John Bradshaw - Addictions, Atonement and the Assurance of Salvation
John Bradshaw: From the George Vanderman Studio at It Is Written, this is "Line Upon Line". I'm John Bradshaw. With me is Eric Flickinger. We have the privilege and the responsibility of answering your Bible questions. Remember, submit your Bible questions by emailing us at [email protected] [email protected] Eric, thanks very much for being here.
Eric Flickinger: Great to be here, John.
John Bradshaw: I look forward to these programs. I enjoy these programs and it's great to share the Bible, share some encouragement and help people to dig into the word of God. And really ultimately we're wanting people to find answers for themselves.
Eric Flickinger: And what makes this so much fun, so enjoyable, are the questions that we receive. It's such a variety.
John Bradshaw: We've got a variety today.
Eric Flickinger: Okay, here, the first one is from Jeffrey. How can I quit an unhealthy addiction? I've tried over and over and keep falling back into it. Please help.
John Bradshaw: Well, here, here's the short answer, Jeffrey. The short answer Jeffrey, is to give it to Jesus. Now that sounds almost a little bit trite and a little bit simple.
Eric Flickinger: Sure.
John Bradshaw: But that's the answer.
Eric Flickinger: Yeah.
John Bradshaw: There's no better answer than to give it to Jesus. Now, here are a couple of verses that may be helpful to you. First Corinthians 10:13, Jesus tells us, Paul tells us, Jesus tells us through Paul, that with every temptation, there is a way of escape. So you're not going to have something that you face that you're not gonna be able to get away from out from under, over, around or through.
— It's really important when it comes to addiction to remember that no addiction is stronger than Jesus. Lots and lots of addictions are stronger than you. But the key to successful Christian living is Christ in you. The hope of glory. Jesus said, without me, you can do nothing. Paul wrote, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. So let's just forget for a moment that you're experiencing constant defeat. And remember always greater is he, that is in you, than he that is in the world. So we've nailed this down. We believe it. There's no addiction, too powerful for the power of God. We gotta know that. Where do we go next?
— Jude, verse 24. Now unto him, who is able to keep you from falling.
— That sounds like it's kind of a continual process. You're gonna be tempted by a lot of different things. Some things will be a big temptation to you. Other things, not so much, but regardless of what the temptation is, it may be an enormous temptation. God can keep you from falling, because he's stronger than the devil. Grab a hold of that.
— Now it's possible to pray and have faith in God and never smoke again. Never drink again. Never look at pornography again. Never.
— Gossip again.
— Never gossip again. Never use illegal drugs. Again, all of that's possible. However, for many, many people it's not workable, because addictions become very powerful. So this is where we would encourage you to get some help, talk to a professional, get some counseling, become part of a 12 step group. Something like alcoholics anonymous or narcotics anonymous or gamblers anonymous. These kinds of groups are really helpful. They set you up with a support system and they give you those day to day practical tools. So, you know, I'm hearing somebody say, what do you mean? Is Jesus not enough? No, Jesus is enough, but often it's you that's not enough, because you're in that place in your relationship where you aren't able to access Jesus and use all the spiritual tools at your disposal, because perhaps there are some things you had to learn. So, oh, and you might be using the spiritual tools, but still you've got some social tools and some lifestyle skills and some practical tools that you need. If you've never been addicted, you can't really experience or appreciate how absolutely devastating it is. Once you get addicted to a drug, to alcohol, man, it could be coffee. I don't know people are addicted. So we're gonna remember that God can and that God will. We are gonna remember that you might want to get some help. That's very, very important. Talk to trusted people, get in touch with professionals maybe, or a support group. And then you're gonna remember this, God loves you, God forgives you, God is gonna grow you. Don't look at the mountain, just look at taking the next step and the next step and the next step, learn to lean on God. And you are gonna have a great testimony. When God gets you through this, you'll be absolutely convinced that God can get you through anything.
— That's right. Another question here, John. This one comes from Antonio and Antonio says, what does the Bible teach about speaking in tongues? You know, there's a lot of different things that are taught in Christianity about speaking in tongues. In fact, in some particular churches, it's a really big deal. In fact, in some churches, they tell you, if you don't speak in tongues, you're not gonna make it into the kingdom.
