John Bradshaw - LGBTQ+, Polygamy, and the Bad Holy Spirit
John Bradshaw: Welcome to "Line Upon Line," great to see you. Thanks for taking time out of your day to spend some time with us as we answer your Bible questions. We have a great deal of fun doing this; we appreciate you getting questions to us. The address to get them to: [email protected], [email protected]. You send 'em to us there. We'll get 'em; we'll do our very best to answer those questions. I'm John Bradshaw from It Is Written; with me is Wes Peppers. Great to have you here.
Wes Peppers: Always good to be here, a great day to answer questions.
John Bradshaw: Really appreciate the perspective you bring.
Wes Peppers: Praise the Lord!
John Bradshaw: Knowledge in the Bible, clear answers. So I'll throw one your way and see how you deal with this one. This is from Yvette. And Yvette asks, "Where was Paul the persecutor during Jesus' earthly ministry"?
Wes Peppers: Well, that's a good question. The Bible doesn't specifically say that.
John Bradshaw: Does not.
Wes Peppers: Doesn't tell us where. It tells us that Saul is from Tarsus.
John Bradshaw: Mm-hmm.
— So he would've been very similar in age to Jesus. And so he probably was growing up in Tarsus as a young boy, maybe going to school and learning the Torah and so forth, and eventually he grew up and became a part of the Sanhedrin. His first real encounter with Jesus was on the road to Damascus when he was converted and then became, instead of Saul, he became Paul.
John Bradshaw: So, the answer's over... we don't know where he was; he was just there probably at home.
Wes Peppers: That's right.
John Bradshaw: What a fascinating story.
Wes Peppers: It is.
John Bradshaw: This guy was on his way to persecute Christians and drag 'em off and have 'em executed and punished by the law to its fullest extent, and God met him, boom! And he changed.
Wes Peppers: Mm-hmm.
John Bradshaw: He didn't rebel.
Wes Peppers: Yeah.
John Bradshaw: So that tells ya that in the hearts of some people who are opposed to truth, there's an earnestness and a sincerity that God sees, and they're able to flip quickly.
Wes Peppers: That's right.
John Bradshaw: There was learning involved, he went off to Arabia for some time and so on, but it tells you that when you see someone who's antagonistic to the gospel, all hope is not lost.
Wes Peppers: That's right. And it ought to give us great hope for our loved ones that may be hardened. And I have people all the time tell me, "My husband" or "my son", or whoever, "has no interest in God". Don't give up hope. But it also gives us hope for ourselves, because many people think, "Oh, well, I'm not good enough," or "I can't make it," or "I don't know". If God can work a miracle in someone like Saul, He can work a miracle in your life, so be encouraged by that story and take heart.
John Bradshaw: Mm-hmm.
Wes Peppers: Amen.
John Bradshaw: "What does the Bible say about borrowing"? Pastor Wes? "I thought it said not to borrow? I could be wrong". This question is from Richard.
Wes Peppers: The Bible doesn't necessarily say, "Don't borrow," but it says, "Don't go into debt". Debt is, you become like a slave to the lender.
John Bradshaw: Yeah.
Wes Peppers: And so, but the Bible does say, for Christians, that we should lend to others and not charge interest, but to be willing to give, willing to help, and to, you know, use good principles there. So you don't wanna become a slave to debt, to become a slave to interest.
John Bradshaw: Yup.
Wes Peppers: It's a very dangerous thing. But borrowing, if I had to go borrow my neighbor's tool or something... you know what, it's funny 'cause what always happens to me is whenever I borrow something like that, it always breaks...
John Bradshaw: Oh yeah.
Wes Peppers: ...when I have it, every time almost, so I end up having to replace it.
John Bradshaw: So the lesson here is don't lend anything to Wes 'cause he's gonna...
Wes Peppers: That's right, don't lend anything to me. So...
— But yeah, I think we will wanna have a good balanced approach to that.
— Yeah, we do. There was the year of release.
— If there was a debt owed to you in that year of release, you released the person...
— ...from debt.
— That's right.
— And God said, God said, don't let that prevent you from lending in the sixth year.
— Because the next year is "the year of release". You go ahead and lend anyway. Now, speaking of debt, I don't think we would take the position that all debt is wrong. Sometimes that's the only way you can fund the buying of a home or some large purchase. Pretty difficult, in certain places in this day and age, to get on the property market ladder without borrowing at all. But of course, you're gonna add some wisdom into that. Debt should be manageable debt. You might wanna buy a vehicle; maybe you need to go into debt for that; maybe you don't. I'll say this. There'd be a little less borrowing if some people were more realistic about their needs...
