Living Life From the Heart – Part 5
|By: Dr. Michael Easley; ©2007|
|Dr. Easley answers audience questions.|
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.
Michael Easley: I have to answer questions. There were several I got about prayer, the subjectivity, objectivity: how do we pray, how does God answer prayer? The short version I would say is yes and no. I do think that we can pray specifically.
The way I have changed my prayer life is I try to ask the question, “Does the answer to this prayer glorify and honor Christ in some way?” Most of my prayer lists are, frankly, very self-focused and, you know, health, your kids, whatever. And those are good prayers. I think we are enjoined to ask God for these things. The psalmist certainly does ask God a lot of things. But you’ll also notice many of the psalms end without an answer. Not all the psalms are written in a “thank you for answering my prayer” hindsight. Some of them are almost, we’re left hanging: Will God come through for the psalmist? So that is instructive that we’re going to ask and God may not answer.
I also think in my prayer life I have learned the goal of prayer is not the answer; the goal of prayer is prayer. Prayer is a relationship, not a response mechanism. And, in fact, that little book that I put out a couple years ago, that Moody was kind enough to print called Interludes, it’s really my struggle with prayer. We pray so poorly, we pray trite, we pray repetitious. I challenge you at lunch to pray differently than you prayed yesterday at lunch or today at breakfast. And we are so rote. And we’re talking to the God of the universe. We don’t preach sermons the way we pray prayers. At least I hope we don’t. But we pray so poorly. So I have been in my own journey with prayer, struck with we don’t connect well with the sovereign because we don’t know prayer.
And as you study the prayers, the psalms, the prayer of Hannah, the prayer of Moses, any prayer, the Pauline prayers are rich in theology as well, see what they’re asking. And many times the outcome is, will this thing glorify God? Will people coming to Christ and glorify God? Sure. Will, you know, church growth glorify God? Will a missionary’s work glorify God? Will my back being pain-free glorify God? Well, I’d like it to be. I’d be happy to tell people my back is perfect, Lord. I really would. And so I’m going to try and suffer well. And I’m going to try and not be too ornery, so I have to pray, God give me the strength. I don’t ask God why do I have a bad back, I ask Him how do I live with a bad back? That’s a very different prayer.
So anyway, who’s got the first from the floor?
Question: My question is today we have the opportunity if we’ve accepted Christ as our Savior to have the Holy Spirit living within us. In biblical times before the resurrection of Jesus, how, what was the Holy Spirit’s part in their lives, like of Saul when the Holy Spirit left him?
Easley: Right, right. Excellent question. I believe, yes, but not permanently. Obviously David prays in Psalm 51, “Take not Your Spirit from me.” Implication: he saw what had happened to Saul when God removed His Spirit from him. There were fillings in the Old Testament. And we see Gideon. We see at different times when the Spirit overwhelms. I think we see the Spirit in Moses’ life on occasions. So yes, the Spirit did indwell the believer in the same way. The difference was prior to Christ’s death and resurrection He could not send the Paraclete as He talks in the Upper Room Discourse. And in fact, if you want to understand the Trinitarian doctrine it really is about salvation. In order to cement your salvation and give you the assurance of eternal security I have to go away so I can send the Spirit to live in you. If I don’t go away I can’t send Him, implication, to remain and indwell permanently.
The last thing I’ll say on that Ephesians 5, I think it’s verse 13 about “to be filled with the Spirit”. Paul, there’s one phrase that says to be filled with the Holy Spirit. It’s a very confusing verse taken at face value. But when you look at the context what he is saying is “Do not be drunk with wine. That is dissipation, but be filled with the Holy Spirit.” It’s verse 18, thank you. I knew it was somewhere in there. Even the author of Hebrews says somewhere it says “Do not get drunk with wine, that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.” So the question becomes how are we filled and what does filled mean? The illustration is very easy. Don’t take an external substance alcohol and consume it to a point of excess where that external substance is now controlling you. That is dissipation. But Paul says in contrast be filled with…. Is he saying drink in excess? No. He’s saying let the internal person of the Holy Spirit, not the external substance of alcohol, the internal person of the Spirit control you. It’s a beautiful picture of the Holy Spirit’s control. Don’t let an external substance overpower and control you. Let the internal person of the Spirit control you.
