The
Inspiration
Project

WITH BRENDAN CORR

GUEST Andrew Farley

Andrew Farley
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Episode 38

Episode Description

On this episode of The Inspiration Project, Brendan Corr talks to bestselling author and president of The Grace Message, Dr Andrew Farley about living in Texas, the naked gospel, church without religion, how grace is the answer, how certain writers became mentors to Andrew and why the deity of Christ is important.

Episode Summary

  • Knowing the importance of the deity of Christ.
  • The Naked Gospel and Church without religion.
  • Andrew coming to Christ for salvation.
  • What sin is and isn’t.
  • Life in Texas for Andrew.
  • What is applied linguistics and how Andrew got interested in that field of study.
  • How Andrew has been able to understand the language of God, the language of scripture, the person of Jesus and his message.
  • Why It’s so vital that we choose the right words to describe our relationship with Jesus.
  • Andrew’s favourite scripture and why.

Episode Transcript

Sponsor Announcement
This podcast is sponsored by Australian Christian College. A network of schools committed to student wellbeing, character development, and academic improvement.

Introduction
Welcome to The Inspiration Project where well known Christians share their stories to inspire young people in their faith and life. Here’s your host Brendan Corr.

Brendan Corr
Hi everybody. Welcome to another episode of The Inspiration Project, the podcast where you get to hear the stories of successful and influential Christians who’ve navigated their way into a world of professional activity with their faith. This morning we are talking to Andrew Farley. Andrew is an American, great to have somebody from other shores that we’re talking to today. Andrew is a well known speaker and author, best known for his book The Naked Gospel. He also serves as the lead pastor of the church called Church Without Religion, and is Associate Professor of Applied Linguistics at Texas Tech University. Andrew, it’s fantastic to welcome you to our podcast today.

Andrew Farley
Thank you. Great to be with you.

Brendan Corr
You sound like you have a busy life ahead, being a lead pastor, associate professor and author, speaker.

Andrew Farley
Well, actually a couple of years ago I resigned from academia so I could go into full-time ministry. So yeah, Wikipedia is a little bit behind the times there.

Brendan Corr
Little bit behind. We might have to do an edit, do a live edit.

Andrew Farley
Yeah, yeah, yeah, but I do a radio programme every night on Sirius XM, and I pastor a church and I write books. Then I’m a dad and a husband, and I’ve got a well-rounded life.

Brendan Corr
It does sound like it, all those sorts of different hats that you’re involved in. Now, I’m going to get just a little bit of personal interest out of the way early in our conversation.

Andrew Farley
Sure.

Brendan Corr
Lubbock Texas.

Andrew Farley
Yeah.

Brendan Corr
Famous centre of American history, especially American music history.

Andrew Farley
Yes.

Brendan Corr
You know where I’m heading here Andrew, right?

Andrew Farley
Yes, Buddy Holly. Home of Buddy Holly.

Brendan Corr
The one and only.

Andrew Farley
Doesn’t get any better than that. You know, you go to the Buddy Holly museum here, and that’s probably the best that Lubbock Texas has to offer right there.

Brendan Corr
Oh. Other than Church Without Religion, which I’m sure-

Andrew Farley
Well that’s right, of course.

Brendan Corr
So are you a fan of early US rock and roll?

Andrew Farley
Oh, early rock and roll, definitely. I love the Beatles. I love a lot of the people that were influenced by Buddy Holly, but honestly I couldn’t name a Buddy Holly song if I tried.

Brendan Corr
I would have thought that was part of your citizenship of the state that you would have to own some of that.

Andrew Farley
I’m counting on you not to tell anybody.

Brendan Corr
All right, it’s between you and I, no problems there about that.

Andrew Farley
All right.

Brendan Corr
I do actually love Buddy Holly music, so I’ll share some with you sometime, and induct you into the beauties of that very simple sort of music.

Andrew Farley
Yeah.

Brendan Corr
So tell us, Texas is, at least in Australia, has this reputation for being the state that is the biggest and the best and the grandest and that everything is better in Texas.

