The Grace Journey/Program 1
By: The John Ankerberg Show
|By: Dr. Wayne A. Barber; ©2012|
|Do you ever wonder what happened to the joy of the Christian life? Maybe you are frustrated. You have tried it the best that you know how and feel like a failure. Or maybe you are so busy living the Christian life there is no joy in it. What’s missing? Joy. In this program, Dr. Barber shares what the Bible teaches about this essential element of our spiritual journey.|
Today on the John Ankerberg Show, how can you live each day enjoying God’s grace?
- 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.
My guest today is conference speaker, author and pastor Dr. Wayne Barber, pastor of the beautiful 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 didn’t 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.
Join us for this special edition of the John Ankerberg Show.
- Dr. John Ankerberg: Welcome to our program. We’ve got a great one for you today. My guest is Dr. Wayne Barber. He’s one of the best that I know in helping Christians who have listened to sermons all of their life about how to live the Christian life. You’ve tried and tried and tried, and you’ve tried your best and you’ve failed miserably and you think there’s a piece missing. There’s something wrong because it’s not happening for you. And he’s going to encourage us today. Our topic is really a fun one. He’s got the stories to illustrate the Scripture. He’s a great exegete of Scripture. But our topic today is, picture yourself having a blast with Jesus. Can you even envision having a great time in your life, in your house, in your business, with Jesus? How does it happen? Well, that’s what we are going to talk about today. And, Wayne, you’ve got this great story that will lead into what we’re talking about. It has to do with dynamite and beaver dams. I can’t wait to hear it. Tell us what you’re talking about here.
- Dr. Wayne Barber: Well, John, I love the out of doors. I love to hunt, fish, just about anything out of doors. I used to love to ski, but I’m sort of backing off on that now. But I was doing a meeting down in Mississippi. A friend of mine has a big piece of land. In fact, on that land you can hunt; oh, it’s awesome. And you shoot, you mount what you shoot. I mean, it’s trophy only. The lake that he has is full of big bass. I mean, it’s just a great place to go, and he asked me to come down and do a meeting at his church. So I went down, but the problem was, I went down in February.
- Well, the deer season is over. The lake is frozen. And I said, “George, what are we going to do?” He said, “We’re going to blow up beaver dams.” And I’m thinking why? He said, “Well, we have trees that we want to sell, about 2,000 acres of them, and there are creeks that are running through there.” They call them rivers, but they’re more creeks. And he said, “When these beavers get in there, they dam up those creeks and the water backs up on the trees, and then we can’t sell them. So every week we’ve got to trap the beavers and we have to blow up the beaver dams.” He said, “You get to go with me.” I just thought, awesome. He said, “We’ve got 13 sticks of dynamite.” I could hear the scramble in heaven. Maybe it was Gabriel or Michael saying, “Hurry, hurry, hurry, we need 10 legions of angels now!” And they say why? “Barber and Hester are on a 4-wheeler with 13 sticks of dynamite.”
- Well, anyway, we got on this 4-wheeler. Now, me on a 4-wheeler is crowded. But me and my friend on a 4-wheeler is just ridiculous. So we get down into the swamp. He puts on a pair of chest waders, wades out into the water, takes a stick of dynamite and puts it down under the water into the dam, the beaver dam. I said, “You can’t put dynamite under water.” I’ve never been around dynamite. He said, “Well, just watch.” He takes another stick, is going to put a cap in it, has some wires running to it. He says, “Take the ends of these wires and stick them in the ground. I said, “Why?” He said, “Static electricity can set off this dynamite and I do not want Patricia, my wife, looking for 500 pieces of my body in the swamp.” So, okay, I stuck them in the ground.
- He puts the cap in and put it under water into the dam. He comes out, he says “Now, Wayne, get behind something.” I said, “No. I want to watch.” He said, “Wayne, if we blow things up in the air, they’re going to come down.” I should have paid attention to him. But he had a battery there and he had these two ends and of course he touched them to the different, positive and negative poles there, and he said, “Fire in the hole!” Well, dynamite is really interesting because you don’t, you don’t see it at first; you feel it. It was like (sound effects) and it’s was “Boom!”
