“Wrestling With Romans”
Whatever Was Written (Chapter 15 Verses 1-13)
These general admonitions are carried over from the previous chapter (vv1-5). If we live to please each other, rather than ourselves. It would help immensely if we would understand that, no, not everyone has got it right, that there are many failings within the Christian community. We must bear with each other, and even carry one another at times. We ought to be building one another up (v2), not tearing each other down. We meet together for that purpose, for edification, for encouragement, to please and help each other, and if we kept in mind this phenomenal truth, that not even Jesus pleased himself (v3; Philippians 2.5-11), perhaps we too would be more tolerant of others. In fact it was for our very encouragement that God gave us the Scriptures (v4). Paul here gives us an insight into the doctrine of the Scriptures. Everything, all of it, he says, was written to teach us (v4), and again to Timothy he says that “all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching” (2Timothy 3.16). I recall a minister once saying to me, you don’t take doctrine from certain books of the Bible, for instance the Book of Revelation. Well now, that flies in the face of what Paul says here, “whatever” was written, and again, “all Scripture”, is useful for teaching.
Notice also that the purpose of the Scriptures is, our edification, encouragement and hope, to meet our needs, to help us in Christian endurance. One of the ways in which God keeps us going as Christians, is through our Bibles. We can’t live simply by bread alone (Deuteronomy 8.3; Matthew 4.4), we need our Bibles, it’s our food, our nourishment, if we neglect them we’ll starve, we won’t grow strong and healthy as Christians. Perhaps your discouraged, disheartened, your hopes have faded to a degree, well maybe you’ve been neglecting your Bible. Or maybe you are one of those weak Christians Paul has been speaking of (v1), over-scrupulous, majoring on minors. Well, the only way out of that weakness, the only way to survive the rough and tumble of this world, the only way to endure to the end, is through the encouragement of the Scriptures which give us hope (v4). But there’s something vitally important here, it’s also the only way to achieve the Church unity that the New Testament demands (v5). And that is brought about by following Jesus Christ, who himself prayed for the same unity (John 17). The communion of the saints is more than just a creedal statement, it is realised and practiced in faith and love.
(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1997)