Andrew Farley
Yeah.

Brendan Corr
Is that the lived experience, Andrew, for someone living there?

Andrew Farley
Yeah. I got to say it really is. Like it doesn’t disappoint in that regard. There’s a lot of state pride, there’s… Even the vehicles, the vehicles that are on the road are large and in charge. So, yeah, it’s a state where there’s a lot of amazing food, and there’s a lot of variety in the landscape. I mean everybody thinks it’s like a Clint Eastwood cowboy movie or something. And that’s true of certain parts of Texas, but with the lakes and the rolling hills and the ocean, I mean there’s a lot of variety, and man I love Texas. I grew up in Virginia but I really love Texas. I identify now as a Texan, for sure.

Brendan Corr
A through and through Texan, and quite diverse economy, isn’t it? You’ve got the oil that’s in Texas, but you’ve also got some high tech stuff.

Andrew Farley
Yeah. Yeah. Austin is really a centre for a lot of high tech and you’ve got some great universities both public and private. You’ve got University of Texas at Austin, which is well known. And then in Houston you’ve got Rice University, which is a top ranked private school. There’s a lot of great things in Texas.

Brendan Corr
And I think the whole world recognises Houston for the classic communication with NASA, right?

Andrew Farley
Yes.

Brendan Corr
“Houston we’ve got a problem.” And the space centre.

Andrew Farley
Yes, that’s right.

Brendan Corr
Andrew, it’s nice to hear that with all of that activity in your life, there’s still that humanity that brings to it. I guess one of the things that, as I was thinking of conversation that might unfold between us, I was intrigued by what seems to be the thrust of some of your writings and even the name of your church.

Andrew Farley
Yes.

Brendan Corr:

That is very confronting, and seems at first glance, perhaps too oxymoronic, that would make a real contrast for people.

Andrew Farley
Yeah.

Brendan Corr
God without religion, the naked gospel, church without religion. Can you tell me a bit about what it is you’re trying to communicate with those labels? What’s the essence of your story?

Andrew Farley
Sure. Yeah. So I grew up in a Christian school, and by the time I was 19 years old I was on the floor of my apartment and I was begging God for answers. I was saying, “God, I’m doing everything they told me to do in church and school and the Christian communities. I’m sharing my faith with everybody that I meet. And I’m in church every time the doors are open, and literally I’m reading my Bible four and five hours a day. And yet I still don’t feel like I’m growing. I don’t feel like I’m close to you. Like where did I go wrong?” And you know at 19 years old I was asking God to show me where I’d gone wrong. It was really the message of grace that rescued me, understanding God’s grace, understanding my identity in Christ. Understanding a fuller, getting a fuller grasp on the gospel. So God without religion means can you have God without the legalism of rules? Church without religion means can you have church without some sort of legalistic behaviour improvement programme? Can it really be about Jesus? And so that’s what I’m writing about. I’m writing about Jesus plus nothing, a hundred percent natural, no additives that’s our motto. So I love to write about the gospel, about the grace of God, about forgiveness, and an identity in Christ.

Brendan Corr
Let me push you on some of that. That’s a fantastic vision that you’ve caught, a fantastic truth that God has given in your heart. But it’s a bit of an unusual one because often people would think grace is the thing that is understood by the person that ended up homeless and addicted and gambling problems and destitute, and grace needs to reach out and take hold of that life and transform it.

Andrew Farley
Yeah.

Brendan Corr
You’re telling me, I think, that your story was completely the opposite. You were doing all the right things, living a life that was commendable, and yet for you, grace was still the answer.

Andrew Farley
Yeah.

Brendan Corr
Can you talk with me about that?

