What Manner of Persons

J. Wilfred Johnson
Sabbath School Lesson Dec. 14, 1985

Transcribed April 13, 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) Today we center our thoughts around the idea of what we do and what we are, what manner of persons we ought to be? Why? Well because of the things He's just been mentioning and talking about. One of the things this earth is going to melt with fervent heat it's going to be totally dissolved, liquefied, and recreated eventually. But we are facing a crisis, at the end of the Christian era Jesus is going to come again and all things that are wicked are going to be destroyed and only those who have been prepared for his coming and are waiting and ready for him to appear will be saved out of that conflagration. Now that is the essence of the lesson and the question is what manner of persons is God expecting us to be in order to qualify?

Now there are many, many things involved in this lesson and I will not in any way be able to cover all that I would love to say in the half hour that we have. I sometimes thought that if enough of us are interested we should request the privilege of having a little group meeting maybe once a week or an hour or an hour and a half and go into details and take our time and find out all of these pieces that are involved and how they fit together so that we will have a clear, precise, accurate, understanding of exactly what it is that God wants us to do. There is some confusion on that question. we have different ideas and different thoughts some people emphasize the grace and mercy of God we do not need to worry too much beyond that as long as we have committed ourselves to him, we have accepted his gift of salvation, He will take care of us.

Ohhhh, but here is another side to the story, a big side that some of us have lost sight of and that I think I have endeavored to emphasize through the past few years and maybe some of you are getting a little tired of some of the things I have said but I may repeat some of those today but I hope I'll be bringing in additional things and I had in mind to refer rather heavily towards the prophetic statements that deal with this subject and you may want to jot some of them down with a pen, if not I hope they will get on the tape and any of you who want them will be able to pick them up. We will not understand our position in relation to God and his program of salvation in these last days unless we have a fairly clear concept of the larger picture.

You see God is a God of self-denying love. He is a God who loves to share, that's why He created beings and He created those beings in his own image and primarily that refers to the fact that they have freedom. God is a God of freedom He loves to have freedom. He gave his people a choice which is free, they can make a choice of their own volition without any pressure, but whenever you have a situation or a kingdom where you have many individuals with freedom to choose sooner or later one will choose to do something that will cut across the interest, desires, and pleasures of somebody else. Do you understand what I am saying? Because we are all made different and God designed it that way. He didn't want billions of tin soldiers where everyone was functioning as a mechanical machine, therefore God had to have a law. Now the Bible says in Isaiah 9:6,7 that this little child that came, you know, his name shall be called Wonderful Councilor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father and I would like to dwell on that a little but I won't, the Prince of Peace, and of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end. Those two things you need to get about the Kingdom of God. It's a Kingdom of peace, no frustrations, no pain, no suffering, no uncertainties, peace, and that Kingdom is going to increase forever. There will be more and more children coming into the family of God. The universe is expanding, our scientists have detected that quite some years ago, it's increasing, but that law must be respected. If it is not respected He can't have a Kingdom of peace. And God did something that is very interesting to me, very unique, very fascinating, and for which I am extremely grateful, God didn't put that law on tables of stone and wave it forth to all his creatures and said, Look you obey those commandments or else. That's not the way it was. Now I could read that to you it's in the prophetic statements. He placed his law in the hearts of his created beings.

Now in the scripture the word 'heart' normally refers to the feelings, the way you feel about things. You see, the idea of peace is a feeling, it's the way you feel, it's your emotional system. We function probably 99% of the time on the bases of our feeling. What are the things that we do? Well, we do the things that we have to do. Do we enjoy doing those things? For instance you would die if you didn't eat, you would die, now why do you eat? Be honest. Do you eat so you can stay alive, is that what you think every time you go to the table? Oh, I must eat or I'm going to die. Is that what you say? No, you eat because you are hungry, you feel like eating, you want to eat. Is it hard to eat when you feel like eating?

