Our Father in Heaven

J. Wilfred Johnson
Sabbath School Lesson Jan. 27, 1990

Transcribed April 6, 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) Our lesson today tells us that we have a Father in Heaven, what does that mean to you?

(A man) It means we're his children.

(Wilfred) It means that we're his children, that’s right. He created us and made us. What do fathers generally do in a family, what is their responsibility in a family? Well, to guide, direct, oversee, protect, give council, and generally speaking the father is expected to be the main stay, the kingpin of the family. Well, we have a Father in heaven, so our lesson tells us and it is taken from God's Word. Have you seen this Father of yours in Heaven? Have you seen him?

(John) If you are talking about physical sight the Bible says no man has at any time seen him.

(Wilfred) That's right that's what it says.

(John) We can see him in our imagination; we can picture what He's like through the beautiful creation, through the way He intervenes and protects us in our experiences of life and of course through his Word and through a study of his Son. Physically we cannot see him.

(Wilfred) It says that no man has seen God at any time. We'll touch on that in just a moment. Didn't Jesus say, but the Son has seen him. Didn't He say that? Yes, I think He said that.

(A man) If you have seen me you have seen the Father.

(Wilfred) If you have seen me you have seen the Father. Well listen, wasn't Jesus a man? And yet He said no man had seen God at any time. Then He said I have seen him. The Son has seen him. How do you figure that one out?

(John) I have never read that text.

(Wilfred) You haven't? I can't tell you just where it is at the moment but it's there.

(John) That was before He was a man then?

(Wilfred) No, it was when He was on earth that He said that. Well, you may challenge me on that but listen let's assume what I am saying is correct that Jesus did say that. How would you handle that? Is He telling the truth or an untruth, this is an important point? There are very few people who really grasp this that I have discovered. The key to understanding many of the things in the life of Jesus is the fact that Jesus was a dual. He was Christ the only begotten Son of God who had lived from eternity and He was Jesus the man born of Mary. You see, I got half of my inheritance from my father and I got the other half from my mother and the two are fused and I have both inheritances in my system, do you understand? We have so many people who argue today in our denomination, I think I have touched on this before but it is important we need to understand it, some people feel that Jesus had the sinful nature of Adam after his fall He inherited all the sinful tendencies and things that you and I inherit. Do you believe that? I shouldn't ask such a hard question.

(John) Yes.

(Wilfred) There are other people who say No, oh no, no, no, He did not inherit any of that, He was the divine sinless Son of God He never sinned, He inherited the sinless nature of Adam before his transgression. Do you believe that?

(John) Yes.

(Wilfred) Good for you John. Good for you, we've got some good thinkers here, because you see He inherited his divine nature from his Father and He inherited his sinful nature from his mother, now why did God do a thing like that? Can anybody tell me why God sent his Son into the world with that type of inheritance? Can you tell me? What John?

(John) To prove that humanity connected with divinity can keep God's law and can live without sin. We get it in reverse though through the new birth.

(Wilfred) Very good. For four thousand years God had tried to instruct his chosen people, He had given them every opportunity, He had given them many lessons, He had given them his commandments and his law and He said please keep my commandments, please keep my law then I can bless you and you will prosper. But if you transgress my law you're going to get hurt, is that true today? Did God succeed in getting his people to keep his law?

(John) No.

(Wilfred) Now we could go into that in great detail but I don't want to because I want to take the rest of the lesson here today. No, but God had to prove that the challenges that Lucifer, Satan, was giving as a result of this saying that law is just too hard to keep, nobody can keep it. Now, Ellen White bears out everything I'm saying here, incidentally there are passages that bear this out. Nobody can keep it. So God had the problem of proving to the universe that Satan's challenge was wrong and at the same time He could not take away from his beings their freedom of choice, He refused to do that. So how was He going to do it? First of all He sent his Son into the world with a sinful human nature, He took our sin upon himself in his human nature and He had the same temptations. When He was a little boy there playing marbles with the kids there in Nazareth, if they played marbles, He got the same tendencies and the same temptations, the same urges to sin that you and I get. Now there is another problem there about propensities but I'm not going to enter into that. Let's just follow this one line of thought. If He didn't have those same temptations then his example of sinlessness is useless for us, is it not? What prevented him from sinning? Why He had the divine nature of his heavenly Father, the purity, the character of righteousness, in that character He recoiled at sin it says. He hated sin, He loved righteousness, He loved the law of God. So there are the two conflicting natures. He received the fullness of that divine nature in a special sense, and I can't go into this at the moment. At his baptism what happened to him? He received an anointing of the Holy Spirit. Have you read something in God's book about the time of the end when God is going to pour out his Spirit upon his people? Yes, but that anointing of the Holy Spirit at his baptism gave him the fullness of the divine nature and the power of God. He still had the temptations, how do I know, because He went immediately into the wilderness and for forty days He was tempted of the devil. This was to prove that humanity with its sinful nature as every son of Adam was born, He took the same inheritance. It was to prove that in combination with the divine nature and the outpouring of God's Spirit that brings the fullness of that divine nature, if I can put it that way, it is possible to live without sin.