Andrew Farley
Sure. So like I didn’t have any problem with drinking or drugs or sex. I lived this clean life. And in fact, back then there were a lot of friends who would’ve said, “Wow, look at that guy, he’s so busy for God.” I was on the streets of Greece and Italy doing evangelism. I was in halfway houses and jails and prisons. I was talking to people about Christ on airliners and hotel ballrooms. I mean, I was like on fire and literally addicted to evangelism, because I thought it would get me closer to God, and get me in better standing. So I guess you could say you were describing someone who has more obvious flesh patterns, like lying, cheating, stealing, the things that are listed in the Bible as deeds of the flesh. But what I was struggling with was more like Paul’s version of the flesh. Paul had this zeal, and he was very religious, and he was found blameless by his contemporaries. So, I guess what I had to learn was that whether you’ve got good looking flesh or bad looking flesh, it really doesn’t matter.

Brendan Corr
That’s beautiful.

Andrew Farley
It’s still the spirit of God that needs to motivate what we’re doing.

Brendan Corr
That’s a lovely description. Good looking flesh or bad looking flesh. I completely get where you’re going with that. That’s awesome. So the idea, I don’t want to push too hard on this Andrew, but would you have said you were a Christian during that phase? Were you saved?

Andrew Farley
Oh yeah, I was definitely saved, no question. I mean at eight years old I received Christ and I had security of salvation, and I knew Jesus as my saviour, but you know it was almost like this. It was grace for salvation, and then it was works for everything else. It was like two methods. It was grace to start with, and then now watch me God, watch what I’m going to do for you, kind of attitude. And I really failed to see that it was supposed to be graceful from start to finish.

Brendan Corr
So you started by saying 19, you have this crisis, I suppose, in your understanding, crisis of your spirituality. Was it a blinding flash of revelation that happened to you? Or was there a growth in your understanding of this essential doctrine of grace?

Andrew Farley
Yeah. It wasn’t a lightning bolt out of heaven. It wasn’t skywriting in the sky. It was more like 10 years of replacing old thoughts with new thoughts. At the centre of that was the new covenant. I don’t want to get too theological on everybody but I mean I had never heard the term new covenant. And if I had heard it, I thought it was just the church down the street, New Covenant Bible Chapel, or whatever. But I discovered that we Christians live under a new covenant, and we don’t live under the law, we live under grace. And so when I started to see the difference between the Old Testament law and the New Testament grace it really helped me. I mean I started drawing a line in the sand, going all right. How forgiven am I? If I lived on this side of the cross and Jesus took away my sins. And he says he remembers my sins no more. How real is that? Is that real? Am I totally forgiven? Are there any conditions to it? What if I sin really badly? What if I sin a tonne of times? What if I keep struggling with the same thing over and over? I had to draw a line in the sand and say you know what I’m going to agree with Jesus that it is finished. I started to see new covenant forgiveness and how big it was and new covenant grace and how big it was. I think that that’s really over a 10 year period, that’s what revolutionised my life.

Brendan Corr
That’s fantastic, Andrew. Can I ask you, were there people that you were going to ask questions that were influencing you? Were there writers or mentors, or people like that?

Andrew Farley
Sure. Yeah there were. I mean at 19 years old I had to take a semester off from university and go home and get help. I sought counseling. I didn’t even feel like I could finish school because I was so addicted to street evangelism that I couldn’t focus. It was like a drug, but it was a religious drug. So I went home and in the process got great counseling from people. Some of them have passed away. Some of them are still around, but some are good Christian counselors in Virginia. But I would say as far as books and influences in my life there was a book called Lifetime Guarantee that was written by Bill Gillham, and that was super helpful to me. You know, what’s so amazing about grace was a good book. There were some others there were some classic authors, Andrew Murray being one of them. Anyway, it was probably 10 or 15 different authors. But for me I got to say, for me the number one thing was reading, and you won’t believe this, but reading the book of Hebrews. In the middle of the book of Hebrews right around chapters six to 10 there is this beautiful unfolding of what the new covenant is. I started to see, okay wait a minute, it’s not about tablets of stone. He’s written his desires on my heart. It’s not about progressive forgiveness, little by little. It’s once for all forgiveness. I started to see, I mean Hebrews 8 says the new covenant is not like the old covenant. He says they did not remain faithful. So I was worried about faithfulness, but faithfulness is an old covenant problem and it’s actually solved in the new covenant. So what I mean by that is in the old covenant Israel promised God we will do everything written in the law, but in the new covenant it’s a promise between God and God. I’d never heard that before. You know what I mean? God could swear by no one greater, so he swore by himself, and by these two unchangeable things it says we have this hope as an anchor. So God on one side, God on the other securing us forever, to me that’s probably the most exciting part about the new covenant is just that it’s God’s promise to himself. So, people will ask what if I commit a big sin? What if I commit many sins? What if I, what if I, what if I? We’re always asking what if I? And then we’re putting ourselves in the equation instead of letting it be God and God that secure us forever. So I love that.

