Pilgrim, Was it Worth the Trouble? – Part 6

By: Dr. Michael Easley; ©2005
Dr. Easley answers audience questions on a variety of topics.

Pilgrim, Was it Worth the Trouble? – Part 6

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.


Dr. Michael Easley: We had one question here: someone asked about Jesse, David’s father, and wanted to know the wife. I wrote the Scripture verses down there for you. It might be a woman named Nahash. We don’t know, but I gave you the three or four references and you can take a look on it, but we just don’t know. Some think that Abigail was a name that was used twice, and it might be another Abigail.
Question: What do you take out of David, a man after God’s own heart, and why did he have so many troubles?
Easley: It’s a great question, a very important question. I think when you look at David’s life the most egregious sins obviously with killing Uriah, adultery with and so forth and so on, counting the people. What we find with David is the response when confronted. And so when Ahithophel betrays him; his son Absalom is killed; and all the consequences of his sin; his responses to God are always brokenness. Psalm 51 is so critical because the psalm he, he says, “Guilt offerings and sacrifices You do not desire, else I would give them.” What’s he saying there? There’s no provision for what he did. He should be killed. That was what the Law required. Take him out and stone him, kill him. He’s an adulterer and a murderer, kill him. And God gives him, you know, the options of, you know, different sins, what we’ll do. So I think what why he’s a man after God’s own heart is when he sinned and confronted he responded well. And that’s why he endears and obviously he writes the Psalms. I mean, there’s a lot to the man, and the power got to him as it does everybody it seems.
Question: There was also a question about owning your sin. Someone asked me to expand on that.
Easley: I use the phrase simply to mean, like in the Psalms, when the psalmist acknowledged that he was up to his eyes in sin; he’s admitting that he’s culpable. And if you’ve raised teenagers you know exactly what I mean by owning your sin. “It’s somebody else’s fault. It’s the teacher’s fault. It’s mom’s fault. It’d dad’s fault. It’s my brother’s fault. It’s my sister’s fault.” And they never will say, “Dad, I did it. I own it.” And I think that’s the beginning of a repentant heart. Sure injustice has happened to us. Yes, bad things happen to us, but we get a choice to respond to those injustices properly or improperly. And just because something unjust or unfair happened to me doesn’t mean I have the right to say disrespectful things or to lie or to harm someone else. In our family we use disrespect, disobedience, as sort of big indicators. Are you being disrespectful? Well, it’s not fair! It’s not fair. Are you being disrespectful? Just calm it. Don’t blow foam on them. Are you being disrespectful? Let’s answer that question. That’s owning your sin. Now we’ll talk about these others things. So that’s all I mean by that.
Question: You said you’re a political junkie. This is an election year. What role, how do Christians respond in political turmoil like chaos and elections and campaigns and so forth? What are some of your thoughts?
Easley: Excellent question. One, I don’t think “the Church” can be a corporate entity when it comes to politics. I think it is the individual Christian. And I make a strong differentiation from that both biblically and practically. The Church, we are to be co-belligerents. The Reformers used the term. If they’re murdering children three doors down, I’ll go with a Muslim, with a Catholic, with a Jehovah Witness, with an agnostic, to go stop them murdering children. That’s co-belligerency. That’s what the Reformers, Calvin, Luther liked the term. And so there’s times morally we’ll be co-belligerent with anyone. I would be.
But the Church organizationally, I think the moral conscience, the conscience we’re given from Corinthians, from James, double-minded man, I think each Christian has to be grounded in why you’re voting the way you’re voting. Paul, interestingly in Acts, calls on his Roman citizenship when he’s about to be beaten. And I find that very fascinating. If you study the way Paul uses his “Hebrew of Hebrews,” when he plays his Rome trump card, he didn’t need to go through that. He had a get out of jail on that one. He says, “How did you get your citizenship? I had to pay a lot of money.” “I was born in Rome.” And they get real anxious. So there were, there were political rights in that day that he appealed to as a citizen of Rome to do a thing.
