The Grace Journey/Program 2
|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.
- Ankerberg: Welcome to our program. We’re talking with Dr. Wayne Barber. He’s the best that I know at encouraging Christians. And maybe this is you. You’re frustrated. You’ve listened to sermons about living the Christian life all your life. You’ve tried it the best that you know how, and you’ve failed miserably; or you’re so busy living the Christian life, there’s no joy in it. You say, “I’m missing something here, Wayne.” And you’ve been there. Tell us about it.
- Barber: As a matter of fact, as a pastor I just got so frustrated. I couldn’t meet everybody’s demands. I couldn’t seem to get it all done. I couldn’t please everybody. I couldn’t understand what was wrong with me. But then God’s Word began to reveal to me, I didn’t have a clue what I had. It’s like having a million dollars in the bank and not even know it’s yours. I did not understand the blessings that God had given to me. In fact, if we think about it, the people perhaps that are watching us, many of them, Paul, he didn’t write this to theologians. He didn’t write it to the guys that pastor a big church. He wrote it to the ordinary people, in different epistles there, Ephesians and Corinthians. And it’s amazing how he just brings it all down. He uses that word, “us, us, us, us,” not him, not the apostles, all of us. God is no respecter of persons. He only respects faith and when we’re willing to trust Him, we can tap into that.
- Well, there was a fellow—I hate to go try on clothes. I actually hate it; I mean, I would rather have a root canal than I would go try on clothes. My size, I am 6’6” and it’s very difficult to find clothes that fit me. My wife talked me into it. She said, “You need to go get some clothes.” We went down to the store. They had big and tall men’s section. We walked in, and this man walks up to me out of the blue. I don’t even know where to go, neither did she. He walks up to me and he said, “You’re Wayne Barber, aren’t you.” I said, “Yes, sir.” He said, “I want you to know something.” I said, “What’s that?” He said, “Your words have blessed me.” And I am thinking, okay, are you a member of our church that I was pastoring at that time? He said, “No, I’ve watched you on TV.” I said, “Okay, what is it about what I have said that blesses you?” He said, “You keep talking about Jesus coming to live in a person, in the person of His Holy Spirit.” He says, “I’m intrigued with that, but I don’t understand it.” Then he said, “By the way, I run the big and tall men’s section.” I’m thinking, ah, I see the plot. And Diana, my wife, just disappeared.
- Walked over there and he said, “Can you explain this to me?” And he had a suit and tie on like we do, and I said, “Let me borrow your coat.” And he said, “What has that got to do with it?” I said, “You asked me, let me just see if I can explain it to you.” He took it off. I said, “Where did you find this coat when you bought it?” He said, “What do you mean? It was in a store.” I said, “No, no, no, no, where was it in the store?” He said, “Hanging on a hanger.” I said, “Good, let’s walk over here.” And I took a hanger and hung it on that hanger. And I said, “Now, it’s in a predicament, isn’t it.” He said, “What are you talking about?” I said, “This coat is destined to rot, dry rot on this hanger, unless somebody redeems it from its predicament. It cannot help itself. Is that correct?” “Well, yeah.”
- I said, “What did you do when you got it? How much did you pay for it?” He said, “Man, I got a deal. I work here.” I said, “Yeah, but you still paid way too high a price, didn’t you?”—People that sell clothes will stand before God one day.—And he said, “Well, yes.” I said, “So, in other words, the coat couldn’t come to you. You went to the coat and you paid way too high a price for that coat. It wasn’t worth it in everybody else’s eyes, but you paid way too much a price.” He said, “Yes, I did.” I said, “Okay,” I took it off the hanger. I said, “Is this coat yours now?” He said, “Yes.” I said, “Is it its own or yours?” He said—and he said it so innocently—he said, “it’s not its own. It’s bought with a price.” He said the very words that Paul says in Corinthians. And then he looked at me and said, “That’s in Scripture, isn’t it?” I said, “That’s good. Come on, come on.”
- I said, “Now,” I held the coat up, and I said, “Can this coat do anything of itself?” He said, “What do you mean?” I said, “Tell the sleeve right now to wave at me and thank me for everything he’s done.” He said, “That coat can’t do anything of itself.” I said, “Voila!” I said, “Okay, put the coat on.” He put the coat on and he said, “Wait a minute. The only way I could get this coat to do it is to get inside the coat.” I said, “There you go.” And he said, “I see it.” I said, “Now, tell that sleeve to raise up again.” Wow! And when he did I said, “See, it’s not about the coat, it’s about the life in the coat.”
- And this is what had to hit me, John, I didn’t understand who lived in me. I didn’t realize whose I was. I didn’t realize who He is. All the things that I am lacking, He came to live in me to enable me in those very things. And that’s the message, to me, of Scripture. That’s Paul’s life completely transformed.
