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Watch 2022 online sermons » John Bradshaw » John Bradshaw - True Confessions

John Bradshaw - True Confessions

John Bradshaw - True Confessions
John Bradshaw - True Confessions
TOPICS: My Hometown, Confession

This is It Is Written. I'm John Bradshaw. Thanks for joining me. And welcome to New Zealand. New Zealand, in the South Pacific Ocean, down near the bottom of the world. The original inhabitants of this country, the New Zealand Maori, named it Aotearoa, the Land of the Long White Cloud. It's famous for Kiwi and kiwi, and even the people are referred to as Kiwis. People here might greet you by saying "G'day," your friend is your "mate," something good is "sweet as," people wear jandals or gumboots depending on the season (or maybe not), the national sport is rugby (the All Blacks are the world champions, the best team in the world), and the national religion, well, that's rugby too.

New Zealand is known for movie directors, musicians, actors, sportspeople, and a New Zealander was the first person to split the atom. New Zealand is the world leader in the dairy industry. New Zealanders breed magnificent horses, and tourists flock to New Zealand from around the world. And why do they come? Because the country is beautiful. Breathtakingly beautiful. So I'm bringing you with me to New Zealand. And you might expect that I'd take you to see the beautiful Bay of Islands up north, or incredible Queenstown down south. Or Milford Sound. Or the thermal activity in Rotorua, or the beaches of the Coromandel, or the surfing beaches, or the wilderness getaways. Or, as they say here, 'Yeah, nah.' I'd like you to join me in my hometown, Ngaruawahia.

Ngaruawahia. Spelled N-G-A-R-U-A-W-A-H-I-A. To spell it like a local all you have to remember is, Nine Girls Are Running Under A Wharf And Here I Am. It's surrounded by richly productive dairy land, the Hakarimata Ranges mark the northern edge of town, and a meat works was the backbone of the town for decades. So what can I tell you about it? Five thousand people. Culturally diverse. A few churches. Oddly enough, a number of the streets here are named after astronomers. Galileo Street. Kepler Street. Ellery Street. Russell Avenue. Herschel Street. Newton Street. A couple of the streets here are named after opera singers who came from this town.

But you know, when you think Ngaruawahia, you don't typically think astronomers and opera singers. Since the meat works employs a lot less people than it used to, the town isn't as economically sound as it once was. In the old days there was a men's outfitters, two women's clothing stores, a movie theater, a busy post office a department store, a pretty high-end restaurant. But, you know, times change. But I love it. It's beautiful and it's home. Home! There's something about being home. There were several things about this town growing up here that really affected my upbringing. Touchstones, I guess they were. One of those was the river. I grew up in the Waikato River. Waikato means "flowing water," which wouldn't surprise you.

Another, the bush, the Hakarimata. Profoundly beautiful,'s a jewel. The marae, New Zealand's largest marae, and while I'm not Maori, growing up here, it can become part of you. The rugby league club, where I played as a kid for about eight seasons. My high school, five years there and I never once got the cane. Not bad going. And, of course, my church, and my church school. St. Paul's Church and St. Paul's primary school. It was a small school, never a sporting powerhouse because we didn't have very many kids, but a good school with a great reputation. Four classrooms when I was going to school here, four teachers, and two of them were nuns who lived in a beautiful old home across the street before, well, before progress, some might call it. And my memories of going to school here are great. Well, good. Well, mostly good. You know how that goes.

My family was in church every week. Dad was especially faithful, made sure we were in church with him, and I just never missed church. In fact, as an altar boy, there was a time I went to church every day for about three and a half years. And, in fact, from here, up in the Hakarimata Ranges, I think we can just about see the church I attended growing up here in this town. We had great priests, good people, not a negative word to say about any of them, not from me or anybody else, for that matter. Now, I do remember one priest who used to spend an awful lot of time in one of the local pubs, and there were times early in the morning, I'd have to go to his house because a crowd of us had gathered at church, and there was no priest, and we were locked outside and couldn't get in, and so I was nominated to go to his house, knock on the door, "Father, Father"! Knock on the door. Call out again. Eventually he'd stir, I'd go back to the church with the good news, he'd saunter over, say Mass, go right on, like nothing had ever happened.

Those were the days. A lot of my formative experiences surround the church. When I was 7 years old or so, I made my first confession and then my first holy communion, as you do. Later I was confirmed. I attended primary or elementary school here from the age of 5 to the age of 12, when I left and went to high school. And this is where I learned about God. God was present in pretty well every part of our lives. We prayed before we ate. I prayed every night before I went to sleep. At church school, of course, God is front and center. I never once doubted the existence of God. I never doubted the love of God. But when you're raised in a certain church or raised with certain values or with a certain belief system, there must come a time that you step back and you say, "Is this really true"? And as I was growing up, just as sure as night follows day, questions started to arise.