— So what does the Bible teach about speaking in tongues? What is it and what is it not?
— Well I would say this to begin with, and maybe I'm saying this for effect. What does the Bible speak about? What does the Bible teach about speaking in tongues? Not much.
— I mean, if you line up all the verses, not a lot. So some people, I think place a disproportionate importance on this subject. Nevertheless, it is important. Not trying to downplay it, but we're just trying to tell you that when it comes to the sheer weight of verses not a whole lot, but let's look. Second chapter of Acts, verse one. When the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly they came a sound from heaven as of a rushing, mighty wind. And it filled all the house where they were sitting and there appeared under them, cloven tongues, like as a fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost and began to speak with other tongues as the spirit gave them utterance. So now we've gotta define what was going on. Let's read on. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men out of every nation under heaven, because they'd come from near and far, they'd come to the feast, you know? And when this was noised abroad, which is just a beautiful phrase, the multitude came together and were confounded, because every man heard them speak in his own language. They said, whoa, this is amazing. And we are, and then they name all these different people, groups, various points of the compass. They come together and they were hearing these guys speak their language. So the gift of tongues, the biblical model first use the gift of tongues was speaking other languages for the purpose of communicating the gospel. That's important.
— And that's really what all of the gifts of the spirit are for. They're for the purpose of communicating the gospel to other people. So whether you happen to have the gift of tongues or one of the other gifts, God wants you to use that for the spread of the gospel. Now, does everybody receive the gift of tongues today? Well, no, because not everybody needs the miraculous, the God given ability to speak another person's language. God may give you a different gift. And it's up to the Holy Spirit who gets which gifts. If the Holy Spirit decides you need something else, maybe you get the gift of hospitality or something like that.
— Who wants that?
— Oh, well I'd like to go over to lunch at somebody's house who has that.
— Yeah, but people in church today, they make the mistake of building up the spectacular gifts, unless it's healing or tongues or prophecy and hardly any interest in it. They're all as important as each other. And all as valid as each other. The gift of hospitality, you never did hear someone bragging on the person in their church. Oh, we got a Deacon in our church. He has the gift of helps. Did you ever hear that?
— No, no one wants to hear about that. They want these spectacular gifts.
— But what would a church be if nobody was hospitable?
— And nobody helped.
— I'm sure there's a gift of cooking in there somewhere. Or at least there oughta be.
— There oughta to be.
— That's what'll make your church popular right there, but there's so many different gifts. And this is just one of them.
— First Corinthians chapter 14, along with chapter 12, speaks about the gift of tongues as well, which isn't surprising. Corinth was a busy Seaport. There were people there from all parts of the world, and this might be a place where people would speak in tongues for the purpose of imparting the message of the gospel, the people who spoke languages, that they didn't. Second verse of first Corinthians chapter 14. He that speaks in a tongue. A language speaks not to men, but to God, no one understands him. How be it in the spirit he speaks mysteries. And I want to get down a little bit further. I wish you all spoke with tongues, verse five, but rather that you prophesy. He, that prophesies is greater than he that speaks with tongues, except he interpret so that the church may be edified. When the gift of tongues is in existence or an operation, there needs to be the gift of interpreting as well. So that if you happen to speak Swahili to the four Kenyans who visited your church and don't speak your language, the rest of us can know what you're saying, because the interpreter will interpret to us.
— So Paul talks about the importance of making sure that there's not confusion. You know, a lot of what's practiced today as speaking in tongues, a not biblically based version is, I'm gonna say this very carefully, but unintelligible, well, in some cases, babble, but that's not what the gospel is all about. Paul wants things. And of course he wants what God wants. Everything to be done decently and in order for the purpose of the spread of the gospel.