So this to me is the most important part of understanding the indwelling of the Spirit is I make a choice to be controlled by His Spirit. And it is in my estimation the worst aspect of what we do in Bible churches. We don’t teach people about the Spirit’s role. We’re afraid of the charismatic excesses and we become almost, you know, it’s subject to the objective. We become so refined that the Holy Spirit doesn’t do anything.
And that’s one of the questions I have I’ll jump to, because it was a great question, and I think I have a good answer. It was a question about the Holy Spirit working in your life. And I think there’s three indicators for it, God’s Word, God’s people and God’s Spirit. God’s Word has authority. So when I read Ephesians 5:18, that has authority in my life as I apply it. God’s Word, God’s people, the body of Christ help me. They walk with me. If I make a mistake, if I say something wrong, if I’m rude to my children, I’ve got friends that will confront me and say, “Michael, you need to watch how you whatever.” God’s people and God’s Spirit, the indwelling of the Spirit. So if you walk in those three areas of life, God’s Word, God’s people, God’s Spirit, I think you have the best you know, balance of keeping close to the authority of Scripture, the body of Christ and the Spirit of Christ that’s in us to help us live the Christian life.
Question: Are the morning and evening sacrifices of the lamb the only daily sacrifices?
Easley: Someone asked a very tough question about sacrifice and they said is the morning and evening sacrifice of the lamb the only daily sacrifice? And the answer to that is no. And it’s in Numbers 28. Numbers 28 is the description where Moses talks about the daily sacrifices, and there’s a whole list of the ones that they were to give. Verse 2, “Command the sons of Israel be careful to present my offering, my food for my offerings by fire, a soothing aroma.” Verse 3, “This is the offering of fire: two male lambs, one year old without defect, a continual burnt offering every day.” And then instruction on how to burn them. But then if you look at verse 5, “Also a tenth of an ephah of flour,” and on it goes. There were five basic offerings, burnt, grain, peace offerings, sin offerings and guilt offerings. And the sin and the guilt were the only two required offerings. The others were voluntary on most times. So it’s a very complex system but that’s the answer.
Question: You have said that you feel that bad times and immorality are going to continue, perhaps even grow, in the future. Why would a loving God allow that to happen? That’s a question a lot of people have, and I hope you’re wrong.
Easley: I hope I am too. I am a pessimist by nature and I have to work on that. But the good thing about being a pessimist by nature is that if something good happens you have real reasons to be excited. I think the biblical plan is that things are going to get worse and worse and worse. When Christ talks about wars and rumors of wars, these are but the beginning. He talks about birth pangs, and the only way I can understand that, depending on your view of the millennium and tribulation and such, is that we’re going to have more and more difficulties that are going to be closer compressed in time. A woman’s, I’ve never had a baby, but my wife has, and as the time of birth gets closer the contractions are more intense and longer.
And if that’s what Jesus meant when He said it will be as if that, we look at time. If you lived through World War II you had to think Hitler or somebody was the Antichrist. You had to. Evangelical preaching had to say this, they’re killing Jews for goodness sakes. This is the great solution; this has to be against God’s plan. Well, of course, that wasn’t the end of time. So every generation is trying to identify when it’s going to happen. Who knows? But I just believe from a biblical eschatology it’s going to be worse.
How can a loving God do this? Well, I don’t blame it on a loving God. A loving God has given the plan of redemption, but Adam fell and creation fell. And so as the world and sin have fallen, creation groans for Messiah to return. We all groan for this. I think it in a way it’s encouraging, because if America continues to be vilified and we lose more and more of our so-called Judeo-Christian heritage I think it’s good, because it will refine those of us who follow Christ. It will help us to be more confident in what we believe and why, not based upon blessing and prosperity, which I think we have been deceived into.
