I Give Up! Why You Can’t Live the Christian Life/Program 1
|By: Dr. Wayne A. Barber; ©2012|
|Many call themselves Christians, yet do not know what it means to know Christ. The Bible explains God’s plan of salvation, yet terms like “belief,” “accepting Jesus,” and others are often mentioned without explaining what they mean. In this show discover the important aspects of salvation and the way God uses us to share His message with others.|
Today on the John Ankerberg Show: Have you ever said, “I give up! I can’t live the Christian life”?
- Dr. Wayne Barber: I wake up some mornings, John, and I will be honest with you, I don’t even feel like a Christian. I could care less about wanting to be one. I mean, that’s just the way I wake up. You heard about the old boy who said, “Lord, I haven’t coveted. I haven’t had a lustful thought. I haven’t had lied. I have not cheated, but I am about to get out of bed.”
- I don’t have the ability to do what God’s told me to do. I can’t live the Christian life. So therefore someone lives in me to strengthen me, to enable me to give me the ability to do what He expects out of me.
- Yes, I have a brand new nature, I’ve partaken of the nature of Christ. But I still have my flesh to deal with and that is a battle royale that begins the moment we receive Christ into our hearts.
My guest today is conference speaker, author and pastor Dr. Wayne Barber, pastor of Woodland Park Baptist Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
- Barber: He lives within us to enable everything He demands from us. That’s the good news. That’s the beauty of the gospel. It did not just stop at salvation. It started. Christ comes to live in us. He is our eternal life. He is our life and that’s what people need to understand. The same way you received Him, the same way you walk it. Just trust Him.
We invite you join us for this special edition of the John Ankerberg Show.
- Dr. John Ankerberg: Welcome to our program. I’ve got a terrific guest for you today. His name is Dr. Wayne Barber, and I’ve invited him because I think he’s the best that we have in Christianity helping Christians who’ve grown up in church all of their life and have been told how to live the Christian life. They’ve tried; they’ve tried their best and they’ve failed miserably, okay. And maybe I’m describing you right now. You’re frustrated, you’re discouraged. There’s something missing in your Christian life; you don’t know what it is. Maybe you’ve even given up. And that’s why I’ve invited Wayne to come.
- But today we’re going to start with a question that I’m concerned about for all of you that are listening. Many of you have watched program for a long time, and I wonder, do you really know the Lord Jesus? And we’re going to start with, what are the basics of salvation? How do you get into this Christian life? And here’s why; Wayne, you were 34 years of age, you were eight years a youth minister. You were already in the ministry and you came to the realization you weren’t a Christian.
- Dr. Wayne Barber: That’s right.
- Ankerberg: And I’m afraid for a lot of our people that go to church every Sunday; we’ve a lot of folks that are not Christians that don’t go to church. They want to know what this thing is all about. We’ve got people in 200 countries that are listening. They want to know, what is Christianity? What makes it different? But let’s start with those that are even inside the church like you. What was the information that you were missing that God showed you? And let’s talk about how you actually become a Christian. What are the basics here?
- Barber: Well, in my own experience, you know, growing up in a church family, you understand very quickly that you can sin; I had no doubt about that. But I didn’t understand that I was a sinner. You do what you do because you are what you are. And that was when I saw the difference. It is like in Scripture, we are going to be talking about the good news,…
- Ankerberg: Yeah.
- Barber: …but there’s some bad news. And the bad news is that what happened, it says in Romans 5:12, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned.” Then you drop down to verse 18, “So then, as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men.” How in the world could that have happened? Well, it takes us all the way back to the book of Genesis. And we see there that Adam—mentioned as Adam, by the way, in the New American Standard translation in verse 20 of chapter 2, it really means man, but it’s the first time we see the word “Adam”—we see that God created him, first of all. Now, that’s not politically correct, but that’s biblically accurate.
- Ankerberg: Yeah.
- Barber: People don’t understand what the Word of God says. And it says in Genesis 1:26, “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our own image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’” Let’s make man an extension of Our life; let’s make man an expression of Our character; and let’s make man as an exhibit of Our power. So far so good.
- But then we see a condition that God put on man, and that condition was, all the trees in this garden that I have placed you—it must have been a beautiful place—you can eat of the fruit of those trees, except for one. Isn’t it interesting that God put one condition there? And, of all things, Adam, who had all the fruit of all of the trees, chose to disobey God, which is what sin is. It’s disobeying God. And when he did, he ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He ate of that tree of life, and as a result of that, he was cast out. And it’s interesting what Romans says, in that one man sinned, sin entered the world, and death by sin. And so there’s not just a physical death here, because when he sinned he didn’t die physically; however, he died immediately spiritually; and death, physical death, became a reality to him.