Brendan Corr
That is so awesome, and you’ve explained that so absolutely beautifully. Why the deity of Christ is so important, so that he could be the other half of the covenant making.

Andrew Farley
Yes.

Brendan Corr
When he said this is the new covenant that I’m making my blood. Speaking as the eternal God and as the fulfiller of the faithfulness, that’s beautiful. And the idea that even our unfaithfulness is forgiven by the word of God.

Andrew Farley
Yes. The New Testament says, “Even when we are faithless he remains faithful.” And then it says, “Because he cannot deny himself.” And you say well wait why does that have to do with anything? Well he cannot deny himself, and he lives in us.

Brendan Corr
Amen.

Andrew Farley
So he doesn’t deny us. And I love that.

Brendan Corr
Yeah. That is so fantastic. Well let me push you a little further in this notion of how you unpack this idea. I get the central thought that it all pins on, the notion of religion, God without religion, and the whole concept of what you’re describing religion as being and not being. Again most people I think would say the rules of religion relate more to church traditions and liturgies, and that type of church life. I think in your comparison of good looking flesh, bad looking flesh, sort of equating what would be a modern Protestant Christian life, as not being that dissimilar to the formal liturgies of the ancient traditions.

Andrew Farley
Yeah. So I guess we need to define religion, because I mean you can go to the Bible and you can find a verse that says that here’s true religion, visiting orphans and widows, taking care of people. So there is a religion that the Bible speaks of a couple of times, but the reality is in my book God Without Religion I define how I’m using religion. I would say that it is any system of rules where I think I’m going to progressively arrive at a good status with God, and then maintain that status through those rules. A recent Barna survey said that 81% of Christians think that Christianity is primarily about obeying the rules written in the Bible. And it just tells you how rule based we think we really are. Actually what sets Christianity apart, I mean the apostle Paul actually bashes rule keeping in Colossians 2. He says these rules do not handle, do not taste, do not touch, they have the appearance of wisdom but they lack any value in restraining sin. I think that’s amazing to consider that the Christian life is not really about rules. It’s about letting Christ rule, and there’s a big difference there.

Brendan Corr
That is huge. And that whole idea, isn’t it, that sin is not the things we do but it’s the attitudes and inclinations that prompt those things that we do.

Andrew Farley
Yes.

Brendan Corr
Whether we actually carry those things out or we don’t, or we replace them with others, we’re still subject to that nature that needs regeneration and needs forgiveness.

Andrew Farley
So you’ve got good looking sin, you got bad looking sin. You could give a million dollars to charity and it could be sin, because again it’s all about your motivation and inspiration, and what’s driving you. So yeah, the Bible talks about walking after the flesh, or walking after the spirit. So the same activity could be either one. We need to see that because then I go all right, my goal is not just good looking stuff, my goal is dependency on the in-dwelling Christ.

Brendan Corr
That’s good. That’s good. Earlier you made a comment about, I think I remember hearing you say that Christianity is not about self-improvement.

Andrew Farley
Yeah.

Brendan Corr
You know, off the shelf, pop psychology, this is how we can live a better life or become a better person.

Andrew Farley
Right.

Brendan Corr
Yet you’re talking about growth and development. Can you unpack that, or contrast those two things a bit?

