God’s Love for the Loveless – Part 5
|By: Dr. Michael Easley; ©2007|
|Dr. Easley responds to questions from the audience.|
This message was recorded at the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove in Asheville, North Carolina. Through the ministry of The Cove we’re training people in God’s Word to win others to Christ. It’s our goal to develop Christians who experience God through knowing Him better, knowing His Word, building godly relationships and helping others know Him. We trust that this message will strengthen your walk with God and help you experience Him right where you are.
Question: In Hosea, it says, “The word of the Lord came to Hosea,” and then in verse 2, it says, “When, the Lord began to speak through Hosea the Lord said to him, ‘Go take to yourself an adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness.’” My question is, was it an audible speaking? You know, sometimes you know for us today, we have; I’m sure you’ve had this question before pastor. Sometimes, you know we, like my, the Holy Spirit speaks to us and when the test they tell us if something is from the Lord or not from the Lord is does it line up with Scripture?
Question: And here you know the Lord spoke to Hosea. How did He speak to the prophets?
Easley: Well, we know, for example, in the record of Moses, God spoke to Moses audibly. In fact, this is one of the things that the Jews revere so much, that God spoke to Moses like a man face to face, the text says. And, of course, we have to balance the other texts where no one can see His face and live. But the idea is he heard an audible sound. The other prophets, some of them, we just frankly don’t know. Obviously Samuel, in the record of Samuel, he hears a voice. He’s being called. So there are audible times God speaks to the prophets of old. There is no reason to say that every time we read “the word of the Lord came” we have to think of an audible.
The Holy Spirit, the doctrine of inspiration where the Holy Spirit overwhelms a person to write Scripture, I can’t tell you; I don’t think it’s mechanical dictation. I don’t think a person goes in a trance and starts writing the Bible. We have what we call, large A Author, God, little a, author, the style of the writer. So when I read Johannine literature I can see some Johannine language—abide, believe—that the Pauline literature doesn’t use. So there’s definitely some fingerprint of the author in the way he wrote the Scriptures.
So, my sanctified imagination is somehow God has called him through a vision, through a dream. The text does not use the word “vision” or “dream,” but some way He got a hold of him. He heard the voice of God. And I wouldn’t have any problem thinking that was audible or somehow in his head that he knew God was speaking to him.
Now, to the question today, of how God speaks to us. Christians disagree, and there are those who would say there’s a word of knowledge or the Lord impressed upon me, or His Spirit taught me, and I understand what people mean by that. I tend to be a more of a literalist, that if the Word of God doesn’t say it clearly, I don’t know what it is. It may be an experience. It may be some thought in my head I wouldn’t normally have. I’m not quite ready to ascribe that to God telling me something, personally. I think there’s a lot of danger in that and we have to be very careful if we’re going to speak for God.
Now, there are men and women who say, “The Lord told me to do this, the Lord told me,” and I’m not disparaging that. I just think we have to be very careful. If God said something it is not the inerrant word of God. And if He is continuing to reveal Himself and continuing to prophesy, we better be writing it down. I choose to believe the canon, the Word we use, is closed, that the revealed Word of God is complete. So if I hear; let’s just say I have an experience and I feel this impression or noise or someplace in the back of my head that talks to me, if that’s an experience I’m going to give it no authority, but I will pay attention to it. If things work out in a situation and I say, “Well, Lord, this, you know, opened door,” we use that phraseology, this happened, this happened, coincidental things, I don’t want to remove the hand of God and say God isn’t involved in my life. But I’m very careful to say “God said” or “God told me.”
Because I think the implications of that are very huge. If God told me to go to the Moody Bible Institute, what if it falls apart after I go? Well, then I’ve got to come up with some new angle, right? So I choose to look at wisdom, to look at stewardship, to look at what other godly people tell me. What I do know from the revealed text—and I’ve sort of amalgamate all that to say—I think we can safely trust the Lord at His Word. I don’t know if I answered your question, but I kind of ambled around it. Good question.
Question: How can you tell when you’re praying about something and you know you’re inhabited by the Holy Spirit, and that old voice in the back of your head says something, how can you tell? How can you tell when you think you’re getting an answer whether it’s from the Holy Spirit or the devil?