— I'm gonna read verses that, speak to what you just said. First Corinthians 14:26. And by the way, someone saying, what about all those other verses? I mean, there are several other verses we could look at, but for time's sake, we're gonna shrink this down. And I hope you understand. You can always double back, double back around and look at first Corinthians 12 and 14. It's very clear. I trust you that if you read it, it'll be very clear. Look at this in verse 26, first Corinthians 14. How is it then brethren that when you come together, every one of you has a Psalm, a doctrine, a tongue, a revelation and interpretation. Let all things be done to edifying. If any man speaking an unknown tongue in a tongue, the word unknown is supplied in my version of the Bible. Let it be by two or at the most by three. And that by course means one at a time. And let one interpret. If there's no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church and let him speak to himself and to God. Challenge with speaking in tongues is when many people do it, something's really happening. And so people say it has to be from God, okay. But from God, it's in a known language. There'll be an interpreter. It will be for the glory of God. So what is it that that's not happening? I'll leave you to figure that out or determine that. But that's the biblical model. That's what it was in Act chapter two. And that's what God intended it to be. Good question.
— It's a good question. Okay. I wonder if we have time for this? I think we do. Here's Joseph. How can I be as close to God as the angels?
— Well, it's kind of a double edged sword. Can you be as close to God as the angels? Well, depends on which angels, I suppose. You know the angels in heaven. No, you're not gonna be as close to God as the angels in heaven. They're in heaven and you're not, but can you still be very close to God? Absolutely you can. How? By faith. We accept Jesus as our savior and we come close to God. The good news is one day in the not too terribly distant future. We are indeed going to get to see God face to face. Not today, but in the very near future, we can see God face to face. That's the day to look forward to. And between now and then when we read God's word, when we get to know Jesus, we commune with him in prayer, that's getting us pretty close.
John Bradshaw: Absolutely. You don't need to worry about being as close to God as the angels are. Just be as close to God As you can be. Surrender your heart to God, live a life of faith. One day soon, very soon, you're gonna be in the very presence of God as close as the angels are. So hang in there with Jesus, grow, have faith, love him, trust him, and accept that he has accepted you. Start living heaven while you're here on the earth. And look forward to the return of Jesus. When together we are gonna go up and gravity won't hold us down. We'll have more questions in a moment. Remember get them to us [email protected] More "Line Upon Line" in a moment brought to you by It Is Written.
John Bradshaw: Welcome back to "Line Upon Line" brought to you by It Is Written. Thank you again for your questions. We rely on these questions for you to have an interesting program. So thank you for giving us some really interesting questions.
— And here's an example, a case in point. It's a very interesting question. I think it's from Angelyn. And Angelyn says, who is the angel in revelation 10 who had, or has the little book? Revelation, chapter 10. There's an angel with a little book. Eric, who is?
— I just think it's great that Angelyn asks the question who is the Angel in revelation chapter 10.
— That's fantastic.
— Thank you, Angelyn. Let's take a look at Revelation chapter 10 and see if we can find out who this angel is. Revelation 10 verse one says I saw still another mighty angel coming down from heaven, clothed with a cloud and a rainbow was on his head. His face was like the sun and his feet like pillars of fire. He had a little book open in his hand and he set his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land and cried with a loud voice as when a lion roars, when he cried out seven thunders uttered their voices. When you go to the book of revelation, there are lots of angels, all kinds of angels. So who is this one? This angel is different from about all the other angels that you're gonna find. Why? Well, you look at some of the characteristics. It says has a rainbow on his head, his face like the sun, his feet, like pillars of fire. When you take a look at these characteristics, what you're going to find, and I'm gonna, I'm gonna carefully say this. So as not to be misunderstood. You're going to find that the characteristics of this angel mirror many of the characteristics that you find used to describe Christ. Now, first of all, here, what I am not saying, I am not saying that Jesus is a created being, an angel, but the word angel itself, what does the word angel mean?
— Well, it means messenger really in the Bible. In the book of Revelation that angel signifies or symbolizes a messenger.
