made righteous and fit for the Kingdom of Heaven. Let me read on. "The Spirit teaches us to reveal righteousness" Well what is righteousness that we have to reveal it? Do you have any idea what righteousness really is? I find that righteousness can be classified in two different ways, there are two types, two facets, and each of those can again be classified in two different ways.

Let me give you the definitions. Righteousness is obedience to the law. That's in the 6th volume of the SDA Bible Commentary page 1073. And also quoted in Selective Messages page 367 exactly as I read it.

Next, righteousness is conformity to the law, that's in Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing page 18.

Third, Righteousness is right doing. That's from Christ's Object Lessons page 312. Well doesn't that make sense? What kind of a God is ruling this universe anyway? A good one or a bad one? Is He a righteous God or is He an unrighteous God? Does He do the right things or does He do the wrong things? Could God establish a kingdom where there is peace and security and safety, no more pain, no more suffering, no more death, could God establish such a kingdom if He had in that kingdom freewill beings who were not respecting the law of the kingdom but were transgressing it, could He? How did this sin question begin in the first place? Was it not because in the heart of the greatest being God had created, the first created of every creature, Lucifer? In his heart there arose this question of whether Christ really was superior to himself. I mustn't go into the details of this but God called a council of all the angels and He declared his Son to be on equality with himself and at that point Lucifer's jealousy flared up. He couldn't quite see why the Son should be greater than he was. Now there are many questions you could ask there and there are many questions there I could answer too but we haven't time to go into those today. Sin started because someone doubted the integrity of God. Do you doubt the integrity of God? Did the apostle Paul doubt the integrity of God? The greatest thing that we can do in this world today is to reveal the character that God has to the world. I just read that. 2 "The greatest work that can be done in our world is to glorify God by living the character of Christ. God will make perfect only those who will die to self." So let's get this straight, if we are going to be righteous we are going to be doing righteousness. Who is it that does the righteousness? Well in some vague way, some people say well God will do it through you. Yes, that's true up to a point. But the Desire of Ages page 466 says; "The expulsion of sin" Which is the transgression of the law and the opposite of righteousness, "The expulsion of sin is the act of the soul itself." Who is it that introduced sin, was it God or was it the created being? Who commits your sins? You or somebody else? Maybe it is Satan that inspires them but he cannot force you, you have a freedom to choose. That's what God's testimony says and you decide to sin. Do you want a crown of righteousness? Then you decide that you would like to have that righteousness and you will do whatever God says to do in order to get it and God said something to do, and you will not get anything from God without your cooperation. That's what his messenger to the remnant church says. God does nothing for us without our cooperation.

So then here is the second meaning of righteousness. I gave you three quotes on the first meaning; obedience to the law.

The second one, Righteousness is a state of being. That is it is holiness. That is found in Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing page 18. Righteousness is holiness. You are holy. It's not the idea that you are keeping the commandments it's the idea that you are holy as a person, you have a clean righteous heart. Your soul is righteous, your being is righteous, and when you have a righteous being you love to do righteousness. That's the way you are. Jesus loved his Father's commandments. It was no burden for him to keep his Father's commandments He loved to do it. That's righteousness within.

And again it says; it's likeness to God. That is also Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing page 18. Again it says, righteousness is love, the chief characteristic of God. The very essence of God's person is love, God is love says the Bible and that is righteousness. God is righteous. Do you want to be like God? Do you want that crown of righteousness that is the righteousness of God in your heart? Oh, sure you do. If you don't you wouldn't be sitting here. But how are you going to get it? You can't create it, you can't change your own heart, you can't make it that way. You are dependent upon God to do that for you. You see, it's the Holy Spirit, that is the fruit of the work that everything good in men is the working of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit teaches us to reveal righteousness.

There are two other ways to divide righteousness, which I'll come to in just a moment. Before I come to that I would like to read to you now because I would like this lesson to be applied to our needs today as we face the final crisis in this movement and the end of this world and we do face it Brother and Sister it is nearer than ever before. If there ever was any doubt that we're living in the closing scenes there can be no doubt today.

