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)
How can we be filled with the Holy Spirit? How can we experience an outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon our church and ourselves that fills us with indomitable joy and frees us, and empowers us, to love those around us in ways so authentic that they are won to Christ?
Answer: Meditate day and night upon the incomparable, hope-giving promises of God. AsRomans 15:4 shows us, that’s the way Paul kept his heart full of hope and joy and love. “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 full assurance of hope comes from meditating on the promises of God’s word. And this does not contradict the sentence nine verses later that says that the Holy Spirit gives us hope (Romans 15:13). This is because the Holy Spirit is the divine author of Scripture. His word is the means of his work. It is no contradiction that the way he fills us with hope is by filling us with his own word of promise.
Hope is not some vague emotion that comes out of nowhere, like a stomachache. Hope is the confidence that the stupendous future promised to us by the word of the Spirit is going to really come true. Therefore, the way to be filled with the Spirit is to be filled with his word. The way to have the power of the Spirit is to believe the promises of his word.
For it is the word of promise that fills us with hope, and hope fills us with joy, and joy overflows in the power and freedom to love our neighbor. And that is the fullness of the Holy Spirit.