Promises of Power
J. Wilfred Johnson
School Lesson Oct. 5, 1985
Mar. 2, 2014
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.
We would like to welcome those of you who are not regular members of the class
we trust that the Lord will give you a rich blessing along with the rest of us
as we meditate upon the things that He has presented to us in this week's
lesson. The title is "Promises of Power". We are going to be studying
this quarter the writings of the second epistle of the apostle Peter. There is
quite a bit of historical material that comes to bear upon this. I have to
admit that I am not much of an historian and I don't profess to be but I am
very much interested in trying to seek out those things that apply specifically
to our experience in this particular day and age. I think it is very important
that we understand what God is trying to tell us.
is a problem in the universe, what is that problem?
man) A sin problem.
A sin problem. And what is God going to do about it?
man) Resolve it.
He is going to resolve that problem. How is He going to do it?
man) It's already been done He's just waiting for the final culmination.
The provision has already been made, everything's in place, but it cannot be
solved without the cooperation of his people. Do you recognize that? Because
you see, the problem is sin and what is sin and who does the transgressing? Who
makes the decision to transgress? The individual person. So to solve the sin
problem you've got to reverse that. You and I have to decide to quit sinning,
it's that simple. But it isn't simple when you start trying and there's the big
problem because we now have the sinful nature to work against and normally we
choose to do those things that we like to do, it's easy to follow the instincts
of our nature, it's difficult to go contrary to them so God has designed a plan
whereby He can change that nature, bring it back, restore it to the sinlessness
of Adam before his transgression and to the sinless nature of Christ and that's
what this is all about.
just glance through the four verses and then we will deal with them a little
more in detail. Peter starts out by introducing himself as a servant and some
feel that that word servant could have been translated slave. Slaves were
totally committed to their masters, they had no freedom to choose on their own.
Now, if Peter was a slave he was not a slave by compulsion but he was a slave
because he chose to be. He was totally captivated by his Lord and he became his
servant and the Lord gave him a special commission. An apostle, one whom is
sent to perform a special work for God. 1 "To those who have obtained to
like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and savior Jesus
Christ." To whom is he writing this? To those who have obtained to like
precious faith. Now he is not writing this to unbelievers he is writing this to
believers, see? 2 "Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the
knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord." Now he is saying here that the
knowledge of God ought to be multiplied it ought to be expanded, and I am going
to read something about that in a moment. 3 "According as his divine power
hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the
knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:" And that word
'by' could be translated 'to', He called us 'to' glory and virtue. His divine
power has given us all things that pertain to life and Godliness, now if we are
to be turned to a life of Godliness there is power available to do it. I'm
going to read that to you. 4 "Whereby are given unto us exceeding great
and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine
nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust."
We partake of the divine nature. What is that divine nature? What is the nature
of divinity? Did you pick that up yet?
man) His own character.
What is his character?
man) Self-sacrificing love.
Self-sacrificing love. The cross of Calvary, He came here to die on that cross
and one of the purposes was to reveal that the law of life for earth and heaven
is self-sacrificing, self-denying love. The Desire of Ages, page 20.
That is the divine nature and if we are to partake of the divine nature we are
to partake of the same basic quality characteristics of God, which is
self-sacrificing love. That is the essence, I'm going to read to you, that is
the power that is the glory He wants us to reveal and escape the corruption
that is in the world.
didn't get this too well organized and I apologize for that.
know what? The Bible and the Spirit of Prophesy are written in such a
manner that you can't get the whole picture in any one spot, it's here a little
and there a little and the texts and the statements interlock and overlap. In
one statement you'll find maybe two or three things referred to and in another
one there will be a tie-in with one or two ideas but then there will be other
ideas in there and so on. And when you get down to try to run a thread through
the whole thing it takes a lot of time and it's difficult and I didn't settle
on a particular way of moving through it so I'm looking to God to help us get
the thoughts that are in there.
to begin with the knowledge of God. And I am going to read a little today and I
hope you will forgive me for that but I think it's important that we understand
some of these things the way God has given them to us and NOT the way Wilf
Johnson tells them.
of Healing page 425,
it says, it is the knowledge of God that works transformation of character. Now
we said a moment ago that God wants to restore his Kingdom, He wants to restore
righteousness in his people, He wants to have the prefect character of himself
reflected in his people, his character is a character of self-renouncing love.