What about the things you eat, there are good things and there are bad things. Do you eat strychnine, do you eat tobacco? Some people smoke it. Why do you eat the things that you eat? Primarily, pecause you love them, you like them. What are the things you avoid eating, if you can? Things that you don't like. But if the things you don't like are the things that you ought to be eating because your system needs them you have a problem. You have a divergence between the thing that you want to do and the thing that you ought to do, so you have this conflict. Now God has provided power whereby you can use your freewill decision to chose to do the thing that is right, that is proper, even though you don't feel like doing it and He has taught us that lesson, every last one of us by letting us come through the family process. As a little child we grow up, don't we learn that? We've got somebody over top of us who's taking care of us and once in a while they have to lower the boom a little bit on us to make us do the thing that we ought to do even though we don't feel like doing it. And then He gives us a chance at it from the other direction where we become parents and we are taking care of the little tikes and we have to sort of take the place of God in dealing with those people, what a wonderful God we have. The family unit is God's greatest teaching device apart from his example of Jesus Christ.

Now, in the beginning all of the things that God's preachers were supposed to do were written in the heart so that instinctively they loved to do those things and that in obeying him, she says, they were but carrying out their own impulses. Is that the way we live today? Can you just carry out your own impulses and automatically keep all of God's commandments and do everything just right, is that the way it works. Then something is wrong isn't it? What happened, well somebody back there chose to do something contrary to his normal feelings because he didn't have confidence in the ruler just like your children have done. And his problem now, was to reveal his righteousness to his children so that they would recognize that He was right and that they really ought to turn their will over to his side and do the things He asked them to do. It became necessary for him to spell out some commandments, now don't do that, but do that. Because in choosing to do the thing that is wrong, and I haven't time to go through and show this and prove it but take it for granted for the moment, the nature of the beating of the heart changes. I can read it to you. Before Adam sinned his heart was pure and holy, he was righteous, he was in the image of God, he loved the right things. After he sinned, and I may come across that statement as I read some of these if I get time, at the rate I'm going I don't have much time but I want you to understand this. When Adam chose to go contrary to what God had said he lost his ability to find joy in keeping the commandments, she says that, I just read it this morning before I came up. Adam lost his ability to enjoy keeping the commandments, doing God's will. Now, don't you see then that his nature is changed? The nature refers to the sum total of all the feelings, the way you feel about things. If you feel in harmony with God, you love everything about God, you love all his commandments, you have a righteous nature. But if you are contrary to that, if your feelings go contrary to God's character, God's wishes, and God's will you have a sinful nature. Which nature have you got Brother and Sister? Which one have you got? Well, in some respects you're harmonious with God, aren't you? You are. But are there any spots where you are not in harmony with God? Be honest. Be honest! Is it necessary to get those things changed before Jesus comes or is it not? Is God looking for somebody to overcome sin or is He going to excuse a little bit of it?

I think it is time for me to start reading a bit. In Matthew 5:48, and by the way before I read it let me point this out to you. That when the heart is in conformity with the will of God, when it's in harmony with God then you can be at peace and that in the Bible it is spoken of as the atonement, the at-one-ment. Now I know there are other meanings to that word but I've got God's prophet behind me when I say it means to be at one with God. It's in her books and she even puts the hyphens in the word at-one-ment so it is there. God has given to his Advent people the privilege and the responsibility during these closing judgment days of giving to the world the message of the final at-one-ment that takes place in the most holy apartment of the sanctuary where Jesus went in 1844 to cleanse that sanctuary of all defilement and the sanctuary that needs cleansing Brother and Sister is your soul temple because it is to be the dwelling place of God. He has promised to come and dwell with you and be in you forever and that's the work of the Adventist Church. Many of our brethren, many of our scholars, many of our theologians, have lost sight of that. Let me read, Matthew 5:48, Be ye therefore as perfect as you can be. No, it says perfect. And then it gives you the measuring stick. "Even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect."

Let me read another one now from God's last day prophet. And don't ever start doubting her as a prophet. Now there are things that she said that are a little off color, she was a human being and made some mistakes and she has made some statements that are a little difficult to understand, but in the basic themes of the great plan of salvation she is right on.