Andrew Farley
Yeah, and I also want to bring in something that you mentioned, I want to bring nature into this because it does relate. So let’s take a human being. We grow physically and we learn mentally, but we don’t become more human. We’re simply humans that grow up from being a baby to being a teenager to being an adult. And so our nature doesn’t change during that time, but we do gain more knowledge and more understanding and more maturity. You look in nature, you look at a sapling tree that’s very young, a few weeks old. I mean it’s only a few inches tall perhaps, and then it grows into this great oak tree. Well it doesn’t become any more oaky, it’s not okay, or it’s not more oaky by nature, but it does grow and mature. So the same thing with children of God, the scripture says our old self died and we became a new creation. At the same time, it says grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. So I think we put those two together, and we say look even Jesus grew in wisdom and stature but he didn’t become more Jesus. So there’s nothing about our growth or maturity that makes us have better standing, or it doesn’t make us more of a child of God. It doesn’t make us closer to the family. I mean we’re in. I think it’s really important just to know that when you’re in, you’re in. You’re either in Adam or you’re in Christ. There’s no halfway. So yeah, let’s embrace growth, and let’s embrace learning, and growing in knowledge, and growing in grace, but those things are a renewing of our mind. They’re not really a cleaning of our nature, if that makes sense. Because you know if the Lord came back right now, you’re heaven ready. I mean you’re going to get a new body but he’s not going to give you a new personality. He likes you. He’s not going to give you a new spirit. He already gave you one. So it’s only your body that gets replaced in heaven. So I guess what I’m saying is there’s something about you that is fully acceptable, fully loved, fully liked. So you grow and yet you’re a hundred percent righteous the whole time.

Brendan Corr
That’s good. I’m really appreciating the way you’re drawing that distinction of our inherent new nature. New creatures in Christ at that moment of salvation. But the notion of grace doesn’t just leave us, that’s the end point. Once we’re in there is growth to happen, there is maturing.

Andrew Farley
Oh yeah, lots.

Brendan Corr
But it doesn’t change the nature of the fundamental new creature.

Andrew Farley
Yes, yeah. So we leave lots of room for growth because I mean look, Paul called the Corinthians babes in Christ, or infants. I mean they had some fleshly thinking and he called them out on it. I mean they were practically having drunken orgies at the Lord’s Supper. It was a mockery of the whole thing, passed out, drunk, gluttony, eating up all the food. There was sexual promiscuity going on in Corinth. I mean those guys were an absolute mess, and yet he opens the letter to the Saints in Corinth.

Brendan Corr
Amen.

Andrew Farley
That’s how he addresses them, and you know even this guy who was disciplined and asked to leave the congregation because he didn’t respect anything that they were saying. So it says his flesh will be destroyed, but his spirit will be saved. I guess there’s a lot of Christians all over the planet that are struggling big time. We all stumble in many ways, James says, but we don’t lose our citizenship. We don’t lose being in the family. We don’t lose our identity. That’s really important because otherwise we’re saying agape, agape, agape, love. Then five minutes later we’re saying but yeah he’ll abandon us. We don’t even see that that’s incompatible. If we’re the ones shouting agape, unconditional love, then we need to really make sure that what we’re believing is consistent with that, and truly unconditional love.

Brendan Corr
I get that. Love talking about this level of applied theology that we’re looking at. But I was also interested when I was reading up about you that you acquired your graduate studies, your advanced degrees, in Applied Linguistics.

Andrew Farley
Yes.

Brendan Corr
Andrew, tell us a bit about what is applied linguistics. How did you end up being an expert in that field?