So all that to say, individual Christians have to make a decision. Cindy and I believe it’s become morally relativistic. Is the environment as important as life? Is recycling as important as marriage and family? Okay, and that’s where I try to teach my children, this is not their father’s Oldsmobile. They don’t believe what I believe, two of my kids don’t. And I can’t just tell them this is how to believe. I’ve got to help them understand why I believe what I believe. So moral relativism is the rule of the day. I think life. I think marriage. I think family. I think government has a role. I think when they go beyond that biblically then we’re out of sorts, then we can vote against those things.
In 1 Timothy 2 we’re told to pray for those in governing authority. And so we can admonish the church to pray, I pray from the pulpit or I pray for President Obama often. I pray for his Cabinet. I pray for the men and women who influence world leaders. I also pray that God will take out people that are corrupt and that aren’t good leaders. And I also think that it’s God’s world and we’re not a Christian nation anymore, even if we ever were. I think we were in some sense and form. I love David Barton stuff. I don’t agree with everything David writes, but I think he’s probably pretty accurate on the assessment of the founding fathers.
And I think Christians are afraid of losing their 501-c-3. They’re afraid of getting in trouble. And they don’t want to talk about it. And I just say, “Look, vote. I don’t care if you vote left, right, middle, center, independent, third party, tea party, no party. Vote!” Because when we quit doing that we’ve quit being citizens who have the right to say, “I’m a Roman. You can’t beat me.”
And then Cindy and I have a lot of friends in politics who are believers and we pray for them and we encourage them and I write them notes. That’s a specific thing you do. If you know a Congressman, a Senator, a woman, man, write them a note and tell them thank you. They get hammered by the Christians. Christians beat them up left and right for everything they’re not doing. They can’t do a lot. They are on a handful of committees. They can submit a bill. It’s gets hammered. And they have a ton…; that’s why we are attracted to politics as a culture today, because why would I want to go do that and have a 22% approval rating? You know, you’ve got to have a hide. So I have made it intentional to reach out to our politicians, to pray for them, to get to know them. And when I find out if they’re believers, to pray specifically for them.
If they ever ask me anything I keep it in confidence between that leader and me. And I want them to have a safe place they can talk to a Christian without having to worry about me saying, “I was with so and so and I was with so and so.” I have a number of them, my friends and I will talk about that, but we don’t talk about what we talk about. Some ideas. Great question.
Question: We would like for you to explain again hubris.
Easley: Hubris is arrogance on steroids. It’s actually a Greek word, hubris, and we gloss it. We transliterate it in the English hubris. It’s an arrogant person who’s proud to be arrogant and with hubris they shake their fist at God. There is no God. That’s a man of hubris. Good question.
Question: Yes, could you comment more on your attitude about NIV.
Easley: You read through that, did you? There are two constructs of biblical translation, formal equivalency and dynamic equivalency. Formal equivalency would be, and let me explain this a little bit, word for word. Dynamic equivalency, this is a little unfair, but I’m trying to be short, is concept to concept, but staying close to the text. The NASB, New American Standard Bible, the King James, the New King James are formal equivalent Bibles. They try very hard; if you look at a NASB it will have words in italics that aren’t in the text. That’s called a gloss or a suppletion. They’re putting a word in there to smooth the reading for the English reader.
The NIV takes, in my humble opinion, and I have friends on the committee, great liberties glossing the Bible to make it readable. The NIV, the TNIV, the new new NIV, these translations are gender concerned, gender specific in some ways. They are seventh grade educated grammar where the King James and the New King James, the NASB and the ESV to some extent are twelfth grade educated level person. And my contention with translations are we have 70 some translations in the United States in the English language. In Nigeria there is the Hausa Bible. You know, there’s one Bible. And so we’re a little bit over the top on it. I tried to switch to the Holman. I love the Holman in many respects. I know the translators on the committee. I tried to switch to the ESV for a year. I know a number of the translators, Wayne Grudem’s a close personal friend who was one of the senior editors, Dr. Packer. I respect them greatly.
