Having a proper hope in God is essential in life. An examination of Romans 15:1-4 points to a dangerously flawed teaching and practice that is robbing many believers of the hope that God wants them to have.
The apostle Paul begins Romans 15 by challenging those who are strong believers about the necessity of their bearing the infirmities of weak believers and not pleasing themselves (Rom. 15:1). He then directs every strong Christian to “please his neighbor for his good to edification” (Rom. 15:2).
He explains these directives to strong believers by pointing them to how even the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, did not please Himself (Rom. 15:3a). Rather, in keeping with what was written long ago, He accepted the reproaches of those who reproached God, His Father (Rom. 15:3b).
Paul explains further that everything that was written beforehand was “written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope” (Rom. 15:4). Although this teaching applies to all believers, in context and in the flow of thought of Romans 15:1-4, these verses are direct apostolic instruction to strong believers that makes clear that they as strong believers need to learn from all that was written beforehand so that they would have the hope that God wants them to have!
It is a deadly trap for any strong, mature believer to think that he pretty much knows what the Bible teaches and no longer needs to immerse himself in all of it. By using the pronoun “our” in Romans 15:4, the apostle Paul, who was as strong a believer as there has ever been, instructs us that he believed that he needed to have hope through his receiving the patience and comfort that all the Scripture that was written beforehand provides!
Saying this, Paul made clear that he viewed his partaking of the entire OT as an essential aspect of his Christian living. Any Christian teaching or practice that in any way minimizes the importance of a believer’s reading and profiting from the entire OT is dangerously flawed Christian teaching and practice that will rob him of the hope that God wants him to have!
Especially if you are a strong believer, God wants you to heed what He has inspired for your profit in Romans 15:1-4. You need to feed on the entire Old Testament on a regular basis all of your life so that you will have the hope that God wants you to have!
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