A View from the Wall
(With Founder Scott Townsend of I Am A Watchman ministries)
Oct. 29, 2018, with co-host Joe Kerr.
Interview with Eric Barger based on his book,
Disarming the Powers of Darkness
(EB= Eric Barger, WM= Watchman Interviewer)
WM: We are here at the Watchmen on the Wall Conference in Surrey, British Columbia with pastor, speaker, and author Eric Barger, founder of Take a Stand Ministries. Eric, good morning and Welcome to A View From the Wall.
EB: Good morning. Glad to be here.
WM: With me is Joe Kerr who is our managing editor, and I’m Scott Townsend, your host. I would like to begin by asking a question. Bible Prophecy and the Rapture, in particular, are not discussed in the modern church. If you could speak to a room of American and Canadian pastors, what would you say about teaching Bible prophecy today?
EB: I think I would remind them that just a short three or four decades ago that Bible prophecy was certainly one of the tenants of the evangelical church. It was something discussed and talked about. Of course, Hal Lindsey’s book had come out, Late Great Planet Earth. It had touched a lot of people’s lives. Others were writing on prophecy and speaking on it. If you declared a prophecy conference was going to take place at a particular church, people would line up. It didn’t matter how hot or how cold it was outside; they wanted to get a good seat. Today, it’s like pulling teeth.
When the modern church movement came along and basically said, “Don’t preach on anything that’s considered negative,” prophecy went away. So did apologetics and other topics. So only the “acceptable” or “happy” parts of the gospel have gotten broad acceptance. I think it’s incumbent upon us as ministers to preach the whole counsel of God, and certainly in a time when prophecy is being fulfilled all around us, isn’t that the time the church should be alerting the world and talking about it? And this is a great evangelistic tool. It’s not a negative to speak about prophecy. It is a positive.
We should understand that God has told us about it for a reason, and given us an understanding of prophetic days. I think that quells the fear when you understand these things, but it’s not viewed as a topic that a lot of people want to take on today, and it’s one that I hope that pastor by pastor, church by church, they’ll revive it and begin to understand the importance of it. I’m grateful to say that I’ve had a number of pastors contact me and tell me that something that happened in a conference or something that we provided for them or a message where I’ve preached in their church—it has lit the spark again of prophecy. They begin to speak about prophetic things in the End Times and understand that it’s an important part of God’s plan for us to know these things.
WM: I agree with that. In fact, I’ve noticed—I’m from California. I know Pastor Hibbs has been doing a great job of rallying pastors there as well. What does it take today to really get a pastor in America or Canada here to actually grasp the urgency of what’s coming, and to react in a responsible manner—to actually present the full counsel of God, to prepare the flock? What do you think the consequences might be for the pastor who understands that calling, but due to external pressure, kind of quells that down and stamps out the work of the Spirit in that regard? Can you comment on that?
EB: Well, one of the focuses of the modern church has been on church growth. And I mentioned this a second ago, but I believe that the church growth plans have only focused on what would be acceptable to people instead of the entire counsel of God’s word. Once again, it comes back to that will we preach everything God said, or will we leave things out because we think, in our culture, it may not be acceptable, or it might not be a plus for putting people in the seats?
First of all, it’s really not our business about putting people in the seats. That’s God’s business. Our business is to be faithful to his Word and remember that someday, we’re going to stand before Him and give an account of how we did with that, and we as ministers, as the Scripture teaches, our judgment, if you will, is a stricter judgment, a higher judgment, because we’ve been given God’s word to expound before people. So, it’s my opinion that in these prophetic times, we just need to come back and recognize that we have a responsibility. Certainly, we have a responsibility to our churches and our people. And I don’t pastor a church. I speak all the time, travel, and do conferences, and write and that kind of thing, but pastors are my best friends.
I’ve always looked at myself as a friend of the church, but we could be really an enemy of the people if we’re not careful because if we don’t give them all the truth—everything that God’s Word says—we’re in trouble here. We are going to be in trouble, and they are too. If we don’t have a good balanced diet in what we eat, each of us, then we’re not going to be healthy people. And the church can’t be completely healthy if prophecy is not being spoken about. It’s been one of my heart cries to talk to pastors and to, if I can speak at a pastors convention or conference or in any setting where I know we have pastors in the audience, I’m always encouraging them not to necessarily go along with any of the plans of men—the seeker plans or the purpose plans or all of the rest of them that are out there, but to continually go back and look at the Word of God and let the Holy Spirit lead you—not a plan that man has put together.