— Yeah, that's right.
— ...and their wants and didn't confuse needs with wants.
— Live within your means, and "be content with such...as you have".
— Amen. Amen. Charles asks, "How did the alabaster box symbolize Christ's death"?
— That's a good question.
— Isn't it?
— I've never been asked that question before.
— I haven't either, actually. My wife sings a song about that.
— Called "The Alabaster Box".
— Yeah, beautifully.
— Yeah, it talks about... we'll just read the text here, Mark 14:3. It says, "And being in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, as He sat at the table, a woman came having an alabaster flask of very costly oil of spikenard. And she broke the flask and poured it on His head". And then of course, you know, there's the... Jesus compares that to His burial and says that He'll be buried in such a way.
— As long as the precious liquid was inside the alabaster box, it wasn't enjoyed; the fragrance didn't permeate the room. Once it was broken, broken open...
— That's right.
— ...and that's like the body of Jesus, once it was broken, I'm calling it the fragrance of His death, benefited so many people. I don't mean that it was of no benefit while Jesus was still alive.
— Sure, that's right.
— But we do read in John 12:24, where Jesus said, unless a seed falls first "into the ground and die[s]," it cannot produce fruit. So, the death of Jesus brought such great benefit, like that alabaster box breaking, allowing the fragrance to escape and beautify the environment.
— And really, the death of Jesus also makes more valuable His life, because in Romans 5, it says that the death of Christ "reconcile[s] [us] to God," but we are also "saved by His [perfect] life". And so, those two aspects going together are very powerful as well.
— This is a question from, it's Michael or Mikael, I'm not certain, so I'm trusting that you'll be forgiving with my pronunciation. "Is there a 'bad Holy Spirit'? 1 Samuel 16:14 talks about a lying spirit being in the mouths of the prophets". Well, no, there's not a bad Holy Spirit, just an unholy spirit. And anything that isn't the Holy Spirit or isn't Spirit-led is... well, look, I wanna be very careful that it says if it's not the Spirit of God, it's from the devil, but, I mean, essentially, that's the thing. Be careful of how you apply that. But that lying spirit, anything that's dishonest or sin or immoral or anything like that, that's not from the Spirit of God. We are probably dealing with terminologies here, it might be a little bit of semantics, there's certainly no bad Holy Spirit, but there are bad spirits. In the book of Revelation, you read about the three unclean spirits. So, no bad Holy Spirit; one good Holy Spirit and a bad devil and his angels who cause misery and mess. Anything to add to that?
— Yeah, you know, just looking at the text itself, it says, "The Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and a distressing spirit from the Lord troubled him". And so, that, as the Holy Spirit left him, that troubling spirit came.
— Why does it say it's from the Lord?
— And some people, yeah, I was just gonna mention some people think, "Well, did God send that troubling spirit to him"? When we reject the Holy Spirit, when we reject God, we open ourselves up for another spirit. So God wasn't forcing that on him, but rather, it was a simple result of his choice, and so, sometimes, you know, you have another instance in the Bible, I think it's in 1 Kings, chapter 22, where it talks about that there was a lying spirit that was willing to go out. And it's not that, you know, it's certainly not that God forces that on somebody, but when we choose to reject Him, the devil has his opportunity to present himself.
— That's right. And God allows that to happen.
— God allows it.
— And that's the consequences of your action. If you don't yield to the Spirit of Almighty God, you open yourself up to unclean spirits, evil spirits.
— Yeah, unfortunately.
— Yeah. Question from Faith, yep, Faith asks, "Please tell me who God is. Who is He to you? What is His purpose? Where is He right now? How can I find Him? Can I see Him"? Faith, you know, honestly, we don't have time to answer all those questions, but we will answer you by saying this: The Bible says that "God is love". God is that Being in whom originates all life; He is responsible for the creation of this world and everything we see from this world... I didn't say "in" but "from", the starry heavens, the universe in which we dwell. Now, we would understand that God is Father and Son and Holy Spirit. The Spirit is God; that's clear; the Bible makes that clear. Jesus, the Son, is God; that's clear. The Father Himself is God; that's very, very clear. God is that Being in whom is life, who gave His Son so that you could have everlasting life. He's always good; He's always with ya; He's not against you on any level. That's a rapid-fire thing. Let me ask you this. Faith asked, "Who is God to you"?
