Comfort - 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 ~ 20141019 ~ Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org
10/19/2014 2 Corinthians 1:3-5; Comforts of the Cross; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20141019_comfort-2cor1_3-5.mp3
2 Corinthians 1:3 Εὐλογητὸς ὁ θεὸς καὶ πατὴρ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, ὁ πατὴρ τῶν οἰκτιρμῶν καὶ θεὸς πάσης παρακλήσεως, 4 ὁ παρακαλῶν ἡμᾶς ἐπὶ πάσῃ τῇ θλίψει ἡμῶν, εἰς τὸ δύνασθαι ἡμᾶς παρακαλεῖν τοὺς ἐν πάσῃ θλίψει διὰ τῆς παρακλήσεως ἧς παρακαλούμεθα αὐτοὶ ὑπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ. 5 ὅτι καθὼς περισσεύει τὰ παθήματα τοῦ Χριστοῦ εἰς ἡμᾶς, οὕτως διὰ τοῦ Χριστοῦ περισσεύει καὶ ἡ παράκλησις ἡμῶν.
2 Corinthians 1:2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.
I thought it might be helpful to seek comfort today in the midst of difficulties. As we look around us, this world is full of pain, full of sorrow, full of evil. Sickness, disease, death, depression, pain, suicide, persecution, even beheading, are just some of the things that touch us or those close to us. We need to find comfort that will carry us through the grief and sustain us through the pain that confronts us in this fallen world. For those around us, those with whom our lives intersect, who are in need of comfort, we want to be equipped to bring strong comfort to the hurting.
Our inclination is often to try to fix the problem, to try to identify the source, to find a rational explanation for why. Our inclination is rooted in a desire to avoid pain at all cost. This was the approach of Job's friends, and he called them 'miserable comforters' (Job 16:2).
2 Corinthians 1 is a chapter in which the word comfort appears 10 times in 5 verses. It means to call alongside, to exhort, encourage, strengthen, console, or comfort. This chapter begins by speaking grace and peace to the readers. Grace, God's undeserved generosity, and peace, a reconciled relationship. Unearned blessing and reconciliation come from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Blessed Be God
Then he speaks a word of blessing toward God. God is blessed, God is happy, God is delighted in himself and all that it means to be God. He is happy and we wish him to be happy. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is something we find on the lips of Job, even in the midst of immense suffering.
For many, in the midst of suffering, their tendency is to blame God rather than to bless God. But Job and the apostle join their voices to bless God in the midst of unimaginable suffering, and they invite us to accompany them in seeing God as worthy of blessing even in our agony.
Father of Mercies
The apostle blesses the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, whom he calls the Father of mercies. Mercies is plural. There are multiplied occasions God extends mercy to sinners, not giving us what we deserve. God is the Father of mercies, he originated mercy and has begotten multiplied mercies. If we ever experience mercy, he has brought it into being, he has fathered it. All God's many mercies come to us through his Son Jesus Christ. God is the Father of mercies.
God of All Comfort
Then he names him the God of all comfort. Our God, the source of every mercy, is sovereign over comfort. If there is any comfort to be had, he reigns supreme over it, he wills it, he calls it into being, he controls it, and he brings it to us.
He is the God of all comfort. There is no true comfort outside of him. If we want genuine comfort, we must go to him. If we want to bring real comfort to others, we must connect them to him, the God of all comfort.
We tend to seek comfort in lots of different ways. We seek comfort in getting lots of money, or in spending lots of money, in eating lots of food, in drink, or in denying ourselves. We seek comfort from relationships with other people, or in isolating ourselves from other people. None of this will bring lasting comfort.
Often we seek comfort through understanding. If only I can make sense of the situation, if only I can understand why, then I will feel better and be able to deal with the situation. But as God revealed to Job, true comfort comes in knowing God as God, knowing he is awesome, he is in control, and his ways are past finding out. God is the God of all comfort.