Easley: Well, obviously, that’s a great question. Obviously, if I’m praying and I feel this impression or inclination or direction or conviction, or whatever you want to call it, if it doesn’t line up with the Word then I have a big question mark. If it’s a subjective area where there’s no real certainty, then what I do is I continue to pray about it; I seek wise counsel. And some of the men that are my mentors, you know them well, and I would call them on the phone and I would say, “What do you think about this?” And I would vet it by them. I don’t think God is a confusing God. I don’t think His direction from the Word is difficult or obscure. I think my sin makes it such. And on the few occasions where you have that voice in the back of your head, whatever it is, maybe I’m just too afraid to say that’s God speaking to me.
But the way I sort of reconcile that is God’s Holy Spirit permanently indwells me. If we take the Johannine passage, He convicts the world concerning sin, righteousness and judgment. If the Holy Spirit’s role is there pertaining to the believer—which is a question mark: does it pertain to the world or to the believer? That’s a fun one to analyze—if it’s pertaining to the believer He convicts me concerning sin, righteousness and judgment. Then how do I respond to those issues?
So when I read the text and there’s value to it and it impresses me and it moves me intellectually and spiritually, I believe that’s the Holy Spirit who is helping, guiding, directing me. He does not direct, I believe, in the same way He did in John, the Upper Room Discourse, where He says, “I will lead you into all truth.” That has to be descriptive of the disciple, not the whole body of Christ. Otherwise Christians would all be doing the right things. We wouldn’t have two opinions on a controversial subject if we’re being led by the Spirit of God. So we can’t subscribe to the Holy Spirit telling me something when we’d say five Christians who are really following Christ would have five opinions. So that’s where I think we have to follow wisdom and our own personal choices.
But at the end of the day He’s not confusing. I think He loves me. He cares about me. He wants a relationship with me. I find we err on truth or Spirit, each one of us. When Jesus said He wants worshippers in Spirit and in truth we err: I err on the text; and I think some err on the Spirit. They lean too much on the feeling, the impression, the inclination, the direction. Some are a little bit too wooden. And if I’m going to lean in error, I’m going to probably err on that side because I’d rather sort of say, “Well, Lord, the best I understand this it says this,…” And that subjective part is what makes me kind of scary. I mean, Christian disagree on this, but this in nature the spiritual life. It’s walking closely connected to Christ through His Word, through His Spirit, through His people, so I’m staying on course. It’s a hard answer.
Question: Could you explain a New Testament passage Hebrews 10:26 in regards to eternal security; and I’ve been hearing a lot of back and forth about that, that a Christian, a born again believer can lose their salvation. Could you address that, please?
Easley: The warning passages in the book of Hebrews, chapter 4, chapter 6, chapter 10. And what you’re particular was 10:26: “If we deliberately sin after receiving the knowledge of truth there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but is certain terrifying expectation of judgment with the fury of a fire and the wrath of consuming adversaries of God.”
First of all, the so-called Armenian position of the lost of salvation, if you take the passage in Peter, the passage in Jude, the warning passages, there is therefore no longer the sacrifice of sin. But you know, if you take these warning passages by themselves, it sounds like you can lose your salvation. It sounds like a person can you know, sin and go off the reservation so to speak. If you take them in a narrow context, which I think the book of Hebrews is—it’s written to the Diaspora, the dispersed Jews—it’s written to group of people who are trying to go back to a temple complex kind of worship. So “let’s reinvigorate the sacrificial system”.
After Jesus comes and after 70 AD when Titus has destroyed the Jerusalem complex you can’t offer sacrifice anymore. And so the Jewish person who came to Christ is struggling with, well, how do I get forgiveness? How do I get repentance? And the author of Hebrews is saying you can’t go back to the sacrificial system. If you go back there all you’re going to find is wrath, because in Christ it has been solved and you don’t go back to a system that will only dead end. So look at it another way, if Jesus had to come back the Levitical systems of sacrifice, sin offering, grain offering, free will offering, all those, they won’t do anything. You can’t get rid of your sin through a sacrifice. And that’s what the message of Hebrews is saying: The priest who stands daily ministering day after day offering the same sacrifice, which can never take away sin. So you take it in context you can’t go back to the sacrificial system because it’s bankrupt and Christ fulfilled it.
