The Grace Journey/Program 3
|By: Dr. Wayne A. Barber; ©2012|
|In this program, we’ll look at what the Bible teaches about the close relationship Jesus provides to those of us who believe. He is not a God who is far off and distant. Instead, he dwells within our hearts, something Dr. Barber calls being “down home” with Jesus.|
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. I’m John Ankerberg and I’m talking with Dr. Wayne Barber. He is terrific at encouraging Christians who have listened to sermons all their life about living the Christian life, and they’ve tried and tried and tried, and they’ve failed miserably. And you get discouraged, and you wonder, why is it not happening for me? And what’s the piece that I’m missing? And we’re taking you to Scripture to show that Paul had that same concern for Christians in his day, even for himself, and he had the promises of God that he’s sharing with all of us. It’s for all of us. We’re not special because we’re sitting here on the stage talking to you. The fact is, this is where, our life revolves around this as well. We’re talking today about a topic that you’re going to love, “Down Home with Jesus,” making Jesus feel at home in our heart. And, Wayne, we’ve got to review a little bit where we’re at for people that are just joining us this week. We’ve been talking about where we get the strength in the inner man to let Christ live through us. We need to know what that means, what the promises are, and how to apply it.
- Barber: Well, we’ve talked about John 7:38 where Christ says, I mean, this is His promise, “Out of your innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.” Now, I didn’t understand what that was. I didn’t understand that I couldn’t live the Christian life. And so many Christians have yet to come to that conclusion. And they’re failing miserably, and they’re frustrated, and don’t know why. They don’t understand that Christ lives in us to enable us to do all that He demands from us. And the secret to it is how to tap into what we already have. It’s not another experience; it’s not another blessing. Christ is our experience and He is our blessing, and we’ve been given every spiritual blessing in Him. But it comes back to where we are; how do we tap into it? And I believe in the prayer of Ephesians 3, Paul lays it out as clearly as any place else. It’s in every epistle, but in this epistle, after telling us all of the promises we have in Christ, he shows us how to be strengthened by them.
- Ankerberg: Take us to the prayer.
- Barber: Okay, it’s in verse 14 of chapter 3, “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you according to the riches of His glory”—we’ve looked at those being the unsearchable riches of God, and as a matter of fact, in chapter 1 it says He lavished upon us these riches; he says—“to be strengthened with power through the Spirit in the inner man.” And then he says, “so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.” Now, I’m not a translator of Scripture, and when I get to heaven they’ll probably take me on about this. I think the key to verse 16 is verse 17, that verse 16 is not the key to verse 17. It’s not that we’re strengthened, immediately, then we let Christ dwell in our hearts.
- The little words “so that” that comes up in verse 17, hina, comes later in the verse. If you look at the pure Greek there, it’s Christ dwelling in our hearts by faith. But that’s your key, “dwelling.” What does that mean, katoikia? Being in the south, we know what that means. It’s like you said, down home. I mean, He’s down home. See, He didn’t come into our life to rent a room, He bought the house. He wants the keys to every single area of our life. The problem with us is, we keep locking Him out of certain areas of our life. “Lord, You can touch this, this and this, but You cannot touch that.” Well, that’s part of the problem. And as we grow we learn more and more and more keys that we’re holding on to instead of letting Him do that.
- But the idea of down home. Now, John, you’ve been there. Have you ever been in somebody’s house that you didn’t feel down home? I mean, you walk in and you feel like if you go here or there you’re going to break something, or you can’t go in this room, but you can sit in this room, or you can do that. Well, that’s kind of the way it is in a picture that I’m trying to draw for us.
- Down in Mississippi, I have some great friends. And we were doing a meeting near their home and they let us stay there, because there were no motels in that particular area. They’re dear people. The guy that did the music, he picked me up in Jackson, Mississippi, and we drove for about an hour and a half, two hours, to get there; out in the country, out in the middle of nowhere. Great place; 150-200 acres full of deer, turkey; I mean, it was just a great place, out in the middle of nowhere.
- So when we would get there; matter of fact, I remember the first time we got there. We drove up. Here’s a basketball goal sitting there for their grandkids; they’re older. And leaning up against the pole were two sticks, big old sticks. In fact, I made the comment when we pulled up, “Wonder why those sticks are there laying against the back?” We got out of the car. They were not at home. We got out of the car and here comes two of the biggest dogs I’ve ever seen in my life, and they were not friendly, and they were going to eat us for lunch. And I’m thinking, oh, my. I grabbed one of the sticks. My friend grabbed one of the sticks, and we beat them off of us to get inside the house. They had thought of everything.