1st Selected Messages page 198, are you listening? "The righteousness of God is absolute. This righteousness characterizes all His works, all His laws." Listen. "As God is, so must His people be." I understand English I know what that means and I can't do it. There is no way I can do it. But God has opened in his books and through his prophets the means whereby He is going to accomplish it and lest I don't get time to read all the statements let me tell you that it emphasizes that fact that God can do nothing for you unless you are willing to cooperate. Your cooperation is required. You could do nothing right now you couldn't even be sitting here listening to me if God was not constantly supplying you with life and strength. You would have no other ability to make a decision like I'm doing now to tap your forehead with your fingers, that could not happen if God had not provided me immediately with power when I made a decision to do that with power to stimulate a chemical, physical, electrical process in the muscles to bring that hand up there and do that.  Amazing, by a thought I can do that. Well, that's the way God created this world bless your hearts. He said, let there be and there it was. You see, in God's great body, I don't know, God's a mystery to me I can only understand him as I see Jesus and understand Jesus but God has connections with all parts of his universe and He can think and decide and things happen all over the place there is nothing beyond his reach. He spoke one time and brother Slaybaugh got his ear back on and He got a new eye. God did that it wasn't the Devil, the Devil can't create human flesh, he is not a creator but God is.

Now here's the challenge, righteousness, oh by the way we are supposed to be like God was right? He was perfect so are we. Here's what she says in Christ's Object Lessons page 315, "The life of Christ on earth was a perfect expression of God's law," Now what must our lives be when we reach the point where God wants us to be? Our life will be a perfect expression of God's law. What a challenge and because of that tremendous challenge many of our people don't think it can be done. But I want to tell you something; if it isn't done Jesus can't come, I've got the proof of that too. He will not come until that has been accomplished in his people. That's probably the most powerful thing I have ever said to you folks, but it's correct. I've got the statements to prove it. And if anyone comes to God's people claiming to have some sort of a message for them, she says, let him speak a plain "thus saith the Lord" and I can do it. But that's not a new message. It’s not new, our people were preaching that many years ago.

Well listen what it says here, 1st Selected Messages page 367. What is it that God expects of us now, just what are we supposed to do? How are we going to go about qualifying for standing without fault during the great and dreadful day of the Lord? How are we going to do it? She says here, righteousness is obedience to the law, all right there's a starting point. Righteousness is obedience to the law. Did Adam have the ability to obey the law? Did God give him the equipment to do it? Did Adam have the ability to disobey the law? Yes. Do you have the ability disobey the law? Sure you have we know that for sure, don't we? But, do we have the ability to obey the law? Now, you could answer it either way and you'd be right, we don't and we do. We don't by nature because our nature is bad, in ourselves we don't. But do we have the ability to obey the law? Now answer me yes this time. Come on answer me yes. Do we? How do we know? Because through his sacrifice and I wish I had time to really go through it and show you how that came about. Oh, it's the most logical thing you ever saw. We have a wonderful God. He provided the wherewithal that you and I can reach a point where we can keep his law, He did it. Now keeping his law and being righteous are to different things. It's possible for me to keep God's law even though I don't always feel like it, I can overrule my feelings and keep his law but it is an effort, it's a struggle and if I had to do that throughout eternity I would chose to go to sleep I wouldn't want to go on. But I don't have to do it throughout eternity because Jesus said. If you love me and keep my commandments I'm going to do something, do you remember what He said? And I will pray my Father, there's your intercessor, and He is going to send you the Holy Spirit. John chapter 14. And there are statements after statements that tell us that it is the Holy Spirit that brings all the gifts of heaven to us. The Bible says that the love of God is shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost that is given to us. Well, if the love of God is going to be shed abroad in your heart by the Holy Ghost that is given to you do you suppose it would be sensible to do what God says you should do in order to get that Holy Ghost? There is a condition you know, should we? He says if you love me keep my commandments. Oh, Lord I can't keep them. Well, do the best you can. I can read that to you. If you do your best you qualify. Then what? I'll send my Spirit. Then what? He will destroy sin in the heart He will write the commandments of God on the tables of the heart. That's the new Covenant. You will begin to love to do the thing that you didn't like to do before and when you begin to love to do the thing that you didn't like before then what are you going to do? Why you've got the power to do it, you had it before but you had to do it against your grain. Now you have it and it's in harmony with your grain. Do you see the atonement there? Do you see the at-one-ment, He is restoring you to the sinlessness of Adam before his transgression and she says in 6th volume of the SDA Bible Commentary 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." Would you like to be in that condition and obey God's commandments? You don't obey those commandments to get to heaven, let's get that straight. Your ticket to heaven is a gift.

