John Bradshaw - Online Love, the Rapture, and a God Who Kills
John Bradshaw: Welcome to "Line Upon Line," brought to you by It Is Written. I'm John Bradshaw, with me, Wes Peppers, and together we get to answer your Bible questions. Are you ready to go?
Wes Peppers: We're ready to go.
John Bradshaw: All right.
Wes Peppers: Let's get to it.
John Bradshaw: Few preliminaries.
Wes Peppers: Absolutely.
John Bradshaw: Let's dive right in with a question from Carla...
Wes Peppers: Sounds good.
John Bradshaw: ...who asks, "Explain to me how the rapture is not true. I know it's not, but how do I explain it to others so they can understand"? Let's do a little bit of background. What does she mean, the rapture? What is that? And understandings of the rapture vary.
Wes Peppers: Mm-hmm, right.
John Bradshaw: But generally speaking, what are we dealing with here?
Wes Peppers: Sure. The rapture refers to the second coming of Jesus, and the word "rapture" just literally means a catching up or a taking up of God's people. And so there's a lot of theories out there. One of those ones that are very popular include a secret rapture, where people are kind of caught up and the rest of the world wonders what's going on, and then Jesus takes those people to heaven, and then there's a whole mirth of events that take place after that, and then Jesus comes back again. But we wanna look at the Bible. The Bible is very clear all the way through. And there's a lot of novels written about the rapture.
John Bradshaw: Oh yeah. Some people made a whole ton of money on this.
Wes Peppers: That's right, a whole ton of money. And what's interesting about some of those novels is they state in the very beginning, "This is a novel".
John Bradshaw: Right.
Wes Peppers: "This is not really factual".
John Bradshaw: But people read those novels. And that's where they get their theology from.
Wes Peppers: That's right.
John Bradshaw: And those novels educate or, rather, miseducate generations of people.
Wes Peppers: Yes, that's right.
John Bradshaw: Yeah. Now, what's interesting about this is you cannot find the secret rapture in the Bible.
Wes Peppers: You don't find it.
John Bradshaw: No. Jesus will come back. The Bible says this: "The Lord Himself shall descend", we're answering your question, "The Lord Himself [shall] descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of [the] archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first". Nothing secret about that. So it's just not possible to believe that Jesus comes back secretly. It's too clear in Scripture. Revelation, chapter 19, He comes back as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. 1 Corinthians 15 talks about what happens to us; when Jesus comes back, the dead in Christ will rise. But people will say, "Oh, that's the Second Coming".
Wes Peppers: Right.
John Bradshaw: "This is the rapture that precedes that".
Wes Peppers: Yes. You don't find any scripture that refers to two different events. All the way through, it's consistent; there's one event. Now, there is some confusion about the secret rapture that comes from some prophecies in Daniel. And it's kind of difficult to get into too much of that now, but there's some misunderstandings of that. But you go back, John, to several of the reformers...
John Bradshaw: Yeah.
Wes Peppers: ...and several of the ancient theologians, they all believed in the Second Coming, one coming that's loud and glorious and powerful, and they did not believe in the secret rapture. That's a very young theory.
John Bradshaw: Very young.
Wes Peppers: And it kind of originated some time ago, then it was dropped, and then it got picked up again. But there are some verses that talk about kind of a secret manner and so forth, but when you really look at those verses, they're always referring to the timing of Jesus' coming, not the actual event itself. The event itself is loud, it is glorious, it is powerful, Jesus blows the trumpet, and the dead come out of their graves. And so the Bible is very clear about the Second Coming versus a secret rapture.
John Bradshaw: What's challenging is explaining to someone that something's not true. So what you've gotta do is you've got to get the error and then expose that. What's easier is to explain the truth. You go to Acts 1, verses 9-11 where it's very, very clear about the manner of Jesus' return; 1 Thessalonians, chapter 4, it's very clear. Now, if ya wanted to, you'd go to Daniel in chapter 9. Why don't we go there now, Wes, and just look at...
— ...what he said. It's kind of complex. And it is, but we'll be really straightforward and simple about this. In Daniel, chapter 9 is the prophecy of the 70 weeks. And it's just really interesting how this prophecy is used or misused. "Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth", that's Daniel 9:25, "of the commandment to restore and...build Jerusalem unto Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street [will] be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times". "After threescore and two weeks", and that's the 69 weeks, but told you it's just a little messy, "Messiah [will] be cut off, but not for Himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall [do thus and so].... And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: ...in the [middle] of the week [he'll] cause the sacrifices and the oblation to cease" and so forth. So, you've got a 70-week prophecy, 70 weeks. What people who believe in the rapture theory and the seven years of tribulation believe is that the 70th week is somehow cut off from the other 69 weeks. I mean, it's just really difficult to demonstrate that that's true because it's simply not. And it's almost hard to demonstrate that it's not true because you've gotta ask someone to read and be logical. If they don't wanna be logical, they won't.