But I come back to the NASB for a number of reasons. One, they always translate chesed lovingkindness. And my argument is it’s the single most important word in the Old Testament, and other Bibles don’t. Secondly, ESV, the new NIV, they decapitalize the personal pronoun for God. So I don’t know what the “he” is in context. I’m not against, like it’s not demeaning to God, but in the penchant to be grammatically correct for the new audience we’re not going to put “H,” capital “He,” for God. We’re going to put lower case “he.” That’s easy when the context is straightforward. In the Psalms you go crazy trying to know who’s the he? Is it the psalmist, the enemy, the writer? You just don’t know. And so the NASB, New King James, King James, others always capitalize the personal pronouns for God.
The wooden reading of the NASB is because of the formal equivalency, word for word literal translation. Now when I read, I read lots of Bibles. I’ll read ESV. I’ll read NIV. Our congregation probably mostly NIV, a few NSV outliers and a few NASB outliers, and I decided a few years ago I’m not a King James only person. But I learned Greek and Hebrew in seminary. I’m not a scholar in Hebrew and Greek but I can read it and I work with the language. And when I take a passage from scratch and I do my homework, the NASB did it for me. And when I see what RSV, NIV, ESV does with the text, I just don’t like some of the stylistic interpretations they do.
The most egregious ones we could talk about in detail, in 1 Corinthians 6 there is a very complex passage and it’s sort of one of my litmus, it’s litmus for me. In 1 Corinthians chapter 6 there is a passage that lists this “such were some of you.” And I actually took the translators to task both on the Net Bible and the NIV Bible, and ESV Bible, men whom I love and are still my friends. And I said, “Why did you do this with this passage?” And they both were kind of caught red-faced. It was a very interesting discussion. But 6:9, 1 Corinthians 6:9, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers,”—and Chuck Swindoll always says this, “It’s swindlers, not Swindolls”—“will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you.”
Now the NIV, the ESV and the Net Bible gloss the words “homosexual” and “effeminate” and they change them. And they put “practicing homosexual” in there. Any of you have that Bible? It says practicing homosexual. And I went to the translators and I said, “Why did you put this word? It’s not in the Greek. And you didn’t put it in italics to tell me it’s not in the Greek.” And they said, “Well,” and I won’t bore you with the grammatical problem with the two words, effeminate and homosexual, but they said, “Well, it just smooth’s the reading over and those words are hard to define.” I said, “No, they’re not, not if you stay on text they’re not. If you go outside the Bible,” which is what they did, extra-biblical usage.
And I said, “Why didn’t you put practicing idolaters, practicing homosexuals, practicing fornication, practicing, practicing, practicing, practice? When you say practicing homosexual what you told the audience was “you can be homosexual just as long as you don’t practice it.” And both these guys senior translators went, “I hadn’t thought of it like that.” And these are the guys that set in committees all day and argue about this stuff. Now Wayne Grudem is a close brother in Christ said, “Michael, we argued 40 minutes about that word.” So, you know, as a guy who’s going to stand up and tell you this is what God says, I take that very seriously. I have anxiety every time I do it.
And I just think the NASB, King James, New King James they do a very good translation. It is a little cumbersome. It is a little wooden. They’re going to be more formal and every time you see the word, the words are going to be consistently translated the same.
You can tell this a horse of mine that I ride. But NIV, you know, read through the Bible in a year, read an easy Bible. I’d rather people read any Bible, but if I’m going to teach from it, expound the word, I want it to be as close to the Greek and Hebrew as possible, and the NASB is a formal equivalent meaning it sticks very close to the text as where other Bibles are dynamic equivalent, try to capture the meaning. You don’t have to throw your NIV away.
Question: The word “slave.” McArthur recently talked about that. And it’s an indictment against the King James, almost all translations because the word “slave” really doesn’t fit. But the more I thought about it, where they translate it like servant or worker or something like that, but if I’m a slave of Jesus Christ, that means He owns me. What’s your comment about that?
Easley: I love John. John’s a friend. I call him my brother in Christ. John and I have a lot of things we agree and disagree on. I think he’s right. I think dulos is the word to be a servant. But I don’t lose sleep on the fact that I’m to serve a king. And if enslavement means that I have to change that and heighten the view a little bit, that would be an expositional thing for me, not a whole book on how you ought to be a slave. And I think that just, the different way we would approach it.
