Support us on Paypal
Contact Us
Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » John Bradshaw » John Bradshaw - God's Kingdom, Friendships, and Persecution

John Bradshaw - God's Kingdom, Friendships, and Persecution

John Bradshaw - God's Kingdom, Friendships, and Persecution
TOPICS: Line Upon Line, Kingdom of God, Friendship, Persecution

John Bradshaw: Welcome to "Line Upon Line," brought to you by It Is Written, where we answer your Bible questions. Let me say, as we begin, if you have a Bible question that you'd like us to answer, maybe answer for the benefit of others, you think this is a great question, send it to us: [email protected]. That's the email address: [email protected]. With me, Pastor Wes Peppers. Wes, great to have you here, thank you.

Wes Peppers: Good to be here, Pastor John, always.

John Bradshaw: I'm gonna start you off with a really good question here. It's from Simon, and Simon asks, "Who are the 24 elders mentioned in the book of Revelation? Some have said they are the redeemed who were resurrected with Christ", and so forth, but who are they?

Wes Peppers: Sure. This is a question that comes up a lot with different people, and in the book of Revelation, you see the picture of God's throne with these 24 elders seated. There's two characteristics about them, very specific: They have white robes, and they have crowns on their head. And many times it also refers to the great multitude as saints who have been redeemed, and they've been given those white robes. Also, the crowns are crowns of victory. They've gotten that victory over self, over sin, and over the deceptions in the last days. And so, there's a lot of speculation about this. People have different ideas. The truth is we don't know exactly who they are.

John Bradshaw: Yeah.

Wes Peppers: But we believe that it's probably connected to those that have been redeemed. Some people talk about the 12 apostles or the 12 leaders of Israel in the ancient times, but not really sure exactly.

John Bradshaw: Is there any reason to believe these are angels?

Wes Peppers: No, I don't think so.

John Bradshaw: No, they're not angels. So, they're people.

Wes Peppers: They're people.

John Bradshaw: And so they had to have lived once.

Wes Peppers: Mm-hmm.

John Bradshaw: They died, they were redeemed, exactly who they are, I think it's... when you get to a subject like this, if you want to, you can make a case for something,

Wes Peppers: That's right.

John Bradshaw: Did you say "speculate"?

Wes Peppers: People can speculate and make a case.

John Bradshaw: Yeah, they can speculate and make a case. There are all kinds of subjects. We could do that. We could speculate. But at the end of the day, it would be like, that's speculation.

Wes Peppers: Right.

John Bradshaw: So let's not do that.

Wes Peppers: We won't do that.

John Bradshaw: Respect those who think they have the inside track on this, but we don't know.

Wes Peppers: Focus on the things we can know, and there's much more, and those things will be revealed in time. God will show us when the time is right.

John Bradshaw: Yeah, it's really good to remember that, yeah. Okay, we've got another question for you, and that is, "In Psalms the Word [said] His angels will watch over you so that your foot shall not stumble. Yet elsewhere, the Word says all who are worshipers of God will be persecuted, thrown in jail, or worse"! So, "Which is which"? "He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all of your ways". But then, "All godly in Christ... [shall] suffer persecution". What's up with that?

Wes Peppers: Yeah, sure, it can be confusing. It can seem frustrating to try to figure that out. And I think sometimes people are afraid of it because they're scared. They don't want bad things to happen to them, and that's natural. But God promises to keep us in His ways. That doesn't mean that we're never gonna go through trial, doesn't mean we're not gonna go through hardship or difficulties or situations where, you know, we might be in danger, but God promises to keep our hearts, and there are times we're gonna go through tribulation. You think about the early Christians in the early days, following the book of Acts and even in the book of Acts, many of them were persecuted, gave their lives for Christ. But one thing that we can be sure is that God is always with us, and we've not gone through anything that He Himself hasn't already gone through. And sometimes He allows things to happen to us to be a witness to others. Sometimes He allows things to happen so that certain pieces can fall into place, and He can work a miracle of some kind, and we just need to leave that to Him. So sometimes He's gonna deliver us out of a trouble. Sometimes we're gonna go through the trouble, but irregardless, He's gonna be with us every step of the way.