WM: That’s excellent advice. We are here as we mentioned at the Watchmen on the Wall Prophecy Conference. We have contact with Watchmen around the world — literally hundreds of them who identify themselves as Watchmen. We know what Scripture talks about as far as Watchmen in the traditional walking the wall in the dark, watching for the enemy. What is the role of a Watchman in the 21st-century church?
EB: Well, certainly in Old Testament days, they physically were walking on the wall, watching for an attack from the enemy. But today, the enemy is coming in many ways at us. When I say the enemy, that’s a capital E, and he’s an entity, and he’s an enemy, the enemy of our souls. Satan’s plan for our Christian life is the same as it was before we got saved. It’s still to kill, steal, and destroy. He wants to deter us from the mission that we’ve been sent on.
So if we focus on the mission, which is to see the lost saved, to see the church strengthened—which has been like the moniker of our ministry all these years, 36 years now in ministry for me—if we focus on that, then we also know there are going to be attacks on us to try to stop us, to deter us, and sidetrack us. And I just say, continue to focus on the truth and to watch out for the enemy’s attacks. And he’s come in many different ways. He comes as an angel of light often. Sometimes he comes even through one of our friends; even somebody in the church might speak things to sidetrack us—not purposely, but it happens. And so, we need to be aware of what God has called us to do and continue on that journey. And the enemy’s plan today I think. Honestly, I believe he is loose today and doing things today that he wasn’t doing before. He is going to continue in the End Times.
I think we have teaching in Scripture that teaches us that as the End Times unfold, things don’t get brighter and brighter; things get darker and darker. And I know that sounds like doom and gloom, and maybe a pastor might be saying right now, “Aha. That’s the reason I don’t want to preach on that stuff.” Because you know, that’s been the complaint. “You know, when I was a kid, I heard all about the stuff, and I didn’t want to hear about it anymore.”
Listen, we need to be teaching all of what God’s Word says. Now, I’ve said that three times already, but how much can we emphasize the fact that if we decide just because something feels to us as maybe it’s a negative to us if we decide that about something in God’s Word, we made that arbitrary decision. But God has given us His Word for a reason, and so, I think it really just comes back to each of us examining what our motivations are for why we’re deciding to leave something off the plate. We need to have the whole plate filled with God’s Word.
WM: At I Am A Watchman Ministries, we focus on that biblical initiative, and we frequently compare the role of a Watchman in the 21st century to the ideas of what a Watchman did in biblical times.
WM: And we point out that Watchmen had two very strong, very important characteristics. One, Watchmen were chosen to be Watchmen because of their vision. You take the modern day, spiritual application of that, and you can certainly see what that is.
WM: The other reason they were chosen to be Watchmen was because they had balance. You’re walking a wall in the dark on rocks. You better have pretty good balance. Unfortunately, some of the modern-day discussion of End Times prophecy can be pretty bombastic, and it easily lends itself to straying and going into some crazy things. And you’ve been to the prophecy conferences, as we have, and you hear some of those.
WM: How do you tell a Watchman to maintain that balance?
EB: Well, I think you just outlined it really well. I think we all have to test everything by the Word of God. If you put everything to the test, and that is 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22: “Test all things. Hold on to that which is good. Avoid every kind of evil.”
Put it all to the test to see if what’s being talked about or what’s being exposed, if it’s an expose going on, is [it] biblical, scriptural—that’s the key. It always comes back to what God’s Word says. And I think the two things you just brought up are excellent points—the idea of vision and balance because we do need to have vision to understand what is going on in the culture and being able to express what the Word of God says about this kind of things. Though it may not talk directly about something that’s in a motion picture that might be detrimental, it does talk about those things, those ideas that are being represented. And the idea of balance is something that I think there’s a struggle right now for balance.
If we’re not careful, we do a disservice, and we do damage to the whole cause of apologetics and discernment and being a Watchman if we get out of balance. And so, let’s make sure we stay in balance. I always say to major in the majors and be careful about anything that is outside that realm.
WM: I agree with that, Eric. It seems like in my observations over the past few years that there’s a very important ministry work that Watchmen do. It’s what I call a specialty channel in YouTube where they take a very narrow slice of that, and they really become experts at it. Unfortunately, what I’ve seen too often is that they go, you know, most of the way in explaining. They observe the current times. They understand Bible prophecy, and that leads to the warning, but they actually don’t complete the conversation in all cases by delivering the gospel invitation in explaining that the whole purpose of examining current events and comparing it to Bible prophecy and giving that prophetic warning to the lives of those that are in their sphere of influence is actually for the purpose of delivering the gospel message.