— So when you think about the greatest messengers that have ever come to earth, that have ever come to mankind with a message, Jesus is the biggest messenger that there ever has been. So let's take a look at a few of the descriptive characteristics of this angel. It's very similar to how John saw, what John saw in the Revelation and reported in Revelation 1:13 through 16. Clouds accompany Jesus, as he's represented in acts one verse nine, first Thessalonians 4:17, Revelation 1:7 and 14:14. Also in Matthew 17:5 and Matthew 24:30. The rainbow around this Messenger's head as much as you would see in the book of Ezekiel, Ezekiel, 1:28, and also Revelation chapter four and verse number three, Revelation 1:16 it says that Jesus countenance was like the sun shining in its strength. And it also says that his feet are like burnished bronze in Ezekiel 1:7, fine brass in Revelation 1:15. What we're looking at here is a picture of Jesus. He's depicted as an angel. He is a messenger, a great messenger to humanity, not a created being, but it's one of the many ways that Jesus is pictured in the Bible.
— Yeah, amen. I'm very, very comfortable with that, as a matter of fact. You know, somebody's gonna say, well, I don't know why Eric just said, Jesus is a created being. Because that's sometimes the sort of lens you listen through.
— I don't know if you listen through a lens, but you get my point. But you've made it very, very clear. Jesus isn't a created being, but is depicted in this way for the purpose of getting a message across.
— Jesus is not a door.
— That's right.
— He is not a lamb.
— He is not a lion. He's not a vine. Nope. He's not any of those things, but they are used to depict Jesus to give us pictures of who he is, his character. Here he is depicted as an angel.
— Okay, here's a question from Andrew who asks when David is King, God tells him not to count the people in the kingdom, but David does it anyway. Because of this massive amount of people died. Did God just kill thousands of people for no reason? Why did he need to use so many innocent people to make a point to David? Oh yeah. What a story? David numbers Israel. Now God comes to me and he says, you can choose what's behind this door, this door or this door. And he says, I'm gonna trust the mercy of God.
— Now what you gotta remember here is that in the Bible story, it make makes a really clear point. The Bible account is what I wanna say. Second Samuel 24:1 says, again the anger of the Lord was aroused against Israel. So very clearly the people of Israel were not innocent. There was something about Israel as a people that had impressed upon God that this was a very serious situation. And when you get to the very Genesis of this thing, it says in the Bible, the anger of the Lord was aroused against Israel. And he moved David against him to say, go, number Israel and Judah. It says in first Chronicles 21:1. Now Satan stood up against Israel and moved David to number Israel. So what you had here is God permitting something. Satan being behind it. David was in his own imperfect way, following God. But Satan was tempting him. Always tempting him. I want you to trip. I want you to stumble. I want you to be something like a Moses who struck to the rock instead of speaking to the rock. God was, sorry, Satan was there trying to trip up David. And he succeeded. He lured David into temptation. It's a very important point, understand. Satan was behind this. God did not go ahead and kill a whole bunch of people. Satan did. This is Satan. That is God's judgment. God allowed a certain thing to happen, but you've gotta find that the devil was the architect of all of this.
— And he's very good. He knew how to lure David. So what, why the significance of numbering this people? Well, God had led David into many battles and many, many victories, but here, when he goes to count the army of Israel, number the army of Israel, it's almost as if he's saying, well, what can we do next?
— We've got a pretty good size army. What can we take on next? No longer is it about God and his ability to deliver and to bring victory. But it's about what can we do?
— And in allowing a number of the people to die, what God was doing was communicating to the people. This is bad. This was a lesson for all of Israel trust in God. Was it verse, some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we will remember the name of the Lord, our God. God was saying, hey, Israel, no, no, no. Don't trust in your numbers. Trust in me. Some of these stories are difficult. I tell you they're difficult. We're looking for a word and the meaning and a word here. We're looking for an angle there. In this thing called life. There's a loving God. And there's an angry, ugly, jealous devil who's seeking to take your life. That's just how he does it. And God, it's a little bit like when God allowed the serpents to get in there. And venom got into the people. They started to die. They realized, wow, we're in a mess here. We need to look to God. And the serpent they looked to was a symbol of them looking to the crucified Jesus. So here God needed Israel, his nation, wholesale to understand their strength was in God. And their strength was not in their strength.
— Yeah. It's encouraging to know that God wants us to trust him.