Said another way, you can’t go back, so you might as well go on. And I think that’s the message of the book of Hebrews. The security of the believer’s salvation has to be in the accomplished work of Calvary, not what you and I do. “And this is eternal life,” “that you may know you have eternal life.” And if you look at the passages that underscore our security of faith, Ephesians 2:8,9, and 10, you look at some of these passages, Titus 3:5, these are the bedrocks, John 5:24, “He who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.”
So, you can’t extrapolate those passages and say, well, the author of Hebrews seems to sanction and the passage in Jude, that you can lose your salvation, “the dog returns to its vomit.” Those passages aren’t germane to the Spirit of a believer. They are to a person who is in a system of sacrificial, “How do I go back?”
A good example of this is in Acts 15, the so-called Jerusalem Council. When Paul and Barnabas were seeing all these non Jews come to Christ the Jewish believers in Jerusalem get all spun up about this. “Well, they have to become Jews first,” is sort of the message. So the Jerusalem Council is the first time there was a collision of the Gentile population with the Law of the Jewish believer. And that discussion comes out, you remember, the verdict they render is it’d be good if they don’t eat meat sacrificed to idols and they shouldn’t have immoral relationships and they’re almost sort of baseline sins, if you will. But the point that came out of the Jerusalem Council was you don’t have to be a Jew to be a Christian. And then, of course, Paul will write in Romans about the grafting in, right.
So, I’m getting ahead of your question, but I think these are related issues. The doctrine of the eternal security of the believer cannot be in what I do or don’t do. If it is, then Christ’s death wasn’t a sufficient substitution for my salvation. It was a partial substitution. If it’s a partial substitution then I can go back to the law to begin with and I can do it myself. So that’s sort of the Armenian view. The Calvinistic or Baptistic view of the security of salvation is in the accomplishment of Calvary, not in what we do afterwards. And this, by the way is a huge issue even in evangelical circles, people who still fear they can lose their salvation.
Question: Israel, why did God choose Israel over any other nation? You may have discussed this and I missed it, but I’ve often wondered about that.
Easley: I have no idea. My sanctified imagination is because they were the most stubborn people. And I think in that we see this hessid love. “I’m going to choose a people who will question Me, who will argue with Me, who will disobey Me, who will worship other idols.” And, I mean, you think about, when He chooses Moses, Moses argues with Him. “I can’t do that. I can’t do that.” “You will do this thing! End of discussion!” And so Moses becomes sort of the representative of the people, and they’re just like him, only worse, right. And then we fast forward; so is every sinner. So I don’t know. I think that God, just in His cosmic sense of humor, said, “I’m going to pick the most difficult one to make a point.” That’s my heresy for the day.
Question: We have a son who’s at the University of Texas and is in an emerging church,…
Easley: Oh, wow.
Question: …and, you know, we’ve just like to get your thoughts on it.
Easley: The emerging church is; let me back up this way. The Baptist Church in its history was seeker-sensitive before seeker-sensitivity was cool. The Baptist Church understood reaching people for Christ. They had certain methods and modalities. They had bus ministries. They had walk an aisle, pray a prayer. They had certain things that identified them with leading people to Christ. As transgenerational things changed, that model fell on to difficult times. Most churches don’t have a bus ministry anymore. Only the most ensconced Baptist churches still have a daily altar call, a center where they expect people, some do and they do it effectively, but it was a model, a modality in time.
When the Willow Creek Association and Saddleback came along they dialed in to new ways of reaching people for Christ with the gospel. And they have created all sorts of challenges and blessings along the way. The emerging church, in my humble opinion—now, leave out the Vineyard movement, some of these things—the emerging church is the next one. Many of the factors they’re dialing in I think are important. And many have very strong fears about it.