Now, do I want that to happen? No. No, I’d much rather sit on the rocking chair out here and enjoy life. But there may come a time in our life when it’s unlawful to be a vocal Christian. The Fairness Doctrine is impacting Christian broadcasting, being that that’s been my role for the past almost four years. If the Fairness Doctrine is passed Christian broadcasting will stop as you know it, because they will one by one come after us for saying that particular sins, if we identify them, if we call anything a sin and it offends somebody. And if somebody hurts someone because they say, “well, I heard that radio preacher Michael Easley say that was a sin,” and so he strikes that person, I’m now culpable for that. That’s the bizarre part of the Fairness Doctrine which our current Speaker of the House has said will remain in place and be enforced the next go around. And if she’s right, and if she does that, Christian broadcasting will be in big trouble.
Now God’s sovereign and I’m going to submit to the governing authority so I’m either going to say I love Jesus Christ and we’re all sinners going to hell unless and be willing to suffer the consequences, or the FCC will pull me off the radio. So that’s the world we live in and that’s joyful.
Question: How do you deal with hypocrites in the church who are family members?
Easley: Any of us identify with this first? You know, that’s one question you’ll have to talk about something for a long time. Number 1: I think we have to continually go back to stronger versus weaker brother. Early in my life I thought I was a stronger brother, and then I realized I was a weaker brother. And I think people who think they’re stronger brothers are probably weaker because we’re that clever. I believe the stronger brother and sister are patient toward other people. The older I get the more patient I am with other people. Cindy is far, far more compassionate with people than I am. I will make some comment like, you know I’ll, I’ll just be very, very vulnerable.
There’s particular people on television that I watch and I say, “I hate that person.” And Cindy says to me, “You’re not supposed to hate them.” And I say, “Well, I hate them anyway. And I wish Jesus would save them or just take them out of the world.” Okay, that’s how I feel about certain people. Now, you don’t feel that way because you’re more godly than me. But when I’m in my sane moments thinking about my emotion toward that I’m saying, look, I need to see them as a person that needs Christ, not as a person who because they hate me and they hate Christianity and they vilify me for what I believe, I need to be able to love them the way Christ loves them. So I think the stronger brother and sister are more patient with those who are sinning, especially if they’re not maturing and they’re living hypocritically.
Secondly, gentle confrontation in the Spirit of Galatians 6:1-2 is probably another area we just don’t do well in the local church. The staff that I’m so privileged to be joining down at Fellowship, I’m working with a young man there who’s basically the executive pastor and we talk every day on the phone. And he’s doing some extraordinarily difficult work right now in the absence of having a senior pastor. And so we talk every day on the phone for about an hour and he goes, “Michael, what do you think about this?” And he gives me the whole thing and I go, “Bill, I’m so impressed. I am so proud of what you’re willing to do.” He goes, “Well, I want to do this before you get here. I’m going to get this done before you get here.” And he confronted a person that had some pretty tough issues. And we prayed about it, talked about the strategy because I don’t want this to linger on for four months. We need to talk about this, and “it’s not your issue, Michael. It’s our issue.”
Well, he did, he confronted this guy. And you could not have asked for a more perfect response by this individual. He apologized. He said it was a blind spot. He asked the guys, how can you help me from doing this again? Now, that was because these men did it in the right spirit and they fought through it and they prayed. And it wasn’t gossip. It was how do we talk to our brother? He’s doing something here he doesn’t see. Now, if we did that more in the body of Christ, perhaps we’d have fewer hypocrites. But the problem is the legalist in us rears its ugly head and “if you were spiritual you’d live like me.” You know, we start imposing the things we do: you know, if you have your quiet time every day, use the King James only, you don’t do this, you don’t go to movies, you don’t watch certain programs. We’re just like the Jews. We’re making all these hybrid laws and we’re losing the intent of the law because we’re trying to manage. And if you can manage something easily and say, well, I’m spiritual because I do X, then you lay that burden on somebody else’s back. That’s precisely what Jesus said to the hypocrites. He said you pull out, you know, a speck in your brother’s eye, you’ve got a log sticking out of your head. The humor was unbelievable. You’re going after the wrong thing.
I’ll stop preaching. Alright, another question.