I intended to read you this and here I am telling you and not reading it. But to read it I wouldn't get through it, not all of it but I'll read some of it and I'll be glad to read the rest of it if we get together sometime. I'm presently working on putting all of this together in written form, and incidentally that is one reason I have not been teaching this class too often because I haven't got the energy and the wherewithal to accomplish that major task and spend adequate time trying to bring things to you according to the lesson, so please forgive me for being delinquent in my work as a teacher. I have another thing in mind that I think God considers a little more important at this particular moment. Not until we take advantage of the provision God has made will we be able to reach the condition of sinlessness.

Now it says there in Ephesians that He gave gifts to men, do you remember that passage? I think it was Ephesians chapter 4. He gave some this and some that and other gifts here and there until we all come into the fullness of the measure of the stature Christ. What is his goal in giving us these gifts of the Spirit and all the gifts come through the Spirit she says plainly. What's his idea, what's his purpose? To enable us to attain to that fullness of the stature of Christ. Where it says, be ye therefore perfect even as your Father in heaven is perfect. He has provided the means to do it. That's why Jesus died on the cross incidentally and that Spirit, the Holy Spirit, that does that job is represented by his life, I've got statements to prove that. The impartation of the Spirit is the impartation of the life of Christ; the Holy Spirit is the soul of the life of Christ she says. So what's happening here? Christ she says gave up his life that we might receive it. She puts it this way; He died the death, which was ours so that we might receive the life, which was his. I can't dwell on that point but it was through his sacrifice that Christ made available the Holy Spirit and she says, That sacrifice would be of no avail if it were not the work of the Holy Spirit coming to us and working in us to bring about the cancellation of sin, the cleansing of sin by the sprinkling of blood, the blood is the symbol of the life you know. It's the life of Christ through the Holy Spirit and that life is his love, she says it plainly just like that. It's the life of Christ in his love, his self-denying love coming to infuse our hearts that enables us to enjoy doing the right things. And it gives us the power to live without sin. That's it. But for him to be justified in sending that Spirit to us so He will not be criticized by Lucifer and all the other critics, Satan by this time. He says look, please keep my commandments because I cannot pray my Father to send that Spirit to you in the form of the latter rain in all it's fullness to cleanse your soul temple in all it's completeness, that final atonement, I can't do that until you show by your actions that you are on my side. I've got statements right here that say that.

(A woman) Unintelligible

(Wilfred) Right, right, that's what I'm saying. Wouldn't you rather have that little youngster of yours obey your commandment for his own safety sake even though he doesn't feel like doing it than for him to say; oh well, I don't feel like doing it so I won't do it? Which would you rather have and God is the same way? There is no way to sinlessness except through obedience there is no way. That's where sin came in the first place by a decision of a will. And she says the expulsion of sin from the life is the act of the soul itself. You've got to go backwards, but you see you've got to work against your contrary nature and that's where the striving and struggling comes in and she has many statements about that striving and struggling.

(Another man) Unintelligible

(Wilfred) Did you hear what he said? He said, it doesn't all come at once it comes a little at a time, it's progressive, yes. I'm thankful for you bringing that in. I have that all here too but you know sometimes I skip a point and I'm not aware that I missed it. That's one reason I record these lessons and I listen to them afterwards to find out what I didn't say and what I should have said.

