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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » John Bradshaw » John Bradshaw - Modern-Day Prophets, Slavery, and Atheists

John Bradshaw - Modern-Day Prophets, Slavery, and Atheists

John Bradshaw - Modern-Day Prophets, Slavery, and Atheists
TOPICS: Line Upon Line, Prophet, Slavery, Atheistm

John Bradshaw: Welcome to "Line Upon Line," brought to you by It Is Written. This is where we answer your Bible questions. We love to receive them. If you have one you'd like to submit, we invite you to email it to us. Email address is [email protected], [email protected]. I have the good fortune of sitting next to my friend and colleague Pastor Wes Peppers. Great to have you here.

Wes Peppers: Thanks, Pastor John. Always good to be here.

John Bradshaw: Ready to go? And you know my motto?

Wes Peppers: We are ready.

John Bradshaw: If they're hard questions...

Wes Peppers: They go to me.

John Bradshaw: ...they go to you.

Wes Peppers: But I just, you know, I can just flip 'em right back 'cause you're the senior pastor here.

John Bradshaw: Well, let's see how that works out.

Wes Peppers: In more ways than one.

John Bradshaw: Let's see how... hey, careful with that. Let's see how that works out today. We're gonna go to Revelation... not Revelation, Romans... Romans. Leah asks us, "Who or what is 'them' in Romans 1:19"?

Wes Peppers: Sure. That's a good question. We'll just read that. It says, "Because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them". So the answer is gonna be in the previous verse. And you find that in verse 18, and we'll read that: "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and [all] unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness". So God here is talking about a judgment that would come on those who know the truth, it's not that they don't know it, they know it, but they're suppressing it. They're preventing others from heeding it and understanding it and following it. And that is a very strong condemnation from God. It's one thing if a person is ignorant of truth and doesn't know it and follows error blindly, but when people know the truth and they, A, don't follow it, and B, try to prevent others from following it, that becomes very serious in the eyes of God. And so God does not take that lightly. So the "to them" in verse 19 are those that are suppressing righteousness and God's truth to others who would want to believe that.

John Bradshaw: Amen. And we thank you for that. A question, though, from April, who asks, "In Exodus 21 [and verse] 20, does God condone slavery? It sounds like He is saying that slaves are property and didn't denounce the practice". God didn't condone polygamy, but Solomon had enough wives to populate a small town. David had way too many. There are numerous things that God didn't condone that God's people did. One of them was slavery. You have to understand the milieu in which God's people found themselves. By this time, or really at any time, they were in the midst of a world in which slavery was widely practiced. God's people were in Egypt. They were slaves, as a matter of fact. It's the way the world worked. And without excusing slavery, of course, there's something you gotta understand. You got a bunch of agrarian people, or maybe they worked in humble trades, there was no welfare system, there was no such thing as a government handout or a bailout, and if you owed money, there was nothing you could do, in many cases; the only thing you had was you. And so servanthood was a way that the economy kept turning and people paid their debts and so forth. Now, God didn't condone slavery. He moderated slavery. The verse that you mentioned here a moment ago in Exodus, chapter 21 and verse 20: "If a man smite his servant", his slave, "or his maid, with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall be surely punished". But down through millennia, slavery's been practiced. Not just here in North America, in the Caribbean, similar slavery, South America, in the Middle East, all around the world, in New Zealand, slaves were kept. It wasn't like this. Slaves were property. They were mistreated. They were killed at will. There was no system like this. And in God's system, too, there came a time when all slaves were to be released. There was a year of release. So it was a different sort of a system. Yes, it was slavery, but I don't think that you need to think it's the same as the slavery that took place in the Deep South in the United States or in some Caribbean islands or in Brazil. Brazil had slavery long after the United States, as a matter of fact. It was different. I'm not saying it was okay, I'm saying it was different. God didn't condone it, but God had to work with a group of people who were affected by this practice and who had absorbed it into their own society. He moderated it.


There we go.

Yeah, I would add to that, that, you know, Jesus, speaking of adultery in the gospels, said, "Because of the hardness of your hearts"...


...he permitted divorce. But He says, "But from the beginning it was not so". And the same was true about slavery. God, of course, would've never condoned that or set that up or propagated that in the beginning. But culturally, humans, as we've learned, go astray and they do their own thing, even when they know what is right. And so what you find, actually... I've studied this; it's very interesting... in the Old Testament, you actually find that the people were gonna do it regardless of what God said. It was a cultural thing. But God, as you said, moderated, but He actually was giving slave rights.