John Bradshaw: "The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear Him, and delivereth them". It doesn't say "every single time".

Wes Peppers: That's right.

John Bradshaw: Frequently. Daniel was delivered from out of the lions' den, the three worthies from out of the fiery furnace. There's no question about that, but James was executed. So the thing is this: God can, God does, He delivers us more than we know, and should He choose not to, it's gonna be for His glory somehow. We don't have to know how; we just believe how.

You know, Pastor John, I had cancer a number of years ago, and that was a battle for me. It was a huge struggle and went through a lot of suffering, went through chemotherapy, had a terrible septic infection. And I was tempted many times to ask the question, "Why? Why, God, is this happening to me? Haven't You promised me that You would carry me through"? But I realized, as I was going through that and drawing closer and closer to God, that the better question to ask was not why, but how: How can this bring You glory? How can this change my life? How can this impact the people around me? And I found some pretty powerful answers with that. So just remember that. Sometimes we question, but we don't see everything that God sees, and we don't see everything that He knows, and we just need to trust Him through it all. And many times when we've gone through that difficulty, we wonder why, we get to the other side, and we realize that we've learned lessons we could not have learned otherwise, so those things are invaluable to us also.

Wes Peppers: Amen, excellent, here's a question for ya. Let me bounce this one off you, see what you think. "In 1 Samuel 19:23 it talks about Saul looking for David to kill him". And this is a question from Lucy; Lucy asks, "But instead he spends a whole day and night there prophesying with the prophets. How could a murderer do that? What does that mean"?


Ah! That's a really good question. Let's take a look at the verse in question: "He went thither to Naioth in Ramah: and the Spirit of [the Lord] was upon him also, [when] he went [out], and prophesied, until he came to Naioth in Ramah". This is 1 Samuel 19, that was 23, and this is 24: "And he stripped off his clothes also, and prophesied before Samuel in like manner, and lay down naked all that day and all that night. Wherefore they say, 'Is Saul also among the prophets?'" What you have here is a situation where God simply overruled, and why did He do that? To show His might, His power, His goodness, His love, and to arrest Saul in his murderous designs and endeavor to convince him to do otherwise. Saul was on the way to do something terrible. Saul had really bottomed out as king. He'd done some silly things. He offered a sacrifice when he shouldn't have. He didn't kill all of Agag's people, he spared Agag and the animals and so forth. Interesting, Samuel said to Saul, "When you were little in your own," you were okay, but then, you know, he wasn't little in his own sight; he just got too big for his boots. And so he's hunting David, wants to kill David. This is God intervening and saying, "Saul, what's going on? Have you forgotten me? I'm more powerful than you. Your life is really in my hands". He's appealing to the brother, and he's saying, "Would you turn around? There's a better way. You don't need to be doing this". This is God appealing to the king in an attempt to redeem and ransom him. Yeah, he was a bad guy. I'll tell you this story. A friend of mine was telling me, he was doing prison ministry, he's at a prison one day, and a guy in a prison says, "I don't wanna know anything about God. Don't talk to me about God". Okay.

Fair enough.

"Why don't you want to talk about God"? "God's never", wait, "God is not real. God doesn't exist". Hmm. My friend thought, and he said, "Was there ever a time in your whole life, ever any time in your life when you saw God do something for you"? The guy thought, and he said, "Well, there was one time I was driving a stolen car," he said, "and I was fleeing the police. I lost control of the car, and I hit a bank, and the car flew into the air and flipped. And I knew this was not gonna be good. And I cried out, 'God, save me!' And the car landed on its roof. When people arrived, they saw the car and said, 'No one could have survived that.'" This guy got out untouched, no scratches, 100% okay.