Now I want to read this statement 1st Selected Messages 367, "Righteousness is obedience to the law. The law demands righteousness, and this the sinner owes to the law," Because you see the law is the transcript of God's character, the essence of the peace of his Kingdom. "But he is incapable of rendering it. The only way in which he can attain to righteousness is through faith. By faith he can bring to God the merits of Christ, and the Lord places the obedience of His Son to the sinner's account. Christ's righteousness is accepted in place of man's failure," Isn't that terrific? He takes into his family sinners that we are, sin and all, just as we are. Incidentally, that's the way sin is transferred to the sanctuary because the true sanctuary is Christ she says that. When we accept Christ then He accepts us into his family we become a member of his body that's how our sin is transferred to the true temple. He bears in his own body the sins of the world. Now after the cross He bears only the sins that are confessed by his people He doesn't bear the sins of the world anymore. But those who become members of his family, He accepts them sin and all. Then the process of cleansing through the blood, through the infusion of the Spirit of his love that transforms the heart, but the heart will not transform until you decide, what really happens is your decision becomes etched into your nature just like Adam's wrong decision was etched into his nature and he became sinful. And the reason it was etched in there is because he has access to the tree of life, he was getting that fruit of the tree see? And God sent him out of the garden after he sinned because it says if he hadn't Adam would have become an eternal sinner. Now to get back, God can't give us free access to the tree of life because we would do the same thing Adam did, make a wrong decision, we'd go further down hill. So not until the judgment that is before the whole universe, we demonstrate that we will not make the wrong decision, can God justifiably send us that Spirit, give us renewed access to the tree of life and the water of life. I've got statements to prove all this. And then when He sends that Spirit those right decisions we have been making contrary to our nature, but because we know that it is right and we do it because it is right, those decisions will change the nature back into harmony with God. Oh, maybe you think it is far-fetched but it is all in there. God's plan of salvation is a science she says. It is a scientific procedure there is no way for you to be saved from sin Brother and Sister without refusing to sin it can't be done. But as this Brother says, you start, you can't do it all at once.

Now I'm not going to have time to read all these statements, someday I'll have them all on paper but I would be glad to share them if anyone is really interested to go through them. Well, I have had static of course from some of these because some people don't believe that this is possible and they don't believe in the final atonement, they don't believe in Mrs. white, well, what can you do. I am an Adventist, fortunately, and I believe in our message. The Lord requires no less of the soul now than He required of Adam in paradise before he fell.

1st Selected Messages page 373. That's what He requires, the same as He required of Adam. "Perfect obedience, unblemished righteousness. ... God requires of His child perfect obedience."

7th volume SDA Bible Commentary page 971,  "The gospel dispensation is the last period of probation that will ever be granted to men. Those who live under this dispensation of test and trial and yet are not led to repent and obey will perish with the disloyal. There is no second trial. The gospel that is to be preached to all nations, kindreds, tongues, and peoples presents the truth in clear lines, showing that obedience is the condition of gaining eternal life." And I just read you that you can't do it but I also told you that God has provided a way whereby if you cooperate with him it will take place and you can be obedient.

She says that exact obedience is required, Review and Herald Feb. 7th, 1857. "Exact obedience is required, and those who say that it is not possible to live a perfect life are throwing upon God the imputation of injustice and untruth." In other words you are saying; God you are not telling the truth you are a liar. If you say you cannot become perfect you're calling God a liar. That's what she says, I didn't say it, God's prophet said it.

Now it is time to close and I didn't even get those statements read that I..., I want to close with this. "We build on Christ by obeying his word." This is from Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, right near the end. My paging is different from the regular book. "It is not he who merely enjoys righteousness, that is righteous, but he who does righteousness." It's not enough to enjoy it you've got to do it. "Holiness is not rapture; it is the result of surrendering all to God; it is doing the will of our heavenly Father."

Listen to this one; I want to close with this, Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing page 143. The only hope for us if we would overcome is to unite our will to God's will and work in cooperation with him hour by hour, day by day. We cannot retain self and yet enter the Kingdom of God if we ever attain unto holiness it will be through the renunciation of self and the reception of the mind of Christ.  Pride and self-sufficiency must be crucified. Listen now. Are you willing to pay the price required of us? Are we willing to have our will brought into perfect conformity to the will of God? Until we are willing the transforming grace of God cannot be manifested upon us.

What manner of persons ought we to be that we may demonstrate total allegiance to God?


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