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Scriptures as Our Example

Romans 15:4
For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
NIV

Romans 15:4 is one of the most important passages in all of the Scriptures. Why is this verse important?

How often do you come across someone who will not read the Old Testament? It is boring, or hard to understand, or not applicable to us in the New Testament church! Yet, the Bible is about Jesus from beginning to end. The entire weight of Scripture reflects upon this fact. I suggest the Bible be viewed as a pyramid. The top point of the pyramid would be flipped so the entire pyramid is balanced upon this top point. When we have a word or phrase or verse or chapter to interpret, we place the point upon this word, so the entire weight of Scripture rests upon our interpretation issue.

Here, Paul’s statement verifies the truthfulness of our interpretative approach. All of Scripture has been given for our example. We are to follow the example of Jesus (1 Peter 2:21) and all of the Scripture is about Christ. This is why so many Old Testament quotes and allusions occupy the writings of the New Testament. The Old Testament is not dull and boring. It is alive with pictures of the spiritual truths now fully revealed in the New Testament. All Scripture, all of the Old Testament and all of the New Testament must serve as our knowledge base for understanding the things of God.

We must remember that the truths of God have been progressively revealed, so some Old Testament truths are only fully understood when viewed in the context of later revelations, but it is still there for our example. The present reference is an example. Psalm 69 is one of the key messianic Psalms / prophecies of the Old Testament. The rabbis understood this, even if they did not understand the full impact of its prophecies. Remember that the Cross and the Second Coming were not clearly distinguished in the Old Testament. The progressive revelation of the New Testament comes in places such as Ps 69:3 where we find the precise prophecy explained in the actions of the Cross. As Jesus told the disciples on the road to Emmaus:

Luke 24:13-27
13 Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened. 15 So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him. 17 And He said to them, "What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?" 18 Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, "Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days?" 19 And He said to them, "What things?" So they said to Him, "The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. 21 But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened. 22 Yes, and certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us. 23 When they did not find His body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said He was alive. 24 And certain of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but Him they did not see." 25 Then He said to them, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?" 27 And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. NKJV

Paul also provides for us the reason of Scriptures existence. It is the hope of glory (Rom 5:2)! Paul continues to view the future hope of Christ’s Second Coming and our going home to be with the Lord as the end of salvation. We have the Scriptures to prove the reality of this hope. Having this reality provides us with the patience and stamina needed to survive this sinful world. We are still in the world so we may witness to the power of God's Word. As we learn God's Word, we obtain the comfort of God in our hearts and minds. We become more and more assured of the truth of God's Word and the power of His presence. By studying all of Scripture, we come to understand the faithfulness of God.

And, by understanding the truth of God's Word, the example of Jesus becomes more alive to us. The more truth we see, the better we appreciate the teachings of application. This is Paul's goal. If we understand Scripture, we learn to understand Jesus' example. If we understand the example of Christ, we come to realize how love should operate. If we realize how love should operate, we may incorporate such operation into our own actions. We will commence to deal with our weaker brothers and sisters in Christ in more and more godly love. This will benefit both us and our weaker brother. We will all grow in our faith!

Want another great example? Study the lives of Elijah and Elisha, but Elijah in particular. James calls Elijah a man like us, yet, Elijah prayed and God stopped the rain. Elijah contends for the faith by bringing down the fire of God upon the false priests of Baal. Read the story of Elijah starting in 1 Kings 17, through 2 Kings 1. Elisha's story follows in 2 Kings. See and study what great things a man of God may accomplish in the power of God.

James 5:17-18
17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. 18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.
NKJV

 

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