Question: Back in the Old Testament God gave the Jews feast days. We didn’t get any feast days.
Easley: Every single Sunday, the first day of the week is our feast. The commemoration of the Lord’s Supper is a feast. The commemoration of baptism I think is a feast of a kind. And I do think if we’re in good Bible teaching churches we’ll talk about those. When I served as a pastor—I’m looking forward to this actually in the future—we had communion service like, what, first of the month or on fifth Sundays, whatever. And, you know, what do you do with the congregation? First Corinthians 10, you read the same passage every single communion service. There’s a lot more in here. So I set sort of a personal challenge, and I did a different passage every Lord’s Supper. And I would go to every illusion of the Lord’s Supper, and obviously you go to Passover.
And if you study Passover in the context of the Lord’s Supper there are 25 Lord’s Supper sermons in there easily on different aspects of it to help people understand what they were doing with those 11 closest friends in that upper room when Jesus gave them the bread and gave them the cup. One of the things that we used to do at the church I served at Emmanuel is when we would pass the cup the around, you know, we would always say it together, “This is My body given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me. As often as you eat this bread and drink this cup you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.” And I would have them hold the cup up and say, “I am proclaiming the Lord’s death until He comes.” Because when you do that feast, it’s not just examining yourself and taking a wafer and some Welch’s; you are proclaiming that the Lord died. He really died. This is His blood. He really died until I come. An implication: when He comes we won’t do that one anymore. So I think we do and we miss them because we don’t teach the Scripture well.
Let’s go another one.
Question: Could you explain the value of fasting?
Easley: The value of fasting. In the ancient world when people fasted you freed up a lot of time; meal preparation. If you’ve travel abroad to underdeveloped countries or developing countries and you see what it’s like to eat a meal prepared, it’s a big time issue. And, you know, Cindy and I were talking to a couple at the break about if you can’t do it in 30 minutes you ain’t going to eat it in our house, you know. And so to skip a couple of meals and fight off hunger doesn’t seem quite in the same flavor as ancient world fasting. So number 1, it freed up a lot of time.
Number 2: the disciplines of prayer and lack of distraction in fasting, I think, are a good thing. That I am now freed from the time associated with even in this world, of going to lunch and going to breakfast and going to dinner, and I am then to use that time. To skip a few meals and say I’m fasting misses the intent. When Christ fasted He was in the wilderness and He was being tempted and He has His angels, in some sense, ministering to Him. And through that experience He is tested to the limit we would say, in preparation for His ministry. And we do see John’s disciples fasting. We don’t see Jesus’ disciples fasting. That’s a dispute between the two of them.
I would say it’s like so many things. You remember when we got into the gifts. Do you know your gifts? And we took gifts assessments. And then we got into seekers. And it was all about are we seeker friendly? And then we got into purpose driven, and if you’re not a purpose driven church you’re not any good. And then, now we’re in emerging versus emergent discussions. And if you live long enough they all go away. That’s the good thing. They do, they all go away. The Vineyard Movement was huge when I was in seminary. And you find a Vineyard church today they don’t even know their roots. All these things go away. So the focus on clear teaching.
I think fasting is one of those things that comes and goes. And if we get into it for the wrong reason then it’s fallacious, but if we say, you know, I’m going to take a day or two or three or four, and I’m going to not eat, and I’m going to devote myself to prayer and when those hunger pangs come off, I’m going to take a walk in the woods and I’m going to pray and I’m going to read Scripture. And I think if we use those times for that then it’s a good spiritual discipline.
The last thing I’ll say about the spiritual disciplines, Dallas Willard wrote a book, which you may or may not care for Dr. Willard. He raises some good points in my estimation. And Dallas Willard said, “When you distill all of the spiritual disciplines, why you do them and how you do them is important. But here’s the question: If Jesus Christ did them, is that intrinsic enough of a reason for us to do them?” If He prayed all night, if He fasted, if He got away from the crowd, if He went to be alone, that to me, that resonates with my spirit. If this was important enough for Jesus to do, who am I to think I can live the Christian life without doing some of the similar things Jesus did? Now will that make me more spiritual? Maybe not, but the disciplines, I think, give us,… they’re sort of the tilling of the ground. If I don’t read the Word every day I’m not going to grow. If I don’t pray consistently my relationship with Christ won’t deepen. Those are just facts. If I read the Bible and pray to make a point to the world I’m doing it for the wrong reason.