— That's right.
— Here's what the devil has done. He has simply educated or miseducated the generation into a tradition, a teaching of man. How do you disprove it? Look at the verses that speak about the return of Jesus. You show that it's gonna be audible, people will hear it; literal, it'll be really Jesus; visible, Revelation 1 in verse 7: "Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him". It's a little hard to disprove something that doesn't even exist. But if you will show here's what it says about the Second Coming, when you're look in Daniel, chapter 9, it's 70 weeks, not 69 weeks, the 70th week arbitrarily cut off. And what they do is they say that 70th week is a seven-year period down in the end of time, way down in the end of time. But it isn't. So, good luck with that. If you really wanna know how to prove or disprove something, you do it this way: You pray. You pray and pray and pray and pray and then share with that person you're talking to, maybe the It Is Written Bible study guide dealing with the second coming of Jesus. You wanna get that. And what you might do is just say, "Hey, take a look at this. Read it through; tell me what you think. I'd be interested in your input". And then that'll give rise to a conversation.
— Yeah, I'll just make one more point about this: that all of the time prophecies in the Bible are consistent; that when they start, they go all the way through, and they finish.
— That's right.
Wes Peppers: There's none of them, none of them are chopped up or sectioned off where one applies to one period in history and another one to another. They all go consistently through. And there's no evidence whatsoever that this one will be chopped up.
John Bradshaw: That's right.
Wes Peppers: It's just not there.
John Bradshaw: I'll tell you what, there's weight in numbers.
Wes Peppers: Yes.
John Bradshaw: "There's power in a critical mass. And when you've got oodles of people believing this they're believing it because they're told to believe it. They're believing it because they believe it. They're not believing it because it's true. It isn't true, nothing true about it". Chandler asks this question: "God knows everything", would you say amen out there?
Wes Peppers: Amen.
— "He knew Eve and then Adam would eat the forbidden fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Was it God's plan for sin to enter the world He created? Why did God put Satan in the Garden of Eden"? So I think we can answer this quickly. Was it God's plan for sin to enter the world?
— No. Because sin brings with it... what?
— And Jesus is "the way, the truth, and the"?
— There's not anything about it. It was not God's plan. So, why'd He put Satan in the Garden of Eden?
— Sure. We had answered this on a previous program, but God respects freedom of choice, and God wanted to allow Adam and Eve to have the freedom of choice. And you can't really have true love without freedom. And so, you know, Adam ate the forbidden fruit, and he made that choice to, along with Eve, to accept the evil, and that brought evil and birthed sin into the world.
— But did God put him there? Did He put him in the Garden of Eden?
— Well, the Bible says that in Revelation, when there was that war in heaven, that the devil was cast...
— Cast down.
— ...to the earth.
— He came to the earth.
— And the reason that God allowed that is because there was this great controversy going on, and there was this war between good and evil, and Satan was making his accusations against God. And God had to give Adam and Eve the opportunity to choose Him loyally with their own freedom of conscience, their own choice. And Satan would not have been satisfied. He would've accused God of being a tyrant if God had not allowed that. So God allowed it. It wasn't God's intention. God never wanted sin to enter into the universe in the very first place, but it did. But thankfully God had a plan for it.
— And that's what we don't wanna overlook. People get hung up on, "Man, why did God do this"? Yeah, particularly when He knew it would cost the life of His Son. So you understand if God was willing to go through that, it had to have been for our good. God was the one who took the hit. He bore the brunt; He carried the weight. His heart still hurts because there are people rejecting Him rather than accepting Him. But God had to honor freedom of choice. If He didn't, He wouldn't be God; He'd be a tyrant; He'd be a dictator. You wouldn't want that at all. Question from Madison: "Deuteronomy 12:15, [it's] confusing. When it mentions the clean and the unclean, is it referring to clean and unclean animals? If so, what is it saying about them"? I've gotta read that for you. "Not withstanding thou mayest kill and eat flesh in all thy gates, whatsoever [your] soul lusteth after", or desires, "according to the blessing of the Lord...God which He hath given thee: the unclean and the clean may eat thereof, as of the roebuck, and...of the hart". So the animals being referred to are clean animals. The clean and the unclean are people, not in that food sense, I think you understand that, but the people who are ceremonial clean or the people who are ceremonially, ceremonially clean...
