Putting the most into life… (K. Barker)

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Author's Bias | Interpretation: conservative | Inclination: dispensational | Seminary: Dallas Theological

1. Hebrews 11 is God's Hall of Fame, a list of the names and accomplishments of outstanding men of faith. What can we learn from them? Let's focus on Moses to learn some principles that may guide us to successful living. Study Heb 11:24-25. How did Moses succeed?

First, Moses made the right choice. Moses' decision is recorded in Heb 11:24-25. The test that Moses faced was essentially the familiar one of fame and fortune. He had grown up surrounded by the pomp and splendor of ancient Egypt. And thanks to modern historical research and scientific archeology, we now know a great deal about Egypt's past glory and grandeur. No doubt Moses had received a good education in the court of Pharaoh. Acts 7:22 informs us that he was educated in all the science and learning of the Egyptians. Yet he repudiated it. Apparently Moses realized that for him to enjoy court life, fabulous wealth, and the passing pleasures of sin would be wrong, particularly in view of his people's distress. Thus, he made his decision to share their lot. He chose the way of faith-and hardship-instead of the way of flesh-and pleasure.

Under similar circumstances, what choice would you have made? Choices face each of us daily. For example, there are no hard and fast rules regulating many areas of your private Christian conduct. Instead, the responsibility is placed upon you to employ good judgment, biblical wisdom, and spiritual discernment in making decisions that honor Christ and that are in accordance with the principles of God's Word. Furthermore, if you are a young person, some of life's most determining choices are still before you-the choice of what school you will attend, the choice of an occupation or vocation, the choice of a life partner. Will you reach decisions on these important issues according to your personal desires and ambitions, or will you prayerfully seek God's will-to be directed by Him?

2. What does Heb 11:26 tell us about a principle of success?

Second, Moses had a sense of right values. In fact, perhaps he made the right choice because he had a sense of right values. The author of Hebrews tells us in Heb 11:26 that Moses "considered the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt,.." Several things are set in contrast here. In verse 25, "ill-treatment" is contrasted with "pleasures of sin" and in verse 26, "reproach" is contrasted with "treasures of Egypt." Which would you value more highly?

How is your sense of values? Let us apply this principle to a few specific areas. Do we value time correctly? Ephesians 5:16 declares that we should be "making the most of our opportunities, because these are evil days." How prone we are to procrastinate, when in reality the roads of tomorrow often lead to the land of never!

The principle can also be applied to the devotional life. To take an example, how much time will you spend today reading the newspaper, a magazine, or other items of interest? Will you spend at least some time in prayer and in careful reading of God's Word? If one finds time for education, recreation, travel, or simply conversing with others, but no time for a personal, independent study of the Bible, then he has a distorted sense of values.

The New Testament teaches that when a person is born again, his whole world-view or outlook on life should be transformed! Then he will value the things of God more than the things of the world. Is this true of you-and me? Do we value the things of God correctly? If so, old-fashioned or not, it entails a biblical separation from worldliness. 1 John 2:15 issues this command: "Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him." The reverse is likewise true: if anyone loves the Father, love for the world is not in him. This is what Thomas Chalmers called "The Expulsive Power of a New Affection." But what is worldliness? Does it consist merely of overt acts of sin? Someone has well defined worldliness as "living for things, not for God; living for self, not for others; living for time, not for eternity."

What takes precedence in your life? Is Christ preeminent? Your answers reflect your sense of values.

3. Examine Heb 11:26-27. What principle of success do you note here?

Third, Moses had the right vision before him. "..; for he was looking to the reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen." Two things are said here to comprise the vision that Moses had before him. First, apparently he looked toward a day of evaluation when he would stand before the Lord and be rewarded for faithful service. In addition, he kept his spiritual eyes of faith on God. A similar vision should likewise motivate us to seek to know, choose, and do God's Will. We are instructed to live and serve in the light of the judgment seat of Christ, "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad (2 Cor 5:10)." We should also keep our eyes of faith focused on Christ, as we are enjoined to do in Hebrews 12:1-2: "Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."

Note that Jesus Himself had a vision before Him: He endured the cross in view of the joy that was set before Him.

4. What last principle for success do you see in Heb 11:28?

Fourth and finally, Moses made the right sacrifice. By faith, Moses instituted the Passover, which was to become a memorial or reminder of the day when God miraculously delivered the Israelites from death and slavery in Egypt. Those who killed a lamb and applied its blood on their doorposts were spared from death.

