John Bradshaw - Free Will, Forgiveness and Philology
John Bradshaw: From the George Vandeman Studio at It Is Written, this is "Line Upon Line". I'm John Bradshaw. With me, Eric Flickinger. Eric, thank you for being here.
Eric Flickinger: Good to be here again.
John Bradshaw: This is where we get to answer Bible questions submitted by It Is Written viewers. And it's important at the outset that we mention how someone can get a question to us.
Eric Flickinger: If you would like to submit a question and have us answer it here on "Line Upon Line," it's very easy to do. Just go to [email protected] [email protected] We're looking forward to receiving your questions, because we get interesting ones. What kinda questions are we looking at today?
John Bradshaw: Well, today we're gonna talk about unclean animals, and we're gonna talk about murderers, and we have questions about the Tower of Babel, and a lot else besides, but let's begin with a question from Pat. And Pat asks, "Why did God let the devil tempt Eve when He must have already known what the outcome was going to be? Also", there's two questions, "if God knows all things, how can we be said to have free will when He knows exactly what's gonna happen"? Oh, that's a good one.
Eric Flickinger: All right, so why did God let the devil tempt Eve when He must have already known what the outcome was gonna be? Does God know the future?
John Bradshaw: Yes.
Eric Flickinger: Oh, absolutely, He does. He knows the end from the beginning. This is one of the big things that sets God apart from, well, anybody who isn't God. He knows the future without a doubt, with no errors, 100%, 100% of the time. So why did He allow, or why did He let the devil tempt Eve? This really comes back to the heart of what it is to be alive, to be a human being, to be who we are. Because when God created us, when He created human beings on the sixth day of creation, He created us with something special, and that is called a free will. We have the ability to either love Him or not love Him. Why did He create us to begin with? Because He wanted someone to love and He wanted someone to love Him. You can't have love without free will. If there's no free will, then it's just kinda like programming a computer, or, I've got a smartphone, you probably do too. I could record into that a little voice memo that says, "Eric, I love you". And I could play that over and over again and I would find out that someone loves me, and really, it's just me telling me I love myself all the time. Is that really love? No, it's not. It's a little weird, actually.
— I was gonna say those very words. I was gonna say it's a little weird, actually, But, you know, that's okay.
— Yep, so He created Adam and Eve, He gave them free will, but He let the devil tempt them.
— Now, I wanna jump in here. Pat, you asked, "Why did God allow this when He knew it was gonna happen"? Really good question, because what was going to happen? What was going to happen is that Jesus would come to the world and live and die as a man in order to redeem and ransom a fallen world, and there was no guarantee the mission would be successful, right? No guarantee. So God was the one who risked the most, and God was the one who gave the most, and God was the one who suffered the most. We tend to look at this very myopically and say, "Well, if God didn't allow the devil to tempt Eve, then I would never have back pain, or I'd never got cancer, or some such thing". Okay, that's okay. But God feels every pain, God bears, Jesus carried every sin to the cross, God feels it all, and God stood by while He watched wicked men nail His Son, Jesus, the pure, spotless Jesus to the cross, because He knew that it would be worth it to have Jesus die for your sins so that you might be saved. Jesus understood that, too. Isaiah 53 says He saw "of the travail of His soul" and was "satisfied". Imagine that, He was satisfied. He's like, "This is terrible, but if I do this, they are saved, they're redeemed, they're ransomed, so I'll go through it". Think of the alternative. God could've said, "Not gonna do that because I don't trust human beings," or "I'm not gonna let Lucifer do whatever it is he might do". No, God allowed the plan of salvation to play out, as bitter and as difficult as it is for God to witness sin and to feel that pain, He lets it play out, because when it's over, when it's over, sin will never exist again, Nahum wrote that, and we'll all say together that God is love. Look at this big picture, it's easier to understand. Sin exists because people chose to exercise their free will in a really irresponsible way. God, because He loves you, does not step in every time you're about to do something you shouldn't because He wants you to be a free moral agent and learn through a relationship with Him that leaning on God is the best way forward. Second part of this question, if God knows all things, how can you say we have free will when He knows exactly what's gonna happen? Now, God knowing something's gonna happen doesn't mean it has to happen.