Paul says he’s a bond-servant. The indentured slaves, if you want to, if you love your master you put your ear against the doorpost and he pierces you, and then you’re a willing, you’re an indentured slave. That’s the picture of dulos, that I’m willing to be a slave. But I don’t see Christ treating me the way the word slave sounds. I think He treats me as beloved son, a beloved child. And I am to be His servant, but to the extent that it reframes us and says I’m not anything important,….
I am a servant. I don’t have any problem with the word “slave,” but it’s a harsh word culturally and contextually. And so I think if I was teaching it I would say this word can apply to these things, but slavery in the New Testament and Old were not the slavery of what we did to African Americans around the world. It was a different. These were indentured servants. Now captives, if you were, you know, if they destroyed a people group, the Amalekites, and brought them in and turned them into slaves, which they really supposed to do anyway, that was different. But an enemy of Israel, an enemy of Yahweh. But today, you know, we’re all Jew-Gentile Goyim. We’re all Goyim. We’re all in that category, so. I love John. He’s an extraordinary Bible teacher. If I could be a tenth of the Bible teacher as him I’d be happy. But I think he overstates it a tad.
Question: The main question I have as I look at your theme, changing that, is it worth the trouble in my own mind? We had in a small group recently and we went around the group. I shared a little bit of this with you at breakfast, about our own families. We all were Christians. But all the deceit and anger and bitterness within families, some weren’t speaking and all this, I thought of it from God looking down upon His creation, and how it must grieve the Lord to see this. And then I heard your words yesterday, we’re living like Sodom and Gomorrah. My grandson told me, who is 18, he says the whole idea of being pure from sex it’s just unheard of in the public school he’s going to. And then I look at that from the past perspective. I read in the USA Today yesterday where it said two things. First of all, one, it talked about the destructive things that have taken place since 1950, like tornadoes, earthquakes, and all. There was 13. And it’s just showed a progressive graph upward and there’s 86 so far this year. And I think about the passage where it talks about birth pangs before the Lord’s return.
And then I look at other things. We don’t know the hour or the time but we’re supposed to be wise, Paul said. I think about this, doing what God wants us to do, but the thought comes to me is the key in the lock, is it all going to happen? Is it going to happen soon? And I don’t know and neither do you, but it’s an interesting concept of the times and moments we live in.
Easley: Dr. Charlie Dyer who was my professor at Dallas Seminary, and then I was for a brief time was his boss at Moody, quite fun, Dr. Dyer always had an axiom, as soon as someone says the Lord’s returning on this date, know that He’s not, because no one know the day. So I always appeal to that when it comes to end times. I would say a couple things. Birth pangs is an extraordinary illustration. Jesus says it’s like birth pangs. My wife, our first daughter was biological. The next three children were adopted and Cindy went a la natural, no epidural, no drugs. She went and had the baby the real woman way. And those contractions come on and they’re uncomfortable and they go away. And then as they get worse, you know, she’s not a nice person when those contractions were at their height. And then they’d go away and then. So what happens is they’re light and far apart, and then they’re more and more painful and closer together.
The question becomes from a biblical and historical level: when can man say to be wise in those things? I think they’re two different issues. To be wise in biblical theology how we live the Christian life versus reading the tea leaves. John Hannah says he’s going to write a book one day called “Misapplied Verses God Has Greatly Blessed.” And one of those, if I was writing that book is, “If My people who are called by My name would humble themselves and repent I would heal their land.” That’s a theocratic Jewish construct, not America. I’ve sat with Christian politicians at tables in Washington, DC, and argued this point. Now, I’m not saying there’s not wealth and value in American Christians who call Jesus Lord repenting of their sinfulness and humbling themselves and maybe God will be merciful to America. We’re not Israel. So a theocracy is different than what we live in today.