That's right.

He was actually the one that was propagating human rights. The same thing with women who were unfairly divorced, He set up laws and statutes for them so that they could be fairly treated, even when the hardness of the hearts of the people were gonna do what they did anyway. So God was actually one of the first right-givers to those types of people when humanity shunned them and looked down upon them.

Another thing God did, Israel said, we want a king. Samuel said, oh, you don't want a king. This is what a king will do. You don't want that. They said, we want a king. God said, Samuel, no, no, "They haven't rejected you, ...they have rejected me". This is the God who's been rejected, He says, "[Give] them a king". So God will allow us sometimes to do regrettable and unfortunate things. We haven't learned by doing it right. Sometimes if we do it wrong, then we will learn the sovereignty of God and our complete dependence upon Him. So there are many things that God allowed that He didn't design, didn't sanction, but He was working with a hardhearted people.

That's right.

Lara asked us, I think, a good question. "God says, 'My thoughts and ways are not yours.' So then how are we to reason with Him and talk to Him? He says, 'Come [now], let us reason together.' How"? He said that in Isaiah, chapter 1. No, our thoughts are not God's thoughts. God's ways are higher than our ways. So we talk to God by getting on His plan. We can talk with Him, may not understand God's ways because of the smallness of our intellect or understanding. But we come to God and we say, "Okay, help me to understand what You are getting at here. Let me hear from You. Here's my understanding. Mold it according to Your perfect will". That dialogue is a good dialogue to have.

Yeah, and as we do that, God wants to bring us in harmony with His thoughts. So He will reveal His thoughts to us. He may not reveal everything, of course, because He's God and we're not, but He's going to draw us into His way of thinking, He's gonna shape our minds and shape our hearts with His principles and His truths, and that's very, very powerful. So when God makes that statement, He's not saying that "this is a statement of separation from me, and we're gonna stay separated because of this". No, He's helping us realize that our thoughts are often wrong, and He wants to bring us into the right way of thinking, so He invites us and draws us through His Spirit. So that's very, very powerful.

Alexander asks us a question: "If I sin a known sin, not every day, but I go back to it and ask forgiveness, am I forgiven? And am I sinning against the Holy Spirit"? So I oughta try to reword this question.


If I do something with some frequency and I know it's wrong, but I keep doing it, but then I go back to it, and then I ask for forgiveness, am I forgiven? Listen, I'll give you a Bible verse for that: 1 John 1, verse 9: "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us [of] all unrighteousness". What we cannot discern here, Alexander, is your heart. Are you saying, "Oh, I have a sin, and I just love to do it, and I just want to do it, and I'm not going to stop"? Or are you saying, "It's a sin, and man, I find myself falling; it trips me; I go back to it, even when I know I shouldn't"? That would be the human experience. Lots, every Christian does that. There's a sin, and then it's repeated because you don't always get the victory over everything immediately. Some things will come back to haunt you. Are you sinning against the Holy Spirit? Maybe. What you are doing is you're hurting God. You're sinning against God. Are you committing the unpardonable sin? I mean, no. You're asking a question about this. It's concerning you. But if you keep on dabbling with this and you don't respond and repent and turn to God when God calls you to, yeah, that's a horse of a different color. So, Wes, I think it's really important for people to understand. I'm not trying to excuse sin.


But the fact of the matter is we grow.

That's right.

And we learn.

That's right.

And we stumble, and then stumble again and then stumble again. Let's say there's that person who's practicing sin X. We'll just call it sin X. And they become convicted that it's not the will of God. They want to change. Some sin gets deeply rooted in your life.

It can.

And it's just not that easy to flip a switch.


It's just not that easy. So we need to understand how growth works and how God works with growth. Peter wrote that "the longsuffering of our [God] is salvation". God's patience works salvation in our lives.

