We read this in Romans 15:4 —
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.The end-product is hope. Hope is a vital theme for Paul. He says we were saved in hope, and live in hope (Rom. 8:24-25). But how do we have hope?
Many might say we should pray for it, and that's not in itself a bad idea. It could, however, become a bad idea if that's all we do. In fact, it could become a terrible idea if that's all we do, if we then go on to lament how distant and uncaring God is because He does not directly instill hope in our hearts by some mysterious unmediated ministry of the Spirit.
In the text cited above, Paul explains how a Christian comes to have hope. It's pretty simple, though the thought is foreign to too much of professed Christianity. To Paul's mind:
- In order to have hope, we need Scripture
- In order to gain hope from Scripture, we must read it
- In order to gain hope from what we read, we must receive instruction