What is your best practice advice to Watchmen to make sure that they always have room for the gospel in their presentations?
EB: Well, I think we can’t underscore that enough, and as we have seen here at the conference here in NBC, there was a theme all the way through each one of the speakers. And it always came back to, are we as Christians actually presenting the gospel to the lost around us, to our families and friends? Do we have an urgency in our heart? That’s one of the words I used in my message here. We need to have an urgency about sharing the gospel with others. And that’s one of the keys, so I appreciate that balance, and there’s got to be that balance. It isn’t just to expose evil; it’s to, first and foremost, lift up the Lord. And so, as I said yesterday, when we talk about the End Times, I’m not looking for the Antichrist; I’m looking for Jesus Christ. Jesus could appear at any time, and I believe His coming is first.
WM: You wrote the book, Disarming the Powers of Darkness: Fearless Conquerors in Spiritual Warfare. Talk about that book a little bit.
EB: Well, that book started out to be a part of another book I wrote several years ago called, Entertaining Spirits Unaware. And we recognized we had a bigger book than we wanted. We wanted people to be able to read it, and too many pages don’t get read. And so, we split the book up, and I’ve rewritten Disarming about a year and a half or two years ago. I went through the entire book, added many things to it, several items to it and made it a stronger book. It is really a plan, a practical plan, for spiritual warfare for the Christian.
It doesn’t explain all of the nuances of deliverance and those kinds of things, but it talks about the things that we need to understand, first and foremost, to be able to get off on the right foot as far as seeing the enemy to be defeated in our lives. And I’ve always said that how can we help anybody who is demonically oppressed or possessed etc. — how can we help them unless we have already decided to live in the victory that Jesus afforded us on the cross first?
That doesn’t mean that we don’t get attacked. It doesn’t mean that we don’t feel those attacks, but I think if we understand what is happening when those things are happening to us, then we’re better equipped to fight those things off and to walk on in victory to help others. And that’s what we’re here to do. We’re here to share the gospel and to spread the gospel, certainly to share it with whoever we can and in the process of that, there’s gonna be spiritual warfare, so we need to have a certain understanding or modicum of spiritual warfare in our lives. And I don’t think it’s something that we… Let’s put it like this – sometimes I think people get extremely out of balance and only focus on one thing. I’ve seen it over and over. I’ve seen it with people in my sphere of teaching and so on.
They’re so focused on the cults; they forgot to focus on the Lord. They become experts on any of the cults out there, and sometimes ex-cultists do that where you’ll find a Mormon becomes the next Mormon rather than a committed Christian or the next Jehovah’s Witness becomes a speaker against Jehovah’s Witness theology, but he doesn’t become the dedicated Christian understanding the truth that he needs to understand. So, you’ve got to have that balance. I think the Disarming book is probably one of the better books I’ve seen, not just ‘cause I wrote it, but I think it’s a really good book to give people a really balanced and general view of what to do when they’re under attack. And that’s really why we put it together.
WM: And certainly, we know that evil is increasing on the earth right now, and it’s getting gloriously dark as some have said. If you could speak to our Watchmen community, Eric, and just speak into them. Encourage them. Give them your perspective on the role that they play and the importance of what they do on a day by day basis. What would you like to say to our community?
EB: Well, while we’re busy exposing what’s happening around us and helping the church and any in the world who will listen to understand some of the nuances of what’s going on, some of the negative things, let’s remember to give them hope. And I think hope is something that is missing in many Christians’ lives.
Let’s remember to give hope. And the hope, of course, is the hope of glory, the hope of Jesus and what he’s done for us. And I’m just grateful to be one of the “whosoever’s” especially after living in the world I lived in for so many years. I was a record producer and a rock musician and a New Ager and a drug addict and did a lot of things I wish I had never done. But I’m grateful it’s all under the blood today. If we give them the hope of the cross, no matter what else we do, we have got to make sure that’s front and center.
WM: Well, this wraps up our session today with Eric Barger, and on behalf of the Watchmen community worldwide and especially iamaWatchman.com, we want to thank you for your time today.
EB: Oh, my pleasure. Glad to talk to you all.
WM: A View From the Wall, in association with I Am A Watchman ministries, exists to equip a worldwide audience with biblical truth, sharing it with others, and being prepared for Christ’s imminent return. The team seeks to encourage, inspire, and equip Watchmen for such a time as this. For information about the ministry and upcoming events, visit iamawatchman.com. A View From the Wall is made possible by the team of dedicated pastors, editors, and the many contributors of I am A Watchman ministries.
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