Last weekend I was teaching on Luke where he says it would be, if the miracles that were performed in Capernaum and Tyre and Sidon that were performed in Bethsaida, Chorazin, and Capernaum, they would have repented long ago in dust and ashes. The rabbinical proverb is Sodom will never rise again. And he says it’s more tolerable for them than for Capernaum, Bethsaida and Chorazin who rejected Jesus; because they saw, they heard, they handled the miracle, the person, the work of Jesus Christ and they rejected it. Peace came near and they rejected it. He says, wipe the dust off, a Gentile gesture. You’re Gentiles, so the Jews, the Jewish apostles, Jewish disciples, you’re Gentiles to us, the Jews. You’ve rejected your own Messiah, more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon.
So when you look at that historically in America today, you know, the axiom, you know, God should repent for what He did to Sodom and Gomorrah. You’ve heard people say that. You know, no He shouldn’t. He’s God! But it does make one wonder how far this thing will run. My personal theory is America has become so materialistic, so independent, so providing our own needs; we think we’ve got it together, we don’t need God. I often say at our church, if you unraveled the American dream from your Christian cloth I think your cloth would unravel. Because we believe if/then. If I do this, then God will do that. If I do this, then God will do that. In my career, in my children’s education, and them going to school, if/then, if/then.
You know what? If/then is an American concept. It’s been a wonderful experiment. I hope it continues. I really truly do. It may not. But the kingdom of God is not trembling whether America succeeds or doesn’t. And our point is as believers what are we doing in our sphere of influence for the gospel? I can’t be involved in politics and pro-life. I can’t do all of these things, nor can you, but, you know, the body of Christ is many facets. And I’m glad I’ve got friends on the Hill that love Jesus that are trying to get re-elected and do good work. I’m glad I’ve got men and women in uniform that are friends of mine who love to serve the country. I’m glad there’s men and women who love Christ, teaching in public schools. I’m glad there’s men and women who love Christ in medicine and in law. And I want to be their friend and pray for them and encourage.
That’s what I think the Church is supposed to do. So on Sunday when they come to worship we’re encouraging helping them worship. We’re giving them all they need spiritually so they can go out and make it till Wednesday, you know, and they can fight the fight that they have in front of them, because if we don’t support the body of Christ in a cultural context, you know. Why is it we’re the only ones that you can vilify? Don’t vilify, don’t put the Qur’an in. If you put the Qur’an and burn it, boy, people will die. You can put a cross in a bucket of urine and call it art, which they did. So you know there’s a huge conflict going on here.
We’re in the world, not of it. And it’s a complicated thing but I have hope. My hope comes from on high. I trust in His Word, trust in His Spirit, trust in His people. That’s why I’ve spent my life trying to explain this to myself and people. I’m prattling again. It’s big stuff, but my hope comes from on high, not from Capitol Hill.
Question: I was recently in a book discussion group that was discussing a book by Francis Chan about hell. And there were page after page of Scriptural quotes. It was, you know, very scriptural based. And one of the people in the group said, “Do you know I can’t remember, it’s been decades since I heard any sermon, anything from the pulpit about hell.” Why do you think that’s true?
Easley: Well, the pulpit becomes politically correct like everything else. You know we get accused—and it goes back to translations—we get bashed because we say certain things. And so rather than learn to smile, affirm and gently say them again, we change what we said. And so how could God send somebody to hell? Even John Stott, who I just love, love, love, love, love, love. He’s in the presence of Jesus at this moment. He changed his view on hell to annihilation before he died. And here’s the problem with that. If we are eternal beings, if we are made in the image of God, the reason we are sacred human beings is we are image bearers, imago dei, we’re the image of God. Everything else was an animal and He makes Adam His image. He breathes the breath of life. Woman even has a better start than we do because she doesn’t come from dirt. She comes from flesh and bone and she’s crafted to fit him.
These are image bearers of God and they are eternal in nature. An eternal natured soul cannot be destroyed. That’s why the only differentiation between heaven and hell is where we live. You have to have an eternal body to be able to endure hell. You have to have an eternal body to be able to endure eternity with Jesus. So the great chasm fixed when Jesus is explaining, you know, send someone to, you know put a drop of cold water, in Luke 14, a drop of water on my tongue to quench the fire. Send someone back to tell them, and He says even if someone comes back from the dead they won’t believe, and there’s a great chasm fixed. It’s a creepy thing to think about. So we don’t talk about it because it’s politically incorrect.
