Strong in the Lord

J. Wilfred Johnson
Sabbath School Lesson Mar. 29, 1989

Transcribed  Mar. 27, 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 feel a heavy burden this morning in brining to you some thoughts from the Word of God and from his messenger to the remnant church relative to the situation in which we as a people find ourselves at this time in Earth's history.

God's church has always been engaged in a battle, we are fighting a war, but today we are now not nearly approaching but already heading right straight into the great and final conflict. Do you believe that? Have you seen the signs? The great and dreadful day of the Lord is upon us and the apostle Paul is admonishing us. Oh no, not just admonishing, he is urging us to put on the armor. I had hoped we had already put it on. Have you put on your armor? Are you in a position now where you are protected from all the fiery darts of the wicked one or are you even aware of what those darts are? We are in a precarious position unless we are placing our trust and confidence in God and seeking and searching to know his will for us day by day. To know what He is expecting us to do. We can no longer sit comfortably in our pews, we have a job to do, we have a battle to fight, and there is an enemy right there. Ready to pounce upon us but he has tactics that are very stealthy and he can come through the back door without our scarcely being aware that there is anything there. So we have a problem but not an unsolvable problem. I'm going to speak very plainly this morning to you, I hope no one will take offense but in order to avoid that as much as possible I'm going to do some reading. I would like to take the words directly from God's Word and from the words of his prophet.

What do you think we are supposed to be doing in view of this battle? Well, Paul says what we should be doing. We should be putting on the armor. Did you read your lesson this week? Are you aware of what the armor is? Did you go through those things and as you were going through those various pieces of armor did you think about why you are putting them on? What is it that the devil and his spiritual forces are endeavoring to do with us? Shall I refresh our minds just a moment on the main part of the passage? "Finally brethren be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might." And those are very encouraging words. And with all that we can say let's not get discouraged. "Put on the whole armor of God that ye may by able to stand against the wiles of the devil." Look, there is something threatening our standing, something is threatening us. We are not secure just standing we are apt to fall so we put on the armor so that we may be able to continue to stand against the wiles of the devil. Those are cunning and clever schemes. "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers, against rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." What does that mean?  Where are these things, do you feel them? Are you aware that there is anything forcing you to do things or threatening you? Do you ever think about it? Let me clue you in. "Satan", And I'm quoting or nearly quoting. "Satan has control of all who are not under the shelter of God's protection."

And another statement she says that we are either under the control of the satanic agencies or we are under the control of God's agencies. We live in a Kingdom and the Kingdom of God is filled with spirits and we are fighting a battle in a spiritual realm. Well how do spirits work, how do they function? I am sure that 95% of the people in the world aren't even aware of that so it must be very subtle. Could you accept a suggestion? There are two things that primarily influence the way we behave ourselves. And incidentally, behavior is the key issue, I know it's a bad word but I know who the one is that's been besmirching that word and it's not God. God says, "Do", that's what God says. Now, doing is what? Well it's behavior isn't it? It's the way you function, the way you act. God says, "Keep". We have only one thing that we have independently of God and we have it independently of God only because He gave it to us. Do you know what that is? A freedom to choose, a will. I can of my own decision decide by thinking about it, and that is a great mystery, somewhere up in here is me. I know the English teacher says it should be "I" but it sounds better, "me" doesn't it? Somewhere up in here is me, I don't know what I am but I am a function of the brain organization and the chemistry and electronic paraphernalia that functions up in there because if you destroy the brain, if you knock it down or interfere with it in any way I begin to disappear and I finally loose consciousness and I am not there any more. So it is a function of the brain but over and above the brain where I am, because God breathed into that brain the breath of life and I became a living soul. I can make a decision as a personal being to lift this hand up here to scratch the lobe of my ear if it happens to be itchy and all I need to do is with a flit of thought make that hand go up there and scratch it and put it back down again. All I have to do to communicate to you is to think about what I want to say and all the muscles coordinate, all the electrical impulses that come from the brain and there are many, numerous, complex, and patterned. They all go down into the correct nerves and they hook on with the correct muscles and they energize the muscle just the right amount so they all coordinate and the muscles turn and cooperate and move the hand in just the right way to touch that ear. Tremendous, and the speech, oh yes, once in a while I'll make a mistake and I'll probably makes some this morning my mechanism isn't perfect but thank God He can still use it and I'm grateful to him that He has still allowed me to have a freedom of choice.

