J. Wilfred Johnson
Sabbath School Lesson Mar. 12, 1983
Transcribed Jan. 24, 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
The title of our lesson today is "It is Finished". Referring back to
the experience of Christ on the cross, which we took a look at last
week. And I repeat, we do not have time during the class period to go
through all of the points in the lessons therefore we have to depend on
you to do your homework. You prepare your lesson week by week, get the
details, and look up the passages so that you are equipped with the
information. Then when we come together on Sabbath we can talk about
some of those things and perhaps get a little better understanding of
how each of the details fits in with other aspects of God's truth which
He has revealed to us in his Word.
Calvary, the experience of Calvary, we all know the particulars of it
don't we? We know the story but do we really understand what happened
at Calvary? I'm going to just throw it open for a minute or two. To
help you suggest to me things that you see happened at Calvary. What
were you impressed with about the Calvary experience? What does it
really mean to you? How do you understand it? Did you crystallize a few
(A woman) Christ's perfect sacrifice for all our sins.
(Wilfred) Christ's perfect sacrifice for all our sins. How did He
manage this? Just what does that mean?
(A man) Unintelligible
(Wilfred) You said something there, being our substitute. Can we
elaborate on that just a little bit? How was Christ taking care of our
sins and being a substitute on the cross? What do you see there? Too
hard to think with all the noise, huh? Listen, maybe I should just
speed on and see if I can't put this together.
What is sin? Transgression of the law. What law? God's law. What is
(Larry) A reflection of his character.
(Wilfred) A reflection of his character. And what is his character?
(Larry) Self-sacrificing love.
(Wilfred) And what does that attribute of God require that He do? Well,
it requires some sort of an expression of character and how did He
express that character? How is the character of God revealed?
(Same man) Through the law.
(Wilfred) Through his law. That's right. And the law says what? Thou
shall love to the Lord thy God with all thy heart and thy neighbor as
thyself. How can you have a government of peace and joy and security
and happiness with a bunch of free-will beings each doing his own thing
if you don't have a principle by which to function? Suppose we remove
all the laws that we have in the land and everybody could do just as he
pleased. Would you like to live in that society? Where you could do
your own thing and nobody would stop you. What would happen? Chaos.
What is the attribute of the natural human heart ever since the sin of
Adam? Self-centeredness, self-interest. What is the attribute of God's
heart? Self-sacrificing love. Sin has its root in self-interest.
Self-satisfaction. And that's why God set up his law, He said, thou
shall love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, why? Well look, if the
youngster doesn't love and respect his parent is he going to pay any
attention to the parent's wishes? But does the youngster know how to
conduct himself without the council of his parent? No. Why not? Because
he is still immature. He is still a child. What are we with reference
to the Lord? Did we know everything? We are children. So what does God
to do with us in order to safeguard our interests and still let us
develop freedom of choice?
(Another man) Give us guidelines.
(Wilfred) Give us guidelines. That's right. And so He set up his law.
At Sinai He spelled it out because the children of Israel had reverted
back into ignorance in their captivity in Egypt. So God spelled it out
in details. But those Ten Commandments are based on the two principles
that we just reiterated.
Now, sin is neglect. Sin is disrespect for God's rule of conduct in his
universe and sin leads to somebody becoming hurt. If I disregard God's
commandment to me and I indulge my self-interest without regard for
your interest what's going to happen? I'm going to hurt somebody.
Somebody is going to get hurt. God doesn't want anybody to be hurt so
He says, obey my law. Did man obey his law? No he didn't. Did God
prevent man from continuing to exercise his freedom of choice because
he had sinned?
(A voice in the group) No.
(Wilfred) Why not? Why didn't He stop him like parents do with
their youngsters? You stop that or else. Why didn't God do that?
