4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. Wider context: Living to Please Others 15 We who are strong must be considerate of those who are sensitive about things like this. We must not just please ourselves. 2 We should help others do what is right and build them up in the Lord. 3 For even Christ didn’t live to please himself. As the Scriptures say, “The insults of those who insult you, O God, have fallen on me.” 4 Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled. (NLT)
ESV - 4 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.
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Although Christians place their faith in Christ for salvation based on events and concepts that are contained in the New Testament, the Old Testament provides the entire framework and context that gives those events and concepts their meaning and significance. Thus, just as it was true for Paul to tell the Christians at Rome that the Old Testament was written for the instruction of Christians at that time (despite the Old Testament having been written long before), the same timeless principle of the Old Testament's ongoing usefulness for Christians still applies today (almost 2,000 years after Paul wrote), and will continue to apply until the close of the age.
All Scripture is useful to instruct us according to the apostle Paul. "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2 Timothy 3:16-17) Every word in the bible was put there by the Holy Spirit to instruct us, so we would become spiritually mature and complete, so we would be thoroughly equipped for every good work. The Old Testament was written to provide "examples to follow" and "warnings to avoid". "These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted[b] beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:11-13) The Old Testament gives us godly examples to follow. The OT shows us the sovereignty of God, his love and protection of his people. The OT shows us God's discipline when his people go astray, but also how merciful he is, calling them back to repentance. The OT illustrates (paints word pictures) that show us the spiritual truths of who God is and what his kingdom is all about. The New testament illuminates (sheds light) on these spiritual truths so we can fully know God. The OT gives us examples to help us understand these spiritual truths. Jesus made this bold declaration about the Old Testament. "You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life." (John 5:39-40) The theme of the whole bible is "Eternal Life" from start to finish, because eternal life is an intimate loving relationship with the creator of the universe, that starts the moment we believe and goes on forever. The main character of the bible, from cover to cover is "Jesus Christ", because he is fully God and fully man, Lord of Lord and King of Kings. Jesus is the Word of God who created all things that exist. Without Him there is no life. If we want to have the most abundantly fulfilling and deeply satisfying life humanly possible, then we must come to Jesus, so his Holy Spirit can instruct us from every word in the Holy Bible.
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