For example, if you're a believer in God, then the question of sin is very real. And then what to do about those sins. In the tradition in which I was raised, an important part of that was confession. As a little child I made my first confession, known as the 'Sacrament of Reconciliation', or the 'Sacrament of Penance.' And in confession the penitent, the sinner, would go and see the priest. He or she would confess his or her sins, and the priest, in behalf of God, would grant absolution to the sinner, and would declare, I think almost always, that the penitent had been forgiven. And then because you'd been forgiven you had to do some penance.

Ordinarily for me it was the Lord's Prayer, to say that a couple of times, and along with the Lord's Prayer, maybe two or three Hail Mary's. And by the time we knew how to pray those prayers, all of that penance would take approximately one minute to get through. We'd get up off our knees and we'd go out the door, and we were forgiven. But if you're a thinking person, you've got to at least have to ask yourself if that's the way forgiveness should come. Confess your sins to a man? A man who the night before might have been propping up a bar? Well, I started to read the Bible. And when you read the Bible, that's when things can happen. I'll be back with more in just a moment.

Here's today's Bible question: I accepted Jesus into my life over 20 years ago, but after a time I fell into sins of a moral or immoral nature. I've asked over many years for forgiveness. But what I read in the Bible about those who do what I have done says that they're not able to enter into God's kingdom. I committed these sins after I became a Christian. Will God ever forgive me for these awful sins? I ask God nearly every day for these sins to be forgiven. That's a meaningful question. Please listen very carefully to this very simple answer. Here's what the Bible says; I'll give you two verses. Write down these Bible references if you need to, and never forget them.

First John 1:9, and Matthew 12:31. Firstly, Matthew 12:31. It says, and this is Jesus speaking, "All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men". He goes on to say that the sin against the Holy Spirit won't be forgiven, but that's not what you've committed, don't worry about that. But I hope you got that. "All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven". And that would include what you have done. Shall be forgiven. First John 1:9 says, and I want you to mark this down and memorize it, it says this: "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness". You've sinned. Yes, you have. But you have confessed sincerely. And based on God's own word, we know that He has forgiven you.

My advice to you is to stop asking God to forgive these sins, because He has already done so. Instead, thank Him that He has forgiven you. And ask him to keep you clean. Remember, Paul wrote that, "where sin abounds, grace does much more abound". It's right to feel bad about what you've done. You should. But you should also rejoice that you are forgiven. Don't worry about this for even another moment. You've been forgiven, friend, and that is good news. If you'd like me to answer your Bible question on this program, go to, send me a question, I'll do my best to answer it on this program.

This is It Is Written. I'm John Bradshaw. Thanks for joining me in my hometown of Ngaruawahia, New Zealand. It's been a long time since I lived here, but this is where I grew up. And I've got great memories of living here for 20 years. And an enormous part of my life here was my local church. I was baptized here, well, christened, actually, when I was just a few days old. This is where I came to church, and I never missed Mass on Sunday, not ever. I kept up my streak for years and years and years. See, to miss Mass voluntarily, or of your own volition, was considered to be a mortal sin, one that would condemn you to hell. So that was a pretty powerful motivator to come to church every week. At least, it was for me.

Now, one of the first things you do growing up in a church like this, that is, when you get to about 7 or 8 years old, is you make your first confession, after which you're free to go and confess your sins to a priest and receive absolution for your sins. And so, that's what we grew up doing. We'd come to church here, sit in the back couple of rows, and when it was your turn, you slipped into the confessional, a little booth, behind a gauze-covered screen, and confessed your sins to the priest. I would begin by saying, "Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been, oh, let's say, two weeks since my last confession. Here are my sins". Now, by that time the priests were speaking in English. But some of them still slipped a little Latin into what they did. And at the end of the confessional service the priest would say, "Ego te absolovo". "I absolve you".

Now, no matter how you cut it, what you have is a situation where a human being is being inserted into a transaction that should be between God and the sinner alone. In the Word of God we have some pretty clear instruction about how confession of sin and forgiveness of sin ought to operate. Let's think of at least two examples. In one, a woman taken in sin is brought to the feet of Jesus. She is repentant. And Jesus says to her, "Neither do I condemn thee. Go and sin no more". No mention of an earthly priest being brought into that situation. In a parable Jesus taught, two men are praying in the temple. One has issues of spiritual pride. The other strikes his breast and he says, "God be merciful to me, a sinner". And the Bible says that man went down to his house justified or, in other words, forgiven. No earthly priest required; this was between the sinner and God alone. First John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness". First Timothy 2:5 makes it clear: "There is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus".

If you search the Bible, and if the Bible is your standard, will you find any mention of the need for an earthly priest in this dispensation, to be involved in the sin issue between a human being and God? No, you won't. You won't find that anywhere at all. Now, that's clear, isn't it? One mediator, and that's Jesus. So from a biblical perspective, is there anything to suggest that God's will is that we have a human mediator? Well, no, there isn't.