Question submitted in writing: What happens to the radio program, “inContext,” when I leave?
Easley: We’re negotiating that right now. There is a chance they might keep it on the network. If they hire a new president who has an arsenal of sermons then obviously he has the first priority to have a half hour program. But it’s getting interesting response and the Institute’s talking about that and we may end up keeping it on. And if not they have said they might sell it to me or give it to me and we could see if we could take it somewhere and put it on the radio. It’s extraordinarily expensive to broadcast radio, so it’s a financial stewardship issue for Moody, so.
Question: I’d like to backtrack a few minutes to a comment you made about eliminating Christian broadcasting. I have read history a great deal of my life and we certainly have evolved from the Magna Charta times when we had no rights or anything like that, so I value the Constitution. I defend the Constitution. I believe in separation of church and state. I don’t recall, and I’m not a Bible scholar, I don’t recall that Christ tried to preach in the Senate or any other place. I don’t recall that. The Constitution is the only weapon or power that the average citizen has against wrongdoing in its government or whatever it happens to be. These are for your rights like. The history of the church has been absolutely terrible because it controlled not only the church but the functions of the human beings life for centuries. I will always believe in separation of church and state. Now there are pastors that will be challenging it, our Constitution, because they want to take politics into the church. I find this a frightening and fearful thing when we review history and what happened. Many of us that read history, the Inquisition, the lack of rights, so forth and so on, we had it when we settled this new world as we call it. To me this is a frightening thing. I do not believe that the house of God is where the pastor should stand up and tell you who you should vote for. He is a mortal man. I don’t know that God ever said to His Son, go You into the Senate and preach to these people or government buildings. I would like to know how you feel about that. I think it is very frightening.
Easley: Well, let me just say I’m not happy about the Fairness Doctrine. I’m not happy about Christian broadcasting being attacked, but I do think it’s a reality. One of my friends who is on the Hill is one of the few congressmen who is still fighting this. And, of course, it gets put aside as everything else comes to fray.
I would say a number of things. The separation of church and state, if you’re familiar with Wallbuilders Association, David Barton, Bob McEwen, is also doing some excellent work in this area, going around teaching pastors what you can and can’t do. There is a fear in this country about speaking up against political issues that really is quite unfounded. There’s never been a 501-c-3 organization in the United States to lose its licensing. And it’s all about money, because if I lose my 501-c-3 as a church and you give money to the church, it’s no longer a tax donation. That is the bottom line issue. So we do have constitutional freedoms.
I am of the opinion that we want to work with the government, not against the government. I believe Scripture enjoins us in Romans 13 and 2 Timothy to pray for the king, that we are under the authority of the government for good. There are a lot of good men and women in government. Cindy and I were privileged to know many of them in the Washington DC area. They are under-encouraged. They are beaten by the Christian body of Christ. They are beaten by their adversary. They don’t get paid anything and it is a very challenging job to be a Congressman, a Senator. And sure we see the excesses and sure we see the stories, but there are a handful of them who are rock solid believers in Christ trying to do a good job. So I think it’s incumbent we pray for them, we befriend them, we come alongside them.
Question: Written question about voting.
Easley: When it comes to the election one of the questions was, I won’t read the question, but the question basically is how do you vote. And I would say this: I would say we have reduced Christianity to moral relativism. All issues are not equally important. And you have to decide before Christ, you have to decide within what you understand the Scripture to be. Cindy and I made this decision long ago. I’m not unashamed to talk about our value of life. We have four children, three of whom are adopted. We have three children that young women chose not to kill that we get to raise and call our daughters and son. And we are forever grateful for that. So our value of life transcends everything else. And then there’s values of justice and morality, and there’s values of peace and protecting the,… I believe biblically, the government is to protect us. I don’t believe biblically in certain things that we say the government’s supposed to do. So as you study the Scripture come to a biblical conclusion about why you vote. But don’t be a moral relativist.
