The Godhead and the Great Miracle of the Spiritual Rebirth
By John Wilfred Johnson
What you are about to study is what the Lord has shown me to be a major part of the pinnacle of truth as it has been developed so far in regard to the Godhead and the miracle of Spiritual rebirth. Since Ellen White said that this subject will be unfolding for eternity, we have cause to believe that God will show His people more on this all important fundamental of His Being and His Kingdom.
The man through whom this truth was given to us by God, John Wilfred Johnson, lived from 1915-1995. He served as first Elder to the Canadian Union College church in Alberta, Canada, and he served as a professor at that college for some years. I personally attended some of Mr. Johnson’s cottage meetings in 1976, and I have never met a more complete example of a godly man. Mr. Johnson taught what he said he was shown in visions. I believe that a prayerful and studious study of his materials will reveal that his revelations could come only from on high.
The full works of Mr. Johnson have been made available through John Wells, who had written transcripts made of the audio tape/letters Mr. Johnson recorded in his lifetime. Mr. Wells may not live that much longer so it would be wise to get these materials as soon as possible. I believe he furnishes them for free as a missionary project. Mr. Johnson’s works are available from:
SIGNET SEAL PUBLISHERS
Canada T4L 1W7
The Great Miracle of The Spiritual Rebirth
(All emphases are as in the book from which this study is taken)
And now let us meditate for a few minutes on the great miracle of the spiritual rebirth. We have long believed that in order to see the kingdom of God we must be born again. The first time we were born of physical parents. Now, we must be born of God – born of the Spirit.
But the Scripture also says that God is a Spirit and that God is love. Therefore, God is the Spirit of love; and to be born of God means to be born of the Spirit of love. This brings us right back to the question of receiving a new heart as per the promise of the new covenant, for the heart is the seat of the emotions; and the most powerful of all emotions – the one which is the essence of God’s character – is the emotion of love.
This love of God is however, a special kind of love. It is not selfish love; it is not puppy love; it is not sensual love. Rather, it is pure, self-denying love – love which reaches out to others and sacrifices self. Self-sacrificing love is the great principle of life in earth and heaven according to the statement in Desire of Ages [cf. DA 20].
Thus to be born again of the self-denying love of the Spirit of God, means to receive the gift of the principle of a new life – or should I say, a new life principle –namely, the eternal life principle of which we have spoken somewhat previously.
This ties in with the symbol of the “fruit of the tree of life.” The eating of the fruit of this tree brings with it the power of eternal fixation – the principle of eternal life. But we are informed that this new birth is brought through the agency of the Holy Spirit or the Holy Ghost. We have already expressed that the gift of the Holy Ghost to man is an outcome of the everlasting covenant between Christ and His Father, entered into before the Son of God gave up His life in the courts of the heavenly sanctuary, many years before His first advent.
And before Jesus ascended into the courts of heaven after His resurrection, He promised His disciples that He would pray the Father to send this Comforter, even the Holy Ghost, to give them power. Power for what? – why power to become the sons of God, for “as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God,” (John 1:12). That is, He gave them power to become born again into the family of God.
But the Scripture says that he that is born of God cannot sin because he is born of God. This would seem quite obvious in the light of what we have discussed; for to be born of God means to be born of self-denying love, and when this love becomes the supreme motive in a man’s life, he cannot bring himself to transgress the law of God and heap further suffering on the beloved Son of God.
The emotion of love is the most powerful motivating force in the universe. A man will do something for one he truly loves which he would not think of doing for anyone else. In the final analysis, it is the emotion of self-denying love which is the primary fruit of the indwelling Spirit of God, that empowers the man to implement his decision to cease from sin; and it is the eternal life principle which empowers a man to expel the nature of sin from his life – to cleanse his body temple, or sanctuary.
It should be obvious that the agency of the rebirth is the Holy Ghost. This leads us once more to the consideration of the communion of the body and blood of Christ as portrayed in the communion service. At the last supper Jesus delivered to His disciples an emblem of the great Sacrifice which He had made in the courts of heaven, and which He was again making now as He faced the cross. For while Jesus on earth had the privilege of regaining His former heritage and reserving it for Himself alone (He could have given up lost man at any time and returned to His Father), He now manifested the greatest demonstration of His self-denying character of love by laying down this privilege and making it available to all who should believe in Him as the Son of God and the Saviour of sinners.
