Living as God's Chosen People

J. Wilfred Johnson
Sabbath School Lesson Oct. 15, 1983

 Transcribed Feb. 2, 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) Well today the title of the lesson is "Living as God's Chosen People". Have you noticed that God chooses a person or a group? He singles them out. Now, does this mean that He is neglecting all the rest of us? What's the purpose, what's God trying to accomplish? Why did He pick Moses? Why did He pick Adam, how come it wasn't you? Why did He pick John the Baptist? Why did He pick the apostle Paul? Why did He pick Sister Ellen G. White? Is He playing fair? Could Moses have backed out? Did he want to, well at first he was quit elated over the idea when he was down in Egypt and he thought, well I'd better get busy and get on this thing. And do you remember how he went out there to the children of Israel and I don't want to get sidetracked into this but he went ahead of God a little bit there and then when the reaction set in he high-tailed it off into the wilderness of Median and he was out there for forty years to get cooled down and get his education in the things of God. And then when God came to Moses and said, it's time now for you to go down and do the job I told you about forty years ago. How did Moses feel about it?

(A man in the group) Scared.

(Wilfred) Scared, frightened, he didn't want to do that. There is no way those people down there would listen to him. Why did God do this?

(A Woman) Unintelligible

(Wilfred) He looks for those whose heart is perfect towards him. Yes, but Moses was just a little tiny baby he didn't have any chance to have a perfect heart so to speak, and yet God had already chosen him, see? John the Baptist was chosen before he was born. It's something to think about. I hope you will get the gist of what God is doing as we move along.

The Bible says that the gifts and callings of God are without repentance, that is, it doesn't mean you can't change your mind, it means God doesn't change his mind. When God calls, that's it. Before Sister White came on the scene there were two other men that had been called and they repented, if you can call it repentance, they felt they couldn't do it and they left it. Now God did not repent, God would have followed through if they would have cooperated, if one of them had. But they didn't so God had an alternate plan and I'm sure God knew before He ever did it what was going to happen. But He is demonstrating his way of dealing with his people.

Now God chose Abraham and He made a promise to Abraham that included a multiplication of his seed that he would be the father of a nation who would be a special people, a chosen people that God had planned should accomplish a certain purpose. And what was that purpose?

(Same woman) Unintelligible

(Wilfred) Witness what? Yes, God was going to show these people his nature, the kind of God He was and through those people He wanted the world to see what kind of God was governing the universe. Now that was the commission, did they do it? Haphazardly, partly, what got in the way?

(Same man) They themselves.

(Wilfred) Themselves, You see, this whole issue about salvation zeros in on the nature of our feelings and attitudes. Because of freedom of choice, the fact that we are free to choose to do as we wish there is a floodgate opened leading into difficulties and problems. And God knew about the risk, because you see I have the privilege of choosing things in my own interest, I have freedom to do it but there are certain things that if I do in the interest of myself without regard to others there is going to be difficulty somebody is going to get hurt and ultimately that hurt will come back on myself and the whole thing will be no good. So what did God do to forestall such an event? Well, in the beginning He put his restrictions if you want to call it that, his law, his rules of conduct, He put them in the form of the nature of the heart into his created beings. He made them with a set of feelings that were in harmony with his own character, that they would love one another spontaneously, that was their nature just bubbling over with love. Have you seen people like that? There are a few around. But He did not close the door to the possibility to choosing to go contrary to his design and that is where Lucifer came in. I can't take too much time on that because I'll loose the point of the lesson if I do, I get wound up in the details and I would like to cover the whole story but I can't do it in this time.

Do you think God made a mistake in choosing ancient Israel as his special people knowing that they were not going to succeed?

(Larry) Unintelligible

(Wilfred) What profit is coming out of Israel's failure? Why were these things...?

(Larry) A lot of it might be that God's nature could be revealed but there again you get into a problem. What if Israel had totally accepted God's ways and had followed after the Lord and accomplished the task that was given to them I even understand it might not have been necessary to do what they had done. Even in the coming of Christ and so on how far that can be followed I don't know.

(Another man) They were used as an example for us.