The New Testament mentions at least four sacrifices that every Christian can make. The first three are contained in Heb 13:15-16, "Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased." The three sacrifices named are: 1) thanksgiving and praise (this is our worship), 2) good works (our service), and 3) benevolences (the giving of our substance).

Perhaps the most far-reaching, consequential, and inclusive sacrifice of all is found in Rom 12:1, and this is the fourth sacrifice, "Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship." You can present to Christ the living sacrifice of your body, which includes everything-your entire life and all that you are and have.

Consider the searching question asked in this poem, and see if your response would be the same as that of the writer:

"And shall I use these ransomed powers of mine

For things that only minister to me?

Lord, take my tongue, my hands, my heart, my all,

And let me live, and love, and give for Thee."

This is how to succeed as God views success-how to put the most into life and also how to get the most out of life.

Kenneth Barker's personal note: The story of how I became interested in translating the Bible goes all the way back to a Youth for Christ rally on October 2, 1948, in the auditorium of the Hazard, Kentucky, high school. There I made a decision that changed the course of my life forever. At age 17 I received the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal Savior and committed my life fully to Him. That decision started me on a path that would eventually lead to my being one of the translators of the NIV.

After completing my education and teaching a few years at other schools, I became a professor of Old Testament at Dallas Theological Seminary in 1968. I remained there until 1981. In 1971 I received a phone call from Dr. Edwin Palmer. He told me about a project under way to translate the Bible accurately from the original languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek) into clear, contemporary English.

Palmer invited me to join the other scholars chosen from around world to participate in this historic event. I listened courteously and patiently to his explanation, thanked him for inviting me - and turned him down. I told him I was extremely busy with teaching, speaking engagements, and writing and editing commitments.

But Palmer persisted, and called me again almost one year later. He explained that a translation committee working on the book of Hosea was to meet for two weeks in St. Louis, and he asked me to help them. If I was not satisfied with the work, he promised never to bother me again about the NIV. But if I wanted to continue with them, they would be glad to have me. I agreed, and in those two weeks I was totally sold on the project. After that, I devoted all the time, labor, and money I could spare to the NIV.

God has blessed our efforts beyond all expectations. For one thing, there are now over 150 million NIV Bibles and New Testaments in print, and thus in worldwide circulation and use. In the near future, 200 million copies will be in use around the world. I know of no other English translation of God's Word that has ever surpassed that record in the same period of time since its release. It is an exciting thought that long after I am dead and gone, the NIV will still be here to bring the spiritual blessings of salvation and Christian living to hundreds of millions of people.

It is a great joy to hear that people everywhere have been "born again" (John 3:3,7) through reading the NIV. This, of course, is one of the reasons God's Word was given in the first place (John 20:31). Others have understood the Bible for the first time as the result of using the NIV. I received an encouraging letter from a new Christian in England. He told me that so much of the old English in the King James Version went over his head that he lost interest. Then his wife gave him the NIV, and he couldn't put it down. He read it for hours at a time. This is what makes all our efforts really worthwhile.

One of my many favorite passages in the NIV is 1 Corinthians 13:4-8: "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails."

Dr. Kenneth Barker is an author and speaker living in Lewisville, Texas. Until his retirement from International Bible Society in 1996, he was Executive Director of their NIV Translation Center. He is one of the original translators of the New International Version of the Bible and a regular spokesperson for its Committee on Bible Translation - the governing body that produced the NIV.

Ken Barker has given talks about the translation process of the NIV all over the U.S. and abroad, and much of his time is spent writing, editing, preaching, and teaching. He also worked on the New International Reader's Version (a simplification of the NIV for those who read at a lower reading level), three books about the NIV, and the tenth - anniversary edition of the NIV Study Bible as its General Editor.

Dr. Barker and his wife, Isabelle, have four children - Ken, Patricia, Ruth, and David - and 14 grandchildren. When at home, the Barkers worship and serve at First Baptist Church of Carrolton, Texas. In his spare time Ken enjoys music, reading, table tennis (ping-pong), swimming, and walking.

He holds the B.A. degree from Northwestern College, the Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary and the Ph.D. from the Dropsie College for Hebrew and Cognate Learning. In the past, he has served as Academic Dean of Capital Bible Seminary, Professor of Old Testament at three theological seminaries, and Visiting Professor at two others. He is also author of commentaries on the books of Micah and Zechariah.

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