Listen to what the messenger has said to us in Christ's object Lessons page 69; "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance." That's the fruit of the Spirit those are the things that will happen to you if you receive the Spirit of God. "When the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle," What's the sickle for? To cut the grain to have the harvest to bring in the fruit to the storehouse. Listen, "Christ is waiting with a longing desire for the manifestation of Himself in His church." Do you think you can do that? Oh, how many of us have doubted that when we have monkeyed around with those little sins such a little triviality maybe as eating a little bit of the wrong thing, you know, that God has said it's no good for you but you still eat it. It's a triviality. Did you know that the last sin to be overcome is the sin of a perverted appetite? That's where sin started and that's where it's going to end. So don't look at some of these battles that you have with things that you eat for instance this is just an illustration as a trivial thing, it is a serious thing. And listen, here's the reason, "Christ is waiting with longing desire for the manifestation of Himself in His church. When the character of Christ shall be perfectly reproduced in His people, then He will come to claim them as His own." Oh we've been waiting for the Lord to come we've been told several times by his messenger that we could have been in his Kingdom before. Why are we not in that Kingdom? Are you looking with hope for the coming of that Kingdom? Oh, there is no hope except in Christ. And what is Christ going to do? He is going to make you pure and clean, He is going to bring you up by the gift of his Spirit to the measure of the stature of Christ. That's what my Bible says. He is going to have a church that is a glorious church without spot or wrinkle. I'm quoting Scripture, I'm not quoting some preachers who say it can't be done. If it isn't done Brother and Sister Christ can't come and that's why He hasn't come yet and you and I are responsible because we have allowed ourselves to become confused on this issue of what this crown of righteousness is all about. And I hope that I can get this point across to you today. I'm reading again on the same statement. "It is the privilege of every Christian not only to look for but to hasten the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ," And I didn't say those words, Oh yes, the muscles of my mouth and tongue spoke them but I did not originate those words those are words that God gave under inspiration to his special messenger to this remnant church so that we might understand what He wants us to understand, do you believe it? Do you trust God and his word or do you depreciate it because you come across a few mistakes and blunders that this dear Sister has made just like you and me so you depreciate what she says? Oh, don't do it, don't do it. Only those who accept the testimonies that God gave to this people are going to understand the truth that will be instrumental in bringing his people to perfection so that Jesus can lay down his priestly robes because He doesn't need them anymore and secondly because He needs to silence the accusations of the Devil once and for all. And the Devil says your law is unfair and can't be kept. And Jesus came and showed that it could be kept through a combination of divinity and humanity, He showed it. The Devil says, well, sure you are the Son of God but man can't keep it the way you created him. Oh yes. Jesus says to you today, my dear Brother, my dear Sister, my child, my Church, please come to my rescue for the hour of my judgment has come and I need some witnesses to stand up for me and proclaim my righteousness, not in word only but in deed. And that's why it's the greatest thing you can do today for Jesus is to stand up and obey his commandments and qualify for the reception of the out-pouring of the latter rain which is the power and the only power that can transform you into the image of God and restore you to the sinlessness of Adam before his transgression. And I have statements here that I could read all of that to you word for word almost but I haven't time to read all those things to you today.

I want to get one thing across to you. That Christ is our only hope and Christ comes to those who obey him. You don't believe that? Well I'm going to have to skip a great deal but I want you to get that point.

Here's one from Testimonies to Ministers page 507 plus; "Every individual must realize his own necessity." Now if you don't see your need you're not even in the running yet. You must see you own necessity. Listen, "The heart must be emptied of every defilement and cleansed for the indwelling of the Spirit." Ahh, that's a mouthful. For you to get the fullness of the indwelling of the Spirit your heart must be emptied of every defilement. Now I don't think I'm going to get time to read you all the statements so maybe I'd better just tell you. The condition for receiving the out-pouring of the Spirit in the latter rain that I'm just reading about here is obedience to the Lord's commandments. Do you know what she says? Only those who have cleansed their soul temples of every defilement will receive the latter rain. They must get rid of every besetment, do you want me to read that? I don't know which is more important, maybe this is. The latter rain falling near the close of the season, this is the latter rain of the spirit now, the final out-pouring, the modern day Pentecost, there was a first Pentecost, the out-pouring of the Spirit when Jesus entered the holy apartment of the sanctuary to enter into the work of grace and mercy and forgiveness of sins. Sins were transferred to the temple, to the sanctuary and that is another story, and the sinner is accounted righteous in the eyes of God, he is accepted as clean, pure, and holy by substitution. In 1844 Jesus entered the most holy apartment to perform the work of the Day of Atonement and she says very plainly, which is the cleansing of the sanctuary the getting rid of the record of sin and while that is going on in the heavenly sanctuary there is to be a similar work going on in the hearts of God's people on earth. I must be getting to the end here and I've just gotten started, but I will close in just a moment.

Cleanse for the indwelling of the Spirit, listen, "It was by the confession and forsaking of sin, by earnest prayer and consecration of themselves to God, that the early disciples prepared for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost." See? They confessed their sins, they acknowledge their sinfulness and God forgave them. "The same work, but in a greater degree, must be done now. We may have had a measure of the Spirit but by prayer and faith we will continue to seek more of the Spirit it will never do to cease our efforts. God alone can ripen the harvest," listen, "But man's cooperation is required no one of us will gain the victory," Are you listening to me? "No one of us will gain the victory without persevering, untiring effort, proportionate to the value of the object which we seek, even eternal life."