Because God wanted to preserve freedom of choice and at the same time
get rid of sin. And the best way to get rid of sin my friend, is to get
your finger burnt. You wouldn't do it the second time if you get the
finger burnt hard enough will you? No, God provided this world as a
laboratory in which Satan would be permitted to exercise his authority
within limits until just before the end when the Lord will removes the
limits, all but one, that he cannot touch the life of God's people,
beyond that he cannot go. And they will be tempted, and tried, and tested
as Jesus was in the wilderness. But God will have a people who will not
give in, but this is the demonstration in world history, God permitted
sin to take its course and you and I are feeling the results,
suffering. And when suffering becomes very, very intense it's hard to
bear isn't it, or have you not had your share yet? And you get to a
point where you say, Oh, I wish I could die, I can't take any more of
this and death is a relief, it is a release from suffering.
Now let's look at the cross, how is God going to get rid of sin? He
is permitting the Devil to demonstrate the consequences of sin, how? Oh,
I'll tell you how. He is going to permit each one of us to taste of the
sufferings of sin. To the point where we are going to come to the
conclusion that sin is a wicked thing. We don't really want any more of
it. You know we really do have a hankering to sin. Some of us. We have
a little bit of love for sin, some of us. You don't believe that? Yes,
think it through. We've got to get rid of that but the only way we get
rid of it according to my Bible is to share in the sufferings of
Christ. That's what it says. And after you have suffered a while, it
says, make you perfect. He that has suffered in the flesh, my Bible
says, has ceased from sin. Why? Why, well when I put my finger on the
stove and burnt it and I find out that it hurts, if I have any sense at
all I'll say to myself, I won't do that again. Do you know what the
messenger of the Lord to the remnant church says about the cross? What
does Calvary reveal? I listed a few things here. But she mentions the
primary one. The cross of Christ reveals to our dull senses, I like
that word 'dull' because we are kind of dull sometimes, reveals to our
dull senses the pain that entered his heart way back at the beginning
of sin. How long has God been suffering because of sin? Since the very
beginning. How do we know what kind of pain he's been suffering in his
heart? Well He revealed it on the cross. Well, how do I know what the
pain was on the cross? Well you don't, not until you experience a taste
of it. Do you follow me? And that is what the Bible says you are going
to do. We're going to share in the sufferings of Christ. What kind of
suffering did Christ suffer in his heart? Oh, the physical pain of the
crucifixion. Many people have been crucified many people have been
tortured, and I'm not depreciating the sufferings of Christ on the
cross in the physical sense, don't get me wrong. He suffered a terrible
agony, physically. But the deepest suffering, the greatest suffering
was inside. His feelings were hurt and you'll never understand that
really until you share it. And what kind of suffering did he suffer on
the cross? Was He suffering because he was a bad man? Because He was
wicked? He was suffering the results of whose sin?
(A man) Man's.
(Wilfred) Well then if He was suffering the results of man's sin and it
started way back when sin first entered at the time Lucifer decided to
rebel against him and it says it will continue until sin is erased, then
where do you come in? Does God really still suffer today when you
continue to sin as one of his children? Oh, I ask you parents, do you
still suffer when your children continue to transgress your
commandments? Does it bother you at all?
When is the suffering of Christ going to be eliminated? When can He
come down from that cross and really say, "It is finished"? Did you
know that He says; "It is finished" once again, did you know that? When
He finally has death put down and sin destroyed and the new earth is
created He can then say, "It is finished". Now, what does it mean at
the cross when "It is finished", what was finished? Well his sojourn in
this world demonstrating in physical life how to live God's law and
keep his commandments. That's what Jesus demonstrated; he demonstrated
how a Christian should live. He is our example my Bible says, who did
no sin neither was guile found in his mouth. What is God asking you and
me to do if He is the example? Go thou and do likewise. Is there
anything in the Bible that indicates that God will have a people before
the close of this history that says that these people will be keeping
his law, who will be doing no sin, there will be no guile in their
mouths, does God say anything about that? Where does He say it? In Revelation chapter 14? Well
I'm not very good on numbers and memory, it's in Revelation
I can tell you what it says, It says that there will be one hundred and
forty four thousand people who will follow the Lamb whithersoever He
goeth, all the way. And in their mouth will be no guile and that is
exactly what it says of Jesus. He said He is our example who did no sin
neither was guile found in his mouth. Jesus finished the demonstration
of sinlessness of which man is capable, I repeat, of which man is
Oh, I wish I had an hour that I could go back and show you all the
evidences that God has given us that He has made ample provision on the
cross of Calvary for the power to be available to you and me, the same
power that He himself used in his victorious life. He has made that
power available to you and me He is at the present time interceding on
our behalf before the Father. Praying that the Father will send that
power to you and me in the form of his Holy Spirit. That Holy Spirit,
it says, is to be given to us to keep us from sinning. That's exactly
what it says. And no power did Jesus use in his own behalf with his
conflict with evil that is not freely available to you and me. That is
what the messenger of the Lord has said in so many words. Do you really
What was finished at the cross then? Well, I have a list of things
here. Where do I begin? I'll never cover it today but we'll just list a
few of these. When man sinned God provided forgiveness. But God had a
law that says thou shalt not and Adam transgressed the law. Adam
disregarded God's commandments and he knew it, he was conscience of it
but he still did it because his love for Eve was greater than his love
for God. And God said thou shall love the Lord thy God with most of thy
heart, right? How much of it?