(Wilfred) That's exactly what I was hoping to get. These things were written for our admonition upon whom the ends of the world are come. Now you can take that two ways, either the last time has come upon us or the final purposes of this world have come upon us we are at the climax of the whole situation. It was an example, on the very first page of your lesson for today it says, "God's modern day messenger applies the same principle to the remnant that in reviewing our past history having traveled over every step of every advance to our present standing I can say praise God as I see what the Lord has wrought. I am filled with the astonishment and with confidence in Christ as leader. And we have nothing to fear for the future except as we forget the way the Lord has lead us and his teaching in our past history. God called this people to be an example. He showered his educated process upon them and his blessing upon them. He permitted his people to go down into Egypt by causing a famine they had to go down there to get food but He already had provision down there in Egypt for them because He had sent Joseph down there." Do you understand? God left nothing undone.

But why did He permit them to go down into Egypt and then deliver them?

(Same woman) For the experience...

(Wilfred) This is right. What was it that Lucifer had lost in the beginning? Confidence in God. Now, did Abraham believe God's promise? Did the others who received that promise, did they believe it? But what happened? As time went on it didn't seem so realistic and when God permitted them to become captive in Egypt it didn't look very good did it? Now let me bring this down. It's important that you understand that this was written for our admonition. God called out this people, a special people, to do a special job, do you believe that? Do you believe that this church was called by God to do a special job? What is the Job it's supposed to do? Why the very same job that ancient Israel was called to do. And we have the first angel's message, we're to give that first angel's message; fear God and give glory to him for the hour of His judgment has come and so on. Have we done this? Have we been any better then ancient Israel? God allowed them to become captured in Egypt, now Egypt is a symbol of sin. Modern day Israel, God has allowed his people to become captivated by sin. How do I know that? If we had overcome sin Brothers and Sisters we wouldn't be here. Have you tried to change your eating habits knowing that they are not quit right? What have you discovered? It's not easy. Now what do you do when you can't make it? You cry to God or do you love that thing so much that you just don't want God to take it away from you? That's where we are. What did the Israelites in Egypt do, did they cry to God for deliverance? Oh, there were times when the going was very tough or when it came right down to it did they really want to go out of Egypt? Well, yes and no. Right? Do you really want to get rid of sin? Yes and no. I think it's yes and no isn't it?

(Larry) It would be nice to get rid of the penalties of sin.

(Wilfred) It would be nice to get rid of the penalties of sin. That's what we would really like to get rid of without having to get rid of the sin. How do I know that? Because thousands of professing Christians today believe that God will forgive their sins and they can continue to sin and enjoy it and be free of the penalty. Did I say the truth there or did I not? What is it that God wants this chosen people to show the world? Well, among other things, that when you do get into a pickle, as He did permit Israel to do on a number of occasions and they cried to him, what did God do? Every time He was merciful and delivered them and He will do the same for us. Now that is one of the things God wants us to reveal to the world, the kind of character He has, that forgiving character, that compassionate character, that will forgive sin but not overlook it. Don't forget that. He is the one who suffers for every sin that you have asked him to forgive. Parents you suffer for every sin your child commits as long as you retain that child in your family and you would even suffer some if you kicked him out and that's what God does. He hangs on to it, He is faithful to his covenant. He will not forsake his chosen people. Did He forsake ancient Israel? No, He didn't. How come then the Old Covenant experience was replaced with the New?

(Another woman) They left him.

(Wilfred) They left him. Every single one of those Israelites could still be saved and they can still be saved today. But we are captured, we are in Egypt, we are in sin and we are to be delivered from sin and not until we have come out of Egypt and have moved on in to partake of the promised land can we really show the world what God has promised and that He is faithful to his promise. And that involves, Brothers and Sisters, a battle to get into the New Canaan. Israel had to fight, and here is another one of their failures, once they got a foothold in Canaan they wanted to settle down and be comfortable and they did not bother to clean house all the way through, did you get that point in the lesson? Now look, we are being called to come out of Egypt, sin. How far have we gone? Have we taken advantage of all the openings that God has made for us? I want to just read a few statements just a few statements, because I think it's important that we understand what God is trying to teach us with this lesson. You can read the history and I would recommend that you do and follow it through. But if it doesn't apply right now to you it's of no consequence, so lets get it.