- Now here’s the problem: all of mankind was yet unborn in the loins of Adam. And so when he sinned, it kicked into a virus the human race. And that virus is incurable because it separates us from God. He lost the life of God; he lost the ability to fellowship with God; he was separated from God. And we’re all born under that same condemnation. That’s the bad news. But there is such good news.
- Ankerberg: Yeah, what is the good news? I mean, we’ve all realized we’ve followed in Adam’s footsteps and we have sinned. There are people that are listening right now, they would categorize themselves as big sinners, okay. I’m kind of worried about the folks that go to church and they think they’re little sinners. And because they’re little sinners and everybody does it, we’re all going to heaven. How serious is sin?
- Barber: Sin is very serious, because God hates it, and it’s a separating thing between us and God. And, you know, it’s kind of like the NFL game one year, and it was the Super Bowl. And the guy almost made it to the goal line, which would have won the game.
- Ankerberg: Right.
- Barber: He was a foot short. But he didn’t quite make it. And there’s not a man on this earth or a woman on this earth that can satisfy the standard that God has for us. So sin, no matter how big or how little, separates us from God.
- Ankerberg: Yeah, Jesus said, you know, “be ye perfect even as your heavenly Father is perfect.” So, talk about your sin, but if you say, are you perfect? I’d just say, you know, check with your wife on that one. The fact is, I don’t think there’s anybody that is perfect. If we’re not, we’re not going to be in heaven. We’re separated from God. So what’s the good news? What’s the remedy? If I’m unsaved and I’m talking to you and I’m saying, what does this word “saved” mean anyway? What is it?
- Barber: Well, it means to be rescued, to be delivered from something. But we have to understand what we are delivered from. The dilemma is we’re all headed towards hell, separated from God forever without this good news. The good news is John 3:16, “For God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
- Ankerberg: Now, be the scholar, the Greek scholar of this spot, I want to know, what does the word “believe” mean. How does the Bible use it? There’s all kinds of ways in the Greek, and the fact is you’re a Greek scholar on this, so let’s go technical for a moment. What does the word “believe” mean, so I know that I’ve done it when the Bible says I’m supposed to believe that Jesus died and paid for all my sins. What does that mean?
- Barber: Well, the word “believe” itself comes from the root word peitho in the Greek. And the word means to be so convinced—convicted, if we want to use that word—of what we say we believe that we’re willing to bow down and act upon it. If a person hasn’t acted upon what he says he believes, he’s never believed. It’s like the fellow back in the 1800’s that said he could walk across the Niagara Falls on a tightrope, and he did. And I can see the crowd now, you know. “Ethel, Ethel, bring the camera. We’re going to watch a guy fall off Niagara Falls.”
- So he gets up there and says, “How many of you believe that I can do that?” Everybody raised their hands. And he does; he walks across and comes back. Then he takes a wheelbarrow, and puts a lot of weight, about 200 pounds of weight in it, and he says, “How many of you believe I can push this across?” This is it, a guy falling off of Niagara Falls with a wheelbarrow. You know, we’ve never seen a picture like this. We believe. Sure enough, he goes across and comes back. He says, “Now, how many of you believe this time that I can put a man in a wheelbarrow and push him across?” Everybody’s hand goes up. So he points to somebody’s hand on the front row, and he says, “Hey, you, sir.” Who, who, me? He said, “You’ve got your hand up. You say you believe. Come on up here and get in the wheelbarrow and let’s show them.” “No, I had a cramp in my arm.” And all of a sudden everybody had a cramp in their arm. Because belief has got to get in the wheelbarrow. We can say we understand who God is, but that’s really not scriptural belief. Belief is acting upon what we say we mentally and fully grasp and comprehend.
- Ankerberg: Yeah, we are going to get to the word “repentance” coming up here. Part of repentance is you’ve got to change your mind. And there are people in 200 countries that don’t even believe Jesus is God. You’ve got to change your mind about God. You’ve got to change your mind about who Jesus is and what He did. God sent Him into the world to die for the sins that we’ve all committed.
- Barber: That’s right.
- Ankerberg: You may not understand that, but that’s what God said and He wants you to believe that and He says when you put your trust in My Son and what He did for you, then this other word comes up, you’re justified. What does the word “justified” mean?
- Barber: Well, the word “justified” is an awesome word, “just as if I’d never sinned”. Of course, I have a story about that.
- Ankerberg: Yeah, tell me the story.
- Barber: Well, Steven, years ago, went down to see the Florida/Georgia football game, my son, Steven. Well, I told him on the phone, I said, you’ll never get a ticket. But he did. He called me and said I got a ticket. He told me how much he got it for. I think $30 a piece, which was a good deal.
- Ankerberg: Yeah.