But Randy Alcorn, he’d be a good one to write the book on hell. He just wrote three books on heaven, maybe he should write one on hell. Maybe we should ask Randy to write a book on hell. I’m with you, but what do we do in a cultural context? You go in and preach. You know, in the 40’s hellfire and brimstone, insurance salvation worked. Today it doesn’t. Today it’s off putting and they close the doors.
This is how you understand our culture. The 20-30 something’s, you can’t teach them content and say this is truth, they say, truth for you. Listen, that is in their DNA now. So the way you have to dialogue with them, to enter is to dialogue. What do you think? What do you think? It drives me crazy. It drives me crazy! Let’s just pool our ignorance and have a little puddle here. Let’s just all say what we think, what we think. They don’t care about absolute and truth. To try and teach them the Word of God as inerrant and truthful and trustworthy is the biggest challenge I have as a 55 year old man. And Jeremy will tell you the same thing. The audience he runs with, it’s a dialogue, it’s relationship. What are you going to do? Are you going to fight it or are you going to relate with them and have a dialogue with them?
Question: [unclear]
Easley: It takes time. Cindy and I mentor young married couples. We take seven young married couples, one to four years, first marriage, no children is our criteria, and we own them for two years. We make them read books they never read. We make them do Howard Hendricks, Living by the Book. I make them read a big fat book on theology. By the half mark I make all the men lead the group. I evaluate them after they lead it and if you could see the transformation between when they start in our home every Sunday night for two years, to the end of the two years, where I’m sitting back just watching them, not saying a word. And when they get to their problem they go, “Dr. E, what do we do about this?” And I go, “What would you do? You’re the leader of their group; figure it out.” And they can. But it takes two years.
And so every two years or so Cindy and I take on a group and we’ve just finished our second, our two year group just about two months ago. They all, seven of them came in, first marriage, four years or less, no babies. Six of them have babies and they’re all going in to lead community groups. And probably the most important thing Cindy and I have done in 31 years of marriage is mentor those young couples. But you’ve got to take them by the hand because they don’t know. The assumptions we made that we believe God, they don’t do that because every school teacher and university professor told them otherwise. It’s very scary, but there’s hope.
Question: You have, obviously, a ministry of the Word where you’re teaching, preaching, and now you’ve just shared you have another ministry of mentoring. Just personally, other expressions of ministry that you and your wife have. I’d be interested in that.
Easley: Well, as we’ve gotten older and three back surgeries and the limitations of my life, my primary role at Fellowship as the lead pastor is to work with our leadership team, which is five other pastors and the eight lay elders we have, and I sort of shepherd and lead that group. And then we have our marriage mentor couples that we have. And then personally I’m always, because Christians are just bad at this, I’m always very intentional about trying to have a couple of non-Christian friends. And I’ve got one in particular, I was sharing with someone yesterday, who had a similar back surgery. I just happen to meet the guy walking down the street, figure that one. And we’ve become very good friends. And I’ve shared Christ with him several times and the blinds just go up. And, you know, I always tell people, I never get low hanging fruit. I never get low hanging fruit. It’s always a three year process for me.
Anyway, but I think I’m at a stage of life what I call imperceptible leadership. You don’t know how you’re even being used, but you’re in the Word every day. You’re trying to parent well. You’re honest with your failures. You’re honest with your frustration with your kids. Cindy and I, in God’s kindness, have a remarkable relationship after 31 years. We often say I love you, but I don’t like you. I mean, she’s an extraordinary woman. And I think out of that overflow we do some radio. We do some publishing, some interviewing and things, but we really kind of hunker down in Nashville at this stage in life. And the marriage mentor thing, we’re starting a campus. We’re starting a church plant. I’m involved at some measure in those, but not like I used to be.
Question: Is there any best set of materials for discipleship in general? And maybe what would be a minimum length of time that discipleship process should go in?
Easley: Great question.