He said, "I think, I felt at the time like that was God". Well, it was God. This guy was an outlaw, literally an outlaw, fleeing from the police in the commissioning of an unlawful, illegal act. God intervened; God saved him, saved his life. In fact, when my friend next saw me, he told my friend, "I've become a Christian".


He reflected on the way God worked in his life...

That's amazing.

...and listened to Jesus. So God will intervene in the lives of bad eggs...

That's right.

...just like He'll intervene in your life, mine, and Lucy's life as well.

You know, if us being perfect is, if God's Spirit coming upon us is dependent upon us being perfect, we're all in trouble. And so God can bring His Spirit upon anyone at any time, and the goal is to convert them, to draw them to Christ, and to give them a new heart, and it's up to that person. He was also kind of stalling Saul so he doesn't get to David and try to kill him...

John Bradshaw: Oh yeah.

Wes Peppers: ...and so there's many aspects to that. But God works in powerful ways, and He can do whatever He wants in the end.

John Bradshaw: Ultimately, absolutely. Okay, I got a question for you from Pierre. Pierre asks, well, first he says, "I've been in church a long time, but my heart is fearful. I realize that everyone who attends church is not a part of the kingdom of God". I think what he meant is, I realized that not everyone who attends church is a part...

Wes Peppers: Or will be saved.

John Bradshaw: ...not that everyone who attends is not, and that's a fair observation. Not everyone who goes to church is part of the kingdom of God.

Wes Peppers: That's right.

John Bradshaw: "How can I know for sure if I am truly part of God's kingdom"?

Wes Peppers: Hmm. Yeah, that's... I can tell, Pierre, that your heart is very sincere, and you're worried about this, but I wanna point you to the promises of God. The Bible says that "by grace you're saved through faith,... it is a gift of God," "not of yourselves," and that God's not looking for our actions in salvation. He's looking for our surrender, and as we surrender to Him, we have confidence in what He can do in us, what He's already done for us, what He can do for us, and what He promises to do for us. And I think of the great text, Pastor John, Philippians 1:6, that God will finish the work that He began in us. And so we have to have confidence in that, growing in Christ every day. God sees what we don't see, so we may not see growth in ourselves, but He sees growth in ourselves, and I can promise you that if you're surrendering to Christ each day, you're taking your prayers to Him, you're surrendering to Him, you're confessing your sins to Him each day, He is growing you, and you may not see that progress, but others may see it But whether or not they're seeing it, God's seeing it. And so, if you're following what God has asked you to do, you have nothing to worry about. And, you know, it's a day-to-day experience with Jesus. We need not fear the end result. We need to live for Jesus today and not worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow, we'll worry about it then and when tomorrow becomes today. So if we're walking with Jesus by faith, we can be sure that we're in the palm of His hand, and no man can pluck us out.

What we gotta know is this: You choose Jesus as your Lord and Savior... and what?

And you've received His righteousness, and you're saved; you have grace.

It's that simple.

That's right.

So the reason I think Pierre's question is so...very important, lots of people have it.

That's right.

"How can I know that I'm saved"?


Well, you go to the Bible, you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, and then you believe that you're saved.

That's right.

John Bradshaw: You may not feel it. You and I have both met too many people who don't feel saved or they're worried about how they feel. Today's a great day, so I'm a Christian. Tomorrow I don't feel good, and so I'm not certain that I'm gonna go to heaven. You choose Jesus. I say to people this: "Did you ever accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior"? "Yes". "Did ya ever change your mind"? "No". "Did He change His mind"? "No". "Well, then, that's settled, right"? So, we don't have long, but that person who looks in the mirror, and they've been a believer for this long, however long, and they don't like what they see, what do they do? Quickly.

Wes Peppers: What do they do? You go to Christ and you say, "Lord, I'm Yours. Make me what You want to be. Live Your life through me". And sometimes I think that we feel like God is more fickle than we are, but really we're the fickle one. God doesn't move. He made up His mind long ago that He wanted you. He paid the price for you, and He doesn't wanna let you go, so just by faith, don't let go of Him.