Andrew Farley
Yeah, so I went and lived in Spain during my first year of university, also the summer before that I lived in Barcelona. So I spent a lot of time in Spain as a teenager. Then a typical teenager goes to college, goes to university and says, “Hey what am I going to major in?” I guess we’ll let me major in Spanish because I already learned it this summer. So it’ll be easy. So I get in there and I take the placement test and sure enough I’m placed out of all the language classes, and they throw me in the literature classes, and I’m reading books this thick in Spanish. And I can’t stand it. Like I’m reading Don Quixote in Spanish, and hundreds and hundreds of pages, and looking words up in the dictionary, and having a hard time. So then my senior year I’m going, what am I going to do with this major in Spanish? The professor says, “Well, you could either work for the FBI in a van with the headphones on, listening to dialects of Spanish, or you can teach Spanish.” And I said well if I teach then what do I need to do next? And he says, “Well, you need to get a master’s and a PhD.” So I started looking around, and linguistics was different. It was a different animal than literature. It’s the study of language, and how it evolves, and how people learn language, and how language changes over time, and what are the best ways to teach. So there’s a lot in applied linguistics, but I ended up doing a master’s in Georgia and then a PhD in Illinois. The rest is history. I guess you could say that last year of the PhD I go to my professors and I’m like, “What am I going to do now with a PhD?” And they said, “Well,” again, “you can work for the FBI or you can be a professor.” So I decided to go to Notre Dame. That’s where I got an offer, and I was there for five years to start my academic career. So it was always something fun to do and it was a way to make a living, but the whole time I had this passion in my heart to do what I’m doing now. So I really feel like my life is a dream come true, to be honest.

Brendan Corr
I was interested to ask you, because the move from the world of academics and professorship into lead pastoring and authoring, and being in full-time ministry. Tell us about how that transition happened for you.

Andrew Farley
Yeah, so I started doing radio on the side, even when I was working with Notre Dame I was doing radio on the side, and I had a programme that came on once a week, and it was transmitted over shortwave to South America and Africa, and a few different places. I did that for a while, then I started teaching Bible Studies in our church, and then I started travelling a few times a year to do conferences. I was sharing the grace of God and meanwhile earning a living as a professor. Then five years later there was a church in Texas, a very small church at the time they’d lost their pastor. They had about 40 people in the congregation at that time. I had done a conference for them, and a few years later they called me and they said, “Would you consider being our pastor?” And I said, “Well, I don’t know. I mean maybe.” I said, “I really enjoyed my visit, let me come down there and spend a few months with you and we’ll see where it goes.” And by the end of those few months I just knew like I love these people, and I don’t want to leave here. My wife felt the same. We both felt like this is where we need to be. So I resigned from Notre Dame, a top 20 school in the nation. I was just getting ready to get tenure. I had 10 articles and a book, and there was no question that I was going to have job security for life, and I resigned and went and took a church of 40 people. That was 15 years ago, and man, it’s been awesome. It’s been amazing.

Brendan Corr
Was it scary at the time or were you so filled with a sense of direction and purpose?

Andrew Farley
Well financially, yeah financially it was scary because with 40 people which is five or six families, I mean that could go away. It could vanish in three weeks if people decided to stop attending. So it was a risk financially, and that was the scary part. But we had too much driving on the inside. I mean there was just this heartfelt desire to be there. It was without a doubt the right decision, because I mean looking back now, I mean our church is, I don’t know, we have 400 people in the building and we have a million Facebook followers. We have people, about a hundred thousand people watching a single message each week.

Brendan Corr
That’s awesome.

Andrew Farley
It’s all through technology. I mean there’s about 40 countries that tune in, and we have small groups all over the world, so it’s been crazy.

Brendan Corr
Incredible.

Andrew Farley
Yeah.

Brendan Corr
Well God certainly favoured or honoured your stepping out in faith in that regard.

Andrew Farley
Yes.

Brendan Corr
And showed up, right?

Andrew Farley
Yes. He showed up. Absolutely.

Brendan Corr
That’s fantastic. Andrew, when I was reading about you having this area of linguistic studies I wanted to ask you some questions in that area of thinking.

Andrew Farley
Okay. Sure.

Brendan Corr
Okay for me to sort of that a little?

Andrew Farley
Yeah.

Brendan Corr
I think language is an extraordinary gift that that we receive, and the Bible has a lot to say about the words that we use and the way-

Andrew Farley
Yes.

Brendan Corr
It reveals the inner workings of our hearts. Having immersed yourself in a language you didn’t know, it wasn’t your native language, and studied how we use it, how it shapes culture, how it holds thoughts, has it changed the way you understand the language of God? The language of scripture, the person of Jesus and his message?