1st Testimonies for the Churches page 619, "I was shown that if God's people make no efforts on their part, but wait for the refreshing to come upon them and remove their wrongs and correct their errors; ... They will be found wanting. The refreshing or the power of God comes only on those who have prepared themselves for it" Listen now; this is how we prepare for it today. "By doing the work which God bids them, namely, cleansing themselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of the God." You have only got one thing to cleanse you soul temple with, only one thing, you can't change your heart the way you feel about God's law, you can't make yourself love God's law by saying I'm going to love God's law, that won't work, it doesn't work that way. It takes creative power to change that heart but God promises to give you that new heart. But He says you cleanse your own soul temple by deciding to obey me. Do you remember what He says in John 14? If you love Me keep my commandments and then I will pray the Father and He will send you another Comforter that is the Spirit of Truth which is the Holy Ghost, and He will abide with you forever. And what will that comforter do? Oh, it tells us plainly it’s the Holy Spirit that cleans up your heart and He will do it. But listen, that Holy Spirit coming in the latter rain, Ahhh, are you with me yet? And you're still bearing with me? That's good. To cleanse the soul temple of every defilement, Listen, then the latter rain will fall upon us as the early rain fell upon the disciples on the day of Pentecost. Tell me why has not the latter rain fallen upon us yet? I have been to hundreds of prayer meetings down through the years for the latter rain, yes I have because it says, ask and you shall receive. So we asked. But we missed one point, we missed it. That Spirit cannot come until we cleanse our soul temples.

Oh, I've got to read one more. Early Writings page 71. "I saw that none could share the "refreshing", which is the latter rain. "Unless they obtain the victory over every besetment, over pride, selfishness, love of the world, and over every wrong word and action. We should be earnestly seeking that preparation necessary to enable us to stand in the battle in the day of the Lord." I can't read any more on that.

But lest you become discouraged I've got one more I want to read. I must read it if I can just locate it. It says; I am sorry but I am working a little bit out of sequence here it will take just a moment to find it. And I was going to tell you about imputed righteousness and imparted righteousness. Imputed righteousness is that which you get when you accept the Lord Jesus Christ and He accounts you righteous and the righteousness of Christ stands in your stead by substitution just like a child in the family you accept that child whether he is righteous or not. He is your child, he in your family, he's wants to belong with you but he is still a sinner he transgresses your law. Ahhh, but you accept him.

Listen, 1st Selected Messages page 368, "Christ looks at the spirit, and when He sees us carrying our burden with faith, His perfect holiness atones for our shortcomings. When we do our best, He becomes our righteousness." Isn't that something?

Page 382; "When it is in the heart to obey God, when efforts are put forth to this end, Jesus accepts this disposition and effort as man's best service, and He makes up for the deficiency with His own divine merit. But He will not accept those who claim to have faith in Him, and yet are disloyal to His Father's commandments. We hear a great deal about faith, but we need to hear a great deal more about works. Many are deceiving their own souls by living an easygoing, accommodating, crossless religion. But Jesus says, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." Do you realize why it is that God's asks us to keep his commandments and to come up to the measure of the stature of Christ when in fact He will accept us even if we don't provided our heart is right with him and we have confessed our sins and we have accepted his amazing gift of grace why does He then ask us to continue to go on to perfection? I've explained it already but I'll repeat it, it's important, Jesus cannot lay down his priestly robes as a mediator standing between us and God and the consequences of God's law that cannot be changed. And that's another story. God is still a God of Love. Jesus cannot leave that post until He has a group of people in the Bible called the hundred and forty four thousand who are willing, you don't have to, who are willing to go all the way with him, to follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth and stand as true witnesses of his integrity. That it is indeed possible in human flesh as God created man to keep the commandments of God perfectly as Jesus did in the wilderness. It is possible and He is waiting for that to happen before He can come because if He doesn't the whole plan of this world's demonstration has not been met yet. The purpose of this created world and its demonstration is to prove the righteousness of God and forever to settle the sin question. Brother and Sister are you looking for a crown of righteousness? Do you know how to go about getting it? Oh, I didn't finish it. But it's all in the books I hope I've stimulated you to dig in to those books and find them.

Your job is to do what God says. Like any child you expect him to obey whether he feels like doing it or not, it's better to do it than not to do it whether you like it or not. But if you do Jesus says, then I'll pray the Father and He will send the Spirit and your heart will be transformed and you will become holy and restored to the sinlessness of Adam and you will love to live a righteous life and honor me and clarify my character before the eyes of the universe. Are you willing to do it?

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