But listen, that freedom is being powerfully influenced by spirit forces and I may not even be aware of it. For instance, what causes the precise thoughts that are coming up into my mind at this time to share with you? Oh yes I spent many hours this week, many hours, doing my homework, I couldn't begin to share with you the things that I found we would be here all afternoon. What is governing the thoughts that come up into my mind to share with you? I'll tell you what's governing it, it's either the influence of my guardian angel or other spirits that God has sent to minister to me today, because the Bible says that's what the angels are for they are ministering spirits gone forth to minister to whom? To those who shall be heirs of salvation. And how do you become an heir of salvation? You choose to be on God's side and I have chosen to be on God's side. So God has sent his angels to help me today, I know that. But I also know that the forces of evil are endeavoring as best they are able to do and I don't know how many legions the devils got around this morning but I'm sure he is trying to influence my thinking so that I'm going to say some things that are not the best, do you understand what I'm saying? There is a spiritual conflict going on and they are vying for my soul. And God has promised to protect all those who have committed themselves to him. But sometimes He removes his protection and permits the devil to come through, and the Bible bears that out, remember Job? He had a hard experience, but it happens.

Let me explain; we are now going through what is known in Adventist circles as an investigative judgment. God is placing us on display, not for his own benefit He knows exactly were we stand with him. He could decide to leave our names on the book of life or whether to erase it without putting us through an investigative judgment He's got it all figured out He knows it all ahead of time in any case. He knew that Satan was going to sin before He created him and that's a sore spot and was for a long time in my thinking. Why did He go ahead and create him and bring all this suffering upon the world? Well it's another thought; maybe I should just round it off quickly because freedom of choice is a very precious commodity in God's storehouse. God wanted to share the principle of freedom to choose with all of his intelligent created beings. But if there is such a thing as freedom of choice then it is possible for an individual to make a choice, which goes contrary to the will of God. If that is not possible the choice is not free and God knew it was going to happen. God knew there was no way to silence the rebellion that started in heaven without demonstrating what its consequences were because nobody believed it. The devil had challenged God, primarily he challenged God's character, he said God isn't true, he said He is a liar He doesn't tell the truth, He has made a law that isn't fair, nobody can keep it. Those were the devils challenges. And how was God going to prove that that wasn't so? Well, of course He could have created mankind and all the angels as automatons, robots, so that they had to follow the groves and everything was perfect, but no freedom of choice.

I can't take any more time on freedom of choice. It's an amazing issue really. Then let me sum it up, it's the most precious gift that God could have given us. The most precious gift. Maybe I have to qualify that a little but it would take time to do it. So I'll leave it at that point.

Does freedom of choice mean anything to you or would you just as soon have somebody else dictate everything you have to do and function just as a machine? No. Well how's God going to preserve that freedom? He created Lucifer and He created this world and He created Adam and He planned this thing to become the great lesson book of all time. He was going to use this as a laboratory in which all of the consequences of sin could be demonstrated and the only way that sin could be irradiated could be shown and that that means involved total self-denial on the part of the Godhead, the eternal death of the Son of God. What a price to pay. But God paid it, He was willing to pay it. It says in my Bible that the Lamb was slain, at the cross? Where? From the foundation of the world. Now do you see that on the bases of what little I have mentioned? He was committing himself to an all-out sacrifice because the only way He could preserve freedom of choice after having given Lucifer a chance to use it would be to win back the allegiance of his people. To win it back He could not force it or the freedom of choice is gone, right? If you force the choice there is no freedom, He had to win them back and it cost him everything. Basically God had to prove that his character of righteousness and love was genuine, not put on. In fact He had to prove one other point and in this I may be going a little afield here but I don't believe Lucifer really understood who the true creator was up to this point. Because it says Lucifer was created as much like Christ as it was possible to create a created being. Christ was the arch angel, Lucifer was the top created angel they were very similar, Lucifer was made in the image of Christ, Christ having a character of humility, I was going to say recessiveness but I don't say that in a derogatory way, God's character is one of humility, modesty, that's his normal character and all this business about coming out in the open and being a severe, austere, and a commanding God, that's an emergency measure.