You had a passage you wanted to read?

(John) This is from 7th volume of the SDA Bible Commentary page 925; "He could not come in the form of an angel; for unless He met man as man, and testified by His connection with God that divine power was not given to Him in a different way to what it will be given to us, He could not be a perfect example for us." So the way He received it is the way we receive it.

(Wilfred) She also says that He did not use in his own behalf any power that is not freely available to you and me. She says that.

Do you realize that we have a Father in Heaven who is as much a Father to us when we accept the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal savior and our elder brother; He is as much a Father to us as He was to Jesus. He is going to anoint you and me with an outpouring of his Spirit that is similar to the outpouring to the Spirit that He gave to his Son. And the Son while He may have had the superiority, I'm not questioning that, never used his divine power in a manner that was in addition or over and above what you and I will be able to do. Now that is God's message to you and me today. That's his message.

(John) He could have but He didn't.

(Wilfred) That's correct. But how could He really prove to the universe that He didn't? How would you know? Let me put it this way. When He was a little boy He had the divine nature didn't He? Did He sin? Why did He not sin?

(John) The divine nature recoiled at sin.

(Wilfred) That's right. But He had not yet received that additional outpouring of the Spirit at his baptism yet had He? But He still did not sin.

The only way we can reconcile these conflicting views is to accept both sides of the question. They're both true. And there have been times when I have not been able to do that, at least not being able to see how they fit, I have gone sometimes for many years with one of these problems in this book wondering how does that fit together? They must both be true but how does it fit? And then somewhere along the line all of a sudden it hits me, ahh there it is. I bump into a text or I bump into a statement or just a thought comes through and all of a sudden the pieces come together like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle and there it is. You know, you don't have to have anybody tell you that you've got the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle in the right place do you?  Do you have to have somebody say, well, that's wrong it should be over here? Why not?

(John) You see the picture.

(Wilfred) You see the picture. Well, we must get on.

(John) But you didn't answer the question. How can I know He never used that divine power?

(Wilfred) Oh, what I meant to say at that point was that in his childhood He never sinned. He had only the inheritance of his mother and the inheritance of his Father. I can't give you the details; I don't have the mathematics of it. One of these days the Lord will reveal all that to us. But the principle is there do you understand? What I'm trying to get at and what is the burden of my heart Brothers and Sisters is that you and I may be willing to place ourselves in a position with God where we can say to him; Lord I know that you need some witnesses to prove that it can be done. I cannot do it but I am willing to go your route and the route is the crucible of fire. Let's not side step it, it's there, the purification process comes only as the heat comes on and the stuff is melted, and the sludge come to the top and the gold goes to the bottom and you can skim the sludge off. That's our job. When God puts us through the fire you can be sure He is not doing it just for the fun of it, He's doing it because it needs to be done and when we are all through with it we are told that we will tell the Lord that we would not have wanted him to do it in other way. We will thank him for doing it that way. I have had some personal experiences that have been very difficult, extremely difficult have you? How did you look at them? Did you get angry; did you say why does this have to happen to me anyway? There is so and so, nothing ever happens to him, have you thought that way? Don't think that way. Listen, my Bible tells me that it is our greatest privilege, our greatest joy, and I may not use the exact words but the thought is there, to be chosen in the furnace of affliction. Why? Because that's the only way that you can get the gold purified. Listen, I've told you before and I'll tell you again, but I hope you never forget if this is my last class; God needs human beings in this age when He is going to remove his Spirit from the world and let the devil have full power, the only thing he can't touch is your life. He needs people who are willing to permit him to prove that his law can be kept by sinful human beings when they are willing to cooperate with God. He needs them and there is no way that the dross is going to get out except through the purifying fire. That's it. I know it is not a very happy thought is it? You won't want to listen to me anymore. Well I don't blame you but I am telling you the truth and listen, you don't have to do it, I repeat, you don't have to do it. Your salvation from eternal death does not depend upon it. That's another one of these contentions in our denomination. There are some folks who say you don't need any works to be saved. Faith without works is your ticket to Heaven. The Bible says that faith without works is dead. Don't forget that.  But how does this fit? It says in one place; we are saved by faith without the works of the law that's what my Bible says. In another place it says we are saved by faith and works. It says that too. Can you put that one together? Here are two pieces of the jigsaw puzzle, how do they fit? The thief on the cross who had no time for works was saved, Jesus said he was. Can we get these two pieces together?