- By the way, he was right. Everything just blew up in the air and suddenly we were ducking because things were falling down. And it was, I have a quirky mind, it was like that water was saying, “Let us flow, let us flow, let us flow.” And, of course, when we blew the dam it was like “Woo, thank you, flow, river, flow.” We went to the next dam and I said, “George, put three sticks of dynamite in there.” He said, “Three sticks!” I said, “Come on, George, put three sticks in there.” Well, he did, and this time it was not just boom; it was vroom! It was awesome. And sure enough, again, we were ducking from the things falling, and the river did, just started flowing.
- We went to the next dam and I said, “George.” He said, “What?” I said, “Put five sticks in there. Come on, George, put five sticks in there.” You know, five sticks will blow a stump from Mississippi to Alabama. I mean, it’s amazing how much power there is in that. He put five sticks in there, and this time it was awesome! We blew a hole in the bottom of the river there so, the beavers hated us because they had to fill that in before they could build the dam back.
- One year goes by; I go back. And I said, “George, what are we going to do this time?” because it was also in February. He said, “We’re going to create a nuclear explosion.” I said—and by the way, he’s getting counseling; I think he’s doing better—and I said what are we going to do? He said, “We’re tired of blowing up these beaver dams. We are going after the beaver den.” I said, “Alright! We’re going to the main house.” And he said, “I’m sick of doing this every week.”
- So we had to get into a boat to get out to where it was. And we got out. and he said, he had a five gallon can with five sticks of dynamite, plus another chemical soaked in diesel fuel for 72 hours. And he said, “We’re going to create this explosion.” Did we ever! And when I went out, of course my mind is about 14, and it’s getting worse as I get older. I’m 69, but my mind is 14. And so we get out there, and I knocked on the wood, and I went, “Knock, knock, knock. “I said, “Anybody home?” Nobody came to the door. So I said, “UPS, we have a little package for you.” And we put it there. And sure enough, oh my, what an explosion. I mean, I’ve never heard anything like that. And people say we’re worried about the beavers. I said, “Nothing came out any bigger than the end of my finger.”
- But we went back to his house, three quarters of a mile away, and his son-in-law walked out and said, “What did you all do?” We said, “We just had a little explosion.” He says, “No, glasses fell over into the sink and broke. We’re looking for cracks in the foundation.”
- Well, a lot of people wonder why I would tell that story. And the reason I tell that story is that Jesus said very clearly in John 7:38, He says, “Out of you will flow rivers of living water.” In John 14:15-16, He said, “I have got to go back to My Father.” Peter, of course, argued with Him. He said, “No, if I do not go back, then the Spirit cannot come, and He won’t just be with you—that was the old covenant—He’s going to be in you and going to cause that living water to flow out of you.”
- And what we do, John, when we think we can live the Christian life in our own strength, we dam up the flow. People are trying to get into a room they’re already in and don’t even know it. They are wanting this blessing, that blessing, or this experience, or that experience. They have all of Christ they’re ever going to get. The key is learning to release it by faith. By faith we received it, by faith we release it. And faith simply is surrendering to Christ and saying yes to Him.
- Ankerberg: Alright, a lot of Christians, this is going to be brand new to them, so I want to anchor this in the Word of God, okay. And you are terrific at teaching the Word of God. Let’s jump to Ephesians to prove what you’re talking about. And start us off. There’s a prayer, chapter 3, starting in verse 14 through 21, I think it is, that the whole book of Ephesians hinges on this prayer. It concludes the first three chapters and sets up 4, 5, and 6. And I’m saying, take us through this prayer. What was Paul trying to convey?
- Barber: Oh, awesome, because it’s a wonderful prayer. In verse 14 he says, “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.” And then in verse 16, “that He would grant you,” and the word “grant” there means give something to you. Everything we have from God is a gift. We don’t deserve anything. But he said “that He may grant you, according to the riches of His glory.” That word “according to,” it’s not out of. Some translators say “out of.” No, no, no, that’s a different Greek word; ek is out of. But this word that he uses there is the word kata, which means according to. It determines the measure of something. Now, John, if I had a million dollars—that would be kind of nice—and I wanted to give you some money, would you want me to give you out of my wealth or according to my wealth?