John Bradshaw: We just had a question about Saul, who was a scoundrel and off to kill David, and God intervened, demonstrating that God was still interested in nasty old Saul.

Wes Peppers: That's right.

John Bradshaw: So you accept Jesus and believe. If you have a question for us, would you do me a favor and email it to us? [email protected]. If you don't wanna do me a favor, would you do Wes a favor? He'd like to get your question: [email protected]. We'll do our best to answer your questions with a Bible answer. We'll be back with more of "Line Upon Line" in just a moment, brought to you by It Is Written. ( ) ( )

John Bradshaw: Welcome back to "Line Upon Line," brought to you by It Is Written. We get to answer your Bible questions, and I've got a good one for you. Wes, see what you make of this. It's Matthew, chapter, reference to Matthew 24:34. "Can you clarify the meaning of Jesus' words in Matthew 24:34"? That's a question.

Wes Peppers: Sure enough. Well, let's read that text. Yeah, let's read the text here. Matthew 24:34, Jesus speaking says, "Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place".

John Bradshaw: Okay, any text without a context is a pretext.

Wes Peppers: That's right.

John Bradshaw: So what's the context?

Wes Peppers: Sure, the context is Jesus is talking about the destruction of Jerusalem and signs that would take place just before His return at the very end of time. And so there's two different things that He's talking about, but He's using very similar language to describe both, and so this verse comes kind of at the end of that description. And when He's saying, "This generation shall not pass," He's giving a reference, first of all, to the destruction of Jerusalem, the people that would be alive during that time, that that generation would not pass, and indeed it didn't pass. Those things happened. The fall of Jerusalem took place shortly after, just a few decades after that. Same thing at the end of time, when He's talking about the signs for the last days, the generation that sees those signs would not pass before Jesus would come.

Right before this verse, He says, "So likewise..., when you shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the door". So you explained 70 AD in Jerusalem, and there'll be a generation right down at the end of time who see the signs unfolding, and next thing you know, Jesus is back.

That's right.

You looking forward to that?

I'm looking forward to that so much, so many things that we want to pass away from this world, and enter into eternity with Jesus and...

Imagine living in a world where there's no sin.

Yeah, that's right.

No crime, no sickness.

It's not even fathomable.

No death.

Everything that we have and experience in this life is wrapped around sin or death or sickness or some kind of ill thing, and to have all that removed and everything be made new, what a powerful day.

To be in the presence of Jesus.

That'll be great.

Yeah, it'll be fantastic.

That'll be great.

Okay, I'm gonna answer this question. It's from Lucy, different Lucy.

Yeah, different Lucy.

The second Lucy: "Some of my friends are gay men, and I truly enjoy talking with them, and my heart goes out to those who were affected by the AIDS virus". Okay. "My question is...: Is it wrong to be friends with them"? Lucy explains she doesn't agree with their actions, but...what do you do?

Yeah. What do you do?

Lucy, imagine if it was wrong to have a gay friend. Imagine if it was wrong for Christians not to have gay friends. Can you imagine that? Can you imagine that? You disagree with homosexuality, and I think that's very valid from a biblical point of view, that is, the act of homosexuality. Will you disagree with drunkenness as well? What if you had no friends who were drunks or drug users? How about that? Or you never had a friend, if your line in the sand was anyone who's had an abortion or has been party to an abortion, "I'll never have that person as a friend". Imagine that. Look, everybody needs to be loved, and everybody deserves to be loved, and Jesus died for everybody, whether they're gay or straight or something else, whether black or white or rich or poor or educated or uneducated, whether they're Christian or atheist, Jesus died for all, and He wants you to manifest love to all. I think your heart, based on what I read in your question, your heart is towards the "I feel like I should be friendly to all people and friendly with these people". Now, there's one thing: Jesus mixed with all kinds of people, but in mixing with them, He didn't get dragged down to their level.

That's right.