And He made it plain to His disciples that He himself would not again partake of it until He partook of it anew with them in the kingdom. And as He cried out on the cross, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me,”? He experienced the everlasting death of the sinner – a separation from the gift of the eternal power and the eternal life of the Holy Ghost. His eternal Spirit returned to God who had given it at His baptism.
[Luk 23:46 And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.]
Jesus – The Link Between the Eternal Christ of the Past and the New Christ of the Future
When Jesus emerged from the tomb, His memory – that is, His past life – did not reach beyond the cradle. No longer did He share in the eternal heritage of His former life, for He had died the eternal [second] death of the sinner from which there was no hope of a resurrection. Henceforth, He was the One who was alive and was dead, and behold He is alive forevermore (cf. Re. 1:18) as the First-born of the new race, who gave His eternal spiritual body and blood to be eaten and absorbed, through the communion of the Holy Ghost, by His new body temple of saints. [DA 25: “In taking our nature, ‘The Saviour has bound Himself to humanity by a tie that is never to be broken.”]
Only through them would He ever again partake of this eternal heritage, for it is through the body structure and the circulation of the blood stream that the head of the body receives its life. Jesus is the Head of the new body temple of saints, and He has exposed Himself to a bodily communion with those saints, and functions through them to receive the knowledge of all former things, as any person receives his knowledge through the five senses of his physical body; and to execute His counsels through their body temples, as any person operates through the muscles of his own body.
This experience of the communion with His saints is related to the marriage of the Lamb which occurs before Jesus leaves the sanctuary. He receives His inheritance, but He receives it through His saints, for His inheritance is in His saints. The literal man Jesus was the link between the eternal Christ of the past and the new Christ of the future; for the former Christ died in the heavenly sanctuary to be regenerated by the gift of the Holy Ghost in the man Jesus. But on the cross, that Christ died the second death – from which there is no hope of a resurrection. [cf. EW 218.6].
The resurrected Jesus is the Wonderful Counsellor, the Prince of Peace, the Mighty God, and the Everlasting Father (Isaiah 9:6), and His saints are His new spiritual body temple through whom He functions. [cf. 7 BC 931, Col. 2.1: “The Jewish tabernacle . . . is Christ’s body, and from north, south, east, and west He gathers those who will help to compose it. . . . A holy tabernacle is built up of those who receive Christ as a personal Saviour.”] The great former Christ of the pre-advent days is gone as a unit. He is now absorbed in the communion of the saints, and it requires 144,000 human body temples to make up the new structure of the great spiritual body of Christ. Christ was alive, He died, and behold He is alive forevermore in His saints. [cf. Rev. 1:18]. And Jesus is the Head of that body, and in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. But when He speaks through His new body temple, His voice, which is the voice of God, will speak “like many waters” -- for waters are people. [cf. ST 03-28-00].
Christ’s Immense Sacrifice – Gateway to Profound Mystery
But we have again slipped ahead of our story. This experience on the cross was a revelation to our dull senses of the pain which entered the heart of God at the inception of sin. [cf. Ed. 263]. It was also a revelation of the real death which Christ, the former Archangel and Son of God, had experienced in the courts of the heavenly sanctuary.
The Millerites of the pre-1844 movement made the error of considering this earth, the earthly experience rather, as the only and complete experience of the death of Christ; and thus [concluded] that this earth was the sanctuary where the Lamb was slain. But this earthly demonstration, while it embodies all that has been taught concerning it over the years, is yet but the symbol or gateway to a far deeper and more profound experience with occurred in the tabernacle of heaven.
I cannot, in this brief preview, portray the enormity of this great mystery – my speech is here inadequate! God has permitted me to catch a little glimpse of the tremendous sacrifice of Christ; and if this glimpse should ever expand into a brilliant image, I shall not be negligent in offering to share it with you.
The Eternal Life of Christ (His Blood) Was Shed for His Saints
But to get back to our main theme again – the new or everlasting covenant provided for the delivery of the heritage of the great spiritual body and blood of the Son of God to the saints, through the Holy Ghost. And this new testament was in the blood of that former eternal body, for Jesus said “This . . . is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.” [Luke 22:20]. The covenant was ratified by the shedding of that blood. The very life of Christ was in that blood, for the Scripture says that the blood is the life of the body. And the new testament in that blood was the promise of the eternal life of Christ to His saints.