- Ankerberg: According.
- Barber: Absolutely. Because everything that we are talking about here is reflective of everything He has given to us in Christ. And so he said that he “would grant you according to the riches of His glory.” Now, what are these riches? Now what are they for? “To be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man.” But let’s go back to the word “riches.” What are these riches that we have? In chapter 3 he tells me in verse 8, he says, “To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ.” They are unsearchable. And then he tells us in chapter 1, in verse 18, “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened.” This is not something you learn in a classroom. This is something God has to reveal to our hearts. “So that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.”
- Ankerberg: Yeah, I think that’s very important, because people that have been Christians, they’ve sincerely invited Christ into their life, they believe on Him, and what we’re talking about is brand new to them. And here Paul says, hey, this is kind of a mystery that I’m revealing, and I’m praying for you that God will enlighten you, open your eyes to what He wants for you. And so I think you’ve got to say it again. This is something that God is going to show you, God is going to bring to you. Then you can understand it. The lights are going to go on and it’s going to show you how this operates.
- Barber: Yes, that you already have these things. It’s not a matter of getting more of God. It’s a matter of God getting more of us as we learn to say yes to Him. Then we begin to realize and recognize what it is He has put within us. He starts, let’s just look at these riches. He starts in verse 1, and we are just going to hit a few of them.
- Ankerberg: Okay.
- Barber: He says, “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints.” Now, that’s interesting. There are some religions that would say this person is a saint, that person is a saint, but not everybody else. But in Scripture it calls us all saints. And the word “saint” means that we are set apart unto God for His use. It’s for His use. One of the reasons we’re on this earth and our heart is beating is because He has a purpose for us. He has come to live in us. He knows what we’re not, but He also knows who He is and whose we are, so He comes to live in us. And so He sets us apart for His work.
- Ankerberg: Alright, let’s stop right there, because some people are saying, “Wayne, I accepted the Lord a while ago, and I’ve given into the lustful desires. I’ve given into the passions. There are a bunch of sins in my life. Look, you know, I need to have that blown up by Jesus because the river is not flowing out of me,” okay. Talk about this thing of what Paul is describing here that He’s willing to do, Christ is willing to do through us for people that say, “You know what, I’ve got a lot of sin. Does this really work for a guy that’s got a lot of sin?”
- Barber: Absolutely. And we all do, by the way. Somebody tells me I’ve got a lot of sin in my life, I say, get a number and get in line. It’s all of us, every day, if we’re honest, and a lot of people aren’t honest. But what God wants to do is exchange us. What God wants to do is help us to understand, first of all, through His Word, what He has given to us and then as we learn to say yes to Him, we exchange all that we’re not—it’s incredible—for all that He is.
- Ankerberg: Alright, we are going to take a break, and when we come back, Wayne is going to talk about, God has given us every spiritual blessing that we need. He’s going to talk about why this is so fantastic. Stick with us, we’ll be right back.
- Ankerberg: Alright, welcome back. We’re talking with Dr. Wayne Barber, and we’re talking about what God has provided through Christ to everyone of us who are Christians that are battling with our flesh. A lot of us have lost many, many times to the desires that we have. And we don’t understand all these promises that God has made to us. And Wayne is trying to explain from Ephesians what Paul is talking about. In chapter 1, verse 3, he’s got what we call the First National Bank of God in a verse. What is that?
- Barber: Well, it’s that we everything we’ll ever need for life and godliness. Just like Peter says in 2 Peter 1:3, we have everything in Christ. It’s all in Christ. That’s one of the key phrases in all of Ephesians, “in Him, in Him, in Christ, in Christ.” So in Christ we have everything we need. He’s the “I AM.” A lady asked me one time, what is the “I AM?” I said, fill in the blank. Whatever you’re not, He is. And everything He demands from us, John, He lives within us to enable. That’s the beauty of the Christian life. That’s the good news.
