Things Written Aforetime
“For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” Romans 15:4
How do we recognize the truth behind this scripture? Is this one of those passages where we say, “this was directed to the believers in Rome to convince them of the validity of the gospel and has no purpose for us today”? Do we say it has purpose for the evil people of today who refuse to follow God?
We have been studying the minor prophets in our morning Bible class and one thing stands out in every book: God is in control and if we don’t obey Him, we will suffer. Over and over, they are told to repent. Over and over, we are told to repent. (Acts 2:38, Hebrews 12:1) Did they listen? No. Do we listen? No. The old law was full of “thou shalt not” and “thou shalt”. The new law has the road to heaven clearly mapped out for us. (Think Rand McNally atlas upgraded to Google maps.)
The old law wasn’t shared with others. We are told today to teach the world. Do we teach the world or just pray by rote that “they may come to know you”? How will they know if we don’t teach? The idea that we share Christ and His gospel through doing good deeds is completely contrary to the truth of the gospel. (How saddening and confusing to hear so many teach that we are saved through the works of charity, yet we aren’t saved by works!)
“Things written in former days for our instruction” tells us to learn from the past. Under the old law, Jews had requirements to meet to be pleasing to God. They had to keep His commandments. We must keep His commandments. (Revelation 22:14) Let’s focus again on what were once referred to as “first principles” and teach people to want to obey God. Let’s teach people the reason we obey God is we seek that heavenly, forever home with Him.