|From the TeachingtheWord Bible Knowledgebase|
Part two of a series. Read part one.
For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God.
Now I say that Jesus Christ has become a servant to the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers, and that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy, as it is written: "For this reason I will confess to You among the Gentiles, and sing to Your name." And again he says: "Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people!" And again: "Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles! Laud Him, all you peoples!" And again, Isaiah says: "There shall be a root of Jesse; and He who shall rise to reign over the Gentiles, in Him the Gentiles shall hope."
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:4-13)
In the first article of this series we summarized this passage thus: Here Paul talks about what justification by faith should do to the believer on the inside: We are to live a life of hope, even in the midst of a world that is in the grip of fear and despair.
In this article and those that will follow we shall focus on three key facts about our hope.
First of all, the Scriptures are the source of our hope. Notice Romans chapter 15, verse 4, the beginning of the passage we quoted above: "For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope."
The Scriptures were "written for our learning" - for our instruction. The word "learning" in verse 4 is the same word that is translated "doctrine" in many other places. Our problems and failings in the Christian life come, by and large, when we neglect the Word of God, and in particular when we neglect doctrine. We must never neglect learning sound doctrine from the Word. It is sound doctrine that produces sanctified living. Building our knowledge of Christ and His Word is a life-long proposition.
Today many Christians revere the Bible, but few actually read it - according to reliable surveys, fewer than 15%. Still fewer read it regularly and systematically. They have little idea what it really says. And so there is no renovation of the mind taking place, as God in Romans 12:1-2 commands us. Few Christians are cultivating a growing appreciation of the width, and depth, and height of the hope that we have in the promises of God, when those apart from Christ have no such hope.
Nowhere else in this world can we learn the revealed truth found only in the Word of God. The Scriptures are our source of hope in a world gripped by fear and despair.
Several times in his letters to the various churches, Paul uses this phrase: "I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren." You need to be in the Scriptures, Paul says. These things were written for your learning. And why is that? "In order that by the patience and comfort of the Scriptures you might have hope."
The word that is translated "patience" in our English Bible is actually the Greek word for perseverance. It signifies steadfastness - the steadfastness, the unchangeableness of God's Word. The Word "forever settled in Heaven" (Psalm 119:89) produces steadfastness in the believer, even in the face of the greatest trials. Endurance. In James chapter 5, verse 10 we read this: "You have heard of the perseverance of Job, and seen the end intended by the Lord - that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful." The same word that speaks of the "perseverance" of Job is the word that is translated "patience" here in Romans 15.
The word that is translated "comfort" in Romans 15:4 is a word that means "consolation" or "encouragement". It is from the same Greek word that the Bible gives us one of the key names of the Holy Spirit. He is "the Comforter" Jesus said:
The Comforter, who is the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. (John 14:26)
When the Comforter has come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he shall testify of me. (John 15:26)
The Holy Spirit is the One who illuminates Scripture for us. Paul says that the Scriptures were written for our learning, in order that we through the perseverance and the comfort and the encouragement that arises from the study of the Scriptures, might have hope.
And the result of that hope, verses 5-7, is like-mindedness. This like-mindedness is twofold: toward one another within the body of Christ, that is, harmony within the body of Christ; and, like-mindedness in glorifying God. The Scriptures are our source of the hope by which we may have unity with the church - and knowingly, intelligently glorify God as one body in Christ.
Next: Jesus Christ is the Confirmation & Fulfillment of Our Hope
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