This true story is about how British spies decided to deceive the Germans into believing they would be invading somewhere other than where they actually intended to invade. The ruse involved acquiring a dead body and over a 3+ month period creating a "life story" for this dead man. The spies created an entire fantasy around this body. They gave him a childhood, a fiance, character traits and a social life. All things the individual did not have in real life. The body was that of an individual devoid of family and friends who ultimately took his own life. His fake past was better than his real one.
For whatever reason, this story brought to mind the Israelites flight from Egypt. Specifically the lies they created and believed about their past. After fleeing a life of misery, when things did not happen the way they wanted on the way to the Promised Land, they looked back with longing to a life that did not exist. "Was it really that bad in Egypt?" The land they left sounded better than the future God had planned for them.
Sadly, I know many who say similar things today.
I have heard some Christians say that things were "easier/better" before they became Christians. When rough times hit they convince themselves that their "past" was not so bad after all. Hey I've done it myself.
We forget that we are dead to the past! We are new Creations in Christ Jesus!
Live like it!
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.
I could not put a finger on my feelings of late. I just...I don't know, I want something more than humdrum Christianity.
I am tired of just the same old routine where Christians debate about the latest hot button issue, backed by Biblical texts proving their view is the right one and is the "ordained by God" way of looking at things.
I realized I am tired. As I walked through the Christian bookstore I saw lots of books about a wide range of topics but could not find the one I was looking for...the one that says, "Hey...forget everything else, there is a world outside your door and people are living and dying and going to hell...why don't you get off your butt, go deeper with God and do something about it."
I just want to know Him more and to share Him with those around me.
Then, tonight I saw this from Compassion:
It is so easy to get caught up in keeping up with the Joneses.
Why not do something else with your time and money.
Sponsor a child, save a life, share the good news.
Children, the elderly, the alcoholic, the addict, the abused and the abuser...they all need Jesus Christ.
If you can't give to great orgs like Compassion, can you give of your time to the homeless man on the street?
There is more to life than keeping up with the Joneses.
Today's guest is a true American hero. Louis Zamperini was an Olympic athlete and a prisoner of war during WW2. When his ship crashed in the Pacific, he drifted for 47 days and over 2,000 miles into Japanese controlled waters. He was tortured for 2 years before the war came to an end. His story continued and eventually wove it's way to the Cross of Calvary.
He has been featured on CBS, the Today Show and was most recently the subject of author Laura Hillenbrand's most recent book, Unbroken.
Today, at 94, Louis Zamperini maintains a busy speaking schedule and shares his story with audiences around the nation.
Here is my short interview with this legend of WW2.
Hello Mr. Zamperini,
1. You were an Olympic athlete (1936) and went to Berlin for the Games. What was the best part of that experience?
2. During WW2 you crashed at sea and drifted for 47 days and then spent 2 years as a POW. Was there a moment where you felt like giving up?
Just the opposite. I was too busy thinking about living to worry about dying.
3. After coming home you suffered from PTSD and struggled with alcohol before finding Jesus Christ. How immediate was the change in your life?
In the blink of an eye.
4. What has the Lord taught you about forgiveness?
Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. Hate and anger make you grow old, quickly. Forgiveness is a complete healing. Mark Twain said, "Forgiveness is the scent of the flower on the heel that crushed it."
5. What do you hope people take away from your story?
1) Be Prepared (for all things)
2) Be Hardy (learn how to overcome obstacles)
3) Forgive your enemies.
Thank you so much for taking the time to do this Mr. Zamperini.To see past 5 Questions guests see the 5 questions page under the tab above.