You parents and your family, you know what I'm talking about. You would just love to have those little children of yours respect you and obey you without any pushing around wouldn't you? You would just love to have them have perfect confidence in you so when you said no I don't think you should do that today that they would be willing to accept your word because they trust you. But once in a while when they don't trust you and things get so that they are going to get hurt how do you feel about it? Oh you don't want them to get hurt. So what do you do? Well, you put a little pressure on don't you? And I have known some parents to get pretty austere at times. Why? Well, the Bible says some parents do that for their own sakes and I believe that. But not God the Bible says. God doesn't do it for that reason He does it for our sakes. God is a God of total love the Bible says God is love. And Sister White says the cross of Calvary reveals the quality and the nature of that love, that total self-denying love. I don't know whether I should bring this point in at this stage or not but lest I forget it, the cross reveals one other thing besides the love of God, his willingness to give everything to win the allegiance of his people, it reveals the pain she says that entered the heart of God way back at the inception of sin from the very beginning. The moment Lucifer sinned even in his heart God felt the pain. The moment your youngster sins against you you feel it don't you? And that pain is going to continue in the heart of God, she says, until we stop sinning.

Now that ought to give us a better motive for wanting to obey God's commandments than the self-centered motive that we hear bashed around in terms of legalism. And don't fool yourself, some of us self-righteous people we think we have it right but you ask a person why do you want to be saved and then ask, are you saved? Oh I hope so. Well, what are you saved from? Well, I'm saved from hellfire; I hope to get up to walk on the streets of gold. Who are we thinking about? Who are we thinking about? ME! Listen, it's high time that Seventh-day Adventists realize that in this battle against principalities and powers we are fighting a war that is designed to release our savior and the King of the universe from the charges that have been laid against him and the message that came to this people right from the beginning was "fear God and give glory to him for the hour of his judgment is come". And we've done self-centered stuff on that too. We have thought only in terms of God judging us and oh my, we've got to get ready and pass the judgment or we won't get to heaven. I'm I right? But Adventists were given a second reason for keeping God's commandments we just don't go into the first apartment of the sanctuary and have our sins all forgiven and get the gift of eternal life, free of charge, yes we get that, thank God. God had to do that otherwise He could never prove that our commandment keeping is based on something other than selfishness. That's why He did it, but oh how we abuse it. Oh I don't have to keep the commandments anymore, there is no pressure on me to keep the commandments, why sure there is no pressure, but listen there is a reason why you should keep the commandments and Jesus said it, He said; "If you love me" Remember that? John chapter 14. If you love me for what I have done for you. For what I have provided for you. All the treasures of heaven are yours to share. Now if you love me, what did He say to do? Keep my commandments. Why? Just because He said it? Is He going to make us keep his commandments all through eternity just because He said it? Do your children obey every one of your commandments just because you said it? How do they feel inside if that's the only reason they have for obeying? How do they feel inside? Oh they get a little resentful sometimes don't they? As they mature you hope that they will gradually catch on to the reason why you ask them to do what you ask them. Isn't that it? That's what Jesus is doing, He expects his people to be growing up into the measure of the fullness of the stature of Christ till we attain to the glorious church that He is waiting so longingly to see that has no spot and no wrinkle. And we've fallen into the trap from these subversive evil spirits of believing that it can't be done. Oh Brothers and Sisters are you calling God a liar? He says it can be done, in many places haven't you read it. Sure you've tried it and you find out how hard it is and you can never do it. Ok, I know you can't but she says those who are striving to do it God will do something. What did God say there in chapter fourteen? If you love me keep my commandments.  