D.A. Carson has written a very good analysis of the emerging church movement and I would, if you’re really interested, I’d read his book on it. The title escapes me at the moment. But D.A. has done the best intellectual dissection of it. I am fearful that we have lost community of the body of Christ. We have lost the authority of the Scripture. We have lost the exposition of the Scripture. And if you follow the emerging church dialogue they’re not teaching the Bible; they’re talking about story and narrative. In the homiletic community the watchword is “orality.” Let’s tells stories. And Jesus told stories. Well, yeah, but He’s the Son of God and the whole book’s about Jesus. You can’t just take 38 parables. There’s the whole counsel of God in this book. So I think when we start moving away from the text we’re in danger.
Now I’m a dinosaur when I say all this. If you’re a King James only 1611 authorized version you’re a dinosaur too. You understand what I’m saying. And to hold on to the model of biblical exposition being the local church and teaching from the Word of God, building community, discipleship, outreach, you’re a dinosaur. So the challenge becomes for us is to engage the dialogue without becoming, you know, 1611 authorized only. And I think that’s a challenge for all of us as we walk in these waters.
I have sort of salvoed myself in a position; I call it Paul’s ecclesiology bookends: in Titus and Timothy Paul says very clearly, Timothy, Titus, teach and prescribe these things, sound doctrine. I mean, he’s over: this is how you pick elders. This is how you do church. You do it this way. You do it this way. It’s very prescriptive, okay. It’s very hard to read in between the lines on that stuff; it’s very clear. But in Philippians, is it 1:13? He says if Christ is preached from contempt, I’ll rejoice. It’s a very interesting passage because he’s in prison, right. And he’s talking about some are doing the gospel to make me mad and some are doing it out of love and good will. And he says if Christ is preached from contempt, I’ll rejoice. So that’s Michael Easley’s bookends of ecclesiology. If somebody out there is doing the wrong thing with the gospel and people are coming to Christ I’ll rejoice.
But when we do church, men and women, we do it by the Book. We follow 1 Timothy and Titus and Acts and the prescriptive nature of the church, form and function debates, but you cannot go off the reservation so far that we’re just going to tell a story about walking around a lake in a rainstorm, which is the kind of thing they do very effectively, and how God’s with you in the rainstorm. Well, it’s a great illustration, but why don’t you teach me about Daniel in the lion’s den, or teach me about you know, Joseph, or teach me about Jesus Christ being alone on the sea? And so I obviously have far more concerns than I do optimism about the emerging church.
Question: In seeking God’s will for a decision that you would be struggling with, you made a statement and I just wonder what that was. You said as long as you line it up with the Word of God.
Easley: Right. Decision making is a precarious thing for all of us. I often say you really don’t trust God until you’re in between something. If you have a job and you’re happy, you don’t really trust God. If your marriage is happy you don’t really trust God. If your marriage is in the rocks you have to trust God. You’re begging God for help. And we tend to make these decisions in critical times of stress, so our emotions become a little bit off. And that’s okay. That’s how God has wired us.
I appeal to a number of things. I appeal to the wisdom of the Word of God. I appeal to a stewardship of who I am and I appeal to mentors who know me very well. So, for example, when Moody knocked on our door I was happy as could be in the local church. I did not want to leave the local church. And my wife who I have loved for 27 years, whenever a church would call us in the past, she would say, if you go there I’m staying in Virginia because she loved Immanuel. One time this big church came along; I mean, it was really a cat’s meow from a human standpoint. I said, look honey, they want me to be the pastor. And she was washing the dishes. She didn’t even look at me or the packet. She said, “You go there I’m staying in Virginia.”
So when Moody called I knew what Cindy was going to say. “You go to Chicago I’m staying in Virginia.” So I walked downstairs after talking with Joe Stowell and I said, “Honey, you’re not going to believe who just called.” And I tell her, and mind you, I wasn’t interested. And I’m waiting for the “you go to Chicago and I’m staying.” And she goes, “Michael, do not dismiss this one out of hand.” And I went, “The woman Thou gavest me!” So I called Dr. Hendricks, Howard Hendricks has been a great mentoring friend for 25 years. I called Prof on the phone. I said, “Prof, what do I do?” And within 5% of the words he said “Don’t dismiss this one out of hand.” And I’ve got my wife on one side and Hendricks on the other, what are you going to do? So then I started talking to other mentors and friends, and I started looking at this.