(John) When we are declared righteous by the imputed righteousness of Christ then any works that we do are not to get to Heaven because we have our ticket to prove the genuineness of our faith because we are doing it out of respect, adoration, and love for Christ.

(Wilfred) Good. I want to get this point across, I've mentioned it before and perhaps some of you have heard it and forgotten it. Listen; let this sear into your mind so that you'll never forget it, please. There is an issue in our church today; our church is in a crisis it does not understand the gospel. It does not, I'm saying the church as a whole, there are people who understand one part of it, there are people who understand another part of it and we are at loggerheads. Now I'll give you the key. No I won't give it to you I’ll relay what God gave to me, and I was so grateful to him when He brought that thing to me, you know just like that, there it was.

Listen, you are saved from the penalty of sin, eternal death, by faith without the works of the law and that's the salvation that all the Protestant world is talking about. That's the salvation that the modernists in our denomination are talking about, but Brother and Sister, Adventists have the second half of the gospel and the Protestant world doesn't seem to see it and 95% of the Adventists don't seem to see it today. Why not? Because the devil is out there beclouding our minds. I'm going to give it to you; salvation from sin does not come by faith alone because sin is the transgression of the law and the transgression of the law is an act of the soul itself and the expulsion of sin from the life says Sister White is an act of the soul itself. Now who has to quit sinning? Who makes the decision to quit sinning? Will you ever be saved from sin unless you quit sinning?

(John) No.

Do you get the point? Have you got it? Come on now have you got it? You are saved from the penalty of sin first without money, without price. Why? Because God wants to prove that your obedience to the law is not based on any self-interested reward. You are going to put forth the strongest efforts you have ever put forth to refuse to sin before Jesus comes if He continues to give you life. The strongest effort you have ever put forth to refuse to sin NOT because you know or think you are going to lose eternal life. No, you are eternally secure from the temper's devices when probation closes and you'll know that time and you'll know that you are secure. Then why will you bother to keep the law? Well I've told you, because God needs one hundred and forty four thousand witnesses to prove that it is possible in sinful human flesh to keep the commandments of God without fault as Jesus did it. Have I got my point across?

(John) Under the time of trouble, she says; As God's people search their minds to see if there is any sins unconfessed and unforsaken, she says the reason they are doing this is they wouldn't want any that would have been unconfessd or unforsaken because it would bring reproach upon Christ. That's the motive; they are not doing it because they are frightened that it would keep them out of Heaven they don't want to bring reproach upon Christ.

(Wilfred) That is right, that is right. Now what has that got to do with our Father in Heaven? Well, to me our Father in Heaven is making decisions based on love for his people, He wants to save his people, He sent his only begotten Son and if I had time I would show you what a severe thing that was. The sacrifice of Christ who died the eternal death of the sinner from which there is no hope of a resurrection in place of you. How few people understand that, they see Christ dying on the cross, the horrible death and all the rest of it but in a day and a half He's up and running around again and then in a few days He's in Heaven. Is that any eternal death of the sinner from which there is no hope of a resurrection? No, there is much more to it than that, much more. Not until we see that tremendous sacrifice that Jesus made on that cross. He died the second death, the death of the sinner from which there is no hope of a resurrection. Until we see that our motive for keeping God's commandments may be a little switch-job, how is it with you? Do you have any misgiving's about your salvation from eternal death? Your place in Heaven, your ticket, do you have any misgivings? You don't need to have any, every sin that you confess is forgiven and if you maintain an attitude of penitence it will be erased in the time of the investigative judgment which is going on now. You will be taken in. You want to do God's will and in Heaven where there is no Devil to tempt you, you won't sin. But the next step, the step that God called this church into existence to give to the world is the step that involves the expulsion of sin from the life. Standing before a Holy God without an intercessor in the face of all the temptations of the devil. That's our message, that's what I learned back in 1932 when I was baptized down in the Calgary Church. Did you learn that when you were baptized? That's the Advent message, victory over sin. God will have a sinless people. He will have a church without spot without wrinkle, not in Heaven, here on earth and He's not going to take the devil's power away, not literally, He's going to let the devil have more and more freedom as time goes on until the only thing the devil can't do is to take the lives of God's people. That's the Advent message I've got books at home that have that message from years back.