Andrew Farley
Yeah. You know to be honest with you I think the most glaring example of that is what I would call modern day Christianese and jargon, and how that is different from the language of the Bible. You know, let me give you an example. You know, like people talk about getting closer to God, and I understand what they mean when they say that. It’s a common everyday expression. Maybe they want to feel closer to God. Maybe they imagine themselves, I don’t know, spiritually sort of inching closer to him as they do certain things or whatever. But you look at the Bible and it doesn’t talk about us getting closer and closer. It actually says that we’ve been brought near, and that we’re one spirit with the Lord. It says things like we can have boldness and confidence with him, and being one spirit with the Lord, that’s about as close as you can get, I would say. And when the blood of Jesus makes you close, then how close are you? Well you’d have to conclude that you’re perfectly close. So again I think we’re back to that thing of, yes we’re learning and growing, but we’re close the whole time. You know that’s one example of jargon. The other example I can think of is like the idea of fellowship. Fellowship is talked about in Christian circles sometimes like you’re going in and out and in and out of fellowship with God. Yet when you do a word study in the New Testament of fellowship, it’s never used that way. You’re either in fellowship as a Christian, or you’re out of fellowship as unbeliever, but you’re not going in and out. You’re not in on Monday and out on Tuesday, and in on Wednesday. It’s amazing that there’s so many examples. I mean if I had enough time I could think of 10 or 15 of these easily, where we are adopting our own language to talk about God instead of getting to know God in his language, and the words he chose to express his love toward us.

Brendan Corr
That’s so good. And what I think I’m hearing when you make that distinction is that it actually matters. That the words that we choose convey meaning that can affect our understanding, or our conception.

Andrew Farley
Oh yeah. Yeah. I mean I’m seeing the light bulb go on for people like crazy when they have a simple revelation of how an old thought was keeping them in bondage. An old thought they had pictured themselves dirty and distant from God. Then they learned that they’re clean and close because of Jesus. For them to see that, the light bulb goes on, they realise oh this is how I’m supposed to be excited about Christianity. I mean for them, the Christianity was a headache. I got to go to church, I got to read the Bible, I got to live well. I got to live right. God’s always frustrated. God’s always disappointed. I never do enough. There’s three steps to this, and five steps to that, and do more, be more, love more, do more, be more, love more. They keep hearing these sorts of messages, and eventually they feel rejected. I mean we don’t even realise we’re doing it but if I had a friendship with you, and I kept talking about what you should be, and I kept talking about some future version of you that I love. I love some future version of you that you should be, well then in the present tense you feel rejected. I think that that’s happening subtly in so many ways without us realising it.

Brendan Corr
Yes, and I get what you’re saying about the language patterns reinforce that. Some of my own reading has exemplified how we think in words, and the words capture the way in which we conceive of reality and of relationship. I hear what you’re saying in this. It’s so vital we get the right words to describe our relationship with Jesus.

Andrew Farley
Yes. Absolutely.

Brendan Corr
Not deceiving ourselves, to use a biblical expression.

