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Guest Interviews

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Andrew Farley

2205 2020-05-06

Dr. Andrew Farley (AF) is the senior pastor of Ecclesia, an Evangelical Church in West Texas. In addition to being a best-selling author, Andrew is the faculty advisor for Intervarsity Christian Fellowship and speaks at churches and universities throughout the United States and Canada. He is also a professor of Applied Linguistics at Texas Tech University, where he lives with his wife, Katherine and their son, Gavin. Andrew's latest book is entitled, Heaven is Now. Lawrence Wilkes (LW) interviews Andrew.

LW: My guest today is Dr. Andrew Farley. Andrew is the senior pastor of Ecclesia, an Evangelical church in West Texas, where he lives with his wife, Katherine and son, Gavin. Andrew is a bestselling author, he works with Intervarsity Christian Fellowship and he speaks at churches and universities throughout the United States and Canada. Andrew is also a professor of Applied Linguistics at Texas Tech University.

Andrew, tell us about your book, Heaven is Now. So many authors write about heaven to be, or heaven to come, but not heaven now.

AF: Well scripture tells us that we are raised and seated with Christ in heavenly places. That the kingdom of God is within us, and that we're aliens and strangers in this world. You know we do our best to try to explain away these things because we can't have our faith involving such radical notions. But this book Heaven is Now is about the reality of us being seated right next to Jesus.

We talk a lot about being close to Christ and we want to be close to God. We might even think that there's a system by which we can try to get closer, and of course we're eventually going to be closer. But what heaven's announcement is is that we are raised and seated with the King; we are seated right next to Him and that's by His doing. That's a beautiful thing.

LW: Andrew, your father was ill and you were with him as he was passing. This profoundly affected you and you realized at that time that you could do nothing. It was out of your control. Tell us how that affected you.

AF: Well in 1998, my father was in a bad car accident and as he lay in a coma in Fairfax County hospital, a pastor arrived and tried to heal him. He anointed him with oil and prayed in Jesus' name that he be healed. But my father just lay there.

Sometimes we do want to ask even in Jesus' name that things be different. We want control. But the reality is if you've lived more than a day, you already know that's not happening. We're not in control.

Hope is not going to come from changing our circumstances. Many times, hope has to come in the midst of our circumstances. I like to say this world is made of glass and it's all going to come shattering down at one point or another. We have to realize that our hope is in Jesus Christ and His presence in us, even in the midst of life's toughest circumstances. And that's what Heaven is Now is all about.

LW: That's terrific! Now in your book, you mention Horatio Spafford, who wrote an incredible hymn after dramatic things happened in his life. Tell us how that all fits in.

AF: Well not too long ago, a man named Horatio Spafford, a very wealthy businessman in the city of Chicago, lost his family in a Chicago fire. In fact he lost most of his children. So he sent the rest of them with his wife on a ship across the ocean to England, perhaps to take a vacation or to grieve a while. On their way over in the ship, the ship was shipwrecked and he lost more family members. He would receive a telegram from his wife when she arrived in England that said "saved alone."

So he went to be with her and got on a ship himself. And in the hull of that ship traveling across the Atlantic Ocean, he penned the hymn that we sing all the time, "It Is Well with My Soul." When you think about what he says in that hymn, you wonder if he's delusional. Where is he coming from? How can he say it is well with his soul having lost his family members, all of his children, his businesses and his wealth?

We talk about needing more faith: I wish I had more faith, I wish had more faith. But the scripture tells us that to each man, God has apportioned a measure of faith. So it's not about how much faith we have, it's about the object of our faith. What are we angling our faith toward? What are we pointing it toward? Are we pointing it toward error or truth? God tells us the truth will set us free every single time.

LW: You also talk about the five senses and how those figure in.

AF: The first one is feel the freedom of grace. It's interesting how grace is such a buzz word today. We use the word grace in our sermons, in our songs and in our church language, but I've found that grace really has no teeth to it. It has no bite to it without something called the new covenant. The bible talks extensively about the new covenant, but for me, I had never even heard a single sermon on what the new covenant was. I thought new covenant was the church down the street, you know, new covenant chapel of God or something like that.

But Hebrews, above all epistles, really helped me get a firm foundation in what the new covenant is. The book of Hebrews talks about the radical difference between the old and the new. It says that the new covenant came into effect because the people did not remain faithful. We all tend to worry a lot. Many Christians will worry about their salvation, their status before God. Am I okay? Could I lose my salvation? It is possible that the Lord will leave me if I do too much sinning? Too much disobedience - would it lead to that?

And what's so beautiful about the new covenant is that it came on the scene because of our faithlessness. It is the solution to our faithlessness. The scripture tells us that even when we are faithless, He remains faithful. The book of Hebrews tells us that the new covenant is a promise between God and God, and because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself. Then it says we have this hope as an anchor for the soul.

So what if my salvation is not about me? What if it's about Him? What if it's about the finished work of Jesus? And these five senses - hear the spirit bearing witness to our new identity in Jesus Christ. Who are we? Who is it that God says we are? Are we merely a dirty sinner saved by grace, no different than the guy next door or are we a new creation with God's spirit living in us? See the finished work of Jesus. Forgiveness - how forgiven am I? When Jesus hung on a cross and said, "It is finished," how many sins did He die for and did it work? And of course the answer is yes.

So we are not people who are being forgiven progressively. That was old covenant, year after year after year, again and again. The beauty of the new covenant is that we are forgiven once for all.

Then lastly, taste the goodness of the Lord. How good is God? We might think God has a will for our lives that's so far off and so difficult to find. In fact, many people struggle with trying to find the will of God. But as we look in scripture, we find that the will of God is that we talk to Him. We pray without ceasing, giving thanks in all things. Salvation comes not only to the Jews, but to the Gentiles; to people like us. God's will is put forth in a very simple way in the scriptures. It's not a far off thing.

So this book, Heaven is Now is bringing all these senses together so that we can see how simple and powerful the gospel is.

LW: Wow, that's terrific. To wrap it all up, you are basically saying all that we must do is believe and thank God.

AF: Isn't that beautiful? It's all we can do. We're designed to be receivers. God has initiated. In fact, He took the initiative; "while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." And now our job is to wake up every day and say thank You, Jesus, for all that You've done for me.

LW: That makes it so simple, which is what it really is.

AF: That's right.

LW: Andrew Farley, thank you so much. God loves you and so do we.

AF: Thank you for having me.

LW: Andrew's book Heaven is Now is available in bookstores everywhere.

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