Comfort in All Our Affliction
God is the one who comforts us in all our affliction. There is no affliction to great or too deep or too wide that he is unable to comfort us in. The word 'affliction' literally means pressure, that which presses hard in on us. It is used for pressing grapes to make wine. It is used in:
The way to life is hard, pressed, afflicted, oppressed, distressed. Whatever it is that is pressing in on us, threatening to crush us, God is there to comfort us in all our affliction. The God of all comfort, the Father of mercies, is present to comfort us! There is no pressure too big, and there is no pressure too small for him to bring us strong encouragement and hope in the midst of it. Over against all our affliction, he presses into us with his comfort.
So That We May Be Able to Comfort
Here we are given purpose. God presses into us with his comfort over against our affliction so that we are equipped to comfort others. Think about this; if you are going through a very difficult time, who do you turn to for comfort? Do you run to those who seem to have it all together, who have apparently been able to avoid all suffering and heartache and loss, those who have insulated themselves from the pain of this world? Or do you turn to those you know have suffered profoundly, maybe in similar ways you now find yourself in, and have come through deep waters with peace and joy and hope and depth of character?
This is yet another problem with the prosperity gospel; those who are living their best life now are impotent to give any real help or comfort to those who are suffering. They are Job's miserable comforters, pointing out why he is suffering and what he needs to change to get out of the suffering. They can offer no real comfort, because they just don't understand.
God comforts us in our affliction so that we are able to comfort those who are in any affliction. This is helpful. We may think that only those who have suffered in a specific way can comfort those who are suffering in that same specific way; for example, I may feel incapable of bringing comfort to someone battling cancer because I have never personally battled cancer. There may be some truth to that, in that someone who has experienced a specific type of suffering is uniquely gifted to identify with others facing that exact same type of suffering, But if you have experienced God's comfort in any suffering, you are competent to bring God's comfort to any person facing any kind of suffering.
If we have experienced the comfort of God in our affliction, we can comfort others with the comfort with which we are comforted by God. The opposite is also true. If we have not experienced the comfort of God in any affliction, we are not able to bring comfort to others. God comforts us in all our affliction so that we can comfort others with that comfort God has comforted us with.
What is this comfort God comforts us with? Is it a warm comfortable feeling? Is it some inner sense of well-being? Is it some cloudy, subjective, nebulous, fluffy sort of hope? Or is it rock solid and real, an anchor for the soul buffeted by life's storms? The next verse says:
The footnote in the ESV suggests another possible translation:
Another translation puts it this way:
The comfort we receive from God is no cloudy ethereal feeling, it is as real as the sufferings of Christ, sufferings which abundantly overflow to us. God can comfort us because God in Christ has entered into our suffering. Jesus suffered for us. His sufferings abound to us. Here is where we find our comfort. We find comfort in the sufferings of Christ. We find comfort in the cross.
Let us review some of the concrete comforts we have, in order to anchor our comfort in the sufferings of Christ that overflow to us.
It is a comfort to know that we are loved by God:
We have the comfort of forgiven sin:
We have the comfort of no condemnation:
We are comforted by the gracious gift of justification:
We have the comfort of peace with God:
We can take comfort in our reconciliation:
We have the strong comfort of Christ's righteousness credited to us:
We can take comfort in the promise of eternal life:
We enjoy the comfort of being adopted as God's children:
We have the comfort of the new birth:
We have the comfort of a promised inheritance:
We have the comfort that God is working all things for our good:
We have the comfort that no good thing will be withheld from us:
We have the comfort of being secured with the Holy Spirit:
We have the comfort of Christ living in us:
We have the comfort that the Father makes his home with us:
We have the comfort that Jesus will return for us:
We have the confident comfort that to be away from the body is to be at home with the Lord:
We have the powerful comfort that to die is gain:
We have comfort in the promise of physical resurrection:
The comforts of the cross and the sweetness of the gospel are savored most deeply in the midst of sorrow
Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org