— That's two different things. Two different things.
— Yeah, very different things.
— The example that I often hear, and it makes a lot of sense to me, is I tell my kids, "Don't jump on the bed". Why? Because I'm afraid the bed is gonna get hurt? No. I mean, I hope the bed doesn't get hurt, but that's not my main concern. I just know that if they spend enough time jumping on the bed, sooner or later, they're gonna fall off, and somebody's gonna get hurt, and Daddy's gonna have to come to the rescue. Did I make 'em fall off the bed? No, but I know it's gonna happen.
— There are certain things that you know are gonna happen. Leave a plate of cookies in the room, some kid is gonna go take one, right? Does that mean the kid was damned to take a cookie? No. Have my wife walk past the popcorn in the popcorn aisle of the supermarket. She's buying the popcorn, man. She lives on the stuff, she loves it. Does my knowing that she loves popcorn and is gonna take some popcorn off the shelf, does that mean that she has to do it simply because I know she's going to do it? No. If you understand human behavior, you know certain things are gonna take place. Doesn't mean you are forcing those things to take place. When you just adjust the way you're thinking about this, you see it. Okay. The fact that God knows it's gonna happen doesn't mean He makes it happen, doesn't mean that you don't have free will. So there you go. Question here from Gary, Gary asks, "How many different tongues were spoken at the Tower of Babel? How many tribes or factions were there? Is this what we believe to be the birth of all the different groups that we have today"? All right, Professor Flickinger. How many languages were spoken at the Tower of Babel? We do know at the beginning how many: one.
— Yep. And then something happened. How many were spoken at the Tower of Babel afterwards? 12.
— 15, 20, 886, 94, we don't know. We don't know. But there are major language groups around the world today. There are versions of English. Some of them are more English than other versions of English.
— Yeah, amen.
— You've got versions of Spanish, you've got German, but all of these have breakdowns, nuances, dialects, if you will.
— Listen to the German they speak in the northern part of Switzerland.
— Oh, it's brutal.
— Yeah, it doesn't sound much like German German, does it?
— It's not high German. It's a little bit different. Or Schwäbisch, they're all dialects, they're all a little bit different. You could talk about English, speak about English. How's that for good English?
— Yeah, that's not bad.
— Go to Southern Louisiana and then go to New York City and grab a person from each place and try to get 'em to talk together. It's gonna be tough. It's gonna be tough. So lots of different languages were spoken after the dispersion from the tower. Probably those people who spoke something like we know today as Chinese got together, 'cause they could understand each other, and off they went toward what we know today as China. And you can fill that in with major language groups around the world today.
— Now, is this where the different races came from?
— There's probably some connection there, because as you have different groups of people who come together as a language group and go to a geographical area and begin to procreate, you're gonna find some traits that are emphasized in one area and de-emphasized in another, so there's likely a connection there.
— So what you're telling me is that if you go back far enough, we were all one race?
— Eric: Yep.
— And as the Bible says, we come from one flesh.
— One flesh. Yep.
— I would like to think that racism isn't the problem that some people think it is.
— All that means is I'd like to think it's not as bad as some people say. But it exists, and it shouldn't.
— Eric: Yep.
— I remember singing a song growing up in a Catholic church as a kid, how can we love God above and not our brother? We're related to each other. And if you decide that you despise someone based on the color of their skin, or the shape of their eyes, or the accent that they speak with, or their heredity, or their ancestry. I was in a European supermarket the other day and I said to the lady who spoke with quite an accent, European. "So where you from"? It clearly wasn't a French place or a German place. It wasn't Italian. It was more eastern European. Her answer was really interesting: "Our family is originally from Armenia". Yeah, lady, but that's not what I asked you. I asked you where you're from. She was Russian or Ukrainian, didn't wanna say. Why do you think she didn't wanna say?
— Because there are... what would you call them?...biases. There are things that we think about one another that we shouldn't, unfortunately.