— Mm-hmm. Yeah, that's a great question. And I think that that's gonna be a, you know, we have what the Bible presents and then our own experience, and that our own experience is gonna be a little bit different. And God, to me, you know, is the Creator. He has really divinely impacted my life, and He revealed Himself to me when I was an atheist. I was searching, I was looking, I wasn't satisfied with what the world offered, and so God became very real for me when I began to open His heart up to Him, open my heart up to Him. And so I began to read the promises of God where it says that He has a purpose and a plan for my life, and I laid hold of that, and it was powerful; it was life-changing. When I began to read about the life of Christ and His deep love and His deep sacrifice for me, it just changed my life. And I think it's very difficult to read the Bible and understand what depths God has gone to to save us and to turn that away. And so, really for me, God is everything. He's my life; He's my hope; He's my strength. He's everything that I need in this life, that this world can't provide.
— Life, Counselor, Guide, Helper, Comforter, I mean, we could go on, couldn't we?
— We could, forever.
— Who is God?
— Great, great question. In God is life and light and love and eternity. You know, the Bible says, "The heaven of heavens cannot contain [God]".
— That's right.
— It's a fascinating, it's a fascinating thing to say.
— It's unfathomable.
— Yeah. Okay, question from Rachelle: "In the story of Abraham sacrificing Isaac, "when God asks Abraham to take Isaac and offer him as a sacrifice", yeah, "how did Abraham know for certain that it was God"? I mean, what if he'd been confused, and this was an evil spirit who was asking him to do that? Certain things about this, so Abraham, when God first caught up with Abraham down in Mesopotamia, He didn't say, "Abraham, I'd like you to sacrifice your son". He said, "Abraham, I'd like you to follow me". Abraham followed. And then Abraham entered into a relationship with God, a covenant relationship with God, and his faith grew, and his understanding of God grew, and his knowledge of God grew, and his experience with God grew. And it was later that God said to Abraham, "Abraham, I want you to offer a son to me". Now, by then, this was the miracle son, following the son that was the result of Abraham's works when he did something that he shouldn't have done. So, he was deep into his experience by now. And this is how... Abraham knew God's voice because he knew God's voice. They were friends. They communicated frequently; they spent time in each other's presence. Abraham was a believer. And so, you say, "Well, man, he could have been mistaken". No. And I'm certain this, God told him, "I want you to sacrifice my son". I don't think that was the end of the conversation.
Wes Peppers: Yeah, I'm sure not.
John Bradshaw: I'm pretty certain there was some wrestling and some prayer and some "explain this to me". And...so, because Abraham knew God as a friend, he knew Him closely. God was his confidant; God was not a stranger. This was God hearing from a friend, and he was able to understand the sound of the Friend's voice. There was no doubt in Abraham's mind that what he was doing was the right thing. And you read in Hebrews he figured that God was able "to raise [his son back], ...from the dead". As difficult as it was, he was trusting in God, believing in and counting on God as well. Okay, when we come back from the break, we're gonna look at some more questions, including a question about witnessing to unbelieving children. With Wes Peppers, I'm John Bradshaw, back with more "Line Upon Line," in a moment, from It Is Written.
John Bradshaw: Welcome back to "Line Upon Line," brought to you by It Is Written. I'm John Bradshaw, and I'm with Wes Peppers, and your Bible questions. And so I've got a question for you from Fred, Wes.
Wes Peppers: Okay.
John Bradshaw: He says, "What can I do to witness to my unbelieving adult children? They had a Christian upbringing and are successful in the world's eyes, but I think they feel no need of God".
Wes Peppers: You know, it's a big question, and I'm thankful, Fred, that you have a burden for your children. You wanna make sure that they're in a right relationship with God. You know, I think of Job who had that same experience. He prayed for his children day and night. The Bible says he made sacrifices on their behalf. And so I know that you've probably spent countless hours praying for them. You know, sometimes when our children grow up, they're no longer...they are our sons and daughters, but they're no longer children.
John Bradshaw: Right.
Wes Peppers: They might be our kids, but they're not children, and they've grown up to make their own decisions, and hopefully, I'm sure you have, that you have raised them knowing God and raised them in God's ways. And maybe you weren't always perfect in that, but you did the best you could, and it was instilled in their hearts. And one thing you can do is keep praying for them. You can keep asking God every day to bring their heart close to You. I don't think they ever get so old that you can't do that.
John Bradshaw: Amen.
Wes Peppers: Another thing you wanna do is just constantly live your faith in front of them, not in a harsh, condemning way or, you know, where you're being self-righteous or any of those kind of things, but letting them know how much joy and peace and hope that Jesus brings to your life, how much fulfillment you experience by following God and obeying His ways, maybe telling them prayers that God has answered for you or whatever.
— That's right.