Wes Peppers: There you go.
— ...or ceremonially unclean. It's the people that are being brought into question here. Hey, whether you're this or that, you can go ahead and eat the food. But of course, the food, when it comes to God's menu, is all clean food.
— Clean food, that's right.
— He gives no permission anywhere in Scripture to eat unclean food.
— Question here from, I'm gonna call him José. It's not his actual name, but I don't wanna out him, owing to the nature of the question.
— "I'm a 25-year-old Christian, and I came across a young lady on social media who is also a Christian". You know, I'm concerned already.
— Yeah, that's right, that's right, a little nervous here.
John Bradshaw: Oh yeah. "We've been messaging each other, studying the Bible, and praying together. I'm now in love with her", of course you are, "but I never asked God for a lady". So, two questions: "Can the Lord give me what I didn't ask for"? Well, the answer to that would be yes.
Wes Peppers: Sure.
— Sure. You may not have been thinking the time was right for you, God may have decided this is the right time. He can give you what you need. But this is the better question: "And does it matter that she lives far away, and I've never actually met her"? I'm hearing alarm bells, man.
Wes Peppers: That's right.
— José, if you were my son, I'm saying to you, "What are you thinking"?
— But I'll say that nicely in a very fatherly way. Probably I'd say it more like, "What are you thinking?"!
Wes Peppers: That's right.
— But...something like that. Listen, man, you've never met her. Cool your jets. Back off. Take a few deep breaths. Take a cold shower. Do whatever you gotta do to dial this back a little bit. You're in love with her. Why? 'Cause she's pretty? Great. She's spiritual? They're all spiritual, man. When they're dating a Christian guy and they want a Christian guy, they're as spiritual as Mary the mother of Jesus. What else about her? "I'm in love with her. She's far away, and we've never met".
— That's difficult.
— You wanna see somebody in a daily interaction with others. How do they treat their parents? How do they treat a stranger on the street? How do they treat the little old lady crossing the road? Or how do they interact with people on a regular basis? You gotta understand that person's character before you're gonna jump in. You know, anybody can be whatever they want to through a screen.
John Bradshaw: Mm-hmm.
— They can present the sweetest, kindest, most loving person you can imagine. They might be the nastiest person on the planet. So you gotta watch for that.
— It might be, listen! It might be that this person is God's answer...
— They might be.
— ...to every question you've ever had.
— That's right. But you gotta proceed with caution.
— Dial it back and of course, the same thing goes for her. She's looking at you, and what are you? I mean, she doesn't know how you carry on in your natural environment. So, listen, do yourself a favor. You're not in love. You're infatuated. And there's someone here who checks a bunch of boxes. Love is a principle, not an emotion, and what you're dealing with is an emotion. So, dial it back. Work from principle. And once you've met her and her parents and her brother, and you've learned about her and you understand a little bit about the way she rolls and lives her life and, you know, like you said, treats animals and little old ladies and the homeless man in the street and so forth, once you figure that stuff out, then you have a couple of conversations with God. I mean, you'd be talking with God about it all along the way, but let's not make any leaps here. So that's what Uncle John is saying.
— Back off. Slow down. It ain't love...yet. It may be that. But if you decide right now, "This is love," man, you are ignoring everything. You're gonna say, "Yeah, she doesn't get on well with her dad, but you know, that's because he..." Or, "She doesn't really treat her mother with a great amount of respect, but you know, if you've met her mother..." You're gonna make all kind of excuses for her.
— You're gonna understand, yep.
— Better stop while we're ahead.
— That's right.
— If we're ahead. If you have a question for us, we'd love it. Email it to us: [email protected]. We'll be back with more in a moment. I'm John Bradshaw. He's Wes Peppers. This is "Line Upon Line," brought to you by It Is Written.
— Welcome back to "Line Upon Line," brought to you by It Is Written. With Wes Peppers, I am John Bradshaw, and these are your questions. We've got one from Rick, Wes. He asks, "What is the definition of free choice? and under what circumstances can a person exercise it"?
— That's a great question.
— Isn't it?
— It is, excellent question, thank you for that, Rick. You know, in sinful human nature, we've lost the power to resist sin on our own that God originally gave Adam and Eve. But the most powerful thing that He has given to us is the power of choice. And I love the way that you frame this question. "What circumstances can a person exercise it"? The answer is: every circumstance. It doesn't matter what it is. It doesn't matter what you're facing, how bad it may be, or how difficult or of a struggle you may be experiencing, you can exercise that free will of choice. You can choose God. You can choose Jesus at any time your heart desires. And that's a wonderful thing. And so what happens is, even though we don't have the strength to resist temptation or sin, when we are faced with it and when we make the choice to say, "God, I'm giving You my will, I'm choosing You, I recognize I am weak, but You are strong; I'm gonna give You my will, my power of choice," God receives that as we give it to Him in faith, and then He strengthens it. He gives us divine power, divine grace, divine strength, and He hands that back to us, and now we have the strength that we need to resist that temptation. That's a powerful thing.