He hung out with the publicans and the Pharisees and the...whoever they were, but He was there, A, 'cause He loved them. I think, on some level... well, I shouldn't say "on some level", He enjoyed being with them.


But He didn't participate in their stuff.

That's right.

So when you choose a friend who doesn't share your moral values, just don't participate in their stuff. Don't let them influence you. You want, by your love and example, to influence them. I would say this: I'm encouraged that you have friends who don't share all of your values. I'm guessing these are people you went to school with or you worked with or somebody at the gym or whatever the case might have been. That's a really good thing. There are lots of Christians who have friends that fit into this very, very narrow circle, and if you ask them to witness, they wouldn't know how 'cause they've got nobody to witness to. Lucy, you keep letting your light shine. God bless you, and thank you that you've got the maturity and perhaps it's the breadth of experience to have friends whose views might challenge your own, but you can look past that and see the heart and love anyway. That's what we'd encourage you to do. Well played.


All right, where's this next question? It's from Bonnie. Okay, tell me what you think. "It used to be thought that the Old Testament was written in Hebrew and the New in Greek. But now we know this isn't true since all the apostles were Hebrew. What are the other facts to prove the whole Bible was originally written in Hebrew"?

Well, I don't think there are any facts to prove that.

I think you're right.

None at all. In fact, we don't even have one single New Testament manuscript in Hebrew. And the truth was... it doesn't matter that the apostles were Hebrew or Jews. They still were able to write in other languages. And so that was the language that was common in that day when they were alive and writing the Bible, and so...

And the spoken language, Aramaic.

Yeah, spoken language, Aramaic. And so, there are even a couple of books in the Old Testament that have some Aramaic to them, so we're not limited to that, and it's not really that huge of a thing. But there's more than 5,600 New Testament manuscripts...

Written in Greek.

...all in Greek, yeah. So, and those manuscripts, for those of you who may not know, a manuscript is just simply a copy of something. And so, what I find fascinating is that with all the manuscripts that we have with the New Testament, and not quite as many for the Old Testament, but still a fair amount, the Bible's one of the most, is the most reliable document we have in history, so that's very powerful side note.

The copyists... now, we never pretend that there's no discrepancy between one copy and another.


What you get, though, is a letter out of place...

That's right.

...or a name that's expressed in a different way. You don't get Jesus turning water into wine over here, and over here He is turning water into french fries.

Yeah, that's right.

We don't get Jesus being raised from the dead, and over here Jesus stayed in the grave and never came out the grave.


The major facts are all the same. The characters are the same. The stories are the same. The discrepancies are very, very, very slight.

It would be similar today to if somebody, if you asked 10 people to write a sentence, and they use maybe a different article, "a," "an," "the", something very minor that did not change the thought. That's what we talk about when we say there may be some discrepancies in the manuscripts, but very minimal. But the meaning, the context, the idea, the thought shared in those manuscripts are all consistent for everyone.

Mm-hmm. Amen.


Leona has an interesting question: "I believe in the investigative judgment, but I need to find a reference to it in the Bible. Where is it"? Before we talk about the "where is it," let's talk about the "what is it".


The thought of the investigative judgment is simply that before Jesus returns, there'll be a judgment. The dead are dead, and they sleep in the grave. Jesus is coming back one day to raise them from the dead and take the saved to heaven, same scenario for the living. He's coming back one day, and those who are alive and saved need to be taken to heaven, but how do you determine who's saved and who's lost? It's not that God needs to figure it out for Himself, but He wants to demonstrate to the universe that there's a process, and He's been fair, and He's been just, and so before Jesus comes, it says in Revelation, when He comes back, His "reward is with Him". It's just like you go to the in-laws house on Christmas Day, you wanna take a gift, you figure out before you go what gift you're gonna take.

You gotta impress the in-laws, so you gotta do your research.

Yeah, amen. Jesus is coming back, and He's bringing either life or death.

Yes, yes.