Yeah. That's right. And, you know, sometimes we can often, if you were to ask somebody else or if somebody were to ask you, would God be patient with a person who's doing X, Y, and Z? Even if they're struggling through it, would He still forgive them? They would say, "Yes, of course He would. Because God is patient, He's loving and kind". But then when it comes to ourselves, we often think that God is not as patient and as kind as He would be with the person next to us. And the reality is that those are the devil's ideas, he's beating us up, he's trying to discourage us, he's trying to get us to turn away from God, thinking that there's no hope, but there is hope. And God is willing, if we come to Him with sincere heart. I mean, you look at examples in the Bible, people had to come to God many times. And I think of a great book where the author says we may have to come many times and weep at the feet of Jesus, but He's compassionate and kind. Just like a baby, when my children were trying to learn how to walk, they fell hundreds and hundreds of times. Not once did I ever push them down and say, "Ah, just stay down there. You're never gonna walk". No, I always helped them back up, knocked the dust off their pants, give 'em a little spat on the butt, and send 'em on their way to try again. And that's what God does with us. And we have to remember that if we're focusing on, "Oh, well, I'm never gonna get this," we're focusing on ourselves. And God says, I want you to look to me. I'm your strength. I'm the one that's gonna help you. I'm the one that's gonna give you victory. So look to Him. Stop looking at your own strength, and God will help you.

Amen. Nancy asks a really good question, and we're gonna answer it in about 60 seconds. "Why did Jesus die for us"? Well, Paul wrote to the Corinthians and he said, "Christ died for our sins". Adam and Eve were created perfect. Sin came; that sin separated them from God. God could have just said, "Ah, don't worry about it". But sin causes death, and there's a penalty for sin. They had to experience that; otherwise God would've been setting aside His law. Jesus said, "Don't set aside the law but don't have them die. Let me die". That's the eternal death. "I'll die for them". So Jesus died for our sins. We sinned. "The wages of sin is death". And I'm fascinated the word "wages" is used.

Wes Peppers: Yes.

John Bradshaw: He didn't say "the punishment" or "the penalty", "the wages".

Wes Peppers: Yes, yes.

John Bradshaw: Sin earns you death.

Wes Peppers: That's right.

John Bradshaw: Jesus said, "I'll take that". The other thing is this: "God so loved the world". The death of Jesus on the cross was not only a demonstration of the great pain that sin has caused the heart of God; it's a demonstration to us of the love of God. Who would do that? Die for the sins of wretched human beings? Jesus. Why? Because God is love. We appreciate your questions. We'll answer a few more of them in just a moment. This is "Line Upon Line," brought to you by It Is Written.

John Bradshaw: Welcome back to "Line Upon Line," brought to you by It Is Written. We love to answer your Bible questions. If you have one or two or 10 that you'd like us to answer, would you get in touch with us here by email: lineup[email protected], [email protected]. Here's a question for you.

Wes Peppers: Sure.

John Bradshaw: It comes from April. She writes, "In Revelation 19:10, what does it mean when it says the 'spirit of prophecy'"?

Wes Peppers: Oh, that's a great question. It's a big question. And I'm gonna look at another verse that kinda couples with that. It comes from Revelation, chapter 12 and verse 17. Now, if you study this through, if you understand this, you realize that Revelation 12 is a timeline of God's church, from the New Testament church, from the birth of Jesus all the way down to the very last days. And at the end of the chapter in verse 17, you find the church standing at the end of time, facing all the challenges, like mark of the beast and other things in Revelation 13, but here's what it says: "And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ". And so this is a description of God's people in the last days, keeping the Ten Commandments and having the testimony of Jesus. Now, we see the testimony of Jesus is obviously something we wanna have.


But what is it? Revelation 19:10 says it is "the spirit of prophecy". And that is very simply the gift of prophecy given to God's church at the end of time to guide it through the dark times of the last days. And so the gift of prophecy we see very prevalent in the New Testament church and the book of Acts, and then it tends to kinda disappear for the longest time. But the prophecy in Revelation tells us in chapter 19 that that gift would be restored to God's church in the last days. It's an important spiritual gift to guide the church in dark times. So the spirit of prophecy is nothing but the gift of prophecy given to God's people.

Well said. Ron asks us, Ron asks us, "Christianity offers people a hope of eternal life. But if one does not care about eternal life, ...what happens [then]? One dies, then becomes dried-up bones, then eventually burned to ashes, and gone forever. What can be done for those who really do not care, once one's life ends on this earth"? Yeah. Okay, what do you do for people who don't care? You pray for them and you demonstrate Christianity, and you give them opportunities to encounter Christ. And you may share with them on one way or another. And if you have an atheist neighbor, you might want to give your atheist neighbor a Bible commentary series, or maybe a loaf of bread instead. A kind deed, help the atheist neighbor fix her or his car and so forth.