Man: Is it best one on one or is it best to do it in a group?
Easley: Great question. I’m a bell curve guy. I think there are those people that are going to do great one on one and all points in between to a group. And I have done all of the above. And currently right now I’m kind of working with some guys one on one as well as, you know, larger groups. But for me I think it doesn’t really matter the content as it does the time and the relationship. I hate to be a reductionist, but I really do believe it’s the time and the relationship. If you think about a relationship, two things are required, something in common and time. Jeremy and I are friends because we have our church in common. I don’t know a musical note up or down, and you know that’s his expertise and genius. And but we both have health issues which has probably melded us. And we have a sardonic cynical view of life. Sorry to admit that; if you haven’t figured that out yet. And so we have a chemistry there, but we wouldn’t be friends if we didn’t spend time together.
So my seven young men, those marriages, once we strap on that two year group, my assistant has a rotation. I have lunch with those guys; not more than four weeks go by that I’m through a cycle with all those young men. So it’s time.
And then the materials. I love Living by the Book. I just don’t think there’s been anything better than Hendricks’s Living by the Book. And they’ve repackaged it and refreshed it a number of iterations now. You can buy the paperback book and the fill in the blank workbook. And what I love about what Hendricks does, and Kay Arthur’s stuff is great. BSF is great. It just depends on what you like. I like Living by the Book because it’s going to teach them how to study the whole Bible, not just get in one book for a long period of time and drill real deep, which is wonderful for that type of person. Up the bell curve. There’s some, they can study Daniel for 15 years and be happy in Jesus, you know. But I want to teach them how you use different literature, then what are you going to do with it? Well, Living by the Book’s goal is how are you going to teach somebody else as opposed to just teaching yourself or getting another little group going. So I love what Hendricks does.
I use Paul Enns Handbook of Theology. It’s a little stiff for most people. I don’t make them read the whole book. I used to, but my wife is rebelling and so I only to give them portions now. Bruce Ware has written a book called Big Truths for Young Hearts. You all probably have that downstairs. And he wrote it out a provocation of his adult children. They said “Dad, you need to write this in a book.” And so Big Truths for Young Hearts. It works at any age level. It’s how you teach theology to a person that has no concept of theology. And I have a few other books on marriage and so forth, but we’re going to spend a good nine to ten months in Living by the Book.
Then when we finish Living by the Book, I take, for example, in the marriage, I take Genesis, I take Ephesians, I take 1 Peter, we take Revelation, I take every shard of thing in the Bible about marriage and I break it out, and then I make the guys lead it. And I say use anything you’ve learned in Bible study methodology this past nine or ten months, use anything you want, and your job is to teach it to the group next Sunday night. And they’re creative and they’re far better teachers than I am because they’ve learned how to be creative. I’m pretty much, you know, here’s the verse, here’s the words, here’s three lessons. That’s all I know how to do. These guys have gotten very creative.
And then the hard part is, as time goes on, managing those relationships. And how do you do it? And I don’t do it perfectly, but when they call I try to make time for them, and sometimes I say, you’ve taken the pebble from my hand, you know, if you know what that story’s about. You all remember that? Kwai Chang Caine, when he became the Kung Fu, he says, little boy, he says, “When you can take the pebble from hand it’s time for you to go.” And at the end he snatches the pebble and he goes, time for you to go. He’d become his disciple and it was time for him to go.
Question: In the church today, many churches I hear of a concept called house church. And there’s also the old, not the old, but small groups within many churches. Could you help please how do you distinguish between the two and the purpose of the two of what they serve because I sense that in some churches it kind of becomes a division between the two. Could you just enumerate on this?
Easley: Let’s go back to the bell curve again. The church is not your father’s Oldsmobile. The church you grew up in is not the church you have today more than likely. And we have form and function. And I like the word “traditional” versus “traditionalism.” We take an offering at a certain time and we play instruments and an organ. That ain’t in the Bible, guys, but we do it. And if we don’t do it people will get upset. And if we take it in the beginning we’re not going to have everybody there. And we have announcements and we,… the form and function and traditionalism and traditions. They’re good traditions. I think it’s good to have a collect. I think the Psalms and Proverbs do better than the Episcopalians but I’ll go with Episcopalians sometimes. I mean, I think it’s good to have a reading of the Scripture. Pay attention to the public reader.
