It is Finished

By
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 questions.


(Wilfred) 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 points?

(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 God's law?

(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 have 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 capable.

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 believe it?

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 another?

(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.

Yes, Brother?

(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.

(Larry) Unintelligible

(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 conscience. Right?

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 unfair.

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 of Prophecy 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.

   


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