She quotes from Malachi chapter 3:1-3. Where it talks about how the messenger of the covenant will come suddenly to his temple to purify and cleanse the sons of Levi. And we have talked about that before, this is a passage that refers to cleaning house, purifying, making it holy, so that we can witness properly. Now after she has quoted that in Great Controversy 425 this is what she says; "Those who are living upon the earth when the intercession of Christ shall cease in the sanctuary above are to stand in the sight of a holy God without a mediator. Their robes must be spotless," Now the Devil is trying to counteract that and He has succeeded in deceiving many minds in our church on that point. They don't understand what it means to be spotless. "Their characters must be purified from sin by the blood of sprinkling." Purified from part of the sin or all of it? "Through the grace of God and their own diligent effort" They like to take the first part through the grace of God but we don't like to look at the second part. "And through their own diligent effort they must be conquerors in the battle with evil. While the investigative judgment is going forward in heaven, while the sins of penitent believers are being removed from the sanctuary," And some people don't even believe that's going on anymore. "There is to be a special work of purification, of putting away of sin, among God's people upon earth." Do you believe that?

Then let me read this one, My Life Today page 43. "It is the Holy Spirit that convicts of sin" How are you going to find out if you still have some stuff in there that needs to be cleaned out? By the Holy Spirit. Now listen. "If the sinner" A big IF. "Responds to the quickening influence of the Spirit then he will be brought to repentance." All right when the Spirit pricks the mind what is the next step? Respond. You accept the pricking of the Spirit and what does that lead you to do? Then you repent. "Then you are aroused to the importance of" And what do you think the next word is? "Obeying the divine requirement."

All right let me move on here. This one is from The Great Controversy page 436. Now I mentioned a moment ago that our special commission today is the same as it was in ancient Israel's day. To reveal the character of God. And the special messages for this closing hour are found in Revelation 14. And the first one is known as the first angel’s message, right? Listen to what she says, "By the first angel, men are called upon to "fear God, and give glory to Him" and to worship Him as the Creator of the heavens and the earth." Now listen, "In order to do this, they must obey His law. Says the wise man: "Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. Without obedience to His commandments no worship can be pleasing to God. "This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments." ... "He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination." Is that too strong? Great Controversy page 436. This book should go to the whole world. That's what she says. We should be spreading this book, it's one of the most important books and I think she says the most important that she has written. Anyway, it is at least on a par with The Desire of Ages.

Listen to what she says on page 560. "Just before us is, "The hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world to try them that dwell upon the earth." And I am going to interrupt right here to say that we are on our way from Egypt to the Promised Land. The Promised Land is the New Earth. God has promised that He is going to provide a dwelling place where there is safety and security for his people; it's the New Earth, the New Canaan. But before we can get there we have to get rid of the enemy, the Canaanites, and it is not enough to get rid of just a few to get a beach hold then settle down to be comfortable like the ancient Israelites did. We've got to go right on through and finish the job. Is that clear? Every stitch and that's why Jesus hasn't come yet because we just haven't done it. Brother and Sister we have not done it. I haven't done, I am not an example, I am ashamed of myself because I know the fault is mine not God's and yet God sometimes purposely permits us to become captive of Satan, He permits it. He permitted his people to starve and go down to Egypt to get fed in the land of the heathen and He will permit some of his people today to do the same thing. Why? Because they have to learn certain lessons about their own weakness, their own helplessness and come to God genuinely and sincerely, pleading for deliverance. Then if we cooperate with God we can make it. Brother and Sister we can make it. Do you believe it?

So I read on. "All whose faith is not firmly established upon the word of God will be deceived and overcome. Satan 'Works with all deceivableness of unrighteousness' to gain control of the children of men, and his deceptions will continually increase. But he can gain his object only as men voluntarily yield to his temptations." Who does the yielding? We do. Are we victims of this yielding or do we do it by choice? We do it by choice. Even if it is a passive choice we do it by not choosing to do what God says. We are so afraid of this disobedience thing, we shy away from it, we don't want it and we label it legalism so we can comfortably deny it. Let's open our eyes, let's get them open and get those scales off. Parents do you want your kids to obey or do you not? Is it for their benefit or is it not? Does it benefit you or does it not? It's the same with God. God hurts because of sin but you are going to hurt too because of sin. The only reason you don't hurt as much as it would normally hurt is because our intercessor shields us. Just like parents, you shield your kids so it doesn't hurt so much, don't you? Learn the lessons, God gave us families to teach us. Those who are earnestly seeking a knowledge of the truth, then listen, and striving to purify their souls through obedience. How do you purify your soul? Through obedience. Do you have a free will by which you can chose to obey? Yes you do then if you chose to obey and it involves some striving is it of any value to do it? Oh, it's the beginning of the purification of the Soul that's what it is. That's why she says; only those who purify their own soul temples will partake of the latter rain. It's the latter rain that purifies the heart and makes you like you are supposed to be and like God created Adam in the first place.