- Ankerberg: Explain that a little bit more, because it runs right past people. They don’t understand, yeah, Christ can do all that, but it’s me, Wayne.
- Barber: That’s right.
- Ankerberg: Now talk about how Christ is in us and how that gets out of us into our lives.
- Barber: Let’s go back and bring Bubba on for real quick.
- Ankerberg: Alright.
- Barber: Now, this is my Bubba. He helps me illustrate this. Without any life within him, he’s pretty dead. And the law demands from him things that he cannot produce. That’s before the cross; but then he discovers after the cross it’s the same way. He still doesn’t have anything of his own to accomplish what God demands. However, when he recognizes life has come into him, and that’s way it’s with the Christian walk. God has come to live in us. You know Paul, when he, there in Ephesians chapter 1, breaks into a praise, “Blessed be the God and Father.” The word “blessed” means to speak well of. It’s the word for praise, “Praise to God and the Father.” And, of all people to say this, is the apostle Paul.
- Ankerberg: Yeah, and the thing is, people that are Christians have invited Christ to come into their life, and they have trusted Him to save them from their sins, and they know they had nothing to do with it. There was no works; there is nothing we could do. He had to do it all, okay; and they have trusted Him to do it all. Now, when we get saved, all of a sudden we think we’ve got to live for God.
- Barber: That’s right.
- Ankerberg: Okay, but why did Jesus come into our lives? That’s what we are talking about.
- Barber: Exactly, He came in to enable us to be everything He demands from us. And you’re exactly right. And just think what he says here in Ephesians 1. He says, first of all, we’re saints. We talked about that. I was in Indonesia, and I was doing a seminary graduation. And these precious people would come in and, of course, and in other countries they look at Americans with dollar signs on us. If we could just help them, they could get done what God has in front of them.
- So I started off and I said, “Now, in the morning wake up and say, ‘Good morning, saint, and whatever your name is,’ as you look in the mirror.” Well, they couldn’t catch it. For the first two or three days it was like, what is he talking about? On the fourth day I walked up, stepped up to preach to them, teach them and they all stood up in unison, about 200 plus of them, and they all said, “Good morning, saint Wayne.” And the guy who was the head of that seminary told me, he said, “Wayne, Ephesians has helped these people understand they have everything that’s needed for everything God demands from their life.” They are saints. They are set apart by His own purpose and design in their life.
- And then he says in verse 3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who,” look at the tense, “has blessed us with every”—and by the way, the word “every” in the Greek is a great word; it means “every”—“every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” Everybody’s asking me, “Do you have the second blessing?” Man, I’ve got to 10,472,000. I’ve got them all in Christ. And the problem is, I don’t know how to tap into what I already have. The same way I received it, we keep saying it, by faith, which means what? Forsaking all else I trust Him. That is one way to say it. By faith I’m going to say yes. You cannot separate saying yes to Christ and faith. Faith is what that is. It’s not static. And so as we learn to live that way, we start appropriating what is already ours in Christ. It’s like having a bank vault with our name on it, but the only way to get to it is to bow and surrender and say yes to Him.
- Ankerberg: And when we do surrender, what happens?
- Barber: Well, when we surrender we tap into the life that is within us. This is some of the Scriptures we’ve been looking at. It’s like in Galatians 2:20, “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless, I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me.” Philippians 1:21, he said “For to me to live is Christ, to die is gain.” Colossians 3:4, “When Christ, who is our life.” So that’s there, the river is ready to be tapped into, but we have to learn to surrender to Him. The reason I say surrender instead of obedience, the Pharisees were obedient. Obedience, yes, is important, but I see it more of a consequence than a cause. The key to all sin starts in the heart. It’s a heart problem. So when I come and my heart is yielded and surrendered to Him, that’s when the dam is removed and that’s when the flow begins to take place.
- Ankerberg: People are saying, “Well, Wayne, why is it so hard for me to do that?”
