We all have different responses to trials and challenging circumstances. It’s natural to look for grounds of hope and we tend to do that in different ways, no doubt our inclinations are partly influenced by our experience and temperament. Some rise to the challenge, seek to minimise the impact of the circumstances and take encouragement from that. Others crave the comfort that will provide the hope and encouragement to enable them to persevere. Then there are those that grapple with the gravity of the situation and seek ultimate hope and comfort in coming to terms with it. Which path should we choose? The reality is that we need all these responses combined in a way that is shaped by Scripture. The God of providence not only knows what situations we will face, He has also designed the Scriptures to equip us to meet them. The two great practical benefits of Scripture’s teaching are patience and comfort (Romans 15:4). We need to hold on to both. We need the words that are as goads behind us to help us persevere and not stand still but also words that encourage and are as fixed nails that we can hang upon (Ecclesiastes 12:11).
Whatever is written in Scripture has been written “for our learning: that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” (Romans 15:4). We should not read the Scriptures only with the aim of finding comfort, but instead, we should put whatever comforts us to practical use in strengthening our hope. If for instance, we need the comfort of forgiveness we will need to go to the God of comfort in repentance.
We are enabled to hope as we grow in our understanding of and trust in the truths of the Bible. There are many afflictions in this life that challenge our hope, and therefore we need to be stirred up both to endure and to be encouraged. This is how Scripture sustains the life of hope amid all we experience. God is the God of patience and comfort (Romans 15:5) and that is why He has designed Scripture this way.
Whatever has been written has been designed with this in view. Thus, we can draw this patience and comfort from the whole of Scripture and not be selective. We are tempted to think we know what type of Scripture teaching we need at present and what we are less ready to receive. We do not, however, need to err on the side of seeking out either comfort or rebuke. Those passages that confront us with the sorrowful nature of our condition can also lead us to hope and comfort in Christ just as much as the promises. John Brown of Wamphray comments further on the meaning of this phrase in the following updated extract.
1. Scripture is Designed to Change the Way YOU Live
The written Word of God is able to acquaint us with all things necessary to believe and inform our understanding perfectly in the matters of faith. It is also able to instruct us in all things necessary for the Christian life. It teaches us completely how to walk in our Christian conduct so as to sustain hope and not lose sight of heaven. It is written “that we might have hope”.
All our study in the Scriptures and insight into them should lead to practice and advancing us in our Christian walk towards heaven. Whatever knowledge we attain is for nothing if it does not have some effect on our ways. Our learning is one purpose of God’s giving us His mind in writing. But this is only subordinate to advancing our hope.
2. Scripture is Designed to Help You Endure
The life of believers on this side of eternity is a life filled with troubles and afflictions of all kinds. They are, therefore, called to keep the grace of patience constantly in exercise. God has, therefore, provided a means to keep the hearts of His own from fainting. He has laid down in the Scriptures many remarkable grounds for holding up the head of His tried people. His people droop heavily under the load they bear when they are ignorant of His Word or do not pursue the right way of making use of it. That is why mention is made here of the patience of the Scriptures.
3. Scripture is Designed to Keep You From Being Discouraged
Sorrow and sighing ordinarily attend an afflicted condition. The Lord also knows that His people are often discouraged and ready to collapse in sorrow; they need much consolation. Thus, He has in His wonderful goodness, provided various reviving and strengthening remedies and put them all in a box. He has also put the box in their hands so that they may draw consolation from it. Failure to make best use of this storehouse of comfort is what makes the discouragements of His people increase daily.
4. Scripture is Designed to Help You Amid Doubts and Perplexities
The Lord saw that many clouds would arise and darken our view, hindering us from seeing both our spiritual life and the crown of life set before us. This can mar our hope and fill us with questions, doubts and perplexities about our spiritual state and right to glory. He has, therefore, our of His special goodness provided a written Word, unfolding the promises and faithfulness of God as a sure and settled grounds for supporting hope.
5. Scripture is Designed to Help You Live in Hope
The spiritual enjoyments of God’s people now and then in this life are the first fruits of the full harvest that is coming. For all that they experience here, they must still live in hope; all their life is only a life of hope. Their best days are only coming (see 1 Peter 1:3; Hebrews 6:19).
Patience must be exercised on the basis of Scripture in all afflictions both spiritual and outward. The soul is to be comforted by looking to the promises and other grounds for comfort contained in the Word. Where this is the case, the life of hope will be maintained and a soul will be helped to walk in a Christian way and in hope. Hope that does not flow from faith in Scripture in this way is only a delusion and imaginary.
6. Scripture is Designed to Lead You to Genuine Patience
People may attain to a forced patience that is very similar to a stupefied desensitised condition under affliction rather than true patience. Yet none can attain to true Christian patience except those on whom God bestows it. This patience is a special gift of God and for this reason, He is called “the God of patience” (Romans 15:5).
7. Scripture is Designed to Lead You to Genuine Comfort
The right sort of comfort and heart rejoicing is wrought in the soul by the hand of God. It is God’s prerogative to speak comfort to the sad and troubled soul. He is the God of comfort or consolation (Romans 15:4; see 2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
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