You wanna serve people as Jesus did. What did Jesus do for those who didn't care? He loved them, and He served them. Some people just don't really seem to care, but...God can win those people.

Yeah, that's right. And, you know, this question's kind of framed at the end of their life; it's as if they didn't have any opportunity or chance while they were alive.

Hey, really good point, that.

But God is really working in their life, even long before they die. Even for the hardcore atheist, God is bringing circumstances into their life. He's bringing people into their life to give them opportunity to believe. And likely, if they have died not believing that, it's not because they haven't had opportunities or chances, but God gives us a million opportunities in this life. And every single day that we take a breath is an opportunity. So we'll find at the end of time, in that final judgment that's spoken of in Revelation, chapter 20, that when God reveals to the people who are lost why they're lost, they will see all those opportunities. And everyone in the universe will agree that everyone had an opportunity to accept him. But the fact that they didn't isn't because, oh, well, if they had just had one more chance. No, it's because in their own heart, they secured that decision.

You know what I believe? I believe there are not that many true atheists.

Mm-hmm. I would agree with that.

Here's why I say that. An atheist says, "There's no God. There's no God". My question for that atheist is, how do you know?


Many atheists are atheists because, "Well, I don't like Christians. And I heard what that Christian person said about that, and I don't wanna identify with that". That's lazy-ism, not atheism. An atheist is somebody who said, "Listen, I've looked at the evidence, and I've read the stories, and I just reject that". You gotta respect that.


You know?


If someone says, "I just can't get my head around that," sure. Now, typically your experience comes into it, "I had some lousy Christian neighbors, and a guy at the church disrespected me," and so on. Yeah, that's part of it. That'll add to that. But you can't tell me you're an atheist if you're like, "Ah, I don't know. Christians don't drink. Ah, I wouldn't want that. Christians don't believe in sex outside marriage and don't smoke pot. Well, why would I wanna be one of them"? That's just selfishness, man. That's not atheism. That's just lazy-ism. And the one that really intrigues me is agnostics. A lotta young people say, "Oh, I'm agnostic". Well, an agnostic is somebody who says, "I just can't know".


So you can know that a cell phone works.


You can know advanced mathematics 'cause you've been to university. You can know all kinds of deep stuff, but you can't know if there's a God? Did you see a sunrise ever? Did you hear a baby laugh? Did you watch a puppy? Did you see a tree grow? Did you ever think about how conception works? Ever think about that? "Oh yeah, I've really thought that through, but man, I don't know if there can be a God". Did you read the Bible? Did you read the prophecies, the time prophecies, the prophecies in Daniel 2 and see how incredibly it fits together? There's something seriously amiss if you can live in the West, no, even in the East, anywhere...

Sure. Anywhere.

...look up in the heavens and go, "No, I don't know. Could there be a God? I don't know. Maybe it all happened on its own". I think a lot of it's a cop out.

Yeah. It is. It really is. And there is more than enough evidence that we have from Bible prophecy, from science, confirming ancient Bible practices is scientifically true and helpful to our society. There's so much evidence, biblical archeology that a person can not have to hang their faith on just this blindness but that there are solid facts that we have today that give us the evidence. And, you know, I think of the question that Jesus asked, you know, "Will you also believe"? He asked that to Mary: "Will you believe"? What will you do with the evidence of Jesus? Because it's there. It's always staring us in the face. How are we gonna respond to that? And being a former atheist myself, you know, I came to the conclusion of that hardcore evidence. And I said, "There's no denying this. It is obviously clear that there has to be a God, that the Bible is true. And so what am I gonna do with that"? And when you see that combined with the love of God that is portrayed in the Bible for you individually as a person, it's hard to resist it. It's very hard.

Yeah, I don't want anyone to think I'm against atheism. I'm all for it.

Not at all. Sure.

I'm all for it. If you want it, knock yourself out.

You have the freedom to do that.

Yeah. But my deeply-held conviction is that a lot of atheists aren't who they say they are. They've just never really thought it through.

There's some difficulty in the life for many of them.


There was for me.

Yeah, yeah, some challenges going on, or they're just too lazy, or they just love sin.


I don't mind saying it.

Let me add this, that to know for sure that God doesn't exist means you would have to know everything there is to know in the universe.


And you can't do that because you could know 99%, and God could be in the 1% you don't know.

That's right.