— He wants us to trust him. Here's another question, John.
— All right.
— This one comes from, well, David. Question is, if Christ died for us and paid it all on the cross, then why do we need constant repentance?
— Well, understand what Jesus did. When Jesus died, he didn't give you a license to sin. Jesus died to bear the penalty for your sins, to bear his, your sins in his body. Jesus paid it all. Sure he did. Absolutely he did, but you are living a life. And let's say, you're generally right with God. If you can be generally right with God, and then you fall into sin, what do you do? You want to re repent of that sin, be forgiven of that sin. Be cleansed of that sin and apologize to God. You want to get back into the right groove in your relationship with Jesus. It's a bit like the old radio station. If you turn the dial, suddenly it was all fuzzy and staticy and you couldn't quite make out what was being said or sung on the radio. You get the frequency tuned in right. Things are running right. You get outta frequency with God. Bring that back through repentance. Unfortunately, we tend to, some of us, look at the legal aspect of Christ's death and forgiveness and the price paid and all that, and separate out the experiential implications of that.
— The fact that Jesus has paid the price for your sins does not mean that now you don't need to go back and say, I'm sorry about what I did, or I would like to be right with you, or I'm getting out of sync with you. Would you please bring me back? Those things are all still important.
— Yeah, the truth is sin separates us from God.
— And the more we choose to sin or allow ourselves to be led in that direction, without putting up a fight, the further we get into sin, the further we are separated from God. And God wants us to be connected with him. Without God, there is no life. And so we need to reconnect ourselves with God through study of the Bible, through prayer, through repentance, through confession of our sins to him. That's how we get back connected with God.
— Prodigal son wandered off. He knew that as long as he was out there, he was miserable. He wanted to come back to be in his father's heart. And his father's love. It's like we do that with repentance. Eric, I think we have time for one last question. It's a question from Jay. And Jay's question says, I read my Bible, memorize scripture, witness when I can and pray to God to change me and provide me with his holy spirit yet. I feel exactly the same. So discouraged. Like I haven't changed at all. I'll shrink the question down. Every part of me is telling me I'm doing something wrong and to quit. We could take an entire "Line Upon Line" episode on this. Let's encourage Jay.
— All right. Jay, two words for you. Don't quit. We wanna make it three. Don't give up. Trust. What I hear you saying is I feel like this. I feel like that. I don't see this. I don't feel that. A walk with Christ is not about feeling. Yes, feelings are gonna be involved, but it's a walk not of feeling, but of faith. When you trust him that he's going to do what he's promised to do. When you trust him that if you confess your sins, he will in fact, he is faithful and just to forgive you your sins and cleanse you from unrighteousness. The good news is he actually means it. That's a promise from him. So don't lean so much on your feelings. Feelings fluctuate, feelings go up and down. Some days you're feeling great. Some days you're not feeling. I mean, assuming that you're human, like we are.
— Feelings are not how you wanna walk with Christ. You wanna walk by faith.
— So imagine you are in the ocean and you feel like, oh man, I'm gonna drown. I can't keep treading water. And someone throws you a rope and it's attached, let's say to a boat, you don't get both ends of the rope. You get one end of the rope. And you say, man, I'm having a hard time treading water. Well, the answer is brother, don't let go of the rope. Hang on the rope. That rope is Jesus. Let go of the rope, you're gonna sink all right. The fact that you haven't mastered the art of swimming long distances doesn't mean that you are to give up and drown. Hang on to Jesus. It seems like what you've discovered is that you're a human being. We have all sinned and come short of the glory of God. None of what I'm saying is to make light of sin or to minimize sin. It's serious. The wages of sin is death, not grand, but you are gonna hang on to Jesus and trust in him. When you accept him, you accept his righteousness and the gift of salvation. Hold on and grow. Thanks, Eric. Appreciate you being here.
— Great question from Jay.
— Yeah. And we want more questions from you. Send them to us [email protected] Next time we will try to answer more questions from the Bible. Great to have you with us. I'm John Bradshaw. He is Eric Flickinger. We'll be back again with more next time, "Line Upon Line", brought to you by It Is Written.