(A man) All of it.
(Wilfred) All of your heart and thy neighbor as thyself, not more than
yourself. It doesn't say that, it says, as yourself. Adam didn't keep
the commandment, he failed. He disappointed God. But he was sorry for
his sin, did God forgive him? God forgave him but if God had done
nothing beyond that what would have happened to God's law? It would
have been made of non-effect. What good is a law if you can break it
and be forgiven? Is there any use for having a law? What is the
condition for eternal life in the Kingdom of heaven? What does the
Bible say? If you will keep the commandments you will live. It's
obvious. If you didn't there would be trouble, and sin, and suffering,
and death continuing.
Now what did Jesus die on the cross for? Oh He died on that cross as a
substitute for Adam and for every other sinner right on down through.
Why did He do this? Why did He accept the eternal death of the sinner
on behalf of man? Because if He had not Satan's charge against God
would have been sustained. What did Satan say about God and his law?
Nobody can keep God's law, it's not fair, God, you are not just. So God
proved that his law could be kept and He did keep it and He paid the
penalty as though He had been a sinner and hadn't kept it. He died as a
substitute for the sinner so nobody could say He did not keep his own
law and that his own law was no good. He sustained the law by dying in
the sinner’s stead.
(Larry) Is it possible for one human to die as a recompense for
(Wilfred) That's a good question. Yes. Is it possible for one human to
die as a recompense for another? That's a loaded question. I say yes
and I say no. There was a human who did die and his death was accepted.
It was the God/man Jesus and it was the man that died not the God.
Because God cannot die. God is eternal. We have the messenger of the
Lord's comment on that to help us out. It says that Jesus died in his
humanity. He accepted humanity so that He could die in the sinner’s
stead. His divinity, the divine aspect of him did not die and I wish I
had an hour to explain that to you but I don't have it.
(Larry) Did God really die in order to give up his self for his people?
(Wilfred) Yes. He gave up his connection with the eternal Father before
He died on the cross. He died as a man.
(Wilfred) Oh, Jesus died, He went to sleep and He went into the tomb
and He was raised on the resurrection morning and again became
Now, where was I? Oh, yes. The death of Jesus as a substitute was
accepted on man's behalf and therefore God's law was kept. God could be
merciful to the sinner and still be just with his law. I took too much
time on that. At the cross Jesus provided for reconciliation. I have
just covered that, I have just explained it. God can now accept a
sinner and forgive him and still be justified in doing it because the
penalty of transgression has been paid and nobody can say that God is
Third, He exposed the true character of Satan on the cross. How did He
expose that? Because He submitted himself, when He was reviled He
reviled not again. When He was threatened He threatened not He was as a
Lamb taken to the slaughter. And who was instigating these men who were
torturing and finally crucifying Christ. Who was instigating them?
Satan was and Satan realized after the cross that he was a beaten foe.