— So those are all great things you can do, but in the end, they have to make their own decisions.
— That's right.
— They have to choose for themselves. And you know, sometimes people don't think that others have a need of God, but they do. I can remember a church member, when I was a pastor a number of years ago, whose son was apparently not living in God's ways. And his parents made some comment about, you know, "What if we weren't doing this"?, or something. He says, "I need you to be strong". He says, "I need you to follow God. It's where I find a sense of direction".
— Interesting, eh?
— It is very interesting. So sometimes it may take people a long time and a roundabout way; God's leading them through the wilderness.
— But they're watching you, they're following your example, they're seeing how you live your life, and it's gonna be a strength and an influence in them to ultimately accept God. So don't give up hope.
— What I'm gonna say next, you have to apply this to your own family situation and understand where your kids are. Sometimes what you do is you say, "I saw the 'Every Word' devotional from It Is Written, and I thought, 'Well, that speaks to an interest my son has.' I sent it to him". Now, there may be a time where your son says, "Don't send me your stuff, Dad". Okay, you have to respect that. But if there's an opening, send him a devotional; buy him a devotional book. Buy him a religious book that's not too preachy, but maybe is more a little general, and helps a person to see a lovely picture of Jesus. So, depending on where they are, invite them to church. Maybe they don't live in your backyard, but invite them to the Christmas program. "Hey, remember those Christmas programs you used to come to? We've got a great one, and your auntie Ethel is singing, and you know she'd love you to be there". What I'm saying is get them some exposure to church and to the things of heaven in a non-threatening, not too-full-on ways and giving them an opportunity to get their feet wet and figure out again, "Yeah, I could be comfortable here". But you know, the very first thing you said: pray.
— That's right.
— Yeah. We gotta pray for our kids. Keep praying for them. If they're in the church, pray and pray and pray. If they're not, pray and pray and pray, and believe that God is able and claim those promises. You know, Isaiah wrote, "I will contend with him [who] contend[s] with thee, and I will save thy children". Take that Bible verse and hold it up to God and say, "Can You read this? I bet You can. I'm expecting You to do what You say. I'm pleading with You to do what You say". And claim the promises on behalf of your kids.
— I would say this, too, Pastor John, that sometimes we perceive outwardly that things aren't happening, but really, things are happening in their life.
— Oh yeah, oh yeah.
— They may not tell you about it because they don't always wanna tell Mom and Dad. I remember a lady, she had been praying for her husband for over 30 years...
— ...with no indication that he was making any movement towards God. And he came to some meetings that we were conducting, and all of a sudden he says to her, he looks over and says, "I need to be baptized. I'm gonna join the church. I'm gonna accept Christ. I'm gonna live my life for Him. I'm gonna keep the Sabbath". And she was blown away. She said, "I was almost ready to give up hope and stop praying". She said, "But I kept praying, and eventually God worked a miracle". So sometimes it takes time, and it seems like it's not happening, but trust God that it is.
— Amen. Ella writes and asks, "In 2 Chronicles 13:16, it says that Abijah had 14 wives, 22 sons, and 16 daughters. Was it permissible by the Lord during biblical times for someone to have that many wives and children"? Look, Abijah was an amateur. Solomon had 700 wives, wasn't it? And then a whole slew of concubines on top of that. So, I mean, but still, 14 wives, that's at least 13 more than he should have had.
— That's right.
— So, how'd he get away with that?
— Well, you know, God, again, accepted the people where they were. And there's a number of other issues as well that you can point to in the Bible and say, "Those things weren't ideal," but people were doing them. And there were other issues that God was dealing with. Just because the Bible says a person did something in the Scripture...
— That's right.
— ...doesn't mean it was always the right thing.
— Oh yeah.
— It exposes the errors and the mistakes of God's people just as much as it does the good things that they do. And the Bible actually says that the reason it does that is for our learning, our growth, for examples to us so that we can follow suit with the right things. And so, you know, don't take everything as permissive in the Scripture. Many times it's pointing out the wrong examples for a reason.
— Jesus was talking one day and said, "Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so". So, it just demonstrates how absolutely far away from God's own ideal people got. And it reminds me of those, just those shocking chapters at the end of Judges, where you say, "Wow! There's some heinous things happening here". This shows how far away from God's ideal people had got. No. God, remember, He made some promises about what He would do through Israel. He's hanging in there with these scoundrel kings because He knows that ultimately Messiah is gonna come from this line. And He put up with some of their shenanigans because He knew that He would ultimately get to a good place. God was playing the long game, and along the way He had to put up with some garbage.