— If she'd said, "I'm a Russian," and I don't know, she sounded Russian, which could mean she's Ukrainian or Belarusian or...anything else. It appeared to me she was afraid if I'd said, "I'm from Russia," then I might've said, "Oh, so you're a Russian," and maybe she felt like she wasn't safe around me.
— So she was pretty cagey about all that. You know, there's a song that we sing in church, "When We All Get to Heaven". People who hate others based on their race need not sing that song, 'cause they won't go.
— Racial divisions bring with them some interesting things. Cultural differences, you do things different from me. If you're black from southern Mississippi and I'm white and I was raised in northern Vermont, our lives are gonna be really different.
— And it's okay, that's okay. You eat different, you sound different, you look different, you do different things with your spare time, you probably aren't doing much skiing down there in southern Mississippi, and I'm doing lots up here in northern Vermont. Sometimes you can allow those differences to become problems or problematic. The fact that we're different is okay. God made us different. Evidently, it reflects something about God, talks to the diversity that exists in heaven and with God. Man, you don't wanna create barriers where you should be creating connections.
— No. America for many, many years was known as the great American melting pot.
— So many different cultures, so many different people, so many different groups that came together over the years to make America. Today, it's not quite the melting pot that perhaps it once was, but the good news is we are all one in Christ, and if we can come back to that common denominator, a lot of the problems that we see in today, the social problems would evaporate if we could just remember that we all are of one flesh.
— Yeah, all of one blood. We have very similar ancestry. Send your saliva to Ancestry.com or 23andMe, you're gonna discover that you're related to everybody. Because we all started with Adam and Eve and then restarted with Noah, so we're all in this thing together. We're all one. At Babel, the languages were confounded, the races ended up developing over time, such is the DNA that God has implanted in human beings, and we need to learn to get along and accept people for who they are and what they are and to recognize it is not God's will that we do anything other. This is "Line Upon Line". Get your questions to us. Email 'em to [email protected] And we will be back with more "Line Upon Line" in just a moment, brought to you by It Is Written.
— Welcome back to "Line Upon Line". Thank you again for submitting your questions. We have a few more that we're gonna be able to get to in this program, and the first one, John, comes from Amy. And Amy asks, "How does Genesis 9:3 uphold the differentiation of clean versus unclean animals"?
— Okay, let's look at it and find out. And by the way, I wanna say this. You got questions about the Bible? Well, you've got a couple of things to do. One of them, email us, [email protected] We'll give it our best shot to answer those questions. Another thing you can do, go to itiswritten.study. That's where you'll find the It Is Written Bible study guides online. Itiswritten.study, you wanna go there. When it comes to the Bible, it's worth mentioning that you want to read the Bible, then try to read the verse you're wrestling with in context. Compare scripture here with scripture there. Look at what else the same Bible writer says about that subject. But when you see a verse and you can't quite make out that verse, many, many times... I'm not trying to put the show outta business, but many, many times you can resolve the difficulty simply by reading a few verses before and a few verses later. That's getting the context of the verse, okay? Genesis 9:3 says, and this is God speaking to Noah and his sons, "Every moving thing that lives shall be meat," or food, "for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things". And so this becomes an apparent challenge for some people because they know that in Leviticus 11, God really differentiated between certain food articles or, really, animals. He said, don't eat an animal if it doesn't have a cloven hoof, a split hoof, and does not chew the cud, both things. But then what about the sea creatures? Don't you be eating a sea creature if it does not have fins and scales. What about the birds that fly? Eat 'em, unless of course they're scavengers and they eat dead stuff. Don't eat them. That's the general rule for birds. It's not nearly as well-specified as the others. So you read that and then you read God saying, "Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you". Has God forgotten what He has said? No. Genesis 7:1, the Lord said to Noah, "Come thou and all thy house into the ark, for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation". And then he says this, verse 2 of chapter 7, "Of every clean beast you shall take to thee by sevens, the male and his female, and of the beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female". So in Genesis 7, God said there's clean and there's unclean. In Genesis 9, God said, "Have at it. Eat everything you want. I'm making no distinction". Can't be the case, because just two chapters before, speaking to the same people, God had made the distinction. So Eric, how do we unravel this?