But we have also known that the fruit of the tree of life is another symbol for the eternal life principle; and the eating of the fruit of the tree of life is but another way of expressing the communion of the body and blood of Christ. When Adam sinned he became separated from the attachment to this spiritual body, and he began to die. Not until man is restored to this eternal body and blood will he again receive the heritage of eternal life; and this he receives when he becomes born again of the Spirit of god’s love, for this love is the principle of everlasting life; for he that is born again hath everlasting life.
In the past few minutes we have covered quickly a generous number of ideas, and these ideas are subject to a large number of inter-relationships. And when these inter-relationships are seen in their true light, then an integrated concept will emerge, revealing a profound image of the great Christ, the eternal Son of God.
His enormous sacrifice will be seen in a new light; the gift of eternal life will be more highly appreciated; the awfulness of sin will be more thoroughly impressed and despised; and the love of God will be far more brilliantly displayed.
Again I am forced to confess that a superficial acquaintance with the relationships here implied so inadequately, will not yield a clear-cut and plausible picture. A more thorough and painstaking treatment would be required to bring into sharp focus the impressive panorama which they actually reveal. But I will pause now, that we may each have an opportunity to meditate upon these most solemn and profound truths. . . .
Anyone who reviews carefully the material which is recorded on these tapes, will come up with questions, for there are a number of new problems which have arisen and which remain unsolved. Certainly one of these questions would be regarding the eternal death of Christ:
How Could the Eternal Christ Die When He Had Eternal Life?
For instance, we may logically ask how could the eternal Son of God die when He was endowed with eternal life? The answer must lie in His autonomous power over all things; for if He had life in Himself, and at the same time had all power, it would conceivably be possible for Him to separate Himself from His eternal life – to lay it down. This is precisely what the Scripture teaches wherein it quotes Jesus as saying: “I have power to lay it down, and power to take it again.” [John 10:18].
It was in the courts of the heavenly sanctuary that He first relinquished His eternal life and lapsed into a sleep from which there would have been no resurrection, except through the action of God the Father in fulfilling His part of the everlasting covenant; to deliver by the Holy Ghost that eternal heritage of Christ, namely, the great spiritual body and blood of the eternal One; and to deliver it to the family of mankind. [DA 22.9 & 23].
It was in fulfillment of this covenant that the entire plan of salvation, as evidenced in the New Testament, evolved, including the miraculous birth of the boy Jesus. Even as sinners who die the everlasting death are raised from the first death of sleep to experience later, a second death from which there can be no hope of a resurrection – even so, Christ was raised from His first sleep into the boy Jesus, only to experience His second death on the cross of Calvary. But the resurrection of Christ into the man Jesus, which occurred at the anointing of the Holy Ghost (as was verified by the voice from heaven), was not a full and complete restoration of the enormous structure of the former Christ; for it is impossible to embody into one human being the vastness of that incomprehensible spiritual body of Christ.
We learn from the testimony of the Spirit of Prophecy that in the early morning hours of His prayer and devotions Jesus received His strength and His instructions for the day’s tasks. [DA 208]. He was not at any one moment endowed with the fullness of all power and all knowledge – no single human body could contain this.
Note by Ron: Further on, on page 285 of Volume One, Mr. Johnson states a more complete listing of the limitations of Christ in His humanity, to wit:
“One is, that Jesus went in the early hours of the morning to commune with His Father and to receive instructions for the work of the day. [cf. DA 208]. Another is, that the miracles which He performed, were performed by God through the agency of the angels. [cf. DA 208]. Another is, that He said of Himself He could do nothing, that it was “the Father who did the works.” This would indicate that Jesus made a supreme sacrifice when He came to this world by taking upon Himself human nature – that He did not have the completeness and fullness of His former body and blood, which contained the fullness of His life and His power. He did not have a complete eternal memory when He was in human form. [Recall that Jesus said that only the Father knew the day and hour of Christ’s coming—Ron] He did not have complete and eternal power, [but] only as He received it through the co-operation of His angels and His Father.
In this state of humiliation He proved Himself worthy and honourable. He demonstrated the character of God and His own character which was identical to it. He verified His selfless love in going straight to the cross. No one observing this great demonstration could possibly say that this character is unworthy to be the governor of the Universe.
This is just a brief analysis. It would be understood far better if we took time to analyze it is more detail.” End note.