Now, in the Bible you do read about an earthly priesthood, and that's appropriate. That's in the Old Testament, in the sacrificial system, where it was necessary to have a priest interceding between God and men. But once that sacrificial system was made obsolete, the only priesthood that you read about in the Bible concerning people on earth is the priesthood of all believers. And all believers in Christ are to be part of that priesthood. In fact, the writer to the Hebrews in the book of Hebrews made it very clear that our priest today is a heavenly high priest, and that he is Jesus, and that anybody, no matter how sinful, no matter how weak, no matter how big a failure, can come to God through faith in Jesus, and directly find forgiveness for his or her sins. There are some incredible promises in the Bible talking about this. I'll look at them with you in just a moment.

The day before Thanksgiving in 1971, a man who became known as D. B. Cooper hijacked a plane in Seattle and demanded $200,000. He disappeared with the money when he parachuted from the plane at 10,000 feet, and he was never seen again. To this day, the FBI doesn't know who D. B. Cooper was. But several years ago the FBI reopened the case, hoping they'd get it worked out finally. And you know, the Bible is like that D. B. Cooper case for many people: a mystery. But it really doesn't have to be. Jesus said in John 8:31-32, "If you continue in my word, then are you my disciples indeed. And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free". You shall know the truth. God wants to guide you in your understanding of the Bible. If it's a mystery to you, continue in God's Word and He'll show you what you need to know. I'm John Bradshaw for It Is Written. Let's live today by every word.

Thanks for joining me today on It Is Written in my hometown of Ngaruawahia, New Zealand. Growing up here, faith in God was very important to me, to my family. And, of course, anything involving faith in God has to have something to do with what to do when you sin. You confess your sins; everybody's taught that. And I was taught to confess my sins to God through a priest. The priest had been authorized by the church to dispense the grace of God via the sacrament of reconciliation. And so the priest had an awful lot to do, everything to do with me getting right with God. Well, when I got a little bit older, I started to read the Bible. And I discovered that the Bible doesn't support such a thing. Instead, when you read the book of Hebrews, you discover several things. Number one: Jesus is divine. Number two: Jesus is man.

In addition to that, you discover that Jesus, even though He wasn't from the tribe of Levi, is qualified to be a priest. And then, Hebrews tells us, Jesus is our High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary. Listen to this: Hebrews 4:15-16. "For we have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin". Jesus lived on Earth as a man, He understands our battle with sin, He was tempted in all points just like we are tempted, and yet He did not sin. Now verse 16. The book has been saying Jesus is our High Priest, and then it says, "Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and grace to help in time of need".

No matter who you are, no matter what you've been through, no matter what sort of past mistakes you've made, no matter how bad you've been, you can come confidently to Jesus. We're invited to come to His throne, and notice the Bible calls it a throne of grace. And what do we find there? We find mercy and grace to help us. It's just a phenomenal thought. Sin brings separation from God. Sin brings death. Sin caused the death of God's own Son. And yet God says you can come directly to Him. He's willing to hear from you. He will forgive you and He will cleanse you and He will make things right. You can go straight to God and know that He welcomes you to do so. It's important we get this right. If we don't, we're going to find ourselves slightly off track, that is, with the Bible and in our experience with God.

You know, a lot has changed in the 40 years since I used to come here, climb these very trees, swim right here in the river right behind me. A lot has changed between now and then. But some things haven't changed, including the need for the human heart to be reconciled to God. And God knows that. Which is why He invites us to come to Him directly through faith in Jesus Christ. And you can come; you don't need a human intermediary, but come to God in the name of Jesus. And come to Him right away. Think of some of the people in the Bible who came to God in repentance: Manassas. With a history like his, you might have thought Manassas didn't have a chance, but he came to God in repentance, and God forgave him. Solomon, who drifted so far away from God. What did God do? He welcomed Solomon back and reestablished him. David, with all of his profound problems. Saul, who became Paul. Each one of these came from the position of wickedness and sin back to faith in God, and they did so directly.

Now, think of the invitations given us in the Bible. Isaiah 1:18 says, "Though your sins are as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. Though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool". Psalm 86:5 says, "You, Lord, are good and ready to forgive". He's ready to forgive you; He'll do it now. It doesn't cost you anything. It's not hard work. Just be willing to accept Jesus Christ into your life. God will forgive you. Jesus will live in you. He'll not only forgive you, but He'll also cleanse you from your sins, and bring a power into your life so that you don't have to go back to your own ways ever again. Let's pray together, I'd love to pray for you.

Our Father in Heaven, thank you that we can come to you through faith in Jesus Christ. Thank you that you are willing to forgive. Thank you that you're good, that you are a God who is gracious and kind and loving.

Right now, I know that there are some, many, who need to make things right with you, that is, they need to throw off the weight of guilt that they carry around, and accept freedom and pardon and forgiveness in its place.

I pray that as you invite us to lay our burdens at your feet, we will do so. Thank you that Jesus would live His life in us. Thank you that we can go from this moment of prayer forgiven, and one with you. We thank you, we praise you, and we pray in Jesus' name, Amen.

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