Lastly, you know, as far as right and left and Republican and Democrat and all those, it’s not that simple, but when we choose a morally valid reason then we stick to that based on candidate, based on party. And then you have to quickly resign to say, well, the party and the candidate doesn’t always follow through. So you have the rights and the freedoms in America to vote. You have the right and the freedom to talk about it without fear. And the day we lose that we’ll be in trouble politically. But we’re not in trouble as Christians. Corrie Ten Boom argued that persecution was the best thing for the church. And who knows in the sovereign hand of God what’s going on? So that’s enough for you to disagree and agree with.
Question: (written) Do I ever lead trips to Israel?
Easley: Not right now. Maybe next year. We’ve got to get the back worked on.
Question: You mentioned that you struggle or you have pet peeve when people use the word “awesome.” I have the same pet peeve when people use the word “good” when they say, “I’m good,” because we’re not, only God is good. I wondered if you’d ever done a word study on “good,” and if you knew if it was the same word or connected to “awesome.”
Easley: In Greek it’s agatha, the name Agatha, and it is, it’s a more morally flat. There are good works. There are good things in Scripture. It’s a good thing of God. I see your point and I think there’s validity to that, but we are told to do good. And if you start examining our motives quite that far down, it’s hard to parse it. If I bring Cindy a cup of coffee in the morning I’m doing that out of about 15 expectations, none of which are altruistic. I’ve done it a long time. I like to do it for her. She always says, “Oh, thank you for this.” She’s more pleasant when she has caffeine. On and on the list can go. I don’t know if my motives are pure in that good.
My peeve, and I appreciate what you’re saying my peeve, with “awesome” is that it is the word that means “fear,” and the only one we’re supposed to have an awestruck response to is Yahweh Elohim. But I have this, and if you’re around Moody or around my kids and someone says awesome, they will say, “Only God is awesome” because that’s my response whenever I hear “awesome,” only God is awesome.” And, you know, my kids have gotten it and they annoy their friends with it, to my delight.
Question: (written) Alright, someone asked the question about 2 Samuel 21:1-14.
Easley: Okay, let me give you a quick synopsis of that story. This is the Gibeonites. You remember back in Joshua, Joshua is following God’s orders to take the land. Now, if you have a problem with war you won’t like the book of Joshua. But God has told them to exterminate people groups and take land. Now, this is the advantage of a theocracy. God never exterminates a people group or tells someone to do it if they have not resoundingly hated Yahweh and hated God’s chosen people. It’s a very different world than a democracy or a republic. This is a theocracy. These were God’s chosen people told to take a particular piece of land. They hated Israel. They hated Yahweh Elohim. They wanted to exterminate Israel and exterminate Israel’s God. So in God’s sovereign plan He allows and commands them to do this. I don’t have a problem with that. Some people do. You’ll get over it.
Alright, so when the Gibeonites came, you remember they feigned they’d come from a long distance. They had old sandals and old clothes and their bread crumbled, and they deceived Joshua. Joshua’s mistake was he didn’t check it out with God, and he pays for that error. Now the value of a covenant is illustrative here. God says the covenant is more important than your mistake. And you made a covenant, I’ve told you not to enter covenants with other people. But a covenant is not just a handshake or a promise. In My book a covenant is binding. Literally the word means to cut a covenant. Remember those old Western movies when the Indian and a white man would cut and shake hands and now they’re brothers? That’s a good illustration. We’re now one. And what it means is if you don’t keep your end of the bargain I can kill you. If I don’t keep my end of the bargain you can kill me. That’s what it means to cut a covenant. And that word was more important to Yahweh.
