Today's Guest is Andrew Farley. Mr. Farley did an interview with me back in May 2010 about his book, The Naked Gospel, and has returned for a discussion about his most recent book, God Without Religion.
Andrew Farley is a senior pastor of Ecclesia. He serves as the Faculty Adviser for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and speaks to Christian Campus groups ad churches around the US and Canada. He is also an Associate Professor of Applied Linguistics at Texas Tech University.
He is also an author I highly recommend.
And now without further delay, on to the questions:
1. Why should people read your new book, God Without Religion?
The most empowering truth we can ever encounter is that we possess all of Christ in every moment, no matter what. That's grace.
Grace isn't just for those who already feel burned out. Grace isn't just for when we've sinned. In God's grace, He equipped us with the powerful presence of Christ himself.
In this book, I'm presenting the radical, Scriptural truths that lead us to a place of dependency on Christ like never before. We’re designed to live from Christ, not merely for Him. But we have to shift our eyes off of our selves and our sins in order to live from Christ. God’s grace enables us to do that.
2. As in your previous book, you tackle topics that many churches would consider to be untouchable. In your new book you touch on the Law, pre-destination, communion, baptism, forgiveness, etc. How are people responding to this book?
It’s love it or hate it.
I basically get two kinds of email – the kind that says “God used this book to refocus my life back on Jesus” or another kind of email laced with anger, accusation, and name calling.
Fortunately, I’m surrounded by encouraging friends who remind me that not everyone will be happy with the idea of “God without religion.” And the book is doing really well – it has already hit three bestseller lists (on Amazon, Christian Booksellers Association, and The Washington Post). These are early signs that loads of people love Jesus but have been burned by the performance mentality of religion.
3. Throughout God Without Religion you seem to be point out the context the Scriptures were written in. Do you think, as believers, we tend to forget to read the context?
Absolutely. Whether it’s wrestling with eternal security in Hebrews, or faith and works in James, or some other theological concern, I’m finding that many of us have grown accustomed to looking at Scripture in tiny chunks, void of any context at all.
At my website, AndrewFarley.org, I dialogue with dozens of Christians from all over the globe every day, and I’d say that more than half of the Scriptural questions I receive can be answered simply by looking to context – the surrounding verses.
In my own study, I have to continually remember that, because I grew up with a lot of Scripture memory and recitation of single verses. I have to remember to slow down, read a paragraph or a page surrounding an idea, or even begin back at the beginning of an epistle.
Getting the bird’s eye view is essential.
Identity is everything. Galatians 6:15 says, “neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation.”
I’m going to live out who I believe I am. If I think I’m a dirty, rotten sinner at the core, then I’m going to live that out. If I believe I’m a forgiven, cleansed, righteous saint, I’m going to live that out. So which identity do we have?
Unfortunately, it seems like the popular answer to that question is “both.” Many Christians seem satisfied to live out a false duality as sinner and saint. We might think it’s humble to see ourselves as dirty, rotten sinners with wicked hearts before God. But true humility is saying the same as God says about us, no more and no less.
God says that we have become His righteousness. He claims to have given us a new heart, a new mind (the mind of Christ), a new spirit, and His own Spirit living within us. Given these claims, is it really humble (or accurate!) to think of ourselves as dirty sinners with wicked hearts that want to sin? No! Paul tells us that our old self died and that we became obedient from the heart.
Yes, we still commit sins when we are enticed by the flesh. But we aren’t dirty, ugly people. Jesus Christ changed our core when he recreated us for good works. In “God Without Religion,” I’m talking about the heart surgery God performed on us and why it matters for every moment of the day.
Identity is everything.5. Would it be fair to say a major theme in your book is for believers to stop trying to gain something God has already granted you?
Yeah, we’re asking for forgiveness as if God is going to zap us from Heaven with a new portion of forgiveness and cleansing. But the truth is that Jesus died once and it worked. His blood sacrifice means that we are forgiven people, “once for all,” as Hebrews put it. We don’t have to plead and beg for forgiveness. We Christians are forgiven people, period.
We’re waiting and hoping to get closer to God. We picture ourselves someday arriving at a place of intimacy with God, but we’re not there yet, we think. Well, the new covenant message is that we were united with Christ, raised and seated with Him, and we became “one spirit with Him”, 1 Corinthians says.
So how close is your Jesus?
Apparently, we are clean, and we are close. It’s time that we the church wake up to the reality of our birthright, the wealth of our inheritance that we already possess.
It’s time that we wake up to the reality of God, without religion.Thank You so much Andrew!
Thanks for the opportunity Rick!
Well there you go. I would encourage you to check out Andrew's website, AndrewFarley.org and if you haven't read it yet, pick up a copy of God Without Religion!
To see past 5 Questions guests see 5 questions page under the tab above.