— Yes, it is. The challenge too many people have is that they're getting by on willpower.
— Yes, yes.
— But willpower isn't where it's at.
— That's right.
— It's God's power. And you give your will to God, as you said, and God works in your life. "It is God that worketh in you both to will and to do [for] His good pleasure". So we surrender our will to God, and we go from there.
— So it's not willpower that we have; it's the power of the will that God has.
— That's right.
— He gives us that power.
— We yield our will to God, and God works in our lives. Great, thanks very much for that. Charles asks, "Who are the unsaved"? Well, who are the saved? "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life". The saved are those who believe. I wanna get over here to Romans and read in Romans, chapter 10. And it speaks about saved people, again, where it says, in Romans, chapter 10 and verse 13, "Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved". So the unsaved are not them.
— Those that haven't called upon the Lord. They haven't chosen the Lord. Again, it goes back to that last question. Those who have chosen are chosen. Right?
— Those who've chosen Christ are chosen.
— Yeah. What we don't wanna do is say, "Well, the unsaved are the people who do this".
— "Or who don't do that".
— That's right.
— We don't know that.
— That's right.
— You know, I wanna say this. Over in Revelation chapter 14 and 18, the Bible speaks about Babylon, this great system that's opposed to God at the end of time, right?
— And it's a system that involves or implicates hundreds of millions of people worldwide. You can't say, "Well, that's a lost person," because in Revelation, chapter 18 in verse 4, God says to Babylon, "Come out of her my people". So God even has people, one would assume saved people or people who are close to salvation, you understand, who are in even this thing called Babylon. So the unsaved, it's where you are with Jesus. We don't wanna be saying it's them or them or these or those. That would be most inappropriate.
— We're just simply unqualified to make those decisions or to make those calls. We don't know what's in the heart of a person, but God knows. God reads the heart, He knows the depths of the experience of that person, and He's the only one that can qualify that. So we have to be careful with who we are thinking are unsaved. And we might find ourselves like the publican and the Pharisee.
— That's right. Question from a lady I'll call Brenda. "Pastor, how do you go by faith and then accept God's will? I'm lost in that. I have cancer, and I have hope that God will heal me, but I also need to accept His will. How do I reconcile those two"? She asks.
Wes Peppers: That's a tough one.
— First thing, Brenda, we're sorry about the battle that you're having. But you know, I'm starting to smile, not because of the battle you're having, but because of the God who's on your side. God is with you, you know? And He's with you, and He'll be with you to the end, whenever the end is. Okay, Wes, let's talk about that. You have faith. Should a person who's unwell have faith that God can heal them? Is it wise?
— It is, and I think it's possible.
— Okay. Is there ever a time that a person should just give up and go, "No, God can't. God can't heal me," and just go, "No, I'm fine, God. Let me die"? Or, "I'm going to die; You can't heal me"? That's my question. Is there a time? I mean, are you saying, "Look, if you've got appendicitis, yeah, you need to have faith that God can heal you; if you've got prostate cancer, you can believe, but if you've got ovarian cancer, then you shouldn't be". It doesn't matter, right?
— No, it doesn't matter.
— How sick, what the condition...
— That's right.
— ...you can believe that God will heal.
— You can believe, and God can, if He wills. And I believe that God will heal every person that is sick that has faith in Him, depending upon the timing.
— Yeah, that's right.
— The timing may be different for everybody. It may not be till the Second Coming.
— It may be instantaneously. It may be over time. And we just need to leave the timing with God and trust Him, and so, many examples of that, you know, I had cancer myself, and I was laying on my deathbed, and God really worked a miracle for me. And you know, the greater miracle than the healing is the change of the heart.
— Oh yes.
— That's what I believe.