So when they made the covenant God said, “Okay, look, you can’t kill them, but they’ll be hewers of wood and drawers of water for Israel,” which in a way was a pretty good deal when you see all the animals they had to butcher. Someone else to do the legwork, sort of like the Congress and the Senate. But anyway, in the passage you read it’s a time of drought. We don’t know all the in-between, but as you read the first couple of verses there it seems that David is told by God a non-recorded event about the life of Saul, that Saul had fought the Gibeonites and had killed some of them, and this was the reason for the drought. So David is revealed something that we don’t have recorded in the pages of Scripture. You do have it in the first couple of verses there in 2 Samuel 21:1-2. That’s the reason for the drought.
So David then says, proprietary to the covenant, he says to the Gibeonites, “Can we give you, we don’t want any silver or gold. We want seven people.” Now the number seven is the number of perfection, number of holiness, the number of completeness. It’s like we want you know, equity in this. And the deceitfulness of the covenant, even though it was wrong, the covenant outweighed the deceit, and God wanted them to honor that. And you know the expression lex talionic, talionic justice, an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth. It’s in Exodus somewhere, if you, you know, poke out someone’s eye, okay. That’s what is happening here, and David understands this.
Now Mephibosheth is exonerated from that because he had made a promise to his friend Nathan that he would take care of that part of the family. So he takes Mephibosheth into his covering and protection, but he allows the sons. And if you want to study it in some detail, I didn’t have a chance to answer the question more, better than that, but if you study it in some detail you’ll see that those seven sons came from some very interesting make-ups. I think one of them was one of the, was Michal who was going to die child, not Michal, was one of Saul’s wife that was going to die childless.
And the last thing I’ll say about it is Deuteronomy 21:23, the tree curse. And that’s another one of those veiled images that God in that passage, My covenant and My promise are more important than the extenuating circumstances behind it. And remember if you left the body on the tree longer than 24 hours it was a curse. And that goes back to Saul and Nathan’s bodies on the side of Gibeah when they couldn’t hang them up there; they had to go get them down because it would bring a curse to the land. And again, God’s Word, God’s promises, God’s covenant take precedence of the problems we get into with how we interpret and apply them. Okay, other questions.
Question: I had asked you a question about the word “awe.”
Easley: Yes ma’am.
Question: It seems to me that we have been taught lately that “awe” means respect more than fear.
Easley: Yeah. And I have too. And as I studied it and you go back to the root ra’ah, the primary stem of the root is fear. There are five fields of meaning and one of them, the way we anglicize it in our English language, is we say it’s respectful. I think it’s more than that. I think there is a, as the psalmist decided, that there’s a fear and trembling before the Lord. I believe the worshipers in Israel are good examples of that when angels came on the ground, when John sees the angel at Patmos he falls on his face like a dead man. There is some redemptive quality when Jesus picks you up, when the angel says, “Do not be afraid,” Joseph, Mary; go down the line. These people are terrorized when they see it.
Now I’m not saying we’re afraid and fearful in the sense that He’s going to hurt us. But I think reverence, and I may be a heretic here, but I think it is more than simply respect. I think there is a recognition that He is God. He’s not just like me. He’s God and He deserves and commands our respect and our fear and our amazement and our wonder. And yes, He loves us and yes, He forgives us, yes, He calls us His friends, but don’t forget all the other parts about Yahweh Elohim being untouchable, unapproachable. The glory, the Shekinah coming off Moses; I mean, on and on we could go.
Question: (written) Someone asked a question about the King James, why it’s fallen out of favor, so forth and so on.
Easley: Let’s say this, I’ve studied Hebrew and Greek now for 25 some years and I still don’t know how to translate the Bible. I don’t think people in the 1600’s did a better job than me. The aspect, the test of canon tenacity and the test of how we interpret the Bible are extraordinarily precise. But there were some, and there are some, challenges in the English translations, every single one of them has challenges. Just as I read one of the verses out of Psalm 5 last night, four or five very reputable English translations, including the KJV will translate that verse differently. So the solution, as opposed to saying King James is the only one and so forth versus NASB being the real only one.
We all get frozen. I tried to switch to the Holman. A friend of mine was the senior editor of the Holman Christian Standard Bible. It’s a great Bible. I tried for about six months and I just, I couldn’t do it. I said, “Sorry, Ed, I love you, but I don’t like your Bible.” And I’m back to the NASB. But I also read all of them. And knowing a little bit of Greek and Hebrew also tells me there are challenges in every translation.