— So what we have here is a group of animals that are being considered okay to eat, but it's within the context of the things that God has already said are clean. So He says, "If they're clean". And originally, you go back to the beginning, God gave what's essentially a plant-based diet to humanity and that worked just fine. You get to the days of Noah and God says, "Well, if you want to eat the clean things, you may," and He clarifies which those are. So probably still better to go back to the original, but He says, "If you want to, you can eat the clean ones". Now, He's not doing away with the distinction between clean and unclean. Sometimes people will go over to Acts 10, much further over in the Bible, and the sheath that was let down in Peter's vision and so forth. Has nothing to do about eating clean or unclean things. That's all about God trying to help Peter not be a racist is what he's trying to do. He's saying, "Listen, people are not clean and unclean". That's what they were taught, that the Jews were clean, the non-Jews, the Gentiles, were unclean. God says, "No, no, no, Peter, you've got it all wrong. Let me help you understand". In fact, Peter even says that that's about people.
— Yes, yes he does.
— Acts 10:28, I think it is.
— "God hath showed me that I should not call any man common or unclean". And then later on, when he is talking to other Jews, leaders, he says, "Oh, no, I've gone to the Gentiles. Let me tell you why. God gave me this vision, you see, and this happened, and so now I feel comfortable sharing the gospel with people that you fellows would think are unclean". So that's really very, very clear. Where God said in Genesis 9, just go at it and "every moving thing that lives shall be food for you," it's a little bit like if I were to say to my son, "Hey, run on in there to the supermarket. I know you're hungry. Grab whatever you want, just grab whatever you want". And he comes out with, I don't know, a steak and a six-pack of beer. "Well, you said whatever I want". Okay, my son would know I don't mean that, and he wouldn't mean that either. But that would be "Boy, go grab yourself some food within the parameters that we have a family have set up".
— If you can understand within those parameters, you would say the same thing to your son. "Oh, yeah, yeah. Yeah, you can have a cookie. Sure, man, knock yourself out". And he comes in with the whole cookie jar and he starts eating handfuls of these things. "What are you doing"? He wouldn't do that. He understands when you said, "Sure, help yourself," you really meant help yourself, but I've inculcated to you good principles and standards. You know I only mean one, maybe two.
— There are some previously understood ground rules. And so within those ground rules, that's what we're reading here in the book of Genesis 9.
John Bradshaw: Question for you from Hugh. "Revelation 21:8 says that murderers and so forth 'shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.' Revelation 22:15 says that murderers and others will not be in the new city". Eric, "Can a murderer be forgiven by God and allowed to enter the eternal city"?
— Well, great question. Let me quote, either accurately or not so accurately, a Bible verse to you. 1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins," except murder, "and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness". That was pretty close.
— That was close.
— But it was just a little bit off, and it's that little bit off that gets us in trouble. Let me try it again. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins," except adultery, "and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness".
— Again, that was really close.
— Still pretty close.
— In fact, it was dead accurate, except for just two words.
— Just a couple of words. See, it's those other words that we insert in there that get us in trouble. If we just take it as it is, "If we confess our sins, He," Jesus, "is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness," there you've got your answer. As long as we are willing to confess that sin, and the assumption here is to forsake it, not just toss it out there and then go do it again. Repenting is turning around and going the other direction. When we confess that sin, the promise is it's forgiven. Including murder? Well, David sure hopes so. Moses hopes so.
John Bradshaw: Moses, oh yeah.
— Including adultery? Again, David certainly hopes so.
— Solomon. Hoo, have mercy.
— Solomon, he really hopes so. So any sin that we are willing to confess, to forsake, to repent of, He is willing to forgive. So can murderers enter into the kingdom of heaven? Yes, if they confess and repent of their sins. Now, what if there is a murderer who does not confess their sin, who does not repent of their sin, are they getting in?