Then I will pray my Father and He will send you the Holy Spirit and the books explain what the Holy Spirit is going to do. It's the Holy Spirit that comes to deliver the New Covenant to God's New Covenant saints. And the New Covenant writes the law of God in the heart not on the tables of stone like Moses got them back there in the Old Testament. In the New Testament the sacrifice was made, Jesus made the provision for the more abundant outpouring of the Holy Spirit to be made available. He relinquished it incidentally, his Spirit of eternal life, He relinquished it, the Bible says, He died. And what kind of life did Christ have before? Well, He had life in himself and Jesus acknowledged where He got it from. He says, as the Father has life in himself even so hath He given the Son to have life in himself. And when a man dies, you know, he gives up the ghost or Spirit of life, right? And I read in the books that Christ having life in himself could not die, He was divine, don't get confused Christ was also human. He was a dual He was both human and divine, I could read that to you. In his divinity He could not die, divinity cannot die, she says in so many words. So He shed his lifeblood, his spiritual lifeblood, his life in himself, He shed it, he laid it down and where does the life go when you lay it down? Back to the Father who gave it. Now that's why when Jesus came into this world having gone to sleep and awakened again He died the first death, He died the death of sleep and then He came forth in Nazareth as a little baby, grew up into a knowledge and understanding that He was the Son of God and He was anointed with that Holy Spirit that Spirit of life which had given him life in the first place, He was anointed with that but He restricted himself all through his life in never using that divine power, which He could have used, just the same as I could raise this hand to pull my ear, He never used it in his own behalf. He restricted himself only to that power which God the Father gave him, with which to meet the attacks of Satan and overcome temptation and live without sin. And He challenges you as a member of the Laodicean church, to him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne even as I also overcame and I am set down with my Father on his throne. Isn't that a terrific promise to you? And Sister White says He used in his own behalf no power that is not freely available to you in your victory over sin. And she says, He came here with the specific purpose of demonstrating that by partaking of that divine nature by a combination of humanity sinful as it is, degenerate, and that's the kind of humanity Jesus had don't let anybody try to tell you it isn't, that's another one of these spiritualistic ideas, He came in the same degenerate flesh that you and I have, that's what my Bible says. And if He didn't then He didn't make an example for me did He? And He partook of the divine nature and she says it very clearly, I could read it, I've got it right here today. And in that combination of divinity and humanity the power of divinity is capable of enabling the free will to decide to follow in God's pathway and never sin. Now we can't do that, not until we partake of the divine nature. Let's get that straight.

Jesus was born with a divine nature, the Holy Ghost initiated his life, He was Christ don't ever try to make Jesus exactly like you and me, you can't do it. He was different but in the victory over sin and the temptations that came to him He was NOT different from what we can be and that's where the new birth experience comes in. When you are born again of the Spirit, which Jesus prays his Father to send to you, then you have the power to cleanse your soul temple of every defilement. Oh I wish I had the time to read these statements, I brought them all I thought maybe I would get to read them. But I have been counseled not to read too many statements because people get tired of them. So I'm telling you, well you may say, well Johnson you are way off in left field you just haven't got it put together right. Well if you would stay with me for a few hours I would read it all to you. I would show you, it's there.