- Ankerberg: There have been some guys that are saying, “I missed the first couple of programs here.” Review last week and let’s start again with Ephesians. What do you want folks to know, because I want them to know this is biblical, and I want them know where it’s at in their Bible, because they are saying, “Wayne, I haven’t heard this before,” and, you know, we’re talking about Jesus. Yeah, when He lived He lived the perfect life. Somehow He never sinned once. He had it in Him. He knew how to do it. That Jesus has come to live in us, and God sent Him to the cross and redeemed us so He could come into us, our sins could be forgiven. We’ve got the life inside, but we don’t know how to use this life. We don’t know how to let Christ live through us. And that’s what you’re talking about here in Ephesians, so kind of review where we’ve been at.
- Barber: Well, the prayer is really the place to start. Paul says in Ephesians 3:14, “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father.” What’s that reason, Paul? “From whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name,” and then here comes the request, “that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man.” Now, that word “strengthen” means to be given ability. That tells me straight out, no wonder I have failed. I don’t have the ability to do what God has 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. And he says, that you “be strengthened according to.” And, of course, we’ve talked about how the word “according to” determines the measure.
- Ankerberg: Yeah, you’ve two Greek words. You have got ek and you’ve got kata, and this word is kata. And some translations have mistranslated this. What’s the difference?
- Barber: Well, they have put “out of.” It’s like, if I had a million dollars and wanted to give you some money, you would not want it “out of” my wealth, you would want it “according to” my wealthy. So my gift has to reflect what I have. It’s exactly, it’s who He is. It has to reflect who He is that lives within us. He says, “In the inner man.” So it’s not physical strength we’re talking about here as much as it is spiritual strength, divine ability.
- Ankerberg: Alright, where do you want to take us today?
- Barber: Well, I want to look back at some of those riches that He’s given us.
- Ankerberg: Alright.
- Barber: We’ve looked at a couple. We looked in verse 1; we saw that we’re all saints. I just love that.
- Ankerberg: Yeah, and people don’t necessarily believe that, because there’s so much sin that’s happened in their life after they received the Lord, they say, “Come on, you talking about me?”
- Barber: Exactly; we’re talking about them….
- Ankerberg: Why?
- Barber: …if they are a believer. Because when we receive Christ, in Him we have, first of all, forgiveness. For what? For sins past, for sins present, for sins future. It’s already taken care of. We don’t have to measure up to what He requires, because Jesus measured up for us. But we have to learn how to appropriate what is ours. And we have been set apart for His purpose is what a saint is. You’re saint John, I’m saint Wayne, because we’re all set apart for His purpose. The only reason I exist or you exist is to bring glory to Him.
- Ankerberg: Okay, if past, present and future is taken care of, then what does present sin in my life mean?
- Barber: Well, it means that I have to come back before Him. This is why we confess; not to get what we don’t have, but to appropriate what’s already ours. But it does a second thing; not only the forgiveness that we appropriate, there’s a cleansing in our walk that renews daily and freshly our intimacy of fellowship with Him. Because you and I could be brothers—and we are brothers spiritually—but if we were physical brothers, we could be apart and there would be no fellowship. There’s a relationship, but there’s no fellowship.
- Ankerberg: Right.
- Barber: And so that’s why we confess constantly. In fact, I think it’s God’s awesome design to help us realize daily the weakness of our flesh. The more I confess, the more I’m aware of the grace of God and what He forgave me of and how He wants to do a fresh work in my life.
- Ankerberg: What’s next?
- Barber: Well, he shows how special we are. I used to play flag football on Sunday afternoons.
- Ankerberg: Yeah.
- Barber: And I hate to confess this, but I would tie the flag to my belt, which was not supposed to be done. But I’m the last one chosen back when I was in high school, because I was so, I was tall, gangly and very uncoordinated. Coordination strikes about every 30 minutes, I never showed up. And so I was the last one ever chosen. And that rejection by my own friends was something that overwhelmed me.
- He says, “Just as He chose us before Him in the foundation of this world.” You know, there are theologians that argue over this thing. And to me it’s so simple: He didn’t reject me. I’m not rejected by Him. Rejection is in this world, but not in Christ, because He already has proven His love for us. He says in Romans, while we were yet enemies He came and died for us. We were enemies of God as lost people, but He loved us enough that He died for us, and that’s an established fact. So now He’s chosen me; He’s received me. And to me I see the simplicity of this, not the theological battles that people are in.