— No. I went to a penitentiary one time and spoke to a man who was guilty of murder. He admitted he was. He'd murdered numerous people. And so as I say this, I wanna be very sensitive, because someone's watching and a murderer upended their family's life, and you don't wanna hear me talking positively about a murderer's future. Well, hopefully you can find forgiveness in your heart, because that's healthy and it's necessary. But I spoke to this convicted murderer, and as he spoke to me, he wept. I mean, he wept streams of tears down his face. And he said to me, "I am so sorry for my crimes which I have committed". Those are his words. Now, don't get into the "Did he do it? Is he sorry"? Let's just take it at face value and let God be the judge. He acknowledges he committed the crime, he's doing the time, and he's sorry. He has repented. He has told God he's sorry. Based on the information that we have, Eric, I believe we're gonna see this man in heaven. And frankly, I'm glad. It doesn't take away the heinousness of the crimes that he committed. That cannot be undone. But thank God, in eternity, he's not gonna be another lost person. He turned to God, and God forgave him, just as God forgave Moses. Moses who led the Exodus was a murderer. Aaron, the first high priest, was an idolator. David was a murderer and an adulterer, and who knows what else? The Bible is replete with the counts of people who've really messed up. We're grateful that Romans 5:20 says that, "Where sin abounds, grace does much more abound". Let's remember that.
— Something also to keep in mind here is it's easy to say, "God's gonna keep those filthy, dirty murderers out of heaven". Yeah, that sounds like a bad sin. Yeah, what are the not so bad sins?
John Bradshaw: There you go.
— This is where we make things get a little gray. They're not that gray. God says sin is sin. "Sin is the transgression of the law". If we are not repentant of our sins, whatever they may be, that's reason for concern. So don't be concerned just about the murderers.
— You know, the Bible says that pride is an abomination to God.
— And you don't hear too many people standing up in the pre-meeting and saying, "Brothers and sisters, I thank God that he's delivered me from my pride". No one talks about that. It's fashionable, it's socially acceptable, but it's sin. So we don't wanna look down our noses at the people who've committed these spectacular sins, thinking that in some way we are a little better or spiritually superior, right? That's a deception. Okay, Jungie asked, this question will be our last question, Eric. "Acts 2:17 says, 'It shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.' What does it mean"?
— Well, I think to a great extent, it means what it says. As we get down to the last days of earth's history, we can expect that there are going to be living prophets who come along. Now, we gotta be real careful that we don't get swept up with the false ones.
— Yeah, plenty of them.
— But people who are gonna be prophesying, who will have visions, who will have dreams, but we need to test those by what we already have as authoritative in the Scripture. A genuine prophet or dreamer of dreams is not going to contradict something that you already see in the Bible. They're not gonna teach you something different than what God teaches you. They're gonna be in agreement with the Bible, with the other previous prophets and so forth.
— Excellent, thank you very much. Get your questions to us, lineupo[email protected] I have been meaning to tell you for a very long time about this. We had a question sometime back about time. This is numerous programs back. I said, "I've gotta tell you 'bout this". There was a question or two about angels. I said, "Oh, I've gotta tell you about this". This is from It Is Written, from our children's ministry, My Place With Jesus, "The Buried Treasure Scripture Songs". They are fantastic. There are 22, mostly original. My wife wrote almost all of them, save about three, and they're good. This is how you get Scripture into your mind, or the minds of your kids and your grandchildren. Put this in the CD player in your car or play it at home and you'll be really blessed. Find out more by contacting us at itiswritten.shop. That's online, itiswritten.shop. It's part of our kids program, Buried Treasure, which is fantastic. Maybe we'll tell you about this another time. But you'll get the Scriptures into your mind, you'll never let 'em go, you'll never forget them. They're tremendous songs, "The Buried Treasure Scripture Songs". I'd love you to have them. All right, friend. Thank you for joining us, Eric and I will be back for more next time. Really glad to have had you here. This has been "Line Upon Line," brought to you by It Is Written.