Listen, do you believe that Jesus is going to have a people who can stand after probation closes without a mediator before a Holy God, do you believe that? What kind of people are we going to be to do it? Holy people, sinless people. How's God going to accomplish that? He is going to have to have you to decide to do it He will not force you. The expulsion of sin from your life, she says, is the act of your soul, you do it. But, you've got this nature that constantly pulls you down, oh you love these things you shouldn't be doing and you don't like to do these things that you are suppose to be doing. That's the evil nature and the devil capitalizes on those and oh the ideas He puts into your mind, excuses to make you hold back from doing the right thing and to cloud your mind and do the wrong thing. Oh, he's got lots of tricks up his sleeve to do that. It doesn't come without striving and I could read that to you. We are in a battle and don't tell me that a battle is fought without striving. Now there were some battles back there where God saved his people without any struggling, you know that. But I have several pointed statements right here on this desk by God's servant and in the Bible that you do have to strive. But those who do their best, they go as far as they can go God accepts that. Your little child, if he does the best he can but he just can't make it you're holding up too big a standard for him he can't handle it. Do you throw him out? Well God doesn't either. Let me read it, I'd better read some of these things or you'll think that I am just deceiving you today and I don't want you to think that.

This is from 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."

Here's another one. 1st Selected Messages page 382. "When it is in the heart to obey God," You really want to obey God, but of course you're divided there are other parts of you that want to do other things but you do want 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." Isn't that something? But listen, get this straight, let’s get this straight once and for all. You don't have to volunteer to be one of God final Elijah's witnesses and stand up and prove to the universe that it is possible to live without sin without a mediator, you don't have to do that to be saved. Those people who are going through to translation after probation closes and making that demonstration, and there are some who are going to do it and that's what God's waiting for, I could read that to you, they are not doing that to gain eternal life probation has already closed and they know it has closed, they have been eternally accepted and eternally secure from the tempters devises, read it in 5th volume of the Testimonies for the Churches. Why are they striving and struggling with all their might to measure up to God's standard, why? Because their Savior is being challenged, He is being judged He is on the docket and He is looking to you to be his witness to prove him innocent. The charge, those people cannot keep your law. That's the charge. Your law is too stiff it's not fair. Jesus says to you and to me; Are you willing to enter into this battle, put on the whole armor of God and I wish I had time to go through all those things now but I have squandered my time if you can call it that. Are you willing to enter that battle to put on that armor to stand up with God like those sons of Levi back there when Moses came down from the mountain and found that golden calf and he got so discussed that he threw it down then he stood aside over there and he called out to these people and said; Is there anybody here who is willing to come and stand with me on the Lord's side? And who came? The sons of Levi. Read Malachi chapter 3 Sister White has a comment on it in Great Controversy page 425 and 426. Malachi says that the messenger of his Covenant is going to come suddenly to his temple he is going to come suddenly to his temple to purify them. To purify the sons of Levi, that's what it says, as gold and silver is purified. Listen, God is going to put those who come and stand on his side today who are willing to stand as his witnesses and go as far as they possibly can to prove God is right. God is going to send his latter-day Spirit upon those people to give them power so that as they choose to expel sin from their lives their heart will be also cleansed from all defilement, they will be restored to the sinlessness of Adam's nature before he fell. It's in the books. They will no longer have that hankering to sin, this is the Day of Atonement, this is the cleansing of the sanctuary, the soul temple. She says as that is going on in heaven there is to be a cleansing work of putting away of sin by God's people here on earth. My, I wish I had another half hour. I've got some wonderful statements I would love to read to you.

I hope I have encouraged you to get into those books and find out what God says. I hope I have encouraged you to be willing to stand up for him as the sons of Levi did for Moses. The call is to go forth said Sister White in this last day by God's messengers, whom He will call, to call the disobedient to the wisdom of the just and make ready a people prepared for the Lord. He is waiting with longing desire, it says, to see his character perfectly reproduced in his people. And He can't do it without your cooperation and furthermore it says, that God will do nothing for us without our cooperation. We have a job to do don't sit back and say, I'm waiting for the Lord to do it. He's waiting for you to cooperate.

May God help us to understand the importance of the Advent message, which in some minds is becoming quit shaky today. Don't ever give up God's truth.

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