“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” (Romans 15:4).
Let’s focus on three truths from this verse.
1. All the Scriptures are for our instruction
We are prone to short-circuit this step. All of us who have been born again are hungry to be encouraged by the Scriptures. Therefore we are often impatient with the need to be instructed by them. We would often rather have the fruit without laboring in the vineyard.
So the first lesson in this verse is that the Scriptures are for instruction. Literally: for teaching. We must be willing to learn what the Scriptures teach if we expect to be encouraged by the truth of Scripture.
2. All the Scriptures are intended by God to give steadfastness and encouragement
Steadfastness means endurance. It’s what you need to have to keep on going in a path of obedience when you feel miserable and when you meet all kinds of opposition.
Where does endurance come from? It comes from the Scriptures. This is exceedingly practical! Again and again the Scriptures will give you God’s perspective on things, and that biblical perspective will make a hard situation endurable. The Scriptures are given to us for our encouragement and our endurance in hard times. If you want to have staying power, if you want to endure to the end in the path of costly obedience, then make space in your day to meditate on the Scriptures.
3. All the Scriptures have this goal: to sustain our hope
There are stories of endurance in the Scriptures. There are words of encouragement. But the way these stories and these words actually make a difference in our lives is by sustaining our hope. It’s hope that keeps us going in tough situations. Christian endurance is not just teeth-gritting will power against all odds. We are driven and sustained by hope.
That is where the word of God becomes absolutely essential; because your own feelings and all the wisdom of the world is going to tell you again and again, “It isn’t worth it.” That’s what your feelings will often say, and that is what the world will often say. But it is not what the Scriptures say.
The Scriptures say, “There is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for My sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time … and in the age to come eternal life” (Mark 10:29-30).
Obedience is always worth it. The battle to cope with the daily temptations to disobey and throw in the towel on your responsibilities can only be fought with the weapon of hope.
—John Piper, condensed