So the wisdom, what the Word tells me, which in this place is vacant, and then a stewardship. And stewardship is really gift, talent, ability, ministry, interests. If someone asks me to come be a comptroller for a Christian company I don’t have any ability there. They may as well ask me to be a physician, you know, an internal surgeon tomorrow. I mean, you know I read a book once, but I’m not going to cut you open, you know. So there are some limits you have: your skill set, your ability, your financial resources, your health, all those things come to play as a wisdom of stewardship.
And so for this next level then it was, “Okay Lord, I’ve had 20 years in ministry. You’ve been pretty kind to me. You’ve been pretty fair to me. I’ve been blessed beyond my usefulness. I love the ministry. Maybe that fits in an area I never saw in my life at Moody.” So then I start analyzing, if my life is Yours, Lord, what do I do with it?
And I will tell you the decision to leave a church and a home and a neighborhood and friends that we loved and adored was not to go to Moody to be President. The decision was, this was a stewardship issue God put in front of me, and I felt as a soldier of Jesus Christ I had to say “Yes sir.” I didn’t want to go. I felt it was of God to go.
So now, whether that helps you or not in the paradigm of decision making, my illustration simply is this, you can go through all the right metrics; at the end of the day it’s between you and the Lord; some wise people. And then once you make the decision you never look back. And if you’re going to go do a thing or move or go on the mission field or go in the ministry, you never look back, because then we’re back to hearing God talk to us. And then if it doesn’t go right or it falls apart or we’re stupid and make it fall apart, then we have to explain it away or sort of absolve God, right?
You know, what I find is people blame the group they go to. Guys say, “Well, I was called to be the pastor of this church.” Two years later they hate the church, they’re threatening to sue it. And I go, “What happened between the call of God and you’re threatening to sue the people that have been paying your paycheck for two years?” “Well, they didn’t tell us this, we didn’t tell them that.” I say, “Well, they’re human beings. What’s the next question?” “They’re sinful people.” Next question. There’s no perfect church. Next question. And I deal with this all the time with guys that are called to ministry, they’re called to a church and then the wheels fall off and they blame the leadership. I’m saying, the phone didn’t ring, guys. You made a decision to go there tactically by whatever metric you used, but don’t blame it on God. You know, so I’m sorry I’m meddling now.
Question: The sidebar you mentioned that almost no one can trace their Jewish heritage.
Question: I was wondering what you meant by that, and the second part of my question is, there are some promises in the Old Testament that were specifically meant just for the Jews,…
Lady: …and cannot be applied to us.
Lady: So if you could just speak to that issue.
Easley: The first one. When you look at the change, after 70 A.D. and the dispersion of Judaism and you have the Palestinian conflict, Arab influence, the Mediterranean influence, it really has become a Polynesian kind of thing that as you have in Hawaii; no one really knows the actually original Hawaiians, if you will, and because of the Polynesians. And the Jews that we have today, the Israelites, I doubt very seriously they could trace their lineage back. I mean, I’m German, Irish, and Italian, and I know my maternal side were both from northern Italy. My paternal side, we’re German/Irish, but it gets kind of complicated after that. So I think the same issue resides in the Jewish race, if you want to call it that, the Jewish ethnic group. It’s very hard to track it back to say these are really Israelites, they are really Jewish.
The second part, of the promises being unique to Israel, I firmly believe they’re unique to Israel. I think in the New Testament you have to understand how to deal with that. My friends who I love dearly in the Reformed traditions will remove those unique promises to Jews and Israel and they will amalgamate them with the church. Now, that may not be a very assessment of reformed theology but I think it’s an accurate assessment. And so when you come to issues like Romans 9, 10, 11, they will say, well, they’re not talking about Israel, they’re talking about the church. And in a way that makes sense, because if we’re a believer in Christ we’re part of the church.