(John) He's doing it today; He is withdrawing his Spirit from earth. Look at the scenes of cruelty and starvation all over the world as the devil is getting more power.

(Wilfred) I had so many things I wanted to give you but the main part of this lesson today is the Lord's Prayer, isn't it? How can I cover this in just a few minutes? Let me ask first of all, what is your impression of the Lord's Prayer, what are the pros and cons? What things that you see about that prayer that you think are very good or what things, well I don't know what that is there for? Got any?

(A woman) Unintelligible

(Wilfred) Yes, but here's a thought. It says in there; give us this day our daily bread. Are there some days you've forgotten to say that? Did you have anything to eat that day? Are there people in the world that have never asked God to give them their daily bread? Had they something to eat? Have there been people in the world who have asked God to give them their daily bread and they didn't have anything to eat? Well, how do you put this together? Why do we have to ask the Lord to give us this day our daily bread? Why did Jesus tell them to do that?

(John) Is there not a dual meaning in that daily bread, spiritual food and physical food?

(Wilfred) No doubt there is.

(Another man) Unintelligible

(Wilfred) I think that is the point. Listen, when you are dealing with children and teaching children, and I guess I ought to know that, you have to keep repeating things and the older I get the oftener I have to repeat things or I forget them. You see God wants us to be reminded, God wants it placed before us, even at the risk of our thinking that he is a self-centered God that thinks a lot of himself because He is such a big benefactor. There is a risk isn't there? Some people might think; what kind of a God is this? Is He so concerned that I might forget that He is giving the food? How about your children do they thank you every day for the food they get? Every day do they thank you for the work you do? All the provisions for those children both parents are involved one way or another, do those kids thank you every day? Thanks Mom for doing that for me today. Ahh they forget, some of them forget too much don't they? But do you ask them; look, you never thank me for all the things that I do for you, I would like you to say that every day. Thank me for what I do; do you ever say that to your children? No, you don't, why did God say that?

(John) But when they do thank you for something; oh it makes your heart feel so good.

(Wilfred) Yes it does. When was the last time you said the Lord's prayer? How many times have you offered the Lord's pray in the last week? Well, I think you get the point. This is a teaching device, God was talking to ignorant people, people who have gone a long ways from the truth and thought they were good Christians. So let's take a lesson from that, maybe we ought to get into some routine such as reading The Morning Watch each morning. I make an effort to do that but I miss once in a while and I feel that I am not really self-disciplined but then I catch up, I do two or three so I can catch up. Why, you don't have to do that, you can have your own morning worship some other way besides reading the stipulated Morning Watch, it is a question of self-discipline, that's what it is, a question of self-discipline. God wanted these ignorant people to get into the routine of respecting God for what He had done. Now was Jesus calling attention to himself in that prayer? Did He say; I want you to pray to me because I am the one who is doing it for you, is that what He said? No, it is our Father in Heaven, do you see how Jesus placed himself on a level with us when it comes to teaching us about his Father, and yet, what does it say about Jesus? It says; unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder and it says his name shall be called Wonderful Councilor, the Prince of Peace, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, I wish I had time to dwell on that. Jesus, this boy who was born in Bethlehem was going to be called the Everlasting Father. Don't forget; nobody has ever seen God, Jesus said; don't you know that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? That's what He said. If you have seen me you have seen the Father and yet when He had presented this prayer to these people He said, say our Father which is in Heaven, knowing full well who was going to sit there on the throne and be called the Everlasting Father, He knew that. He knew who He was but He didn't outwardly say so. Parents with your children, don't get too big with them, you know, don't get too big in authority over them. Be a friend of them like Jesus was even though you are their father and you have the rod see if you can't kind of work with them as brothers and sister, maybe that going a little too far but isn't that what Jesus did, is that what He did?

I haven't covered this lesson, I feel so badly. I haven't begun to tell you what I wanted to tell you today. I'm sorry but it happens every time. I'm going to have to quit teaching I guess and just do a little writing or talk privately if you can stand it. That's the way it goes. There is much more in there, much more. But let's thank the Lord for giving us such precious truths but we can't handle them all at one time. We have to meditate on a few at a time and there is so much in that lesson today, really it should take a whole month to cover that.

Is there anything you would like to share in the last half minute?


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