Next, It exposed the true character of God, which is self-sacrificing
love. How did it expose that love? I again resort to the messenger of
the remnant church who makes some really valuable comments on these
things. Once you've read those comments and you go back and look at
what the Bibles says and it is as clear as a bell. What is it about
Jesus' experience on the cross that reveals his love? How is it that
you can see love on the cross? What do you really see? Horror, don't
you? Pain, torture, horrendous evil, and how do you see it?
(Another man) The character of God's love.
(Wilfred) Sister White says that the cross reveals two things mainly.
She says that it reveals the love that God has, the true nature of
God's love. It is seen in the cross that the law of life, earth, and
heaven is the law of self-sacrificing love. That's what the cross
reveals. And my question was now, how does it reveal it? She says that
the cross reveals the pain, and I mentioned that before, that entered
the heart of God at the very inception of sin. Now don't you see that
it is the pain that reveals the love? Don't you see that? Would He be
willing to put up with sinners for thousands of years enduring that
pain in His heart if He didn't love those sinners? Then how are you
going to recognize that love in its true sense? When I say the word
pain you know what I'm talking about don't you? But if you had never
experienced pain would you know what I was saying? Well, you wouldn't.
Now if you are going to get a full revelation of the true character of
God then what experience would you have to undergo to get that full
revelation of the character of God? Do you see what I am driving at?
And God says that there is coming upon this world and upon his people a
very great and terrible and dreadful day, do you know what it is? Oh
it's the day of the last great final trial, which comes by way of
suffering. This world is heading for the great time of trouble, have
you read that in your Bible? And there are going to be people living
here who are going to be enduring it. And what is God's purpose in
permitting the Devil to have free reign in the world? Why does He
remove his Spirit and let the Devil have free reign? Why? Oh his is
setting up for the greatest revelation of the fullness of his love that
has ever been made apart from Calvary. He is going to permit his people,
his final people who are going to demonstrate his character, he's going
to permit them to share his sufferings of the cross.
I don't want to preach a message of doom Brother and Sister God will
never permit you to be tempted above what you are able to bear but
therewith make a way of escape and many of us are going to go to sleep
in our graves when the heat gets too hot. And He will bring us up in
the resurrection. But there will be those who will stand by him, not
for their sakes, no, if they had their way they would just as soon go
to sleep. But God says, Look I need some witnesses to prove what my
character is like and that my law can be kept under the severest
circumstances. Are you willing to do it for me? That's his call. Look
to Calvary and see what He did for you and then you take up your cross,
that's what He asks you to do. You take up your cross and follow him,
how far? All the way. When those difficulties strike you it will be as
though all hell let loose against you and you'll say, where's my God
gone? Where is God? Don't ever give up. Remember what I have said to
you this morning that this is God's only way of giving you an
experimental knowledge of his true love for you. He has given you
everything else. He's given you eternal life, free of charge, with all
the glories and all the wealth this universe processes, it's yours for
the accepting, no price, no cost. He paid the cost but He wants to win
your allegiance, He wants to win your love in return for his love for
you. And He can't show you what that love is like without letting you
share his experience.
If you want to read a little bit about that you can read it in Hebrews and in the first book of Peter,
that's mainly where it is. About the sufferings of Christ and there is
a great deal in the Spirit
about it. Do you know what the Bible says your attitude should be
toward that? Oh listen, the piano going to go now. It says you should
rejoice, you should be happy when you endure all manner of trials and
suffering, why? Because the fruit of it is righteousness. Do you want
to be righteous? You will only be righteous as you recognize the love
of God and that love responds. It grows in your own heart. Love begets
love. True righteousness my Brother and Sister is the love of God in
your heart. Then the fruits of righteousness will show up in the life.
Oh I didn't begin to touch the things that I had thought to bring to
you today. There are some wonderful things in this lesson.
May God help you as you continue to study on your own and ask for his
Spirit that He may open up your understanding as you read the things He
is presenting to you. Never give up, never give up. Stand by God
through thick and thin as Job did, as Jesus did and you will have the
glorious reward very soon in the eternal Kingdom.
May God bless you as you continue to study.