- Barber: He walks in and somebody stopped him and said, “Son, how much would you take for those two tickets?” He said $50. I mean, he’s a college student. He’s broke. I mean, he was going to make some money off of them. The guy says, “You’re under arrest.” Put handcuffs on him, took him to the jailhouse of that particular city. And I get this phone call from one of Steven’s friends. He says, “Mr. Barber,” he said, “I hate to tell you this, but Steven’s in jail.” I started laughing. I said, “He’s not smart enough to be in jail. What did he do?” And he told me what he did.
- Sure enough, I called the desk sergeant. The desk sergeant said to me on the phone, “Mr. Barber, I’d leave him in here.” I said, “I like you a lot. Why would you leave him in there?” He said because the judge that comes in in the morning, he said he hates this law and he will wipe this off his record. Sure enough, next morning the judge came in, and sure enough, he said as far as the state of this that you’re in right now, they have no record of your ever being here. You have been, if we would say it biblically, you’ve been justified, just as if you had never sinned. And that’s the word “justified,” made right with God; nothing we did to earn it, but through Christ we’ve been justified.
- Ankerberg: Yeah, I love Romans 5:1, “Therefore, being justified by,” not our works, but “by faith in Christ.” “Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God.” Boy, it is great to know, God says we’ve peace with Him through our Lord Jesus Christ.
- Now, we’re going to take a break. When we come back we’re going to the next word. The Bible says also we’ve got to repent. You’ve got to believe, and you’ve got to repent. And this is a controversial word, and people say, “I want to know, how do I repent; and how do I know I’ve done enough?” And we are going to talk about that when we come right back. Stick with us.
- Ankerberg: Alright, we’re back. We’re talking with Dr. Wayne Barber, and we’re talking about this very important topic, what are the basics of how a person comes into a relationship with Jesus Christ? Maybe you’re a non-Christian and you really want to know what the score is. If you’re a Christian, I’m asking you to listen, because I fear that a lot of Christians have never really stepped into the reality of knowing Christ. You’ve got a lot of knowledge in your head, but like Wayne was talking about, you never got into Jesus’ wheelbarrow and trusted yourself into His hands, to trust Him. And so, Wayne, review a little bit of what you said, then let’s move on to the next one, which is, what is repentance?
- Barber: Well, you know, Adam sinned in Genesis 3. And as we understand from Scripture, now all of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death.” That’s the bad news. But then he says, “But the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus.” So what we’ve talked about so far is, there’s been some bad news: all of us are born into sin. That’s the problem in our world today. People say it is this or it is that. No, it is a sin problem. And until we come to understand that, and as God reveals it through His Holy Spirit and we come to bow before Christ, we don’t understand the other side of the good news. The good news happens when Jesus comes into our life.
- Ankerberg: Right. What is repentance?
- Barber: Well, repentance to me, faith and repentance are two sides of the same coin. And some people argue about which is first and which is second. But the bottom line is, if it’s true belief, if it’s true belief, it’s going to lead to not only a change of heart, but a change of mind and a change of life. And to me they are so married, you know, it’s ridiculous to try to argue over it. It happens instantly when a person bows before Christ and truly believes. And we’ve talked about belief. What is it? It’s not just up here. It’s a matter of the heart. When that heart is laid down before Him and when that receiving of the Lord Jesus comes in, then to me the repentance flows out of that.
- Ankerberg: Yeah, and it’s something that God does to you. You can’t manufacture it. Now, to what extent do I need to repent? People say, “Have I repented enough?” Because we’re going to talk about, you know, you’re either going to finally figure out you’re attached to the sin, this flesh and your sin all the rest of your life even as a Christian, so you’re going to have desires. And you’re saying, did I repent enough? Did I have enough faith? How do I know? How do I gain assurance, Wayne, that I really was saved?
- Barber: Well, the assurance comes from God’s Word. It comes from the witness of His Spirit. In Romans 8:16, “His Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” But it also comes from documenting it in the Word of God. When I think about it, I think about when I got married. I walked down the aisle, and Diana was so beautiful. And she came down and the preacher was saying all the vows that I was supposed to repeat. I had no clue what he was saying. I had no idea what I was giving myself to. But as far as I understood, I agreed with it. But now we’ve been married 43 years. I’ve understood a whole lot more about what happened that day than I did that day. And a lot of people, when they become a believer, don’t understand that’s a starting place. It’s not an end; it’s a beginning. And so when they come and they offer all of themselves that they understand to all that He is that they understand, then that begins the process. And then it grows. It grows. Oh, my, the next day you find out what else you didn’t lay down. But it’s the moment of trusting Him. If there’s anything else added to it, then we’re not saved. Salvation is by grace. It’s the only other way. There is no other way.