— And just because He tolerates a thing doesn't mean He's okay with it.
— Oh yeah.
— Doesn't mean He accepts it. Sometimes judgments are delayed; sometimes judgments are withheld because God knows at some point that person's gonna accept Him and repent of those things. God is patient, God is kind, God is just and will ultimately bring justice for unrepented-of sins, but there's multiple reasons why God waits or why He tolerates things, but it never means that He's okay with it.
— Amen. Kristy, thank you for asking us this: "What does God think of the LGBTQ+ community"? The answer is simple: God is love, and He loves all. He loves you if you're LGBTQI or if you're plus, or if you're minus, or if you're anything else. God is love. Now, let's not... I understand why the question is asked, because today, more than 5, 10, 15, 20 years ago, this is a thing, understood. God's love for people is love towards them in spite of their behavior. Love for an individual, on the part of God, does not mean that He condones their behavior necessarily, and I just feel like I oughta mention that. But you have to understand that God loves people, He loves all people, and we should as well. That doesn't mean we need to condone everything. It doesn't mean we need to be objectionable in our behavior and mean and nasty, and some people, man, they just are, they just are.
— People in the church.
— I read something once, this was so good, and I've said it a couple of times since. A guy was in a restaurant with his friend, they were both preachers, I think, and the friend was bossing the waitress around and just being really unkind, demanding, and awful. And then while the waitress was gone, the guy who wasn't being so unkind leaned across the table, and he said, "I dare you to witness to her when she comes back".
— Mm. That's interesting.
— And of course, the offending guy's like, "Oh. Well, that's..".
— A little difficult now.
— That's a blow. You couldn't, right?
— Yeah, sure.
— You couldn't. So, we are wrestling with a still relatively new societal phenomenon of LGBTQ, and people are going, "Well, how do we relate to this, and what do we do"? Look, you wanna love people, in the hope that you're gonna bring all people to a place that they love God. God will work with people. "The goodness of God leads [people] to repentance". So, love. Be interested. You know, I don't drink alcohol. Pretty well everybody in my family drinks alcohol. I don't mean my wife and kids. I mean my extended family. When we get together, and it's on very rare occasions, but when we get together, and they're busting out the alcohol, no one says, "You want a beer, Uncle John"? Or "You want a beer, John"? No one does that.
— They know.
— They know. You know, they know. I don't ever get a beer crate and stand on it and demand that the music stop and start preaching to them about the evils of alcohol. You know, that's not gonna fly. But they know.
— That's right.
— So you can love people who live a lifestyle different than the lifestyle you live. You can love people, show love for people who disagree with you, maybe even vehemently. But your showing love to them isn't condoning, and they'll understand that. Just love 'em. Jesus did. And love will melt a heart when argument can never do so.
— And you know, just to add to that real quick, that when they see you loving them, when they're experiencing you loving them at that point in time, in the future when God begins to convict their heart of that thing, they're gonna come to you because they're gonna remember...
— That's right.
— ...how you treated them...
— That's right.
— ...that you didn't condemn them. They may have known... that doesn't mean you have to agree with them. Love doesn't equate agreement. You can disagree with that behavior or whatever, but it's how you treat the person in the disagreement that really matters. And that often has a bigger impact, than what's right or wrong, to that person. So, you can lead them in the right way by how you treat them.
— Edgar writes, "What is the meaning of Romans 10 [and verse] 4"? Which says, "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes". You can choose to be righteous by practicing the works of the law. It won't work, but you could choose that approach. Or you could choose righteousness by faith in Christ. The works of the law don't save you, cannot save you. Even in Old Testament times, the works of the law didn't save them; they were saved by faith in the sacrifice to come, by accepting forgiveness from God and exercising repentance towards God. It doesn't mean that Jesus is the end of the law, there's no more law; He's the end of the law for righteousness. Our righteousness is found in Him. We accept Jesus; He comes into our life. What does He bring? He brings His righteousness, His obedience, His law-keeping, His power. His Spirit comes right into your life as well. So let's not make the mistake of thinking that somehow this verse, the Apostle Paul, who said that "love is the fulfill[ing] of the law," and that "the law is holy, ...and just and good". He's not saying, "Well, let's get rid of the law". "Do we...make void the law through faith"? He said, "God forbid". He couldn't express himself any more strongly than that. So, the law is important. What happens is, for righteousness, Jesus comes into your heart. He is your righteousness, and then with Him in your life, He will lead you to live in a way that honors God, and you'll be living in harmony more and more with the law of God. And that's all we have time for. Thanks, Wes.
— Amen. Thank you.