I think it’s good to have churches from house to house as they did in Acts. Why? In Acts, when the church was scattered, diaspora. By the way, Acts 1:8 they were to stay there until what? The Holy Spirit empowers them and then they’re to be witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, the uttermost part of the world. Did they do it? No, they didn’t. They all hung out in Jerusalem. And then Stephen gets stoned and then Paul is there, hearty approval. And their church is scattered, diaspora. God used persecution to blow them out of Jerusalem because they weren’t moving. And then we find Philip going out and then we find this guy. You know, finally at 11 you find Paul going to the remotest part. That’s why you have the map in the back of your Bible, because Acts 1:8 was the outline.
So the church took on form. He went to synagogue, synagogue, synagogue and they booted him out. He goes to the house next door. What an insult. Have a church split and build next door. That’s what they did. And so the synagogue believers migrated next door to the house churches. Now, sometime around,… you know, different historians debate when we start building buildings to have churches in. This is not a biblical construct that you have a facility where you go to church with an organ behind you. This is a westernization taken from Europe and so forth. So history helps us to understand this.
We all like our form. I like my form. Fellowship is a very different model than I’ve ever been a part of. I miss my form of adult Bible education. I miss certain constructs that we had. Is it not a church because we don’t have Sunday School? No. It’s just a different model, and there are liabilities to both.
I think the question becomes where’s corporate worship defined? Who are the elders and teaching pastors and under whose authority are they? Okay. So when you look at a house church, is there authority? Is there a body of elders, and what are they doing corporately? A house church can’t do a global missions project. It’s not right or wrong; they just can’t do it. A house church probably doesn’t have a body of elders who are overseeing. Maybe they have one guy who oversees them. And I still think you need to be under an authority. That’s the whole apostolic decree to the four pillars of it, You know some as apostles, some as pastor teachers, some evangelists; those cornerstones are important for the church. And the operational gift of pastor teacher and the function of elder I think, all the “T’s” Timothy, Titus, Thessalonians, all those books are Pastoral Epistles, how you do church. Go set up elders. Teach sound doctrine, reprove, rebuke, bring them together, deal with the older people this way, deal with the women this way.
That formula hasn’t changed. So whether it’s in a home, in a barn, we meet in a barn, whether it’s in Highland Park beautiful church that feels like church to a lot of us. I was raised Catholic. I went to the Protestant Church and they had a basketball goal over where the guy talked and these stripes on the floor. I had no idea what these stripes were, these circles. It looked like some kind of Wiccan thing and oh, that’s an Awana game circle. What’s Awana, you know? I didn’t know this stuff. I was a Catholic. We sat in these chairs instead of pews. It wasn’t church to me. But the guy opened the Scripture and expounded it and my mouth dropped open. And they were reaching people for Christ and they had kids climbing off the walls and they were going overseas.
The house church is an overreaction probably in some degree to our father’s Oldsmobile. So what’s the form and function and how do we minister with and alongside? And here’s, I would tell you this that some of us in here are senior saints. I don’t mind being called that. If we don’t relate to these kids we have no reason to criticize them. The old dismiss the young; the young disregard the old and there’s a lot lost in the middle. And it’s hard for me to be around these 20 something’s, but I fall in love with them. And I can’t teach them like I teach you guys because my wife’s sitting elbowing me saying, you can’t do that, Michael, because she gets it and I don’t always.
But I can hang out with them. I can go do things with them. I can buy them barbeque for lunch. I can go see where they work. And that’s the relational context back to discipleship. And then all of a sudden I become Dr. E and I’m their best friend and they listen to anything I have to say. But it takes a long time. If you vilify them and criticize them and make fun of them and dismiss them, you aren’t going to reach them. And here’s the sobriety back to your question, sir. You guys have got the data. You guys have got the content. What are you doing with it? What are you doing with it?


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