Now that is what He wants to develop in you and me, He wants us to reflect that
character perfectly. And it says here that it is the knowledge of God that works
the transformation of the character.
read another one from Christ's Object Lessonspage 114, It is a very,
very, specific one, "In His prayer to the Father, Christ gave to the world
a lesson which should be graven on mind and soul. "This is life eternal,"
He said, "that they might know Thee the only true God," All right, a
knowledge of God is important Jesus prayed for that for his disciples that they
might get to know God "And Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent." He
says they need to get to know Me, you see Christ was sent to reveal the Father
to us. He came down and cloaked himself in our garments and lived a life in our
midst demonstrating to us the way God would like us to live. Isn't that simple?
That's what He did. "This is true education" She says "It
imparts power," Our lesson talks about power in the promises. What is in
that power? Well a true knowledge of God imparts power, she says. Let us follow
it now. "The experimental knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ whom He has
sent, transforms man into the image of God." All right, the experimental
knowledge of God will transform us back into the image of our creator. So then,
what's this experimental knowledge let's keep that one in mind? "It gives
to man the mastery of himself," Have you had any trouble getting the
mastery sometimes? Well, here's the solution, part of it, an experimental
knowledge of God. How are you going to get to know what God's love is really
like? That's the issue see? How are you going to get to know? "Bringing
every impulse and passion of the lower nature under the control of the higher
powers of the mind." You want to be righteous, do you want to have
righteousness, do you want to have a nature that causes you to control those
impulses that are sinful? Do you want to have a nature in your heart that is
like God's? Then you need an experimental knowledge of God. That is what this
is saying. Listen. "It makes its possessor a son of God and an heir of
heaven. It brings him into communion with the mind of the Infinite, and opens
to him the rich treasures of the universe." Now get this next piece, it's
the same quote, "This is the knowledge which is obtained by searching the
word of God. And this treasure may be found by every soul who will give all to
obtain it." What do you see when you search the scriptures, and
incidentally, the Word of God? Remember what it says in the first chapter of John?
Verse 14 "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld
his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and
truth." Jesus was called 'The Word', He is the personal Word and when you
study in the book to gain an experimental knowledge of God you are going to be
studying about Jesus, you are going to discover what there is about him that is
divine, that is powerful, that is righteous, The Word. Jesus gave a lesson to
his disciples that is a little difficult for some of us to grasp in the very
last ceremony that He performed with his disciples. He taught them that they
must eat his flesh and drink his blood. And sometime prior to that in John
chapter 6 He gave a little discourse and said, except you eat my flesh and
drink my blood you don't have any life in you. But if you eat my flesh and
drink my blood you have eternal life and I'll raise you up at the last day. Now
what is that flesh? Do we have to be cannibals? Not in the literal sense, no.
He's talking about his divine nature, that's what He is talking about. In his
divine nature the Word of God is his flesh. It explains that. And the blood represents
the Spirit of life and the blood circulating through the body gives life to the
cells. Now do you know what the blood represents? The Spirit? Why surely. The
Word she says, you can read the Bible and get very little or nothing out of it
without the influence of the Spirit of God, the Word of God in the Bible is
dead so to speak, it's the Spirit of God that gives life to the Word.
have statements for all these things and I was hoping to read them today but I
get talking and then I don't get time to read them all and maybe it's better
that way. You don't like to hear too much being read but I wish that you knew
and understood all that has been said about this it's fantastic what is in
those books about these things that we are studying about. May I go ahead and
read a few of them?
Desire of Ages page
389, "It is by beholding His love, by dwelling upon it, by drinking it in,
that we are to become partakers of His nature." Now Peter talks about
partaking of the divine nature. How do you partake of the divine nature? By
beholding his love and dwelling upon it and drinking it in that we are to
become partakers of his nature. Where do you find that love revealed, in the
book, on the cross. How do you get a taste of it? God permits you to share in his
experience. He has made available for you a more abundant outpouring of his
"But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass" That is a
mirror. "The glory of the Lord, are changed unto the same image from glory
to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord."
watch this one, The Desire of Ages page
417, "As our lifeblood," Circulates through the body, nourishes the
cells, causes the mind to function, gives it power. "As our lifeblood, so
is the love of Christ" Now she is comparing our blood circulation to the
Love of Christ. Got that? "So is the love of Christ diffused through every
part of His mystical body." In other words if you become a part of the
mystical body of Christ and the Bible says that you are the body of Christ,
members in particular and that He is the head, the love of God will become
diffused into your spiritual nature and you will partake of the love of Christ.