I'm going to read it to you now, just a moment. "Thus doing what they can to prepare for the conflict". Preparing for the conflict, if you don't prepare for the conflict are you to succeed in it? No, you're not? "They will find in their God of truth a sure defense. Because thou has kept the Word of my patience I will also keep thee is the Saviors promise. He would sooner send every angel out of heaven to protect his people than to leave one soul that trusts in him to be overcome by Satan."

Are you getting tired of these? Are you getting the point of the lesson? Coming out of Egypt, experiencing these setbacks and calling on God to deliver. Is he faithful to his promise? Well, we have been saying in our hearts that He has not been faithful to promises. We've been saying that He's going to clean house for us and we haven't cleaned house yet and the reason is we have missed the perspective. We have missed the condition of the promise. Didn't you see it in there the condition of the promise? If you will diligently obey. Isn't that what it says? Then God says I'll do this. That's what it says. Well why don't we believe it? Why don't we accept it? A noble character, she says in Messages to Young People page 99. A noble character is earned by individual effort but she says Christ has given us no assurance that to attain perfection of character is an easy matter, He hasn't given us that assurance it's earned by individual effort through the merits and the grace of Christ, God gives the talents and the powers of the mind but we form the character, it is formed by hard stern battles with self, conflict after conflict must be waged against hereditary tendencies. Do you see yourself in there somewhere? We shall have to criticize ourselves closely and allow not one unfavorable trait to remain.

Now listen to this beautiful statement. SDA Bible Commentary volume 6, page 1118, "Those only who through faith in Christ obey all of God's commandments will reach the condition of sinlessness in which Adam lived before his transgression." Now, is that what you'd like? Did ancient Israel reach it? Now, that is an example for us, are you going to follow in the steps of ancient Israel or are you going to say to the Lord; Lord I feel helpless, I'm devastated but I want to be righteous. I would like to be like you, I would like to be able to manifest before the world the beauty of your character. You have chosen us as your special people and you have promised to cleanse our soul temples of all defilement. You ask us to do it first by choosing to obey and then you will provide your Spirit to transform us back into the sinless nature of Adam. Lord where are the sins I haven't gotten rid of yet and the Spirit pricks your conscience, what is your response? If you don't respond then it doesn't work but what is your response? Oh, you're sorry so you confess and you repent. I just read it. And then you decide to...


(A woman) Unintelligible

(Wilfred) But now don't let us get discouraged because at any point wherever we are penitent before God no matter what level we are, God saves us from eternal hell fire, I mean He will take us into his kingdom. There's no question about it. But you see, God needs a people to demonstrate to the universe, not just the world, that his law is righteous, that his character is righteous and that it is possible for his created beings, as He has made them, to live a righteous life even as Jesus lived it. It is possible by a union with divinity, and that union comes through the agency of the Holy Spirit and we cannot get the fullness of that unity until we have cleansed our own soul temples of defilement. We are going to have to come back to God on our knees many times in penitence, because we are so feeble, we are so gullible, we are so... I don't know what word to use. But we just keep on sinning and falling and floundering and it's all because we are still self-centered. We are still more interested in our own selfish interest than in the interest of God. But listen, the marvel of it all is that only through denial of self will we gain total satisfaction, total joy, total harmony, that's the only route. As long as we are still more concerned about self than we are about God's total program we are going to have problems we are not going to be as happy as God would like us to be.

Well, I didn't cover quit a few things I had hoped I would get to I just have that fault I just can't say it in a few words. May the Lord help us to understand and do the things that He has asked us to do so that we can soon go home and it will all be finished and nobody else will have to suffer after we're gone.

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