Andrew Farley
Right. Yeah. So let me give you one more example, which I think is maybe the best example, because I’ve seen it be so pervasive here, at least in the United States. All right. So there’s a term “sinful nature”. The term “sinful nature” actually is not just jargon, it appeared in the NIV Bible the New International Version of the Bible that was put out in 1984. And then I think it was reissued in a newer version in 2010. The term “sinful nature” was in the most popular Bible in our country, besides the king James. And then you do a little digging and you discover, wait a minute the original word in Greek there is sarx, S-A-R-X, and it’s best translated as flesh, which we’ve already talked about. You and I were talking about good flesh, bad flesh, all that stuff. That flesh is attitudes or perspectives, or worldly thinking. You can walk according to the flesh, you can set your mind on the flesh. You can try to get identity through the flesh. You know, Paul was doing that born on a certain day of a certain tribe. But that’s not a Christian’s nature. I think that what happened is, the NIV committee decided let’s try to make this term more understandable, and so they put in the term “sinful nature”. Well, three decades later they actually pulled it out and changed their mind and removed it. But in the process we had 30 years of Christians saying well I’m a new creation, but I’ve got a sinful nature, but I’ve got a new nature, but I’ve got a sinful nature. And they essentially thought of themselves as a house divided. The good me and the bad me. Jesus says the house divided cannot stand. So let me bring this home for us and just say all right here’s why this is important, it’s not half of me fighting the other half of me. I’m the new creation, but I’ve got flesh patterns in my thinking and my attitudes. Like right now we’re on computers. Let’s say I just bought this computer. It’s a MacBook and I brought it home, and it’s beautiful. It’s silver, it’s shiny, it’s new, and that’s what hardware is. But I’m on this computer for like five minutes, and it says I need a software update. Well, software is different from hardware. So that’s what I’m saying. You know, we are new creations. We’ve got the new heartware. I’m saying heartware, like our new heart. We’ve got new heartware, but we’re still getting software updates. And that’s what the flesh is.

Brendan Corr
Amen.

Andrew Farley
And so I think that if a Christian could understand I’m not two people, I’m not a split personality, spiritually. I’m not supposed to live this dichotomy. I’m not a house divided. I’m one person with one new heart, but I’m still getting my mind renewed, then I think it would really help how we view ourselves and we would understand better. Hey, how can I be so close to God, and yet still struggle with the thoughts? Well your heart is good, but your mind is being renewed.

Brendan Corr
Yeah. Yeah. Gotcha. Andrew, that’s fantastic. Really appreciate you unpacking that. Maybe where we might land this conversation, which has been rich, from my perspective, is to head to Galatians chapter 2, verse 20.

Andrew Farley
Awesome.

Brendan Corr
Which I think might be a special verse for you.

Andrew Farley
Yes, it is. “I’ve been crucified with Christ. I no longer live but Christ lives in me and the life that I live now by faith, I live it by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself up for me.” And I love that verse because you know, the first I am the old me. I no longer live, that old me no longer lives. I’ve been crucified with Christ. And then it says Christ lives in me, but notice I don’t disappear. I’m not gone. It says, “The life I now live.” So I’m in this, Jesus invited me into the new life, and I get united with him, and I get to trust him and depend on him and he lives in me. So that’s one of the most beautiful verses of all, I think. I absolutely love it. So thanks for bringing that up.

Brendan Corr
I love it too. I’ve loved this time with you, Andrew. It’s been fantastic to hear about what your ministry is and to hear your story, how God has led you. How he, by grace, saved a good Christian boy.

Andrew Farley
Yeah.

Brendan Corr
To understand the magnitude of what his purpose is in your life. I’m so glad that he’s working that out, and please know we’ll be praying that he continues to do that.

Andrew Farley
Well, thank you. It was a pleasure talking with you, my friend.

Andrew Farley

About Andrew Farley

Dr. Andrew Farley is a bestselling author of nine books including The Naked Gospel and Twisted Scripture. He serves as president of The Grace Message – a nonprofit Christian media ministry dedicated to proclaiming the love and grace of God with boldness and clarity. Andrew hosts The Grace Message with Dr. Andrew Farley – a live, call-in radio program – every weeknight on stations across North America. He is also the lead pastor of The Grace Church and has been recognized with several awards for his excellence in teaching. Andrew lives in Texas with his wife Katharine and their son Gavin.

Photo of Brendan Corr

About Brendan Corr

Originally a Secondary Science Teacher, Brendan is a graduate of UTS, Deakin and Regent College, Canada. While Deputy Principal at Pacific Hills for 12 years, Brendan also led the NSW Christian Schools Australia registration system. Brendan’s faith is grounded in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and a deep knowledge of God’s Word. Married for over 30 years, Brendan and Kim have 4 adult children. On the weekends, Brendan enjoys cycling (but he enjoys coffee with his mates afterwards slightly more).