- We get inside the house, they have at least five bedrooms and you kind of take your pick. On the kitchen table there was a whole pitcher of tea. I love ice tea, especially when it’s made right. And then there was a pound cake, either a pound cake or a good old coconut cake, not the kind of cake that it’s so dry it’ll gag you. But I’m talking about the kind you just, your tongue slaps your brains out trying to get to it. I mean, it’s the good stuff. They knew how to cook. And then, when we go into the den and there was a TV, but we didn’t know how to work it, because there were about three remotes. So they had a little explanation of how to go through it. They were just dear. In fact, I felt so at home at their house—this is the honest truth—that one night as they were getting ready to go to church, I’m sitting on their bed talking to them as they’re dressing to go to church. I’m thinking, now that’s down home in somebody’s house.
- Well, when I allow Jesus to be Jesus in each area of my life, you know, you can take the word “heart” and search it through the gospels. It has to do with your emotions. It has to do with all kinds of areas of your life. And you may be surrendered in one area, but not surrendered in another. This song that we sing, “I Surrender All,” a lot of people have trouble with it. Well, I kind of do too, in a sense. But however we surrender all that we understand at that moment to all that we understand of Him, and it grows. But once He’s down home in our life, once we’re learning to yield over to Him those different areas, that’s when we begin to be strengthened in the inner man by the Spirit of God.
- Ankerberg: Okay. How do we surrender the rooms of our life to the Lord?
- Barber: Well, like I said earlier in another program, perhaps somebody missed it. You confess, first of all, what the room is. God already knows.
- Ankerberg: And to people that are listening, if they’ve got those rooms, they know.
- Barber: Absolutely. You know where I’m talking about. Everybody knows where I’m talking about. Everybody has that cave they run to. Everybody has those areas in their life. And God’s not out to get us. He already has us. He just simply wants us to come clean with Him. And confession is not for His benefit. I remember my daughter called me from college one time. She said, “Dad,” she was sobbing. And I said, “What’s wrong, Stephanie?” And she said, “I did something and I’m afraid to tell God about it.” And I said, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, back that up again.” I said, “So you think that confession is making God aware of it?” And she just got quiet on the phone. I said, “Stephanie, He already knows about it. Confession is for your benefit.” And then I walked her through how she appropriated the forgiveness in her life. Well, that’s key, that is really key, it’s confession; being up front with God, transparent. I mean, you might as well be, because He knows. He already knows. Then understanding that He wants to do in and through us as we say yes to Him, as we yield, surrender to Him, that’s when that strength begins to flow.
- Ankerberg: Okay, where does the Word of God come in?
- Barber: Well, the Word of God has got, if I’m going to say yes to Him, I’ve got to be in His Word. I remember a friend told me one time, he said, “I pray every morning an hour, I pray for you on a certain day.” I said, “Boy, that is awesome. How much time do you spend in the Word of God?” He said, “You know what? That needs to be added to my list somewhere down the road.” I said, “Well, who are talking to, yourself?” I mean, the Word of God gives us the vocabulary in prayer. And, by the way, I had somebody say to me one time, John, he said, “Wayne, you love the Word of God more than you love Jesus.” That could be the stupidest statement anybody has ever said to me. Because I love my wife—and any man who says he understands a woman will lie about anything—so I want to find out what she says, because I want her to be pleased with what I do. I know she’s pleased with me, but what I do. And that’s kind of the way it is, our relationship with Christ; that we have to be in His Word to have our mind renewed so that the Spirit of God, Romans 12:1-2 says, that the Spirit of God can transform us from within, metamorphosize us.
- Ankerberg: What do you say to people that say, “It’s hard for me to read the Word of God and to understand it”?
- Barber: Well, I would say that all of us have the same pattern in our life. We all have 24 hours. Everybody has 24 hours. Now, how they use those 24 hours is a matter of choice. And if we don’t have a priority in this thing, if we don’t understand Jesus is the priority, we’re going to miss the boat to start off with. We’re going to find something to replace Him. I’ve often said we’re living in a day, it’s everything but Jesus. You even hear it in churches. Come on, let’s talk about Him, let’s talk about the fact of whose we are and who He is. So, I would say that it’s a matter of priority. And,…
- Ankerberg: Yeah, and we also want to emphasize, this is not another rule we’re saying you do this to please Jesus. Tell us what this really is.
- Barber: Well, it’s really getting to know Him. How can I ever get to know anybody if I don’t spend time with them? And how can I ever communicate with anybody that I haven’t heard from them first? I’ve got to have a response back. And that is so key for my walk with God.