Do you know what that love is? I'm going to read it.
is from The Review and Herald Nov. 19, 1908, "The Holy Spirit is
the breath of spiritual life in the soul." In other words as God breathed
into Adam's nostrils the breath of life and he became a physical living soul,
even so the Holy Spirit is the breath of spiritual life and when God breathes
that Spirit upon us we became a spiritual living soul. Have you got the
comparison? Let me read on. "The impartation of the Spirit is the
impartation of the life of Christ." There you have it. You breathe into
his nostrils the breath of life and man becomes a living soul. The Holy Spirit,
the spiritual life, the love of God is breathed into your spiritual nature,
your spiritual soul and you are born again you have a spiritual nature, born of
the Spirit. As that Spirit is imparted to you the very life of God is imparted
to you. Listen; is that not partaking of the divine nature? Let me read on.
"It imbues the receiver with the attributes of Christ." Well, do you
want Christ's attributes? You need that Spirit. "The believer
becomes." Now here it is. "The believer becomes a partaker of the
divine nature." So to become a partaker of the divine nature you must
receive the Spirit of God. Now in other places it speaks of partaking of
Christ. You must have Christ in the heart, Christ must come to you. Well,
Christ identifies himself with that Spirit. In John chapter 14 where it
talks about your love, if you love me, He says, keep my commandments and then
I'm going to pray the Father and He's going to send you another comforter which
is the Holy Spirit. He says I'm not going to leave you comfortless I am going
to come to you. So He identifies himself as coming to you in the form of the
Spirit. She says specifically it is by his Spirit that Christ dwells in you.
Have we got that straight?
here is another one, The Desire of Ages
page 827, "All who consecrate soul, body, and spirit to God will be
constantly receiving a new endowment of physical and mental power." Do you
want a new endowment of physical power? Oh, we all want that don't we? Do you
want a new endowment of Spiritual power? Well, here's the key. "Consecrate
soul, body, and spirit to God." Now, can you consecrate all of those
things to God and still continue to indulge your own feelings when they go
contrary to God? You can't do that, I've read to you before statements that
tell us very plainly that it's the latter rain, the final outpouring of that
Spirit, when God is going to put it out full blast, the totality of his Spirit
is going to be poured out on his people. That Spirit is the one that gives the
crown of righteousness to his people. He comes by his Spirit to give us that
crown of righteousness, that topping, you know, the final summit of
righteousness. That Spirit comes to give us that but that Spirit cannot come to
us, she tells us, until we decide to cleanse our own soul temple of every
defilement. I've read those statements to you before so I won't take time to
read them again. We are waiting for that latter rain to come to restore us to
the image of God to fulfill the Everlasting Covenant, the New Covenant in which
we will have a new heart, a heart like his so we will love to do the right
things. Oh, I've said so many times you'll be getting tired of listening to me.
But Brother and Sister the reason you're sitting here today is because we
haven't paid attention to what I'm telling you. I shouldn't say it that way
because it sounds like I'm doing it. You know what I mean don't you? God has
been trying to tell us this for a long time. And you know many of our people
are getting further and further away from it. They don't even believe God can
make us holy anymore. It's impossible to become perfect. I had somebody tell me
that just this past week. A good Adventist, it's sad. It's sad. The reason
we're still here is because we have not yet, Sister Cooper, you could quote me
that statement I'm sure, we have not yet reflected the image of Jesus'
character perfectly. And until we do He cannot come because He has to have a
demonstration in which his people show that they are totally safe from sin and
can stand without a mediator before a Holy God. He has to have that in order to
silence the Devils accusations when the Devil said they can't keep your law,
it's unfair. Don't you see that? I'm sorry for repeating it.
man) We are a lot further away from the Holy Spirit than Sister White and the
people of her time.