But I’m a literalist and I think those promises made to Abraham were unique. It was a unique promise and I think the fulfillment of it will be unique. And I believe in a literal approach so that Romans 9 there will be a resurgence of the Jew coming back to follow Christ. If you talk to Jews for Jesus or the Chosen People Ministries, of course, that’s what they’re made on is that to be an opening to the Jew, and I think that’s true. I think in the 70’s we were kind of excited that it was the end times because a lot of Jews were coming to Christ and then it kind of faded off the scene. But I think the hardening what Paul talks about is present in the Jewish mind and the work of the church in Israel is huge. There are many Christian nationals in Israel who are making a huge ministry for the gospel, and so I’m excited about that. So is that close to an answer? Okay. Yes sir. Yes mam.
Question: Could you please help me clarify in the Old Testament where it talks about the 12 tribes of Israel, and if you do your math 144,000 isn’t very many people to be saved.
Easley: Yeah, and you have the two and a half tribes too, don’t forget, you know. Well the 144,000 is probably,… there’s two ways of looking at it. It’s either a select group of people, probably the elders that are in some form or fashion set apart uniquely, or it’s a metaphorical number that’s a perfect number. And numerology is not my field, and when I study these things I get real nervous when someone starts connecting the dots real tightly on some of those numbers. Dates I think we’re safe on. God likes the numbers 7, 10, 12, 14, 144. There are certain numbers He likes, and that’s about the extent of my pay grade on numbers. I tend to lean that it has to do with elders or some type of Jewish leader that was chosen and special, but I wouldn’t fall on my sword for it.
Question: Would you please explain why doctrinally it’s important to know why you believe what you believe.
Easley: You’ve been listening to Proclaim.
Question: Yes, I have.
Easley: My whole assumption of this series has been that, as I travel, Christians believe stuff but they don’t know why. And when they go into a university setting in particular, these kids get dismantled. When I was a pastor I would all of a sudden get all these emails from first semester freshman students at the secular campuses. And they’d go, “Why do we believe this?” And I’d go, “Well, we have failed because we haven’t trained you why you believe what you believe.”
The classic of this is my daughter who’s going to a Reformed school. It’s a great Christian school, but it’s the Reformed Church of America and, of course, they don’t believe in a rapture. So she comes home all exercised going, “Dad, what do we believe about the rapture?” And I thought, you know, my own child I’ve failed, you know. And it’s not so much proving one another right or wrong. It’s understanding, why do you believe in a rapture? Why do you believe in eternal security? Why do you believe once saved always saved? Why do you believe that baptism is an ordinance of identification, not part of your salvation?
And so my goal has been to push people, to ask them, why are you believing this stuff? Because what happens is when someone asks you, you don’t know why. “Well, I was just told that. Good people, religious people all my life told me I trusted Jesus and I was saved.” So part of the series is trying to goad people back into reviewing these things. I also find people are finding assurance of salvation because their assurance has been based on good people telling them things, and they really don’t know why they’re saved. And they look at 10 or 12 verses on the assurance of salvation and go, oh, that’s why I’m eternally secure, not because of what I do, but because of what Christ has done.
Question: We frequently hear people say my father, my earthy father, who is in heaven is with me today, and that’s why I play ball so well. They think grandma is smiling down on them because they’re helping somebody. At the same time we hear about the great cloud of witnesses the Bible talks about and people think that they’re up there watching everything we do.
Lady: On the other hand, we’re told that heaven is a place where there’s no more sorrow and no more tears. And I don’t see how they could be looking down on us without the sorrow and tears to see the condition we’re in today. So can you address this?
Easley: Excellent question. The great cloud of witnesses is a great passage, because so many people do appeal to it as you described, people cheering us on. That has nothing to do with what the text is saying. The text is saying “since we have all these people who went before us, you should live faithfully.” You’ve got all these people; it’s like the evidence is overwhelmingly in our favor. And they died in faith without receiving the promises, but you should have courage and faith because they went before us.