He's got to figure out what He brings for what individual. The idea that there wouldn't be an investigative judgment is crazy, there simply has to be a judgment to determine when Jesus comes back who is saved and who is lost, so that's the "what" of the investigative judgment. Let's talk about the "where". Where would our friend find reference to this thing?

Sure. Well, there's a couple passages. Revelation, chapter 22, the one you quoted, where Jesus says, "Behold, I come quickly", this is verse 12. "Behold, I am coming quickly, and my reward is with me". So as you said, it has to be determined. But there's a primary passage in Revelation 14. It says this is a prophecy that goes out at the end of time right before Jesus comes. And in fact, it's our conviction that this message is being proclaimed now.


But it says in verse 6, "I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth, to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice, 'Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment'", it doesn't say "will come," but it says "has come". That's a very important text. And if you look at the context over in verse 14, it gives a description of the second coming of Jesus. So we know that that judgment would begin before the second coming of Christ. Now, the last verse, where does it talk about the beginning of that time? Daniel, chapter 8, verse 14: "Unto two thousand three hundred days; then the sanctuary would be cleansed". And of course, that's talking about the heavenly sanctuary, where Jesus is doing that final work of judgment. That's a big topic.

It is. On the earth, the earthly sanctuary is cleansed. The sin record was expunged on the Day of Atonement, "at-onement," Yom Kippur it's called today, and that happened once a year. So the earthly sanctuary went through this judgment or cleansing process. Speaking to the heavenly sanctuary. God says exactly the same's gonna take place. There'll be a cleansing of the sanctuary.

Now, somebody's naturally thinking right now as they hear us say this, "Oh no, the judgment's happening before Jesus comes. What if I'm not ready? I'm scared. I'm nervous".

Yeah, well, it's a good idea to have a little respect for the fact that there's gonna be a judgment time.

That's right.

What does a person do?

Yeah. Well, you go to the Lord right now and you say, "Lord, forgive me; cleanse my heart from sin," and you trust in the promises of Christ, and you realize that God is not doing everything He can to get you out of heaven. That's not what the judgment's about. The judgment's about everything He's done and is doing to bring us into heaven because He wants us there. The devil doesn't want you there. He's the one trying to keep you out, but Christ isn't, so yield yourself to Him. Make sure you're living every day as if today is the day that Jesus is gonna come.

Yeah. The judgment is really just like an audit.

That's right.

It's not God going, "Ah, Peppers, Wesley. All right, let's dig deep into the dirt here to see if we can find something". He doesn't need to work hard to find dirt on people.


...'cause we're all dirty.

We're all dirty. And He already knows it.

That's right. So God's looking at the record, and He's saying, "Okay, saint or sinner, what was the choices in his life? He chose Jesus as Lord and Savior... saved". God is honoring the choices we have made in the judgment. And...too many people are nervous about their own standing before God. Hey, just be honest with God. Go to God and say, "I'm a wretch, and I choose Jesus, and I thank You that you've saved me, and help me to make that decision again and again. I give You permission to work in my life". Some people have gotta lower the pressure on themselves 'cause they worry themselves out of the hands of Jesus, no point in doing that.

That's right.

Quickly, this is quick.


From Cynthia, and Cynthia writes to us from Deutschland, Germany. "I'm enjoying a loving relationship since a year ago, and I'm wondering, since Jesus came as a human being [to] this world, did He ever have [the] experience of loving a woman and being loved by one (such as the love between [a] husband and [a] wife)"? And of course the answer is...


No, Jesus did not.

The bride of Christ is His church.

That's right.

And that's His love. That's the one that He loves and gave Himself for.

Yeah, Jesus loves you with an everlasting love. And I think when we get to eternity, we won't ever feel that Jesus was ripped off or missed out. We'll understand that God's plan was right.


Hey, we're done. Thanks for being here.

Sure enough.

Thank you for being here. Get us a question: [email protected]. We'll do our best to answer it. With Wes Peppers, I'm John Bradshaw. This has been "Line Upon Line," brought to you by It Is Written.
Are you Human?:*