In some ways, I think you are saying the truth, that's right. We have a long
ways to go.
listen to this though, We'll receive that new endowment. "The
inexhaustible supplies of heaven are at their command." Did you realize
that you can command the inexhaustible supplies of Heaven? How do you do it?
We've prayed for the latter rain, Oh many, many, times, I've been to scores of
prayer meetings for the latter rain. Why hasn't it come? Well, I've given you
the key, I've read you the statements before, I could read you them again,
there are several of them. You and I are not using the power that God has
already given us to make a decision that stops sinning. Oh, well you say we
can't do it. All right then do what you can. You don't expect your child to do
more than he is equipped to do, do you, nor does God He takes you at the point
you are? And if you put your effort forth He will come through with his power
and enable you to go on to the next step, it's a progress, next week we'll talk
about that. It's a process but we are not doing it. We say, it can't be done so
there is no use trying. We wait until God changes the heart He promises He's
going to give us a new heart so we pray for it and it doesn't come because we
are not cooperating. She says God does nothing for us without our cooperation.
That's a powerful statement, nothing without our cooperation. After all it's
our decision to sin it's got to be our decision that quits. And while we can't
change the heart we'll always have the urge to sin. We can refuse to do it; it
takes effort, that's where character comes in. That's why God doesn't always
remove those impulses when you pray for removal. Sometimes He does, there have
been occasions where He has taken away the impulse to smoke tobacco just like
that and there has never been another temptation for that individual. Well on
that point of course that individual can't build any character any more because
he's got nothing to work against, you don't build character without exercise,
you see character is a muscle building process. So God permits us to continue
to meet up with those temptations to give us a chance to exercise our will and
strengthen it. But He will never let us to be tempted above what we are able to
bear but He will make a way of escape. And the way of escape of course is his
great mercy and forgiveness, his grace, you confess your sin and you're
forgiven. You don't kick that little fellow out of your family just because he
flunks another time do you? You don't get your membership in the family by
being good, you are born into the family, that's the way it is with God. He
accepts the consequences of your sinning and He suffers continually as you
continue to sin. Don't forget that, that ought to be a motivating influence in
your life. You crucify to yourself the Son of God afresh.
right I'm reading again, continuing; "Christ gives them the breath of His
own spirit," Are we on common ground here? You know you breathe the
breathe of life, the Spirit of Life. He gives them the breathe of his own
Spirit. "The life of His own life." The life of Christ He had by
virtue of the life of his Spirit. He told us that the Father had given him life
in himself, didn't He? Even as the Father has life in himself He gives it to
the Son. The Father gave the Son life in himself. That
Spirit that gave him divinity, that made him God, was in the Son.
That's the life of his life, now this says, He gives us that life. Do you
realize what that means? That's what it means to have Christ in you. You
partake of the flesh and blood of the Son of God. I wish we could grasp it.
Christ made an eternal sacrifice on that cross. He died the eternal death of
the sinner from which there is no hope of a resurrection. The life that was his
he gives to you. She says it in plain English, the Holy Spirit, she ties it in,
she's talking about the Holy Spirit. "The Holy Spirit puts forth its
highest energies to work in heart and mind. The grace of God enlarges and
multiplies their faculties, and every perfection of the divine nature comes to
their assistance in the work of saving souls. Through co-operation with Christ
they are complete in Him, and in their human weakness they are enabled to do
the deeds of Omnipotence." I don't know what could be more powerful.
Here's another one in, The Desire of Ages page 386, I'll just
read a little bit because our time is moving on and there are some others I
would like to read. This one says, "The life-giving Spirit, flowing from
the infinite fullness of God, is the true manna." So if you are going to
partake of that true bread that came down from heaven and He said, "I am
that true bread which came down from heaven. I'm the true manna, eat my
flesh". That's what He said in John chapter 6. The life giving
Spirit flowing from the infinite fullness of God is the true manna. So then to
partake of that you must partake of the Spirit of God. Well, how do you partake
of the Spirit of God? You can't grasp it on your own it has to be given but in
another place she says you have to grasp, God offers but you take, God doesn't
force. And unless you are willing to cooperate by fulfilling the conditions you
don't get it. Now the original Spirit that stirred up your heart, that pricked
your conscience, that caused you to come to Jesus for cleansing and
forgiveness, that Spirit is the former rain experience of the Spirit. I'm
talking here of the latter rain experience. The former rain God sends it out,
He searches like for the lost sheep. You don't obey to get the former rain; He
gives you the former rain trying to draw you in. But unless you respond to the
former rain you don't get the latter rain. That's it.