Divinity flashed through humanity but did not completely engulf it. [read ST 04-18-92]. Nevertheless, Jesus had access to the potential powers of that former body; but He exercised it only through the ministry and obedience of the angels. At no time did He use His eternal prerogative for self-gratification.
Even His miracles were performed by the ministry and obedience of the angels [cf. 2 SOP 67]; and it was an angel who ministered to Him in the hour of His temptation in the wilderness. If he had needed protection, or rather if He had chosen to solicit protection against the soldiers in the garden of Gethsemane, He could have received it in the form of twelve legions of angels from His Father [cf. DA 143.2]. He said nothing about having power in Himself to save Himself from these enemies. There may be a little difficulty here in reconciling these thoughts, but they must be reconciled.
The Limitations of Jesus in His Human Tabernacle
It should seem clear that Jesus, as the resurrected Christ, was subject to certain limitations because of His having accepted a human tabernacle in which to life; and as we have already pointed out Jesus will not attain the fullness of His structure in the new body temple of Christ until He becomes married to the 144,000 saints; for the new body temple must be built up first. [cf. GC 120.5] . . “rising slowly through the ‘centuries,’ and AA last chapter “. . . but the structure is not yet complete.” AA 599.2].
Note by Ron: Christ’s omnipresence was obviously cumbered by His humanity:
“Cumbered with humanity Christ could not be in every place personally, therefore it was altogether for their advantage that He should leave them to go to His Father and send the Holy Spirit to be His successor on earth. The Holy Spirit is Himself divested of the personality of humanity and independent thereof. He would represent Himself as present in all places by His Holy Spirit.” E.G. White, (Manuscript Releases Volume 14 (No’s 1081-1135) MR No.1084. End note.
The Marriage of the Lamb to His 144,000 Saints
It must be raised to become an habitation of God through the eternal Spirit; and this body temple of saints must be endowed with the communion of the body and blood of the former heritage of Christ, which body was broken and divided for them to eat, and which blood was shed for them to drink. [John 6:53-58]. And then they must be married to Jesus, as the bride adorned in white linen to the Bridegroom. [Rev. 19:7-9]. Out of this union will emerge the fullness of the structure of the eternal Christ – the Son of God!
The original temple of God, in His Son Christ, had to be destroyed because of the eternal record of sin transferred to it by the eternal blood – that is, by virtue of the fact that this body had direct sensory experience with all events transpiring in the universe, and also that its record of these events was everlasting and permanent. Hence, this record could only be destroyed by the death of the One who had that record in His own spiritual body.
[Note by Ron: This gives new meaning to the saying of Christ that He will remember our sins no more! – Beautiful! Wonderful! End note].
The principle of eternal life was then applied to human temples, to regenerate in them only that which is righteous and true; and the first of these human temples to experience this was Jesus, the First-begotten. Thus through the death and regeneration is sin destroyed, and righteousness preserved.
I say again, the original body and blood of Christ was relinquished by Him, and He died. In the human body of Jesus the principle of death, manifested through the ability to forget or erase the patterns of past sinfulness in His mental make-up, enabled Him by rejection of these patterns to destroy sin in the flesh. And then by His access to the principle of eternal life, delivered through the Holy Ghost, He could regenerate His righteous choices and cause them to become eternally fixed into His new nature. Thus He bore the sins of the world in His own body, and destroyed sins in the flesh through death, and at the same time proved that His character – the sum total of His choice habits – was righteous.
In this process, the restoration of the memory of His former Self was adequate to identify Him. But in His daily routine work He was not constantly and unavoidably conscious of all His eternally past experiences in heaven, any more than we are, at any one moment, conscious of all our past experiences. The great former Christ as a singular unit of eternal memory had passed out of existence. He had died an eternal death!
Note by Ron: It was DIVINITY ONLY who was the Testator – the Son of God, who agreed to the prescribed limit of the Testator’s Covenant—DEATH OF THE TESTATOR. Therefore, it was thus imperative that He must die to His DIVINE ONLY former life. In relinquishing His Holy Ghost Spirit and commending it to His Father just before His death on the cross, Christ died the second death to the possibility of EVER returning to that DIVINE ONLY state of His former existence again. That was eternal death to His former life and soul, and Ellen White said that the Holy Spirit is the soul of that former life and that the life that He commended to His Father, is the Comforter, the Holy Spirit.
Hbr 9:16 For where a testament [is], there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.
Hbr 9:17 For a testament [is] of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth.
