“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.“ - Romans 15:4 NIV
Many of us (myself included) fail to appreciate just how extraordinary it is that we have the Bible. The ancient world was not at world of literacy but was an oral world. In fact, in the ancient world the “spoken word” was much more highly preferred than a written document. It truly was a time when a person‘s word was “their bond.” In many ways written documents were simply seen as a surrogate for the “real thing.” Many wonder why we don’t have more ancient books, but it really is a wonder that we have as many ancient documents as we do. Written documents were usually reserved for sacred texts, legal documents, or the like. The ancient Hebraic outlook on life valued multivalent communication and the apostle Paul gives us a unique insight into one of the purposes that Jewish writings served (and continue to serve) for the broader community.
The Scriptures were written down in order to serve an immensely valuable role: to teach us. Since God loves us, he wants us to know how we should live, behave, conduct our affairs, and orient our lives so that we can have life, and life more abundantly (John 10:10). We need to be taught by the LORD through His Word because, frankly, we are ignorant about a lot of things and, due to our fallen human nature, we have a proclivity to want to justify the lusts of our flesh. If anything, we’re overly confident about our abilities to know the truth and our abilities to walk it out. One of the foundational aspects of growing in the Christian faith is simply reading the Word of God, reflecting upon it, and prayerfully considering how we can appropriate the principles found therein to our every day, ordinary lives. When we “give heed” to the Word, the Holy Spirit is given permission to do a work in our hearts and therefore enact life-change within us.
The apostle Paul instructs the Christ-followers in Rome — the great imperial city — that Hope can be the (super)natural byproduct of (1) endurance and (2) the encouragement which comes through the Scriptures. Yet again we see the vast importance of encountering God in the pages of Scripture. God is not the Bible, but we encounter Him in Scripture. If you want to encounter God, read the Bible! When it is read with an honest, transparent heart, one cannot be unaffected.
Word for the Way:
God encourages my spirit when I humbly reflect upon his word.