INTO A DENOMINATION
RELIGIOUS WOLVES IN SHEEP'S CLOTHING
Maurice M Johnson
Los Angeles, California
May 30, 1965
... I'd just love to hear John Wesley in the auditorium of USC speak like he did when he was establishing his deserved reputation as a comparative giant. He didn't declare all the truth, I don't know why, but what he did, what characterized ...
I remember years ago, I was speaking, making some commendatory remark like I did earlier this morning about Martin Luther and John Calvin and John Huss and George Whitfield and Charles Wesley, and either Buman Price (and I'm not speaking against them at all), either Buman Price or Adair Grove came at the close and said, "I don't understand how you can refer to those men as men of God when you know that they were sectarian ". I remember very clearly what I gave, cause I've thought of it many times since, maybe some times before, but I've thought of it many times. I said, "I think you fail to see what I was thinking of, and what I want to help you to see, and don't want to forget, that that which moved Martin Luther out of Roman Catholicism wasn't the little segments of Romanism that he brought out with him." He came out of Roman Catholicism, apparently, from all I can read from him or have read, he came from Roman Catholicism objecting to the Roman Catholic doctrine of justification by works. He said, "The Word of God teaches justification by faith; believe in the finished work of Christ." And he investigated apparently with ... with real care, real humility, and he was fired and thrilled with the truth of salvation by faith in Jesus Christ.
But apparently he had never, and so far as I know to his death, he never with equal honesty and godly severity examined the Lutheran doctrine about baptism and about the bread and grape juice. Because he brought out the very essence of Romanism in what he taught and what the Lutherans today teach, and it's gotten worse and worse and worse, so much so that Lutherans today, the biggest ones, the leadership, is talking about going back to mama Rome, see.
Martin Luther brought out ... as someone has well said, "You can take a boy out of the country, but you can't get the country out of the boy." I think of that every once in awhile when I see Jack Potter, he used to live over in Texas, you know. Been living in the city for a long time, but I see a little bit of country in him. But anyway... Martin Luther was taken out of Romanism, but not all of Romanism came out of Martin Luther. And a little leaven does what, if it's allowed to remain? Leaven the whole lump. A little leaven leavens the whole lump.
"But what was it that characterized?" I said to Buman and ... Adair, I said, "I'm thinking primarily and want you to think of what characterized Martin Luther. Was it that little essence of what I'm sure was Romanism, that stayed over? That didn't make him hated by the pope. That didn't make him hated by the Roman Catholic Caesars of those, of that day. That didn't make him the giant that he was comparatively. It was the truth that Rome had buried and was denying. That's. what fired his way.
And with John Wesley, John Wesley. I have some of John Wesley's writings, I used to be a Methodist. John Wesley, when he got on the subject of baptism, when he got on the subject in correspondence on baptism, he taught unreservedly the Anglican; he was an Anglican to his death. Stayed in the Anglican Church, record. And John Wesley, when he was on the subject of water baptism, taught precisely what he was taught in Oxford University and among the other Anglican theological schools and so forth. He taught that a baby must be sprinkled with water that's been set aside by a duly ordained preacher whose been set aside by da-da-da-da-da-da-da by Rome, and so forth. He taught salvation by water never in his public ministry.
I've got sermons, books of sermons by Wesley out in the fields when he was not allowed to preach in the Anglican buildings anymore. And one time he was preaching in the open air not far from a beautiful Anglican building you know, cathedral. And the Bishop in that area, Anglican Bishop, came out and ordered him to leave.
He said, "You, this is not your Bishop, your parish." And it was then that he said what I have heard often from the Methodists, but I never heard a Methodist preacher or educator give the origin of his statement, "The world is my parish". They give it you know to encourage world missions and build new church buildings. But John Wesley said it when the Anglican Bishop said, "You can't preach here, this is not your parish. And we don't like you're preaching." And he said, "The world is my parish!" And he went around preaching in the open air.
Well what did he preach that made him John Wesley, made him John Wesley the beloved and the murderously hated man? It wasn't the essence of Anglicanism about the water baptism, and the bread and grape juice that he did bring out, it was ... it was his foaming fire with the fact that Christianity is a new life. He, speaking on the text in a church building, Anglican building, when he was still allowed to be, speaking on the text, "broad is the gate and wide is the way that leadeth to destruction and many there be that go in there at, but straight is the gate and narrow is the way that leadeth to life everlasting and few there be that go in there," he said, "mark this, if there are many that agree with you, you're on your way to hell." And down the line he went that the way out of Adam and to glory was through Christ is now. And he said, in his journal he said, "I sought by the help of God to enforce these words from our Savior. Therefore I was not surprised to be told out the close I'm not to speak here anymore."
Now that was a ? of John Wesley. He hadn't spoken there on water baptism. When he got on that, hah, they'd say, "Well he's a good son. He's a good son of the Anglican Church." But that never moved his soul, that never fired him to get out in the field. So I was saying to Buman or Adair, one or both of them, "What was it that characterized John Wesley?" Don't you see? What characterized John Wesley?
Now, we should think of that with each other. Say, "Well I saw Maurice Johnson do so-and-so." Well he won't deny that he slips on the devil's banana peel every once in awhile. And when he's aware of it, sooner or later, he's ashamed, and confesses to God sooner or later. Is he characterized by just skipping out for the devil's banana peel? Is he characterized? Is that really descriptive? Well I want to take the same attitude toward you. What is characteristic of this brother in Christ, this sister? If we know each other very well, day by day, we'll ... we'll find weaknesses. Even with the poor sights as. we have, we'll find weaknesses. We should be prayerful of course. But now say with that weakness, "Well you know what he did?" "Yes, I saw that." "What do you [think] of that?" "Well, it wasn't characteristic of him. I think it's exceptional, not characteristic." Don't you like to be able to say that truthfully about somebody that you find a weakness in or hear there's a weakness, inconsistency, but isn't characteristic?
I've gotten many letters and heard, otherwise heard from radio audience, some directly, some indirectly, "Well, Maurice Johnson criticizing so-and-so, I suppose he's perfect. " I'm quite. sure that you were to go to ask Dr Talbot and now Dr Billy Graham, go and ask if they were perfect, they would be quick to say, "I'm not perfect". But Maurice Johnson, he's supposed to be perfect. Well in Christ I am, but as to my walk ... Now here's the distinction that I'm thinking about. You come to me and face me, calling attention to something in my life that you're sure is weak and not spiritual therefore. Now see if I contend for my privilege to go on that way, and memorialize and monumentalize those weaknesses. It not only admits weaknesses, that they're not perfect, like this Lutheran preacher, abut he memorializes his differences. He denominates, he names his difference apart and makes it a religious institution. Don't you see? That's diabolical, heady, high-minded. Instead of bemoaning, "Yes, I'm weak at times, I'm ashamed. You pray for me, help me. I don't want to be weak. And I don't want to ? "like the difference between husband and wife separating because one or the other or both of them got carnal. I'm talking about Christians now you say. Can apply to other in a sense. They separate.
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