In order to Atone for the wages of our sins—eternal death, He had to experience eternal death. The payment must equal the penalty or there would have been no atonement, and the failure of God’s watchmen to see this fact, is just another means by which the Sanctuary and the Atonement are GONE, just as Ellen White prophesied. But as Ellen White stated, the ministering brethren look on to these deeper truths and they cannot understand (Isaiah 56:10-12), and neither can those who are determined to defend their apostasy, so they deride and reject the precious light which they cannot understand, and which is the most compelling evidence to motivate God’s people to cease sinning so the Sanctuary can be cleansed. In the Alpha, the Sanctuary and Atonement were rendered GONE. And so it is in the Omega of Apostasy, and via a number of different causes.
Sanctuary Gone Atonement Gone -- "In a representation which passed before me, I saw a certain work being done by medical missionary workers. Our ministering brethren were looking on, watching what was being done, but they did not seem to understand. The foundation of our faith, which was established by so much prayer, such earnest searching of the Scriptures, was being taken down, pillar by pillar. Our faith was to have nothing to rest upon--the sanctuary was gone, the atonement was gone." E.G. White, The Upward Look, 152.
"The Holy Spirit is the breath of spiritual life in the soul. The impartation of the Spirit is the impartation of the life of Christ. It imbues the receiver with the attributes of Christ. Only those who are thus taught of God, those who possess the inward working of the Spirit, and in whose life the Christ-life is manifested, are to stand as representative men, to minister in behalf of the church." Desire of Ages, 805.
"Christ declared that after his ascension, he would send to his church, as his crowning gift, the Comforter, who was to take his place. This Comforter is the Holy Spirit,--the soul of his life, the efficacy of his church, the light and life of the world. With his Spirit Christ sends a reconciling influence and a power that takes away sin.
In the gift of the Spirit, Jesus gave to man the highest good that heaven could bestow....
The Spirit was given as a regenerating agency, and without this the sacrifice of Christ would have been of no avail....
It is by the Spirit that the heart is made pure. Through the Spirit the believer becomes a partaker of the divine nature. Christ has given his Spirit as a divine power to overcome all hereditary and cultivated tendencies to evil, and to impress his own character upon the church." E.G. White, Review and Herald Articles, May 19, 1904, vol. 5, p. 42. End note.
The New Habitation of God is Jesus & the 144,000
There could be no restoration of that identical structure into one single human body temple. If there had been, it could not be said that Christ had died a permanent death – the death of the sinner. It would merely have been a temporary death of sleep which is not the death of the sinner. This is one aspect of the permanent sacrifice of Christ and of God’s giving of His Son; for only as this original body and blood heritage of Christ was divided, and provided for His individual saints, would it be possible to build a comparable body temple structure. And while the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Jesus, the fullness of the former body and blood of Christ in the Holy Ghost, dwells in His saints.
It is now a co-operative unit of 144,000 human body temples. This is the new habitation of God! He dwells with them; He dwells in them; He sups with them – it is the communion of the Holy Ghost. Henceforth, the telescopic decisions of Jesus, the Godhead, will be executed through His new body, the 144,000 saints who have eternal power. And henceforth, the telescopic sensory perceptions of Jesus, the Godhead, will be received through His new body structure – the 144,000 saints; for it is they whom the Holy Spirit will “guide into all truth.” The record al all truth will be restored in them, and through them transferred to the Head.
This puts Jesus in the humble position where He has placed complete confidence in the voluntary co-operation of His saints. Should they choose to sin, they could become eternal sinners and heap eternal suffering on their Saviour.
Henceforth, there can never be any accusation made against the character of Christ, for it is placed on perpetual demonstration as the most humble of all. The character of Christ has been completely vindicated, and His worthiness of the position of supreme Law-giver and Creator, and only-begotten Son of God cannot be challenged ever again. He is now the Prince of Peace, the Wonderful Counselor – not the autocratic dictator.
Could There be a More Wonderful Government?
Although He has vested all power in His saints, yet His saints serve Him from love alone. There can be no question about this now, for without their voluntary co-operation He could not function as all-powerful and supreme Ruler; for one cannot function except through one’s body.
This then is the government of Heaven. It is a government of allegiance completely based on voluntary submission and cooperation, prompted by the deep and sincere, divine and self-denying love of the subjects for their Creator and their Ruler. Could there be a more wonderful government?