- Ankerberg: What does Hebrews say about the Word of God?
- Barber: Well, it says it’s sharper than any two-edged sword, cuts quick right to the heart. I mean, it’s got two edges. I like the word “two-edged” there. It cuts going in, it cuts coming out. And it will go right to where we are. It goes right to our need every time. And I really think that this needs to be emphasized more and more. We’ve got to be in the Word. And when people hear me say something on this program, or you say something, don’t take our word for it. Go to the Word, the Word of God will say it.
- Ankerberg: Yeah, the Word of God, Hebrews 4:12 says, “Is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow,” and here is what I want you to get to, “and able to judge the thoughts and the intentions of,” this very thing we’re talking about, “our heart.” Where our heart needs the guidance, you get it from here, and if you read it, that Bible is going to cut into you. It’s going to talk to you, then you’ve got a decision. What’s the decision?
- Barber: Well, the decision is: am I going to receive it and believe it, or am I going to go my own way? And I love that, “the thoughts and the intentions of the heart.” You know, a lot of people don’t realize it, that sin is a heart problem. And I think somebody wrote a book years ago called The Heart of the Problem Is the Problem of the Heart. Good title; I don’t know the book, but I know that title, and that’s kind of where we are. It’s always a heart problem. There’s always a decision we make. And the Word of God is not a map, it’s a mirror. And it just mirrors exactly where we are, and we can see it as clear as a bell as the Holy Spirit reveals it to our hearts, and that’s got to be there.
- Ankerberg: Alright, we’re going to talk more about this when we come back. Stick with us, we’ll be right back in a moment.
- Ankerberg: Alright, we’re back. We’re talking to Dr. Wayne Barber. And, folks, this segment, I want you to hear the music. I want you to feel the joy that Christ is in your life, and what He can do, what God has provided. We’ve been talking about these promises that God has lavished on us, and now I want you to find out how you can experience God and all of His love and the power of Christ. And we’re talking about, what’s the motivation, from these verses, to surrender, and how do you surrender? Because that is so hard for us to do, but what’s the motivation, Wayne, for us to surrender?
- Barber: We’re going to go back to that love, that we might comprehend the love. And as we are motivated by that love, remember we’re participating in the nature of God; we’ve partaken. That’s Christ in us and Christ did nothing except of His Father. So that willingness to submit is not something that comes from our flesh. It comes from the Spirit of God working within us. And the more you nourish it, the more it begins to get real, more real in your life.
- But Paul gives us a practical way of how we approach that, I think, in Romans 12:1-2. You know, he comes off of those verses, “For God who has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all.” He’s talking about how He’s closed the door; He opens the door. But then, in verse 33, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever.” Then he says “Amen,” let is always be so.
- But then in verse 1, “Therefore,” since this is true, and since He is who He is, and nobody ever tells Him what to do, and He never asks me for opinion—have you ever noticed that? He never just stops me in my path and says, “Wayne, I’m struggling with this, what’s your opinion on it?” And He’s very intolerant: it’s His way or the highway. I mean, there’s no other way. He says, “Therefore, I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God.” The word for “mercy” is not the normal word for mercy. It means the same thing, but it has more the idea I can’t do a thing to effect what I’m encouraging you to do. You’re going to have to make up your mind to do it. I urge you. I’m on my knees bowing before God for this.
- He says, “Brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice,” not a dead sacrifice, which most sacrifices are put to death on the altar. But in that sense, “a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God,” now watch this, “which is your spiritual service of worship.” Now, if I’m going to learn to worship God, it’s a lifestyle. It’s not the music that’s sung on Sunday morning or the chill that went up my back.
- There are three main words for “worship” in the New Testament. It’s this word latreuo. It’s the word sebomai, which means to live a lifestyle Monday through Saturday that you told everybody you believed on Sunday. And then there is the word proskuneo, which means fall flat down before Him prostrate, and it’s used in Revelation all the way through. So this “reasonable service of worship” is how we, once we’ve surrendered to Him, that becomes something that is His nature working in us. Now, it’s against our nature, and so there’s always that struggle. But once we start participating in who He is in our life, that brings us right back to that place of surrender.
- And it might be a good time to add, some people think that the message of grace is a license to do what they want to do. Absolutely not. The message of grace is the power to do what you should. It’s Christ in you, enabling you to be what God demands of your life. And so a person who thinks it’s just license completely misses the point. The Spirit will wear you out, but the flesh will burn you out.