- Barber: Because it’s hard for all of us to do that. In fact, it’s impossible for us to live it, but to say yes, it’s easier as we learn it. We have to learn it. It is like a reflex. You finally learn. Listen, the best way to say no to the flesh is by saying yes to Christ, to stop looking at the flesh, and everything we can’t do, and start looking at Him and everything He can do.
- Ankerberg: Yeah, I love the fact that you said in some of your books, you even start praying, say, “God, I understand this is what You’re saying. Start changing me, because I don’t feel like that. I don’t want to do that, but I know You want me to do it, and I confess it as sin, but I don’t have a desire right now. Lord, You’ve got to create the desire, and so that I want even to obey you in this area. You’ve got some great stories about in your own life where God showed you things. You didn’t want to do them, and He finally brought you around to it. I was thinking about this lady and the missionary, part of your church, it was raising money for missions there.
- Barber: That’s right.
- Ankerberg: Tell me that story.
- Barber: As a matter of fact, when I just got to the church to pastor, she walked up to me, and I had not been there three weeks. She said, “Young man,” now, when they point the finger at you, it’s loaded. She said, “Young man, I want you to know something.” I said, “What is that?” She said, “I’m the president of our missions organization.” In fact, it was called the WMU, Women’s Missionary Union. And she said, “I’m the president, and I want to tell you something. I know you’re new and I know you’re here. We’re going to do what we’ve always done our way. Do you understand me?” And I’m thinking, yes ma’am, yes ma’am. So it took me a while to realize the WMU wasn’t the Women’s Military Union. I mean, there’s a school for mean women somewhere and they train them and send them wherever I pastor. It’s incredible. They follow me around.
- So she got on me every season of the year. Christmas time was the Lottie Moon. Spring time was Annie Armstrong. And she would come to me and say, “Preacher, preacher,” she would say, “Preacher, you need to get in that pulpit and you need to hammer these people, because we can’t get the offering if you don’t.” And I’d forget it. I forget my name on Sunday morning because my mind is wrapped around what my message is. So, finally one year she came to me and she told me, she said, “Don’t you forget the Annie Armstrong offering is in the Spring.”
- Ankerberg: Those are missions offering.
- Barber: Exactly. A missions offering, named after these different missionaries. I got to where I didn’t like these people anyway, but they’re in heaven so they won’t bother me. And I got up in the pulpit and preached out of Philippians 2, “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.” And when I finished, I forgot to announce it. After preaching, you know, this kind of message.
- When I saw her coming I knew what I’d forgotten. It was after the service was over. And she walked up to me and she said, “Preacher.” And I said, “What?” I mean, we’re really doing well; we’re really tapping into the stream here. I said, “What?” She said “You didn’t say anything about the offering.” I said, “Well, what is your goal this year?” She said, “$1,350.” I said, “Well, what was it last year?” She said, “$1,300.” I honestly had something good I wanted to tell her, but when you’re walking after the flesh, it doesn’t come out that way. And I said, “Do you think God can afford 50 more dollars this year?” And she went “Hm!” and walked out, and I went “Hm!” and I walked out the other side. It was not a good situation. It was not a good situation.
- On the way home, God began to bring my message back to me, “Have this attitude in yourselves which is also in Christ Jesus.” And I began to understand the flesh that had just been manifested. And I said, “Lord, I just have to confess that to You.” It was like God said, “Do you love this woman?” And I’m thinking, I don’t even like her. He said, “How would you like for me to love this woman through you?” And I want to tell you, when I started saying, “God, I can’t love this person. I don’t even like this person. But, Father, you commanded me to love her, and I’m going to ask You, will You produce the love that You require from me, in me for her? She became one of the dearest friends I had over the next 16-17 years. Her husband, they were just dear, dear, dear people.
- And I’m thinking that’s one just practical illustration, that we can’t love people like God tells us to love, but He lives in us to do through us what we could never do ourselves. It’s the life inside us.
- Ankerberg: Folks, we’re just getting started in Ephesians. Next week we are going to jump to the topic in Ephesians of how you make Jesus feel at home in your heart, okay. You’re going to laugh and you’re going to find out some great things from the Word of God. I hope that you’ll join us then.
- Bubba is an oven mitt.