— Yes, yes. Brenda, we wanna encourage you to have faith, real strong faith. Don't have faith, pardon me, in the doctors and what they say. I don't mean anything disrespectful there. Have faith in God. The doctor might say, "Sorry, there's no hope for you". Don't take that. The doctor might say, "Oh, you're gonna breeze through this". Well, hold on, no doctor is God. Have faith that God is working through the medical team; that's what I mean. Have faith that God is gonna work through the treatments, whatever they look like. Have faith in God. Just hang on. Have as many people pray for you as possible and keep on praying and claim the promises, claim the promises, claim the promises. But ultimately, what we do is we pray as Jesus taught us. "Our Father [who] art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, [on] earth, as it is in heaven". Here's what I would encourage you to pray: "Lord, heal me. Lord, heal me". That's always the right thing to pray. And along with that prayer, pray, "Lord, whatever happens, let this glorify You". That's what you want. We're all gonna die one day, if Jesus doesn't come back first. What we want, though, is that our lives and our deaths honor and bring glory to God. I don't know how to help you, well, not help you, how to tell you to figure this thing out because it's a struggle.
— It is.
— A lot of people lose their way because they don't see God working on their timeline or in the way that they want God to work.
— But I can tell you from personal experience, many times, going through difficulties, including cancer, Brenda, including cancer, that God can bring beauty out of ashes.
— And I remember a coworker that I was working with, and we had gotten cancer at the very same time. And as I was getting better, she was actually getting worse.
John Bradshaw: Mmm.
— And she actually went to her rest. But in that, her entire family, many of them came to know Christ, because of her example and her life and her testimony. And so God can bring beauty out of ashes. And we don't always understand or know nor can we see what He's going to do, but we can be sure that God will not let any amount of suffering that we experience be for naught. He has something good that can come out of all of it, and so we want to encourage you to be strong in Him. Don't lose faith in Him. He's your only source of strength and life.
— Yeah. That's right, amen. No point adding to that, that's well put. Question from Charlotte: "How can the God who wanted to kill off the Israelites"... Well, hold tight. He wanted to kill 'em off?
— Well, let's keep reading: "And ordered the children of Israel to kill men, women, and children", now, He did do that, "be the same God who died on the cross for us and cares about every sparrow that falls? How can these two realities be congruent"? Well, Charlotte, the first thing I wanna do is congratulate you for using the word "congruent" in a question. That's very good form. But secondly, I wanna encourage you to go to itiswritten.tv and then click on the It Is Written television program, our flagship program tab, and watch a program called "Love and Destruction" because we get into that really in depth. "Love and Destruction," watch that program. It'll explain it in depth. But now, there are several reasons God said, "Wipe out certain individuals". The primary reason is they'd passed the point of no return. There was no hope for them.
— That's right.
— And God knew that. You think of the Amalekites (well, any of the -ites) God had worked with them and labored with them and labored with them and worked with them and revealed Himself to them, and they knew that the God of Israel was with God. They heard about what happened when Israel got out of Egypt. They knew all about that. They knew about the miracles and the plagues and the water out of a rock and the manna on the ground and great deliverance that God had wrought for His people. They knew. So, they had canceled God, and they were beyond redemption. Secondly, they were wicked! Wicked! I was really interested once that I saw this article about how the British Museum, the wonderful museum in London, had an exhibition of art from Nineveh, Assyrian art.
— And they said, "This is some of the worst, most brutal, cruel, vicious stuff you've ever seen depicted". They were horrible people.
— There's a reason Jonah was upset that God saved them, 'cause they were such awful people. And so God knew that the earth was better off without them, and they were beyond redemption. Also, they were an existential threat to God's people. Through Israel, God was gonna bring the Messiah, and some of these people who hung around, they were gonna wipe Israel out, and maybe Israel would never have lasted long enough for Messiah to be born. God destroyed these people as a demonstration of His love. You were gonna add something, I think.
— Yeah. You know, in Genesis, chapter 15, I think there's a perfect text that really nails this concept. It's verse 16, Genesis 15:16, "But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet [full or] complete".
John Bradshaw: Mmm.
— And so that demonstrates that God, even with nations that don't know Him, He bears patiently with them. And there's a cup of iniquity that's being filled, and once they reach that point, and they are no longer willing or able to turn back to Him, it's better as if they were no longer around.
— That's right.
— And so God allows that to take place. And so we have to remember that God doesn't destroy unless it comes to a point where there is no hope for that person. And that's not because God doesn't offer hope; it's because they have refused it and refused it until they're unwilling or unable to do that. And so for the protection of God's people and for protection of good, He will sometimes cause that elimination. It's not pleasant, but at times in a sinful world, it's necessary.
— I don't think God enjoys it.
— No, not at all.
— Happens because it's necessary.
— That's right.
— Great question, Charlotte. If you've got questions, please do get them to us. That's all we have time for right now, but we'll do this again soon and we certainly hope you will join us. With Wes Peppers, I am John Bradshaw. This has been "Line Upon Line," brought to you by It Is Written.