So the King James has fallen out of favor for some very good reasons, and the simplest answer is what we call a majority text view. And let me just give you the simple skinny on that. We have in the Old Testament what’s called the Masoretic text. In a sense, in essence there’s one text. And I won’t bore you with how the Masorites kept the Bible. When it comes to the New Testament we have a problem. We have 120% of the manuscripts. In other words, we have lectionaries. We have shards of the Bible, pieces of Greek text that we’re not precisely sure. The so-called Dead Sea Scrolls. There are pieces of lectionaries. There are thousands of fragments of the Bible. And these were copies of the copies. So what scholars do is they say, okay, let’s say we have 20 different versions of one verse. We study them. The majority of text view this as, this is very high level. If you know this field better than me you’re cringing at my explanation. But the majority of text view says what do most of them say, and let’s choose that one. And that in a very simple fashion is what the King James did. It was a majority text conclusion.
More critical text analysis moves away from that. They say, “No, let’s think about this. If there’s a verse in Greek that’s four words in Greek that we can’t really understand and there’s one that’s six or ten words in Greek what probably came first?” The one with four words. Why? Because human beings explain things when they translate them. They say, “Oh, what this verse really meant was in Christ Jesus, not in Christ or of Christ Jesus instead of in Christ.” And so they add a few words. That’s why your NASB’s good to put those italic words in there. It tells you those words weren’t in the original Greek or Hebrew texts. So man’s propensity; this is a critical theory is, we’re going to add words to explain things. So if you read, some of your Bibles will say “literally” at the bottom. That’s a translator interpretation you’re reading in the content. But they’re saying, well, the word literally means this.
And so in the art and science and scholarship of translations; the books you hold in your hand are extraordinarily accurate. One of my seminary professors said, “If you took the most difficult critical problems in all the Bible and, a Bible this size it’d fit on less than two pages. That’s what we’re arguing about. This is not a lot of content, so you have great reliability in the Bible that you hold, but Dr. Price is here and he can tell you all the right answers.
Question: Would you just comment on the Scripture that if we raise a child in the Lord they become like…. The promise that some believe that it goes with that and I’ve heard teaching that it actually is not because of godly men who had ungodly sons that never changed.
Easley: Proverbs are, they are a book of wit. Wisdom literature is a book of wit and wisdom, meaning these are generally applicable rules that when followed always are true. But in the nature of that statement they don’t always come true. And so the truth of the proverb is your job is to train a child in this way. Some have strained the word, a good friend of mine has written extensively on the word “bent” and he argues the verse means if my son is artistic that I am to train him in that and let him go in it. I don’t think that’s what,… I think we’re straining the proverb.
The proverb is a principle. If you train your child well and you teach him or her the Scriptures, he is more than likely to come to the conclusion that this is the way of life. And I don’t think we can apply those the way we strain them, either on the bent side or I guarantee that my son or daughter will come to Christ. I just simply think we strain some of those words, just like we do the parables. We strain some of the parables far beyond meanings.
Last comment, the parables. We were talking in one of these graduate seminars I went to about the parables. And I said you know we strain these parables. Everybody writes all these opinions of them. The one parable that Jesus explained; what’s the one parable He explained? The sower. There is more debate about the interpretation of the one Jesus explained than any other parable. It’s a fact, it’s a total fact. More people disagree about the soils than any other parable Jesus gave. So what this tells me is we are cutting these nuances so fine sometime that they weren’t even intended. Dr. Howard Hendricks often says, you know, when we get to heaven Jesus is going to say I really didn’t mean it to be that hard on you. And I think sometimes we have to move back and synthesize the Bible. I’m a literalist. I’m a word for word guy. But sometimes you dig your hole too deep. In the Proverbs you can dig your hole too deep and you have to step back on a biblical theology. What do we know? We know these verses. We know the injunction about fathers not exasperating their children. We know lots of other verses in the New Testament. So that’s how you build systematic parenting, systematic theology.