- Well, he goes on in verse 2, “And do not be conformed to this world.” Don’t be pressed into its mold. And “the world” means its system. There is a system of thinking out here. We’re aliens in a foreign country. We’re just going through, we’re passing through. He says, “But be transformed.” I love that word, metamorphosis, from the inside out. “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
- That word “renewing” means to renovate. My wife told me one time, she said “Let’s renovate the kitchen.” And I bought that. And then I found out the fine print, because once you do the kitchen, everything else looks horrible, so now let’s do the rest of the house. And I remember, I’m going off to another country to do a mission trip, came back and she put a blindfold on my eyes and walked me into the house. And I knew it was the same house, but it was not the same house. Everything that was old had been torn out and everything had been put in new. That’s the word. That’s the word, renewing your mind.
- Rip out the way you used to think and do things and put in the new thing, “so that you may prove what the will of God is.” And I love that. You test it for yourself. They can listen to us on this program and talk about all these things. Listen, they can test it for themselves. Everybody listening, if they’ll just simply do what Paul said: Make a choice, and that choice is motivated by the love of Christ that was within them, and they began to experience for themselves “the will of God, which is good and acceptable,” and it’s perfect. So anything less than the will of God, which only comes by my choice to surrender to Him, is less than good, less than acceptable, and less than perfect.
- Ankerberg: Alright, but you’ve had to learn these lessons. You’ve had to learn to yield, and it’s not always been easy. You’ve got this great illustration about, you love to fish, okay, and what God did in your life in that area.
- Barber: Well, I do. I love to bass fish, and my dad taught me, and I can catch fish. And so, that was one of those rooms that were locked in my life. “Lord, You can touch everything else, but don’t You touch this area, because this is really what I can do.” And I remember planning retreats when I was in youth work. I would plan them around camps that had nice lakes. Now, God has forgiven me of that, but that’s the way I would do it.
- And I remember one year I planned a retreat in a place that had a gorgeous lake. It was spring fed, about 150 acres. And I knew it was there. And I had heard a 12-pound bass had come out of it. Of course that came from a bass fisherman, so who knows if that’s right. I got there—and I always would take counselors to deal with the kids. I would get a speaker so I didn’t have to work that week, and then I could go fishing and get all the credit for it and get paid. It was awesome. And so I had this place, and we got there and I had all the people get together with their groups.
- There was one guy in the group. He’s a dear friend of mine. He’s a missionary in Botswana right now, named Robert Fortenberry. And Robert and I loved to fish. And we had already planned, as soon as we turned the group loose, we are going fishing. Well, we go out, got out on the lake that night. We had several five, six and seven-pound bass before supper. I knew that God was in this week. I knew that this was going to be great.
- Well, the next morning we get up to go out before anybody else was up. Lo and behold, they bit for about a second or two, but then they quit. That’s a pattern, by the way; if you’re bass fishing and that happens, something has happened to cause that. And then it dawned on us. It was August and it was the full moon, and the bass don’t bite in the day time, they bite at night. Oh, we got so excited. Went out and bought lures that these big old, jitterbugs that are, we got the Muskie kind that were jointed in the middle, great big ones. We were just going to catch the world record that night.
- So we get everybody to bed. You’ve got to go to bed with them. You’ve got to act like you’re one of them. So we went to bed at 12 and got up at 1. By the way, isn’t it amazing how little sleep we need when we’re doing what we really want to do instead of what God wants us to do? Got down there, and that night watchman came by and said, “You can’t fish.” We said, “What are you talking about?” First of all he asked us what we were doing. I’m thinking, “We’re bowling; what do you think we’re doing? We’re going fishing.” He said, “You can’t fish because the rules say that you cannot fish after sundown and before sunup.” I said, “Why?” “You may drown or something and sue the camp.”
- So instead of going back to get rest, we sat under a street light and talked about all the fish we had missed and caught, and fixed our tackle boxes. As soon as we could see the lake, which probably really wasn’t daybreak yet, we went fishing. All day long, no sleep, one hour of sleep.
- You know how youth camps are. Frisbee, swimming, everything else. Well, by that night I’m dead. I’m dead. We walk into the service and I could not hold my eyes open. I could not. They just kept closing. So finally I would try to rest my chin on my fist here, maybe, maybe I could go to sleep for a second and people would think I’m praying. But I would fall off. I missed everything in that message. At the end of it, he gave the invitation, and I saw God move like I hadn’t seen Him move in years. Kids that were getting saved that we had been praying for for months. And I’m beginning to think, uh oh, it’s happening. I thought it needed me, you know.