- Then it goes in verse 5, “He predestined us.” That’s a good word. He foreordained something for us, and that is to adoption as sons. And the word huiothesia, it means to be set apart as a son in the very family of God. Now, you have to put it back in perspective. Here I am every day of my life. I wake up some mornings, John, and I’ll 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 haven’t cheated, but I’m about to get out of bed. If you would just exchange me.”
- But it’s so precious to come back, not to “who” we are in Christ, I don’t like that, it’s “whose” we are in Christ. It’s who He is in us, but whose we are for Him. And I think when the ordinary person understands that all of his Christian life has been about himself, he has tried, he has failed; he has done this, it has failed. Now he comes to the point of desperation, and I call it the blessed place of desperation. When I get to the end of myself and I realize I can’t do it, and I confess that before God and say, “God, I come to You totally weak. I’m abandoning myself to you,” and I say, “Lord, would You do in me what You expect out of me,” that’s when we tap in to everything that’s already ours in Christ Jesus.
- Ankerberg: Alright, we’re going to take a break. And when we come back, I want to come back to that word “we have been adopted as sons,” and why that gives us such security, okay. Folks, you don’t want to miss this. Stick with us, we’ll be right back.
- Ankerberg: Alright, we’re back. We’re talking with Dr. Wayne Barber, and we’re talking about Christians, all of us, who are fighting the flesh. And a lot of times we’re trying to live the Christian life in our own power, and we’ve failed miserably. And what we’re doing is, we’re coming back to Scripture to see what God has actually given to us that gives us victory of how we gain the power of Christ to live in our life. And I want to stop on that verse you were talking about. “He has predestined us to be adopted as sons,” that word “adopted” again. You went by it kind of quick. Why does that give us such security?
- Barber: Well, you know, there are two words for a person who becomes a believer. One is “born from above,” so there is a birth. But here is an adoption. And I think the reason he says adoption here, why he uses that word so strongly, is because in those customs, you could never disown a child if you adopted it.
- Ankerberg: In Rome.
- Barber: In Rome. And they understood that. Ephesus was a Roman province, so therefore they understood what Paul was saying.
- Ankerberg: Yeah. Once a Roman adopted anybody as his child, for the rest of his life, you could not be separated.
- Barber: That’s right.
- Ankerberg: For any reason.
- Barber: That’s right. And just to show how we’re chosen, I mean, how He selected, how He has allowed—the word “selected,” I don’t like to use that word—how He has allowed us to be a part of His family. There’s a little song I love to sing, “I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God,” you know, and how that we sing that many times, but do we understand we’re in God’s family? In fact, Jesus is our elder brother. We’re a part of the family of God. And He’s the firstborn. And so it’s an incredible picture of God’s love towards us. As a matter of fact, he says in verse 4, “in love He predestined us to adoption.” So it was out of His love.
- Ankerberg: Let’s talk about that love. Love comes up a lot in these passages.
- Barber: Yes it does. Especially in the prayer in chapter 4, that we might comprehend the love.
- Ankerberg: Let’s talk about that. What does he say? First of all, read it.
- Barber: Well, in chapter 4 he says, as he comes on down, he says, “So that Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth and to know the love of Christ, which surpasses knowledge”—can’t explain it—“that you may be filled up to the fullness of God.”
- Ankerberg: Explain it.
- Barber: Well, the fact that I’m loved, you know that motivates everything that we do. It’s all out of God’s love. It’s not out of guilt; it’s not out of shame; it’s not out of all of this other. Once we receive Christ, that love of God, it motivates everything that we do. Everything that we do, we do because we get to now, because we’re loved. We don’t do what we do to get God to love us, we do what we do because God loves us. We don’t do what we do to please God. He’s already pleased with us in Christ. So it just changes the whole approach that we have to life.
- And in Romans 2 he says in verse 4, he says it’s the goodness of God that leads a man to repentance. And so this is so significant to me that that love, there’s someone who loves me with a perfect love. You know, I may have a father or mother that doesn’t love me perfectly, and certainly none of them do. But I have a heavenly Father that loved me perfectly, and has loved me through His Son Jesus, and His Son has come to live in me. I’m constantly being loved at all times. And that to me is just critical for a believer to understand, no matter how he’s failed.
- Ankerberg: Alright, Wayne, that’s so terrific. But it not only says we’re adopted, but it says we’re sealed. Now, explain that.
- Barber: Okay, that means we’re secure. He says, “In Him,” verse 13, Ephesians 1, “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of the truth, the gospel of your salvation, having also believed,” he’s talking to believers now, “you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise.” The Holy Spirit became His mark on us that sealed us. Now, how long are we sealed? There are people who think that you can lose your salvation. Really? Over in chapter 4, in verse 30, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God,” watch this, “by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” Now, he’s talking to believers. They’ve already been redeemed from the penalty of sin; they’re being constantly delivered from the power of sin; but one day we’re going to be delivered from the presence of sin. That final act of redemption when we’re taken up to be with Him. So we’re sealed all the way through. I mean, that’s secure. There’s no way you can get around that.