Likewise, I could know only 1% or considerably less of all there is to know in the universe, and I could still know that God exists because He's revealed Himself to me, and He's done so in this world. You just take a look around. You look at the beauty of flowers and plants and animals and the complexity of life. There's not a chance that it could come about by chance.

Valerie asks us, "If no one is in hell at this time, then what about Korah, Dathan, and Abiram and their families in Numbers 16:24-34"? You know, I could read that, but I'm not going to, and here's why. Because they were just swallowed up. The ground opened up and swallowed 'em.

No different than being buried.

Yeah, they didn't go to hell.


They were in the grave. You know, sometimes in the Bible, the word "hell" is used, and it means "the grave".


But Korah, Dathan, and Abiram rebelled against God in a very obnoxious way. And God demonstrated His God-ness and the folly of their actions; the ground opened up and swallowed them. They're still under the ground somewhere in the Middle East. Cynthia asks us, "It says in Revelation [12] that the wicked will be 'tormented day and night forever and ever.' Ashes cannot be tormented. They have to be alive to know they are being tormented". Let's stop there, 'cause there's a part two, but let's go on with that. Revelation 20 and verse 10, they're being "tormented day and night forever and ever". What about it? Because it says it, it says it straight up.

Well, the Bible uses the word "forever" not always to describe forever, but an event that will happen for a certain amount of time. In fact, more than 50 times in the Bible, the word "forever" is used for an event that's already ended.


And, you know, just to give an example, that Hannah took her son...


...Samuel up to the temple and said that he'll be dedicated there forever. Well, he wasn't there forever. He was there for the rest of his life. Jonah was swallowed by the whale, and he said, "I was in the earth"...

The earth and [her] bars were about me.



And so we say the same thing today. We go to the store. "Oh, I had to wait in line forever".

That's right.

And it's not always that, but it can be used to describe a very specific amount of time. And that's what we find here.

Yeah. And the result of this destruction will be eternal.


No question it'll last forever.

It's gonna last forever.


And so you can't...let's just add this... you can't have it both ways because it says also in Revelation 20, the "fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them".

Same passage.

Same passage.

Same passage. You can't be devoured forever and ever.

That's right.

Devoured is gone.

That's right.

And consumed.

So you have to look at the context of it, and that'll help with the answer.

Cynthia, we've really hope you think this through because it's worth getting right. I remember a fellow, well-known preacher, author, and so forth, he investigated hell when another well-known preacher came out and said, "I don't think there's a hell". Oh, they didn't like that.


So this guy writes a book and his conclusion is, "I don't know why God would wanna burn people forever and ever, but if He wants to, that's his business".


Well, the good He doesn't want to.

Wes Peppers: Doesn't.

What would God get outta burning people forever and ever? That's a nasty thought. Goes on here as Cynthia asks the second part of the question. "What about [the rich man and Lazarus] dip his finger in water and give relief and to warn his brothers"? That's in Luke, chapter 16.

Luke 16.

What sayest thou... briefly now, 'cause we don't have time...

Yeah, sure enough.

..about the rich man and Lazarus?

Well, if you look at the way that Jesus starts the parable or starts the story here, He says, "There was a certain rich man," in verse 19. Now, if you look at the previous stories that Jesus tells, He starts many of them the same way: "There was a certain rich man". And each time He starts it that way, He's telling a parable.

John Bradshaw: That's right.

Which is a story that illustrates a point. Now, if you look at just the description of the story that he says that Lazarus was " Abraham's bosom". Well, that would be a large bosom to be able to hold a second person.

It would, it would.

He calls to Abraham to have mercy on him. Well, the Bible tells us that only God can have mercy. He also says, let the one drop of water be on my tongue to cool this torment. That's not even realistic.


So obviously these are just illustrations to demonstrate a very specific point. So the story is a parable.

Yeah. And there are certain points in there. We don't have time to plumb their depths.

Recommend the It Is Written Bible Study Guides.

Oh, 100%.


And Jesus said in there, "If they [won't] hear Moses and the prophets"...

Mm-hmm. know, He's talking about what will they do then? And the story is an appeal to the people then to hear Moses and the prophets and to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, and an appeal for us to do exactly the same. I've appreciated this time. Thanks for taking time.

Yeah, it's been great.

Thank you for taking your time and for sharing your questions with us. Remember, to get a question to us, please email us: [email protected]. It's always fun. We are looking forward to seeing you again for more next time. With Wes Peppers, I'm John Bradshaw. "Line Upon Line" is brought to you by It Is Written.
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