- So I got down on my knees and I started praying, “Oh, God, help these kids” and it was like God just spoke to me. And I don’t mean I heard an audible voice, but it was just like the impression. It was like, “Hey, Wayne, reckon you and I could talk for a minute here. When was the last time you went to bed at 12 and got up at 1 just to be in My presence? When was the last time that you had such excitement just to be and to know Me, and to be in My Word?” And, man, I knew immediately what was going on. I mean, I knew in my heart that that room was there. Everybody knows. I didn’t know what to do, and I said, “Well, Lord, I’m sorry. I really am, and I just want You to know that I’ll quit doing this for a while.” And He says, “Yeah, and then we’ll have to do this all over again.” I said, and in my mind I’m thinking these things through. “Well, what do You want me to do, give my stuff away?” It was almost like God said, “That is a great idea.” And then I’m thinking, this is crazy. So I got up, to make a long story short, told the group to go out to be by themselves.
- An interesting thing happened. After about five minutes, guess who walks in the back door? They’ve all gone out and got alone under a tree. Robert Fortenberry. He walks up to me and says, “Wayne,” and I looked at him and said “Yes, can I help you, son?” He said, “I got under the tree and started praying, but God just put on my heart to come in here and talk to you.” I said, “And what is it I can help you with?” He said, “Well, that’s kind of the problem. I don’t have anything to say to you. Do you have something to say to me?” That really happened. And I’m thinking, it’s like God said, “Do I have to draw pictures? Do I have to write on your forehead?” And I said, “Okay, Robert, I’ve got something to say to you.” I said, “God has told me to give you my bass fishing stuff, everything I have, my Umco tackle box with five shelves on both sides, all my artificial worms and jigs and everything else.” And I said, “And my two Lews Speed spools and my Ambassador rods.” And he looked at me like my elevator hadn’t touched the top floor. He said, “What is wrong with you?” I said, “Just don’t bother me.”
- By the way, I hear people say “Give me sickness instead of health, give me poverty,…” are you kidding? I can go to the cross kicking and screaming every time, but when I get there I find out that’s where I need to be.
- But anyway, we went on, and the staff got a hold of that. And they were saying, “Well, Wayne,” one of the guys on the staff said, “Do you think I ought to give up my golf clubs?” I thought to myself, “It probably would not hurt you,” but I didn’t say that. But when I went home, something happened with my wife and I. I always thought we had a beautiful relationship, and we did. But there was a depth we hadn’t been to. And when she saw the difference in my life, she watched me like I had a virus or something for about three weeks. Finally one day—she’s so precious—she called me and said, “Wayne, I need to talk to you,” and she was crying. I thought something was wrong with the kids, and so I went home. And she said, “Wayne, I’ve now witnessed what you’ve done, and the difference in your life since you were willing to give God what was holding back His living through you.” She said, “I just want to ask you to forgive me.”
- And I thought why? She’s the most perfect person I’ve ever known in that sense. She said “No, there has been a bitterness in there, because even back to when Stephanie was born and you stuck me with your mother and you went deer hunting in west Texas.” She said, “It’s kind of like you’ve always done your thing. But, Wayne, now that I see that you’re willing to God’s thing, I need to ask you to forgive me.”
- What God did, He took that experience of letting loose of something I didn’t want to let loose of, but He gave me a friend that’s the closest friend that I’ve ever had on this earth as my wife. And He deepened our relationship to a degree that I cannot possibly express to you, John.
- Three years later, our little boy got old enough, Steven, 4-years-old, “Daddy, take me fishing.” I said, “I’m an addict. Can’t go.” He said, “No, daddy, let’s pray about it.” We prayed. A guy called me up and said, “I’ve heard your testimony,” and he said, “God has put on my heart to give you something.” I didn’t know who he was. Went to his house, walked out into the garage, looked like a sporting goods store. And he said, “Pick out whatever rod you want, whatever reels you want.” And I said, “What are you talking about?” He said, “God just told me to give it to you.” He gave me back better than what I had ever given away.
- But now that it came back, it wasn’t for me. It was for Him and it was for my son. And that’s, to me, how God takes you from an imbalance on this side to an imbalance over here to bring you back into a balance.
- Ankerberg: Folks, we want you to try it out, trust God. He loves you. He’s willing to work with you. Just open yourself to Him and surrender these rooms that you have shut to Him. Ask Him for His forgiveness. Ask Him to help you. And see if He doesn’t excite you and give you joy because you’ve obeyed Him. Next week we’re going to talk about the garments of Christ, how you take off some of the old garments of self and you put on the new garments that Christ provides. What are those? How do you do that? This is going to be fun. I hope that you’ll join us then.