the Spirit of God, let me read a little bit
about the Spirit of God. Get this one. It's from Thoughts from the Mount of
Blessing page 55. "If they would open their hearts fully to receive
Christ," Now your heart is the way you feel. Open up your heart to receive
Christ fully. "Then the very life of God, His love," What is the life
of God? His love. Love is a power it is the most powerful force in all the
universe, it really is. Love, in your brain it actually exhibits itself as
energy that can cause your mind to function, it is the basic emotion. It has
many tributaries but it is the basic power. That "Love would dwell in
them," Now listen to what the life of God, which is his love, would do.
"Transforming them into His own likeness; and thus through God's free gift
they would possess the righteousness which the law requires." All right,
there are two phases of righteousness, imputed and imparted. Imputed
righteousness is that which is counted in your favor because of what Christ did
for you. The perfect righteousness of Christ is accepted by God as a guarantee
for you and He accepts you as though you have never sinned and He loves you as
he loves his own dear son. That's what she says. That's how you get eternal
life. But the transforming of the heart involves your decision; your heart
cannot be transformed without your decision to obey God. He gives his Spirit,
the Bible says, to those who obey him. And the Spirit comes to give you the
life of Christ. The Bible says that the love of God is shed abroad in the heart
by the Holy Ghost, which is given to us. That's what it says, Romans 5:5
I think it is. All right, how are you going to get the Holy Ghost to be shed
abroad in the heart so you can have the love of God? How do you get the Holy
Spirit that will shed that love?
in the audience) Ask him for it. What else?
Well, you missed my point.
in the audience) Start to obey.
Start to obey. He gives his Spirit to those who obey him. We miss these points
sometimes don't we? It's the love of God that cleanses the soul temple; you'll
find that in Acts of the Apostles 23. "He rejoiced in the
consciousness that He could and would do more for His followers than He had
promised; that from Him would flow forth love and compassion, cleansing the soul
temple, and making men like Him in character; that His truth, armed with the
power of the Spirit, would go forth conquering and to conquer." It is by
beholding his love that we become partakers of the divine nature, I've read you
I've got another one over here that I don't want to miss before that bell goes
Desire of Ages page
388. "It is through the Spirit that Christ dwells in us; and the Spirit of
God, received into the heart by faith, is the beginning of life eternal."
So you have life eternal beginning if you have received him into the heart.
to this one, Review and Herald May 19, 1904 "In the gift of the
Spirit, Jesus gave to man the highest good that heaven could bestow. The
Saviour looked on humanity, and saw that it was under the power of the prince
of darkness; but he saw also that there was hope for human beings because there
was power in the divine nature successfully to contend with evil
agencies." Isn't that what Peter was saying here? "That by these
great and precious promises we may become partakers of the divine nature having
escaped the corruption that is in the world." He's right on target there.
to this one, this is The Desire of Ages 671, this is a fairly long one.
Don't get tired; try to keep your attention on it. "In describing to His
disciples the office", and, "Work of the Holy Spirit, Jesus sought to
inspire them with the joy and hope that inspired His own heart. He rejoiced
because of the abundant help He had provided for His church." You see it
was through his death that He gave his life to make it available to you and his
Spirit of his eternal life was the Holy Spirit. Now I've got statements to
prove that too. He relinquished that life, He shed that lifeblood back to the
Father and that's why He prays the Father to send that spirit to you and me,
see? Because He relinquished it to make it available for you and me. And the
Father agreed by the terms of his last will and testament to give it to you and
me. But He hesitates and He can't give you the fullness until you show signs of
obedience. "The Holy Spirit was the highest of all gifts that He could
solicit from His Father for the exaltation of His people. The Spirit was to be
given as a regenerating agent, and without this the sacrifice of Christ would
have been of no avail." He "Would come with no modified energy, but
in the fullness of divine power. It is the Spirit that makes effectual what has
been wrought out by the world's Redeemer. 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 His church."
you are inspired to dig into the great treasure that we have in this Bible and
in the books that help us to understand.
God bless you.