And I hear the same thing. And as a pastor people say a lot of goofy things to you, you know. And “I know my father prays for me every night,” and this kind of stuff. And I’ve chosen to be merciful to dumb questions. I don’t know, but I don’t just see grandma and grandpa peering down over heaven looking at me. I think they are so overwhelmed with the Person and work of Jesus Christ they’re flat on their face. I’m going to write a book one day called, Like A Dead Man. And you remember in Revelation when the angel, when John sees the angel and says, “I fell on my face like a dead man,” and that’s not even the beginning. You know, the reason we’re going to be in eternity is because for the first millennium we’re all going to be on our faces and Jesus is going to come up and one by one pick us up and then we’re going to fall back on our face. So it’s going to take several millennia just for Him to get us to stand up. We are going to be overwhelmed with the Person and work of Jesus Christ, so much so the old hymn, “The things of the earth go strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”
So is there a sense in which we have the Abraham illustration, the great chasm fixed in Luke 10, is it, where he looks over and sees? So you’ve got to amalgamate some of these. But I think from a biblical theological standpoint we don’t have evidence in Scripture of these people interceding on our behalf. We have no substance there. Jesus intercedes on my behalf by name, which is pretty exciting. He lives to have constant intercession. So if I don’t need an intermediary in an angelic realm in the book of Hebrews I don’t need grandma or grandpa as an intermediary either. But you want to be kind.
Question: Every day it seems like we hear about the war on terror and Islamic radical extremists and we see the political debate. As a Christian, what is the proper framework from which to view this, and how should we be thinking about it and interpreting all the information that we’re getting?
Easley: Governments were established for us to be protected. In Romans 13 and 1Timothy 2:2, we’re to pray for our governing authorities. If we do good we have no fear. America is not a theocracy. By which I mean, I know many would argue we are a Christian nation. I would argue many good Christian people helped found America. I will not call us a Judeo-Christian nation. I think that’s an inaccurate assessment. I think there were Judeo-Christian concepts that formed the fabric of this great experiment, but we are not a theocracy. We do not deserve God’s blessing. God’s been kind to us.
I, Michael Easley believe it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better. I hate to be a pessimist, but there’s nothing we can look at in our culture that’s gotten better since we started, so I just don’t see it getting better. I’m sorry I’m not an optimist.
When it comes to the war on terror, the debate of just war or not was, I was very embroiled in it. When we were in the Washington DC area we had a church full of men and women in uniform, politicians, elected officials, appointed officials, and this is people’s 8 to 5 world. And so you have a lot of discussion about this. We actually had some forums where we talked about it in great length. When the Commander-in-Chief makes a decision to go to war it doesn’t matter what side of the aisle you’re on. He is invested with the authority to go to war. And before George Bush was elected I asked a number of our politicians, I said, “If he becomes President and if he takes us to war, will you be glad he’s President?” Because at the end of the day economics and social reform and taxation and all the things we live with, we will live with. But when it comes to taking a country to war we die with. So I, this was a question I posed to all my political friends. And not to get into that discussion, but they held certain opinions and I held certain opinions.
When I push the button to vote for, you know the candidate I voted for, in the back of my mind was, what will this person do? And, of course, no one knew about the war on terror, if we have to go to war. Fast forward: in the absence of the war on terror, our culture for the past three decades, elections are won on 4-5% margins. When Ronald Reagan won he had the largest popular vote in memory and he had the largest electoral vote in memory. Post-Reagan that hasn’t happened. And these politicians will spend billions of dollars for about 2-3% of a vote. So if you win with 52% it’s a huge celebration.
When you watch our votes between the House and the Senate right now the margins are narrower than they’ve been in 30 years. That tells me our country is in really bad shape, really bad shape. So the war on terror is glommed on to this and we’re divided as a country. So to just wax eloquent and say I’m for the war or I’m against the war really is fairly naive statement. I personally am for protecting our troops. I know men, some women, mostly men over there that were at our church. We had 64 officers deployed within the first few months when this began. I know men that have been over there two or three times. I have a friend, one of my buddies, he was the first one to go into the Bagdad Airport and take it over and he’s standing there in all his testosterone glory in front of the airport. And I love those guys like crazy and they love Jesus Christ and that’s where my heart is.
So supporting the president; if you don’t like the president then you pray for the office of the president, because that’s the government God has allowed us to live under. And if we do it well we must pray for them. No matter who becomes president in ‘08 I will pray for them. I may not like him or her, but I will pray for them.
And the other thing I would encourage you is as a Christian population, pray for men and women who love Christ who are on the Hill, because there are a lot of them, especially in uniform who are trying to make a difference. And I’m not running for office.