- But something else He does here. He helps us to see the power that lives within us. I love this. If we could just understand that the God who stepped out on nothing and spoke and created everything lives in us. He says in verse 18, “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened”—it’s going to have to be by revelation—“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, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. Now, these are in accordance,” there’s your word again, “these are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might,” it all is measured by Him, not us, “which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right in the heavenly places.”
- Now, look where He seated Him. “Far above,” and it’s almost as if Paul is thinking, “I know they have got a few things that they think is bigger than God,” okay. “Far above all rule, all authority, all power, all dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body”—we’re a part of His body—“the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” He has already seated Him in that.
- But here’s the key to me, He covers every base. There’s nothing that can ever touch Him. You put the devil up next to God on a scale, he doesn’t show up, because God is far, and by the way, in the Greek it means far above, yes, even higher than that, yes, even higher than that. It’s no way to really express it the way that the Greek has it there. But in chapter 2, and verse 6, look at this. He says, “And He raised us up with Him,” now, watch this, “and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” Are you kidding me? Positionally I am seated with Him. Now, here I am down here, struggling, failing miserably. What’s the matter? Because I haven’t learned yet to let Him who lives within me do through me what I’ve been trying to do, and I have to admit that I failed. It’s a beautiful picture there. We’re seated with Him.
- I had a guy telling me one day, he says, “Wayne, keep on looking down.” I thought, well that’s a really encouragement, you know. And then it dawned on me what he is saying. You’re seated with Him. Remember Habakkuk had to get up on the high places so he could get a different perspective of what God was doing? We’re seated there. We have an understanding of whose we are and who He is and of what life is all about.
- Ankerberg: Alright, we’ve got just a few minutes left, and I want this to be very practical. People are starting to get excited about this. Let’s talk about them applying it, okay. This is not just being information, but this is something that you actually learn by experiencing it, by taking God’s Word. Take us through the steps of how you take what we’re talking about, and these folks at home that are watching, can apply it in their lives now.
- Barber: Okay, well, the answer is in that prayer in Ephesians 3. Verse 16 says, “that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man”—now, where in the world is the inner man? —“so that Christ may dwell in your hearts.” So he equates the inner man with the heart, which is the center of everything we do. It’s the control tower of our life. Everything revolves around it. “Through faith, and that you, being rooted and grounded in love.” So letting Christ dwell in your hearts by faith. And the word katoikeo, it means letting Him be down home.
- Ankerberg: Yeah, and we’re going to talk about that more next week. When you started this with Christ, I mean, you didn’t do it perfectly. We still don’t do it perfectly, okay. Talk about what it’s like daily to appropriate these promises.
- Barber: First of all, it’s to admit what you’re not. Constantly be aware of what you’re not apart from Christ. And then learn just to say yes to Him. Now, John, I can’t say yes to Him if I’m not in His Word. But we have the mind of Christ, and the only way we understand it is getting into His Word. So I would say to whoever is there and is just struggling and failing, to go to the book of Ephesians. Start with that prayer, and understanding it includes you, but learning through Scripture to say, “Yes, Lord, yes, Lord, yes, yes, Lord.” As we learn to say yes to Him, and that’s really the key. You start, obviously we’re going to fail in those things, but you keep coming back to where you departed and it begins to grow a reflex of saying yes to Him.
- Ankerberg: Yeah, I love your emphasis on submitting to the Word of God. In other words, if you come with an open heart and say, “Lord, teach me,” that Bible is going to jump off the table and bite you in the foot. I mean, it is alive; it is really something that talks to you, okay. Just take that portion and say, “Lord, I’m struggling with this one right here. But start to work on me. Start to change my desires; and, Lord, I want to obey You in this. Live through me here.”
- Barber: Yes.
- Ankerberg: And again, through experience, you’re going to see God start to change you, okay. I mean, in spots where you thought it was impossible and you might still think it’s impossible, you say, “Lord, start to work in me.” And it’s amazing that God actually answers those prayers, loves us so much. It’s like a Father talking with His little child. “Here, I’ll help you do that.”
- Barber: Exactly.
- Ankerberg: Okay. Alright, now, folks, we’re going to go next week to this thing we were talking about, down home, making Jesus feel down home in your heart, okay. How can you make Him feel comfortable? We’re going to talk about all those things that are in this passage of Scripture that’s coming up in Ephesians 3, so I hope that you’ll join us next week.