05 December 2013

How God gives us hope

by Dan Phillips

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:
  1. In order to have hope, we need Scripture
  2. In order to gain hope from Scripture, we must read it
  3. In order to gain hope from what we read, we must receive instruction
And there you have it. That is how God plants and cultivates hope in our hearts. We read Scripture, read the stories of the lives of past believers and what they suffered in faith (Hebrews 11). We read God's precious promises, and read of His mighty hand and impeccable character. We read, we think, we analyze, we apply, we memorize, we embrace, we cling, we boast.

We hope.

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Scott Fuemmeler said...

Just finished teaching through Hebrews for a men's bible study over the course of the last two-and-a-half years, and your post reminded me of so many wonderful gems.

Hebrews 6:17-20
Hebrews 10:19-23
Which then leads to Heb 11 & 12, which you mentioned.

Our hope is based fundamentally on who God is and what he has said & done. Scripture is where he has revealed these things to us; if we're reading, studying, and seeking to understand and obey it, we will have hope!

DJP said...

Amen, thank you, well-said.

spencer said...

And don't miss the word "endurance" which follows from verse 3 in a Christlike refusal to live for self and leads to verse 5 and a self-denying concern for others.

Which is to say that the "hope" we receive in context is not "hope" that all our days will feel happy and pleasant. But rather that God will be glorified (vs. 6)in our selfless conformity to Christ.

Kerry James Allen said...

"Hope as much as ever a man can hope; for when your hope is in God you cannot hope too much." CHS

Anonymous said...

My thoughts on 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.

DJP said...

Great thoughts, Paul. Maybe ::cough cough:: would publish it. Then if anyone challenged you, ::sneeze, snork:: would jump all over him and call for his blacklisting.

Anonymous said...

Dan, you must be having a grumpy day. If you have a problem with my online public posts, why instead didn't you call me personally to discuss in private? And this is how you repay me after I did you a favor by being on your forum? I'll be waiting for an apology.

juks said...


The Sasquatch said...

I'm not sure where else to post this, but I wanted to thank you guys for what you're doing here. I first heard of you fellows on the MOrtification of Spin when you were on recently. I grew up in the PCA but left when I was 18 and attended (and was extremely involved) in the charismatic movement for about 5 years. I left that, found my way back to the Reformed faith, and am extremely concerned by the modern "young, restless, 'reformed'" crowd and their continualist tendencies. When Trueman said on the podcast that we have this "agree to disagree" mentality which makes Evangelicals by default continualists, that really hit a nerve. I'm so thankful that you guys are speaking out! Continualism, I believe, runs contrary to the Reformed doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture (as you guys affirmed on the show), and it is CERTAINLY outside of every Reformed confession, and therefore has no place in the Reformed faith, I believe. One of you talked about the "dark side" of the Charismatic movement-those who never experience the gifts and wonder what is wrong with them. That was me, to the point where I was convinced I was possessed by a demon because I wasn't able to speak in tongues, prophecies, and was never 'slain in the Spirit' (IE-I never fell over when the creeper dudes blew on my forehead!). God used this, of course, to return me to my Reformed heritage as I began to study and read theology, but many others are stuck in that movement feeling spiritually hopeless. Thank you so much for your ministry and for having the guts to speak out against the "big guns"!

Merrilee Stevenson said...

Thanks for this post. Really shoulda read it yesterday when I was having a rough time of things. But providentially read this morning. Such a good reminder to start another day.

donsands said...

The Bible is such an encouragement. The truth tastes so good.
I do need to read it all, and eat it. And yet, I also need God's Body, His chosen instructors to help me understand as well.
I thank the Lord for all his pastor-teachers, who feed us the Word.
Thanks for the edifying word Dan.