- Ankerberg: Yeah, there’s been, I think, an unfortunate emphasis on the works that ought to be there because you became a Christian. And people have actually said you ought to look at your life to see if you really got saved. Interestingly that John Calvin actually had said himself, if you do that you’ll be miserable all your life, because they’re still not going to be perfect. And so again, what is the basis for assurance? If you’re not looking at that, where do you need to look?
- Barber: I think at the witness of the Spirit within your life; and, to me, the change of your heart. It’s a heart deal. And once the heart changes, it says in Peter we have partaken of his divine nature. And that’s a different deal; we didn’t have that nature before. Now that His heart is within us, He works within us, pulling us to the Father. He pulls us that way. There is automatically, overnight, there is a divine prejudice of the will that God gives to us.
- Ankerberg: Describe your before and after: before you had this happen to you and after.
- Barber: Well, before it was all performance, check off the boxes. I did this; I did that; I did this; I did that; I must be alright. And then I thought it was the prayer that saved me. Prayer doesn’t save anybody. It’s Jesus that saves us. Now it involves a prayer, certainly as we come before Him. But I kept trying to re-pray the prayer. I kept trying to check off another list. But finally it dawned on me, wait a minute, the law is condemning everything that I’m doing. We’ll talk about that later, but that very law was given by Christ. Then He comes into the world, which He Himself created, and He takes our sin burden upon Himself. He lives a perfect life as a man, God-man, 100% God-incarnate, goes to the cross, pays the debt He didn’t owe when we owed a debt we couldn’t pay, and then resurrection, ascends back into heaven. Then sends His Spirit to come and live within us. That’s the witness; is His Spirit comes to live in us. It’s the mark on us. He came into the world to convict us of sin and of judgment and of righteousness. He’s there to let us know now. And now we have a struggle that we get into real quickly.
- Ankerberg: Yes. Let’s talk about this thing of the struggle after you come into being a Christian. You had a lady come up at church and say something that was very interesting. Tell us what it was. We want to get into this word. What is “sanctification,” okay?
- Barber: Well, sanctification is, in my definition, learning to live out what God says we already are. And that’s bottom line to what we are talking about right here. Through God’s Word we know Him. But also through God’s Word we begin to understand what we’ve become. And like in Colossians, he says you’re already complete in the Lord Jesus Christ. And so this lady came up to me and she said, “Wayne, when I got saved all hell broke loose.” And my first answer to her was, “Welcome to the normal Christian life.” But she said, “You did not tell me about this.”
- It puts us into an arena we were never in before. In Romans, Paul says, you know before you were saved you weren’t worried about righteousness. That wasn’t a big deal. But now that you’re saved, it becomes a real struggle. That’s Romans 6 when he talks about the struggle that we have with the flesh. Yes, I have a brand new nature, I’ve partaken of the nature of Christ; but I still have my flesh to deal with. And that’s a battle royale that begins the moment we receive Christ in our hearts.
- Ankerberg: Yeah, we are going to talk about that up ahead. We’ve got one program, our flesh is addicted to sin, and what has God done to help us overcome that? But we’ve got a minute left, Wayne. For people that say, “I would like to invite Jesus to come in. I’d like to have that reality of the Holy Spirit in my life. I need my sins forgiven. I know that.” I’d like you to say a prayer that they could say with you right now, where, if they really mean it, God will save them. Christ will come in. Say the prayer.
- Barber: Father, I come before You right now, understanding that I’m a sinner. Lord, knowing that I’ve sinned is one thing, but, Lord, I understand that I’m a sinner. And, Lord, I understand from Scripture where that comes from. I was born into Adam. I was born up under the curse of sin. But, Father, I want to thank You that You love me enough, that You sent Your Son, Jesus Christ into this world and that He went to the cross, paid a debt that I owed, that He did not owe, and Lord, a debt I couldn’t pay. Father, I just ask right now that the Lord Jesus come into my heart and save me, save me from my sin, save me from myself. And thank You, Father, for what salvation truly is, a rebirth experience. Thank You, Father. Thank You for this precious gift that You’ve given us in Jesus Christ. And in His name we pray, amen.
- Ankerberg: Amen. Thanks, Wayne. The Bible says whosoever—that means you—shall call upon the name of the Lord. If you prayed that prayer, that’s what you did. Last three words: shall be saved. That’s what God did to you. Now, folks, next week we are going to talk about, once you start with Christ and He comes in, like that lady said, all hell breaks loose. What is this thing that we are fighting inside of ourselves? Why is it that you’ve heard all these sermons, you’ve tried to live the Christian life and you’ve failed? You are a Christian, but you’ve failed in living out what Christ talks about. Wayne is going to talk all about that next week. This is joyful, wonderful, terrific information. You won’t want to miss it, so join us then.